The Significance of September 5

Yesterday was the 5 th of September and Teachers ‘ Day was celebrated throughout India.

This was the day a stalwart Son of India was born many years ago.

He was Dr S. Radhakrishnan, a former teacher, an academic par excellence and most important in my view, a philosopher par excellence.


He was the first Vice-President of India (1952–1962) and subsequently the second President of India (1962–1967).

Teacher’s day can also be considered a vyavaharic equivalent of Guru Purnima.

Teaching as a profession is as close to Nishkama Karma as one can get, in a material World.

A good teacher is not just someone who knows his/her subject well, he/she loves the subject and successfully passes on that love to the students as well.

For that, a teacher should love his/her job despite the fact that it isn’t a lucrative job compared to a job in the industry . Teachers don’t expect to get “ Employee of the month” awards either.

When a former student stops a teacher on the street and asks “ Teacher, ennai theriyudha?” [ Teacher , can you recognise me?], the teacher may be trying to remember which one of the seventeen year olds in her class that was. Sometimes the teacher would recognise the student , and sometimes the student would have jog the teacher’s memory. Whichever way, the end result is happiness. The former student then introduces her spouse and children and adds to them that this was the teacher who made her .

This sort of award , I am sure is greater than the Bharat Ratna for any teacher.

My Mother taught  in a School and my Father used to handle Math classes in his free time and going out as a family meant bumping in to one student or other .

It took me some time to understand this fact. As a young adult , I used to feel embarrassed and annoyed every time the former students of my parents stopped them on the way to greet them.

Teachers have to be great motivators . In fact that is their main job. They don’t teach just the subject, they instil moral values in youngsters, by words and by example.

When a student turns in mediocre work as she believes that’s the best she can do, the Teacher says “ If you want, I can extend the deadline. You are capable of better work”.

Thanks to those seemingly casually uttered words , Hanuman awakens and leaps across the ocean of mediocrity .The resultant work surprises “Hanuman” himself. The wily “ Jambavaan “ teacher isn’t surprised but he suppresses a happy smile as his ploy had worked.

Teachers hold the same place as parents hold in one’s heart. Just like the parents of today, all they would like now is a phone call every now and then and an update how the former student is doing.

Whether they are the Vyavaharic kind of teachers who drive away the fear of Algebra in the poor student or the Paramarthic kind of Guru who dispels darkness by telling him “ Thou art that” , they all come in to our lives to push us gently but surely towards perfection.


September 5 th was also the day another Stalwart Son of India was born on.

V.O. Chidambaram Pillai was a freedom fighter born on 5 September 1872 in Ottapidaram, Tuticorin district Tamil Nadu State of India. He was a prominent lawyer, and a trade union leader. He launched the first indigenous Indian shipping service between Tuticorin and Colombo with the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, competing against British ships. He was an Indian National Congress (INC) member, later charged with sedition by the British government and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Chidambaram Pillai was not treated as a ‘political prisoner’, as his sentence was not a’simple imprisonment’,[ I think his was what was called as a rigorous imprisonment or “ Kadungaaval Dandanai”] He went through inhumane torture, which took a heavy toll on his health. Yesterday one of the Tamil TV channels showed the yoke that he had to work during this time. [This yoke was the one worked by bulls normally to extract oil].

I remember reading about him , where a very touching incident was mentioned. When he was trying to raise money to start the shipping company , his wife Mrs. Meenakshi Ammal wordlessly ,but with a smile on her face,handed him a platter containing her jewellery. Anyone who is familiar with the importance of gold in Indian families and how average Indian women feel about family gold can understand that this is an act of great sacrifice.

This World runs by Righteous men who stand by Dharma and their wives who stand by these men .

He was also a great friend of the nationalist-Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi.

He passed away in 1936 , well before the day  his beloved country achieved independence .



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