The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Living Accountant Breathing Science, Marriage and Education of C.V. Raman
Living Accountant Breathing Science
One evening Raman was returning from his office in a tramcar. He saw the nameplate of the ‘Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science’ at 210, Bow Bazaar Street. Immediately he got off the tram and went in. Dr. Amritlal Sircar was the Honorary Secretary of the Association. There were spacious rooms and old scientific instruments, which could be used for the demonstration of experiments.
Raman asked whether he could conduct research there in his spare time. Dr. Sircar gladly agreed. Raman took up a house adjoining the Association. A door was provided between his house and the laboratory. During the daytime, he would attend his office and carry out his duties. His mornings and nights were devoted to research. This gave him full satisfaction. So he continued his ceaseless activities in Calcutta.
His work was interrupted by a transfer to Rangoon for about a year in 1909, and also to Nagpur, in 1910. At both these places, he continued his experiments at his residence, with limited, insignificant facilities. Fortunately, in 1911, he was transferred back to Calcutta and could continue his work at the Indian Association for Cultivation of Science.
Raman had cleared his FCS examination at the age of 18 in 1907. Once, he saw a 13 years old girl playing a Thyagaraja Keerthana on the Veena. He was a great lover of music and was deeply impressed by her performance. Against all conventions of that time, he arranged his marriage with her. Her name was Lokasundari.
The saying “there is always a woman behind every great man” is very true in Raman’s life. Lady Lokasundari Raman was a wonderful wife and happily interested in mothering all her husband’s students. But for her ever loving care and shouldering the unavoidable worries of the day to day existence, Professor Raman would hardly have been able to devote himself so wholeheartedly to scientific research.
In 1907, when Raman was just over 18 years old, he along with his wife went to Calcutta to join the Finance Department there as Assistant Accountant General. Within a week of his reaching Calcutta, he noticed, while he was on his way to work, a sign board which read “The Indian Association for Cultivation of Sciences”, and this was to play a major role in his life, and in the very history of scientific culture in our country.
Ever since Raman was part of the IACS, he played a dual role. He would work efficiently as a finance officer all the day, and after office hours, move to the IACS, where he would immerse himself in research until late night. During these years, his papers appeared in International journals such as Nature and Philosophical Magazine, published in England, and the Physical Review, published in the USA. He started communicating with the physicists round the world at this time. He also liked to teach and would give popular lectures in Calcutta. People loved his lectures as they would include live demonstrations that made even non-specialists understand his work.
Raman finished his schooling at a very young age of 11. He spent the next two years studying in his father’s college. When he was barely 13, he went to Madras to join the B.A. course in Presidency college. Raman was failed to win a word of praise initially from his teachers. Besides being young in his class, Raman was also quite unimpressive in his appearance. He could recall the incident occurred during his first English class that he attended. Observing Raman, his English Professor E.H.Elliot asked him whether he really belonged to the junior B.A. class. Raman immediately answered him ‘yes’ in affirmative tone. By the end of the course, he stunned all the skeptics and stood first in the B.A. Examinations.
At 15, Raman passed his B.A. exam and got gold medals for Physics and for English. He passed his M.A. examination in 1907, at the age of 19. Being so young, it would surprise even his teachers to believe that this inconspicuous child could be a college student at all. His Professors in the Presidency College found him to be so knowledgeable, that they recognized that Raman did not need classroom instructions, and they exempted him from attending all science classes.
Raman was an extraordinary observer. At 16, while doing a routine experiment on his college spectrometer, he observed some diffraction bands. We all do these experiments, but rarely does anybody observe the findings critically, investigate the data, and analyze the same thoroughly. Raman’s observations in that routine experiment constituted the subject of his first research paper, which was published by one of the most prestigious scientific journals of that time, namely, the Philosophical Magazine. In the very same issue, he published yet another article on a totally different topic: a short note on a new method he devised to measure a liquid’s surface tension.
When Raman completed his B.A. education, it was suggested that he go to England for further studies and take up the Indian Civil Services (ICS) examination. It was a very prestigious exam in those days and very rarely did non-Britishers get through it. Yet, Raman impressed his teachers so much that they urged him to take it up at a very early age. Despite Raman’s brilliance, the plan was not to work.
Raman had to undergo a medical examination before he could qualify to take the ICS test, and the civil surgeon of Madras declared him medically unfit to travel to England. This was the only exam that Raman failed in his life. Later in his life, he remarked in his characteristic style about the man who disqualified him, “I shall ever be grateful to this man”, but at that time, he simply put the attempt behind him and went on to study Physics. Subsequently, after he completed his M.A., he took the Civil Services competitive exam for the Finance Department (FCS). Sure enough, he topped the score in that exam.