Category Archives: kerala

Caste system deep-rooted among Christians in India – T.A. Ameerudheen


“Boby Thomas, author of the Malayalam book, A Handbook for Christianity, agreed that caste discrimination was rampant among Christians in the state. ‘Christians in Kerala always pretended to be from the upper castes,’ he said. ‘That is why the Church [clergy] and laity take pride in their mythical Brahminical roots.’” – T.A. Ameerudheen


St. Thomas idol in San Thome Cathedral Basilica, Chennai.


Mor Coorilose with Children


A senior priest from Kerala’s Jacobite Syrian Christian Church recently put the spotlight on the fact that some Christians in the state practice the caste system, when he announced that he would henceforth stay away from traditional family gatherings organised by members of the Church.

In Kerala, some financially sound Syrian Christian families organise annual family meetings, which are attended by prominent priests. The bishop of Niranam Diocese, Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, said that these meetings were organised to “proclaim the artificially cultivated upper-caste identity and lineage” and he would not like to be part of this tradition any more.

On April 9, Mor Coorilos wrote on his Facebook page: “These people believe that their ancestors were Brahmins converted by St. Thomas. They even publish family history books during the get-together. Such baseless upper-caste myths have to be busted. I had attended such events in the past, but not anymore.”

Syrian Christians are one of the world’s oldest Christian communities and trace their origin to St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ. It is believed that St. Thomas visited Kerala during the 1st century CE, and converted members of Brahmin families to Christianity. The Jacobite Church is one of the state’s four main Syrian Christian Churches, with the others being being the Syrian Catholic, Orthodox and Marthoma denominations.

Mor Coorilos’s comments also revived a long-running debate—whether St. Thomas did indeed come to South India himself. Syrian Christians believe that he did, and that they originated from his efforts at evangelism.


Divided Christian Burial Gound: Dalits to the left, caste Christians to the right.


Caste oppression and Christianity

Scholars say that the tendency of some Christians to hark back to their Brahminical lineage indicates that Christianity is not free from the blight of caste.[1] As evidence, they point to the plight of those Dalits who converted to Christianity from Hinduism to escape caste oppression, only to find that things were much the same on the other side.[2]

Caste oppression among Christians in Kerala has led to the formation of many churches meant exclusively for Dalits, said historian Dr Sanal Mohan, visiting fellow in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge.

A prominent Dalit church is the Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha, commonly known as PRDS, founded in 1909 by the Dalit activist and poet Poikayil Yohannan. “PRDS was an early movement against caste oppression,” said Mohan. “The World Evangelical Mission, CMS Anglican Church, Salvation Army are some of the exclusive Dalit churches formed later.”


George Cardinal Alencherry


Mohan said neither the Church nor its members have addressed the problem of caste among Christians in India. He pointed to a casteist taunt made by independent MLA P.C. George in March against a Dalit Catholic priest who took a stand against George Alencherry, cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Church, in a row over the controversial sale of church land in Kochi. George, who represents the Christian-dominated Assembly constituency of Poonjar in Idukki district, had called the priest an illegitimate son of a Pulaya (a Dalit community) woman who could not be called a Catholic. “It [the comments] showed the mentality of upper-caste Christians in Kerala,” said Mohan. “What shocked more was that the taunt did not elicit angry reactions from Dalit priests.”

Boby Thomas, author of the Malayalam book, A Handbook for Christianity, agreed that caste discrimination was rampant among Christians in the state. “Christians in Kerala always pretended to be from the upper castes,” he said. “That is why the Church [clergy] and laity take pride in their mythical Brahminical roots.”

Dalit Christians demonstrate against caste discrimination in the Church

Dalit Christians in Tamil Nadu

It is not just Kerala. The plight of Dalit Christians in neighbouring Tamil Nadu is similar, if not worse.

Earlier this month, the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front published a damning report that exposed discrimination by Christians against their Dalit brethren in the state.

The report said that the practice of caste is prevalent in the formation of parishes (an administrative district headed by a parish priest) and seen in the construction of separate chapels in the same village for Dalits and other caste Christians. Discrimination is also evident in the denial of opportunities for Dalit Christians in the parish administration, as well as in jobs and the priesthood.

Antonysami Marx, a Dalit activist and writer, said the Church could not find a solution to the caste issue. “Dalit Christians have been facing discrimination at the hands of rich Christians from mainly Vanniayar and Nadar communities [in Tamil Nadu],” he said.

According to the 2011 census, Christians form 6.1% of Tamil Nadu’s population. In absolute numbers, Christians are a 44 lakh-member strong community in the state. “Dalits constitute 70% of the Christians in the state,” said Marx. “They converted from Hinduism to escape the clutches of caste, but ended up being in the same situation.”

Marx said Dalit Christian students were also denied admissions in schools and colleges run by the Church. “Untouchability and social boycott are prevalent here,” he said. “The church has even allotted separate graveyards for Dalits.”

He said the Church was reluctant to address the caste issue. “They say that there is no caste in Christianity, and they are turning a blind eye to the situation in Tamil Nadu.”[3]


Dr M.S.G. Narayanan


Reviving a long-running debate

Referring to the debate that the bishop’s comments sparked about whether St Thomas had indeed come to South India, historian M.G.S. Narayanan, who has done extensive research on the subject, said Brahmins were not present in Kerala during the first century, when St. Thomas was believed to have arrived. “There is no historical evidence to suggest that St. Thomas came to Kerala during that time [either],” said Narayanan.

This is a point that Boby Thomas also makes. “Brahmins began to migrate to Kerala between the sixth and eighth centuries and they became a dominant force only between the 10th and 12th centuries,” he said.[4]

Mohan pointed to another common belief that did not stand scrutiny—that St Thomas brought the cross—the best-known symbol of Christianity—to Kerala. “Historical evidence shows us that the Holy Cross was not an object of veneration in the first century,” he said. “Historians might have made these stories from hindsight, but they cannot be accepted unless they are supported by evidence.”[5]

The Syro-Malabar Church, the second largest Eastern Catholic Church in the world, which claims St. Thomas as its founder, distanced itself from Mor Coorilos’s statement and said that historical evidence proved that the apostle had indeed come to Kerala. Senior priest Father Sebastian Vaniyappurackal said in a statement: “The Syro-Malabara Church was founded following the gospels of St. Thomas. Only a few people contest this fact.” The Church was forced to issue this statement after a former spokesperson of the Church, Father Paul Thelakkat, claimed that there was no evidence to prove that St Thomas had visited Kerala.


Prof Susan Viswanathan


Sociologist Susan Viswanathan, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who has written a book titled, The Christians of Kerala, agreed that it was hard to prove conclusively whether St. Thomas visited Kerala. “Whether they were Brahmins or not in the first century is a puzzle as is the question as to St. Thomas coming to Kerala,” she said.

But she also pointed out that St. Thomas Christians—another name for Syrian Christians—have used their upper caste status through history to remain close to power.[6][7][8] “Legends have their own emphases on probability rather than certainty,” she said. “These [Syrian] Christians are patrilocal and patrilineal like the Brahmins they claim descent from.” – Scroll.in, 20 April 2018

References (added by Ishwar Sharan)

1. Bishop Giovanni dei Marignolli, a Franciscan friar from Florence, had baptised some Syrian Christians and lower caste Hindus in the year 1348, in Quilon (Kollam), and built a Roman Catholic church there. Historically, he is the first person on record to use the appellation “St. Thomas Christians”. He did this to distinguish the Syrian Christians in his congregation from the Hindu converts.

2. Far from abolishing caste, the Church allowed caste distinctions to continue within its own structure and functioning. Pope Gregory XV (r. 1621-1623) formally sanctioned caste divisions in the Indian Church. This papal bull confirmed earlier decisions of the local Church hierarchy in 1599 and 1606. These Church edicts have never been rescinded and there are still separate church doors and pews, separate priests, and separate graveyards for lower caste Christians in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

3. There has always been caste-like divisions within Christianity and they originate in the Bible itself. See St. Paul on slavery in Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-25 and 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and Philemon. See also 1 Peter 2:18-25, which begins: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.”

4. According to the Namboodiri Brahmins themselves, they are the original Vedic Brahmins of Kerala. However, there is no historical record to support this claim. Marxist historians assert that Namboodiris arrived in Kerala only in the sixth or seventh century, though there is a record for Mezhathol Agnihothri (b. 342 CE), the Namboodiri who revived the Vedic shrauta traditions in Kerala in the fourth century CE. Therefore, we may infer that the Namboodiri community may have included Syrian Christian immigrants who had converted to Vedic Hinduism. The claim that St. Thomas converted four Namboodiri families to Christianity was invented by Syrian Christians to give themselves caste status. Judas Thomas would not have called himself a Christian; he was a practising Jew who would neither build churches nor carve crosses―the latter being abhorrent to his cultural sensibilities and not used as a Christian identity symbol until after the third century. The designation “Christian” was first used for St. Paul’s converts in Antioch after 45 CE.

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

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

6. The first Christians to emigrate to India came in 345 CE. They landed at Cranganore in Malabar, then the ancient port of Muziris on the mouth of the Periyar River where it joined the Arabian Sea. They were four hundred refugees from Babylon and Nineveh, then part of the Parthian (Persian) Empire, belonging to seven tribes and seventy-two families. They were fleeing religious persecution under the Persian king Shapur II. He had driven them out of Syria and Mesopotamia because he considered them a state liability. Rome, Persia’s arch enemy, had begun to Christianise under Constantine, and Shapur had come to suspect the allegiances of his Christian subjects.

7. The Syrian refugees were led by a semi-legendary figure who is known to history variously as Thomas of Cana, Thomas the Merchant, Thomas the Canaanite, Thomas of Jerusalem, Thomas Cananeus or Cannaneo, and Knai Thoma. Nothing is known about him and his companion Bishop Joseph of Edessa except their names, and this migration of Christians also cannot be treated as verified historical fact. “No deeds of copper plates in the name of Thomas of Cana are now extant,” writes, C.B. Firth in An Introduction to Indian Church History, “… [and] it would be rash to insist upon all the details of the story of Thomas the Merchant as history. Nevertheless, the main point―the settlement in Malabar of a considerable colony of Syrians―may well be true.”

8. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, in its article on the Christians of Saint Thomas, says, “The origins of the so-called Malabar Christians is uncertain, though they seem to have been in existence before the 6th century AD and probably derive from the missionary activity of the East Syrian (Nestorian) Church centred at Ctesiphon. Despite their geographical isolation, they retained the Chaldean liturgy and Syriac language and maintained fraternal ties with the Babylonian (Baghdad) patriarchate.”


Christian Fish Symbol


About the St. Thomas reference in Shashi Tharoor’s book Pax Indica – Poulasta Chakraborthy


“This sounds like a good story. And that’s what it is—a good story. All those statements on Thomas made by Tharoor, Nehru and Prasad are not based on any solid historical evidence. They are just repetitions of a well-established legend.” – Poulasta Chakraborthy 


Shashi Tharoor


Page 280 of former minister and current Member of Parliament, Shashi Tharoor’s book Pax Indica contains an interesting assertion.

“Christianity arrived on Indian soil with St. Thomas the Apostle (‘Doubting Thomas’), who came to the Malabar Coast sometime before 52 CE and was welcomed on shore, or so oral legend has it, by a flute playing Jewish girl. He made many converts, so there are Indians today whose ancestors were Christians well before any Europeans discovered Christianity.”

