Category Archives: pattanam

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


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


Kanimozhi & Jegath Gaspar Raj


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


K. Amarnath Ramakrishna


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fr. Lawrence Raj

Thomas & Hindu Assassin


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

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

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

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

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


Sri Lankan Catholic priests supporting LTTE leader Prabhakaran


 

Left breeds intolerance by ravaging Ayodhya and eulogising Thomas – B.S. Harishankar


It is an absurdity to try to “prove” St. Thomas came to sub-continental India by linking him to various old Syrian and Persian crosses. Thomas—if he lived at all—was an orthodox Jew. He abhorred the Roman cross. He would not have made one or worn one. But even supposing that he had no objection to the cross, there remains the historical fact that early Christians never used a cross to identify themselves until after the third century. They used a fish symbol containing the letters ΙΧΘΥΣ to identify themselves and their buildings. Old stone crosses found in India were brought to India by Syrian and Persian Christian refugees long after the fourth century. – Ishwar Sharan


Taxila Cross


The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Lahore proudly exhibits a small cross in a glass case. It is known as the dubious “Taxila Cross”. When the cross was discovered in 1935, Cuthbert King, the British deputy commissioner of Rawalpindi, knew of the Acts of Thomas and seized upon this find as “proof” of the existence of Christianity in north-west India as early as the 1st century CE. His claims were vindicated by the fact that newly-excavated Sirkap did indeed date back to the 1st century. This cross was later presented to the Anglican Bishop of Lahore.

The “Taxila Cross” with four distinctive equal-length arms, was adopted as the symbol of the Church of Pakistan—a denomination resulting from a 1970 union of Anglicans, Lutherans, United Methodists and Presbyterians. The May 1988 symposium jointly sponsored by the Pakistan Christian History Project, the Rawalpindi Diocesan Pastoral Center and the Christian Study Center at Rawalpindi, showed much interest in the famed Buddhist shrine as the site of St. Thomas the Apostle’s visit and [claimed it] sacred to Christianity. Father Rahmat Hakim of the Diocesan Pastoral Center proposed to raise a suitable monument to St. Thomas near the archaeological site of Sirkap.

Renowned writer and fellow, Royal Geographical Society, Salman Rashid, wrote that when a cross was reported outside the ruins of Sirkap, the second city of Taxila, at Pakistan  in 1935, poor and not-so-educated local Christians went wild with the joy of discovering how long fellow believers had lived in this land; there was also no dearth of Raj officers who also foolishly fell into this trap. No notice was paid to the fact that the cross was not found in any datable stratum of the ruins, but by a farmer tilling a field outside the ruins of Sirkap, the second city of Taxila (Taxila Cross, The Express Tribune, Dec. 16, 2011).


Christian fish symbol


But India’s Left academicians accept the apocryphal Acts of Judas Thomas the Apostle, and propagate it in universities and major research centres. Three major Marxist historians—D.N. Jha, Romila Thapar and R.S. Sharma—have vehemently argued in their published works, the arrival of Apostle Thomas into India from Parthia (corresponding roughly to present-day north-eastern Iran). The Apostle entered Indo-Parthian regions of present Afghanistan and Pakistan, as argued by these Left historians.

The Left historians have vindicated the claims by Pope Benedict XVI, addressing a vast crowd at St. Peter’s Square, that Thomas first evangelized Syria and Persia and then penetrated as far as western India from where Christianity also reached south India (Controversy over Pope’s remarks among Kerala Christians, Outlook, Nov. 22, 2006). It was with this objective that the Left historians launched the Spice Route–Pattanam Project in Kerala. For vindicating the Vatican historiography, the Indian disciples of Marx do not require archaeological evidence, historical documents, or honesty.

D.N. Jha, in his two works, Ancient India: In Historical Outline and Early India: A Concise History, contends the historicity of Apostle Thomas at the end of first century BC. Jha argues that the apostle’s presence at the court of Indo-Parthian ruler Gondophares, who controlled north western India, is historically documented and also Christianity in India. Jha debates that, according to later sources, the apostle achieved martyrdom at Mylapore, where he was assassinated. Romila Thapar in her work, The Penguin History of Early IndiaFrom the Origins to AD 1300, provides two missions for Apostle Thomas in India. Thapar attributes the first mission of the apostle through north-west India, associating the Indo-Parthian ruler Gondophares. She provides the second occasion in AD 52 at Malabar in Kerala. Unlike the polemic of many Ramayanas which the Left historians often raise, Thapar has no doubt that there was only one Apostle Thomas. Both Jha and Thapar uphold the legend regarding the martyrdom of Apostle Thomas at Mylapore near Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Thapar is also a supervisor of the Spice Route-Pattanam project for establishing the historicity of the Apostle in India. Noted Left historian R.S. Sharma in his work, India’s Ancient Past, gives credence to the arrival of Apostle Thomas in the Indo-Parthian region to propagate Christianity in India.

Marxist historians in India frequently quote A.K. Ramanujan’s essay Three Hundred Ramayanas to raise the issue of many Ramayanas, disparaging the original text. They dispute the historicity of Ayodhya and question its archaeology and tradition, but corroborate and confirm the legend of Apostle Thomas and Christianity in India in 52 AD. Depending on Indo-Parthian tradition and the dubious “Taxila Cross”, they articulate for the apotheosis of Apostle Thomas in India. Some of the self-styled independent and secular historians also appeared on behalf of the Babri Masjid Action Committee and Sunni Central Waqf Board as experts on the Ayodhya issue.

D.N. Jha was part of the four member team of Left historians, which included M. Athar Ali, Suraj Bhan and R.S. Sharma, who submitted a report in 1991 titled, Ramjanmabhoomi–Babri Masjid: A Historians Report to the Nation. The report concluded that no textual and archaeological evidence existed for any veneration being attached to any spot in Ayodhya. It argued that that the controversy was created by the Sangh Parivar for political gains.

The Allahabad High Court’s voluminous judgment on Ayodhya in September 2012 raised strong objections from Left historians. The court questioned the competence of various “expert” witnesses and cast doubts on their intellectual integrity, which provoked the Left.  Thereafter, 61 “intellectuals” led by Romila Thapar, from the Left-liberal establishment, attacked the judgment as “another blow to India’s secular fabric”. Eminent historian Meenakshi Jain’s recent work, Rama and Ayodhya exposes the Left agenda and duplicity.

In 2009, D.N. Jha argued that archaeological evidence becomes important in their context of physical relationship to the surroundings in a certain material culture and intellectuals should come out in the open and say that there was no Ram temple in Ayodhya (Frontline, Vol.  26, Issue 25, Dec. 05-18, 2009).

