Disclaimer: This post does not contain any deep mathematical technicalities. Everything that I have written can be understood without any background in Mathematics.
I finished my masters in Mathematics a couple of days ago. Last evening, I sat in my room and asked myself: what have I learnt in these five years of rigorous mathematical study? The train of thoughts came to a halt with a smile on my face. I realized that whatever I have learnt in Mathematics is not different from what I have learnt from Swamiji. I’ll tell you how.
Every standard undergraduate program in Mathematics starts with a beautiful topic called “Analysis”. In layman’s terms, “Analysis” is the branch of Mathematics that deals with the notions of “big” and “small”. One of the very elementary and yet important philosophies in Analysis says that no number is too small. For example, consider the number 0.0001. Call it X. This number is too small for a common man but not for a mathematician, because you can always find another number, say 0.000001, which is smaller than X. In fact, you can find as many numbers as you want that are smaller than X, so how can X be too small? Same logic applies in the opposite direction as well. No number is too big. If you think some number is big, you can still find infinitely many numbers that are bigger than the number you started with.
Has Swamiji not taught us the same things in his own way? No act of kindness is too small. On a scale of 0 to 10, if you rate an act of kindness as 0.5, it is still greater than 0 (which is equivalent to no kindness). Similarly, our desires can be compared to the false largeness of numbers that I stated above. Desires never end. You desire something today, you will desire something bigger tomorrow. It is never too big for us to stop.
Let us look at another example. You start with a “small” number, call it Y. Then a mathematical result, known as Archimedean Principle, says that if you keep adding Y to itself, after sometime you will surpass any big number. We can see Archimedean Principle in one of Swamiji’s messages too: Every minute of chanting/meditation counts and is added to our spiritual wealth. (This observation is also inspired by the beautiful article “S.I.P” written by our very own Pariselvakumar Panneerselvam. I urge you to read it if you haven’t already. It is one of the best articles that have ever been written on this platform.)
At this point, I believe you are convinced that largeness or smallness of numbers is relative. That what we see as big or small is not absolute. This is mathematically true. Is this not a spiritual truth as well? No matter how big your house is, there will always be someone with a bigger and more beautiful house than yours. No matter how small our ego is, we can always try to be more humble.
Connecting Swamiji’s teachings with my favourite subject left me with great joy. They are basically the same. I request every reader to not be scared of Mathematics. The great Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan often claimed that most of his mathematical breakthroughs were possible only because Divine Mother came in his dreams and revealed to him those mathematical secrets.
Mathematics is more than a subject, it is God’s very own language.