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Dr S Radhakrishnan – Collection Of Wisdom And Philosophy

A collection of wisdom and philosophical ideas of Dr S Radhakrishnan.

Regarding the future there is nothing sure or predestined or guaranteed. The only certainty is that the good will prevail over evil. The spirit in man is the source of his freedom. We are free to choose the cause. When once we exercise our choice, we may not be able to alter or affect the effect.

If we do not take note of the currents of thought and aspiration but claim to speak of infallible truth about God, discard the canons of social justice, overlook that God finds something of himself in each religion and not fully in any, if we do not develop community of minds in a world that is desperately threatened by instruments which we ourselves have devised, the number of unbelievers will increase and God himself may join the camp of unbelievers.

Even the conviction that one’s own faith gives a deeper insight into reality, need not engender hostility to those who cherish other beliefs. We may look upon others as fellow-seekers of truth.

Natural desires are quenched easily: thirst by water, hunger by food. But the craving for possessions is an artificial one, it goes on unceasingly and is never fully satisfied.

All eras of transition are periods of disintegration and renewal.

The pathways we tread, the names we give, fade away into insignificance when we stand face to face in the glowing light of the Divine.

Our duty is not to escape from time but to establish our superiority over the tyranny of time.

Every human being has rational, ethical and spiritual sides. It is wrong to think that some people are rational and others spiritual.

In India, ‘Atmanam Vidhi,’ know the self, sums up the law and the prophets. Within man is the spirit that is the centre of everything.

It is incorrect to imagine that the objective process has in it two opposite natures, spiritual and material, of which one must be discarded and the other accepted. These worlds are not separate and hostile. Reality is one with many planes. The material looks upward to the spiritual and finds in it its true meaning.

In man is an intersection of several worlds, none of which completely contains his true self. It exists on several planes and is permanently in a process of creative change. It has need of time to realize its potentialities to the full. It always endeavors to resolve contradictions. It will not do if the spirit establishes unity and control within the nature of the ego. It must conquer the world and transform it instead of denying and abandoning it to its fate.

If there is one doctrine more than any other which is characteristic of Hindu thought, it is the belief that there is an interior depth to the human soul, which, in its essence, is uncreated and deathless and absolutely real.

Man is responsible for his acts. Evil is the free act of the individual who uses his freedom for his own exaltation…Evil is the result of our alienation from the Real.

Faith becomes real in us by the steady concentration of mind on Reality.

Faith is an attitude of will, the energy of soul, the response of the entire self, in faith we believe not only with our brains but with our whole soul and body. The idea is no merely thought out but grows from the deepest layers of life and mind.

We cannot change bad things. But we can change our attitude towards them.

The truly great are not those who have more money or brains or higher social position. God does not think less of people because they are poor or unintelligent. What matters is whether we have been kind to others and honest and sincere with ourselves and in our intimate relations with others.

The superiority of the West is due to its intellectual integrity, the sincerity of its pursuit of truth. From the time of Socrates, the seeker of truth, down till today, the Western mind, with rare exceptions, has been remarkably free from self-complacency, intellectual laziness and blind faith in ancient wisdom.

Tradition cannot ever supersede truth. What is manifestly wrong cannot become right by the mere force of custom or authority. Conscience cannot be silenced by scripture. We must clear our mind of the cobwebs which are found there.

One’s knowledge of God is limited by one’s capacity to understand him.

The aim of the reformer should be to cure the defect and not criticize the view.

Error is only a sign of immaturity. It is not a grievous sin.

The Hindu method of religious reform helps to bring about a change not in the name but in the content.

When the pupil approaches his religious teacher for guidance, the teacher asks the pupil about his favorite God, Ishtadevata, for every man has a right to choose that form of belief and worship which most appeals to him. The teacher tells the pupil that his idea is a concrete representation of what is abstract, and leads him gradually to an appreciation of the Absolute intended by it.

Hinduism requires every man to think steadily about the mystery of life until he gets the highest revelation. It insists on the development of one’s intellectual conscience and sensitivity to truth.

Honesty with oneself is the condition of spiritual integrity.

Wealth, power and efficiency are the appurtenances of life and not life itself.

Never in this world does hatred cease by hatred – hatred cease by love.

Man and nature both pass through the cycle of birth and death.

People show more regard for the dead than for the living.

Meditation is the way to self knowledge.

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

Our life carries within it a record that time cannot blur or death erase.

Prophecy is insight. It is vision. It is anticipating.

Reading a book gives us the habit of solitary reflection and true enjoyment.

Those who have had personal experience of God refuse to express that experience in verbal forms or logical propositions. Every form is an approximation, is a shadow of that ultimate substance.

Man’s moral life consists in avoiding the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.

Every thinker starts on his religious quest with a profound sense of dissatisfaction with this world.

Only the permanent, the eternal, can give happiness to man.

There is no use of saying the fault is in the stars. The fault is in ourselves. We have to scrutinise our own nature, and we have to make ourselves different from what we are.

Hatred is something which deflects our thinking, which makes our conscience subordinate to an ideology. It does not allow us to look upon the things which are good to us in a straightforward way. So, we must rid our mind of every kind of hatred.

