Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, fully Sir or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Radhakrishnan, fully Sir or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Indian Advaita Vedantist Philosopher, Writer and Politician, Vice President and later President of India

Author Quotes

Those who condemn Indian culture as useless are ignorant of it, while those who commend it as perfect are ignorant of any other.

We must respect our own dignity as rational beings and thus diminish the power of fraud. It is better to be free than be a slave, better to know than to be ignorant. It is reason that helps us to reject what is falsely taught and believed about God, that He is a detective officer or a capricious despot or a glorified schoolmaster. It is essential that we should subject religious beliefs to the scrutiny of reason.

Though the world has changed considerably in its outward material aspect, means of communication, scientific inventions, etc., there has not been any great change in its inner spiritual side. The old forces of hunger and love, and the simple joys and fears of the heart, belong to the permanent stuff of human nature. The true interests of humanity, the deep passions of religion, and the great problems of philosophy, have not been superseded as material things have been. Indian thought is a chapter of the history of the human mind, full of vital meaning for us. The ideas of great thinkers are never obsolete. They animate the progress that seems to kill them. The most ancient fancies sometimes startle us by their strikingly modern character, for insight does not depend on modernity.

We today live in a society which is giving way to the inexhorable claim of a new order. We cannot stay the advance of time. If we clasp to our heart something that is past, if we cling to something that is defunct, we will be left behind.

To all appearance this is a mere accident. But when I look at the series of accidents that have shaped my life, I am persuaded that there is more in this life than meets the eye. Life is not a mere chain of physical causes and effects. Chance seems to form the surface of reality, but deep down other forces are at work. If the universe is a living one, if it is spiritually alive, nothing in it is merely accidental. The moving finger writes and having writ moves on.

Wherever men love reason, shun darkness, turn over towards light, praise virtue; despise meanness, hate vulgarity, kindle sheer beauty, wherever minds are sensitive, hearts generous, spirits free, there is your country. Let us adopt that loyalty to humanity instead of a sectional devotion to one part of the human race.

The upaniShads describe to us the life of spirit, the same yesterday, to-day and forever. But our apprehensions of the life of spirit, the symbols by which we express it, change with time. All systems of orthodox Indian thought accept the authoritativeness of the Vedas, but give themselves freedom in their interpretation. This variety of interpretation is made possible by the fact that the upaniShads are not the thoughts of a single philosopher or a school of philosophers who follow a single tradition. They are the teachings of thinkers who were interested in different aspects of the philosophical problem, and therefore offer solutions of problems which vary in their interest and emphasis. There is thus a certain amount of fluidity in their thought which has been utilized for the development of different philosophical systems. Out of the wealth of suggestions and speculations contained in them, different thinkers choose elements for the construction of their own systems, not infrequently even through a straining of the texts. Though the upaniShads do not work out a logically coherent system of metaphysics, they give us a few fundamental doctrines which stand out as the essential teaching of the early upaniShads. These are recapitulated in the brahma sUtra.

To be ignorant is not the special prerogative of man; to know that he is ignorant is his special privilege.

While no tradition coincides with experience, every tradition is essentially unique and valuable. While all traditions are of value, none is finally binding.

The moral hero is fighting for the reshaping of his own society on sounder lines [his] behavior might offend the sense of decorum of the cautious conventionalist.

The moral hero, guided as he or she is by the ethical experience, who carves out an adventurous path is akin to the discoverer who brings order into the scattered elements of a science or the artist who composes a piece of music or designs buildings.

The nearer we are to the awakening, the more desolate do we feel. The soul is laden with the sense of guilt, of the feeling that one ought to have done better, and with a longing for liberation. The sadness tends to set in the direction of seeking a possible solution, a true friend, who can guide the soul, as parents guide their children. Blessed are they that mourn, that suffer and weep. The heart that aches is the heart which loves. The more tender it is, the more does it suffer. The grief of the large-hearted is too deep even for tears. We can buy immunity from suffering only by giving up life's greatest good, by hardening the heart... It is by suffering that we understand. The condition of true human life is to suffer pain and endure loneliness. Only those who live outward lives without being touched to their inward depths can escape suffering.

The outer uniformity has not, however, resulted in an inner unity of mind and spirit. The new nearness into which we are drawn has not meant increasing happiness and diminishing friction, since we are not mentally and spiritually prepared for the meeting. Maxim Gorky relates how, after addressing a peasant audience on the subject of science and the marvels of technical inventions, he was criticized by a peasant spokesman in the following words: "Yes, we are taught to fly in the air like birds, and to swim in the water like the fishes, but how to live on the earth we do not know."

