LET’S KNOW OUR LEADER
DR. RADHAKRISHNAN

Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan was born on 5 September, 1888 in Tirutani, a well-known religious center in the Madras State. He was the second son of Veera Samayya, a tehsildar in a zamindari. It was a middle-class, respectable Hindu Brahmin family. Indeed, the place, the time and the family were most suitable, from every point of view, for the advent of a new philosopher-statesman, so directly needed in those turbulent days of the awakening of a very ancient and glorious nation, drowsy and dormant in its own ignorance and indolence, for reasons well known to all.

The wonderful far-sightedness, open-heartedness and broad-mindedness of his revered and beloved parents, which enabled them, in those days of blind prejudices and equally blind social taboos, to send their son to wellknown, well-managed, well-disciplined Christian educational institutions – stood him in good stead throughout, making it possible for him to acquire specially Occidental qualities like a sense of duty, punctuality, discipline, sobriety and the like, together with specially Oriental qualities of religiosity, calmness, patience, faith in God and men.

Radhakrishnan’s choice of Philosophy as his main or Honors subject in his B.A. degree course was due to a very fortunate accident. At that time, he was really rather baffled as to what particular Honors subject to choose from amongst the possible five, viz., Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Philosophy and History. Then, purely accidentally, and out of a mere boyish curiosity, he read three well-known works on Philosophy, passed on to him by one of his cousins who had that year obtained the B.A. degree with Philosophy Honors; and that definitely decided his future course of studies.

He studied Sanskrit and Hindi also; and had a good deal of interest in the traditional languages of India. He read also the Vedas and the Upanishads with great care and reverence.

In fact, Radhakrishnan was, and is, still today, a reader and a digester in the true sense of the terms. For, what he read – and he read widely and lovingly all kinds of good books – did not remain an exter nal acquisition, an ornamental decoration, with him; but blossomed forth in him in fullest glory and grandeur.

Radhakrishnan was, and still is, one of the most celebrated writers of the present generation. His works are many and varied on philosophical, theological, ethical, educational, social and cultural subjects. He contributed also numerous articles to different well-known journals, which too, will prove to be of immense value to
generations to come.

But what is most felt after reading any of his valuable works or articles is its wonderful liveliness. Truly, his articles are not merely outer expressions of his inner thoughts, but, what is more, infinitely more, emblems and embodiments of his very life – life that merrily dances forth in the fortuitous, zigzag way of the world, removing all its obstacles in its own inner irresistible urge and boundless boldness. Hence, it is that his works, written in an incredibly simple, sublime, soft and serene way, are so very enchanting, enlivening, exhilarating to all. As a matter of fact, as is well known, it is very difficult to express very abstract and abstruse philosophical thoughts in easily intelligible and enchantingly sweet language. But Dr. Radhakrishnan, like the great and revered Rabindranath, is one of the few who could accomplish this apparently impossible feat. That is why his philosophical writings are not ordinary scholarly dissertations, but also melodious poetical perfections of great and permanent value.

Dr. Radhakrishnan is, indeed, a versatile genius – a great scholar, a great philosopher, a great seer, a great writer, a great orator, a great statesman, a great administrator, all combined.

Jawaharlal Nehru, who was one of his closest friends throughout, said about Radhakrishnan: “I join you in paying my tribute to our President, Dr. Radhakrishnan. He has served his country in many capacities. But above all, he is a great Teacher from whom all of us have learnt much and will continue to learn. It is India’s peculiar privilege to have a great philosopher, a great educationist and a great humanist as her President. That in itself shows the kind of men we honor and respect”.

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