In the winter of 1942, Sarvepalli Radhakrishanan, at that time Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, delivered special lectures at the universities of Banaras and Calcutta on the theme of ‘Religion and Society’ (see Radhakrishanan, 1947). World War II was in its third year: it was a time that Radhakrishnan characterized as ‘one of the most decisive moments in the life of mankind’ (Radhakrishanan, 1947). He called the war ‘the last act of disintegration which [would] precede the eventual birth, through a long period of travail, of a world community’ (Radhakrishanan, 1947). This was an affirmation that could only and truly be called an expression of religious faith. Characterizing ‘secularism as the chief weakness of our age’, he declared (Radhakrishanan, 1947):
If there is no conviction that the values a civilization embodies are absolute, its rules will become dead letters and its institutions will decay. Religious faith gives us the passion to persevere in the way of life and, if it declines, obedience degenerates into habit and habit slowly withers away.
Needless to add, Radhakrishnanan's use of the term secularism was in consonance with its commonly understood connotation of opposition to religiosity. Anticipating ‘the opening of a new age’ (Radhakrishanan, 1947), he said:
the new world order must have a deep spiritual impulse to give it unity and drive. … There is the elemental urge in man not only to live but to live nobly. When our passion for noble living receives cosmic backing, we have the peculiar order of religion' (Radhakrishanan, 1947, p. 43).