02 January 2014

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan On Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda tried to lead humanity
to a nobler and better path than 

that which it found itself in.
—Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Image source: Wikimedia Commons  
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (Telugu: సర్వేపల్లి రాధాకృష్ణ, 5 September 1888 – 17 April 1975) was the first Vice-President (1952–1962) and the second President of Independent India (1962–1967). A detailed biography of Radhakrishnan may be read at Wikipedia. In this article we'll make a collection of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's quotes and comments on Swami Vivekananda.

Vivekananda's influence on Radhakrishnan's early life

Radhakrishnan wrote in an essay titled Swami Vivekananda and Young India[1]
When I was a student in the early years of this century, a student in high school and college classes, we used to read Swami Vivekananda’s speeches and letters which were then passing from hand to hand in manuscript form, and they used to stir us a great deal and make us feel proud of our ancient culture. Though our externals were broken down, the spirit of our country is there and is everlastingly real—that was the message which we gathered from his speeches and writings when I was a young student.

There is nothing higher than humanity. But so far as we are concerned, a human individual is a lamp of Spirit on earth, the most concrete living embodiment of Spirit. ... By standing up for the great ideals of Hindu religion, the great ideals that alone can save humanity, by standing up for them, Swami Vivekananda tried to lead humanity to a nobler and better path than that which it found itself in. ... If you really believe in the divine spark in man, do not for a moment hesitate to accept the great tradition which has come to us, of which Swami Vivekananda was the greatest exponent.

Swami Vivekananda's role in today's critical period. . .

From Swami Vivekananda Centenary Memorial Volume[2]
We are today at a critical period not merely in the history of our country but in the history of the world. There are many people who think we are on the edge of an abyss. There is distortion of values, there is lowering of standards, there is widespread escapism, a good deal of mass hysteria, and people think of it and collapse in despair, frustration, hopelessness. These are the only things which are open to us. Such a kind of lack of faith in the spirit of man is a treason to the dignity of man. It is an insult to human nature. It is human nature that has brought about all the great changes that have taken place in this world. And if there is any call which Vivekananda made to us, it is to rely on our own spiritual resources. ... Man has inexhaustible spiritual resources. His spirit is supreme, man is unique. There is nothing inevitable in this world, and we can ward off the worst dangers and worst disabilities by which we are faced. Only we should not lose hope. He gave us fortitude in suffering, he gave us hope in distress, he gave us courage in despair. He told us: "Do not be led away by the appearances. Deep down there is a providential will, there is a purpose in this universe. You must try to co-operate with that purpose and try to achieve it."


  1. Swami Vivekananda and Young India, Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, Prabuddha Bharata, May 1963, pp: 183–184
  2. Swami Vivekananda Centenary Memorial Volume, pp: x—xi

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