Although Tharoor identifies the incident of St. Thomas being welcomed to Malabar by a flute-playing Jewish girl as part of folklore, he states that the arrival of St. Thomas to the Malabar Coast as a historical fact.

The good news is that he’s not the first one to state that myth as a historical truth. The biggest of political leaders in India have obediently accepted this historical myth. In one of his works, the nation’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote:

“Few people realise that Christianity came to India as early as the first century after Christ, long before Europe turned to it, and established a firm hold in South India…”

This statement was repeated in a different way by Dr. Rajendra Prasad in his St. Thomas Day speech at New Delhi, in 1955:

“Remember St. Thomas came to India when many countries in Europe had not yet become Christian and so these Indians who trace their Christianity to him have a longer history and a higher ancestry than that of Christians of many of the European countries. And it is a matter of pride for us that it happened….”

This famous legend as well as the assertion that Christianity came to India before it went to Europe is a tactic to make it a sort of indigenous religion, even if it came from the Middle East. The statements made by our great leaders are based on the following incidents:

St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Christ (itself a disputed fact), came to India in 52 CE. He landed at Maliankara (Cranganore/Kodungallur) in Kerala, preached the Gospel, produced miracles, and got many converts.

Then he went to Mailepuram (Mylapore), and from there to China, but after some time returned to Maliankara, and from there came again to Mylapore where he spent the rest of his life preaching, converting a large number of the low-caste Hindus.

The aforesaid points make St. Thomas appear as socio-religious reformer who aimed to ameliorate the woes of local residents—specifically those suppressed under the caste system. As every tale of reformers goes St. Thomas was also disliked by the orthodox elements (which in the Indian context are the Brahmins) of the land that were determined to finish him. This risky situation made Thomas take refuge in a cave at a mountain located near the present St. Thomas Mount. Unfortunately the great saint was murdered by one of those zealous Brahmins at St. Thomas Mount. His body was brought to Mylapore and buried in 73 CE.

This sounds like a good story. And that’s what it is—a good story. All those statements on Thomas made by Tharoor, Nehru and Prasad are not based on any solid historical evidence. They are just repetitions of a well-established legend.


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict


Now let’s see what some historical, and even Christian religious texts have to say about this tale:

D. Burnell, in an article in the Indian Antiquary of May 1875, writes,

“The attribution of the origin of South Indian Christianity to the apostle Thomas seems very attractive to those who hold certain theological opinion. But the real question is, on what evidence does it rest? Without real or sufficient evidence so improbable a circumstance is to be at once rejected. Pious fictions have no place in historical research.”

Prof. Jarl Charpentier, in St. Thomas the Apostle and India, writes,

“There is absolutely not the shadow of a proof that an Apostle of our Lord be his name Thomas or something else—ever visited South India or Ceylon and founded Christian communities there.”

Rev. J. Hough, in Christianity in India, writes,

“It is not probable that any of the Apostles of our Lord embarked on a voyage … to India.”

Cosmas the Alexandrian, a theologian, geographer and merchant who traded with Ethiopia and Ceylon, visited Malabar in 520-525 CE and provided the first acceptable evidence of Christian communities there as noted in his Christian Topography. There is no mention of any Thomas in his works.

Regarding the fabled Apostle of Jesus, Thomas, early Church Fathers like Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Eusebius had stated outright that Apostle Thomas settled in Parthia, and established a church in Fars (Persia). This is supported by the 4th century priest Rufinus of Aquileia, who translated Greek theological texts into Latin, and the 5th century Byzantine church historian, Socrates of Constantinople, who wrote an Ecclesiastical History, the second edition of which survives and is a valuable source of early Church history. None of those sources speak of St. Thomas visiting India.

Bishop Stephen Neill who had spent many years in South India examined the St. Thomas story as late as 1984.

“A number of scholars,” wrote Neill, “among whom are to be mentioned with respect Bishop A.E. Medlycott, J.N. Farquhar and Jesuit Dahlman, have built on slender foundations what can only be called Thomas romances, such as reflect vividness of their imagination rather than the prudence of historical critics…. Millions of Christians in India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than the apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove it to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.”

And to top them all, in September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI himself declared that Thomas never came to India. But his declaration was toned down after a complaint from the so-called St. Thomas Christians who still believe Thomas came to India and converted their ancestors. Now the question: where did it all begin?

The chief source of this tale is a Gnostic Syrian fable, Acts of Thomas, written by a poet named Bardesanes at Edessa around 201 CE. The text says the apostle went from Palestine eastwards to a desert-like country where people are “Mazdei” [a term used for those who worship Ahura Mazda, Zoroastrians] and have Persian names. The term “India” in Acts is used as a synonym for Asia.

The Acts identifies St Thomas as Judas, the look-alike twin of Jesus, who sells him into slavery. The slave travels to Andropolis where he makes newly-weds chaste, cheats a king, fights with Satan over a beautiful boy, persuades a talking donkey to confess the name of Jesus, and is finally executed by a Zoroastrian king for crimes against women. His body is buried on a royal mountain and later taken to Edessa, where a popular cult rises around his tomb. Even in this story, it is clear that St. Thomas never visited India.


Thomas of Cana


There is another popular fable among Indian Christians about one Thomas of Cana, a merchant who led a group of 400 Christians from Babylon and Nineveh, out of Persia in the 4th century CE, when Christianisation of the Roman Empire motivated the Persians to persecute their Syriac-speaking Christian minority. These Christians apparently landed in Malabar around 345 CE.

Based on this tale, a section of St. Thomas Christians believe Thomas of Cana to be known as St. Thomas.

And so it is clear that nothing much is known about St. Thomas beyond these stories which have been refuted by historical evidence.

Even after reading the refutation of this tale of St. Thomas by strong historical evidence, the likes of Tharoor will claim that these fables are historical facts, in no less than a full length book of the genre Pax Indica belongs to. The reason is not far to seek: Tharoor’s parroting of the St. Thomas myth arises from the Indian secularist template for keeping the secular fabric of India intact.

But there are deeper, more fundamental reasons why the St. Thomas myth must be debated and re-debated.


SRG


The reason is given in detail by Sita Ram Goel in his Papacy: Its Doctrine and History.

“Firstly, it is one thing for some Christian refugees to come to a country and build some churches, and quite another for an apostle of Jesus Christ to appear in flesh and blood for spreading the Good News. If it can be established that Christianity is as ancient in India as the prevailing forms of Hinduism, no one can nail it down as an imported creed brought in by Western imperialism.

“Secondly, the Catholic Church in India stands badly in need of a spectacular martyr of its own. Unfortunately for it, St. Francis Xavier died a natural death and that, too, in a distant place. Hindus, too, have persistently refused to oblige the Church in this respect, in spite of all provocations. The Church has to use its own resources and churn out something. St. Thomas, about whom nobody knows anything, offers a ready-made martyr.

“Thirdly, the Catholic Church can malign the Brahmins more confidently. Brahmins have been the main target of its attack from the beginning. Now it can be shown that the Brahmins have always been a vicious brood, so much so that they would not stop from murdering a holy man who was only telling God’s own truth to a tormented people. At the same time, the religion of the Brahmins can be held responsible for their depravity.

“Fourthly, the Catholics in India need no more feel uncomfortable when faced with historical evidence about their Church’s close cooperation with the Portuguese pirates, in committing abominable crimes against the Indian people. The commencement of the Church can be disentangled from the advent of the Portuguese by dating the Church to some distant past. The Church was here long before the Portuguese arrived. It was a mere coincidence that the Portuguese also called themselves Catholics. Guilt by association is groundless.”

To reword a phrase used by the famed novelist S.L. Bhyrappa, “Secularism can never be strengthened by projecting historical lies.” Hence it is imperative for students of history as well as those claiming to be historians to challenge these distortions in our public discourse. – India Facts, 1 August 2014

References

  1. Ishwar Sharan: The Myth of St. Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple
  2. Sandhya Jain: Merchant Thomas to Saint Thomas
  3. Tejasvi Surya: The Mylapore St. Thomas myth that just doesn’t seem to die – Part 1 & Part 2

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:


 

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


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 6th, 7th, or 8th 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.


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


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.


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,” – B.S. Harishankar


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


The question of the St. Thomas origin of Indian Christianity – C.I. Issac


“The Thomas origin of Christianity in the Dravidian South was the outcome of the missionary schema against Hindu religion and culture.” – Prof C.I. Issac


St. Thomas, Vasco da Gama & Marco Polo


Speech by Prof. C.I. Issac, Former Head of Department of History, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, on the occasion of the release of the book Breaking India by Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan, in Chennai on February 3, 2011.

First of all I would like to congratulate Mr. Rajiv Malhotra and Mr. Aravindan Neelakandan for their painstaking endeavour of the book Breaking India. Most of our intellectual community conveniently bypasses the contemporary realities that are chasing the Hindu society in their mother land.

The respected authors of Breaking India have shown enough courage to unwrap the vanity of the pseudo-secularist and democrats of contemporary India. The book gives us a thumbnail picture of how far the missionaries misused the word “dravida” and “arya” in order to balkanize and Christianize India since the days of British Raj.

The fabrication of South Indian history is being carried out on an immense scale with the explicit goal of constructing a Dravidian identity that is distinct from that of the rest of India. It is factual that term dravida is derived from the Greek tongue. They used dhamir and dhamarike respectively for Tamil and Tamizakaom. Similarly they introduced our arasi and inchi in the West as rice and ginger.


Anglican Bishop Robert Caldwell: He invented the Dravidian race!


But Bishop Caldwell, with his missionary zeal, misused the Greek derivative of Tamil and Tamizakaom and had given an anthropological representation. It was started in the 19th century with specific designs.

Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1890-1977), a renowned linguist, was of the opinion that Friedrich Max Muller, by the middle of 19th century, introduced Aryan-Dravidian dichotomy. Subsequently Bishop Robert Caldwell (1814-1891) followed the same foot-steps and in 1856 published the book A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages.

This book epitomized distinctive anthropological status to the South and pictured as linguistically separate from the rest of India with an un-Indian culture. There is no definite philological and linguistic basis for asserting unilaterally that the term dravida. His work was influenced with the defunct Aryan-Dravidian race theories proposed by Max Muller the German linguist. Thereupon the term dravida became the name of the family of a language.

During the early days of Common Era (CE) Greeks used dhamir damarike for Tamil / Tamizakaom. Ancient Sri Lankans used dhamizha for Tamil. Sanskrit also used dramida dravida for Tamil long before the birth of Common Era, probably between 1500 to 1000 BCE.

Brahmins of India broadly divided themselves into two groups Pancha Gauda (Gaudam / Bengal, Saraswatam, Kanyakubjam, Utkalam, Kashmeeram) and Pancha Dravida (Gurjara, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra, Dravida includes Kerala and Tamilnadu). Thus it has no anthropological base (Suniti Kumar Chatterji, Dravidian, Annamalai Nagar, 1965, passim).

In the light of the said Aryan-Dravidian dichotomy it is better to make an enquiry into the contemporary attempts to transform Tamil identity into the Dravidian Christianity. The advocates of this venture are striving to baptize Saint Thiruvalluvar through re-writing history.  For instance Chennai Archbishop Arulappa once hired Ganesh Iyer alias Acharya Paul for re-writing the history with the said end. Such vicious endeavours targets to transform even Saint Thiruvalluvar, the pride of Mother India, as the disciple of Saint Thomas. (Anyhow their rationality failed to depict Saint Thiruvalluvar as the disciple of Jesus).

