In India, Teachers’ Day is celebrated on the 5th of September each year. It’s the birth anniversary of one of the most revered teacher and statesmen, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – 2nd President of India
He has played a significant role in shaping the perception of Hinduism. Both within India and internationally, he is widely recognized as a key figure in fostering understanding and connections between India and the Western world. His teaching journey commenced in 1909 when he assumed the position of Lecturer in Philosophy at Presidency College, Madras. His extensive body of work, including notable writings such as “Indian Philosophy,” “The Pursuit of Truth,” “The Hindu View of Life,” “The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore,” “The Bhagavadgita,” “The Dhammapada,” and others. This has served as a profound source of inspiration for many. He aptly described education as an “instrument for social, economic, and cultural change.”
He emphasized that true education extends beyond mere information, evolving into knowledge that ultimately transforms into wisdom. Education wasn’t confined to the acquisition of knowledge and skills alone. Instead, it encompassed the art of harmonious living, fostering empathy towards others, nurturing creativity, and instilling critical thinking abilities necessary to confront adversity. In essence, education was akin to a rebirth, shaping individuals holistically – physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
According to Dr. Radhakrishnan, the primary objective of education revolved around the holistic development of an individual.
Personality Cultivation: He advocated education for a balanced and elevated personality development in each individual.
Character Formation: Education inculcates in the child the values of love, truth, goodness and beauty from the very beginning.
Secular Attitude: Dr. Radhakrishnan emphasized the development of a secular attitude, promoting respect for all religions.
Vocational Training: He endorsed vocational training as a means for individuals to acquire practical skills and attain economic self-sufficiency.
Leadership Training: Education should also provide training in leadership skills.
Scientific Attitude: The development of a scientific attitude was seen as crucial in fostering critical thinking and a rational outlook.
Cultural Preservation: Education plays a pivotal role in preserving, enriching, transmitting, and adapting a country’s culture.
Social and Moral Values: Education should instill social and moral values, including civic responsibility, faith in democracy, non-violence, truth, unity, and a sense of brotherhood.
Democratic Values: It should nurture democratic values like liberty, equality, justice, and fraternity.
Spiritual Development: Genuine education should not be limited to the acquisition of mechanical skills or intellectual knowledge but should lead to self-growth as an individual.
In 1948, he assumed the chairmanship of the University Education Commission, demonstrating his profound commitment to educational reform. His diplomatic talents shone through when he was appointed as Ambassador to the USSR on July 12, 1949, further elevating his influence in political circles.
In 1952, he received the esteemed honor of being elected as the first Chairman and Vice President of the Rajya Sabha, a testament to his erudition and statesmanship. Upon assuming the presidency, a heartfelt request came from some of his former students and close friends. They expressed their wish to commemorate his birthday, which coincided with the 5th of September. In a characteristically humble and selfless response, he said, “Rather than celebrating my birthday, I would consider it my great honor if we observe the 5th of September as Teachers’ Day.” From that moment onward, his birthday has been dedicated to celebrating educators across India as Teachers’ Day.