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Dr S Radhakrishnan Quotes - A Collection Of 100 Thoughts Of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Dr S Radhakrishnan quotes, thoughts and sayings are from various sources. They are mainly from his books, talks and articles. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan thoughts are mostly based on religion and Hinduism.

A Collection Of 100 Thoughts Of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

  • Any form of worship which falls short of complete self-naughting will not take us to the unitive life. Faith, devotion, surrender are the means to it. Each individual has to achieve insight by his own effort after long and persistent practice.
  • The Divine reveals itself to men within the framework of their intimate prejudices.
  • Gorgeous flowers justify the muddy roots from which they spring.
  • The law of karma encourages the sinner that it is never too late to mend.
  • Service of one’s fellows is a religious obligation. To repudiate it is impiety.
  • When the wick is ablaze at its tip, the whole lamp is said to be burning.
  • Those who separate themselves from the rest of the world in the name of religion or race, nation or polity, are not assisting human evolution but retarding it.
  • Truth wears vestures of many colors, and speaks in strange tongues.
  • No type can come into existence in which God does not live.
  • Error is a sign of immaturity. It is not a grievous sin.
  • The unity of religion is not in a common creed but in a common quest.
  • When the veil of intellectual knowledge, of avidya, is swept aside, a flood of light breaks upon the awakened soul and a Universal Self is achieved.
  • When we rise in contemplation, when there is the vision of the Supreme which is entirely beyond the power of the soul to prepare for or bring about, we feel it is wholly the operation of God working on the soul by extraordinary grace. In a sense all life is from God, all prayer is made by the help of God’s grace, but the heights of contemplation which are scaled by few are attributed in a special degree to divine grace.
  • The truth can be taught only up to a point. It has to be assimilated by personal effort, by self-discipline.   
  • Symbols belong to an order of reality different from that of the Reality which they symbolize. They are used to make the truth intelligible, to make the unhearable audible. They are meant to be used as tangible supports for contemplation. They help us to reach awareness of the symbolized reality.
  • If the real is misconceived as an object of knowledge, it cannot be known. Empirical objects may be known by outer observation or inner introspection. But the Self cannot divide itself into the knower and the known.
  • Logical reasoning is incapable of comprehending the living unity of God and man, the absolute and the relative. Logical incapacity is not evidence of actual impossibility. Reality unites what discursive reason is incapable of holding together.
  • Every atom of life is a witness to the oneness and duality of God and the world. Being can never be objectified or externalized. It is co-inherent and co-existent in man. It is unknowable because we identify existence with objectivity.
  • Spiritual reality is not revealed in the way in which objects of the natural world or principles of logic are apprehended. Yajnavalkya tell us that the self is its own light when the sun has set, when the moon has set, when the fire is put out – Atmavasya Jyotir Bhavati.
  • Indifference to the pains of the world, to the suffering of living creatures is due either to callousness or thoughtlessness. But when we realize that we are all the concern of the same Creator, the objects of His care, we feel within ourselves an unburdening, a release, a sense that everyone has a right to his own place in the same universe. When we envisage all that exists as having its being in the great first principle of all beings, we rush forward to help all those who come within our reach.
(Source: From the introduction to The Principal Upanishads by Dr S Radhakrishnan)

Toleration is the homage which the finite mind pays to the inexhaustibility of the Infinite. (Eastern Religions and Western Thought, p.317)

It may also be said that all the systems of Hindu philosophy believe in rebirth and pre-existence. Our life is a step on a road, the direction and goal of which are lost in the infinite. On this road, death is never an end or an obstacle but at most the beginning of new steps. ((Source: Indian Philosophy by Dr.Radhakrishnan, Vol. II, p.27)

Though the world has changed considerably in its outward material aspect, means of communication, scientific inventions, etc., there has not been any great change in its inner spiritual side. The old faces of hunger and love, and the simple joys and fears of the heart, belong to the permanent stuff of human nature. The true interests of humanity, the deep passions of religion, and the great problems of philosophy have not been superseded as material things have been.

