Bharati Krishna Tirthaji

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Jagadguru Swami Sri Bhārati Kṛṣṇa Tīrthaji Mahāraja (Sanskrit: जगद्गुरु स्वामि श्री भारती कृष्ण तीर्थजी महाराज; March, 1884 – February 2, 1960) was the Sankaracharya of the Govardhana matha of Puri during 1925–1960. He is particularly known for his book Vedic Mathematics.[1]

Early life[edit]

Venkatraman Shastri was born in March 1884 to an orthodox Tamil Brahmin family. His father was P. Narasimha Shastri, originally a tehsildar at Tirunelveli in Madras Presidency who later became the Deputy Collector of the Presidency. His uncle, Chandrasekhara Shastri, was the Principal of the Maharaja's College in Vizianagaram, while his great-grandfather, Justice C. Ranganath Shastri was a judge in the Madras High Court.[2]

Educational career[edit]

Venkatraman Shastri started his educational career as a student of the National College in Trichanapalli. After that he moved to the Church Missionary Society College and eventually the Hindu College, both in Tirunelveli. He consistently held first place in all subjects in all of his classes. Shastri passed his matriculation examination from the Madras University in January, 1899, where he also finished at the head of the class.[3]

As a student Venkatraman was marked for his splendid brilliance, superb retentive memory and an insatiable curiosity. By deluging his teachers with piercing questions, making them uneasy, and frequently forcing them to admit ignorance he was considered a terribly mischievous student.[4]

Although Venkatraman always scored high in subjects like mathematics, sciences and humanities, he was also proficient in languages and particularly adept in Sanskrit. According to his own testimonials, Sanskrit and oratory were his favourite subjects. Such was his mastery over the language, that he was awarded the title "Saraswati" by the Madras Sanskrit Association in July, 1899 at the age of 16. At about that time, Venkatraman was profoundly influenced by his Sanskrit guru Sri Vedam Venkatrai Shastri.[5]

Venkatraman won the highest place in the graduation B.A. examination in 1902. He then appeared for the M.A. Examination for the American College of Sciences, in Rochester, New York from the Bombay centre in 1903. He passed the M.A. examination in seven subjects that he had chosen - Sanskrit, philosophy, English, Mathematics, history, science and another - simultaneously scoring the highest honours in all, which was perhaps an all-time world record at the time.[4]

Venkatraman Saraswati, as he was called after receiving the title, also contributed to W. T. Stead's Review of Reviews on topics as diverse as religion and science. During his college days, he also wrote extensively on history, sociology, philosophy, politics and literature. Reading of the latest scientific research and discoveries was his hobby throughout his life.[4]

Early public life[edit]

Venkatraman Saraswati worked under Gopal Krishna Gokhale in 1905 for the National Education Movement and the South African Indian problems. However, his inclination towards Hindu studies led him to study the ancient Indian holy scriptures, Adhyātma-Vidyā. In 1908 he joined the Sringeri Matha in Mysore to study under the Sringeri Shankaracharya Sri Satchidānanda Sivābhinava Nrisimha Bhārati Swami. However, his spiritual practise was interrupted when he was pressured by nationalist leaders to head the newly started National College at Rajamahendri. Prof. Venkatraman Saraswati taught at the college for three years. But in 1911, he suddenly left the college to go back to Sri Satchidānanda Sivābhinava Nrisimha Bhārati Swami at the Sringeri Math.[6]

Spiritual path[edit]

Returning to Sringeri, Venkatraman spent his next eight years studying advanced Vedanta philosophy at the feet of Shri Nrisimha Bhārati Swami.

