“Zero was one
of the greatest inventions in human history,” I remember one of my mathematics
teachers telling us at St Albert’s college, Ernakulam. Without zero we would have reached nowhere
beyond some letters like X and M and C which were employed gratuitously in the
Roman arithmetic. Zero simplified and
complexified mathematics at once. It
made easy not only counting but also all mathematical operations such as
multiplication and division. Just
imagine division, for example, in the Roman system. MMXLVI divided by IXCMXXXIII. Wow, that is 1946 divided by 9933, after the
invention of zero. And the answer is 0.19591261451. Imagine that figure in the Roman
numerals. Your imagination would go bust.
There was no decimal system before the
arrival of the great zero.

Take any
number. Say 20. 20 ÷ 20 = 1. 20 ÷ 10 = 2. 20 ÷ 4 = 5. The
smaller the divisor, the greater the quotient.
Take a big divisor like, say, 10000.
20 ÷ 10000 = 0.002. Now apply this logic: as the divisor becomes
greater, the quotient becomes smaller.
As the divisor becomes smaller, the quotient becomes greater. Zero is nothing or

*shoonya*as they call it in Hindi. So, logically, when you divide a number by zero you should get the greatest number. Infinity? Well, mathematicians choose to leave that quotient undefined. When it comes to zero, it’s no joking matter. You have to tread carefully, reverentially. “That’s why we in Kerala call zero by the name*poojyam*, venerated,” concluded my mathematics teacher.
I remembered
that lecture which I listened to decades ago when I saw the latest Indispire
theme.

Decades later,
today, I have little to do with mathematics.
Having gone through all sorts of experiences most of which carry neither
rhyme nor reason, I imagine the guru telling his disciples: “Become like the
zero, shoonya and poojyam simultaneously.
Empty yourself of the ego. Fill
yourself with grace...”

PS. Written
for Indispire Edition 141 #zero

To be shunyam and poojyam simultaneously, that is a wonderful concept.

ReplyDeleteOf course puja is related to purnam or fullness. Purnatat jayate iti puja.. that which is born out of fullness is puja. That was the original concept of Puja... not breaking a coconut in exchange for good marks in exams. :)

Thanks for your addition to the post, Durga ji. Zero is quite spiritual and beyond exam grades. Perhaps math can be a more effective religion for our times..

Deletewhen dividing bigger numbers itself is difficult, I can't even imagine dividing Roman numbers!! mind-boggling! Zero is the best invention of mankind!

ReplyDeleteDivision is fun but never with the Roman numerals which have no numbers!

DeleteEmpty yourself of the ego. Fill yourself with grace. Perfect saying. Thank you Sir.

ReplyDeleteThanks friend. You see how spiritual math is.

DeleteInteresting to note that zero is called Pujyam im Malayali. I find your mention of life experiences which "carry no rhyme or reason" meaningful.

ReplyDeleteYes, zero enjoys a venerable place in Malayalam and rightly so. I'm grateful to my math teacher for drawing my attention to the fact.

Delete“Become like the zero, shoonya and poojyam simultaneously. Empty yourself of the ego. Fill yourself with grace...” that is The Ultimate!!

ReplyDeleteMath can be more inspiring than scriptures :)

Deleteनोटबंदी के बाद डिजिटल पेमेंट पर जोर, जानें क्या है डिजिटल पेमेंट

ReplyDeleteReadmore Todaynews18.com https://goo.gl/BgzxC9