Q. Revered Master, Shrinivas Ramanujan was a great mathematician. But I have also heard that he was a spiritual man as well. A great mathematician and avowed interest in spirituality– does it not sound contradictory? Please throw light on this, Guru Maharaj Ji.
A. Undoubtedly, Shrinivas Ramanujan was a great mathematician who was born on the sacred land of Bharat. In his short life-span of 32 years, his contribution to the field of mathematics was so great, that even after a century, lovers of mathematics shower praises on him. He was born in a Brahmin family from South India. His father was employed in a cloth shop and mother was a sincere devotee of God. The talent in mathematics was therefore not a hereditary lineage for Ramanujan.
But at the young age of 7, the mathematician within him began to show distinctly. By the age of 11, he had mastered the subject of mathematics to a level comparable with college students. He learned and perfected in various branches of mathematics like Trigonometry, Calculus and complex theorems. Then he began to do his own research. He began to devise new formulae and theorems of mathematics. His fame spread all across the country and soon it reached abroad. The famous mathematician of England G. H. Hardy got so impressed with his work that he invited him to England to carry out the research work together. In Cambridge, for about 5 years, Ramanujan wrote several research papers with Prof. Hardy and Prof. Littlewood. Considering his extraordinary genius in the subject of mathematics, on October 13, 1918, he was elected as the Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He was the first Indian to be honoured with that post.
But, apart from all these qualities, Ramanujan was endowed with an extraordinary quality which made him stand apart from other mathematicians. That unique quality was his deep interest in spirituality. He had absolute faith in God and His divine ways. When he met Prof. Hardy in England, he found him to be an atheist. Once Hardy told Ramanujan in all jest and in a satirical tone, “A great mathematician like you, the inventor of profound theorems and other matchless equations of mathematics, how can such an individual fall into the trap of a meaningless and irrational concept like God?” Ramanujan's reply was instant and without any ambiguity. He retorted, “An equation for me has no meaning, unless it represents a thought of God.”
Many of those who came in contact with Ramanujan vouchsafed for the fact that whenever he attempted to solve any mathematical problem, his eyeballs used to move up. On being asked the reason, he told, “Whenever some complicated problem of mathematics comes in front of me, I don't know how, but it is true that, I get connected to my inner world. I reach the profound depths of my consciousness. To seek the divine inspirations from the Supreme within, my inquisitive being becomes totally introverted. In that state, with the benign divine grace, the solutions to even the most difficult mathematical equations start appearing crystal clear on the curtain of my being. I just become the witness to see and read them. It seems as if God makes me the medium to deliver the equations of mathematics to the secular world.”
Behind these divine experiences, Ramanujan's sacred deeds of past births and their divine power must essentially be there. But one thing seems to be very common. Many scientists who made progress in the field of science, they were drawn nearer to spirituality. It is so because when the scientists dive deeper and reach out to unravel the profound mysteries of nature, they are more often than not compelled to accept the power of God and thereafter repose trust on His supreme existence.
Once, an old man was travelling by train to Paris. On the seat opposite to him, a youth was seated. He looked extremely happy. Without being asked, he was telling the fellow passengers, “Do you know, I have been selected to do research in the most famous research institute of France, The Louis Pasteur Institute of Research… Now I'll be able to learn a lot from there.” Many dreams could be seen floating in his sparkling eyes. However, just then, his eyes fell on the old man sitting opposite to him. He was engrossed in reading a book related to God. The youth reached out to the old man, shook him by the shoulders and said, “Why do you waste your time in reading this worthless book? Science has made tremendous progress and you still repose trust in God? Many great scientists assert that there is nothing like God. It is merely the imagination of the illiterates.”
The old man: Is it really so? Do the scientists not believe in the Kingdom of God? Sorry, I wasn't aware of it. Will you tell me about their reasoning in detail…so that I can change my thinking?
The Youth: I can provide you with thousands of arguments which will prove that there is no such thing like God. But, right now I am in a hurry to reach my institute. You can give me your residential address. I will come to your house some day and will provide you with all the scientific arguments.
The old man accepted the offer of the youth. He took out a visiting card from his pocket and gave it to him. On seeing the visiting card, the youth felt as if the earth below his feet had sunk. On the card was written, “Louis Pasteur, Director, Louis Pasteur Institute of Research.” The youth felt ashamed and begged Louis Pasteur to pardon him. The renowned scientist, Louis Pasteur, then said, “Young man, your disbelief in God proves that you are yet raw in the field of science. Had you been strong in the field of science, you would not have ridiculed the divine authority.”
