In the memory of a great teacher

Anagha Telang

"The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature."

A philosopher, scholar, an exemplary teacher, and politician Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan  was born on 5 September 1888, in Thiruttani, Madras Presidency, British India, into a Telugu Brahmin family. His father's name was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and his mother's name was Sitamma.

His father worked as a subordinate revenue official in the service of a local zamindar and the family was a modest one. He did not want his son to receive an English education and wanted him to become a priest. But life had other plans for the young boy.

  •  Radhakrishnan received his early education from K.V High School at Thiruttani before moving to the Herman burg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati in 1896. He was a good student, he earned many scholarships.
  • Later he attended Voorhees College in Vellore for some time before moving on to the Madras Christian College at the age of 17. 
  • He studied philosophy and completed his master’s degree in 1906. His thesis for the M.A. degree was on "The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions". 

  • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan started his academic career and joined the Department of Philosophy at the Madras Presidency College in 1909. He moved to the University of Mysore in 1918 where he taught at Maharaja's College.
  • He was then offered the professorship at the University of Calcutta in 1921 where he assumed the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science. 
  • He represented the university at the Congress of the Universities of the British Empire in June 1926 and the International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard University in September 1926.
  • A prominent academician by now, he was invited to deliver the Hibbert Lecture on the ideals of life which he delivered at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, in 1929.
  • He served as the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University from 1931 to 1936 before being named Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford and elected a Fellow of All Souls College.
  • He succeeded Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya as the Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1939, a position he held till 1948.
  • Radhakrishnan’s entry into politics happened quite late in life. He represented India at UNESCO from 1946 to 1952. 
  • He was also the Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1952.
  • Radhakrishnan was elected as the first Vice-President of India in 1952, during the tenure of President Rajendra Prasad and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. 
  • He succeeded Rajendra Prasad to become the second President of India in 1962 and retired from politics five years later.

Personal Life
Radhakrishnan was married to Sivakamu a distant cousin, at the age of 16. The marriage was arranged by the family. The couple had five daughters and a son, Sarvepalli Gopal. His son is a famous historian. Sivakamu died in 1956. They were married for over 51 years.

Teacher's Day
After becoming the President of the country a group of students and workers requested him to celebrate his birthday. He replied, "Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5th is observed as Teachers' Day."
Since the 5 September is celebrated as Teachers' Day in India. 

Awards & Honours
  • 1931: appointed a Knight Bachelor in although he ceased to use the title "Sir" after India attained independence.
  • 1938: elected Fellow of the British Academy.
  • 1954: The Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India.
  • 1954: Order Pour le Mérite for Arts and Sciences (Germany)
  • 1961: the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
  • 1962: Institution of Teacher's Day in India, yearly celebrated at 5 September, Radhakrishnan's birthday, in honour of Radhakrishnan's belief that "teachers should be the best minds in the country".
  • 1963: the British Order of Merit.
  • 1968: Sahitya Akademi fellowship, The highest honour conferred by the Sahitya Akademi on a writer (he is the first person to get this award)
  • 1975: the Templeton Prize in 1975, a few months before his death, for advocating non-aggression and conveying "a universal reality of God that embraced love and wisdom for all people."He donated the entire amount of the Templeton Prize to Oxford University.
  • 1989: institution of the Radhakrishnan Scholarships by Oxford University in the memory of Radhakrishnan. The scholarships were later renamed the "Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships".
  • He was nominated sixteen times for the Nobel Prize in literature, and eleven times for the Nobel Peace prize.

  • The philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918)
  • Indian Philosophy (1923)
  • The Hindu View of Life (1926)
  • An Idealist View of Life (1929)
  • Eastern Religions and Western Thought (1939)
  • Religion and Society (1947)
  • The Bhagavadgītā: with an introductory essay, Sanskrit text, English translation and notes (1948)
  • The Dhammapada (1950)
  • The Principal Upanishads (1953)
  • A Source Book in Indian Philosophy (1957)
  • Religion, Science & Culture (1968)
Radhakrishnan died on 17 April, 1975 at the age of 86.

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