Category Archives: india

Archaeology: Politics of the past in Tamil Nadu and Kerala – B.S. Harishankar


“If the cooperation between politicians and historians is too close, it might be harmful since the relationship between history and politics can develop into a fatal friendship offering the reward of public attention and moral esteem whilst destroying the radical independence of historical research and its disposition to rethink history.” – Dr. Martin Sabrow


KCHR


Martin Sabrow, Professor of History at the University of Potsdam, Germany,  warned  in 2009  that, if the cooperation between politicians and historians is too close, it might be harmful since the relationship between history and politics can develop into a fatal friendship offering the reward of public attention and moral esteem whilst destroying the radical independence of historical research and its disposition to rethink history.

Sabrow’s views have relevance currently, when there is  an orchestrated campaign to establish a  hoax  identity of  the past to raise divisive political and religious claims in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The ongoing manoeuvres to associate the disputed  Pattanam site in Kerala with Kodumanal, Keezhadi, Porunthal and other unearthed spots in Tamilnadu, has already  sparked  controversies. But few are aware of  the fact that,  the very integrity of Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) which unearthed Pattanam, was seriously questioned by the Kerala state government and historians  much before the current  excavations.

Following serious complaints on KCHR about “procedural and financial irregularities” and its “approach to the writing of history”, the former Congress government led by Chief Minister A.K. Antony decided to dissolve it on September 22, 2001. Vindicating the government decision, Prof. M.G.S. Narayanan, former chairman of the ICHR, charged that the formation of the KCHR was “a Marxist party conspiracy to hijack history for its destructive, sectarian purpose of party propaganda” and welcomed the government’s move to dissolve it (Frontline, Oct. 13 – 26, 2001).

Left lobbies protested against the Congress government decision to  dismiss the KCHR. On September 25, 2001, the Safdar  Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) a Left cultural forum, called  upon the Kerala Government to immediately reinstate the KCHR. It was signed by Left historians such as  R.S. Sharma, Irfan Habib, K.M. Shrimali, D.N. Jha,  and  Sumit Sarkar.


P. J. Cherian


Upholding the state government’s decision, the Kerala High Court dismissed a writ petition challenging the dissolution of KCHR. Justice G. Sivarajan held that the petition filed by P.J. Cherian, director of KCHR and its three members was without merits (The Times of India, Dec. 20, 2001).

But following immense pressure jointly launched by Church and Left lobbies, the Congress high command directed Chief Minister A.K. Antony who was  ultimately forced to reinstate the KCHR.

The leading patrons of Pattanam which was claimed as the ancient trading port of  Muziris, were Euro-American scholars. Istvan Perczel from Hungary, one of the patrons of Pattanam, and also a  scholar in Early Christianity and Byzantine history, solicited that it provides much potential for research as the site where Apostle Thomas landed in India and established Indian Christianity (Muziris Heritage Project: Pattanam Excavations, KCHR,  2008). He also delivered a lecture at KCHR, on history of Kerala Christianity, along with  Bishop Gabriel Mar Gregorios, and theologian Ninan Koshy (The Hindu, Feb. 12, 2008).

The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology and the Pontifical Academy of Archaeology, both at Vatican, functions for the purpose of promoting and directing excavations in the catacombs of Rome and on other sites of Christian antiquarian interest, and for safeguarding the objects found during such excavations. Consequently, the Liturgical Research Centre of the Syro-Malabar Church invited the KCHR, for its national seminars in 2005 at Kochi, and in 2011 at Kalyan in Mumbai, to present papers corroborating Pattanam and Christianity. The United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia based in New York supported Pattanam excavator P.J. Cherian in his historical studies (The New Indian Express, Feb. 17, 2011). Eleven students from the University of Georgia visited Pattanam to learn the historical, theological and sociological aspects of the ancient trading port of Muziris and Christianity in the state (The Hindu, Dec. 25, 2011). It was a global campaign that an ancient biblical site has been finally unearthed in India.


Pattanam dig and St Thomas


Orthodox churches also  took a genuine interest in Pattanam. Keynote address by Fr. Dr. K.M. George at the public meeting of Malankara Orthodox Church at the reception for Bishop Catholicos Marthoma Paulose II, on March 13, 2011, in  Tyagaraja Stadium, New Delhi, lauded Pattanam for  finally establishing the two millennium old history of apostle Thomas in India.


Prof. K. Rajan


Following escalating controversies on KCHR and Pattanam, archaeologists from major Indian institutes and universities kept away from the project. But despite serious charges of fake documentation, financial irregularities and transforming myth into history, it was Dr. K. Rajan of Pondicherry University who is one of the foremost patrons of Pattanam. He  associates Pattanam with various sites in Tamil Nadu, thus not only collaborating to establish a biblical myth as history, but also constructing a larger communal space for the Church to raise political claims in South India. Rajan observed that the cultural transformation from the Iron Age to the Early Historic Period discernible at Pattanam was unique to Peninsular India (The Hindu, May 12, 2009).

The Pattanam team acknowledges Rajan’s guidance in May 2012 for assistance to the Kongu Region, including Kodumanal, Kangayam, Arachalur and Arasampalayam. Seminars on Indian Ocean trade of Pattanam conducted by KCHR and British Museum  in August 2013 was hosted by Department of History, University of Pondicherry and chaired by Rajan. British Museum which collaborates with Pattanam is associated with biblical scholars such as Michael Jursa and Irvin Finkel. Pattanam Museum in Ernakulam was inaugurated by Finkel. Oxford which also collaborates with Pattanam,  has a long history in biblical archaeology with scholars such as  Dame Kathleen Kenyon, Roger Moorey, Andrew Sherratt, and Levantine Archaeology Laboratory as well as Ashmolean Museum.

Mario Seiglie, a missionary and columnist,  wrote that archaeology makes a believer, and abundance of archaeological evidence in support of the Bible can strengthen faith, and in some cases it has greatly contributed in giving birth to belief, where none existed before. This observation has much relevance in Pattanam and its linked sites in Tamil Nadu, in the Apostle Thomas context..

K. Rajan and P.J. Cherian jointly propagates presentations linking the Tamil Nadu-Kerala region in the backdrop of excavations at Kodumanal, Thandikudi, Porunthal and Pattanam  (Pattanam Fifth Season: Field Report, 2011, KCHR). Currently, Rajan is member of the KCHR administration. There are serious allegations that field reports on sites such as Kodumanal, Thandikudi and Porunthal are prepared for promoting Pattanam which has much political and religious connotations.

In this context, we are reminded of what the Bavarian Minister for Education and Cultural affairs, Hans Schemm, declared  in 1933, to lecturers at the University of Munich that, it is no longer their task to find out if something is true, but if it accords with the beliefs of the National Socialist government. In the present context it is the beliefs of the Left government in Kerala and church denominations in India that matters.

It is not that Prof. Rajan is ignorant of serious financial corruption and academic forgery accused on Pattanam. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) identified the unbridled foreign funds received by KCHR and cancelled its license along with Kerala Muslim Educational Association and Kerala United Theological Seminary under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (The New Indian Express, Dec. 8, 2016).

Earlier the accountant general detected the irregularities in the KCHR audit report of 2010-11 (The New Indian Express, July 22, 2012). Later in 2016, the KCHR was accused in creation of fake government documents, illegal appointments and financial irregularities worth crores. It is also alleged that the KCHR obtained the licence for the Pattanam excavation after submitting fake documents to the Archaeological Survey of India.

Following serious charges on Pattanam excavations, and unscientific approaches adopted by the KCHR, a  probe was conducted on the basis of complaints to the Union Minister of State for Culture, Mahesh Sharma.  Based on the complaints, a meeting of the central advisory panel of the ASI asked the KCHR to temporarily stop the excavations (Business Standard, Jan. 5, 2016).


Iravatham Mahadevan


Even, late Iravatham Mahadevan, who earlier applauded Pattanam as potentially important (The Hindu, Mar. 14, 2011), later declined to make any comments or observation on the site following widespread controversies.

The Pattanam site has been questioned not by activists, but by eminent south asian archaeologists and historians such as Profs. Dilip Chakrabarti, A. Sundara, Vasant Shinde, M.G.S. Narayanan, R. Nagaswamy and T. Satyamurti. When Rajan ignores serious allegations on Pattanam  by  eminent  scholarship,  it also raises serious doubts on sites in Tamil Nadu with which he constantly associates Pattanam. Already the Keezhadi site  has generated enough controversies.

