India’s Greatest Educators: The Best Teachers in History

When it comes to exceptional teaching in India, one name resonates with success and acclaim: Nitin Vijay, known to many as NV Sir. His innovative teaching methodologies have not only revolutionised physics education but have also guided countless students to achieve their dreams of entering prestigious engineering institutions.

NV Sir’s unparalleled expertise shines brightest in competitive exam preparation. Whether it’s for IIT, NEET, or JEE, his track record is a testament to his status as the best physics teacher in India. In the city of Kota, a hub for academic coaching, he stands out as a beacon of excellence, making him the most sought-after mentor for aspiring engineers and doctors alike.

As we delve into the qualities that make a teacher great, NV Sir’s story is both inspiring and instructive. Join us as we explore what sets him apart in the realm of physics education, and how his dedication has shaped the future of so many students.

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

apj abdul kalam

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s legacy as an educator and inspiration to the youth of India resonates profoundly across the nation. Renowned for his practical and visionary approach to teaching, he emphasized the importance of integrating conventional methods with modern educational practices.

  • Born on October 15, 1931, Kalam was a proponent of educational equity, advocating for the availability of basic amenities such as:
    • Safe drinking water
    • Playgrounds
    • Adequate sanitary facilities

His beliefs extended to the need for balanced education across urban and rural areas, ensuring that every student had the chance to flourish regardless of their geographical location.

Kalam’s status as a teacher was paralleled by his remarkable contributions to India’s scientific community:

  • 11th President of India
  • Pioneering figure in India’s nuclear and space efforts, earning him the moniker of the “Missile Man”.
  • Championed progressive thinking, famously stating, “Some of the brightest minds in the country can be found on the last benches of the classroom.”

As a lecturer, Dr. Kalam connected with students up until his last moments, passing away from a heart attack en route to a lecture at IIM Shillong. His commitment to education and his ability to engage with the youth remained steadfast throughout his life.

Known for his evocative thoughts and quotes, many of which continue to inspire, a few that stand out are:

  • “If you want to shine like a sun, first burn like a sun.”
  • “All of us do not have equal talent. But all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.”

Kalam’s unique approach to student engagement involved treating learners as peers, resonating with their level and encouraging them to push beyond their limits. His influence on India’s educational landscape has paved the way for teachers like Nitin Vijay (NV Sir) to continue fostering excellence in the next generations of learners.

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda stands as an emblematic figure in India’s educational sphere, renowned for his progressive teaching philosophies and intellectual prowess. Born in 1863, his legacy as an educator resonates through the corridors of time, impacting modern teaching ideals. Vivekananda championed a holistic approach to education, one that harmonised the mind, body, and spirit.

  • Integrating Life with Education: Vivekananda’s teachings extended beyond academic knowledge. He aimed to align education with existential harmony.
  • Practical Vedanta: A key focus was on teaching Practical Vedanta, which represents spirituality applied in daily life.
  • Monastery as a Learning Hub: He established a monastery that became a convergence point for scholars and students alike to study and live together, promoting the Gurukula system.

His innovative methods were evident in the schools he influenced, particularly in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, where the curriculum included:

  • A blend of physical education with core subjects
  • Creative arts like drama and dance
  • Nature-related activities, such as fruit picking and tree climbing

Vivekananda’s ideals stressed the importance of an education system that nurtures overall development rather than mere academic achievement. He believed in creating an environment where students are encouraged to engage with a diverse range of activities which are instrumental in shaping well-rounded individuals.

Dronacharya, another iconic figure in Indian education referenced in the epic Mahabharata, showcased similar values in his tutelage. Specialising in martial arts, he too embodied the virtues of comprehensive learning through his teachings in archery and warfare, illustrating the timeless Indian creed that great teachers possess the ability to unlock not just the intellect, but the latent potential within every student.


