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Meet Indian genius, son of constable, worked with IIT, NASA, then went missing, was found after years in...

With some asserting that he challenged Albert Einstein's renowned theory, Vashishtha Narayan gained global recognition.

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Meet Indian genius, son of constable, worked with IIT, NASA, then went missing, was found after years in...
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Mathematics genius Vashishtha Narayan Singh from a little-known village in Bihar's Basantpur district was an unsung hero whose life was mired in tragedy. Born in 1942, he topped both BSc and MSc in consecutive years. He then collaborated with esteemed institutions such as NASA, IIT and Berkeley. However, due to mental illness, his life took an unexpected turn and transformed him from a potential successor to Ramanujan into a 'could-have-been.'

The son of a police constable, Vashishtha Narayan's journey began at Netarhat School in Jharkhand and continued at Patna Science College. The college principal gave him early promotions due to his academic brilliance, leading him to earn his PhD in 1969.

Acknowledging his brilliance, Prof John L Kelly arranged for Vashishtha Narayan to study in the US at the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to India nearly after a decade and taught at prestigious institutions such as IIT Kanpur, TIFR Mumbai, and ISI Kolkata. However, his life took a tragic turn as schizophrenia afflicted him, resulting in his divorce and a decline in academic recognition. He was then institutionalised. After receiving treatment, he mysteriously disappeared during a train journey, only to be later discovered living destitute in his home village.

Admitted to NIMHANS in Bengaluru and subsequently treated at IHBAS Delhi with Shatrughan Sinha's help, Vashishtha Narayan struggled with his illness. Despite the challenges, he later reentered academia at BNMU Madhepura. The mathematical genius, unable to realise his full potential, passed away at the age of 72 on November 14, 2019, receiving a posthumous Padma Shri award in recognition of his contributions.

With some asserting that he challenged Albert Einstein's renowned theory, Vashishtha Narayan gained global recognition. Some talk about his involvement in critical NASA calculations during a computer breakdown and contributions to the Apollo missions aiming to land humans on the moon.

 

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