He also practised vigorous meditation, Brahma-sadhana and Yoga-sādhāna during those years in the nearby forests. It is believed that he attained spiritual self-realization during his years in the Sringeri Math. He would leave the material world and practise Yoga meditation in seclusion for many days. During those eight years, he also taught Sanskrit and Philosophy to local schools and ashrams. He delivered a series of sixteen lectures on Shankaracharya's philosophy at Shankar Institute of Philosophy, Amalner [Khandesh]. During that time, he also lectured as a guest professor at various institutions in Mumbai, Pune and Khandesh.[7]

Initiation into Sanyasa order[edit]

After Venkatraman's eight-year period of spiritual practice and study of the Vedanta and Vedic philosophy, he was initiated into the holy order of Samnyasa at Benaras by Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Trivikram Tirthaji Maharaj of Shāradāpeeth on July 4, 1919 and on this occasion he was given the title of Swami and the new name, "Swami Bhārāti Kṛṣṇa Tīrtha".[7]

Shankaracharya of Sharada Peetha[edit]

Swami Bhārāti Kṛṣṇa Tīrtha was installed as Shankaracharya of Sharada Peetha in 1921 after just two years of Sanyasa. After assuming the pontificate Shri Jagadguruji, he was given another title, Jagadguru, as is the tradition. The Swami then toured India from corner to corner giving lectures on Sanātana Dharma, Vedic philosophy and Vedanta. By his scintillating intellectual brilliance, powerful oratory, magnetic personality, sincerity of purpose, indomitable will, purity of thought, and loftiness of character he took the entire intellectual and religious class by storm.[8]

Shankaracharya of Govardhan Math[edit]

Around the time the Swami became Shankaracharya of Sharada Peetha, the Shankaracharya of Govardhan Math Puri, Jagadguru Śankarācārya Sri Madhusudhan Tirtha, was in failing health and was greatly impressed by Bharati Krishna Tirtha. Madhusudan Tirtha requested Bharati to succeed him at the Govardhan Math, however the Swami respectfully declined the offer. However, in 1925, Śankarācārya Sri Madhusudhan Tirtha's health took a serious turn and Swami Bhārāti Kṛṣṇa Tirtha had to accept the Govardhan Math's Gadi. In 1925, Swami Bhārāti Kṛṣṇa Tirtha assumed the pontificate of Shankaracharya of Govardhan Math, Puri and relinquished the pontificate of Sharadapeeth Gadi of Dwaraka. He installed Sri Swarupanandji as the new Shankaracharya of Sharada Peetha.[8]


After becoming the Shankaracharya of Govardhan Math, Swami Bharati toured all over the world for 35 years to spread the values of peace, harmony and brotherhood and to spread the message of the Sanātana Dharma. He took upon himself the colossal task of the renaissance of Indian culture.[8]

While being a pontiff, he wrote a large number of treatises and books on religion, sciences, mathematics, world peace and social issues. In 1953, at Nagpur, he founded an organization called "Sri Vishwa Punarnirmana Sangha" (World Reconstruction Association). Initially, the administrative board consisted of Jagadguruji's disciples, devotees and admirers of his spiritual ideals for humanitarian service, but later many distinguished people started to contribute to the mission. The Chief Justice of India, Justice B.P. Sinha served as its President. Dr. C. D. Deshmukh, the ex-Finance Minister of India and ex-Chairman of the University Grants Commission served as its Vice-President.[9]

In February 1958 he went on a trans-oceanic tour to America to speak on world peace and Vedanta, staying three months in Los Angeles, California traveling via the United Kingdom. This was the first tour outside India by a Shankaracharya in the history of the order. The tour was sponsored by Self-Realization Fellowship of Los Angeles, the Vedantic Society founded by Paramhansa Yogananda in America.[10] At that time, Rudi became one of his students.

He attended many national and international religious conferences and many other yoga workshops. He believed in the Vedantic ideal of "Pūrnatva" which literally translated means, "all-round perfection and harmony". He remained the Shankaracharya of the Govardhan Matha until his death in 1960.

