For other uses, see Radhakrishnan (disambiguation).
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan listen (help·info) (5 September 1888 – 17 April 1975) was an Indian philosopher and statesman who was the firstVice President of India (1952–1962) and the secondPresident of India from 1962 to 1967.[web 1]
One of India's most distinguished twentieth-century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy,[web 2] his academic appointments included professor of Philosophy at the University of Mysore (1918-1921), 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 University of Oxford (1936–1952).
His philosophy was grounded in Advaita Vedanta, reinterpreting this tradition for a contemporary understanding.[web 2] He defended Hinduism against "uninformed Western criticism", contributing to the formation of contemporary Hindu identity. He has been influential in shaping the understanding of Hinduism, in both India and the west, and earned a reputation as a bridge-builder between India and the West.
Radhakrishnan was awarded several high awards during his life, including a knighthood in 1931, the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, in 1954, and honorary membership of the British Royal Order of Merit in 1963. Radhakrishnan believed that "teachers should be the best minds in the country". Since 1962, his birthday is being celebrated in India as Teachers' Day on 5 September.[web 3]
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in a Telugu-speaking Niyogi Brahmin family, in a village Thiruttani in the erstwhile Chittoor district of Madras Presidency near the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states.His surname was Sarvepalli, for his forefathers were from Sarvepalli, a village fifteen miles from Nellore town of Andhra Pradesh. his grand father migrated to Tiruttani in erstwhile Chittoor district of the Madras Presidency. His father's name was Sarvepalli Veeraswami and his mother's name was Sarvepalli Sita (Sitamma). His early years were spent in Thiruttani and Tirupati. His father was a subordinate revenue official in the service of a local zamindar (local landlord). His primary education was at K.V High School at Thiruttani. In 1896 he moved to the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheran Mission School in Tirupati and Government Higher Secondary School, Walajapet.
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 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.
Radhakrishnan wrote his thesis for the M.A. degree on "The Ethics of the Vedanta and its Metaphysical Presuppositions". It "was intended to be a reply to the charge that the Vedanta system had no room for ethics." 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 twenty. According to Radhakrishnan himself, the criticism of Hogg and other Christian teachers of Indian culture "disturbed my faith and shook the traditional props on which I leaned." Radhakrishnan himself describes how, as a student,
The challenge of Christian critics impelled me to make a study of Hinduism and find out what is living and what is dead in it. My pride as a Hindu, roused by the enterprise and eloquence of Swami Vivekananda, was deeply hurt by the treatment accorded to Hinduism in missionary institutions.
This led him to his critical study of Indian philosophy and religion and a lifelong defence of Hinduism against "uninformed Western criticism".
Marriage and family
Radhakrishnan was married to Sivakamu,[note 1] 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, he was selected as Professor of Philosophy by the University of Mysore, where he taught at its Maharaja's College, Mysore. [web 4] 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". His 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. He 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,[web 5] and formally invested with his honour by the Governor-General of India, the Earl of Willingdon, in April 1932.[web 6] However, he ceased to use the title after Indian independence,:9 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. That same year, and again in 1937, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, although this nomination process, as for all laureates, was not public at the time. Further nominations for the award would continue steadily into the 1960s. 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.
See also: British Raj, Indian independence movement, and Indian Independence Act 1947
Radhakrishnan started his political career "rather late in life", after his successful academic career. His international authority preceded his political career. In 1931 he was nominated to the League of Nations Committee for Intellectual Cooperation, where after "in Western eyes he was the recognized Hindu authority on Indian ideas and a persuasive interpreter of the role of Eastern institutions in contemporary society." 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, and elected as the second President of India (1962–1967).
Radhakrishnan did not have a background in the Congress Party, nor was he active in the struggle against British rules. He was the politician in shadow. His motivation lay in his pride of Hindu culture, and the defence of Hinduism against "uninformed Western criticism". According to Brown,
He had always defended Hindu culture against uninformed Western criticism and had symbolized the pride of Indians in their own intellectual traditions.
When he became the President of India, some of his students and friends requested him to allow them to celebrate his birthday, on 5 September. He replied,
"Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5th is observed as Teachers' Day."
 His birthday has since been celebrated as Teachers' Day in India.[web 7]
Along with Ghanshyam Das Birla and some other social workers in the pre-independence era, Radhakrishnan formed the Krishnarpan Charity Trust
Radhakrishnan tried to bridge eastern and western thought, defending Hinduism against "uninformed Western criticism", but also incorporating Western philosophical and religious thought.
