Vimarsh on Practical Gaṇita vs Religious Mathematics
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On 14th September 2023, Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) organised a Vimarsh on the topic “Practical Gaṇita vs Religious Mathematics" by Prof. C.K Raju. Prof Raju is PhD from the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata and was a member of the C-DAC team that built the first Indian Super Computer in the 1980s. He has taught and researched mathematics and published several books. These include, Ending Academic Imperialism (2011), Euclid and Jesus (2012), Cultural Foundation of Mathematics (2007), Towards a Consistence Theory (1994), and Eleven Pictures of Time (2003). In his work, he has shown how to relate science and religion, and proposed a new philosophy of mathematics called Zeroism. He has received several honours and awards, including the TGA award in Hungry in 2010 for correcting Einstein’s mistake, the fellowship of the Institute of Complex Thought, Lima, and received the Bhartiya Dharohar Award, MP. Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF, who chaired the session, spoke about Prof. Raju’s contribution to the scientific heritage of Indian mathematics.

Prof. Raju’s talk was a presentation of his position paper, which he felt was hard to get accepted by professional mathematicians and challenging to make it intelligible for people without technical knowledge of mathematics. His position could be summarised in the following way.

Mathematics is nothing but Western ethno-mathematics, which is less greater than that of ‘Gaṇita’, in both practical and epistemological terms. He highlighted the difficulty in comprehension and disinterest caused in mathematics by Western mathematics. In his explanation, Gaṇita and axiomatic mathematics are different. Here, Gaṇita makes ‘maths’ more easy and problem-solving more enjoyable. The political advantages that the West receives with the control of the mathematical contents are what make it survive. But to the non-Western colonised nation, there is no political or educational advantage to this form of mathematics.

According to Prof. Raju, this particular predicament is caused by the religious foundations of modern mathematics and its commitment to certain truth claims. He asked in the lecture, “Gaṇita is practical. Where as mathematics is religious. How can something that is religious be taught as a compulsory subject in our schools?” On one hand, he demonstrated how modern mathematics carries religious influences; on the other hand, he said there is evidence for people borrowing mathematical ideas from India. In the reception, these ideas get distorted based on their cultural and religious understanding. For instance, he said, “The West stole calculus from India without really understanding any of it. They added the concept of real numbers, because of which calculus became so difficult and complicated.” Since such tough and compelling arguments were made, the talk was followed by an interactive session.

Event Date 
September 14, 2023

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