Attipate Krishnaswami Ramanujan (Kannada: ಅತ್ತಿಪೇಟೆ ಕೃಷ್ಣಸ್ವಾಮಿ ರಾಮಾನುಜನ್) (Tamil: அத்திப்பட்டு கிருஷ்ணசுவாமி ராமானுஜன்) also known as A. K. Ramanujan, was a scholar of Indian literature who wrote in both English and Kannada. Ramanujan was a Indian poet, scholar and author, a philologist, folklorist, translator, poet and playwright. His academic research ranged across five languages: Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Sanskrit, and English. He published works on both classical and modern variants of these literature and also argued strongly for giving local, non-standard dialects their due.
He was born into an Iyengar(Brahmin) family in Mysore City on 16 March 1929. His father, Attipat Asuri Krishnaswami, a professor of mathematics at Mysore University and an astronomer, had a study crammed with books in English, Kannada. and Sanskrit. The house was alive with ideas. On summer nights, the children gathered on the third floor terrace while their father pointed out and explained the constellations. Sometimes at dinner, the children listened intently as their father translated for their mother the stories of Shakespeare and other Western classics into Tamil.
Ramanujan's mother was an orthodox Brahmin woman of her time, limited by custom in the scope of her movement and control, in this way a typical housewife. Though she was no intellectual practitioner, she was neither typical nor limited in her learning and imagination. She was widely read in Tamil and Kannada, and comfortable in the world of ideas.
These were the parents who gave Ramanujan the telling metaphor of father language and mother tongue that enlightens much of the analysis found in the essays of this book. By the time his father died, when Ramanujan was only twenty, the older man had already helped shape his son's devotion to an intellectual life.
As a youth, Ramanujan was perplexed by his father's seemingly paradoxical belief in both astrology and astronomy: how could one man blend the rational and irrational in this way? Curiously, Ramanujan chose magic as his first artistic endeavor. While in his teens, he had the neighborhood tailor fashion him a coat fitted with hidden pockets and elastic bands in which he concealed rabbits and bouquets of flowers. With added accoutrements of top-hat and wand he performed for local schools, women's groups. and social clubs. The desire to be a magician was perhaps a strange use of the insight he gained from his father's quirky belief in the irrational.
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