The recent controversy on Pattanam erupted after R. Sivanantham, deputy director, Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology, officially facilitated a lecture on Pattanam by P.J. Cherian on Oct. 30, 2018. The programme was chaired by T. Udhayachandran, Commissioner, Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu.

Archaeological Survey of India’s probe into alleged unscientific approaches adopted by the KCHR at Pattanam, was taken up by Amarnath Ramakrishna, the then superintendent archaeologist of the ASI, Bengaluru centre (Business Standard, Jan. 5, 2016). His findings are kept in the dark, but later Amarnath Ramakrishna also took up the Keezhadi excavation. The CPI(M) which launched Pattanam has openly supported Amarnath Ramakrishna who supervised Keezhadi (The Hindu, Oct. 6, 2018), which  shows  how  the Left  functions in manufacturing cultural data for church lobbies.

 ASI director general Rakesh Tewari said Amarnath Ramakrishna should publish a report on the Keezhadi excavation. Then only the ASI shall give him the license for the third year because he has got more than 4,000 artefacts (“More excavation only after report,” Frontline, Jan. 2, 2017).

Dating of all these interlinked sites including Pattanam, have been done at the same institution at USA. The carbon dating conducted on Keezhadi, has been done by Beta Analytic Inc., Florida, USA (The Hindu, Sept. 30, 2017). The carbon dating at Pattanam was also conducted at Beta Analytic Inc., despite the fact that India has premier dating laboratories. Accelerator mass spectrometry dating of the paddy from Palani site excavated by Prof. Rajan was also  done by Beta Analysis Inc. which assigned the paddy to 490 BCE (“Palani excavation triggers fresh debate,” The Hindu, Aug. 29, 2011). It has also much relevance since research by Cornell University archaeologists, Stuart Manning and colleagues shows that commonly accepted radiocarbon dating standards can miss the mark, thus calling historical timelines into question.

The 21st annual Tamil convention of Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) was also held in Florida. The theme of the three day convention was “Preserve the Tamil race by protecting the language”. Florida is a major stronghold of FeTNA and the carbon dating of  both Keezhadi and Pattanam in Florida raises serious suspicion.


Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj


FeTNA in April, 2018, invited Amarnath Ramakrishna to deliver a lecture on the Keezhadi excavations. The ASI denied him permission to participate as guest of honor at this event, possibly because FeTNA publicly supported the cause of ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils in the Sri Lankan civil war. Time and again, the Sri Lanka Guardian has warned that the Catholic Church is heavily involved with the LTTE from the 1970s (“Catholic Church, an ally of Tamil Tiger terrorists in Sri Lanka”, Guardian, April 4, 2009). The FeTNA has been a major campaigner and fund-raiser for the Tamil Chair at the University of California, Berkeley. Prof. George L. Hart, known for his Dravidian politics, was hired for the chair. FeTNA also honoured Jagath Gasper, Catholic propagandist for Christianizing Tamil culture.

Thillai Kumaran, the  former  president of FeTNA, represented it in the vicious 2006 California textbook campaign launched by FOIL, FOSA and many members of the CAG against Hindu groups who were advocating for an equitable treatment of Hinduism vis-a-vis other leading global religions in sixth grade textbooks. FeTNA’s testimony at the California Curriculum Commission made the dubious claim that the early Tamil texts clearly distinguish between Tamils and Aryans. The  co-founders of FOIL are two  Indian Leftists, Biju Mathew and Vijay Prashad.

Harvard scholar Michael Witzel has admitted that he and his associates were in contact with FeTNA in the California textbook campaign. Thillai Kumaran, representing FeTNA, in their letter dated  Feb. 19, 2006, wrote  to Glee Johnson of California State Board of Education, thanking Witzel for the efforts in proposing edits in pursuance of the Colorado evangelical church agenda. Witzel’s supporters in the California textbook battle include two evangelical groups: Dalit Freedom Network and Dalit Solidarity Forum in the USA. DFN president Joseph D’Souza also patronizes the All India Christian Council.

The Left–church syndicate at Pattanam and its current association with Tamil Nadu archaeological sites has to be understood in a global context. The fervor shown for propaganda and for dating them in one institution in America has also  generated questions regarding politics of the past in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. – Bharatkalyan, 9 December 2018

Dr. B. S. Harishankar is an author and senior archaeological researcher.


Syrian-style gold cross


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VIDEO: Interviews with Shaiva Siddhanta Acharyas – J. Vishwanathan


This video exposes the nefarious activities of Christian missionaries in Tamil Nadu, in their vain attempt to appropriate Valluvar’s classic Tamil treatise Tirukkural as a Christian-inspired document.



 

Syrian Orthodox bishop doubts St. Thomas visited South India – Times News Network

“St. Thomas did not visit Kerala and did not convert upper caste Hindus to Christianity.” – Bishop Geevarghese Mor Coorilos of the Jacobite Syrian Church


Geevarghese Mor Coorilos


The following remarkable news item appeared in The Times of India, Kochi edition, on 13 April 2018:

After the land scam, another controversy has erupted in the Syro-Malabar Church. This time around, the ruckus is over the historical validity of the claim that St. Thomas the apostle had visited Kerala.

Three days ago, Bishop Geevarghese Mor Coorilos of the Niranam diocese of the Jacobite Syrian Church said St. Thomas hadn’t visited the state and did not convert upper caste Hindus to Christianity.


Paul Thelekatt


Syro-Malabar Church official spokesperson and senior priest belonging to Enakulam-Angamali diocese Fr. Paul Thelekatt too agreed with the Niranam bishop: “There is no valid evidence to prove the visit of St. Thomas to Kerala. It is believed that he visited Kerala in the first century and converted Brahmins to Christianity. But the migration of Brahmins to Kerala began only in the 7th century,[1] indicating that such claims were false. The fact is that a group of people followed Christianity for several centuries in Kerala.”

Syrian Christians in Kerala believe that St. Thomas had visited Kerala and converted the upper caste Namboodiris to Christianity. They believe St. Thomas had also built eight churches (also known as 7.5 churches) in various parts of Kerala. The Syrian Christians are also known as St. Thomas Christians. “Even the Pope has made it clear that St. Thomas had not visited Kerala. But a certain section among Kerala Christians have been nursing a certain caste bias claiming to be descendants of upper caste Hindus who were converted to Christianity,” said Fr. Thelakkat. In fact, Syrian Christians in Changanacherry, Pala and Kanjirappally claim that they belong to upper caste Hindu families converted by St. Thomas. Most of the families in these areas reportedly claim they hail from “Athi Puratana Katholika Kudumbam”.

However, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) doesn’t seemed to be amused over the controversy.

“There is no need to discuss the issue now. Those who raised the issue should solve it,” said KCBC official spokesperson Fr. Varghese Vallikkatt. – The Times of India, 3 April 2018


St. Thomas makes the Sandhyavandanam water offering of the Namboothiri Brahmins stand in the air.


1. There is a record of Namboodiri Brahmins in Kerala in the middle of the fourth century CE, when the practice of the Vedic Shrauta traditions were revived. The sixth or seventh century dates for their appearance is a politically-coloured Marxist conjecture. But it is true that there is no record of Namboodiris in Kerala in the first three and a half centuries CE (as there is none for Christians).


 

Marxists and Christians search for St. Thomas at Pattanam – Sandhya Jain


“Kerala’s attempt to create spurious evidence of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in India merits wider dissemination. It must be seen as part of a concerted attempt to entrench the Cross in India.” – Sandhya Jain


Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions by B.S. Harishankar


Rescuing the antiquity of Indian civilisation from the biblical mythology of Max Mueller, rubbishing the well-orchestrated history-as-dogma of the Aryan invasion and proving the existence of river Saraswati, excavating and resurrecting the still unknown past, and restoring the once handsome architectural marvels that have fallen victim to time or iconoclasts, Indian archaeologists have their task cut out for them. Their work is critical in correcting the lacunas, misinterpretations and falsifications of history in various parts of the country, especially at the hands of scholars with a pronounced bias against our native traditions.

