Biography of Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan: Why his Birthday is Celebrated as Teachers’ Day Till Date?

Biography of Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan: Why his Birthday is Celebrated as Teachers’ Day Till Date?





Sarvapally Radhakrishnan was an eminent Indian philosopher and politician who served as the President of India from 1962 to 1967. He is best known for his work in philosophy of religion and metaphysics, as well as for his influential interpretation of the Upanishads. He was also a noted educationist, serving as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Madras (1938-1941) and the President of the Indian National Congress (1947-1952). Radhakrishnan’s birthday is celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India.

Birth and Childhood:

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born on 5 September 1888 at Tiruttani, a small town in the then Chittoor District of the Madras Presidency, India. His father was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and his mother’s name was Sitamma. His father was a subordinate revenue official in the service of a local landlord. His primary education was at Tiruttani and Kuppam, where his father was transferred in 1894. As his father’s job entailed frequent transfers, Radhakrishnan had a very difficult childhood.


had his primary education at Gowdie School, Tiruvallur, and high school at Lutheran Mission School, Tirupati. In 1904, he secured admission to Christian Missionary Society College in Madras (now Chennai), where he studied physics, chemistry and botany. Two years later, in 1906, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Christian College, Madras. Thereafter, he did his Ph.D. from the University of Berlin.

Academic Career:

After completion of his Ph.D. from the University of Berlin in Germany, in 1911, at the age of 21, Sarvapally Radhakrishnan was offered a professorship from the University of Berlin. He declined the offer, choosing to follow Gujarati poet, KM Munshi, who had just completed his Doctorate. Sarvapally’s change in career choice poses a challenge to his parents, particularly his father, who had a strong desire for his eldest son to become an accountant or chartered accountant and will not understand why a young man of his stature chose to study something unfamiliar.

Radhakrishnan served as a Professor in Presidency College in 1917. However, Radhakrishnan shifted his academic trajectory by accepting a position in Banaras Hindu University in 1939. He became a professor at Andhra University in 1931 and served for five years there. Radhakrishnn had also taught at Calcutta University from 1921 and during his stay there, he had delivered key lectures of his life across the globe. He was a key academic officer at Andhra University. At other universities, he was also Dean of the Arts Faculty, Head of the Department of Education and Head of the Department of Philosophy.

Political Career:

In 1951, he was nominated to the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian parliament) from Andhra Pradesh. He held several important portfolios in the Central government, such as Minister for Education, Minister for External Affairs, and Deputy Prime Minister. In 1962, he was elected as the President of India and served for five years.

Is Sarvapally Radhakrishnan’s Education System Innovative?

His story was a reflection of India’s education system in ancient rules and Vedic education. His hard work and dedication saw him obtain his Ph.D. degree. He held several important portfolios and reaped many laurels for the work that he did.

In an Indian education system ruled largely by traditions, his education system was a huge step for India and helped it in elevating its overall education system.

Is Sarvapally’s Journey of Education Substantial?

Sarvapally Radhakrishnan’s education has the profound influence on his entire life and when he started, the educational trend was completely different. The students were not allowed to go to the royal palace, play with an army soldier, trek in absence of schools during the winter season, or touch their own chief’s documents except authorized people.

After completing his education, he started his research for higher education in prestigious universities such as Oxford University in England and Berlin University. He studied under the prestigious person, Albert Einstein. He donated his time and vast knowledge to spread the Message of Swaraj (independence) and made it an inherent phase of his political career.

Finally, after completing all his educational task, he started The Raj Bhavan Post in 1941, a monthly magazine, which became a very successful academic and popular publication.

Why His Birthday is celebrated as Teachers’ Day?

September 5th is a very important day for the people of India. It is the birthday of one of the most respected figures in the country, Sarvapally Radhakrishnan. He had a difficult childhood. He worked hard to obtain a good education, and eventually became one of India’s most eminent philosophers and diplomats.

In 1954, Radhakrishnan was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour. He held many important posts during his lifetime, including president of India and chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Sarvapally Radhakrishnan was a great thinker and philosopher, and his teachings continue to influence people all over the world. Moreover, when he became the President of India, some of his students asked his permission for celebrating his birthday on 5th September. He then suggested his students rather to observe the day as the celebration of teachers’ effort in building a nation. Since then, his birthday is celebrated every year as Teachers’ Day in India.


Radhakrishnan resigned from public life in 1967. He spent the last eight years of his life at the home he built for himself in Mylapore, Madras. Radhakrishnan passed away on April 17, 1975. Though his life also is not beyond criticism and allegation, he will be remembered forever for his contribution in the study of Indian Philosophy and advancement of education system in India.

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