Sunday, 2 June 2013


Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (5 September 1888 – 17 April 1975) was an Indian philosopher and statesman who was the first Vice President of India (1952–1962) and the second President of India from 1962 to 1967.
One of India's most influential scholars of comparative religion and philosophy, Radhakrishnan built a bridge between the East and the West by showing how the philosophical systems of each tradition are comprehensible within the terms of the other. He wrote authoritative exegeses of India's religious and philosophical literature for the English speaking world. His academic appointments included the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta (1921–1932) and Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at Oxford University (1936–1952).
Radhakrishan was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, in 1954. Among the many other honors he received were the British Knight Bachelor in 1931 and the commonwealth Order of Merit (1963), but ceased to use the title "Sir" after India attained independence. His birthday is celebrated in India as Teachers' Day on 5 September. He was also awarded the Templeton Prize in 1975 in recognition of the fact that "his accessible writings underscored his country’s religious heritage and sought to convey a universal reality of God that embraced love and wisdom for all people"

Early life and education

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in a Niyogi Telugu Brahmin family at a village near Thiruttani India, 84 km to the northwest of Madras (now Chennai). His father's name was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and his mother's was Sitamma. His early years were spent in Tiruttani and Tirupati. His father was a subordinate revenue official in the service of a local zamindar (landlord). His primary education was at Primary Board High School at Tiruttani. In 1896 he moved to the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheral Mission School in Tirupati.
Radhakrishnan was awarded scholarships throughout his academic life. He joined Voorhees College in Vellore but switched to the Madras Christian College at the age of 17. He graduated from there in 1906 with a Master's degree in Philosophy, being one of its most distinguished alumni. Radhakrishnan wrote his thesis for the M.A. degree on "The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions". He was afraid that this M.A. thesis would offend his philosophy professor, Dr. Alfred George Hogg. Instead, Hogg commended Radhakrishnan on having done most excellent work.  Radhakrishnan's thesis was published when he was only 20.
Radhakrishnan studied philosophy by chance rather than choice. Being a financially constrained student, when a cousin who graduated from the same college passed on his philosophy textbooks in to Radhakrishnan, it automatically decided his academic course. Later on he felt deep interest in his subject and wrote many acclaimed works on philosophy, both Eastern and Western.


Radhakrishnan was married to Sivakamu, a distant cousin, at the age of 16. As per tradition the marriage was arranged by the family. The couple had five daughters and a son, Sarvepalli Gopal. Sarvepalli Gopal went on to a notable career as a historian. Sivakamu died in 1956. They were married for over 51 years.



In April 1909,Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was appointed to the Department of Philosophy at the Madras Presidency College. Thereafter, in 1918, Radhakrishnan was selected as Professor of Philosophy by the University of Mysore. By that time he had written many articles for journals of repute like The Quest, Journal of Philosophy and the International Journal of Ethics. He also completed his first book, The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore. He believed Tagore's philosophy to be the "genuine manifestation of the Indian spirit". Radhakrishnan's second book, The Reign of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy was published in 1920.
In 1921 he was appointed as a professor in philosophy to occupy the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta. Radhakrishnan represented the University of Calcutta at the Congress of the Universities of the British Empire in June 1926 and the International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard University in September 1926. Another important academic event during this period was the invitation to deliver the Hibbert Lecture on the ideals of life which he delivered at Harris Manchester College, Oxford in 1929 and which was subsequently published in book form as An Idealist View of Life.
In 1929 Radhakrishnan was invited to take the post vacated by Principal J. Estlin Carpenter at Harris Manchester College. This gave him the opportunity to lecture to the students of the University of Oxford on Comparative Religion. For his services to education he was knighted by George V in the June 1931 Birthday Honours, and formally invested with his honour by the Governor-General of India, the Earl of Willingdon, in April 1932. However, he ceased to use the title after Indian independence, preferring instead his academic title of 'Doctor'.
He was the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University from 1931 to 1936. In 1936 Radhakrishnan was named Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford, and was elected a Fellow of All Souls College. In 1939 Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya invited him to succeed him as the Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He served as its Vice-Chancellor till January 1948.
When India became independent in 1947, Radhakrishnan represented India at UNESCO (1946–52) and was later Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union, from 1949 to 1952. He was also elected to the Constituent Assembly of India.
Radhakrishnan was elected as the first Vice President of India in 1952. He was elected as the second President of India (1962–1967). When he became President, some of his students and friends requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday, 5 September. He replied,
"Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if 5 September is observed as Teachers' Day."
His birthday has since been celebrated as Teachers' Day in India.
Along with Ghanshyam Das Birla and some other social workers in the pre-independence era, Radhakrishnan formed the Krishnarpan Charity Trust.


