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Teachers' Day 2021: Inspiring Facts On Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

By Sharon Thomas

Decades before UNESCO proclaimed October 5 to be World Teacher's Day in 1994, India has had the privilege to celebrate Teacher's Day on September 5. India has seen many a number of teachers who have made a mark in history, but the very first name that comes to everyone's mind on the mention of Teacher's day is that of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

He was appointed as the first Vice President and the second President of India. His students and family members wanted to celebrate his birthday, which was on September 5. Radhakrishnan replied, "Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5 is observed as Teacher's Day."

What is so special about this person? Read on to know more.


Where Was He Born?

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in Thiruttani, a small village in Tamil Nadu. He was part of a large Telugu Niyogi Brahmin conservative family. His father was a revenue official with the local zamindar earning a meagre salary. He never wanted his son to learn English and wanted him to become a priest. However, later on, Dr. Radhakrishnan pursued his studies with the help of scholarships.

He was married to Sivakamuamma at the tender age of 16 years. They lived together for 50 years and had five daughters and a son.


Details About His Education

He studied at the Madras Christian College and took philosophy as his majors. He submitted his MA thesis at the age of 20 titled - "The Ethics of Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions", for which he was appreciated by his professor Dr. A. G. Hogg.

Srinivasa Ramanujam happened to meet Radhakrishnan before the mathematical genius left for Cambridge to study. It is said that a goddess came in Ramanujan's dream and asked him to get blessings from Radhakrishnan before the trip.


His Love For Knowledge

Radhakrishnan mastered the art of Indian philosophy. He was very good at understanding and interpreting Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Brahmasutra, as well as Buddhist and Jain philosophy. He also studied philosophical commentaries of Plato, Kant, Bradley, and others.

He bridged the gap between the east and the west through philosophy. He changed the views of the Westerners on Indian philosophy with his lecture - "The Hindu View of Life" and by this H. N. Spalding founded a Chair for him at the Oxford for Eastern Religions and Ethics in the year 1936.

Through his lectures in the west, he became a catalyst for India's freedom. He said, "India is not a subject to be administered but a nation seeking its soul".


The Greatness Of Dr. Radhakrishnan

Renowned British philosopher Bertrand Russell once said: "It is an honour to philosophy that Dr. Radhakrishnan should be President of India and I, as a philosopher, take special pleasure in this." Such was Radhakrishnan's reputation as a philosopher worldwide.

His profound knowledge in Indian philosophy helped him to calm the heated Rajya Sabha sessions when he was elected the Vice President of India. He used to intervene with Sanskrit slokas and Bible quotations.


His Career As A Teacher

Radhakrishnan started his teaching career at the Madras Presidency College in 1909. He further taught at the University of Mysore, the Calcutta University, and went on to become the Vice Chancellor of the Andhra University and the Banaras Hindu University.

He was such a caring and doting teacher. He used to take tuitions at home where he welcomed everyone with a smile, shook hands, and saw them off after the classes. His students loved him so much that they decided to drive in a flower-decked carriage to the railway station when he left the University of Mysore.


Details On His Achievements

Radhakrishnan was conferred with the title Knight Bachelor in the year 1931. However, after India's independence, he preferred to use his academic title ‘Doctor'. He was also given the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of India in 1954. He got the Peace Prize for the German Book Trade and British Order of Merit in the years 1961 and 1963, respectively. He won the Templeton prize in 1975 and he donated the award money to the Oxford University.

There is no doubt why Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is rightly known as the ‘Teacher of India'.

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