Category Archives: keezhadi

Keezhadi: Digging to create church history – B.S. Harishankar


There are serious allegations that archaeological sites such as Keezhadi are controlled by Church-sponsored NGOs as advocates of Tamil culture, to manipulate cultural remains, embed missionaries such as Apostle Thomas, and  demand  a separate nationhood, including Tamil Nadu, parts of Kerala and Sri Lanka. – Dr. B.S. Harishankar


Kanimozhi & Jegath Gaspar Raj


Clergymen may visit museums and ancient sites. But when they are accompanied by a lawyer-turned-politician, it raises curiosity. “On September 24, 2016, Father Jegath Gaspar Raj, founder of an organization called “Tamil Maiyam” and who had organised Sangam 4,  a 10-day festival in August 2016 that focused on Madurai’s history, culture and tradition, visited Keezhadi along with Kanimozhi, an advocate. Amarnath Ramakrishna took them around and showed them the trenches” (Keezhadi treasures caught in a swirl, T.S. Subramanian, Frontline, Jan., 20, 2017) .


K. Amarnath Ramakrishna


Fr. Gaspar Raj, Kanimozhi and Keezhadi excavator K. Amarnath Ramakrishna charted out the program. Kanimozhi who is also coordinator of Gaspar Raj’s NGO, Tamil Maiyam, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court with the prayer that the ASI should not be allowed to take the artefacts to Karnataka and that it should not be allowed to close the trenches dug at Keezhadi. In their interim order, the judges restrained the ASI from closing the trenches and shifting the artefacts to any place outside Sivaganga district.

Roman Catholic priest Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj admitted that his association with DMK leader Kanimozhi dates back to more than a decade when he was a non-resident Indian and the DMK was not in power, and asserted that he would not break his ties with her (Tamil Maiyam unfairly targeted: Gaspar, The Hindu, Dec., 16, 2010). India Today reported that DMK patriarch Karunanidhi’s daughter has close ties with Fr. Gaspar Raj. “The controversial Catholic priest had always been under a cloud. Even before teaming up with Kanimozhi, he was accused of being a front for the LTTE’s financial operations. Worse, pro-Tiger websites accuse him of misappropriating LTTE money. With his LTTE connections, Gaspar Raj reportedly acquired skills for money laundering that indeed might have come in handy for the Raja-Rajathi-Kanimozhi trio” (Unmasking of a ‘literary heir’, India Today, Dec., 21, 2010).

Keezhadi’s patriarch, Fr. Gaspar Raj is officially referred in US crime records as “Gaspar Raj Maria Paulian”. Senior national security strategist, Douglas C. Lovelace Jr., Esq., in Terrorism Documents of International and Local Control, Academic, OUP, Vol. 91 (2008) alleged that between 2003 and August 2006, individuals including Gaspar Raj Maria Paulian, Nachimuthu Socrates, Fnu Lnu, and Vijayashanthar Patpanathan were “involved in multiple criminal activities in support of LTTE, a Sri Lankan group designated by the US state department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization”.

Domestic Security and Intelligence analyst, Siobhan O’Neil, in Terrorist Precursor Crimes: Issues and Options for Congress (2007) pointed out Gaspar Raj’s LTTE connections. Neil stated that Gaspar Raj Maria Paulian along with others such as Nachimuthu Socrates “have conspired to remove LTTE from US state department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list”. Similar charges were made by James J. Tareco, Special Agent of FBI, against Gaspar Raj, Nachimuthu Socrates and others, in 2006, at the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York.

Nachimuthu Socrates, considered close to Gaspar Raj, was arrested on charges of arms dealing for a Sri Lankan separatist group, and bribe agents  (13 Tied To Sri Lankan Separatists Are Charged by U.S. With Aiding Terrorists, The New York Times, Aug., 22, 2006). On Sep. 9, 2013, senior Rajya Sabha MP, Dr. Subramanian Swamy, tweeted that, “FBI wants India to hand over Reverend Gaspar Raj, a LTTE agent in arms smuggling. But he is a friend of PC, BC and TDK. Hence protected”.