Radhakrishnan stated that Western philosophers, despite all claims to objectivity, were influenced by theological influences of their own culture. He wrote books on Indian philosophy according to Western academic standards, and made all efforts for the West to give serious consideration to Indian philosophy. In his book An Idealist View of Life, he made a powerful case for the importance of intuitive thinking as opposed to purely intellectual forms of thought. He is well known for his commentaries on the Prasthana Trayi namely, the Bhagavadgita, the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutra.


  • The Bharat Ratna in 1954
  • Radhakrishnan was appointed a Knight Bachelor in 1931.
  • Elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1938.
  • He was awarded Order of Merit in 1963.
  • He received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1961.
  • Awarded the Templeton Prize in 1975, a few months before his death. He donated the entire amount of the Templeton Prize to Oxford University. In 1989, the university instituted the Radhakrishnan Scholarships in his memory. The scholarships were later renamed the "Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships"

Philosophy and Life
    His first book, "The Ethics of the Vedanta and Its Material Presupposition"', being his thesis for the M.A. degree examination of the Madras University, published in 1908, at once established his fame as a great philosopher of undoubted ability. All his later works are landmarks in their respective fields. Expressing abstract and abstruse philosophical thoughts in intelligible language is considered very difficult. But Dr. Radhakrishnan was one of the few who could accomplish this with ease and simplicity.
    To him, philosophy was a way of understanding life and his study of Indian philosophy served as a cultural therapy. By interpreting Indian thought in western terms and showing that it was imbued with reason and logic he was able to give Indians a new sense of esteem, who were overcome by inferiority complex by imperial forces. But he also made clear to them that their long and rich tradition had been arrested and required further evolution and he exhorted Indians to cast off much that was corrupt and abhorrent.
Social Commitment
    Dr. Radhakrishnan moved beyond being a mere academic and sought to engage his philosophical and religious studies in the political and social developments of the contemporary context.
    He believed that in India, the philosopher's duty was to keep in touch with the past while stretching out to the future. This commitment to society, the crusading urgent tone in his scholarly writings, the modern note in his interpretations of even classical texts and his intellectual resistance to the deforming pressures of colonialism gave Dr. Radhakrishnan a distinct public image. He was a coin minted differently from the usual run of politicians and academicians.
Evocative Teacher
    Far from being a stern and severe intellectual remote from the world, Dr. Radhakrishnan was a very humane person. Exceedingly popular among his students right from his early days as a professor at Presidency College, Madras he was an evocative teacher. He was offered the professorship in Calcutta University when he was less than 30 years old. He served as Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University from 1931 to 1936. In 1939, he was appointed the Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University .Two years later, he took over the Sir Sayaji Rao Chair of Indian Culture and Civilisation in Banaras.
    Recognition of his scholarship came again in 1936, when he was invited to fill the Chair of Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford which he retained for 16 years. His mastery on his subject and his clarity of thought and expression made him a much sought after teacher. But what made him even more popular was his warmheartedness and his ability to draw out people. This aspect of his personality continued to win him countless admirers throughout his long and illustrious public life.
    In the last decades of British rule, his was the most sophisticated and exalted analysis of Gandhi's work and thought and in free India he provided the ideological armour for Nehru's foreign policy.
International Acclaim
    His commitment to high principles and unfailing dignity lent nobility and moral authority to all the offices which he held. If in India Dr. Radhakrishnan was a highly respected figure, abroad he became one of the best-liked public figures of his time. He earned very early international recognition as a philospher. In 1952, the Library of Living Philosophers, an institute of world-wide repute, brought out a massive volume on 'the philosophy of Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan' devoted wholly to a critical appreciation of his philosophical doctrines.
    After Independence, this philosophical luminary, who personified the essence of India yet had a universal vision, became an ideal ambassador to the Soviet Union, for the nascent nation poised to establish itself in the international arena.
Leading the Nation
    In 1952, Dr. Radhakrishnan was chosen to be the Vice President of the Republic of India and in 1962, he was made the Head of the State for five years. It was the glory of Indian democracy that an educationist aloof from politics but with an international acclaim as a profound scholar was placed in the position of the President. And it was an advantage for a young country like India to have him to interpret its domestic and foreign policies abroad to expound its outlook and aspirations emphatically and in the rightway which was much needed in a world of uncertainity and disbelief among nations.
    His appointment as President was hailed by Bertrand Russel who said "It is an honour to philosophy that Dr.Radhakrishnan should be President of India and I, as a philosopher, take special pleasure in this. Plato aspired for philosophers to become kings and it is a tribute to India that she should make a philosopher her President".
    History reserved for Radhakrishnan's term of office as President much suspense and surprise. Within months of his ascendancy in 1962 there was the Chinese invasion. The nation's morale was dealt a blow but RadhakrishnanÕs voice, firm and resolute came on the air to reassure a shaken nation:
    "Owing to the difficult terrain and numerical superiority of the Chinese, we suffered military reverses. These have opened our eyes to the realities of the situation. We are now aware of our inadequacies and are alive to the needs of the present and the demands of the future. The country has developed a new purpose, a new will".
    In 1965, Pakistan violated our Western frontiers. Dr Radhakrishnan in his broadcast to the nation on September 25, 1965 said,"Pakistan assumed that India was too weak or too afraid or too proud to fight. India, though naturally disinclined to take to arms felt the necessity to defend herself when attacked. Pakistan also assumed that communal disturbances would occur in the country and in the resulting chaos she could have her way. Her miscalculations must have come to her as a rude shock."
    Dr.Radhakrishnan had great faith in Indian democracy. In his farewell broadcast to the Nation on May 12, 1967, he said that despite occasional forebodings to the contrary, the Indian Constitution had worked successfully so far. But democracy, he warned, was more than a system of the Government. "It was a way of life and a regime of civilised conduct of human affairs. We should be the architects of peaceful changes and the advocates of radical reform", he said.
Great Teacher
    It was in 1962 when Dr. Radhakrishnan became the President of India that his birthday in September came to be observed as 'Teachers' Day'. It was a tribute to Dr.Radhakrishnan's close association with the cause of teachers. Whatever position he held whether as President or Vice President or even as Ambassador, Dr.Radhakrishnan essentially remained a teacher all his life. The teaching profession was his first love and those who studied under him still remember with gratitude his great qualities as a teacher.
    Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who was one of his closest friends throughout, said about Dr.Radhakrishnan: "He has served his country in many capacities. But above all, he is a great Teacher from whom all of us have learnt much and will continue to learn. It is IndiaÕs peculiar privilege to have a great philosopher, a great educationist and a great humanist as her President. That in itself shows the kind of men we honour and respect."
    Bharat Ratna, the highest award of the nation, was conferred on him in 1954 in recognition of his meritorious service to mankind.

