It takes 11-year-old Aditya Ray only seconds to multiply a five-digit
number with a four-digit one. This, he says, is because of Vedic
mathematics, "which has made my calculations quicker and accurate". By
traditional method, Ray would have taken over a minute to get the
answer.

"It takes me around one and a half minutes to multiply such large
numbers using the conventional method. However, if I take the Vedic
maths route, I can solve it in 30 seconds," the Class 6 student told
IANS.

The Kolkata-based Ray added that while his school expects him to solve
problems using the traditional way, he at times uses Vedic maths to
cross check his answers.

Vedic mathematics, which came into focus after the Narendra Modi
government put emphasis on India's ancient and forgotten knowledge
systems, is a branch of mathematics based on 16 Sanskrit sutras (word
formulae) which make mathematical calculations 10-15 times faster as
compared to the traditional methods.

Discovered by Hindu seer Swami Bharati Krishna Tirthaji in the early
20th century, it is also said to be easy to remember, offers multiple
ways of doing the same calculation, creates inquisitiveness and improves
analytical thinking.

According to the School of Vedic Maths (SOVM), Tirthaji was born in 1884
in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. After completing his Master of Arts at
age 20, he was briefly a college principal. He quit that to embrace a
spiritual path. It was during deep meditation that he got inner
revelations on the 16 sutras from the appendix of Atharva Veda, one of
the four vedas, the ancient Indian spiritual and scholastic texts.
Tirthaji declared that any mathematical problem can be solved using
them.

Gaurav Tekriwal, president of the Vedic Math Forum India, said Vedic
maths was a collection of methods to calculate faster when compared to
the traditional methods.

"With a little practice in Vedic maths one can make mundane calculations
easier, simpler and quicker so much so that you can call it 'World's
Fastest Mental Maths System'. It has applications primarily in
arithmetic and algebra and hence is a favorite of competitive exam
aspirants who want to tackle maximum problems in less time," Tekriwal
told IANS.

The Forum holds online classes spread over 30 hours for students and 40 hours for teachers. The classes are one on one.

Pradeep Kumar, founder director of Magical Methods, which provides
training in Vedic maths, shared that using such calculations, finding
the square of any number ending with five becomes extremely easy.

"Say you want to find square of 85. You multiply 5 by 5 and put 25 as
your right part of the answer. Then, multiply 8 by the next higher
digit, 9, and put 72 as your left part of the answer. Your answer is
7,225," he said, adding the same formula can be used to find square of
any number ending with five.

The branch is slowly gaining popularity among students "because it is
very useful, especially for those planning to take competitive
examinations", Kumar said.

"Today, there are a lot of competitive exams. Speed is one of the key
factors to crack any exam which tests numerical ability. Vedic maths is a
very good tool. It gives a good sense of numbers for all working
professionals who do a lot of number-crunching in their jobs," Vinay
Nair, founder of School of Vedic Maths (SOVM), told IANS.

Nair added that from a teacher's point of view, it gives "immense
possibilities to explore learning mathematics from many angles and in
innovative ways".

But S.G. Dani, professor in the department of mathematics at the Indian
Institute of Technology Bombay, believes Vedic maths was "just a bunch
of tricks, devoid of coherence".

"It has little significance. We might as well forget it. Though it may
have a few useful bits, the aura around it makes it very damaging on the
whole," Dani told IANS over email.

Retired 85-year-old teacher and educationist Dinanath Batra, who got
American scholar Wendy Doniger's book on Hinduism pulped, is batting for
the introduction of Vedic maths in schools and universities.

Vedic Maths is favoured by those who have benefited from it and want it
introduced in the education system. Teachers of conventional mathematics
and school principals IANS spoke to agreed that it should be officially
introduced.

Sapna Jain, assistant professor in the department of mathematics in
Delhi University, told IANS that since Vedic maths has ancient roots,
those who study it will also get to know about a lot of things which
have remained buried "like the invention of zero and algebra".

"There is no harm in introducing it at the primary level in schools, at
least some parts of it. It will only make the students' base stronger.
It has been seen that students take interest when new techniques are
taught," Rekha Dwivedi, a mathematics teacher at a government school in
Dwarka in Delhi, told IANS.

She added that teachers should be first trained.

Agreed Nair, who said that introducing Vedic maths would be good
especially in Classes 6 to 9, "but without a proper pedagogy in teaching
and proper training to teachers, it might not be very effective."