“It is an honour to philosophy” observed Lord Russell in 1962, “that Dr. Radhakrishnan should be President of India.” Lord Russell regarded it as a fulfilment of the Platonic dream that philosophers must be kings. However, unlike Plato who did not admit poets in his Republic, Dr. Radhakrishnan began his distinguished career as an interpreter of the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. In his interpretative work, ‘The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore’, Dr. Radhakrishnan not only viewed this famous poet as a historic link in the long chain of India’s cultural evolution, but also as the prophet of modern India’s cultural renaissance. Indeed Dr. Radhakrishnan’s Republic (in the geographical and cultural sense of the term) is different from Plato’s Republic.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born on September 5, 1888 at Tiruttani, in South India. After a distinguished career at the Madras Christian College, Radhakrishnan joined the Madras Presidency College as a lecturer in philosophy. Finally, at the close of a long and distinguished career of teaching at several Indian universities, Dr. Radhakrishnan was appointed Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford. As Spalding Professor and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, Dr. Radhakrishnan was the most outstanding representative of India’s intellectuals in Britain.
Although Dr. Radhakrishnan is justly renowned as a philosopher, he is essentially a creative artist. It is perhaps significant that the Goethe Plaquette was awarded to him, since he symbolised Goethe’s ideal of the creative artist who becomes a different being in the successive stages of his career. For he has achieved distinction in four different fields of intellectual and political endeavour–Indian philosophy in its wider perspectives, diplomacy, social thought and comparative religion.
Dr. Radhakrishnan has recorded in his charming autobiographical essay entitled “Fragments of a Confession” that historical writing, which is different from historical research, is a creative activity. He has argued that just as our political problem is to bring East and West together in a common brotherhood which transcends differences, so in the world of philosophy, we have to bring about a cross-fertilization of ideas in the history of modern thought. And addressing the International Congress of Orientalists in New Delhi on January 4, 1964, Dr. Radhakrishnan referred to Alexander’s role in reconciling different sections of mankind during the ancient age. Let me quote his words: “ Alexander abandoned the view that the non-Greek world was barbarian and that its people were fit only to be slaves. All men possessing wisdom and virtue are of one family. Plutarch says that Alexander brought together into one body all men everywhere, uniting and mixing in one great loving cup, as it were, men’s lives, their characters, their marriages, their very habits of life. He looked upon the whole inhabited world as his fatherland. All good men are of one family; the only foreigners are the wicked. Alexander felt that it was his sacred mission to reconcile mankind. In Egypt, in Iran, in North-West India, he felt the impact of the great civilizations of the East and looked upon them as worthy partners of the Hellenic civilization. Shortly before his death, Alexander held a banquet to celebrate the end of a great war, and he invited to it 9000 people–Hellenes and non-Hellenes. At the end of it he prayed for peace, for the partnership of all peoples of the world to live in unity and concord: Homa-noia, of one mind; the world should be based on a communion of minds and hearts.
In the concluding chapter of the second volume of ‘Indian Philosophy’, Dr. Radhakrishnan has correctly stressed that the republic of Indian thought “never developed a Monroe Doctrine in matters of culture.” He has not only revealed this liberal frame of mind in his exploration of the spiritual depths and metaphysical flights of Hindu philosophy, but has also added a new dimension of sympathetic insight in his interpretation of Buddhist philosophy. As an interpreter of the Hindu religious classics, Dr. Radhakrishnan has followed the hallowed tradition of the great exponents like Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva. For he has written commentaries on the Gita, the Upanishads and the Brahma-sutras. He had already written on the ethical idealism of the Buddha and given a celebrated lecture, ‘Gautama the Buddha’ (which was hailed as “a masterpiece on a master-mind by a master-mind”) and won for him the coveted Fellowship of the British Academy. And he has also commented on the classic texts of Buddhism like the Dhammapada. It is this catholicity of outlook which has led him to investigate the bearings of Indian philosophy on politics and literature, and the deeper implications of religion and ethics, in his perceptive essays on poets like Kalidasa and Tagore, religious and political figures like Buddha and Gandhi, singers and saints like Tyagaraja and Ramana Maharshi.
Seldom in history has there been a philosopher so representative of his age, one who so completely articulates the aspirations of his contemporaries in trying to usher in a new era of understanding between nations. Dr. Radhakrishnan has presided over sessions of the UNESCO, and has served for a period of nine years on the International Committee of Intellectual Co-operation set up by the League of Nations, which included among its members such great scientists and scholars as the late Madame Curie, Albert Einstein and Gilbert Murray.
The similarity between Gilbert Murray and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is truly striking. Like Murray, who perceived the values of Greek poetry as constituting a source of creative insights in his understanding of international relations, Dr. Radhakrishnan has drawn upon the ancient fountain-head of Indian philosophy in his assessments of the contemporary international scene. In all his writings on social and political themes, Dr. Radhakrishnan has emphasized the dignity of the individual as an end in himself, in order to visualize a new social order based on religion and ethics which is essentially a state of mind derived from an idealist view of life and an understanding of the varieties and depths of religious experience reflecting the permanent values of civilization.
Dr. Radhakrishnan’s philosophy of tolerance has the following features: The ideal of an integrated personality that recognizes no cold war between the sciences and the humanities and views the empirical knowledge of the West as the complement of the intuitive wisdom of the East, a humanistic appreciation of the classics by a mind which is free from the shackles of dogma, the preservation of an atmosphere of intellectual freedom so that life is lived for the sheer joy of intellectual and artistic creation. This approach is reflected in some of his more important speeches during the last twenty years. In fact, this writer has often reflected on the need to publish these speeches. For these speeches reflect some of the great moments in contemporary Indian history–moments of ecstatic joy and moments of deep anguish. He delivered a memorable speech on the midnight of August 14, 1947, which immortalized the moment of our freedom. And the new nation was born just at the moment when he ended his speech. It would be relevant in this context to quote a few extracts from his speech: “History and legend will grow round this day. It marks a milestone in the march of our democracy. A significant date it is in the drama of the Indian people who are trying to rebuild and transform themselves...When we see what the Dutch are doing in Indonesia, when we see how the French are clinging to their possessions, we cannot but admire the political sagacity and courage of the British people. We on our side, have also added a chapter to the history of the world. Look at the way in which subject peoples in history won their freedom. Let us also consider the methods by which power was acquired. How did men like Washington, Napolean, Cromwell, Lenin, Hitler and Mussolini get into power? Look at the methods of blood and steel, of terrorism and assassination, of bloodshed and anarchy by which these so-called great men of the world came into the possession of power. Here in this land under the leadership of one who will go down in history as perhaps the greatest man of our age we have opposed patience to fury, quietness of spirit to bureaucratic tyranny and are acquiring power through peaceful and civilized methods...The greatest among the Englishmen, wished to modernize the country, to raise its intellectual and moral standards, its political status. They wished to regenerate the whole people. But the small among them worked with sinister motives... The freedom we are attaining is the fulfilment of this dual tendency among British administrators.”
Shakespeare can freeze your blood by dropping a kerchief. And it is said that Schiller cannot produce this sensation o terror even while describing a burning city. On a different plane, this writer felt that General Kaul is not able to sustain his argument or even make an intelligent point in his The Untold Story. Obviously General Kaul has not mastered the subtle art of indictment! Radhakrishnan criticized Nehru and Menon for their ‘credulity and negligence.’ Indeed this celebrated indictment which was broadcast in the wake of the NEFA disaster conveyed a sense of national shock which the General is unable to reflect in his clumsily written book.
While reflecting on Dr. Radhakrishnan’s speeches, one must refer to his great speech which was delivered on January 26, 1967. It was a truly great speech, which reflected the disillusionment and frustration of the Indian people. And this speech also cost him a second term as the President of India. For Mrs. Indira Gandhi was obviously piqued by his warning that “unless we destroy corruption in high places, root out every trace of nepotism, love of power, profiteering and black-marketing which have spoilt the good name of this country in recent years, we will not be able to raise the standards of efficiency and administration.” This speech was a commentary on Congress misrule in India–a commentary by one of India’s greatest philosophical commentators!
