Shakuntala Devi Biography | Lesser Known Facts About Her

By | February 9, 2024
shakuntala devi biography
shakuntala devi biography


Shakuntala Devi biography can help you to know about the lesser-known facts about the genius mathematician. Besides, she was also a writer and a mental calculator. Her popular name is Human-Computer for her astonishingly fast calculation speed. With her amazing skills, she got a place in the 1982 edition of the Guinness Books of World Records. Despite achieving her world record on 18 June 1980 at Imperial College, London, the certificate was given on 30 July 2020 posthumously. Shakuntala Devi biography can be an inspiration for many, especially, who want to achieve milestones in the subject of mathematics. Learn more. 

Important Aspects Of Her Life

Below is the list of some important aspects of her life:

Early life

Shakuntala Devi was born in Bangalore, Karnataka, to a Kannada Brahmin family. C V Sundararajan Rao, her father, worked in a circus as a trapeze artist, lion tamer, tightrope walker, and magician. When she was about three years old, he discovered his daughter’s ability to memorise numbers while teaching her a card trick. Her father left the circus and took her on roadshows, where she demonstrated her math skills. She did this without any formal education. 

Her brilliant talent quickly spread, and she began lecturing at universities in southern India. She first demonstrated her abilities to the faculty of the University of Mysore when she was six years old, and then again at Annamalai University. She also gave performances at Osmania University, Hyderabad University, and Visakhapatnam University. At the age of six, she showed her arithmetic abilities at the University of Mysore. In 1944 Devi moved to London.

Mental Calculation

Devi demonstrated her math abilities in a number of countries around the world. Besides, in 1950, she was on a tour of Europe, and in 1976, she was in New York City. Furthermore, she shifted to the United States in 1988 to have her talents examined by Arthur Jensen, an educational psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Above all, Jensen examined her performance at several tasks, including the calculation of large numbers. 

Several Instances Of Her Intelligence

A few instances of the Shakuntala Devi’s intelligence that giving her the well-deserved fame: 

  • Calculating the cube root of 61,629,875 and the seventh root of 170,859,375 were two of the problems Devi was given. Devi gave Jensen the answers to the above-mentioned problems (395 and 15, respectively) before he could write them down in his notebook, according to Jensen. In 1990, Jensen’s results were out in the scholarly journal Intelligence.
  • She gave the 23rd root of a 201-digit number in 50 seconds at Southern Methodist University in 1977. Her response of 546,372,891 was verified by calculations performed on the UNIVAC 1101 machine at the US Bureau of Standards, for which a special programme had to be written to perform such a big calculation, which took longer than it did for her.
  • She showed multiplication of two 13-digit numbers on June 18, 1980: 7,686,369,774,870 2,465,099,745,779. The Department of Computing at Imperial College London chose these numbers at random. In 28 seconds, she correctly replied 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730. Additionally, The Guinness Book of World Records recognised this achievement in 1982.
  • In a 2009 interview, Devi recalled Indira Gandhi told her, “Shakuntala, remember I’ve got so many ambassadors all over the world but you’re a very special ambassador because you’re a roving ambassador, a mathematical ambassador, who can win friends for India and build up close relationship between country to country.”

In her book Figuring: The Joy of Numbers, Shakuntala Devi explains many of the strategies she used to do mental calculations. You may find it all in Shakuntala Devi biography.

Book on homosexuality

She was chastised for writing The World of Homos]exuals, the first published scholarly study of homosexuality in India, in 1977. She mentioned in the documentary For Straights Only that her interest in the subject stemmed from her marriage to a homosexual man. Besides, it discusses her desire to learn more about homosexuality.

Interviews with two young Indian homosexual men, a male couple pursuing legal marriage in Canada, a temple priest explaining his views on homosexuality, and a study of the current literature on homosexuality are some of the main incidents in the “pioneering” text. It concludes with a call for homosexuality to be decriminalised, as well as “complete and complete acceptance—not tolerance and sympathy.” The book, however, was not much popular at that time. 

Personal life

In the mid-1960s, Devi returned to India and married Paritosh Banerji, a Kolkata-based officer of the Indian Administrative Service. Due to family issues, they divorced in 1979. She ran for the Lok Sabha as an independent candidate for Mumbai South and Medak in Andhra Pradesh in 1980. Moreover, Shakuntala Devi biography describes all the important aspects of her early life. 

In Medak, she stood against the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, saying she wanted to “defend the people of Medak from being fooled by Mrs. Gandhi”; she came ninth, with 6,514 votes (1.47% of the votes). Devi returned to Bangalore in the early 1980s.

Devi was a well-known astrologer and the author of many books, including cookbooks and novels, in addition to her work as a mental calculator. She began by writing short stories and murder mysteries, and she had a passion for music.

Death and legacy

In April 2013, she was dealing with a serious respiratory problems. She developed heart and kidney problems over the next two weeks. On April 21, 2013, she passed away in the hospital. She was 83 years old at the time. Anupama Banerji, her daughter lives in London with her husband Abhaya Kumar and two daughters. Besides, on 4 November 2013, there was a Google  Doodle on her 84th birthday.

Shakuntala Devi Film 

Shakuntala Devi is a popular film on the life events of Devi. Sanya Malhotra, Amit Sadh, and Jisshu Sengupta co-star alongside Vidya Balan in the film. Sony Pictures Networks Productions was the producer of this film. Furthermore, Amazon Prime Video releases it on July 31, 2020.

Shakuntala Devi, a world-renowned mathematician who lived her life on her own terms, tells her remarkable tale. In an attempt to capture her indomitable spirit, the film humanises her as a woman and mother while paying tribute to her brilliance as a mathematician. The film focuses her relationship with her daughter Anu, and showcases their very different struggles and goals.


Despite not receiving her formal education due to her family’s poor financial condition, Shakuntala Devi became popular with her awe-inspiring mental calculation ability. However, the personal life of Shakuntala Devi was nothing less than an emotional roller coaster ride. Yet, she excelled in all walks of life. Her life is an inspiration to many people who are dealing with the hardship of their lives. Why not read the Shakuntala Devi biography and heard so much from her? If you liked this post, make a visit to our blog section to read the biographies of famous personalities. Never stop! 


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