Dr. Radhakrishnan – A True Inspiration And Why We Celebrate Teachers’ Day On His Birthday

As the kids celebrate teachers’ day with their beloved teachers in school and the adults look fondly back with nostalgia at the moments with their teachers that made them who they are today, let us remember Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

We all know that teachers day is celebrated because it is this man’s birth anniversary, but do we know why? Why him, and not any other teacher or famous man?

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Because Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan believed in the power of education and believed that a good education could solve all the ills of the society, and by extension, the ills of the country. And, it is the teachers who will bring in the change by being good teachers.

Here is how he started his eventful journey:

Dr. Radhakrishnan was born in a middle-class family in the small town of Tirutani.

His father did not want him to be educated in English. He wanted his son to become a priest. But you cannot contain a bright child, and Dr. Radhakrishnan was sent to school in Tirupati and Vellore.

A exceptional teaching career spanning 40 years

He was just 21 years of age when he took up his first teaching position as a teacher of Philosophy at the Madras presidency college. He became a full professor of philosophy at the University of Calcutta at the young age of 29.

He held the most prestigious chair of philosophy in the country – The King George V Chair Of Mental and Moral Science at the age of 32.

He was then invited to philosophy professor chairs in England when he spent a better part of the 1920s.

He also became the Spalding Professor of Religion and Ethics at the Oxford University.

Since the beginning of his teaching career in 1909 to 1948, when he formally left teaching to take up national duties, he taught for an impressive 40 years.

Taking up national duties

Such a stellar teaching record did not go unrecognized, and appropriately he was elected the Vice President of India in 1952, and then the President of India in 1962.

A humble man, despite such a full life and successful career, Dr. Radhakrishnan appealed to the teachers to not merely instruct, but to gain true affection of their pupils.

As the President of India, he did not draw his full salary, opting to donate one-fourth of his salary to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. Our country was in a bad state at the time.

The incident that led us to September 5th being celebrated as Teachers’ Day

And rightly leading by example, Dr. Radhakrishnan was popular among his own students, who wanted to celebrate his birthday, years after he had stopped teaching.

It was then, when he appealed to his students, “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if 5 September is observed as Teachers’ Day.”


A scholar of such stature was known to be a kind teacher, and not stern. Although, people did find his steely headmaster voice emanating through his letters to his ministers when he was the President!

Let us remember this man who is completely responsible for all the reminiscing we do about our teachers on the 5th of September. Remember his advice about education and teaching, and of building a strong relationship between the teacher and the taught.

Happy Teachers’ Day!

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