Vedic Mathematics Introduction

The subject of Vedic Mathematics has become a household name in recent years. In fact the subject of Vedic Maths is very ancient and is known in India for several thousands of years.The term Vedic mathematics indicates that mathematics which is related to the Vedas.Then, what is Veda? Veda means knowledge, which includes both the spiritual knowledge and worldly knowledge.

The Vedas are treated with highest reverence by all the  followers of Sanatana Dharma. The traditionalists believe that the Vedas are eternal, that is, the Vedas exist for ever. The Vedas are also known as Sabda Brahma, as they are considered as the sound form of the Supreme God, Paramatma.

In addition to the intellectual debates of highest level on various aspects of spiritual knowledge, the Vedas extensively deal with the rituals also, that is Yajnas or, sacrifices, of several kinds, for the upliftment of the humanity. These rituals involve several topics which are directly related to mathematics.  Hence a thorough knowledge of mathematics is essential for  proper performance of the rituals.

Books of Vedas & Vedangas

The Vedas have several books under the headings of Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. To understand these Vedas, there is a need to study  some more books, called Vedangas.  The Vedangas are declared as six in number, and include Siksha, Vyakarana, Chandas, Niruktam, Jyotisha and Kalpa.  Among them, the Kalpa,  Jyotisha and Chandas involve mathematics extensively. In particular, The Kalpa, dealing  with the preparation of altars, or yajnavedikas,  utilizes several Geometrical principles, which are called as Sulba sutras.  Presently few of them traced are in the names of Boudhayana, Apastamba, Katyayana and others.

The Jyotisha is made of  three parts, siddhanta, jataka and samhita. Among them, the siddhanta bhaga involves intensive mathematical calculations related to the relative positions of the planets and other celestial bodies. For this they utilize spherical geometry, and  Trikonamiti, or alternatively called as Trigonometry.

Because of the vast coverage of mathematics and its significance, the Jyotisha is adored from times immemorial. Lagadha, the great mathematician of India of about 1500b.c., states in his book of Vedanga Jyotisha that

Yathaa sikhaa mayuraanaam naagaanaam manayo yathaa
Tadvadvedaanga saastraanaam ganitam (/jyotisham) muurdhani sthitam

“Like the crest of a peacock, and like the gems on the hoods of serpants, the mathematics (Jyotisha) lies at the top of all Vedanga Sastras.”

Similarly the Chandas has lot of knowledge related to  the mathematics like permutations and combinations.

Thus lot of mathematical principles were discovered by our sages, who include Surya, Pitamaha, Vasishtha, Medhatithi, Garga, Lomasa and several others.

Other Major Contributors in India

In addition to the sages, we have a long list of  astronomer-cum- mathematicians  like Varahamihira, Aryabhatta, Bhaskaracharya I, Bhaskaracharya 2, Brahmagupta, Mahaviracharya, Kalakacharya, Prithuyasas , Pavuluri Mallanna and a host of others. They  developed the subject of mathematics beyond our imagination. 

 Because of the contributions of these stalwarts,  India is known as the land of mathematics for several millennia.  Its contributions include the digits, decimal system, Pi, zero, infinity and so on.

Spread of Vedic Mathematics to Other Countries

In course of time, the literature related to mathematics was taken from India to foreign countries. In fact a mathematician by name Kanka of Ujjain was taken to Arab countries and was requested to translate the books of mathematics from Sanskrit to Arabic language.It is said that Alzafer, under whose name the subject  of Algebra is popular, adopted the Sanskrit numerals for the digits in his works.

Subsequently the subject of Indian mathematics  spread to Spain, Germany, France, England and other countries.

Names of Indian Mathematicians Suppressed

During the alien rule, the same mathematics was introduced through English language,in the curriculum in India, but with the names of original Indian contributors suppressed.

For illustration, the Boudhayana siddhanta, related to the areas of the sides of a right angled triangle, is now known in the name of Pythogorus of about 500 b.c., who was born  about three centuries after Boudhayana.

The theorem of interpolation, introduced by Govinda Swami of 300 b.c., is now known in the names of Newton and Gauss, born after a gap of about 1800 years.

The theory of earth revolving around the sun was recorded by Aryabhatta in 5th century a.d. However, it is known in the name of Copernicus who was born 1000 years after Aryabhatta. There are several examples of this kind.
Vedic Mathematics of Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha Maharaj

It is not that only sages of ancient times developed Vedic mathematics. In 1960s, Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha of Govardhan peeth of Puri Jagannath,  authored a book and titled it as “VEDIC MATHEMATICS”. This book mainly contains description of 16 mathematical formulae, or sutras. Most of them are useful to handle the arithmatic at a very high speed.

The present series of lessons prepared under the banner of SVB, include most of  the mathematical principles identified by Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha Maharaj. In addition, the techniques given in Lilavati Ganitam and other related books are also  covered.