They are reducing Saint Thiruvalluvar’s greatness by making him as the disciple of Thomas who never visited India. Thomas’s mission to India is rejected even by Vatican also.  Thus, I think, it is genuine to peep into the futility of apostolic origin of the Indian Christianity.


Lord Parshuram with Brahmin settlers commanding Lord Varuna to make the seas recede to make the Konkan.


First question to be discussed here is the question of the arrival of Saint Thomas and subsequent conversion of Hindu aristocracy, particularly the Namboothiris / Brahmins, to Christianity.

Second one is the date of the question of the origin of Christianity in Kerala, the gateway of Christianity to India.

Third is the European interest behind popularization of generating aristocratic (savarna) feeling among the native Christians.

Before the arrival of Europeans in India, a nominal Christian presence was seen only in the Travancore and Cochin regions of Kerala. According to Ward and Conner, even after two centuries of the birth of Christianity, the number of Christians on the Malabar Coast shrank to eight families (Ward and Conner, The Survey of Travancore and Cochin States, Trivandrum, 1863, p. 146).

The antagonism that was generated amongst the Christians and Muslims due to the Crusades of 11th, 12th and 13th centuries prevented Christians from planting their roots in the Malabar region where Muslims got roots quite earlier.

The Christian population altogether in Travancore and Cochin during the early decades of the 19th century CE was 35,000 with 55 churches (Ward and Connor, The Survey of Travancore and Cochin States, Trivandrum, 1863, pp. 146 & 147).

C.M. Augur says that from the arrival of Portuguese till the early decades of the nineteenth century here in Kerala there were only less than 300 Christian churches for of all the denominations (C.M. Agur, Church History of Travancore, Kottayam, 1902, pp. 7, 8, 9).

G.T. Mackenzie observes, Christians prior to the arrival of Portuguese, did not form the part of Travancore aristocracy (G.T. Mackenzie, Christianity in Travancore, Govt. Press, Trivandrum, 1901, p. 8).

Pope Nicolas IV sent John of Montecorvino, a missionary to convert India and China into Christianity and thus he wrote to pope in 1306 that “There are very few Christians and Jews (in India) and they are of little weight”. (See G.T. Mackenzie, Christianity in Travancore, Govt. Press, Trivandrum, 1901, p. 8). Cosmas Indicopleustes comments that Christians are not masters but slaves (N.K. Jose, Aadima Kerala Christavar, Vechoor-Vaikom, 1972, p 127).

The center of the present savarna feeling of Syrian Christians of Kerala is the upshot of the wealth, which they had acquired through enhanced spice trade of the European period and the Portuguese pre-eminence in the Church. Above all the Christian-Muslim antagonism of West Asia was the real cause of the birth of Christianity of Kerala as seen today. To escape from the Muslim persecution several Persian, Syrian, etc. regions Christians secured refuge in India and thus it resulted in the birth of Christianity here. It is evident from the above mentioned pre-European period Christian-Muslim settlement pattern of Kerala.

In 1816 CE there were, in the Travancore State (now the part of Kerala), 19,524 temples and 301 churches for all denominations. But in 1891, that is after 76 years, the number of temples had shrunk in to 9,364 and the number of churches had burgeoned to 1,116 (C.M. Agur, Church History of Travancore, Kottayam, 1902, pp. 7, 8, 9).


John Munro of Teaninich (1843)


Under the recommendation of Diwan (Col. John Munroe, a British subject) in 1812 Queen of Travancore nationalized 378 wealthy temples. The villain Diwan tactically awarded a natural death to the temples with insufficient resources. Considering the geographical area, the number of the temples set ablaze or knocked down or tactically buried down in Travancore (a princely state of modern Kerala) was proportionately much higher than that of temples demolished by the Muslim rulers of Northern India or Mysore Sultans.

In the year 1952 CE, the native Catholic Church approached the Papacy in Rome for pontifical approval to celebrate 1900th year of proselytism of Thomas. The Papacy declined the request of the Kerala Catholics on the ground that the claim has no historicity. Pope Benedict XVI had also declined the Thomas’s arrival and mission in the peninsular India. Only after the Portuguese Christianity in the South became a notable religious sect.


Tharisappalli Copper Plates (849 CE): Oldest documents to attest the presence of Christians in India.


St. Theresa Church Copper Plate Grant (Terisapalli Cheppedu) executed in 849 CE by Ayyan Atikal Tiruvatikal of Venadu during the reign of Emperor Sthanu Ravi (844-855) is the available oldest historical document linking to Christianity of Kerala. That the grant holders were not native Christians is a notable fact.

Kottayam is the Rome of India. First church of Kottayam (Valiyapalli or Big Church) was built by a Hindu raja (Thekkumkur dynasty) in 1550 CE for the Persian Christian merchants (Knanaya Christians) who settled here (A. Sreedhara Menon, A Survey of Kerala History, Kottayam, 1970, p 43).

The quality of missionaries to India until early British period was also remarkably very low. Missionary urge for Christianization of India was fermented in England long before the 1813 Charter Act. In 1793 William Carey reached in Bengal, at Serampore, with missionary spirit without proper permission from the Company. Originally he was a cobbler by profession and turned out to be a Baptist missionary and became instrumental to the general missionary spirit that prevailed over England during this period (R. C. Majumdar & Others, An Advanced History of India, Madras, rpt. 1970, pp. 810, 811).

It is the fact that several of the much applauded missionary families of the colonial period were failed business men or opportunity seekers.

Christian population became decisive power only after the European intervention in the socio-economic structure of Kerala. Robert De Nobili, an early 17th century Catholic Missionary of India, who lived in the attire of a Hindu hermit and established a monastery in Madurai to convert Brahmins. His attempt was to present Christianity in India as an aristocratic and Vedic offshoot. Thus the Thomas origin of Christianity in the Dravidian South was the outcome of the missionary schema against Hindu religion and culture.


St. Thomas Icon


The construction of Dravidian identity and induction of Saint Thomas myth is a calculated affair by the European Church which is now facing the extinction syndrome. The fragility of Christian base in the West is a well attested factor. In this changing scenario the Church cast its eyes in the third millennium over a highly spiritualistic society, the Hindu, for its survival. To a certain extent missionaries of the South succeeded to construct and politicize the Dravidian illusion. The need of the hour is to prepare the society to counter all such disguised and overt anti-Hindu accomplishments.


Nota Bene

See the comment below regarding the origin of the Terisapalli Cheppedu Copper Plate Grant.


Muziris: Dr. Nagaswamy nails false propaganda on St. Thomas – Media Reports


“When looking at the literature on the life of St. Thomas, it is not mentioned anywhere that he came to India. It is only a myth, which has now been connected with the excavations at Pattanam, near Kodungalloor,” – Dr. R. Nagaswamy


R. Nagaswamy


The effort made by some interested quarters to link the Muziris excavations with the visit of St. Thomas Apostle has been criticised by eminent archaeologist and former director of the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Survey of India, R. Nagaswamy.

“When looking at the literature on the life of St. Thomas, it is not mentioned anywhere that he came to India. It is only a myth, which has now been connected with the excavations at Pattanam, near Kodungalloor,” the former visiting professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University told Express.

In fact, the ancient Muziris port must have been located in Kodungalloor and not in Pattanam because all major ports in ancient times were situated at river mouths. And so it is safe to assume that Muziris was at Kodungalloor, where the river joins the sea.

He felt there was a hidden agenda by certain sections to propagate the idea that Muziris was connected to Pattanam, where St. Thomas is believed to have landed, and not with Kodungalloor.

Myth cannot be called history. Connecting myth with history could only create confusion and distort history, he said. “There is no substantial evidence to say that Pattanam is connected with Muziris. How was this conclusion reached? Those who claim to have found materials to connect Pattanam with Muziris have forgotten that these materials were also found in the eastern and the western coasts of the country,” said Nagaswamy. – Express BuzzIBNLive, Thiruvananthapuram, August 7, 2011


In this video, Dr. Nagaswamy references the St. Thomas myth at 11:30 mins …


Temple Looting in Kerala: Yesterday and today – Leela Tampi


How did it happen that the Hindus of Kerala stood silently by when their hallowed, highly venerated temples were thus plundered, dishonoured and reduced to beggary? The fact is, in the course of centuries of slavery we Hindus have assiduously taught ourselves to mistake apathy for tolerance, servility for gentleness and cowardice for pacifism. The process is still continuing, with the Hindus tricked into accepting self-hate and self-destruction as secularism. –  Leela Tampi


Thrikkavadoor Temple


The Hindu people of India, even if belatedly, are now awakening to the humiliation, tragedy and tremendous loss inflicted on them through the savage destruction of their ageless, holy temples by invading hordes in the name of their religion of the Arabian desert.

In spite of this heartening fact that the nation has now woken up and is carefully taking stock of the unspeakable atrocities and national loss it had suffered at the hands of the butchering, bestial invaders, sadly enough the devastation suffered by the temples of Kerala has not attracted the nation’s attention. On the one hand the impression that the Kerala temples had escaped destruction has gained ground: probably because unlike in the other parts of India, in Kerala mosques are not seen squatting on top of temple foundations; nor is the Kerala landscape pockmarked with heartbreaking rotting mounds that were once the holy temples of the Hindus.

But it certainly is not that Kerala was more fortunate than the rest of India in the matter of the destruction of temples. The stark truth is that the devastation suffered by Kerala temples at the hands of foreigners and local quislings is as direful as that suffered by temples elsewhere in India. The only difference is that as most of the damage was perpetrated by the cunning British, it was accomplished insidiously, like murder being committed by slow suffocation without any wound being seen on the outside.

While the rabidly fanatic Tipu Sultan ‘the bandit of Mysore’ destroyed two thousand temples in the Malabar region to establish Islam, it was the British rulers acting at the behest of Christian missionaries who, starting from two hundred years ago, dug the grave of the Kerala temples. The wily British accomplished this not by resorting to anything so crude and beastly as demolishing them: but by simply confiscating all of them “in the name of the state of course” along with all their landed properties and then making sure that the temples rotted away from calculated, steady attrition.

The present [1991] United Democratic Government of Kerala, under the command of the Muslim League and the Kerala Congress (a front party for the Churches) is now living up to the tradition of all former Kerala governments by following this same policy with enthusiasm and vigour.

Not only the British overlords but also the governments that came into power in Kerala after 1947 were never content with this wholesale robbery alone of temple properties. They continuously plundered, and helped others plunder, the relatively better off temples of even parts of the grounds the temples stood on; and also of the offerings of devotees. The latest of these forays is the still standing order (now under review by the High Court) of K. Karunakaran, the Chief Minister of Kerala, that the Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple Dewaswom (the management appointed by the Government) withdraw ten crores from the banks and deposit the amount with the state treasury to help the Government out of its present financial crisis.

This grave and sinister development has for once jolted the lethargic Hindus of Kerala out of their perennial slumber and into awareness of the pitiful plight their temples have been reduced to as a direct result of the suzerainty the Kerala Government had usurped over them. When Hindu organisations and long-suffering devotees vehemently protested, the chief minister issued an unctuous rationale to the effect that the ten crores would be as safe with the Government as with the banks, and that interest would be paid. He also added duplicitously that “there will be no compulsion to obtain funds from the houses of worship of any religion”. He was feigning that the places of worship of all religions had always been treated equally by the state, when the truth is that it was the temples — and temples alone that had been subjected to ruthless plunder by the Government; so much so that they now have practically no assets left except the offerings of devotees. And this too had been steadily looted by the politicians running the Government.


Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore


This operation to annihilate the temples of Kerala was first organised and put into effect two hundred years ago by Colonel John Munro, the British Resident in the erstwhile State of Travancore (the former princely States of Travancore and Cochin, along with Malabar, formerly a district of the Madras Presidency, together form the Kerala State). The British in 1810 made the then ruler of Travancore, Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, appoint the British Resident, Col. Munro, as Dewan of the state also. With supreme audacity Munro would convert his “advice” to the Rani as Dewan into commands by virtue of his position as Resident. Munro who was a committed Christian missionary as well as a ruthless colonialist, naturally considered it his pious duty to debilitate the Hindu religion and at the same time foster Christianity. He also realised that this would help cement Christian colonialism in the region. He achieved both these aims at one shot by the simple expedient of taking over by fiat (euphemistically called “proclamation”) nearly all the temples of Travancore and Cochin and also by seizing all their landed properties without any compensation whatsoever. When he was thus busily confiscating temple lands without compensation, Munro parallelly issued hundreds of munificent land grants to the Christian Churches.


John Munro


The cultivated and cultivable temple lands thus expropriated were so vast and the income from them so enormous that within the year the annual land revenue accruing to the state doubled. Of course as part of his well-laid plan to extirpate the Hindu religion and temples, Munro kept all the income from the expropriated temple lands with the state and did not remit any amount at all to the temples. Very soon the temples, thus impoverished and effectively devitalised, fell into wrack and ruin.

The disorganised, apathetic Hindus were very slow to awaken to the catastrophe inflicted on them by Munro. Apart from the usual spiritlessness of the Hindus, this submission was also due to the fact that at that time the Christian and Muslim population was very small and Hindus for this reason deluded themselves into believing that the confiscated lands, even if with the Government, still belonged to them.

Soon vast demographic changes took place. The Muslim population through forcible conversions by Tipu Sultan and the Christian population through British-sponsored fierce proselytism, increased by leaps and bounds. These now powerful minorities lost no time in making it clear to the faction-ridden, enervated Hindus that the temple lands, now that they had been vested with the state, belonged to them as much as to the Hindus.

When at long last the Hindus awoke to the awful disaster that had been wreaked upon them and made bold to demand the return of the seized lands to the temples, they found to their dismay that Munro had been too clever for them. The Resident-Dewan-missionary had seen to it that the records of the sequestered temple lands and of state-owned lands were thoroughly intermixed; so much so that it had been made quite impossible to catalogue temple lands separately from government lands.

This convenient excuse “that it was no longer possible to distinguish temple lands from state lands” which made shameless use of outright brigandage, was to be used in the future times without number by the Government and double-crossing politicians not only to hang on to the temple properties but also to foil the feeble attempts made by Hindus from time to time to claim compensation for the seized lands.

To remit even part of the huge income from the confiscated lands to the temples for their upkeep was not even thought of. It was a full hundred years later that a commission was appointed to look into the matter. This commission determined the income from the temple lands at the absurdly low rate of land revenue levied on them; and recommended not that at least this puny amount be paid to the temples, but only that the interest due on it — and that too only at three percent — be paid. Even this the Government did not do for a decade. This commission’s recommendation that the temples which were falling into ruins be repaired by the Government (as it had taken over their property) was studiously ignored.

After years of agitation, in 1922, the interest on the income — payment of compensation or of the actual income was never again to be considered at all — due to the temples was fixed at a paltry twenty-two lakhs. In 1948, again after prolonged agitation the amount was increased to fifty-one lakhs, but without any provision for compensation for inflation. This amount of fifty-one lakhs today is worth less than one lakh at 1948 value of the rupee. And yet the Kerala Government has arrogantly ignored the urgent pleas of Hindu organisations for upward revision of the amount to compensate for the dismal fall in the value of the rupee.

Because of the wholesale confiscation of the properties bestowed on the temples for rituals and upkeep, thousands of temples in Kerala do not have the wherewithal even for token rituals; thousands more have fallen into ruins. Thus the shrewd and crafty missionary-cum-Resident-cum-Dewam accomplished through his single bloodless coup the ruin and devastation of Hindu temples — and Hindu pride “which the Muslim raiders through the centuries and local-born despicable tyrants like Aurangzeb could only do after numberless battles, massacres, rape and arson.

This war of attrition waged on the temples of Kerala for a century and a half actually picked up momentum after independence. The double-dealing politicians, wearing the mask of secularism, were only too glad to betray the Hindu community by heaping further blows on the temples. For they knew that this would secure their positions with the “minorities”, who with their monolithic, anti-secular and powerful organisations were holding the reigns of power in the state. Very soon after independence the Congress Government enacted the Land Reforms Act which was so crafted that it effectively denuded the temples but not the churches and mosques of what little bits of land that still remained with them. The Central Government also did its secular act of destroying temples by confiscating by special legislation again with absolutely no compensation — the vast forest lands of the Malabar temples which were promptly taken over by Christian and Muslim encroachers. It is well-known that the greatest beneficiaries of the Land Reforms Act in the whole of Kerala were Christians and Muslims, and the greatest losers the Hindu temples and Hindus.

While this sequestration and annexation of temple lands had been going on for the last two hundred years, no Government of Kerala past or present, had ever dared to take over one single church or mosque or just one cent of their vast land holdings. Not only this; some years ago the Kerala Government with much fanfare sanctioned as annual grant “that is to say, a yearly free gift for all time to come — of fifteen lakhs for pension for the mukris of mosques. This when priests of the temples, properties of which had been stolen by the state, had no such pension and were miserably paid besides. Moreover, to get Muslim goodwill all the immense wakf properties in Kerala (and in the whole of the rest of India, as this is a Central Government Act) have been exempted from the Buildings and Rent Control Act, which is now strangling the remaining few buildings of temples and ashrams in Kerala, not to speak of the rest of India.

At present forty-five percent of the population of Kerala is Christian and Muslim and a section of Hindus, being communists, are atheists [this article was written in 1991]. Hence the Government is not only mostly non-Hindu, but anti-Hindu. In these circumstances, and also being fervidly “secular”, the only right course for the Government to follow is to dissociate itself completely from the temples and vest their administration with true devotees. But with unbelievable brazenness and hypocrisy the Kerala Government is not only clinging to ownership rights over the temples but is also claiming rights the maharajas of old, who were real protectors of temples, never even dreamed of. Today it is heart-breaking to see the holy, ancient temples of Kerala debased to the status of a lowly, inconsequential department of a Government that is in effect run by Christian and Muslim religious leadership. This is not all; the temples are also under the mercy of greedy quislings all too ready to further bleed them to satisfy their masters.


Guruvayur Temple


While the number of grand churches and mosques in Kerala has increased more than a hundred times in the last five decades, not a single temple of significance has been built during this time. Worse still, during this period hundreds of temples have fallen down and disappeared into the dust.

When India was at war with China, the Guruvayur Dewaswom was “persuaded” to transfer to the Central Government a huge quantity of gold. As far as is known this gold was never returned to the temple. The Guruvayur Dewaswom was also “persuaded” by the Kerala Government to invest one crore of rupees in the Indira Vikas Patrika. Huge amounts were plundered for political shows like the Congress Party souvenir. A nondescript motion picture was also made on Guruvayur temple which made the temple poorer by twenty lakhs. It has become a practice to disburse money under false headings to politicians, their relatives and friends. More crores would have been looted from the temple by politicians but for the timely intervention of courageous devotees who blew the whistle in time.

Not even during times of national emergency like the time of war when Hindu women donated their gold mangalya sutras, did the Kerala Government dare to make any effort to obtain deposits from the opulent churches and mosques — nor did the bishops or the moulvis offer any deposit or donation. To put it in a nutshell, where the Hindus are concerned, for the Kerala Government it is loot, loot, loot; and where the churches and mosques are concerned, it is give, give, give.


Sabarimala pilgrims


While the Kerala Government thus considers the accumulated offerings of devotees at the great temples as their own to pocket and squander as they please, they consider it an anathema to provide even the minimum facilities for pilgrims at the great temples of holy pilgrimage. Repeated frantic requests for a few acres of forest land for the provision of some basic amenities for the millions of pilgrims converging on the forest temple at the Sabarimala Sri Sasta Temple have been flatly turned down on the ground that forest land cannot be alienated without the permission of the Centre. At the same time ten hectares of forest land were granted in a jiffy to build a church, proclaimed by the bishops as a rival pilgrim centre, close to the Sabarimala temple. And the successive Governments of Kerala in the last fifteen years have been falling over each other to provide free titles to the well-organised, Church-backed encroachers — all of them Christians of course “to huge areas of forest land, running into more than a million acres.

Thus it is not only that every government in Kerala had been ruthlessly sabotaging and destroying temples for the last two centuries with no let up till today; these governments have also during this time deliberately and eagerly functioned as the transhipment point for the transferring of Hindu wealth to non-Hindus.

It is against this shockingly larcenous background that the latest demand of the Kerala Government for ten crores from the Guruvayur temple should be viewed by the Hindus of India.

While much noise is being made about the availability of ten crores with the Guruvayur Dewaswom (offerings of mostly poor devotees for temple purposes only), the case of thousands of temples in Kerala without the wherewithal for rituals or repairs is carefully concealed. And this ten crores with the Guruvayur Dewaswom is but a microscopic sum when compared to the vast funds—running into thousands of crores “available with the lavishly foreign-funded churches and mosques. And of course they have kept their colossal landed properties also. It is well-known that the Churches in Kerala are the biggest landowner after the state. In just one instance, a missionary outfit in Malabar owns such a huge area of land in a single holding that they renamed the place “Bibleland”. And what is more the Postal Department of secular India has also named their office in the area Bibleland Post Office. The Churches own countless plantations which have been carefully left outside the purview of the Land Reforms Act.

In addition the Churches in Kerala own vast extents of urban land in the best part of every city and town. (This is of course the case in the rest of India also.) In Tiruvananthapuram the palace of just one bishop — among several bishops and their palaces stands on nearly thirty acres of land abutting on the Raj Bhavan compound. This bishop, not one to hide his might and power, has also built a high-profile church practically touching the Raj Bhavan entrance. And this bishop, and the other bishops and convents own hundreds of acres in the city. The Churches have been for quite some time investing in a big way in multi-storeyed shopping and office complexes. They also have huge holdings in other real estate, publishing houses, banks and companies.

But of course in Kerala the limitless flow of treasure into the Churches is from the education sector. They have established from British times a near monopoly in education, from primary schools to first grade colleges. More than fifty percent of the hundreds of crores the Kerala Government spends on education is commandeered by the bishops and mother superiors.

In spite of this golden flow from the state into the Church coffers, and in spite of all their colossal wealth and foreign funds, the Government will never dare to request them for funds, no matter how critical the financial crunch. At the same time the Government considers the small bits of the remaining assets and funds of the temples to be their ordained targets for regular booty taking—much of it to be used to further destroy the temples.

