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Teachers Day Essay In Hindi Wikipedia Encyclopedia

For other uses, see Guru (disambiguation).

Guru (Sanskrit: गुरु. IAST: guru) is a Sanskrit term that connotes someone who is a "teacher, guide, expert, or master" of certain knowledge or field.[1] In pan-Indian traditions, guru is someone more than a teacher, in sanskrit Guru means the one who dispels the darkness and takes towards light, traditionally a reverential figure to the student, with the guru serving as a "counselor, who helps mold values, shares experiential knowledge as much as literal knowledge, an exemplar in life, an inspirational source and who helps in the spiritual evolution of a student".[2] The term also refers to someone who primarily is one's spiritual guide, who helps one to discover the same potentialities that the gurus already realized.[3]

The oldest references to the concept of guru are found in the earliest Vedic texts of Hinduism.[2] The guru, and gurukul – a school run by guru, were an established tradition in India by the 1st millennium BCE, and these helped compose and transmit the various Vedas, the Upanishads, texts of various schools of Hindu philosophy, and post-Vedic Shastras ranging from spiritual knowledge to various arts.[2][4][5] By about mid 1st millennium CE, archaeological and epigraphical evidence suggest numerous larger institutions of gurus existed in India, some near Hindu temples, where guru-shishya tradition helped preserve, create and transmit various fields of knowledge.[5] These gurus led broad ranges of studies including Hindu scriptures, Buddhist texts, grammar, philosophy, martial arts, music and painting.[5][6]

The tradition of guru is also found in Jainism, referring to a spiritual preceptor, a role typically served by a Jain ascetic.[7][8] In Sikhism, the guru tradition has played a key role since its founding in the 15th century, its founder is referred to as Guru Nanak, and its scripture as Guru Granth Sahib.[9][10] The guru concept has thrived in Vajrayāna Buddhism, where the tantric guru is considered a figure to worship and whose instructions should never be violated.[11][12]

In the Western world, the term is sometimes used in a derogatory way to refer to individuals who have allegedly exploited their followers' naiveté, particularly in certain tantra schools, self-help, hippie and other new religious movements.[13]

Guru is not just a person but it is considered as the divine guiding energy which helps humanity to realise its true nature. This energy works through an able person who is pure enough to hold it. This is the reason in Hinduism Guru is considered as God himself.

Definition and etymology[edit]

The word guru (Sanskrit: गुरु), a noun, connotes "teacher" in Sanskrit, but in Indian traditions it has contextual meanings with significance beyond what teacher means in English.[2] The guru is more than someone who teaches specific type of knowledge, and includes in its scope someone who is also a "counselor, a sort of parent of mind and soul, who helps mold values and experiential knowledge as much as specific knowledge, an exemplar in life, an inspirational source and who reveals the meaning of life."[2] The word has the same meaning in other languages derived from or borrowing words from Sanskrit, such as Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Bengali, Gujarati and Nepali. The Malayalam term Acharyan or Asan are derived from the Sanskrit word Acharya.

As a noun the word means the imparter of knowledge (jñāna; also Pali: ñāna). As an adjective, it means 'heavy,' or 'weighty,' in the sense of "heavy with knowledge,"[Note 1] heavy with spiritual wisdom,[15] "heavy with spiritual weight,"[16] "heavy with the good qualities of scriptures and realization,"[17] or "heavy with a wealth of knowledge."[18] The word has its roots in the Sanskrit gri (to invoke, or to praise), and may have a connection to the word gur, meaning 'to raise, lift up, or to make an effort'.[19]

Sanskrit guru is cognate with Latin gravis 'heavy; grave, weighty, serious'[20] and Greek βαρύς barus 'heavy'. All three derive from the Proto-Indo-Europeanroot*gʷerə-, specifically from the zero-grade form *gʷr̥ə-.[21]

Darkness and light[edit]

गुशब्दस्त्वन्धकारः स्यात्‌ रुशब्दस्तन्निरोधकः।
अन्धकारनिरोधित्वात्‌ गुरुरित्यभिधीयते॥ १६॥

The syllable gu means darkness, the syllable ru, he who dispels them,
Because of the power to dispel darkness, the guru is thus named.

— Advayataraka Upanishad, Verse 16[22][23]

Another etymological theory considers the term "guru" to be based on the syllables gu (गु) and ru (रु), which it claims stands for darkness and "light that dispels it", respectively.[Note 2] The guru is seen as the one who "dispels the darkness of ignorance."[Note 3][Note 4][26]

Reender Kranenborg disagrees, stating that darkness and light have nothing to do with the word guru. He describes this as a folk etymology.[Note 5]

Joel Mlecko states, "Gu means ignorance, and Ru means dispeller," with guru meaning the one who "dispels ignorance, all kinds of ignorance", ranging from spiritual to skills such as dancing, music, sports and others.[28] Karen Pechelis states that, in the popular parlance, the "dispeller of darkness, one who points the way" definition for guru is common in the Indian tradition.[29]

In Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion, Pierre Riffard makes a distinction between "occult" and "scientific" etymologies, citing as an example of the former the etymology of 'guru' in which the derivation is presented as gu ("darkness") and ru ('to push away'); the latter he exemplifies by "guru" with the meaning of 'heavy'.[30]

In Hinduism[edit]