Radhakrishnan was one of the most prominent spokesmen of Neo-Vedanta. His metaphysics was grounded in Advaita Vedanta, but he reinterpreted Advaita Vedanta for a contemporary understanding.[web 2] He acknowledged the reality and diversity of the world of experience, which he saw as grounded in and supported by the absolute or Brahman.[web 2][note 2] Radhakrishnan also reinterpreted Shankara's notion of maya. According to Radhakrishnan, maya is not a strict absolute idealism, but "a subjective misperception of the world as ultimately real."[web 2]
Intuition and religious experience
See also: Mystical experience and Religious experience
"Intuition", or anubhava,[web 2] synonymously called "religious experience",[web 2] has a central place in Radhakrishnan's philosophy as a source of knowledge which is not mediated by conscious thought. His specific interest in experience can be traced back to the works of William James (1842–1910), Francis Herbert Bradley (1846–1924), Henri Bergson (1859–1941), and Friedrich von Hügel (1852–1925), and to Vivekananda, who had a strong influence on Radhakrisnan's thought. According to Radhakrishnan, intuition is of a self-certifying character (svatassiddha), self-evidencing (svāsaṃvedya), and self-luminous (svayam-prakāsa).[web 2] 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.[web 9] According to Radhakrishnan, intuition plays a specific role in all kinds of experience.[web 2] Radhakrishnan discernes five sorts of experience:[web 2]
- Cognitive Experience:
- Sense Experience
- Discursive Reasoning
- Intuitive Apprehension
- Psychic Experience
- Aesthetic Experience
- Ethical Experience
- Religious Experience
Classification of religions
For Radhakrishnan, theology and creeds are intellectual formulations, and symbols of religious experience or "religious intuitions".[web 2] Radhakrishnan qualified the variety of religions hierarchically according to their apprehension of "religious experience", giving Advaita Vedanta the highest place:[web 2][note 3]
- The worshippers of the Absolute
- The worshippers of the personal God
- The worshippers of the incarnations like Rama, Kṛiṣhṇa, Buddha
- Those who worship ancestors, deities and sages
- The worshippers of the petty forces and spirits
Radhakrishnan saw Hinduism as a scientific religion based on facts, apprehended via intuition or religious experience.[web 2] According to Radhakrishnan, "[i]f philosophy of religion is to become scientific, it must become empirical and found itself on religious experience".[web 2] He saw this empiricism exemplified in the Vedas:
The truths of the ṛṣis are not evolved as the result of logical reasoning or systematic philosophy but are the products of spiritual intuition, dṛṣti or vision. The ṛṣis are not so much the authors of the truths recorded in the Vedas as the seers who were able to discern the eternal truths by raising their life-spirit to the plane of universal spirit. They are the pioneer researchers in the realm of the spirit who saw more in the world than their followers. Their utterances are not based on transitory vision but on a continuous experience of resident life and power. When the Vedas are regarded as the highest authority, all that is meant is that the most exacting of all authorities is the authority of facts.[web 2]
From his writings collected as The Hindu View of Life, Upton Lectures, Delivered at Manchester College, Oxford, 1926: "Hinduism insists on our working steadily upwards in improving our knowledge of God. The worshippers of the absolute are of the highest rank; second to them are the worshippers of the personal God; then come the worshippers of the incarnations of Rama, Krishna, Buddha; below them are those who worship deities, ancestors, and sages, and lowest of all are the worshippers of petty forces and spirits. The deities of some men are in water (i.e., bathing places), those of the most advanced are in the heavens, those of the children (in religion) are in the images of wood and stone, but the sage finds his God in his deeper self. The man of action finds his God in fire, the man of feeling in the heart, and the feeble minded in the idol, but the strong in spirit find God everywhere". The seers see the supreme in the self, and not the images."
To Radhakrishnan, Advaita Vedanta was the best representative of Hinduism, as being grounded in intuition, in contrast to the "intellectually mediated interpretations"[web 2] of other religions.[web 2][note 4] He objected against charges of "quietism"[note 5] and "world denial", instead stressing the need and ethic of social service, giving a modern interpretation of classical terms as tat-tvam-asi. According to Radhakrishnan, Vedanta offers the most direct intuitive experience and inner realisation, which makes it the highest form of religion:
The Vedanta is not a religion, but religion itself in its most universal and deepest significance.[web 2]
Radhakrishnan saw other religions, "including what Radhakrishnan understands as lower forms of Hinduism,"[web 2] as interpretations of Advaita Vedanta, thereby Hinduizing all religions.[web 2]
Although Radhakrishnan was well-acquainted with western culture and philosophy, he was also critical of them. He stated that Western philosophers, despite all claims to objectivity, were influenced by theological influences of their own culture.
Radhakrishnan was one of India's best and most influential twentieth-century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy.[web 2]
Radhakrishnan's defence of the Hindu traditions has been highly influential, both in India and the western world. In India, Radhakrishnan's ideas contributed to the formation of India as a nation-state. Radhakrishnan's writings contributed to the hegemonic status of Vedanta as "the essential worldview of Hinduism". In the western world, Radhakrishnan's interpretations of the Hindu tradition, and his emphasis on "spiritual experience", made Hinduism more readily accessible for a western audience, and contributed to the influence Hinduism has on modern spirituality:
In figures such as Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan we witness Vedanta traveling to the West, where it nourished the spiritual hunger of Europeans and Americans in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Radhakrishnan has been highly appraised. According to Paul Artur Schillp:
Nor would it be possible to find a more excellent example of a living "bridge" between the East and the West than Professor Radhakrishnan. Steeped, as Radhakrishnan has been since his childhood, in the life, traditions, and philosophical heritage of his native India, he has also struck deep roots in Western philosophy, which he has been studying tirelessly ever since his undergraduate college-days in Madras Christian College, and in which he is as thoroughly at home as any Western philosopher.
And according to Hawley:
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.[web 2]
Criticism and context
Radhakrishnan's ideas have also received criticism and challenges, for their perennialist and universalist claims, and the use of an East-West dichotomy.[web 2]
Main article: Perennial philosophy
According to Radhakrishnan, there is not only an underlying "divine unity" from the seers of the Upanishads up to modern Hindus like Tagore and Gandhi, but also "an essential commonality between philosophical and religious traditions from widely disparate cultures." This is also a major theme in the works of Rene Guenon, the Theosophical Society, and the contemporary popularity of eastern religions in modern spirituality. Since the 1970s, the Perennialist position has been criticised for its essentialism. Social-constructionists give an alternative approach to religious experience, in which such "experiences" are seen as being determined and mediated by cultural determants:[note 6] As Michaels notes:
Religions, too, rely not so much on individual experiences or on innate feelings – like a sensus numinosus (Rudolf Otto) – but rather on behavioral patterns acquired and learned in childhood.
Rinehart also points out that "perennialist claims notwithstanding, modern Hindu thought is a product of history", which "has been worked out and expressed in a variety of historical contexts over the preceding two hundreds years." This is also true for Radhakrishan, who was educated by missionaries and, like other neo-Vedantins used the prevalent western understanding of India and its culture to present an alternative to the western critique.
Universalism, communalism and Hindu nationalism
According to Richard King, the elevation of Vedanta as the essence of Hinduism, and Advaita Vedanta as the "paradigmatic example of the mystical nature of the Hindu religion" by colonial Indologists but also neo-Vedantins served well for the Hindu nationalists, who further popularised this notion of Advaita Vedanta as the pinnacle of Indian religions. It
...provided an opportunity for the construction of a nationalist ideology that could unite Hindus in their struggle against colonial oppression.
This "opportunity" has been criticised. According to Sucheta Mazumdar and Vasant Kaiwar,
... Indian nationalist leaders continued to operate within the categorical field generated by politicized religion [...] Extravagant claims were made on behalf of Oriental civilization. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's statement – "[t]he Vedanta is not a religion but religion itself in its "most universal and deepest significance" – is fairly typical.
Rinehart also criticises the inclusivism of Radhakrishnan's approach, since it provides "a theological scheme for subsuming religious difference under the aegis of Vedantic truth."[note 7] According to Rinehart, the consequence of this line of reasoning is communalism, the idea that "all people belonging to one religion have common economic, social and political interests and these interests are contrary to the interests of those belonging to another religion."[web 10] Rinehart notes that Hindu religiosity plays an important role in the nationalist movement, and that "the neo-Hindu discource is the unintended consequence of the initial moves made by thinkers like Rammohan Roy and Vivekananda." Yet Rinehart also points out that it is
...clear that there isn't a neat line of causation that leads from the philosophies of Rammohan Roy, Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan to the agenda of [...] militant Hindus.[note 8]
Main articles: Orientalism and Post-colonialism
Colonialism left deep traces in the hearts and minds of the Indian people, influencing the way they understood and represented themselves. The influences of "colonialist forms of knowledge"[web 2] can also be found in the works of Radhakrishnan. According to Hawley, Radhakrishnan's division between East and West, the East being spiritual and mystical, and the West being rationt and colonialist forms of knowledge constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries. Arguably, these characterizations are "imagined" in the sense that they reflect the philosophical and religious realities of neither "East' nor West."[web 2]
Since the 1990s, the colonial influences on the 'construction' and 'representation' of Hinduism have been the topic of debate among scholars of Hinduism Western Indologists are trying to come to more neutral and better-informed representations of India and its culture, while Indian scholars are trying to establish forms of knowledge and understanding which are grounded in and informed by Indian traditions, instead of being dominated by western forms of knowledge and understanding.[note 9]
Radhakrishnan was accused of Plagiarism by his student Jadunath Sinha who accused him of copying from his doctoral thesis, “Indian Psychology of Perception" published in 1925 in his book "Indian Philosophy" published in 1927. Jadunath Sinha filed a case in the Calcutta High Court claiming damages for Rs 20000. Radhakrishnan filed counter case for defamation of character demanding Rs 100000 from Sinha. Though Jadunath Sinha's case was strong as many of his articles were already published, the High cost of litigation along with intervention of Syama Prasad Mookerjee who mediated between them made them settle the issue out of court.
