Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, fully Sir or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

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

"A study of comparative religion gives insight into the values of the various faiths, values which transcend different symbols and creeds and in transcending penetrate to the depths of the spiritual consciousness where the symbols and formulas shrink into insignificance."

"Creation is not an instantaneous act, but is an eternal process. The immanence of God which follows from this hypothesis is the pledge that evil and error, ugliness and imperfection are not ultimate. Evil has reference to the distance which good has to traverse. Error is the stage on the pathway to truth."

"In all conflict with evil, the method to be used is love and not force. When we use evil methods to defeat evil, it is evil that wins."

"It is not God that is worshipped but the group or the authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority and not violation of integrity."

"If the great religions continue to waste their energies in a fratricidal war instead of looking upon themselves as friendly partners in the supreme task of nourishing the spiritual life of mankind, the swift advance of secular humanism and moral materialism is assured."

"It is not safe to be immoral… Against the rock of moral law, earth’s conquerors and exploiters hurl themselves eventually to their own destruction. While yet there is time.. we must take steps to prevent the helpless rush of man to his doom."

"Once upon a time, Buddha relates, a certain king of Benares, desiring to divert himself, gathered together a number of beggars blind from birth and offered a prize to the one who should give him the best account of an elephant. The first beggar who examined the elephant chanced to lay hold of a leg, and reported that an elephant was a tree-trunk; the second, laying hold of the tail, declared that an elephant was like a rope; another, who seized an ear, insisted that an elephant was like a palm-leaf; and so on. The beggars fell to quarrelling with one another, and the king was greatly amused. Ordinary teachers who have grasped this or that aspect of truth quarrel with one another, while only a Buddha knows the whole."

"Religion is behavior and not mere belief."

"The future is hidden from us, but the past warns us that the world in the end belongs to the unworldly."

"To get at the transcendent within oneself, one must break through one’s normal self. We must impose silence on our familiar self, if the spirit of God is to become manifest in us. The divine is more deeply in us than we are ourselves."

"The world is not an illusion; it is not nothingness, for it is willed by God and therefore is real… The reality of the world is not in itself but it is in the thought and being of the Creator. It is what God thought and willed it to be before it was."

"The fact that man is unable or unwilling to acknowledge God, means only that he cannot accept ideas and beliefs about God framed by men, the false gods which obscure the living and ineffable God."

"We miss the true spirit of religion if we recommend it on account of its secular advantages."

"True religion is a revolutionary force: it is an inveterate enemy of oppression, privilege, and injustice."

"When we dispute over dogmas we are divided. But when we take to the religious life of prayer and contemplation, we are brought together. The deeper the prayers, the more is the individual lost in the apprehension of the Supreme."

"Worship does not consist in fasts and prayers, but in the offering of a pure and contrite heart. The musk is in the deer but it thinks that the fragrance comes from outside and so hunts for it restlessly. God is in us and we have only to turn within to realize the truth."

"A large part of the world received its religious education from India … In spite of continuous struggle with theological baggage, India has held fast for centuries to the ideals of spirit."

"A life of joy and happiness is possible only on the basis of knowledge and science."

"A literary genius, it is said, resembles all, though no one resembles him."

"All our world organizations will prove ineffective if the truth that love is stronger than hate does not inspire them."

"Books are the means by which we build bridges between cultures."

"Democracy is a faith in the spiritual possibilities of not a privileged few but of every human being."

"Death is never an end or obstacle but at most the beginning of new steps."

"Age or youth is not a matter of chronology. We are as young or as old as we teel. What we think about ourselves is what matters."

"Arts reveal to us the deeper layers of the human soul. Arts, therefore, reveal the transcendental force underlying all existence which we are much too feeble to endure when it is completely unveiled. Art is possible only when heaven touches earth."

"By what strange social alchemy has India subdued her conquerors, transforming them to her very self and substance..... ? Why is it that her conquerors have not been able to impose on her their language, their thoughts and customs, except in superficial ways?"

"Faith in conceptual reason is the logical counterpart of the egoism which makes the selfish ego the deadliest ego of the soul."

"For the Hindu, every religion is true, if only its adherents sincerely and honestly follow it. They will then get beyond the creed to the experience, beyond the formula to the vision of the truth."

"From the time of the Rig Veda till today, India has been the home of different religions and the Indian genius adopted a policy of live and let live towards them. Indian religion never quite understood the idea of exclusive worship. Indian religious tradition admits all forms in which the single truth is reflected. Proselytism is discouraged. It is not God that is worshipped but the group or the authority that claims to speak in his name."

"Hinduism is an inheritance of thought and aspiration, living and moving with the movement of life itself."

"Hinduism has come to be a tapestry of the most variegated tissues and almost endless diversity of hues."

"Hinduism according to him is not a religion, but a commonwealth of religions. It is more a way of life than a form of thought….The theist and the atheist, the skeptic and the agnostic may all be Hindus if they accept the Hindu system of culture and life. Hinduism insists not on religious conformity but on a spiritual and ethical outlook of life…Hinduism is not a sect but a fellowship of all who accept the law of right and earnestly seek for the truth."

"Hinduism is not just a faith. It is the union of reason and intuition that cannot be defined but is only to be experienced. Evil and error are not ultimate. There is no Hell, for that means there is a place where God is not, and there are sins which exceed his love."

"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."

"Hinduism recognizes that each religion is inextricably bound up with its culture and can grow organically. While it is aware that all religions have not attained to the same level of truth and goodness, it insists that they all have a right to express themselves. Religions reform themselves by interpretations and adjustments to one another. The Hindu attitude is one of positive fellowship not negative tolerance."

"Hinduism is not bound up with a creed or a book, a prophet or a founder, but is persistent search for truth on the basis of a continuously renewed experience. Hinduism is human thought about God in continuous evolution."

"Hinduism represents an effort at comprehension and cooperation. It recognizes the diversity in man's approach towards, and realization of, the one Supreme Reality. For it the essence of religion consists in man's hold on what is eternal and immanent in all being."

"Hinduism is wholly free from the strange obsession of some faiths that the acceptance of a particular religious metaphysics is necessary for salvation, and non-acceptance thereof is a heinous sin meriting eternal punishment in hell."

"Human nature is fundamentally good, and the spread of enlightenment will abolish all wrong."

"If 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 Sruti 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."

"Hinduism represents the spirit, the spirit that has such extraordinary vitality as to survive political and social changes. From the beginning of recorded history, Hinduism has borne witness to the sacred flame of spirit, which must remain forever, even while our dynasties crash and empires tumble into ruins. It alone can give our civilization a soul, and men and women a principle to live by."

"Human life as we have it is only the raw material for Human life as it might be."

"Into the bosom of the one great sea Flow streams that come from the hills on every side, Their names are various as their springs And thus in every land do men bow down To one great God, though known by many names."

"In the history of the world, Hinduism is the only religion that exhibits a complete independence and freedom of the human mind, its full confidence in its own powers. Hinduism is freedom, especially the freedom in thinking about God."

"It is said that a man without religion is like a horse without bridle."

"My religious sense did not allow me to speak a rash or a profane word of anything which the soul of man holds or has held sacred. The attitude of respect for all creeds, this elementary good manner in matters of spirit, is bred into the marrow of one's bones by the Hindu tradition."

"Love thy neighbor as thyself because you are your neighbor. It is illusion that makes you think that your neighbor is someone other than yourself."

"Man is a paradoxical being-the constant glory and scandal of this world."

"Nations, like individuals, are made, not only by what" they acquire, but by what they resign."

"No one Who holds himself aloof from the activities of the world and who is insensitive to its woes can be really wise."