Famous Teachers of India and their contribution to education

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As the nation gears up to celebrate Teachers' Day on Saturday, Sept 5, let's take a look at some of the legendary teachers or Gurus, who contributed a lot in the field of education and in shaping India.

Happy Teachers' Day

[How Teachers' Day celebrations have changed]

Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan: Born in Thiruttani in Tamil Nadu, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was not only a legendary teacher, but he was a great philosopher too. He served as the first Vice President of India and second President of India. The most acknowledged teacher of India, Dr Radhakrishnan accomplished his MA Degree in Philosophy, at the age of 21.

He believed in 'spiritual education' and was friendly with all his students. He began his teaching career at Madras Presidency College. Then, he became a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Mysore. He represented the University of Calcutta at International Congresses in the UK and the US and also lectured at the Oxford on Comparative Religion.

He was the proud recipient of India's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna. He got married when he was 16 years old and he had six children- five daughters and a son. He passed away at the age of 86.

Swami Vivekananda: Born on Jan 12,1863, Swami Vivekananda left his influence all over the world. His teachings are an inspiration for the youth of India. He successfully represented India in the US.

His main purpose of life was to help the downtrodden and poor people.

Gautam Buddha: Gautam Buddha was born as Siddharatha in 480 BC near Kapilavastu in Lumbini region of southern Nepal. At the age of 29, he renounced his princely and luxurious life, in the search of freedom from sorrow and lived an ascetic life.

He received the title Buddha when he attained nirvana (enlightenment). Buddhism was founded on the basis of his teachings. His teachings even changed the life of a dacoit Angulimala.

At the age of 80, he announced that he would abandon his earthly body and will reach final deathless state.

Maharishi Valmiki: Maharishi Valmiki was a great Sanskrit scholar, who composed mythological scriptures like Ramayana and Ramacharita. He is reverred as a great saint by Hindus.

Ved Vyasa: Ved Vyasa is credited to have written the holy scriptures of Mahabharata and Bhagwad Gita. He is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He had split the original version of Vedas into four parts: the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa: Born on Feb 18, 1836, he is popularly known as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. His chief disciple Swami Vivekananda formed 'Ramakrishna Mission' in his name.

Shankaracharya: Born in 788 AD, Shankaracharya wiped away superstitious religious practices which were rampant during his time. He had a unique skill to retain whatever he used to read even once.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati: Born on April 7, 1875, Dayanand Saraswati was a great saint, who founded the Arya Samaj. He revived vedic ideologies. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Sri Aurobindo called him one of the 'makers of Modern India'.

Chanakya: Born in a Brahmin family, Chanakya was a great economist, philosopher and a thinker, who taught "Arthshastra" in ancient India. 'Chanakya Niti' is known all across the world. He was a professor in Taxila University. He is revered as a great scholar and a diplomat, not only in India but in the West too. He was known for his wisdom and unfailing strategies.

He was a pioneer in the field of political science and contributed a lot in shaping the foreign policy of India. It is said that Chanakya starved himself to death.

Aryabhatta: Aryabhatta was a great Indian mathematician and an astronomer. It is said that Aryabhattaa might have been the head of Nalanda University. He discovered arithmetic, algebra, plane trigonometry, spherical trigonometry, fractions, quadratic equations, sums-of-power series and a table of sines.

He was an extraordinary teacher and a great scholar, with an immense knowledge.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy: Born on May 22, 1772, Raja Ram Mohan Roy is known as a great social reformer. He abolished evil social practices like Sati and raised his voice against dowry system. In 1828, he founded the Brahmo Samaj.

RabindraNath Tagore: Nobel Prize laureate Guru Rabindranath Tagore established Santiniketan school (abode of peace) near Bolpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal, now known as Visva-Bharati University.

Tagore is known for literary classics in the form of poems, songs and novels. He was a great philosopher, artist, playwright, composer, novelist and brought a revolution in the education system.

He gave a new definition to teaching by taking students out of the confinement of four walls and taught them under the trees in fresh air. He focused on Gurukul system by imbibing his students with the value of spirituality and he also inculcated outside knowledge in his students. He composed the National Anthem.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam: India's "Missile Man" and the former President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam who left for heavenly abode on July 27, 2015, always wanted that he should be remembered as a good teacher. Teaching was his passion and he passed away while teaching at IIM Shillong. He used to connect with children instantly.

Even after assuming the post of India's 11th president, Dr Kalam used to take time for his penchant of teaching. Dr Kalam, who was from an humble background, was very hardworking as a student. He studied physics at St Joseph's College, Tiruchirappalli and aerospace engineering at Madras Institute of Technology. A prolific writer, Kalam had penned down various books science, spirituality, and his inspiring life.

He was 'People's president', a great humanitarian and a nuclear and space scientist. Many of his followers call him as Guru Kalam or Kalam Sir.

Some of his famous quotes on teachers and students are:

"Creativity is the key to success in the future, and primary education is where teachers can bring creativity in children at that level."

"If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher."

"One of the very important characteristics of a student is to question. Let the students ask questions."

"Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model."

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