Awards and honours
- 1931: appointed a Knight Bachelor in ,[web 5] although he ceased to use the title "Sir" after India attained independence.
- 1938: elected Fellow of the British Academy.
- 1954: The Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India.[web 3]
- 1954: German "Order pour le Merite for Arts and Science"[web 11]
- 1961: the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
- 1962: Institution of Teacher's Day in India, yearly celebrated at 5 September, Radhakrishnan's birthday, in honour of Radhakrishnan's belief that "teachers should be the best minds in the country".[web 3]
- 1963: the British Order of Merit.
- 1968: Sahitya Akademi fellowship, The highest honour conferred by the Sahitya Akademi on a writer (he is the first person to get this award)
- 1975: the Templeton Prize in 1975, a few months before his death, for advocating non-aggression and conveying "a universal reality of God that embraced love and wisdom for all people."[web 12][note 10] He donated the entire amount of the Templeton Prize to Oxford University.
- 1989: institution of the Radhakrishnan Scholarships by Oxford University in the memory of Radhakrishnan. The scholarships were later renamed the "Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships".
- he was nominated fifteen times for the Nobel prize in literature, and eleven times for the Nobel Peace prize.
- "It is not God that is worshipped but the authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority not violation of integrity."
- "Reading a book gives us the habit of solitary reflection and true enjoyment."
- "When we think we know, we cease to learn."
- "A literary genius, it is said, resembles all, though no one resembles him."
- "There is nothing wonderful in my saying that Jainism was in existence long before the Vedas were composed."
- "A life of joy and happiness is possible only on the basis of knowledge and science.”
Works by Radhakrishnan
- The philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918), Macmillan, London, 294 pages
- Indian Philosophy (1923) Vol.1, 738 pages. Vol 2, 807 pages. Oxford University Press.
- The Hindu View of Life (1926), 92 pages
- An Idealist View of Life (1929), 351 pages
- Eastern Religions and Western Thought (1939), Oxford University Press, 396 pages
- Religion and Society (1947), George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London, 242 pages
- The Bhagavadgītā: with an introductory essay, Sanskrit text, English translation and notes (1948), 388 pages
- The Dhammapada (1950), 194 pages, Oxford University Press
- The Principal Upanishads (1953), 958 pages, HarperCollins Publishers Limited
- Recovery of Faith (1956), 205 pages
- A Source Book in Indian Philosophy (1957), 683 pages, Princeton University Press, with Charles A. Moore as co-editor.
- Religion, Science & Culture (1968), 121 pages
Biographies and monographs on Radhakrishnan
Several books have been published on Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan:
- Schilpp, Paul Arthur, ed. (1992) [1952, Tudor]. The Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-0792-8.
- Murty, K. Satchidananda; Ashok Vohra (1990). Radhakrishnan: his life and ideas. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-0343-2.
- Minor, Robert Neil (1987). Radhakrishnan: a religious biography. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-88706-554-6.
- Gopal, Sarvepalli (1989). Radhakrishnan: a biography. Unwin Hyman. ISBN 0-04-440449-2.
- Pappu, S.S. Rama Rao (1995). New Essays in the Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Delhi: South Asia Books. ISBN 978-81-7030-461-6.
- Parthasarathi, G.; Chattopadhyaya, Debi Prasad, eds. (1989). Radhakrishnan: centenary volume. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
- ^Radhakrishnan's wife's name is spelled differently in different sources. It is spelled Sivakamu by Sarvepalli Gopal (1989); Sivakamuamma by Mamta Anand (2006); and still differently by others.
- ^Neo-Vedanta seems to be closer to Bhedabheda-Vedanta than to Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, with the acknowledgement of the reality of the world. Nicholas F. Gier: "Ramakrsna, Svami Vivekananda, and Aurobindo (I also include M.K. Gandhi) have been labeled "neo-Vedantists," a philosophy that rejects the Advaitins' claim that the world is illusory. Aurobindo, in his The Life Divine, declares that he has moved from Sankara's "universal illusionism" to his own "universal realism" (2005: 432), defined as metaphysical realism in the European philosophical sense of the term."
- ^This qualification is not unique to Radhakrishnan. It was developed by nineteenth-century Indologists, and was highly influential in the understanding of Hinduism, both in the west and in India.
- ^Anubhava is a central term in Shankara's writings. According to several modern interpretators, especially Radakrishnan, Shankara emphasises the role of personal experience (anubhava) in ascertaining the validity of knowledge. Yet, according to Rambacham himself, sruti, or textual authority, is the main source of knowledge for Shankara.
