Monday, December 16, 2013




Dr JAYANT NARLIKAR ( born 1938)                                        

 Just finished reading  “ Black Holes”  , a booklet by Dr  Jayant Narlikar , India’s leading scientist in the field of cosmology and astrophysics . His language is simple and lucid. Even a layman can understand the strange phenomenon in the universe with regard to formation Black Holes and other esoteric objects . Dr Narlikar also writes scientific fiction ,short stories and appears to be having deep knowledge of Indian history , culture and literature . He prefers to write in Marathi,  his mother tongue .

                           ( Fred Hoyle)

( Dr Jayant Narlikar and Dr Mangla Narlikar)
              ( Narlikars at the Airport )

                 ( Narlikars at FTII Pune)

Besides scientific papers and books and popular science literature, Narlikar has written science fiction, novels, and short stories in English, Hindi, and Marathi . His articles , write ups and English translations of his   scientific fiction is a preferred reading for me . A man of amazing simplicity, Narlikar has not only understood the universe above him but also the man living underneath . It is a privilege to see him and  listen to his discourses on various complex issues of the universe and human beings.

Dr Jayant Vishnu Narlikar is from Kohlapur Maharashtra . His father, Prof Vishnu Vasudev Narlikar was the Head of the Department of Mathematics at Benaras Hindu University. Jayant Narlikar had his education in Varanasi. His mother was a graduate in Sanskrit . Having studied in BHU , he moved to Cambridge. At Cambridge , he was a brilliant student of renowned scientist Fred Hoyale who assisted him in his doctoral research. So much was Fred Hoyale impressed with the brilliance of his student that he decided to work with him to give a new Interpretation to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity . This new interpretation came to be known as HOYALE -NARLIKAR  THEORY . Fred Hoyle was arguably the most important astronomer of the last century after Albert Einstein.

Dr Jayant Narlikar's  work on Black Holes , gravitational force in cosmos , ergosphere ,White Holes and Cosmic Energy Problems gave him a pride place amongst scientists of the world . Narlikar is one of the few cosmologists in the world to disagree with the Big Bang theory, which states that the birth of the universe began with the rapid explosion of matter from a single point. 

About Fred Hoyle ,he says this:-

" Fred Hoyle did not accept any scientific idea until he was satisfied that experimentally or observationally it was proven. This meant he often had conflicts with bandwagon type supporters of some ideas, such as the big bang model which states that the universe started existing after a big explosion. I have tried to follow this independence of thinking."

About Hoyle Narlikar theory ,he  says this:-

"In the HN theory ,we have introduced the notion that inertia of matter arises because of the rest of the matter in the universe. Ernst Mach, a nineteenth-century German philosopher-scientist, had proposed such a notion without giving a mathematical formulation of the concept. Today it is known as Mach’s principle. We provided a mathematical structure to this idea. It led us to a gravity theory more comprehensive than Newtonian or Einsteinian ideas. We have a few new predictions which will require more detailed observations. We hope the large telescopes under consideration today will provide some relevant evidence.."

 In 1966, Fred Hoyle established Institute of Theoretical Astronomy in Cambridge, and Narlikar served as the founding staff member of the institute during 1966–72. In 1972, Narlikar took up Professorship at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, India. At the TIFR, he was in charge of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group. In 1988, the Indian University Grants Commission set up the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune, and Narlikar became the Founder-Director of IUCAA.

Dr Jayant Narlikar is married to well known mathematician ,Dr Mangla  Narlikar who also served at TIFR. They have three daughters; Geeta ,Girja and Leelawati. All the three daughter are in scientific field. While Geeta and Girja are in the US, Leelawati works in  a prestigious National institution as scientist.

While doing her PhD, Dr Mangala’s days would begin as early as 4 and she would study till late at night. She juggled classes, getting the children ready for school, cooking, looking after the needs of her in-laws and also teaching part-time at MU. It was an exhausting routine that left very little time for herself. But the whole chaotic experience taught her something — she was capable of a lot.

Dr Mangla Narlikar is known for her work on  Theory of Sieved Integers, Mean Square Value theorem of Hurwitz Zeta Functions and Hybrid Mean Value Theorem of L-Functions. She also wrote papers that broke down complicated Math language into simpler terms. She loves cooking  food ,loves music and reads  world literature.

In 1968, Cambridge University honoured  Dr Jayant Narlikar  by presenting him the Adam Award. Earlier, three Indian scientists had received this prestigious award: in 1944, Dr. Homi Bhabha; in 1948, Dr S Chandrashekhar; and in 1961, Dr awards and honorary doctorates. India's second-highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, was awarded to him in 2004 for his research work. Prior to this, in 1965, he was conferred Padma Bhushan.

I am impressed by the diversity of Dr Jayant Narlikar's interests which include charity, poetry ,  philosophy, literature , classical music , performing  arts,Sanskrit language   and above all tearing apart the mysteries of this universe . He was elected as the president for the 94th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, a prestigious annual Marathi literary meet held in Nashik from March 26-28 this year .

His endearing smile conveys compassion . So do his simple eating habits.

I conclude this post on Dr Jayant Narlikar with a Sanskrit Sloka from Brihadaranyaka Upnishad:-

“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

( Brihadaranyaka IV.4.5)

(Avtar Mota)

( Autar Mota 16.12.2013 )
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