Vedic Mathematics is a book written by the Indian Hindu priest Bharati Krishna Tirthaji and first published in 1965. It contains a list of mental calculation techniques claimed to be based on the Vedas. The mental calculation system mentioned in the book is also known by the same name or as “Vedic Maths”. Its characterization as “Vedic” mathematics has been criticized by academics, who have also opposed its inclusion in the Indian school curriculum.
Tirthaji claimed that he found the sutras after years of studying the Vedas, a set of sacred ancient Hindu scriptures. However, the Vedas do not contain any of the “Vedic mathematics” sutras.First, Tirthaji’s description of the mathematics as Vedic is most commonly criticised on the basis that, thus far, none of the sūtras can be found in any extant Vedic literature (Williams, 2000). When challenged by Professor K.S. Shukla to point out the sutras in question in the Parishishta of the Atharvaveda, Shukla reported that the Tirthaji said the sixteen sutras were not included in standard editions of the Parishishta and that they occurred in his own Parishishta and not any other.
Professor Vasudeva Saran Agrawala, the editor of the first edition of Tirthaji’s book, notes that there is no evidence that the sutras are “Vedic”, as such, in their origin.Similarly, S. G. Dani of IIT Bombay points out that the contents of the book have “practically nothing in common” with the mathematics of the Vedic period or even with subsequent developments in Indian mathematics. For example, multiple techniques in the book involve the use of decimal fractions, which were not known during the Vedic times: even the works of later mathematicians such as Aryabhata, Brahmagupta and Bhaskara do not contain any decimal fractions. He contends that Tirthaji liberally interpreted three-word Sanskrit phrases to associate them with arithmetic.
Tirthaji’s claim that the sutras are relevant to advanced mathematical techniques such as successive differentiation or analytical conics have also been dismissed by Dani. He terms “ludicrous” Tirthaji’s claim that “there is no part of mathematics, pure or applied, which is beyond their jurisdiction”. He also points out that while Tirthaji’s methods were not unique, they may have been invented by him independently, as Tirthaji held an MA in mathematics. Similar systems include the Trachtenberg system or the techniques mentioned in Lester Meyers’s 1947 book High-speed Mathematics.