Category Archives: chennai

The Dalrymple massage of the St. Thomas myth – Koenraad Elst


There is no document supporting the fond belief of Christians [that St. Thomas arrived in Kerala in 52 AD], ritually incanted by all politicians and journalists whenever they mention Christianity. … Even if it were found to be true, Christianity remains an erroneous belief system and a foreign religion whether imported in the 1st or the 4th century. — Dr Koenraad Elst


Koenraad Elst


The article “The Incredible Journey” by William Dalrymple in The Guardian, London, on 15 April 2000, is a wonderful exercise in pushing the beliefs of the “minorities”―in fact local daughters of a global movement, helped by the foreign headquarters with resources and strategy―to the utmost. There is no document supporting the fond belief of the Christians [that St. Thomas arrived in Kerala in 52 AD], ritually incanted by all politicians and journalists whenever they mention Christianity. And there still is none after Dalrymple’s article, a fact that all his innuendo about new insights is meant to obscure. Not even the apocryphal Acts of Thomas could prove this, either before or after Dalrymple’s intervention. These only mention Thomas going east to a desert country where people speak Iranian. This is clearly not lush tropical Malayali-speaking Kerala.


Coins of Gondophares I minted in Drangiana.


With all his rhetoric slamming open doors, such as that there was a lot of trade between Malabar and the Roman empire―which we already knew―he has only one piece of hard evidence to claim, viz. the coins by king Gondophares confirming the Acts’ mention of such a king, and that already by 19th-century British archaeologists. Now, if there had been such a find, it would have been plastered all over the front pages, and every Christian dignitary would quote it on every suitable occasion. I may have missed something, but I haven’t heard that. Such a discovery would, among other things, have to transfer Gondophares from Afghanistan to Kerala and turn his name from standard Iranian to Malayalam. Note that Dalrymple, ever careful to specify North versus South India, here leaves that crucial specification in the dark. When the very erudite Pope Benedict XVI said in 2006 that Thomas came to “Western India”, and that it was not he but “Christianity” that then went on to Southern India, he was speaking in full consciousness of the relevant evidence, of all that Dalrymple here suggests as proof in favour of the Christian belief.


William Dalrymple


He commits all the errors that our first-year course of Historical Method warned us against. If someone spreads a story―say, the Christians arriving in Kerala from Persia in the 4th century, whose leader Thomas Cananeus was confused with Saint Thomas―and then a hundred consumers of the story reproduce the story, these are not “a hundred sources in unison”, this is just one source. So all his talk about how many believers there are―including gullible Hindus―can over-awe a layman, but mean nothing to a historian.

Of course, ultimately it is not important whether Thomas came to Kerala or not. Even if it were found to be true, Christianity remains an erroneous belief system and a foreign religion whether imported in the 1st or the 4th century. But because Hindus have set great store in refuting the Thomas legend, the secularists invest a lot in supporting it, here be this article, more usually in pro-belief pronouncements, and the media will censor any serious scepticism about it. Except that they will greatly highlight any anti article on condition that it also covers itself in ridicule by espousing some P.N. Oak type of history rewriting.

And note the irony: one always speaks of “doubting Thomas”, also the title of Dalrymple’s film, but the finality of this article is to provide intellectual respectability to the all-out secular effort of suppressing doubt about the Thomas myth.


Gondophares ruled Drangiana, Arachosia & Gandhara.


 

St. Thomas in India: Tiruvalluvar ‘baptised’ to betray Hindus – B.R. Haran


“History is always written by the victors and whoever controls the writing of history books control the past. Without doubt, the most consistently powerful force in the western world over the last two thousand years has been the Roman Catholic Church and consequently history has often been what it wanted it to be.” – George Orwell in 1984


Tiruvalluvar


As rightly expressed in the immortal words of George Orwell, the Indians have been fed with distorted history by the Western Christian elite before independence and the same has been continued even after independence, thanks to the takeover of the nation’s history by the Marxists and Christian stooges, who continued the dark and sinister legacy of Max Mueller and Macaulay. As an important part of the perverted history, which was planted by the Western scholars, the so-called St. Thomas’s arrival, life, and death were thrust on South India. This thrust gave a solid foundation to the Church to claim as if Christianity was also an indigenous religion.

Many attempts have been made at regular intervals to impose the concocted history of Thomas on the people, thereby removing the facts from their minds about the persecution of Hindus and destroying of Hindu temples by the Christian invaders (Portuguese, French, and British) from the fifteenth century onwards.


Dr. M. Deivanayagam


Arunai Vadivelu Mudaliar


One such attempt, in the line of Arulappa and Acharya Paul, was made by a writer by name Dr. M. Deivanayagam, who wrote a book titled, Vivliyam, Tirukkural, Shaiva Siddantham Oppu Ayvu (Bible, Tirukkural, Shaiva Siddhanta Comparative Research), which was published in 1985-86 by none other than the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Adyar, Madras, either without any application of mind, or, as a deliberate act of connivance. Shockingly Deivanayagam was also awarded a doctorate by the University of Madras. Deivanayagam had predetermined to conclude his book with a finding that Tiruvalluvar was a Christian and a disciple of the so-called St. Thomas and most of the Shaiva Siddantha and the vivid knowledge found in Tirukkural were nothing but the sayings of the Bible. In order to achieve this devious motive, he distorted and misinterpreted the verses of Kural and Shaivite philosophical works and completed the book. Later on, Tamil and Shaivite scholars protested against this and the Dharmapuram Adheenam, a famous Shaivite monastery, came out with a book of refutation written by Tamil Shaivite scholar Arunai Vadivelu Mudaliar and released it amongst a congregation of three hundred eminent scholars, who strongly criticised Deivanayagam for his perversion of history. This was done mainly to prevent the usage of such deceitful materials by the future generations for research activities.


Old Kapali Temple


The planting of the so-called St. Thomas story was not only to establish a foundation for Christianity in India, but also to spread it throughout the country. This fabrication succeeded slightly, over the years, in the areas of Madras, Nagapattinam and Pondicherry, mainly because of the fact that the Kapaleeshwara Temple, Mylapore, Vel Ilankanni Amman Temple near Nagapattinam and Vedapureeshwara Temple, Pondicherry were destroyed and Santhome Basilica, Velankanni Church (Our Lady of Health Basilica) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Pondicherry were built on their remains respectively. Well known scholars of archaeology have established that, the details of the destruction of original Kapaleeshwara Temple could be found in Tamil inscriptions on the walls of the Marundeeswarar Temple in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai, even today!

But, the glorious religious tradition and cultural heritage of Sanatana Dharma had been so hugely established that, despite the cooperation from the Dravidian racists, Marxists and the English language media, the Catholic Church couldn’t expand beyond a certain limit. As a result, it started indulging in inculturation methods (dressing in Hindu ochre, pada yatra, calling Santhome Mary as “Thirumayilai Annai”, giving sugar-rice as prasad, etc.) to confuse and win over the gullible masses.

At this juncture, there fell on the Indian Catholic head like a bolt from the blue, the categorical statement from Pope Benedict that the so-called St. Thomas had never ever visited India! This resounding statement from the Papacy, which shocked the Catholic community, had shaken the very foundation of Christianity in South India. As the Papacy didn’t bother to listen to the Indian Catholic community and their protests, the Madras and Cochin bishops met in Cochin, Kerala during the second week of June 2008, to find out ways and means of re-establishing the history of the so-called St. Thomas.

As a step in that direction, the Archdiocese of Santhome, Madras, decided to produce a feature film on the so-called St. Thomas the Apostle of India, at a cost of Rs 50 crore under the banner of the St. Thomas Apostle of India Trust, which has Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa, Deputy Archbishop Lawrence Pius, Treasurer of the Diocese Mr. Ernest Paul and Script Writer Dr. Paulraj Lourdusamy as office bearers. The movie will be presenting the life and times of the so-called St. Thomas in South India in general and Madras in particular. The film will have certain supposedly important events like the alleged meeting between Thomas and Tamil sage Tiruvalluvar, the establishment of San Thome Cathedral and the alleged killing of Thomas by a Hindu Brahmin priest.


Rev. G.U. Pope


The story of Tirukkural containing biblical verses was first concocted by G.U. Pope, a Christian missionary who learnt Tamil and translated the Tamil literary works such as Tiruvachagam, Naaladiyaar and Tirukkural in English. Missionaries like G.U. Pope, Constantine Joseph Beschi (who took the Tamil name Veeramamunivar) and Robert Caldwell have a modus operandi of learning the native language with a motive of distorting history to suit their missionary agendas. The Dravidian racist political party, which always thrived on the bogus Aryan Invasion Theory, took immense satisfaction in glorifying these missionaries by erecting statues for them along the Marina Beach in Madras when it ruled Tamil Nadu in the late sixties and early seventies, thereby exhibiting its unholy connection with Christian missionaries. No wonder, the chief minister Karunanidhi inaugurated this Rs 50 crore movie-magnum on the so-called St. Thomas!



G.U. Pope lived up to the true tradition of Christian missionaries, by telling that Tiruvalluvar lived in Madras between 800 and 1000 years after the birth of Christ! The Tamils never bought this story and laughed at it. As per the available records it is believed that Tiruvalluvar could have lived during the second century based on the evidence that Tirukkural was included in the literary group called Pathinen Keezh Kanakku (Eighteen Literary Works) during the Kadai Sangam (Last Sangam) days. Those days, there was a literary-grammatical procedure by which the author would always make it a point to convey to the readers the identification of his guru and patron apart from his own personal details such as name, native place, worshipping deity, etc. But Tirukkural is without such details, and hence, the connection between Tiruvalluvar and Thomas is a mere figment of imagination.

Whereas, a look at many other literary works written after the second century, say for example Kamba Ramayanam, or Periya Puranam, could lead to the mentioning of Tirukkural or its philosophy in them and yet none of them would have any information about a religion called Christianity. The glorious rule of Raja Raja Chola was during the tenth century and there was no trace of Christianity then! Also the San Thome Cathedral had the inscriptions of Rajendra Chola of the eleventh century on its corridor walls! Then what meeting is the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese talking about between Tiruvalluvar and the so-called St. Thomas?\


Tamil Nadu CM Karunanidhi & San Thome Bishops: Karunanidhi receives an award from the Catholic bishops for his anti-Brahminism.


Even chief minister Karunanidhi during his speech at the inauguration function, has not mentioned anything about the alleged meeting between Thomas and Tiruvalluvar. It is a well-known fact that Karunanidhi, himself being a Tamil scholar and well versed with Tamil literary works, had written his masterpiece Kuraloviyam on Tirukkural. As he had not talked anything about the connection between the Bible and Tirukkural or Thomas and Tiruvalluvar at the inaugural function of the movie, it becomes obvious that the Thomas story is an absolute falsehood! But, he has waxed eloquent on the supposed killing of the so-called St. Thomas at the hands of a Hindu Brahmin priest and went on to say that the particular scene alone is enough for the success of the movie. But for this also, the Church doesn’t have even an iota of evidence.

At this juncture, it can be recalled that Karunanidhi had recently questioned the truth of Bhagwan Rama, historicity of Ramayana and existence of Rama Sethu [the causeway that joins India to Sri Lanka], despite the availability of so much of archaeological, literary, cultural, numismatic, geographical and historical evidences. But, he has not exhibited the courage to question the historicity of the so-called St. Thomas, despite being aware of the fact that there is absolutely no iota of evidence. The chief minister, who is a well-known expert in Tirukkural, has unfortunately not felt it important to ascertain the truth of the so-called meeting between Thomas and Tiruvalluvar, but conveniently left it untouched at the inauguration function. Though the people are aware of the chief minister’s hostile stand against the majority community, it doesn’t augur well for him to openly pander to the minority community accepting their devious machinations.

The Archdiocese talks of three vital places in Madras namely Santhome (Mylapore), Little Mount (Saidapet) and St. Thomas Mount (Brungi Malai). While San Thome Cathedral stands on the ruins of Kapali Temple, Little Mount was also built after demolishing a temple and the church on the Big Mount (St. Thomas Mount) was also built on the ruins of a Shiva temple. The Big Mount was called as Brungi Malai named after Brungi [Bhrigu] Maharishi, who sat in penance there invoking Bhagwan Shiva seeking his darshan and blessing. Ultimately Bhagwan Shiva appeared before Brungi Munivar as Nandeeshwara and as clear evidence the Avudai Nayaki Sametha Nandeeshwara Temple stands near the St. Thomas Railway Station, from where one could see the Brungi Malai clearly. This stala purana (temple record) can be found in the form of inscriptions on the walls of the Nandeeshwara Temple even today! Even while the Archdiocese has been attempting to establish the fallacy of St. Thomas over the years, it has not exhibited the courage so far to face a public debate despite invitations from learned Tamil Hindu scholars.

The Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese has the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion to propagate its faith, but it cannot be done at the cost of other religious faiths. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion cannot be used to distort history, or Christianise the icons of other religions, with a motive of belittling the other faith, which is native in all respects and which has a well-established glorious religious tradition and cultural heritage spanning thousands of years even before the birth of Christianity. Thrusting of falsehood on the gullible masses cannot be allowed. It is not too difficult to understand the aims and objectives of the Madras Archdiocese behind this movie project. So, it would be better for them to understand the sensitivity attached with this project, as they have a social responsibility. The government must also ensure that history is not distorted and the people are not repeatedly fed with fabrications and fallacies.


Dr. Subramanian Swamy


It would be appropriate to conclude with the sensible and courageous words of Dr. Subramanian Swamy, “The church will have to go, and the Kapaleeshwara Temple re-built on that site. Hindus will do it with the help of sane and civilised Christians if possible, without them if necessary, and despite them if forced. When 83 percent Hindus unite, let those who are seeking to debase Hindu icons by bogus history realise that a religious tsunami will wash them away.”

Politics has always been interwoven with religion and history in our nation of diversity and in such a scenario, it would be better to leave this project untouched, for the sake of Unity![1]


1. This article was originally called “‘Baptising’ Thiruvalluvar to ‘besiege’ Hindus!” and appeared on the News Today website on 7 July 2008.