Valmiki, known as the Adi Kavi, the first poet, crafted an epic that has stood the test of time. Delving into his contributions reveals the following:

  • Authored the Ramayana, an epic composed of 24,000 shlokas distributed across 7 kandas, including the Uttara Kanda.
  • The epic contains an astonishing 480,002 words, signifying a monumental work of literature.
  • His teachings, encapsulated within the Ramayana, impart critical life lessons:
    • The importance of family bonds.
    • Learning to differentiate between right and wrong.
    • Emphasizing the victory of good over evil.

Through his literary work, Valmiki provided not just a story, but a framework for moral and ethical living that resonates to this day. His influence on Indian education and culture underscores the power of great teachers who impart wisdom that extends far beyond the classroom.

In the context of great educational figures in India, Valmiki’s contribution is illustrative of the profound impact one individual’s teachings can have on society as a whole. His legacy is woven into the fabric of Indian pedagogy, where the moral and ethical lessons from the Ramayana continue to shape the principles of modern education. These enduring teachings are pivotal for holistic development, a cornerstone of the Indian educational ethos, which fosters not just intellectual growth but moral fortitude in students.

Guru Dronacharya

Guru Dronacharya

Guru Dronacharya’s role in the Mahabharata highlights the significance of expertise and commitment in shaping the abilities of pupils. Known for his advanced military arts skills and strategic acumen, he stands as a timeless paradigm in India’s rich educational tapestry.

  • Master of Warfare: Dronacharya was a revered figure in the Mahabharata, an epic that illustrates the deep-rooted tradition of mentorship in Indian history. As a master of military tactics and weaponry, Dronacharya’s teachings went beyond mere instruction; they were the foundation of the legendary skills that the Kauravas and Pandavas displayed.
  • Favored Pupil: Arjun’s relationship with Dronacharya embodies the ideal student-teacher dynamic. Not only did Arjun’s dedication and natural talent earn him the position of favored pupil, but his successes also extended Dronacharya’s legacy as a preeminent guru.
  • Discipline and Focus: Unlike many contemporary figures renowned for their compassionate and gentle methodologies, Dronacharya was known for his stringent and rigorous teaching style. He recognized the importance of discipline and instilled this within his students to ensure their mastery over complex martial skills.
  • Buddha’s Teachings: On Guru Poornima, a day celebrated in honor of gurus, it’s notable to reflect on the teachings of Buddha, who established Buddhism during his first sermon. Buddha’s emphasis on mindfulness and compassion contrasts the martial focus of Guru Dronacharya, yet it showcases a diverse spectrum of guidance integral to India’s spiritual and educational framework.
  • Visva-Bharati University: The establishment of Visva-Bharati University by Gurudev, a storied poet and educator, adds another layer to the understanding of gurus in India. From military tactics to spiritual wisdom and artistic innovation, the role of teachers in India spans a broad range of disciplines and philosophies.

Through the lens of historical figures like Guru Dronacharya, the article reveals the enduring impact of structured tutelage and the pivotal role that dedicated education plays in the continuum of excellence and knowledge.

Rabindra Nath Tagore

Rabindra Nath Tagore

Rabindra Nath Tagore, born on May 7, 1861, was not just an eminent figure within Indian literature, but also a towering intellectual during the country’s fight for independence. Regarded as one of the Finest Educators in Indian history, his influence in shaping the realms of education and culture in India is profound.

  • First Indian Nobel Laureate: Achieved unparalleled acclaim as the first Indian to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • Revolutionary Educational Approach: Believing that the main goal of education was to ignite minds, he established Visva-Bharati University to foster a global outlook among students.
  • Interactive Teaching Methodology: Tagore was commended for his warm engagement with students, preferring interactive sessions at home and in classrooms over traditional rote learning.

During his tenure at the University of Calcutta, Tagore represented India at various international platforms. His presence at the International Congress in the UK and the US underscored his global significance.

  • Teaching through Compassion: Tagore’s relationship with his pupils was built on the principles of kindness and curiosity rather than hierarchy and discipline.
  • A Visionary’s Legacy: Despite his passing in 1975, his thoughts on education and cultural identity resonate with educators around the world today.
  • Inspiration for Contemporary Educators: His methods and philosophies continue to inspire modern teachers who aspire to not just teach but also to touch lives.