In 1965 a Chair of Vedic Studies was founded at Banares Hindu University by Shri Arvind N. Mafatlala, a generous Mumbai business magnate and math devotee of the late Swami Sankaracarya.[11]


Tirthaji book "Vedic Mathematics" is a list of sixteen terse sūtras, or aphorisms, discussing strategies for mental calculation. Tirthaji claimed that he found the sūtras after years of studying the Vedas, a set of sacred ancient Hindu texts.[12] "Vedic mathematics" sutras.[13][14]

For arithmetic, Tirthaji gives several algorithms for whole number multiplication and division, (flag or straight) division, fraction conversion to repeating decimal numbers, calculations with measures of mixed units, summation of a series, squares and square roots (duplex method), cubes and cube roots (with expressions for a digit schedule), and divisibility (by osculation).[15]

Several tests and techniques for factoring and solving certain algebraic equations with integer roots for quadratic, cubic, biquadratic, pentic equations, systems of linear equations, and systems of quadratic equations are demonstrated. For fractional expressions, a separation algorithm and fraction merger algorithms are given. Other techniques handle certain patterns of some special case algebraic equations. Just an introduction to differential and integral calculus is given.[16]

Geometric applications are reviewed for linear equations, analytic conics, the equation for the asymptotes, and the equation to the conjugate-hyperbola.[17] Five simple geometric proofs for the Pythagorean theorem are given.[18] A 5-line proof of Apollonius' theorem is given.[19]

Advanced topics promised included the integral calculus (the center of gravity of hemispheres, conics), trigonometry, astronomy (spherical triangles, earth's daily rotation, earth's annual rotation about the sun and eclipses), and engineering (dynamics, statics, hydrostatics, pneumatics, applied mechanics).[20]

In his final comments he asserted that the names for "Arabic numerals," "Pythagoras' Theorem," and "Cartesian" co-ordinates are historical misnomers.[21]


  1. ^ "Understanding ancient Indian mathematics". The Hindu (India). 26 December 2011. 
  2. ^ page i, My Beloved Gurudeva, the dedication of Vedic Mathematics by Smti. Manjula Trivedi
  3. ^ Page i, My Beloved Gurudeva, the dedication to Vedic Mathematics
  4. ^ a b c Page ii, My Beloved Gurudeva, the dedication to Vedic Mathematics
  5. ^ Pages i-ii, My Beloved Gurudeva, the dedication to Vedic Mathematics
  6. ^ Page iii, My Beloved Gurudeva, by Smti. Manjuja Trivedi, dedication to Vedic Mathematics
  7. ^ a b page iii, My Beloved Gurudeva, the dedication of Vedic Mathematics by Smti. Manjula Trivedi
  8. ^ a b c page iv, My Beloved Gurudeva, the dedication of Vedic Mathematics by Smti. Manjula Trivedi
  9. ^ pages v-vi, My Beloved Gurudeva, the dedication of Vedic Mathematics by Smti. Manjula Trivedi
  10. ^ page vi, My Beloved Gurudeva, the dedication of Vedic Mathematics by Smti. Manjula Trivedi
  11. ^ Publication announcement by N.H. Bhagwati, Vice-Chancellor, Banaras Hindu University, March 27, 1965, after title page, Vedic Mathematics
  12. ^ Agrawala, V. S. (1992). General editor's note. Vedic mathematics (pp. v-viii) Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.
  13. ^ Myths and reality : On ‘Vedic mathematics’. S.G. Dani. School of Mathematics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Frontline, 22 October and 5 November 1993.
  14. ^ The Fraud of Vedic Maths. Hartosh Singh Bal. Open Magazine. 14 August 2010.
  15. ^ Table of Contents, Vedic Mathematics
  16. ^ Table of Contents,Vedic Mathematics
  17. ^ Pages 354-360, Vedic Mathematics
  18. ^ Pages 350-351, Vedic Mathematics
  19. ^ Page 352, Vedic Mathematics
  20. ^ Pages 361-362, Vedic Mathematics
  21. ^ Page 353, Vedic Mathematics


  • Trivedi, Manjula - My Beloved Gurudeva, Sri Vishwa Punarnirmana Sangha, Nagpur. (1965)
  • Sri Bhārāti Kṛṣṇa Tīrtha - Vedic Mathematics, Motilal Banarassidas Publications, Delhi, (1992) ISBN 81-208-0164-4

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