Homage to Justice V R Krishna Iyer

Justice V R Krishna Iyer, former judge Supreme Court of India  and a prominent human rights activist, a long time  associate of Vigil India Movement passes away at the age of 100 on 4 December 2014.  

Justice V R Krishna Iyer was a close associate of Rev. Dr. M.A. Thomas, the founder of Vigil India Movement. He has been a guidance force to the VIM team to strive for the protection and promotion of human rights at different capacities in the 70s to 90s and  a recipient of the prestigious M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award in 1998.

VIM expresses the heartfelt condolence to the demised soul and recalls the great memory in association with Justice V R Krishna Iyer by republishing  his acceptance speech for M.A. Thomas National Human Rights award 1998.  


I am grateful to the “VIGIL INDIA MOVEMENT’  and the distinguished Judging Committee for linking my name with a great India, a noble human and global gentleman, Rev. M.A. Thomas, whose life, simple, selfless and sacrificing was a cast in the mould of Jesus and shaped by the Gandhian ethos.  The passion of Christ on the Cross has been an inspiration for generous of humankind, a symbol of spiritual protest against imperial injustices and intolerant fanaticism.  His implacable opposition to the suppression of human personality and gender justice was also a divine summons to human compassion in the place of than-attic theology and mono-manic marketisation!  Rev. Thomas strode the world in the hallowed lift of Christ and every cell of his body and soul struggled for human rights and justice, geared to higher values and resistance to corruption and exploitation. 
His vision was cosmic, mission humanitarian and passion value-based liberation.  Vigil India was his torch motivated for social transformation where sharing and caring and dynamic fraternity is the rule of law and life.

I am too humble to deserve the distinction now conferred but so too am I too small to challenge the unanimous choice of the panel since I have profound respect for each member and his integrity, mellowed experience in society and wider perception of human rights culture.  So I submit myself to his ceremonial function.  I hate to be honoured for an awards and rewards, citation and cash appetizers.  What special contribution to society have I made to deserve this magnificent need?  My conviction, I confess, is compassion for all living creatures best expressed by Blake when he poetized:

“ A dog starve’d at his master’s gate
Predicts the ruin of the state
A horse misus’d upon the road
Calls to Heaven for human blood”.
And did not burns weep in verse: “Man’s inhumanity to man make countless thousands mourns”. Universality   of creation and unity of humanity keeps my being vibrant.  Why? Because Donne’s diction dwells in me:

“We man is an Island, entire of it self:
Every man is a piece of the Continent,
A part of the main, if  a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less; as well as if a promontory were,
As well as if amanor of they friends or of thine
Own were, any man’s death diminished me, because
I am involved in Manking;
And therefore never send to know for whome the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee”.

My fundamental philosophy and basic value set are derived from a strange confluence of Swami Vivekananda, Karl Marx and Comrade Jesus with a sprinkling of the finer humanism of Prophet Mohammed.  In sum, I am at simplicity in life, search for happiness in a universal just order, detest servility to gain glory, doubt, with honest skepticism, every proposition but date to accept facts even if allergic to elite opinion and anathematic to bightrow bosses and above all I held, deep in my soul, that I am human and so anything that distress any living creature deeply disturbs me and commands me into curative action, even if in vain.  I am aware of my weakness and feel painfully ineffectual when injustice is inflicted on fellow creatures.  I am a home of lost causes, martyr of pursuits of noble futility, victims of unwitting misunderstandings and nidus of unpopular, maverick noises. Still I must and hopefully will battle for human justice in all its dimensions, even if denounced and defeated by more powerful authoritarians to dissent against evil is a duty.

Permit me friends to do first things first.  So, I bow, in profound reverence, before the cherished memory of that incomparable humanist Rev. M.A. Thomas. We need him every hour, every moment in our asuric system, to defend the moral order, spiritual culture and probity in public life.  His diamond hard integrity, his rare commitment to truth, liberty and submission to the supremacy of eclectic values, sans which life losses its sublimity and the universe its divinity, made me gravitate towards him. Rev. Thomas was a one-man campaigner against the decline and all of Bharat’s rich heritage, happily composite, and morally Gandhian.  What  a piece of work was Thomas, gentle and compassionate, noble in bearing, a holy human in luminous locomotion, deep in concern for justice, truth, amity among communities and a heart tuned to the travails of the lowliest and the lost.  He wrote to me few days before his death about his illness and possible terrestrial exit.  His premonition proved true and plunged me and that large fraternity which looked to him for a lead like a lodestar in grief.  Today, his magic memory still belights this dark world and gives us a heritage of hope.  Dear brother  Thomas, salutations to your radiant, tho’ invisible, presence on Indian earth where a pestilent congregation of foul vapours pollutes our biosphere and glorifies hedonist greed and chauvinist bombs while millions starve or suicide in this Barabbaque order devoid  of purity and probity in private and public life!  What a pity the nation is riddled with rouges, rascals and free booters a s well as criminalized politicians and political criminals.

