Criticism of Unscientific Method of Mangala Narlikar and Suggestion for Further Improvement of Marathi Number Names : धा Method


बालभारती गणित समिती lead by Mangala Narlikar has made changes to Marathi number-names [1]. It follows from the following two complaints or variations thereof.

  1. In सत्तावीस, it is confusing for uninitiated if the number is 72 or 27. The unit place number preceding ten place number in number name causes the confusion. There are 100 such concepts that one needs to remember.

  2. There are too many जोडाक्षरे in Marathi number names that reduces ability to write them and thus assess comprehension of it by children.

These are indeed problems with current understanding of numbers among children. They must be addressed. They need to be resolved in a consistent and scientific method. Her intentions are good. A new methodology should reduce the number of concepts and at the same time reduce the number of जोडाक्षरे. But then, we very well know that "road to hell are paved with good intentions".


Following are the reasons why the method to rename numbers is unscientific and arbitrary.

  1. My understanding of issue was that वीस सात सत्तावीस was a way to explain that सत्तावीस is वीस + सात. That is good. But now it is clear that it is a valid alternative number name. Any linguist will tell you that वीस सात will soon be called वीस्सात and whole point about "removing जोडाक्षरे from number names" becomes invalid.

  2. You say you are imitating Kannadi and other Indian languages. But that is simply falsehood. Because if you were, you would be calling अकरा as दहा एक, बारा as दहा दोन and so on. After all, any scientific method has to be consistent. But somehow, when it came to numbers from अकरा to एकोणीस, you simply looked the other way.

  3. Also, what about numbers from eleven to nineteen? Can you change those numbers in English textbooks? Can you change your textbooks and ask that numbers eleven be called ten-one, twelve be called twelve-two and so on? Are they not equally bad and confusing to children? Of course they are. Why? Because you do not own English? Then how can you suggest changes in Marathi? Do you own Marathi?

One can conclude that these changes merely a poor imitation of English and its method is as unscientific and arbitrary as English is.


What would be scientific method to change names of numbers? First and easiest would be to replace numbernames with that from संस्कृत. There is method to it that is consistent and not arbitrary. But we have habit of discarding things just because they are old. Especially because the concern of जोडाक्षरे remains unaddressed in that. Thus I am suggesting following method:

धा Method

Introduce suffix धा to mean दहा/दशक. Analogous to शे we have to mean शंभर/शेकडा/शतक.

In turn, replace following number names with the ones that follow.

Old Number Name New Number Name
दहा एकधा
वीस दोनधा
तीस तीनधा
चाळीस चारधा
पन्नास पाचधा
साठ सहाधा
सत्तर सातधा
ऐंशी आठधा
नव्वद नऊधा

सत्तावीस then becomes दोनधासात.

Number of concepts that children have to remember are only 15: एक, दोन, तीन, चार, पाच, सहा, सात, आठ, नऊ, धा, शे, हजार, लक्ष, कोटी, शून्य.

Bonus: number of जोडाक्षरे from एक up to नऊधानऊ हजार नऊ शे नऊधानऊ is शून्य!

Other Thoughts

The बालभारती गणित समिती forgot that the changes that they are doing are going to have immense impact on the language itself and not just a few children. Such a change should have seen a releases for public feedback. All the backlash could that they see could have been prevented. More so, its unscientific and categorically arbitrary methodology could have been exposed early and children would not have to read


The suggested धा method is tremendous improvement over method pushed by Mangala Narlikar. Prevalent method has 105 concepts. Narlikar Method has 25 concepts. The धा method has only 15 concepts. There are zero जोडाक्षरे in धा method, whereas Mangala Narlikar method has few explicit e.g. पन्नास, सत्तर, नव्वद and several eventual जोडाक्षरे like वीस्सात.

Method Concepts जोडाक्षरे
Prevalent 105 54
Narlikar 25 30 + many new like वीस्सात
धा method 15 0

It is thus recommend through this paper that the धा method be adopted for new scientific consistent and simpler number names in Marathi.


[0] Originally published on

[1] Editorial in Sakal dated 20 June 2019

[2] Author of this paper is Harshal (बावीस)कर from (चाळीस)गाव