8 greatest Indian teachers of all times

September 5 – the birth date of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second  president of India – is celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India. Have a look at the finest teachers who made India great.

Teaching is one of the noblest professions. A teacher not only helps children gain knowledge about various subjects and domains, but also recognise their strengths and weaknesses, helping them become better human beings. India has a deep-rooted history as far as the field of education is concerned and the contribution, talent and skills of its educationalists, teachers and lecturers have been acknowledged globally.Here are some finest teachers who made India great and who have left their mark in the field of education.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

“The true teachers are those who help us think for ourselves.”

  • His birthday is celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India
  • He was the first Vice-President and the second President of the country
  • Taught at Madras Presidency College, and University of Mysore
  • He earned fame as a teacher of the most difficult concepts of philosophy
  • Laid great emphasis on spiritual education
  • Whenever he used to teach students at his home, he used to welcome them himself, offer them tea and even see them off to the door
  • Once a few students asked him if they could celebrate his birthday, he replied, “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5 is observed as Teachers’ Day.”

 Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

“Your best teacher is your last mistake.”

  • Accomplished scientist and India’s 11th President
  • He was a huge advocate of education as the primary driving force of personal growth
  • He believed that, apart from holding an academic degree, a student should also enhance his/her personal skills and calibre, which are utilised more in shaping the individual’s career and life
  • He was a guest lecturer at IIMs in Shillong, Ahmedabad and Indore and an honorary fellow of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  • He taught IT at the IIIT, Hyderabad, and technology at Banaras Hindu University and Anna University.


“Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats beauty and youth.”

  • Also known as Kautilya, he is the first famous Indian scholar who was the strength behind the Mauryan empire (322 BCE – 185 BCE)
  • He served as a professor of political science and economics at the ancient Takshila University (now in the Punjab province of Pakistan)
  • His two famous books are Arthshastra and Neetishastra.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati

“A virtuous, truth-speaking and educated person is arya while the opposite to that is a thief.”

  • Founder of Arya Samaj, a Hindu reforms movement in the Vedic tradition
  • He was a well-known scholar of the Vedic lore and Sanskrit language
  • Worked to promote equal rights for women — right to education and reading of Indian scriptures
  • His commentary on the Vedas from Vedic Sanskrit in Sanskrit as well as in Hindi is quite famous.

Rabindranath Tagore

“The main objective of teaching is not to give explanations but to knock at the doors of the mind.

  • Tagore took teaching out of the confines of the four walls and formed a school which he hoped would be ‘the connecting thread’ between India and the world
  • Teaching at his school was often done under trees
  • He reinvented the concept of ‘gurukul.’

 Savitribai Phule

“Awake arise and educate. Smash traditions – Liberate.”

  • First woman teacher of India’s first women’s school
  • Founder of the modern Marathi poetry
  • At a time when women’s potential and calibre were under-estimated, she worked for the upliftment and education of women in the country
  • With her husband’s help, she opened a school for untouchable girls
  • Orthodox individuals from the upper cast used to mock at her efforts and throw stones and dung on her. Nevertheless, she continued with her teaching
  • The British government honoured her contribution to education later on.

Swami Vivekananda

“If the poor cannot come to education, education must reach them, at the plough, in the bakery, factory, elsewhere.”

  • His famous saying: Education is the manifestation of perfection already in men
  • He was the man behind ‘Ramakrishna Mission’, in which monks and lay people would jointly undertake propagation of practical Vedanta, and various forms of social service
  • His teachings and philosophy applied this reinterpretation to various aspects of education, faith, character -building as well as social issues pertaining to India
  • He propagated the gurukula system, where the educational institutions and the home are blended together and where the teachers and pupils live together and work in close and harmonious relationship
  • He believed in empowering students to handle different life situations and become good citizens
  • He argued that every individual has infinite potential which can be manifested as excellence in every walk of life.


“To be successful in life, what is needed is education, not literacy and degrees.”

  • Known for his contribution to modern Hindustani literature
  • He was also a teacher in a school in Chunar (Uttar Pradesh)
  • He was influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda.

Source: India Today, Sept. 5, 2017

Images of Rs. 5 coin of Chanakya courtesy: http://beekar-the-numismatist.blogspot.com/