The power of thought is essential for the understanding of Reality. Thought which goes deep enough ends in insight. Reason takes us to something deeper than reason, to the power and profundity of the human spirit.

We cannot attain truth unless we pass through a spiritual travail. Self suffering is the way to it. The world will be healed if each individual begins the healing within himself.

The goal of life is communion with the Supreme. It is a life of realization, when man achieves absolute freedom and escapes from blind servitude to ordinary experience.

Intuition is not emotion but the claim to certain knowledge. It give us a sense of divine reality as a thing immediately certain and directly known.

The problem facing man is the conflict between the divine and the undivine in him. To overcome the conflict and integrate the personality is the aim of religion.

There are different recognized pathways by which the duality is overcome and perfection reached. In order to see in the world of spiritual reality, we must close our eyes to the world of nature.

Tradition is something which is for ever being worked out anew and recreated by the free activity of its followers. What is built for ever is for ever building. If a tradition does not grow, it only means that its followers have become spiritually dead. Throughout the history of Hinduism the leaders of thought and practice have been continually busy experimenting with new forms, developing new ideals to suit new conditions.

Hinduism is not to be dismissed as a mere flow and strife of opinions, for its represents a steady growth of insight, since every form of Hinduism and every state of its growth is related to the common background of the Vedanta.

Though Hindu religious thought has traversed many revolutions and made great conquests, the essential ideas have continued the same for four or five millenniums. The germinal conceptions are contained in the Vedanta Standard.

Dr S Radhakrishnan Thoughts on Revolutions

Revolutions generally leave a trail of disappointment and disillusionment behind them. In the excitement of the struggle we proclaim great ideals and entertain high hopes. Where the struggle is over we are brought into contact with hard reality and the attempt to apply these ideals leads to compromises, retreats which tarnish the purity of the achievement. Every successful revolution faces criticism not only from the right, from its dispossessed victims, but also from the left, from its one-time supporters who accuse it of having betrayed its principles. What is essential is to hold fast to the ideals, the fundamental principles which govern the revolution.

Some of us regard ourselves as innately good but betrayed by circumstances. It is better to discern signs of inward decay and check them in time. No outside country can degrade a nation. It could be degraded only by itself. We must try to see to it that in every act we do, we behave as worthy descendants of the great leaders who placed the service of the people above all other considerations.

S Radhakrishnan Thoughts on Love and Sex

Love born of sense attraction should be transformed into love based on austerity and control.

Sex life is not inconsistent with spiritual attainment. Wild life or unrestrained passion is inconsistent with it. Sex life under law and restraint is spiritual in character. One can lead the life of a householder and yet be a hermit in temper. The Upanishad says: Enjoy by renunciation.

The goal of life is joy, serenity and not pleasure or happiness. Joy is the fulfillment of one’s nature as human being. We must affirm our being against the whole world, if need be.

The aim of life is a happy harmony of man and woman. The concept of ardhanarisvara brings it out. The wife does not belong to the husband but makes a whole with him.

Source – Living With a Purpose by Dr. S Radhakrishnan – Page 25 - 26

Lessons from the Mahabharata – Dr S Radhakrishnan

The Mahabharata insists on integrity. It is never right to do wrong. “Whatever you sow, that you will reap.” Wrong doing is punished sooner or later in unhappiness and failure.

Right action is rewarded in well being and success.

Intelligence, goodness, wisdom, and integrity are to be practiced.

Ignorance, dishonesty, avarice and fraud are to be avoided. We should reject the temptation to be dishonest and unscrupulous.

To believe that it is necessary on occasion to be less than honest is false.

A life of discipline, of dharma is exalted.

A lawless society cannot long survive.

The ultimate is immutable reality and absolute love.

These lessons are instilled in our minds by the incidents and episodes of the Mahabharata.

Source  Identity And Ethos  By Dr. S Radhakrishnan

S Radhakrishnan Thoughts on a True Religious Man

We may start with austerity; austerity will lead to tolerance; tolerance will lead to respect and we will respect what other people hold sacred. Such should be the attitude of a truly religious soul. If you have hatred in your heart, if you have ignorance in your mind, if there is superstition in the dark spaces of your heart, take it from me that you are not a religious man but pretending to be a religious man. A truly religious man will be filled with light, joy and compassion for the whole of humanity.

There is a secret dwelling place in each man’s heart, where the Divine is to be felt, is to be touched and experienced. This is what we should do. Prayers, meditations and spiritual exercises are all methods which are devices for helping us to know the deepest in us. This is what the purpose of all true religion is.

This does not mean that we should retire into monasteries or go to mountain tops, lacerate our bodies, torture our minds and give up the world. People who do so are not truly religious. Men who neglect their duties and merely utter the name, Krishna, Krishna, are the enemies of God; ignorant people who do not know what Reality is. For the sake of humanity, god himself has taken birth in this world. If He has done that, is it not our duty to express our deepest convictions in our daily life and in our national behavior.

