# What is Vedic Math? Learn the History and Benefits

5 min read · Aug 12, 2024

## Table of contents

Hey there!

Welcome to the seventh chapter in my mental math series.

Today we're going to talk about a fascinating system that aims to demystify complex calculations; Vedic math.

But first we must ask ourselves, what is vedic math?

### Definition of Vedic Mathematics

Vedic Mathematics is **a collection of techniques - they call them sutras - that'll help you solve math problems quickly and easily**.

At its core, it consists of **16 main sutras and 13 sub-sutras** (expressed in Sanskrit) that cover everything from basic addition to algebra, geometry, calculus, and conics.

Now, don't get hung up on the "Vedic" part. This system isn't as ancient as it sounds… It's actually pretty modern.

## History of Vedic Mathematics

### Origin and Rediscovery by Bharati Krishna Tirthaji

The story of Vedic Mathematics as we know it today all starts with a guy named Jagadguru Shri Bharathi Krishna Tirthaji. Between 1911 and 1918, Tirthaji claimed claimed he found a hidden treasure in the Vedas, especially the Rigveda.

Born in 1884 in Puri, Orissa, Tirthaji was a scholar proficient in mathematics, humanities, science, and Sanskrit. He said he spent years studying and meditating on these ancient texts until - bam! - he reconstructed these mathematical techniques.

According to him, **all of math could be boiled down to just sixteen Sutras**, or word-formulae.

Tirthaji supposedly wrote sixteen whole volumes about this Vedic math system. However, these volumes were reportedly lost.

So, in his final years, when he realized his life's work was gone, he sat down and wrote one book called "Vedic Mathematics." It hit the shelves in 1965, five years after his death.

### Publication and Controversies

When "Vedic Mathematics" came out in 1965, it caused quite a stir.

Some English mathematicians, including Kenneth Williams, Andrew Nicholas, and Jeremy Pickles, took an interest in it and started expanding on Tirthaji's work.

But hold your horses. Not everyone was buying what Tirthaji was selling. Critics, such as S. G. Dani of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, started poking holes in Tirthaji's story.

They said there's no proof these techniques have anything to do with the actual Vedic period. Some folks think it's just a bunch of clever tricks for doing quick mental math, mostly for basic arithmetic and algebra.

Now, here's the thing. It doesn't really matter if this stuff is ancient or not. What matters is **if it works**.

And for a lot of people, **it does**! Schools in India are teaching it, books are being written about it, and people are lapping it up.

## Key Concepts of Vedic Mathematics

### Fundamental Principles

Like I said before, the heart of Vedic Mathematics are 16 main sutras and 13 sub-sutras. Think of them as your secret weapons for tackling any math problem that comes your way.

These sutras, written in Sanskrit, are like little nuggets of wisdom that you can use across all kinds of math.

Some of the key sutras include:

- Ekadhikena Purvena (By one more than the previous one)
- Nikhilam Navatashcaramam Dashatah (All from 9 and the last from 10)
- Urdhva-Tiryagbhyam (Vertically and crosswise)
- Paraavartya Yojayet (Transpose and adjust)

Now, don't get hung up on the Sanskrit names. What matters is what these sutras can do for you.

Each represents a general principle or formula that can be applied to solve problems quickly.

Take that Urdhva-Tiryagbhyam one - it's a killer way to multiply numbers. And Nikhilam? That's your go-to for multiplying and dividing numbers close to powers of 10.

### Core Philosophy

Now, let's talk about the big picture. Vedic Mathematics isn't just about crunching numbers faster. It's about changing the way you think about math altogether.

It's about understanding math from the inside out and getting a feel for it.

Plus, it gives you options. Unlike traditional methods that often prescribe a single way to solve a problem, Vedic math give you a whole toolkit of methods and lets you pick the right one for the job.

A key aim of Vedic Mathematics is to make the subject more enjoyable and less intimidating. It helps reduce the anxiety often associated with complex math operations.

And when you can do complex math in your head, fast? That's a confidence booster like no other.

## Benefits and Applications of Vedic Mathematics

### Speed and Efficiency

One of the top benefits of Vedic Mathematics is its ability to **significantly increase calculation speed** (we're talking about 10–15 times quicker than the old-school methods).

Its efficiency comes from its approach to **simplifying complex calculations** (more on this in a later chapter).

And here's a bonus: when you're working with simpler steps, you're less likely to screw up.

### Educational Applications

One of the primary advantages of Vedic Mathematics in education is its **ability to reduce fear and anxiety associated with mathematics**.

You know how some kids freeze up when they see a math problem? Vedic Math can change all that. When you've got these techniques in your back pocket, suddenly math isn't so scary anymore.

But it goes deeper than that. Vedic Math isn't about memorizing a bunch of formulas. It's about really getting your hands dirty with the concepts.

Once you've got that deeper understanding, you can apply those concepts in diverse situations.

### Cognitive Benefits

By engaging the mind in unique problem-solving techniques, Vedic Math enhances mental **agility, memory, and concentration**.

First off, you'll be processing numbers so fast that it'll feel like second nature.

And let's talk about memory. Vedic Math is built on these sutras and sub-sutras that, when internalized, serve as "mental shortcuts."

That kind of mental exercise doesn't just help with math - it strengthens your memory across the board.

### Algebra and Geometry

Now, let's talk about how Vedic Mathematics can help you tackle the big boys: **algebra and geometry**.

For algebra, there's this sutra called *Sunyam Samyasamuccaye*. We'll talk more about it later, but this little trick can help you factor quadratic equations.

And geometry? There's a technique called *Triyagbhyam* that can be applied to find the area of triangles and other polygons quickly.

## Conclusion

As we've seen, by applying even basic Vedic Math methods, you can enhance your mathematical skills and confidence in everyday situations.

We'll go into more details in the next chapter, where we'll talk about all the vedic math formulas.

See you there 🙂 Be well.

### About the author

#### Richard Reis

Founder of Mental Math Pro! Also currently doing a fun little "25 AI Startups in 50 Weeks" challenge.