Famous stories about Albert Einstein's life

Albert Einstein, as everyone knows about him, was the biggest mad scientist of the early 20th century. He has many achievements under his name like the theory of relativity, discovery of photons and the connection between mass and energy in the form of E=mc2. He was born in 14 March, 1879 in a German city of Ulm. 

When he published his theory of relativity most of the public couldn’t understand it but they had fallen in love with this man for one reason or the other. They seemed to love the idea that his theory was so incomprehensive. As Einstien put it, “now every coachman and waiter argues about whether or not relativity theory is correct.” According to one story when Einstein’s theory of relativity was announced, Eddington, an astronomer who confronted Einstein’s theory was leaving the Royal Society meeting where it was announced. He was stopped by some fellow scientists who told him, “There’s rumor that only three of the people in the world understand Einstein’s theory. You must be one of them.” When the astronomer paused but didn’t say anything, the other scientist went on, “Don’t be modest Eddington.” Eddington simply looked at him and said, “Not at all. I was wandering who the third person might be.”

When Einstein was in Oxford an American Educator, Abraham Flexner paid him a visit and offered him a position at his new Institute. It was called the Institute of Advanced Studies. It was established near Princeton University, although not affiliated with the school itself. It was designed as a sort of haven where gifted scholars could work without the pressure of academic demands and teaching duties. In the course of their discussions, Flexner asked Einstein how much he thought he should make. Einstein suggested three thousand per year. Flexner was quite amused because he had more in mind. Flexner told him, “Let Mrs. Einstein and me arrange it.” When they were done, an annual salary of 15 thousand dollars was given to the scientist. They were on their way to New Jersey. 


