India is considered an oasis for knowledge imparted by some of the great teachers of all times. These individuals not only excelled in their fields, but also, influenced the minds and actions of the society through their teachings.
An acknowledgement to the great Indian teachers who transformed people into better human beings by their knowledge and grit.
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
The first Vice President and the second President of Independent India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, was also admired as a distinguished teacher of all times. Born on 5th September 1888, his birthday is celebrated as ‘Teachers’ Day’ in India, paying tribute to the noble and highly acclaimed teacher of the Indian soil. He truly believed and lived his ideology: ‘A true teacher is one who helps us think for ourselves’. He strongly believed teachers are important in shaping the fate of a country. His ideologies helped bridge the gap between India and the Western countries as he urged the countrymen to follow the principle of ‘teach to transform’.
Rabindra Nath Tagore
Rabindra Nath Tagore was always known for his scholastic excellence. He strongly believed that learning through activities was a great means to develop the physical and mental faculties of a child. He taught through narration-cum-discussions which strengthened the oratory skills of his students. Rabindra Nath Tagore, bestowing freedom in students, encouraged them to identify their hidden potential. He was a true believer and practitioner of outdoor education, prompting students to sit in the midst of nature to adapt knowledge. He believed that: ‘The main objective of teaching is not to give explanations, but to knock on the doors of the mind’.
Swami Vivekananda was one of the most prominent Indian reformers of his era with an unparalleled intellect. He was a believer of the Gurukul system – a practice of education where students and teachers live together. Through his teachings, Swami Vivekananda instilled in the students to face the testing times of life. With his beliefs and teachings, he instilled a sense of confidence in every individual that they are blessed with infinite potential.
Belonging to the 4th century, Chanakya is another great Indian teacher worth a mention. He accomplished the desired roles of a philosopher, jurist and a royal advisor to King Chandragupta Maurya. He authored two books: Nitisashtra (Chanakya Niti) and Arthashastra. Both his books are a collection of his wisdom, backed by realities that he wanted to pass on to the countrymen. ‘Chanakya Niti’ consists of a list of sutras that are still brain teasers and essential for a successful life.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
Every Indian millennial fondly remembers Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam as the ‘Missile Man of India’. Transforming his life from being a scientist, Dr. Kalam rose to become the 11th President of India. A practical educational thinker, he was a visionary who stood up for the integration of modern educational ideas in sync with the conventional practices. Advocating the balanced availability of education for urban and rural areas alike, he enlightened all the sections of the society to pursue education. Upon identifying the lack of educational resources to underprivileged children, he urged NGOs and other social-service institutions to bridge the gap. He is known for his invaluable contributions to education which manifest in his speech and books.
Born as Siddhartha in 480 BC, Gautam Buddha was constantly in search of real freedom and true happiness. He abandoned his luxurious life and attained salvation after performing a strict self-abasement under a Bodhi tree. Upon becoming the founder of Buddhism, he educated people through his Eightfold Path. His eight practices were: right view, right intention, right speech, right livelihood, right conduct, right mindfulness, right effort and right Samadhi. He strongly believed that these practices would help people put an end to their suffering.
Amidst all the great Indian male teachers, Savitribai Phule is one female that deserves a special mention. She was highly regarded for raising her strong voice against the cruelty committed on women. Additionally, she was hugely recognized for her valiant efforts in promoting the need for girls’ education in the country. She set up the first women’s school, thereby, supporting the need for female education, together with encouraging the demand for gender equality in education. Rejuvenating the dreams of thousands of women, she also set up a school for untouchable girls. In those times, she offered stipends to children for coming to schools. As a mark of respect for all her efforts in the field of education, and for execution of women’s rights, the University of Pune is honoured with her name: ‘Savitribai Phule Pune University’.
Leading their lives by example and striving hard in the pursuit of knowledge, these noble teachers, through their sheer simplicity and grit, even today live in the minds of those knowledge-seekers.
The lives of these historic teachers speak volumes of their dedication towards their ideals and philosophies.