### Introduction

India has a long and illustrious history of mathematical innovation, and among the towering figures of ancient Indian mathematics stands Bhaskaracharya, also known as Bhaskara II. Born in 1114 CE, Bhaskaracharya was not only a mathematician but also an astronomer, whose work influenced mathematical thought for centuries. One of his most celebrated works, the *Lilavati*, is a treatise that combines mathematical principles with poetic beauty, filled with intriguing riddles, puzzles, and problems that continue to captivate minds today.

#### The Story Behind Lilavati

According to legend, Bhaskaracharya wrote the *Lilavati* for his daughter, Lilavati, after an astrologer predicted that she would remain unmarried. The story goes that Bhaskaracharya sought to change her destiny by setting a specific time for her marriage, calculated using his profound knowledge of astrology. To ensure that the timing was precise, he used a water clock, but due to a pearl falling into the water, the clock malfunctioned, and the auspicious moment was missed. To console Lilavati, Bhaskaracharya named his book after her and filled it with puzzles and problems that would not only educate but also entertain her.

#### Mathematical Puzzles in Lilavati

The *Lilavati* is a remarkable blend of mathematics and literature. It covers a wide range of mathematical topics, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and combinatorics. Below are some of the intriguing puzzles and riddles from this ancient text, showcasing Bhaskaracharya’s genius.

**1. The Riddle of the Bees**

“Out of a swarm of bees, one-third went to the Kadamba flowers, one-fifth went to the Silindhri flowers, and one-sixth went to the Kuttaja flowers. One bee, however, remained hovering about, attracted by the fragrant Malati. Tell me, my dear girl, how many bees were in the swarm?”

This puzzle can be expressed mathematically as:

Let the total number of bees be **x**.

Then, the equation is:

(x/3) + (x/5) + (x/6) + 1 = x

Solving this equation gives us the total number of bees in the swarm.

**2. The Bowl of Pearls**

“A certain quantity of pearls in a bowl, one-third of them sank into water, one-fifth of them were swallowed by a swan, and one-sixth of them were strung on a thread. If 5 pearls remained in the bowl, how many pearls were there originally?”

This problem introduces fractions and basic algebra:

Let the total number of pearls be **y**.

Then, the equation is:

y – (y/3 + y/5 + y/6) = 5

By solving this equation, one can find the original number of pearls.

**3. The Lotus in the Pond**

“A lotus is partially submerged in a pond. Its stalk is 9 units long, and it stands upright with its tip just above the water surface. A wind blows, bending the stalk until the tip touches the water 3 units away from its original position. Calculate the depth of the water.”

This problem combines geometry with algebra:

Let the depth of the water be **h**.

The length of the stalk under water is:

âˆš[(9 – h)Â² + 3Â²]

By solving this equation, we determine the depth of the pond.

**4. The Pile of Grain**

“A pile of grain is divided into three parts: the first part is fed to horses, the second part to cows, and the third part to sheep. If 1/4 of the pile is left over, how much grain was originally in the pile?”

This riddle introduces the concept of fractions:

Let the total amount of grain be **z**.

Then, the equation is:

(3z/4) is consumed, leaving (z/4).

By solving the equation, we find the original amount of grain.

**5. The Basket of Mangoes**

“In a basket, there are mangoes. If one mango is taken from the basket, half the remaining mangoes are sold. After this, one mango is again taken, and half of the remaining mangoes are sold. If only one mango remains after this, how many mangoes were there initially?”

This puzzle introduces the concept of sequences:

Let the number of mangoes initially be **n**.

The problem can be broken down into steps and solved to find the value of **n**.

### Bhaskaracharyaâ€™s Legacy

The puzzles and riddles presented in *Lilavati* demonstrate not only Bhaskaracharyaâ€™s mathematical prowess but also his ability to make mathematics accessible and enjoyable. These problems were more than mere exercises; they were designed to teach mathematical principles in a way that engaged the learnerâ€™s imagination and intellect.

Bhaskaracharya’s influence extended beyond Indiaâ€™s borders, reaching the Islamic world and later Europe, where his works were studied and translated. His approach to mathematics, blending calculation with creative problem-solving, continues to inspire mathematicians and educators around the world.

### Conclusion

Bhaskaracharya’s *Lilavati* is a timeless masterpiece that reflects the intellectual brilliance of ancient India. The riddles and puzzles contained within it are not just mathematical problems; they are a testament to the rich tradition of learning and creativity that flourished in India centuries ago. By exploring these ancient riddles, we gain insight into the minds of the great scholars who laid the foundations for modern mathematics, and we can appreciate the enduring legacy of Bhaskaracharya, whose work continues to captivate and challenge us today.

The mathematical puzzles of Bhaskaracharya invite us to engage with mathematics not just as a set of rules and formulas but as a creative and intellectual pursuit that has the power to enlighten and entertain. These ancient riddles remain relevant, reminding us of the universal language of mathematics and the timeless nature of human curiosity.