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Who Was Srinivasa Ramanujan ?

Today whenever there is talk of mathematics or contribution to mathematics in the whole world, Srinivasa Ramanujan name is taken prominently. His contribution to the field of Mathematics globally is exemplary. In spite of poverty, limited resources and government red tape, he amazed the world with his unique talent.

India has been the home of mathematicians since ancient times. Many famous mathematicians of the world were born in India including Aryabhata, Bhaskar, Bhaskar II and Madhav. In the nineteenth century and beyond, mathematicians like Srinivasa Ramanujan, Chandrashekhar Subramaniam and Harish Chandra emerged on the world stage.

The life character of Srinivasa Ramanujan also exposes the hollowness of our education system. At the tender age of 13, Ramanujan astonished the people in his contacts with his extraordinary talent of mathematical analysis, but the Indian educational system had declared him a failure and showed the way out. Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on 22 December 1887 in Erode, Tamil Nadu.

Ramanujan was rich in prodigious talent since childhood. You will be surprised to know that he himself learned mathematics and compiled 3,884 theorems of mathematics in his lifetime.

Srinivasa Ramanujan Early life

Srinivasa Iyengar Ramanujan was born in a traditional Brahmin family on 22 December 1887 in a village called Erode in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. His father’s name was Srinivasa Iyengar and mother’s name was Komalathammal. When the child Ramanujan was one year old, his family settled in Kumbakonam. His father used to work as an accountant with a local businessman. Initially, the intellectual development of the child Ramanujan was not like other normal children and he could not even learn to speak till the age of three, which worried his parents.

Ramanujan never felt in traditional education and he used to spend most of his time studying mathematics. Later, he attained the highest marks in the entire district in the primary examination at the age of ten and went to the town high school for further education.

Ramanujan was a person of very gentle and sweet manner. He was so gentle that no one could get angry with him. Gradually, his talent started making his mark on the students and teachers. He was so meritorious in mathematics that he had studied college-level mathematics at school time.

His excessive mathematics love hindered his education. In fact, his love of mathematics had increased so much that he gave up studying other subjects. In classes of other subjects also he used to read mathematics and solve questions. As a result of this, he failed in all the subjects except Mathematics in the Class 11 examination, due to which the scholarship he received was stopped. The financial condition of his family was not well in advance and the difficulties were aggravated due to the closure of the scholarship. This period was difficult for him.

To improve the economic condition of the house, Ramanujan did maths tuition and some accounts. In the year 1907, he gave private examination of class XII but this time also he failed. With this failure his traditional education also came to an end.

Ramanujan Conflict time

The few years after he failed in the private examination of class XII were very frustrating and poverty for him. During this time Ramanujan had neither a job nor an opportunity to work with any institute or professor. Even under these adverse circumstances Ramanujan continued his research related to mathematics. This time was very painful and sad for him. He had to wander around to continue his upbringing and mathematics education and pleaded with people for help.

Here Ramanujan was struggling with unemployment and poverty that his mother married him to a girl named Janaki. He went to Madras in search of a job to fulfill the financial constraints and increased responsibility of his wife. After recovering, he again went to Madras and after some struggles met the deputy collector of the place, Mr. V. Ramaswamy Iyer, who was a great scholar of mathematics.

Iyer recognized his rare talent and asked his district magistrate Ramchandra Rao to arrange a monthly scholarship of Rs 25 for him. On this scholarship of Rs 25, Ramanujan published his first research paper “Journal of Indian Mathematical Society” while living in Madras for one year. Its title was “Some properties of Bernoulli numbers”. With the help of Rao, he joined the Madras Port Trust as a clerk.

In 1913 Ramanujan wrote a letter to Hardy and also sent a long list of theorems discovered by himself. At first Prof. Hardy also did not understand fully, then he consulted his disciples and some mathematicians, and he came to the conclusion that Ramanujan was a rare personality in the field of mathematics.

Also Read More Biography — : Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

After this, Prof. Hardy felt that he should come to England to understand the work done by Ramanujan properly and for further research. After this, correspondence between Professor Hardy and Ramanujan started and Hardy suggested Ramanujan to come to Cambridge to do research work. Initially, Ramanujan refused, but Hardy continued his efforts and finally succeeded in persuading Ramanujan. Hardy arranged for Ramanujan at Trinity College, Cambridge.

From here a new era began in Ramanujan’s life and Professor Hardy had a very big and important role in it. This friendship of Ramanujan and Professor Hardy proved beneficial for both of them and both worked as a complement to each other. Ramanujan, along with Professor Hardy, published several papers and for his special research, the University of Cambridge earned him a BA.

Everything was going well but England’s climate and style of living was not favorable to Ramanujan, which led to poor health. After medical examination, it was found out that he had tuberculosis. Ramanujan also stayed in the sanatorium for a few days.

Membership of the Royal Society

In the entire history of the Royal Society, there has been no member younger than them till date. He also became the first Indian to receive the fellowship of the Trinity College after membership of the Royal Society.

On one hand, his career was going in a very good direction but on the other hand his health was deteriorating. The doctors eventually advised him to return to India.

The death

Ramanujan health did not improve even when he returned to India and his condition was becoming critical. Gradually, the doctors also responded. His last time had come to a close. He gave up his life on 26 April 1920 while fighting his illness. He was only 33 years old at the time of his death. The death of this great mathematician was an irreparable loss to the mathematics world.