- What a genius Mathematician he was! None but Dr. Srinivasa Ramanujan, Whose 129th birth anniversary is celebrated as “National Mathematics Day” all over the country and beyond that so enthusiastically that it is as good as true tribute and also to commemorate his substantial contribution made by him in the field of various research on different tedious topics like mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series and the last but not the least continued fractions.
- Dr. Ramanujan, though survived for merely 33 years (Born on 22nd. December and expired on 26th. April 1920) and surprisingly during such a short period of time he contributed so much anew of his own on theories and theorems in addition to the rediscovering earlier well known ones.
- Dr. Ramanujan with the research work initially done brought him to the lime light of the Indian mathematicians holding key posts in the different educational and research academic institutions and the learned people working in the British Regime which was termed as “the 1st. Turning Point” in his career.
- His mother was very religious lady and encouraging and inspiring him all the time even in stress and strains arising out of financial scarcity of the family. The utmost faith in God prevailed in his gin and that is why he concentrated solely, wholly and exclusively only on important objective in life since his childhood i.e. on “Mathematics.” He remained aloof and preferred to live and lead life in isolation so that he could devote sincerely his valuable time and could do his own in learning mathematics himself.
He passed primary school examination before 10 and admitted to Govt. Higher Secondary school.
- Again another “Turning Point” came in his career when one of his colleagues lent him a book written by SL Loney, a great mathematician and author on “Advanced Trigonometry.” He was so influenced by the logical ways of explanation made in the book that soon he had had mastery over the subject. He was merely 13 years at that time. At 14 he was receiving merit certificates and academic awards too that continued throughout his school career. He was so devoted and dedicated to mathematical theories & equations that he completed his mathematics examination in half of the allotted time which popularised him among the colleagues and his teachers but could not complete his FA examination in December 1906.
- Once again another “Turning Point” appeared as a bolt from the blue when Prof.V. Ramaswamy Aiyer subsequently leading to his inclusion as a researcher at the University of Madras.
Prof Ramaswamy was so influenced with his diligence that that he sent him for help to R. Ramchandran Rao DC of Nellore and secretary of the Indian Mathematical society who helped him financially and sent him to Madras in order to continue his research work properly with ease. With Ayer’help he could publish his research work in the reputed “Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society and this made him very popular and thus his research work got recognition. Later on one of his colleagues Narayna Ayer helped him to get Rs.70/month as a research scholarship for the next two years in the University of Madras.
While doing research he used to mail his research papers to GH Hardy who asked him to move to Cambridge but not allowed by his society. Hardy pursued the matter through EH0 Neville and this time he sailed for Cambridge with the blessing of his mother.
- “The second Turning Point” in his career came into being when he partnered his research work with the “British Notable Mathematician GH Hardy who was Cambridge professor in that period. How this happened is not a mystery but a reality that God was behind him in odd and adverse situations and circumstances to assist, teach and guide him for what he was sent for with a mission to fulfil.
He sailed for on 17th. March 1914 and reached by ship on 14th. April 1914 when Neville was waiting for him at the seaport.
Dr. Ramanujan began his research work with GH Hardy and Littlewood after a few days. He spent nearly 5 years in Cambridge collaborating with these two mathematicians in their company.
- Dr. Ramanujan was awarded a “Bachelor of Science” degree for his excellent research work and later on his bachelor degree was upgraded to “PH.D”.
In March 1916 his work on ‘ Highly Composite Numbers’ was published in the proceedings of “London Mathematical Society” which established him as one of the unique research works on the topic ever done earlier.
- During the short period of his life Dr. Ramanujan compiled independently nearly 3900 results based on his own research work anew of which mostly related to “Identities and Equations”. Nearly all his claims have now been proven accurate and found correct.
The Ramanujan Prime and the Ramanujan Theta Function are judged as the most important parts of them.
The Ramanujan Journal so9 called a scientific journal was also established in order to publish work in all the areas of mathematics influenced by him.
So early he breathed his last but did a lot in the field of mathematics that I can quote – “A great man lives in deed, not in years.”
- On 6 December 1917 he was elected a “fellow of Royal Society” being the second Indian following Ardaseer Cursetjee in 1841.
At the age of merely 31 years he was one of the youngest fellows in the history of the “Royal Society”.
On 13 October 1918 he was the first Indian to be elected a “Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge”.
- Throughout the period of his life he worked so hard for the cause of mathematical research work of his own anew that his health was deteriorated gradually day by day and on returning back in 1919 to his home town of Kumbakonam , Madras Presidency he died of tuberculosis on 26 April 1920.
- With his untimely death the country lost a brilliant scholar of mathematics and all the people, who were aware or unaware of his substantial contribution, paid heart felt homage to him for what he did for mathematical pursuit.
In his memory I would like to quote a stanza of the poem – “An Epitaph” of the great poet of his time – “Robert Lous Stevenson” as follows:
“This be the verse you grave for me,
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”
Writer: Durga Prasad, Advocate, Sociologist and Journalist