Further information: list of Hindu gurus

The Guru is an ancient and central figure in the traditions of Hinduism.[28] The ultimate liberation, contentment, freedom in the form of moksha and inner perfection is considered achievable in the Hindu belief by two means: with the help of guru, and with evolution through the process of karma including rebirth in some schools of Hindu philosophy.[28] At an individual level in Hinduism, the Guru is many things, including being a teacher of skills, a counselor, one who helps in the birth of mind and realization of one's soul, who instils values and experiential knowledge, an exemplar, an inspiration and who helps guide a student's (śiṣya) spiritual development.[28] At a social and religious level, the Guru helps continue the religion and Hindu way of life.[28] Guru thus has a historic, reverential and an important role in the Hindu culture.[2]

Scriptures[edit]

The word Guru is mentioned in the earliest layer of Vedic texts. The hymn 4.5.6 of Rigveda, for example, states Joel Mlecko, describes the guru as, "the source and inspirer of the knowledge of the Self, the essence of reality," for one who seeks.[31]

The Upanishads, that is the later layers of the Vedic text, mention guru. Chandogya Upanishad, in chapter 4.4 for example, declares that it is only through guru that one attains the knowledge that matters, the insights that lead to Self-knowledge.[32] The Katha Upanisad, in verse 1.2.8 declares the guru as indispensable to the acquisition of knowledge.[32] In chapter 3 of Taittiriya Upanishad, human knowledge is described as that which connects the teacher and the student through the medium of exposition, just like a child is the connecting link between the father and the mother through the medium of procreation.[33][34] In the Taittiriya Upanishad, the guru then urges a student, states Mlecko, to "struggle, discover and experience the Truth, which is the source, stay and end of the universe."[32]

The ancient tradition of reverence for the guru in Hindu scriptures is apparent in 6.23 of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, which equates the need of reverence and devotion for guru to be the same as for god,[35][36]

यस्य देवे परा भक्तिः यथा देवे तथा गुरौ
तस्यैते कथिता ह्यर्थाः प्रकाशन्ते महात्मनः ॥ २३ ॥[37]

He who has highest Bhakti (love, devotion)[38] of Deva (god),
just like his Deva, so for his Guru,
To him who is high-minded,
these teachings will be illuminating.

— Shvetashvatara Upanishad 6.23[39][40]

The Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue where Krishna speaks to Arjuna of the role of a guru, and similarly emphasizes in verse 4.34 that those who know their subject well are eager for good students, and the student can learn from such a guru through reverence, service, effort and the process of inquiry.[41][42]

Capabilities, role and methods for helping a student[edit]

The 8th century Hindu text Upadesasahasri of the Advaita Vedanta philosopher Adi Shankara discusses the role of the guru in assessing and guiding students.[43][44] In Chapter 1, he states that teacher is the pilot as the student walks in the journey of knowledge, he is the raft as the student rows. The text describes the need, role and characteristics of a teacher,[45] as follows,

When the teacher finds from signs that knowledge has not been grasped or has been wrongly grasped by the student, he should remove the causes of non-comprehension in the student. This includes the student's past and present knowledge, want of previous knowledge of what constitutes subjects of discrimination and rules of reasoning, behavior such as unrestrained conduct and speech, courting popularity, vanity of his parentage, ethical flaws that are means contrary to those causes. The teacher must enjoin means in the student that are enjoined by the Śruti and Smrti, such as avoidance of anger, Yamas consisting of Ahimsa and others, also the rules of conduct that are not inconsistent with knowledge. He [teacher] should also thoroughly impress upon the student qualities like humility, which are the means to knowledge.

— Adi Shankara, Upadesha Sahasri 1.4-1.5[46][47]

The teacher is one who is endowed with the power of furnishing arguments pro and con, of understanding questions [of the student], and remembers them. The teacher possesses tranquility, self-control, compassion and a desire to help others, who is versed in the Śruti texts (Vedas, Upanishads), and unattached to pleasures here and hereafter, knows the subject and is established in that knowledge. He is never a transgressor of the rules of conduct, devoid of weaknesses such as ostentation, pride, deceit, cunning, jugglery, jealousy, falsehood, egotism and attachment. The teacher's sole aim is to help others and a desire to impart the knowledge.

— Adi Shankara, Upadesha Sahasri 1.6[48]

Adi Shankara presents a series of examples wherein he asserts that the best way to guide a student is not to give immediate answers, but posit dialogue-driven questions that enable the student to discover and understand the answer.[49]

Gurukula and the guru-shishya tradition[edit]

Main articles: Brahmacharya, Guru-shishya tradition, Parampara, and Gurukula

Traditionally, the Guru would live a simple married life, and accept shishya (student, Sanskrit: शिष्य) where he lived. A person would begin a life of study in the Gurukula (the household of the Guru). The process of acceptance included proffering firewood and sometimes a gift to the guru, signifying that the student wants to live with, work and help the guru in maintaining the gurukul, and as an expression of a desire for education in return over several years.[36][50] At the Gurukul, the working student would study the basic traditional vedic sciences and various practical skills-oriented sastras[51] along with the religious texts contained within the Vedas and Upanishads.[4][52][53] The education stage of a youth with a guru was referred to as Brahmacharya, and in some parts of India this followed the Upanayana or Vidyarambha rites of passage.[54][55][56]

The gurukul would be a hut in a forest, or it was, in some cases, a monastery, called a matha or ashram or sampradaya in different parts of India.[6][57][58] These had a lineage of gurus, who would study and focus on certain schools of Hindu philosophy or trade,[51][52] and these were known as guru-shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition).[4] This guru-driven tradition included arts such as sculpture, poetry and music.[59][60]