Unless repudiated, invented history enters the popular mind as “fact”. The Aryan fable still persists because Marxists have been able to prevent all historical and scientific findings, disproving the movement of people into India at the time of the alleged “invasion”, from entering school textbooks where the foundations of knowledge are laid. This is why noted archaeologist B.S. Harishankar’s debunking of the Kerala Council for Historical Research’s (KCHR) attempts to create spurious evidence of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in India, unequivocally denied by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2006, merits wider dissemination.

The excavations to identify Pattanam, in Ernakulum district, with ancient Muziris of the Cheras, began soon after the Syro-Malabar Church scrambled to rescue the legend that claimed India as the first mission of the church, long before it went to Europe. As a result, in November 2006, the Vatican Secretariat accepted the story as history, to project Christianity as an indigenous faith of great longevity. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) embraced the project with alacrity; the brochure, Muziris Heritage Project: Pattanam Excavations 2008, lists Prof. Romila Thapar as one of the patrons.


B.S. Harishankar


In Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions (2017), Harishankar denounces the presence of European and American scholars in the dig, while excluding the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Indian universities. Eminent historians Prof. Dilip K. Chakbrabarti and Prof. M.G.S. Narayanan, and archaeologists Prof. R. Nagaswamy, Prof. A. Sundara, and Prof. T.  Sathyamurthy, denounced the attempts to link Pattanam with Muziris, when Kodungallur where the river meets the sea, is far more logical. Neither archaeological evidences nor historical records support Apostle Thomas arrived in India; he possibly visited Fars (Persia) and the Afghanistan region.

Harishankar has referenced the Pattanam excavations with all researched and published material available. The KCHR, headed by Prof. K.N. Panikkar of JNU, is alleged to have manipulated archaeological evidence and manufactured new evidence to “prove” that Pattanam had historical ties with Jerusalem and other regions in West Asia from 1000 BC. He discusses the evidence that debunks the theory that there was ever a port city at Pattanam along the west coast, which the KCHR historians claim was an international trade route dating back to 800 BC.

Interestingly, the claim that Apostle Thomas established the first settlement at Pattanam was independently debunked by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay, and the National Institute of Oceanography, Kochi. The BARC scientists, who successfully traced the course of the Saraswati through radio isotope studies, examined Kerala’s mud banks during the monsoons and concluded that marine and palaeo-hydrological studies rule out the possibilities of a port city, wharf or township at Pattanam. In fact, the area excavated by the KCHR does not qualify for excavations as the cultural stratigraphy has been badly damaged by monsoons, floods, erosion, and construction activities. Moreover, as Harishankar maintains, the ASI is the only body competent to authorise excavations.

Pattanam is not an archaeological mound, as claimed by KCHR. Western India, Harishankar argues, has several archaeological sites with ramparts or mud embankments to prevent floods. No such evidence has been found at Pattanam. On the contrary, the site at Pattanam in lower Periyar has coastal alluvium with sand and clay, and lacks laterite formation or thick soil. Hence, it was not chosen as an Iron Age settlement.

Moreover, urbanism in early historic India involves certain precursors such as immense size, internal planning, public architecture, settlement hierarchies, enclosing walls, script, craft specialisation, long-distance trade, subsistence strategies and population growth. None of these exist at Pattanam, yet KCHR’s chosen scholars claimed as an urban site and port city. When the absence of these parameters were pointed out, the KCHR historians toned down their claims and alleged that the structural remains unearthed were carried away by locals, which is simply ridiculous.

Curiously, KCHR forwarded the plant remains found at Pattanam to the Spices Board, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, though it has no competence to examine them. And despite premier institutions available in India, the carbon dating was done abroad. But what is more pertinent, KCHR’s modern historians with no experience in field archaeology should not have excavated Pattanam with foreign funds and a crew of Biblical scholars.

KCHR appointed Dr. P.J. Cherian, with no academic background in archaeology, as director of the Pattanam excavations. Cherian’s PhD dissertation is on “The Communist Movement in Travancore: From the Origins to the Uprisings in 1946” (University of Calicut, 1993). However, The University of Rome Tor Vergata granted a three-year research fellowship to P.J. Cherian, Director, KCHR, and Pattanam excavations.

To assist Cherian, some distinguished biblical historians and Latin scholars were attached to the project. They include Istvan Perczel (Hungarian scholar of Byzantine history and early Christianity); Roberta Tomber (specialist in Roman and Indian Ocean pottery); Federico de Romanis (expert on Roman and Portuguese pepper trade); and Irving R. Finkel (British philologist and Assyriologist, expert in the script, languages and cultures of the Middle East). None is equipped to handle excavations; it’s a Max Mueller style of biblical mumbo jumbo.

In an exhibition at the National Museum in 2014, KCHR claimed Pattanam is the third Indian site to unearth terra sigillata pottery after Arikamedu and Alagankulam in Tamil Nadu, though it has been found at Uraiyur, Kanchipuram, Vasavasamudram, Kodumanal, Karur and Sulur in Tamil Nadu and several sites in Gujarat and western India. It claimed that rouletted pottery from Pattanam was reported for the first time on the west coast, when it was found in 124 sites across the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

Cherian is the executive president of the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage. His claim that his excavation unearthed evidence of a 2,000-year-old port city at a place where Saint Thomas allegedly landed rests more on faith than on history or archaeology. It must be seen as part of a concerted attempt to entrench the Cross in Asia, particularly India. – The Pioneer, 3 April 2018.

› Sandhya Jain is a political analyst and columnist with The Pioneer, New Delhi.


Dr. Nagaswamy refutes the St. Thomas myth from 11:30 mins …


 

The communal agenda of Marxist and Christian historians in India – G.P. Srinivasan


“The Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) aimed to establish under manufactured and deceptive archaeological evidence that Pattanam was ancient Muziris of the Cheras where, supposedly, Thomas the Apostle had landed.” – G.P. Srinivasan


P. J. Cherian


Historical records and archaeological evidence are conveniently denied, but strategically manipulated and suppressed by Communist historians in India. They vigorously preach Aryan invasion theory despite clinching archaeological, archaeozoological and palaeoanthropological evidence. They vehemently deny palaeohydrological and palaeoclimatic evidence on Sarasvati river. But the Left historians have always joined hands with Church lobbies in India for transforming myth into history. The recent evidence of this Communist–Church federation is at Pattanam, a site in Ernakulum district of Kerala.


Prof M. G. S. Narayanan and Dr B. S. Hari Shankar : Book release on March 17, 2017 at Kozhikkode


The book titled Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions by Dr. B.S. Harishankar was released on March 17, 2017 at Kozhikode in Kerala by Professor M.G.S. Narayanan, former ICHR chairman. According to Professor M.G.S. Narayanan eminent historian, Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) is a Marxist research council. Professor Narayanan made this observation when he was inaugurating the release of this book published by Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram. Dr. M.G.S. Narayanan charged that the KCHR was organised by the CPM, consisting of historians who followed the dictates and agenda of the party. They kept away the Archaeological Survey of India and Indian universities while initiating the Pattanam excavations under the Muziris Heritage Project. The KCHR aimed to establish under manufactured and deceptive archaeological evidence that Pattanam was ancient Muziris (Muchiri) of the Cheras. The project was also launched for protecting the personal gains of CPM leaders Dr.. T.M. Thomas Issac, current finance minister in CPM government in Kerala and M.A. Baby, polit bureau member.

There was no transparent archaeological research at Pattanam under KCHR. Earlier, stone beads were identified at Pattanam following heavy rains. It was widely propagated that the site was a port city and an ancient township of the Cheras before launching the excavations. When questions were raised at KCHR regarding claims of a township and port city, they took a retreat from their early contentions and made incredible statements that the structural remains unearthed were carried away by local residents.

The KCHR also provides an incredible presentation of a wharf to vindicate their claims of a port city according to M.G.S. Narayanan. Ambiguous and distorted evidence of pottery has been put forward by KCHR. Pattanam was highlighted by KCHR in its National Museum exhibition in 2014 as the third site to unearth terra sigillata pottery in India after Arikamedu and Alagankulam in Tamil Nadu. KCHR has suppressed the fact that terra sigillata has been recovered from Uraiyur, Kanchipuram, Vasavasamudram, Kodumanal, Karur and Sulur in Tamil Nadu and  numerous sites in western India, especially Gujarat. Similarly, KCHR contended that rouletted pottery from Pattanam was reported for the first time on west coast. This is another false statement. This pottery has been reported from 124 sites across Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.


