Mahan Maharaj, a senior researcher at the Howrah-based Ramkrishna Mission Vivekananda University, was among 11 scientists selected today for the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, India's highest science award.Maharaj and Palash Kumar of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata received the prize in the Mathematical Science category.
Swami Vidyanadhananda, originally Mahan Mitra, usually called Mahan Maharaj I have known since 1995 through his work and met him for the first time around 2005. After a Ph.D. in Berkeley he joined the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and suddenly decided to join Ramakrishna Mission and disappeared for about seven years. During this period I slightly revised one of his papers (and also worked on the proof sheets of another) that I used and helped publishing it; I am not sure whether his permission was taken. Towards the end of his training Kalyan Mukherjea got to know about Mahan through Mahan's brother and persuaded him to come back to mathematics. The long break seemed to have no effect and he seemed even stronger than before. He continued with his monkly duties, has been doing strong mathematics, meanwhile helping set up a mathematics department in Vivekananda University in Belur Math. I spent a month in Belur Math during 2009 and had the pleasure of coloborating with him and saw him training several Ph.D. students. It was a fun stay and I hope to visit him again.
There is a 2009 photograph of Mahan in the photos section of this blog (currently on page 3).
P.S. Link to Mahan's papers and a young researcher meets Mahan:"Thankfully he doesn't wear his religion on his sleeve." My impression after staying in Belur Mission for a month: The organization is more into service than religion and there are monks of various religions in the RK Mission. But I have not enquired whether there were any atheists.
A nice picture here