The most well known of all scholars ever, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first vice president as well as the second president of independent India.
He is known for his exemplary contributions as a teacher as well as for his leadership in the development of free India as its President. He himself was an extraordinarily dedicated teacher and believed that “teachers should be the best minds in the country”.
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Early Life of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Dr. Radhakrishnan was born in the erstwhile Chittoor district of Madras Presidency near the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states. His father, Sarvepalli Veeraswami, was a small revenue officer at the local Zamindars.
Because of his family’s not so good economic condition, he used to read philosophy books passed on to him by his elder brother and that’s y he took to studying philosophy. New books were costly and he used old ones. This teaches us a great lesson in our life that no matter what we have and what we don’t have, if we are determined enough, even stone can be but like butter.
Nothing is harder and stronger than our self-determination. Dr. Radhakrishnan was a man destined for greatness. He was so interested and proficient in his studies that tall throughout his student career he got scholarships for education.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan from early childhood nurtured extremely unorthodox thought processes unlike that of those times. During those times, the Indian culture in general and Hinduism in particular was highly criticized by the British and particularly by the Christian Missionary institutions. Studying in a missionary institute himself, He was tired of the constant jolt that their criticism of Hinduism that hurt Dr. Radhakrishnan’s sentiments tremendously.
He wrote his M.A. thesis on “The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions” which “was intended to be a reply to the charge that the Vedanta system had no room for ethics.” Although after penning it, he was scared to present it to his professor in fear that it would offend him.
However it was truly liked by the Christian professor who even insisted on publishing it. Since then, he was devoted to fighting for the cause of removing wrongfully preconceived notions and prejudices from the western mind about the Hindu religion.
There is a lot to learn from the life and works of Dr. Radhakrishnan. As a student his proficiency was unequalled. But later as a teacher too, he acquired feats that cemented his legacy as one of the best teachers that the world would ever see. Throughout his career as a teacher, he held positions of extreme importance, one of the highlights of his career being invited for the Hibbert Lecture at Harris Manchester College, Oxford on the ideals of life.
Later this lecture was compiled and published in the form of a book titled,” An Idealist View of Life “. Few years later he was also offered to take up the position of Principal of the Harris Manchester College in 1929 which also earned him knighthood by King George V.
He was later formally given the title of Earl of Wallington, in April 1932. He also spent his academic career teaching at various colleges and universities across India including the Calcutta University, Banaras Hindu University, and many more.
There are lots to learn from his lustrous academic career. He has proved that nothing matters – where we come from, what our name is, what culture or country we belong to, not even the language we speak matters. Excellence and belief in our own abilities can take us places that we can never even fathom to reach.
His political career and stint as the President
Dr. Radhakrishnan ventured into politics late after exiting the major part of his academic career. His prominence and stature in the international sphere far outweighed his political career. He held several important positions at the UN too including the League of Nations Committee for Intellectual Cooperation.
He was also the Indian Ambassador to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic from 1949 to 1952. He was then given the backing of the Congress party in spite of having almost no political background and was subsequently made the vice president and later the president of India.
It is often said that the best men suited to power are the ones who never sought it. Dr. Radhakrishnan worked tirelessly as a President without anything in return. This is what we all should be like in our own lives. To want anything will never end. Want is a never ending process of acquiring more and more. Want causes greed and greed calls for the devil.
Being an extremely popular teacher among his students, Dr. Radhakrishnan’s students wanted to celebrate his birthday and that time, he suggested that it will be much better if all the teachers of the country are remembered for their service to the formation of society with is unparalleled.
Since then, his birthday, 5th of September is celebrated each year as the Teachers’ Day in India. It is a day of remembering and thanking our teachers for their exceptional contribution to the making of nations by sculpting responsible citizens.
There are other less known facts about Dr. Radhakrishnan which also tell us about his greatness. Along with other philanthropists like G.D. Birla, he formed the Krisharpan Charity Trust. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is probably one of the greatest and wisest minds that the country will ever see.
His life and work will inspire almost anyone. He has faced all sorts of problems and came smiling out of them with triumphant achievements. His life will be an inspiration to all and continue to inspire generations to come.
Throughout his entire life he worked tirelessly battling the untoward sentiments that the West had nurtured about India. We all should take cue from this great personality and live a life of hard work and dedication as Dr. Radhakrishnan and then only can progress come about for ourselves as well as for the society.