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Why is Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s Birthday celebrated as Teachers’ Day?

On account of teacher's day, In this blog we talk about Why is Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's Birthday celebrated as Teachers' Day.

Why is Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan‘s Birthday celebrated as Teachers’ Day?

With teachers’ day around, I just got a wild thought while reading the newspaper and said to my husband, “how I wish our nation celebrated a day in my remembrance too.” My witty husband replied, “we already do. It’s on April 1st.” I know! it’s only me who couldn’t laugh. Obviously.

5th September is celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India. It’s a day to mark of tribute to the contribution made by teachers to the society and honour and facilitate them. 5th September is the birthday of a Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was a great believer of education, and was a well-known researcher, scholar, first vice president of India and the second President of India and above all, a great teacher.

Most of you would be knowing but for those who really don’t know let me tell you briefly about Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan‘s early life

Early Life

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in a Telugu family in a village near Thiruttani India, in the erstwhile Madras Presidency near the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states. His father’s name was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and his mother’s was Sitamma. His early years were spent in Thiruttani and Tirupati. His father was a subordinate revenue official in the service of a local zamindar(landlord). His primary education was at Primary Board High School at Thiruttani. In 1896, he moved to the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati.

Academic career

Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan‘s academic career started in 1909 with Madras Presidency College. He was also appointed as the Professor of Philosophy at The University of Mysore in 1918. Later he worked as Professor of Philosophy at The University of Calcutta. In 1929, Radhakrishnan was invited to take the post vacated by Principal J. Estlin Carpenter at Harris Manchester College. This gave him the opportunity to lecture to the students of the University of Oxford on Comparative Religion.

Political Career 

It started a bit late in his life. In 1931, he was nominated to the League of Nations Committee for International Cooperation, where after “in Western eyes he was the recognised Hindu authority on Indian ideas and a persuasive interpreter of the role of Eastern institutions in contemporary society.” When India became independent in 1947, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan represented India at UNESCO(1946–52) and was later Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union, from 1949 to 1952. He was also elected to the Constituent Assembly of India. Radhakrishnan was elected as the first Vice-President of India in 1952 and elected as the second President of India (1962–1967).

When he became the President of India, some of his students and friends requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday, 5 September. He replied,

“Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if 5 September is observed as Teachers’ Day.”

Ever since his birthday is celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India.

Awards in his Remembrance

Many teachers are recognized on Teachers’ Day and awarded the best teacher award on September 5th every year by the president of India by Government of India.

The Scheme of National Award to Teachers was started in the year 1958-59 with the object of raising the prestige of teachers and giving public recognition to the meritorious services of outstanding teachers working in Primary, Middle and Higher Secondary Schools. In 1967-68 the scope of the scheme was enlarged to cover the teachers of Sanskrit Pathshalas, Tolls etc. run on traditional lines. In 1976, the scheme was further enlarged to cover Arabic/Persian teachers of Madrasas. From the award year 1993, the scheme has further been enlarged to cover teachers from Sainik Schools, Navodaya Vidyalayas and schools run by Atomic Energy Education Society. Each award carries with it a certificate of merit, a cash award money and a Silver Medal.

Awards and Honours

Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan has been honored with many awards and honours. To mention few are,

  • 1931: appointed a Knight Bachelor in 1931, although he ceased to use the title “Sir” after India attained independence.
  • 1938: elected Fellow of the British Academy.
  • 1954: The Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India.
  • 1954: German “Order pour le Merite for Arts and Science”
  • 1961: the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
  • 1962: Institution of Teachers’ Day in India, yearly celebrated at 5 September, Radhakrishnan’s birthday, in honour of Radhakrishnan’s believe that “teachers should be the best minds in the country”.
  • 1963: the British Order of Merit.
  • 1968: Sahitya Akademi fellowship, the highest honour conferred by the Sahitya Akademi on a writer(he is the first person to get this award)
  • 1975: the Templeton Prize in 1975, a few months before his death, for advocating non-aggression and conveying “a universal reality of God that embraced love and wisdom for all people.He donated the entire amount of the Templeton Prize to Oxford University.
  • 1989: The Institution of the Radhakrishnan Scholarships by Oxford University in the memory of Radhakrishnan. The scholarships were later renamed the “Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships”.