Gaspar Raj keeps close ties with Keezhadi excavator K. Amarnath Ramakrishna. This archaeological-criminal nexus with separatists abroad, unheard of in the history of Indian archaeology, needs investigation by central government agencies.

Gaspar Raj was also actively associated with S.P. Udayakumar, Coordinator of the People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), who led protests against the commissioning of the Indo-Russian Nuclear Power Plant at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu (Kudankulam protesters disallow PM Manmohan Singh’s envoy to speak, The Economic Times, Sept. 21., 2011).

In the mid-nineties, Gaspar Raj joined Radio Veritas Asia, based in The Philippines, run by Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC), as director of its Tamil service. Later, in 2002, he founded Tamil Maiyam, with Kanimozhi as coordinator. The Board of Trustees includes Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj, Fr. Lourdu Anandam, Fr. Vincent Chinnadurai, Kanimozhi, Jerard, Joseph Enok, Akhila Srinivasan, K. Pandia Rajan, Latha Pandiarajan and Arun Veerappan.

In 2010, the CBI raided Karunanidhi and his family in connection with the 2G Scam. The media reported that, “the  biggest, most prominent raid in Chennai could very well be that of Father Jegath Gaspar Raj, a Catholic priest and the head of the NGO, Tamil Maiyam, on whose board both he and Kanimozhi officiate. A source said the CBI questioned Gaspar Raj on the source of the NGO’S funding and its income” (2G Scam: CBI raids rattle Karuna family, India Today, Dec., 16, 2010).

The Madras High Court on January 7, 2011, directed that no advertisement issued by the government for popularising Chennai Sangamam should carry the name of NGO Tamil Maiyam, which was raided by CBI. Later, the High Court issued a contempt notice to Tamil Nadu Tourism Secretary for including the name of Tamil Maiyam in advertisements for a government-sponsored cultural event (HC contempt notice over Chennai Sangamam, The New Indian Express, Jan., 24, 2011).

Keezhadi excavator K. Amarnath Ramakrishna’s links with Jasper Raj cannot be overlooked. The enthusiasm shown by Amarnath Ramakrishna in supporting Gaspar Raj and Kanimozhi for filing a PIL to keep excavated artefacts at Keezhadi has to be understood. In 2016, when the ASI began a probe into alleged unscientific approaches adopted by the KCHR at Pattanam, Amarnath Ramakrishna was superintendent archaeologist of ASI, Bengaluru circle (ASI probe into KCHR’s ‘Pattanam excavations’, Business Standard, Jan. 5, 2016). His findings are not known, but Amarnath Ramakrishna later took up the Keezhadi excavations. Possibly, he prepared a report favourable for Left and Church historians to prove the historicity of Apostle Thomas.


Dr. P.J. Cherian (left) makes Pattanam the landing spot of St. Thomas.


Zealous efforts are on to make Pattanam a satellite site of Keezhadi. R. Sivanantham, deputy director, Tamil Nadu state department of archaeology, officially facilitated a lecture on Pattanam by its excavator, P.J. Cherian at Chennai. Cherian claimed that the excavated material from Pattanam and Keezhadi are similar and hence there is a brotherhood (Pattanam, Keezhadi excavated materials similar, says expert, Deccan Chronicle, Oct. 31, 2018).

NGOs in Tamil Nadu have direct access to excavated artefacts. P.J. Cherian runs an NGO named PAMA, and through its new project, “Rediscovering the ancient sites in Tamilakam”, he links Pattanam, Keezhadi and Kodumanal sites in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He claims he “had an on-hand documentation of excavated materials from many archaeological sites under the custody of Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department” (Do ancient Tamilakam sites deserve rediscovery, The Times of India, Nov 30, 2018). Gaspar Raj’s NGO, Tamil Maiyam, which includes Catholic priests such as Lourdu Anandam and Vincent Chinnadurai, filed a PIL demanding that the Keezhadi artefacts should not be transferred to Karnataka for study. Such demands show that these NGOs have, or find ways to have direct access to excavated artefacts from these sites to manipulate them conveniently to determine the past.

