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Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice President of India and educationist, was born on September 5, 1888, in the Indian city of Tirupati (now Andhra Pradesh). He was a renowned teacher as well as a recognized philosopher and politician in India. He was born in a low-income poor Brahmin family. 

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Biography, Education, and Contribution to Teacher's Day


He excelled in academics and frequently visited universities in Andhra Pradesh, Mysore, and Calcutta. He also served as a professor at Oxford and his successful academic career resulted in his becoming the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University and the Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University.

He wrote various works for the spread of Indian culture, focusing on the establishment of a caste-free and classless society. Dr. Radhakrishnan was a philosopher of a high order who supported Hinduism in its present form. “The Philosophy of the Upanishads,” “East and West: Some Reflections,” and “Eastern Religion and Western Thought” are some of his famous works. Teacher’s Day is celebrated on 5th September as his birthday.

Who was Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan?

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was an Indian leader, politician, philosopher, and educationist. He served as the first Vice President of India and then as the second President of the country. Radhakrishnan devoted his life and career as a writer and teacher, attempting to describe, defend, and spread his beliefs, which he called Hinduism, Vedanta, and the religion of the soul. He tried to demonstrate that his Hinduism was intellectually and morally superior.

He appears spontaneously in both Indian and Western intellectual frameworks, and his prose incorporates both Western and Indian elements. Consequently, in academic circles, Radhakrishnan has been praised as a symbol of Hinduism in the West.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s Elementary Education

    Thiruttani had K V High School where he did his primary schooling. In 1896, he went to the Hermansberg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati and the Government Higher Secondary School in Walajapet.

    He attended Voorhees College, Vellore for his high school schooling. After finishing his first class of arts at the age of 17, he joined Madras Christian College. In 1906, he obtained both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the same university. 

    Sarvepalli’s bachelor’s thesis was titled “The Ethics of Vedanta and its Metaphysical Prepositions”. It was written in response to the allegation that the Vedanta plan was devoid of ethical considerations. Two of Radhakrishnan’s instructors, the Rev. William Meston and Dr. Alfred George Hogg, appreciated his dissertation. Radhakrishnan’s thesis was published when he was barely twenty years old.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s family

    Radhakrishnan was married at the age of sixteen to his distant cousin Sivakamu.

    Radha Krishnan was the cousin of distant relation Shivakamu 

    For about 51 years, Radhakrishnan and Sivakamu had a happy marriage.

    After marriage, five daughters and one son were born as their children, thus they had a large family.

    His son Sarvepalli Gopal was an accomplished Indian historian. He wrote the biographies of his father, Radhakrishnan: A Biography, and Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography.

Philosophical Thoughts by Radha Krishnan

    Radhakrishnan attempted to reconcile Eastern and Western ideas by defending Hinduism against false Western criticism while incorporating Western intellectual and religious notions.

    Radhakrishnan was a prominent figure in the Neo-Vedanta movement. 

    He presented his philosophy on Advaita Vedanta, but re-presented it with modern ideas.

    He recognized the reality and diversity of human nature, which he believed to be inherent and accepted in the Supreme or Brahman.

    For Radhakrishnan, both scripture and religious creed are symbols of intellectual formulation and religious experience or religious intuition. 

    Radhakrishnan assigned a grade to each religion based on his interpretation of religious experience, with Advaita Vedanta scoring the best.

    Radhakrishnan regarded Advaita Vedanta as the finest expression of Hinduism because it was based on intuition, as opposed to the cognitively mediated views of other religions.

    According to Radhakrishnan, Vedanta is the ultimate type of religion, as it provides the most direct spontaneous experience and inner realization.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s Early Life and Childhood

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born on September 5, 1888, in Tiruttani, 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 was a low-ranking revenue worker in the service of a local zamindar (zamindar), and his family lived in poverty. His father did not want his son to go to school in English and instead wanted to become a priest.

