Category Archives: muziris

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


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


Thomas Cross & Sickle


Archaeology as a tool for evangelization and balkanization of India

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

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

The Ministry of Home Affairs identified the unbridled foreign funds received by KCHR and cancelled its license under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010. The KCHR was accused of creating fake government documents, illegal appointments and financial irregularities running into crores. It is also alleged that the KCHR obtained the licence for the Pattanam excavation after submitting fake documents to the Archaeological Survey of India (see “Rampant irregularities detected at KCHR“).


K. Rajan


Prof. K. Rajan of Pondicherry University enters the scene

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

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

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

Marxists and their missionary position

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

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

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


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


P.J. Cherian's CV : No equipped for archaeological studies!


AG's report on Cherian's foreign tour conducted without government approval.AG's report on misappropriated funds


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict XVI


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


K. N. Panikkar


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

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

Cherian could not be contacted for comment.

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


M. A. Baby


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

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

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

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

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

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


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman