Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first Vice President of India and the second President of India. Not only this, he was also an Indian philosopher and statesman. He was also acknowledged as one of India’s best and most influential scholars of comparative religion and philosophy of twentieth-century. Radhakrishnan was honoured with the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India. He believed that “teachers should be the best minds in the country”. When he became the president some of his students requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday but he replied , “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if 5 September is observed as Teachers’ Day.” Therefore, since 1962 his birthday is celebrated as Teachers’ Day.
Radhakrishnan was a bright student throughout his academic life and was awarded many scholarships. He graduated in 1906 with a Master’s degree in Philosophy from Madras Christian College. For the M.A. degree, he wrote a thesis on ‘The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions’ which was apparently a reply to the charge that Vedanta system had no ethics.
His academic career was on a stride soon after he obtained his Master’s degree in 1906. In april 1909, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was appointed to the department of philosophy at Madras Presidency College. In 1918 he was appointed as Professor of Philosophy by the University of Mysore. In 1921, he was appointed as a professor at the University of Calcutta. Radhakrishnan was called to deliver lectures on Hindu Philosophy at Oxford University. His lectures were a platform to further strengthen India’s cause for freedom. He argued that Western philosophers were biased by theological changes and also showed that Indian Philosophy is also worthy of being called philosophy by western standards. Thus the Indian philosophy came to be known to the world. He elucidated Indian philosophy. In 1929 Radhakrishnan was invited to take the post vacated by Principal J. Estlin Carpenter at Harris Manchester College. He was the vice-chancellor of Andhra University from 1931-1936. He served as the vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University from1939 till January 1948.
After independence Dr. Radhakrishnan was requested to take the position of authority in University Education Commission. The education system was moulded for India’s needs according to the suggestions given by the Radhakrishnan-committee.
As a teacher, philosopher and statesman he touched the hearts of millions people. He left an indelible imprint on the people. Celebrating his birthday as teachers’ day is an appropriate way to honour this great teacher and to acknowledge his contributions to the education system and the nation as a whole.