Indian Advaita Vedantist Philosopher, Writer and Politician, Vice President and later President of India
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, fully Sir or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Indian Advaita Vedantist Philosopher, Writer and Politician, Vice President and later President of India
Mankind is still in the making and every religion is attempting to reformulate its faith in accordance with modern thought and criticism.
If experience is the soul of religion, expression is the body through which it fulfills its destiny. We have the spiritual facts and their interpretations by which they are communicated to others. It is the distinction between immediacy and thought. Intuitions abide, while interpretations change.
It is essential to awaken in one's pupils a feeling of need for a silent hour, a time of pure refreshment for heart and spirit, for self-communion, which will help them to collect their thoughts, reassemble their personalities and find themselves. In that silence we hear the still voices of the soul with its plaintive cry of the prisoner for freedom, of the wanderer from home, the cry of the finite for the infinite. Religion is what we do with ourselves when we are alone. In every one of us is a secret shrine where no one could intrude, to which we must retire as often as possible and discover what our true self is as distinct from the appearance we present to the world outside.
If philosophy of religion is to become scientific, it must become empirical and found itself on religious experience. The Hindu philosophy of religion starts from and returns to an experimental basis. Hindu thinker readily admits of other points of view than his own and considers them to be just as worthy of attention.
It is for philosophy of religion to find out whether the convictions of the religious seers fit in with the tested laws and principles of the universe.
If religions are to heal humanity?s divisions, if they are to bring peoples nearer one another, they must take themselves seriously, forget their partisan strife, affirm that religion is a matter of spirit and not form and its loyalty is to the whole world and not simply to the members of any one community. Such a view of religion will help us to develop the quality of tolerance.
It is not easy to know the difference between good men and bad. Ideas may be theoretically divided into good and bad, but not men and women, for each of us contains, in himself or herself, in varying degrees, the good and the bad, the high and the low, the true and the false. Besides, society has queer notions about right and wrong. Unorthodox personal relationships are wrong, while acts involving whole nations in war are right. Cruelty, treachery, and exploitation are condoned, while loving the wrong person not wisely but too well is condemned, though the latter is only a misfortune, not a crime. It is easier to make saints out of libertines than out of prudes and Pharisees. The infinite pathos of life calls for infinite understanding.
If the ideas of the upaniShads help us to rise above the glamour of the fleshy life, it is because their authors, pure of soul, ever striving towards the divine, reveal to us their pictures of the splendors of the unseen. The upaniShads are respected not because they are a part of shruti or revealed literature and so hold a reserved position but because they have inspired generations of Indians with vision and strength by their inexhaustible significance and spiritual power. Indian thought has constantly turned to these scriptures for fresh illumination and spiritual recovery or recommencement, and not in vain. The fire still burns bright on their altars. Their light is for the seeing eye and their message is for the seeker after truth.
It is one of the hardest things to criticize the actions of those of whom we are fond, but it is what one expects and longs for from true friendship. Every time the courage is found, the bond becomes stronger. A true friend not only seeks and inquires, but probes and pierces, digs his fists into the heart, though this process of ruthless unveiling or pitiless exposure is most painful and costing. But then the only way to attain peace of mind and inward harmony is by means of knowledge and adjustment. We must be completely sincere with ourselves and then adjust ourselves to circumstances. We must never lie to ourselves. If it is true that we do not know perfectly until we love perfectly, it is also true that we do not love perfectly until we know perfectly.
If the new harmony glimpsed in the moments of insight is to be achieved, the old order of habits must be renounced. Moral intuitions result in a redemption of our loyalties and a remaking of our personalities.
It is quite true that we attempt to regulate war, as we cannot suppress it; but the attempt cannot succeed. For war symbolizes the spirit of strife between two opposing national units which is to be settled by force. When we allow the use of force as the only argument to put down opposition, we cannot rightly discriminate between one kind of force and another. We must put down opposition by mobilizing all the forces at our disposal. There is no real difference between a stick and a sword, or gunpowder and poison gas. So long as it is the recognized method of putting down opposition, every nation will endeavor to make its destructive weapons more and more efficient. War is its only law add the highest virtue is to win, and every nation has to tread this terrific and deadly road. To approve of warfare but criticize its methods, it has been well said is like approving of the wolf eating the lamb but criticizing the table-manners. War is war and not a game of sport to be played according to rules.
