Teachers’ Day is the special occasion where students appreciate those who educate us, inspire us to chase excellence and prepare us for the hardships of life. It is celebrated throughout the globe but on different dates. In India, September 5 is celebrated as Teachers’ Day. It is the date on which Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born. Below we explore the connection between the two events.
Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan became first Vice President of India and also the second President of the country. He, however, was first and foremost a teacher, a professor and a scholar. Dr Radhakrishnan taught Philosophy at Madras Presidency College, University of Mysore, University of Calcutta and University of Oxford. He was also a lecturer in comparative religion at the University of Chicago.
Dr Radhakrishnan was born on September 5, 1888. Following his appointment as the second President of India in 1963, his students and friends planned to celebrate his birthday. Dr Radhakrishnan, however, asked his students to celebrate September 5 as Teachers’ Day. “Instead of celebrating my birthday separately, it would be my proud privilege if September 5 is observed as Teachers’ Day,” he had said, as noted by the Festivals of India website.
Dr Radhakrishnan pursued a Master’s degree in Philosophy from Madras Christian College. He was interested in and championed and reinterpreted ancient Indian philosophies such as Advaita Vedanta. Dr Radhakrishnan was a staunch advocate of Hinduism and helped others develop a better understanding of it through his interpretations of Hindu philosophical concepts.
He also defended Hinduism against what he perceived as undeserved criticism from the West. Dr Radhakrishnan also identified deeply with Tagore’s philosophies and published his first book, The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore.
Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan received his Knighthood in 1931 and the Bharat Ratna in 1954. He wrote 16 books in total, mostly on Hindu philosophies and was nominated multiple times for the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Nobel Peace Prize as well.