One of Tagore’s most enduring contributions is his assertion that education should not just convey information but also strive to open up the minds and hearts of learners. His words from the Indian national anthem, ‘Jana Gana Mana’, which he authored, echo the democratic and free-spirited ethos he promoted in his teachings.

Through his literary works, educational initiatives, and commitment to reform, Rabindra Nath Tagore established a legacy that persists as a cornerstone in India’s educational philosophy. His enduring belief in the transformative power of teaching ensures that he remains a figure of inspiration for generations to come.



Chanakya, widely celebrated as a paragon of wisdom and political shrewdness, stands out as a transformative figure in India’s scholastic heritage. Born in the 4th century BCE, his life’s work had profound implications on Indian education and political philosophy.

His seminal works, the Arthashastra and Neetishastra—also known as Chanakya Niti—are still revered across the globe for their incisive observations on governance and social order. The Arthashastra, in particular:

  • Serves as a treatise on statecraft, economics, and military strategy
  • Details monetary and fiscal policies extensively
  • Offers insights into welfare systems and international relations

Chanakya’s influence on education extends beyond his written works, as his methods of teaching continue to inspire contemporary academic syllabi:

  • Fosters a rigorous approach to learning economics and politics
  • Encourages the growth of critical thinking and strategic planning
  • Advocates for ethical leadership and wisdom in administration

The impact of his teachings can be seen in the values he espoused through his famous quotes which emphasise knowledge, effort, and foresight:

  • “The lack of learning is nothing but gross bestiality. It is through the acquisition of knowledge that he loses his lower status and achieves the higher one.”
  • “We shall overcome, and success will be ours in the future. The future belongs to us.”
  • “Sit idle no more. Go get an education.”

Acknowledging Chanakya without his contributions to the Magadha Empire would diminish the extent of his legacy. It was his counsel that guided the then king, Chandragupta Maurya, paving the way for the establishment and expansion of the Maurya Empire.

These profound pieces of wisdom and ideological frameworks remain embedded in India’s educational ethos, influencing students and leaders alike to strive for excellence and serve their nation diligently. Chanakya’s teachings, centuries later, still resonate, encouraging engagement with education as a transformative tool for societal elevation.

Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule’s journey as a trailblazing educator began in the face of immense societal pushback. Without prior formal education before her marriage, she broke new ground as the first female teacher in India. Her bold steps forward laid the foundation for women’s education in a culture steeped in tradition. Phule’s legacy continues to inspire educators and reformers across the nation:

  • In 1848, Phule opened India’s first school for girls.
  • Savitribai Phule and her husband were instrumental in founding multiple girls’ schools.
  • Phule fought tirelessly against the caste system and gender inequality.
  • Acknowledgement of her contributions extends beyond her lifetime.
  • Her influence is sustained through continued honours and recognitions.
  • Phule’s commitment to empowering the disenfranchised through education stands as a beacon for teachers.

Savitribai Phule’s dedication to change is mirrored in present-day accolades for educators who embody the same spirit of innovation and service. Case in point, ahead of Teachers’ Day in September 2023, the department of school education and literacy honoured 31 government school teachers and pre-university college staff with Best Teacher Awards 2023-24.

These educators follow in Phule’s footsteps, striving to enhance the educational landscape of India. They are lauded for their exceptional contributions, demonstrating the lasting impact a single dedicated individual can have on the evolution of learning, much as Savitribai Phule did in her time.

Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, whose birth anniversary is celebrated as Teachers’ Day in India, stands as a paragon of educational excellence and inspirational teaching. He was not only a revered educator but also served as India’s second President. His beliefs and educational philosophies are deeply ingrained in the fabric of Indian education.

