1 A lady or a Book of Mathematics

For foreign visitors: Believe me, the first time when I saw Leelawati, a heritage book of mathematics written in ancient India, I was astonished. This book has more than 500 pages, written purely in Sanskrit verses. Its language is so brilliant that you will not accept it readily, that this is a book of mathematics, a spherical trigonometry in particular, rather it will appear to you as an epic, like Ramayana and Mahabharta. This book has been written thousands years ago. In those days, Indians were very rich in literature and science and technologies. The research works were carried out in deep jungle and the researchers believed that you cannot find peace in materialistic world. Though, several times, researchers and religious leaders had differences of opinions, but it was widely believed (still now) that during that period there were very thin line between religion and science. There has been a contradictory theory (1) Leelawati was rather daughter of Bhaskaracharya (2) she was her wife. I have come across the later one more often. Irrespective of the theory, Leelawati, a popular female name in India is a book on mathematics. In following story, I am trying to explain why a name of the book is given after a simple lady.

Today, it was just a simple dawn, as it seems though. The birds were chirping, the Saint had gone for morning bath. The sun was about to bang at the horizon but its appearance can be felt. The petals of the flowers were gaining energy to bloom soon. The light was about to convert from blackish red to full fledged bright sunlight. It was a great morning.

This lady was performing her routine activities. However, today, she was in no mood to escape from the Saint. Rather, she would face the truth of the reality, a fact about her way of life. The work that she has been doing for last 20 years. Why not, She? A wild goose chase has just converted into a Red letter’s day, today, in the life of the Saint. She has just completed her daily duty of cleaning his work place, placing his carpet and necessary tools beside his holy seat. She had given fodder to his cow. Arranged sticks of dried mango trees. She had been desperately waiting for the Saint who had gone for his morning bath in nearby river. She was feeling unusual, for... She has to leave the scene before the Saint arrives, the routine work she had been doing for last 20 years. But she is proud today, for what she has done. It was really a Red Letter’s Day in the life of both the lady and the saint.

Almost all the great mathematicians from all over India were invited to take part in the banquet, which was organized by this Saint named “Bhaskaracharya”. The banquet was organized on the occasion of the completion of his research work in mathematics and astronomy. Mr. Bhaskaracharya would be honored by above mathematicians for his unique work. The heart of the lady was banging and breaking the silence of the loneliness. Suddenly, the Saint Bhaskaracharya arrived. Completely, engrossed in his thought, he ignored the lady in front of him.

The lady bent down and touched his feet in his honor. His instantaneous feelings could not stopped him to ask the lady, “Who are you?” In response the lady couldn’t tell anything, as the tears broke out of the corner of her eyes. She could have demanded her compensation for the sacrifice; she has been making for last 20 years. If not the compensation, it could have been the right of a common woman. But, she was completely silent, and tears were the only means for communication to the outside world. The Saint again asked, “Who are you?” This time she couldn't stop herself, replied, “It is me, Leelavati”. In response he composed himself and a sign of interrogation appeared on his face which was loud enough to be read as, “ Who Leelavati?” Facial expressions are mightier than the words, it was too much for her, and she couldn’t stop herself, as the Saint was not able to recognize her. “Remember, the promise, once you had committed to my father”, She murmured. The Saint looked into the eyes of the Lady called herself as “Leelavati”. The tears were still coming out of the corner of her blank and big eyes. The saint found himself disappeared in the event that happened 20 years back.

He had just graduated from the school where the father of the said lady was his mathematics teacher. This Saint “Bhaskaracharya” was his brilliant student. He had seen every quality in Bhaskar for the quality research in Mathematics and Astronomy. The father of the lady and teacher of Bhaskaracharya was on his deathbed and felt that his daughter could be an orphan after his death. So he called his one of the best student and demanded “Gurudakshina” as his ultimate wish. He was knowing that Bhaskar had taken vow not to marry in his life for the sake of his study in mathematics. In those days, great researchers of India, use to stay in jungle for carrying out the results. There are great examples (like Aryabhatt who invented “zero” and it was customery for a student to give an ultimate gift to his teacher. Now, the man on deathbed had given him an order to marry with his daughter Leelavati. Bhaskar was in “Dharmshankat” (holy dilemma) but still obeyed his guru at the deathbed.

Bhaskar thought that he had been trapped by the wish of his teacher and his further career would never be the same, the way he planned. He would indulge himself in earning bread and butter for his wife and children. But to the women with whom he had married, had a super gene in her blood. She had decided not to be an obstacle in the research work of his man. She had decided to give every daily life comfort and fulfill the needs of her husband. And in this process she used to stay away from his working place but looked after him, worked like a maid for him, so that he can carry his research without getting disturbed.

The time had started passing and the saint was so much busy in his work that he had forgotten that sometimes he had married to a woman. It took almost 20 years to complete his work. He had compiled his work and today he was going to get recognition for what he had done in last 20 years. The book dealing largely on arithmetic’s, spherical trigonometry, and astronomy was ready to challenge the world of science and technology across the globe. He had to worked through day and nights to complete his work. But into the eyes he was looking at that moment, had a great contribution. The saint felt a selfless sacrifice of the true womanhood, which was only meant for her husband. This book wouldn’t have come into present shape without the hidden contribution of his lady.

It was a log poise. Saint decided to break the silence. He asked the Lady, “What is your name?” “It is Leelavati”, she whispered. The Saint hold both the arm of the lady, started looking into her big blank eyes, “I have committed a sin. No, this is not fare. Now only compensation, I can award you is…”.

“What?”, Asked the lady.

The saint continued, “I am going to name this book after you. This is Leelawati, a book on mathematics and spherical trigonometry, whoever will read this book, will have to remember your sacrifice”. Enough is engough. This time, it was the saint couldn’t stop himself in crying like a kid. However, the lady was standstill like a statue. She didn’t have the right word to express her feeling. See composed herself and escorted her husband to the open compound, where other experts were waiting for him.

Thousands year later, someone has written in west, “There is always a woman behind the success of a man”.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful piece. Thanks for sharing the information with us.




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