NGOs operating out of Tamil Nadu received the maximum foreign funding of about Rs.547 crore in 2013-14, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (T.N. NGOs received maximum foreign funds in 2013-14’, The Hindu, Nov., 26, 2014). Mathew Cherian, Chairperson of Voluntary Action Network India says southern states top in foreign funding due to presence of Christian organizations (Foreign funds pour in; 3,000 NGO’s get over Rs. 22,000 cr., The Hindu, Aug. 3, 2016). NGOs in Tamil Nadu got significant percentage of funding, with maximum of 33% flowing in from USA (Rajnath Singh launches online tool to monitor foreign-funded NGOs, The Economic Times, Jan. 2, 2018).

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court permitted the ASI on November 24, 2016 to shift the finds at Keezhadi to its chemistry branch headquarters in Dehradun or any other laboratory in the country. The judges based their decision on ASI Director General Rakesh Tewari’s submission that “all the required examination of the excavated materials cannot be carried out” at the ASI’s chemistry laboratory in Chennai because it “is not equipped with the necessary and advanced facilities for proper examination and analysis of the artefacts” (More excavation only after report, Frontline, Jan., 20, 2017).

The delay in submitting reports to ASI on Keezhadi excavations by Amarnath Ramakrishna obstructed granting of excavation license and funds for third field season, a fact concealed by the excavator and NGOs. Asked in 2017 whether the ASI would give Amarnath Ramakrishna the license to excavate for the third field season, the director general said: “The license for the third year will be given after the completion of the documentation of the excavation and the artefacts found during the first two years. Otherwise, the report never comes (More excavation only after report, Frontline, Jan. 20, 2017).

Later, ASI Director General Rakesh Tewari clarified that Keezhadi excavator Amarnath Ramakrishna had submitted only “brief” and “sketchy” reports about the first two years. Permission would be given to him after he wrote “a detailed report” (Keezhadi dig to continue, Frontline, March 17, 2017).

Controversies started after Amarnath Ramakrishna was transferred to Guwahati circle of ASI.  The Left parties, grateful to Amarnath Ramakrishna for salvaging the scandalous Pattanam excavations in Kerala, protested (CPI-M flays Centre’s direction on Keezhadi excavations, The Hindu, Oct. 6, 2018).

In April 2018, the Federation of Tamil Sangams in North America (FeTNA) invited Amarnath Ramakrishna to deliver a lecture on the Keezhadi excavations. The ASI denied him permission to participate as guest of honour at this event, possibly because FeTNA publicly supported the cause of ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils in the Sri Lankan civil war. Commenting on Tamil groups in Sri Lanka, Gaspar Raj unambiguously stated in an interview that, “We had a homeland and we have a homeland, and we will have the right for a homeland, since we have our own history, language, culture and way of living, and hence have the right to self-determination” (Tamil Eelam not a lost cause: Fr. Jegath Gaspar, TamilNet, Nov. 3, 2009). FeTNA has honoured Gaspar Raj for christianising Tamil culture.

The tenth World Tamil Conference, mainly sponsored by FeTNA, was held in July 2019 at Chicago. Its central theme was “Keezhadi nam Thai madi” (On our Tamil mother’s lap—Keezhadi excavation), dedicated to Tamil scholar Rev. G.U. Pope on his 200th birth anniversary (10th edition of World Tamil Conference in Chicago from July 4, The New Indian Express, June 26, 2019). Bishop Robert Caldwell launched the Dravidian ideology in Tamil Nadu. Caldwell was assisted in his Dravidian studies by an array of missionaries such as G.U. Pope, J. Brigel, J. Clay, J. Dawson, E. Diez, F. Kittel, F. Metz, A. Graeter, C. Graul, and H. Gundert.


