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Upon the completion of his MA degree in , Radhakrishnan found himself at both a financial and professional crossroads. His obligations to his family precluded him from applying for a scholarship to study in Britain and he struggled without success to find work in Madras. The following year, with the assistance of William Skinner at Madras Christian College, Radhakrishnan was able to secure what was intended to be a temporary teaching position at Presidency College in Madras.
At Presidency College, Radhakrishnan lectured on a variety of topics in psychology as well as in European philosophy. As a junior Assistant Professor, logic, epistemology and ethical theory were his stock areas of instruction. At the College, Radhakrishnan also learned Sanskrit. During these years, Radhakrishnan was anxious to have his work published, not only by Indian presses but also in European journals. By , Radhakrishnan's reputation as a scholar was beginning to grow.
However, the security of a permanent academic post in Madras eluded him. For three months in he was posted to Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, and in he was transferred yet again, this time to Rajahmundry. Only after spending a year in Rajahmundry did Radhakrishnan find some degree of professional security upon his acceptance of a position in philosophy at Mysore University.
This hiatus in his occupational angst would be short lived. His most prestigious Indian academic appointment to the George V Chair in Philosophy at Calcutta University in February of would take him out of South India for the first time only two and a half years later.
The unconditioned in philosophy of religion
Between and , Radhakrishnan continued to publish. Throughout these articles, Radhakrishnan took it upon himself to refine and expand upon his interpretation of Hinduism. There is a strong polemical tenor to many of these articles. Radhakrishnan was no longer content simply to define and defend Vedanta. Instead, he sought to confront directly not only Vedanta's Western competitors, but what he saw as the Western philosophical enterprise and the Western ethos in general. Radhakrishnan's polemical sensibilities during these years were heightened in no small part by the political turmoil both on the Indian as well as on the world stage.
Radhakrishnan's articles and books during this period reflect his desire to offer a sustainable philosophical response to the unfolding discontent he encountered. World War One and its aftermath, and in particular the events in Amritsar in the spring of , further exacerbated Radhakrishnan's patience with what he saw as an irrational, dogmatic, and despotic West. A more positive factor in Radhakrishnan's life during these years was his reading of Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali poet. Radhakrishnan joined the rest of the English-speaking world in in reading Tagore's translated works.
Though the two had never met at this time, Tagore would become perhaps Radhakrishnan's most influential Indian mentor. Tagore's poetry and prose resonated with Radhakrishnan. He appreciated Tagore's emphasis on aesthetics as well as his appeal to intuition. From on, both of these notions -- aesthetics and intuition -- begin to find their place in Radhakrishnan's own interpretations of experience, the epistemological category for his philosophical and religious proclivities.
Over the next five decades, Radhakrishnan would repeatedly appeal to Tagore's writing to support his own philosophical ideals. As an honored, though hesitant, heir to Brajendranath Seal, Radhakrishnan's appointment to the chair was not without its dissenters who sought a fellow Bengali for the position.
In Calcutta, Radhakrishnan was for the first time out of his South Indian element -- geographically, culturally, and linguistically.
However, the isolation Radhakrishnan experienced during his early years in Calcutta allowed him to work on his two volume Indian Philosophy, the first of which he began while in Mysore and published in and the second followed four years later. Throughout the s, Radhakrishnan's reputation as a scholar continued to grow both in India and abroad. The later of these two Views is Radhakrishnan's most sustained, non-commentarial work.
An Idealist View of Life is frequently seen as Radhakrishnan's mature work and has undoubtedly received the bulk of scholarly attention on Radhakrishnan. While Radhakrishnan enjoyed a growing scholarly repute, he was also confronted in Calcutta with growing conflict and confrontation.
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The ambiguity of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms with their olive branch for "responsible government" further fragmented an already divided Congress. But the racial paternalism of the Simon Commission prompted a resurgence of nationalist sentiment. While Indian solidarity and protest received international attention, due in no small part to the media coverage of Gandhi's Salt March, such national unity was readily shaken. Indian political consensus, much less swaraj, proved elusive.
Cambridge University Press - books from this publisher (ISBNs begin with ) (1 of 63)
Communal division and power struggles on the part of Indians and a renewed conservatism in Britain crippled the London Round Table Conferences of the early s, reinforcing and perpetuating an already highly fragmented and politically volatile India. In his mind, he had identified the "religious" problem, reviewed the alternatives, and posited a solution.
An unreflective dogmatism could not be remedied by escaping from "experiential religion" which is the true basis of all religions. Rather, a recognition of the creative potency of integral experience tempered by a critical scientific attitude was, Radhakrishnan believed, the only viable corrective to dogmatic claims of exclusivity founded on external, second-hand authority. Moreover, while Hinduism Advaita Vedanta as he defined it best exemplified his position, Radhakrishnan claimed that the genuine philosophical, theological, and literary traditions in India and the West supported his position.
Radhakrishnan was knighted in , the same year he took up his administrative post as Vice Chancellor at the newly founded, though scarcely constructed, Andhra University at Waltair. Sir Radhakrishnan served there for five years as Vice Chancellor, when, in , not only did the university in Calcutta affirm his position in perpetuity but Oxford University appointed him to the H. Spalding Chair of Eastern Religions and Ethics. In late , Radhakrishnan took up his second Vice Chancellorship at Benares Hindu University BHU , and served there during the course of the second world war until mid-January , two weeks before Gandhi's assassination in New Delhi.
The Commission's Report assessed the state of university education and made recommendations for its improvement in the newly independent India. Though co-authored by others, Radhakrishnan's hand is felt especially in the chapters on The Aims of University Education and Religious Education. The growing communalism Radhakrishnan had witnessed in the s was further intensified with the ideological flowering of the Hindu Mahasabha under the leadership of Bhai Parmanand and his heir V.
Likewise, Muhammad Iqbal's poetic vision and call for Muslim self-assertion furnished Muhammad Jinnah with an ideological template in which to lay claim to an independent Pakistan. This claim was given recognition at the Round Table Conferences in London early that decade. If the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms had in the s served to fracture already fragile political alliances, its progeny as the Government of India Act with its promise for greater self-government further crowded the political stage and divided those groups struggling for their share of power.
During these years, the spectrum of nationalist vision was as broad as Indian solidarity was elusive.
The issues of education and nationalism come together for Radhakrishnan during this period. For Radhakrishnan, a university education which quickened the development of the whole individual was the only responsible and practical means to the creation of Indian solidarity and clarity of national vision. Throughout the s and s, Radhakrishnan expressed his vision of an autonomous India.