Later in an interview, Jha vehemently argued that faith should never be allowed to supersede historical evidence as it negates history (Frontline, Vol. 27, Issue 21, Oct. 09-22, 2010). On the Ayodhya issue, Jha has emphasized that if it is a case of “belief”, then it becomes an issue of theology, not archaeology (Historical evidence ignored, say historians, The Hindu, Oct. 01, 2010). Does this observation apply to the apotheosis given to Apostle Thomas by the Left trinity, Jha-Thapar-Sharma, without a single historical evidence in their published works? Is it Marxist theology as argued by Anglican clergymen, Robert Cummings, Conrad Noel, Hewlett Johnson and Alan Ecclestone? Does it vindicate Raphael Samuel who describes the commitment of Communists to “missionary” work and narrates how Communism is a “crusading order” and a complete scheme of social salvation?

Dr. Abraham Mar Paulos who is the Diocesan Bishop of Delhi for the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, observed that St. Thomas came to India to spread the gospel  in A.D. 52 (The government’s intention is suspicious, Frontline, Jan. 9, 2015). The same year, CPI(M) politburo member M.A. Baby said it is widely believed that Apostle Thomas came to Kodungalloor (near Pattanam) and through him Christianity reached Kerala even before it reached Europe (ASI Doubting Thomases Suspend Dubious KCHR St. Thomas Dig, The Telegraph, Oct. 1, 2015). The CPI(M) which vehemently questions the historicity of Ramayana and Ayodhya, openly marshals the case of Apostle Thomas.

The British Museum launches and coordinates many biblical archaeology projects across the world. It has many publications on biblical archaeology. Illustrations of Old Testament History by R.D. Barnnett, The Bible in the British Museum: Interpreting the Evidence by T.C. Mitchell, and Dual Heritage: The Bible and the British Museum by Norman S. Prescott, are only some examples. Hence, the British Museum’s interest is inherent in the Pattanam-Spice Route Project associated with the Apostle and sponsored by Left historians.

The British Museum has been involved from the beginning with establishing the historicity of Apostle Thomas in India. The British Museum supports KCHR sponsored Spice Route-Pattanam Project via Roberta Tomber. Tomber and P.J. Cherian, former director of the Left-controlled KCHR, jointly presented in March 2011 a paper titled Ports of the Periplus and the search for Muziris, at a seminar organized by British Museum on the theme “Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World”.

The museum also sponsored a three-day workshop in August 15-19, 2013 hosted by Prof. K. Rajan of Pondicherry University, who is also the administrator of the Left controlled KCHR. Rajan has raised much controversy as a major champion of Keezhadi archaeological site in Tamil Nadu (Digging up Madurai’s Sangam past, Frontline, Feb. 19, 2016). Keezhadi is dubiously linked with Pattanam. Keezhadi raised much controversy because of its excavator, Amarnath Ramakrishna’s, association with the Federation of Tamil Sangams in North America (FeTNA). FeTNA publicly supported the cause of ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils in the Sri Lankan civil war and the Catholic Church is accused of heavily associating with the LTTE.


Read: Keezhadi and Pattanam: Global plot to break India


Administrator-historian C. Achyuta Menon, who wrote the Cochin State Manual in 1911, makes an interesting observation on the church of Apostle Thomas at the Malayattur forest region in Ernakulam district. Menon observes that this Christian pilgrimage centre was once a Hindu temple, which was handed over to the Christian community of the region because a granite cross made an appearance “spontaneously” by the side of the idol. Interestingly, this church has direct access from the dubious Pattanam archaeological site excavated by Left historians.

With the launching of Spice Route-Pattanam Project by Left historians, the move to declare Malayattoor Church a global pilgrim centre was swift and rapid. The Roman Catholic Church declared the St. Thomas Church at Malayattoor an international pilgrim centre (International pilgrim centre status for Malayattoor church, The Hindu, April 25, 2004). The same year, the Catholics of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan, Baselius Mar Thoma Mathews II, installed the holy relics of St. Thomas at the St. Mary’s Orthodox Church at Niranom near Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala (Holy relics of St. Thomas installed, The Hindu, Dec. 22, 2004). The Malayattoor shrine was inaugurated by Pedro Lopez Quintana, the Apostolic Nuncio in India (Malayattoor Kurisumudi inauguration tomorrow, The Hindu, Feb. 12, 2005).

Rev. Father P.J. Lawrence Raj, an assistant priest in Chennai, communicates with the bishops of the Catholic world seeking brand recognition for St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus and the man largely credited with bringing Christianity to India through the Malabar coast in 52 AD. He says it is believed that the Apostle Thomas was murdered by a group of Hindus who did not fancy his proselytizing. (An apostle returns: Bringing St. Thomas back to Chennai, The Hindu, Oct. 27, 2018) Jha and Thapar vindicate this church myth regarding the martyrdom of Apostle Thomas at Mylapore, for which they require hardly any proof. The Left historians breed intolerance and religious chauvinism in India by incriminating Hindu society for the alleged martyrdom of Apostle Thomas.Vijayvaani, 11 May 2019


Funerary stele with the inscription ΙΧΘΥC ΖΩΝΤΩΝ ("fish of the living"), early 3rd century in Rome.


Muziris : The lost city – Srinath Perur


In the first century BCE Muziris was one of India’s most important trading ports, whose exports—especially black pepper—kept even mighty Rome in debt. But have archaeologists really found the site of Muziris, and why did it disappear in 1341?


Muziris


Around 2,000 years ago, Muziris was one of India’s most important trading ports. According to the Akananuru, a collection of Tamil poetry from the period, it was “the city where the beautiful vessels, the masterpieces of the Yavanas [Westerners], stir white foam on the Periyar, river of Kerala, arriving with gold and departing with pepper.”

Another poem speaks of Muziris (also known as Muciripattanam or Muciri) as “the city where liquor abounds”, which “bestows wealth to its visitors indiscriminately” with “gold deliveries, carried by the ocean-going ships and brought to the river bank by local boats”.

The Roman author Pliny, in his Natural History, called Muziris “the first emporium of India”. The city appears prominently on the Tabula Peutingeriana, a fifth-century map of the world as seen from Rome. But from thereon, the story of this great Indian port becomes hazy. As reports of its location grow more sporadic, it literally drops off the map.

In modern-day India, Muziris was much more of a legend than a real city—until archaeological excavations in the southern state of Kerala, starting in 2004, sparked reports of a mysterious lost port. Though the archaeologists cannot be certain, they—and, with some exceptions, historians too—now believe they have located the site of Muziris.

“This was a centre of paramount importance for Roman trade,” says Federico De Romanis, associate professor of Roman history at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. “What made it absolutely unique was the considerable amounts of black pepper exported from Muziris. We are talking about thousands of tons.”

In addition to pepper, De Romanis says, exports included both local products—ivory, pearls, spices such as malabathron—and those from other parts of India, including semi-precious stones, silks and the aromatic root nard. “These attest to commercial relationships nurtured with the Gangetic valley and east Himalayan regions.”

In the other direction, ships arrived with gold, coral, fine glassware, amphorae of wine, olive oil and the fermented fish sauce called garum. But the value of this trade was lopsided: De Romanis says Pliny the Elder estimated Rome’s annual deficit caused by imbalanced trade with India at 50m sesterces (500,000 gold coins of a little less than eight grammes), with “Muziris representing the lion’s share of it”.