This is the reason why all the great scientists accepted in unison, the divine authority. They could realise the divine inspiration working behind their genius. Thomas Alva Edison did one of the greatest inventions of the world, the electric bulb. But, he said, “I am grateful to God that He made my intelligence the instrument and inspired me to be credited with this invention.”
Dr. Alexander Fleming, credited with the extraordinary invention of the penicillin, was also of the similar opinion– “God has created the penicillin. I only made efforts as to how to make use of it.”
Jung, the famous psychologist of the 20th century, once said to a reporter on recollecting the experiences of his life, “In my sixty years of practice, I have not come across a single patient who reposed faith in God and yet needed the treatment from a psychiatrist.”
America has made tremendous progress in the field of science and yet one can see the inscription on its currency notes, “In God We Trust”.
In the field of technology, England is one of the leading countries. Its Parliament session opens with this prayer, 'O God, you are the Lord of this Universe. Bless us with the discriminating power that we rule this country with justice…'
Meaning, as science progressed and attained new heights, it accepted and commended spirituality to an even greater extent. Therefore, to conclude that scientists cannot be spiritualists is inappropriate. In fact, the one who is not spiritual is not scientific in his approach. Because, without spirituality, his scientific achievements will always remain incomplete! And, incomplete science can never be beneficial to the society. The life of Albert Einstein is one of the glowing examples for this.
One day Einstein was in low spirits and sat near the window surveying the world outside. His eyes brimmed with tears and his heart was seized with pain. The sun was about to set, rendering the sky red. But, to him, it appeared as if that redness was due to the blood of the innocents. Slowly, with the impending sunset, he felt as if humanity had sunk. Feeling lifeless, he returned to his room. A calendar was hung on the wall of his room. Going near it, he crossed two dates and began to wail, “Alas! I wish these two dates are obliterated for all times to come.” But what happened was exactly contrary to his wish and prayer. Those two dates instead got recorded forever on the pages of history. Those two dates were August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945. On the 6th of August, an atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and on the 9th of August, Nagasaki faced a similar fate. During those four days, a dreadful dance of destruction was seen and experienced everywhere in the two cities. The destruction was of such a magnitude, as if it was the end of the world! People died in millions. Animals, birds, trees and greenery– everything was burnt to ashes. The intensity of heat generated out of those bombs was beyond comprehension and both cities burned in the flames of annihilation. The plight of the survivors was even worst. They were struggling and praying for death. It was estimated that the radioactive rays that emanated from those bombs will affect many generations to come in those two cities. Children will be born sick and suffer from physical/mental deformities.
On hearing the news of destruction and death-dance as the result of the bombs, Einstein was heart-broken. He was cursing himself, unable to bear the impact of that soul-killing tragedy which struck humanity. He could not summon the will power to live or die. He then took his violin and began to play such notes of agony that even his wife and children were unable to hold their tears. The night rolled by, but, Einstein was unable to sleep. For the last four days, sleep evaded him. Time and again, he was reminded of those moments when he had suggested to the U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, about making atom bombs. But he had given that suggestion with the hope that the dictators and fascists like Hitler could be checked and browbeaten to submission. He never thought in his wildest dreams that the atom bomb will be used to achieve selfish goals and to kill the innocent.
For several days, Einstein remained engulfed in sorrow. He kept on pondering as to how the situation could be reversed. But, just like an old man cannot be converted into youth again, similarly the steps taken by science cannot be reversed. Finally, Einstein decided to make amends for the sin committed by him, though unknowingly, and as a retribution for it, he planned to open an educational institution. A school where he said that bare scientific experiments will not be conducted; instead the education system will be such that science will follow spirituality. Such an educational institution, where science will not walk alone; rather it will walk hand in hand with spirituality. It was so because Einstein had realised, he had the first-hand experience that mere scientific pursuit will lead to nothing but destruction. He did not want anyone to commit such a mistake in human history again. During the opening ceremony of that educational institute, many scientists who were Nobel Prize laureates were also present. They all took a collective oath that they will put their heart and soul in making science and spirituality move hand in hand.
Today, once again, it is necessary for all the scientists of the world to take such an oath. Otherwise, this Planet Earth sitting on the heap of explosives would explode and get destroyed any moment!