 

Left breeds intolerance by ravaging Ayodhya and eulogising Thomas – B.S. Harishankar


It is an absurdity to try to “prove” St. Thomas came to sub-continental India by linking him to various old Syrian and Persian crosses. Thomas—if he lived at all—was an orthodox Jew. He abhorred the Roman cross. He would not have made one or worn one. But even supposing that he had no objection to the cross, there remains the historical fact that early Christians never used a cross to identify themselves until after the third century. They used a fish symbol containing the letters ΙΧΘΥΣ to identify themselves and their buildings. Old stone crosses found in India were brought to India by Syrian and Persian Christian refugees long after the fourth century. – Ishwar Sharan


Taxila Cross


The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Lahore proudly exhibits a small cross in a glass case. It is known as the dubious “Taxila Cross”. When the cross was discovered in 1935, Cuthbert King, the British deputy commissioner of Rawalpindi, knew of the Acts of Thomas and seized upon this find as “proof” of the existence of Christianity in north-west India as early as the 1st century CE. His claims were vindicated by the fact that newly-excavated Sirkap did indeed date back to the 1st century. This cross was later presented to the Anglican Bishop of Lahore.

The “Taxila Cross” with four distinctive equal-length arms, was adopted as the symbol of the Church of Pakistan—a denomination resulting from a 1970 union of Anglicans, Lutherans, United Methodists and Presbyterians. The May 1988 symposium jointly sponsored by the Pakistan Christian History Project, the Rawalpindi Diocesan Pastoral Center and the Christian Study Center at Rawalpindi, showed much interest in the famed Buddhist shrine as the site of St. Thomas the Apostle’s visit and [claimed it] sacred to Christianity. Father Rahmat Hakim of the Diocesan Pastoral Center proposed to raise a suitable monument to St. Thomas near the archaeological site of Sirkap.

Renowned writer and fellow, Royal Geographical Society, Salman Rashid, wrote that when a cross was reported outside the ruins of Sirkap, the second city of Taxila, at Pakistan  in 1935, poor and not-so-educated local Christians went wild with the joy of discovering how long fellow believers had lived in this land; there was also no dearth of Raj officers who also foolishly fell into this trap. No notice was paid to the fact that the cross was not found in any datable stratum of the ruins, but by a farmer tilling a field outside the ruins of Sirkap, the second city of Taxila (Taxila Cross, The Express Tribune, Dec. 16, 2011).


Christian fish symbol


But India’s Left academicians accept the apocryphal Acts of Judas Thomas the Apostle, and propagate it in universities and major research centres. Three major Marxist historians—D.N. Jha, Romila Thapar and R.S. Sharma—have vehemently argued in their published works, the arrival of Apostle Thomas into India from Parthia (corresponding roughly to present-day north-eastern Iran). The Apostle entered Indo-Parthian regions of present Afghanistan and Pakistan, as argued by these Left historians.

The Left historians have vindicated the claims by Pope Benedict XVI, addressing a vast crowd at St. Peter’s Square, that Thomas first evangelized Syria and Persia and then penetrated as far as western India from where Christianity also reached south India (Controversy over Pope’s remarks among Kerala Christians, Outlook, Nov. 22, 2006). It was with this objective that the Left historians launched the Spice Route–Pattanam Project in Kerala. For vindicating the Vatican historiography, the Indian disciples of Marx do not require archaeological evidence, historical documents, or honesty.

D.N. Jha, in his two works, Ancient India: In Historical Outline and Early India: A Concise History, contends the historicity of Apostle Thomas at the end of first century BC. Jha argues that the apostle’s presence at the court of Indo-Parthian ruler Gondophares, who controlled north western India, is historically documented and also Christianity in India. Jha debates that, according to later sources, the apostle achieved martyrdom at Mylapore, where he was assassinated. Romila Thapar in her work, The Penguin History of Early IndiaFrom the Origins to AD 1300, provides two missions for Apostle Thomas in India. Thapar attributes the first mission of the apostle through north-west India, associating the Indo-Parthian ruler Gondophares. She provides the second occasion in AD 52 at Malabar in Kerala. Unlike the polemic of many Ramayanas which the Left historians often raise, Thapar has no doubt that there was only one Apostle Thomas. Both Jha and Thapar uphold the legend regarding the martyrdom of Apostle Thomas at Mylapore near Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Thapar is also a supervisor of the Spice Route-Pattanam project for establishing the historicity of the Apostle in India. Noted Left historian R.S. Sharma in his work, India’s Ancient Past, gives credence to the arrival of Apostle Thomas in the Indo-Parthian region to propagate Christianity in India.

Marxist historians in India frequently quote A.K. Ramanujan’s essay Three Hundred Ramayanas to raise the issue of many Ramayanas, disparaging the original text. They dispute the historicity of Ayodhya and question its archaeology and tradition, but corroborate and confirm the legend of Apostle Thomas and Christianity in India in 52 AD. Depending on Indo-Parthian tradition and the dubious “Taxila Cross”, they articulate for the apotheosis of Apostle Thomas in India. Some of the self-styled independent and secular historians also appeared on behalf of the Babri Masjid Action Committee and Sunni Central Waqf Board as experts on the Ayodhya issue.

D.N. Jha was part of the four member team of Left historians, which included M. Athar Ali, Suraj Bhan and R.S. Sharma, who submitted a report in 1991 titled, Ramjanmabhoomi–Babri Masjid: A Historians Report to the Nation. The report concluded that no textual and archaeological evidence existed for any veneration being attached to any spot in Ayodhya. It argued that that the controversy was created by the Sangh Parivar for political gains.

The Allahabad High Court’s voluminous judgment on Ayodhya in September 2012 raised strong objections from Left historians. The court questioned the competence of various “expert” witnesses and cast doubts on their intellectual integrity, which provoked the Left.  Thereafter, 61 “intellectuals” led by Romila Thapar, from the Left-liberal establishment, attacked the judgment as “another blow to India’s secular fabric”. Eminent historian Meenakshi Jain’s recent work, Rama and Ayodhya exposes the Left agenda and duplicity.

In 2009, D.N. Jha argued that archaeological evidence becomes important in their context of physical relationship to the surroundings in a certain material culture and intellectuals should come out in the open and say that there was no Ram temple in Ayodhya (Frontline, Vol.  26, Issue 25, Dec. 05-18, 2009).

Later in an interview, Jha vehemently argued that faith should never be allowed to supersede historical evidence as it negates history (Frontline, Vol. 27, Issue 21, Oct. 09-22, 2010). On the Ayodhya issue, Jha has emphasized that if it is a case of “belief”, then it becomes an issue of theology, not archaeology (Historical evidence ignored, say historians, The Hindu, Oct. 01, 2010). Does this observation apply to the apotheosis given to Apostle Thomas by the Left trinity, Jha-Thapar-Sharma, without a single historical evidence in their published works? Is it Marxist theology as argued by Anglican clergymen, Robert Cummings, Conrad Noel, Hewlett Johnson and Alan Ecclestone? Does it vindicate Raphael Samuel who describes the commitment of Communists to “missionary” work and narrates how Communism is a “crusading order” and a complete scheme of social salvation?

Dr. Abraham Mar Paulos who is the Diocesan Bishop of Delhi for the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, observed that St. Thomas came to India to spread the gospel  in A.D. 52 (The government’s intention is suspicious, Frontline, Jan. 9, 2015). The same year, CPI(M) politburo member M.A. Baby said it is widely believed that Apostle Thomas came to Kodungalloor (near Pattanam) and through him Christianity reached Kerala even before it reached Europe (ASI Doubting Thomases Suspend Dubious KCHR St. Thomas Dig, The Telegraph, Oct. 1, 2015). The CPI(M) which vehemently questions the historicity of Ramayana and Ayodhya, openly marshals the case of Apostle Thomas.

The British Museum launches and coordinates many biblical archaeology projects across the world. It has many publications on biblical archaeology. Illustrations of Old Testament History by R.D. Barnnett, The Bible in the British Museum: Interpreting the Evidence by T.C. Mitchell, and Dual Heritage: The Bible and the British Museum by Norman S. Prescott, are only some examples. Hence, the British Museum’s interest is inherent in the Pattanam-Spice Route Project associated with the Apostle and sponsored by Left historians.

The British Museum has been involved from the beginning with establishing the historicity of Apostle Thomas in India. The British Museum supports KCHR sponsored Spice Route-Pattanam Project via Roberta Tomber. Tomber and P.J. Cherian, former director of the Left-controlled KCHR, jointly presented in March 2011 a paper titled Ports of the Periplus and the search for Muziris, at a seminar organized by British Museum on the theme “Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World”.

The museum also sponsored a three-day workshop in August 15-19, 2013 hosted by Prof. K. Rajan of Pondicherry University, who is also the administrator of the Left controlled KCHR. Rajan has raised much controversy as a major champion of Keezhadi archaeological site in Tamil Nadu (Digging up Madurai’s Sangam past, Frontline, Feb. 19, 2016). Keezhadi is dubiously linked with Pattanam. Keezhadi raised much controversy because of its excavator, Amarnath Ramakrishna’s, association with the Federation of Tamil Sangams in North America (FeTNA). FeTNA publicly supported the cause of ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils in the Sri Lankan civil war and the Catholic Church is accused of heavily associating with the LTTE.


Read: Keezhadi and Pattanam: Global plot to break India


Administrator-historian C. Achyuta Menon, who wrote the Cochin State Manual in 1911, makes an interesting observation on the church of Apostle Thomas at the Malayattur forest region in Ernakulam district. Menon observes that this Christian pilgrimage centre was once a Hindu temple, which was handed over to the Christian community of the region because a granite cross made an appearance “spontaneously” by the side of the idol. Interestingly, this church has direct access from the dubious Pattanam archaeological site excavated by Left historians.

With the launching of Spice Route-Pattanam Project by Left historians, the move to declare Malayattoor Church a global pilgrim centre was swift and rapid. The Roman Catholic Church declared the St. Thomas Church at Malayattoor an international pilgrim centre (International pilgrim centre status for Malayattoor church, The Hindu, April 25, 2004). The same year, the Catholics of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan, Baselius Mar Thoma Mathews II, installed the holy relics of St. Thomas at the St. Mary’s Orthodox Church at Niranom near Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala (Holy relics of St. Thomas installed, The Hindu, Dec. 22, 2004). The Malayattoor shrine was inaugurated by Pedro Lopez Quintana, the Apostolic Nuncio in India (Malayattoor Kurisumudi inauguration tomorrow, The Hindu, Feb. 12, 2005).

Rev. Father P.J. Lawrence Raj, an assistant priest in Chennai, communicates with the bishops of the Catholic world seeking brand recognition for St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus and the man largely credited with bringing Christianity to India through the Malabar coast in 52 AD. He says it is believed that the Apostle Thomas was murdered by a group of Hindus who did not fancy his proselytizing. (An apostle returns: Bringing St. Thomas back to Chennai, The Hindu, Oct. 27, 2018) Jha and Thapar vindicate this church myth regarding the martyrdom of Apostle Thomas at Mylapore, for which they require hardly any proof. The Left historians breed intolerance and religious chauvinism in India by incriminating Hindu society for the alleged martyrdom of Apostle Thomas.Vijayvaani, 11 May 2019


Funerary stele with the inscription ΙΧΘΥC ΖΩΝΤΩΝ ("fish of the living"), early 3rd century in Rome.


San Thome Cathedral cover-up uncovered – G.P. Srinivasan


“There were some broken pillar lengths, and bottom portion of Shiva lingam, and a round stone kept atop the bottom avudayar of Shiva lingam. In the few feet gap between the church’s backside and the chapel, there was a broken Tamil inscription on granite stone piece peculiar to Hindu temples.” – G.P. Srinivasan


San Thome Cathedral Basilica, Mylapore, Chennai (built 1893).


Chennai’s self-styled historian S. Muthiah has been propagating the fable of Thomas’s visit to India promoted by the Portuguese over 500 years ago. The Catholic establishment has generously supported this fable. Elders used to mention to their children about the presence of an old Shiva temple on the sea coast. After publication of the book The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple by Ishwar Sharan, in 1991, the public were aware of the dangers of the theory of the visit of Thomas to India. The Church was trying to make Hindus villains, like what they have done to the Jews for 2000 years.

By 1990 eminent citizens of Madras installed a 15 feet by 4 feet high marble memorial plaque on the eastern gopuram of the Kapaleeswara Temple, Mylapore, Chennai, whereon they inscribed that the Portuguese destroyed the original temple on the beach side in the 16th century.[1] Though the mischief of S. Muthiah and his colleagues like Archbishop Arulappa, Deivanayagam and Ganesh Ayer were exposed in Ishwar Sharan’s the book, S. Muthiah was in no mood to give up. In an article in The Hindu of 7 January 2004, S. Muthiah had revised his theory. He modified his article, this time without the prefix ‘Saint’ before Thomas, and the title “The Mount of Thomas” was given. But within the article he made a sarcastic remark about Ishwar Sharan. We brought it to the notice of Ishwar Sharan and also Veda Prakash who had done much of the research, and requested them to send a detailed rejoinder to S. Muthiah and The Hindu. Immediately they both sent their rejoinders to The Hindu and to S. Muthiah. And as usual, their replies were not published by The Hindu.[2]


Pseudo-historian S. Muthiah & Comrade N. Ram: Neither have the courage to tell the truth about the Portuguese in Mylapore and the destruction of the original Kapali Temple.


In his rejoinder, Ishwar Sharan wrote:

“My quarrel with Mr. Muthiah and the English-language media that promote the St. Thomas legend, is that the legend does indeed intrude on and demean the Hindu community. It falsely implicates a Hindu king and his priests in the persecution and murder of a Christian apostle and saint, and there is good reason to believe that this maligning of the Hindu community is exactly what is intended today when the legend is repeated and promoted ad nauseam by the Catholic Church and her agents in the press. In fact, the Hindu community is doubly wronged. It not only did not kill the fictional St. Thomas but for the saint’s cause it lost a number of important temples to the aggressive religious bigotry of the Portuguese. It took more than fifty years for the Portuguese to bring down the original Kapaleeswara Temple and build a St. Thomas Church in its place. I wonder how many Indian lives were lost in defence of the Great God Shiva and His house on the Mylapore beach.”