For the Hindus of Kerala to retrieve even part of their lost honour and dignity, firstly the present niggardly payment of fifty-one lakhs (such is the perfidy and hatred of the perfidy and hatred of the anti-Hindu politicians towards the temples that they regularly refer to this sum as a “grant”), should be raised sufficiently to tally with the income from the seized temple lands at present rates. A small beginning can be made by increasing the present insulting, measly payment of fifty-one lakhs to compensate for the steep fall in the value of the rupee since 1948; and this newly determined amount should be revised every year henceforward. After all the Kerala Government is doing exactly this in every area — except, of course, in the case of the temples.

Secondly, the Hindus have to get the confiscated temples released from the stranglehold of the politicians (themselves the willing hostages of the Muslim League, Kerala Congress and atheists) who happen to be born as Hindus but are avowedly anti-Hindu by conviction. Interestingly these politicians who declare they are not Hindus see nothing dishonourable and dishonest in voting on temple matters as Hindus “with the open aim of snatching the maximum spoils for themselves and their cohorts.

When the Kerala chief minister equates the depositing of Guruvayur temple funds with the treasury with bank deposits the crucial fact that there is no withdrawal facility in the treasury is kept under wraps. And if by some horrible chance the ten crores are placed in the treasury, we can expect a replay of the Munro scenario — the Government seizing the capital for ever, and later with pious protestations of fair intentions, offering to pay the interest on the interest on the ten crores if and when it chooses.



We hear a great deal day in and day out about the wonderful religious harmony that prevails in Kerala as exemplified by a church, a mosque and a temple standing close together in Palayam, in the heart of Tiruvananthapuram. One close look at these places of worship will prove that what they actually demonstrate is something quite different: the impoverishment, abasement and servitude of the Hindus. The church in Palayam is a magnificent edifice on a vast tract of priceless land; the mosque too is an imposing new building on spacious grounds. But the temple—it is just a dilapidated hutment standing on just four cents of land.

This in general is the pathetic, degraded condition of the Hindu temples, brought on by the ceaseless plundering first by the British colonialists intent on spreading Christianity, by the studied negligence of the state governments, wholesale destruction by Tipu Sultan, and in post-independence days, by the looting by governments owned and operated by powerful Christian and Muslim vested interests; not to mention the greedy quislings out to fatten themselves at the expense of the temples.

How did it happen that the Hindus of Kerala stood silently by when their hallowed, highly venerated temples were thus plundered, dishonoured and reduced to beggary? The fact is, in the course of centuries of slavery we Hindus have assiduously taught ourselves to mistake apathy for tolerance, servility for gentleness and cowardice for pacifism. The process is still continuing, with the Hindus tricked into accepting self-hate and self-destruction as secularism.

Thorough rethinking and strong corrective measures based on the truly Hindu principles of truth and fearlessness on the part of the downtrodden Hindus of Kerala has become imperative if the Hindu temples, religion and culture are to survive at all. Fearless and concerted action is also needed for regaining the lost honour and dignity of the Hindus.


St. Thomas and Anti-Brahminism – Koenraad Elst


“Apart from anti-Judaism (anti-Semitism), the anti-Brahmin campaign started by the Christian missionaries is the biggest vilification campaign in world history.” — Dr. Koenraad Elst


Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier: He invented anti-Brahminism which has been taken over by the Dravidian politicians of Tamil Nadu.


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


The true prophets of the anti-Brahmin message were no doubt the Christian missionaries. In the sixteenth century, Francis Xavier wrote that Hindus were under the spell of the Brahmanas, who were in league with evil spirits, and that the elimination of Brahminism was the first priority in the large operation of bringing Salvation to the wretched Pagans of India. In this endeavour, he strongly advocated and practised the use of force. Unfortunately for him, the Portuguese government could not always spare the troops which he so passionately asked for. Still, the destruction wrought by Francis Xavier was impressive, and he has described the joy he felt on seeing idols being smashed and temples demolished.[1]

Within the Portuguese territories, physical persecution of Paganism naturally hit the Brahmins hardest. Treaties with Hindu kings had to stipulate explicitly that the Portuguese must not kill Brahmins. But in the case of Christian anti-Brahminism, these physical persecutions were a small matter compared to the systematic ideological and propagandistic attack on Brahminism, which has conditioned the views of many non-missionaries and has by now been amplified enormously because Secularists, Akalis, Marxists and Muslims have joined the chorus. In fact, apart from anti-Judaism, the anti-Brahmin campaign started by the missionaries is the biggest vilification campaign in world history.


Roberto de Nobili: His convertion tactic was Impersonating a Hindu sadhu.


The "Roman brahmin" De Nobili in Madurai: His conversion tactic was impersonation and fraud!


While the Portuguese mission establishment was unanimous in branding the Brahmins as the chief obstacle to the salvation of India, there was some dissent concerning the tactics to be employed against them. Robert de Nobili believed in fraud rather than force. He dressed as a Brahmin, and taught the Yesurveda, a fifth Veda which had been lost in India, but which the emigrant community of Romaka Brahmins had preserved. He seems to have had a few followers, but after his death, nothing remained of his infiltration movement. Recently he has been declared the patron saint of the theology of inculturation,[2] and his method is being actualized and perfected in the Christian ashrams.[3]

De Nobili’s approach was one possible application of the Jesuits larger strategy, which aimed at converting the elite in the hope that they would carry the masses with them. This approach had been tried in vain in China, in Japan, and even at the Moghul court (today, it is finally meeting with a measure of success in South Korea). A practical implication of this strategy was that Christianity had to be presented as a noble and elitist religion. This came naturally to the Jesuits, who (unlike, for instance, the Franciscans) styled themselves as an elite order.

Most importantly, that stage of missionary endeavour did not make use of any populist or democratic rhetoric of equality . At that time, political equality was not yet on the ideological agenda. On the contrary, even when in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, equality became a political hot item, the Church opposed it tooth and nail, and supported the aristocratic ancien regime and its restoration after the fall of Napoleon. Only in the late nineteenth century, when atheist socialism lured the urban masses away from Christianity, did the Church evolve what is known as the social teachings of the Church, formulated in encyclicals like Rerum Novarum. Before that time, any opposition of the Catholic Church (and of most Protestant Churches) against the caste system and the Brahmin caste had strictly nothing to do with a concern for social equality.


St. Thomas: Thomas was not called the Apostle of India until after 1953.


Recent claims that equality is an intrinsic and cardinal virtue of Christianity, and that the apostle Thomas came to India in A.D. 52 with a message of equality, abolition of caste, and women’s rights, are so many lies. Thus, C.A. Simon writes: The oppressed and downtrodden followed [St. Thomas] and claimed equal status in society as it was denied them by the prevailing social norms. He condemned untouchability and attempted to restore equal status for women. That St. Thomas ever came to India is already a myth, only kept alive in India with a lot of Christian-cum-secularist media effort; that he came with an Ambedkarist and feminist message is just ridiculous.

The source of the Thomas legend is an apocryphal text called the Acts of Thomas. If the [Jesuits and other Christian] missionaries want to continue to present it as history rather than legend, they should accept the consequences. In that case, they must tell the public about the way in which Thomas’s journey to India started, according to the very same text: he left Palestine because his twin brother Jesus sold him as a slave (Thomas is also called Didymus, ‘the twin brother’). They must give details of the destructive sorcery which Thomas practised, as in his first miracle, when he made a lion devour a boy for being impolite. They must tell the public that Thomas was put to death not by the ugly Brahmins but by the king who, after having had a lot of patience with him, and after offering him a safe exit from the country, decided to put a stop to his practice of luring women away from their homes and putting them in sackcloth and ashes behind locked doors, etc.

Briefly, if it is true that the apostle Thomas came to India, then the following information furnished by the Acts of Thomas is also true:

  1. Thomas was an antisocial character;
  2. Jesus was a slave trader;
  3. 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.

The original Christian doctrine on equality has been expressed by St. Paul, who opposed attempts by slaves to free themselves because we have all been freed in Christ and that should be enough. St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon is actually a covering note which he sent along with a runaway slave whom he returned to the legal owner, the Christian convert Philemon.[4]

A Christian Bible commentary, The Lion Handbook to the Bible edited by David and Pat Alexander, admits: Slavery was such an integral part of the social structure of the day that to preach freedom would have been tantamount to revolution. Paul’s brief was not to engage in political campaigning but to preach a Gospel capable of transforming human life from within. This is a poor excuse: religious pluralism was also an integral part of the dominant culture, and yet Christianity confronted and destroyed it. Why should God make compromises with the world? The fact of the matter is that St. Paul wanted to convert people to his own belief system, and that he was not interested in other, non-salvationist pursuits such as social reform.

If the missionaries were sincerely unhappy with the institution of caste, it was not because of its intrinsic inequality. The problem with caste was that it offered a lot of communal togetherness, social security and a certain pride in one’s caste identity. Through the missionary propaganda, we have come to see caste as an exclusion-from, but in the first place it is a belonging-to. Even for the lowest castes, humiliation by higher placed people on account of caste did not outweigh the considerable benefits of belonging to at least some caste. This caste cohesion is an important reason why Hinduism could survive where the cultures of West Asia disappeared under the onslaught of Islam. The missionaries found that people were not willing to give up their caste by converting to Christianity, which implied breaking with a number of caste customs. The only way to convert people, was to convert entire caste groups and allow them to retain some of their caste identity.


Pope Gregory XV Quote


Therefore, far from abolishing caste, the Church allowed caste distinctions to continue even within its own structure and functioning. Pope Gregory XV (1621-1623) formally sanctioned caste divisions in the Indian Church. This papal bull confirmed earlier decisions of the local Church hierarchy in 1599 and 1606.

It is therefore not true that the Church’s motivation in blackening the Brahmins had anything to do with a concern for equality. The Church was against equality in the first place, and even when equality became the irresistible fashion, the Church allowed caste inequality to continue wherever it considered it opportune to do so. As a missionary has admitted to me: in Goa, many churches still have separate doors for high-caste and low-caste people, and caste discrimination at many levels is still widespread. Commenting on the persistence of caste distinctions in the Church, a Dalit convert told me: I feel like a frog who has jumped from one muddy pool into another pool just as muddy.

Whenever the Church feels it should accommodate existing caste feelings in settled Christian communities, it accepts them; and whenever it thinks it profitable to take a bold anti-caste stand before a Dalit public, it will do just that. It is true that contemporary missionaries, who have grown up with the idea of social equality, mostly have a sincere aversion for caste inequality, and are more dependable when it comes to conducting Church affairs in a caste-neutral way (as opposed to Indian Christians who insistently claim descent from high-caste converts). But when considering the missionary machine as a whole, we must say that the missionary commitment to equality and social justice is not sincere, but is an opportunistic policy motivated by a greed for conversions.

In the past century, the Churches one after another came around to the decision that the lower ranks of society should be made the prime target of conversion campaigns. Finding that the conversion of the high-caste people was not getting anywhere, they settled for the low-castes and tribals, and adapted their own image accordingly. One implication was that the Brahmins were no longer just the guardians of Paganism, but also the antipodes of the low-castes on the caste ladder. A totally new line of propaganda was launched: Brahmins were the oppressors of the low-caste people.