Inscriptions from 4th century CE suggest the existence of gurukuls around Hindu temples, called Ghatikas or Mathas, where the Vedas were studied.[61] In south India, 9th century Vedic schools attached to Hindu temples were called Calai or Salai, and these provided free boarding and lodging to students and scholars.[62] Archaeological and epigraphical evidence suggests that ancient and medieval era gurukuls near Hindu temples offered wide range of studies, ranging from Hindu scriptures to Buddhist texts, grammar, philosophy, martial arts, music and painting.[5][6]

The Guru (teacher) Shishya (disciple) parampara or guru parampara, occurs where the knowledge (in any field) is passed down through the succeeding generations. It is the traditional, residential form of education, where the Shishya remains and learns with his Guru as a family member. The fields of study in traditional guru-sisya parampara were diverse, ranging from Hindu philosophy, martial arts, music, dance to various Vedangas.[63][64][65]

Gender and caste[edit]

The Hindu texts offer a conflicting view of whether access to guru and education was limited to men and to certain varna (castes).[66][67] The Vedas and the Upanishads never mention any restrictions based either on gender or on varna.[66] The Yajurveda and Atharvaveda texts state that knowledge is for everyone, and offer examples of women and people from all segments of society who are guru and participated in vedic studies.[66][68] The Upanishads assert that one's birth does not determine one's eligibility for spiritual knowledge, only one's effort and sincerity matters.[67]

In theory, the early Dharma-sutras and Dharma-sastras, such as Paraskara Grhyasutra, Gautama Smriti and Yajnavalkya smriti, state all four varnas are eligible to all fields of knowledge; while verses of Manusmriti state that Vedic study is available only to men of three varnas, unavailable to Shudra and women.[66][67][Note 6] In practice, state Stella Kramrisch and others, the guru tradition and availability of education extended to all segments of ancient and medieval society.[60][71][72] Lise McKean states the guru concept has been prevalent over the range of class and caste backgrounds, and the disciples a guru attracts come from both genders and a range of classes and castes.[73] During the bhakti movement of Hinduism, which started in about mid 1st millennium CE, the gurus included women and members of all varna.[74][75][76]

Attributes[edit]

The Advayataraka Upanishad states that the true teacher is a master in the field of knowledge, well-versed in the Vedas, is free from envy, knows yoga, lives a simple life that of a yogi, has realized the knowledge of the Atman (Soul, Self).[77] Some scriptures and gurus have warned against false teachers, and have recommended that the spiritual seeker test the guru before accepting him. Swami Vivekananda said that there are many incompetent gurus, and that a true guru should understand the spirit of the scriptures, have a pure character and be free from sin, and should be selfless, without desire for money and fame.[78][full citation needed]

According to the Indologist Georg Feuerstein, in some traditions of Hinduism, when one reaches the state of Self-knowledge, one's own soul becomes the guru.[77] In Tantra, states Feuerstein, the guru is the "ferry who leads one across the ocean of existence."[79] A true guru guides and counsels a student's spiritual development because, states Yoga-Bija, endless logic and grammar leads to confusion, and not contentment.[79] However, various Hindu texts caution prudence and diligence in finding the right guru, and avoiding the wrong ones.[80] For example, in Kula-Arnava text states the following guidance:

Gurus are as numerous as lamps in every house. But, O-Goddess, difficult to find is a guru who lights up everything like a sun.
Gurus who are proficient in the Vedas, textbooks and so on are numerous. But, O Goddess, difficult to find is a guru who is proficient in the supreme Truth.
Gurus who rob their disciples of their wealth are numerous. But, O Goddess, difficult to find is a guru who removes the disciples' suffering.
Numerous here on earth are those who are intent on social class, stage of life and family. But he who is devoid of all concerns is a guru difficult to find.
An intelligent man should choose a guru by whom supreme Bliss is attained, and only such a guru and none other.

— Kula-Arnava, 13.104 - 13.110, Translated by Georg Feuerstein[80]

A true guru is, asserts Kula-Arnava, one who lives the simple virtuous life he preaches, is stable and firm in his knowledge, master yogi with the knowledge of Self (soul) and Brahman (ultimate reality).[80] The guru is one who initiates, transmits, guides, illuminates, debates and corrects a student in the journey of knowledge and of self-realization.[81] The attribute of the successful guru is to help make the disciple into another guru, one who transcends him, and becomes a guru unto himself, driven by inner spirituality and principles.[81]

In modern Hinduism[edit]

See also: Contemporary Hindu movements

In modern neo-Hinduism, Kranenborg states guru may refer to entirely different concepts, such as a spiritual advisor, or someone who performs traditional rituals outside a temple, or an enlightened master in the field of tantra or yoga or eastern arts who derives his authority from his experience, or a reference by a group of devotees of a sect to someone considered a god-like Avatar by the sect.[27]

The tradition of reverence for guru continues in several denominations within modern Hinduism, but he or she is typically never considered as a prophet, but one who points the way to spirituality, Oneness of being, and meaning in life.[82][83][85]

In Buddhism[edit]

Further information: Tibetan Buddhism

In some forms of Buddhism, states Rita Gross, the concept of Guru is of supreme importance.[86]

In Vajrayana Buddhism's Tantric teachings, the rituals require the guidance of a guru.[11] The guru is considered essential and to the Buddhist devotee, the guru is the "enlightened teacher and ritual master", states Stephen Berkwitz.[11] The guru is known as the vajra guru (literally "diamond guru").[87] Initiations or ritual empowerments are necessary before the student is permitted to practice a particular tantra, in Vajrayana Buddhist sects found in Tibet and South Asia.[11] The tantras state that the guru is equivalent to Buddha, states Berkwitz, and is a figure to worship and whose instructions should never be violated.[11][12][88]

The guru is the Buddha, the guru is the Dhamma, and the guru is the Sangha. The guru is the glorious Vajradhara, in this life only the guru is the means [to awakening]. Therefore, someone wishing to attain the state of Buddhahood should please the guru.