Fraudulent Pattanam archaeological dig, supposed landing place of St Thomas


Professor Narayanan said that KCHR also intends to propagate that St. Thomas landed in Kerala coast in first century AD to propagate Christianity. There are no archaeological evidence or historical records to substantiate that Apostle Thomas arrived in India. There are some records to vindicate that he arrived in the Afghanistan region. The Pattanam excavations under KCHR is the biggest archaeological duplicity and treachery in the history of Indian historical research in this century. Narayanan said the current book has comprehensively documented and discussed Pattanam excavations using all researched and published material available  which the  KCHR cannot push aside or ignore.

Pattanam excavations were not an accidental episode or a project initiated in understanding the historical past of India’s west coast. Pope Benedict XVI, refused to accept St Thomas myth as history. But following pressure by Syro Malabar Church, Vatican secretariat send letter to Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil in Kerala on November 25, 2006 accepting St. Thomas myth as history and initiating activities for establishing it as truth. Pattanam excavations by KCHR comprising Left historians panel started at this time.

The Marxist historians led by Professor K.N. Panikkar from JNU who is now chairman of KCHR, manipulated archaeological evidence, manufactured new evidence and spread huge lies to establish that Pattanam had historical relations with Jerusalem, Israel and other countries in West Asia from 1000 BC. The director of Pattanam excavations is Dr. P.J. Cherian, a  Left and Church historian who did his Ph.D in 1993 from University of Calicut on the topic, The Communist Movement in Travancore: From the Origins to the Uprisings in 1946.  For Pattanam excavations, Cherian is supported by University of Rome. The University of Rome Tor Vergata has conferred a three-year research fellowship on P.J. Cherian, Director, Kerala Council for Historical Research and Pattanam excavations as reported by The Hindu on February 16, 2011. Cherian took an interest in archaeology due to directions given by United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (UBCHEA) with headquarters in New York as reported by Express News Service on February 17, 2011. The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East published on March 5, 2011 Cherian’s statement that recent excavations in Kerala have found evidence of a port city that existed more than 2,000 years ago at a place where Saint Thomas is believed to have landed. P.J. Cherian is executive president of the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage. Cherian has presented papers linking St. Thomas and Pattanam at the seminars organized by Liturgical Research Centre of Syro Malabar Church in November 2005 at Kochi and July 2011 at Kalyan in Mumbai. Irving R. Finkel, scholar in biblical studies, inaugurated Khor Rori KCHR Children’s Museum at Pattanam. Few people know the fact that  Khor Rori, a place said to be located in Oman said to be associated vaguely to biblical episodes.

The KCHR has huge financial and academic support of a Euro-American lobby outside India. The KCHR has kept away ASI and Indian universities from Pattanam excavations. Recently, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has cancelled the license of over twenty NGOs in Kerala under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010 with effect from November 1, 2010 which included KCHR. It is also alleged that the KCHR director Dr. P.J. Cherian was involved in creation of fake government documents, illegal appointments and financial irregularities worth crores.


ASI Ayodhya Excavation


The Left and pseudo-secular historians in India who now work hard at Pattanam for proving the archaeological evidence of Apostle Thomas have simultaneously denied the existence of a Hindu temple at Ayodhya. Veteran archaeologists such as Professor B.B. Lal, late Dr. P. Gupta, Y.D. Sharma and K.M. Srivastava presented convincing archaeological evidence of a temple beneath the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. The team found that the objects were dateable to the period ranging from the 10th through the 12th century AD. Besides Vaishnavite images and that of Shiva–Parvati, the unearthed objects at Ayodhya also included a number of amakalas, i.e., the cogged-wheel type architectural element which crown the bhumi shikharas or spires of subsidiary shrines, as well as the top of the spire or the main shikharas. There were other evidences such as cornices, pillar capitals, mouldings, door jambs with floral patterns precisely showing clinching evidence regarding the existence of a 10th-12th century AD  temple complex at the site of Ayodhya.

B.B. Lal has noted that the ruins of Ayodhya have a circuit of 4 to 5 kms and rise at places to a height of 10 metres above the ground level. He observed that the Northern Black Polished Ware  (NBPW) at the earliest level and continues with several structural phases up to the third century AD. The Left historians such as Professors R. S. Sharma, Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, D. N. Jha and K. N. Panikkar from  Jamia Millia, Delhi, JNU and Aligarh universities denied this archaeological evidence at Ayodhya for their pseudo secular interests. Their research methodology, manufacture of archaeological evidence and communal agenda have all been exposed from Pattanam excavations.

› G.P. Srinivasan does historical research and reporting from Srirangam.


 

A Feast of St. Thomas – Ishwar Sharan


“The Roman Catholic Church in India owes Hindus an abject apology for the blood libel she has perpetuated for centuries, falsely charging Hindus with the murder of St. Thomas even as she falsely charges Jews with the murder of Jesus.” – Ishwar Sharan


St. Thomas by Georges de LaTour (1625-30)


IS-SDSThe Deccan Chronicle in Chennai carried on 2 July 2012 a “mystic mantra” column called “Feast of Thomas” by Fr. Francis Gonsalves, the former president of the Jesuit-run Vidyajyoti Theological College in New Delhi. The feast for St Thomas is celebrated on July 3rd every year in India. Fr. Francis knows better than this writer that the story of St. Thomas in India is untrue. He also knows that prestigious Jesuit schools in Europe would never refer to the Thomas in India story without first qualifying it as an unverified Gnostic moral fable. But Fr. Francis whose ancestors were Christian converts in Goa—by force or fraud we do not know—is an Indian Jesuit under a communal compulsion to deceive his congregation and support their fanciful apostolic aspirations for India.  And there is also the politics of which his religious order is more than famous—or should we say infamous. Fr. Francis had a candidate for the Indian presidency in the person of a deracinated tribal convert called Purno Sangma. Therefore Fr Francis must continue to perpetrate the St. Thomas in India lie as he believes that Thomas has already claimed India for Christ and that claim could have been actualized in the person of Purno Sangma. So Fr Francis wrote:

Fr Francis Gonsalves, SJI’m often asked by the people here in India and abroad, “When did Christianity come to India?” “Indian Christianity is about 2,000 years old,” I reply, adding, “Ever since St. Thomas, one of Jesus’ beloved disciples, came to India.”[1] Thus, we have the so-called “St. Thomas Christians”[2]—mainly from Kerala—whose ancestors received Jesus’ “Gospel” soon after his resurrection. On July 3, Christians will celebrate the feast of Saint Thomas.

The Gospel of John records three utterances of St. Thomas that give glimpses of his character. First, when Jesus desires to go to Bethany, bordering Jerusalem, the disciples try to prevent him from going since he was almost stoned there for claiming kinship with God. Thomas, however, sticks by Jesus, and says, “Let’s also go that we may die with him” (John 11:16). This shows Thomas’ courage and his commitment to Jesus.

Second, when Jesus announces his imminent death and assures his disciples that he’ll prepare a place for them, he adds, “You know the way to the place where I’m going.” Thomas answers candidly, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5). This prompts Jesus to reply, “I am the way.”

Thomas’ third utterance gives not only him, but also gifts us the appellation “doubting Thomas”. Being no pushover, Thomas asks for “proof” before he believes the unprecedented news of Jesus rising from the dead. But, on meeting the Risen Christ, he exclaims: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). These words are etched in gold over the tomb of St. Thomas at the San Thome Cathedral, Chennai: a magnificent 16th-century Gothic church visited by innumerable pilgrims.

Having lived in Chennai, I cherish unforgettable moments at monuments built in memory of Apostle Thomas. I remember that morning of Sunday, December 26, 2004, when I was presiding over morning worship at San Thome Cathedral and the mighty ocean came crashing down upon Marina beach, leaving us distraught at the destruction wrought by the tsunami.

Two other churches in Chennai commemorate the Apostle: one built in 1523 atop “Saint Thomas Mount” near the airport, and, another big, circular one constructed in 1972 on “Little Mount”. The former contains the “Bleeding Cross”, believed to have been sculpted on stone by St. Thomas, while the latter rests beside the cave where the Apostle prayed.