Maritime trade between Muziris and Rome started in the first century BCE, when it became known that sailing through the Red Sea to the horn of Africa, then due east along the 12th latitude, led to the Kerala coast. “Muziris was entirely dependent on foreign, especially Roman, demand for pepper,” De Romanis says. So when the Roman empire’s economy began to struggle in the third century AD, he believes the trade in pepper reconfigured itself, and Muziris lost its importance.


Tabula Peutingeriana


Dr. P.J. Cherian, director of the Kerala Council for Historical Research, confirms there are few references to Muziris after the fifth century AD. It had been generally assumed that Muziris referred to the port of Kodungallur, which had been put out of commission by devastating floods in 1341—but excavations there did not turn up anything older than the 13th century.

Travel 11 kilometres by road from Kodungallur, however, and you reach the village of Pattanam. For years, children there had been collecting beads that would rise to the surface during the monsoon season. After an initial dig in 2004, systematic excavations by Cherian and his colleagues began in 2007. Soon, he says, it was clear they had discovered a major archaeological site.

Over nine seasons of excavations, they have found Roman amphorae (for the first time on the Keralan coast), a wharf-like structure, a dug-out canoe that is approximately 2,000 years old—plus foundations, bricks and tiles, tools and artefacts made of iron, lead and copper, glass beads, gold ornaments and semi-precious stones clearly meant for export.

So, is Pattanam the site of fabled Muziris? There isn’t clinching evidence yet, but Cherian thinks it’s likely. He is also tired of questions about the Roman connection, asking: “When they excavate a Roman site in Europe, do they obsess similarly about whether it traded with India?” To him, an integral part of the excavation is what it reveals about the people who actually lived there.

Tathagata Neogi, of the Indian Institute of Archaeology, explains the stages of occupation in Pattanam using a large photograph of an excavated trench’s cross-section. Human habitation began there around 1000 BC, marked by characteristic Iron Age black and redware pottery, while the period between 500 and 300 BC marks a mixed phase.

“We think this is when Pattanam began making the transition from a village to a trade hub,” Neogi says. The period from 300 BC to AD 500 is densely packed with evidence for trade both within and outside India. Burnt bricks and tiles, terracotta ring wells and coins suggest a thriving settlement. Small amounts of West Asian pottery in the earlier portions of this segment provide evidence for pre-Roman maritime trade. After AD 500 the record thins out—until AD1500, when Chinese and European ceramics are found.

Is Pattanam ‘urban’?

Today, Pattanam is a village situated four kilometres from the sea. The vegetation is typical of the region: tall arcing palms, squat plantains, vines and creepers, near-fluorescent monsoon grass. There are sporadic houses, a temple, a village office and sudden channels of water.

The archaeological mound at Pattanam is around 70 hectares; atop it sits a museum displaying finds from the excavations. It is curious, Cherian notes, that a village should be named Pattanam, a word that means market-town or trading port across south India.

Some historians—such as Rajan Gurukkal, author of Rethinking Classical Indo-Roman Trade—have argued that Pattanam (which he believes is the location of Muziris) was likely nothing more elaborate than a colony of Mediterranean merchants, plus the inland traders and artisans who dealt with them. Gurukkal’s theory is based on the apparent absence of permanent structures, and the seeming disconnect of the materials and skills found at Pattanam with those of the wider region. He suggests the colony might even have been seasonal, inhabited only when ships arrived for trade.

Such a debate comes down to what is meant by a city or urban settlement. According to Cherian, “Urban is a complicated word—to me, it means ‘organised’, ‘thought out’, ‘planned’”. And he sees evidence of this in Pattanam: “It was certainly a city, but of its time.”

The excavations have revealed what appear to be toilets, drains and terracotta ring wells, and these—along with raised foundations aligned in one direction—suggest a planned settlement.

Cherian also thinks the level of technological accomplishment—the quality of mortar in a wharf structure; evidence of intricate glass and stone work—and the high density of potsherds (some 4.5 million have been recovered so far) all point to a settlement that was urban in character. The local coins suggest a monetised economy and a degree of political organisation. 

“We now recognise that ancient cities could look very different from their modern counterparts, even as they had the same functions of trade and economic integration,” says Monica Smith, professor of anthropology at UCLA, who studies newly emergent urbanism in the Indian subcontinent.

“It used to be felt, by 20th-century archaeologists such as V. Gordon Childe, that monumental architecture was required before a site could be defined as a “city”. In addition, there was often a sense that a city should have a high density of concentrated populations at their core, in which that density was focused on a particular religious or administrative purpose such as a palace or temple.”

But Smith offers an example for a more spread-out idea of a city: the large Kumbh Mela camps in India, which come up only for the duration of the congregation, are well-planned, possess infrastructure, and have an “urban atmosphere”. She adds: “We can envision that temporary or sequential occupations could have been the case in ancient cities as well.”

Smith suggests such sites can grow in extent very quickly, especially when demand for a new commodity is high (black pepper, in the case of Pattanam). “This is why research of the kind done at Pattanam is particularly important. It can help us understand the dynamic changes over time, and evaluate the extent to which investments in features such as wharves and ring wells signalled a “core” location around which surrounding suburbs grew.”

A more complete understanding of the Pattanam site—and its flavour of urbanism—will take a while yet, however. According to Cherian: “Less than one percent of the site has been excavated. We have only touched the tip of the iceberg.”

The quest for Muziris may or may not be over. But as De Romanis says: “Pattanam is the closest thing to Muziris we have got so far. Whatever it was, it should be treasured and taken care of.” – The Guardian, 10 August 2016


Map of places mentioned in the Periplus


 

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


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


Thomas Cross & Sickle


Archaeology as a tool for evangelization and balkanization of India

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

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

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


K. Rajan


Prof. K. Rajan of Pondicherry University enters the scene

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

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

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

Marxists and their missionary position

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

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

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


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


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


 

Archaeology: Politics of the past in Tamil Nadu and Kerala – B.S. Harishankar


“If the cooperation between politicians and historians is too close, it might be harmful since the relationship between history and politics can develop into a fatal friendship offering the reward of public attention and moral esteem whilst destroying the radical independence of historical research and its disposition to rethink history.” – Dr. Martin Sabrow


KCHR


Martin Sabrow, Professor of History at the University of Potsdam, Germany,  warned  in 2009  that, if the cooperation between politicians and historians is too close, it might be harmful since the relationship between history and politics can develop into a fatal friendship offering the reward of public attention and moral esteem whilst destroying the radical independence of historical research and its disposition to rethink history.

Sabrow’s views have relevance currently, when there is  an orchestrated campaign to establish a  hoax  identity of  the past to raise divisive political and religious claims in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The ongoing manoeuvres to associate the disputed  Pattanam site in Kerala with Kodumanal, Keezhadi, Porunthal and other unearthed spots in Tamilnadu, has already  sparked  controversies. But few are aware of  the fact that,  the very integrity of Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) which unearthed Pattanam, was seriously questioned by the Kerala state government and historians  much before the current  excavations.

