IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


5th September, 2023 Culture

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  • Teachers’ Day is celebrated every year on 5 September to commemorate the birth anniversary of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan - independent India's first Vice President and second President.
  • It is a day dedicated to teachers and the role they play in shaping their students’ lives.


Early Life

  • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born on September 5, 1888, in Tiruttani, which is now in the Tiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu, India.
  • He was born into a Telugu-speaking family, and his primary education began at K. V. High School in Thiruttani.
  • Radhakrishnan later attended the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati and Government High Secondary School in Walajapet.
  • His family background was modest, with his father working as a subordinate revenue official in the service of a local landlord.

Academic Career

  • Radhakrishnan's academic career began with his appointment to the Department of Philosophy at Madras Presidency College in April 1909.
  • In 1918, he became a professor of philosophy at the University of Mysore, teaching at Maharaja's College in Mysore.
  • He wrote numerous articles for reputable journals during this time and authored his first book, "The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore."
  • In 1921, Radhakrishnan became the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta.
  • In 1929, he was invited to Manchester College, Oxford, to deliver the Hibbert Lecture on the ideals of life, which was later published as "An Idealist View of Life."
  • Radhakrishnan was named Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at the University of Oxford in 1936 and became a fellow of All Souls College.

Philosophical Contributions

  • Radhakrishnan's philosophy was grounded in Advaita Vedanta, which he reinterpreted for contemporary understanding.
  • He defended Hinduism against Western criticism and contributed to the formation of contemporary Hindu identity.
  • Radhakrishnan's philosophy emphasized the oneness of all creation and the importance of cultivating a spirit of non-difference (Abheda) and love and brotherhood.
  • He believed in the importance of respecting human dignity and recognizing every individual as an end in themselves.
  • Radhakrishnan classified religions hierarchically based on their apprehension of religious experience, with Advaita Vedanta at the top.
  • He emphasized the importance of empirical and experiential understanding in the study of religion and philosophy.

Political Career

  • Radhakrishnan entered politics relatively late in life, after establishing a successful academic career.
  • He represented India at UNESCO from 1946 to 1952 and served as India's Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1952.
  • Radhakrishnan was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India.
  • In 1952, he became the first Vice President of India, and in 1962, he was elected as the second President of India, serving until 1967.

Teacher's Day

  • Radhakrishnan's birthday, September 5, has been celebrated as Teachers' Day in India since 1962, as per his request.
  • He believed that teachers should be the best minds in the country and advocated for the importance of education and teaching.

Awards and Honors

  • Radhakrishnan received several awards during his lifetime, including a knighthood in 1931, the Bharat Ratna (India's highest civilian award) in 1954, and honorary membership in the British Royal Order of Merit in 1963.
  • He was also awarded the Templeton Prize in 1975, shortly before his death.

Notable quotes attributed to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

  • "It is not God that is worshipped but the authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority not violation of integrity."
  • "Reading a book gives us the habit of solitary reflection and true enjoyment."
  • "When we think we know, we cease to learn."
  • "A literary genius, it is said, resembles all, though no one resembles him."
  • "There is nothing wonderful in my saying that Jainism was in existence long before the Vedas were composed."
  • "A life of joy and happiness is possible only on the basis of knowledge."
  • "If he does not fight, it is not because he rejects all fighting as futile, but because he has finished his fights. He has overcome all dissensions between himself and the world and is now at rest... We shall have wars and soldiers so long as the brute in us is untamed."

Notable works

  • "The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore" (1918)
  • "Indian Philosophy" (1923) - Volumes 1 and 2
  • "The Hindu View of Life" (1927)
  • "Indian Religious Thought" (2016)
  • "Religion, Science and Culture" (2010)
  • "An Idealist View of Life" (1929)
  • "Kalki, or the Future of Civilization" (1929)
  • "Gautama the Buddha" (1938)
  • "Eastern Religions and Western Thought" (1939)
  • "Religion and Society" (1947)
  • "The Bhagavadgītā" (1948)
  • "The Dhammapada" (1950)
  • "The Principal Upanishads" (1953)
  • "Recovery of Faith" (1956)
  • "A Source Book in Indian Philosophy" (1957) - Co-edited with Charles A. Moore
  • "The Brahma Sutra: The Philosophy of Spiritual Life" (1959)
  • "Religion, Science & Culture" (1968)


Q. Discuss the philosophical contributions and ideas of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. How did his thoughts shape Indian philosophy and influence the world's perception of it? (150 Words)