September 5th marks a special day in India. According to The Times of India, it is Teacher’s Day, or what the denizens of India refer to in Hindi as Shikshak Diwas. Teacher’s Day is designed to shower praise on the many teachers in India who strive diligently every single day to educate the nation’s youths. Furthermore, it’s commonplace for some students to dress up as their favorite teacher and then takeover for some of their teacher’s lectures.
This holiday sprung into existence back in 1962 for the purpose of celebrating the birthday of the second President of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who himself was both a teacher and a big believer in the power of education. Festival of India explains that when Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan became president, his students and friends (who loved him dearly) asked for permission to celebrate his birthday. He reportedly responded by saying, “Instead of celebrating my birthday seperately, it would be my proud privilege if September 5 is observed as Teacher’s Day.” And thus the holiday was born and still remains in effect to this day.
So what was so special about the man who inspired Teacher’s Day? The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy reveals that he was was an avid philosopher who basically did something that nobody else had ever been able to do before in Indian history: he put India’s religious-based philosophy on the world map.
Prior to Radhakrishnan, India’s philosophical and religious teachings were viewed by Westerners with much disdain. What he basically did was show that Indian teachings, when translated into the jargon of academia, were a valid philosophy deserving of worldwide recognition and respect. He thus helped formulate what many now consider to be the contemporary Hindu philosophical identity. He also helped bridge a gap between Western and Indian philosophies and traditions:
“Radhakrishnan’s concern for experience and his extensive knowledge of the Western philosophical and literary traditions has earned him the reputation of being a bridge-builder between India and the West. He often appears to feel at home in the Indian as well as the Western philosophical contexts, and draws from both Western and Indian sources throughout his writing. Because of this, Radhakrishnan has been held up in academic circles as a representative of Hinduism to the West. His lengthy writing career and his many published works have been influential in shaping the West’s understanding of Hinduism, India, and the East.”
Quite an amazing man, right? Remember though that it was his wish that Teacher’s Day be used to give back to India’s many teachers. Speaking of which, if you happen to be an Indian student and you want to honor your teacher this Teacher’s Day, just make sure you keep it tactful and appropriate. This means that you should probably not ask your teacher out on a date. And yeah, according to the Times of India, a student once did exactly that!
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