Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma received his education at St. John's College, Agra, Allahabad University, Lucknow University, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, Lincoln's Inn and Harvard Law School. He took his M.A. Degrees in English Literature, Hindi and Sanskrit standing first in the University. He obtained his LL.M. from Lucknow University once again standing first in the University. He obtained his Ph.D. in Law at Cambridge. Dr. Sharma was awarded the Chakravarti Gold Medal for Social Service by Lucknow University. During his University career, Dr. Sharma won distinction as a sportsman, having excelled in athletics, rowing and swimming. He was Lucknow University's swimming champion for three consecutive years and was Captain and later President of its Rowing and Swimming Club.
He taught Law at Lucknow University and at Cambridge University. While at Cambridge, Dr. Sharma was Treasurer of the Tagore Society and the Cambridge Majlis. He was later a Fellow at Harvard Law School. He has been elected Honorary Bencher and Master of Lincoln's Inn and Honorary Fellow, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. The University of Cambridge has honoured him with degree of Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa). He was Pro-Chancellor, Sagar University (1956-1959). During his tenure as Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra, he was Chancellor of 22 Universities in those States and also Rector of the University of Hyderabad.
Dr. Sharma started his legal practice in 1940 in Lucknow.
Dr. Sharma participated in the historic Quit India Movement during the national struggle for freedom, and in the merger Movement in Bhopal, and underwent imprisonments.
Dr. Sharma was Chief Minister of the erstwhile Bhopal State (1952-1956), Cabinet Minister, Government of Madhya Pradesh, holding the portfolios of Education, Law, Public Works, Industry and Commerce, National Resources and Separate Revenue (1956-1967) and was thereafter Union Minister for Communications (1974-1977).
Dr. Sharma was Vice-President of India and Chairman of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) from September 3, 1987 till he assumed office of the President of India in 1992. Earlier he has been the Governor of three States: Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra.
Dr. Sharma was President of the (i) Bhopal Congress Committee (1950-52) and (ii) Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (1967-68): General Secretary, Indian National Congress (1968-72); Member, (i) All India Congress Committee for more than 32 years (1952-84) and (ii) Congress Working Committee for about 20 years.
Dr. Sharma was the President of the Indian National Congress in 1972-1974.
Dr. Sharma was Member, Bhopal Legislative Assembly (1952-1956); Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly (1956-1971); Fifth Lok Sabha (1971-1977) and Seventh Lok Sabha (1980-1984). His participation in matters concerning Parliament was resumed when he assumed office as Vice-President of India and ex-officio Chairman of the Council of State (Rajya Sabha), and continues in his office as President of India.
Dr. Sharma led several official delegations to International Conferences including a Parliamentary Delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference at Oslo in 1980; a Special Delegation of veteran freedom fighters to Moscow in August, 1987 for the celebrations of the 40th Anniversary of India's Independence during the Festival of India in USSR, also led a Special Delegation of veteran freedom fighters to Jalalabad (Afghanistan) to pay homage to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1988.
The title of 'Rashtra Ratnam' (Jewel of the Nation) has been conferred upon Dr. Sharma by His Holiness the Shankaracharya of Sringeri. The title of "Dharmaratnakara' has been conferred on him by the Pontiff of Shravanbelagola.
The International Bar Association has presented to Dr. Sharma the Living Legends of Law Award of Recognition for his outstanding contribution to the legal profession internationally and for commitment to the Rule of Law.
During his tenure as Vice-President of India he was Chancellor of Delhi University, Punjab University, Pondicherry University, Gandhigram Rural Institute (Deemed University), and Visitor of Makhanlal Chaturvedi Rashtriya Patrakarita Vishwavidyalaya Sansthan, Bhopal. He was also Chairman of the Central Sanskrit Board.
Dr. Sharma was accorded the degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) from (1) Vikram University; (2) Bhopal University; (3) Agra University; (4) Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati; (5) Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore and University of Sofia, Bulgaria. He was also accorded the degree of Doctor of Social Sciences (Honoris Causa) from the University of roorkee, the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (Honoris Causa) from the University of Mauritius (Port Louis), the degree of Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) from Meerut University, the degree of Doctorate (Honoris Causa) from Kiev State University, Ukraine, the degree of 'Vachaspati' from the Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth (Deemed University), New Delhi, the degree of Doctorate (Honoris Causa) from Bucharest University, Romania, the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) from Agra University and the degree of 'Mahamahopadhyaya' (Honoris Causa) from the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati.
Dr. Sharma was President of: (i) Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi; and (ii) Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, and Chairman of: (i) the Jury for the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, and (ii) the International Jury for the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development.
Reading and writing on various subjects of national and international interest and study of languages, history, art and culture, comparative religion, philosophy, poetry, literature and classical Indian and Western music.
Publications of Dr. Sharma: