Radhakrishnan


Dr. S. Radhakrishnan
Born on September 5, 1888, Tiruttani, Tamilnadu. Telugu Brahmin.

Studies at Voorhees College, Madras Christian College –finished M.A. Philosophy in 1909.

Vice president of India (1952-53).
President of India from 1962

He was a great philosopher-statesman of India.

Professor of Philosophy in Madras, Mysore, Calcutta, Banaras and Oxford.
Known for his two volumes on Indian philosophy

Chancellor- university of Delhi.
Edited translations of Bahavad Gita and Upanishads

He wanted to defend the spirit behind all religions, and not just Hinduism.
He believed that nothing but a spiritual revival can cure the present distempers of the world.
 The ancients stood on scriptural revelation but Radhakrishnan maintained the religious experience of the saint’s sages and mystics belonging to various traditions all over the world.
This is to defend the faith of mankind against science etc.

He said that the Hindus alone can think of all religion son equal footing.

His lectures on “An idealist view of life” (1929), published in 1932 give his thoughts on religion and philosophy.

He talks about metaphysical or absolute idealism and not subjective idealism.
On the basis of absolute idealism he evaluated all philosophical systems.


For him Absolute Idealism finds its highest expression in the schools of Vedanta. (Highest experience that man is capable of).

He defines philosophy of religion as religion come to an understanding of itself.
Philosophy of religion is an attempt to organize and unify the data of religious experience.
Philosophy of religion proceeds from religious experience.
There can be no religious philosophy without religious experience.

 Religious philosophy is different from speculative theology where god only a possibility.
Dogmatic theology restricts itself to express one set of experiences recorded in a particular age and country.
Witness to the personal sense of the divine are not confined to the East. It is as old as humanity. It is not confined to any one people.

Spiritual experience is:
Reaction of the whole man to the Reality
It is integral intuition
It reveals the Absolute which is beyond thought and expression.
We get the knowledge of the unity of the world (universal spirit)
It is kinship between soul and God
Our union with God is intermittent hence religion helps us.
Mystics use different symbols to explain their religious experiences, we need to get beyond these symbols.
Religion cannot be substituted even by  morality.

Mere absolutism i.e. world as revelation of the nature of absolute, deprives man of his freedom.

From idealist point of view:
Man is a self conscious being
He is able to look before and after
He can dominate the nature and increase knowledge yet he is not absolutely individual.

He is organically related to his environment
Harmony between him and his environment has to be achieved voluntarily and consciously.
His true progress lies in employing his own unique gifts for the benefit of all.

Otherwise he does violence to himself and commits sin.
Thus man is free to mend or mar himself.
Still he is limited by his connection with his own past (Law of Karma).

The doctrine of rebirth is more reasonable than the denial of rebirth.
Because the way of nature is one of continuity.

The goal of perfection cannot be reached in one life.
How do we remember the past?
Death may destroy the memory of our deeds, but not their effect on us.
He opines that human body cannot take birth in a body so entirely foreign to its enveloped characteristics.

Ultimate destiny of human personality is higher than mere survival.
But to reach God consciousness.

Salvation is nothing but the fullest development of the mystic consciousness.
It is a rising from ethical individualism to spiritual universalism.
 True liberation implies harmony within the self and harmony with the environment.
God must precede the world, if the values that emerge from it have any reality.

The world is a  mixture of truth and illusion.
Therefore, life here is worth if it is directed by spiritual ideal.
Love belongs to the very core of God.
Radhakrishnan envisaged a new world.
The soul of that world  is a feeling of brotherhood among all nations ;
A spirit of cooperation  in the pursuit of common peaceful aims;
International fellowship;
Universal toleration.- it is the sacred duty of the intellectuals of all the nations.

His religious ideal was not for a single world religion (It is dream of proselytizing religions, it is impossible).
But commonwealth of religions having their own creeds and organizations and living side by side with mutual toleration and respect as representing the one religious spirit of man.
Great religions developed in restricted areas (intercourse was difficult)
Now they are approximating to one another ( because of developments)
There for untenable doctrines are not so much refuted.

Radhakrishnan  compare Hinduism to the British commonwealth of free nations or university.
Hinduism seeks unity of common quest and not common creed.
Unity of spirit and not unity of organizations.

Creeds, prophets and churches are only means not ends in themselves.
The spirit behind all religions is the same.

Christianity and Islam are propagandist world religions.
They say others are imperfect r error.
Their zeal caused many wars, much bloodshed and cruelties of various kinds.
Thus he asked “Have we the right to destroy what we have not learnt to appreciate?
A religion which develops harness of heart is hardly worth the name.

In his (Kamala Lecture) “Religion and Society”  he mentions about Hindus that;
 Hindu civilization continue to flourish in spite of  wars etc, because it places spiritual values above others.

Hindu view of dharma permits change i.e. dogmas and institutions, customs and rules which have lost their validity have to be scrapped and replaced by new ones.  Otherwise the march of the spirit would be impeded.

We have to start from the past and proceed
Life is complex hence be charitable in applying code  old/new.

While supporting Hindu practices he opposed animal sacrifice, deva dasi system.
He condemned caste, untouchability.
Upanayana should be extended to all

Temple priests should be properly educated.

He called for liberalization of marriage laws. Divorce should be permitted in certain cases.


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