Indian thought is a chapter of the history of the human mind, full of vital meaning for us. The ideas of the great thinkers are never obsolete. They animate the progress that seems to kill them. The most ancient fancies sometimes startle us by their strikingly modern character, for insight does not depend on modernity.  (Source: Preface to Indian Philosophy)

Philosophy in India is essentially spiritual. It is the intense spirituality of India, and not any great political structure or social organization that it has developed, that has enabled it to resist the ravages of time and accidents of history. External invasions and internal dissensions came very near crushing its civilization many times in its history. The Greek and the Scythian, the Persian and the Moghul, the French and the English have by turn attempted to suppress it, and yet it has its head held high.

India has not been finally subdued, and its old flame of spirit is still burning. Throughout its life it has been living with one purpose. It has fought for truth and against error. It may have blundered, but it did what it felt able and called upon to do. The history of Indian thought illustrates the endless quest of mind, ever old, ever new.  (Source: Indian Philosophy Volume 1 – Introduction)


Becoming, is a never ending process of man’s life. It is through a right kind of education only that we can find our true place in the world.

We are fast becoming strangers in our own world. Science would claim that it had brought us closer. But the reality is far more depressing. Men all over the world are losing their sense of belongingness. In absence of the feeling of togetherness people are drawn every now and then to skirmishes and wars. They not only take invaluable lives but for ever sow the seeds of bitterness, sorrow and hatred.

Love and do what you like. Love takes us to deeper secrets of life and gives us a more integrated view than intellectual subtlety and a few plain morals can do.

If we take any philosopher as a guru, if we treat his works as gospel, if we make of his teaching a religion complete with dogma and exegesis, we may become members of the congregation of the faithful, but will not possess the openness of mind essential for a critical understanding of the master’s views.

The true teachers help us to think for ourselves in the new situations which arise. We would be unworthy disciples if we do not question and criticise them. They try to widen our knowledge and help us to see clearly.

The true teacher is like Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, who advises Arjuna to think for himself and do as he chooses – yatha icchasi tatha kuru.

The truly great are not the men of wealth, of possessions, not men who gain name and fame, but those who testify to the truth in them and refuse to compromise whatever be the cost. They are determined to do what they consider to be right. We may punish their bodies, refuse them comforts, but we cannot buy their souls, we cannot break their spirits.

Whoever possesses this invulnerability of spirit even to a little extent deserves our admiration.

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

Men who neglect their duties and merely utter the name, Krishna, Krishna, are the enemies of God; ignorant people who do not know that 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.

Every form is an approximation, is a shadow of that ultimate substance. It is a substance which we have to realize and recognize; after that all the words which we use are semblances or shadows or approximations. That is why the Rg Veda say, ekam sad vipra bahuda vadanti, the real is one but people talk of it in various ways. So also the Upanishad says that hrda manias manasa adhiklipte…

We fabricate by our intelligence, by our will, these words. By these words we try to express the inexpressible. God is immense. He refuses to be caught in our categories. Therefore we refuse to say that any particular denomination or any particular expression is a final, ultimate and exhaustive expression of the Supreme Reality.

Religion is behavior and not mere belief. It is not God that is worshipped but the group or authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority not violation of integrity.

When we realize the universal Self in us, when and what may anybody fear or worship?

Death is never an end or obstacle but at most the beginning of new steps.

Man cannot be satisfied by wealth or by learning but by developing the quality of detachment, of renunciation, making himself the instrument of a higher purpose. It is these that the realization of the fulfillment of man abides, and it should be our endeavor to develop it.

A good teacher must know how to arouse the interest of the pupil in the field of study for which he is responsible, he must himself be a master in the field and be in touch with the latest developments in his subject, he must himself be a fellow traveler in the exciting pursuit of knowledge.

History is a never ending struggle between good and evil.

When the harmony is disturbed we have disease.

Love is the only force that can bring about a real union between men.

The Absolute which is the Real beyond all darkness is superior to the division of spirit and matter. It is omniscient, omnipresent and almighty. It manifests itself in the three forms (Trimurti), Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – the maker, the preserver and the destroyer.