Mahatma Jyotirao Govindrao Phule


In the proliferating mission schools, the missionary version of Indian history, including its view on caste, was taught to Indian pupils, and many internalised the hostile and motivated story which they had been fed. One of them was Jyotirao Phule of Maharashtra, the first modern leader to be called Mahatma. His position, while not yet all-out anti-Hindu, was strongly anti-Brahmin. He wrote: The Brahmin’s natural (instinctive) temperament is mischievous and cantankerous, and it is so inveterate that it can never be eradicated.

Then again, the Aryan Invasion theory was the alpha and omega of the version of India history spread by anti-Brahminism.[5] Phule’s book Slavery starts out with this view of history: Recent researches have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Brahmins were not the Aborigines of India…. Aryans came to India not as simple emigrants with peaceful intentions of colonisation, but as conquerors. They appear to have been a race imbued with very high notions of self, extremely cunning, arrogant and bigoted.

For Phule, there could be no progress for the low-caste people without taking harsh anti-Brahmin measures, e.g.: Let there be schools for the Shudras in every village, but away with all Brahmin schoolmasters. This is exactly what the missionary school-builders wanted him to say. Through Phule, the missionary indoctrination has influenced all twentieth century anti-Brahmin leaders.


Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati: An anti-Brahmin, anti-Hindu monotheist!


Even among the champions of the Hindu cause, anti-Brahminism acquired a following. The Hindu reform movement Arya Samaj rejected Brahminism and its heretical brainchildren, idolatry and the caste system, as utterly non-Vedic. Brahmin temples were desecrated in the name of Hinduism. Orthodox Brahmins were attacked as the traitors of Hindu interests.

Thus, it was said in those circles that when in the 1880s the Maharaja of Kashmir wanted to reconvert the forcibly converted Muslims in his domains, the Brahmins rejected this timely proposal, arguing from their obscurantist shastras that one is only a Hindu by birth. This well-known allegation has been argued to be unhistorical (though of course nobody denies that mindlessly scripturalist Brahmins do exist, in dwindling numbers): it cannot be traced farther back than 1946, sixty years after the facts which it claims to describe. Admittedly, this argumentum e silentio is not strong in itself, but it is strengthened by the fact that Brahmins have reconverted ex-Hindus ever since the forcible conversions by Mohammed bin Qasim in A.D. 712. The ritual effecting conversion into the Arya fold has been available and in use since Vedic times.

There is ample Christian testimony from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century that the majority of converts were taken back into the Hindu fold, and that those who remained Christian were mostly the individuals who, driven out of their castes on account of their vices or scandalous transgressions of their usages, are shunned afterwards by everybody (quoted by Jeevan Kulkarni in Historical Truths & Untruths Exposed). The people affected by this conversion and reconversion process were mostly, but not exclusively, from the lower castes.


French missionary Jean-Antoine Dubois: And there is no stronghold of evil so impregnable as Brahmins.


Norman MacLeod : The Brahmin is therefore well worth looking at! We have more to do with him than with the Czar of all the Russians!


Just as well, the missionaries knew whom to hold responsible for their failure: The Brahmin is therefore well worth looking at! We have more to do with him than with the Czar of all the Russians. The battle we have to fight with him is not against guns or rifles, not against flesh and blood. This assessment, written in a mood of vexation by Rev. Norman MacLeod in 1871, was comparatively mild next to what Abbe Dubois had written (and of which MacLeod approved) in 1820: And there is no stronghold of evil so impregnable as Brahmins.

The well-spring of anti-Brahminism is doubtlessly the Christian missionaries greedy design to rope in the souls of Hindus. From there onwards, it spread through the entire English-educated class and ultimately became an unquestionable dogma in India’s political parlance. Communist historians and sociologists have been fortifying it by rewriting Indian history as a perennial struggle between Brahmin oppressors and the rest. When defending the Mandal report in 1990, the then Prime Minister of India V.P. Singh could say that Brahmins have to do penance for the centuries of oppression which they inflicted on the Backwards, without anyone questioning his historical assumptions. Anti-Brahminism is now part of the official doctrine of the secular, socialist Republic of India. [6]


1. Francis Xavier’s greatest success, though he didn’t live to see it, was to have the Holy Inquisition brought to Goa. The extraordinary perversions and cruelty practiced by this Church tribunal against the native Goan population have been recorded in The Goa Inquisition by A.K. Priolkar.

2. Not only Robert de Nobili, but St. Thomas is being roped in as a mascot of inculturation. Ivan Fernandez, in “Hindu-Christian Dialogue Produces Results”, in the Jesuit magazine Jivan, May-June 1994, New Delhi, writes, “Hindu scholars have for the first time accepted Christian contribution to Indian philosophy and conceded that Indian Philosophy does not necessarily mean Hindu Philosophy…. Some of the issues raised [in the symposium organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and the Jesuit Philosophical Research Institute, Madras,] asked if there actually were Christian thinkers in the country. If so, what were their framework and concerns?… It is important to raise these issues since the Christian presence in India dates back to the beginning of the Christian era itself. Tradition says, St. Thomas the Apostle, who visited and preached in Kerala … was martyred in Madras. This seminar is not just meant to prove Christian contribution but to demand one’s membership in society as a grown up …” says Anand Amaladass. “Indian philosophy today cannot be considered the property of any one particular community in the country, even if its major contribution has come from, till now, the Hindu community.”

3. See Catholic Ashrams: Sannyasin or Swindlers by Sita Ram Goel, New Delhi, 2010

4. For St. Paul on slavery see Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-25 & 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and Philemon. See also 1 Peter 2:18-25, which begins: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.”

5. It should be understood here that the theory has been proved to be false. See Shrikant G. Talageri’s Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism and K.D. Sethna’s Karpasa in Prehistoric India: A Chronological and Cultural Clue.

6. Excerpted from Indigenous Indians: Agastya to Ambedkar, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1993.


St. Thomas and Caste – Ishwar Sharan


The exploitation of the Christian faithful by the Christian clergy has been going on from the very beginning. St. Paul returned the runaway slave Onesimus to his Christian owner Philemon of Colosse in Phrygia—the Epistle of Paul to Philemon being the covering letter he sent with him—and St. Thomas is depicted in art with two slaves, two lions and a cloak of peacock feathers—hardly an image of a servant of the poor! — Ishwar Sharan


Paul & Onesimus


In his article “In Memory of a Slain Saint”, C.A. Simon wrote, “St. Thomas spent the last part of his life in Madras preaching the Gospel. A large number of people listened and embraced the way of life preached by him. The oppressed and downtrodden followed him and claimed equal status in society as it was denied them by prevailing social norms. He condemned untouchability and attempted to restore equal status to women.”

This stereotyped and oft-times-proven untrue description of ancient Hindu society has been promoted by Christians for centuries. By repeating it C.A. Simon shows that his interest in writing the article is not “purely academic”. He is championing a cause, and he has presented St. Thomas as the champion and pioneer of a cause—Liberation Theology.

This new role for St. Thomas is absurd, and whatever the merits of the new ideology—and they are doubtful—neither Jesus nor his brother Judas Thomas can be presented as champions of the oppressed and downtrodden if we are to believe the Acts of Thomas. Its first verses record that Thomas was sold into slavery by the very Jesus whose “message of liberation” he is supposed to have brought to India. The Acts then describe how he enslaves the aristocratic women he converts and destroys their families. Finally we learn that this is the reason that King Mazdai of Parthia has him executed—and it is a good reason.

C.A. Simon seems not to have read the Acts of Thomas or heard the traditional Syrian Christian version of the apostle’s “good works” in India. In one of these tales St. Thomas only accepts Brahmins into his new creed—with the curious exception of one barber convert. This isolated soul is never given a place in the Christian community even during the apostle’s lifetime, and to present St. Thomas as a champion of the poor is ironical, even grotesque—but then Liberation Theology itself is proving to be just another means by which the Church can further exploit the faithful.

Indeed, the exploitation of the faithful has been going on from the very beginning. St. Paul returned the runaway slave Onesimus to his rightful owner Philemon—the Epistle of Paul to Philemon being the covering letter he sent with him—and St. Thomas is depicted in art with two slaves, two lions and a cloak of peacock feathers—hardly an image of a servant of the poor!


 

Pope Gregory XV Quote


Today the number of lower caste converts to Christianity is myriad and they are no more accepted by their upper caste brethren than was their mythical first century barber ancestor. The plain truth is that the Churches of India are riddled with caste and to highlight this situation, Scheduled Caste Christians demonstrated against the untouchability practised in the Church when Pope John Paul II visited India in 1986. They probably did not know that Pope Gregory XV (r. 1621-1623) had sanctioned caste within the Indian Church and that his edict has never been rescinded. Earlier in 1599 the Council of Diamper and again in 1606 the Council of Goa had sanctioned the same. These sanctions have governed Catholic practice ever since—though Christians piously maintain that caste is contrary to Christ’s teachings.

The grievances of Scheduled Caste Christians remain to this day and often surface in the national press—to the embarrassment of wealthy bishops who have interests to protect other than those of their flock. This happened in July and August of 1990 in the columns of the Indian Express. On August 2nd a letter appeared by Raju Thomas of Madras. He held M.A., B.Th., B.D. and M.Th. degrees, and wrote:

No self-respecting Scheduled Caste Christians will ask the Government to include them in the Scheduled Caste list. Is it not shameful for the Indian Church, even after centuries of Christian tradition, to say that it has a vast majority of untouchable Christians?

I myself come from a state where Christianity reached in the first century itself before it went to Europe, and that state, Kerala, the highly literate state in India, has more than 35 lakh untouchable Christians out of a total population of 51 lakh Christians. But these majority Scheduled Caste Christians do not have any voice in the Church administration and in the ecclesiastical structure.

The Christian population of India is just 3 per cent out of the 800 million total population of India, and 85 per cent of the Christians are from the Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes. The Scheduled Caste Christians, instead of asking for reservation on par with the Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Scheduled Castes, should demand that the Indian Church implement reservation first in their home itself. Charity should begin at home!

The Indian Christian Church has the best educational, technical and medical institutions in the country and it is unfortunate that the presence of the untouchable Christians in these prestigious institutions is worse than anywhere else. Why is the Indian Church blind to this brutal injustice and discrimination committed to its own family members?

While the Indian Church enjoys the minority rights guaranteed in the Constitution it violates the legitimate human rights of Dalit Christians. Instead of begging the Government, the Church must render justice to her own—least brothers and sisters—by sharing power and wealth with Scheduled Caste Christians in proportion to their population.[1] The Church must respond to the cries of the Dalit Christians.

Once justice is established at home the Church can put pressure on the Government of India to get the Constitution amended to help Scheduled Caste Christians to get the constitutional rights enjoyed by their Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist counterparts.

This letter—in places self-contradictive—shows an insensitivity to the position of Hindus and ignores the financial privileges enjoyed by the Church. Christian religious and educational institutions are fully autonomous and collect large foreign donations, unlike their Hindu counterparts which must accept state-controlled administrations and finance. That these foreign moneys collected in the name of the Scheduled Castes almost never reach the Scheduled Castes, is the cause of on-going scandal in churches of every denomination.