Saints are not the exclusive property of one religion. St. Thomas teaches us all three things: (a) to be courageous and committed to a cause; (b) to be candid and to clarify things when in doubt; and (c) to be critical of things outside human experience; yet, also to believe in God who forever remains “The Beyond” while inspiring us to exclaim, “My Lord, my God!” in the everyday ordinariness of life.Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 2 June 2012

There is no historical evidence to support the legend that St. Thomas, called Judas Thomas in the Acts of Thomas, ever came to India. And when we say there is no historical evidence in Western literature, we say emphatically that there is no evidence for St. Thomas or Indian Christianity in ancient Tamil literature either. Even up to the tenth century and Raja Raja Chola’s time, Tamil literature has no record of Christians or Christianity being present in the land.

The story of Thomas’s Indian sojourn exists only in the Acts of Thomas. This long religious romance was probably written by the Syrian Gnostic poet Bardesanes about 210 CE at Edessa, Syria. Bardesanes was familiar with India and had met and discussed Indian philosophy with Buddhist monks travelling west to Alexandria and Rome. It was therefore quite natural for him to place his moral fable in India, a land from which all kinds of religious ideas emanated.[3]

Bardesanes story is centred on the moral imperative that all Christians must lead a chaste and celibate life. In the story he has Judas Thomas, who is presented as a look-alike twin brother of Jesus, persuade a newly married royal couple not to consummate their marriage. This angers the Parthian king of the desert land where Thomas is present and he has to flee for his life to another part of the country. Here he comes into contact with another Parthian king called Gundaphorus—possibly a first century king of  Gandhara i.e. West Pakistan—and promises to build him a palace. Thomas cheats the king of his money but succeeds in converting him to Christianity. He then leaves Gundaphorus and concerns himself with a talking donkey and a dragon who claims to be Satan. Thomas slays the dragon, but because of his interest in converting the women and girls of the area to Christianity and alienating them from family life, is called before a third Parthian king called Mazdai—Mazdai being a Zoroastrian name after the Zoroastrian deity Ahura Mazda—and ordered to leave the country. When Thomas ignores the king’s warning and converts the queen and her son, the king in exasperation at the apostle’s evil deeds orders him executed. He is then speared to death by soldiers on a royal acropolis and the body shortly afterward taken away to Edessa.

In all records Thomas is executed on the Parthian royal acropolis and soon after buried at Edessa where a cult grows up around his tomb—until Marco Polo in his famous travel book puts his tomb on the seashore in an unnamed little town in South India. Marco, who never came to India, was repeating the stories told to him by Muslim and Syrian Christian merchants he met in Constantinople.

This is how St. Thomas got to South India. The Portuguese who knew Marco’s popular book Il Milione decided quite arbitrarily that Mylapore was the unnamed little town Marco was referring to [4]—and Mylapore also had a good harbour and a great heathen temple that could be turned into a Christian apostle’s tomb. As they say, the rest is history—and a falsified history at that!

Though Bardesanes represents Judas Thomas as a second Christ, he does not represent him as a good man. What we gather from the story in the Acts, and what Fr. Francis and his Church neglect to tell the faithful, is that

  • Jesus was a slave trader who sold Thomas to Abbanes for thirty pieces of silver;
  • Thomas was an antisocial character who lied to his royal employer and stole money from him;
  • Thomas ill-treated women and enslaved them;
  • Thomas practised black magic and was executed for disobeying the king’s order to stop the practise and leave the country;
  • Thomas was Jesus’s twin brother, implying that the four canonical Gospels are unreliable sources which have concealed a crucial fact, viz. that Jesus was not God’s Only Begotten Son. In fact, Jesus and Thomas were God’s twin-born sons. In other words, accepting the Thomas legend as history is equivalent to exploding the doctrinal foundation of Christianity.

Enough said about Judas Didymus Thomas.

About San Thome Cathedral which houses his fake tomb—the real tomb for St. Thomas is at Ortona, Italy—it has been established by reputed Jesuit and Indian archaeologists that the church stands on the ruins of the original Kapaleeswara Shiva Temple destroyed by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. So do the churches at Little Mount and Big Mount stand on ruined Murugan and Shiva temples respectively. The “Bleeding Cross” Fr. Francis refers to and which is kept in the Portuguese church on Big Mount, has these words carved around the edge of it in Pahlavi script: “My lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht the Syrian, who cut this.” The cross is dated by experts to the eighth or ninth century.

Apostle Thomas was a Jew and the Roman cross would have been a most abhorrent symbol to him. Certainly he did not bring a cross—or a Bible for that matter; there was no Bible in the first century—to India. Christians did not use the Roman cross as a religious symbol until the third century or later. They used a fish sign with the Greek word ΙΧΘΥC (ikhthus meaning “fish”)—an acronym for JESUS—inscribed in its body to identify themselves and their cult. Curiously Indian Christianity has never referenced or employed a fish symbol in its religious culture. This is because there were no Christians in India before the fourth century. The cross and Bible were brought later by Syrian Christian refugees after the fourth century.

We wish to assure Fr. Francis and the Christian congregations that he has deceived, that Hindus are not going to demand the return of temple property the Church has forcefully taken from them over the centuries. But we do feel an apology for past crimes is in order and that some restraint is observed when perpetuating the communally-charged St. Thomas tale among the faithful—especially as Thomas’s persecution and death are falsely attributed to a Hindu king and his Brahmin priests. Arun Shourie has stated that the apology should include the following items:

  • An honest accounting of the calumnies which the Church has heaped on India and Hinduism; informing Indian Christians and non-Christians about the findings of Bible scholarship [including the St Thomas legend];
  • informing them about the impact of scientific progress on Church doctrine;
  • acceptance that reality is multi-layered and that there are many ways of perceiving it;
  • bringing the zeal for conversion in line with the recent declarations that salvation is possible through other religions as well.

Besides this apology, we feel the Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore may donate a piece of the vast estate Bishop’s House stands on for a memorial to the courageous Hindus who resisted the Portuguese when they with the help of Franciscan, Dominican and Jesuit priests were destroying the Kapaleeswara Shiva Temple by the sea.

The Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, who may be an honest man unlike his predecessors, also must stop perpetuating the claim that Tiruvalluvar was a disciple of Thomas and a Christian convert. Tiruvalluvar lived a hundred years before Christ and anybody who has read the Tirukurral can see that this claim is a malicious falsehood.

The St. Thomas legend is now part of Indian history and Indian history must be told according to the known facts, not according to the fabricated anti-national theories of Indian Jesuits and Marxist historians. Even Pope Benedict has denied that St. Thomas came to South India—never mind that his editors changed his statement the next day to include South India because Kerala’s bishops had threatened secession or worse if the Church did not support their dearly held tale of origins.

Dr Koenraad Elst, educated in Europe’s most prestigious Catholic university at Leuven, Belgium, writes in his foreword to The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple: “It is clear enough that many Christians including the Pope have long given up the belief in Thomas’s Indian exploits, or—like the Church Fathers—never believed in them in the first place. In contrast with European Christians today, Indian Christians live in a 17th century bubble, as if they are too puerile to stand in the daylight of solid historical fact. They remain in a twilight of legend and lies, at the command of ambitious “medieval” bishops who mislead them with the St. Thomas in India fable for purely selfish reasons.”

What a sad observation on Indian Christians who have access to the best education and health care in the country. And what a shrewd observation on Indian bishops who are probably the most wealthy, corrupt, and politically astute caste living in India today.

› Francis Gonsalves teaches systematic theology  at Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune.

› Ishwar Sharan is the author of The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, Voice of India, New Delhi.


1. India’s political leaders are fond of telling their constituents and the nation that Christianity arrived in India before it arrived in Europe. This historical conceit is not true. Apostle Paul says in Romans 15:24 & 15:28 that he plans to visit Spain (which already had a Christian community). In Acts 19:21 he travels from Ephesus to Greece—Macedonia and Achaia—en route to Jerusalem, and then on to Rome. This took place in the 40s CE—some historians say he was writing after 44 CE. So even if it was true that Apostle Thomas landed in Kerala in 52 CE—the spurious date is of 19th century origin—Christianity would still have arrived in Europe a decade earlier.

2. Thomas of Cana, also known as Knai Thoma, led the first group of 72 Syrian Christian families to India in 345 CE. There is no record of Christian communities in India prior to this date. Thomas of Cana and his companion Bishop Joseph of Edessa also brought with them the tradition of St. Thomas the Apostle of the East. Later, Christian communities in Kerala would identify Knai Thoma with Mar Thoma—Thomas of Cana with Thomas the Apostle—and claim St. Thomas had arrived in Kerala in AD 52 and established the first Christian church at Musiris—the ancient port near present day Kodungallur—the main trading center of the day.

