Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975) was one of the most profound philosophers of this century, author and educationalist. In 1926, he was deputed by Calcutta University as the university delegate to the Congress of the Universities of the British Empire. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1940, first Indian to be thus honored. After Independence, when Nehru decided to send Radhakrishnan to the Soviet Union as ambassador, many wondered how a scholar would deal with a dictator like Stalin. Not only did Radhakrishnan have a successful stint there, he also got along very well with Stalin. In December, 1964, Pope Paul VI visited India and made him Knight of the Golden Army of Angels, the Vatican’s highest honor for a Head of State. Radhakrishnan was also a professor of Eastern Religions at Oxford and later became the second President of free India.
He was widely admired as a master of the English language, a spellbinding orator, a dynamic leader, and a generous human being. Was India’s most eminent 21stcentury philosopher. He was brought up and educated in colonial India where Christian missionaries proclaimed Christianity to be the only true religion and portrayed Hinduism as being seriously defective. In his first published works, Radhakrishnan defended the Hindu theory of karma and the ethics of Vedanta. In his lectures Radhakrishnan answered the many Christian critics of Hinduism by formulating his interpretation of the essence of Hinduism. Hinduism is a way of life rather than a dogmatic creed. Its foundation is spiritual experience. Through meditative practices, one has direct experience of the Absolute Spirit (Brahman). This experience brings home the unity of the individual self and the Absolute Self. Attaining one’s deepest self by losing one’s selfish ego becomes the supreme goal.
(source: Great Thinkers of the Eastern World - By Ian Philip McGreal, Editor p. 279 - 280)
There were many interpretations of Hindu scriptures and philosophy, but Radhakrishnan was perhaps the first Indian philosopher to present to the world the deeper aspects of Indian philosophy. He was truly India’s cultural ambassador to the world. After listening to him, one English lady was prompted to say, "There is no need for us to send missionaries to India."
"My religious sense," he used to say, "did not allow me to speak a rash or a profane word of anything which the soul of man holds or has held sacred. The attitude of respect for all creeds, this elementary good manners in matters of spirit, is bred into the marrow of one’s bones by the Hindu tradition.’
(source: Dr S. Radhakrishnan - tribuneindia.com)
"Hinduism is not just a faith. It is the union of reason and intuition that cannot be defined but is only to be experienced. Evil and error are not ultimate. There is no Hell, for that means there is a place where God is not, and there are sins which exceed his love. "
"In the history of the world, Hinduism is the only religion that exhibits
a complete independence and freedom of the human mind, its full confidence in
its own powers. Hinduism is freedom, especially the freedom in thinking about
"In the search for the supernatural, it is like traveling in space without a boundary or barrier."
(source: Bhagavad Gita - By S. Radhakrishan pg - 55)
“A large part of the world received its religious education from India." In spite of continuous struggle with theological baggage, India has held fast for centuries to the ideals of spirit."
(source: Eastern Religions & Western Thought - By. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan p. 116)
"Hinduism is wholly free from the strange obsession of some faiths that the acceptance of a particular religious metaphysics is necessary for salvation, and non-acceptance thereof is a heinous sin meriting eternal punishment in hell."
(source: The Hindu View of Life - By S. Radhakrishnan p. 28)
He noted that: "If the Upanishads help us to rise above the glamour of the fleshy life, it is because their authors, pure of soul, ever striving towards the divine, reveal to us their pictures of the splendors of the unseen. The Upanishads are respected not because they are a part of Sruti or revealed literature and so hold a reserved position but because they have inspired generations of Indians with vision and strength by their inexhaustible significance and spiritual power. Indian thought has constantly turned to these scriptures for fresh illumination and spiritual recovery or recommencement, and not in vain. The fire still burns bright on their altars. Their light is for the seeing eye and their message is for the seeker after truth."
(source: The Principal Upanishads - By S. Radhakrishnan London: Allen & Unwin/ New York: Humanities Press. 1953, p. 18-19)
"Indian thought is an extraordinary mass of material which for detail and variety has hardly any equal in any other part of the world. There is hardly any height of spiritual insight or rational philosophy attained in the world that has not its parallel in the vast stretch that lies between the early Vedic seers and the modern naiyAyikas.”
(source: Indian Philosophy, Volume I - By S. Radhakrishnan)