Each person can tread the path which appeals to him, for the different forms of Godhead are the manifestations of the One Supreme who is the Formless behind all forms.

Until the end of religion, the realization of the Supreme, the ascent from the vanity of time is attained, we will have opportunities for making progress towards the goal. In this journey towards the end we will be governed by the law of karma.

This life is one stage in the path of perfection. Even as the present life is the result of our past deeds, we can shape our future by our efforts in this life. The world is under a moral government. The good will ultimately triumph.

Tapas is reflection on the nature of the universe.

There are halting, imperfect descriptions of that One Supreme. If we are able to recognize the reality of the Supreme, we will not fall into controversial paths; because mystery is mystery and our attitude is one of silent adoration. Our words and minds are unable to comprehend the immense mystery of this universe. That is the attitude the human mind must adopt: the human mind is incapable of comprehending adequately the nature of that Supreme.

If we get back to this religion of truth, truth of universal love, then it will be possible for us to forget our petty difference, our trivialities on which we waste our lives; our bigotries and disputations will all lose their force and significance.

A truly religious man, if he is authentically religious, will feel that every human being has the dignity, has the spark of Divine. Everyone is a fragment of that impersonal Brahmand, the Universe.

The detachment from the cares of existence, and the absence of tyrannous practical interest, stimulated the higher life of India, with the result that we find from the beginnings of history and impatience of spirit, a love of wisdom and a patience for the saner pursuits of the mind.

The Hindu attitude to the Vedas is one of trust tempered by criticism trust because the beliefs and forms which helped our fathers are likely to be of use to us also; criticism, because however valuable the testimony of the past ages may be it cannot deprive the present age of its right to inquire and sift the evidence.

Precious as are the echoes of God’s voice in the souls of men of long ago; our regard for them must be tempered by the recognition of the truth that God has never finished the revelation of His wisdom and love.

The Hindu never doubted the reality of the one supreme spirit, however much the descriptions of it may fall short of its nature.

If self-consciousness is the distinctive mark of the intellectual experience, self-forgetfulness characterizes the Ananda (bliss) condition…

The release from this world of trouble, risk and adventure can be had only by losing the separate self.

Absolute surrender of self to God, a perfect identification with the divine will, will ‘let us pent-up creatures through into eternity, our due.’ The Svetasvatara Upanishads says: “In the wheel of Brahman, which is the support as well as the end of all beings, which is infinite, roams about the pilgrim soul when it fancies itself and the supreme ruler as different. It obtains immortality when it is upheld by him, i.e., when the soul thinks itself to be one with him.

Thoughts on True Knowledge of God

Dr S Radhakrishnan explains the true knowledge of God by quoting from the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita in an article in the book 'Our Heritage.'

True religion consists in an insight into the first principle of God, knowledge, personal knowledge of God, not merely a dogmatic statement about Him, not merely what you hear from other people, but seeing Him face to face; that constitutes the essential basis of religion.

The Upanishad tells us that what we should know is a knowledge of God, not an intellectual knowledge, but an illumined personal experience of the Supreme. There is a world of difference between those who say asti Brahma’ and those who say ‘aham brahmasmi.’

There are many people who go about saying God exists, but that knowledge of the existence of God is indirect, it is not personal, it is merely theoretical and borrowed knowledge. Those who say, I have felt the reality of God in the pulse of my being, I have felt him in my nerves and my bones, I know Him as deeply as I know myself that is true knowledge of God: what the Gita calls brahma samsparsa.

Source: Excerpts from Our heritage – S. Radhakrishnan

Symbolism in Deva and Asura

Deva and Asura are demigods and demons. Since the word ‘deva’ is derived from a root denoting illumination, the demigods stand for such functions of the senses as are illuminated (regulated) by scripture. – Sashstrodbhasita indriya vrttayah…

And demons opposed to the former, stand for such functions of the senses as delight in activity towards all sensual objects appertaining to them and are naturally of the nature of darkness. – Tama atmika indriya vrttaya…

Thus in the body of all beings there is a perpetual fight between the two.