- ^Sweetman: "[T]he supposed quietist and conservative nature of Vedantic thought"
- ^See, especially, Steven T. Katz:
- Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis (Oxford University Press, 1978)
- Mysticism and Religious Traditions (Oxford University Press, 1983)
- Mysticism and Language (Oxford University Press, 1992)
- Mysticism and Sacred Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2000)
- ^Rinehart: "Though neo-Hindu authors prefer the idiom of tolerance to that of inclusivism, it is clear that what is advocated is less a secular view of toleration than a theological scheme for subsuming religious difference under the aegis of Vedantic truth. Thus Radhakrishnan's view of experience as the core of religious truth effectively leads to harmony only when and if other religions are willing to assume a position under the umbrella of Vedanta. We might even say that the theme of neo-Hindu tolerance provided the Hindu not simply with a means to claiming the right to stand alongside the other world religions, but with a strategy for promoting Hinduism as the ultimate form of religion itself."
- ^Neither is Radhakrishnan's "use" of religion in the defence of Asian culture and society against colonialism unique for his person, or India in general. The complexities of Asian nationalism are to be seen and understood in the context of colonialism, modernisation and nation-building. See, for example, Anagarika Dharmapala, for the role of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lankese struggle for independence, and D.T. Suzuki, who conjuncted Zen to Japanese nationalism and militarism, in defence against both western hegemony and the pressure on Japanese Zen during the Meiji Restoration to conform to Shinbutsu Bunri.
- ^Sweetman mentions:
See also Postcolonialism and Mrinal Kaud, The "Pizza Effect" in Indian Philosophy
- ^"Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was President of India from 1962 to 1967. An Oxford Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics, he consistently advocated non-aggression in India's conflicts with neighbouring Pakistan. 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."[web 12]
- ^ abSheldon Pollock (2011), Crisis in the Classics, Social Research Vol. 78 : No.1 : Spring 2011
- ^Hawley, Radhakrishnan, IEP bio
- ^"Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan A Commemorative Volume published by Rajya sabha"(PDF). http://rajyasabha.nic.in/. September 5, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
- ^"Sarvepalli Radhakrishna Early life"(PDF). Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p. 11
- ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p.15
- ^The Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1952) p.6
- ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p.14
- ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p.17
- ^Sarvepalli Gopal: Radhakrishnan; a Biography (1989) p.12
- ^Kotta Satchidananda Murty; Ashok Vohra (1990). "3. Professor at Mysore". Radhakrishnan: His Life and Ideas. SUNY Press. pp. 17–26. ISBN 978-1-4384-1401-0.
- ^Banerji, Anjan Kumar (1991). Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a centenary tribute. Varanasi, India: Banaras Hindu University. OCLC 28967355. . Page 9 states: "In 1931.... He was knighted that year, but ceased to use the title after Independence."
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"Bangla" in Bengali script
Bengali pronunciation: [ˈbaŋla]
|Region||Bangladesh and India|
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Official language in
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Bengali speaking region of South Asia
Bengali speakers around the world
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Bengali (), also known by its endonymBangla (; বাংলা[ˈbaŋla] ( listen)), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in the South Asia. It's the official and most widely spoken language of Bangladesh and second most widely spoken of the 22 scheduled languages of India, behind Hindi.
The official and De Facto national language of Bangladesh is Modern Standard Bengali (Literary Bengali). It serves as the lingua franca of the nation, with 98% of Bangladeshis fluent in Bengali (including dialects) as their first language.
Within India, Bengali is the official language of the states of West Bengal, Tripura and in the district of Barak Valley in the state of Assam due to presence of Bengali population. It is also the most widely spoken language in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and is spoken by significant minorities in other states including Jharkhand, Bihar, Mizoram, and Meghalaya and Odisha
With more than over a 300 million speakers worldwide (according to 2011 Census), Bengali is usually counted as the seventh most spoken native language in the world by population.
Dictionaries from the early 20th century attributed slightly more than half of the Bengali vocabulary to native words (i.e., naturally modified Sanskrit words, corrupted forms of Sanskrit words, and loanwords from non-Indo-European languages), about 30 percent to unmodified Sanskrit words, and the remainder to foreign words. Dominant in the last group was Persian, which was also the source of some grammatical forms. More recent studies suggest that the use of native and foreign words has been increasing, mainly because of the preference of Bengali speakers for the colloquial style.
Bengali literature, with its millennium-old history and folk heritage, has extensively developed since the Bengali renaissance and is one of the most prominent and diverse literary traditions in Asia. Both the national anthems of Bangladesh (Amar Sonar Bangla) and India (Jana Gana Mana) were composed in Bengali; furthermore, it is believed by many that the national anthem of Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Matha) was inspired by a Bengali poem written by Rabindranath Tagore, while some even believe the anthem was originally written in Bengali and then translated into Sinhalese.
In 1952, the Bengali Language Movement successfully pushed for the language's official status in the Dominion of Pakistan. In 1999, UNESCO recognized 21 February as International Mother Language Day in recognition of the language movement in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Language is an important element of Bengali identity and binds together a culturally diverse region.
