Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli

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Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli

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  • సర్వేపల్లి రాధాకృష్ణ

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Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in Tiruttani, India, in 1888, into a Telugu Brahmin family. At the age of 17, he began to study at the prestigious Madras Christian College from which he graduated in 1906 with a Master in philosophy. His thesis was entitled “The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions.” He went on to gain a PhD in philosophy.
In 1919 Radhakrishnan was accepted at the department of philosophy at the Mardras Presidency College. The following year, he became professor of philosophy at the University of Mysore. At this point he was already a well-known philosopher in India and had published his book on The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918), in which he defended the idea that the poet expressed the true spirit of Indian philosophy. In 1921 he was offered the George V chair of moral sciences at the University of Calcutta. In 1929 he was invited to Oxford to deliver the Hibbert Lectures, which resulted in the publication of An Idealist view of Life (1932). He then taught at Harris Manchester College at Oxford where he specialised in comparative religion. He was knighted in 1931 by King George V, and became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Andhra that same year, a position which he held until 1936. Between 1933 and 1935 he was proposed for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In 1936, Radhakrishnan was appointed professor of oriental religions and ethics at the University of Oxford and became a fellow of All Souls College. In 1939 he took over responsibilities as Vice-Chancellor at Banaras Hindu University, where he remained until 1948.

Beyond his academic career, Radhakrishnan played an important role in the diplomatic and intellectual international life. In 1926, he represented the University of Calcutta at the Congress of British Universities, and in September 1926, at the World Congress of Philosophy at Harvard. In 1931, Lord Irwin, Governor-General of India, appointed Radharkrishnan in 1931 to succeed Jagadish Chandra Bose at the ICIC, and Radharkrishnan stayed until 1938. He was particularly interested in questions of education and international cooperation among universities. He played an important role in the establishment of the Indian Committee of Intellectual Cooperation between 1935–1936, which was established by the Inter-University Board, the headquarters of which were at the University of Mysore.

After the Second World War Radharkrishnan involved himself with UNESCO where he represented India from 1946 until 1952. Between 1949 and 1952, he was Indian ambassador in the USSR. During that time, he published an article with the UNESCO journal entitled “The Bonds Uniting India and UNESCO” (1951).

He participated at the constituent assembly of India and was elected Vice-President of India in 1952. Between 1962 and 1967 he served as the second President of India. He died in 1975.


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International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation

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Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a member of the ICIC.

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Created by Marie Caillot 08/11/2011. English translations by Jan Stöckmann 11-08-2015.




  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1: boîte 26. IICI. A. III. 43. Commission nationale hindoue de Coopération intellectuelle. (1925-1945). Cf. notamment : lettre d'E. Felkin à A. Dufour-Feronce du 28 janvier 1931 (rapport sur Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan). Doc. n°132-134 ; lettre de Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan à Henri Bonnet du 21 novembre 1934 (signature manuscrite). Doc n°102.
  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1: boîte 10. IICI. A. I. 92. Relations avec le gouvernement des Indes anglaises. (1930-1934).
  • UNESCO Archives, Archival Group 1 : CICI/461. Organisation de Coopération intellectuelle, "Les Commissions nationales de Coopération intellectuelle", Genève 1937, "Inde", p.72-73.
  • "The Nomination Database for the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1901-1950". Site des Prix Nobel. Retrieved from: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/nomination/nomination.php?action=show&showid=172 Accessed 3rd November 2011.
  • The UNESCO Courier - Special Issue: "60 Years of Friendship with India", November 2009. P. 6, 8, 19-20. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001859/185958e.pdf#186061 Accessed 3rd November 2011.
  • "Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan". Article Wikipédia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarvepalli_Radhakrishnan Accessed 8th November 2011.
  • Coyajee, J. C. (Sir) (1932). India and the League of Nations. Madras: Thompson & co Ltd. P. Retrieved from: http://www.archive.org/details/indiaandtheleagu020279mbp Accessed 3rd November 2011.
  • Gopal, S. "Les Pères de l'Inde moderne" in Courrier de l'UNESCO, XLII, 2, février 1939, p. 10-11.
  • Minor, Robert N. (1987). Radhakrishnan: a religious biography. New York: State University of New York Press. P. 78-79.
  • Murty, K.S. Vohra, A. (1990). Radhakrishnan: his life and ideas. New York: State University of New York Press. P. 68-73.
  • Radhakrishnan, S. "Des liens étroits rattachent l'Inde à l'Unesco" in Courrier de l'UNESCO, IV, 5, 1951, p. 4.
  • Renoliet, J.-J. (1999). L'UNESCO oubliée. La Société des Nations et la coopération intellectuelle (1919-1946). Paris : Publications de la Sorbonne. P. 184.

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