Anyone who applies in a software company or go for a test always relies on competitive books written by Shakuntala Devi. Her books are kind of sure sot formula to clear any mental ability test if you learn the tricks endorsed by her.
Her childhood was not an easy one. It was tough. Her father was a circus artist, often a performing magician who was well-versed with card tricks.
Father discovered his daughter’s ability to memorise numbers while teaching her a card trick when she was about three years old.
Her father left the circus and took her on road shows that displayed her ability at calculation. She did this without any formal education.
At the age of six, she demonstrated her arithmetic abilities at the University of Mysore. Her memory, just as her mathematical ability, was photographic and phenomenal.
In 1944, Devi moved to London with her father. Devi travelled the world demonstrating her arithmetic talents, including a tour of Europe in 1950 and a performance in New York City in 1976.
In 1977, at Southern Methodist University, she gave the 23rd root of a 201-digit number in 50 seconds. A program had to be designed to confirm her calculations.
A child prodigy, her talent earned her a place in the 1982 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records.
Devi explained many of the methods she used to do mental calculations in her book ‘Figuring: The Joy of Numbers’, that is still in print.
She returned to India in the mid-1960s and married Paritosh Banerji, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service from Kolkata. They were divorced in 1979.
In 1980, she contested in the Lok Sabha elections as an independent, from Bombay South and from Medak in Andhra Pradesh. In Medak she stood against Indira Gandhi. She stood ninth, with 6514 votes.
She wrote the book, “The World of Homosexuals”, which is considered the first study of homosexuality in India.
In addition to her work as a mental calculator, Devi was an astrologer and an author of several books, including cookbooks and novels.
Believe it or not, she never learnt to use an abacus. She believed in India and Indian talent but wasn’t much happy with Indian politics and administration.
Generations will remember Shakuntala Devi for her contributions.