You, Dr. Thomas, were the founding father of ‘Vigil India’. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and my homage to you is blended with a tryst to battle against corruption, gender outrages, glitterati immorality and violation of human rights of vulnerable humans by those dressed in ‘a little brief authority’ but ‘strut and fret the hour’ robbing the resources of the nation and inviting MNCs to colonise our national economic space, even sensitive areas. Colonialism is the opium of the creamy layer who are mindless in signing away our Swaraj.  We miss you Rev. M A Thomas but your spirit will stll lead kindly light amidst the encircling gloom.

I am in a demoralized mood, a spirit of unworthiness, a feeling of aloofness to cash wards and flattery thro citations.  My mind is elsewhere, my search is in a different sphere, my sunset age is shell-shocked by the scenario of megalomanic vanity, worldly adventurous and ambitious gold rush.  They are ‘the hollow men’, …… the stuffed man……….. headpiece filled with straw’!  Alas, how free I feel, having jettisoned these money-making, tuft-hunting crazes for continuance in power as different incarnations!

Currently, gross materialism, hostile ethnos and communal ethos, by a python-like process, crushed the humanist code of ethics.  Therefore, a transformation, at once material, moral and spiritual, without inhibiting the infinite creative potential within everyone, the last pariah included – is the only answer to the challenges of violence, greet, sex and other bestial vices.  Vigil India’s tasks are hard and heavy in the battle for human rights and against inhuman wrongs.

Be that as it may, I plead my inability to be happy in the company of the cash and carry glitterati.  While it is the wisdom of the ‘Vigil India Movement’ to present a hundred thousand rupees to me, but once presented, it becomes my option to use that sacred  sum for human rights cause.  Not a single rupee out of this noble amount will belong to me and the entire sum, I publicly declare, will go to the study of public law in the human rights domain.  May be, an authentic institution capable of energizing human rights education and activities like the National Law School of India University, may accept the trust.

I seek to place before you a mental page from my life autobiographical but authentic before I close.

My holistic tryst with destiny is humbly to strive for a New World Order which makes the biosphere a hallowed home for all humans and other ecological species in an environment of harmony and compassion, thro a lovely synthesis of value, material and spiritual.  Such a cosmic symbiosis where the distant stars and leaves of grass have a underlying unity is the lesion of Sri Satya Sai Baba, Sri Narayana Guru, Sri Aurobino, a host of leaders of sublime thought and a sages of the Upanishads.  This dynamic transcendentalism, with its paradigm shift, replaces the currently fashionable but fragmented materialst ethics with a new noetic ethic, ecological vision and self-realisation process.  Who am I? is a perennial interrogation which baffles my consciousness, with the iron curtain (or translucent veil) dividing life from Death.  In flashes I perceive that God (or the Supreme Intelligence of Creative Power) ‘sleeps in the mineral, awakens in the vegetable, walks in the animal and thins in man’.  If supra-mental faculties a re kindled, divinity meets and mates with humanity where consciousness becomes the blissful resource of the universe.  This integral yoga, intuitive, subjective, yet scientific and spiritual is the profound idiom the deep fulfillment of TAT TVAM ASI (Thou art That).

The kingdom of God is within you, said Christ.  In the seashore of world children play, says Gitanjali.  These are the matrices and glimpses of my philosophy of life, shared in the long-ago days when my wife and I sat near the sea in my Tellicherry home and the very process was joy.  Life is a verb, not a noun, a perennial process, not a final product.

I am four score and three; but in the end is the beginning, a discovery of the manifesto of humanity an antyodaya sarvodayas project too deep for words.  This vistarami vision in my dream, where secularism and socialism, diginity and fraternity are invested with a celestial significance.  A micro-beginning  of an sdyssey towards the infine!  It is but a reverie, distant from the reality.  And the recurrent lines of Tennyson haunt me, day after day:

“ So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant vrying in the night:
An infant crying for the light
And with no language but a cry”.

Finally, I express my profound feelings to “Vigil India” for conferring a distinction I hardly deserve, except as a Camp follower of the Rev. Dr. M.A. Thomas Brigade.

Justice V R Krishna Iyer

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