His reply exposes how the Roman Catholic Church has written and is writing and trying to perpetuate pseudo history in South India.

Here, I would also like to share my experience with your readers. I came across the book The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple by Ishwar Sharan and Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai by Veda Prakash, in 2001, and decided to visit the spots mentioned in the book.


https://ishwarsharan.com/the-myth-of-saint-thomas-and-the-mylapore-shiva-temple/Bones pieces in the San Thome Cathedral museum.


In July 2001 when I went to the Mylapore St. Thomas Church, the stone pillar from the remains of the old Hindu temple, which was mentioned by Ishwar Sharan, was exactly there near the compound wall, as mentioned in the book. I took a walk around the church. In an area  between the main church and a chapel on the backside [viz. a lane from Santhome High Road to the beach, the church on the left and the bishop’s house on the right], there was a board in English announcing “Museum”. It was locked but I saw that there were some broken pillar lengths, and bottom portion of Shiva lingam, and a round stone kept atop the bottom avudayar of Shiva lingam. In the few feet gap between the church’s backside and the chapel, there was a broken Tamil inscription on granite stone piece peculiar to Hindu temples. Subsequently I took some Hindu friends to show these temple remains, and we had to do it discretely. This was to create eyewitness evidence. We made a couple of visits, and found the remains intact.

Sometime later, I was driving along the Santhome High Road, and found some construction going on in the church. A new grotto with water fountain and a Christ-like figure standing in the cave’s entrance had come up. I checked up for the original pillar from the temple measuring 12 to 14 feet. It was not there. I was perturbed. At least these remnants from the original temple should be preserved.


Lorry disposing of rubble and other 'waste' from the San Thome Cathedral some place in the Chennai area without authority from the ASI (photo for illustrative purpose only).


On a visit in December 2001, I found there was a big celebration going on the church grounds. The pastor was speaking.[3] Some parts of his talk drew my attention.

He said that he was worried whether the function would go at all. And so lorry loads of building waste material had to be removed. And one Kumar lorry operator or contractor, obviously close to the church, has done a fine job. He was appreciated and honored by the pastor who spoke on the dais on 31 December 2001. He said that he was greatly relieved, for that building waste removal has not attracted any unwanted attention. I presumed that what he meant was that the new stage was constructed after the removal of the old mandapam from the compound, and the pastor was worried about the consequences of this illegal removal.

It is not known whether San Thome Church authorities took permission from the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to remove the ancient Shiva temple rubble? Secondly, they should not have dumped the lorry loads of the old dilapidated mandapam, completely removed from the compound and clandestinely taken to some waste yard. Did they take permission to do it from the Archeological Survey of India?[4][5]


1. In part the plaque reads: “Ptolomey the Greek geographer has referred to Mylapore in his books as ‘Maillarpha’, a well known seaport town with a flourishing trade. Saint Thiruvalluvar, the celebrated author of Thirukkural, the world famous ethical treatise, lived in Mylapore nearly 2000 years ago. The Shaivite saints of the 7th century, Saint Sambandar and Saint Appar, have sung about this shrine in their hymns. St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus, is reported to have visited Mylapore in the 2nd century (sic) AD. Mylapore fell into the hands of the Portuguese in 1566, when the temple suffered demolition. The present temple was rebuilt about 300 years ago. There are some fragmentary inscriptions from the old temple, still found in the present shrine and in St. Thomas Cathedral.”

2. The Hindu immediately put a copyright notice on the article on its online edition so that it could not be reproduced for comment by Ishwar Sharan in 2004. The notice has since been removed and the article has been made available for comment.

3. Is this church pastor the garrulous and deceitful Fr. Lawrence Raj who had so much to say to Catholic apologist Thomas Charles Nagy in 2009-2010? The Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese has a history of criminal prelates who employ various unethical persons and means to prop of the tale of St. Thomas and his Hindu assassin in Madras.

4. The Archeological Survey of India is deeply involved in the cover-up at San Thome Cathedral. It is a government department and therefore subject to the dictates of the politicians in power and their policy of minority appeasement. Even former directors of the Tamil Nadu Department of Archeology like Dr. R. Nagaswamy, who have all the details of the destruction of the Kapaleeswara Temple by the Portuguese and the building of San Thome Cathedral on the ancient temple site, are not willing to speak out.

5. The Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore has no right to hold or dispose of any temple remains or relics found on its properties in Chennai. Temple ruins which lay for decades on St. Thomas Mount have been “disappeared”, even as has the temple debris that lay around San Thome Cathedral and in the Bishop’s House compound. There are still painted-over temple pillars and other temple artefacts extent in the church museum. As the ASI has not taken possession of these artefacts, the Tamil Nadu Dept. of Archaeology or VHP should do so—though church administrators will no doubt remove them from public view upon reading this note.

References

  • S. Muthiah’s article “The Mount of Thomas” in The Hindu, Chennai.
  • Ishwar Sharan’s rejoinder to  Muthiah’s article “The Mount of Thomas” in The Hindu, Chennai.
  • T.C. Nagy’s thesis “Catholic Shrines in Chennai, India”, Routledge, UK, 2014.

Geeta Padmanabhan votes for St. Thomas – Ishwar Sharan


“The Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese offers generous rewards to any newspaper columnist promoting its (in)famous San Thome Cathedral and the fable of St. Thomas that goes with it. And there are in India any number of journalistic ‘presstitutes’ (courtesy Gen. Singh) who are eager to collect the Catholic moolah and record the falsified history of St. Thomas as dictated by the parish priest and his greedy bishop. A fine example of this ‘presstitution’ which appeared in The Hindu, Chennai’s notoriously Hinduphobic newspaper, is posted below.” – IS


The HinduGeeta Padmanabhan


St. Thomas and the city – Geeta Padmanabhan

San Thome Basilica, Santhome

In a city with many churches known for their antiquity, history, religious significance and architectural grandeur, this one stands tall. Its imposing neo-Gothic design is enhanced by a series of spires, with the tallest rising to 155 ft.

The colossal central area, stunning stained-glass murals and life-size portraits inside, and the slender towers and pinnacles outside, make it a huge tourist attraction.

But, the cathedral’s significance goes beyond architectural beauty. The basilica is one of the three places associated with St. Thomas in Chennai. Legend has it that he landed in India in 52 CE and established churches on the West Coast before heading to the Coromandel coast and Madras. After his martyrdom in 72 CE, his disciples buried him in Santhome, and the church came up on the spot.

Wrote Marco Polo: “It is in this province, which is styled the Greater India, at the gulf between Ceylon and the mainland, that the body of Messer St. Thomas lies, at a certain town having no great population.” The Portuguese arrived in the 16th century, were shown the tomb by Armenian merchants, excavated it in 1523, found a few relics and rebuilt the shrine.

By 1893, the church, again in disrepair, was demolished to give way for the present one. In 1956, the church was declared a minor basilica. In 2002, in a further renovation, a new passage to the tomb from outside and a museum of St. Thomas memorabilia were added. The spear that killed the saint, stones that have deeds of St. Thomas etched on them, and two postage stamps are part of the collection.

The cathedral became a centre of conversation when the tsunami that devastated areas all around left the newly-renovated church untouched. Folklore has it that St. Thomas had mounted a log of wood at the top of the steps leading to the Cathedral saying the sea would not pass that point. People believe this “miraculous post” kept the sea away that fateful day.

Little Mount

The story of St. Thomas’ association with Chennai begins in a tiny cave in Little Mount (Chinnamalai) at Saidapet. The apostle is believed to have lived and preached here. The cave’s mouth is about 5 feet in height and one-and-a-half feet in width. Another opening supposedly leads to a tunnel through which the apostle is believed to have escaped his assailants. The clear palm print near the tunnel’s entrance and the footprint at the foot of the hillock are believed to be those of St. Thomas. The freshwater spring nearby is supposed to have appeared miraculously to quench the thirst of his followers.

A portrait of St. Thomas, a Portuguese inscription, a tiny church built by the Portuguese in 1551 and a masonry cross at the top of the hill add to the place’s importance. A new circular modern church dedicated to our Lady of Health, has been built to commemorate the 19th Century of St. Thomas’ martyrdom.

St. Thomas Mount

A flight of 160 steps, built by the Armenian merchant Coja Petrus Uscan, leads to the top of St. Thomas Mount. Here you get to see what is believed to be a piece of St. Thomas’ bone and the “bleeding” cross, that legend says was carved by St. Thomas himself. It is while he was praying before it that he is said to have been martyred, and it was stained with his blood. This cross was discovered in the 16th century by workers digging to lay the foundation for the church. People believe it sweated blood on December 18 every year from 1551 to 1704 AD.

Also, look for the picture of Our Lady or the Scapular of St. Thomas, said to have been painted by St. Luke the Evangelist and brought here by St. Thomas. – The Hindu, 4 October 2016

Geeta Padmanabhan is a freelance journalist and a retired English teacher. Happiness to her is exchanging ideas with young people—(telling them the truth about Mylapore’s sordid Portuguese history is to be avoided though! – IS). Geeta lives in Chennai, India.- The Hindu, 4 October 2016


Gulf of Mannar


Ishwar Sharan replies

The reason we have taken issue with Geeta Padmanabhan’s article in The Hindu is because The Hindu’s editor refuses to allow any dissenting view or counter comment to the article. We know of half a dozen readers who have commented on Geeta’s article but have had their comments deleted.

This prejudiced editorial position of The Hindu vis-a-vis the St Thomas myth is not new. We have had three editions of our study of the St Thomas myth rejected by The Hindu’s editors, in 1991 when it was first published, then again in 1995 and 2010 when these later expanded editions were sent to the paper for review.

This deeply discriminatory attitude of The Hindu is equally true of other mainstream newspapers, namely The New Indian Express and The Times of India. All of them publish St. Thomas stories and all of them refuse outright to consider the actual historical evidence against St. Thomas’s mission and murder in India, or the evidence for the destruction of the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach and the building of the first San Thome Church on its foundations by the Portuguese.

The whole fable is exploded by the fact that the complete skeleton of St. Thomas has been in the possession of the Ortona Cathedral Basilica (Basilica-Concattedrale di San Tommaso Apostolo) in Italy since the 12th century. Therefore the Portuguese could not have found any bones or spear heads or pots of blood-soaked earth in the royal tomb—allegedly of a Chola prince—they opened in the 16th century!

Geeta Padmanabhan undermines her own concocted story for St Thomas in Mylapore when she quotes Marco Polo. He wrote: “It is in this province, which is styled the Greater India, at the gulf between Ceylon and the mainland, that the body of Messer St. Thomas lies, at a certain town having no great population.”

Obviously this is a reference to the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka, not the Mylapore beach area that is now called Santhome.

All told Marco never visited India. He is only repeating the fanciful tales of Syrian Christian merchants that he met in Constantinople.

Why are educated and cultured South Indian intellectuals so reluctant to tell the truth of history and the fact that the Portuguese imposed the St. Thomas tale on Mylapore by force and fraud, that they totally destroyed Mylapore as far as their ships’ cannon could reach—about 2 kms inland—and then “restored” the town with their St. Thomas churches built over ruined temple foundations? Why?


 

The News Minute’s pro-belief pronouncements on St. Thomas – Ishwar Sharan


The News MinuteMadhumita Gopalan


“The St. Thomas in India story is a Christian myth and it should be identified and presented to the Indian public as a myth—indeed a Catholic myth as most Protestants reject it—by the so-called secular Indian media.” – Ishwar Sharan


Luz Church or Our Lady of Light Church


Chennai’s colonial-era churches: Tranquil sanctuaries in a bustling metropolis – Madhumita Gopalan

Chennai is most commonly thought of as a gateway to Tamil Nadu, the land of thousands of magnificent temples. What’s less known is that the city has had a long association with Christianity since as far back as the 1st century AD, and is peppered with beautiful churches built by the colonial powers between the 16th and 20th centuries.

The Church of Our Lady of Light, locally called the Luz Church, is probably the oldest church in Chennai. In the early 16th century, Vasco da Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer, discovered a maritime route to India. Right after that, it is said that 8 Portuguese priests came to India to preach Christianity. On their way to the eastern shores of south India, they were hit by bad weather and got lost at sea. Legend has it that a bright light mysteriously appeared out of nowhere and guided them to safety. This church was built in the year 1516 at the place that the light led them to.


St. Thomas & San Thome Cathedral


There are two more iconic churches in Chennai originally built by the Portuguese, and both have a deep connection with St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. It is said that he was unable to believe the news of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, and needed proof to be convinced of it—this was the origin of the phrase ‘doubting Thomas’. St. Thomas is believed to have travelled to south India in the middle of the 1st century AD, to spread the gospel. Many historians credit him with bringing Christianity to India. He is said to have arrived on the Malabar Coast and eventually made his way to the eastern coast. In 72 AD, he was killed at St Thomas Mount and buried in the Mylapore area of Chennai. This version of history is however debated by many.


Our Lady of Expectation Church


Many centuries later, the Portuguese built one church with its altar at the spot where the apostle was martyred, and another over his grave near Mylapore. The church at St. Thomas Mount is said to date back to 1523, and commands stunning views of the city. The church built on St. Thomas’ grave was rebuilt by the British in 1893 as the Santhome Basilica. The magnificent white Gothic style church stands close to the Marina Beach, and pilgrims from all over the world come to pray at the apostle’s tomb.  (Article abridged)The News Minute, Saturday, July 23, 2016


Ishwar Sharan’s Comment

When we informed the author, Madhumita Gopalan, and the editor of The News Minute that there was no historical evidence for St. Thomas in India, a sentence was added to the third paragraph of the photo essay above which reads, “This version of history is however debated by many.”

Two lines above the added sentence, is another sentence which reads, “Many historians credit him with bringing Christianity to India.”

So the objective of the photo essay remains. The fable of St. Thomas in India as presented by Madhumita Gopalan in The News Minute is Indian history.

But if truth be told, it isn’t Indian history at all. This writer has shown in his carefully researched book, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, that forty plus leading historians and scholars, many of them Christian divines, have doubted and denied Thomas’s travels to India and a few have even doubted his existence.