Elementary education and academic life

On the other hand, the little kid had different life plans. Radhakrishnan joined KV High School in Thiruttani before transferring to the Hermannsburg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati in 1896. He was a good student who got many scholarships. He spent some time at Voorhees College in Vellore before joining Madras Christian College at the age of 17. In 1906, he completed his master’s degree in philosophy. His MA thesis was titled “The Ethics of Vedanta and its Metaphysical Prepositions”.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan as Professor and First Vice President of India

In 1909, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan began his teaching career in the Department of Philosophy of Madras Presidency College.

In 1918, transferred to the University of Mysore, where he taught at the Maharaja’s College.

In 1921, King George V was offered the Mental and Moral Sciences at the University of Calcutta, which he accepted.

In June 1926, he attended the Congress of Universities of the British Empire, and in September 1926, he attended the International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard University. As a great philosopher, Harris attended Manchester College, Oxford in 1929. He was invited to deliver a Hibbert lecture on the ideals of life.

From 1931 to 1936, he was the Chancellor of Andhra University before becoming Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford University and Fellow of All Souls College.

In 1939, he succeeded Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya as the Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), a post he retained until 1948.

Radhakrishnan entered politics very late.

Served as the representative of India in UNESCO from 1946-1952.

He served as the Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1952.

In 1952, was elected the first Vice President of India.

 In 1962, he was elected the second President of India after which (1967) he retired from politics.

Major Works and Contributions of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

“Real teachers are those who make us considerate.”

‘Indian Philosophy’ (two volumes, 1923-27),
 ‘The Philosophy of the Upanishads’ (1924),
‘An Idealist View of Life’ (1932),
‘Eastern Religions and Western Thought’ (1939), and
 ‘East and West: Some Reflections’ are his major books.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Awards and Achievements

    In 1954, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna (India’s highest civilian honor).

    In 1968, he became the first person to be awarded the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest honor of the Sahitya Akademi.

    He was awarded the Templeton Prize in 1975, shortly before his death, for supporting nonviolence and presenting “a universal reality of God that embraced love and wisdom for all people”.

    First Vice President and second President of India. Indian philosophy has been placed on the world map.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s contribution to Indian Education and Teacher’s Day

“It would be a matter of pride for me if 5 September is celebrated as Teacher’s Day instead of celebrating my birthday personally.” Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

 Dr. Radhakrishnan was a believer in ideals. His education is based on idealistic values. For students, he recommended yoga, ethics, geography, general science, agriculture, political science, ethics, literature, and philosophy. Dr. Radhakrishnan’s curriculum includes intellectual and ethical work such as poetry, painting, and mathematics.

The University Education Commission’s report 1940-49 is Dr. Radhakrishnan’s biggest contribution to educational thinking and practice.

    To instill the belief that life has a purpose,

    To cultivate knowledge to awaken the innate ability to lead a soulful life. 

    To prepare for the democratic process,
    Self-improvement is a skill that can be learned.
     to stay in touch with one’s cultural heritage

5 Lesser Known Facts About Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

“Knowledge gives us strength, love gives us perfection.”

    When he became the President of India, he accepted only Rs 2500 out of a monthly salary of Rs 10,000, the rest going to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

    Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarship and Radhakrishnan Memorial Award were established by Oxford University.

    He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954 and the German Book Trade Peace Prize in 1961. He was awarded the Order of Merit in 1963 and the Templeton Prize in 1975 for spreading the concept of “a universal truth of God that includes compassion and wisdom for all people”. And what is even more incredible is that he gave the entire prize money to Oxford University.

    He was knighted in 1931 and was known as Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan until India’s independence in 1947. After the country got independence, his name was changed to Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. He was appointed Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford in 1936. In addition, he was selected as a Fellow of All Souls College.

    Helpage India, a non-profit organization for the aged and poor, was created by him.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s life and contribution to the Indian school of modern philosophy are invaluable. He was a learned man and a teacher who made significant contributions to the field of education. He was an Indian scholar who had renounced his faith. As Indians, we remember him and celebrate his birthday on 5th September as Teacher’s Day.

We respect all gurus because of them, and we especially celebrated this day because of them. He is a role model for all Indians, and despite his death, he lives on in the hearts of all teachers and students.

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