December 22 is National Mathematics Day, which is the birth anniversary of Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujam.
That Ramanujam had a humble yet extraordinary beginning in his career is evident from his letter to G. H. Hardy, his guide and mentor in Cambridge:
Dear Sir, I beg to introduce myself to you as a clerk in the Accounts Department of the Port Trust office at Madras on a salary of only Rs. 20/- per annum. I have had no university education but I have undergone the ordinary school course. After leaving school I have been employing the spare time at my disposal to work at mathematics. I have not trodden through the conventional regular course which is followed in a University course but I am striking out a new path for myself. I have made a special investigation of divergent series in general and the results I get are termed by the local mathematicians as "startling."
I would request you to go through the enclosed papers. Being poor, if you are convinced that there is anything of value, I would like to have my theorems published. I have not given the actual investigations not the expressions that I get but I have indicated the lines on which I proceed. Being inexperienced, I would very highly value any advice you give me. Requesting to be excused for the trouble I give you, I remain,
dear Sir, yours truly, S. Ramanujan
Along with this letter he enclosed about 120 theorems. Prof. Hardy took pains to go through the results sent by Ramanujan and congratulated him at his work. Upon Hardy's invitation, Ramanujam went to England and joined as a research scholar on an annual scholarship of 250 pounds.
In 1916 Ramanujan was awarded the B. A. degree of the University of Cambridge on the basis of his research work. In 1918 he was the first mathematician whose name was accepted for Fellowship of the Royal Society at the first proposal. In the same year he was elected a Fellow of the Trinity College, Cambridge. This is how Hardy rated mathematicians: On a scale from 0 to 100, Hardy gave himself a score of 25, Littlewood 30, Hilbert 80 and Ramanujan 100.
According to Bhagavad-gita, all knowledge comes from Lord Krsna who is the Supersoul in the hearts of all living beings. There are two components in this process: to desire and to deserve. A multitude of persons may desire, something but those who pursue their desires with enthusiasm and perseverance are noted. Finally, when the Supreme Lord (who is the ultimate sanctioning authority) takes pity on a living entity, He awards him the desired objective. For example, a determined pursuit of music, astrology, poetry, painting or, in our current case, mathematics, perhaps spread over many lifetimes may result in the person recognized as a true genius. It is interesting to note that when asked as to how Ramanujan seemed to come across his theorems,
Prof. Hardy had replied that Ramanujan's mind seemed like a mixture of argument, intuition and induction. And he also added that even Ramanujan was entirely unable to give a proper account as to how he stumbled upon a particular method.
This corroborates with the Vedic principle of the Lord being described as "the one who fulfills the desires of all other living entities." Ramanujan himself was very clear about the role God played in the field of mathematics. He credited his abilities to his family goddess, Namagiri of Namakkal. He claimed to dream of blood drops that symbolised Her male consort, Nrsimhadeva, after which he would receive visions of scrolls of complex mathematical content unfolding before his eyes. He often said, "An equation for me has no meaning, unless it represents a thought of God." This has become very rare today. Today's scientists and mathematicians hardly seem to notice God's presence in their respective fields.
The great sage Narada Muni while advising his disciple, the great Vyasa Maharaja says, "Learned circles have positively concluded that the infallible purpose of the advancement of knowledge, namely austerities, study of the Vedas, sacrifice, chanting of hymns and charity, culminates in the transcendental descriptions of the Lord, who is defined in choice poetry." This means even a field like pure mathematics should be used to make others aware about the greatness of God. It is God who makes nature behave in ways that can be analyzed and expressed through mathematics. Otherwise mathematics in and of itself has no deep significance for human society