Maths In Hinduism: Part 2


In mnemonics we associate a word or phrase or event to something that we want to memorize. This is because it then becomes easier for us to learn and memorize difficult lessons especially numbers. In the same way our ancients used rhythm and poetry to make the children memorize difficult numbers like for example the value of Pi. As readers will know Sanskrit has 52 alphabets. Now each consonant was given a number – In the 1st line ka, kha, ga, gha, jna – each one of this was given a number from 1 to 5; then the 2nd line ca, cha, ja, jha, jna – each one of these was given a number from 6 to 0 and then back to 1.

Sanskrit Consonant                        Number


ka, ta, pa, ya                                      1

kha, tha, pha, ra                                  2

ga, da, ba, la                                      3

Gha, dha, bha, va                                4

jña, na, ma                                        5

ca, ta, sa                                          6

cha, tha, and sa                                 7

ja, da, and ha                                    8

jha and dha                                       9

jna (given as ka in some places)            0


As explained before, our Rishis and Saints felt that all knowledge belonged to Para-Brahman and that knowledge should be used to reach our ultimate goal – Moksha. Therefore they taught and wrote in codes which have spiritual content in them.

Here is an actual sutra of spiritual content, as well as its mathematical significance.

Gopi bhagya madhuvrata
srngiso dadhi sandhiga
khala jivita khatava
gala hala rasandara

While this verse is a prayer to Sri Krishna, when learning it one can also learn the value of pi/10 (i.e. the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter divided by 10) to 32 decimal places. The translation of the verse is as follows:

“O Lord anointed with the yogurt of the milkmaids’ worship (Krishna), O savior of the fallen, O master of Shiva, please protect me.”

Now if we were to use the consonant code given above, this verse directly yields the decimal equivalent of pi divided by 10: pi/10 = 0.31415926535897932384626433832792. Thus, while remembering Sri Krishna devotedly, one could also add to memory the value of pi upto 32 places. (some information taken from ‘hindufocus.wordpress.com’)


Readers must be knowing that the word ‘Geometry’ comes from Greek language. But did you know the Sanskrit word for it? It is ‘kshetra tattva’ (principles of areas and volume) or ‘jyamiti’ (in pure Sanskrit it means Jya – Earth & Miti – Measure). Jyamiti – Geometry – sounds similar? If anyone has done a Puja, they will know that ‘Naivedyam’ (usually cooked rice) is offered to God as food. Have you ever noticed that before the Naivedyam is kept in front of God, the officiating Priest or the householder draws a small square with water & then places the Naivedyam on top of that square and then offers it to God? While doing a Havan, the bricks (Agni Kund) are placed in a square formation. There used to be different altars for different offerings for God & these altars were very specifically described & had to be followed to the T if one wanted one’s desires to be satisfied (as these were for ‘kaam purti’ – satisfaction of desires – wealth, children, land, winning a war, etc.).

Every shape attracts different energies. These altars could be shaped as a square, circle, half circle or in the form of a bird or animal (like Garud or Kurma). Now in the case of the form of animal or bird, they used precise measurements with the help of squares, circles, semi circles, trapezium, equilateral or isosceles triangles, etc. Imagine the construction of such altars to perfection for just one Havan !!! And they did all this without the use of a ruler or pencil. Even today priests do this. And if they had to increase the size of the altar, they had to do it only squared without changing the shape.

When we claim that it was Indians who discovered the Pythogoras theorem, many Indians disbelieve it, but do read the above & then decide. Another interesting feature is that sides of squares or rectangles were called denoted by the term ‘bhuja’ ie. Arm, in Hindu scriptures. Thus we had Chaturbhuja, Panchabhuja, Shadbhuja (4, 5, 6 arms respectively) for denoting the figure. And we had ‘kona’ a colloquial version of ‘karna’ meaning Ear for other figures like Trikon (trigonan), Chatuskon (tetragonan), Panchkon (Pentagon), etc. Most knowledge of Geometry in Bharat comes from the Atharva Veda and from the Aapasthamba, Baudhayana and Katyayana (Buddhist) Sutras.

Mandalas – those intricate patterns which are put up before a Homa or outside houses as Rangolis are also geometric designs. It is obvious that even commoners knew Geometry and how to draw geometrical figures well. To say then that the wheel was invented in India doesn’t seem so unreal, right? Our beautiful temples and their unique architecture was possible only because of the knowledge of this Geometry.

Those wanting to know more must visit – http://insa.nic.in/writereaddata/UpLoadedFiles/IJHS/Vol15_2_1_KSShukla.pdf

… to be continued

Rati Hegde