One day during a speaking tour, Albert Einstein's driver, who often sat at the back of the hall during his lectures, remarked that he could probably give the lecture himself, having heard it so many times. Sure enough, at the next stop on the tour, Einstein and the driver switched places, with Einstein sitting at the back in his driver's uniform.

Having delivered a flawless lecture, the driver was asked a difficult question by a member of the audience. "Well, the answer to that question is quite simple," he casually replied. "I bet my driver, sitting up at the back there, could answer it!"
Albert Einstein's wife often suggested that he dress more professionally when he headed off to work. "Why should I?" he would invariably argue. "Everyone knows me there." When the time came for Einstein to attend his first major conference, she begged him to dress up a bit. "Why should I?" said Einstein. "No one knows me there!"

Albert Einstein was often asked to explain the general theory of relativity. "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour," he once declared. "Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity!"
Einstein was famous for his absentminded attitude. He was most of the times completely lost in his thoughts. Here are some of the incidents which describe his absentmindedness.
One famous story recounts someone calling the institute. The unidentified caller asked to talk to the dean. When the secretary told him he wasn’t there, the caller asked if he could give him Dr. Einstein’s home address. She of course said she couldn’t, at which point the caller whispered, “Please don’t tell anyone, but I am Dr. Einstein. I am on my way back home and I have forgotten where my house is.”
When Albert Einstein was working in Princeton university, one day he was going back home he forgot his home address. The driver of the cab did not recognize him. Einstein asked the driver if he knows Einstein's home. The driver said "Who does not know Einstein's address? Everyone in Princeton knows.Do you want to meet him?. Einstein replied "I am Einstein. I forgot my home address, can you take me there? "The driver reached him to his home and did not even collect his fare from him.

Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it.

The conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it.'

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, 'Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one.'

Einstein looked at him and said, 'Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going.'

Monday, 20 May 2013

Short stories from Sir Isaac Newton's life

Isaac Newton set down the laws of motion and gravity. He didn't really "discover" them, but quantified them and showed how they were related and how they worked. He also (with Liebnitz, who worked independently) brought us the calculus, an extraordinary tool of mathematics.

Isaac Newton is arguably one of the most influential scientists in history. Though he lived in the late 1600s, many of his discoveries still affect us in the present. His various theories still hold true even centuries after his death and countless experiments. The scientists able to improve upon his work became famous themselves. Some would say that he was the greatest product of the Enlightenment, the explosion of intellectual knowledge that occurred in his century. Here is a collection of short stories from his life depicting how he discovered various laws of physics and mathematics.

Isaac and the Bully

Isaac Newton was a shy, quiet boy growing up on a farm in England 300 years ago. He was not a very good student and nobody paid much attention to him. Nobody that is, except the school bully. One day the bully punched Isaac in the stomach. That hurt, and that got Isaac very mad! He pulled himself up straight and fought back. Isaac pushed the bully onto the ground and rubbed his face in the mud. All the other kids hated the bully and came and cheered for Isaac.
So Isaac taught the bully a lesson, but he wasn't satisfied with that. Now that he knew he could fight better than the bully, he wanted to prove that he could do anything better than the bully. So he started paying attention to school and studying hard. He was soon the top of his class, proving he was smarter than the bully too.
Isaac Newton kept on studying and when he grew up he became a math professor at Cambridge University. He discovered lots of important things and is one of the most famous scientists who ever lived. 

Isaac and the Wind

If Isaac was so smart, then why didn't he always do well at school? Well, how well somebody does at school isn't the whole story about them. Its good to remember that just because somebody has trouble with something at school, it doesn't mean they are stupid. Isaac Newton proved that!
I expect that one reason he didn't do well for a long time was that he was always thinking about things. Its just that usually the things he was thinking about weren't the things other people wanted him to think about.
For example, one time there was a terrible wind storm on the farm. His mother was worried that the wind might break gates, doors and shutters. She sent Isaac out to check all over the farm buildings and fences to make sure there wasn't anything flapping in the wind.
Isaac went out, but he didn't come back. He looked at the strong wind blowing things all around and thought "I wonder ..."
His mother waited and waited, then went out looking for him. When she found him, he was jumping up off a fence over and over to see how far the wind would carry him. He had gotten thinking about how strong the wind was, and forgot completely about everything else.
Isaac loved the wind, so of course he loved kites. He even used to fly kites in the dark. He would tie a small lamp to the tail of the kite so he could see it up in the night sky. However, people were very superstitious when he lived. When the neighbors saw a light floating in the sky at night they were worried about ghosts, or witches, or other things. When Isaac heard about this he laughed, but he decided he better stop flying the kite at night.