The point is that the St. Thomas in India story is a myth and it should be identified and presented to the public as a myth—indeed a Catholic myth as most Protestants reject it—by the so-called secular Indian media.

But the mainstream Indian media has shown itself to be a small-minded and pusillanimous institution, neither well-informed or ethical, so appeasing a minority Indian community by presenting its favorite religious fairy tale as true Indian history is quite in form for them.

But it is not quite in form for the Hindu community that stands accused of killing St. Thomas out of jealousy. The accusation is vicious and false, a blood libel on the Hindu nation, and if the media continues to make it it will have to be taken to a court for review.

Four of the five Portuguese churches in Madras are built on temples ruins. Had the author of the article above visited the San Thome Cathedral museum, she would have found in it carved stone pillars and other artefacts that may have been part of the original Kapaleeswara Temple that the cathedral church replaces.


Temple pillars in San Thome Cathedral MuseumBones in the San Thome Bishop's Museum


Christians, like Muslims, are quite proud of the fact that they have destroyed the heathen temples of Hindus in Hindustan.

In 1996 this writer asked the Vatican archives for information or confirmation that St. Thomas had visited India. The Vatican’s reply was that it was a matter for historians to decide. And indeed a leading Catholic theologian and scholar did decide the issue in 2006 when Pope Benedict XVI stated that St. Thomas did not take Christianity to South India.

This being the case, the discussion should end with Pope Benedict’s statement. But it does not end because the media is still squeezing money—and Hindu blood—from the fable.

We are letting a leading historian and Indologist who studied under Jesuits have the last word here on St. Thomas in India.

Dr. Koenraad Elst writes:

According to Christian leaders in India, the apostle Thomas came to India in 52 AD, founded the Syrian Christian Church, and was killed by the fanatical Brahmins in 72 AD. Near the site of his martyrdom, the St. Thomas Church was built. In fact this apostle never came to India. The Christian community in South India was founded by a merchant called Knai Thoma or Thomas of Cana in 345 AD—a name which readily explains the Thomas legend. He led four hundred refugees who fled persecution in Persia and were given asylum by the Hindu authorities.

In Catholic universities in Europe, the myth of the apostle Thomas going to India is no longer taught as history, but in India it is still considered useful. Even many vocal “secularists” who attack the Hindus for “relying on myth” in the Ayodhya affair, off-hand profess their belief in the Thomas myth. The important point is that Thomas can be upheld as a martyr and the Brahmins decried as fanatics.

In reality, the missionaries were very disgruntled that the damned Hindus refused to give them martyrs (whose blood is welcomed as “the seed of the faith”), so they had to invent one. Moreover, the church which they claim commemorates St. Thomas’s martyrdom at the hands of Hindu fanaticism, is in fact a monument of Hindu martyrdom at the hands of Christian fanaticism. It is a forcible replacement of two important Hindu temples—Jain and Shaiva—whose existence was insupportable to the Christian missionaries.

No one knows how many Hindu priests and worshipers were killed when the Christian soldiers came to remove the curse of Paganism from the Mylapore beach. Hinduism does not practice martyr-mongering, but if at all we have to speak of martyrs in this context, the title goes to these Jina- and Shiva-worshipers and not to the apostle Thomas.

A new 2019 print edition of The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple is available from publisher Voice of India in New Delhi. The book with its extensive references and bibliography is also available online in pdf format.


 

Sri Kapaleeswara Temple: Ancient and enduring landmark – Lakshmi Venkatraman


“In 1516 Mylapore was under the control of the Portuguese, who had demolished the Kapaleeswarar Temple and built their fort on the spot. … Remains such as pillars, inscriptions and sculptures were found during an archaeological excavation in the Santhome Cathedral in 1923 conducted by the ASI.” – Lakshmi Venkatraman


Kapaleeswara Temple Raj Gopuram


Increase in population and commercial activities has not changed the status of Kapaleeswarar Temple as the epicentre of the cultural and religious life of Mylapore and its neighbourhood.

Mylapore, in fact, has always been an important place, being one of the 32 holy centres dedicated to Lord Shiva in Thondainadu, comprising the present day districts of Chennai, Kanchipuram and Chinglepet. Now the residents of Mylapore are looking forward to the mahakumbhabhishekham scheduled for August 30, [2004]. The temple has been spruced up and the rajagopuram looks radiant painted in five bright colours. Tamil literature from as early as the sixth century A.D. mentions Mylapore and several poets and authors have written specifically on the temple and Lord Kapaleeswarar and His consort Karpagavalli.

Brahmasirachethamoorthy is one of the forms of Lord Shiva. He got the name after plucking the fifth head of Brahma when the Lord of Creation began considering himself equal to Shiva as he too had five heads. As Siva carried the skull or the kapala He was known as Kapali and the place He dwelt in became Kapaleeswaram. Saint Thirugnanasambandar mentions Kapaleeswaram in his verses. Another reason given for the name is that this temple belonged to the Kapalikas, members of a branch of Shaivism. It is believed that Kapalikas lived in Mylapore and Thiruvottriyur in ancient times.


Temple pillars in San Thome Cathedral Museum


The present temple is believed to have been built during the 16th century and before that it was near the Santhome Beach. It is believed that the old temple went under the sea during a deluge [in fact the temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and the rubble thrown into the sea–Ed]. Remains such as pillars, inscriptions and sculptures were found during an archaeological excavation in the Santhome Cathedral in 1923 conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India. The inscriptions including one by Raja Raja Chola I also reveal this fact. One of the Thiruppugazh verses of Saint Arunagirinathar (1540 AD) on Lord Singaravelar in this temple also refers to this temple’s proximity to the sea.

The verses of Saint Thirugnanasambandar and Thirumazhisai Azhwar also establish this fact.

In 1516, Mylapore was under the control of the Portuguese, who had demolished the temple and built their fort on the spot.

Some scholars also hold that the old temple was in the same place as the present one and that the latter was rebuilt. The designs of the pillars are in the Vijayanagar style of 16th and 17th centuries AD. The legend connected with the temple goes thus:

Once in Mount Kailash when Lord Siva was giving Gnanopadesam to Goddess Parvati she was distracted by the beauty of a peacock.

The Lord got angry and cursed her to be born as a peacock. When she pleaded for pardon, Shiva said He would join her when the “peacock” worshipped a Sivalingam. After a long period of penance, the peacock found a Shiva lingam under a Punnai tree and worshipped the Lord offering flowers it carried in its beak. The Lord appeared on the scene and the divine couple reunited.


Arulmigu Kapaleeswara Temple


The structure

The Kapaleeswarar Temple follows the general plan of a Shiva temple. The main entrance or the 125-ft tall rajagopuram, built around 1902, faces east. The gopuram facing west next to which is the temple tank is quite small.

The shrine of Lord Kapali faces west against the normal practice of facing east. Of the five faces of Lord Shiva the one facing west is known as Sathyojatham.

On the northern wall of the sanctum sanctorum is the small shrine dedicated to Goddess Durga. On the back wall is the image of Lingodbhava. Opposite to this are arranged images of the sixty-three Nayanmars.

On the southern wall is the shrine of Dakshinamoorthy. The shrine of Karpagavalli, also known as Karpagambal, faces south. Like the heavenly celestial Karpaka tree that grants boons, the Goddess, it is believed, is gracious in answering the prayers of devotees. Karpagavalli worshipping Her lord in the form of a peacock is in a separate shrine on the northern prakaram adjacent to the sthala vriksham, Punnai.

Other important shrines in this temple are that of Narthana Vinayakar in front of the rajagopuram, Saneeswarar on the eastern prakaram and the Navagraha shrine, which is of a more recent origin.


Kapaleeswara Temple Tank


Temple tank

The temple tank with a Neerazhi Mandapam in the middle is on the western side, which is believed to have been built by Mayilai Muthaiappa Mudaliar in the 16th century. The brimming tank with lotus blooms is an enchanting sight to behold. Now, of course because of the drought, it is dry.

However, with kumbabhishekam round the corner, water is being pumped into the tank. The steps were built during the early 1900s. On the western bank near the eight-pillar mandapam is the image of Jyeshta Devi, believed to belong to the earlier temple and was from seventh century AD. There are a few stories regarding this tank. One of them has it that the place belonged to the fakirs and when they were out of town, a Brahmin minister of the Nawab got this tank dug. When the fakirs complained later to the Nawab, he said that both Hindus and Muslims could use it. Another story says that there was a Muslim burial ground. The Nawab gave permission to Muslims to use the tank on the 10th day of Muharram. According to a decree by the Madras High Court, if Muharram and the temple festival fall on the same day, the first preference should be given to Muslims. This practice is continued even today.


Thirvalluvar and Vasuki at the Arubathu Moovar Thiruvizha festival in Mylapore.


Festivals

Several festivals are conducted during the year in the Kapali Temple. Thirugnanasambandar’s Poompavai Padikam (7th century AD) discusses the festivals in ten verses. Not all of them may be held now but many are being held on a weekly, monthly and annual basis, drawing considerable crowd.

The annual Brahmotsavam is celebrated for 10 days and is held during March-April (Panguni) ending with the wedding of the Lord and the Goddess on the day of star Uthram. Devotees across Chennai make it a point to attend the festival, especially Adikaranandi on the third day, Vrishabha Vahana on the fifth, the chariot on the seventh and Arupathumoovar on the eighth. — The Hindu, 27 August 2004


Kapaleeswara Temple tank and gopuram (1906)


The Deccan Chronicle Deceits – Ishwar Sharan


“Journalists have a vested interest in ignorance.” – George Bernard Shaw


For the note on the early Christian FISH SYMBOL and their later adoption of the CROSS as an identifying mark, scroll to the bottom of the page.


T. V. R.DC headerDeccan Chronicle Editor R. Mohan: Balls and no brains!


The Deccan Chronicle is South India’s largest circulation pro-Christian newspaper and the newest proponent in Chennai of the St. Thomas in India fable (following The Hindu and The New Indian Express). It is a popular newspaper that depends entirely on Hindu subscriptions for its existence, and therefore must hide its anti-Brahmin, pro-Catholic agenda. This is done by promoting anti-Hindu views covertly from behind a columnist’s byline or by publishing the provocative statements of the local San Thome Cathedral priest. The priest, who cannot distinguish between his beliefs and real Indian history, declares: ”The existence of the San Thome Church is a proof by itself that Christianity in India is more than 2000 years old” (Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 8 April 2007).

The San Thome Cathedral pastor is alluding to the St. Thomas in India legend and the claim that the apostle St. Thomas established Christianity in South India in 54 AD. The story is accepted tradition among Christians in Kerala. It is also a classic Christian persecution and martyrdom myth that was invented to malign and demoralise Christianity’s religious opponents. Christians have vilified Jews for 2000 years by blaming them for the murder of their god, and Christians have vilified Hindus for centuries by claiming that a Brahmin priest or Hindu king in Mylapore murdered St. Thomas. Both ancient communities, Jews and Brahmins — the latter being the custodians of Hindu culture — can thereafter be charged with deicide and subjected to the most wicked abuse and overt attempts to exterminate their religion and culture.[1] The mainstream media in India subscribes to this vicious communal agenda and promotes the fable in its columns at regular intervals though it has been aware of the legend’s falsehood and malefic intent for at least twenty years. This is inexcusable by any universal standard but gives a revealing insight into the nature of secular democracy and freedom of speech in India today. Hindus have no voice in the English-language print media and have become second class citizens in their own motherland. In states like Tamil Nadu they are virtually a disenfranchised people and under constant attack by an atheistic, racist government that overtly supports the foreign-financed Christian missions and NGOs that work in the state to alienate the Tamil people from their ancient civilization.

The Deccan Chronicle’s current resident editor in Chennai is cricket commentator R. Mohan, a self-righteous secularist of the Nehruvian school who assiduously follows the Christian practice of treating Hindu history as mythology and Christian mythology as history. In true Indian secularist fashion he does not tolerate dissent and letters sent to the editor concerning the lies and distortions that appear in Deccan Chronicle articles are neither acknowledged or published. Every effort is made by Mohan and his correspondents to provoke and insult Hindu readers and undermine their Hindu identity. This culturally subversive activity is called “freedom of the press” in our secular socialist India that is Bharat.

Chairman Reddy and resident house boy Mohan regard criticism of themselves and their “eminent” contributors — many of them foreigners based in London and New York — as a manifestation of Hindu communalism and ignorance. Indeed, dissent can attract a very spiteful response from Mohan Sahib (as this writer knows from experience). Yet both of these clever media men, whose decisions influence the opinions of half a million readers and more every day, will ignore facts and figures as extraneous irritants except where the facts and figures can be employed in subtle Hindu-bashing exercises[2] or otherwise to whitewash the bigoted, violent and licentious history of Islam and Christianity in India.

What follows is a collection of short items that are related to the St. Thomas legend, that appeared in the Deccan Chronicle in 2008. The items. called “name-stake” items with photos were published to establish the Christian ownership of the places they describe. The truth that all the places described once had Hindu temples on them until the Portuguese arrived, is thus negated and erased in the public mind.


Little Mount Church built 1551 AD by the Portuguese.


Little Mount

It is also called Chinna Malai, and is a little before St. Thomas Mount. There are two churches here, which are associated with the legends of the Apostle of India—Our Lady of Health Church and Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The annual festival at Our Lady of Health is a noteworthy event in the Madras calendar. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 16 July 2008

Ishwar Sharan respondsThe appellation “Apostle of India” for St. Thomas is a recent Roman Catholic invention conceived in 1953 when Cardinal Eugene Tisserant brought a piece of St. Thomas arm bone from Ortona to Kodungallur for a shrine. Prior to this date St. Francis Xavier held the title Apostle of India. Prof. Leonardo Olschki, a world authority on Christianity, writes, “The Nestorians of India [Syrian Christians] … venerated St. Thomas as the patron of Asiatic Christianity—mark, not of Indian Christianity”.

