Spiritual life is the genius of India.
It is said that a man without religion is like a horse without bridle.
Only the man of serene mind can realize the spiritual meaning of life. Honesty with oneself is the condition of spiritual integrity.
These are the famous quotes of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan on whose birthday we celebrate the TEACHERS’ DAY.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was first Vice President of India and second President of India. He was also a philosopher and introduced the thinking of western idealist philosophers into Indian thought. He was a famous teacher and his birthday is celebrated as Teacher's Day in India.
After completing his M.A., Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, accepted an Assistant Lectureship at the Madras Presidency College in 1909. In college, he mastered the classics of Hindu philosophy, namely the Upanishads, Bhagvad Gita, Brahmasutra, and commentaries of Sankara, Ramunuja and Madhava. He also acquainted himself with Buddhist and Jain philosophy and philosophies of Western thinkers.
In 1918, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was selected as Professor of Philosophy by the University of Mysore. In 1921, Radhakrishnan was nominated as Professor of Philosophy at the Calcutta University. In 1923, Dr. Radhakrishnan's book "Indian Philosophy" was published. The book was hailed as a "philosophical classic and a literary masterpiece."
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was called to Oxford University, to deliver lectures on Hindu philosophy. He used his lectures as a platform to further India's cause for freedom. He also argued that Western philosophers, despite all claims to objectivity, were biased by theological influences from their wider culture. He showed that Indian philosophy, once translated into standard academic jargon, is worthy of being called philosophy by Western standards. He thus placed Indian Philosophy on world map.
In 1931, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was elected Vice Chancellor of the Andhra University. In 1939, Radhakrishnan became the Vice Chancellor of the Benaras Hindu University. In 1946, he was appointed as Ambassador to UNESCO. After Independence Dr. Radhakrishnan was requested to Chair the University Education Commission in 1948. The Radhakrishnan Committee's suggestions helped mould the education system for India's needs.
In 1949, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was appointed ambassador to the Soviet Union. He helped laid the foundation for a strong relationship with Soviet Union. Radhakrishnan was elected first Vice-President of India in 1952. He was honored with the Bharat Ratna in 1954. After serving two terms as Vice-President, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was elected President of India in 1962. During his tenure as President India fought wars with China and Pakistan. As President he helped see India through those trying years safely. He retired as President in 1967 and settled in Madras.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan died on April 17, 1975.
Dr. Radhakrishnan was appointed a Knight Bachelor in 1931. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1938. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954 and the Order of Merit in 1963. He received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1961 and the Templeton Prize in 1975, a few months before his death. He donated the entire amount of the Templeton Prize to Oxford University. In 1989, the university instituted the Radhakrishnan Scholarships in his memory. The scholarships were later renamed the Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships.
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While the world celebrates international Teacher’s Day on the 15th of October, India celebrates it on the 5th of September, which is also the birthday of the famous teacher, academic philosopher and the second President of India, Mr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishan.
About Dr. S Radhakrishnan
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in the year 1888 in a well-known religious state in Chennai, then called Madras. He was the second son of Veera Samayya, a tehsildar in a zamindari. It was a middle-class, respectable Hindu Brahmin family.
He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Arts from Madras University. In partial fulfillment for his M.A. degree, Radhakrishnan wrote a thesis on the ethics of the Vedanta titled “The Ethics of the Vedanta and Its Metaphysical Presuppositions”, which was a reply to the charge that the Vedanta system had no room for ethics.
The Origin of Teacher’s Day
Since 1962, 5th of September has been celebrated as Teacher’s Day in India. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakhrishnan was a philosopher and a teacher par excellence. Some of his students and friends approached him and requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday. In reply, Dr, Radhakrishnan said, “Instead of celebrating my birthday separately, it would be my proud privilege if September 5th is observed as Teacher’s day”. The request showed Dr.Radhakrishnan’s love for the teaching profession. From then onwards, his birthday is observed as Teacher’s Day in India.
What did he Do
He showed how western philosophers, despite all claims to objectivity, were biased by theological influences from their wider culture. In one of his major works he also showed that Indian philosophy, once translated into standard academic jargon, is worthy of being called philosophy by western standards. His main contribution to Indian thought, therefore, is that he placed it “on the map”, thereby earning Indian philosophy a respect that it had not had before.
Dr. Radhakrishnan was of the opinion that only the right kind of education could solve many ills of the society and the country. He wanted to bring in a change in the educational system by improving the quality of education and building up a strong relationship between the teacher and the taught. In his opinion, teachers should be the best minds of the country; they should not merely instruct but should gain the true affection of pupils, and the respect for teachers cannot be ordered but it should be earned.
After 1946, his philosophical career was cut short when his country needed him as ambassador to UNESCO and later to Moscow. He was later to become the first Vice-President and finally the President (1962-1967) of India. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954. The University of Oxford instituted the Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships and the Radhakrishnan Memorial Award in his memory. He also received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1961.
Even as the president Sarvepalli remained a humble man. It was an open house at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and people from all sections of society were welcome to meet him. In addition he accepted only Rs. 2,500 out of his salary of Rs. 10,000 and donated the remaining amount to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund every month. He remained a teacher in many ways and even adopted the authoritative tone of a headmaster in many of his letters to his ministers. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan passed away on April 17, 1975.