— Guhyasanaya Sadhanamala 28, 12th-century[11]

There are Four Kinds of Lama (Guru) or spiritual teacher[89] (Tib. lama nampa shyi) in Tibetan Buddhism:

  1. gangzak gyüpé lama — the individual teacher who is the holder of the lineage
  2. gyalwa ka yi lama — the teacher which is the word of the buddhas
  3. nangwa da yi lama — the symbolic teacher of all appearances
  4. rigpa dön gyi lama — the absolute teacher, which is rigpa, the true nature of mind

In various Buddhist traditions, there are equivalent words for guru, which include Shastri (teacher), Kalyana Mitra (friendly guide, Pali: Kalyāṇa-mittatā), Acarya (master), and Vajra-Acarya (hierophant).[90] The guru is literally understood as "weighty", states Alex Wayman, and it refers to the Buddhist tendency to increase the weight of canons and scriptures with their spiritual studies.[90] In Mahayana Buddhism, a term for Buddha is Bhaisajya guru, which refers to "medicine guru", or "a doctor who cures suffering with the medicine of his teachings".[91][92]

In Jainism[edit]

Guru is the spiritual preceptor in Jainism, and typically a role served by Jain ascetics.[7][8] The guru is one of three fundamental tattva (categories), the other two being dharma (teachings) and deva (divinity).[93] The guru-tattva is what leads a lay person to the other two tattva.[93] In some communities of the Śvētāmbara sect of Jainism, a traditional system of guru-disciple lineage exists.[94]

The guru is revered in Jainism ritually with Guru-vandan or Guru-upashti, where respect and offerings are made to the guru, and the guru sprinkles a small amount of vaskep (a scented powder mixture of sandalwood, saffron, and camphor) on the devotee's head with a mantra or blessings.[95]

In Sikhism[edit]

For other uses, see Radhakrishnan (disambiguation).

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan listen (help·info) (5 September 1888 – 17 April 1975) was an Indian philosopher and statesman who was the firstVice President of India (1952–1962) and the secondPresident of India from 1962 to 1967.[web 1]

One of India's most distinguished twentieth-century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy,[2][web 2] his academic appointments included professor of Philosophy at the University of Mysore (1918-1921), the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta (1921–1932) and Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at University of Oxford (1936–1952).

His philosophy was grounded in Advaita Vedanta, reinterpreting this tradition for a contemporary understanding.[web 2] He defended Hinduism against "uninformed Western criticism", contributing to the formation of contemporary Hindu identity. He has been influential in shaping the understanding of Hinduism, in both India and the west, and earned a reputation as a bridge-builder between India and the West.[5]

Radhakrishnan was awarded several high awards during his life, including a knighthood in 1931, the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, in 1954, and honorary membership of the British Royal Order of Merit in 1963. Radhakrishnan believed that "teachers should be the best minds in the country". Since 1962, his birthday is being celebrated in India as Teachers' Day on 5 September.[web 3]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in a Telugu-speaking Niyogi Brahmin family, in a village Thiruttani in the erstwhile Chittoor district of Madras Presidency near the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states.His surname was Sarvepalli, for his forefathers were from Sarvepalli, a village fifteen miles from Nellore town of Andhra Pradesh. his grand father migrated to Tiruttani in erstwhile Chittoor district of the Madras Presidency.[6][7] His father's name was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and his mother's name was Sarvepalli Sita (Sitamma). His early years were spent in Thiruttani and Tirupati. His father was a subordinate revenue official in the service of a local zamindar (local landlord). His primary education was at K.V High School at Thiruttani. In 1896 he moved to the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati and Government Higher Secondary School, Walajapet.[8]

Education[edit]

Radhakrishnan was awarded scholarships throughout his academic life. He joined Voorhees College in Vellore but switched to the Madras Christian College at the age of 17. He graduated from there in 1906 with a master's degree in Philosophy, being one of its most distinguished alumni.[9]

Radhakrishnan studied philosophy by chance rather than choice. Being a financially constrained student, when a cousin who graduated from the same college passed on his philosophy textbooks in to Radhakrishnan, it automatically decided his academic course.[10][11]

Radhakrishnan wrote his thesis for the M.A. degree on "The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions".[12] It "was intended to be a reply to the charge that the Vedanta system had no room for ethics." He was afraid that this M.A. thesis would offend his philosophy professor, Dr. Alfred George Hogg. Instead, Hogg commended Radhakrishnan on having done most excellent work.[citation needed] Radhakrishnan's thesis was published when he was only twenty. According to Radhakrishnan himself, the criticism of Hogg and other Christian teachers of Indian culture "disturbed my faith and shook the traditional props on which I leaned." Radhakrishnan himself describes how, as a student,

The challenge of Christian critics impelled me to make a study of Hinduism and find out what is living and what is dead in it. My pride as a Hindu, roused by the enterprise and eloquence of Swami Vivekananda, was deeply hurt by the treatment accorded to Hinduism in missionary institutions.

This led him to his critical study of Indian philosophy and religion and a lifelong defence of Hinduism against "uninformed Western criticism".

