Vijayaraghavan

Vijayaraghavan was four years Weil’s senior in age. He did well enough in school, but at college his performance was not very good by the usual criteria. This was because , like Ramanujan , he had become interested in serious mathematics and found the curricular material unexciting. Luckily for him, a real mathematician -Ananda Rau-who could recognize talent that the examination system was incapable of detecting, was at the helm of affairs and he could secure admission to the BA(Honors) course in University.The parallel with Ramanujan continued: He sent Hardy his researches and eventually in 1925 went to Oxford (Hardy had moved there) to work with him. It is not surprising that many in Madras looked upon him as spiritual successor to Ramanujan. All through Ananda Rau had been a great help and Vijayaraghavan would apparently recall with great pleasure his meetings with his teacher. Vijayaraghavan’s was a fine mind and he was soon publishing excellent papers in Analysis and related areas. He worked on what are known as Tauberian theorems and produced work of truly high quality.

Vijayaraghavan was a keen problemsolver and had no great fascination for building theories of acquisition of extensive scholarship. He was always on the lookout for interesting problems and was quite happy to get to know them from the knowledgeable. Weil, on the other hand, developed theories and for him problem solving while important, was secondary:with the right theory the solutions to problems will assuredly fall out.

Physically too, the two were a study in contrast. Weil was slim and fit. He enjoyed walking a great deal and used to call it (in the Macarthy days) his unamerican activity. Vijayaraghavan ‘s was a portly frame which reflected correctly his sedentary lifestyle.

Weil’s initial cordial relationship with Masood did not survive for long. His independent spirit came into conflict with the system in which the Vice-Chancellor was a demi-god: and Masood’s perception of the University as a family legacy did not help. Towards the end of his second year in Aligarh , Weil went on a short vacation to Europe (where in fact he exerted himself to acquire books for the Aligarh Library), he returned to find himself summarily dismissed. His friend Vijayaraghavan had quit and moved to Dacca in protest when Masood , in Weil’s absence, offered him the Professorship from which he planned to oust Weil. Weil returned to Paris after a brief stay with Vijayaraghavan in Dacca. During that stay, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the then Vice-Chancellor, invited him to take up a position in Andhra University. Weil was attracted by the offer but eventually declined when Radhakrishnan was unable to meet his demand for a free hand to run the department.

Vijayaraghavan later moved to Madras to head the then newly formed Ramanujan Institute, he died in 1955 at the relatively young age of 53. Chandrasekharan has this to say of Vijayaraghavan,”No one who knew him intimately as a working mathematician, as a genial host or as an affectionate father could fail to say here was an intellectual of whom his country could be proud.”