The presentation of facts in logical form contributes to a confusion between discovery and proof. If the process of discovery were mere synthesis, any mechanical manipulator of prior partial concepts would have reached the insight and it would not have taken a genius to arrive at it.

The readjustment [of previously known facts] is so easy that when the insight is attained it escapes notice and we imagine that the process of discovery is only rational synthesis.

The realm of spirit is not cut off from the realm of life?The two orders of reality, the transcendent and the empirical, are closely related.

The red, the orange, the Bhagwa color, represents the spirit of renunciation. All forms of renunciation are to be embodied in Raja Dharma. Philosophers must be kings. Our leaders must be disinterested. They must be dedicated spirits. They must be people who are imbued with the spirit of renunciation which that saffron, color has transmitted to us from the beginning of our history. That stands for the fact that the World belongs not to the wealthy, not to the prosperous but to the meek and the humble, the dedicated and the detached. That spirit of detachment that spirit of renunciation is represented by the orange or the saffron color and Mahatma Gandhi has embodied it for us in his life and the Congress has worked under his guidance and with his message. If we are not imbued with that spirit of renunciation in than difficult days, we will again go under. The green is there, our relation to the soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. We must build our Paradise, here on this green earth. If we are to succeed in this enterprise, we must be guided by truth (white), practice virtue (wheel), adopt the method of self-control and renunciation (saffron). This flag tells us "Be ever alert, be ever on the move, go forward, work for a free, flexible, compassionate, decent, democratic society in which Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists will all find a safe shelter." Let us all unite under this banner and rededicate ourselves to the ideas our flag symbolizes.

The idea of God is an interpretation of experience.

The study of the sacred books of religions other than one's own is essential for speeding up this process. Students of Christian religion and theology, especially those who wish to make Indian Christian thought not merely 'geographically' but 'organically' Indian, should understand their great heritage which is contained in the upaniShads.

The idea of Plato that philosophers must be the rulers and directors of society is practiced in India.

The success of art is measured by the extent to which it is able to render experiences of one dimension into terms of another. Art born out of a creative contemplation which is a process of travail of the spirit is an authentic crystallization of a life process. Its? ultimate and in its essence, the poetical character is derived from the creative intuition (that is, integral intuition) which holds sound, suggestion and sense in organic solution.

The ideal which haunted the thinkers of the upaniShads, the ideal of man's ultimate beatitude, the perfection of knowledge, the vision of the Real in which the religious hunger of the mystic for divine vision and the philosopher's ceaseless quest for truth are both satisfied is still our ideal. A. N. Whitehead speaks to us of the real which stands behind and beyond and within the passing flux of this world, 'something which is real and yet waiting to be realized, something which is a remote possibility and yet the greatest of present facts, something that gives meaning to all that passes, and yet eludes apprehension; something whose possession is the final good and yet is beyond all reach; something which is the ultimate ideal and the hopeless quest.' A metaphysical curiosity for a theoretical explanation of the world as much as a passionate longing for liberation is to be found in the upaniShads. Their ideas do not only enlighten our minds but stretch our souls.

The true teachers help us to think for ourselves in the new situations which arise. We would be unworthy disciples if we do not question and criticize them. They try to widen our knowledge and help us to see clearly. The true teacher is like Krsna in the Bhagavadgita, who advises Arjuna to think for himself.

The insight does not arise if we are not familiar with the facts of the case... The successful practice of intuition requires previous study and assimilation of a multitude of facts and laws. We may take it that great intuitions arise out of a matrix of rationality.

The truths of the ??is are not evolved as the result of logical reasoning or systematic philosophy but are the products of spiritual intuition, d??ti orvision. The ??is are not so much the authors of the truths recorded in the Vedas as the seers who were able to discern the eternal truths by raising their life-spirit to the plane of universal spirit. They are the pioneer researchers in the realm of the spirit who saw more in the world than their followers. Their utterances are not based on transitory vision but on a continuous experience of resident life and power. When the Vedas are regarded as the highest authority, all that is meant is that the most exacting of all authorities is the authority of facts.

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Radhakrishnan, fully Sir or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
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Indian Advaita Vedantist Philosopher, Writer and Politician, Vice President and later President of India