Teachers’ Day Tribute: Drawing Life’s Syllabus from Dr. Radhakrishnan and Science


Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan once remarked, “The true teachers are those who help us think for ourselves.” Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was an Indian politician, philosopher, and statesman who served as the second president of India from 1962 to 1967. September 5 is the birth anniversary of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. As a way to remember and celebrate his life, work, and approach to education and students, the day has been known in India as Teachers’ Day since 1962. 

The Dual Paths of Science: A Noble Tale

Dr. Radhakrishnan’s emphasis on the union of science and moral values is not unique. A historical example that starkly highlights this is the tale of Alfred Nobel.

When we think about Alfred Nobel, the founder of the famous Nobel Prize, it’s noteworthy that he regretted his dynamite invention.

Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1867 while looking for a safer explosive for construction and mining, as the explosives used were notoriously unstable and dangerous.

Nobel’s personal tragedies, such as the unfortunate death of his brother Ludvig in a nitroglycerin explosion, shaped his safety concerns. Yet, despite his good intentions, the world saw a different use for his invention, predominantly used in warfare, causing death and devastation. Consequently, he was dubbed by the media “Angel of Death”. He became deeply troubled by what his creation had done to humanity. 

Nobel established the Nobel Prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize, to promote peace and recognize scientific and cultural achievements that benefit humanity. He died in 1896, leaving much of his fortune to fund the Nobel Prizes.

The invention was intended for constructive purposes, but tragically, it was employed to harm and kill. Science, when used without humanities, might grow into such an output. With the humanities, knowing how the world works, what inventions or discoveries are made and how it is presented to the world would vary a lot. While science can open doors to both progress and destruction, it is through the lens of humanities and morals that we discern the path to tread. A philosophy that Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan resonated deeply with.

Three Pillars of Knowledge According to Radhakrishnan

Radhakrishnan believed in 3 sources of knowledge – sense experience, intellectual cognition (discursive reasoning), and intuitive apprehension. 

The sense experience is the knowledge we acquire through the experiences of our senses. Knowing the qualities of things through the experience of senses, he feels it constitutes natural sciences. For example, It’s all about feeling and experiencing, like tasting that delicious ice cream.

Intellectual cognition (discursive reasoning) is the logical reasoning we try to apply to the knowledge or experience acquired by the sense experience. He believes it plays a vital role in understanding and controlling the objects or things we experience, for example, trying to figure out why that ice cream tastes so yummy. That’s your brain trying to logic it out.

He thinks of a higher mode of apprehension where thought, feeling, and volition are blended into a whole, where there is no duality, the distinction between the knowledge of a thing and its being. It is a type of knowing by becoming. Radhakrishnan calls it Intuitive Apprehension. In the intuitive apprehension, the knower establishes an identity with the known. This can be made clear by taking the example of anger. No intellectual deliberation can give us any idea of the emotion of anger. We can know it only by being angry.

Life Lessons from Science

He asserted that “teachers should represent the best minds in the country.”

But, as Radhakrishnan pointed out, teachers are not just humans. Experiences, intuition, and logic also serve as teachers in their own right. They teach us things in their own way. Knowledge is the result of teaching, too.

Drawing parallels, science, much like our life experiences, isn’t just about discovery; it offers profound life lessons. As we celebrate Teachers’ Day, let’s delve into the wisdom science imparts.

Never-Ending Loop of science and life

Never-ending loop of the scientific method.

Image credits: Pinterest

Life often feels like a grand experiment. There are hypotheses, trials, errors, and eureka moments. Like in a lab, every stumble is a lesson in disguise, every victory a sweet fruit of persistence.

Attractions of life!

Magnet on car repelling like pole; getting attracted to the unlike pole. 

Video credit: Pinterest (@first4magnets)

Life’s magnetic dance is fascinating. We’re constantly pulled towards passions or pushed away by fears.

Magnetic maze. The attraction between magnets is used to solve the maze.

Video credits: Pinterest(JustTeachy.com)

This dance of attraction and repulsion steers our life’s voyage, much like how a compass guides a ship in the vast ocean.

Various perspectives!

Image credits: Pinterest.

Like white light through a prism, our lives are filled with shades and hues. Each event splinters into a rainbow of emotions and insights when you tilt your perspective, painting our journey in vibrant strokes.

Life’s Electric Currents

Image credits: Pinterest

 Life’s journey is dotted with supporters and detractors. Just as in the realm of electricity, where resistance (ohm) tries to hinder the current’s flow (ampere), and voltage propels it forward, we find allies that push us towards our goals and obstacles that resist our path. Recognizing and navigating these forces is essential to electrify our dreams and aspirations.

There are teachers everywhere!

Everything around us imparts some lesson or insight. Look around for the teachings everywhere (sense experience), blend them with the logic of why it is and the intuition of what you can infer as science and life principles, and make your lives more colourful.

At the same time, pledge your respects to all the teachers who play an essential role in shaping the lives and future of the individuals, wishing them a happy teachers’ day! 

Stay tuned for more science fun, facts, and updates!


  1. https://mediafeed.org/11-inventors-who-lived-to-regret-their-inventions/
  2. https://egyankosh.ac.in/bitstream/123456789/38188/1/Unit-4.pdf
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