Ancient language of Bengal
Sanskrit was spoken in Bengal since the first millennium BCE. During the Gupta Empire, Bengal was a hub of Sanskrit literature. The Middle Indo-Aryan dialects were spoken in Bengal in the first millennium when the region was a part of the Magadha Realm. These dialects were called Magadhi Prakrit. They eventually evolved into Ardha Magadhi. Ardha Magadhi began to give way to what are called Apabhraṃśa languages at the end of the first millennium.
Emergence of Bengali
Along with other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages, Bengali evolved circa 1000–1200 AD from Sanskrit and Magadhi Prakrit. The local Apabhraṃśa of the eastern subcontinent, Purbi Apabhraṃśa or Abahatta ("Meaningless Sounds"), eventually evolved into regional dialects, which in turn formed three groups of the Bengali–Assamese languages, the Bihari languages, and the Odia language. Some argue that the points of divergence occurred much earlier — going back to even 500, but the language was not static: different varieties coexisted and authors often wrote in multiple dialects in this period. For example, Ardhamagadhi is believed to have evolved into Abahatta around the 6th century, which competed with the ancestor of Bengali for some time. Proto-Bengali was the language of the Pala Empire and the Sena dynasty.
During the medieval period, Middle Bengali was characterized by the elision of word-final অô, the spread of compound verbs and Arabic and Persian influences. Bengali was an official court language of the Sultanate of Bengal. Muslim rulers promoted the literary development of Bengali. Bengali became the most spoken vernacular language in the Sultanate. This period saw borrowing of Perso-Arabic terms into Bengali vocabulary. Major texts of Middle Bengali (1400–1800) include Chandidas' Shreekrishna Kirtana.
The modern literary form of Bengali was developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries based on the dialect spoken in the Nadia region, a west-central Bengali dialect. Bengali presents a strong case of diglossia, with the literary and standard form differing greatly from the colloquial speech of the regions that identify with the language. The modern Bengali vocabulary contains the vocabulary base from Magadhi Prakrit and Pali, also tatsamas and reborrowings from Sanskrit and other major borrowings from Persian, Arabic, Austroasiatic languages and other languages in contact with.
During this period, the
- চলিতভাষাChôlitôbhasha form of Bengali using simplified inflections and other changes, was emerging from
- সাধুভাষাSadhubhasha (Proper form or original form of Bengali) as the form of choice for written Bengali.
In 1948 the Government of Pakistan tried to impose Urdu as the sole state language in Pakistan, starting the Bengali language movement. The Bengali Language Movement was a popular ethno-linguistic movement in the former East Bengal (today Bangladesh), which was a result of the strong linguistic consciousness of the Bengalis to gain and protect spoken and written Bengali's recognition as a state language of the then Dominion of Pakistan. On the day of 21 February 1952 five students and political activists were killed during protests near the campus of the University of Dhaka. In 1956 Bengali was made a state language of Pakistan. The day has since been observed as Language Movement Day in Bangladesh and was proclaimed the International Mother Language Day by UNESCO on 17 November 1999, marking Bengali language the only language in the world to be also known for its language movements and people sacrificing their life for their mother language.
A Bengali language movement in the Indian state of Assam took place in 1961, a protest against the decision of the Government of Assam to make Assamese the only official language of the state even though a significant proportion of the population were Bengali-speaking, particularly in the Barak Valley.
In 2010, the parliament of Bangladesh and the legislative assembly of West Bengal proposed that Bengali be made an official UN language. Their motions came after Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina suggested the idea while addressing the UN General Assembly that year.
Bengali language is native to the region of Bengal, which comprises Indian states of West Bengal and the present-day nation of Bangladesh.
Besides the native region it is also spoken by the Bengalis living in Tripura, southern Assam and the Bengali population in the Indian union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Bengali is also spoken in the neighboring states of Odisha, Bihar, and Jharkhand, and sizable minorities of Bengali speakers reside in Indian cities outside Bengal, including Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, and Vrindavan. There are also significant Bengali-speaking communities in the Middle East, the United States, Singapore,Malaysia, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom and Italy.
See also: States of India by Bengali speakers
Bengali is national and official language of Bangladesh, and one of the 23 official languages in India. It is the official language of the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and in Barak Valley of Assam. Bengali is a second official language of the Indian state of Jharkhand since September 2011. It is also a recognized secondary language in the City of Karachi in Pakistan. The Department of Bengali in the University of Karachi also offers regular programs of studies at the Bachelors and at the Masters levels for Bengali Literature.
The national anthems of both Bangladesh and India were written in Bengali by the Bengali Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. In 2009, elected representatives in both Bangladesh and West Bengal called for Bengali language to be made an official language of the United Nations.
