Thursday, Sep 05, 2002
Front Page |
Southern States |
Other States |
Advts: Classifieds | Employment | Obituary |
By Prema Nandakumar
Quite a few years ago we decided to celebrate Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's birthday as the Teachers' Day. September 5 has thus become identified with a celebratory topsy-turvydom in classrooms where students often dress up as teachers and manage classes. But do the teachers themselves take in the significance seriously and try to emulate that great teacher who became a living legend? It is an increasingly sad spectacle when we see teachers taking to the streets in hunger strikes, dharnas and processions to condemn this or demand that. They would do well to get back to the life and works of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and learn how hard work and talent never fail to get recognised sooner or later.
As Radhakrishnan mentioned in his autobiographical essay, My Search for Truth, he was born on September 5, 1888, and did not have ``any advantages of birth or of wealth''. But the thirst for education led him to the Voorhee's College, Vellore, on a scholarship. He passed his first arts examination with distinction in 1904. This enabled him to study at the Madras Christian College with a scholarship. The amount from the scholarship was meagre so he had to choose philosophy as he could get the books free from a cousin who had just then graduated with the subject.
Instead of moaning and cursing his lot that had prevented him from joining physical sciences, Radhakrishnan simply strode forward helped only by his very untiring work under the most trying circumstances.
The acharya in him was shaped by great teachers like William Miller, William Skinner and A.G. Hogg. He took his degree in 1906 and tried to take Law. Once again the means eluded him. He had to accept a scholarship of Rs.25 a month and joined the M.A. class. He augmented his income by giving private tuitions. These hard days crystallised his aim. If he could not become a scientist or a lawyer, he would become a teacher and reach the highest heights in Vedantic philosophy.
A voracious reader, he recognised the strong bonds that held together the sacred and the secular in Indian life. After all, India was the richest in its philosophical and spiritual treasures, and he could be an achiever of high value in this discipline as well.
Radhakrishnan passed his M.A. with distinction. He now aspired to go abroad for higher studies but once again had to curb his desire. His family needed his support and so he joined a small post in the Madras Educational Service. The external circumstances never bothered him as he tried to hone his teaching skills with an L.T. degree and very soon became a well-known teacher. He also began writing and his handbook, Essentials of Psychology was published by the Oxford University Press in 1912.
From now on, there was no looking back both in his teaching and writing careers. The astonishing phenomenon of Radhakrishnan was based solely on very hard work. He taught in the universities of Mysore, Andhra, Calcutta, Benares and Oxford; he was Vice-Chancellor of Benares and Andhra Universities.
His ceaseless industry and attention to detail backed by his vision brought him success everywhere. He was our Ambassador to Russia, presided over the Rajya Sabha as our Vice-President and gave us courage and strength as the President during the Chinese aggression. With visionary foresight, he also saw to it that we did not become heady with the wine of success during the Pakistan War in 1965.
For one who led a very, very active life, it is amazing that he found time to write so many significant books. Even a select bibliography can take our breath away! Indian Philosophy (two volumes), The Hindu View of Life, Kalki, or the Future of Civilization, Eastern Religions and Western Thought, The Reign of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy. And, many, many more. There were translations, commentaries, and critical introductions. How could he do it all! Ah, he never struck work for even an hour!
Radhakrishnan's enormous scholarship, however, did not distance him from the present. He thought deeply and passionately about the problems confronting the nation. Thus, he felt that with a little understanding, and readiness to learn, the communal divide could be bridged effectively, making the nation invincible in the future.
Degrees and promotions are welcome. But one should not pursue these mindlessly and give up the life-long pursuit of knowledge, which is the lot of a teacher.
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |
Copyright © 2002, The
Hindu. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of