Recently I came across a quote by the former US President John Kennedy written in honour of the great poet Robert Frost. Kennedy wrote, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
The times we are living in are crucial to remember the generation which laid the progressive foundations of this nation. An inadequacy we have to urgently address is to honour and remember the luminaries who have built the cultural foundations of this nation. Like a wise man has said, nations are not built by politicians but by poets and artists. We have to honour the great endeavours of a generation which has laid the spirit of debate, discussion, research and thinking as an active pursuit.
In our attempt to remember and honour these stalwarts, Art1st presents a new series on important pedagogues of Indian arts and aesthetics, titled “The Visionaries.”
In our first issue we introduce you to the great thinker, teacher, philosopher, statesman and former President of India Sarvepally Radhakrishnan. Our country honours his birthday by celebrating it as Teacher’s Day. Emphasising on the role of teacher’s in the progress of a nation and mentoring the young minds, S. Radhakrishnan had remarked, “Teachers should be the best minds in the country.” This statement came at a time when his friends and students were seeking his permission to commemorate his birthday as an important day. He said, “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if 5 September is observed as Teachers’ Day.”
S. Radhakrishnan was born in small village in the border of present day Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states. He was a bright student and recieved scholarships consistently in his academic career. After completing his Masters in Philosophy, Radhakrishnan went on to teach at various universities in India. He was knighted in 1932 by George V for his services to education. He was elected as the first Vice President of India and later on he became the second President of India.
His remarkable contributions in Indian philosophy and comparitive religions is seminal. Radhakrishnan was writing at a time when Indian philosophy and aesthetics were used by the Western scholars to project the inferiority of India. His studies on Indian philosophy were a post-colonial response to this misunderstanding of Indology and Indian intellectual tradition.His significant publications include “The Hindu View of Life”, “The Dhammapada,” “The Bhagavadgita: with an introductory essay,” “A Source Book on Indian Philosophy.” He was one of the most sophisticated thinkers of modern India.
– Premjish, Director, Outreach