Category Archives: chennai

St. Thomas Mount closed to public – HinduPost Staff


“The Catholic Church owns the largest portion of Bharat’s non-agricultural land. … The Catholic Church acts like a state within a state in the Union of Bharat yet gives its feudal allegiance to the Pope in Rome!” – HinduPost Staff


Big Mount

A tweet series on popular St. Thomas Mount in Chennai caught social media’s attention recently. This mount is a beautiful hill located close to Chennai international airport. Many Christians in Bharat believe the myth that Thomas the Apostle stayed and was “martyred” on this hill, although researchers and scholars have found no evidence to back this claim. The St. Thomas Garrison Church is located at the bottom of this hill. A shrine dedicated to Mary was built in 1523 on top of the mount, by invading Portuguese colonials. A flight of 160 steps leads up to the summit of the mount.

The tweet series mentioned that of late the shrine management has started restricting people who wish to come to the hill for activities other than praying; boards have been put up banning activities like walking, jogging, exercising etc on the hill.

St Doink Tweets

As mentioned in the tweet series, this board restricting entry has been put at the foot of the hill which clearly says morning and evening exercises are “banned” on the hill :

Catholic Church Sign Board

Mr. G. Christuraj, who is the parish priest and rector at St. Thomas Mount National Shrine about this issue. We asked him if such boards have indeed been put aimed at banning the usual activities of residents / visitors other than praying, and if the entire hill is owned by the shrine management.

He confirmed that boards have been put up at both gates at the bottom of the hill to prevent morning / evening walking and exercises. The reason he gave is that people were misusing the “privilege” granted by the Church management and disturbing the prayer activities. He said that people can still access the hill for walking, jogging, exercises on the following conditions:

1. They should be “appropriately dressed”.

2. They should avoid coming during Church prayer times (morning, noon and evening).

3. They cannot come right to the top where the shrine is located unless they wish to pray.

Mr. Christuraj claimed that the entire hill is owned by the Archdiocese of Madras—Mylapore, which comes under the Roman Catholic Church of India. It was originally “owned” by Portuguese missionaries who transferred control to the Church. He also added that locals themselves have expressed concern that some were using the hill as a “lovers park”, and hence the management had decided to take this step. He also confirmed that the Army’s OTA (Officers Training Academy) too uses the hill at times (around once a month) but that is done with permission of the Church management.

But the signage boards clearly mention “banned” and hence, going by the above conversation with Mr. Christuraj, the text on the signage boards needs to be corrected—as walking is not “banned” but “restricted”. Mr. Christuraj’s claim the entire hill is owned by the Catholic Church also needs to be probed.

Catholic Church: Largest non-agricultural land owner in Bharat

It is surprising that large pieces of land are still under the exclusive control of various churches in Bharat, which were allotted to them as grants by British and other invaders. Unfortunately, these parts of land were not nationalized after independence. In various states, land reforms were effected which aimed at distributing the land evenly but it seems that land owned by churches was not touched. There are very few details available on the internet and there is hardly any transparency in information regarding minute details of land owned by various Christian organizations and churches. As per this article written in 2014, Catholic Church owns the largest portion of Bharat’s non-agricultural land. Note, this does not include the land holdings of the Protestant Churches and other Christian sects.

According to the census of 2011, official records state Christian population as approximately 27.8 million, constituting 2.3 percent of total Bharat’s population. So organizations that control just 2.3% of population own the largest portion of land after government in this country. How much more skewed can the allocation of this most valuable resource be?

In the past, Catholic groups have expressed concerns and asked for a white paper on land dealings by the Church bishops and related powerful people, as this news report suggests. The Catholic Church in Bharat acts like a state within a state in the Union of Bharat yet gives its feudal allegiance to the Pope in Rome. Contrast this to the way many large Hindu temples are controlled by the Government, donations offered by devotees siphoned off, and temple lands sold / leased for a pittance or encroached by political-criminal mafias.

While the Church and its organizations exercise absolute control over land allotted to it by old colonial masters, pastors attempting conversions to Christianity have dared to enter holy Hindu lands like sacred Tirumala hills.

The Church in Bharat should seriously consider giving up a large chunk of its humongous land holdings, much of it in prime urban areas, which was bequeathed to it by European colonials who captured the same from natives. This land should be redistributed to benefit local communities. Or the Government has to take steps to nationalize this land bank currently under Church control, and use the same in a transparent manner for the nation’s development. – HinduPost, 16 September 2016

Portuguese church on St. Thomas Mount


Did a Hindu king kill St. Thomas? – Ishwar Sharan


Hindus will never hear from Christian leaders a sincere confession of wrongdoing. What Hindus will hear and see are more spurious histories of  St. Thomas and charges of “deicide” by motivated faith writers like Ponnu Elizabeth Mathew and unscrupulous newspaper editors like Aditya Sinha and Manoj Kumar Sonthalia.” – Ishwar Sharan


Manoj K. SonthaliaAditya SinhaPonnu Elizabeth Mathew


Sixty years after Independence, a great newspaper, The New Indian Express, lies dying in Mount Road, brought low by unprincipled editors and an indifferent owner.[1] The editors believe that cultivating religious superstitions and caste prejudice will raise readership and save their power positions. They are unscrupulous, no different than the criminal and communal politicians who sit in our Indian legislatures. But Aditya Sinha and Manoj Kumar Sonthalia, try as they might, have lost the race for subscriptions.