Hindu View of Religion

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

Precious as are the echoes of God’s voice in the souls of men of long ago; our regard for them must be tempered by the recognition of the truth that God has never finished the revelation of His wisdom and love.

It is necessary for the Hindu leaders to hold aloft the highest conception of God and work steadily on the minds of the worshippers so as to effect an improvement in their conceptions. The temples, shrines and sanctuaries with which the whole land is covered may be used as not only the places of prayers and altars of worship, but as seats of learning and schools of thought which can undertake the spiritual direction of the Hindus.

Dr S Radhakrishnan on the concept of Maya

The world has the tendency to delude us into thinking that it is all, that it is self-dependent, and this delusive character of the world is also designated maya in the sense of avidya. When we are asked to overcome Maya, it is an injunction to avoid worldliness. Let us not put our trust in the things of this world. Maya is concerned not with the existence of the world but with its meaning, not with the factuality of the world but with the way in which we look upon it.

Thoughts on Modern Life

Human beings are born to love and be loved. Errors are not sins. Man is weak and not vicious when he does wrong things.

…the world has been transformed so rapidly and completely in its superficial aspects. Science helps us to build our outer life, but another discipline is necessary to strengthen and discipline and refine the living spirit. Though we have made enormous progress in knowledge and scientific inventions. We are not above the level of past generations in ethical and spiritual life. In some respects we have declines from their standards. Our natures are becoming mechanized, void within, we are reduced to atoms in community, members of mob.

Life is not a simple geometrical pattern. The essence of life is creativity. It is a living creation of something new, not a dead connection of cause and effect.

The Meaning and Concept of Avatar

Wherever there is a serious tension in life, when a sort of all-pervasive materialism invades the human souls, to preserve the equilibrium, the Supreme, though unborn and undying, becomes manifest in the human body to overthrow the forces of ignorance and selfishness.

By His teaching and example, he shows how a human being can raise himself to the higher grade of life.

Freedom to Select a Form of the Supreme

Some of the symbols employed by religions are common. Fire and light are usually adopted to signify the Ultimate Reality. It means that the minds of the people are formed similarly and experiences of people do not differ much from one part of the world to another. Even conceptions about the origin and nature of the world often agree, though they arise quite independently.

The images are all framed to meditate between the Supreme Absolute and the finite intelligence. The individual is free to select or worship any form of the Supreme. This freedom of choice of Ishta Devataaradhana (freedom to choose a personal deity) means that the different forms are all included in the supreme. The acceptance of one form does not mean the rejection of others.

(Source: The Principal Upanishads page 138-39 - S Radhakrishnan, HarperCollins Publishers India – 2003 edition)

Teachings on Atman

The word ‘atman’ is derived from ‘an’ – to breathe. It is the breath of life – atma te vatah (Rig Veda VII 87.2).

Gradually its meaning is extended to cover life, soul, self or essential being of the individual. Shankaracharya derives atman from the root which means ‘to obtain’ ‘to eat or enjoy or pervade all.’
Atman is the principle of man’s life, the soul that pervades his being, his breath (prana), his intellect (prajna), and transcends them.

Atman is what remains when everything that is not the self is eliminated.

The Rig Veda speaks of the unborn part ‘ajo bhagh’ (Rig Veda X 16. 4) – There is an unborn and so immortal element in man which is not to be confused with body, life, mind and intellect. These are not the self but its forms, its external expressions.

Our true self is pure existence, self-aware, unconditioned by the forms of mind and intellect. When we cast the self free from all outward events, there arises from the inward depths an experience, secret and wonderful strange and great. It is the miracle of self knowledge – atma jnana.

Just as in relation to the universe, the real is Brahman, while name and form are only a play of manifestation, so also the individual egos are the varied expressions of the One Universal Self.
As Brahman is the eternal quiet underneath the drive and activity of the universe, so Atman is the foundational reality underlying the conscious powers of the individual, the inward ground of the human soul.

There is an ultimate depth to our life below the plane of thinking and striving. The Atman is the super reality of the ‘jiva,’ the individual ego.

(Source: The Principal Upanishads by S. Radhakrishnan, Introduction section (page 73 – 74)