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Shakuntala Devi, The Human Computer

Shakuntala Devi is an Indian author and was known as the human computer around the world for her excellent brain power to calculate. In 1982, she was included in the 'Guinness Book of World Records' in 1982 for his prodigious talent. Apart from this, Shakuntala also had considerable knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. However, the title of 'world's fastest human computer' was held by Shakuntala till now because of the world record, it was recently broken by Neelkant Bhanu Prakash of Hyderabad, India.

Shakuntala Devi (The Human Computer)
Shakuntala Devi, (The Human Computer)

Shakuntala Devi was born on 4 November 1929, in a Hindu Brahmin family in Bangalore. When she was only three years old, his extraordinary talent for counting became apparent. Shakuntala's father worked in a circus. He noticed that no matter how hard he tried at the game of cards, it was impossible to beat his daughter. Shakuntala used to do complex arithmetic without any formal education. Thus her father left the circus and took his daughter to different places and did road shows, where Shakuntala would show her amazing intelligence.

At the age of only six, she showed her talent for the first time in the Mysore University among the intellectuals on a large scale. Needless to say, all the teachers and students present were impressed by this extraordinary ability to calculate. Two years later, she again showed her special quality in Annamalai University. Then Shakuntala moved to London with her father in 1944. Showing her intelligence outside the country for the first time, her journey to fame across the world began.

On 5 October 1950, Shakuntala showed her unique talent in a BBC programme. The show was hosted by Leslie Mitchell. Because of BBC, her fame increased across the globe. She earned the title of 'human computer'. But Shakuntala Devi did not like this title at all. According to her, human brain power-capacity and efficiency is much more than a computer. It is not logical to compare computer and human brain.

Shakuntala Devi wrote several books during her lifetime. At least six of these were books that would inspire the next generation to study mathematics. A look at his books shows that she also knew about various mathematical subjects that are part of the formal curriculum, such as trigonometry and logarithms. No information is available on how she came to be so proficient in these matters despite having no such formal education. However, it is believed that by reading various books on your own, you become proficient in these subjects as well. Notably, she also wrote a crime thriller during his lifetime, called 'Perfect Murder'.

Shakuntala also had a keen interest in astronomy. Due to this she acquired a lot of knowledge and wrote a book on astrology 'Astrology for You'. According to New York Times article, Shakuntala met up to 60 people a day, she answered any three questions about their lives if they told her the date, time and place of their birth.

Shakuntala Devi got married to Paritosh Banerjee in the mid-1960s. They have a daughter named Anupama Banerjee. After a few years of marriage, their marriage broke up. After the divorce, Shakuntlai brought her daughter up. 

During the seventies, Shakuntala spent a lot of time with homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals to understand their mentality and lifestyle. The result of his long research was the book 'The World of Homosexuality'. This book was published in 1977, but at that time the book did not get such recognition due to the social context and mentality. But later his book got national and international recognition. This is perhaps the first book of its kind in India to have such a comprehensive discussion of homosexuality. 

At one point of life, Shakuntala Devi made a slight move towards politics. But she did not get any success. In 1980, she stood as an independent candidate in the Indian Lok Sabha from Mumbai and Medak against Indira Gandhi, whom she often openly criticized. But Shakuntala's fame did not help her much in getting people's votes. As a result, she was defeated by Indira Gandhi in that election.

On April 21, 2013, Shakuntala Devi died of respiratory problems in her native place of Bengaluru. At this time she was 83 years old. Moreover, she was suffering from various heart and kidney problems long before her death.

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