  • Born on September 5, 1888, Radhakrishnan was a philosopher, statesman, and one of the most distinguished twentieth-century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy.
  • His academic career was illustrious, including his role as a professor at various prestigious universities, both in India and abroad.
  • The teaching philosophy he espoused combined Eastern values with Western methods of knowledge-production and exploration.
  • As Vice Chancellor of Andhra University and Banaras Hindu University (BHU), he implemented educational reforms that have left a lasting legacy.
  • In 1962, his contributions to Indian education were honored by the decision to celebrate his birthday as Teachers’ Day.

Radhakrishnan’s influence extends beyond just pedagogy; he was instrumental in shaping a modern understanding of Hinduism, both in India and internationally. He often highlighted the importance of the teacher’s role in society, believing that teachers should be the best minds in the country to foster a strong educational system.

  • His scholarly works cover various subjects, including philosophy, theology, and education, emphasizing the idea that teachers are integral to nation-building.
  • As President, he played a crucial role in the development of India’s educational policy, promoting democratic ideals within a culturally diverse society.

The principle of honoring teachers through the commemoration of his birthday as a national celebration of Teachers’ Day is deeply telling of his everlasting impression on Indian education. Every year on September 5, the nation’s commitment to education is renewed, reflecting Dr Radhakrishnan’s vision for an enlightened India guided by knowledgeable and compassionate teachers.

Madan Mohan Malviya

Madan Mohan Malviya

Madan Mohan Malaviya, born in 1861 in Varanasi, was not just a prominent figure in the Indian independence movement but an iconic educationist whose legacy continues to influence the nation. His vision for education was rooted in the idea that knowledge empowers, a principle evident in the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

  • Founded BHU in 1916, serving as Chancellor for nearly two decades
  • BHU is the largest residential university in Asia
  • Trained around 35,000 students across diverse disciplines
  • Popularised the slogan “Satyamev Jayate”

Renowned for his educational and nationalistic endeavours, Malaviya’s efforts went beyond academia. He tirelessly worked to uplift society, embedding the values of self-respect and unwavering pursuit of excellence into the fabric of Indian education.

In honour of his contributions:

  • Students are taught the importance of a powerful mind
  • Education is venerated as the key to respect and dignity
  • Fostering an environment where the beauty of knowledge trumps youth

As Malaviya’s teachings and philosophy continue to echo through BHU’s halls, students are reminded never to settle for less than what they deserve, a tenet that lends itself to both personal and national development. In reiterating the importance of education and moral fiber, Malaviya’s influence remains a bedrock upon which current educational practices in India are shaped.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati

Swami Dayanand Saraswati

The legacy of Swami Dayanand Saraswati stands as a testament to the transformative power of education in India. His advocacy for Vedic learning and rational thinking ushered in a new era of enlightenment. The profound impact of these educators on India’s academic and cultural landscape is undeniable. They’ve not only molded generations of scholars but also instilled values that continue to resonate within the fabric of Indian society. The best teacher in India is not just one individual but an embodiment of the collective wisdom and dedication of these historic figures. Their contributions have been instrumental in shaping an educational ethos that champions inclusivity, moral uprightness and the relentless pursuit of knowledge. As India continues to evolve the spirit of these educational pioneers ensures that the nation’s academic future remains bright and deeply rooted in a rich heritage of learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the richest teacher in India?

Mr. Rajesh Sharma, a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Technology, is considered the highest paid teacher in India with a yearly salary of Rs. 1 crore (approximately $150,000).

Who is Khan sir in India?

Khan sir, whose real name is Faisl Khan, is known for his unique teaching style and educational videos. He comes from a middle-class family in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, and has become a popular educational influencer.

Who is the first woman teacher in India?

Savitribai Phule is recognized as the first female teacher in India. She pioneered girl’s education by opening the first school for girls in India in 1848, alongside her husband, Jyotirao Phule.

Who is considered the father of teaching?

The term ‘father of teaching’ might refer to various historical figures, but Socrates is often called the father of Western education due to his influence in developing the Socratic method of inquiry.

Who is the best teacher in India in 2023?

The best teacher in India for 2023 includes educators like Satyapal Singh and Vijay Kumar, among others, who are recognized for their dedication and innovative teaching methods across various schools in India.

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