There are four places in Madras and its environs, other than San Thome, that the Portuguese associated with St. Thomas. The first is a rocky hillock called Little Mount, four miles southwest of Mylapore, on the south bank of the Adyar at Saidapet. Fr. Herman D’Souza, in In the Steps of St. Thomas, writes, “Hoary tradition among Catholics and non-Catholics … proudly holds that this part of [Madras] extended shelter to the Apostle, when the ministers of the local king, Mahadevan, were out to murder him…. The favorite of the king, Thomas was ever in danger of losing his precious life—thanks to the scheming ministers whipped up by Hindu priests…. There is a version that the Apostle was actually handled brutally more than once in his apartment, in the absence of the king. In order to save his life for yet a little while for the greater glory of God, Thomas is reported to have sought refuge in the jungle of Little Mount.”

This sly communal tale, invented by Jesuits and improved on by Fr. D’Souza, is peculiar to Madras [and still published by the San Thome Diocesan Press in Chennai]. He tries to establish Hindu support for the story, by quoting Hindu publications that repeat it. But Hindu traditions about Little Mount and other “St. Thomas” sites are quite different and much older than those of the Portuguese. They believe that the hillock, with its cave and spring and imprint of peacock’s feet in the rock, was sacred to Murugan, and Hindu women used to visit the site even after the Portuguese had cleared it of Hindu shrines. In 1551, a church was built by the cave, called Our Lady of Health, and the Jesuits built a second church by the spring. Nothing remains of these buildings today, and the archaeological evidence on the site was destroyed years ago when it was blasted to make way for the modern church that now stands there.

St. Thomas had to leave Little Mount when the king’s men found him in the cave. He fled to Big Mount [St. Thomas Mount], two miles further south, by a secret underground passage. But Big Mount did not offer refuge either. Fr. D’Souza writes, “His murderers sought him there and were on the point of seizing him. How long St. Thomas made his abode on top of the hill, one cannot say. Unbroken tradition maintains that while the Apostle was praying before a cross carved by him on a stone, an assassin suborned by King Mahadevan’s priest and ministers, crept up stealthily and pierced him with a lance from behind. Thereupon the Apostle is reported to have fallen on the stone cross and embraced it; his blood crimsoned the stone cross and the space around. Thus did he seal his Apostolate with his blood, even as the other Apostles, save St. John…. His disciples took his body to [Mylapore] … and interred it at his dear old place, about the year AD 68.”

This rendition of the fable has no equivalent in Malabar and no relationship to the account in the Acts of Thomas, though it does have in it the priest and the lance found in the Portuguese De Miraculous Thomae. There is no record that Mylapore had a temporal king of any name in 68 CE—the date first appeared on a memorial plaque in San Thome Cathedral in the eighteenth century and was afterwards incorporated into the story. But as is the case with many historical fabrications, it contains an element of truth and this gives the fictional parts credibility. Mahadevan is a reference to Lord Shiva, who was of course the King of Mylapore in the first century CE, even as He is the King of Mylapore today.


Santhome Cathedral


Town of Thomas

At the south end of Marina is San Thome, today a part of Mylapore. With its inspiring Basilica on a site where for 19 continuous centuries has stood some church or other. Just before the Basilica on this road is the former palace of the Maharaja of Mysore, now hidden behind formidable gates. Here live the representatives of Russia. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 1 September 2008

Ishwar Sharan respondsThe article above is a continuation of the Deccan Chronicle’s policy of prostituting Indian history to further its pro-Catholic agenda. Telling lies for Jesus—or in this case for his brother Thomas—has never been a problem of ethics for newspaper chairmen or editors who are born with Hindu names but who willingly sell their Hindu mothers down the river for a few dinars. The Deccan Chronicle and Asian Age are said to be owned by a Saudi Arabian company. There is no contradiction here between an Arab-owned Indian newspaper and its pro-Catholic agenda, as both Muslims and Christians and their secular Indian front men are willing to work together for the total annihilation of Hindu religion and culture.

Historically, the first Christian church to appear on the Mylapore beach was built in 1523 by Augustinian friars beside the new tomb of “St. Thomas” that had been dug and seeded with bones and other material brought from Goa by Albuquerque’s attendant Diogo Fernandez.

Earlier, in 1521–22, the Portuguese had opened two tombs in the Shiva temple’s northern precincts. One tomb contained a “black” skeleton, which, according to its inscription, belonged to a Chola king. The Portuguese nevertheless “identified” him as being a disciple of St. Thomas (as today Catholic historians “identify” Tiruvalluvar as being a disciple of St. Thomas). The second tomb revealed a “white” skeleton, which, naturally, “belonged” to the white Jew Thomas. This second skeleton was sent to Goa for verification—where it languishes till today, unsung and unrecognised.

As these diggings did not produce the required result, Diogo Fernandez was asked, in 1523, to excavate a third tomb which lay partly under the foundation of a dilapidated temple building that had been occupied by the Portuguese. He refused at first but was persuaded by the attending priest, Fr. Antonio Gil, who heard his confession and that of the two men, Braz Fernandez and Diogo Lourenco, who would assist him in the pious enterprise. They then began the excavation of a deep and elaborate, and very much empty, tomb. It was Saturday afternoon, and they continued the work into the late evening, when, on the suggestion of Diogo Fernandez, they abandoned their unproductive labours and retired for the night. The excavation was left open and unattended until the next morning, a Sunday, when the men began digging again. It was not long now before the grave disgorged bones that were “much worn out”, portions of skull and spine, and a clay pot of earth “bedewed with blood”, with a thigh bone in it, and hidden in the red earth an iron Malabar spearhead shaped like an olive leaf, which, after fifteen Christian centuries, still had a piece of wooden shaft miraculously preserved in its socket.

This church, originally built in 1523 and called San Thome or San Thome de Meliapore, was subsequently enlarged and extended, and the encroachment on the Kapaleeswara Temple began in earnest. The Christians had done this before, building a church against a temple wall and then slowing taking over the temple, and that the Shiva temple survived as long as it did, up to 1566 according to some authorities, is grand testimony to the patient and courageous resistance the Hindus of Mylapore had put up against this ruthless Catholic power.


Pius XII & Adolf Hitler


In 1606 the Pope, at the request of the King of Portugal, made San Thome de Meliapore into a diocese independent of Goa. The church was extended again and became the seat of a bishop, but, in 1893, this building was demolished by the bishop and the present Gothic cathedral put up in its place. It was completed and consecrated in 1896. In 1952 the archdiocese of Madras and Mylapore was constituted, and in 1956, after much lobbying by the Indian hierarchy, Pope Pius XII raised the status of San Thome to that of a minor basilica. This church dignity is of no consequence but it affords the archbishop some minor liturgical privileges.

Diogo Fernandez’s “St. Thomas” relics still remain in the church today. The iron spearhead and piece of skull are kept in a monstrance, along with the relics of St. Francis Xavier, St. Isabella, St. Vincentio and the Martyrs of Morocco. The first “St. Thomas” tomb, which contained the “white” skeleton that was sent to Goa, is empty and ignored, but the second “St. Thomas” tomb has recently been renovated and refurbished at great expense and a new life-size plaster idol of a “sleeping” Thomas still clutching the spear that killed him lies on top of it and is pointed out to pilgrims and tourists. It contains the remainder of Diogo Fernandezs “findings”, the pieces of spine and thigh bone, and, presumably, the pot of “blood-bedewed” earth.

Yet this is not the end of the bones at San Thome. The cathedral also has in its possession a piece of Church-certified Ortona bone, which it obtained from Cardinal Tisserant in 1953, after he had deposited the apostle’s right arm at Kodungallur. The pastor of San Thome can now say with some pride that he is the keeper of a real St. Thomas bone—keeping in mind that the acceptance of the Ortona gift is also an admission that the Portuguese relics in his care are not those of St. Thomas.


Big Mount church.


Serene Mount Beckons – George Adimathra

Chennai and its suburbs are replete with heritage sites such as the Tiruneermalai Vishnu temple (6th century), Tiruvottriyur Adipureeswarar temple (8th century), Kovalam Thameemun Ansari Dargha (7th century) and the St. Thomas Mount near the Chennai airport.

It is believed that St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, died on the mount in AD 72 (first century), which makes it one of the oldest heritage sites in Chennai and also one of the oldest Christian sites in the world.

Believed to be one of the first Christians to reach India and preach Christianity in a country dominated by Hindus, St. Thomas was assassinated and the site where he was martyred came to be known as St. Thomas Mount.

People of various religions visit the holy shrine, negotiating the 160 steps built by Armenian merchant Choja Bedros Woskan leading to the top with 14 “stations of the cross” erected along the way. At the summit stands the church built by the Portuguese with its altar located at the very spot where St. Thomas breathed his last.

There are relics too, among which is the “Bleeding Cross” chiseled by the Apostle himself. The cross, which is said to “bleed” periodically, is believed to have been in the hands of the Apostle while he lay dying.

The oil painting of the Madonna, believed to be one of the seven painted by St. Luke, the evangelist, and brought to India by St. Thomas is placed above the altar.

This is considered to be the oldest Christian painting in India.

The place is also ideal for picnics [and romantic encounters if the warning notices placed by the resident nuns are to be believed].

The metropolis, spread all around the hillock, seems a distant dream land.

However the calm is shattered by the scream of the aircraft taking off or landing at the airport nearby. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 24 November 2008

Ishwar Sharan responds: The Deccan Chronicle in this article continues its St. Thomas deceits, this time with a by-line to absolve the editor of the crime of knowingly misleading the reading public with communal propaganda. Some bits and pieces of Hindu archaeology are thrown in with the express purpose of making the alleged Christian site—St. Thomas Mount—the older/oldest place of pilgrimage. This is in accord with the current Catholic “inculturational” programme of making the great Tamil Shaivite saint Tiruvalluvar a disciple of St. Thomas. According to the Mylapore archbishop and his spin doctor Deivanayakam, Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta and the Tamil bhakti movement are a by-product of the Christianity that St. Thomas brought to India and taught to Tiruvalluvar—Christianity being the “original” religion of the Tamils. It is all humbug of course, a wicked plan set in motion by wicked priests with the express purpose of undermining the cultural and religious integrity of Hindu society. If the Indian bishops succeed in destroying the Tamil Hindu identity and then appropriating the Tamil ethnic identity for Christianity, they will be well on the way of conquering India for Christ and of gaining recognition in Rome. Recognition by the Pope and Roman Curia is what the Indian bishops crave even more than the power and pelf they already enjoy in India with government support. The late Mylapore archbishop Arulappa admitted as much when his little scam to forge historical documents relating to St. Thomas in India was uncovered.[3] Forging religious artifacts and historical documents is a very old Christian pastime, and it is therefore not surprising to find Indian bishops and their “secular” minions at the Deccan Chroniclecontinuing the “pious” practice in 2008, by attempting to rewrite the religious history of the Tamil people.


R. Arulappa


The late archbishop of Mylapore, Dr. R. Arulappa, in Punitha Thomayar, asserts that Big Mount (St. Thomas Mount) was originally called Brungi (Bhrigu) Malai and was the seat of the Hindu sage Brungi Rishi until St. Thomas came and chased him away. This story, like the one above, is another piece of fiction that has at its core a little truth. The hill was sacred to Brungi Rishi, as the Tamils call Bhrigu Rishi, and it is the Portuguese who chased the “rishi” away, not St. Thomas. The Shiva temple associated with the rishi was destroyed around 1545, when they gained effective control of the hill, which was the highest in the area and the southern limit of their territory. Portuguese historians describe it as being crowded with ruins then, and broken temple stones could still be found on its slopes in 1995, on the south and west side.

The Portuguese had begun to settle around Big Mount as early as 1523 — the same year they “discovered” the tomb of “St. Thomas” — and one of the first to take up residence there was Diogo Fernandez. He would succeed in erecting a small chapel on the hill before 1545, but the construction of the church, called Our Lady of Expectation, did not commence until 1547. It was built on the east — west alignment of the temple foundation — the ancient granite base of the flag pole is on the eastern side of the church (and now covered over with asphalt since the publication of our book) — but the Portuguese reversed this order in keeping with established Christian practice when building on a Pagan site, and the church entrance is on the western side. In 1707, the building was extended by an Armenian merchant and the royal arms of Portugal were added to the facade of the main porch.


Persian cross dated to the 7th-8th century.


It was when clearing the rubble for the church, in 1547, that the Portuguese “discovered” the famous Persian “St. Thomas” cross in the temple foundation. Diogo Fernandez is not implicated in this fraud, but the Vicar of San Thome, Fr. Gaspar Coelho, and the Captain of the Coromandel, Gabriel de Athaide, are, as the construction was under their direct supervision. What is known for certain is that St. Thomas did not carve this cross — it is dated to the eighth century, like its counterparts in Kerala — and as a cross it did not originate on Big Mount. The inscription around it is in Pahlavi (Persian) and the sculptor has signed his name as Afras the Syrian. It was kept inside the church behind the altar, and used to “bleed” at irregular intervals up to 1704. This phenomenon stopped as soon as the sensible and schismatic British began to move into the area and build a cantonment.[4]


Virgin Mary & Child: There are at least seven icons of the Theotokos attributed to St. Luke scattered around the world. The first one appeared in the 5th century in Palestine and was sent to Constantinople.


The other “St. Thomas” relic in the church is a brightly coloured icon of Mary and the child Jesus. It is said to have been painted by St. Luke and brought to India by St. Thomas, who wore it on his breast as a scapular or badge of mission. In fact, it does not appear in Portuguese records until 1559, and the diverse stories that go with it were invented after this date.[5]

The church also has paintings of all the Apostles and of St. Thomas and his Hindu assassin. One of them, on the reredos of the altar, depicts an Iyengar Brahmin with namam, about to stab the praying apostle from behind. It defeats its purpose inasmuch as Vaishnavas did not wear namam, the U-shaped forehead mark, until after Ramanuja introduced it in the eleventh century. The other painting, very large and part of a series of the apostles and their various modes of death, shows St. Thomas with a book, a lance, and his sturdy Hindu assassin, who, this time, does not wear sectarian marks or orthodox dress.

The paintings and altar decorations were contributed to the church by the Armenian merchant community in Madras in the eighteenth century.


DC blurb


Legendary bleeding cross at St. Thomas’s church – Meera Iyer

The narrow road wound its way uphill, past houses bearing names like Rose Cottage, many camouflaged by the exuberant greenery in their gardens. The ambiance was straight out of a hill station. We were in the city to explore the story of St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, who is said to have come to Kerala in 52 AD and then moved to Chennai where he eventually died in 72 AD.

