Yet another anecdote due to Prof. P.C. Mahalanobis:

“I have mentioned that Ramanujan and I often used to go out for long walks on Sunday mornings. During these walks our discussions ranged over a wide variety of subjects. He had some progressive ideas about life and society but no reformist views. Left to himself, he would often speak of certain philosophical questions. He was eager to work out a theory of reality which would be based on the fundamental concepts of “zero”, “infinity” and the set of finite numbers. I used to follow in a general way but I never clearly understood what he had in mind. He sometimes spoke of “zero” as the symbol of the absolute (Nirguna-Brahmam) of the extreme monistic school of Hindu philosophy, that is, the reality to which no qualities can be attributed, which cannot be defined or described by words, and which is completely beyond the reach of the human mind. According to Ramanujan, the appropriate symbol was the number “zero”, which is the absolute negation of all attributes. He looked on the number “infinity” as the totality of all possibilities, which was capable of becoming manifest in reality and which was inexhaustible. According to Ramanujan, the product of infinity and zero would supply the whole set of finite numbers. Each act of creation, as far as I could understand, could be symbolized as a particular product of infinity and zero, and from each such product would emerge a particular individual of which the appropriate symbol was a particular finite number. I have put down what I remember of his views. I do not know the exact implication. He seemed to have been perhaps emotionally more interested in his philosophical ideas than in his mathematical work. He spoke with such enthusiasm about the philosophical questions that sometimes I felt he would have been better pleased to have succeeded in establishing his philosophical theories than in supplying rigorous proofs of his mathematical conjectures.”

“Ramanujan had a somewhat shy and quiet disposition, a dignified bearing, and pleasant manners. He would listen carefully to that other people were saying but would usually remain silent. If he was asked any question, or on rare occasions, if he joined in any general conversation, he would speak frankly, but briefly. Whilst speaking to a friend or in very small groups, he would, however, expound his own ideas with great enthusiasm, not only on philosophical questions but occasionally also on other subjects in which he was seriously interested. Although I could not follow his mathematics, he left a lasting impression on my mind. His bright eyes and gentle face with a friendly smile are still vivid in my mind.”