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A Gaze Into Infinity

by Geetashree Chatterjee
(New Delhi)

I was drawn to the idea of infinity in my formative years. The subject which introduced me to the concept was the one which I loathed the most – Mathematics. But it also had a few mind tickling topics which tempted my imagination to no end and I could spend hours pondering over them. One such was the symbol (horizontal eight!) which denoted a number far greater to be counted orally or expressed numerically - the infinite.

I read somewhere that human mind has its own limitations. It tries to probe, analyse, identify, quantify and understand even the most elusive by illustration. But how to measure infinity or bind it within visual limits!!!

My father had solved the puzzle much earlier for me. One day he took me to the terrace and pointed at the sky teeming with innumerable stars. “Look,” he said, “What you see up there is just a piece of the sky. But this is not all. The sky is just a miniscule part of the Universe as we all are. The Universe is much bigger and vaster than you can imagine. It’s infinite…beyond human imagination or perception.” That was the first example of infinity that I got. Night after night I would gaze at the stars and wonder how vast the sky was. Would I ever be able to scale its periphery? The very thought used to give me goose bumps.

I was a careless student given to day dreaming. Hours passed by as I watched the sun rays dance on the young green leaves of the Neem tree whose branches almost touched my window. A soft swish of the wind and how the leaves swayed gleefully! One or two would leave their abode and swirl in space in sheer abundance of joy falling softly on the ground after a while. I wanted to cup the rays in my hands and count the leaves on the branches or those lying listlessly on the ground. But after sometime, I’d abandon the exhausting task and just sit and stare as time ticked by endlessly.

Much later, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal I
fruitlessly tried to number the waves crashing on the rocks and failed miserably. After some time losing count I realized I was chasing infinity.

When I was in Middle School, my mother enrolled me for a course in Hindusthani Classical Music in a private institute – a cosy building in the midst of a lush lawn. I liked its ambience and would often stroll into other classes. One day I heard the young painter teaching his pupils, “Look yonder at the wall. What do you see?” It was a plain, blank, white washed wall which held nothing much of interest to me. But his next sentence was an eye opener. “See the various shades of white where the shadows and lights mingle and play.” I looked back once more. The painter could see what my eyes failed to discern - the Creator’s infinite palette.

Guruji’s sonorous voice still echoes in my ears, “Musical sound or Naad is infinite. Human voice has its limitation – Alas! It can only capture seven notes. But behold how these seven notes can be permuted into infinite melody.” And his melodic examples would fill the air.

The mad saint of Dakshineshwar would raise his arms up in the air and yell, Maa! Your grace abounds.” Scorched skin, tangled beard, glazed eyes, frequent uncontrolled laughter followed by equally unrestrained cries of anguish and despair , we often saw the dubious spectacle loitering around the temple premise.

Crushed in the Metro, I look around for familiar faces. I find none. Every day the known is taken over by the unknown, the stale by the new, the regular by the irregular, order by disorder, the sedate by the swift, the expected by the unexpected. Every day, in our mundane routine of survival, we experience God’s handiwork…the endless game of creation and havoc.

Innumerable glimpses of infinity are strewn around us if we choose to explore.

Life itself is a string of infinite possibilities.

Infinite potentials are hidden within us, so say the sages.

Infinity is amidst us and we mortals are part of that infinite whole.

A reassuring, at the same time, awe inspiring thought!

Isn’t it?

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Mar 03, 2012
by: isabel

Yes, infinity is amidst us. No wonder I have so many things in my mind… things I wanted to do. I thought I was bitten by a bug or I thought it was a case of boredom... Now I know it's no so.

Looking forward on the next issue... Excited to read more, your writing sparks something within me. Thank you.

Mar 05, 2012
by: vimala ramu

I liked your musings,Geeta. At the first class in ART OF LIVING, we are asked to give our address.We give it with all sense of importance.Then we are asked to continue after the name of our city, then continent,then world,then universe.....So, it goes on, making u a feel how insignificant we are in the vast infinite creation, how trivial our egos are.

Mar 06, 2012
by: Geetashree Chatterjee

You have added an extra dimension to my musings!

Mar 06, 2012
Yes, Vimala
by: Geetashree Chatterjee

I remember that exercise. Thanks for reading.

Mar 06, 2012
Reduce yourself to zero
by: Jitendra Mathur

Respected Geeta Ji,

Namaskar and Suprabhat.

Measuring infinity is not practically possible but gaining infinity is definitely possible. Remember the simple formula of mathematics - divide anything by zero and the quotient comes as infinity. Hence to achieve infinity or the maximum, we have to reduce ourselves to zero making us free of undue ego or self-indulgence.

The contrary is also true for life. Another simple formula of mathematics tells the reverse - divide anything with infinity and the quotient comes as zero. Well, make your ego as big as infinity and everything in your life will be reduced to zero.

Your post is very good. I love to glare at the moonless sky and lose myself into the beauty of the sparkling stars whose number may be beyond my counting imagination. Dil Dhoondhta Hai Phir Wohi Phursat Ke Raat Din.


Jitendra Mathur

Mar 07, 2012
Fantastic Insight
by: Geetashree Chatterjee

The simple mathematical equations lay bare a wealth of age-old wisdom. Thanks for the dynamic insight. Appreciate it very much.

Jul 23, 2012
Unlimited through limited
by: maya alex

It is really the grace of God Almighty that even minute and minor aspects of life reflect His splendour .We are really fortunate to be able to discern it .This can always guide us to the infinite love for humanity as well

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