• Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan natively Radhakrishnayya, was an Indian politician, philosopher and statesman who served as the second president of India from 1962 to 1967.
  • He previously served as the first vice president of India from 1952 to 1962. He was the second ambassador of India to the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1952.
  • He was also the fourth vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University from 1939 to 1948 and the second vice-chancellor of Andhra University from 1931 to 1936. Radhakrishnan is considered one of the most influential and distinguished 20th century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy.
  • “The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature”,said Dr.Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a creative genius, academician, politician and philosopher. 
  • His aptitude for learning  and wisdom has helped him elevate his political career to new realm.
  • He sought to define, defend and support the religion that he believed was philosophically rational and ethically feasible, that is Hinduism.
  • A notable presence in the academic circles of India, he possessed extensive knowledge on the Western philosophy and literary traditions.
  • He was known as the bridge barrier between India and the West. He was instrumental in shaping the West’s understanding of India, East, and Hinduism.
  • He is one of the greatest educationist India has ever seen and his birthday is celebrated as  “Teachers Day” in India on September 5th.
  • He received the highest civilian honour of India, Bharat Ratna for his notable contributions to academic and political field in 1954.
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Initial Years

  • Dr. S Radhakrishnan was born into a Telugu family in Thiruvallur in Tamil Nadu on September 5,1888. His parents were Sarvepalli Veerasami and Seethamma. Brought up in a temple town, his philosophical and religious sensibilities were influenced by Sankara’s Advaita, Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions.
  • He completed his graduation and post graduation in Fine Arts from Madras University. Radhakrishnan came across the writings of Swami Vivekananda and V.D Savarkar,which had a profound influence on him.
  • He was also introduced to the ideas of the Theosophical Society who applauded the ancient wisdom as well as advocated on the spiritual, philosophical, and scientific meeting of East and West.The interaction with the writings of Swami V.D Savarkar,and Theosophical society helped cultivate a cultural self-reliance in Radhakrishnan.
  • The key factors that created indelible marks on his sensibilities were the training he received in Western Philosophies and the religious controversies that he encountered during college times.
  • He prepared a thesis on Ethics of Vedanta to counter the argument that Vedanta system had no room for ethics.These incidents prompted him to study on Indian philosophy and religion,with the uncompromising attitude to counter any uninformed western criticism.


  • Metaphysics – He was of the opinion that reality is Brahman who is spiritual, transcendent and absolute. He called it spiritual because it is not material. He called it transcendental because world cannot exhaust it and it is absolute because it is pure consciousness and pure freedom with infinite possibility.
  • Epistemology – Radhakrishnan accepts three sources of knowledge which are as follows;
    • Sense experience – It acquaints us with the outer characteristics of the external world, thereby we come to know the sensible qualities of the objects.
    • Intellectual cognition – It depends on analysis and synthesis of the data of perception. He calls logical knowledge indirect and symbolic. We are able to handle and control the objects of nature with such knowledge.
    • Intuitive Apprehension – It is a higher mode of apprehension where thought, feeling and volition are blended into a whole (there is no duality). It is a type of knowing by becoming. Here, the knower establishes an identity with the known. For example, No intellectual deliberation can give us any idea of the emotion of anger that can only be known by being angry.
  • Intuition – It finds expression in the world of action and social relations. Intuition is the ultimate form of experience, in the sense that it constitutes the fullest and therefore the most authentic realization of the Real (Brahman). In such experiences, thought and reality come together and a creative merging of subject and object results”. While the experience itself transcends expression, it also provokes it. The provocation of expression is testimony to the creative impulse of intuition.
  • Universality of outlook – It refers to his faith in the basic oneness of humanity, as all are identical with Brahman or sharing the same qualities of God from whom all came or received the common quest.
  • Religion – It is a personal intuitive experience which gives an insight into the nature and experience of reality. In his book, Idealistic view of Life, he calls it spiritual life – the culmination of intellectual, moral and aesthetic activity. Religion also means spirituality which is impossible without ethics. Religion is universal to the human race. Wherever justice and charity have force of law, there is God’s kingdom’, there is Religion.
  • Hindu ethics – Ancient Rishis of India were not only spiritual masters, they were also psychologists, who looked at the motives behind our actions and realized that desires are the very center of our life, thereby explained purushartas (the four supreme ends of human craving). Basically they are four – parental instincts and sexual instincts (Kama), desire for power and wealth (artha), desire for social harmony and common good (dharma), and union with the unseen (moksa). The greatness of the person consists in making a co-operation of the four and bringing an overarching unity in life.
  • Freedom is one of the foundations of ethics – It can be understood in three levels;
    • Psychological freedom – It is freedom to act in a way that one desires.
    • Moral freedom – It is freedom to choose between alternatives with knowledge and volition but here knowledge may not be perfect, so error may occur. For instance, we have made enormous progress in scientific inventions but in absence of moral and spiritual progress, our natures are becoming mechanized and we are reduced to atoms in a community.
    • Spiritual freedom – It leads to integral liberation (liberation of the ‘whole human’), not like economic or political liberation. For the cultivation of a complete human being, we require the cultivation of inward peace, the grace and joy of souls overflowing in love.
  • Education – The object of education is to bring forth the ethical human, the human in whom all the capacities are fully developed. Being truly educated means having the light to see the truth and the strength to make it prevail.
  • Social and Political Philosophy – All human beings are of equal worth, entitled to the same fundamental rights. Human being is the most concrete embodiment of the Spirit on earth and anything that damages one’s dignity is morally wrong. The state that governs least is the best, thus he supports Democratic form of government.
  • Economics – Social justice is possible with economic justice. He opposed both communism and capitalism. He advocated an international state in which the differences need not be fused, but they need not conflict.

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