Following serious complaints on KCHR about “procedural and financial irregularities” and its “approach to the writing of history”, the former Congress government led by Chief Minister A.K. Antony decided to dissolve it on September 22, 2001. Vindicating the government decision, Prof. M.G.S. Narayanan, former chairman of the ICHR, charged that the formation of the KCHR was “a Marxist party conspiracy to hijack history for its destructive, sectarian purpose of party propaganda” and welcomed the government’s move to dissolve it (Frontline, Oct. 13 – 26, 2001).

Left lobbies protested against the Congress government decision to  dismiss the KCHR. On September 25, 2001, the Safdar  Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) a Left cultural forum, called  upon the Kerala Government to immediately reinstate the KCHR. It was signed by Left historians such as  R.S. Sharma, Irfan Habib, K.M. Shrimali, D.N. Jha,  and  Sumit Sarkar.


P. J. Cherian


Upholding the state government’s decision, the Kerala High Court dismissed a writ petition challenging the dissolution of KCHR. Justice G. Sivarajan held that the petition filed by P.J. Cherian, director of KCHR and its three members was without merits (The Times of India, Dec. 20, 2001).

But following immense pressure jointly launched by Church and Left lobbies, the Congress high command directed Chief Minister A.K. Antony who was  ultimately forced to reinstate the KCHR.

The leading patrons of Pattanam which was claimed as the ancient trading port of  Muziris, were Euro-American scholars. Istvan Perczel from Hungary, one of the patrons of Pattanam, and also a  scholar in Early Christianity and Byzantine history, solicited that it provides much potential for research as the site where Apostle Thomas landed in India and established Indian Christianity (Muziris Heritage Project: Pattanam Excavations, KCHR,  2008). He also delivered a lecture at KCHR, on history of Kerala Christianity, along with  Bishop Gabriel Mar Gregorios, and theologian Ninan Koshy (The Hindu, Feb. 12, 2008).

The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology and the Pontifical Academy of Archaeology, both at Vatican, functions for the purpose of promoting and directing excavations in the catacombs of Rome and on other sites of Christian antiquarian interest, and for safeguarding the objects found during such excavations. Consequently, the Liturgical Research Centre of the Syro-Malabar Church invited the KCHR, for its national seminars in 2005 at Kochi, and in 2011 at Kalyan in Mumbai, to present papers corroborating Pattanam and Christianity. The United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia based in New York supported Pattanam excavator P.J. Cherian in his historical studies (The New Indian Express, Feb. 17, 2011). Eleven students from the University of Georgia visited Pattanam to learn the historical, theological and sociological aspects of the ancient trading port of Muziris and Christianity in the state (The Hindu, Dec. 25, 2011). It was a global campaign that an ancient biblical site has been finally unearthed in India.


Pattanam dig and St Thomas


Orthodox churches also  took a genuine interest in Pattanam. Keynote address by Fr. Dr. K.M. George at the public meeting of Malankara Orthodox Church at the reception for Bishop Catholicos Marthoma Paulose II, on March 13, 2011, in  Tyagaraja Stadium, New Delhi, lauded Pattanam for  finally establishing the two millennium old history of apostle Thomas in India.


Prof. K. Rajan


Following escalating controversies on KCHR and Pattanam, archaeologists from major Indian institutes and universities kept away from the project. But despite serious charges of fake documentation, financial irregularities and transforming myth into history, it was Dr. K. Rajan of Pondicherry University who is one of the foremost patrons of Pattanam. He  associates Pattanam with various sites in Tamil Nadu, thus not only collaborating to establish a biblical myth as history, but also constructing a larger communal space for the Church to raise political claims in South India. Rajan observed that the cultural transformation from the Iron Age to the Early Historic Period discernible at Pattanam was unique to Peninsular India (The Hindu, May 12, 2009).

The Pattanam team acknowledges Rajan’s guidance in May 2012 for assistance to the Kongu Region, including Kodumanal, Kangayam, Arachalur and Arasampalayam. Seminars on Indian Ocean trade of Pattanam conducted by KCHR and British Museum  in August 2013 was hosted by Department of History, University of Pondicherry and chaired by Rajan. British Museum which collaborates with Pattanam is associated with biblical scholars such as Michael Jursa and Irvin Finkel. Pattanam Museum in Ernakulam was inaugurated by Finkel. Oxford which also collaborates with Pattanam,  has a long history in biblical archaeology with scholars such as  Dame Kathleen Kenyon, Roger Moorey, Andrew Sherratt, and Levantine Archaeology Laboratory as well as Ashmolean Museum.

Mario Seiglie, a missionary and columnist,  wrote that archaeology makes a believer, and abundance of archaeological evidence in support of the Bible can strengthen faith, and in some cases it has greatly contributed in giving birth to belief, where none existed before. This observation has much relevance in Pattanam and its linked sites in Tamil Nadu, in the Apostle Thomas context..

K. Rajan and P.J. Cherian jointly propagates presentations linking the Tamil Nadu-Kerala region in the backdrop of excavations at Kodumanal, Thandikudi, Porunthal and Pattanam  (Pattanam Fifth Season: Field Report, 2011, KCHR). Currently, Rajan is member of the KCHR administration. There are serious allegations that field reports on sites such as Kodumanal, Thandikudi and Porunthal are prepared for promoting Pattanam which has much political and religious connotations.

In this context, we are reminded of what the Bavarian Minister for Education and Cultural affairs, Hans Schemm, declared  in 1933, to lecturers at the University of Munich that, it is no longer their task to find out if something is true, but if it accords with the beliefs of the National Socialist government. In the present context it is the beliefs of the Left government in Kerala and church denominations in India that matters.

It is not that Prof. Rajan is ignorant of serious financial corruption and academic forgery accused on Pattanam. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) identified the unbridled foreign funds received by KCHR and cancelled its license along with Kerala Muslim Educational Association and Kerala United Theological Seminary under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (The New Indian Express, Dec. 8, 2016).

Earlier the accountant general detected the irregularities in the KCHR audit report of 2010-11 (The New Indian Express, July 22, 2012). Later in 2016, the KCHR was accused in creation of fake government documents, illegal appointments and financial irregularities worth crores. It is also alleged that the KCHR obtained the licence for the Pattanam excavation after submitting fake documents to the Archaeological Survey of India.

Following serious charges on Pattanam excavations, and unscientific approaches adopted by the KCHR, a  probe was conducted on the basis of complaints to the Union Minister of State for Culture, Mahesh Sharma.  Based on the complaints, a meeting of the central advisory panel of the ASI asked the KCHR to temporarily stop the excavations (Business Standard, Jan. 5, 2016).


Iravatham Mahadevan


Even, late Iravatham Mahadevan, who earlier applauded Pattanam as potentially important (The Hindu, Mar. 14, 2011), later declined to make any comments or observation on the site following widespread controversies.

The Pattanam site has been questioned not by activists, but by eminent south asian archaeologists and historians such as Profs. Dilip Chakrabarti, A. Sundara, Vasant Shinde, M.G.S. Narayanan, R. Nagaswamy and T. Satyamurti. When Rajan ignores serious allegations on Pattanam  by  eminent  scholarship,  it also raises serious doubts on sites in Tamil Nadu with which he constantly associates Pattanam. Already the Keezhadi site  has generated enough controversies.

The recent controversy on Pattanam erupted after R. Sivanantham, deputy director, Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology, officially facilitated a lecture on Pattanam by P.J. Cherian on Oct. 30, 2018. The programme was chaired by T. Udhayachandran, Commissioner, Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu.

Archaeological Survey of India’s probe into alleged unscientific approaches adopted by the KCHR at Pattanam, was taken up by Amarnath Ramakrishna, the then superintendent archaeologist of the ASI, Bengaluru centre (Business Standard, Jan. 5, 2016). His findings are kept in the dark, but later Amarnath Ramakrishna also took up the Keezhadi excavation. The CPI(M) which launched Pattanam has openly supported Amarnath Ramakrishna who supervised Keezhadi (The Hindu, Oct. 6, 2018), which  shows  how  the Left  functions in manufacturing cultural data for church lobbies.

 ASI director general Rakesh Tewari said Amarnath Ramakrishna should publish a report on the Keezhadi excavation. Then only the ASI shall give him the license for the third year because he has got more than 4,000 artefacts (“More excavation only after report,” Frontline, Jan. 2, 2017).

Dating of all these interlinked sites including Pattanam, have been done at the same institution at USA. The carbon dating conducted on Keezhadi, has been done by Beta Analytic Inc., Florida, USA (The Hindu, Sept. 30, 2017). The carbon dating at Pattanam was also conducted at Beta Analytic Inc., despite the fact that India has premier dating laboratories. Accelerator mass spectrometry dating of the paddy from Palani site excavated by Prof. Rajan was also  done by Beta Analysis Inc. which assigned the paddy to 490 BCE (“Palani excavation triggers fresh debate,” The Hindu, Aug. 29, 2011). It has also much relevance since research by Cornell University archaeologists, Stuart Manning and colleagues shows that commonly accepted radiocarbon dating standards can miss the mark, thus calling historical timelines into question.

The 21st annual Tamil convention of Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) was also held in Florida. The theme of the three day convention was “Preserve the Tamil race by protecting the language”. Florida is a major stronghold of FeTNA and the carbon dating of  both Keezhadi and Pattanam in Florida raises serious suspicion.


Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj


FeTNA in April, 2018, invited Amarnath Ramakrishna to deliver a lecture on the Keezhadi excavations. The ASI denied him permission to participate as guest of honor at this event, possibly because FeTNA publicly supported the cause of ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils in the Sri Lankan civil war. Time and again, the Sri Lanka Guardian has warned that the Catholic Church is heavily involved with the LTTE from the 1970s (“Catholic Church, an ally of Tamil Tiger terrorists in Sri Lanka”, Guardian, April 4, 2009). The FeTNA has been a major campaigner and fund-raiser for the Tamil Chair at the University of California, Berkeley. Prof. George L. Hart, known for his Dravidian politics, was hired for the chair. FeTNA also honoured Jagath Gasper, Catholic propagandist for Christianizing Tamil culture.

Thillai Kumaran, the  former  president of FeTNA, represented it in the vicious 2006 California textbook campaign launched by FOIL, FOSA and many members of the CAG against Hindu groups who were advocating for an equitable treatment of Hinduism vis-a-vis other leading global religions in sixth grade textbooks. FeTNA’s testimony at the California Curriculum Commission made the dubious claim that the early Tamil texts clearly distinguish between Tamils and Aryans. The  co-founders of FOIL are two  Indian Leftists, Biju Mathew and Vijay Prashad.

Harvard scholar Michael Witzel has admitted that he and his associates were in contact with FeTNA in the California textbook campaign. Thillai Kumaran, representing FeTNA, in their letter dated  Feb. 19, 2006, wrote  to Glee Johnson of California State Board of Education, thanking Witzel for the efforts in proposing edits in pursuance of the Colorado evangelical church agenda. Witzel’s supporters in the California textbook battle include two evangelical groups: Dalit Freedom Network and Dalit Solidarity Forum in the USA. DFN president Joseph D’Souza also patronizes the All India Christian Council.

The Left–church syndicate at Pattanam and its current association with Tamil Nadu archaeological sites has to be understood in a global context. The fervor shown for propaganda and for dating them in one institution in America has also  generated questions regarding politics of the past in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. – Bharatkalyan, 9 December 2018

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


Syrian-style gold cross


Read more at:


 

Marxists and Christians search for St. Thomas at Pattanam – Sandhya Jain


“Kerala’s attempt to create spurious evidence of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in India merits wider dissemination. It must be seen as part of a concerted attempt to entrench the Cross in India.” – Sandhya Jain


Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions by B.S. Harishankar


Rescuing the antiquity of Indian civilisation from the biblical mythology of Max Mueller, rubbishing the well-orchestrated history-as-dogma of the Aryan invasion and proving the existence of river Saraswati, excavating and resurrecting the still unknown past, and restoring the once handsome architectural marvels that have fallen victim to time or iconoclasts, Indian archaeologists have their task cut out for them. Their work is critical in correcting the lacunas, misinterpretations and falsifications of history in various parts of the country, especially at the hands of scholars with a pronounced bias against our native traditions.

Unless repudiated, invented history enters the popular mind as “fact”. The Aryan fable still persists because Marxists have been able to prevent all historical and scientific findings, disproving the movement of people into India at the time of the alleged “invasion”, from entering school textbooks where the foundations of knowledge are laid. This is why noted archaeologist B.S. Harishankar’s debunking of the Kerala Council for Historical Research’s (KCHR) attempts to create spurious evidence of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in India, unequivocally denied by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2006, merits wider dissemination.

The excavations to identify Pattanam, in Ernakulum district, with ancient Muziris of the Cheras, began soon after the Syro-Malabar Church scrambled to rescue the legend that claimed India as the first mission of the church, long before it went to Europe. As a result, in November 2006, the Vatican Secretariat accepted the story as history, to project Christianity as an indigenous faith of great longevity. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) embraced the project with alacrity; the brochure, Muziris Heritage Project: Pattanam Excavations 2008, lists Prof. Romila Thapar as one of the patrons.


B.S. Harishankar


In Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions (2017), Harishankar denounces the presence of European and American scholars in the dig, while excluding the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Indian universities. Eminent historians Prof. Dilip K. Chakbrabarti and Prof. M.G.S. Narayanan, and archaeologists Prof. R. Nagaswamy, Prof. A. Sundara, and Prof. T.  Sathyamurthy, denounced the attempts to link Pattanam with Muziris, when Kodungallur where the river meets the sea, is far more logical. Neither archaeological evidences nor historical records support Apostle Thomas arrived in India; he possibly visited Fars (Persia) and the Afghanistan region.

Harishankar has referenced the Pattanam excavations with all researched and published material available. The KCHR, headed by Prof. K.N. Panikkar of JNU, is alleged to have manipulated archaeological evidence and manufactured new evidence to “prove” that Pattanam had historical ties with Jerusalem and other regions in West Asia from 1000 BC. He discusses the evidence that debunks the theory that there was ever a port city at Pattanam along the west coast, which the KCHR historians claim was an international trade route dating back to 800 BC.

Interestingly, the claim that Apostle Thomas established the first settlement at Pattanam was independently debunked by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay, and the National Institute of Oceanography, Kochi. The BARC scientists, who successfully traced the course of the Saraswati through radio isotope studies, examined Kerala’s mud banks during the monsoons and concluded that marine and palaeo-hydrological studies rule out the possibilities of a port city, wharf or township at Pattanam. In fact, the area excavated by the KCHR does not qualify for excavations as the cultural stratigraphy has been badly damaged by monsoons, floods, erosion, and construction activities. Moreover, as Harishankar maintains, the ASI is the only body competent to authorise excavations.

Pattanam is not an archaeological mound, as claimed by KCHR. Western India, Harishankar argues, has several archaeological sites with ramparts or mud embankments to prevent floods. No such evidence has been found at Pattanam. On the contrary, the site at Pattanam in lower Periyar has coastal alluvium with sand and clay, and lacks laterite formation or thick soil. Hence, it was not chosen as an Iron Age settlement.

Moreover, urbanism in early historic India involves certain precursors such as immense size, internal planning, public architecture, settlement hierarchies, enclosing walls, script, craft specialisation, long-distance trade, subsistence strategies and population growth. None of these exist at Pattanam, yet KCHR’s chosen scholars claimed as an urban site and port city. When the absence of these parameters were pointed out, the KCHR historians toned down their claims and alleged that the structural remains unearthed were carried away by locals, which is simply ridiculous.

Curiously, KCHR forwarded the plant remains found at Pattanam to the Spices Board, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, though it has no competence to examine them. And despite premier institutions available in India, the carbon dating was done abroad. But what is more pertinent, KCHR’s modern historians with no experience in field archaeology should not have excavated Pattanam with foreign funds and a crew of Biblical scholars.

KCHR appointed Dr. P.J. Cherian, with no academic background in archaeology, as director of the Pattanam excavations. Cherian’s PhD dissertation is on “The Communist Movement in Travancore: From the Origins to the Uprisings in 1946” (University of Calicut, 1993). However, The University of Rome Tor Vergata granted a three-year research fellowship to P.J. Cherian, Director, KCHR, and Pattanam excavations.

To assist Cherian, some distinguished biblical historians and Latin scholars were attached to the project. They include Istvan Perczel (Hungarian scholar of Byzantine history and early Christianity); Roberta Tomber (specialist in Roman and Indian Ocean pottery); Federico de Romanis (expert on Roman and Portuguese pepper trade); and Irving R. Finkel (British philologist and Assyriologist, expert in the script, languages and cultures of the Middle East). None is equipped to handle excavations; it’s a Max Mueller style of biblical mumbo jumbo.

In an exhibition at the National Museum in 2014, KCHR claimed Pattanam is the third Indian site to unearth terra sigillata pottery after Arikamedu and Alagankulam in Tamil Nadu, though it has been found at Uraiyur, Kanchipuram, Vasavasamudram, Kodumanal, Karur and Sulur in Tamil Nadu and several sites in Gujarat and western India. It claimed that rouletted pottery from Pattanam was reported for the first time on the west coast, when it was found in 124 sites across the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

Cherian is the executive president of the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage. His claim that his excavation unearthed evidence of a 2,000-year-old port city at a place where Saint Thomas allegedly landed rests more on faith than on history or archaeology. It must be seen as part of a concerted attempt to entrench the Cross in Asia, particularly India. – The Pioneer, 3 April 2018.

› Sandhya Jain is a political analyst and columnist with The Pioneer, New Delhi.


Dr. Nagaswamy refutes the St. Thomas myth from 11:30 mins …


 

The communal agenda of Marxist and Christian historians in India – G.P. Srinivasan


“The Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) aimed to establish under manufactured and deceptive archaeological evidence that Pattanam was ancient Muziris of the Cheras where, supposedly, Thomas the Apostle had landed.” – G.P. Srinivasan


P. J. Cherian


Historical records and archaeological evidence are conveniently denied, but strategically manipulated and suppressed by Communist historians in India. They vigorously preach Aryan invasion theory despite clinching archaeological, archaeozoological and palaeoanthropological evidence. They vehemently deny palaeohydrological and palaeoclimatic evidence on Sarasvati river. But the Left historians have always joined hands with Church lobbies in India for transforming myth into history. The recent evidence of this Communist–Church federation is at Pattanam, a site in Ernakulum district of Kerala.


Prof M. G. S. Narayanan and Dr B. S. Hari Shankar : Book release on March 17, 2017 at Kozhikkode


The book titled Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions by Dr. B.S. Harishankar was released on March 17, 2017 at Kozhikode in Kerala by Professor M.G.S. Narayanan, former ICHR chairman. According to Professor M.G.S. Narayanan eminent historian, Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) is a Marxist research council. Professor Narayanan made this observation when he was inaugurating the release of this book published by Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram. Dr. M.G.S. Narayanan charged that the KCHR was organised by the CPM, consisting of historians who followed the dictates and agenda of the party. They kept away the Archaeological Survey of India and Indian universities while initiating the Pattanam excavations under the Muziris Heritage Project. The KCHR aimed to establish under manufactured and deceptive archaeological evidence that Pattanam was ancient Muziris (Muchiri) of the Cheras. The project was also launched for protecting the personal gains of CPM leaders Dr.. T.M. Thomas Issac, current finance minister in CPM government in Kerala and M.A. Baby, polit bureau member.

There was no transparent archaeological research at Pattanam under KCHR. Earlier, stone beads were identified at Pattanam following heavy rains. It was widely propagated that the site was a port city and an ancient township of the Cheras before launching the excavations. When questions were raised at KCHR regarding claims of a township and port city, they took a retreat from their early contentions and made incredible statements that the structural remains unearthed were carried away by local residents.

The KCHR also provides an incredible presentation of a wharf to vindicate their claims of a port city according to M.G.S. Narayanan. Ambiguous and distorted evidence of pottery has been put forward by KCHR. Pattanam was highlighted by KCHR in its National Museum exhibition in 2014 as the third site to unearth terra sigillata pottery in India after Arikamedu and Alagankulam in Tamil Nadu. KCHR has suppressed the fact that terra sigillata has been recovered from Uraiyur, Kanchipuram, Vasavasamudram, Kodumanal, Karur and Sulur in Tamil Nadu and  numerous sites in western India, especially Gujarat. Similarly, KCHR contended that rouletted pottery from Pattanam was reported for the first time on west coast. This is another false statement. This pottery has been reported from 124 sites across Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.


Fraudulent Pattanam archaeological dig, supposed landing place of St Thomas


Professor Narayanan said that KCHR also intends to propagate that St. Thomas landed in Kerala coast in first century AD to propagate Christianity. There are no archaeological evidence or historical records to substantiate that Apostle Thomas arrived in India. There are some records to vindicate that he arrived in the Afghanistan region. The Pattanam excavations under KCHR is the biggest archaeological duplicity and treachery in the history of Indian historical research in this century. Narayanan said the current book has comprehensively documented and discussed Pattanam excavations using all researched and published material available  which the  KCHR cannot push aside or ignore.

Pattanam excavations were not an accidental episode or a project initiated in understanding the historical past of India’s west coast. Pope Benedict XVI, refused to accept St Thomas myth as history. But following pressure by Syro Malabar Church, Vatican secretariat send letter to Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil in Kerala on November 25, 2006 accepting St. Thomas myth as history and initiating activities for establishing it as truth. Pattanam excavations by KCHR comprising Left historians panel started at this time.

The Marxist historians led by Professor K.N. Panikkar from JNU who is now chairman of KCHR, manipulated archaeological evidence, manufactured new evidence and spread huge lies to establish that Pattanam had historical relations with Jerusalem, Israel and other countries in West Asia from 1000 BC. The director of Pattanam excavations is Dr. P.J. Cherian, a  Left and Church historian who did his Ph.D in 1993 from University of Calicut on the topic, The Communist Movement in Travancore: From the Origins to the Uprisings in 1946.  For Pattanam excavations, Cherian is supported by University of Rome. The University of Rome Tor Vergata has conferred a three-year research fellowship on P.J. Cherian, Director, Kerala Council for Historical Research and Pattanam excavations as reported by The Hindu on February 16, 2011. Cherian took an interest in archaeology due to directions given by United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (UBCHEA) with headquarters in New York as reported by Express News Service on February 17, 2011. The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East published on March 5, 2011 Cherian’s statement that recent excavations in Kerala have found evidence of a port city that existed more than 2,000 years ago at a place where Saint Thomas is believed to have landed. P.J. Cherian is executive president of the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage. Cherian has presented papers linking St. Thomas and Pattanam at the seminars organized by Liturgical Research Centre of Syro Malabar Church in November 2005 at Kochi and July 2011 at Kalyan in Mumbai. Irving R. Finkel, scholar in biblical studies, inaugurated Khor Rori KCHR Children’s Museum at Pattanam. Few people know the fact that  Khor Rori, a place said to be located in Oman said to be associated vaguely to biblical episodes.

The KCHR has huge financial and academic support of a Euro-American lobby outside India. The KCHR has kept away ASI and Indian universities from Pattanam excavations. Recently, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has cancelled the license of over twenty NGOs in Kerala under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010 with effect from November 1, 2010 which included KCHR. It is also alleged that the KCHR director Dr. P.J. Cherian was involved in creation of fake government documents, illegal appointments and financial irregularities worth crores.


ASI Ayodhya Excavation


The Left and pseudo-secular historians in India who now work hard at Pattanam for proving the archaeological evidence of Apostle Thomas have simultaneously denied the existence of a Hindu temple at Ayodhya. Veteran archaeologists such as Professor B.B. Lal, late Dr. P. Gupta, Y.D. Sharma and K.M. Srivastava presented convincing archaeological evidence of a temple beneath the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. The team found that the objects were dateable to the period ranging from the 10th through the 12th century AD. Besides Vaishnavite images and that of Shiva–Parvati, the unearthed objects at Ayodhya also included a number of amakalas, i.e., the cogged-wheel type architectural element which crown the bhumi shikharas or spires of subsidiary shrines, as well as the top of the spire or the main shikharas. There were other evidences such as cornices, pillar capitals, mouldings, door jambs with floral patterns precisely showing clinching evidence regarding the existence of a 10th-12th century AD  temple complex at the site of Ayodhya.

B.B. Lal has noted that the ruins of Ayodhya have a circuit of 4 to 5 kms and rise at places to a height of 10 metres above the ground level. He observed that the Northern Black Polished Ware  (NBPW) at the earliest level and continues with several structural phases up to the third century AD. The Left historians such as Professors R. S. Sharma, Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, D. N. Jha and K. N. Panikkar from  Jamia Millia, Delhi, JNU and Aligarh universities denied this archaeological evidence at Ayodhya for their pseudo secular interests. Their research methodology, manufacture of archaeological evidence and communal agenda have all been exposed from Pattanam excavations.

› G.P. Srinivasan does historical research and reporting from Srirangam.


 

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict XVI


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


K. N. Panikkar


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

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

Cherian could not be contacted for comment.

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


M. A. Baby


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

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

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

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

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

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


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


 

KCHR’s Muziris Project: Digging for the bones of St. Thomas – B.S. Harishankar

Organisations which have come out openly against the Kerala Council for Historical Research and its Muziris Project have alleged that “these same historians who had earlier rebuffed Ramayana and Sri Ram as fictitious and fabricated are now digging for the bones of Apostle Thomas.” – B.S. Harishankar

 


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


What took place in November 2011 was neither a debate nor a discord. The venue was Thiruvananthapuram, at the Joint Annual Conference of Indian Archaeological Society (ACIAS), Indian Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies (ISPQS), and Indian History and Culture Society (IHCS). Strongly criticising the archaeological excavations at Pattanam site in Kerala and the rambling hotchpotch of cultural remains without periodisation especially pottery, veteran archaeologist and former director of Archaeology and Museums, Karnataka, A. Sundara’s strong criticism came after the Kerala Council for Historical Research (henceforth KCHR) director presented his paper on Pattanam excavations. Professor Sundara is one of the most reputed archaeologists in India known for his objective outlooks and unbiased conclusions for which he was honoured at the meet. Earlier, Professor Sundara was also one of the well wishers of Pattanam excavations in the Pattanam Archaeological Research (PAR) brochure published by the KCHR in March-April 2008. His censuring of Pattanam excavations although came as a surprise, was not an isolated incident. Much more censorious on Pattanam was Professor M.G.S. Narayanan, eminent historian and former director of ICHR. In an earlier seminar held at Kochi in August 2011, Dr R. Nagaswamy, former Director of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu criticised the KCHR for its biased approach and hasty conclusions to establish some hidden agenda at Pattanam. Dr. T. Satyamurthy, former Director, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was equally critical of the excavations and cautioned KCHR authorities against any hasty conclusions. Pattanam excavations form part of the Muziris Heritage Project (MHP) launched by the KCHR and headed by chairman Dr. K.N. Panikkar, former professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and director Dr. P.J. Cherian, a modern historian who heads archaeological excavations. In a write up for Malayalam journal Mathrubhumi in 2014, Professor P.M. Rajan Gurukkal, historian and one of the members of the MHP arguing for Pattanam also admitted that the site was unfit for any archaeological excavation as the soil has been virtually tampered for various construction purposes and digging of wells leaving no space for stratigraphical analysis of the cultural remains which have agglomerated. Surprisingly until now, no historian or archaeologist or any professional body such as the ASI has come forward in defence of the KCHR or Pattanam. Even Professor Romila Thapar, one of the patrons of the MHP is virtually silent.