Major Writings

Some of the Principal Writings of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan:

The Ethics of Vedanta and Its Metaphysical Presuppositions (1908)
Essentials of Psychology (1912)
The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918)
The Reign of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy (1920)
Indian Philosophy – Volume I (1923)
The Hindu View of Life (1926)
Indian Philosophy – Volume II (1927)
The Religion We Need (1928)
Kalki or the Future of Civilization (1929)
An Idealist View of Life (Hibbert Lectures) (1932)
East and West in Religion (1933)
The Heart of Hindustan (1936)
Freedom and Culture (1936)
Contemporary Indian Philosophy (1936)
Religion in Transition (1937)
Gautama, the Buddha (British Academy Lectures) (1938)
Eastern Religions and Western Thought (1939)
Mahatma Gandhi (Essays and Reflections on his Life and Work) (1939)
India and China (1944)
Education, Politics and War (A collection of addresses) (1944)
Is this Peace? (1945)
Religion and Society (Kamala Lectures) (1947)
The Bhagavadgita (1948)
Great Indians (1949)
The Dhammapada (1950)
An Anthology (Of Radhakrishnan Writings) (1952)
The Religion of the Spirit and World’s Need: Fragments of a Confession (1952)
History of Philosophy in Eastern and Western (2 Vols.) (1952)
The Principal upaniShads (1953)
East and West: Some Reflections (First series in Bently Memorial Lectures) (1955)
Recovery of Faith (1956)
Occasional Speeches and Writings – Vol I (1956), Vol II (1957)
A Source Book in Indian Philosophy (1957)
The Brahma-sutra: The Philosophy of Spiritual Life (1960)
The Concept of Man (1960)
Fellowship of Faiths (Opening address to the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard) (1961)
Occasional Speeches [July 1959 – May 1962] (1963)
President Radhakrishnan’s Speeches and Writings 1962-1964 (1965)
On Nehru (1965)
Religion in a Changing World (1967)
President Radhakrishnan’s Speeches and Writings 1964-1967 (1969)
Radhakrishnan Reader: An Anthology (1969)
The Creative Life (1975)
Living with a Purpose (1977)
True Knowledge (1978)
Indian Religions (1979)
Towards a New World (1980)

This teachers’ day let’s all salute Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a philosopher who took Indian Philosophy to the world’s attention and above all a great teacher of all times.

Famous Quotes of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

 “Spiritual life is the genius of India.”

“Religion is the conquest of fear; the antidote to failure and death.”

“Faith in conceptual reason is the logical counterpart of the egoism which makes the selfish ego the deadliest ego of the soul.”

“Human nature is fundamentally good, and the spread of enlightenment will abolish all wrong.”

“Maanav ka daanav hona uski haar hai, maanav ka maha Manav hona uska chamtkaar hai. manusya ka maanav hona uski jit hai.”

“It is said that a man without religion is like a horse without the bridle.”

“Nations, like individuals, are made, not only by what” they acquire, but by what they resign.”

“Human life as we have it is only the raw material for Human life as it might be.”

“No one who holds himself aloof from the activities of the world and who is insensitive to its woes can be really wise.”

“Only the man of serene mind can realize the spiritual meaning of life. Honesty with oneself is the condition of spiritual integrity.”

“The prophets of spirit make history just by standing outside history.”

“Reading a book gives us the habit of solitary reflection and true enjoyment.  ”

“The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature.  ”

“We must recall humanity to those moral roots from which both order and freedom spring.”

“A literary genius, it is said, resembles all, though no one resembles him.  ”

“All our world organizations will prove ineffective if the truth that love is stronger than hate does not inspire them.”

“To look upon life as an evil and treat the world as delusion is sheer ingratitude.”

“Death is never an end or obstacle but at most the beginning of new steps.”

“It is not God that is worshiped but the group or authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority not a violation of integrity.”

“A life of joy and happiness is possible only on the basis of knowledge and science.”

“The poet’s religion has no place for any fixed doctrine. Religion is an endless adventure of man’s entire being towards a truth which is revealed in this very quest.  ”

“Democracy is a faith in the spiritual possibilities of not a privileged few but of every human being.  ”

“Books are the means by which we build bridges between cultures.  ”

“Age or youth is not a matter of chronology. We are as young or as old as we tell. What we think about ourselves is what matters.”

Happy teachers’ Day to all.

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