A prolific and admired Indian philosopher and statesman, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was also the second president of India and the first Vice President of India. He was an educated Philosopher who had academic appointments with numerous leaders of the world including the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the native University of Calcutta and also served as Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at the University of Oxford between the years of 1936–1952. His philosophy was based Hindu scriptures, especially on Advaita Vedanta, which he was reinterpreting in the tradition for the understanding of humanity and religion. He was also the first political figure of India to defend Hinduism against the Western criticism contributing to the formation of nationalism based on Hindu identity. As with the later years, he has been influential in shaping the understanding of Hinduism, in the country as well as many of the western countries. He always has been related to building relations and understanding of India with the west. Before being the president of the country, Radhakrishnan was a prolific statesman who had several high recognitions including a knighthood in 1931, the Bharat Ratna, Radhakrishnan was one of the forward visionaries in the country and had great respect for teachers and since 1962 teacher’s day is celebrated on the eve of his birthday.
Early life of the great teacher
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born to a middle-class Telugu Brahmin family in a village in Madras Presidency of the British India. The village now is situated near to the borders of the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. He was born to Sarvepalli Veeraswami and Sitamma. Residing with his parents, his early years were in Thiruttani and Tirupati, where his father was a subordinate revenue official with the services to a local landlord. He did his primary schooling at K.V High School at Thiruttani and moved to the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati and subsequently to Government Higher Secondary School in Walajapet. Radhakrishnan was married to his distant cousin Sivakamu, at the age of 16 with the tradition the marriage was arranged by the family. The couple had five daughters together and a son, Sarvepalli Gopal. VVS Laxman is a grandchild of Sarvepalli RadhaKrishnan.
As years passed by, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan got into to the Department of Philosophy at the Madras Presidency College. By the end of his career, he had published article and journals that had made a renowned personality in the international arena. Radhakrishnan was a brilliant student who was awarded scholarships, almost throughout his academic career. He had earlier joined Voorhees College in Vellore and eventually switched to the Madras Christian College, just at the age of 17. Finally, he graduated in 1906 earning a master’s degree in Philosophy and considered as one of the most distinguished alumni. Radhakrishnan studied philosophy only by chance as he had lesser choices as being from a humble background, and a student who had to learn from the textbooks of his cousins that were passed on to Radhakrishnan.
Later years of Radhakrishnan
Radhakrishnan is often remembered for his adherence to Hindu culture and its influences. Though the British era in the country saw many Christian missionaries operating in the country, Radhakrishnan has abided by the influences of Hindu culture that went on to deeply influence the education system in the country. Being an avid follower of Swami Vivekananda, he was one of the finest leaders of the country to have kept the Hindu image of India alive alongside the other missionaries and sects that were apparent in the country. Radhakrishnan was the only political figure in the governing fraternity of the country in those times to have not had a political backing or a part in freedom struggle to have been appointed to one of the highest honor in the country. To this day the country respects and adheres him as the most prolific figures in the Indian History as a teacher and inspiration for India and its history. Being a preacher of Hinduism, many of his works are up against the best in the world, and the legacy of the scholar survives in the country ti this date. Though, the country has had many presidents, none of the presidents to date has been as much academically prime and scholarly as Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was through his career as a teacher and the leader of the country.