Main article: Bengali dialects
Regional variation in spoken Bengali constitutes a dialect continuum. Linguist Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay grouped these dialects into four large clusters—Rarh, Banga, Kamarupa and Varendra; but many alternative grouping schemes have also been proposed. The south-western dialects (Rarh or Nadia dialect) form the basis of modern standard colloquial Bengali. In the dialects prevalent in much of eastern and south-eastern Bangladesh (Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka and Sylhet Divisions of Bangladesh), many of the stops and affricates heard in West Bengal are pronounced as fricatives. Western alveolo-palatal affricatesচ[tɕɔ], ছ[tɕʰɔ], জ[dʑɔ] correspond to eastern চ[tsɔ], ছ[tsʰɔ~sɔ], জ[dzɔ~zɔ]. The influence of Tibeto-Burman languages on the phonology of Eastern Bengali is seen through the lack of nasalized vowels and an alveolar articulation of what are categorised as the "cerebral" consonants (as opposed to the postalveolar articulation of West Bengal). Some variants of Bengali, particularly Chittagonian and Chakma, have contrastive tone; differences in the pitch of the speaker's voice can distinguish words. Rangpuri, Kharia Thar and Mal Paharia are closely related to Western Bengali dialects, but are typically classified as separate languages. Similarly, Hajong is considered a separate language, although it shares similarities to Northern Bengali dialects.
During the standardization of Bengali in the 19th century and early 20th century, the cultural center of Bengal was in the city of Kolkata, founded by the British. What is accepted as the standard form today in both West Bengal and Bangladesh is based on the West-Central dialect of Nadia District, located next to the border of Bangladesh. There are cases where speakers of Standard Bengali in West Bengal will use a different word from a speaker of Standard Bengali in Bangladesh, even though both words are of native Bengali descent. For example, the word salt is নুনnun in the west which corresponds to লবণlôbôn in the east.
Spoken and literary varieties
Bengali exhibits diglossia, though some scholars have proposed triglossia or even n-glossia or heteroglossia between the written and spoken forms of the language. Two styles of writing have emerged, involving somewhat different vocabularies and syntax:
- Shadhu-bhasha (সাধুভাষা "upright language") was the written language, with longer verb inflections and more of a Pali and Sanskrit-derived Tatsama vocabulary. Songs such as India's national anthem Jana Gana Mana (by Rabindranath Tagore) were composed in Shadhubhasha. However, use of Shadhubhasha in modern writing is uncommon, restricted to some official signs and documents in Bangladesh as well as for achieving particular literary effects.
- Cholito-bhasha (চলিতভাষা "running language"), known by linguists as Standard Colloquial Bengali, is a written Bengali style exhibiting a preponderance of colloquial idiom and shortened verb forms, and is the standard for written Bengali now. This form came into vogue towards the turn of the 19th century, promoted by the writings of Peary Chand Mitra (Alaler Gharer Dulal, 1857),Pramatha Chaudhuri (Sabujpatra, 1914) and in the later writings of Rabindranath Tagore. It is modeled on the dialect spoken in the Shantipur region in Nadia district, West Bengal. This form of Bengali is often referred to as the "Nadia standard", "Nadia dialect", "Southwestern/West-Central dialect" or "Shantipuri Bangla".
While most writing is in Standard Colloquial Bengali (SCB), spoken dialects exhibit a greater variety. People in southeastern West Bengal, including Kolkata, speak in SCB. Other dialects, with minor variations from Standard Colloquial, are used in other parts of West Bengal and western Bangladesh, such as the Midnapore dialect, characterised by some unique words and constructions. However, a majority in Bangladesh speak in dialects notably different from SCB. Some dialects, particularly those of the Chittagong region, bear only a superficial resemblance to SCB. The dialect in the Chittagong region is least widely understood by the general body of Bengalis. The majority of Bengalis are able to communicate in more than one variety—often, speakers are fluent in Cholitobhasha (SCB) and one or more regional dialects.
Even in SCB, the vocabulary may differ according to the speaker's religion: Hindus are more likely to use words derived from Sanskrit and of Austroasiatic Deshi origin whereas Muslims are more likely to use words of Persian and Arabic origin respectively. For example:
|Predominantly Hindu usage||Predominantly Muslim usage||translation|
|দিদি didi||আপু apu||sister / elder sister|
|দাদাdada||ভাইbha'i||brother / elder brother|
|মাসী mashi||খালা khala||maternal aunt|
|কাকা kaka||চাচা chacha||paternal uncle|
|প্রার্থনা prarthona||দো'আ do'a / du'a||pray|
|প্রদীপ prodip||বাতি bati||light|
Main article: Bengali phonology
The phonemic inventory of standard Bengali consists of 29 consonants and 7 vowels, as well as 7 nasalized vowels. The inventory is set out below in the International Phonetic Alphabet (upper grapheme in each box) and romanization (lower grapheme).
