Motivational Story about Shakuntala Devi


Ms. Devi was a lifelong vegetarian and has even written a vegetarian cookbook for men. An interesting story regarding her vegetarian diet goes as follows.

When she first visited the United States, she frequently ate pancakes and maple syrup as little other vegetarian food was available at the time. The American pancakes reminded her of a typical South Indian breakfast dish called dosai (fermented lentil crepes).

During that period, she was the subject of a scientific study by Dr. Arthur Jensen, a researcher on human intelligence at the University of California at Berkeley. Jensen described her regular pancake consumption in a scientific paper, citing it as possible evidence of a mental disorder.

The paper was then used as a reference for the Oscar-winning film Rainman (1988). In the movie, Dustin Hoffman plays a genius with mathematical abilities similar to those of Ms. Devi but who is socially inept—and obsessed with pancakes!

Devi laughs at this typical non-vegetarian misconception. In fact, Jensen’s thesis was that Devi was an exceptionally well-rounded individual and math genius as well as a compassionate, inspiring role model.

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