OH, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgement Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!
Brahmin boy was he, an un-conscripted one—he crossed the ocean, reneging the injunction. (Vivekananda had done the same and faced the ignominy of being denied access to his Guru’s mother, Kali). Ramanujan heard no one—his divine mother had deafened all noises. He crossed the ocean. Ramanujan from the East went to see the Western man, Hardy, the mathematician. Kipling had prophesied this, never to meet but they stood “face to face” coming “from the ends of earth.” And they clashed, as they met in Cambridge. Hardy saw in him what Satyakama saw in Upakosala of Chandogaya Upanishad—“My son your face shines like someone who knows Brahaman. Who has taught you?” “Beings other than men,” replied Ramanujan like Upakosala. And then Ramanujan mumbled:
ॐ सह नाववतु । Om, May God Protect us Both (the Teacher and the Student),
सह नौ भुनक्तु । May God Nourish us Both,
सह वीर्यं करवावहै । May we Work Together with Energy and Vigour,
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै । May our Study be Enlightening and not give rise to Hostility,
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥ Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.
Hardy dismissed all this. He had an agenda—who are you? And how do you reach your numbers? More than number games, they epitomized distinct flows. Inspired Ramanujan, aspirational Hardy–one led by his mother divine and other with beads of sweat–one with no center and no limits and other sucking in all dimensions to a zero—one with infinite to finite numbers and other aspiring from zero to limitlessly limited accounting. While Hardy toiled to figure out, the numbers came trolling to Ramanujan. Skeptical of the privileged ones and being of dubious mind Hardy demanded proofs, Ramanujan demurred. While Hardy counted the trees, Ramanujan ate mangoes, Hardy didn’t like that. Being on the top, Ramanujan discarded ladders and Hardy needed one. Ramanujan always felt that he has to descend and Hardy to ascend—one to give and the other to take.
Hardy demanded: Ramanujan, I need the proofs, your process, your methodology, your route—leave the result alone, but just tell me.
Hardy, the mentor was admonished: Hardy, you don’t know, you cannot wrap up the universe in numbers. You may roll the entire universe like a leather sheet, if you do not know the self, you have not gained a grain of knowledge.
Hardy insisted: For God sake, you would lose credibility, what is your source, share it with me!
Ramanujan reasoned: It is avyavahaaryam – I cannot explain it. It is what it says–‘That which cannot be spoken of,’ because words fail to explain what it is. There are no words for my source. There is no word by which it can be exactly described. It is beyond all words.
Hardy: But there must be signs, that you can recognize or tell!
Ramanujan: It is alakshanam – ‘without any distinctive marks.’ There are no colors or boundaries to it. Sense do not identify this source.
Hardy: But you can grasp it somehow, tell me what it is.
Ramanujan: It is agraahyam – ‘ungraspable.’ I cannot touch it.
Hardy desperate: For heaven sake, you can think about it and tell me what your process is!
Ramanujan: It is achintyam –’ unthinkable,’ it just does not fit into any thoughts. Hardy, it is avyavahaaryam, alakshanam, agraahyam, achintyam and you ask me with frustration to break down that infinity reached not with finite steps, but with infinity itself.
The ancient ones had seen it, the Cambridge Platform was not new, for he was a Vedic Brahmin: I saw the teacher sitting under a tree, he was a young man of sixteen and the disciple was an old man of eighty. The preaching of the teacher was silent and the doubts of the disciple departed.
Having come back to the shores he invoked her presence, the mother divine:
Tiny ponds of this mundane existence canst contain the stream,
Of my love,
Let me flow unto thee, O Mother Divine,
Where the soul shall rest in peace, where pain and death dare not approach
Beyond the confinement of finite, where dualism fades to be One,
With the divine utterance,
I am the blessed one!
And his mother, the Maha-kali, the devourer of her devotees, took her son back on April 26, 1920.