Dr. Radhakrishnan believes that there is great scope for a deeper dialogue between India and the West based on a fellowship of faiths and an understanding of cultures. He has argued that the Western influence on Hinduism has transformed it into “an ethical religion with a social gospel.” Similarly the development of the discipline of comparative religion, facilitated by the anthropological vistas unveiled by Sir James Frazer, was also due to the publication of the Sanskrit classics in Europe. The impact of Indian philosophical thought on Western intellectuals like Schopenhauer, Goethe, Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, Yeats and several others, and Western influences on Indian leaders such as Gandhi and Tagore, are some aspects of this cross-fertilization of cultures leading on to a more fundamental understanding between India and the West.
Viewed in this perspective, Dr. Radhakrishnan’s works, The Hindu View of Life, An Idealist View of life, East and West in Religion, Eastern Religions and Western Thought, East and West and Religion in a Changing World can be regarded as significant contributions to study of comparative religion and the East-West cultural dialogue. Dr. Radhakrishnan’s greatness lies in the fact that he has always emphasized the need to realize “the truth of the world’s yet unborn soul by a free interchange of ideas and the development of a philosophy, which will combine the best of European humanism and Asiatic religion, a philosophy profounder and more living than either, endowed with greater spiritual and ethical force.”
- I realize, I have to set a goal in my life. To achieve the goal, I will acquire the knowledge, I will work hard, and when the problem occurs, I have to defeat the problem and succeed.
- As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all my tasks and enjoy the success of others.
- I shall always keep myself, my home, my surroundings, neighborhood and environment clean and tidy.
- I realize righteousness in the heart leads to beauty in the character, beauty in the character brings harmony in the home, harmony in the home leads to order in the nation and order in the nation leads to peace in the world.
- I will lead an honest life free from all corruption and will set an example for others including my home to adopt a righteous way of life.
- I will light the lamp of knowledge in the nation and ensure that it remains lit for ever.
- I realize, whatever work I do if I do the best, I am contributing towards realizing the vision of developed India 2020.
- First and foremost, I will love teaching. Teaching will be my soul.
- I realize that I am responsible for shaping not just students but ignited youth who are the most powerful resource under the earth, on the earth and above the earth. I will be fully committed to the great mission of teaching.
- I will consider myself to be a great teacher only when I am capable of elevating the average student to the high performance.
- I will organize and conduct my life, in such a way that my life itself is a message for my students.
- I will encourage my students and children to ask questions and develop the spirit of enquiry, so that they blossom into creative enlightened citizens.
- I will treat all the students equally and will not support any differentiation on account of religion, community or language.
- I will continuously build the capacities in teaching so that I can impart quality education to my students.
- I realize by being a teacher, I am making an important contribution to the efforts of national development.
- I will constantly endeavour to fill my mind, with great thoughts and spread the nobility in thinking and action among my students.
- I will always celebrate the success of my students.
The Ambassador began by saying that he wished to express his grateful thanks to the Generalissimo for receiving him at such short notice on the eve of his (Ambassador's) departure.
Stalin: When are you leaving?
Amb. On Tuesday, the 8th.
The Ambassador went on to say that his stay of 2½ years in Moscow was most useful and he had every courtesy and assistance from the Foreign Minister and his Deputies. He recalled the prompt and ready assistance which the Foreign Office and the Soviet Government had rendered last year in the matter of the despatch of wheat to India. When the Ambassador stressed that he was really grateful for the promptitude and readiness with which the Soviet Union had come to our aid in this, Stalin said: "There is nothing to be grateful about. We have only fulfilled our duty." The Ambassador remarked that many States did not have a proper conception of their duty, nor did they discharge it, when they had.
The Ambassador than referred to the various Soviet delegations that had recently visited India, and said that he felt that the Indian people got some idea of the Soviet achievements – what could be done by a people with determination and will.
