Tag Archives: christian mythology

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


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


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

Mor Coorilose with Children


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

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

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

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

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


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


Caste oppression and Christianity

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

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

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


George Cardinal Alencherry


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

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

Dalit Christians demonstrate against caste discrimination in the Church

Dalit Christians in Tamil Nadu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dr M.S.G. Narayanan


Reviving a long-running debate

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

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

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

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


Prof Susan Viswanathan


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

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

References (added by Ishwar Sharan)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Christian Fish Symbol


Why Indians should reject St. Thomas and Christianity – Koenraad Elst


“Christians must acknowledge the historical fact that from Bethlehem to Madras, most of their sacred sites are booty won in campaigns of fraud and destruction.” – Dr. Koenraad Elst


Goa Inquisition


India’s Christian Problem

In the West we don’t hear much about it, and even in India it doesn’t make many headlines, but Hindu society is faced with a Christian problem besides the better-known Muslim problem.[1] One focus of this conflict is the history of Christian iconoclasm, which is not entirely finished, and which past history has crystallized into some hundreds of churches standing on the ruins of purposely demolished Hindu temples. This history of iconoclasm is not an accident: it is the logical outcome of Christian theology, particularly of its deep hostility towards non-Christian forms of worship.


Dr. Koenraad Elst

Christian theft of Pagan festivals.


Christian sacred places in Palestine

A book well worth reading for those engaged in controversies over sacred sites, in particular concerning Christian churches in South India, is Christians and the Holy Places by Joan Taylor, a historian from New Zealand.[2] It shows that the places where Christians commemorate the birth and death of Jesus have nothing to do with Jesus, historically.

The Nativity Church in Bethlehem was built in the fourth century A.D. in forcible replacement of a Pagan place of worship, dedicated to the God Tammuz-Adonis. Until then, it had had no special significance for Christians, who considered pilgrimages to sacred places a Pagan practice anyway: you cannot concentrate in one place (hence, go on pilgrimage to) the Omnipresent. The concept of “sacred place” was introduced into Christianity by converts, especially at the time of Emperor Constantine’s switch to a pro-Christian state policy.

The Christian claim to Bethlehem as Jesus’s birthplace was a fraud from the beginning, as Cambridge historian Michael Arnheim has shown: through numerous contradictions and factual inaccuracies, the Gospel writers betray their intention to locate Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem at any cost, against all information available to them.[3] The reason is that they had to make Jesus live up to an Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah was to be born there.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was built in forcible replacement of a temple of the fertility Goddess Venus, the personal initiative of Emperor Constantine. His mother had seen in a dream that Jesus had died at that particular place, though close scrutiny of the original Christian texts shows that they point to a place 200 metres to the south. Constantine had the Venus temple demolished and the ground searched, and yes, his experts duly found the cross on which Jesus had died. They somehow assumed that their forebears of 33 A.D. had a habit of leaving or even burying crucifixion crosses at the places where they had been used, quod non. The Christian claim to the site of the Holy Cross is based on the dream of a gullible but fanatical woman, and fortified with a faked excavation.[4]

Remember the Ayodhya debate, where Hindu scholars were challenged to produce ever more solid proof of the traditions underlying the sacredness of the controversial site? Whatever proof they came up with was automatically, without any inspection, dismissed by the high priests of secularism as “myth” and “faked evidence”. It was alleged that there was a “lack of proof” for the assumption that Rama ever lived there. But in the case of the Christian sacred places, we do not just have lack of proof that the religion’s claim is true, but we have positive proof that its claim is untrue, and that it was historically part of a campaign of fraud and destruction.

The stories of the Nativity and Holy Cross sites were trend setters in a huge campaign of christianization of Pagan sacred sites. Joan Taylor also mentions how the Aphrodite temple in Ein Karim near Jerusalem was demolished and replaced with the Nativity Church of John the Baptist. In the same period, all over the Roman Empire, Pagan places of worship were demolished, sacred groves chopped down and idols smashed by Christian preachers who replaced them with Christian relics which they themselves posted or “discovered” there, like the twenty-odd “only real” instances of Jesus’s venerable foreskin.


