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Shakuntala Devi: The Enigma

Shakuntala Devi, remembered as the “Human Computer”, was an enigma. She was truly a mathematical genius who left the world in awe of her superhuman abilities with numbers. Her extraordinary talent for mental calculations made her a household name, earning her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. That said, it is to be noted that Shakuntala Devi’s journey was not just about numbers; it was a testament to the boundless potential of the human mind.

Shakuntala Devi was constantly challenged and tested, but each time, she emerged victorious, shining like a diamond. Though her core strength was numbers, she was a bundle of energy and constantly explored other areas. Throughout her lifetime, she became a writer, an astrologer, a teacher, a motivational speaker and even dabbled with politics. She spent her lifetime sharing her knowledge and touching lives in different ways with her talent.

A picture of Shakuntala Devi
Shakuntala Devi : The Enigma

A Brief Overview:

Shakuntala Devi was born on November 4th, 1929, in Bengaluru, Karnataka. She was not privileged to receive a formal education. At the age of 6, her story took an extraordinary turn: she astounded the audience with her exceptional mathematical skills, at the University of Mysore. Her father worked at the circus performing a variety of roles: as a lion tamer, magician, tightrope walker, and trapeze artist. Following the incident at the University of Mysore, he embarked on a journey, to showcase her talent to the world.

Mastering the World of Numbers:
A picture of Shakuntala Devi
The Human Computer

Shakuntala Devi’s talent took her around the world, where she constantly amazed her audiences with her ability to solve complex mathematical operations within seconds. In one such incident, she was put to test by Professor Arthur Jensen, a specialist in educational psychology. It was 1988, at the University of California. She effortlessly solved intricate math problems even before the professor could record the answers. Her remarkable performance was published in an academic journal, establishing her status as a mathematical prodigy.

One of her most memorable feats occurred in 1977 when she calculated the 23rd root of a 201-digit number in less than a minute. The US Bureau of Standards had to create a special program to verify her answer, a task that took longer than her calculation itself. As a result, she left mathematicians worldwide astounded.

A Legend in Her Own Right:

Shakuntala Devi participated in an iconic interview with the BBC in 1950, where the interviewer challenged her to answer a mathematical question. Initially, the interviewer deemed her answer to be incorrect since the computer was showing a different answer to the same question. Later, he publicly acknowledged that the computer’s answer was incorrect and that Shakuntala Devi’s answer was indeed accurate. Her legendary status only grew stronger.

The famous incident was recreated in her biopic enacted by Vidya Balan. Watch it here.

At the Imperial College, London, in 1980, she was given the task of multiplying two 13-digit numbers, which were randomly selected by a computer. The digits selected were 7,686,369,774,870 and 2,465,009,745,779. The answer was 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730. She was able to solve it in 28 seconds. This was the event that was recorded in The Guinness Book Of World Records in 1982.

Writer Steven Smith commented on the incident by stating: “The result is so far superior to anything previously reported that it can only be described as unbelievable!”

An Inspiring Movie

The incredible life story of Shakuntala Devi was brought to the silver screen in a biographical film titled “Shakuntala Devi”, which was directed by Anu Menon. Veteran actress Vidya Balan, played the lead role and the film provided audiences with a glimpse into the fascinating life of this mathematical genius.

A Loving Family:

Behind the mathematical genius was a loving family. Shkuntala Devi’s daughter, Anupama Banerjee, also played a significant role in her life. While Shakuntala Devi was constantly on the move, amazing audiences with her mathematical prowess, her daughter played an essential role by providing unwavering support and actively participating in her mother’s remarkable journey.

She Loved Astrology:

Shakuntala Devi was fascinated with astrology and is said to have travelled the world giving astrological consultations to prominent people like presidents, prime ministers, top business tycoons and movie stars. She wrote a book called Astrology For All based on her experience.

Continuing Her Legacy:

How could such an enigmatic personality not be a source of inspiration for all? Even after her demise, Shakuntala Devie’s life continues to inspire people worldwide. Her story serves as a testament to the power of human potential and the limitless possibilities of the human mind. Her dedication to sharing her knowledge and her versatile talents continue to influence generations.

She published a book named Figuring: The Joy of Numbers in 1977 which gave explanations to the methods she used to do mental calculations. She went on to write many books which covered topics like maths, puzzles and astrology. She is said to have a few murder mysteries and short stories to her credit.

The Quest For Math Excellence and IQ Enhancement:

Shakuntala Devi’s legacy reinforces the idea that proficiency in mathematics can significantly enhance overall IQ levels and academic performance. Developing strong mathematical abilities not only fosters logical thinking but also improves problem-solving skills, critical thinking and attention to detail.

Nurturing Mathematical Minds at Learner Circle:

In today’s world, Learner Circle stands as a platform dedicated to helping children, unlock their mathematical potential. We, at Learner Circle, understand that mathematical proficiency is not just about numbers, it’s about fostering a holistic approach to learning. Our programs are designed to cater to various aspects of mathematical development.

Programs offered by Learner Circle:

1. Abacus Classes: Our Abacus program facilitates the learning of arithmetic operations and enhances mental calculations. It’s an excellent foundation for building strong mathematical skills.

Click here to learn more about Abacus classes at Learner Circle:

2. Mental Math Classes: Our Mental Math program focuses on math tips and tricks, providing students with innovative approaches to solving mathematical problems quickly and accurately.

Click here to learn more about Mental Math classes at Learner Circle:

3. Times Tables Practice: Our Times Tables program is designed to reduce calculation and recall time, leading to improved overall performance in mathematics.

Join Leaner Circle and Unleash Your Mathematical Potential

Just as Shakuntala Devi amazed the world with her mathematical genius, we believe that every individual has the potential to excel in mathematics. Join us at Learner Circle and embark on a journey to unleash your mathematical prowess. Being an online platform, our programs are available to children from all over the world, providing them with the tools to enhance their cognitive functions and overall academic performance.

In conclusion, Shakuntala Devi’s legacy lives on, inspiring us to explore the endless possibilities within our own minds. Mathematics is not just a subject; it’s a gateway to greater intelligence and problem-solving skills. Embrace the world of numbers, and let Learner Circle be your guide to mathematical excellence.


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