Bengaluru: Since ancient times, various scholars have made significant contributions to mathematics including Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Mahavira, Bhaskara II, Srinivasa Ramanujan, etc. At a very young age, Srinivasa Ramanujan showed signs of an unfolding genius and his contributions regarding fractions, infinite series, number theory, mathematical analysis and others set an example in mathematics.

Whenever someone called him a ‘genius’, Srinivasa Ramanujan used to show them his elbow. They were full of marks and small bruises. The mathematician grew up in poverty, having little money to buy even paper, and thus had to resort to using his elbow to wipe out the formulas he had penned on his slate.

The main objective behind celebrating National Mathematics Day is to raise awareness among people about the importance of mathematics for the development of humanity. On this day, training is also provided to the mathematics teachers and students through camps and highlights the development, production, and dissemination of teaching-learning materials (TLM) for Mathematics and research in related areas.

Here's one such 77-year-old young retired teacher who is instilling the love for mathematics among children in schools in rural areas. He believes age is just a number and everyone must do whatever they can to make a difference.

Narayanaswami currently resides at Serene Urbana of Columbia Pacific Communities, a retirement community in Kannamangala, near Bengaluru International Airport (BIAL).

On hearing the word mathematics, Narayanswami Iyer spoke to Asianet Newsable at length and shared some of his interesting and inspiring life stories.

Narayanaswami goes on to share an interesting story about how mathematics has an impact on everyone’s life, which may be positive or negative. He narrates, “When I was building my house in Bengaluru, there was a young carpenter, Arumugam, working as an apprentice. One day, he told me, ‘Sir, I see so many people sitting at your table and learning mathematics. This subject has caused me untold misery in life. I was bad at maths in school and my teachers would hit me. When I came home, my parents would hit me for not doing well in the subject. One day, frustrated, I packed a few clothes and got onto a train. The next day, they told me I had reached Bengaluru. I started running but fainted because of hunger. A kind carpenter Muniswamy took me home, fed me, raised me and taught me the craft. I am here only because of mathematics.’”

What keeps you motivated to instil the love of maths to students of all ages and disciplines?

Iyer: I don’t have to be motivated to teach maths to students. My love and passion for the subject made me realise that I should impart maths knowledge to all.

How do you motivate students to take up maths when they are not interested in the subject?

Iyer: That’s a really good question. It’s difficult to motivate or inspire students to take up maths when they are not really interested in the subject. Not all the five fingers in the hand are equal. In the same way different students have different personalities. But with a lot of practice and patience, one can get good in maths. All my students were always not keenly interested in maths but with time and practice they started loving maths as a subject.

You have a son and a daughter, are they interested in Maths as much as you. Will anyone continue your legacy of imparting Maths knowledge to students after you?

Iyer: I must ponder on this thought. Both my son and daughter are busy in their lives, but my grandson has my traits and he is teaching maths to some of his friends and students. I think more than my son and daughter, my grandson will be continuing my legacy.