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Child Sri Ramakrishna’s Tryst With Mathematics

Learning his mathematics lessons on addition was acceptable to the boy Gadadhar, the given name of Sri Ramakrishna.

But the problem came in the case of subtraction. His question was: how could anything be taken away from another? Isn’t everything pervaded by God? So if you reduce something from another, where can the remainder be kept?

 The scholarly teachers found such questions too much to answer; it was beyond the pale of their knowledge. So Gadadhar’s learning ended up in merely enjoying the company of friends.

In his eyes all those complicated problems of accounts were meant to enrich material prosperity, which he disliked since childhood. Hence his education could not cross the threshold of the village school because of his refusal to seek money from scholarship.

Again, with the same analytical eyes he could conclude that God had a laugh when two brothers quarreled over the possession of a land and divided it into two with a rope, claiming one side for each. Probably both of them could die the very next day of unknown causes. Little Gadadhar could see the terrible joke of God.

He could also see God laughing when a doctor falsely assures the relatives of a dying person of being able to bring that person back to life, knowing fully well that the latter’s lifespan was over. God again gave a hearty but silent laugh from behind the curtain but within Gadadhar’s gaze. Gadadhar realized the limitations of human capacity.

Source - Sri Ramakrishna: Scriptures Embodied by Swami Kritarthananda – March 2016 Prabhudha Bharata