evanagari numerals that form the basis of numerology and astrological studies, are set to disappear. The Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), in its proposal for a common all-India school syllabus, has formulated the Mathematic syllabus using English numbers. With almost all private schools in the country and both government and private establishments using English numbers, Devanagari numbers are on their way out.
Astrologists and experts of Vedic studies say that if no concrete steps are taken to preserve Devanagari numerals, studying numerology and astrology will get difficult.
Renowned astrologist Pandit Kameshwar Upadhyaya said that since the Devanagari numbers form the basis of traditional Indian learning and "are also connected with certain Indian beliefs", their use must not be discouraged. "Devanagari numerals are not only meant for counting, they are treated as symbols of various powers and elements like fire, air, water, sky and earth. They also help predict the weather and the movements of planets. In addition, certain numbers have direct connections with the ragas of classical music. Without these numbers, all these arts and ancient learning will be rendered baseless. The government must keep these aspects in mind while formulating any education policy," said Upadhyaya.
Professor Kusum Lata of Delhi University said that though it's important to keep using Devanagari numerals to protect ancient Indian learning, they cannot be included in mainstream syllabus. "The English language has become the standard of international learning. We cannot teach children Mathematics using Devanagari," she said.
Educationists with the MHRD feel that Devanagari numerals can be protected through private use or while studying numerology and astrology as separate subjects. "People should educate their children about ancient Indian learning at home and must encourage such studies. Besides, numerology and astrology are also taught as separate subjects in various universities. Therefore, those who are interested in ancient learning, can pursue them separately. Use of Devanagari numerals cannot be included in school syllabus," said a Delhi-based educationist, who also works as advisor to the MHRD on primary education.