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

The upaniShads represent a great chapter in the history of the human spirit and have dominated Indian philosophy, religion and life for three thousand years. Every subsequent religious movement has had to show itself to be in accord with their philosophical statements. Even doubting and denying spirits found in them anticipations of their hesitancies, misgivings and negations. They have survived many changes, religious and secular, and helped many generations of men to formulate their views on the chief problems of life and existence.

To respond to spiritual teaching, we require the spiritual disposition.

While the triumph of mechanical inventions provides a common basis for the civilization of the future, the break-down of traditional systems of thought, belief, and practice is the necessary preparation for the building of a spiritual unity. The leaven is at work among all the peoples, especially among the youth who are unwilling to be mere clay in the hands of others, be they ever so old or wise. There is a quickened consciousness, a sense of something in adequate and unsatisfactory in the ideas and conceptions we have held and the groping after new values. Dissolution is in the air. The old forms of faith are tottering. Among the thoughtful men of every creed and country there is a note of spiritual wistfulness and expectancy.

The upaniShads which base their affirmations on spiritual experience are invaluable for us, as the traditional props of faith, the infallible scripture, miracle and prophecy are no longer available. The irreligion of our times is largely the product of the supremacy of religious technique over spiritual life. The study of the upaniShads may help to restore to fundamental things of religion that reality without which they seem to be meaningless.

Truth can never be perceived except by those who are in love with goodness.

The Vedanta ethics does not ask us to sit with folded hands or, like the mystic, look down on earth or up to heaven, at nothing in particular.

War with its devastated fields and ruined cities, with its millions of dead and more millions of maimed and wounded, its broken-hearted and defiled women and its starved children bereft of their natural protection, its hate and atmosphere of lies and intrigue, is an outrage on all that is human. So long as this devil-dance does not disgust us, we cannot pretend to be civilized. It is no good preventing cruelty to animals and building hospitals for the sick and poor houses for the destitute so long as we willing to mow down masses of men by machine-guns and poison non-combatants, including the aged and the infirm, women and children ? and all for what? For the glory of God and the honor of the nation!

The Vedanta is not a religion, but religion itself in its most universal and deepest significance.

We are grown-up infants, and God is a sort of 'wet nurse' to humanity.

The vedAnta meant originally the upaniShads, though the word is now used for the system of philosophy based on the upaniShads. Literally, vedAnta means the end of the Veda, vedasya antaH, the conclusion as well as the goal of the Vedas. The upaniShads are the concluding portions of the Vedas. Chronologically they come at the end of the Vedic period. As the upaniShads contain abstruse and difficult discussions of ultimate philosophical problems, they were taught to the pupils at about the end of their course. When we have Vedic recitations as religious exercises, the end of these recitals is generally from the upaniShads. The chief reason why the upaniShads are called the end of the Veda is that they represent the central aim and meaning of the teaching of the Veda.

We become more religious in proportion to our readiness to doubt and not our willingness to believe.

The Vedas were composed by the seers when they were in a state of inspiration. He who inspires them is God.

We can see objects without the medium of the senses and discern relations spontaneously without building them up laboriously. In other words, we can discern every kind of reality directly.

The violent extermination of Buddhism in India is legendary. Buddhism grew weaker as it spread wider. The spirit of compromise which breathed in the Xllth Edict of Ashoka that there should be no praising of one's sect and decrying of other sects but on the contrary a rendering of honor to other sects for whatever cause honor may be due to them was its strength and weakness. It accommodated too much. Divinities and heavens slipped into Buddhism from other creedswith the spread of the religion.

We cannot attain purity, we cannot gain our goal of truth, unless we walk in the path of virtue. The Asoka's wheel represents to us the wheel of the Law, the wheel Dharma. Truth can be gained only by the pursuit of the path of Dharma, by the practice of virtue. Truth,?Satya, Dharma ?Virtue, these ought to be the controlling principles of all those who work under this Flag. It also tells us that the Dharma is something which is perpetually moving. If this country has suffered in the recent past, it is due to our resistance to change. There are ever so many challenges hurled at us and if we have not got the courage and the strength to move along with the times, we will be left behind. There are ever so many institutions which are worked into our social fabric like caste and untouchability. Unless these things are scrapped we cannot say that we either seek truth or practice virtue. This wheel which is a rotating thing, which is a perpetually revolving thing, indicates to us that there is death in stagnation.

The word 'upaniShad' is derived from upa (near), ni (down) and sad (to sit), i.e., sitting down near. Groups of pupils sit near the teacher to learn from him the secret doctrine. In the quietude of forest hermitages the upaniShad thinkers pondered on the problems of the deepest concern and communicated their knowledge to fit pupils near them. The seers adopt a certain reticence in communicating the truth. They wish to be satisfied that their pupils are spiritually and not carnally minded.

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.

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