Indian nationalists claims of Vedic maths are exaggerated, not necessarily true: Amartya Sen

He said exaggerated claims about Vedic maths have generated a world of fantasy educational institutions in India,


Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen on Tuesday said exaggerated claims about Vedic mathematics had generated a world of fantasy in a section of educational institutions in the country, which should be resisted.

He also said the understanding that friendship helped in the creation of knowledge was particularly important in the philosophy and history of science.

"Nationalist sentiments may make a counter-claim of some kind of a secluded flourishing of science and mathematics only in their country, detached from the rest of the world and unrelated to what we can learn from others, but that is not how science and mathematics and culture ultimately proceed," Sen said.

 Indian nationalists claims of Vedic maths are exaggerated, not necessarily true: Amartya Sen

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen claims Vedic mathematics had generated a world of fantasy in a section of educational institutions in the country. Image credit: Wikipedia

For example, he said the view of ancient India as an island, making discoveries and inventions in splendid isolation, might be pleasing to Indian nationalists, but that understanding was fundamentally mistaken.

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"Consider the golden age of mathematics. That was not the Vedic period, contrary to what is often claimed these days. Exaggerated claims about Vedic mathematics have tended to generate a world of fantasy in a section of educational institutions in India today, which I think we should resist," the 86-year-old economist said.

He added that the golden age of mathematics in India was rather the classic period — the first millennium.

"The great mathematical revolution in India was led particularly by Aryabhata, who was born in 476 AD, and what Aryabhata developed initially was taken forward by other great mathematicians in India like Brahmagupta, Bhaskara and others. While deeply original, Aryabhata's mathematics was substantially influenced by the mathematical revolution that had already taken place in Greece, Babylon and Rome," Sen said.

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