As a scholar, philosopher, and statesman, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a complex personality who had an enduring impression on Indian history.
Author: Akansha Arora Publication Date: September 4, 2023
Early Life, Education, and Career_50.1 by Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
As a scholar, philosopher, and statesman, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a complex personality who had an enduring impression on Indian history. Although his time as India's second president is what made him most famous, his contributions to philosophy, education, and the advancement of Hinduism and Vedanta deserve equal respect.
Childhood and Education
On September 5, 1888, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in Tiruttani, Madras Presidency, British India. His parents, Sarvepalli Veeraswami and Sarvepalli Sita, were Niyogi Brahmins who spoke Telugu and had roots in the Nellore area of Andhra Pradesh. Early education for Radhakrishnan took place in Thiruttani and Tirupati, but it was at Madras Christian College that he really excelled, earning a Master's degree in philosophy there in 1906.
In 1909, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan began his illustrious academic career as a philosophy professor at Madras Philosophy. Later, in 1918, he was appointed a professor at the University of Mysore, where he wrote important philosophical essays and works including "The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore" and "The Reign of Religion in Contemporary Philosphy." At the University of Calcutta, he was appointed to the esteemed King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science in 1921. His scholarly achievements earned him a knighthood, positions as the vice chancellor of Andhra University and the Spalding Professor at the University of Oxford, as well as the opportunity to present renowned lectures.
Radhakrishnan's participation in international conferences and talks marked the beginning of his influence on the world. He took part in the British Empire Universities Congress and the International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard University, where he established himself as a specialist in Indian thinking. Another key turning point in his intellectual development was the delivery of his Hibbert Lecture, "An Idealist View of Life," at Manchester College, Oxford.
Nobel Prize nomination and Oxford Professorship
When Radhakrishnan was named the Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions Ethics in 1936, he also became a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Even further evidence of how widely recognized his accomplishments are is the fact that he was nominated for the Nobel Prize 27 times—11 times for the Nobel Peace Prize and 16 times for Literature.
Sarvepalli Following his rise to prominence as a leading figure in philosophy internationally, Radhakrishnan later entered politics. He actively participated in the 1928 Andhra Mahasabha and backed the Ceded Districts division's renaming as Rayalaseema. He served as India's ambassador to the Soviet Union and represented India at UNESCO after the country attained independence. In 1952, Radhakrishnan, who had previously served as India's first vice president, was chosen to serve in the country's Constituent Assembly. Later, from 1962 to 1967, he served as India's second president. His political goals were driven by a desire to uphold Hinduism and Indian intellectual heritage.
Holiday in honor of teachers
Students and friends of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan asked him to celebrate his birthday on September 5 when he became the president of India. He responded modestly, suggesting that the day instead be set aside to recognize teachers. Since then, India has observed September 5 as Teachers' Day as an homage to the enormous influence educators have had on society.
The contributions Radhakrishnan made to philosophy will live on as his most lasting legacy. By defending Hinduism from Western misunderstandings, he helped to close the gap between Eastern and Western philosophy. With its emphasis on inner realization and intuition, he said that Advaita Vedanta represented the apex of religious experience.