Marriage and family[edit]

Radhakrishnan was married to Sivakamu,[note 1] a distant cousin, at the age of 16.[14] As per tradition the marriage was arranged by the family. The couple had five daughters and a son, Sarvepalli Gopal. Sarvepalli Gopal went on to a notable career as a historian. Sivakamu died in 1956. They were married for over 51 years.

Academic career[edit]

In April 1909, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was appointed to the Department of Philosophy at the Madras Presidency College. Thereafter, in 1918, he was selected as Professor of Philosophy by the University of Mysore, where he taught at its Maharaja's College, Mysore. [web 4][15] By that time he had written many articles for journals of repute like The Quest, Journal of Philosophy and the International Journal of Ethics. He also completed his first book, The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore. He believed Tagore's philosophy to be the "genuine manifestation of the Indian spirit". His second book, The Reign of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy was published in 1920.

In 1921 he was appointed as a professor in philosophy to occupy the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta. He represented the University of Calcutta at the Congress of the Universities of the British Empire in June 1926 and the International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard University in September 1926. Another important academic event during this period was the invitation to deliver the Hibbert Lecture on the ideals of life which he delivered at Harris Manchester College, Oxford in 1929 and which was subsequently published in book form as An Idealist View of Life.

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. For his services to education he was knighted by George V in the June 1931 Birthday Honours,[web 5] and formally invested with his honour by the Governor-General of India, the Earl of Willingdon, in April 1932.[web 6] However, he ceased to use the title after Indian independence,[16]:9 preferring instead his academic title of 'Doctor'.

He was the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University from 1931 to 1936. In 1936 Radhakrishnan was named Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford, and was elected a Fellow of All Souls College. That same year, and again in 1937, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, although this nomination process, as for all laureates, was not public at the time. Further nominations for the award would continue steadily into the 1960s. In 1939 Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya invited him to succeed him as the Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He served as its Vice-Chancellor till January 1948.

Political career[edit]

See also: British Raj, Indian independence movement, and Indian Independence Act 1947

Radhakrishnan started his political career "rather late in life", after his successful academic career. His international authority preceded his political career. In 1931 he was nominated to the League of Nations Committee for Intellectual Cooperation, where after "in Western eyes he was the recognized Hindu authority on Indian ideas and a persuasive interpreter of the role of Eastern institutions in contemporary society." When India became independent in 1947, 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).

Radhakrishnan did not have a background in the Congress Party, nor was he active in the struggle against British rules. He was the politician in shadow. His motivation lay in his pride of Hindu culture, and the defence of Hinduism against "uninformed Western criticism". According to Brown,

He had always defended Hindu culture against uninformed Western criticism and had symbolized the pride of Indians in their own intellectual traditions.

Teachers' Day[edit]

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

"Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5th is observed as Teachers' Day."

[citation needed] His birthday has since been celebrated as Teachers' Day in India.[web 7]

Charity[edit]

Along with Ghanshyam Das Birla and some other social workers in the pre-independence era, Radhakrishnan formed the Krishnarpan Charity Trust

Philosophy[edit]

Radhakrishnan tried to bridge eastern and western thought, defending Hinduism against "uninformed Western criticism", but also incorporating Western philosophical and religious thought.

Advaita Vedanta[edit]

Radhakrishnan was one of the most prominent spokesmen of Neo-Vedanta. His metaphysics was grounded in Advaita Vedanta, but he reinterpreted Advaita Vedanta for a contemporary understanding.[web 2] He acknowledged the reality and diversity of the world of experience, which he saw as grounded in and supported by the absolute or Brahman.[web 2][note 2] Radhakrishnan also reinterpreted Shankara's notion of maya. According to Radhakrishnan, maya is not a strict absolute idealism, but "a subjective misperception of the world as ultimately real."[web 2]

Intuition and religious experience[edit]

See also: Mystical experience and Religious experience

"Intuition", or anubhava,[web 2] synonymously called "religious experience",[web 2] has a central place in Radhakrishnan's philosophy as a source of knowledge which is not mediated by conscious thought. His specific interest in experience can be traced back to the works of William James (1842–1910), Francis Herbert Bradley (1846–1924), Henri Bergson (1859–1941), and Friedrich von Hügel (1852–1925), and to Vivekananda, who had a strong influence on Radhakrisnan's thought. According to Radhakrishnan, intuition is of a self-certifying character (svatassiddha), self-evidencing (svāsaṃvedya), and self-luminous (svayam-prakāsa).[web 2] In his book An Idealist View of Life, he made a powerful case for the importance of intuitive thinking as opposed to purely intellectual forms of thought.[web 9] According to Radhakrishnan, intuition plays a specific role in all kinds of experience.[web 2] Radhakrishnan discernes five sorts of experience:[web 2]

  1. Cognitive Experience:
    1. Sense Experience
    2. Discursive Reasoning
    3. Intuitive Apprehension
  2. Psychic Experience
  3. Aesthetic Experience
  4. Ethical Experience
  5. Religious Experience

Classification of religions[edit]

For Radhakrishnan, theology and creeds are intellectual formulations, and symbols of religious experience or "religious intuitions".[web 2] Radhakrishnan qualified the variety of religions hierarchically according to their apprehension of "religious experience", giving Advaita Vedanta the highest place:[web 2][note 3]

  1. The worshippers of the Absolute
  2. The worshippers of the personal God
  3. The worshippers of the incarnations like Rama, Kṛiṣhṇa, Buddha
  4. Those who worship ancestors, deities and sages
  5. The worshippers of the petty forces and spirits

