20 - Numeracy


ISSUE No. 20

Vedic Mathematics is becoming increasingly popular as more and more people are introduced to the beautifully unified and easy Vedic methods.
The purpose of this Newsletter is to provide information about developments in education and research and books, articles, courses, talks etc., and also to bring together those working with Vedic Mathematics.
If you are working with Vedic Mathematics - teaching it or doing research - please contact us and let us include you and some description of your work in the Newsletter. Perhaps you would like to submit an article for inclusion in a later issue or tell us about a course or talk you will be giving or have given.
If you are learning Vedic Maths, let us know how you are getting on and what you think of this system.


This issue's article is taken from a paper submitted as part of an MA course in Computers in Education at King's College, London by M de J Derrington BA BSc PGCE. Mrs Derrington, who has taught Mathematics for some years in London, first encountered the Vedic Mathematics during her studies last year and has included references to the success of Vedic methods in her dissertation entitled "Secondary Mathematics: Too much for too Many?" . This study of the complex effects of new technology on the nature and need for mathematics education and in particular the compulsory teaching of mathematics in British secondary schools has been well received by the assessors who recommended its retention in the Coleridge Library at Kings. Below is the start of Chapter 3.


In this chapter the acquisition of numeracy skills is discussed. The relative importance of numeracy and understanding and whether one has to be sacrificed in favour of the other is questioned.

As has been described in the preceding chapter, the Numeracy Strategy has been started using classroom methods which seem to be successfully used in other countries. These are not the only methods available. A dramatic increase in numeracy, and a consequent improvement in mathematical attainment at GCSE has been achieved in a UK secondary school by using 'Vedic Maths' This was reported in the Summer 2000 TES Mathematics Curriculum Special.

§3.1 Vedic Maths, Vedic Maths depends on identifying and using the appropriate 'processes' or 'sutra' which are to used to tackle calculations. The sutra are algorithms chosen not for their transparency to cognitive processes (in fact many are particularly opaque, so much so that they could well be used as the subject of interesting algebraic investigations for secondary GCSE maths pupils) but for their simplicity and memorability.

'The great advantage of this system is that the answer can be obtained in one line and mentally. By the end of Year 8, I would expect all students to be able to do a "3 by 2" long multiplication in their heads. This gives enormous confidence to the pupils who lose their fear of numbers and go on to tackle harder maths in a more open manner.
All the techniques produce one-line answers and most can be dealt with mentally, so calculators are not used until Year 10. The methods are either "special", in that they only apply under certain conditions, or general. This encourages flexibility and innovation on the part of the students.'
                                    (Gaskell, 2000)

In his article Gaskell describes the enthusiasm of children who find that they can do complicated arithmetic with speed and ease; children who go home and challenge their parents and beat them in races to do mental and pen and paper computations.
Williams (1984) has written a concise account of the Sutras used in the secondary mathematics course together with their applications, examples and brief explanations and proofs. Teaching materials used in the Maharishi School in Lancashire are being printed in India and will soon be available here for other schools. The sutras, are memorable phrases like 'All from nine and the last from ten', 'vertically and crosswise', 'transpose and apply', 'the first by the first and the last by the last' and are taught with initial explanations of why they work but are applied without the necessity for understanding how and why they work. This is similar to the way in which many pupils remember rules like 'cross-multiplication' and in equations 'change the side and change the sign' without consciously remembering or understanding why these rules work even if they did at first. The problem with this is that if a rule is forgotten or mis-remembered, it cannot be reconstructed because the understanding required is not there to do so. However, because the sutra are so memorable, this is rarely a problem.
In our search for and universal adoption of arithmetical algorithms which are cognitively transparent, have we done a major disservice not merely to those whose understanding necessarily remains at an instrumental level but also to those who, while understanding the processes involved, are forever encumbered by clumsy or messy algorithms when much neater ones are available and indeed used to be taught in the past? Is this why we fail in the numeracy stakes in the international maths 'olympiads'? We concentrate on making children understand what is going on when they calculate, instead of drilling them so that they can do arithmetic in their heads or on paper nearly as quickly as with a calculator. Perhaps this is why our children do so well in the understanding science (Shorrocks-Taylor, D. et al. 1998) sections and so badly in numeracy. We teach children to think and understand what they are doing, and therefore do it slowly and thoughtfully. Aught we really to worry about this or have our children acquired more useful cognitive skills rather than aptitude as quick and accurate calculators? Should we revert to earlier teaching methods and teach algorithms which concentrated more on speed, clarity and economy of effort than on cognitive transparency?
© 2001 Margaret Derrington