Informed readers of The New Indian Express have left the drab broadsheet for the more enlightened and interesting Deccan Chronicle. Still, Sinha and Sonthalia clutch at straws to maintain a presence in Madras, publishing Catholic propaganda to appease a minority readership and keep missionary travel writers employed. The result is that at least one incensed reader and senior journalist, B. R. Haran, has dubbed the paper the “Evangelical Express”. Ramnath Goenka, great freedom fighter and founder of The Indian Express, must be turning somersaults in heaven!


Big Mount


The tourist feature at issue here is a top-of-the-page, in-your-face piece of “historical” travel writing by Ponnu Elizabeth Mathew called “Where faith resides/The story of faith and courage/The story of a slain apostle/The story of St. Thomas Mount”. It appeared on 20 August 2007, in the Chennai edition of The New Indian Express. It was the usual sentimental story about St. Thomas in Chennai and focused on a description of the 16th Century Portuguese church at the top of Big Mount, called St. Thomas Mount.

The church is built on the foundations of a Hindu temple, though Ponnu Elizabeth Mathew neglected to mention this fact. The church contains on its altar reredos a famous “bleeding” stone cross said to have been carved by St. Thomas. That St. Thomas has never been described anywhere as a stone cutter seems to have escaped the writer’s notice, as does the old Palhavi inscription on the carving’s border which identifies it to be of Persian origin. It has been dated to the 8th Century by experts, as have other “St. Thomas” crosses found in Kerala churches. Crosses were not used by Christians to identify their religion until long after the Council of Nicea in the 4th Century, probably not until the 7th Century.

Another item of interest the article brought to the reader’s attention is the icon of the Virgin Mary, allegedly painted by St. Luke and brought to India by St. Thomas. There are seven of these icons by “St. Luke” distributed around the world, the most famous one being in Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica at Rome. All of them are medieval productions, and the idea that they could be associated with either St. Luke or St. Thomas is absurd. Both 1st Century apostles were practicing Jews and fierce iconoclasts. The cult of the Virgin Mary, like the cult of the cross, is a late development in the evolution of Christian religion. The protagonists of the St. Thomas tale always forget to put all the accoutrements and accretions of the apostle’s Portuguese legend into a 1st century context.

All these pious items of fable and romance would be of no account except that the legend carries at it heart a vicious communal tale of harassment and murder. St. Thomas, according to Ponnu Elizabeth Mathew, “…lived in hiding [at Little Mount] before he was slain by Raja Mahadevan, the leader on Mylapore, [on Big Mount].” Other versions of the Portuguese fable target Brahmins as the assassins of the apostle. The charge is false and deeply offensive to Hindus, and this has been brought to the attention of The New Indian Express editors years ago, when they were challenged about other stories of St. Thomas they had published and presented to readers as Indian history. On 29 June 2004, we wrote to the editor as follows:

“The allegation that St. Thomas converted a Mylapore king to Christianity and was then murdered is deeply offensive to Hindus as it implicates Hindus in the assassination of an important Christian saint. The true martyrs of the whole affair were the Hindus who lost their ancient Kapaleeswara temple on the beach when the Portuguese destroyed Mylapore. The Vatican has stated in a letter to me that the question of whether or not St. Thomas came to India is one for historians to decide.”[2]

This letter was published in The New Indian Express on 16 July 2004, after a reminder had been sent to the managing editor. He and his chief, blind and stubborn as they are about the implications of spreading the St. Thomas tale, did not want to know anything more about it.


Bishop Stephen NeillA History of Christianity in India - Stephen Neill


Ironically, the “historian” who has spoken out on the travels of St. Thomas, is Pope Benedict himself. He has stated that the apostle got as far as north-western India, now Pakistan, called Parthia or Gandhara in the 1st Century.[3] He is following the Persian cultural ambience and desert geography described in the Acts of Thomas, which is logical for a Catholic scholar to do. Another Christian historian, better equipped than the Pope to decide on St. Thomas in India, is Bishop Stephen Neill. In History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to 1707 A.D., he wrote:

“A number of scholars…have built on slender foundations what may be called Thomas romances, such as reflect the vividness of their imaginations rather than the prudence of rigid historical critics.”

Bishop Neill was greatly pained by the spread of a spurious St. Thomas history among Indians, such as Ponnu Elisabeth Mathew and her editors at The New Indian Express promote, and observes:

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


Dr. Koenraad Elst


More recently, Dr. Koenraad Elst, in an article called “Why Indians should reject St. Thomas and Christianity” (which can be accessed here) writes:

“In South India, the myth of St. Thomas provided the background for a few instances of temple destruction at places falsely associated with his life and alleged martyrdom, especially the St. Thomas Church replacing the Mylapore Shiva temple in Madras. In this case, the campaign of fraud is still continuing: till today, Christian writers continue to claim historical validity for the long-refuted story of the apostle Thomas coming to India and getting killed by jealous Brahmins. The story is parallel to that of Jesus getting killed by the Jews, and it indeed served as an argument in an elaborate Christian doctrine of anti-Brahminism which resembles Christian anti-Semitism to the detail. At any rate, it is a fraud.”

Indeed, it is a fraud, and a wicked fraud at that, filled with communal venom and religious bigotry. It is expected that lndian Christian writers like Ponnu Elizabeth Mathew would subscibe to it, but that editors Aditya Sinha and Monoj Kumar Sonthlia should assist in spreading the poison in Indian society is shocking and inexcusable, especially as they have been seized of the issue many times over over many years.


Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa


The bottom line is this, and the Archbishop in Madras, whose palace sits upon the ruins of the original Kapaleeswara Temple, may take note. The Church in India owes Hindus a full and unconditional apology for the vicious canard it has spread and repeated over the centuries accusing Hindus–a Hindu king and his Hindu priests–of the hateful murder of St. Thomas. It must apologise.


Arun Shourie


It must also apologise for the destruction of Hindu temples that started with the criminal Francis Xavier in the 16th Century and goes on till today in remote tribal areas, for the Inquisition in Goa that killed tens of thousands of innocents, for conversions made by force or inducement, and for the continued maligning of Hindu society and religion that takes place in churches outside of India by Indian Christian priests on tour. An eminent Hindu scholar no less than Arun Shourie has called for such an apology in his book Missionaries in India: Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas. He writes:

“By an accounting [of the calumnies heaped upon India and Hinduism] I do not mean some declaration saying, ‘Sorry’. By an accounting I mean that the calumnies would be listed, and the Church would declare whether, in the light of what is known now, the grounds were justified or not, and the motives which impelled those calumnies would be exhumed.”


Cardinal Oswald GraciasCardinal Ivan Dias


Can the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy in India make such a public confession and ask forgiveness of Hindu society? Probably not. It would be suicidal from their point of view. The Church has money power and political power. It controls much of Indian education and has psychological power. It has the sympathy of India’s secular intellectuals and through them has propaganda power, as seen in the fact of the publication of the newspaper article under review. But the Church does not have moral power.

Hindus will never hear from Christian leaders a sincere confession of wrong doing. What Hindus will hear and see are more spurious histories of St. Thomas and charges of “deicide” by motivated faith writers like Ponnu Elizabeth Mathew and unscrupulous newspaper editors like Aditya Sinha and Manoj Kumar Sonthalia. It is a crying shame and a sad testimony to what India has not gained after sixty years of independence–that is, independence from an imperialist Roman Catholic Church and its soothsayers in the English-language media.


1. This article was written in 2007 before the newspaper got a face lift. Aditya Sinha is no longer editor at the newspaper.

2. See the Vatican letter here

3. See Pope Benedict’s statement on St. Thomas here  


 

Jude Sannith and the Times of India: Telling lies for St. Thomas – Koenraad Elst


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


Times of India: When Mylapore saw a Miracle: 20 August 2011

Jude Sannith S.


When Mylapore saw a miracle – Jude Sannith

Overcome with awe at the aura that surrounds the National Shrine of St. Thomas Basilica at Santhome, you might tend to overlook a narrow lane that lies adjacent to the southern compound wall of the cathedral that leads you towards the seashore. A walk down this lane takes you to what seems to be a coastal hamlet that lies in the midst of what seems to be a tall weathered wooden pole. On looking back, the tall spire of the cathedral is almost hidden by the trees in the vicinity—it is the wooden structure that occupies pride of place and rightly so. After all, the very foundation of the Christian faith in the city owes its existence to the wooden pole and the legend behind it.


Tom's pole on beachPlaque on the St. Thomas Pole


“According to the legend, shortly after St. Thomas arrived in India in 52 AD, a large wooden log was carried downstream by a river in Mylapore, to lodge itself by the river’s mouth and result in a flood. Try as hard they might, the king’s men failed to remove the log, which prompted the king to call on a certain hermit who lived in the area and was believed to perform miracles. Along came St. Thomas with a blessed girdle that was given to him by Mother Mary (the mother of Jesus Christ),” narrates Fr. S. Kanickairaj, the rector and parish priest of the National Shrine of St. Thomas Basilica, as he retraces the legend, “He prayed for a while, and tied the girdle to the log. he heaved. With the first try, the log was removed and the river flowed into the ocean. St. Thomas then took a portion of the log and planted it, pointing towards the heavens, stating that the sea would never cross the pole.” The legend, according to Fr. Kanickairaj goes on relate how the pleased king, as a sign of gratitude, offered Mylapore and its surrounding areas to the saint, who then constructed a small chapel near the sea, which today (after a series of renovations) is the majestic Neo-Gothic-styled National Shrine of St Thomas Basilica—a development of what was perhaps the very first church in the city. “Many believe that the reason that Santhome escaped the Tsunami of 2004 is simply the existence of the pole which continues to stand upright today,” he says. “The St. Thomas Pole; in gratitude to God for saving Santhome from Tsunami 2004,”its inscription declares.

One of only three churches to be constructed over the tomb of an apostle (the other two being St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain), the National Shrine of St Thomas Basilica has all the makings of a site that abounds in religious significance. “The body of St. Thomas was interred here until the 12th century before the papacy decided to ship his remains back home,” explains Fr. Kanickairaj. The Cathedral Museum houses a tiny relic of the apostle with the spear that brought his end. In the same museum, one can find inscriptions in Portuguese about St. Thomas’ journeys in the city and his early ministry. Murals of the miracle by the river and rock carvings of King Gondophares (of the Indo-Parthian kingdom who St. Thomas preached to in North India) are also present. Just below the museum is the crypt where the body of St. Thomas was interred. “The site has miraculous powers even today, centuries after the saint died,” claims Fr. Kanickairaj. When the Portuguese wrested control in erstwhile Madras, they reconstructed St. Thomas’ small shrine into the original cathedral (whose design is displayed in the museum), before the English constructed the present Neo-Gothic basilica in 1896.