The New Indian Express Masthead


We did not comment on these issues in our reply to Raju Thomas. We had observed over the years that the Indian Express while permitting Christians to lecture Hindus in its columns, did not permit Hindus to comment on what it deemed to be Christian matters. But we did take issue with the assertion that Christianity had reached Kerala in the first century C.E. as this was a matter of Indian history. The Indian Express now had two copies of our reply to C.A. Simon’s feature which it had declined to publish even in summary, as well as Swami Tapasyananda’s article which it had simply ignored. There was no excuse for the Indian Express letters editor to allow Raju Thomas his claim unless he wished to provoke a response. We responded on August 3rd:

Mr. Raju Thomas may assert that he comes from an Indian state where Christianity was established in the first century C.E. (I.E. Aug. 2), but he must know that his claim has never been substantiated in history. Even the generous K.S. Latourette, in A History of the Expansion of Christianity, does not allow the possibility of Christians coming to India by any route before the third century C.E.

The consensus among most historians who do not have a theological axe to grind, is that the first Christians to arrive in India, landing at Cranganore, Kerala, came in 345 C.E. They were four hundred refugees belonging to seven tribes of West Asia, who were fleeing religious persecution by the Persian Shapor II. Their leader was a Syrian who is known to history as Knae Thomman, Thomas Cananeus, Thomas of Cana, or Thomas the Merchant. It is probably this man whom the Syrian Christians later converted into the first century apostle-martyr St. Thomas.

Though the myth of St. Thomas coming to Kerala in 52 C.E. was invented by Syrian Christians, it was resurrected and embellished in the sixteenth century by Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries who needed a pious story of persecution to cover up their own persecution of the Hindus. During this period they and their Portuguese masters destroyed the great Shiva temple on the Mylapore beach, the Murugan temple on Little Mount and the Shiva temple on Big Mount, and built Christian churches on the ruins.

The Roman Catholic Church continues to promote this vicious tale as part of her ancient effort to vilify Hindus and malign Hinduism—and, of course, to support her religious and political claims to India. Those interested in the ongoing campaign may refer to an excellent article by Swami Tapasyananda called “The Legend of a Slain Saint to Stain Hinduism’ in the recent June issue of The Vedanta Kesari published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Madras 600004.

This letter was not published in the Indian Express but a copy of it had been sent to Raju Thomas. He replied on August 31st:

Thank you for the copy of your letter to the editor, Indian Express, Madras, dated 3 August 1990. I have been expecting that that letter would be published in the columns of the Indian Express. But so far it is not being published.

I have already posted a long letter on this issue as many people have come forward with the same question about the existing of Christianity in the first century in the Indian subcontinent.

Yes, Mr. Ishwar Sharan, I too agree with your views that Christianity did not exist in the first century in the Indian subcontinent. It is only a traditional belief that St. Thomas had come to India and converted the Brahmins to Christianity but this claim does not have any historical proof. However, this traditional belief of the Christians in Kerala is so deep-rooted that they relentlessly go on propagating it.

You may ask me if such is the case, why did I too assert that Christianity had come to India before it had reached Europe? My answer to this question is that I deliberately wanted an open debate and discussion on this subject. But except a few nobody has come with challenging theories or written in the Indian Express. But why? We will be able to challenge and question such falsified histories and traditional beliefs only when we take up such issues to the public and do not keep them as the top secrets. But the question is: How many of our ‘intellectuals’ are ready to have open-minded debates and discussions? Our sole aim is to eat, drink, make money and enjoy. This is the Indian reality. How many of us take up discussion on issues? We are concerned about the pension, non-supply of water, not getting facilities in the buses and trains, etc. Is this what a healthy society is to think and debate? I do not know.

I also agree with your opinion about the historicity of the Thomas Christians in Kerala in ancient Cheranadu. I also have some if not full soft corner towards your argument: “… this man whom the Syrian Christians later converted into the first century apostle-martyr St. Thomas.” I am sure provided much light is shed on this argument the truth will certainly come out.

Do you know the real story of these Jerusalem Christians who had come to Kerala? Today their total number is 1,60,000 and 1 lakh within the Roman Catholic Church and 60 thousand in the Jacobite Church. It is also unfortunate that these Christians (?) do not maintain any kind of relationship with other Christians in India, no marital relationship, not giving baptism to non-Knaya Christians in their church, not allowing Dalit Christians in their houses, etc. They want to keep up the purity of their blood. In fact they are the worst enemies of the Dalits in Kerala.

Your other remarks on the Franciscans and the Jesuits, etc., have to be seriously studied. I am interested in this kind of research works. But do we have sufficient documents? I am very much enthusiastic to get that article, “The Legend of a Slain Saint to Stain Hinduism” by Swami Tapasyananda, published in The Vedanta Kesari. Would you help me to get one copy of this?

Thank you for writing to me. I welcome more enlightenment in these matters. I do not know whether the Indian Express will publish my letter which is a lengthy one.

The Indian Express did not publish Raju Thomas’s letter even in an edited form, as it had not published ours. The Indian Express did not approve of “issues” in its precious columns—especially as they were not perceived by the experts to add prestige or profits to the newspaper’s already overflowing coffers. These were the “principles of publishing” followed by most big post-independence Hindu newspaper publishers. It was not that nobody has come with challenging theories or written to the Indian Express as Raju Thomas thought, but rather that they weren’t published after numerous submissions. We replied to Raju Thomas on September 5th:

Thank you for the letter dated August 31st.

You will have received by now Swami Tapasyananda’s article. He had originally submitted it to the Indian Express. They ignored it. After waiting three months he published the article in his own magazine.

I, too, submitted an essay debunking the myth of St. Thomas to the Indian Express in March. It was a reply to C.A. Simon’s article which appeared in the Express Weekend last December. My submission was also ignored for months. Finally the IE resident editor rejected it in June with the lame excuse that he had no space and that I had already had my say in a letter published in the Express Weekend.

My latest letter replying to your statement on St. Thomas, is only one of many sent to the Indian Express over the last eight months. Many others have written also and I have copies of their letters. None of these letters have been published. I am sure that your letter will also not be published. My long experience is that the Indian Express only publishes material promoting the myth of St. Thomas as true Madras history (excepting for the three edited letters which appeared in the Express Weekend early this year).

The Indian Express consistently suppresses all material, no matter how well documented, that shows up this political tale for what it really is.

So you see, Mr. Thomas, the “fearless Jesuits” in that editorial office are no different from your priests and our politicians. They are full of grand rhetoric and promises of salvation which it does not cost them anything to make. But the moment they perceive that the truth threatens their bank accounts and official positions, they are utterly ruthless in suppressing it and the persons who speak it. Gandhiji once said that it was cowardice that was the threat to our nation, not poverty. I believe he was right — again!

As it is, I am blacklisted at the Indian Express offices and none of my letters are published any longer. This will please many of their Christian readers, for I am a long-time student of Christian history and a critic of Church politics and ideology.

This should not be misunderstood to mean that I am hostile to Christians of faith. This is not the case at all. In fact I see the Christian layman as the first victim of Church politics. This is why I firmly believe that Christians activists like yourself must go to the Church for redress of your grievances before you go to the Government. To go to the Government is to let the Church off the hook. Why do that? What has the Church done for you really? The whole edifice of the Church is built on the emotional, psychological and material exploitation of the poor and ignorant.

You know better than I do that the Church has vast quantities of foreign money meant for the poor which never reaches the poor. You also know that caste is fully sanctioned within the Church. So-called saints like Francis Xavier, John de Britto and Robert de Nobili all practiced untouchability—not to mention the fabled St. Thomas! There is one—perhaps two—papal bulls sanctioning caste divisions in churches and social relations. And there are the edicts of the Council of Diamper which sanction the same. To argue that caste is un-Christian is really beside the point.

But to return to the original subject of this letter. My essay called The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Templeis in the press but its publication has got delayed. It will be out in a month or so and I will send you a copy.[2] You will discover that I make no statement and draw no inference that I cannot document.

I am very happy that you have written to the Indian Express about this issue. And I am sorry that your letter will not get published. But because it will not be published I would very much like to have a copy of it, if you would kindly send me one. I continue my study of this myth and am always eager for new references and points of view.

Raju Thomas did eventually send us a copy of his lengthy letter. It is a bitter indictment of the Roman Catholic Church and Church of South India for the discriminatory treatment that they have meted out to their Scheduled Caste converts. We do not include it here because it repeats in detail what he had already written to us on August 31st. But the Indian Express should have at least published edited portions of it including his retraction of the claim that St. Thomas had come to India. In the letter he quotes Jesus in the Gospel of Mathew 23:15 which applies as much to campaigning secular journalists as it does to Christian missionaries:

Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.


1. Pope John Paul II has reaffirmed that the Church is an autocracy not a democracy—and that he is the present autocrat.

2. The reference is to the first edition of this book which was published in February 1991. The observations made here about the editorial policy of the Madras edition of the Indian Express are as true today—June  2010—as at the time of writing the letter in September 1990.


Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese plans blockbuster movie on St. Thomas – Ishwar Sharan


“I therefore on behalf of Hindus and those others who proudly acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus, warn this Karunanidhi-Sonia duo to desist from trying to patronise the falsification of history about the presence in Tamil Nadu of Saint Thomas, to legitimise the Portuguese destruction of the Shiva temple to build the Santhome Church. ” — Dr. Subramanian Swamy


Portuguese ships


Francis Xavier


Roberto de Nobili


Pope John-Paul II & Archbishop Arulappa


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict in Rome


Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore A.M. Chinnappa: Promoting the St. Thomas tale by Dravidian politics and cinema.


Tamil Nadu CM Karunanidhi & San Thome Bishops: Promoting the St. Thomas tale at the expense of Indian history.


The silence of Pope John Paul II on St. Thomas during his visits to India in 1986 and 1999, and the categorical statement of his successor Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 that St. Thomas did not visit South India, put the cap on the St. Thomas fable for all time to come – except in India. In India the Church operates rather like the European Church operated in the Middle Ages: the Pope in Rome may say what he likes but the bishop in his Indian diocese will do what he likes in connivance with the local government so long as he can deliver the Christian vote to the state’s politicians. When Dr. Koenraad Elst, an agnostic “cultural Catholic” scholar from Belgium writes in the foreword of this book that “in contrast with European Christians today, Indian Christians live in a seventeenth century bubble, as if they are too puerile to stand in the daylight of solid historical fact, … at the command of ambitious “medieval” bishops who mislead them with the St. Thomas in India fable for purely selfish reasons”, he has understood the Indian Christian and the Indian Church exactly. Therefore it is not surprising that The Indian Catholic, Kochi, reported on 12 June 2008 that:

The Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore is planning to produce a 300 million rupee movie on St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, revered as the Apostle of India.

Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa, who heads the archdiocese, presented the 30 crore project before a meeting of Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council seeking their support this week.

The project, scheduled to be inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, is expected to match Hollywood big-budget movies such as Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments in budget and in quality.

Church officials plan to launch the project on July 3, the feast day of St. Thomas, in the San Thome Basilica campus in Chennai. The 70-mm, two-and-half-hour feature film would have the bigwigs of Indian film industry on the credit line.

Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of Faith, supports the project along with the bishops in Tamil Nadu, media said quoting Archbishop Chinnappa.

St. Thomas is believed to have arrived in Kerala in 52 AD and established seven churches on the western coast. Tradition also holds that he was martyred in 72 AD in Mylapore. Hence the churches in Kerala and Tamil Nadu have special importance for the movie, said the archbishop.

The archbishop also hoped that a film on the life of St. Thomas would have spiritual consolation for people of all walks of life as it evolved around the theme of human equality and dignity for all.

The film will be made in Tamil first, then in Malayalam and Hindi and later dubbed into various other languages, including English and French, according to Church officials.


