Surak was a legendary Vulcan philosopher, scientist, and logician, considered the greatest of all who ever lived on Vulcan and the father of the modern Vulcan civilization. (TOS: "The Savage Curtain")
Surak lived in the 4th century, during the Time of Awakening. (ENT: "The Forge") As a scientist, he was considered on the same level as Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
Surak walked in Vulcan's Forge, beginning in the Gateway and crossing the Plain of Blood. His logic was said to have cooled it from the heat of battle. It was here that he founded the T'Karath Sanctuary. (ENT: "The Forge")
During the Time of Awakening, Vulcan suffered from a series of devastating wars, which nearly destroyed the planet. In the early stages of what was to be another devastating war, Surak's followers sent emissaries to propose peace. Many of these emissaries were killed, but over time they achieved peace on their planet. (TOS: "The Savage Curtain")
Surak was killed in the last battle against "those who marched beneath the Raptor's wings." (ENT: "The Forge") He died from radiation sickness caused by atomic weapons on Mount Seleya. (ENT: "Awakening")
Just prior to his death, Surak's katra was taken and housed in a katric ark. This ark was discovered in 2137 by Syrran, who became the holder of Surak's katra. With Surak's katra, Syrran founded the Syrrannite movement. (ENT: "The Forge")
Archer began having visions of Surak's time, and was able to find the T'Karath Sanctuary and the Kir'Shara. An attempt was made by T'Pau to remove Surak's katra from Archer, but it failed, as Surak wished to remain within Archer. (ENT: "Awakening")
Surak's original writings (the "Kir'Shara") were believed to have disappeared by the 22nd century, although many copies of his teachings were recorded by his followers. (ENT: "The Forge") These teachings led to the majority of Vulcans purging their emotions. (ENT: "The Andorian Incident") A group of Vulcans, known as the V'tosh ka'tur, examined these writings, and believed that Surak wanted Vulcans to master their emotions, not purge them. Many of them existed in the 22nd century. (ENT: "Fusion")
Image of Surak
In 2269, the Excalbians created an image of Surak in their attempt to understand the differences between good and evil. Surak was paired with the image of Abraham Lincoln, as well as Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock as figures who were good.
When Surak discovered the fact that the Excalbians wished them to "fight to the death," he wanted no part in it. He first wished to arrive at a peaceful settlement with the four images of evil (Genghis Khan, Phillip Green, Zora, and Kahless the Unforgettable). When Kirk began planning for the fight, Surak's logic told him that they should consider more peaceful actions.
Surak considered the present situation analogous to the one that occurred in ancient Vulcan, and would not participate in any fighting, as it was "more logical to heal than kill." Spock was touched by Surak's conviction to pacifism. After the others agreed, Surak walked to the enemy camp with his message of peace. After a long conversation with Colonel Green, Surak was killed and his voice was imitated by Kahless in an attempt to lure and kill Kirk, Spock, and Lincoln. (TOS: "The Savage Curtain")
Appearances and references
In a letter to the editors of the fanzine Eridani Triad, which was dedicated to stories of Surak and the pre-Reform era, Barry Atwater stated that he had been "turned on" by the idea of Surak and commented, "I had to fight with the director and the two lead actors in order to play Surak the way I wanted to." (Barry Atwater, letter to the editors, facsimile printed in Eridani Triad 2 (Doris Beetem and Judith Brownlee, eds.), March 1971.)
The introduction of Surak in "The Savage Curtain" intrigued many Star Trek fans and consequently generated a massive amount of fan mail, generally from viewers who demanded to see more of the character. (The World of Star Trek, 3rd ed., p. 146) Surak proved to be such an intriguing character that he and his philosophy remained popular subjects of conversation among fans for decades after the episode first aired. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 340)
In a script written by Eric Stillwell for the third season of TNG, Surak would have been killed due to the accidental interference of a Vulcan science team which had used the Guardian of Forever to observe their past. As a consequence, the Vulcans never embraced logic and evolved into a race more like the Romulans, fighting a war with what was left of the Federation in the 24th century – however, the timeline was restored when Sarek, aboard the USS Enterprise-D to greet the returning scientists, went back to the Time of Awakening to take Surak's place. While the basic story – joined with one written by Trent Christopher Ganino, involving the reappearance of the "lost" USS Enterprise-C – became "Yesterday's Enterprise", the aired version removed the Vulcan plot entirely, showing a war with the Klingons instead. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., pp. 116-117)
In ENT Season 4, Surak was played by Bruce Gray. Unlike previous recastings (such as Kahless, Saavik, Zephram Cochrane, and Braxton), for the Vulcan trilogy on Enterprise, the producers made a conscious effort to cast an actor who resembled the originator of the role. (citation needed • edit)
The Vulcan's Soul series of novels show parts of Surak's life. The final novel in the trilogy, Epiphany, states that his katra remains at Mount Seleya, ready to serve his people. Chapter "Vulcan: Six" of Spock's World by Diane Duane also details the life of Surak. In Beneath the Raptor's Wing, Surak's katra is destroyed.