‘Whom the Gods love die young.’ This English idiom tells that the virtuous and gifted people die young. This was the story of a genius from India, Srinivasa Ramanujan, who died at a young age of 31 years. Beyond the infinite series, combinatorics and partial fractions, there are a few other lessons that Ramanujan taught us in his short lifespan.
1. Know Your Calling
Ramanujan was quite determined about his passion and his goals. He wanted to be a mathematician. He knew his real calling. This was the time when India was under the British empire and mathematics wasn’t really a good choice to make a living. But Ramanujan didn’t choose this subject for money. He chose it because he was passionate about it. That is one of the reason behind his success. If you do what you love, you’ll do wonders. So introspect what sets your heart ablaze? What excites you the most? Is it being an artist? a singer? a photographer? a scientist? a poet or what? Once you know your real calling, give your heart into it and work passionately.
2. Make The Most Out Of Your Resources
Ramanujan wasn’t born in any royal or rich family. He had very limited resources. He had no access to books but he made the most out of what he got. When he was 16, he got a mathematics book that contained 5000 theorems. Most people might take it lightly or just read it in passing, but Ramanujan studied it in detail. He soaked up the knowledge in it. He made it a launch pad for his own mathematical research.
If you’re reading this article, you are quite lucky for you have got access to the internet. Every subject, at all levels, is just a click away. Make the most out of this facility.
3. Put Yourself Out There
Ramanujan didn’t confine his work to himself. He knew he had a talent and that no one will ever know about his talent if he keeps his work to himself. So one day, he showed his work to a potential employer who happened to be a member of a mathematical society. Impressed by his work, he introduced Ramanujan to other mathematicians who eventually helped him.
Do you want to have opportunities come your way? Then do yourself a favor: put yourself out there.
4. Know Your Strength
Mathematics is a broad subject, but Ramanujan didn’t try to master everything. He knew his strength: infinity-related concepts. But – as his mentor recalled – he often didn’t know other mathematical concepts. He knew his specialty and stayed in it. He didn’t try to be anyone else.
Ramanujan was very focused in his pursuit of mathematics. He even failed to get a degree at college because he failed his other subjects. That, of course, is not something to follow. But it shows the kind of obsessiveness he had.
Your life must still be balanced, but focus is necessary. You can’t achieve anything great without focus.