Tikaram and Chandrakala Dhananjaya: A collaborative couple in mathematics from Nepal

Basyal, Deepak and Stenhouse, Brigitte (2023). Tikaram and Chandrakala Dhananjaya: A collaborative couple in mathematics from Nepal. Endeavour, 47(4), article no. 100899.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.endeavour.2023.100899


Within the history of mathematics and mathematics education in Nepal, Tikaram and Chandrakala Dhananjaya are relatively well-known figures for their two books Śiśubodha Taraṅgiṇī and Līlāvatī. This is despite there being almost no archival or manuscript materials offering a window into their lives: we have no letters, notebooks, diaries, or school records. Rather than focusing on either individual in isolation, in this article we present an argument for considering the Dhananjayas as an analytically indivisible collaborative couple in mathematics. Of the two aforementioned books, one is attributed to Chandrakala and the other to Tikaram; but in fact, both are translations of the same Sanskrit source text, Līlāvatī, into Nepali. By comparing the mathematical contents of these two works, which were published within a few years of each other, we explore what it means to be an author or translator of a mathematical text and propose different models of spousal collaboration which could plausibly have been adopted by the Dhananjayas. In the absence of documentary evidence, the impossibility of delineating each individual’s contributions removes the temptation to focus exclusively on apportioning credit. Instead, we offer the alternative perspective of considering what labour must have been undertaken to bring their books to publication.

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