After independence, those who gave a shape to modern India, marked different days as days of national importance. One such day of national importance is the Teachers’ Day, which falls on 5th September to honour teachers.
Why did they choose this day to honour teachers?
Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan was a teacher by profession, who rose to be a leader of modern India.
He started his career as a teacher in the Madras University. He distinguished himself in his chosen field of Philosophy and in his times, was one of the foremost thinkers in this field. His specialisation was Hindu philosophy. We often hear the phrase, “Hinduism is a way of life” as a way to explain Hinduism. This phrase was coined by Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan.
From being a teacher, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan soon rose to the high post of becoming the Vice President of India and later occupied the highest post of the land as the 2nd President of India.
One particular instance of his brilliance is when he addressed the august gathering of Master Minds in United Kingdom. One of the norms after a person addresses a Master Mind is for the presiding officer of the function to give his comments. After Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan’s address at the Master Minds, the presiding officer’s only comment was, “a mastermind on Master Minds.” Such was his erudition indeed!
After his lecture there, one of the students present asked him, whether he possessed the whole of the knowledge, for which Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan replied that, “he was still searching for grains, in the sands of knowledge”.
Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan’s humble repartee to the student seems to have been inspired by the famous quotation of the ancient Tamil poetess Avvaiyaru – “What you have learnt is equal to just a handful of soil, what you have yet to learn, is as wide as this Earth”.
True knowledge is that which produced humility and a sense of balance in the individual.
In memory of the scholarship of this teacher and leader, the Government of India declared his birthday as Teacher’s Day.
A good teacher is known by the students he creates.
As per Swami Vivekananda, a teacher is the one who is a constant learner.
So, from whom did this great teacher learn from?
While the birthday of Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishna was chosen as the date to honour teachers, we cannot afford to forget his teacher. For, it was his teacher, Ashutosh Mukherjee who had guided Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishna in rising to those great heights.
In 1921, it was Ashutosh Mukherjee who convinced the budding philosopher, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan to join the Calcutta University. Ashutosh Mukherjee also inspired and groomed other famous personalities like C. V. Raman, Srinivasa Ramanujam and Subhash Chandra Bose.
This teacher’s day, let us cherish memories of not only the great teacher Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan but also the great teacher’s teacher, Ashutosh Mukherjee.