Radhakrishnan saw Hinduism as a scientific religion based on facts, apprehended via intuition or religious experience.[web 2] According to Radhakrishnan, "[i]f philosophy of religion is to become scientific, it must become empirical and found itself on religious experience".[web 2] He saw this empiricism exemplified in the Vedas:

The truths of the ṛṣis are not evolved as the result of logical reasoning or systematic philosophy but are the products of spiritual intuition, dṛṣti or vision. The ṛṣis are not so much the authors of the truths recorded in the Vedas as the seers who were able to discern the eternal truths by raising their life-spirit to the plane of universal spirit. They are the pioneer researchers in the realm of the spirit who saw more in the world than their followers. Their utterances are not based on transitory vision but on a continuous experience of resident life and power. When the Vedas are regarded as the highest authority, all that is meant is that the most exacting of all authorities is the authority of facts.[web 2]

From his writings collected as The Hindu View of Life, Upton Lectures, Delivered at Manchester College, Oxford, 1926: "Hinduism insists on our working steadily upwards in improving our knowledge of God. The worshippers of the absolute are of the highest rank; second to them are the worshippers of the personal God; then come the worshippers of the incarnations of Rama, Krishna, Buddha; below them are those who worship deities, ancestors, and sages, and lowest of all are the worshippers of petty forces and spirits. The deities of some men are in water (i.e., bathing places), those of the most advanced are in the heavens, those of the children (in religion) are in the images of wood and stone, but the sage finds his God in his deeper self. The man of action finds his God in fire, the man of feeling in the heart, and the feeble minded in the idol, but the strong in spirit find God everywhere". The seers see the supreme in the self, and not the images."

To Radhakrishnan, Advaita Vedanta was the best representative of Hinduism, as being grounded in intuition, in contrast to the "intellectually mediated interpretations"[web 2] of other religions.[web 2][note 4] He objected against charges of "quietism"[note 5] and "world denial", instead stressing the need and ethic of social service, giving a modern interpretation of classical terms as tat-tvam-asi. According to Radhakrishnan, Vedanta offers the most direct intuitive experience and inner realisation, which makes it the highest form of religion:

The Vedanta is not a religion, but religion itself in its most universal and deepest significance.[web 2]

Radhakrishnan saw other religions, "including what Radhakrishnan understands as lower forms of Hinduism,"[web 2] as interpretations of Advaita Vedanta, thereby Hinduizing all religions.[web 2]

Although Radhakrishnan was well-acquainted with western culture and philosophy, he was also critical of them. He stated that Western philosophers, despite all claims to objectivity, were influenced by theological influences of their own culture.[34]

Influence[edit]

Radhakrishnan was one of India's best and most influential twentieth-century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy.[2][web 2]

Radhakrishnan's defence of the Hindu traditions has been highly influential, both in India and the western world. In India, Radhakrishnan's ideas contributed to the formation of India as a nation-state. Radhakrishnan's writings contributed to the hegemonic status of Vedanta as "the essential worldview of Hinduism". In the western world, Radhakrishnan's interpretations of the Hindu tradition, and his emphasis on "spiritual experience", made Hinduism more readily accessible for a western audience, and contributed to the influence Hinduism has on modern spirituality:

In figures such as Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan we witness Vedanta traveling to the West, where it nourished the spiritual hunger of Europeans and Americans in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Appraisal[edit]

Radhakrishnan has been highly appraised. According to Paul Artur Schillp:

Nor would it be possible to find a more excellent example of a living "bridge" between the East and the West than Professor Radhakrishnan. Steeped, as Radhakrishnan has been since his childhood, in the life, traditions, and philosophical heritage of his native India, he has also struck deep roots in Western philosophy, which he has been studying tirelessly ever since his undergraduate college-days in Madras Christian College, and in which he is as thoroughly at home as any Western philosopher.

And according to Hawley:

Radhakrishnan's concern for experience and his extensive knowledge of the Western philosophical and literary traditions has earned him the reputation of being a bridge-builder between India and the West. He often appears to feel at home in the Indian as well as the Western philosophical contexts, and draws from both Western and Indian sources throughout his writing. Because of this, Radhakrishnan has been held up in academic circles as a representative of Hinduism to the West. His lengthy writing career and his many published works have been influential in shaping the West's understanding of Hinduism, India, and the East.[web 2]

Criticism and context[edit]

Radhakrishnan's ideas have also received criticism and challenges, for their perennialist and universalist claims, and the use of an East-West dichotomy.[web 2]

Perennialism[edit]

Main article: Perennial philosophy

According to Radhakrishnan, there is not only an underlying "divine unity" from the seers of the Upanishads up to modern Hindus like Tagore and Gandhi, but also "an essential commonality between philosophical and religious traditions from widely disparate cultures." This is also a major theme in the works of Rene Guenon, the Theosophical Society, and the contemporary popularity of eastern religions in modern spirituality. Since the 1970s, the Perennialist position has been criticised for its essentialism. Social-constructionists give an alternative approach to religious experience, in which such "experiences" are seen as being determined and mediated by cultural determants:[note 6] As Michaels notes:

Religions, too, rely not so much on individual experiences or on innate feelings – like a sensus numinosus (Rudolf Otto) – but rather on behavioral patterns acquired and learned in childhood.

Rinehart also points out that "perennialist claims notwithstanding, modern Hindu thought is a product of history", which "has been worked out and expressed in a variety of historical contexts over the preceding two hundreds years." This is also true for Radhakrishan, who was educated by missionaries and, like other neo-Vedantins used the prevalent western understanding of India and its culture to present an alternative to the western critique.

