Srinivasa Ramanujan is the greatest Indian mathematical genius of our time. He had extra ordinary talent to look at Mathematics. When we reflect on his life events, we find that V. Ramaswamy Aiyar and The IMS had a role in recognizing his mathematical ingenuity. After his marriage in 1910, Ramanujan was in search of a job. In this connection he had a meeting with Ramaswamy Aiyar in his office of Deputy Collector in the services of then Madras Province. During the meeting only recommendation Ramanujan had with him was his notebooks containing several new results proved by him in various topics of Mathematics. Ramaswamy Aiyar had also served as lecture of Mathematics in the Maharaja College of Mysore and a scrutiny of the entries in the notebooks convinced Ramaswamy Aiyar that Ramanujan was a gifted mathematician. Ramaswamy Aiyar sent Ramanujan back to Madras (Chennai) with a letter of introduction to P. V. Sheshu Aiyar, then at the Presidency College. Sheshu Aiyar (who had known Ramanujan as his student at the Government College, Kumbakonam, when he himself was working there as a Lecturer of Mathematics) met Ramanujan after a gap of few years. He was greatly impressed with the contents of the notebooks.
Sheshu Aiyar gave Ramanujan a note of recommendation to the lover of mathematics, Dewan Bahadur R. Ramachandra Rao, who was then the District Collector of Nellore. Ramachandra Rao was also highly impressed by the original results proved by Ramanujan in various topics of mathematics. The best description of Ramanujan’s first meeting with Diwan Bahadur is in his own words: “ A short uncouth figure, stout, unshaved, not overclean, with one conspicuous feature – shining eyes – walked in with a frayed notebook under his arm. He was miserably poor. I asked him what he wanted. He said he wanted a pittance to live on so that he might pursue his researches.” Ramachandra Rao was so much impressed by Ramanujan that he supported him for some time, but Ramanujan was not willing to live on somebody’s help indefinitely. He also tried to obtain some scholarship but without success.
Later on he got a job of a clerk in the office of the Madras Port Trust. On suggestion from Shenshu Aiyar, Ramanujan wrote a letter (dated January 16, 1913) with 120 Theorems to Prof G. H. Hardy of Cambridge University. Hardy was very much impressed with his work invited him to work with him. Ramanujan stayed in England for about five years. For his work his name was accepted for Fellowship of Royal Society and he was also elected as Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
It may be noted here that Shenshu Aiyar was so much impressed by the results of Ramanujan that he communicated his work to the Journal of The Indian Mathematics Society. It is a matter of great pride for the Indian Mathematical Society that theses earliest contributions of Ramanujan were published in The Journal of The Indian Mathematical Society in the form of questions. These appeared in 1911 volume of the Journal. Ramanujan proposed in all 59 questions or solutions to the questions in this Journal. The first fifteen page article entitled "Some properties of Bernoulli numbers" appeared in the same volume of the Journal. In all he had published 12 of his research papers in the Journal of The Indian Mathematical Society.