Isis & Horus becomes Mary & Jesus


Pagan symbols and characters were superficially christianized. For example, Saint George and the archangel Michael, both depicted as slaying a dragon, are nothing but Christian names for the Indo-European myth of the dragon-slayer (in the Vedic version: Indra slaying Vritra). The Pagan festivals of the winter solstice (Yuletide) and the spring equinox were deformed into the Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter.[5] The Egyptian icon of the Mother Goddess Isis with her son Horus in her lap, very popular throughout the Roman Empire, was turned into the Madonna with the Babe Jesus. At the same time, devotees of the genuine Mother Goddess and enthusiasts of the genuine winter solstice festival were persecuted, their temples demolished or turned into churches.

This massive campaign of fraud and destruction was subsequently extended to the Germanic, Slavic and Baltic countries. Numerous ancient churches across Europe are so many Babri Masjids, containing or standing on the left-overs of so many Rama Janmabhoomi temples. Just after the christianization of Europe was completed with the forced conversion of Lithuania in the fifteenth century, the iconoclastic zeal was taken to America, and finally to Africa and Asia.


Immaculate Conception Cathedral


Christian impositions on India

India too has had its share of Christian iconoclasm. After the Portuguese settlement, hundreds of temples in and around the Portuguese-held territories were demolished, often to be replaced with Catholic churches. “Saint” Francis Xavier described with glee the joy he felt when he saw the Hindu idols smashed and temples demolished.[6] Most sixteenth and seventeenth century churches in India contain the rubble of demolished Hindu temples. The French-held pockets witnessed some instances of Catholic fanaticism as well. Under British rule, Hindu places of worship in the population centres were generally left alone—some exceptions notwithstanding—but the tribal areas became the scene of culture murder by Catholic and Protestant missionaries. There are recent instances of desecration of tribal village shrines and sacred groves by Christians, assaults on Hindu processions both in the tribal belts and in the south, and attempts to turn the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari into a Virgin Mary shrine.[7]


Fr. Lawrence Raj: He spends crores turning Chennai (Madras) churches into Disney-style Thomas tableaus that depict Hindus as assassins. And the money rolls in!

San Thome Cathedral: This tableau of St. Thomas and his Hindu assassin was built after the publication of Ishwar Sharan's book in 1995. Its objective is to malign the Hindu community with the accusation of the murder of a Christian apostle and saint, and to further the propagation of the St. Thomas legend which has made India's bishops very wealthy and supports their political claim on India.


In South India, the myth of St. Thomas provided the background for a few instances of temple destruction at places falsely associated with his life and alleged martyrdom, especially the St. Thomas Church replacing the Mylapore Kapaleeswara Temple in Madras. In this case, the campaign of fraud is still continuing: till today, Christian writers continue to claim historical validity for the long-refuted story of the apostle Thomas coming to India and getting killed by jealous Brahmins.[8] The story is parallel to that of Jesus getting killed by the Jews, and it has indeed served as an argument in an elaborate Christian doctrine of anti-Brahminism which resembles Christian anti-Semitism to the detail. At any rate, it is a fraud.

From those Christian polemists insisting on the St. Thomas narrative’s historicity (I will be the first to welcome the unexpected demonstration of the historicity of traditions dismissed as “myths”), we may at least expect that they tell their prospective converts the whole of the story. They should not omit that it describes Thomas as Jesus’s twin brother (implying that Jesus was not God’s Only Begotten Son) and as an anti-social character who exhausted his royal protector’s patience by luring many women away from their families; and that it relates how Jesus was a slave-trader who was not even above selling his own brother.