Our exploration of the apostle’s Chennai connection began where he died, at St. Thomas Mount. The peripatetic Italian, Marco Polo, who visited Chennai in the 1290s, recounts the story Church brethren told him of how the saint was killed when a hunter aiming at some peacocks accidentally hit the apostle. At the summit is the Church of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin, a simple church that is devoid of ostentation, but rich in myth and legend.

It was first built by Armenians and rebuilt by the Portuguese in 1521 and again in 1547. The Armenian influence is evident in the 14 beautiful paintings (dating to the 1700s) of Jesus and the apostles that line the walls. You can also see many Armenian inscriptions in and around church.

The altar here is believed to mark the spot where St. Thomas fell. The cross embedded in the wall behind the altar has an interesting story. It was unearthed by the Portuguese during excavations here.

The large granite slab bears a cross and an inscription on top, and once had red stains on it. This is the famous bleeding cross, which has been reported to sweat blood several times between 1556 and 1704. Tradition has it that it was fashioned by St. Thomas himself and that he died holding it. But controversy and doubts seem essential ingredients of all stories associated with Doubting Thomas. The strange lettering inscribed on the cross definitely added to its aura of mystery.

Although it was first assumed to relate to St. Thomas, in the late 1800s historians realised the inscription was actually in Pahlavi and, somewhat anti-climatically, had nothing to do with St. Thomas, but recorded only the name of the person who fashioned the cross. The inscription and hence the cross were dated to 650 AD, making it the oldest of only about half a dozen such Nestorian crossed in India.

Next to the bleeding cross is a beautiful oil painting on wood of the Madonna with baby Jesus, which according to legend was brought to India by the apostle himself and was painted by Luke the evangelist. Our next stop was the stately Santhome Cathedral Basilica, near Marina beach, built over the spot where St. Thomas was buried.

The church’s fortunes seem to have waxed and waned through the centuries for, although a magnificent church stood here in the 1200s, by the 1500s it was languishing. The Portuguese rebuilt it in the 1600s. In 1893, this building was demolished and the church in its present form came up and was consecrated in 1896.

Today’s cathedral is a grand Gothic edifice, complete with soaring towers and spires. Light streams in through exquisite stained glass windows in the clerestory.

One set of three large stained glass windows depicting the episode where Jesus appears to Doubting Thomas, was made in Germany in the 1870s.

At the very heart of the church, in the basement, is the apostle’s crypt and a tomb chapel. I learned that the soil around the grave has always been renowned for its miraculous powers. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 25 April 2010

IshwarSharan responds: The Deccan Chronicle appears to have become aware that it cannot maintain its St. Thomas deceits forever. It has changed tactic, conceding that the bleeding cross on Big Mount is a Nestorian creation of the seventh century but introducing Marco Polo’s story of having visited the Coromandel Coast and seen the apostle’s tomb for himself in 1292.

Marco Polo did not visit the Tamil coast at any time in his career, nor did he name the little town on the Tamil coast that allegedly played host to St. Thomas’s tomb. Marco was a story-teller and one of the world’s great liars. Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy, said as much even during Marco’s lifetime. Today there are scholars who doubt that Marco Polo ever left Constantinople or visited China. Marco Polo collected his travel tales from Muslim and Syrian Christian merchants who came to Constantinople to trade. His fabulous travel book called Il Milione was dictated to a cell mate when he was in prison in Genoa. We may assume that Marco Polo never went to China. But even if he did, he never visited the Coromandel Coast as he was “in China” in 1288 and in 1292 which are the dates given for his Coromandel visit. But this is not the main thrust of the Deccan Chronicle’s St. Thomas articles that appear regularly at intervals to mislead the Chennai reading public.

The Deccan Chronicle is trying to establish in the public mind that there were always Christian churches of one sort or another on the sites now claimed for St. Thomas. They have now introduced the Nestorians—and Armenians who were late comers—whom even Chennai’s pseudo-historian Muthiah does not depend on to authenticate the St. Thomas churches.

If the Deccan Chronicle and Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese can establish that there were churches in Mylapore and Saidapet and on Brungi Malai—St. Thomas Mount—before the arrival of the Portuguese in the early 1500s, then the Hindu claim to these sites stands cancelled.

But there is no authentic record of churches in Mylapore and its surrounds prior to the arrival of the Portuguese. None at all. And on the three sites in Madras associated with St. Thomas there is—or was until we published our observations in 1991—Hindu temple rubble. This writer has seen it himself on St. Thomas Mount and in 1985 was able to identify the granite foundation stone for the flag pole of a Hindu temple that existed on the hill prior to 1545. There is also the testimony of the late Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, Dr. R. Arulappa, in his book Punitha Thomayar that yantra stones from the foundations of Hindu temples were found in all St. Thomas sites. And there is the eye-witness account of G.P. Srinivasan in his article “Santhome Cathedral Cover-up Uncovered”, of temple rubble being removed from the San Thome Cathedral compound surreptitiously in 2001. And lastly there is the official testimony of Dr. R. Nagaswamy, former Director of the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology, that inscriptions on stone found only in Shiva temples were found in the walls of San Thome Cathedral.[6]

But none of this evidence exists today in the public sphere (though records will be there in government archives). It has all been removed by the San Thome diocesan authorities and the three Madras churches associated with St. Thomas have been cleaned up and renovated at the cost of crores of rupees. They are major tourist attractions, attract money and prestige for their Christian owners, and the Catholic Church has never been known to give up land it has acquired for any reason. That said, this writer has never at any time demanded that the three sites be returned to their legitimate Hindu owners. What he has asked for is a forensic investigation of the so-called relics in the St. Thomas tomb and a full accounting by Church authorities of the crimes committed by the Church and its agents in India over the centuries.


San Thome CathedralA.M. Chinnappa


The Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore owes the people of Madras an abject apology for the destruction of the Kapaleeswara Temple that once occupied the high point of the Marina beach that is now occupied by San Thome Cathedral. And to establish the sincerity of the abject apology, the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese may donate a piece of land from the vast Bishop’s House estate to the existing Kapaleeswara Temple Trust for the building of a memorial to the Hindu martyrs who died resisting the Portuguese invaders who destroyed the ancient great Shiva temple. But such an apology will not be forthcoming, for the Indian Church like the Indian media is ruled by brown sahibs who have sold their souls to white sahibs, and who are in fact traitors to their ancient native Hindu civilization and culture. The leaders of India’s Brown Church do not have the moral character to make such a confession — though confession of wrongdoing — unless it is the “doing” of little boys — is very much part of Roman Catholic Christian sacrament.


Husain's naked Brahmin


Notes

1. Anti-Brahminism and anti-Semitism are the same ethno-religious prejudice directed at an accomplished minority group who are perceived, wrongly, to be the cause of a nation’s social and economic ills, or, otherwise, to be controlling a nation’s cultural, political, or economic destiny from behind the scenes in their own interest. Koenraad Elst, in Indigenous Indians: Agastya to Ambedkar, writes, “In fact, apart from anti-Judaism, the anti-Brahmin campaign started by [Christian] missionaries is the biggest vilification campaign in world history.”


Idol worship


2. An example of an anti-Hindu exercise is the use of the term “idol” for Hindu images. Technically correct, the word is loaded with negative connotations and is part of the abusive rhetoric of Christian missionaries in India. The same newspaper on another page uses the neutral term “statues” for Christian images. Clearly, there is editorial bias at work here. In the forty plus years that I have lived in India, I have never met a Hindu who worships “idols”. Hindus worship their Gods, and even a simple village woman knows that the Gods are made of spirit not matter.

3. See Archbishop Arulappa’s History Project Goes Terribly Wrong

4. Rev. C.E. Abraham, in an article in The Cultural Heritage of India, writes, “The Persian crosses — or so-called Thomas crosses — with inscriptions in Pahlavi, one found in St. Thomas Mount, Madras, and two in a church in Kottayam in Travancore, are evidence of the connection of the Malabar Church with the Church of Persia.”

The Pahlavi (Persian) inscription on the three stone crosses, two in Kerala and one on St. Thomas Mount, read (according to C.P.T. Winckworth whose translation is generally accepted): “My lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht the Syrian, who cut this.”

These crosses are evidence of the connection of the Christian church in India with Persia, but they may also be evidence of temple destruction and the planting of Christian relics in temple foundations – at least the one on St. Thomas Mount may be so considered.

The motif on this black granite slab is cut in relief, and on each side of the cross, which is surmounted by a descending dove, are pillars crowned with supernatural composite animals, or yalis, from whose mouths issue an arch that joins together above the dove.

These yalis are Hindu symbols, not Christian, and Veda Prakash, Director of the Institute for the Study of Western Religions, Madras, asserts that the cross on St. Thomas Mount is an over-cut temple stone. He claims support for this view from the most unexpected quarter. Dr. R. Arulappa, the former Roman Catholic archbishop of Madras, in Punitha Thomaiyar, says that yantra stones in temple foundations were dug up by the Portuguese on three of the four sites in Madras that they associated with St. Thomas and where they built churches—Mylapore, Little Mount at Saidapet, and Big Mount at St. Thomas Mount.

The dove-and-cross motif of this stone has been described by one writer as Manichaean and by another as Nestorian. Fr. Herman D’Souza, in In the Steps of St. Thomas, quoting Francis Gouvea on the sixteenth century Portuguese “excavation” at St. Thomas Mount, identifies the motif with that used by the Knights of Aviz in Portugal.

The solution to this problem of the origin and identification of the Persian crosses and all other relics associated with St. Thomas is to have them examined by independent forensic experts. If the Bishop of Turin could surrender the famous Shroud of Turin, alleged burial cloth of Jesus, to scientists and accept their verdict that it is a mediaeval fake, then the Archbishop of Madras should be willing to do the same with the various St. Thomas relics in his possession.

5. There are seven of these icons by “St. Luke” scattered around the world. The most famous one hangs in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, which was built by Pope Sixtus III in 432 C.E. after he had demolished the Temple of Cybele on the Esquiline Hill.


Cross varieties used by ChristiansGreek cross from the Rome catacombs: Early 3rd century.


About the Christian fish and cross

The cross as a symbol of Christianity did not come into popular use until the 3rd century. There are two reasons for this: first, early Christians were practising Jews and the cross was an abhorrent symbol of torture and death, and second, the cross was already used as a religious symbol by adherents of various Pagan cults throughout West Asia and Greece. It is argued by some scholars that the Christians borrowed the cross from the Orphics in the 3-4th centuries. But in fact it did not gain popularity as a Christian symbol till some centuries later.

Even if Judas Thomas had come to Mylapore, he would not have made cross symbols as he was a practising Jew. First century Jews whether Moses or Jesus followers (there were no “Christians” in the 1st century) were rigid iconoclasts and could not tolerate Pagan cross symbols. The Christian cross was introduced into India by Christian immigrants from Persia after the 7th century CE.


Funerary stele with the inscription ΙΧΘΥC ΖΩΝΤΩΝ ("fish of the living"), early 3rd century in Rome.

Christian fish symbol


For the first three centuries, Christians used the fish with or without the word “ΙΧΘΥΣ” (Ichthys), Greek for FISH, drawn in the fish body as their religious identity symbol. The symbol was an acronym for “Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ”, (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr), which translates into English as “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior”. 


Mary & Child by "St. Luke".

This icon attributed to St. Luke, kept in the Portuguese Church of Our Lady of Expectation on St. Thomas Mount, is very obviously a product of 16th century Portuguese piety. The first icon attributed to St. Luke—there are seven of “his” Theotokos icons in churches around the world—appeared in Palestine in the 5th century and was sent to Constantinople. It is now in the Benedictine Abbey church of Montevergine, Italy. But the most famous of these icons “by St. Luke” hangs in Santa Maria Maggiore  Basilica in Rome.

Nor was the Virgin Mary venerated until some centuries later. Historically, neither the cross nor the painting(s) of the Virgin Mary can be associated with the 1st century apostles Thomas and Luke. The association was made by pious Christian authors and artists long after Christianity was imposed on the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine. The Indian Christian today naively believes that the Christianity of 1st century Jerusalem was a fully developed religious system, the same religion presented to Indians in the 16th century by the Portuguese.

Minucius Felix expounds on the cross

Minucius Felix, the 3rd century Christian apologist, wrote: “We assuredly see the sign of a cross naturally, in the ship when it is carried along with swelling sails, when it glides forward with expanded oars; and when the military yoke is lifted up it is the sign of a cross; and when a man adores God with a pure mind, with arms outstretched. Thus the sign of the cross either is sustained by a natural reason or your own religion is formed with respect to it.”

This remark by Minucius Felix is followed by an even more interesting one: Crosses, moreover, we Christians neither venerate nor wish for. You indeed who consecrate gods of wood venerate wooden crosses, perhaps as parts of your gods. For your very standards, as well as your banners, and flags of your camps, what are they but crosses gilded and adorned? Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it.”



 

1 – In memory of a slain saint – C.A. Simon


The article which follows, published in the Indian Express, Madras, on 30 December 1989, and the refusal of the editor to publish our reply, was the reason we began our research into the St. Thomas in India legend. Had the Indian Express editor Ramanathan allowed us to reply, we would have never bothered to begin our extended research into the legend which has resulted in four editions of our book. — Ishwar Sharan


San Thome Cathedral: A minor basilica of no consequence.


It is difficult to say whether Mylapore found its place in travel notes of many ancient foreign travellers because it had on its soil the tomb of St. Thomas or if the tomb itself was mentioned therein because of its location at Mylapore on the eastern coast. It is a historical fact that many foreign travellers used to visit this coast after sailing a long distance thanks to the Coromandel winds. Marco Polo, the great traveller, has referred to the tomb in his travel diary.

The present Gothic church was constructed over the tomb only in 1893; but it is going to be almost 20 centuries since the first church was constructed by St. Thomas, the father of Christianity in India, before his martyrdom in 73 AD.

