T. V. Varkey wasborn on April 2, 1938 into a middle-class farming family, ‘Thazhakuzhy,’ at Mevelloor, in the Kottayam district, Kerala state of India. His father, Mathew Varkey was a respected figure in the community and mother, Thressiamma was from renowned Vembenil family, Pothy, Vaikom.
Education & Profession
V arkey had his primary and high school education at Government LPS, Velloor, and St. Paul’s HS, Veliyanad (Tripunithura). He did his degree at Sacred Heart College, Thevara and Master’s at St. Berchman’s college, Changanacherry, both in language and literature. Varkey was a gold medal winner (Sachivothama) of the University of Kerala for literary debate (1962). HE published articles, poems and stories in periodicals and had won many prizes in various competitions, at school and college levels.
Teaching was his primary calling and he joined St. Berchman’s as a lecturer in 1964, and two years later he had a short stint as a journalist at Deepika, (1966-67) a daily published from Kottayam. Next year he joined Kuriakose Elias (KE) College, Mannanam near and Kottayam as lecturer and later as professor until 1993. During this period he penned his major novels and short stories, and articles. Besides he was a literary activist and had participated so many debate and discussions.
Like many other writers of Kerala of his generation, T. V. Varkey too began his literary career by writing poetry, but his first published work was a novel, ‘Vazhiyum Nizhalum’ (The Road and The Shadow). While he was a college student he used to publish poems in various periodicals. Besides, he has won many prizes for instant poetry writing held by various cultural organizations in Kerala.
As a literary activist he organized study groups, like Sahithisakhyam and Story Society, and held memberships in various cultural societies including the Authors’ Guild of India. He was a regular contributor of articles to Indian Express (Kochi edition).
As a young actor he was a theatre enthusiast and organized a drama club, called ‘Arts Academy’ and presented his play Agnichirakuakal (The Wings of Fire) early in 1970s at a theatre in Kottayam. Another of his play, Rakthabandham (Blood Relation) had been published as a book by SPCS. In addition, he has conducted elaborate studies on drama and theatre movements, and published a number of literary articles in well-established newspapers and periodicals.
I n 1991, T. V. Varkey brought out the book, ‘Venum Puthiyoru Dharma Sasthram’ (We Need a New Moral Code), as his response to the current social and political upheavals around the world. Much of the problems, he believes, spring up from the adherence to the old, decayed value systems, which divide societies and peoples on the bases of labels such as religion, caste, creed, and nationality. The answer to this predicament is the fostering of a new universal culture based on scientific values and democratic principles. He passionately believes that only scientific objectivity and democratic rule can respect human rights, based on equality and cosmopolitanism.
In the book, he travels through the history of cultural evolution, both in the East and the West, and pinpoints how human race through the ages changed its beliefs and conducts, especially after the European Renaissance. Science and Technology paved the way not only for the qualitative improvement of human life, but also for humanizing relationships between individuals and societies, because science generally speaks the truth. If the culture of science had not shed light on the darkest areas of human beliefs and behaviours, no society would have been civilised. This does not mean that science did not produce instruments of violence that evil individuals used for their selfish motives.
In order to establish a society based on a new moral code and on the foundation of scientific truths (not on speculative and individualistic beliefs of the bygone eras), he advocates a cultural revolution. For which he exhorts all the thinking people to unite irrespective of their national or ethnic origins.
He strongly believes nothing can stop the advancement of human species as globalization, with the help of science and technology, unite communities. When the dream of the ‘global village’ becomes a reality, humanity will be forced to carve out a new way of life on the newly coded principles of coexistence. Then the dark forces of blind faiths, ideologies, and parochialism would pale into insignificance.