If we leave aside the fanatics with whom no argument is possible, the leaders of every historical civilization to-day are convinced that mankind in all its extent and history is a single organizm, worshipful in its growing majesty and capable of a capable of a progress upon which none dare set any bounds. Dante proclaimed: "There is not one goal for this civilization and one for that, but for the civilization of all mankind there is a single goal." If there is a single goal for all civilization, it does not mean that all shall speak a common tongue or profess a common creed, or that all shall live under a single government, or all shall follow an unchanging pattern in customs and manners.
It is the intense spirituality of India, and not any great political structure or social organization that it has developed, that has enabled it to resist the ravages of time and the accidents of history.
In any concrete act of thinking the mind?s active experience is both intuitive and intellectual.
It is true that internationalism is growing. Economists warn us that war does not pay. It is bad business. Some of us are growing pacifist by policy, though not by conviction. The spirit of internationalism is but skin-deep. Except a small minority in each country who remained heroically faithful to its principles, the rest sacrificed their humanity at the altar of their country in the last war. Even the dignitaries of the Church proved themselves to be of the school of Mephistopheles, "who built God a church and laughed his word to scorn." Churches were turned into recruiting offices. The fanatic appeals of all sides to the Almighty must have confused God himself, and the frame of mind in which the onlookers were is well expressed in J. C. Squire's quatrain : ? God heard the embattled nations sing and shout
In emotional vibrancy experience is recollected not in tranquility... but in excitement.
It is true that we have the League of Nations, but it is only a mechanical frame and the soul has still to grow into its body. The spirit of ill-will and distrust is widespread. Internationalism is only an idea cherished by a few and not a part of human psychology. Ten years after the peace, the sky is not clearer than it was in August, 1914. Europe has a million more men under arms than there were before the war.
In the chessboard of life, the different pieces have powers which vary with the context and the possibilities of their combination are numerous and unpredictable. The sound player has a sense of right and feels that, if he does not follow it, he will be false to himself. In any critical situation the forward move is a creative act.
It takes centuries to make a little history; it takes centuries of history to make a tradition.
In the mystic traditions of the different religions we have a remarkable unity of spirit. Whatever religion they may profess, they are spiritual kinsmen. While the different religions in their historic forms bind us to limited groups and militate against the development of loyalty to the world community, the mystics have already stood for the fellowship ofhumanity in harmony with the spirit of the mystics of ages gone by.
Knowledge gives us power, love gives us fullness.
Hinduism as a progressive historical movement still in the making. Its adherents are not custodians of a deposit, but runners carrying a lighted torch. The weaknesses of the Hindu faith which have drawn the institution into disgrace and are today blocking the way for social advance are due to a confusion between tradition and truth. We must preserve the spirit of truth which will guide us into all truth. God does not say 'I am Tradition', but he says, 'I am Truth'. Truth is greater than its greatest teachers. We must realize that the history of the race is strewn with customs and institutions which were invaluable at first and deadly afterwards. Gross abuses which still survive require to be cut off with an unsparing hand. Hinduism insists on the upward striving, not only in the sphere of morals but in that of intellect. It is not to be regarded as either pessimistic or fatalistic. The law of karma affirms the implicit presence of the past in the present. When we unconsciously or mechanically follow the impulses of the past, we are not exercising our freedom. But we are free when our personal subject becomes the ruling center.
Increasing knowledge of science without corresponding growth of religious wisdom only increases our fear of death.
Knowledge when acquired must be thrown into logical form and we are obliged to adopt the language of logic since only logic has a communicable language.
Hinduism is? not a definite dogmatic creed, but a vast, complex, but subtly unified mass of spiritual thought and realization. Its tradition of the God ward endeavor of the human spirit has been continuously enlarging through the ages.