Fr. Lawrence Raj

Thomas & Hindu Assassin


Along with Keezhadi excavations, zealous attempts to historicize Apostle Thomas gain momentum. Catholic priest P.J. Lawrence Raj informed bishops of the Catholic world: “It is believed that the apostle Thomas was murdered by a group of Hindus who did not fancy his proselytizing” and Gaspar Raj made efforts to re-establish St. Thomas in the mainstream narrative of Chennai’s Roman Catholic world (An apostle returns: Bringing St. Thomas back to ChennaiThe Hindu, Oct. 27, 2018).

There are serious allegations that archaeological sites such as Keezhadi are controlled by Church sponsored NGOs as advocates of Tamil culture, to manipulate cultural remains, embed missionaries such as Apostle Thomas, and  demand  a separate nationhood, including Tamil Nadu, parts of Kerala and Sri Lanka.

Lionel Caplan (1987) and Susan Bayly (1994) have pointed out growing Christian fundamentalism in Tamil Nadu. Prof. Pradip Ninan Thomas of the School of Journalism and Communication, University of Queensland, Australia, cautioned mainland churches in Tamil Nadu monopolized by Christian fundamentalist groups, about their zealous anti-Hindu propaganda. Thomas said conservative sects based in the US back the neo-Christian groups in India and their activities inflame sectarian tension (Mainline Churches Must Address Christian Fundamentalism, Says Scholar, Ucanews, Aug. 14, 2008). In his book, Strong Religion, Zealous Media: Christian Fundamentalism and Communication, Pradip Ninan Thomas discusses the close ties between Dravidian politics and ideology with Christian fundamentalism in Tamil Nadu.

Can the Indian academic community accept the excavation reports and recordings at Keezhadi, monopolized by Gaspar Raj and foreign-funded NGOs? There is no credible evidence that the cultural material from Keezhadi has not been adulterated and manipulated to raise dubious claims for secessionism. – Vijayvaani, 5 October 2019

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


Sri Lankan Catholic priests supporting LTTE leader Prabhakaran


 

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.


Archaeology: Sectarian and divisive politics in Tamil Nadu – G. Sreedathan 


There are serious allegations that the linking of Tamil Nadu archaeological sites with Pattanam is designed to provide a Dravidian Christian identity for Southern India and help the Church raise political claims. The Left historians have always been the aggressive promoters of the Aryan-Dravidian binary. They propagated the theory of British linguists Francis Ellis and Alexander Campbell that South Indian languages fell into a different category far removed from the Aryan languages. – G. Sreedathan


Thomas Cross & Sickle


Archaeology as a tool for evangelization and balkanization of India

In an interview to Malayalam weekly Madhyamam on October 15, 2018, Prof. Vasanth Shinde, veteran archaeologist and Vice Chancellor of Deccan College, Pune, premier institution of archaeological research in India, has dismissed excavations carried out at Pattanam in Kerala by Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR) as “dubious”. He completely rejected the claims made by the excavators—some of them lacked professional or academic expertise to carry out such an excavation. He was not alone. Eminent historians and archeologists such as Prof Dilip Chakrabarti, A. Sundara, M.G.S. Narayanan, R. Nagaswamy and T. Satyamurti have also severely criticized the excavation sponsored and launched by the Left political parties and supported by dubious foreign Christian organisations.

Experts pointed out that the methodology used was dubious and reports false. Its links with questionable Church organizations in India and abroad and funding thereof had raised many eyebrows in the academic circles. Istvan Perczel from Hungary, one of the patrons of Pattanam, lauded it as the site where Apostle Thomas landed in India and established Indian 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 Liturgical Research Centre of the Syro-Malabar Church organized national seminars in 2005 at Kochi, and in 2011 at Kalyan in Mumbai, for corroborating Pattanam and Christianity.  Federico de Romanis, Biblical scholar from University of Rome was invited in 2009 by KCHR to conduct classes in Latin and Greece. Dr. N.M. Mathew, member of KCHR, is also historian of the Malankara Marthoma Church.

