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What is the big controversy on vedic mathematics ?

A standard criticism for vedic math is that it is only limited to middle- and high-school formulations and the emphasis is on a series of problem-solving tricks. The critics also said that the Atharva Veda appendix, containing Tirtha’s 16 mathematical formulae, is not to be found in any of the existing texts.

Criticism of Vedic maths found a powerful voice in S G Dani, mathematics professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay. He wrote recently in The Times of India: “The book (Tirtha’s Vedic Mathematics) which gathered wider respectability around the mid-1980s following a statement in Parliament by the then human resources minister.

They finally conclude that Vedic math not only corrupts the intellectual process of a proper study of history, but is also unhealthy for society in view of their being prone to abuse in various ways.

In assessing the strengths and weaknesses of Vedic mathematics, the works of Aryabhata I (AD 475) and subsequently Brahmagupta (622), Bhaskara II (1150) and perhaps even Sangama Grama Madhava and Narayana Pandita (14th century) should be taken into account. This means it would probably be more appropriate to refer to Indian rather than Vedic mathematics.

The Indian tradition of mathematics is essentially inductive and so rigorous, proof is rarely stated explicitly. This inductive-cum-intuitive approach (as opposed to a deductive one) also is evident in some of Srinivasa Ramanujan’s work. When I S Bhanu Murthy attempted to prove some of Tirtha’s formulae, he found a few profound theorems of the number theory were involved.

So, not all of Tirtha’s work can be dismissed as elementary. Much of it is arithmetical in nature and enhances computational skills that have considerable pedagogical value.

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