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Guiding light
Mamta Anand
April 10, 2008


When a star explodes in a supernova, it leaves behind a stellar mass for its rebirth. Similarly, the death of a great man results in immortality. The perenniality of Indian culture is analogous to this phenomenon.

Even though India was often left distraught by incessant invasions, her spiritually conscious people were mines of creative thought.

Their love for truth gave birth to ideas and ideals that continually energised the country. In their creative expression, they emphasised peace and amity.

The Rig Veda says, “Words are sacred: sages cherish them, the brilliant rule by them.”

Great men like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan effected the integration of mind, body and soul through their wise words, which delivered the message of peace and love.

India, in her struggle for freedom, was fortunate to have been under the auspices of such luminaries.

Mahatma Gandhi affectionately called Radhakrishnan Lord Krishna and said he himself was Arjun, his pupil.

Indeed, Radhakrishnan’s achievements and teachings validate the traditional Indian belief in the wisdom and indispensability of the guru.

The British, who believed that a humiliated mind allowed enslavement, mocked India’s religion and ridiculed her ancient philosophy as impotent tales of sparrows and parrots.

Radhakrishnan sought to break the British fetters on Indian consciousness.

He wanted India to believe in herself. Armed with a vast knowledge of Indian religion and philosophy, he spoke of the spiritually advanced character of Indian wisdom.

His arguments inspired freedom fighters and scholars alike, turning them into ardent admirers of India, its people and culture.

Essentially an idealist, Radhakrishnan corroborates our belief in the efficacy of the good. In works like Indian Philosophy, The Hindu View of Life and An Idealist View of Life, he argues that goodness enables us to live the love in our hearts.

It was his positive spirit that made the best universities in the world invite him to grace them with his lectures. Radhakrishnan also served India in the highest offices—as the first ambassador to Russia, as vice-president and president.

Born in Tiruttani in 1888 and married to Sivakamuamma for 51 years till her death, Radhakrishnan sought spiritual enlightenment and inspiration in her. In his autobiography, he remembers her as an everyday heroine who epitomised selflessness and stood for the victory of mind over matter.
He honoured this character of Indian women and dedicated a book, titled Religion and Society, to them.

Radhakrishnan wrote, “India, in every generation, has produced millions of women who have never found fame, but whose daily existence has helped civilise the race, and whose warmth of heart, self-sacrificing zeal, unassuming loyalty and strength in suffering when subjected to trials of extreme severity, are among the glories of this ancient race.”

A dutiful teacher, a deeply spiritual thinker, an able policy maker, Radhakrishnan was every bit the visionary India needed.

Nobel laureate C.V. Raman beautifully summed up his glorious life: “The frail body of Radhakrishnan enshrined a great spirit—a great spirit which we have learnt to revere and admire, even to worship.”


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