The Ministry of Home Affairs identified the unbridled foreign funds received by KCHR and cancelled its license under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010. The KCHR was accused of creating fake government documents, illegal appointments and financial irregularities running into 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 (see “Rampant irregularities detected at KCHR“).


K. Rajan


Prof. K. Rajan of Pondicherry University enters the scene

Of late, one of the foremost propagandists of Pattanam is Prof. K. Rajan of Pondicherry University who is currently member of the KCHR administration. Prof. Rajan and Cherian jointly promote Pattanam. They link Pattanam with Kodumanal, Thandikudi, Porunthal Keezhadi and other archaeological sites in Tamil Nadu.  When Rajan ignores serious allegations on duplicity on Pattanam and its Biblical agenda by eminent scholarship, it also raises serious doubts on sites in Tamil Nadu which he excavated and constantly associates Pattanam. R. Sivanantham, deputy director, Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology, officially arranged  a lecture on Pattanam by Cherian on October 30, 2018. The programme was chaired by T. Udhayachandran, Commissioner, Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu. The programme has been severely criticized by archaeologists.

Archaeological Survey of India conducted an inquiry into dubious methodologies adopted by the KCHR at Pattanam which was taken up by  Amarnath Ramakrishna, the then superintendent archaeologist of the ASI, Bengaluru centre. His investigation has been suppressed, but later Amarnath Ramakrishna also took up the Keezhadi excavation. The CPI(M) which launched Pattanam has openly supported Amarnath Ramakrishna who supervised Keezhadi which shows the notorious nexus between Church and Left historians. It is alleged that Amarnath submitted a favourable report for Pattanam excavations.

The carbon dating conducted at Pattanam, Keezhadi and Palani by Cherian, K. Rajan and Amarnath Ramakrishna has been done by Beta Analytic Inc., Florida, USA which has raised eyebrows. These sites have been presently interlinked by these excavators. Archeologists say that the interlinking of Keezhadi and Pattanam sites has “strong undercurrents of secessionism”.

Marxists and their missionary position

There are serious allegations that the linking of these Tamil Nadu sites with Pattanam is designed to provide a Dravidian Christian identity for Southern India and help the Church raise political claims. The Left historians have always been the aggressive promoters of the Aryan-Dravidian binary. They propagated the theory of British linguists Francis Ellis and Alexander Campbell that South Indian languages fell into a different category far removed from the Aryan languages.

Brian Houghton Hodgson promoted the term “Tamulian” as a racial construct, describing the so-called aborigines of India as primitive and uncivilized compared to the invading Aryans. Bishop Robert Caldwell launched the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu, carried forward by Bishop G.U. Pope,” says Dr. B.S. Harishankar in his article “Keezadi and Pattanam: Global plot to break India”

A few years ago, a prominent western evangelical portal carried an article which said how archeology can be an effective tool in evangelization. When the British set up the Archaeological Survey of India, they too had similar motives. Author and archaeologist Michel Danino, in an article, Digging into the Human Mindwrites the motives of Alexander Cunningham, the first director-general of ASI, “were not wholly disinterested”. Cunningham hoped to “show that Brahminism … was of comparatively modern origin, and had been constantly receiving additions and alterations; facts which prove that the establishment of the Christian religion in India must ultimately succeed” (Muziris: Attimariyude Reethisasthram). – Indus Scrolls, 2018 


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


P.J. Cherian's CV : No equipped for archaeological studies! AG's report on Cherian's foreign tour conducted without government approval.AG's report on misappropriated funds


 

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


Read more at: