Dr. Radhakrishnan: Symbol of Modern India


(This afternoon at 4 p.m., Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, vice-President of India, will deliver a lecture, "Fellowship of Spirit," in Sanders Theatre to mark the opening of the new Center for the Study of World Religions.

Mr. T. K. Venkateswaran, one of the residents at the Center is of the Hindu faith and is one of the professors of Sanskrit at the Presidency College, Madras University, South India.)

Before arriving in Cambridge with my family last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Radhakrishnan in Madras and spending some time with him seeking his advice, and asking for suggestions about my work at Harvard. He displayed great interest in the project, the Center for World Religions, and also offered me some valuable suggestions. For this reason, I was not surprised to note that he was coming to Cambridge, especially when I learned that he planned to give the dedication speech at the new Center.

Dr. Radhakrishnan, the vice-President of India, needs no introduction to serious students of Religion and Philosophy. In 1952 an 883-page volume of his writings, The Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, was published as part of "The Library of Living Philosophers." Since then, 23 world-known scholars have contributed a volume of stimulating critical essays dealing with various aspects of Radhakrishnan's thought--his contributions to social philosophy, to modern religion and mysticism; his influence on contemporary Hinduism and his place in 20th Century philosophy.

Radhakrishnan, who has been for several years the vice-President of the Republic of India, leader of the Indian delegation to UNESCO, and the chairman of UNESCO's executive board, has always been devoted to education and teaching. He was professor of Philosophy at the Universities of Madras, Mysore, Calcutta, Benares, and later for many years was Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford University. He has done yeoman service to Hindu philosophy and religion, and has contributed a great deal to the study of religion in general. Among his early works are two volumes on Indian philosophy, and his latest writing is The Brahma Sutra--The Philosophy of Spiritual Life (Harper 1960). His interpretations and criticisms of both Western and Hindu thought are fresh, distinctive, and stimulating.

Through his innumerable visits to various parts of the world, through his good-will missions, lectures, and interpretations of the spirit of Hinduism, Radhakrishnan has inspired enormous friendship for his country. Along with Tagore and Ghandi, he has greatly contributed to a clearer understanding of India and her religions, especially Hinduism; he has also clarified Hinduism's view of other religions. By stressing the importance of spirit and religion in the midst of the equally important Indian emphasis on secular and scientific accomplishments, Radhakrishnan has been instrumental in increasing the prestige of his nation.

He defines philosophy of religion as "religion come to an understanding of itself." Writing in the preface to The Brahma Sutra, he says: "Unfortunately philosophy today is detached and specialized and is not aware of the peril to the human spirit. It does not seem to realize its responsibility to the time in which it is set. Even those who have a religious allegiance do not seem to feel a religious responsibility."