Remembering my father Professor Alladi Ramakrishnan
On June 7, 2008, at around 8:30 pm, my dear father Professor Alladi Ramakrishnan, died at our home in Gainesville, Florida, with all members of his immediate family by his side. My family and I are touched by the outpouring of sympathy and support from relatives, friends, students and academicians from Gainesville, India, and around the world - in admiration and love for my father.
My father was proud of his great father Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Iyer, one of India's most eminent lawyers in the first half of the twentieth century, and one the members who drafted the Constitution of India. My father would jokingly say that he drafted the Indian Consititution because took down my grandfather's dictation! My father passed the bar exams in flying colors and obtained a gold medal in Hindu Law. But he eschewed a lucrative career in law and decided to pursue a scientific career. He was most appreciative that his loving mother Lady Venkalakshmi gave him the crucial support he needed to make this change.
In an illustrious scientific career that began in 1947, he has written over 150 influential research papers spanning several fields of study - probability and stochastic processes, elementary particle physics, matrix theory, and the special theory of relativity - guided about 30 PhD students (and influenced the careers of several more), and lectured at over 200 institutions around the world on his research. His monumental contribution to the profession, to India, and to the scientific world, is MATSCIENCE, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Madras, India, that he founded in 1962 with the support of Nobel Laureate Niels Bohr, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and Minister C. Subramaniam, and served as its Director until his retirement in 1983. In the effort to create this Institute and in fostering its development, he appreciated and acknowledged the great support from my mother Lalitha Ramakrishnan who caringly hosted hundreds of students and eminent foreign visitors in our family home Ekamra Nivas in Madras since the 1950s. He generously took my mother and me on almost every one of those trips across the globe as he lectured every year on his work.
Since 1987, he and my mother have visited me and my family for significant periods of time each year in Gainesville. He was most supportive of all my efforts in my career. In addition to being a most loving father, he was my academic mentor, my inspiration and my idol. He felt it was very imprtant to be proud of, and to preserve, the rich cultural heritage of India, and he encouraged my mother in her learning and singing of Carnatic music for which he had a passion. He was equally supportive and proud of my wife Mathura's pursuit of Bharathanatyam, both as a dancer and a teacher. He was a doting grand father who was proud that his first grand daughter Lalitha took to a legal career following the tradition of his great father. Since my father was an outstanding expositor who believed in the power of expression (both the spoken and the written word), he was very happy that his second grand daughter Amritha took to journalism. Finally, my father was most happy to welcome Aditya Srinivasan as the grand son-in-law and became quite fond of him.
My father died peacefully and almost without pain within an hour of attending a dance program by my wife Mathura and her students, the final item being a dance by Mathura with my daughters Lalitha and Amritha. He lived a glorious and happy life and we have wonderful memories of him. He has chronicled his remarkable life story in his inimitable style in two volumes of the Alladi Diary. But I just provide you with a link to an article that I wrote summarizing his accomplishments.
I wrote this article as a preface to a volume brought out by his students in his honor for this 80-th birthday on August 9, 2003. I actually wrote the article on Father's Day in June 2003 with him by my side in my office!
The Hindu, India's National Newspaper, to which he has contributed several articles and news reports over the years, published a prominent obituary in the National Page on June 9. See
I appreciate the comments I have received from several persons and in due course I will compile these suitably (and any others I may receive in the future), as part of a larger effort to preserve his memory.
The url of this page is http://www.math.ufl.edu/~alladik/ark.html.