Shakuntala Devi biography: birth, early life, age, personal life, books, death, and legacy

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Shakuntala Devi (04/1101929 – 21/04/2013) was an Indian astrologer, writer, and mathematical genius, popularly known as “Human-Computer”. Without having any formal education, she could solve complicated mathematical problems in her head. She had amazing skills, for which she earned a place in the Guinness Book Of the World Records in 1982. She wrote various formulas to simplify numerical calculations for students.

Quick Overview About Shakuntala Devi:

  • Name: Shakuntala Devi
  • Date of Birth:- 04/11/1929
  • Birthplace:- Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
  • Father:- C V Sundararaja Rao
  • Name she earned:- Human-Computer
  • Famous reason:- Extraordinary skill in Arithmetics
  • Nationality:- India
  • Religion:- Hindu
  • Caste:- Kannada Brahmin
  • School:- She went to a convent school for 3 months at the age of 10
  • College:- Didn’t attend any college
  • Educational Qualification:- No formal education
  • Awards & Achievements:- a) The most distinguished woman of the year – by the University of Philippines in 1969
    b) Ramanujan Mathematical Genius Award in Washington D.C in 1988
    c) Awarded the lifetime achievement award before 1 month of her death in 2013.
  • Marriage:- 1960
  • Husband/spouse:- Paritosh Banerjee ( An IAS officer from Kolkatta; 1960-1979)
  • Children name:- Anupama Banerjee
  • Profession:- Writer, Mathematician, Astrologer
  • Books written by her:- “The world of Homosexuals”, “Figuring the joy of number”, “Puzzles to Puzzle you”…..etc.
  • Death:- 21st April 2013
  • Age (at the time of Death):- 83
  • Place of death:- Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
  • Death cause:- Cardiac and respiratory problems

Early life and Childhood of Shakuntala Devi:

Shakuntala Devi was born on 4th November 1929 to a Kannada Brahmin family at Bengaluru. Her father had refused to work as his traditional works such as a priest, an astrologer, and worked as a traveling magician. The financial condition of her family was very poor. Due to this poor condition, she had not received any formal education.
At the age of 3, her father discovered her talent to memorize numbers. He used his daughter’s quality to earn money. He left the circus and made roadshows displaying her talent. Soon she gathered others’ attention and generated enough money for her father.
She displayed her talent to the faculty of the University of Mysore at the age of 6. And also demonstrated her ability at the Annamalai University, Osmania University, and the universities of Hyderabad and Vishakapatnam.
She moved to London with her father in 1944.

Mental Calculation- Her Talent and skills:

By time Shakuntala Devi got wide recognition and traveled to different parts of the world displaying her ability in mathematics. In the year 1950, she was on a tour of Europe and in New York City in 1976.
Arthur Jensen, a professor of educational psychology at the University of California studied her abilities in 1988. He tested her in different ways including the calculation of large numbers. Some examples of the problems given to her include calculating the cube root of 61,629,875 and the seventh root of 170,859,375. Arthur reported that she solved the problems before he could copy that in his notebook.

In 1977, she solved the 23rd root of a 201 digit number in 50 seconds at Southern Methodist University. Her answer 546,372,891 was conformed by calculating at the US Bureau of standards by the UNIVAC 1011 computer.


Devi appeared in a BBC show in 1955, where Leslie Mitchell was the host. The host gave her a complex math problem. And she solved the problem within seconds. But the answers of the host and Devi were different.
Later, she found out that Devi’s answer was correct. This news spread across the world and she was titled as Human-Computer.
But she never liked the title because she said that the human brain has incomparably more capabilities than a computer. So, it’s inappropriate to compare human minds with computers.

Guinness Book of World records:

Shakuntala Devi solving Problems in Seconds

On 18th June 1980, she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13 digit numbers randomly picked by the Department of Computing at Imperial College London. The two numbers were 7,686,369,774,870 and 2,465,099,745,779. She answered it correctly as 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds. And it was the time taken by her to speak this large number.
This event was recorded in the Guinness Book Of World Records.

Shakuntala Devi Personal life:

Shakuntala Devi returned to India in 1960. After returning, she married Paritosh Banerjee, an officer of the Indian Administrative Service from Kolkotta. The couple has a daughter, Anupama Banerjee, who is married with two daughters and lives in London. After 19 years of marriage, she divorced him.
Devi contested the Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate for Mumbai south and for Medak in 1980. In Medak, she fought against the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and got very few votes. After losing the election, she returned to Bangalore.

Books written by Shakuntala Devi:

In addition to having skills in mathematic, Devi was an astrologer, an author of different books including cooking books and novels. She started with stories, murder mysteries, and more things.
Some of the famous books written by her are:

  • “Figuring the joy of number” (1977)
  • “Puzzles to Puzzle you” (1979)
  • “Astrology for you” (2005)
  • “The book of numbers” (2006)
  • “The world of Homosexuals” (1977)

The World of Homosexuals:

In 1977, she wrote this book. It was the first published academic study on homosexuality in India. She was criticized for this book. She said that she was interested in this topic because of her marriage to a homosexual man and she desired to look at homosexuality more closely to understand it.

This book contained interviews with two young Indian homosexual men, a male couple in Canada seeking legal marriage, a temple priest who explains his view on homosexuality and present literature on homosexuality. And this book ends with a call for decriminalisation of homosexuality and “full and complete acceptance- not tolerance and sympathy”.

Awards and Achievements:

  • “Most Distinguished Woman of the Year” – this title was given by the University of Philipines in the year 1969.
  • “Ramanujan Mathematical Genius” – this award was given in Washington D.C in 1988.

She started the Shakuntala Devi Education Foundation Public Trust for children from underprivileged backgrounds to get a quality education. She also helped in spreading global awareness about India’s contribution to mathematics.

Shakuntala Devi Death and Legacy:

In April, she was admitted to a hospital after getting severe respiratory problems. Within the treatment period of two weeks, she suffered heart and kidney complications. On 23 April 2013, she died at the hospital at the age of 83.
Google honored Shakuntala Devi with a Google doodle for her achievements on the 84th birthday of her i.e on 4th November 2013.
A film also titled Shakuntala Devi on her lifestory.

Shakuntala Devi Movie:

A movie titled Shakuntala Devi is released on 31st July 2020. It is based on the biography of the Human Computer shakuntala Devi. It was written and directed by Anu Menon and produced by Sony Pictures Networks India. the film stars Vidya Balan in a titular role as Shakuntala Devi. The movie was streamed on Amazon prime Video online.


1. Shakuntala Devi net worth

There is no exact calculation of Shakuntala Devi’s net worth. But it is said that she had properties worth 50 crores owned in different countries.

2. Shakuntala Devi real daughter

Shakuntala Devi has a daughter and her name is Anupama Banerji.

3. Why is Shakuntala Devi famous?

Shakuntala Devi holds the record for “Fastest Human Computation.” In 1980, she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13 digit numbers randomly picked by the Department of Computing at Imperial College London and she answered it correctly in 28 seconds.

About Author
Shibaram Patro
I am a Digital Marketer. I love to learn new things and to deliver that to people.