Universalism, communalism and Hindu nationalism[edit]

According to Richard King, the elevation of Vedanta as the essence of Hinduism, and Advaita Vedanta as the "paradigmatic example of the mystical nature of the Hindu religion" by colonial Indologists but also neo-Vedantins served well for the Hindu nationalists, who further popularised this notion of Advaita Vedanta as the pinnacle of Indian religions. It

...provided an opportunity for the construction of a nationalist ideology that could unite Hindus in their struggle against colonial oppression.

This "opportunity" has been criticised. According to Sucheta Mazumdar and Vasant Kaiwar,

... Indian nationalist leaders continued to operate within the categorical field generated by politicized religion [...] Extravagant claims were made on behalf of Oriental civilization. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's statement – "[t]he Vedanta is not a religion but religion itself in its "most universal and deepest significance" – is fairly typical.

Rinehart also criticises the inclusivism of Radhakrishnan's approach, since it provides "a theological scheme for subsuming religious difference under the aegis of Vedantic truth."[note 7] According to Rinehart, the consequence of this line of reasoning is communalism, the idea that "all people belonging to one religion have common economic, social and political interests and these interests are contrary to the interests of those belonging to another religion."[web 10] Rinehart notes that Hindu religiosity plays an important role in the nationalist movement, and that "the neo-Hindu discource is the unintended consequence of the initial moves made by thinkers like Rammohan Roy and Vivekananda." Yet Rinehart also points out that it is

...clear that there isn't a neat line of causation that leads from the philosophies of Rammohan Roy, Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan to the agenda of [...] militant Hindus.[note 8]

Post-colonialism[edit]

Main articles: Orientalism and Post-colonialism

Colonialism left deep traces in the hearts and minds of the Indian people, influencing the way they understood and represented themselves. The influences of "colonialist forms of knowledge"[web 2] can also be found in the works of Radhakrishnan. According to Hawley, Radhakrishnan's division between East and West, the East being spiritual and mystical, and the West being rationt and colonialist forms of knowledge constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries. Arguably, these characterizations are "imagined" in the sense that they reflect the philosophical and religious realities of neither "East' nor West."[web 2]

Since the 1990s, the colonial influences on the 'construction' and 'representation' of Hinduism have been the topic of debate among scholars of Hinduism Western Indologists are trying to come to more neutral and better-informed representations of India and its culture, while Indian scholars are trying to establish forms of knowledge and understanding which are grounded in and informed by Indian traditions, instead of being dominated by western forms of knowledge and understanding.[note 9]

Plagiarism Controversy[edit]

Radhakrishnan was accused of Plagiarism by his student Jadunath Sinha who accused him of copying from his doctoral thesis, “Indian Psychology of Perception" published in 1925 in his book "Indian Philosophy" published in 1927. Jadunath Sinha filed a case in the Calcutta High Court claiming damages for Rs 20000. Radhakrishnan filed counter case for defamation of character demanding Rs 100000 from Sinha. Though Jadunath Sinha's case was strong as many of his articles were already published, the High cost of litigation along with intervention of Syama Prasad Mookerjee who mediated between them made them settle the issue out of court.[54][55][56]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1931: appointed a Knight Bachelor in ,[web 5] although he ceased to use the title "Sir" after India attained independence.[57]
  • 1938: elected Fellow of the British Academy.
  • 1954: The Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India.[web 3]
  • 1954: German "Order pour le Merite for Arts and Science"[web 11]
  • 1961: the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
  • 1962: Institution of Teacher's Day in India, yearly celebrated at 5 September, Radhakrishnan's birthday, in honour of Radhakrishnan's belief that "teachers should be the best minds in the country".[web 3]
  • 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."[web 12][note 10] He donated the entire amount of the Templeton Prize to Oxford University.
  • 1989: institution of the Radhakrishnan Scholarships by Oxford University in the memory of Radhakrishnan. The scholarships were later renamed the "Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships".[58]
  • he was nominated fifteen times for the Nobel prize in literature, and eleven times for the Nobel Peace prize.[59]

Quotes[edit]

  • "It is not God that is worshipped but the authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority not violation of integrity."[60]
  • "Reading a book gives us the habit of solitary reflection and true enjoyment."[61]
  • "When we think we know, we cease to learn."[62]
  • "A literary genius, it is said, resembles all, though no one resembles him."[63]
  • "There is nothing wonderful in my saying that Jainism was in existence long before the Vedas were composed."[64]
  • "A life of joy and happiness is possible only on the basis of knowledge and science.”

Bibliography[edit]

Works by Radhakrishnan[edit]

  • The philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918), Macmillan, London, 294 pages
  • Indian Philosophy (1923) Vol.1, 738 pages. Vol 2, 807 pages. Oxford University Press.
  • The Hindu View of Life (1926), 92 pages
  • An Idealist View of Life (1929), 351 pages
  • Eastern Religions and Western Thought (1939), Oxford University Press, 396 pages
  • Religion and Society (1947), George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London, 242 pages
  • The Bhagavadgītā: with an introductory essay, Sanskrit text, English translation and notes (1948), 388 pages
  • The Dhammapada (1950), 194 pages, Oxford University Press
  • The Principal Upanishads (1953), 958 pages, HarperCollins Publishers Limited
  • Recovery of Faith (1956), 205 pages
  • A Source Book in Indian Philosophy (1957), 683 pages, Princeton University Press, with Charles A. Moore as co-editor.
  • Religion, Science & Culture (1968), 121 pages