Gaskell M (2000) Try a Sutra TES Maths Curriculum Special Summer 2000)

Shorrocks-Taylor, D. et al. (1998). An investigation of the performance of English pupils in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

Williams K (1984) Discover Vedic Mathematics, Inspiration Books





At Imperial College, London

A course of ten evening workshops covering introductory elements of this unique and fascinating approach to mathematics.
No previous experience necessary.
Presented by James Glover and Dr Jeremy Pickles.
Wednesdays, commencing 16th January 2002, 7:00 - 8:30pm.
Venue: Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Imperial College, London.
Cost £45 (£30 concessions) including course notes for the whole term.
Enquiries: Tel: 020 8688 2642 (020 7835 1256 until 16th Dec.).
School of Economic Science, 13 Addiscombe Grove, CRO 5LR.

For more details see the calendar at www.vedicmaths.org


Two correspondence courses are now available: a full course suitable for children (and adults too) aged seven to fourteen years and an abridged version of that course for those who know some maths (or children who would benefit from extra, inspiring material) and want to learn the Vedic system. As the course is new students are needed to take the cost at a reduced rate and give feedback. Please send an email if you are interested to


www.vedicmaths.org and www.vedicmaths.com There have been problems over the last few days accessing these sites. You can find them at these alternative addresses

For www.vedicmaths.org use

For www.vedicmaths.com use


This community currently has 50 members and now has some new features. There are articles, news and reviews in the documents section, a section for posting personal details, many links and a discussion board where you can read and add your own comments. A newsletter will also be started soon.
The site can be found at http://communities.msn.com/VedicMathematics


Madhavi Tembe, who recently gave two Vedic Maths presentations had an excellent response on both days. There was a power point presentation and participants received notes as well. There were many questions and Madhavi is thinking of specialising the topics and presenting small workshops next year when the school new year begins again.


Mr R. P. Jain of the publishers Motilal Banarsidass was recently interviewed for an article which appeared in the Pune Times of India newspaper on 27th November. This was titled "Nurturing Heritage". Mr Jain pointed out that it seems that Indians require "a western stamp of approval for Indians to take notice of their own treasure-trove of scholarly knowledge". "Should it not be a matter of shame for us that it took foreigners to discover the power contained within ayurveda, yoga and meditation". "The same holds true for Vedic Mathematics which has, for the past four years, found itself in the eye of a raging storm". While being accepted elsewhere it continues to meet stiff resistance from the Indian academic and scientific community, he says.



If you want to know about Vedic Mathematics Workshops or research in India send an email to Mr R. P. Jain at



EMAIL: I have just found your site whilst looking for maths sites for my children - I have learnt so much more in 30 minutes, than I did in several years in school looking at your site.

Fantastic work and principles, and I now understand how to calculate fractions; it has only taken 40 years.

EMAIL: Merry Christmas! Hope you remember me. I had written to you a number of times and you had put my name on your newsletter and I had a tremendous response from all across the globe. I am now trying to organise and teach Vedic Maths…


Your comments about this Newsletter are invited.
If you would like to send us details about your work or submit an article for inclusion please let us know on

Articles in previous issues of this Newsletter can be copied from the web site - www.vedicmaths.org:
Issue 1: An Introduction
Issue 2: "So What's so Special about Vedic Mathematics?"
Issue 3: Sri Bharati Krsna Tirthaji: More than a Mathematical Genius
Issue 4: The Vedic Numerical Code
Issue 5: "Mathematics of the Millennium"- Seminar in Singapore
Issue 6: The Sutras of Vedic Mathematics
Issue 7: The Vedic Square
Issue 8: The Nine Point Circle
Issue 9: The Vedic Triangle
Issue 10: Proof of Goldbach's Conjecture
Issue 11: Is Knowledge Essentially Simple?
Issue 12: Left to Right or Right to Left?
Issue 13: The Vinculum and other Devices
Issue 14: 1,2,3,4: Pythagoras and the Cosmology of Number
Issue 15: A Descriptive Preparatory Note on the Astounding Wonders of Ancient Indian Vedic
Issue 16: Vedic Matrix Issue
Issue 17: Vedic Sources of Vedic Mathematics Mathematics
Issue 18: 9 by 9 Division Table
Issue 19: "Maths Mantra"

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Editor: Kenneth Williams

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14th January 2002


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