Radhakrishnan was one of the leading scholars of comparative religion and philosophy in his days he built a bridge between Eastern and Western thought showing each to be predictable within the terms of the other. He introduced Western idealism into Indian philosophy. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first scholar of importance to provide a comprehensive interpretation of India's religious and philosophical literature to English speaking people. He became Vice President of India in 1952 and was elected President of India in 1962; he held the office until 1967.
Early Life of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born on 5th September, 1888, to the parents Sarvepalli Veeraswami and Sitamma, at Tiruttani (now in Thiruvallur District), a town in Tamil Nadu, India. Radhakrishnan spent his early years in Tiruttani and Tirupati.
He completed his primary education from Gowdie School and higher education from P.M. High School, Gajulamandyam, Renigunta. He also studied at the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheral Mission School, Tirupati. Later, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was admitted to the Voorhees College in Vellore, but then shifted to the Madras Christian College. He graduated with a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the University of Madras, in 1906.
Career of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was appointed to the Department of Philosophy at Madras Presidency College in 1909. He became the Professor of Philosophy for the University of Mysore in 1918. He had also written many articles for reputed journals. In 1921, he was appointed as a professor to the most important philosophy chair in India, the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta. He represented the Calcutta University at the Congress of the Universities of the British Empire and the International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard University in 1926.
In 1929, Radhakrishnan was appointed as the Principal at Harris Manchester College, where he gave lectures to the students of the University of Oxford on Comparative Religion. In 1931, he was knighted by George V. However, he did not prefer to use the title, rather he was known by his academic title of Doctor.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan worked as the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University from 1931. In 1936, he was named Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford, and became a Fellow of All Souls College. After the Indian independence, he represented the country at UNESCO and later was appointed as the Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union (1949-1952). He was also elected to the Constituent Assembly of India. Radhakrishnan was elected as the first Vice President of India in 1952 and subsequently became the president of India (1962-1967).
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan also formed the Krishnarpan Charity Trust, along with some social workers.
Philosophical Achievements of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan argued that Western philosophers, despite all claims to objectivity, were partial towards theological influences from their wider culture. He wrote books on Indian philosophy based on Western academic standards. In his major work, Idealist View of Life, Radhakrishnan made a powerful case for the importance of natural thinking as opposed to purely intellectual forms of thought. He is well known for having commented on the Prasthana Trayi of the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutra.
Awards Received by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was appointed as a Knight Bachelor in the year 1931. He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 1938. He was also awarded the Bharat Ratnain 1954 and the Order of Merit in 1963. A few months before his death, Radhakrishnan received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the Templeton Prize in 1975. The Oxford University in his memory initiated the Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships and the Radhakrishnan Memorial Award.
Personal Life of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan married Sivakamu, one of his cousins, when he was only 16 years old. They had a son, Sarvepalli Gopal, and 5 daughters. His wife died in the year 1956 and the couple had been married for almost 51 years.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan died on 17th April, 1975, at the age of 86, in Chennai, India.
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