Biographies and monographs on Radhakrishnan[edit]

Several books have been published on Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan:

  • Schilpp, Paul Arthur, ed. (1992) [1952, Tudor]. The Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-0792-8. 
  • Murty, K. Satchidananda; Ashok Vohra (1990). Radhakrishnan: his life and ideas. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-0343-2. 
  • Minor, Robert Neil (1987). Radhakrishnan: a religious biography. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-88706-554-6. 
  • Gopal, Sarvepalli (1989). Radhakrishnan: a biography. Unwin Hyman. ISBN 0-04-440449-2. 
  • Pappu, S.S. Rama Rao (1995). New Essays in the Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Delhi: South Asia Books. ISBN 978-81-7030-461-6. 
  • Parthasarathi, G.; Chattopadhyaya, Debi Prasad, eds. (1989). Radhakrishnan: centenary volume. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. 

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^Radhakrishnan's wife's name is spelled differently in different sources. It is spelled Sivakamu by Sarvepalli Gopal (1989); Sivakamuamma by Mamta Anand (2006); and still differently by others.[citation needed]
  2. ^Neo-Vedanta seems to be closer to Bhedabheda-Vedanta than to Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, with the acknowledgement of the reality of the world. Nicholas F. Gier: "Ramakrsna, Svami Vivekananda, and Aurobindo (I also include M.K. Gandhi) have been labeled "neo-Vedantists," a philosophy that rejects the Advaitins' claim that the world is illusory. Aurobindo, in his The Life Divine, declares that he has moved from Sankara's "universal illusionism" to his own "universal realism" (2005: 432), defined as metaphysical realism in the European philosophical sense of the term."
  3. ^This qualification is not unique to Radhakrishnan. It was developed by nineteenth-century Indologists, and was highly influential in the understanding of Hinduism, both in the west and in India.
  4. ^Anubhava is a central term in Shankara's writings. According to several modern interpretators, especially Radakrishnan, Shankara emphasises the role of personal experience (anubhava) in ascertaining the validity of knowledge. Yet, according to Rambacham himself, sruti, or textual authority, is the main source of knowledge for Shankara.
  5. ^Sweetman: "[T]he supposed quietist and conservative nature of Vedantic thought"
  6. ^See, especially, Steven T. Katz:
    • Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis (Oxford University Press, 1978)
    • Mysticism and Religious Traditions (Oxford University Press, 1983)
    • Mysticism and Language (Oxford University Press, 1992)
    • Mysticism and Sacred Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2000)
  7. ^Rinehart: "Though neo-Hindu authors prefer the idiom of tolerance to that of inclusivism, it is clear that what is advocated is less a secular view of toleration than a theological scheme for subsuming religious difference under the aegis of Vedantic truth. Thus Radhakrishnan's view of experience as the core of religious truth effectively leads to harmony only when and if other religions are willing to assume a position under the umbrella of Vedanta. We might even say that the theme of neo-Hindu tolerance provided the Hindu not simply with a means to claiming the right to stand alongside the other world religions, but with a strategy for promoting Hinduism as the ultimate form of religion itself."
  8. ^Neither is Radhakrishnan's "use" of religion in the defence of Asian culture and society against colonialism unique for his person, or India in general. The complexities of Asian nationalism are to be seen and understood in the context of colonialism, modernisation and nation-building. See, for example, Anagarika Dharmapala, for the role of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lankese struggle for independence, and D.T. Suzuki, who conjuncted Zen to Japanese nationalism and militarism, in defence against both western hegemony and the pressure on Japanese Zen during the Meiji Restoration to conform to Shinbutsu Bunri.
  9. ^Sweetman mentions:
    See also Postcolonialism and Mrinal Kaud, The "Pizza Effect" in Indian Philosophy
  10. ^"Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was President of India from 1962 to 1967. An Oxford Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics, he consistently advocated non-aggression in India's conflicts with neighbouring Pakistan. His accessible writings underscored his country's religious heritage and sought to convey a universal reality of God that embraced love and wisdom for all people."[web 12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ abSheldon Pollock (2011), Crisis in the Classics, Social Research Vol. 78 : No.1 : Spring 2011
  2. ^Hawley, Radhakrishnan, IEP bio
  3. ^"Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan A Commemorative Volume published by Rajya sabha"(PDF). http://rajyasabha.nic.in/. September 5, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017. 
  4. ^"Sarvepalli Radhakrishna Early life"(PDF). Retrieved 29 November 2016. 
  5. ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p. 11
  6. ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p.15
  7. ^The Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1952) p.6
  8. ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p.14
  9. ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p.17
  10. ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p.12
  11. ^Kotta Satchidananda Murty; Ashok Vohra (1990). "3. Professor at Mysore". Radhakrishnan: His Life and Ideas. SUNY Press. pp. 17–26. ISBN 978-1-4384-1401-0. 
  12. ^Banerji, Anjan Kumar (1991). Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a centenary tribute. Varanasi, India: Banaras Hindu University. OCLC 28967355. . Page 9 states: "In 1931.... He was knighted that year, but ceased to use the title after Independence."
Indian President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan with US President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office, 1963
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan drawn by Bujjai and signed by Radhakrishnan in Telugu as "Radhakrishnayya".
President of United States John F. Kennedy and President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (left), depart the White House following a meeting. Minister of External Affairs of India, Lakshmi N. Menon, walks behind President Kennedy at West Wing Entrance, White House, Washington, D.C on 4 June 1963
As President of India, Radhakrishnan made 11 state visits including visits to both the US and the USSR.[web 8]

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