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In recent days, there seems to be hype in the education industry over Speed Maths techniques such as Vedic Mathematics, Abacus Maths, Aloha etc.
The success of the movie ‘Shakuntala Devi’ – a biopic of the ‘Human-computer and Maths wizard’, may have played a part in this newfound interest among students. And the coaching institutes are bombarding us with their Ads about courses on these so-called Magical Maths tricks.
Whether you are yourself a student preparing for competitive exams; or you are a parent whose kid is still in school; We all have seen these Ads promising magical maths powers, on our Facebook wall; or in our Gmail; or while surfing the internet, or watching YouTube videos. Sure enough, on seeing such Ads, a question might have popped up in your head,
“ Is Vedic Maths really beneficial in today’s technology-savvy world, when we have calculators, android phones and the latest generation laptops that can give us the answers to some of the most complex and time-consuming calculations in a jiffy?! ”
Let’s explore this question in this blog.
What is Vedic Maths all about?
As mentioned in the various websites and books on the topic, Vedic Mathematics is a set of techniques that help solve tedious and cumbersome mathematical problems quickly. These include, as per the above sources, unique methods for solving problems in diverse math topics like arithmetic, algebra, calculus, trigonometry, and coordinate geometry.
Credit for the development of these techniques goes to the late Jagadguru Swami Sri Bharati Krshna Tirthaji (1884-1960). He compiled these techniques from the 16 Sutras (verses) in the Vedas.
The word ‘Veda’ is a Sanskrit word which means knowledge. Vedas are a large body of ancient Hindu literature in India which contain an endless source of knowledge and wisdom in all spheres of life.
Vedic Maths tricks and techniques are very easy to learn. And they can be taught to kids as young as eight years of age.
Now, before we discuss whether there is any benefit in learning Vedic Maths tricks, let me share my brief experience with Vedic Maths.
I vividly remember the first time I got curious about Vedic Maths. It was in 2006.
I was attending a session of Quantitative Aptitude at a coaching institute, where I had enrolled for CAT (Common Admission Test for MBA entrance) exam preparation. The tutor was a 99+ percentiler in CAT and was pursuing his MBA course from IIM Ahmedabad. He had been invited to deliver a guest lecture at the coaching institute.
On that day, he was giving us tips on improving our speed in solving Quant questions. I listened intently hoping to learn a technique or two, which would improve my calculation speed.
One of the students asked him the utility of Vedic Maths for Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation sections of CAT exam. In particular, would Application of Vedic Maths tricks be of any help in getting a high percentile in the exam.
Ironically, he told us that learning Vedic maths techniques is not required to crack the CAT exam.
On hearing the words Vedic Maths, however, I got curious to know more about Vedic Maths, even though the tutor advised not to give much importance to it. It intrigued me so much that after the class, the first thing I did was to go to the Crossword store and buy the book ‘The Power of Vedic Maths’ by Atul Gupta.
For the next few days, I pored over the book. And learnt a few Vedic Maths tricks, in doing addition, subtraction and multiplication quickly. That was how I got to know the fascinating world of Vedic Maths. Now, coming back to the question,
“Is it worth it to learn Vedic Maths in today’s digital age?”
How beneficial is Vedic Maths?
Well, although I got a high percentile in the CAT exam in my attempt in 2006, honestly, at that time, I did not analyse how much of its credit owed to Vedic Maths techniques.
Only when I started teaching Quantitative Aptitude and Data Interpretation subjects to students of various competitive exams, did I realise the benefits of Vedic Maths.
Take the case of the CAT exam or any of the other Management entrance exams like XAT (Xavier’s Aptitude Test), MAT (Management Aptitude Test), SNAP (Symbiosis National Aptitude Test), NMAT (Narsee Monjee Management Aptitude Test), etc.
Sure enough, these techniques help in reducing a lot of time, especially when it comes to the Data Interpretation section of these exams.
In the Quantitative Aptitude section also, wherever addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of big numbers is required, the Vedic Maths techniques have helped students reduce the solving time.
The same goes for other competitive exams as well, like Bank PO, CDS (Combined Defence Services), etc. Here too, a lot of students have benefitted from these techniques in solving the questions at a faster rate.
Apart from helping students in competitive exams, there are many other benefits of learning Vedic Maths.
We see many students having Maths phobia. For them, Vedic maths can help generate interest in Maths. After all, it is relatively easy to learn.
And when you get to solve problems quickly using these techniques, your fear of Maths will go away.
Plus, it enhances the creative abilities in students, as it engages both the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
It also improves concentration and increases confidence. This can lead to better academic performance for students.
It helps generate interest in Maths.
Not only students but people of all ages can benefit from learning and practising Vedic Maths. For one, it helps in mental agility and improves memory power. In this aspect, it is akin to the mental gym, as it helps build the muscles of the brain. Thus, it can help ward off age-related ailments like Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
So, is Vedic Maths an elixir for all the mathematical problems?
Are there any disadvantages of Vedic Maths?
Well, like with any cure or magical solution, Vedic Maths too, has its share of critics.
According to them, there are quite a few drawbacks of learning Vedic Maths.
One of the drawbacks cited is that the rules mentioned in Vedic maths are meant for a few specific problem categories only.
Also, for some operations like Multiplication, you will find many rules. This tends to create confusion in the minds of students.
Moreover, you need to memorize multiple rules and algorithms for various arithmetic operations.
In addition to the above, many regular schools and colleges don’t approve of the Vedic maths methods of solving in the exam; Which means, you cannot solve your school or college exam paper questions using Vedic Maths techniques.
It is also felt by a section of the experts that Vedic maths techniques don’t help in building a conceptual understanding of the various topics of Maths. They merely help in fast calculations.
Then there is an opinion that Vedic Maths techniques don’t help in understanding applications of mathematical concepts to real-world situations.
Now that we know about the advantages and some drawbacks of Vedic Maths, where does that leave us? Well, I personally feel that the potential benefits of Vedic Maths far outweigh any of its possible drawbacks. And so, while understanding its limitations, you can practise Vedic Maths as a hobby. It will certainly keep us mentally young and agile.