The Rev Dr G. Milne Rae of the Madras Christian College, in The Syrian Church in India, did not allow that St Thomas came further east than Afghanistan (Gandhara). He told the Syrian Christians that they reasoned fallaciously about their identity and wove a fictitious story of their origin. Their claim that they were called “St Thomas” Christians from the 1st century was also false.

Syrian Christians were called Nasranis (from Nazarean) or Nestorians (by Europeans) up to the 14th century. Bishop Giovanni dei Marignolli the Franciscan papal legate in Quilon invented the appellation “St Thomas Christians” in 1348 to distinguish his Syrian Christian converts from the low-caste Hindu converts in his congregation.

3. The oriental ubiquity of St. Thomas’s apostolate is explained by the fact that the geographical term “India” included, apart from the subcontinent of this name, the lands washed by the Indian Ocean as far as the China Sea in the east and the Arabian peninsula, Ethiopia, and the African coast in the west.

Ancient writers used the designation “India” for all countries south and east of the Roman Empire’s frontiers. India included Ethiopia, Arabia Felix, Edessa in Syria (in the Latin version of the Syriac Diatessaron), Arachosia and Gandhara (Afghanistan and Pakistan), and many countries up to the China Sea.

In the Acts of Thomas, the original key text to identify St Thomas with India (which all other India references follow), historians agree that the term India refers to Parthia (Persia) and Gandhara (Pakistan). The city of Andrapolis named in the Acts, where Judas Thomas and Abbanes landed in India, has been identified as Sandaruck (one of the ancient Alexandrias) in Balochistan.

4. Marco Polo had written,  “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.”

So Marco’s reference is to a town on the Gulf of Mannar and not to Mylapore at all!


Thomas & Hindu Assassin


St Thomas Tomb, San Tommaso Basilica, Ortona, Italy


The fake tomb of St Thomas in San Thome Cathedral, Mylapore, created by the Portuguese


  • See more photos HERE

 


Koenraad Elst replies to David Green’s blood libel: Thomas the Apostle is murdered in India – Haaretz


“So your source is ‘common Christian tradition’? Fortunately, we are past the stage where we believe a story just because ‘tradition’ says so. Therefore, we don’t believe the blood libel against the Jewish people anymore, even though for centuries it has been supported by ‘common Christian tradition’. Likewise, we don’t believe the blood libel against the ‘priests of Kali’ either.” – Dr Koenraad Elst


Martyrdom of St Thomas by Peter Paul Rubens (1636)


72 CE:  Thomas the Apostle Is Murdered in India – David B. Green

December 21 in the year 72 C.E., is the day of the martyrdom of Thomas the apostle, according to the tradition of a number of Christian churches. Like all of the 12 apostles, or disciples, of Jesus, Thomas was a practicing Jew, and was given the mission by his mentor to spread his teachings, both among the Jews and the Gentiles.

In both the Book of John, one of the Gospels of the New Testament, and in the apocryphal Acts of Thomas, Thomas is described as “Thomas, who is called Didymus,” a redundancy, since “Thomas” comes from the Aramaic word teoma, meaning “twin” (in Hebrew, it’s te’om), for which the word in Greek is didymus.

Priests of Kali

A late tradition sees Thomas as having carried the gospel of Jesus to the Indian subcontinent, first to the north-western kingdom of Gondophorus. Then, according to the third-century Acts of Thomas, in the year 52, the apostle sailed, in the company of a Jewish traveler named Abbanes, to the southern tip of India, to the port of Muziris, present-day Pattanam, in Kerala state.

Kerala was home, even at that time, to a Jewish community. A 17th-century work called Thomma Parvam (Songs of Thomas) says that he converted 40 Jews upon his arrival, along with 3,000 Hindus of Brahmin origin.

Modern historians believe that Christianity actually arrived in India several centuries after the era of the historical Thomas, with the arrival of Christians from Syria and from Persia.

The martyrdom of Thomas, however, took place not on western coast of India, but on the other side of the subcontinent, in the south-eastern city of Mylapore, near latter-day Chennai. There, Thomas came into conflict with the Hindu priests of Kali, who killed him for insulting their deity—or simply for converting many of their followers. (Marco Polo, in the 13th century, heard that Thomas had died, more than a millennium earlier, when an archer out hunting peacocks had accidentally shot him.)

His bones were then brought into the city of Mylapore and buried inside a church he had already built there, where in the 16th century, Portuguese explorers built the San Thome Basilica, which was rebuilt by the British in 1893.

Today, December 21 is still observed as the feast day of St. Thomas in some Protestant churches, and among traditionalist Catholics. In the Roman Catholic Church, however, the feast day was moved, in 1960, to July 3, so as not to interfere with the days leading up to Christmas, on December 25. – Haaretz, 21 December 2015


Koenraad Elst


REjoinder: The confabulated murder of Saint Thomas – Koenraad Elst

So your source is “common Christian tradition”? Fortunately, we are past the stage where we believe a story just because “tradition” says so. Therefore, we don’t believe the blood libel against the Jewish people anymore, even though for centuries it has been supported by “common Christian tradition”. Likewise, we don’t believe the blood libel against the “priests of Kali” either.

Nothing of this legend is proven. The only written source for it is already some 150 years older than this Thomas’s supposed martyrdom: the apocryphal Acts of Thomas. There, he is presented as coming to “India”, then a very large term (when Columbus landed in what he thought was Zipangu/Japan, he called the natives “Indians”, meaning Asians), in a part that was desert-like and where the people had Persian names. This describes Iran or western Pakistan well, but not the lush and rich tropical landscape of South India. When he has committed several crimes against society, the king asks him to leave, and only when he refuses this diplomatic solution does the king have him executed.

I first learned about the hollow, mythical nature of the Saint Thomas story while studying in Leuven Catholic University, from a Jesuit Professor of Comparative Religion, Frank de Graeve. Not exactly a “fanatical Hindu” source. More recently, Pope Benedict XIV publicly declared that St Thomas had come to Western India, and that from there, after an unspecified amount of time, Christianity (not Thomas) reached South India. I am aware that Indian Christians have raised hell against this scholarly assessment, and have pressured the Vatican into removing this statement from its website. But that is not going to alter the verdict of scholarly historiography: there is no evidence at all to support this story.

And when Christians did reach the coastal area of South India, probably as 4th-century refugees from the Persian empire that had turned hostile after the Christianization of its Roman rival, they were welcomed rather more cordially than any treatment given by Christians to Pagans. Far from being “murdered by the priests of Kali”, they were given hospitality and integrated into Hindu society, without any questions asked about the contents of their religion. Hindus have extended their hospitality more recently to Parsis, Armenians and Tibetan Buddhists; and more anciently to the Jews. That glorious record is the target of gross injustice in the fictional story of Saint Thomas.


Haaretz Logo


Nota Bene

Haaretz, headquartered in Tel Aviv, is known for its left-wing and liberal stances on domestic and foreign issues. Among Israel’s daily newspapers it is considered the most influential for both its news coverage and its commentary. The English edition is published and sold together with the International New York Times.

Haaretz did not publish Dr. Elst’s rejoinder of course. Ignoring correction of facts or criticism of content is typical of Leftist newspapers around the world (re The Hindu in India). Ideology always eclipses evidence in the Leftist world. – IS


 

 

ASI doubting Thomases suspend dubious KCHR St. Thomas project – G. Ananthakrishnan


“What has snowballed into a controversy is the open declaration by KCHR director, P. J. Cherian in the official bulletin of the Assyrian Church of the East on March 2011, that Pattanam has been identified as ancient Muziris, where Apostle Thomas landed in India 2000 years back for propagating Christianity, which he claims has been vindicated by the excavations,” said B. S. Harishankar, a research fellow with the Delhi-based India Policy Foundation.


Doubting Thomas with his finger in Jesus's side wound.


The history battle has gone all the way back to St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is believed to have brought Christianity to India and whose scepticism gifted the world the idiom “doubting Thomas”.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided not to extend the permission granted to an excavation project in Kerala to “reinstate the cultural and historical significance of the legendary Muziris port”.

The Muziris port was said to be where St. Thomas arrived in AD 52. But the exact location of the port, which was destroyed in a flood, is a mystery although the general consensus appears to be that it was located somewhere near Kodungalloor in Thrissur, a northern district and cultural capital of Kerala.

Many Christians believe that St. Thomas—who accepted Jesus had risen from the dead only after the lord appeared and invited the apostle to touch him—baptised several Brahmins in Kerala and set up one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict XVI


The arrival of St. Thomas is of extreme significance for Christians since Jesus had only 12 apostles and he was one of them. In 2006, the Vatican had to issue a retraction after the then Pope, Benedict XVI, seemed to suggest St. Thomas had travelled only till western India from where Christianity reached the south.

The Gospel according to John mentions that once a convinced Thomas said “My Lord, My God”, Jesus told him: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed (are) they that have not seen, and (yet) have believed.”

It was those who insist on seeing before believing that some advocates of the project were hoping to convince by coming up with evidence that St. Thomas had indeed set foot on what is now a village called Pattanam (which means town) in Kodungalloor.

“Rules demand that extension beyond five years can be given only after those carrying out the excavation submit reports. In the case of the Muziris project, the digging has been going on for over seven years now, but no report was filed. So no fresh permission can be granted,” ASI joint director R.S. Fonia told The Telegraph over the phone from New Delhi.

Fonia, however, added that the matter could be revisited as and when the reports were filed and reviewed.

The executors of the project, the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), could not be contacted despite repeated attempts to confirm whether they had not filed any report till now.

The denial of an extension would have been treated as a routine bureaucratic decision but for the fact that the Sangh Parivar had long been opposing the project on the ground that its intention was to “legitimise the yet unproven story” of the arrival of St. Thomas in Kodungalloor in AD 52.

That the Kerala historical council was an autonomous body floated by an erstwhile government of the CPM-led Left Front has ensured that the matter has the essential ingredients for a controversy in the highly politicised state.


K. N. Panikkar


The council is headed by historian K. N. Panikkar, a regular target of the Sangh Parivar for his Left-leaning views and vocal stand against the so-called “nationalist” history. Some members of the council are viewed by the Sangh outfits as “pro-Church”.

“What has snowballed into a controversy is the open declaration by KCHR director, P. J. Cherian in the official bulletin of the Assyrian Church of the East on March 2011, that Pattanam has been identified as ancient Muziris, where Apostle Thomas landed in India 2000 years back for propagating Christianity, which he claims has been vindicated by the excavations,” said B. S. Harishankar, a research fellow with the Delhi-based India Policy Foundation.

Cherian could not be contacted for comment.

While the Bharateeya Vichara Kendram, a Sangh affiliate, smelt in the excavation project a “conspiracy to manufacture history”, a “Marxian historian” had felt that the site was unfit for archaeological excavation because of construction and digging of wells.


M. A. Baby


But CPM politburo member M. A. Baby, who was the culture minister when the council took up the project, said: “Although there is no conclusive evidence, it is widely believed that apostle St Thomas came to Kodungalloor and through him Christianity reached Kerala even before it reached Europe.

“On the one hand, the BJP government is trying to establish fairy tales as history while on the other, it is trying to shut down genuine research in history. The agenda is very clear. Now, if the ASI says it can’t be continued, it is unscientific and against the science of history.”

That the CPM, traditionally considered an adversary of the Church, is supporting such a project speaks volumes about the politics of Kerala.

Now in the Opposition, the CPM is fearing an erosion of its Hindu support base towards the BJP, considered a rising force in a state where it has not made much headway till now. Against such a backdrop, it does not make sense for the CPM to antagonise Christians.

Such tilts and counter-tilts are common in Kerala. In 2001, the historical council that was later entrusted with the Muziris excavation was dissolved by a government headed by the Congress.

The chief minister then was A. K. Antony named after a Catholic saint, and the Congress was then supposed to have been courting Hindus. But a court reinstated the council. – The Telegraph, 1 October 2015


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


 

KCHR’s Muziris Project: Digging for the bones of St. Thomas – B.S. Harishankar

Organisations which have come out openly against the Kerala Council for Historical Research and its Muziris Project have alleged that “these same historians who had earlier rebuffed Ramayana and Sri Ram as fictitious and fabricated are now digging for the bones of Apostle Thomas.” – B.S. Harishankar

 


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


What took place in November 2011 was neither a debate nor a discord. The venue was Thiruvananthapuram, at the Joint Annual Conference of Indian Archaeological Society (ACIAS), Indian Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies (ISPQS), and Indian History and Culture Society (IHCS). Strongly criticising the archaeological excavations at Pattanam site in Kerala and the rambling hotchpotch of cultural remains without periodisation especially pottery, veteran archaeologist and former director of Archaeology and Museums, Karnataka, A. Sundara’s strong criticism came after the Kerala Council for Historical Research (henceforth KCHR) director presented his paper on Pattanam excavations. Professor Sundara is one of the most reputed archaeologists in India known for his objective outlooks and unbiased conclusions for which he was honoured at the meet. Earlier, Professor Sundara was also one of the well wishers of Pattanam excavations in the Pattanam Archaeological Research (PAR) brochure published by the KCHR in March-April 2008. His censuring of Pattanam excavations although came as a surprise, was not an isolated incident. Much more censorious on Pattanam was Professor M.G.S. Narayanan, eminent historian and former director of ICHR. In an earlier seminar held at Kochi in August 2011, Dr R. Nagaswamy, former Director of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu criticised the KCHR for its biased approach and hasty conclusions to establish some hidden agenda at Pattanam. Dr. T. Satyamurthy, former Director, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was equally critical of the excavations and cautioned KCHR authorities against any hasty conclusions. Pattanam excavations form part of the Muziris Heritage Project (MHP) launched by the KCHR and headed by chairman Dr. K.N. Panikkar, former professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and director Dr. P.J. Cherian, a modern historian who heads archaeological excavations. In a write up for Malayalam journal Mathrubhumi in 2014, Professor P.M. Rajan Gurukkal, historian and one of the members of the MHP arguing for Pattanam also admitted that the site was unfit for any archaeological excavation as the soil has been virtually tampered for various construction purposes and digging of wells leaving no space for stratigraphical analysis of the cultural remains which have agglomerated. Surprisingly until now, no historian or archaeologist or any professional body such as the ASI has come forward in defence of the KCHR or Pattanam. Even Professor Romila Thapar, one of the patrons of the MHP is virtually silent.


K. N. Panikkar


The site of Pattanam is located near Parur in Ernakulam District of Kerala. It was declared by the KCHR Muziris Heritage Project (MHP) that the aim of the MHP was to excavate and discover the lost settlement of Muziris, the ancient Chera capital on the Periyar River basin and hence named MHP. The geomorphology of Kodungallur, considered ancient Muziris, was examined by geologists K.K. Nair and C.S. Subrahmanyam in 1993 in the archaeological context, which revealed that the area has been completely disturbed and the habitation material deeply buried due to tectonic changes. The Malabar Coast has both submergent and emergent characteristics. The Periyar River which drains the region has a long history of frequent floods due to heavy monsoons.

In the beginning, the excavations at Pattanam sailed smoothly. But controversies started after the excavators claimed that an ancient township at the cusp of first century BC and first century AD was unearthed at Pattanam archaeological site. Claims on the discovery of urban architectural remains at Pattanam were made by the excavator in various published papers and reports such as The Living Dead and the Lost Knowledge—2007 and 2008 published by Department of Culture, Government of Kerala, Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology 2009-2010 and in the paper presented at ACIAS on November, 2011 at Thiruvananthapuram. It was declared by the KCHR director who is also the excavator that, Pattanam revealed interesting “early historic urban architectural features”.

The excavator claimed that the “urban, multicultural and maritime features are principal attributes” of Pattanam site. It was further asserted by the KCHR that the brick house comparable to a warehouse exposed near the wharf in trench PTO7 III included a platform (006) with postholes (67 in number) and brick walls belonging to at least three different phases. It was stated that the post holes do not show any particular pattern and were dug at various periods indicating repeated use for a long duration.