K. N. Panikkar


The site of Pattanam is located near Parur in Ernakulam District of Kerala. It was declared by the KCHR Muziris Heritage Project (MHP) that the aim of the MHP was to excavate and discover the lost settlement of Muziris, the ancient Chera capital on the Periyar River basin and hence named MHP. The geomorphology of Kodungallur, considered ancient Muziris, was examined by geologists K.K. Nair and C.S. Subrahmanyam in 1993 in the archaeological context, which revealed that the area has been completely disturbed and the habitation material deeply buried due to tectonic changes. The Malabar Coast has both submergent and emergent characteristics. The Periyar River which drains the region has a long history of frequent floods due to heavy monsoons.

In the beginning, the excavations at Pattanam sailed smoothly. But controversies started after the excavators claimed that an ancient township at the cusp of first century BC and first century AD was unearthed at Pattanam archaeological site. Claims on the discovery of urban architectural remains at Pattanam were made by the excavator in various published papers and reports such as The Living Dead and the Lost Knowledge—2007 and 2008 published by Department of Culture, Government of Kerala, Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology 2009-2010 and in the paper presented at ACIAS on November, 2011 at Thiruvananthapuram. It was declared by the KCHR director who is also the excavator that, Pattanam revealed interesting “early historic urban architectural features”.

The excavator claimed that the “urban, multicultural and maritime features are principal attributes” of Pattanam site. It was further asserted by the KCHR that the brick house comparable to a warehouse exposed near the wharf in trench PTO7 III included a platform (006) with postholes (67 in number) and brick walls belonging to at least three different phases. It was stated that the post holes do not show any particular pattern and were dug at various periods indicating repeated use for a long duration.

In the Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology 2009-2010, the excavator claimed the presence of ancient civilisations at Pattanam. He also claimed Pattanam as an advanced metal working and stone cutting site with metal objects and lapidaries. Recently, the botanical remains claimed to have been unearthed from Pattanam were handed over to Spices Board in Kerala, a marketing and research institute for spices for palaeobotanical studies. Carbon 14 dating of remains from Pattanam are conducted by Georgia University. The ASI has been kept away and excavations are coordinated by foreign universities. Later, the director of KCHR Dr. P.J. Cherian admitted in The Hindu dated June 12 in 2011, Thiruvananthapuram edition that, “curiously, while large collections of artifacts were found, no remnants of major structures were discovered at the site”. In the KCHR Annual Report 2009-2010 there is neither reference to such urban architectural remains or photographs of trenches. Those who visited the site were unable to see any urban architectural remains.

In the KCHR brochure published in February 2008 on MHP and Pattanam excavations, chairman of KCHR, Professor K.N. Panikkar stated in his editorial note that archaeological and historical research are not solely meant for experts and professionals in the field. Everyone with thinking power should handle it. Later elaborating further, in an interview given to Frontline dated April 2010, Panikkar made his stand much clearer. He suggested public participation in archaeological excavations at Pattanam—which he termed “democratic archaeology”—in which the local people would be part of the excavation. In other words archaeologists and ASI need not interfere in excavations since guidelines and diggings shall be by “people’s democracy”. Keeping archaeologists at bay was a necessity for KCHR since expertise observations and remarks can lead to serious implications for Pattanam. Beyond all such serious lapses and incredible turnovers at Pattanam, what has raised eyebrows is the interference of JNU historians who were hastily propagating for Pattanam excavations to obtain it credibility in the academic world. Professor Kumkum Roy of JNU, in her Historical Dictionary of Ancient India published in 2009 has highlighted Pattanam stating that it has now been identified with ancient Muziris. Similarly Professor Ranabir Chakravarti of the JNU in his work, Exploring Early India published in 2010, brings Pattanam into focus. Roman amphorae from Pattanam are exhibited as evidence of Mediterranean trade. It is not a new discovery. There are a number of other sites in India which have provided remains of Roman amphorae. But here the intention raised suspicions due to later events.


P. J. Cherian (L)


What has now snowballed into a major controversy is the open declaration by KCHR director, Dr Cherian in the official bulletin of the Assyrian Church of the East on March 2011, that Pattanam has been identified as ancient Muziris, where Apostle Thomas landed in India 2000 years back for propagating Christianity, which he claims has been vindicated by the excavations. In 2011 July, he presented a paper on Pattanam archaeology at a seminar organised by Syro-Malabar Church in Mumbai. A major paper on St. Thomas tradition in southwest coastal region in India was presented by Dr Pius Malekkandathil, who is a reader at JNU. Earlier at Kakkanad near Kochi in 2005, Dr Pius Malekandathil presented his paper organised by the Liturgical Research Centre of the Syro-Malabar Church on the tradition of Apostle Thomas. Romila Thapar has put forward the arrival of Apostle Thomas as an outcome of Mediterranean trade links of India in her work—The Penguin History of Early India—published in 2002. In 2006, Professor Kumkum Roy was advisor to NCERT Textbook Development Committee along with chief advisor, Professor Neeladri Bhattacharya both from JNU.


Romila thapar


In the history textbook on social science for Class VI, they have included Muziris in the map of important trade routes without mentioning Pattanam and linking it with arrival of first Christian preachers in India.

Ranabir Chakravarti of JNU is one of the members of the NCERT Textbook Development Committee. Assertive claims by KCHR authorities in establishing historicity of Apostle Thomas has been supported by the stand of Utio Rai Chaudhary and Furley Richmond, academic directors of Georgia University in 2011 December. They stated that researches are being conducted by the Georgia University on links between St. Thomas tradition and Pattanam. Interestingly this university has undertaken Carbon 14 dating of the Pattanam site. Historian Istvan Perczel from Central European University, Hungary was invited in February 2008, for delivering a lecture by KCHR chairman Professor K.N. Panikkar former JNU luminary and the KCHR director on the topic—History of Kerala Christianity.

The February 2004 issue of Economic and Political Weekly has published an article on KCHR Family Archives Project by K. George Verghese. He has alleged that the KCHR Family Archives Project is virtually filled with histories of Syrian Christian families all highlighting arrival of Apostle Thomas at Muziris. The family history archives project was implemented prior to Pattanam excavations to provide a link.

With the Pattanam excavations thus taking a serious turn, Delhi based Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) which had earlier attacked former ICHR chairman, Professor M.G.S. Narayanan in 2001 for raising serious allegations against the KCHR has virtually gone underground. Organisations which have currently come open against the KCHR and its Muziris Heritage Project have alleged that “these same historians who had earlier rebuffed Ramayana and Sri Ram as fictitious and fabricated are now digging for the bones of Apostle Thomas”.Organiser, 10 January 2015

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


Ancient silk road route and water route to India from Rome