V. Raghunathan sees similarities between the Mahabharata, maths and locks

Do mathematics, locks and the Mahabharata have anything in common? Do these parallel threads have any commonalities? These are some of the questions that V. Raghunathan seeks to answer in his latest book, Locks, Mahabharata and Mathematics. The academic, who has enjoyed a long teaching stint at IIM Ahmadabad is also an avid collector of locks. “I have been interested in getting a new perspective of the Mahabharata and decided to explore these three parallel strands. Many of the stories in the Mahabharata including the one that deals with Jararsandha and his body that came from two separate mothers has elements of maths in them. The game of dice dealt with probability and related principles. It works on the same principles as symmetric and asymmetric locks. I decided to explore these angles and provide a fresh look to the epic.”

He adds, “Though maths is not my specialisation, I have been very interested in the subject and have researched extensively. I found that many stories in the Mahabharata have used multiple mathematical principles and decided to explore this angle.”

Raghunathan began collecting locks nearly three decades ago and has nearly 800 locks from across the country. “I used to visit the flea markets in Ahmadabad and collect locks. I soon learnt that many locks worked as mathematical puzzles. One would need to use logic and mathematical theories to open some of these locks. It is great fun deciphering some of the locks. I have seen locks, which would need the presence of more than one individual to open them. These locks were used by families holding common property.”

Raghunathan says, “It took me four months of research to write the book. I have written it from a layman’s perspective and have tried to ensure that it is easily understood by people, who have not studied mathematics.”

Locks, Mahabharata and Mathematics is available for Rs.399 and has been published by Harper Collins