Referring to internal matters, Dr. Radhakrishnan said that the country (India) was indeed passing through critical times. We had got rid of various forms of exploitation. We had rid ourselves of foreign domination and we had got rid of the princely rule. We hoped to tackle the problem of our landlords equally successfully.
"It would be good", said Stalin, "if you succeed in doing it."
The Ambassador then generally referred to our recent elections and said that for the first time in history 175 million people were enfranchised of whom 105 million had voted.
"The women did not vote in your country", said Stalin, expressing a doubt.
The Ambassador corrected the Generalissimo by stressing that not only did women actually vote in the elections, but the women voters had, if anything, shown a more progressive spirit. Dr. Radhakrishnan pointed out that we had a lady Governor, a lady Cabinet Minister, and his own predecessor in Moscow, the Generalissimo would doubtless recall, had also been a lady. The elections, Dr. Radhakrishnan said, had been free and fair. There was no official interference of any sort and many Ministers were defeated.
On the political and economic situation in India, Ambassador Radhakrishnan said that India was as much against capitalist exploitation as Russia and it had the same economic objective. "But we wish to adopt peaceful parliamentary methods to achieve our aims, because our whole history has taught us that enduring progress should be of a peaceful character."
To this the Generalissimo said: "But the exploiters will never quit-they will very seriously object to quit."
The Ambassador said that, in any case, we would try our own methods very hard, and if we succeeded it would be a great lesson to other nations.
Referring to our foreign policy, Dr. Radhakrishnan said that it was not unlike that of the Soviet Union in several matters – China, Japan, Korea or, for that matter, the admission of other nations to the UN. "We are not with America and we are not with any power", he stressed, "We act according to our sense of right and do not yield to any political or economic pressure."
Since Stalin showed no hesitation to carry on the conversation. Dr. Radhakrishnan further said that Stalin was at one time reported to have said that if Capitalism could adapt its production not to getting maximum profits, but to the systematic improvement of the masses of the people, then there would not be any crisis, but then that would not be Capitalism. He asked Stalin if he was still of this view.
Stalin said that he said once something like thus but it was difficult for a Capitalist to do without profits and it was a pity that the capitalists could not do without profits. If the Capitalists gave up profits, he said, they would be giving up themselves.
Referring to the desirability of the peaceful co-existence of the two systems, Dr. Radhakrishnan asked Stalin if the Soviet Union would be prepared to "give up the Cominform", as it had at one stage given up the Comintern.
Stalin replied that this was of no importance whatsoever to the question of the co-existence of the two systems; the Cominform, he said, had not been created by the Soviet Union alone. Other countries had also shared in the creation of this body.
The Ambassador said nonetheless that in his view it would be a great gesture today if the Cominform were abolished.
Speaking about Germany, the Ambassador said that if the Soviet Union looked upon a UN Commission as necessarily pro-American, could they not agree to some sort of a neutral commission to see if conditions for free and fair elections existed in that country.
The Generalissimo said that the representatives of the four powers could appoint any commission they liked. The UNO had nothing to do with Germany and only the four occupying powers according to the POTSDAM declaration could do these things. The UN had no right under its Charter to interfere.
The Ambassador asked whether Stalin would favour a neutral commission investigating the allegations of the use of bacteriological weapons in Korea.
Stalin said that he had not given thought to this. As far as they were concerned, he said, "to us it has been proved that they (Americans) have attempted to try this out in Korea", and said that a body of international lawyers had seen the evidence of this.
The Ambassador then asked if the Generalissimo would like to put him any questions.
Generalissimo Stalin said that he had only one question, and that was about "our Correspondent" in India. He turned to Vyshinsky and asked what "this complaint" was. Vyshinsky explained that we had felt that Borzenko's articles were unfair and unnecessarily critical of the Government of India, etc., and added that Prime Minister Nehru had also complained to Novikov about this. (Perhaps, this is not correct. We have been informed that the Foreign Secretary had seen the Soviet Ambassador).
