Remembering the Greatest Teacher

The first vice-president and second president of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was above all a great teacher and a world renowned philosopher-author. Today on 5th September as we celebrate Teacher’s Day let’s take a moment and reminisce the man behind this, Dr. S Radhakrishnan.

Dr. Radhakrishnan was born on 5 September 1888 at Tiruttani in Tamil Nadu. He pursued BA and then MA in Philosophy from Madras Christian College. From 1918-21 he was a professor in Philosophy at Mysore University. Next he was appointed to King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta. He represented CU at the Congress of the Universities of the British Empire in June 1926 as well as at the International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard University, the USA in September 1926. He was knighted in 1931 by the British Crown. He was appointed as a Spalding professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford in 1936.

Dr. S Radhakrishnan said “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if 5 September is observed as Teachers’ Day”, the day originated. He quoted “The true teachers are those who help us think for ourselves.” He was highly admired and respected by his teachers; in bidding him farewell from Mysore University his students had arranged for a flower-decked carriage to take him to the railway station which, was pulled by the students themselves.

Dr S Radhakrishnan was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1952 for his exemplary contributions. In 1954, he received the German ‘Order pour le Merite for Arts and Science’ and in 1961, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. He is regarded to be one of the most distinguished 20th century scholar of comparative religion and philosophy. In 1968, he was conferred the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship and is the first person to get this award.

Dr S Radhakrishnan is a role model for all the teachers and scholars world-over. He serves as an inspiration for all Indians. His birth anniversary is celebrated as a day to thank our teachers and mentors who guide us in achieving our aims. He makes us realize the value of education as he said, “The end product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature”.