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

We do not want a new religion, but we need a new enlarged understanding of the old religions.

There is a danger in giving only carefully chosen extracts. We are likely to give what is easy to read and omit what is difficult, or give what is agreeable to our views and omit what is disagreeable. It is wise to study the upaniShads as a whole, their striking insights as well as their commonplace assumptions. Only such a study will be historically valuable. I have therefore given in full the classical upaniShads, those commented on or mentioned by shankara. The other upaniShads are of a later date and are sectarian in character. They represent the popular gods, Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, as manifestations of the Supreme Reality. They are not parts of the original Veda, are of much later origin and are not therefore as authoritative as the classical upaniShads. If they are all to be included, it would be difficult to find a Publisher for so immense a work.

We have had in our country peaceful co-existence of different religion. It is not mere passive co-existence but an active fellowship, a close inter-relation of the best of different religions. Co-existence is the first step and fraternity is the goal.

There is life in movement. Our Dharma is Sanatana, eternal, not in the sense that it is a fixed deposit but in the sense that it is perpetually changing. Its uninterrupted continuity is its Sanatana character. So even with regard to our social conditions it is essential for us to move forward.

We have spiritual facts and their interpretations by which they are communicated to others, sruti or what is heard, and sm?ti or what is remembered. ?a?karaequates them with pratyak?a or intuition and anumana or inference. It is the distinction between immediacy and thought. Intuitions abide, while interpretations change.

There is no more inspiring task for the student of Indian thought than to set forth some phases of its spiritual wisdom and bring them to bear on our own life. Let us, in the words of Socrates, 'turn over together the treasures that wise men have left us, glad if in so doing we make friends with one another.'

We invent by intuition, though we prove by logic.

'These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands; they are not original with me. If they are not yours as much as mine, they are nothing or next to nothing', said Walt Whitman. The upaniShads deal with questions which arise when men begin to reflect seriously and attempt answers to them which are not very different, except in their approach and emphasis from what we are now inclined to accept. This does not mean that the message of upaniShads which is as true today as ever, commits us to the different hypotheses about the structure of the world and the physiology of man. We must make a distinction between the message of the upaniShads and their mythology. The latter is liable to correction by advances in science. Even this mythology becomes intelligible if we place ourselves as far as possible at the viewpoint of those who conceived it. Those parts of the upaniShads which seem to us today to be trivial, tedious and almost unmeaning, should have had value and significance at the time they were composed.

We must recognize that violence is an unfortunate breach of community, and devise other ways of establishing satisfactory relationship.

The institution of caste illustrates the spirit of comprehensive synthesis characteristic of the Hindu mind with its faith in the collaboration of races and the co-operation of cultures. Paradoxical as it may seem, the system of caste is the outcome of tolerance and trust.

The upaniShads are the foundations on which the beliefs of millions of human beings, who were not much inferior to ourselves, are based. Nothing is more sacred to man than his own history. At least as memorials of the past, the upaniShads are worth our attention.

The main function of a university is not to grant degrees and diplomas, but to develop the university spirit and advance learning. The former is impossible without corporate life, the latter without honors and post-graduate

The upaniShads are vehicles more of spiritual illumination than of systematic reflection. They reveal to us a world of rich and varied spiritual experience rather than a world of abstract philosophical categories. Their truths are verified not only by logical reason but by personal experience. Their aim is practical rather than speculative. Knowledge is a means to freedom. Philosophy, brahma-vidyA, is the pursuit of wisdom by a way of life.

The man of faith, whether he be Hindu or Buddhist, Muslim or Christian, has certainty, and yet there is a difference between the two pairs. The attitude of the cultivated Hindu and the Buddhist to other forms of worship is one of sympathy and respect, and not criticism and contempt for their own sake. This friendly understanding is not inconsistent with deep feeling and thought. Faith for the Hindu does not mean dogmatism. He does not smell heresy in those who are not entirely of his mind. It is not devotion that leads to the assertive temper, but limitation of outlook, hardness, and uncharity. While full of unquestioning belief, the Hindu is at the same time devoid of harsh judgment. It is not historically true that in the knowledge of truth there is of necessity great intolerance.

The upaniShads contain accounts of the mystic significance of the syllable aum, explanations of mystic words like tajjalAn, which are intelligible only to the initiated, and secret texts and esoteric doctrines. upaniShad became a name for a mystery, a secret, rahasyam, communicated only to the tested few.

The marginalization of intuition and the abandonment of the experimental attitude in matters of religion has lead Christianity to dogmatic stasis. It is an unfortunate legacy of the course which Christian theology has followed in Europe that faith has come to connote a mechanical adherence to authority. If we take faith in the proper sense of truth or spiritual conviction, religion is faith or intuition.

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.

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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