DR. K. S. KRISHNAN & Raman Effect

KS Krishnan

Guru-Sishya relation becomes stronger when guru and sishya
(master and disciple) live together in a place far way from ‘maddening’ crowd, in a
forest or a university remotely connected with the general population. This traditional mode of teaching-learning process is a long abandoned technique. But in the scientific pursuit of Mr. K. S. Krishnan and Mr. C. V. Raman this tradition got revived. I say Mr. Krishnan and Mr. Raman as they just began their study in IACS as freshers.

Raman was working in Indian Audit and Accounts Service (I. A. A. S) as an officer in Calcutta after his post-graduation in physics from the Presidency College, Madras. He received Gold medals in B. a. and M. A. degrees. While moving in a tram from his house to the office, he saw a small board bearing the name:
 Indian Academy of Cultivation of Science. He made it a point to visit this place in the evening. The visit kindled the interest in research, which was somewhat tarnished by the coveted administrative job under the British Government. Thus began the active research It was established by the medical doctor and a philanthropist Dr. Mahedralal Sircar with the contribution form his own resources and generous contribution from the industrialists, well-wishers and the public. Raman was born in the south of Tamil Nadu. Thus in Calcutta, Raman started working in IACS after the
‘office’ hours i.e., before 9 am and after 5 pm! His biodata impressed the nephew Sri,
Amritlal Sircar the Secretary of IACS and made all arrangements and encouraged Raman to pursue his interest in research [1, 3]. Raman was born in a Brahmin Iyer family
Kariamanickam Srinivasa Krishnan was born in a Brahmin Iyengar family in a village Wathrap about 70 km from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. He was born on Dec 4, 1898. Raman was born on November 21, 1888. After school education in Watrap and Srivilliputhur, he joined the
American College, Madurai for his F. A. Intermediate) degree in physics in 1914.
 He is an alumnus of the American College (which is 130 years old and older than the University of Madras). I am happy that I am working in a college where Dr. K. S. Krishnan (KSK) studied and studied in a college where his mentor Dr. C. VRaman studied (the Presidency College, Madras). He received his F. A. degree in physics in 1916 and immediately joined Madras Christian College (MCC), Madras and took his B. A. degree in physics in 1918. He joined as a demonstrator in chemistry department as vacancy existed only in that department.
Gurugulam : After serving for two years, in 1920 he joined as a student to work with C. V. Raman in IACS, Calcutta. Thus the tie of Guru-sishya relationship was established between Raman and Krishnan. He worked with C. V. Raman for eight years till 1928. K. S. Krishnan joined Dakka Univeristy (now in Bangladesh) as a reader in physics in December 1928. After a tenure of five years Dr. KSK returned to Calcutta University an occupied the Chair of Mahendralal Sircar Professor of physics. In 1942 when war cloud was hovering over Calcutta during the Second World War, Dr. KSK joined Allahabad University as a professor of physics. After Independence of India, Dr. KSK became the first director of National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi in 1947. Unfortunately, the nemesis cut the thread and at the age of 63 Dr. KSK died due to heart attack on June 14, 1961. He died in harness. His scientific pursuit stretched for forty years from the time he joined the group of Raman in IACS in 1920. In scientific circle, C. V. Raman is regarded as a great spectroscopist, Satyendra Nath Bose (of Bose-Einstein statistics), a great theoretical physicist, Homi Bhabha, an outstanding particle physicist, Meghnad Saha, a great nuclear physicist, but KSK is regarded as a complete accomplished physicist. In his work in communication theory, he had already discovered (Shannon’s) sampling theorem[2]!

In scientific circle, C. V. Raman is regarded as a great spectroscopist, Satyendra Nath Bose (of Bose-Einstein statistics), a great theoretical physicist, Homi Bhabha, an outstanding particle physicist, Meghnad Saha, a great nuclear physicist, but KSK is regarded as a complete accomplished physicist. In his work in

communication theory, he had already discovered (Shannon’s)
 sampling theorem[2]! His research covered a wide range of topics: scattering by light by materials and associated properties, magnetic behavior of crystals, relation between magnetic anisotropy and atomic arrangements in crystal lattice., electronic transport phenomenon in solids and liquids and condensed matter physics- to mention a few. One statistics shows that the paper published by Raman and Krishnan in 1928 in Nature announcing the incoherent scattering (Raman effect) has been quoted as reference as many as 54980 times in the various publications of papers in different journals during seventeen years from 1980 to 1997. Such prolific reference to one paper might have crossed a million times as reference from 1928 onwards!


