the course of a recent lecture at Madras, Mrs. Annie
Besant is reported to have emphasised the upholding
of one’s duties in preference to one’s rights. And the
Chairman of the meeting, Justice Sadasiva Iyer, naively
remarked (in effect): “ After listening to Mrs. Besant’s
speech, I have come to see that man has no rights at
all. He has only duties. God alone has rights, etc.”
Now, I have a right to submit that such teachings contain
but a partial truth and may do injury to the cause of
our national progress which, I am sure, is as dear to
the hearts of Mrs. Besant and Justice Iyer to anyone
My duties are based on my rights. That is to say, may
duties to others are defined by their duties to myself.
It is my duty to respect my father, because I am his
son and he has permitted me the right to the life and
the culture that he has bequeathed to me.
In my view, they are of equal sacredness: my rights
and my duties. My duties I must fulfil. My rights I
must vindicate. Life is possible only on such a basis.
Meanwhile, it is the right and duty of the wise ones
to purify the strong by teaching them their duties and
to strengthen the weak by teaching them their rights.