It is not known to many that the legendary Indian mathematician Ramanujan attempted suicide in 1918, by jumping before a train. Ramanujan was under mental depression, brought about the cruel weather he was not accustomed to, strict dietary habits, very demanding and stressful research activity, poor health conditions, war related miseries, and above all, separation from his newly married wife.
There is a saas-bahu twist to Ramanujan’s tale. When he returned to India in 1919, he was miffed at Janaki, his wife. Ramanujan rebuked her, “I wrote so many letters, at times once every week, but you chose not to reply even once”. Mystified, sobbing Janaki told him that she was writing letters frequently even when none were received from Ramanujan. She was handing over letters to her mother-in-law for posting, as she had no money for even postage. Both of them then realised the dirty game played by the mother-in-law in hiding letters from each other. Many years later, Dr S Chandrasekar recounted his conversation with Janaki Ammal, who apprehended that longing for loving words from his wife perhaps was one of the contributory factors for Ramanujan’s depression, which led to him to the attempt suicide.
It is not the fault of the swines. Why blame the swines ?
Almost two months after I launched this campaign, and after trying my best, and contacting many learned people personally, I find that no one recognises the pearls lying before them. No one has cared to take notice, no one has cared to react or respond. It happened to Ramanujan, it happened to many other people like him, they were all guilty of casting pearls before animals who cannot recognise the pearls. Let us not blame the swines. The indifference continues.
In the meantime, 26 April 2020 is getting closer, relentlessly.
Today (22 December) happens to be the birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan,
a brilliant mathematician who created some incredible mathematics which is
used in a wide variety of fields. Some years ago, after several proddings, the Government of India declared 22 December to be the national mathematics
day. Predictably, the celebrations stopped with that declaration. We continue to bask in our ignorance and indifference, given that many of our so-called mathematicians and institutions remain blissfully ignorant of this great mathematical genius. We do not even know how to celebrate or worship Ramanujan, much less understand or appreciate him. Year after year, I have tried to convince my neighbourhood schools to spend some time talking about mathematics seriously (other than routine classroom lectures). I even compiled and made available on the web, a lot of material about Ramanujan. But no one even noticed it. I have not succeeded in making any dent in their mindset. Maybe, two can lead a horse to the water, but two hundred cannot make the animal sing, if it is a donkey or a swine.