Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

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Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli

(sŭr'vəpŭl`lē rä`dəkrĭsh'ən), 1888–1975, Indian philosopher, president of India (1962–67). The main part of his life was spent as an academic; he was a philosophy professor at Mysore (now Mysuru; 1918–21) and Calcutta (now Kolkata; 1921–31, 1937–41) universities and also held a professorship in eastern religion and ethics at Oxford (1936–52). His positions in academic administration included the vice chancellorship of Andhra Univ. (1931–36) and of Benares Hindu Univ. (1939–48) and the chancellorship of Delhi Univ. (1953–62). He was ambassador to the USSR (1949–52) and vice president of India (1952–62) before his election as president. He stressed the need for India to establish a classless and casteless society. As a philosopher, Radhakrishnan espoused a modern form of Hinduism that attempted to reconcile the world's religions. Among his works are Indian Philosophy (2 vol., 1923–27), The Philosophy of the Upanishads (1924), Eastern Religions and Western Thought (1939, 2d ed. 1969), East and West: Some Reflections (1955), and Religion in a Changing World (1967). He was knighted in 1931.


See studies by S. J. Samartha (1964) and K. I. Dutt, ed. (1966).

Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli


Born Sept. 5, 1888, in Tiruttani, Madras Presidency, now the state of Andhra Pradesh; died Apr. 17, 1975, in Madras. Indian state and political figure, philosopher, and scholar.

Radhakrishnan was educated at the Madras Christian College. From 1918 to 1921 he was professor of philosophy at the University of Mysore, and between 1921 and 1931 he held the chair of philosophy at the University of Calcutta. From 1931 to 1936 he was vice-chancellor of Andhra University, and from 1939 to 1948 vice-chancellor of Benares Hindu University; from 1953 to 1962 he was chancellor of Delhi University. He also lectured at Oxford University from 1936 to 1952.

Radhakrishnan took part in the national liberation movement, and after India’s independence (1947) was prominent in the nation’s public life. In 1948 he was chairman of a governmental university commission whose report became the basis for the system of university education in modern India. From 1949 to 1952 he was India’s ambassador to the USSR. From 1952 to 1962 he was vice-president, and from 1962 to 1967 president of the Republic of India. He made goodwill visits to the USSR in 1956 and 1964.

Radhakrishnan was a proponent of peaceful coexistence among states with different social systems. In public statements he condemned military blocs, urged the abolishment of colonialism, and rejected war as an “obsolete political weapon.” He wrote numerous works on philosophy, public education, literature, and politics. He was an honorary professor of Moscow University (1956).

Radhakrishnan’s philosophical views are close to the objective idealism of Vedanta as interpreted by Shankara. Radhakrishnan developed a system of a single universal “eternal religion” based on ancient Indian religious and philosophic traditions and destined to replace all existing “dogmatic” religions. In his sociological views, Radhakrishnan upheld the doctrine of M. Gandhi, maintaining that social problems could be solved only on the basis of religious principles.


Religion and Society. London, 1947.
Eastern Religions and Western Thought, 2nd ed. London, 1951.
East and West: Some Reflections. London [1955].
East and West in Religion. London, 1954.
Recovery of Faith. London, 1956.
Occasional Speeches and Writings, series 1–3. [Delhi, 1957–62.]
In Russian translation:
Indiiskaia filosofiia, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1956–57.


Anikeev, N. P. “Filosofskie i sotsiologicheskie vzgliady S. Radkhakrishnana.” In the collection Sovremennaia filosofskaia i sotsiologicheskaia mysl’stran Vostoka. Moscow, 1965.
Litman, A. D. Filosofskaia mysl’nezavisimoi Indii. Moscow, 1966.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan: A Study of the President of India. New Delhi, 1966.


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