Mahan Mj: Indian Mathematician and Monastic

Mahan Mj: Indian Mathematician and Monastic

This Indian Mathematician became a monk, and donated the entire 65 lakhs of the Infosys Prize. He follows no organized religion. If asked to choose one at gunpoint, he would likely say science. Prof Mahan Ji also calls himself apolitical and says “Science is by nature apolitical”.

Mahan Mj, aged 47, is a mathematician and a monk working as a Professor at Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University. He was awarded the Infosys Prize 2015 for Mathematical Sciences, with a prize money of 65 lakhs, which he donated for charitable work, just like his salary. 

Isaac Newton and Aryabhatta, along with many other renowned mathematicians, believed that mathematics exists in all aspects of life. Mahan MJ, shared the same belief and integrated mathematics with spirituality in his practice.

He was born on April 5, 1968, and completed high school at St Xavier’s Collegiate School in Kolkata. 

He initially studied electrical engineering at IIT Kanpur but switched to mathematics because it piqued his interest. He earned a Master’s in Mathematics from IIT Kanpur in 1992 and a Ph.D. in the same subject from the University of California, Berkeley, USA, in 1997.

While in Berkeley, Prof. Mahan started reading Swami Vivekananda’s writings. After returning to India, he decided to become a monk, despite initial resistance from his parents. 

He became a Professor of Mathematics and Dean of Research at the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University until 2015 when he joined the Ramakrishna Math in Kolkata.

In 2008, he became a monk, wearing the saffron robe, all the while continuing his role as a Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University in Belur, West Bengal

He has made significant contributions to mathematical sciences, particularly in the areas of ending lamination spaces and hyperbolic manifolds.

In 2011, Mahan was honored with the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award for his outstanding work in mathematics and the Infosys Prize for Mathematical Sciences in 2015, having published over 35 papers.

To revolutionize how math is taught in India, Prof Mahan Mj created the Fundamental Science Education Trust in Mumbai with his friend Rajesh Gopakumar and two students. 

The trust works to introduce fresh education ideas, especially in Mathematics. Prof Mahan donated Rs 65 lakhs from his Infosys Prize to support this important mission.

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