Bengali is known for its wide variety of diphthongs, combinations of vowels occurring within the same syllable. Two of these, /oi̯/ and /ou̯/, are the only ones with representation in script, as ঐ and ঔ respectively. /e̯ i̯ o̯ u̯/ may all form the glide part of a diphthong. The total number of diphthongs is not established, with bounds at 17 and 31. An incomplete chart is given by Sarkar (1985) of the following:
In standard Bengali, stress is predominantly initial. Bengali words are virtually all trochaic; the primary stress falls on the initial syllable of the word, while secondary stress often falls on all odd-numbered syllables thereafter, giving strings such as in সহযোগিতাshô-hô-jo-gi-ta "cooperation", where the boldface represents primary and secondary stress.
Main article: Bengali consonant clusters
Native Bengali words do not allow initial consonant clusters; the maximum syllabic structure is CVC (i.e. one vowel flanked by a consonant on each side). Many speakers of Bengali restrict their phonology to this pattern, even when using Sanskrit or English borrowings, such as গেরামgeram (CV.CVC) for গ্রামgram (CCVC) "village" or ইস্কুলiskul (VC.CVC) for স্কুলskul (CCVC) "school".
Main articles: Bengali alphabet and Bengali Braille
The Bengali script is an abugida, a script with letters for consonants, diacritics for vowels, and in which an inherent vowel (অ ô) is assumed for consonants if no vowel is marked. The Bengali alphabet is used throughout Bangladesh and eastern India (Assam, West Bengal, Tripura). The Bengali alphabet is believed to have evolved from a modified Brahmic script around 1000 CE (or 10th – 11th century). Note that despite Bangladesh being majority Muslim, it uses the Bengali alphabet rather than an Arabic-based one like the Shahmukhi script used in Pakistan.
The Bengali script is a cursive script with eleven graphemes or signs denoting nine vowels and two diphthongs, and thirty-nine graphemes representing consonants and other modifiers. There are no distinct upper and lower case letter forms. The letters run from left to right and spaces are used to separate orthographic words. Bengali script has a distinctive horizontal line running along the tops of the graphemes that links them together called মাত্রাmatra.
Since the Bengali script is an abugida, its consonant graphemes usually do not represent phonetic segments, but carry an "inherent" vowel and thus are syllabic in nature. The inherent vowel is usually a back vowel, either [ɔ] as in মত[mɔt̪] "opinion" or [o], as in মন[mon] "mind", with variants like the more open [ɒ]. To emphatically represent a consonant sound without any inherent vowel attached to it, a special diacritic, called the hôsôntô(্), may be added below the basic consonant grapheme (as in ম্[m]). This diacritic, however, is not common, and is chiefly employed as a guide to pronunciation. The abugida nature of Bengali consonant graphemes is not consistent, however. Often, syllable-final consonant graphemes, though not marked by a hôsôntô, may carry no inherent vowel sound (as in the final ন in মন[mon] or the medial ম in গামলা[ɡamla]).
A consonant sound followed by some vowel sound other than the inherent [ɔ] is orthographically realized by using a variety of vowel allographs above, below, before, after, or around the consonant sign, thus forming the ubiquitous consonant-vowel typographic ligatures. These allographs, called কারkar, are diacritical vowel forms and cannot stand on their own. For example, the graph মি[mi] represents the consonant [m] followed by the vowel [i], where [i] is represented as the diacritical allographি (called ই-কারi-kar) and is placed before the default consonant sign. Similarly, the graphs মা[ma], মী[mi], মু[mu], মূ[mu], মৃ[mri], মে[me~mæ], মৈ[moj], মো[mo] and মৌ[mow] represent the same consonant ম combined with seven other vowels and two diphthongs. In these consonant-vowel ligatures, the so-called "inherent" vowel [ɔ] is first expunged from the consonant before adding the vowel, but this intermediate expulsion of the inherent vowel is not indicated in any visual manner on the basic consonant sign ম[mɔ].
The vowel graphemes in Bengali can take two forms: the independent form found in the basic inventory of the script and the dependent, abridged, allograph form (as discussed above). To represent a vowel in isolation from any preceding or following consonant, the independent form of the vowel is used. For example, in মই[moj] "ladder" and in ইলিশ[iliɕ] "Hilsa fish", the independent form of the vowel ই is used (cf. the dependent formি). A vowel at the beginning of a word is always realized using its independent form.
In addition to the inherent-vowel-suppressing hôsôntô, three more diacritics are commonly used in Bengali. These are the superposed chôndrôbindu(ঁ), denoting a suprasegmental for nasalization of vowels (as in চাঁদ[tɕãd] "moon"), the postposed ônusbar(ং) indicating the velar nasal[ŋ] (as in বাংলা[baŋla] "Bengali") and the postposed bisôrgô(ঃ) indicating the voiceless glottal fricative[h] (as in উঃ![uh] "ouch!") or the gemination of the following consonant (as in দুঃখ[dukʰːɔ] "sorrow").
The Bengali consonant clusters (যুক্তব্যঞ্জনjuktôbênjôn