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The other side of Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan?

The other side of Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan?
September 16
16:22 2021

Babu Tangewala

CHICAGO: Dr.Sarvepalli Gopal, son of a former Indian President Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, has reportedly dwelt upon a different aspect of his father’s personality in his book ‘Radhakrishnan, A Biography’.

According to him, his father began to show an interest in other women from the mid-twenties when his intellectual and public life widened and he started traveling continuously far away from home. He says: “The affair with the neighbor’s wife (in Mysore) was to set the pattern for the long series of involvements of which this was the first.

Dr SAs time passed they formed a fairly constant undercurrent to the decorum of his outward life. But self-indulgence carried with it no emotional investment; he showed his mistresses consideration and, while the relationship lasted, was generous with time, support and money; but he never gave them even the semblance of love. He looked, in this marginal and temporary attachment of senses, for no intellectual partnership; all the women whom he accepted in his life were of the superficial mind, some enjoyed dubious reputations and many were dominating and hysterical.

One wonders at how Radhakrishnan could have endured such women is tempered by the knowledge that, having embarked on these affairs, he ended them at the first opportunity, though such an opportunity was often long in the coming. The company of women, of which he was a compulsive seeker, was like gossip and light reading, an agreeable way of passing the time in the intervals of concentrated work and thought
These affairs diversified but did not disorganize his life. They did not deflect him from his serious purposes
various women helped to keep him youthful

While doing serious academic work at Oxford he wrote to his friend Shyama Prasad Mukherjee on April 17, 1930: “I am most unhappy here, feeling absolutely homesick. A lonely love-starved life is not worth much and one who is being mistaken for a religious man has to be more cautious in his behavior. So I am looking homewards and living up to my reputation here!” But his son maintains that even in England the former President had two liaisons; one with an admiring girl training to be a teacher in Manchester and another with the wife of an Indian official in London.

The philosopher’s extra-marital adventures naturally hurt his wife, Sivakamu, a distant cousin, whom he married when she was ten. She was deeply wounded, especially by her husband’s “mistress from the forties, a hard, bitchy woman of jarring and aggressive gracelessness who was determined to flaunt to the world her place in Radhakrishnan’s life”. Her marriage if not broken, was certainly fractured but like an ideal Hindu wife she remained completely devoted to her husband.

Radhakrishnan certainly did not practice what he preached. For instance in Calcutta in December 1942, with his mistress seated in the front row he waxed eloquently on the virtues of a faithful, monogamous marriage. Although he laid down the highest standards of human conduct he failed to reach them himself.



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It’s a lovely book. It feels energetically clear and light. It’s easy to read, dip in and out and most importantly it offers information without fluff! Blessings on this project.

Jac O’Keeffe
Spirituality teacher based in USA.

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