Despite the renovations that it has seen, there’s no denying that the National Shrine of St. Thomas Basilica was once the first church to be established in the city, when the apostle constructed a small shrine in the landed that the king offered to him. “A few more churches were built-in the areas around the shrine,” explains Fr. Kanickairaj, “Together, these churches were the first that the city saw.” The miracle-working power of St. Thomas—a man who walked with Jesus Christ has allured visitors from all over the world. Some of the more notable visits include Pope John Paul II who paid a visit to India in 1986 and prayed at the tomb of St. Thomas, and King Albert and Queen Paolo of Belgium who visited the city in 2008.

Today, the Basilica serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore – its tall, white spire a perfect indicator that it is indeed one of the most majestic religious sites in the city. The faithful throng the basilica, some of them offering intercessory prayers at the crypt while the others meditate in the peaceful confines of the church’s altar.” The church transcends the manmade boundaries of religion,” Fr. Kanickairaj says,”Simply put, it is faith that brings people to the basilica. In fact people of all religious faiths throng the shrine, imploring St. Thomas to work miracles in their lives.” – Times of India, Chennai, August 20, 2011


Dr. Koenraad Elst


Telling lies for St. Thomas – Koenraad Elst

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

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

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

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

See more


Old Kapali Temple


 

Blasphemous evangelical distortions – B. R. Haran


“It must be noted that in most of the schools run by the various Christian denominations, Hindu students—who obviously are more in number—are not allowed to sport tilaks on their forehead and girl students are not allowed to have flowers on their heads. Last year a boy was reprimanded and sent out by the management of a Christian school in Chennai city for having applied mehendi in his palms. … In another school in Dindigul, some boys, who were fasting for Sabarimala pilgrimage, were allowed to write their examinations only after having a haircut and removing their tulasi malas. In certain schools Bible is being taught and the Hindu students are forced to attend such classes. The parent community is also aware of these kinds of tortures undergone by their wards, but they prefer to keep quiet in the fear that their wards’ education would be affected.” — B.R. Haran


Kapaleeswara Temple looking at Rajagopram from the inside courtyard.


A Tamil weekly magazine (14 November 2008) has reported the following in its latest issue:

“On Friday 24 October, the devotees of the world-famous Sri Kapalishwarar Temple, Mylapore, Chennai were literally shocked when they were given five booklets each containing defamatory write-ups about Hinduism, Vedas, Vedic heritage, Hindu Shastras, Hindu culture & tradition, Sabarimala Ayyappan and denigrating articles on Sage Thirumoolar, Nayanmars and others, by a bunch of mean-minded Christian evangelists just in front of the temple entrance! For example, in the book titled Light in Darkness, it is written that, the word ‘sadhaa’ in the verse ‘Sadhaa Shivaaya’ means ‘forever’ and there is only one God, who blesses and takes care of this world forever, and he is ‘Jesus’ and the verse ‘Sadhaa Shivaaya’ denotes only him! All the five books are said to have contained more defamatory stories about Hindu Gods and religious gurus. Many people have called up this magazine and sent mails to it giving complete details about what happened in front of the temple that day.”

Incidentally, the Santhome Cathedral stands on the ruins of the original Kapaleeswarar Temple, which was destroyed by the Portuguese invaders and now the evangelical invaders are trying to destroy the Hindu culture and religion in front of this reconstructed Kapaleeswarar Temple.

This outrageous incident has brought out the following facts:

The evangelists have made bold to distribute blasphemous literatures and conduct a hate-campaign against Hinduism, that too in front of a very famous historic temple.

The minority appeasement policies of a “minority” government, which openly said that it is committed to the welfare of minorities, and its anti-majority stand have emboldened these evangelists to indulge in this kind of illegal activity.

The policemen who have been posted near the temple for security—Mylapore temple is under terror threat—have turned a blind eye to this venomous act, probably due to fear motivation from the “minority” government or money motivation from the evangelists.

The Hindus have just exposed their dhimmitude by remaining passive without acting against those evangelists. Sadly, not even one devotee has exhibited the courage to lodge a police complaint against them. The traders near the temple have not bothered to drive away those Christian rapscallions. Certainly the number of devotees must have easily outnumbered those evangelists and they must have caught them with their collars and taken them to the Mylapore police station. Instead of doing all this, some people have written to this particular weekly magazine.

Similarly, in Coimbatore, on 24 September, five staff of Chennai-based East Coast Christian Matriculation School have been arrested by the police for distributing blasphemous literatures propagating Christianity and degrading Hindu Gods and engaging in evangelisation. The police action has been prompted by the complaint given by the local people belonging to BJP and Hindu Makkal Katchi, who caught those evangelists and took them to the nearby police station. Ironically those evangelists have asked the students (most of them are Hindus) to distribute those pamphlets and the innocent students have obeyed the order out of fear. This has been done while taking the students on an excursion (study tour) to Ooty. If this is the way study tours are conducted by a Christian school, one can imagine the standard of education imparted by it.

In this context, it must be noted that in most of the schools run by the various Christian denominations, Hindu students (who obviously are more in number) are not allowed to sport tilaks on their forehead and girl students are not allowed to have flowers on their heads. Last year a boy was reprimanded and sent out by the management of a Christian school in Chennai city for having applied mehendi in his palms. His parents were made to run from pillar to post to reinstate him. In another school in Dindigul, some boys, who were fasting for Sabarimala pilgrimage, were allowed to write their examinations only after having a haircut and removing their tulasi malas. In certain schools Bible is being taught and the Hindu students are forced to attend such classes. The parent community is also aware of these kinds of tortures undergone by their wards, but they prefer to keep quiet in the fear that their wards’ education would be affected.