The tomb of St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles (disciples) of Jesus Christ, attracts people from all over the world. It is a pilgrim centre for Christians, especially during Christmas and Easter seasons. Its history, battles fought over the mortal remains of the saint, burial, excavation, relocation of the tomb, etc., all form part of a high drama the church witnessed over the centuries.

Today Santhome has in its possession only a piece of bone and the metal spearhead with which the saint was assassinated in Madras. These are kept under the safe custody of the priests. It is exposed for public veneration during the annual solemn novena for the feast of St. Thomas on July 3rd every year.

The expression “doubting Thomas” originated after Thomas, disciple of Jesus Christ, who was not ready to believe the resurrection of the Christ when it was narrated to him by other disciples to whom Jesus appeared for the first time after the crucifixion and burial. Thomas declared: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

According to the Bible, Jesus appeared again inside a closed room where all the disciples were planning their next course of action. Jesus called Thomas and asked him to put his finger on the mark of the wounds. Thomas was taken aback. Thomas felt divine reality encountering human weakness of doubt face to face. He was convinced. He knelt down and uttered: “Thou art my Lord and God”.

Thomas landed at Maliankara (Cranganore in Kerala) in 52 AD with Habban, a foreign trader. He preached the Gospel, wrought miracles and went to Mailepuram (now Mylapore) and then on to China. He returned to Maliankara at the behest of the son-in-law of the Raja of Thiruvanchikulam.

Thomas spent the last part of his life in Madras preaching the Gospel. A large number of people listened and embraced the way of life preached by him. The oppressed and downtrodden followed him and claimed equal status in society as it was denied them by the prevailing social norms. He condemned untouchability and attempted to restore equal status for women.

Many stories are sung as folk songs and have descended to us through the generations. One of them about the origin of the church at Santhome is very interesting.


The 'miraculous' log of wood behind San Thome Cathedral


A huge timber log was washed ashore by the waves. In spite of the battery of strong men deployed by King Mahadeva, they could not succeed in bringing it to the shore. As suggested by some of his courtiers, the king summoned the saint. St. Thomas performed another miracle. Pleased by this, the king offered a place near the shore where the timber was first sighted. Thus the old church at Mylapore was built.

As he preached and performed miracles, enemies also grew in number and strength. They vowed to finish him. He had to spend some time in a cave at Little Mount hiding from his enemies. Finally he was killed at what is now known as St. Thomas Mount.

His body was brought to Mylapore, buried and the exact location was forgotten for a long time. Later, in 1523, while digging for laying foundation for a new church they came across signs of the tomb. Immediately the priest in charge of the operation sought the help of higher authorities and then continued excavation.

They removed a lot of earth. After removing two concrete slabs placed between sand and earth they came upon pieces of bones and skull. At the foot there was an earthen vessel supposedly filled with earth taken from the spot where the saint’s blood was shed. They further unearthed a metal spearhead having the shape of an olive leaf and also struck upon a wooden shaft.

The bones and other mortal remains were kept in a box and later buried at an undisclosed location near the church as the priest feared for the safety of the same since the news of possible attack by neighbouring kings were pouring in.

Rivalries among Dutch, French and British wrought devastation on Santhome. The Golconda Sultans attacked and occupied the place for years. In 1646, Mir Jumla, Nawab of Carnatic, also attacked.

Hyder Ali, Sultan of Mysore, besieged Santhome three times during 1769, 1780 and 1782.

Due to several attacks and siege, Santhome church was damaged beyond recognition. In 1893 the new church was constructed. The tall bell-tower is an evidence of Gothic architectural excellence.


Pius XII & Adolf Hitler


The church was made a minor basilica in 1956 by Pope Pius XII. The basilica title is conferred on churches based on its antiquity, magnificence and celebrity. The word basilica means a church with honorific privileges. There are only four major basilica in the whole world. None of them is in India and the most prominent among them is the St. Peter’s at Vatican.

The tomb of great historical importance is inside the church at Santhome near the sanctum sanctorum. It is open to visitors almost during the whole day. The Tourism Development Corporation on its conducted tours makes a stop at the tomb.

A lot of efforts are on to provide better facilities for the tourists visiting the church every day. Fr. Charles, assistant priest, further informed this writer that there may be celebrations on the 3rd of every month, starting from January 1990 onwards, with the help of parishioners.[1]

Postscript

This story, with photographs of Santhome Cathedral Basilica, appeared on 30 December 1989 on the front page of the Express Weekend. It was placed below a feature of Madras city history. No indication was given to show that one article dealt with popular legend and the other with historical fact. They were presented together to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the founding of the British factory north of Mylapore and Triplicane at the fishing village of Madrasapattinam.

On reading the St. Thomas feature, we sent a letter of protest to the Indian Express editor exposing Simon’s story. It was published on 13 January 1990 in the Express Weekend. The paragraphs that were excised by the editor are reproduced here in italics:

Apropos of the article “In Memory of a Slain Saint” (EW, Dec. 30), it is indeed astonishing that the Indian Express allows its respected columns to be used to promote this Catholic romance as historical fact in this age of excellent critical scholarship.[2]

In his book Papacy: Its Doctrine and History (Voice of India, New Delhi, 1986) the historian Sita Ram Goel writes about the St. Thomas myth:

“Some Catholic scholars have been busy for many years marshalling literary and archaeological evidence in an effort to prove that St. Thomas came to India in 52 AD, converted some Hindus in the South, and was killed by Brahmins at Mylapore in Madras while giving the Good News to the local people….

“It would be a waste of time to present the pros and cons of this controversy which tends to become more and more technical. Suffice it to say that some historians have seriously doubted the very existence of an apostle named Thomas. Distinguished scholars like R. Garbe, A. Harnack and L. de la Vallee-Poussin have denied credibility to the Acts of Thomas, an apocryphal work on which the whole story is based. Some others, who accept the fourth century Catholic tradition about the travels of St. Thomas, point to the lack of evidence that he ever went east beyond Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. The confusion, according to them, has arisen because the ancient geographers often mistook these two countries for India.

“The whole subject has been examined recently by Stephen Neill in his History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to 1707 A.D. published by the Cambridge University Press, England, as late as 1984. He says, ‘A number of scholars, among whom are to be mentioned with respect Bishop A.E. Medlycott, J.N. Farquhar and the Jesuit J. Dahlman, have built on slender foundations what can only be called Thomas romances, such as reflect the vividness of their imaginations rather than the prudence of rigid historical critics.’ Pained by the spread of this spurious history among large sections of Indian Christians, he observes, ‘Millions of Christians in India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove it to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.’ Stephen Neill … was a bishop who had spent long years in India.”

There is also reason to believe that St. Thomas Church stands on the ruins of a Jain Neminathaswami temple and a Hindu Shiva temple which had a Nataraja shrine attached. The epigraphical data for the existence of the Jain temple on this site is recorded in Jain Inscriptions in Tamil Nadu by A. Ekambaranath and C.K. Sivaprakasham (Research Foundation for Jainology, Madras, 1987). The evidence for the existence of the Shiva temple, which may be the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach that got “eroded” by the “sea”, is compiled in an excellent Tamil-language book called Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai (“The Saint Thomas Myth in India”) by Veda Prakash (RAFR, Madras, 1989). This book is recommended for its wealth of information and is available from RAFR, 57 Poonamallee High Road, Maduravayal, Madras 602102.”

When this letter appeared in the Express Weekend without the last paragraph, which referred to the destroyed temples, we sent a letter of protest on January 16th to the Indian Express resident editor:

Apropos of my letter on St. Thomas and the St. Thomas Church, I must observe that the truncated version published in the Express Weekend of Jan. 13th, which omits all reference to the building of the church, is not acceptable and does not do justice to history.

As a Catholic apologist was given prime space in the Express Weekend on Dec. 30th to tell his version of this controversial story, the Indian Express is obliged to give space to another writer or at least permit an open review of the subject.

The destruction of temples by Muslims has been discussed in the Indian Express by many persons including Arun Shourie, as has the destruction of Jain (and if I remember correctly, Buddhist) temples in Kanchi and Kashmir by certain Hindu kings. The Christians have completely escaped this review though they were the worst perpetrators of these kinds of deeds. This is ironical, for Christian missionaries continue to try to force conversion and destroy village temples in Central India.

The editorial tactic of only permitting Christians to criticize Christians does not wash and indicates a double standard operating in the newspaper. The editors have never hesitated to permit Christians to lecture and criticize Hindus and Muslims when they choose to do so.

The Express Weekend refuses to review Veda Prakash’s Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai (The Saint Thomas Myth in India) or even list it as a book received, though in fact the newspaper has received four copies of it.

When the Pope in Rome can no longer enforce the Index,[3] how is it that the Indian Express can censor our reading material, obstruct free access to information, and suppress discussion of a subject because it is controversial?

In honour of free speech, the very least you can do is give a fair review to this interesting little book on St. Thomas and the legends that surround him and the church at Mylapore.

Veda Prakash’s book was never reviewed by the Indian Express, though the editor acknowledged receipt of a copy and promised to give it his attention.

But our protest did not go unnoticed, and as we had sent out copies of the January 13th letter to various interested people, the excised paragraph would appear in the Indian Express on February 10th in a letter from Swami Jyotirmayananda. His letter was cut too and those lines which offended the editor appear below in italics:

Sri Ishwar Sharan has rightly debunked the so-called historical feature “In Memory of a Slain Saint” (EW, Jan. 13) quoting distinguished historians who have seriously doubted the very existence of an apostle named St. Thomas.

In fact the feature that appeared in EW December 30th is false and misleading and there is a large body of evidence saying that there never was a Thomas at all, never mind that he came to Madras.

There is reason to believe that St. Thomas Church stands on the ruins of a Jain Neminathaswami temple and a Shiva temple which had a Nataraja shrine attached. The epigraphical data for the existence of the Jain temple on this site is recorded in Jain Inscriptions in Tamil Nadu by A. Ekambaranath and C.K. Sivaprakasham (Research Foundation for Jainology, Madras, 1987). The evidence for the existence of the Shiva temple, which may be the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach that got eroded by the sea,[4] is found in “The Saint Thomas Myth in India” (in Tamil) by Veda Prakash (RAFR, Madras, 1989), who has provided a wealth of information on the subject.

This paragraph―for the non-publication of which we had taken the Indian Express editor to task―contained wrong information about the Kapaleeswara Temple and to make matters worse, the wrong information was attributed to a wrong source. The correct source for the wrong information about the original temple, was the 1985 edition of the TTK A Map’s Guide Book to Madras which says, “A tradition has it that the first temple was by the sea but erosion caused it to be shifted inland.”

The real tradition of course was that the “erosion” of the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the seashore had been caused by Christians. This fact would finally be brought to light in the Express Weekend on March 3rd in a letter from Veda Prakash:

This refers to the letter of Swami Jyotirmayananda published under the caption “Santhome Church” (EW, Feb. 10). Certain details he has mentioned about my book Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai (The Saint Thomas Myth in India) are incorrect as pointed out below.

He writes, “The evidence for the existence of the Shiva temple, which may be the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach that got eroded by the sea, is found in ‘The Saint Thomas Myth in India’ (in Tamil) by Veda Prakash, (RAFR, Madras, 1989), who has provided a wealth of information on the subject.” But, nowhere in the book do I mention that the Shiva temple on the Mylapore beach was eroded by the sea. What is mentioned about the Shiva temple is as follows: “… many evidences available in Santhome Church show there was a Shiva temple and it was occupied, then step by step demolished and converted into a church. Many documents and books also prove this. A fragmentary Tamil inscription of 8 lines on a stone found at the cathedral registers a tax-free gift for burning at night a lamp before the image of Kuthadumdevar (Nataraja) in the temple of Suramudayar (Suramudayar Kuthadum Devarkku) was found in 1924. It belongs to Vikrama Chola’s time, i.e., 12th century. Moreover, when the urchava murthy was taken for procession from the existing Kapaleeswara Temple, there was a practice of lowering it reverently three times before the Santhome Church at that time (16th-18th centuries). The temple was there up to the 16th century. Then, when the Christians started demolishing it completely, Hindus built the present temple out of whatever they could salvage from the ruins of the old temple.” (P. 41-42, Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai.)

The publisher is not RAFR. Either it should be MMAK (Menattu Mathangal Araychi Kazhagam) or ISWR (Institute for the Study of Western Religions), 57, Poonamallee High Road, Maduravayal, Madras 602102.

This was the third and last letter published in the Express Weekend in reply to C.A. Simon’s article. The letters were not a sufficient or comprehensive reply, but the Indian Express would not tolerate further criticism of the St. Thomas fable in its columns.


1. This article, which appeared in the Indian Express on 30 December 1989, was the reason we began our research into the St. Thomas in India legend.

2. This paragraph was converted by the editor into the prosaic introductory line: “This refers to ‘In Memory of a Slain Saint’ (EW, Dec. 30).”

3. The Vatican’s official list of books Catholics are forbidden to read.

4. The words “eroded” and “sea” should have been in quotation marks.


2 – Legend of a slain saint to stain Hinduism – Swami Tapasyananda


Swami Tapasyananda, the author of this article, was an erudite Indian scholar sannyasi and vice-president of the Ramakrishna Order from 1985 to 1991. He wrote this article when he was president of the Ramakrishna Math in Mylapore, Madras, in 1989. A comment by the equally erudite Hindu yogi scholar and Samkhya philosopher Ram Swarup follows this article. – IS


Swami Tapasyananda

The Vedanta Kesari


This article has been provoked by two write-ups in the Madras edition of the Indian Express. The first of these is “In Memory of a Slain Saint” by C.A. Simon in the Express Weekend of the Indian Express of 30 December 1989, and the second, a rejoinder to it by Ishwar Sharan in the “Weekend Post” of the Express Weekend of 13 January 1990.

