The Mathematics of Life
By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 06-09-2014
Mathematics has always been my best subject. I never scored less than ninety-five per cent marks in this subject and have notched hundred per cent many times. In my B.Sc. examination, I scored 150 out of 150 marks, breaking all previous records. In Engineering also, I was awarded the Cautley Memorial Gold Medal for Mathematics for scoring the highest marks in this subject. In fact, good scores in mathematics always helped me greatly in my academic performance. All this is not to highlight my personal achievement. The intention is altogether different but before coming to that, I would like to mention certain additional facts. The first is that this score was achieved effortlessly. The second is that I never studied the subject at the time of the examination. The third fact is that I studied only the book prescribed in the course. Lastly, there were some students in my class who were equally good in the subject, though I always scored the highest.
Now I come to the reason for this achievement. The first is that I always considered mathematics as a game which was a pleasure to play. It always gave me entertainment and refreshment instead of tiredness or boredom. Secondly, I paid maximum attention to understand the underlying principles of the subject. For example, in trigonometry, I understood the concepts of the Pythagoras’ theorem and it always helped me in solving the problems. Similarly, in algebra, I mastered numbers and for calculus and understood very definition of differential coefficient well. By this process I found each branch of mathematics easy and I performed well in all of them. I am still able to recollect and apply these fundamentals whenever required. Thus, the secret of an effortless performance was a clear understanding of the fundamentals of the subject.
After finishing my Engineering course, I worked for sometime in an engineering company before joining the Indian Administrative Service. I found this service satisfying, despite the odds of public life. My engineering background helped me to adopt an analytical approach to administration, and enabledme to perform quite well in the service. I feel that the mathematical approach helped me greatly in this achievement. Having completed over twenty five years of service and reaching the age when one should acquire enough wisdom to look at life in its true perspective, I feel that life is also like mathematics and the problems of life are similar to the problems of mathematics. If the fundamentals of life are understood, then life’s problems can also be faced easily. In that case, life becomes a pleasure and its difficult problems only add to the pleasure of living. On the other hand, if the concepts of life are not clear, even routine problems of life disturb us and we make ourselves miserable. Here I am not going into the details of the fundamentals of life. In brief, I would say that life is a wonderful opportunity for elevation and it should not be wasted on mundane affairs only, just as the purpose of mathematics is not merely to pass the examination but to understand and apply its principles in life. Similarly, the purpose of life should be understood in its true sense and it should be taken as an opportunity for achieving its goal. With that clarity in the mind, the difficulties attached to life become very small and add to the pleasure of living. Such people score high in the mathematics of life without much difficulty. In worldly terms, there may be more prosperous persons around them but when it comes to the examination of life, it is they who secure the highest marks. And all this happenseffortlessly.
So let us first accept the simile of life with mathematics and feel the urge to understand its fundamentals. Once we have the urge, we will find the way and help will come from unexpected sources. No doubt, a sustained effort is required on our part, but once the process of understanding is over, life becomes scoring as well as enjoyable, like the subject of mathematics. We can then easily aim to score cent per cent marks, no matter how difficult the paper is. At least, I am striving to score cent per cent marks in the mathematics of life too.
About The Author
Sri Rakesh Kumar Mittal IAS (Retd.) had been an administrative officer in Uttar Pradesh state cadre for about 35 years. He is a spiritual man with high moral values and a selfless heart. He has founded 'Kabir Peace Mission'. He has also written several books on positive thinking.