Recently in a church in Kakkan Nagar, in the Ambedkar slum dwellings of Adambakkam, a Chennai suburb, the pastor, during morning prayers, had openly ridiculed the practice of abhishekam of Amman deities saying that “they are nude and naked worships performed with an erotic motive.” As the pastor was addressing a group of “converts”, his blasphemous speech was heard by the slum dwellers through loud speakers. A Hindu woman, who was drawing drinking water from a nearby municipal water-pump, got outraged by the blasphemous speech, threw out the water from her vessel and filled it with gutter from the nearby ditch and threw it inside the Church. Only then the Hindu men realised the seriousness of the issue and reportedly damaged the window panes of the church. The pastor lodged a police complaint and the police promptly booked those Hindus, who damaged the window panes, and the pastor, who was the real culprit as per the law of the land, went scot-free!

These incidents may look like isolated due to the fact that the Hindus rarely exhibit courage to take on those evangelists, but these strategies adopted by the Church and missionaries are a regular phenomenon going on for years in the state. Mariamman and Aiyappan are two deities which attract millions of devotees, particularly the Scheduled Castes, as evidenced by the Sabarimala pilgrimage and Melmaruvathur pilgrimage. Since the SCs are the targeted audience of the evangelists, the churches come out with literatures, pamphlets and books denigrating Goddess Amman and Swami Ayyappan and ridiculing their worship.


Mu. Deivanayagam


An evangelist by name Dr Theivanayagam has founded an organisation by name Diravida Aanmeega Iyakkam (Movement of Dravidian Spiritualism) to spread the concept of “Thomas Christianity”, in the name of “Aadhi Christhuvam” (Early Christianity). Through this concept, he attempts to project Shaivism and Vishnavism as sub-sects of Christianity. He wrote a book titled Vivliyam (Bible), Thirukkural, Saiva Siddantham—Oppu Ayvu (Comparative Research) and published it in 1985-86 and has been steadfastly campaigning on this concept since then. Very recently, he convened Agila Ulaga Dravida Samaya Maanaadu (International Dravidian Spiritual Conference) under the aegis of Mylapore Diocese, in which the following blasphemous distortions were projected as researched facts:

Aadhi Christhuvam (Early Christianity) was promulgated and established in Tamilnadu by St. Thomas is the original religion of the Tamils.

The Aryan invaders distorted Thomas Christianity and conceived new concepts called Shaivism and Vaishnavism and hence they must be treated as the sub-sects of Thomas Christianity.

The “holy trinity” of “Father-Son-Holy-Spirit” is denoted by “Shiva-Muruga-Shakti” and the same is also denoted by “Brahmma-Vishnu-Rudran”.

The “holy trinity” concept has beautified the Indian religions. The “Holy-Spirit-Father” combination can be identified with “Arthanareeswarar” and “Sankaranarayanar” formations.

St Thomas’s teachings were abounding in Thirukkural and Sage Thiruvalluvar was a disciple of St. Thomas.

Many such blasphemous distortions were presented in the conference. Close on the heels of the conference the inauguration of the Rs 50 crore production of a movie on St. Thomas was also conducted. The chief guest of the inauguration was none other than the Tamilnadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi, who waxed eloquent on the “supposed” history of St. Thomas, despite having excellent knowledge on Thiruvalluvar and Thirukkural. Dr Deivanayagam has recently released a book titled Thiruneeraa, Siluvaiya? (Sacred Ash? Or the Cross?), in which, he has again brought out blasphemous distortions. A few examples are given below:

The Hindu practice of applying sacred ash on the forehead has actually started from Ash Wednesday the first day of the penance (Lent days). The sacred ash comprises within it all the three stages of death, resurrection and pardon due to the fact that the ash cannot be destroyed, as how the resurrected body cannot be destroyed.

When Vaishnavism got separated from Shaivism, the style of applying sacred ash was changed from horizontal pattern to vertical pattern.

Shiva is supposed to have given his left half to Shakti. If that left half is worshipped as woman, it becomes Shaivism and if the same is worshipped as man it becomes Vaishnavism.

Thiruneetru Pathigam, a collection of Shaivite hymns sung by sage Thirugnana Sambandhar comprises a number of messages of Christianity.

All Shaivite literatures namely Thirumurai, Thevaram, Thiruvasagam and Thirupathigam do not talk about the four Vedas namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. Also, as they carry the messages of Christ, the Bible is the only Veda.

All these things go to show that a sustained campaign has been going on for years and the momentum keeps on increasing with foreign aids and local support. The Dravidian political parties, which are bent on alienating the Tamils from the Hindu fold, have been aiding and abetting these anti-Hindu forces and this unholy nexus between them is creating havoc in the society. Though the religious gurus are deeply concerned about the speedy developments in this area of evangelisation and the alarming rate of conversion going on in the state, they feel helpless and fear the Dravidian rulers. So, the onus lies purely on political and social Hindu organisations to take legal action against persons like Deivanayagam and their organisations for destroying the Hindu cultural heritage and religious traditions posing a danger to communal harmony.

Evangelisation has gone beyond the limits of tolerance by abusing the constitutional provisions for freedom of religion and the general public must also be aware of their moral responsibility to act against those who indulge in blasphemy against their religion and the government machineries must also act as per the rule of law. – News Today, 11 November, 2008


Jesus Christ Book Cover


 

S. Muthiah: Chennai’s own holocaust denier – Ishwar Sharan


This article is a rejoinder to S. Muthiah’s column “The Mount of Thomas” on 7th January 2004 in The Hindu, Chennai.