Plaster idol of Thomas on the fake tomb in San Thome Cathedral.


In response to this announcement, we wrote on The Ishwar Sharan Archive website that Roman Catholic bishops in India, rather than making a movie on a fictitious first century Christian missionary, owe Hindus an abject apology and crores of rupees in reparations for the Church’s crimes in India over the centuries. But if they insist on the Rs. 30 crore movie, are they going to tell the public the following facts about Judas Thomas as recorded in the Acts of Thomas, that:

  • Thomas was the look-alike twin brother of Jesus;
  • Jesus sold Thomas as a slave for thirty pieces of silver;
  • Thomas deceived the kings of Parthia-”India” who gave him respect and hospitality;
  • Thomas was a thief;
  • Thomas abducted and locked-up women;
  • Thomas engaged in various forms of black magic; and
  • Thomas was executed by a Zoroastrian king who had initially shown him mercy and asked him to repent of his crimes and leave the country.

Are the bishops going to tell the public this ancient apocryphal story? Or are they going to twist the tale as their Portuguese predecessors did and make Brahmins the villains of the piece and a Hindu king the assassin of a Christian saint?

The St. Thomas in India legend was invented to vilify Hindu priests and malign the Hindu community. It adds insult to injury as Hindus were and are today its real victims, not Christians and their apostle Thomas. It is a vicious communal tale created by a ruthlessly colonizing Roman Catholic Church, and it has no place on the modern Indian cinema screen. That Catholic bishops should even consider such a production tells us a lot about the Catholic Church in India today.

But what we and the historians of the last two hundred years may say and think about St. Thomas doesn’t matter in today’s racist Dravidian Tamil Nadu state. Peer Mohamed in the Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, reported on 24 June 2008:

Call it the Dasavataram impact. A Rs. 50-crore-plus mega production in silver screen on Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, who had spread Christian faith in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is underway.

A period film on St. Thomas spanning continents is to be made in Tamil first with the help of technicians from Hollywood, Bollywood and Kollywood. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi is launching the ambitious project of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mylapore on July 3, 2008.

“We are not looking for a superhero like Kamal Hassan or Vijay to play the lead role of St.Thomas. When Mel Gibson made Passion of the Christ, he chose James Caviezel, a look-alike of Jesus to play the lead. We are searching for someone who resembles St.Thomas,” said Dr Paulraj Lourdusamy, the chief researcher and script-writer of the film.

Though the film is a tragedy, ending with the killing of St. Thomas in Chennai, it will have enough entertainment with nine songs.

The blueprint of the film says, “In the two songs that Saint Thomas sings in Kerala, 22 types of dances of Kerala with their distinct music will be included. In a song that St. Thomas sings in Tamil Nadu, we will present 12 types of dances of Tamil Nadu and their special music as the background to the songs.”

The story begins with the journey of the apostle to Edessa, a town in Syria around 29 AD. Thomas’s travel through Persia to Taxila in modern Afghanistan (sic) and return to Jerusalem is also covered. He reaches Kerala by around 52 AD and the next 20 years of preaching Christian faith in the continent is the major part of the film. St. Thomas’s meeting with Tiruvalluvar is an interesting part of the story.

His encounter with the “reported animal and human sacrifice in the Chennai of first century” may create some controversy once the film is ready for release in 2010.

The Deccan Chronicle, it should be noted, is a popular pro-Christian, pro-Congress newspaper. It could not resist the last line about animal and human sacrifice in Mylapore, though in fact there are no records at all for first century Mylapore and the records that do exist for later centuries are moneylenders account books. Tamizhchelvan wrote to the newspaper two days later on June 26th:

This is with reference to the report Rs. 50 crore film on St. Thomas (DC, June 25). It has been proved beyond doubt by historians that the St. Thomas history propagated by Christians of South India is a myth. Even the Christian records talk about different Thomases at different periods and the Vatican has not upheld even one! The so-called encounter between Thomas and Tiruvalluvar is also a concocted one to give a Christian colour to Tirukkural and draw a parallel between Bible and Tirukkural. The South Indian Christian community has lost its foundation after the categorical statement of Pope Benedict, which demolished the myth of St. Thomas, and this attempt of making a film on Thomas is just to reinvent the myth and establish it again in the minds of the gullible masses, and it is unfortunate that the chief minister is helping such a dubious cause.


Tiruvalluvar


Tamil scholars agree that the Tamil saint and cultural icon Tiruvalluvar lived before the Christian era, dating him ca. 100 BC with some scholars dating him as early as ca. 200 BC. Whatever the exact date, he could not have been a contemporary of St. Thomas. He lived his whole life in Mylapore and the Tamil year is dated from his birthday in January. His samadhi shrine is believed to have been close by or in the courtyard of the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore sea front. Tiruvalluvar’s shrine and the Shiva temple were destroyed by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. The Deccan Chronicle, continuing its report on the mega-movie project, said on July 2nd:

Superstar Rajinikanth may play the role of ancient Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar in the Rs 50-crore-plus movie St. Thomas being produced by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chennai-Mylapore. The film will also have actors like Ajith, Vijay and Vikram in guest roles, according to the film crew.

“The film is to be launched by chief minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday. We are in discussion with Hollywood actor James Caviezel who played Jesus in Passion of the Christ. He may act in our film as Jesus. Some other Hollywood actor will play St. Thomas,” said Dr Paulraj Lourdusamy, chief researcher and scriptwriter of the film.

“An important part of the film is St. Thomas’s meeting with sage poet Tiruvalluvar. We thought Rajinikanth would fit that role perfectly. We are trying to discuss the subject with him,” Paulraj added.

Dr. Paulraj who has three doctorates earned from various foreign universities, spent one year in libraries across the world to find the existing literature on St. Thomas. Well-versed in French, he did the script in French first and then in English.

“The script is currently being translated simultaneously into Tamil and Malayalam. The film will be made in Tamil and Malayalam first. The shoot will be conducted in Idukki and Munnar region in Kerala which still preserves the 2,000-year-old biodiversity intact,” said Mr. Sekar, production manager of the film.

The film is to be produced in the name of St. Thomas Apostle of India Trust which has Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa, Deputy Archbishop Lawrence Pius, Treasurer of the diocese Mr. Ernest Paul and Dr. Paulraj as office-bearers.

And finally the day after the famous launch of the infamous film project by an Archdiocese known for its criminal bishops, the Deccan Chronicle reported on July 4th:

Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has asserted that the DMK-led alliance would sweep the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state.

“Mr Peter Alphonse wished me success in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls. His wishes will come true,” he said while speaking at the launch of the film St.Thomas here on Thursday.

“I am proud of being referred to as the head of a “minority” government as my government has always toiled for the welfare and well-being of the minorities,” said Mr. Karunanidhi.

Donning the believer’s mantle, the normally atheist chief minister said, “Whether I am accepted by God is more important than whether I accept God. I have to help humanity for being accepted by God. The audience applauded when he said this statement, which he had also made in the presence of Sai Baba last year.

The chief minister said the martyrdom of St. Thomas had inspired him in many ways. Drawing a parallel to King Pari of the Sangam age, who was also killed by the conspiracy of several kings, he said, “History remembers those who were killed by conspirators. St. Thomas was also a victim of conspiracy.” Mr Karunanidhi launched the film by operating the movie camera.

State electricity minister Arcot N. Veerasamy, Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chennai-Mylapore, Dr. Paulraj Lourdusamy, chief researcher and scriptwriter of the film, were present at the function.

And finally The New Indian Express, usually the first newspaper to report on St. Thomas and his Indian trials, did not have anything to say until the day after the function on July 5th:

The life of St. Thomas, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, who lived in India, preached the Gospel and died a martyr at Mylapore, is soon to be made into a feature film. The project will be funded by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chennai, Mylapore and the script has been written by Dr. Paulraj Lourdusamy.

Launching the movie on Thursday at Santhome Church, where St Thomas’ grave is located, chief minister M. Karunanidhi said history chose who to highlight, and St Thomas was one such a noble soul. “We remember the man who was murdered, St. Thomas, but not the one who killed him. History shows us who is to be remembered,” he announced.

On a lighter vein, he added that it seemed fit that an atheist like him should be attending the launch of a movie by a “minority community”, because his government has been hailed a minority government in the recent past. “By asking me if I’ve accepted god, would only degrade your god who is so great. On the contrary, let’s strive to be good people for god to accept us,” the chief minister added. The movie, said Archbishop Dr A.M. Chinnappa of Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore, would be made in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and English, and later, in all languages of the world “It is not an attempt to convert people to our faith but to convey the message of this great saint,” he added. Profits from the movie will be used to establish the Archbishop Chinnappa’s Educational Fund, that will provide higher education to a least 5,000 poor students.

The industry, meanwhile, is rife with rumour that leading stars like Ajith and Vikram have been approached for special appearances in the movie.


Subramanian Swamy


Lastly, in a strongly worded statement Dr. Subramanian Swamy, President of the Janata Party, said on July 8th:

The recent announcement that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr. Karunanidhi will patronize screening of the mega budget movie on Saint Thomas and his fictitious missionary activities in the first century in Tamil Nadu, read with the Union Government’s decision to cancel the allotment of forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board intended for creating facilities for housing and parking Hindu pilgrims, are a part of the pernicious and sinister attempt to put the Hindus under siege, about which I have been warning the nation for the last three years.

Around the mid sixteenth century, two anti-Hindu brutalities were committed by foreigners. The first was the demolition of the Sri Rama Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya by an agent of the invading, plundering Babar and the second was the destruction of the hoary Shiva temple by the invading Portuguese barbarians. The Hindu society was not prepared for these uncivilised hordes, and hence remained mute witness to the destruction and sacrilege.

But no more. The Hindu has now stood up. Hence there is now a Ramjanmabhoomi movement in the country with a determination to re-build the temple. The Karunanidhi-Sonia duo attempt to demolish the Rama Setu by implementing the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project was challenged, and despite the duo being in power in Chennai and Delhi, the duo was unable to marshal arguments in the Supreme Court. The Hindus carried the day and the project has gone back to the drawing board.

I therefore on behalf of Hindus and those others who proudly acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus, warn this duo to desist from trying to patronize the falsification of history about the presence in Tamil Nadu of Saint Thomas, to legitimize the Portuguese destruction of the Shiva temple to build the Santhome Church. The church will have to go, and the Kapaleeshwara Temple re-built on that site. Hindus will do it with the help of sane and civilized Christians if possible, without them if necessary, and despite them if forced. When 83 percent Hindus unite, let those who are seeking to debase Hindu icons by bogus history realize that a religious tsunami will wash them away.

And this was the last we heard of the mega-movie project till today in July 2010. We are told that the project was shelved because of the negative response from Tamil scholars who were very unhappy with the idea that Tiruvalluvar, Tamil Nadu’s famous sage and cultural icon, was to be baptized a follower of Jesus — there was no Christianity as such in the first century and Judas Thomas was himself a practicing Jew. But there is no telling what cultural surprises the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese might spring on the Tamil people, and even tomorrow a movie with nuptial actors wrapped in wet see-through saris, jiggling their wide fertile hips, may be presented to the public by the present archbishop, with a prayer to Jesus that he may forgive the historical deceits and save the heathen soul of the Dravidian race from the machinations of the heathen Aryan race and its wicked Brahmin priests who are still camped in Mylapore even after so many thousands of years.