Dr S. Radhakrishnan – An Anniversary

MT 60 Yrs – 2nd Year No 56 – Friday 2nd September 1955

“What is needed… is a wider and profounder pooling of human resources and the philosophical interpretations which clarify the way… so that no man may any longer miss participating in the promising values that any man in any part of the world has made available. That this situation has appeared, and has become hopeful as it is, is largely due to Radhakrishnan’s genius, understanding, energy and undiscouraged endeavour.”

– Editors of Radhakrishnan, being comparative studies in philosophy, presented in honour of his sixtieth birthday

King Vickramaditya who ruled in the fourth century AD is reported to have assembled in his court the nine most brilliant men of his kingdom. They together formed the navratna, i.e., the nine jewels. Kalidasa, the immortal Sanskrit poet and dramatist, was one of those nine jewels. Similarly, if today India wants to assemble together her brilliant intellectuals (her ratnas) Dr Radhakrishnan, should by all means be one of them.

Dr Radhakrishnan, MA Madras and Oxford; D. Litt. (Honoris Causa) Andhra, Agra, Allahabad, Patna and Lucknow; LL. D. (Honoris Causa) Benares, Ceylon and London, started his career in 1911 as assistant Professor of Philosophy at Presidency College, Madras and is today at the age 67 (he was born on 5 Sep1888) Vice President of the Republic of India. When he was yet little known outside India he held high offices in nearly all the principal universities of India. After working for a year as Professor of Philosophy in the University of India. After working for a year as Professor of Philosophy in the University of Mysore he was appointed King George V Professor of Philosophy at Calcutta University and has held this office for nearly twenty years. Three years after his appointment at Calcutta University he published the first volume of his monumental work ‘Indian Philosophy’. The publication of this book brought him into the limelight and won him the admiration of world famous thinkers and reformers; the publication of the second volume added more lustre to his ever-increasing fame.

In 1926, Dr Radhakrishnan went, upon invitation, to England for the first time where he delivered the immortal lectures on The Hindu View of Life. His speeches were eulogized thus: “If what he (Radhakrishnan) describes in such masterly English and in such a scholarly and lucid way really be Hinduism, then there are many thousands of friends who belong to that religion, though they call themselves Christians.” In the same year he proceeded from England to America on a lecturing tour where he gave the famous Haskell Lectures in Chicago.

Round about 1925-30 when the study of Comparative Religion gathered great momentum, he was asked to occupy the chair of Comparative Religion in Manchester College, Oxford, where he delivered five lectures under the caption East and West in Religion. In 1929 he delivered the Hibbert Lectures. He spoke on An Idealist View of Life. It is said that those lectures, which were published in a book form under the same title, constitute a landmark in the evolution of thought, because it is “his original contribution to the religious thought of his time”.

In 1936 Dr Radhakrishnan again went to England only to bring back home the brightest laurels of his career. He was invited to hold the Chair of Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford where he delivered nine memorable lectures which he later published under the title Eastern Religions and Western Thoughts. While still in England the British Academy invited him to deliver the annual lecture in the Master Mind series. He spoke on Gautama the Buddha; his masterly treatment of the subject was acclaimed as a lecture ‘on a master mind by a master mind’. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy – (he was the first Indian to be elevated to this distinction). Upon invitation he visited China in 1944 – where he gave a series of lectures; in 1946 he went for a second time to the United States where he lectured in most of the principal universities.

Civilization is a queer phenomenon, it is not the monopoly of any race or nation and it is not the same everywhere. It can stay; but sometimes it decays and fades away. In fact it is the sum total of progress achieved in various fields of human activity. All nations have known bright days of progress and glory and have tasted civilization but they have equally known dark days and periods of shame and degeneration.

India has given to the world the most ancient and brilliant civilization, but she has not missed knowing periods of darkness. Two or three centuries ago she was plunged into darkness. She was missing on the world firmament. Today she is appearing again with full vigour and sympathetic understanding for her sister nations. Her philosophy, culture, religion and ethics were not only ignored but dismissed as useless and superstitious. Hinduism was considered to be “two or three silly notions about maya…and tyaga or the ascetic desire to be rid of the flesh.” But now the position is gradually changing and there is in all great centres of learning a genuine desire to know more and more about India and what she has to offer in the spiritual field.

Nations who were holding her in contempt only short while ago are today honouring her. All this is due to a significant extent to Dr Radhakrishnan, philosopher politician and the best living exponent of Hindu thought and ethics. To say the least Dr Radhakrishnan is one of the pillars of resurgent India; his contribution in elevating India to the standard of other advanced nations is unique.

Dr Radhakrishnan has not confined his attention to India only. He believes that the whole human race can live as one single family, provided there is understanding and sympathy for each other. He has strong faith in the spiritual life of all nations and thinks that the solution to a world miserably torn by opposing ideologies is: “May we not strive for a philosophy which will combine the best of European humanism and Asiatic religion, a philosophy profounder and more living than either and endowed with greater spiritual and ethical force, which will conquer the hearts of men and compel peoples to acknowledge its sway?”

* * *

Labour Delegates Return

The Labour delegates — with the exception of Hon G. Forget — are back. Hon G. Rozemont returned to the colony some two weeks ago. Hon Dr S. Ramgoolam and Hon R. Seeneevassen landed at Plaisance Airport on Wednesday night, coming from Italy where they have spent one week with Mr J. Thivy, representative of India at Vatican, after termination of the London talks. They were greeted by a crowd of about 1800 to 2000 people coming from different parts of the island.

Messrs G. Rozemont, R. Seeneevassen and Dr Ramgoolam unanimously agree that they were cordially received in London and elsewhere and that they have done their utmost best to convince Her Majesty’s Government of the legitimate aspirations of the people of Mauritius.

“We were listened to with sympathetic understanding,” declared Dr Ramgoolam.

Replying to one question, Dr Ramgoolam gave us to understand that the Communist bogey and the annexation of Mauritius to India stunt have fizzled out.

Dr Ramgoolam as well as Mr Rozemont have declared that they have not much to say at this stage. The Secretary of State for the Colonies Mr Lennox Boyd is busy in the Far East and when he will be back in the first days of September he will prepare a final report which will be transmitted to the Governor.

Mr Rozemont, chairman of the Mauritius Labour Party, was present at all the meetings except the last one because he had to join the National Heart Hospital.

Dr Ramgoolam, who is the Liaison officer of our Education Department, visited some technical schools of London.

The Mauritius Labour delegation has received the full support and advice of the British Labour Party.

By Titan                                    (Mauritius Times – 26 August 1955)

* Published in print edition on 26 February 2016

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