(Wired News – 14 Aug 2004 – Manu Joseph)
What is the square of 85? In an instant, a 17-year-old boy said without blinking, “7,225.”
Kamlesh Shetty had used a trick from a quaint concept called Vedic math, a compilation of arithmetic shortcuts believed to have been written by ancient Indians who lived centuries before Christ, during a glorious period in Indian history called the Vedic Age. Its math has now crawled into the 21st century to further Shetty’s dream of cracking a nasty engineering entrance exam. …
Vedic mathematics was ushered into the modern age by a Hindu seer called Tirthaji Maharaja, after his book on the subject was published posthumously in 1965. He culled 16 formulas from ancient scriptures. Whether the formulas were indeed written centuries ago or were largely partisan interpretations of obscure Sanskrit text is a matter of academic debate.
T.A. Ramasubban, who has penned a book on Vedic math, said, “The controversy arises because some people question how a cryptic Sanskrit verse that means several things can be safely interpreted as an arithmetic shortcut. For example, there is a verse in the Vedas (scriptures) that praises Lord Krishna in the Vedas. If the Sanskrit words are interpreted, the verse gives the value of pi to 30 decimal points.
“My point is that a verse may extol a god, but … if it also gives the value of pi to 30 decimals, it cannot be a coincidence or desperate translation.”