Destiny takes a curious turn

Shivanand Tiwary of Bihar has  cleared Class XII  and JEE of the IIT at the age of 14

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When he was barely a five-year-old boy, he could recite all the 700 shlokas of the Bhagwad Gita and “chaupaees” (verses) of Tulsi 
Ramayana. This earned him the honorific “Bal Sant”. By the time he was in Class VI, he could solve mathematics of Class XII. At the age of 14, he not only cleared Class XII examinations but also the prestigious joint entrance examination (JEE) of the IIT.Meet the born genius Shivanand Tiwary of Sasa­ram in Bihar whose stupendous academic skills has made India in general and Bihar in particular proud of this child prodigy. Shivanand passed Class XII with 93.4 per cent marks and has scored 2587 in the IIT-JEE in his first attempt. 

His father Kamla Kant Tiwary, a priest from Dharampura village in Rohtas district, says the exceptional qualities of Shivanand were noticed at a tender age. “I used to perform puja and give religious discourses at the house of my “jajman” (clients). Shivanand, unlike his peers, was not too keen on playing or interacting with other children. He often accompanied me when I went to perform pujas. At the age of four, I noticed that he had an exceptional quality to grasp quickly.

 When he was five, everyone told me that his Sanskrit pronunciation was far better than mine. Since he was more interested in satsang (a form of prayer), I did not discourage him. But I wanted him to pursue studies too. In 2009, I shifted from Dharmapura in Nokha block to Sasaram to eke out a better living and give better education to my two sons Shivanand and Pankaj,” Tiwary told Deccan Herald. 

“It was at Sasaram that destiny took a turn for better. Shivanand, then in Class VI, used to sit by my side whenever I gave religious discourses. A vernacular Hindi daily wrote an article in 2010 on how a small child could recite all the 700 shlokas of the Bhagwad Gita. MK Jha , the vice-principal of a local school, found that Shivanand could solve mathematical problems of Class XII. He suggested that the child should be taught in English medium. In the meantime, UP Singh, the director of the Nara­yana Coaching Institute (which grooms children for preparing IIT and other exams), came to know about the exceptional qualities of Shivanand through the vernacular daily,” Shivanand’s father recalled. 

Singh took the wonder child to Delhi where Shivanand passed Class X with the special permission of the examination board. “Even in Delhi, the coaching institute arranged a separate room and a cook for Shivanand when he expressed his desire that he would perform puja and satsang after the study hours,” Kamla Kant recounted. 

Born on December 7, 1999, Shivanand said that till five years back, he was not much inclined towards studies except that he loved solving mathematics problems. “In 2010, somebody suggested  that I should aim for IITs and I got the help from Narayana Academy to pursue my dreams,” he said, adding that he had devoted a lot of time in reading about the life and works of Swami Vivekanand, besides, Ramayan, Mahabharata, Bhagwad Gita and “puranas” too. 

“I am keen to correlate science with spirituality,” said the young boy. He, however, wants to make another attempt at the JEE to improve his rank. Asked whether he would like to give any suggestion to those who want to get into IITs, Shivanand’s mantra was: “Try the weekly test as much as possible. That’s the best way to gauge one’s strength and weakness.” 

Shivanand wants to pursue research in physics. “I want to become a scientist so that I could serve my country,” averred the boy. Talent appears to be a gift for the family. Even his younger brother is a wonder kid. Shivanand wants to groom his younger brother Pankaj who is also a child prodigy.

“Pankaj is in Class V, but he solves mathematical problems taught to students studying in classes VIII and IX. Since Pankaj’s English is weak, he faces problem in understanding the question. But the same coaching institute is taking car of that,” Kamla Kant averred.  

However, the name of Shivanand will not figure in the national record for cracking the IIT-JEE at a very young age. The honour is still in the name of  another Bihar boy Satyam, who at 12 cleared the IIT examination and secured 8137th position. Dissatisfied with his ranking, Satyam tried again in 2013 and got 679th rank. Son of a farmer in Badahara block in Bihar’s Bhojpur district, Satyam had cleared his class X when he was 10.

Prior to Satyam, it was Tathagat who completed his matriculation at the age of nine, BSc degree at 10, M Sc degree at 12, and a doctorate from IISc, Bangalore, at the age of 21. The Patna-born child prodigy of yesteryears Tathagat Avtar Tulsi joined the IIT, Mumbai, in 2010 as the youngest faculty member. 

Tathagat’s story is no different. At a tender age of seven,Tathagat used to give a whole lot of lecture on Albert Einstein’s “photo-electric effect”. This stunned everyone. Having skipped Intermediate (Class XII), he directly appeared for B Sc (Physics Honours) at the age of 10 and also completed Masters in Science (with prior permission from court) at the age of 12.


Eventually, he received his doctorate in “quantum computing” from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. With this, he joined the select mathematicians and physicists who secured their PhD at 21. They include John Forbes Nash Jr, the MIT mathematician who got his PhD in mathematics at 21. Time magazine had named Tathagat as one of the seven most gifted youngsters. 

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