"That is all right, recall him," Stalin said to Vyshinsky. "We will recall him", the Generalissimo said to the Ambassador, "If you don't like him, you tell us frankly. We assure you that he will be recalled". (Reading this, it may look like the dictatorial-touch; but this was said quite coolly and quite calmly and with no gestures, whatsoever.)
Ambassador said that his own anxiety was that the good relations and friendship that we had built up here in Moscow should not be spoilt by Soviet representatives in India saying things which offend our national dignity.
"Are there such people?", Stalin asked.
"Yes", the Ambassador said, "that is what we feel about Borzenko and the Moscow Radio."
The Generalissimo again turned to Vyshinsky and quietly said, "Call him back".
The Ambassador then referred to his imminent return and his anxiety for preserving Indo-Soviet friendship. The Generalissimo said that he was glad of the latter. "Both you and Mr. Nehru are persons whom we do not consider to be our enemies. This will continue to be our policy and you can count on our help". Then he went on "Our people have been educated in the equal treatment of Asian people" - and he said this with some feeling. "The United States and Britain look on Asian peoples as backward and look down upon them. We treat all Asians as equals. It is this which helps us to conduct a correct policy. The Americans and the British treat them supercilously [sic]. Our policy helps us to have very different relations with the Asian peoples". The Generalissimo spoke these sentences slowly, deliberately and with obvious feelings.
The Ambassador agreed generally with the sentiments expressed by the Generalissimo and said that Malaya, Indo-China, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Iran and South Africa are illustrations of a very different policy towards, what may be called, backward peoples. "Is this democracy?" he asked.
The Generalissimo smiled and said: "This is what they call democracy?"
The interview here ended with the usual greetings and with good wishes for the Ambassador on his return home.
N.M.M.L., J.N. (S.4) Vol. No. 123 Pt. II, 294-297.
When Dr. Radhakrishnan became the President of India in 1962, he was approached by some of his students and friends and requested him to allow them to celebrate 5th September, his "birthday". In reply, Dr.Radhakrishnan said, "instead of celebrating my birthday separately, it would be my proud privilege if September 5 is observed asTeachers' day". The request showed Dr. Radhakrishnan's love for the teachingprofession. From then onwards, the day has been observed as Teachers' Day in India.
One of the most celebrated writers in the modern India today his work varies on philosophical, theological, ethical, educational, social and cultural subjects. He contributed numerous articles to different well-known journals, which, are of immense value and seems to surprise various readers because of the depth in the meaning of the articles.
Teacher's day is now one of the occasions that is looked forward by the teachers and students alike as on this occasion its not only when teachers are praised but also around various schools students dress up as a representation of their teachersand take various lectures that are assigned to the teachers they represent. As the day passes the students perform the regular activities that are performed by the teacher's. On this day students realize what it means to be a teacher and what it means to control the future of several students in their classes and also teachers are reminded what it felt like when they were the students.
Schools all over India celebrate Teacher’s Day by allowing the senior students to pose as teachers for a day. It is a fun-filled activity, which is enjoyed by both the actingteachers and their junior students. On this day, students bring gifts for their most admired teachers as well. It is an equally special day for teachers, as they get to know how much they are liked and appreciated by their students. Gifts to teachers include flowers, greeting cards and other items. Some students also write poems and messages forteachers.Students look forward to Teacher’s Day with a lot of anticipation, for the sheer spirit of the occasion. Acting asteachers, they get a fair idea of the responsibility, so efficiently burdened by their teachers. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication to be a good teacher and earn the fondness of the students at the same time. Teachers, on this day, are reminded of their school days and feel nostalgic. All in all, it is celebration mode for everyone!
Teachers' Day is very important for all the people in India, as the teachers act as foundation for creating responsible citizens and good human beings. It is impossible to imagine our lives without teachers. They are the cornerstone of our future. We can never thank our teachers enough for their immense contribution in our life. Teacher's Day is celebrated to show our acknowledgement and recognition of the hard work put in by our teachers towards our development.