During the period of the Director of National Physical Laboratory, Dr. KSK was a resident of Kushak Marg, New Delhi and Teen Murti Bhavan, where the first Prime Minister Pandit Jawahal Lal Nehru was living, were close by. Often Pandit Nehru(Prime minister is known to all) used to visit KSK and had lengthy chat with him. Nehru expressed that by talking to Dr KSK he used to relax from the tension of administration. KSK used to tell stories from the great epics of India (Mahabharata and Ramayana) appropriate to the need of the situation. Just as Kavutilya (Chanakya) was to Chandra Gupta, was KSK to Nehru. Prof. KSK used to visit the school he studied in Watrap and address the students on the richness and heritage of the Indian culture and epics.
: My attempt to narrate the scientific biography of Prof. KSK will not be complete if I do not tell briefly about the apparent controversy on the discovery of the Raman Effect. Prof. Ramaseshan who worked with both Raman and Krishnan, writes on this aspect in the commemorial issue of
Current Science
(Dec 1998 issue). Prof KSK was rather intrigued by the question raised by Ramaseshan. KSK immediately took the diary he preserved over years and read the pages of record during the sensational moments in 1928 when the great discovery was made. These pages of the diary are available in print in the earlier mentioned issue of
Current Science 
. Prof. KSK recalls that C. V. Raman was extremely a generous person. The lively conversation with KSK as narrated by Ramaseshan stands vindictive testimony that Prof. K. S. Krishnan never entertained an iota of animosity towards Prof. C. V. Raman. Prof. K. S. Krishnan had great respect and regard for his master. And mentor and never entertained any ill-feeling against his Guru. In fact Ramaseshan was embarrassed for raising the question. Prof. KSK
always said that he had “Gurukulavasam”  (teacher and students living together) with Prof. C. V. Raman at Calcutta for eight years (1920-1928). If C. V. Raman is Sri. Rama, then KSK is Hanuman (Rama bhaktha Hanuman-
Hanuman the devotee of Sri Rama ). The devotion, admiration and bhakthi that KSK had for his master CVR is akin to the devotion, admiration and bhakthi that Hanuman had for his master Sri. Rama (in the epic Ramayana)
: Rashtrapathi (the then President of India) Sri. K. R. Narayanan, giving the key note address in the Centenary Celebrations of Prof. K. S. Krishnan, organized by the National Institute for Advanced Studies, Bangalore, remarked: “Dr. K. S. Krishnan is an outstanding scientist, a great Indian and a human being, a symbol and product of Indian


Speaking on the occasion of the Sixtieth Birth Day Celebration of Prof. KSK in
1959, Pandit Nehru paid laurel tribute: “What is remarkable about K. S. Krishnan is
not that he is a great scientist (India produced) but something much more. He is a perfect ci
tizen, whole man with integrated personality”.
Dr. S. Chandrasekhar, the Nobel Laureate and renowned astrophysicist, remembers KSK as great in heart, great in mind, and great in chosen are of research.
: Prof. K. S. Krishnan is a great pacifist. In 1947 after assuming office as the Director of NPL, Prof. KSK took initiative to recommend Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation, for the Nobel Prize for Peace for 1947. A draft was made by Dr. KSK on the advice of Sri Rajagopalachari, the
Governor General of India. “ Why this proposal did not fructify, we do not know”
observed by Rashtrapathi Sri K. R. Narayanan. Next year, no Nobel Peace prize was awarded in 1948 as no living suitable candidate was available for the prize! It
appeared that the Nobel Committee for Peace made ‘prayachittam’ (reconciliation)
for not awarding the Nobel Peace prize for Mahatma Gandhi in 1947 by not awarding in 1948. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948.
: Numerous honors and awards were presented to Prof. K. S. Krishnan. He was elected Fellow of Royal Society (FRS) in 1940. He received the knighthood of the British Government and the Order of Lenin presented by the USSR Science Academy. He was the first recipient of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award in 1957, the highest award to scientific excellence in India. He was decorated with Padma Bhushan award in 1954. Almost all major universities have awarded honorary doctorate degree honouris causa.
Raman joined IAAS service and earned Rs. 1100 per month salary. It would fetch more than 100 sovereigns per month. But he gladly preferred to be a professor with a salary of Rs. 600 per month. It is something unbelievable! Being born in a rich agriculturist family , Krishnan was offered by his father fabulous cash and asked him not to go to Calcutta. But determined Krishnan was not lured by the offer and preceded to Calcutta. The career of KSK is an example for the youth in India to follow and emulate. Two great scientists from different places in Tamil Nadu had united at West Bengal capitol city Calcutta in pursuit of a common goal: pursuit of truth to unfold the mystery of nature.
 KSK’s life is an example for the Biblical Proverb. Chapter 16: verse 16:
How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen  above silver”.Young Krishnan refused silver for the understanding of the mystery of nature. He refused gold to get wisdom. We join in paying homage to this illustrious scientist, a great Indian and
distinguished alumnus.
This talk was delivered by Dr. Jambunatha Sethuraman on the occasion of the Birth Centenary Celebration of Dr. K. S. Krishnan on December 1, 1999. A one-day seminar was arranged. A portrait of Dr KSK was unveiled by the Principal. Dr. M. A. Thangaraj, former Principal and the Head of the physics department of physics also graced the occasion by his presence. An Exhibition on the work of Dr. K. S. Krishnan was opened to all. The two year records of KSK as a student of the American College were displayed.

Ref : Academia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *