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Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan 5 September 1888 – 17 April 1975 was an Indian philosopher and statesman who was the first Vice President of India (1952–1962) and the second President of India from 1962 to 1967.


One of India's most influential scholars of comparative religion and philosophy, Radhakrishnan built a bridge between the East and the West by showing how the philosophical systems of each tradition are comprehensible within the terms of the other. He wrote authoritative exegeses of India's religious and philosophical literature for the English-speaking world. His academic appointments included the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta (1921–1932) and Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at University of Oxford (1936–1952).


Radhakrishnan was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, in 1954. Among the many other honours he received were the British Knight Bachelor in 1931 and honorary membership of the Order of Merit (1963), but ceased to use the title "Sir" after India attained independence.Dr Radhakrishnan believed that "teachers should be the best minds in the country". Since 1962, his birthday is celebrated in India as Teachers' Day on 5 September.[3] He was also awarded the Templeton Prize in 1975 in recognition of the fact that "his accessible writings underscored his country’s religious heritage and sought to convey a universal reality of God that embraced love and wisdom for all people".


Early life and Education


Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in a Niyogi Telugu Brahmin family at a village near Thiruttani India, 84 km to the northwest of Madras (now Chennai). His father's name was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and his mother's was Sitamma. His early years were spent in Tiruttani and Tirupati. His father was a subordinate revenue official in the service of a local zamindar. His primary education was at Primary Board High School at Tiruttani. In 1896 he moved to the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheral Mission School in Tirupati.


Radhakrishnan was awarded scholarships throughout his academic life. He joined Voorhees College in Vellore but switched to the Madras Christian College at the age of 17. He graduated from there in 1906 with a Master's degree in Philosophy, being one of its most distinguished alumni. Radhakrishnan wrote his thesis for the M.A. degree on "The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions". He was afraid that this M.A. thesis would offend his philosophy professor, Dr. Alfred George Hogg. Instead, Hogg commended Radhakrishnan on having done most excellent work. Radhakrishnan's thesis was published when he was only 20.


Radhakrishnan studied philosophy by chance rather than choice. Being a financially constrained student, when a cousin who graduated from the same college passed on his philosophy textbooks in to Radhakrishnan, it automatically decided his academic course.Later on he felt deep interest in his subject and wrote many acclaimed works on philosophy, both Eastern and Western.


Marriage 


Radhakrishnan was married to Sivakamu, a distant cousin, at the age of 16. As per tradition the marriage was arranged by the family. The couple had five daughters and a son, Sarvepalli Gopal. Sarvepalli Gopal went on to a notable career as a historian. Sivakamu died in 1956. They were married for over 51 years.


Career


In April 1909, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was appointed to the Department of Philosophy at the Madras Presidency College. Thereafter, in 1918, he was selected as Professor of Philosophy by the University of Mysore, where he taught at its Maharaja's College, Mysore. By that time he had written many articles for journals of repute like The Quest, Journal of Philosophy and the International Journal of Ethics. He also completed his first book, The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore. He believed Tagore's philosophy to be the "genuine manifestation of the Indian spirit". His second book, The Reign of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy was published in 1920.

In 1921 he was appointed as a professor in philosophy to occupy the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta. He represented the University of Calcutta 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. Another important academic event during this period was the invitation to deliver the Hibbert Lecture on the ideals of life which he delivered at Harris Manchester College, Oxford in 1929 and which was subsequently published in book form as An Idealist View of Life.


In 1929 Radhakrishnan was invited to take the post vacated by Principal J. Estlin Carpenter at Harris Manchester College. This gave him the opportunity to lecture to the students of the University of Oxford on Comparative Religion. For his services to education he was knighted by George V in the June 1931 Birthday Honours, and formally invested with his honour by the Governor-General of India, the Earl of Willingdon, in April 1932. However, he ceased to use the title after Indian independence,:9 preferring instead his academic title of 'Doctor'.


He was the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University from 1931 to 1936. In 1936 Radhakrishnan was named Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford, and was elected a Fellow of All Souls College. In 1939 Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya invited him to succeed him as the Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He served as its Vice-Chancellor till January 1948.


When India became independent in 1947, Radhakrishnan represented India at UNESCO (1946–52) and was later Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union, from 1949 to 1952. He was also elected to the Constituent Assembly of India.


Radhakrishnan was elected as the first Vice President of India in 1952. He was elected as the second President of India (1962–1967). When he became President, some of his students and friends requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday, 5 September. He replied,


"Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if 5 September is observed as Teachers' Day."


His birthday has since been celebrated as Teachers' Day in India.


Along with Ghanshyam Das Birla and some other social workers in the pre-independence era, Radhakrishnan formed the Krishnarpan Charity Trust.


Awards and honours


The Bharat Ratna in 1954


Radhakrishnan was appointed a Knight Bachelor in 1931.


Elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1938.


He was awarded Order of Merit in 1963.


He received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1961.


Awarded the Templeton Prize in 1975, a few months before his death. He donated the entire amount of the Templeton Prize to Oxford University. In 1989, the university instituted the Radhakrishnan Scholarships in his memory. The scholarships were later renamed the "Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships".

by Swathi   on 25 Nov 2013  0 Comments
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