Dr S Radhakrishnan

The deeper one goes into one’s own experience, facing destiny, fighting fate, or enjoying love, the more does one’s experience have in common with the experiences of others, in climes and ages.

The most unique is the most universal.

We are ordinarily imprisoned in the wheel of time, in historicity and so are restricted to the narrow limits of existence.

Our aim should be to lift ourselves out of our entanglement, to an awareness of the real, which is behind and beyond all time and history, that which does not become, that which absolute, non-historical being itself. We cannot think it, enclose it within categories, images and verbal structures.

We know more than we can think and express it in historical forms. The end of man is to become aware by experience of this absolute reality.

Source - Living with a Purpose By Dr. S Radhakrishnan Page 9 to 14

The Upanishads condemn the rites and sacrifices performed with the sole idea of bringing about large returns of outward good either in this world or in the next. We should not do our duty with the motive of purchasing shares in the other world or opening a bank account with God.

Desire as such is not forbidden. It all depends upon the object. If a man’s desire is the flesh, he becomes an adulterer; if things of beauty, an artist; if God, a saint.

Though everything else is taken away from him, though he has to walk the streets, cold, hungry and alone, he shall yet be able to go his way with a smile on his lips for he has gained inward freedom.

We must work with a perfect serenity indifferent to the results. He who acts by virtue of an inner law is on a higher level than one whose action is dictated by his whims.

(Source Indian Philosophy Vol 1)

To obliterate every other religion than one’s own is a sort of bolshevism in religion which we must try to prevent. We can do so only if we accept something like the Hindu solution, which seeks the unity of religion not in a common creed but in a common quest.

Let us believe in a unity of spirit and not of organization, a unity which secures ample liberty not only for every individual but for every type of organized life which has proved itself effective.

For almost all historical forms of life and thought can claim the sanction of experience and so the authority of God.

The world would be a much poorer thing if one creed absorbed the rest.

God wills a rich harmony and not a colorless uniformity.

Source – The Hindu View of Life Page 58-59

The Hindu attitude to religion is interesting. While fixed intellectual beliefs mark off one religion from another, Hinduism sets itself no limits. Intellect is subordinated to intuition, dogma to experience, and outer expression to inward realization.

Religion is not the acceptance of academic abstractions or the celebration of ceremonies, but a kind of life or experience. It is insight into the nature of reality, or experience of reality. This experience is not an emotional thrill, or a subjective fancy, but is the response of the whole personality, the integrated self to the central reality.

Religious experience is of a self-certifying character. It is Svatasiddha. It carries its own credentials.

The chief sacred scriptures of the Hindus, the Vedas, register the intuitions of the perfected souls. They are not so much dogmatic dicta as transcripts from life. They record the spiritual experiences of souls strongly endowed with the sense of reality. They are held to be authoritative on the ground that they express the experiences of the experts in the field of religion.

If the utterances of the Vedas were uninformed by spiritual insight, they would have no claim to our belief. The truths revealed in the Vedas are capable of being re-experienced on compliance with ascertained conditions.

We can discriminate between the genuine and the spurious in religious experience, not only by means of logic but also through life. By experimenting with different religious conceptions and relating them with the rest of our life, we can know the sound from the unsound.

Source - Hindu View of Life by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

We cannot have religious unity and peace so long as we assert that we are in possession of the light and all others are groping in the darkness.

When two or three different systems claim that they contain the revelation of the very core and center of truth and the acceptance of it is the exclusive pathway to heaven, conflicts are inevitable. In such conflicts, one religion will not allow others to steal a march over it, and no one can gain ascendancy until the world is reduced to dust and ashes.

The Hindu solution to the problem is to seek the unity of religion not in a creed but in a common quest.

The world would be a much poorer thing if one creed absorbed the rest. God wills a rich harmony and not a colorless uniformity.

Source - The Hindu View of Life

Religion is not doctrinal conformity or ceremonial piety, but it is participation in the mystery of being. It is wisdom or insight into reality.

The one doctrine by which Indian culture is best known to the outside world is that of Tat Tvam Asi. The eternal is in one’s self. The Real which is the in most of all things is the essence of one’s own soul. The sage whose passions are at rest sees within himself the majesty of the great Real.

Man is more than the sum of his appearances.

When the natural life of man comes to itself, his spiritual being becomes manifest. Man’s final growth rests with himself.

– Dr S Radhakrishnan

Source – excerpts from Verinder Grover, S Radhakrishnan: Political Thinkers of Modern India

Difference between science and religion – Dr S. Radhakrishnan Explains

A man had asked Dr. Radhakrishna a question:

“Sir, since you are a great philosopher, can you explain the difference between science and religion, as there seems to be a contradiction between the two? Religion speaks of something that is not seen and people have faith in that. But in science one says, ‘No, I only accept what I see,’ so it appears that scientists are anti-religious.”

Dr Radhakrishnan answered:

“It is something like this: A little science takes you away from religion but more of it brings you nearer religion.”

Those students who have studied only a little bit of science speak of religion and God in derogatory terms. But great scientist Albert Einstein had a positive view of religion.

Source – Hindu Culture – An Introduction by Swami Tejomayananda ~ page 14 - 15