S. Muthiah


All eminent historians writing on colonial India describe the devastation of Mylapore and its environs by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The respected Mylapore archaeologist Dr. R. Nagaswami, who has worked on San Thome Cathedral with the Jesuits, tells of the destruction of Jain and Buddhist temples along with all of the buildings of the Kapaleeswarar Temple on the Mylapore beach. Before him the Portuguese historian Gaspar Correa describes a holocaust that extended from Mylapore to Big Mount, south of the Adyar River. Even the St. Thomas protagonist Archbishop Arulappa admitted that Hindu temples once stood on the sites now occupied by St. Thomas–related churches in Madras, at Mylapore, Saidapet, and Big Mount now called St. Thomas Mount.

But the true story about the annihilation of Mylapore, the ancient Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage town established long before the Christian era, is not to be told by today’s self-appointed guardians of Chennai heritage. The truth is not overtly denied, it is simply not admitted, and is covertly replaced by a fabulous Christian tale about St. Thomas coming to Mylapore in 64 C.E. and getting himself killed eight years later on Big Mount. The tale turns the victims of a holocaust into the slayers of an important Christian saint, the doubting apostle of the Gospels, and–yes!–the twin brother of Jesus, no less. With this story to cover up the true story of Mylapore, Hindus can be made into “Christ killers” just like the Jews before them, and treated accordingly—damned and reviled by the Christian power then, the Portuguese, and damned and censored by the Christian power now, the Americans who, like the Portuguese, use Christianity to give them moral authority for their imperial expeditions, and as a means to gain influence and sympathy through converts in an India that they wish to dominate.


The HinduS. Muthiah (2nd L) & N. Ram (R)


The main champion of St. Thomas in Madras today, besides the Catholic Church who owns the shrines and collects the money, is the Sri Lanka-returned journalist and producer of picture books, S. Muthiah, who got his stripes sitting at the feet of the notorious Indian Express columnist Harry Miller, Muthiah’s current patron is The Hindu, an obloquial communist rag that is known up and down Mount Road as “The Dinosaur” because it is big and old and dumb, and makes so much noise as it lumbers along through the capitalist swamps of secular, socialist India. Its editor is an ideological Neanderthal called N. Ram.[1] His forte is “secularism” which, in today’s political parlance, means he is anti-national and anti-Hindu. He believes that China is the great leader and assiduously follows the Chinese two-systems system in his newspaper–economic freedom and political oppression for all. His opinion columns are filled with gloom and doom, and the rest of the paper is given over to the celebration of consumer goods for the urban rich. One of the special items for sale on January 7th, 2004, was the tale of St. Thomas in an article called “The Mount of Thomas” by S. Muthiah (since removed from The Hindu website or behind a paywall).


Madras Musings


Muthiah, himself an editor of sorts at Madras Musings, opens his article on the glorification of the Portuguese churches at Little Mount and Big Mount with a disclaimer of sorts. He says he is going to do a little unhistorical storytelling, and pretends that he can only just recall our book, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple when in fact he received copies of it when he was an editor at another communist rag The Indian Review of Books. He did not review the book, of course, and to our knowledge has never done any research of his own on the St. Thomas legend except to consult Catholic religious pamphlets and visit the St. Thomas churches. Muthiah would like to dismiss us, deport us to one of Uncle Joe Stalin’s gulags for truth-tellers. He and his editor at The Hindu, had they any conscience at all, would be deeply troubled by the reality that it is a foreign sadhu in India for religious reasons, without means or influence, who has had to find out the facts and expose the St. Thomas fraud in Madras. They have not had the intellectual integrity or courage to do the work themselves. Muthiah then has the presumption to advise us to be tolerant as he proceeds to mislead the public, as much as by what he does not say as by what he does, about the cave and two churches which were earlier Hindu shrines destroyed by the Portuguese. Muthiah is a very astute propagandist, a very persuasive man engaged in a cover-up. He would be better employed selling used cars. He writes:

“Several years ago, there was an American (?) turned Hindu ascetic who was never happy whenever I wrote of Thomas Didymus, the Apostle of India. In fact, he wrote a book, I recall, devoting a considerable and angry part of it to my unhistorical approach to the legend of Thomas in particular. I don’t know whether he’s still around, but if he is, I wish he’d realize that articles of faith, like his own, are not disputable, calling, instead, for tolerance. And that a little unhistoric story-telling, like today’s does no one any harm.”

Muthiah’s claim that the St. Thomas legend is an article of faith is a travesty of Christian doctrine. It is an emotional appeal, an attempt at moral blackmail. He is deeply committed to hiding the historical facts, and would like Madras citizens, Christians and Hindus alike, to accept the legend at face value—he would like them to accept it as Indian history. He would also like them to condemn us for intolerance when we expose the story, and the way it is manipulated by interested parties like himself and his editor, as a fraud. He has invested a lot of money and prestige in the legend. But our concern is Madras history and not Muthiah’s social standing at the Madras Club. We wrote The Hindu editor on January 16th, with a copy of the letter to S. Muthiah. We said:

Mr. Muthiah’s patronizing reference to me in the first paragraph of his Jan. 7th article, “The Mount of Thomas”, so typical of the self-righteous Indian (?) scribe, is wrong on two counts and deserves a reply. First, as I have shown in my book, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple (Chapter 19 and also the Vatican letter published on Acta Indica, the legend of St. Thomas in Madras is not an article of faith in the Catholic Church at all, though it can be said to be a dearly held sentiment among some Christian believers; and secondly, an article of faith or religious sentiment of a particular religious community can be tolerated in a pluralistic society so long as it does not intrude on or demean the beliefs and sentiments of another and different religious community. My quarrel with Mr. Muthiah and the English-language media that promote the St. Thomas legend, is that the legend does indeed intrude on and vilify the Hindu community. It falsely implicates a Hindu king and his priests in the persecution and murder of a Christian apostle and saint, and there is good reason to believe that this maligning of the Hindu community is exactly what is intended today when the legend is promoted and repeated ad nauseam by the Catholic Church and her agents in the press. In fact, the Hindu community is doubly wronged. It not only did not kill the fictional St. Thomas, but for the saint’s cause it lost a number of important temples to the aggressive religious bigotry of the Portuguese. It took more than fifty years for the Portuguese to bring down the original Kapaleeswarar Temple and build a St. Thomas Church in its place. I wonder how many Indian lives were lost in defence of the Great God Shiva and His house on the Mylapore beach? And has Mr. Muthiah, the self-important Madras city reporter after Harry Miller, ever considered writing a panegyric to these forgotten martyrs—true martyrs!—of a universal and tolerant faith?

This letter was ignored, of course. The reader’s right of reply is not recognised at The Hindu, though the media mafia who operated the newspaper make a lot of noise about press freedoms when they fancy their own freedoms are under attack. Other concerned readers sent protests to the editor, including the Tamil scholar Veda Prakash, himself an expert on Mylapore history and the St. Thomas legend. He had analysed the article and called for a full scientific investigation into the various alleged St. Thomas relics held in the churches, despite Muthiah’s claim that articles of faith are not disputable. His letter caused great consternation in the newspaper’s office. The editor cannot deny the validity of his request, nor, for that matter, can the Bishop of Madras-Mylapore.

But, notwithstanding the attempts of The Hindu to silence us, the article attracted a large number of visitors to our now defunct website Hamsa.org over the week after publication. We are satisfied that the facts of a controversy created by the press and suppressed by the press when they are caught in the lie and challenged, is now reaching an interested public worldwide.


1. This writer once had the misfortune of meeting The Hindu editor, N. Ram. He arrived one morning in 1992 on our ashram doorstep with a Muslim friend. He did not identify himself except to say that his name was Ram, and was eager to push forward his companion. Finally, his manner radiating hostility, he asked us our opinion about the demolition of the disputed building called Babri Masjid in Ayodhya earlier in the year. We replied that we did not feel that Muslims had any vested interest or claim in Ayodhya. It was a Hindu pilgrimage town for many centuries and had no religious value to Muslims. The disputed building was a victory monument built by a foreign invader’s governor who had wished to subdue and intimidate the local Hindu inhabitants. We wondered how Indian Muslims, the citizens of a free and independent India whose religious rights were protected, could place any value on such a structure? There was a dead silence for a minute after this reply, while Ram glared at us menacingly (his Muslim companion had closed his eyes and sunk down in his chair). “No use talking to you,” he growled, and got up and stomped out of the room with his companion in tow.

“Who was that?” I asked the Mataji of the ashram later. “Oh, that was Ram of The Hindu,” she said, laughing. “You can be sure of a bad press from now on! You had better find another name to write under. The one Ram knows you by will be on every media black list by tomorrow.” And so it has come about. Jai Sri Ram!


Tsunami: St. Thomas abandons fishermen, saves himself – Ishwar Sharan


“The English-language press in India is politically correct, opportunistic, and engaged in minority appeasement just like the politicians. It is a commercial commodity without ideals or ethics. It has no credibility among the informed public because it is wedded to a secularist fundamentalism that is at odds with the spiritual ethos of the Indian people.” – Ishwar Sharan


Susan Muthalaly


In an extraordinary example of superstitious and deceitful reporting, Susan Muthalaly wrote on 4 January 2005 in The New Indian Express, Chennai edition, an article called the “Santhome miracle”. It was a crass attempt by the lady scribe at Christian one-upmanship when the Tamil fisher coast was in crisis from the tsunami.

It is not clear why the newspaper gave her space to blow pious bubbles, though soft-soaping the religious minorities is the accepted practice in India’s English-language press. Even so, The New Indian Express, better known for plain speaking and bad English prose, caused some consternation among its trusting readers with the preposterous miracle story that unwittingly showed up St. Thomas as a selfish man interested only in saving his own skin while the fishermen’s huts below his church were washed away. Susan Muthalaly wrote:


Fr. Lawrence Raj: Parish priest of San Thome Cathedral


Father Lawrence Raj, the parish priest of the Santhome Cathedral Basilica has been inundated with inquiries about the story of St. Thomas’ miraculous post, supposed to have kept the sea away on December 26. The 450-year-old church, located a few metres from the water, remained unaffected by the tsunamis even though buildings in line with it on either side were ravaged by the waves.

The belief, says Father Lawrence, is that when St. Thomas planted the post at the top of the steps leading to the cathedral, he said the sea would not pass that point.

“But that is the legend,” stresses the father, “nobody knows whether it is true.” The priest sounds wary of declaring it a miracle. Puzzling, considering his job and that he gives visitors what he jokingly calls “credit cards to heaven” – neat little plastic cards laminated with a pinch of soil from St. Thomas’ tomb that fit into your wallet. He offers logical explanations, like perhaps it is because the church is built on a higher level. “But then,” he reasons, “the lighthouse is on roughly the same plain, and the water reached it.”