The first write-up, C.A. Simon’s, whether based on facts or fiction, is highly derogatory of Hinduism, which is, even to this day, highly tolerant of other religions. The chief items of information contained in C.A. Simon’s writings are as follows: (1) St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Christ (a disputed fact), came to India in AD 52 with Habban, a foreign trader. (2) He landed at Maliankara (Cranganore) in Kerala, preached the Gospel, wrought miracles, and got many converts. (3) Then he came to Mailepuram (Mylapore), then went to China, after some time returned to Maliankara, and from there came again to Madras where he spent the rest of his life teaching, preaching and drawing a large number of the oppressed and the suppressed into his fold. (4) He performed miracles which made the local king Mahadeva offer him a place near the seashore where the old church of Mylapore now stands. (5) His conversion activities incensed the orthodox and enemies from their rank vowed to finish him. (6) He had therefore to hide himself in a cave at the Little Mount near the present St. Thomas Mount (about five km away from Mylapore). (7) Finally, he was murdered there, i.e., at St. Thomas Mount, by those fanatical enemies, and (8) his body was brought to Mylapore and buried in AD 73 at a spot which was forgotten for many centuries.

But the greatest miracle was to occur in 1523, nearly fifteen hundred years after the saint was supposed to have died. That was the rediscovery of the tomb and remains of the murdered saint by the priest in charge of the Mylapore church for building a new church—pieces of bones, a skull, a vessel containing mud supposedly from the place where the saint’s blood was shed, and a spearhead of the shape of an olive leaf fixed on a wooden shaft.

Wonder of wonders! Even after about fifteen centuries these remains, including the stick, had not become fossilized or crumbled into dust, but could be got intact and buried at an undisclosed place in the church. That church was damaged beyond recognition in the course of the battles waged round it during the rivalry between the Dutch, the French, and the British and Hyder Ali. (Strangely, the Portuguese are not said to be involved in it, perhaps because they were the heroic defenders!) At last in 1893 the present Santhome Church with Gothic architectural excellence was built. (It must be by the Portuguese and none else.) The papal seal over this whole story was stamped in 1956 when Pope Pius XII gave it recognition as a Minor Basilica, all the four major ones being outside India.

The above legend, that is dexterously built into a mighty balloon to boost Christian fanaticism, is neatly pricked in the rejoinder by Ishwar Sharan, published as a letter to the editor in the “Weekend Post” of the Indian Express of 13 January 1990. The points mentioned by him are as follows: In his book Papacy: Its Doctrine and History, Sita Ram Goel writes:

Some Catholic scholars have been busy for many years marshalling literary and archaeological evidence in an effort to prove that St. Thomas came to India in 52 AD, converted some Hindus in the South and was killed by the Brahmins in Mylapore in Madras. Suffice it to say that some historians have seriously doubted the very existence of an apostle named St. Thomas. Distinguished scholars like R. Garbe, A. Harnack and L. de la Vallee-Poussin have denied credibility to the Acts of Thomas, an apocryphal work on which the whole story is based. Some others who accept the fourth century Catholic tradition about the travels of St. Thomas, point to the lack of evidence that he ever went beyond Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. The confusion, according to them, has arisen because the ancient geographers often mistook these two countries for India.

He further refers to Stephen Neill’s book History of Christianity in India: From the Beginnings to 1707 A.D. published by the Cambridge University Press, England, in 1984, as follows:

A number of scholars, among whom are to be mentioned with respect Bishop A.E. Medlycott, J.N. Farquhar and the Jesuit J. Dahlman, have built on slender foundations what may be called Thomas romances, such as reflect the vividness of their imaginations rather than the prudence of rigid historical critics.

Pained by the spread of this spurious history among large sections of Christians, he observes:

Millions of Christians in India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove it to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.

Stephen Neill was a bishop who had spent long years in India.

To these we want to make ensuing comments to disprove these assumptions of pious Christians. Further absurdities in Thomas legends are revealed in S. Muthiah’s Madras Discovered published by Affiliated East-West Press. The following are the facts gleaned from it: Thomas shunted between St. Thomas Mount and Mylapore, separated by about five km, doing his preaching work and converting thousands. He lived in a cave at Little Mount in Saidapet, three km from St. Thomas Mount. There is, to the east of the cave, an opening which is said to have opened in those days into a tunnel from the Little Mount to St. Thomas Mount. The saint is supposed to have fled from his persecutors through this cave. He was however murdered by them at St. Thomas Mount. Mylapore has only the honour of being the place where his dead body was brought and buried. From there his remains were taken to Edessa in Syria where every July a great festival is held to commemorate his reburial. From Edessa they are said to have been moved to the Greek island of Chios, thence to Ortona on Italy’s Adriatic coast where they remain to this day. But each resting place still has some relic of Thomas—Madras has a small hand bone and the head of a lance in the St. Thomas Basilica crypt.

More miracles in proof of this legend of murder are yet to come. In 1547 the Vicar of Mylapore during excavation at St. Thomas Mount discovered a “bleeding” cross with old Pahlavi inscriptions. It had spots that looked like blood stains which, it is claimed, reappeared after being rubbed away. This cross is built into the wall behind the altar of the church on the mount dedicated to Madonna of the Mount. The tradition about this cross is that it was chiseled from a rock by the apostle himself. It is said that it used to bleed periodically. The first publicly noticed bleeding was on 15 December 1558 and the last in 1704.

Apart from these fanciful anecdotes about St. Thomas in Madras, Christianity of a brand which had nothing to do with Western Christianity had come to the Malabar coast very early. Sometime about AD 450 (sic) one Canai Thomas with seventy-two Syrian families arrived in Kerala and whatever traces of early Christianity there were got mixed up with this Syrian brand of it. So these Christians, known till then as Nazaranis (Nazarenes), got also the name Syrian Christians.[1] Their connection to this day is with the Orthodox Church of Syria. The grafting of this powerful group with the existing fragmentary Christian groups must have led to the identification of Kerala Christians with the Thomas tradition, to which they hold steadfastly to this day. The St. Thomas of their fancy must really be Canai Thomas of Syria. The members of this community were adventurous traders with business connections with many countries abroad, and through commerce they brought much wealth to the country. They therefore enjoyed the patronage of the local kings. Their numbers increased not only by the absorption of the existing fragment of the Christian community but the influx of many Hindus from highly aristocratic classes owing to the rigorous rules of excommunication that prevailed among them. Such excommunications were common among them for breach of caste rules, and these excommunicated individuals, men or women, had no other course than to join this new community. This crossbreed Christian community of Kerala is distinguished from the converts by later Catholic and Protestant missionaries both in appearance and talents. In modern India they are everywhere found to occupy high positions in the professional and business life of the country. Their names too are usually different from the European names by which most of the later converted Christians were known till very recent times.

Now to go back to the legend of St. Thomas in Madras. It is clearly the fabrication of the Portuguese to camouflage their destruction of the Hindu Temple of Kapaleeswara which was situated on the seashore, probably at the very place where Santhome Church now stands. The great Saivite saint of sixth century AD, Tirujnanasambandar, sings in the 6th Poompavai Padikam Thevaram:

The Lord of Kapaleeswaram sat watching the people of Mylapore
A place full of flowering coconut palms
Taking ceremonial bath in the sea on the full moon day of the month of Masai.

In the same strain sings Arunagirinathar, who came to Mylapore in 1456, in his Tirumayilai Tiruppugazh:

O Lord of Mailai (Mylapore) temple, situated on the shores of the sea with raging waves …

This clear and indisputable evidence gives the lie to the legend that the Portuguese invented to hide their nefarious work. The Portuguese domination of Mylapore was from 1522 to 1697, by which time the British had established themselves in the Fort St. George and adjoining territories, and the Portuguese had to withdraw to Goa where their empire lasted till 1962. In Goa their rule was noted for a spree of destruction of Hindu temples and persecution of the Goanese, so much so that large sections of them had to flee that territory and settle all along the west coast of India. They are the Gauda Saraswats. The fate of these Goanese would have overtaken the temples and the people of Madras also, a foretaste of which contingency they got in the destruction of the holy Kapaleeswara Temple. Thanks to the British domination of the region and the consequent elimination of the Portuguese, this tragic fate did not overtake them. The British had more political maturity and diplomatic perception, which helped them perceive that trade was more important for themselves than religious propaganda. And so they kept an attitude of indifference towards the religion and religious edifices of the people in whose midst they carried on their trading activities, which eventually led to the establishment of a political empire.

The destruction of the seashore Temple of Kapaleeswara is said to have taken place in 1561. The new temple at its present site, about one km to the west, was built by pious Hindu votaries about three hundred years ago, i.e., about two hundred and fifty years after its destruction. When the Santhome Church was repaired in the beginning of the current century, many stones with edicts were found there. Among them one mentions Poompavai, the girl whom Tirujnanasambandar is said to have miraculously revived from her ashes kept in an urn.

These are all matters of the forgotten past. Both the Kapaleeswara Temple and the Santhome Church are now thriving and catering to the spiritual needs of the Hindus and the Christians. In such a situation it is better not to rake up the memories of these unpleasant facts. According to forward-looking people many things of the past are better forgotten than remembered and ruminated upon. The history of the Kapaleeswara Temple and Santhome Church belongs to this category.

But the priests of the Santhome Church will not allow this. They want to keep the flame of fanaticism bright. It is distressing to note the following passage in C.A. Simon’s write-up in the Indian Express of 30 December 1989:

Today Santhome has in its possession only a piece of bone and the metal spearhead with which the saint was assassinated at Madras. These are under the safe custody of the priests. It is exposed for public veneration during the annual solemn novena for the feast of St. Thomas on July 3rd every year.

What is still more threatening is the concluding sentence:

Fr. Charles, assistant priest, further informed this writer that there may be celebrations on the 3rd of every month, starting from January 1990 onwards, with the help of the parishioners.

This attempt to keep up the fanaticism of the minority may inflame the fanaticism of the majority too, and lead to situations like the Babri Masjid controversy. All right-thinking men should foresee and avoid the occurrence of such a contingency.

Postscript

This article appeared in the June 1990 issue of The Vedanta Kesari, published by the Sri Ramakrishna Math in Mylapore, Madras. It had been submitted three months earlier to the Indian Express, Madras, but had elicited no response from the “fearless” newspaper—though, as will be seen, the resident editor was fully aware of its existence in his office.


Ram Swarup


Ram Swarup of New Delhi, on reading the article, sent a letter to The Vedanta Kesari editor on June 27th:

Reference Swami Tapasyananda’s piece, “The Legend of a Slain Saint to Stain Hinduism”, in your journal of June 1990. I beg to point out respectfully that a most excellent article has been marred by a bad ending. Can’t we in all veracity speak of Semitic iconoclasm without first accusing ourselves of fanaticism? And where is the much feared Hindu fanaticism in the so-called Babri Masjid controversy? Does it consist in our remembering that fanatic forces destroyed our temples and that we must do something about it? But must we start indulging in self-condemnation even before we have started doing anything and the issues have joined? In the language of the Gita, this state of mind comes from hridaya-daurbalyam and karpanya-dosha and can achieve little.

The psychological disarmament of Hinduism has been going on for a long time and we have learnt to pull down our defences even before we have built them. Unfortunately, it has been often preached by some of the best minds of Hinduism.

This letter was not published in the magazine. The Vedanta Kesari does not publish letters to the editor.

We had also sent copies of Swami Tapasyananda’s article to C.A. Simon, the Archbishop of Madras at Santhome, and the Indian Express editor. C.A. Simon was the only one to respond with a letter on August 9th. He had learned from the Express Weekend editor that we planned to include his article in the appendix of a book, and though he had not yet been informed of the project, he wrote:

Thank you for sending me the xerox copies of the articles written by Swami Tapasyananda and published by Vedanta Kesari.

My interest in that article is purely academic as I am not championing anybody’s cause. Also I was not aware of the version given in your letter or in the article.

Main sources for my article was two books:

  1. In the Steps of St. Thomas by Rt. Rev. Herman D’Souza.
  2. St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia edited by Sri George Menachery.

A few of the leaflets were also referred for the article. A facsimile of postal stamp released by Govt. of India during the occasion (said to be) of the 19th centenary in 1972 also was seen. The speech given by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, former president of India, “Remember St. Thomas came to India …” was also referred.

I am trying to say that the article was not written with any malafide (sic) intention, and I was not aware of the controversial version given by Sri Sita Ram Goel. Since I am aware of it now I note to honour the other version also.

I learned that you are going to publish a book and intend to include my article as the Christian version. As I do not stand for any religious sect or group you may desist from doing so. Instead you may refer to more authoritative works of this subject if you feel so.

Being a scholar of great understanding about the subject, I hope, you may take this in proper spirit.

You may bring this to notice of Swami Tapasyananda in order to clear any misunderstanding.

Kindly acknowledge this letter. You may feel free to write to me.

We did indeed acknowledge this letter and replied to it on August 14th as follows:

This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of August 9th.

My essay on the myth of St. Thomas has been written in reply to your article which appeared in the Indian Express of 30 December 1989.

Considering this, and that you and the Indian Express initiated the controversy by publishing the sly communal tale as Madras city history, you can hardly ask me to desist from reprinting it.

Your article is the subject of public discussion and a necessary reference, and is being reproduced as an appendix to my reply.[2]

It is difficult to believe that your interest in St. Thomas is only academic. You have not named any unbiased scholar nor given any credible academic reference.

In fact you have written an excellent piece of Roman Catholic propaganda—in the steps of Rt. Rev. Herman D’Souza who went to great lengths to manipulate Indian history and vilify Hindus in his work—and I must congratulate you on your success.

As you quote Marco Polo and Rajendra Prasad as proof that St. Thomas came to India, so Indians will now quote you and the Indian Express as further proof that St. Thomas came to India.

Your letter amounts to a disclaimer and should really be directed to the editor of the Indian Express, but if you wish to communicate further with me you are of course welcome to do so.

This was the end of the correspondence. C.A. Simon did not communicate further with us and as no disclaimer appeared in the Express Weekend, it may be assumed that neither he nor his editor regretted the publication of the “historical” communal tale in Indian Express columns.


1. Thomas of Cana and the seventy-two Syrian families arrived in 345 CE. They were the first Christians to arrive in India. Swami Tapasyananda has made an error here and identified the Jerusalem merchant with a later migration from West Asia. All early Christian groups in Malabar, whether called Nazaranis (Nasranis) or Nestorians, were of Syrian or Persian origin. They were divided into two basic groups: those who married Indians and those who did not.

2. In the first edition of this book, published in February, 1991, where Simon’s article appears in the appendix.