Comets and Apple Trees

One day Isaac was reading a book under an apple tree on the farm. An apple fell out of the tree - bonk! Ow!
Now, for most people that would be the end of the story, but not for Isaac. Not for somebody who just couldn't stop asking why all the time.
Why did the apple fall out of the tree? Does everything fall? What makes things fall? Can anything stop things from falling? Are the sun, moon, and stars falling? Why don't they ever hit the ground?
So many questions. Newton spent many years answering these questions by thinking and doing experiments. He made up the law of gravity. According to this law everything pulled everything else to itself by a force called gravity. How strong that force is depends on how heavy the things are and how close together.
So even two apples pull toward each other. But, the force is so small that you need a very careful experiment to measure it. The reason that things fall toward the ground is that the earth we live on is so very heavy, and we are so close to it.
Newton's law of gravity not only explained how things fall on earth, but how planets move around the sun and how moons move around planets. A friend of his, Edmund Halley, decided to try Newton's theory on comets. People had been studying comets for hundreds of years without figuring them out, so he decided to study their reports and compare them to Newton's theories.
Up til then people had thought that comets just came and went, and that nobody could know when or why. But Newton's law of gravity gave rules that Halley could use to study the records of comets. He found some reports of a big bright comet that he was sure was the same one, coming back every 75 years. He predicted when it would come back next.
If anybody still didn't believe Newton, then the appearance of Halley's Comet just when Halley had predicted it using Newtons ideas was enough to convince them. Halley's comet has come a few times since then, always right on schedule. You'll be able to see it on its next trip near the sun and earth when you're old enough to be a grandparent.

Newton and Hooke

Do you know anybody who always has to be first? Maybe its your brother or sister, or a friend. When you say you learned something, they say "I already knew that". When you're going to do something, they say "I already did that".
There was another famous scientist named Robert Hooke who was very jealous of Netwon. Whenever Newton announced he had discovered something, Hooke would say "I already discovered that first, I just didn't tell anybody yet." This made Newton very mad.
Everybody makes mistakes sometimes, even very smart people like Newton. One time when Newton made a mistake, Hooke was the first to discover the mistake and tell everybody about it. Newton was mad and embarrassed. He didn't like to make mistakes, but he really hated that it was Hooke who figured out the mistake. Newton said that he would never tell anybody about his discoveries again. He didn't want to ever have Hooke catch him making a mistake again. In a while though, Newton realized how silly this was and started telling about his discoveries again.
Newton wrote a big book called Principia. This book told all about how things push and pull, and gave lots of examples of how machines work and how things like planets and comets move. It was a very important book, and scientists still like to read it, even though it is more than 300 years old. But guess what happened when he was writing it. Hooke found out about what he was writing and said "I already discovered that!" Newton was so angry that he decided not to write the book. It was a good thing that he again realized how silly it is to let somebody else bother you that much. He did finish writing it, and even mentioned some things that Hooke had done.

All the Colors of Light

Another important thing that Newton did was to figure out a lot about how light works. One day he bought a prism at the Stourbridge Fair. (This is a piece of glass shaped like a triangle.) He had it sitting on his desk, and noticed how when the sun shone on it, he got different colors out. This made him very curious. Does this change the light, or does the sunlight have lots of colors that the prism puts into different places? How does the prism do it?
To find the answers, Newton had to do some experiments. He first used his blinds to get a very thin sunbeam to hit the prism. This was important - to control the light that was coming in so that he knew exactly what he was starting with. He discovered that the separation of light was even clearer. There was red, then orange, then yellow, then green, and then blue.
Newton was pretty sure that what was happening was that the light from the sun had all these colors in it, and that what the prism was doing was bending them all to go into slightly different directions. To test this he got two prisms and a card with a hole in it. He used the first prism to get the sunlight to make different colors. Then he would choose a color and put the hole so than only that color went through into the next prism. He then had a very thin line of red, yellow or some other color of light going to the second prism.
He discovered that when the light came out of the other side of the next prism, it was still the same color as when it went in. So the prism doesn't change the light's color. What the prism did do was to bend the path the light went on, so that it hit a different place than when the prism wasn't there. When he tried different colors of light he found that the prism bent them all a little bit differently. That was why light that looked white, which had all the colors in it, made different colors when it went through the prism - the different colors all came out of it in slightly different directions.