# Can maths be Vedic or not?

Features Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 05:30

The News Minute | October 15, 2014 | 1.25 pm IST
The debate has been on for some time now, ever since Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani said she wanted to â€œIndianiseâ€ the education curriculum. One of the areas she was looking at was the introduction of Vedic Maths in schools.
On Wednesday, in an opinion piece published in The Hindu titled â€œEverything Vedic in â€˜Vedic Mathsâ€™â€, a teacher of the subject James Glover described Vedic Maths as: â€œVedic Maths is concerned with a universal structure of Maths revealed through a personal approach to problem-solving and other fields of human activity.â€
The article seeks to explain the nature of the subject and is also a response to an article written by C K Raju under the title â€œNothing Vedic in â€˜Vedic Mathsâ€™â€ and also published by The Hindu. Raju had argued that there was nothing â€œVedicâ€ in Vedic maths. He says: â€œBut where in the Vedas is â€œVedic mathematicsâ€ to be found? Nowhere. Vedic mathematics has no relation whatsoever to the Vedas. It actually originates from a book misleadingly titled Vedic Mathematics by Bharati Krishna Tirtha. The book admits on its first page that its title is misleading and that the (elementary arithmetic) algorithms expounded in the book have nothing to do with the Vedas. This is repeated on p. xxxv: â€œObviously these formulas are not to be found in the present recensions of Atharvaveda.â€â€
Raju too wrote in the context of Iraniâ€™s wish to â€œIndianiseâ€ education in schools. Raju goes on to explain how mathematicians in the Indian sub-continent contributed to the discipline in extraordinary ways.
Saying: â€œPromoting the wrongly labelled â€œVedic mathematicsâ€ suppresses the mathematics that really does exist in the Vedas,â€ Raju gives examples of maths related content in the Yajurveda.
Glover counterâ€™s Rajuâ€™s understanding of Thirthaâ€™s text, saying that Vedic Maths had little to do with history. Instead, he said that the principles or sutras of Vedic Maths were to be found in a particular Veda which may not be published. He says: â€œHowever, on page 231 of â€œVedic Metaphysics,â€ Tirthaji states that he found all 16 sutras in the Sthapatya-Veda in connection with astronomy. It is quite feasible that this is not a published source. Nevertheless, the indication is that Prof. Raju thinks the Vedas are a fixed set of texts from antiquity and that they are published and can be searched through. But this is not so. Yes, there are ancient texts commonly accepted as Vedic but there are other treatises, or expressions, which may constitute Vedas â€” those that are not published or even translated from the original Sanskrit language.â€
Quoting a Vedic philosopher Shankaracharya Shantananda Saraswati, Glover argues that the â€œVedas mean universal knowledge and are not restricted to a hoary past. Vedas are living knowledge and not something from history.â€
For a detailed understanding of both writersâ€™ arguments read the original articles linked above.

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