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Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (5 September 1888 – 17 April 1975) was born in the pilgrim town of Tirutani, Was scholar and statesman who was the first Vice President of India (1952–1962) and the second President of India from 1962 to 1967.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had his early education at Gowdie School, Tiruvallur and then went to the Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati for his high school. He joined the Voorhee’s College in Vellore and later switched to the Madras Christian College. He chose Philosophy as his major subject and did his B.A. and M.A. in it.
After completing his M.A., Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, accepted an Assistant Lectureship at the Madras Presidency College in 1909. In college, he mastered the classics of Hindu philosophy, namely the Upanishads, Bhagvad Gita, Brahmasutra, and commentaries of Sankara, Ramunuja and Madhava. He also acquainted himself with Buddhist and Jain philosophy and philosophies of Western thinkers such as Plato, Plotinus, Kant, Bradley, and Bergson.
Radhakrishnan wrote a thesis on the ethics of the Vedanta titled “The Ethics of the Vedanta and Its Metaphysical Presuppositions”, which was a reply to the charge that the Vedanta system had no room for ethics. Professor A.G. Hogg awarded the following testimonial for this thesis:
“The thesis which he prepared in the second year of his study for this degree shows a remarkable understanding of the main aspects of the philosophical problems, a capacity for handling easily a complex argument besides more than the average mastery of good English”.
The thesis indicates the general trend of Radhakrishnan’s thoughts… In his own words, “Religious feeling must establish itself as a rational way of living. If ever the spirit is to be at home in this world, and not merely a prisoner or a fugitive, spiritual foundations must be laid deep and preserved worthily. Religion must express itself in reasonable thought, fruitful action and right social institutions.”
In 1918, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was selected as Professor of Philosophy by the University of Mysore. In 1921, Radhakrishnan was nominated as Professor of Philosophy at the Calcutta University, 1921. This eminent teacher was appointed as the Vice Chancellor of ‘Benaras Hindu Unviersity’ in 1939, when the nation was still under British rule. The British Governor of the region back then, Sir Maurice Hallet, wanted to turn the University campus into a war hospital, which was the latter’s way of responding to the ‘Quit India Movement’ started by Mahatma Gandhi. Dr. Radhakrishnan strongly opposed this politically motivated thought of Hallet, as a result of which financial support to the university was stalled. Dr. Radhakrishnan personally approached philanthropists and thinkers across the country to raise funds, in a bid to keep the university functioning.
He was also appointed as ambassador to UNESCO in 1946 and went on further to be appointed as ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1949 during which he established a strong relationship with them