In the Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology 2009-2010, the excavator claimed the presence of ancient civilisations at Pattanam. He also claimed Pattanam as an advanced metal working and stone cutting site with metal objects and lapidaries. Recently, the botanical remains claimed to have been unearthed from Pattanam were handed over to Spices Board in Kerala, a marketing and research institute for spices for palaeobotanical studies. Carbon 14 dating of remains from Pattanam are conducted by Georgia University. The ASI has been kept away and excavations are coordinated by foreign universities. Later, the director of KCHR Dr. P.J. Cherian admitted in The Hindu dated June 12 in 2011, Thiruvananthapuram edition that, “curiously, while large collections of artifacts were found, no remnants of major structures were discovered at the site”. In the KCHR Annual Report 2009-2010 there is neither reference to such urban architectural remains or photographs of trenches. Those who visited the site were unable to see any urban architectural remains.

In the KCHR brochure published in February 2008 on MHP and Pattanam excavations, chairman of KCHR, Professor K.N. Panikkar stated in his editorial note that archaeological and historical research are not solely meant for experts and professionals in the field. Everyone with thinking power should handle it. Later elaborating further, in an interview given to Frontline dated April 2010, Panikkar made his stand much clearer. He suggested public participation in archaeological excavations at Pattanam—which he termed “democratic archaeology”—in which the local people would be part of the excavation. In other words archaeologists and ASI need not interfere in excavations since guidelines and diggings shall be by “people’s democracy”. Keeping archaeologists at bay was a necessity for KCHR since expertise observations and remarks can lead to serious implications for Pattanam. Beyond all such serious lapses and incredible turnovers at Pattanam, what has raised eyebrows is the interference of JNU historians who were hastily propagating for Pattanam excavations to obtain it credibility in the academic world. Professor Kumkum Roy of JNU, in her Historical Dictionary of Ancient India published in 2009 has highlighted Pattanam stating that it has now been identified with ancient Muziris. Similarly Professor Ranabir Chakravarti of the JNU in his work, Exploring Early India published in 2010, brings Pattanam into focus. Roman amphorae from Pattanam are exhibited as evidence of Mediterranean trade. It is not a new discovery. There are a number of other sites in India which have provided remains of Roman amphorae. But here the intention raised suspicions due to later events.


P. J. Cherian (L)


What has now snowballed into a major controversy is the open declaration by KCHR director, Dr Cherian in the official bulletin of the Assyrian Church of the East on March 2011, that Pattanam has been identified as ancient Muziris, where Apostle Thomas landed in India 2000 years back for propagating Christianity, which he claims has been vindicated by the excavations. In 2011 July, he presented a paper on Pattanam archaeology at a seminar organised by Syro-Malabar Church in Mumbai. A major paper on St. Thomas tradition in southwest coastal region in India was presented by Dr Pius Malekkandathil, who is a reader at JNU. Earlier at Kakkanad near Kochi in 2005, Dr Pius Malekandathil presented his paper organised by the Liturgical Research Centre of the Syro-Malabar Church on the tradition of Apostle Thomas. Romila Thapar has put forward the arrival of Apostle Thomas as an outcome of Mediterranean trade links of India in her work—The Penguin History of Early India—published in 2002. In 2006, Professor Kumkum Roy was advisor to NCERT Textbook Development Committee along with chief advisor, Professor Neeladri Bhattacharya both from JNU.


Romila thapar


In the history textbook on social science for Class VI, they have included Muziris in the map of important trade routes without mentioning Pattanam and linking it with arrival of first Christian preachers in India.

Ranabir Chakravarti of JNU is one of the members of the NCERT Textbook Development Committee. Assertive claims by KCHR authorities in establishing historicity of Apostle Thomas has been supported by the stand of Utio Rai Chaudhary and Furley Richmond, academic directors of Georgia University in 2011 December. They stated that researches are being conducted by the Georgia University on links between St. Thomas tradition and Pattanam. Interestingly this university has undertaken Carbon 14 dating of the Pattanam site. Historian Istvan Perczel from Central European University, Hungary was invited in February 2008, for delivering a lecture by KCHR chairman Professor K.N. Panikkar former JNU luminary and the KCHR director on the topic—History of Kerala Christianity.

The February 2004 issue of Economic and Political Weekly has published an article on KCHR Family Archives Project by K. George Verghese. He has alleged that the KCHR Family Archives Project is virtually filled with histories of Syrian Christian families all highlighting arrival of Apostle Thomas at Muziris. The family history archives project was implemented prior to Pattanam excavations to provide a link.

With the Pattanam excavations thus taking a serious turn, Delhi based Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) which had earlier attacked former ICHR chairman, Professor M.G.S. Narayanan in 2001 for raising serious allegations against the KCHR has virtually gone underground. Organisations which have currently come open against the KCHR and its Muziris Heritage Project have alleged that “these same historians who had earlier rebuffed Ramayana and Sri Ram as fictitious and fabricated are now digging for the bones of Apostle Thomas”.Organiser, 10 January 2015

› B.S. Harishankar is an author and senior archaeological researcher.


Ancient silk road route and water route to India from Rome


National Shame: President Mukherjee repeats the St. Thomas in India tale to Santa Claus – Rajat Pandit


“We, in India, also celebrate Christmas in quite a big way. Christianity was brought to India by Saint Thomas, the Apostle himself, in the year 52 AD. Thus, the faith was embraced by the people of India well before many European nations. Today, the number of Christians in India is about 24 million.” – President Pranab Mukherjee to Santa Claus in Finland


Pranab Mukherjee & Santa Claus


When President Pranab Mukherjee crossed the famed Arctic Circle on Thursday evening, becoming the first Indian head of state to do so, there was somebody even more famous eagerly awaiting to greet him with an unmistakable “Ho, ho, ho” deep-throated laugh.

A chubby and merry white-bearded man, clad in a red coat trimmed with white, surrounded with mischievous-looking elves, reindeers with huge antlers and, of course, “Jingle Bells” playing softly in the background.

Yes, Mukherjee also became the first Indian President to meet and greet the “original” Santa Claus in his “official home” on the Arctic Circle. Accompanied by daughter Sharmistha and his official delegation, Mukherjee crossed the Arctic Circle line on foot to enter Santa’s abode around 8 km north of Rovaniemi, which is the capital of Finland’s northernmost province Lapland and a huge tourist attraction for both wonder-struck children and their parents around the globe.

And as one would expect, out came the gifts even if Christmas was still far away, and the snow had barely begun to fall. Mukherjee surprised the gregarious Santa by presenting him with a marble Indian elephant. “Usually, I give presents. You have made my day,” said a beaming Santa.


Pranab Mukherjee


Then, it was time for photographs with Santa. A smiling President and his visibly excited daughter sat on either side of Santa, who asked them if they would mind if he put his arms around them, and then did exactly that. “Namaste, give my love to the people of India,” said Santa.

Then, it was a free-for-all with the dozens of politicians, diplomats and bureaucrats in Mukherjee’s entourage scrambling to get pictures clicked with Santa like awestruck children. “He was humming Christmas carols quite well,” said BJP MP Babul Supriyo, himself a popular singer.

Mukherjee also took a stroll of Santa’s village, including the main post office that receives millions of letters from children around the globe, including from India. Mukherjee told Rovaniemi mayor Esko Lotvonen that it was “a memorable occasion” to be at the Arctic Circle — in the land of Santa Claus, so near to the North Pole.

“I had the privilege of meeting Santa Claus himself and confirming that he does exist! The people of Rovaniemi are fortunate to have the opportunity to live and work with him. It must feel like Christmas all the year through,” said Mukherjee.

“We, in India, also celebrate Christmas in quite a big way. Christianity was brought to India by Saint Thomas, the Apostle himself, in the year 52AD. Thus, the faith was embraced by the people of India well before many European nations. Today, the number of Christians in India is about 24 million,” he added. – Times of India, 17 October 2014


St Thomas by Georges de la Tour (1625-30)


Ishwar Sharan’s comment 

Contrary to President Mukherjee’s statement, St. Thomas did not come to India nor did Christianity reach India before it reached Europe—it reached Greece, Italy, and Spain in the 40s CE. Nor is it true that “the faith was embraced by the people of India” at any time. Mukherjee is only repeating the popular tale that has been repeated by Indian politicians before him to catch the Christian vote. This is to be expected of a Congress party man who idolises Chairman Deng Xiaoping and spends public money on a state tour to meet Santa Claus in a Finnish amusement park. Will his next official foray abroad be to Disneyland to meet Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?  Are Indians aware that it is just this kind of false and foolish statement by an Indian head of state that makes India a laughing-stock in Europe?