Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1885 – 1975)

"Tolerance is the homage which the finite mind pays to the inexhaustibility of the infinite."

Alphy Johnson

9/4/20232 min read

" Tolerance is the homage which the finite mind pays to the inexhaustibility of the infinite."

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a great personality who left an indelible mark on Indian history as a scholar, philosopher, and statesman.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was multifaceted and left an unerasable mark on Indian history as a learned personality. He was an emblem of academia and education, a statesman, a revered philosopher, and a teacher. His legacy includes introducing Western philosophies into Indian society, leaving an indelible mark on education and thought. He was one of the most recognized and influential Indian thinkers in academic circles in the 20th century. Throughout his life and extensive writing career, Radhakrishnan sought to define, defend, and promulgate his religion, a religion he variously identified as Hinduism, Vedanta, and the religion of the Spirit. He sought to demonstrate that his Hinduism was both philosophically coherent and ethically viable. Radhakrishnan’s concern for experience and his extensive knowledge of the Western philosophical and literary traditions have earned him the reputation of being a bridge-builder between India and the West.

Early Life and Education

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born on 5 September 1888 in Tiruttani, Madras Presidency, British India. His father's name was Sarvepalli Veera Swamy and his mother's name was Sarvepalli Sita. He was an Indian professor, philosopher, and politician.

Academic Achievements

He started a distinguished career as a Professor at the University of Mysore in 1918 and authored articles and books on Philosophy, including “The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore”. He won the prestigious King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta.

Between 1914 and 1920, Radhakrishnan continued to publish. He authored eighteen articles, ten of which were published in prominent Western journals such as The International Journal of Ethics, The Monist, and Mind.

Radhakrishnan was knighted in 1931, the same year he took up his administrative post as Vice Chancellor at the newly founded, though scarcely constructed, Andhra University at Waltair. Sir Radhakrishnan served there for five years as Vice-Chancellor. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Radhakrishnan expressed his vision of an autonomous India. He envisioned an India built and guided by those who were truly educated, by those who had a personal vision of and commitment to raising Indian self-consciousness.

Contributions during the Post Independence period

The years following Indian independence mark Radhakrishnan’s increasing involvement in Indian politics as well as in international affairs. The closing years of the 1940s were busy ones. Radhakrishnan had been actively involved in the newly incorporated UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), serving on its Executive Board as well as leading the Indian delegation from 1946-1951.

Radhakrishnan was appointed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as Indian Ambassador to Moscow, a post he held until 1952. The opportunity for Radhakrishnan to put into practice his own philosophical-political ideals came with his election to the Raja Sabha, in which he served as India’s Vice-President (1952-1962) and later as President (1962-1967).

During his tenure as India's second President in 1962, Dr. Radhakrishnan's students approached him with a request to celebrate his birthday on September 5. Instead, he proposed that the day be observed as Teachers' Day, emphasizing the invaluable role of teachers in society.

Radhakrishnan retired from public life in 1967. He spent the last eight years of his life at the home he built in Mylapore, Madras.

Radhakrishnan died on April 17, 1975.

"Knowledge gives us power, love gives us fullness" - Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

"when we think we know we cease to learn" - Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan