A tribute to Dr.Radhakrishanan on Teachers Day
Ajit Singh Nagra
The American poet, Longfellow has well said,
“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime.
And departing leave behind us,
Foot prints on the sands of time.”
The 5th September is observed as Teachers Day to pay warmhearted tributes to our scholar and statesman of the country who rose from the humble and obscure beginning to the most prestigious position in the country and earned immortal popularity in the galaxy of world intellectuals by sheer strength of his industry, mental calibre and moral rectitude. This day provides an opportunity for self-examination, introspection and self -exploration to assess our standing, and the direction to channelise our energy for a noble cause. Real teachers are heaven -born and it is the most interesting , stupendous, and uphill task as it involves our mind[concentration and memory , body, [physical labour in sitting and studying] and soul[ sensitivity and spirituality. Our country has remained the cradle of cultures, civilisations and civility where great teachers, saints, savants and scholars, intellectual giants like Lord Buddha, Lord Mahavira , Guru Nanak and Kabir were born and disseminated the message of love , truth and non-violence to dispel ignorance and foster the altruistic feelings of universal understanding to remove the cobwebs of narrow minded dogmatism, narrow considerations and sectarianism. In modern times, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Swami Vivekananda have highlighted the name of India on the world map by singing the songs of her religion, culture and spiritual awakening.
Dr. Radhakrishnan, the priceless jewel of India was the son of Servepalli Veera Swamiji and Sitamma born on 5th. Sept. 1888 in a Telegu Smarta Brahman family of five boys and two girls at a small place Tiruttani in Chittor District of Madras Presidency forty miles in the north of modern Madras [Chennai]. His ancestors had migrated 150 years ago from the Andhara fishing village of Servepalli about 200miles in the north and the name of his village “Servepalli” became his surname.
His wife was not an intellectual and he did not try to educate her.Dr Sahib’s personal life is a good role model for others to emulate. He neither smoked nor tasted liquor in his life and lived on simple vegetarian food, loved solitude, music and books.He was tall and dark, largely muscular, eyes bright and acquiline nose, his hair turned grey and white soon. Due to the retirement of his father and grinding poverty, he gave private tuition and incurred debts to support his brothers and mother but did not beg at the cost of his integrity.
In the words of Dr. Radhakrishnan,
” The truly great are not the men of wealth, of possessions,
Not men who gain name and fame, but those who testify to the truth in them, and refuse to compromise whatever be cost.
They are determined to do what they consider to be right.
We may punish their bodies, refuse them comforts but we cannot buy their spirits, whosoever possesses this invulnerability of spirits even to a little extent deserves our admiration.”
Upon passing the entrance examination of Madras University, he entered Madras Christian college in 1904.He received BA Degree in1907 and MA in 1909 from the University of Madras. At the tender age of 16 years, he married to 10 years old girl, Sivakama, daughter of a railway official and begot seven children out of this wedlock. His surviving son Dr.Gopal was the historical biographer of Pt. J.L Nehru. In 1917, he was appointed the Professor of Philosophy in the University of Mysore. In 1921 he was appointed to King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science in the University of Calcutta. In 1926, he was invited to Oxford University to work as visiting professor and remained of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford[1936-1952] and Vice-Chancellor of Benaras Hindu University [1938-1948] as Pt. Madan Mohan Maulviya requested him to offer the chair but he worked in honorary capacity and declined to accept any pecuniary benefit.He served as the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University from 1953 to 1962. He led the Indian Delegation to the United Nations’ UNESCO (1946-1962) and elected chairman to UNESCO’s Executive Board[1948-1949]. He served as the Ambassador of the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1952.
He distinguished himself as a very clear exponent and expositor of abstruse problems of philosophy and published the monumental Indian philosophy covering all schools of Indian philosophy and thoughtNayaya by Gautama Sankhya by Kapila  Yoga by Patanjali Vedanta by Ved Vyas Vaisekha by Kanada and  Mimansa by Jaimani. His lectures on the philosophy of Lord Buddha were adjudged as a lecture on the master mind by Master Mind. In 1940, he was the first Asian to achieve the distinction of being elected as the Fellow of the British Royal Society. In 1952, Dr. Radhakrishnan was destined to be the first Vice President of the Indian Union and occupied the prestigious office of the President of India during 1962-1967, and supplanted Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
Being a paragon of excellence and humility, the riches could neither swell him with pride nor the kaleiodoscopic changes of life shorn him of simplicity , serenity and magnanimity. He retired from public life in1967 after completion of his tenure as the President and did not make his appearance in any public function after his official manumission. He devoted his time and energy to complete his literary works which included Indian philosophy in two volumes,[1923-1927] The Philosophy of Upanishads  an idealist view of lifeEastern Religion and Western Thought . During his school days, his English teachers had offended him with their harsh criticism of the Indian religion and disparaged the Indian society and Dr. Radhakrishnan always presented the eye-opening picture of the Indian society to remove the scales from the eyes of the biased western minds. During the evening days of his life Dr. Radhakrishnan lost his consciousness and breathed his last on 16th April 1975 in his house in Madras and he received The Templeton Award in Religion posthumously for his indispensable services and outstanding contribution in the field of religious studies.
Education is the most sensitive, fragile and sacred thing that deserves to be handled with extra care and tenderness but it is being handled by the uneducated and greedy people who ruin its sensitivity and swell their pockets. Consequently many ills and evils have crept into the system as canine mentality and unmitigated greed of the people play havoc that need to be purged to weed out the malpractices. The workers should be appreciated and the nefarious elements and shirkers should not be spared. A fair selection should be made to sift cream from offal and truth from falsehood to reward the deserving people. Those who treat education as a saleable commodity and open the big business houses to loot the gullible people in the name of education should be dealt sternly to purge the system of all corruption. Sometimes fair selection is not made and only sycophants, masseuses and factotums and shirkers who pitch their tents near the concerned headmasters, principals or ZEOs to stow their stomachs with sweets and delicacies win prizes, lift trophies and get the mementos and the sincere people suffer and curse their fate. Some black sheep a few in number have tarnished their image, sullied their reputation and desecrated the department by their wanton hands and silly actions. Otherwise Education Department is a paradise of great savants and scholars of impeccable integrity. The intelligent and devoted suffer while the ignorant, duds and dulls are garlanded. It is the education that has the power to change the complexion of the society.