A real hero

On Teacher's Day, its only appropriate to remember Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. A man of formidable intellect and considerable achievement, he was among the several stalwarts who helped define a sense of the modern in India. Not least because he was able to integrate the philosophy of the ancients with the sensibilities of the modern world. Writing in Nature about his book An Idealist View of Life that was based on the Hibbert Lectures delivered in Manchester and London in the 1929-30, Gautam Desiraju discusses his view of epistemology, that there were both intuitive and intellectual forms of knowledge.

A teacher who evolved into a national leader, ambassador, and eventually the President of India... the details of his remarkable life are given in the authoritative Radhakrishnan: A biography by his son, the JNU historian Sarvepalli Gopal.

Radhakrishnan wrote extensively on religion, on the Upanishads, and a number of other texts, interpreting them for the twentieth century in his own way. One of the books that is still relatively easily available is The Bhagavad Gita, reissued by Harper Collins. He combined a sense of spirituality with the spirit of enquiry- his quest for understanding is summarized in this quote from his lectures:

"Real heroes are religious in a true sense in that they have broken down the barriers between the individual and the universal.”