Category Archives: kerala

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


Thiruvananthapuram: 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 costs of the country,” said Nagaswamy. – Express BuzzIBNLive, Thiruvananthapuram, August 7, 2011


Kottakkavu St. Thomas Church


Include St. Thomas Church in Muziris heritage project says Bishop Dr. Joseph Karikkassery

Paravoor: St Thomas Church in Maliankara which was constructed as a historical monument of the visit of St Thomas Apostle, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, who landed in Maliankara in AD 52, should be included in the Muziris Heritage Project, urged Kottapuram Bishop Dr. Joseph Karikkassery.

Bishop Karikkassery visited the church in Maliankara, the monument constructed to perpetuate the visit of the apostle.

St Thomas is believed to have disembarked from a trading vessel at Kodungalloor Maliankara and baptised several people in various parts of the country. Cardinal Tisserant representing the Holy See, had installed the historical monument at St Thomas Church in Maliankara.

Bishop Karikkassery was accompanied by Diocese Chancellor Fr. Nixon Kattassery and Procurator Fr. Tegy Thanippilly. They were received by Fr. Joshy Muttickal and Fr. Shyjan Panackal at the church. – Express Buzz, Paravoor, April 21, 2011


Bishop Joseph Karikkassery


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.


Mosque and church in Palayam


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 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


Onesimus & St. Paul


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!


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


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 practiced in the Church when Pope John Paul II visited India in 1986. They probably did not know that Pope Gregory XV (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 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. ” — Dr. Subramanian Swamy


Portuguese shipsFrancis XavierRoberto de NobiliPope John Paul II & Archbishop Arulappa in 1986 at San Thome Cathedral: The Pope didn't believe Arulappa's fabricated evidence for St. Thomas in Mylapore.Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict in RomeArchbishop 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.


 

Alas and alack, Robert Beckford is no Dan Brown! – Ishwar Sharan


“Dr. Beckford’s ancestors where slaves brought from Ghana to Jamaica by European Christian traders who had a well developed “theology of slavery” to justify their inhuman trade. Considering this and the “divinely inspired” pro-slavery statement in St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon, why does Dr. Beckford still run after the white man’s god?” – Ishwar Sharan


Dr. Robert Beckford: St. Peter never went to Rome!


On 23 March 2008 the Deccan Chronicle, Chennai’s leading pro-Christian newspaper—Paul Johnson, Paulo Coelho and the Hindu-baiting, missionary-sponsored Kancha Iliah are its religious columnists—published the following item “St. Peter not the first Pope” on its last page. Definitely, it was a “bottom line” article. It said:

The Apostle Peter, also known as St. Peter, was not the first Pope and he never went to Rome, a new documentary has claimed.

In the documentary, The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples on Channel 4 [in London], prominent academics have accused the Vatican City of misleading the world over the fate of St. Peter whose journey to Rome, the Church claims, led to the spread of Christianity in the West.

According to its presenter Dr. Robert Beckford of Canterbury Christ Church University,  “We found there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that St. Peter was buried in Rome, but yet the rival theory has not got out because it challenges the Church.

“If you undermine its basis for power you undermine the Church. It is tragic that the faith gets reduced to manipulating the facts and to one Church trying to make itself superior to others.”

Indeed, it is tragic that Christian believers have been manipulating history from the very inception of Christianity, and we wonder if Dr. Beckford isn’t up to the same tricks himself. He is a Christian theologian and Christian theologians have been revising history to fit their theological needs ever since “prophecies” of the birth of Jesus were interpolated into various Old Testament books. There is also the great scandal of Josephus, where early Christians rewrote parts of his history of the Jews to make it look like Jesus was a real historical person. In fact, there is no historical evidence for him outside of the New Testament. This is an extraordinary circumstance considering the public drama Jesus is alleged to have played out in Palestine and all the Jewish and Roman scholars who were alive and writing books at the time.


The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples


But to return to Dr. Beckford and his documentary of the Apostles which includes a section on St. Thomas in India (a subject the Deccan Chronicle was careful to avoid in its news item). The Channel 4 web page for The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples says:

Robert Beckford also tries to find out if there is any truth in the story of Thomas, who, according to one tradition, founded Christianity in India in 52 AD. Most western scholars dismiss this but archaeological digs in India shows a trade with Rome and ancient Jewish settlements, indicating that the story could be true. In 1599, Portuguese colonists tried to destroy the traditions and practices of the Thomas Christians. Do the western Churches still have an interest in trying to marginalise them?

