The renowned SHAKUNTALA DEVI was an ingenious mathematician, an astrologer and the author of THE WORLD OF HOMOSEXUALS, published during the year of 1977. Right from the age of three, she could amaze people with her extraordinary ability to memorize and compute numbers in record breaking time, which gradually made her earn the title “HUMAN COMPUTER”.
With multi-faceted personality and curious mind, she was also an inspiration for millions of people around the globe. She firmly believed that human minds are better than any computer. Her passion to expand the learning capacity of human mind led her to introduce the concept of MIND DYNAMICS. Last month, the very much-awaited biopic on the life of Shakuntala Devi got released on Amazon Prime Video worldwide. The love towards number gave her wings to fly and a reason to live.
A SHERO, OUR BELOVED SHAKUNTALA DEVI.
“Education is not just about going to school and getting a degree. It’s about widening your knowledge and absorbing the truth about life.”
Born into a poverty-stricken Brahmin family of southern India as the daughter of a circus performer, she couldn’t be lucky enough to get a formal education owing to her family’s financial position. But one fine day by god’s grace, Devi’s father discovered her fascinating ability while teaching her card tricks and recognized her as a child prodigy. Since then he took her on road shows where she displayed her ability of calculation and made the world spellbound.
At the age of six she exhibited her prodigious memory and solved arithmetic equation in an extraordinary speed at the University of Mysore. What’s really amazing about young Devi’s talent was that she never went to school yet she appeared to be one of the brilliant mathematician from our histories. The way she solved those complicated calculations in seconds that also in pre-internet era made me salute her!
THE FIGURE OF INSPIRATION!
“Nobody challenges me. I challenge myself.”
Fearless and full of life, the mathematical wizard inspired several women around the world. With a zest to live her life to the fullest, she was also one of those progressive minds from that era. She acknowledged various topics which were taboo at that time in our Indian culture. She wrote down a book revolving around homosexuals. In fact, this book (THE WORLD OF HOMOSEXUALS) is also considered to be one of the first studies of homosexuality in India. She came out as a flag bearer for people who were being suppressed. She offered a positive understanding about homosexuality.
During the year of 1980, she stood fearlessly against Indira Gandhi as an independent candidate from Mumbai South and Medak (Telangana) and openly expressed her feelings by saying that she wanted to “defend the people of Medak from being fooled by Mrs. Gandhi”; she didn’t stand a chance in front of our former prime minister Indira Gandhi still her points were strong as an iron rod.
Shakuntala Devi broke all the norms to live a life where there’s no difference between a male and female. Where even a woman, wearing colorful saree with bright lipstick can solve critical equation in seconds. She was a woman who loved wearing sarees, drinking wine and dancing to Fred Astaire songs. Also a struggling mother trying to redirect her versatile persona to fulfil the demands of motherhood. She experienced ups and downs throughout her life but she never gave up. Hence proved “Above all, be the heroine of your life!”
THE GLOBETROTTER – SHAKUNTALA DEVI
“You develop a sympathy for human beings when you travel a lot.”
By 1950, Shakuntala Devi was touring Europe, exhibiting her marvelous god-gifted talent. During an event hosted at the BBC, the judges declared her answer to a problem wrong, until the experts re-examined their own calculations and found her to be right and that’s when she was heralded as ‘HUMAN COMPUTER’.
In 1976, when she performed in New York, an article came out claiming that Devi could give you the cube root of almost any number- in the very same time it took you to ask the question.
In the year 1980 at Imperial College in London, she multiplied two 13- digit numbers in less than 28 seconds which surprised her with a place in 1982 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.
As a matter of fact, in the year 1988, Shakuntala Devi went to University of California, Berkeley to have her abilities studied deeply by Arthur Jensen. She travelled across the globe, learnt plethora of languages, celebrated her victories and came out as a shining star from the crowd.
On 4th of November, 2013, Google honored India’s Human Computer Shakuntala Devi on her 84th birth anniversary with a Google Doodle.
BUT LEGENDS NEVER DIE.
“Numbers have life; they’re not just symbols on paper.”
Despite all hurdles and hardships, Shakuntala Devi charmed the world with her witty one-liners and most importantly her mathematical prowess. Hailed as an authentic heroine, she made India proud every time she solved an equation. Britishers ruled over India for 200 years and this wonderful lady made them clap for her in their own country. That must have felt like one of those silent slaps on the faces of chauvinist crowd.
The best thing about her is that she dared to chase her dreams. She was also one to quash the myth that only serious people become mathematician. She was full of life, with a soul of nature and the heart of universe. For Shakuntala Devi, numbers were like gateways of reaching to the world.