Father Lawrence says that for the people who have faith, it would be a miracle. “I believe it is,” he adds. He takes you to the terrace from which he saw the sea in action, as it surged across the road and flooded the huts in front of St. Thomas’ post. It is an innocuous looking log of wood, mounted on a cement pedestal.


Tom's pole on beachPlaque on the St. Thomas PoleThe real miracle is that nobody has cut this  ‘St. Thomas’ pole down and carried it away to their puja room or a European museum!


The story goes that a village in the Mylapore area was flooded when a huge tree trunk fell across the river. The local king brought a royal pachyderm to lug it away, but the task seemed impossible. Then St. Thomas came along, removed the girdle from waist and handed it to a bystander and asked him to yank the log with it. He did so and the log moved easily. There is a mural illustrating the episode in the cathedral museum.

Father Lawrence says the post is believed to be from that same log of wood. Though there is another story that the post comes from the chapel that St. Thomas built in 74 A.D.

“People have been asking about this story. It has always been around but it is difficult to confirm as fact something that occurred nearly 2,000 years ago. That is why I have been trying to verify the story with other people,” says the priest.

Father Lawrence is certainly not alone in believing the story about the safety of his church.

“Till December 31 we had about 2,000 people taking shelter over here. Partly because it is a church, it is a centre point for distributing relief material. I suppose it is also because people feel safe here.”

Father Lawrence and his reporting scribe Susan Muthalaly are speaking out of both sides of their mouth. According to them, the story of St. Thomas and his miraculous log of wood is true and not true at the same time. Of course, it is not true as they both very well know but are unwilling to say as faithful Christians.

We have to help them tell the truth. We have scholarship on our side and are not tied to an unforgiving and infructuous religious faith. We wrote The New Indian Express editor on January 5th, with a copy of the letter to Father Lawrence Raj. We wrote:

Apropos the article “The Santhome miracle” (TNIE, Jan. 4), Santhome Cathedral and Bishops House stand on the site of the original Kapaleeswara Temple which was destroyed in 1566 by the Portuguese. This site is the highest point on the Mylapore beach and is naturally protected from sea surges, Dr, R. Nagaswami, former director of the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology, has written: “The most important Kapaleeswara Temple lost all its ancient building during the Portuguese devastation and was originally located by the Santhome Cathedral. A few Chola records found in the Santhome Cathedral and Bishop’s House refer to Kapaleeswara Temple and Poompavai. A Chola record in fragment found on the east wall of the Santhome Cathedral refer to the image of Lord Nataraja of the Kapaleeswara Temple.” And, “A 12th century Chola record in the Santhome Cathedral region, refers to a Jain temple dedicated to Neminathaswami,”

Dr. Nagaswami and the Jesuit he worked with also recorded the finding of Buddhist images in the same area. There is no literary or archaeological evidence that a Christian church ever stood at this site prior to the Portuguese occupation of Mylapore.

The story of the wooden log which St. Thomas miraculously lifted was borrowed from the Jagannath Puri stala purana and introduced into the Mylapore St. Thomas legend by the Portuguese. The wooden log now standing on the beach at the bottom of the steps leading from the church (which miraculously has not yet been stolen) can be dated by radiocarbon testing, as can the bones in the two alleged St. Thomas tombs. When the dates of these relics have been established by forensic science (as is done with relics in European churches), their true nature and identity can be more easily ascertained.


The New Indian Express Masthead

Manoj K. SonthaliaAditya Sinha


This letter was not published in The New Indian Express and when we realised that the newspaper was not going to allow a rejoinder to its outrageous miracle story, we sent a personal appeal to the Managing Editor M. K. Sonthalia. He had on past occasions shown himself to be a responsible editor of courage and integrity when dealing with the St. Thomas controversy. But this time he was silent.

A second appeal was sent to him on January 19th, expressing our dismay at his silence and refusal to accommodate a reply to Susan Muthalaly’s article. We accused him of cowardice and of hiding behind the skirts of philosophy—Indian editors who have read a book or two take refuge in philosophy when they do not want to take responsible action. We also pointed out that Santhome Cathedral Basilica was a monument to religious bigotry not a house of miracles.

But the silence continued, and we learned it was the silence of recreance, not philosophy, The managing editor had allegedly come under pressure from his Christian editors and shareholders not to publish our rejoinder, and he had succumbed to their demands even as he had earlier succumbed to their dictate that the popular columnist Francois Gautier be dismissed for his pro-Hindu views.

This sad state of affairs at The New Indian Express leads to the larger question of journalistic ethics and integrity. The English-language press in India is politically correct and opportunistic. It is a commercial commodity without ideals. It has no credibility among the informed public because it is wedded to a secularist fundamentalism that is at odds with the spiritual ethos of the Indian people. At the same time it is able to shape public opinion to some extent, and it benefits politically from its morally criminal position of untruth. But one day this will change, and one day the people of Mylapore will learn the true history of the holocaust that took place on their beaches in the 16th century in the name of a malevolent foreign god whose intolerant nature and imperial ambitions were first recorded in the Old Testament.[1]


1. The article “The Santhome miracle” by Susan Muthalaly appeared on 4 January 2005 in the Chennai edition of The New Indian Express. When our response to it was not published, we informed the managing editor of our intention to reproduce the article in full on this web site and asked him to inform us if he had any objection. We have not received any objection from him to date.