Sarvepally Radhakrishnan

Sarvepally Radhakrishnan

Indian philosopher, religious scholar, social and political figure
Date of Birth: 05.09.1888
Country: India

  1. Biography of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
  2. Academic and Political Career
  3. On April 17, 1975, Radhakrishnan passed away in Madras.
  4. Contributions and Philosophy

Biography of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888–1975) was an Indian philosopher, religious scholar, public figure, and politician, known as one of the representatives of neo-Hinduism. He was born on September 5, 1888, in Tiruttani, Andhra Pradesh, into an educated Brahmin family, and received both traditional Indian and European education.

Academic and Political Career

Radhakrishnan's academic career included professorships at various universities in India. From 1918 to 1921, he was a professor at the University of Mysore, followed by a professorship at the University of Calcutta from 1921 to 1931. He served as the vice-president of Andhra University from 1931 to 1936 and as the head of Banaras Hindu University from 1938 to 1948.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Radhakrishnan held important diplomatic positions. He served as the head of the Indian delegation to UNESCO from 1946 to 1952 and as the Indian Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1952. From 1953 to 1962, he was the president of the University of Delhi and concurrently served as the vice-president of India from 1952 to 1962. Lastly, he served as the president of India from 1962 to 1967.

On April 17, 1975, Radhakrishnan passed away in Madras.

Contributions and Philosophy

Radhakrishnan was a prolific writer, delivering numerous lectures and authoring books. His two-volume work "Indian Philosophy" (1923–1927) showcased his deep scholarship and comparative approach. The book "The Indian Way of Life" (1927) was intended for a Western audience and presented Hindu mentality as "subjective religiosity" in contrast to the "objective religiosity" of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He emphasized the intuitive nature of Indian mentality, which sought to realize truth, as opposed to the rationalism of Western thought, focused on intellectual understanding. Radhakrishnan also provided contemporary interpretations of key Hindu concepts such as "karma," "samsara," and "dharma," typical of neo-Hinduism. According to Radhakrishnan, Hinduism can coexist with the revelations of the founders of other world religions.

In his books "The Idealist View of Life" (1932) and "Eastern Religions and Western Thought" (1939), Radhakrishnan expressed his belief in the unity of global philosophical idealism from Plato to Berkeley and Hegel, corresponding to the idealism of Vedanta. He proposed that a synthesis of Western empiricism and Indian mysticism, under the auspices of Vedanta, could create opportunities for global spiritual synthesis.

A prominent feature of Radhakrishnan's works was the creation of grand syntheses, such as the "Eternal Religion" and the "Eternal Philosophy," which aimed to incorporate the best achievements of world religious and philosophical thought. The "Eternal Religion" referred to the "Sanatana Dharma" (literally, "eternal dharma"), which transcended specific religions that, apart from this core, were mere empty shells capable of dividing people. The "Eternal Philosophy" (or "Universal Philosophy") encompassed the thoughts of the Upanishadic seers, Buddha, Plato, Plotinus, and the best of world philosophy.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan left a lasting impact on Indian philosophy, religion, and education. His works continue to be studied and revered, making him one of the most influential thinkers of his time.