Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Essay

Essay on Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

“When we think we know, we cease to learn”. These words motivate us to seek higher learning in each phase of life since learning is a life-long process. The student in us would never fail if we have teacher-par excellence like Dr. S Radhakrishnan. He is undoubted, one of the most recognized and influential Indian thinkers in academic circles of the 20th century. He was a role model, an interminable source of inspiration, and a great statesman for all teachers and students of the country.

Early Life

Radhakrishnan was born on 5th September 1888 in a middle-class Brahmin family in the small town of Tamil Nadu. His father’s name was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and was a revenue official with a local zamindar. His mother’s name was Sitamma. His father didn’t want him to study English and wished that he became a priest instead. On seeing his intelligence, Radhakrishnan was allowed to pursue school and higher education. Being from a financially weak family, he sustained his studies by borrowing second-hand books from a cousin. He got married at the age of 16 years with his distant cousin, named Sivakamu, the couple had five daughters and a son by the name of Sarvepalli Gopal. He graduated with a Master’s degree in Philosophy from Madras Christian college. During this time he was introduced to western thought. In 1918, he was selected as the Professor of Philosophy at the University of Mysore.


Dr. Radhakrishnan belongs to a poor family and thus had to complete his education with the help and support of scholarships and he completed his education from various missionary schools that were spreading across the country.   

He got his primary education from a local school in his birth village named K. V. High School at Thiruttani. Later in 1896, he moved to a nearby temple town, named Tirupati, where he went to Hermannsburg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School and also visited the Government High Secondary School, Walajapet. 

From the year 1900 to 1904, he attended the college, named Elizabeth Rodman Voorhees College in Vellore, which was run by an American Arcot Mission of the Reformed Church (of America). It was here, where dr. S. Radhakrishnan was introduced to the Dutch Reform Theology, which criticized the Hindu religion in more than one way by saying that Hinduism is intellectually incoherent and does not have any ethics. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan was proud of his Hindu religion and this criticism appeared to him as a crippling assault on his Hindu sensibilities (feelings). While living in Vellore, he married his distant cousin, named Sivakamu. They remained married for 50 years, till his wife died.

After completing his four years of study in Vellore, he completed his F.A. (First of Arts) course and shifted to the Madras Christian College at the age of 16 and graduated from there in 1907. He also completed his master’s degree from that same college. He studied philosophy in his college but he did so by chance, due to financial constraints, he borrowed philosophy books from his cousin who studied from there before, and that decided his academic subjects in the college.

His Contribution

In 1921, he was appointed as a Professor of Philosophy in the chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta. 

In 1929, Radhakrishnan was invited to take up the job of a teacher at Manchester College, Oxford. This gave him the opportunity to give lectures on Comparative Religion. 

In 1931, Radhakrishnan was invited to take up his second Vice-Chancellorship at Banaras Hindu University (BHU). 

In 1946, Radhakrishnan represented India in UNESCO.

In 1948, under the chairmanship of Dr. Radhakrishnan, the Government appointed a University Education Commission.

In 1949, he was appointed Indian ambassador to USSR.

He served as a member of the Indian Constituent Assembly for two years immediately after India’s independence. 

In 1952, he became the Vice President of India.

In 1962, he was finally elected as the second President of India. During his tenure, India fought wars with China and Pakistan.


His Vision

Radhakrishnan was a man of great vision. He saw an increasing need for world unity and universal fellowship during his term in office. He believed in international peace and cooperation. He called for the promotion of creative internationalism based on the spiritual foundations of integral experience so that he could promote understanding and tolerance between people and nations. Though he did not have any active political background, he kept an impassioned guard for the Hindu culture against ‘uninformed Western criticism’. His philosophy was simple but effective.

His Work and Awards

Dr. Radhakrishnan was conferred with many awards and recognitions including the highest civilian award

Bharat Ratna in 1954. He was the first person to be conferred upon the Sahitya Akademi fellowship. He also received the Peace Prize of German Book Trade in 1961 and Templeton Prize in 1975. He donated the award money of the Templeton Prize to Oxford University.

Some of his written works include Indian Philosophy, The Philosophy of the Upanishads, Eastern Religions, and Western Thoughts. In his major work on the Idealist View of Life, he laid emphasis on the importance of instinctive thinking. 

During the tenure of his presidency, his students and friends requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday, 5th September. Radhakrishnan asked them to observe the day as Teacher’s Day instead of celebrating his birthday. Since then till today, 5th September is marked as Teacher’s Day. 

Radhakrishnan breathed his last on 17th April 1975.


It is our privilege to have such a great philosopher, a great educationist, and a great humanist in our country. He will always remain in our hearts because of his unimaginable participation in the field of education.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why do We Celebrate 5th September as Teacher’s Day?

We celebrate 5th September as Teacher’s day to commemorate the birthday of Dr.Radhakrishnan. He was a great scholar, a learner, and a philosopher. 


On one day in 1962, some students of Dr. Radhakrishnan visited him in order to celebrate his birthday, then he (Dr. S. Radhakrishnan) asked them to celebrate this day (5 September) to pay their respect to all the great teachers of India and remember their contribution. From that day forward, it became a tradition to observe the date of 5th, September as India’s national teacher’s day.

2. How Did Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Serve Our Nation?

He served the nation by educating the students and he was the second President of India (1962 – 1967) and first vice president of India (1947 – 1962). Even after being a popular leader, he was not that famous for politics but rather; he is quite famous as an academic. He is also considered India’s most renowned academic on comparative religion and philosophy. He was the one who introduced Indian philosophy to the West, bridging the gap between both cultures.

3. When Was Radhakrishnan Born?

Dr.Radhakrishnan was born on 5th September 1888 in a middle-class family in a small town of Tamil Nadu, named Tiruttani of Chittoor district. He belongs to a Telugu-speaking Niyogi Brahmin family, his father’s name was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and his mother’s name was Sita (Sitamma). Every year on his birth date, 5 September, the entire nation celebrates Indian National Teacher’s Day. He asked his students to pay respect to all the great teachers of India and their contribution on his birthday.

4. Mention a few of the written works by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan?

D.r S. Radhakrishnan had written around 27 books in his entire life, the very first book he completed was “The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore”.


Few of his famous written works include Indian Philosophy, The Philosophy of the Upanishads, Eastern Religions and Western Thoughts, and The Idealist View of Life. He completed the Indian philosophy book in two volumes, the first volume released in 1923 and the second one in 1927. Even after India’s independence, While in his tenure as the first Vice-President of India, he wrote some more books, one of the most popular books of this time was “East and West: Some Reflections”, released in 1955. In his books and lectures, he tries to interpret Indian thought for Westerners. His works help in bridging the gap between both cultures and religion.

5. Give details about the early life and family of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan?

A little is known about his early life, as he doesn’t talk about his early life much. He was born in Tiruttani village in the Madras Presidency (Nowadays in Tamil Nadu), on 5 September 1888. He belongs to a Telugu-speaking brahmin family, his father’s name was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and his mother was Sita (Sitamma).


In 1896, Radhakrishnan went to school in order to study in the nearby pilgrimage center of Tirupati. After some time, In 1900, he was sent to Vellore for his high school education, in Elizabeth Rodman Voorhees College. 


At the early age of 16, He was married to Sivakamu, a distant cousin. The couple had five daughters and one son. Their son, Sarvepalli Gopal, also become a great historian.


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