DR. S. RADHAKRISHNAN
Dr. Sarvapalli S. Radhakrishnan was one of the greatest philosophers of modern times. He was born at Tiruttani now in Tamil Nadu on September 5, 1888. His father’s name was Sarvapalli Vira Swami and mother’s name was Sattima. Sarvapalli was the name of his ancestral village in Andhra Pradesh. Born in an orthodox Brahmin family, it was not very difficult for him to study epics and puranas at an early age.
He had his early education at Tiruchani. He did his Intermediate (F.A.) at the Voorhees College, Vellore and degree at the Christian College, Madras (now Chennai) at the age of 17 years. While studying at the Christian College, he came under the influence of the Bible but he could never tolerate criticism on Hindu Religion and culture. He analyzed the truths in both the Hindu and the Christian religions and was convinced that truth is the same in all religions. Hence his interest in Indian philosophy, religion and culture grew more and more. He was a very intelligent and brilliant student and had a keen interest in studies right from the beginning, consequently he got scholarships at various stages of his student life. In 1908 he wrote a paper, Moral Principles of Vedanta. After securing his Masters degree in philosophy he was appointed first as Assistant Professor and later as Professor of Philosophy in the Presidency College, Madras. During this time he read thoroughly the Upanishads, Vedanta, the Bhagwat Gita and books on Buddhism and widened his knowledge on these subjects. He also read Western Philosophy of Plato, Plutinus and many other eminent philosophers.
He was a great orator. He could critically analyze and explain philosophical truths. Students liked his lectures and simplicity. He was considered as a model teacher. He often used to say, “Teaching gives me satisfaction and peace of mind.”
He served as a Junior Professor in Government Training College, Rajahmundry for sometime. In 1918, he joined the Maharaja College, Mysore as a professor of Philosophy. He was a prolific writer. He got published his lectures and speeches in a book entitled “The Essentials of Psychology”. This added to his fame. He also wrote the books—(i) Reason of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy, (ii) Indian Philosophy (in two volumes). These books made him world famous. In 1926 he went abroad for the first time, and delivered lectures on Indian philosophy, Vedanta, civilization and Indian culture. The ingelligentisa over there were greatly influenced by him. He was a visiting professor of Philosophy to many Western Universities including Oxford University, England. He served as vice-chancellor of many universities notably 1931-1936 as Vice Chancellor of Andhra University, 1939, Banaras Hindu University. He served at the same post for some time even in Calcutta.
He brought about many administrative reforms in these universities. While serving at Banaras he came under the influence of Gandhiji.
He had an ‘exceptional style’ in delivering lectures which was his forte. After independence from 1949-1952 he served as an Ambassador of India in Moscow and he was the first one to be received in person by the great leader Stalin. In 1952 he became the Vice-President of India. During his tenure as Vice-President he visited many countries e.g., Peru, China, Belgium, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Japan and Africa. From 1953-1962 he served as Vice Chancellor of Delhi University. He was made Head of the Sahitya Academy, Delhi. In 1954 he was honoured with the “Bharat Ratna”—the highest award of the country. He also received many other awards e.g., ‘German Order of Merit’, ‘Goethe Prize’, ‘Master of Wisdom’, ‘Templeton Award’ etc.
He served as Vice-President of India upto 1962. In 1962 due to the illness of Dr. Rajendra Prasad the then President of India, he became the acting President and later succeeded as the 2nd President of India.
Dr. Radhakrishnan relinquished his office as President in 1967 and he died in April, 1975. His birthday is being celebrated as Teacher’s Day throughout the country every year on 5th of September. On this occasion the talented teachers are felicitated by the President of India. This is the greatest honour and tribute being paid to the great philosopher by the nation.