Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, an Indian philosopher

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Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (5 September 1888 – 17 April 1975) was an Indian philosopher and statesman who served as the second president of India from 1962 to 1967.

Early Life

He was born on 5 September 1888, in Madras, India. His primary education was at K. V. High School at Thiruttani. Then he went to the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati and Government High Secondary School, Walajapet. He got scholarships throughout his academic career. He went to Voorhees College in Vellore for higher education. Upon finishing his F.A. class, he joined the Madras Christian College at 16. He graduated in 1907, and he also got a master’s degree from the same college.


In addition to teaching philosophy at Mysore (1918-1921) and Calcutta university (1937–1941), he was the vice chancellor of Andhra University (1931–36). During his tenure at the Oxford University (1936-52), he taught eastern religions and ethics. He was vice chancellor at Banaras Hindu University (1939-48). He was chancellor of Delhi University from 1953 to 1962.

He was a member of the Indian delegation to UNESCO from 1946 to 1952 and served as chairman of UNESCO’s executive board from 1948 to 1949. He also served as ambassador to India in the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1952.

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In 1952, he was elected as vice president of India, and on 11 May 1962, he took over as president, succeeding Rajendra Prasad. Eventually, he stepped down from political life five years later.

Literary works

He wrote several books, like Indian Philosophy, 2 vols. (1923-1927), The Philosophy of the Upanishads (1924), An Idealist View of Life (1932), Eastern Religions and Western Thought (1939), and East and West: Some Reflections (1955). He tried to explain Indian thinking to us in his lectures and books.


In 1954, he received the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of India.

Teacher’s Day

When Radhakrishnan became President of India, a few of his friends and students asked if they could celebrate his birthday on 5 September.

He replied,

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If September 5th is observed as Teacher’s Day, rather than my birthday, it would be my proud privilege.

Since then, his birthday has been celebrated as Teacher’s Day in India.


He died on 17 April 1975, in Tamil Nadu, India.

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