When we contacted Channel 4 and asked what were Dr. Beckford’s conclusions about St. Thomas in India, they replied that “Channel 4 is not responsible for third-party websites” and directed us to the program maker Carbon Media Limited. The Carbon Media web page for The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples has this blurb:

In this revealing two-hour C4 special, theologian Robert Beckford travels across the globe – to Jerusalem, India, Greece, Spain, Italy and Turkey – to reassess the fate of the 12 disciples.

Queries sent to Carbon Media Ltd. about the film’s content on St. Thomas in India were not replied to, so we wrote to Dr. Robert Beckford himself and asked him to give us his opinion of the St. Thomas in India legend. We promised to reproduce his statement without editing or alteration. He, too, did not reply.

We then went to YouTube and found the documentary The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples on the video-sharing website (it has since been removed; it would be interesting to know why it has been removed).


St. Peter by Andrea Vanni


Dr. Beckford does not believe the legend that St. Peter went to Rome but he does believe the legend that St. Thomas came to India.

The legend that St. Peter went to Rome is not true, as Dr. Beckford maintains. There is no historical evidence for St. Peter in Rome. Vatican City is built on an ancient pre-Christian necropolis and St. Peter’s Basilica is built over a cave temple of Mithra that existed in this vast graveyard which once stood outside the walls of Rome.

But the legend that St. Thomas came to India is not true either. There is no historical evidence for St. Thomas in India except Bardesanes’s pious romance called the Acts of Thomas. The ancient churches attributed to St. Thomas in Kerala — there are seven and a half of them — are built on the remains of destroyed Hindu temple foundations. They were built by a second migration of Syrian Christians who arrived from West Asia in the eighth and ninth centuries.

The Syrian Christian traditions of St. Thomas are not history. They are only pious traditions. To argue, as Dr. Beckford does, that because there was an ancient sea trade between West Asia and India, St. Thomas must have come to India, is amateurish and motivated scholarship. It is communal propaganda, not history. And herein lies the secret to Dr. Beckford’s “documentary” film on the fate of the apostles.

Dr. Beckford is a reader in Black Theology and Culture at Canterbury Christ Church University. He is also a leader of the black Caribbean Pentecostal Church in England. He holds great animosity for the Roman Catholic Church. For him Roman Catholic traditions are not true as they are the traditions of an elitist white man’s church, while the traditions of the Syrian Christian are true because he sees the Syrian Christians as a marginalised community and a victim of Roman Catholic imperialism.


Nasrani menorah


Dr. Beckford is wrong on all counts. The Syrian Christians are one of India’s wealthiest communities. They are also India’s most caste-conscious “white” community. No brown Dalit Christian has ever set foot in their houses or churches. When the Portuguese arrived in India in the sixteenth century, the community aligned itself with the invaders against the Hindu community who had originally given them refuge in the fourth century. That the Syrian Christian Church later suffered at the hands of the Jesuits because they wouldn’t give allegiance to the Roman pope is a different matter. You can say it served them right for their ingratitude and treachery.

But to return to Dr. Beckford the black theologian and innovative historian and his belief that St. Thomas came to India in the first century—an idea that is originally found in the third century Acts of Thomas—we draw his attention to Dr. Koenraad Elst’s article “St. Thomas and Anti-Brahminism” in The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Dr. Elst writes:

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:

• Thomas was an antisocial character;
• Jesus was a slave trader;
• 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.

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.

What does Dr. Beckford the theologian have to say about this?


Slave trade


Dr. Beckford’s African ancestors were slaves brought from Ghana to Jamaica by European Christian traders who had a well-developed “theology of slavery” to justify their inhuman trade. Considering this and the “divinely inspired” pro-slavery quotations above, why does Dr. Beckford still run after the white man’s god?

The documentary The Secrets of the Twelve Apostles seems to have disappeared off of the Internet. Oh well, we will try to keep its memory alive here so that Dr. Beckford can tell his grandchildren about how he was duped by the “St. Thomas” Syrian Christians in India.