Friday, September 22, 2023

Dr Radhakrishnan: Messenger of Indian Philosophy

India has a rich philosophical heritage dating back thousands of years. Although Western philosophy represents a particular thought, it puts itself above all else. Eastern philosophy, and Indian philosophy in particular, is a fusion of several thoughts – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam & many others; which makes it richer, more acceptable and stronger. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was one of the renowned Indian philosophers who demonstrated Indian philosophy to the world on the so-called western standard and built a bridge of understanding between Eastern wisdom & Western materialism.
Born on 5th September 1888, the early life of Radhakrishnan was spent in the spiritual environment of the Holy town of Tiruttani in Tamilnadu (erstwhile Madras Presidency). He got his higher education at Voorhees College, Vellore and then at the Madras Christian College. In 1906, he got Master degree in philosophy. His topic for thesis was “The ethics of the Vedant & its metaphysical presuppositions”.
In 1909, he was appointed as a lecturer of philosophy at the Madras Presidency College. Thereafter, he served as professor of Philosophy at Mysore University in 1918 and then at Kolkata University in 1921. In 1929, he was invited to take up the post of principal in Harness Manchester College, during which he got opportunity to present his views on comparative religion & philosophy to the students of Oxford University. Due to precious service in the field of education he was knighted by King George-V in 1931 Birthday Honours. In April, 1932 he was honoured with the title of “Earl of Willingdon” by the Governor General and afterward the title of “Sir”. When Bharat got independence, he ceased the use of all titles except the academic one “Doctor”. Between 1933 to 1937, he was nominated for Nobel Prize in Literature for five consecutive years, but was not awarded.
Dr. Radhakrishnan served as the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra university since 1931 to 1936. In 1936, he was named Spalding professor of Eastern religions and Ethics at Oxford University. In 1939. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya requested him to take charge of vice-chancellor of Kashi Hindu Vishwavidyalaya, where he provide his service till January 1948. He represented the country at UNESCO (1946-52) and was later ambassador to USSR since 1949 to 1952. In 1952, he was elected the first Vice-President of Republic of India. He was re-elected as the Vice-President in 1957. On 13th May 1963, he took charge as the second President of India and successfully completed his tenure of five years. During his Presidentship he appointed two Prime Ministers – Lal Bahadur Shashtri and Indira Gandhi. In 1954, he was awarded the highest Indian civilian title “Bharat Ratna”.
When he entered the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Raiseena Hills, some students & his well-wishers wanted to celebrate his birthday on 5th September, but he urged them to commemorate it as “Teachers’ Day” in the honour of teachers of the country. He emphasised that it is the teacher who makes our life knowledgeable and moulds us into a good citizen with human values.
During his lifetime, Dr Radhakrishnan wrote several books, mostly based on Indian Religion, culture and Philosophy. Some of his renowned literatures and publications are – Essentials of Psychology (1912), The Philosophy of Ravindra Nath Tagore (1918), The Reign of Religion in contemporary Philosophy (1920), Indian Philosophy Vol.-1 (1923), Indian Philosophy Vol-2 (1927), The Hindu View of Life (1926), The Religion we need (1928), Kalki (1929), An Idealist View of Life (1929), East & West in Religion (1933), The Heart of Hindustan (1936), Freedom & Culture (1936), Contemporary Indian Philosophy (1936), Religion in Transition (1937), Gautam The Buddha (1938), Eastern Religions & Western Thoughts (1939), Mahatma Gandhi (1939), India & China (1944), The Bhagwad Gita (1948), Great Indians (1949), The Dhamampad (1950), History of Philosophy in Eastern & Western (1952), The Principal Upnishads (1953), Recovery of Faith (1956), A Source Book in Indian Philosophy (1957), The Brahma Sutra : The Philosophy of Spiritual Life (1959), Religion in a Changing world (1967), Religion, Science and culture (1968).
The challenge of Western Christian critics impelled him to critical study of Indian philosophy and religion and to find out what is alive and what is dead in it. He saw Hinduism as a scientific religion based on facts, apprehended via intuition or religious experiences. He explained that intuition is of Svatassiddha (self certifying character), Svasamvedya (self evidencing) and Swayam Prakash (self luminous). He was a prominent spokesman of Vedanta and reinterpreted Advaita Vedanta for a contemporary understanding. His philosophy is based on idealism.
Radhakrishnan emphasizes that education must be based on the twin principles of Truth & Love. Education will be said to be complete, only when it includes not only the training of the intellect, but also of refinement of the heart and discipline of the spirit. The aim of education must be character building, man-making, development of spiritual values & secular attitudes, vocational development and national integration.
Dr Radhakrishnan was a true nationalist personality of Indian soil and a lifelong defender of Hinduism and Indian culture & civilization against uninformed western critics. Due to his dedication towards Hindu religion, culture & philosophy, the so-called secular forces & western minded thoughts have critic to him. But ignoring all the critics, he continued his nationalist writings throughout his life and kept burning the light of Indian Philosophy on the world map. He breathed his last on 17th April 1975, but the lamp of his understanding of intuition and interpretation of experiences will continue to illuminate our path through the ages.
Er. Prabhat Kishore
(The Author is a technocrat and educationist)


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