Towards a full accounting and apology

For a proper way of digesting this dark episode of Christian iconoclasm, we suggest the following two steps. First of all, a full stop has to be put to the surreptitious forms of Christian iconoclasm which are continuing to this very day. It is nonsense to talk of dialogue and communal harmony as long as attempts are still being made to disrupt existing modes of worship.

Secondly, Hindus and Christians should take inspiration from the contemporary American attitude towards the horrible story of America’s christianization through culture murder and genocide. After all, the Christian conquests in India and in America are two sides of the same coin. In the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, the Pope awarded one half of the world (ultimately comprising areas from Brazil to Macao, including Africa and India) to Portugal, and the other half (including most of America and the Philippines) to Spain, on condition that they use their power to christianize the population. The Spanish campaign in America had juridically and theologically exactly the same status as its Portuguese counterpart in India. If the result was not as absolutely devastating in India as it was in America, this was merely due to different power equations: the Portuguese were less numerous than the Spanish, and the Indians were technologically and militarily more equal to the Europeans than the Native Americans were. The Church’s intentions behind Columbus’s discovery of America and Vasco da Gama’s landing in India were exactly the same.

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Columbus‘s first meeting with the Pagans of the New World (1992), many Christian dignitaries have expressed their shame and regret at what has been done to the Native Americans by (or, as they prefer to put it, “in the name of”) Christianity. Even the Pope has publicly acknowledged at least a part of his Church’s guilt.[9] Now that the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama‘s landing in India [has passed], Hindus should make sure that the Christians including the Pope do not forget to do some similar soul-searching and to offer similar apologies.


Arun Shourie


Like the Native Americans, Hindu society will not be satisfied with a few cheap words. As Hindu spokesman Arun Shourie writes: “By an accounting [of the calumnies heaped upon India and Hinduism] I do not of course mean some declaration saying, ‘Sorry’. By an accounting I mean that the calumnies would be listed; the grounds on which they were based would be listed, and the Church would declare whether, in the light of what is known now, the grounds were justified or not; and the motives which impelled those calumnies would be exhumed.”[10] This is actually an application of the rules of confession, one of the Catholic sacraments: it is not enough to ask for absolution from your sins, you first have to confess what sins you have actually committed.

The Church now claims that it is no longer the aggressive Church Militant of the old days, that its whole outlook has profoundly changed. Shourie lists five criteria by which we will know whether these changes are genuine:

  • An honest accounting of the calumnies which the Church has heaped on India and Hinduism;
  • informing Indian Christians and non-Christians about the findings of Bible scholarship;
  • informing them about the impact of scientific progress on Church doctrine;
  • acceptance that reality is multi-layered and that there are many ways of perceiving it;
  • bringing the zeal for conversion in line with the recent declarations that salvation is possible through other religions as well.

I expect Church leaders to reply: “You cannot ask of the Indian Church to commit suicide like that!” But let us give them a chance.


Fr Roberto de Nobili SJ


Christian hostilities today

After the Church’s public self-criticism before the Native Americans, there is every reason [for Hindus] to take stock of what Christianity has done to India. But in this case, the Christians may need some insistent reminding: unlike in America, where they have had to face the facts of history, and where they have had to switch to a pro-Native stand under the aegis of Liberation Theology, the Christian Churches in India are still continuing on a course of self-righteous aggression against the native society and culture.

Seldom have I seen such viper-like mischievousness as in the most recent strategies of the Christian mission in India. It is a viper with two teeth. On the one side, there is the gentle penetration through social and educational services, now compounded with a rhetoric of “inculturation”: glib talk of “dialogue”, “sharing”, “common ground”, fraudulent donning of Hindu robes by Christian monks, all calculated to fool Hindus about the continuity of the Christian striving to destroy Hinduism and replace it with the cult of Jesus. This is not to deny that there are some Indian Christians who sincerely believe that the denomination game is outdated, that we should go “beyond the religions” and mix freely with non-Christians without trying to change their religious loyalties; but they do not represent official Church policy.

On the other side, there is a vicious attempt to delegitimize Hinduism as India’s native religion, and to mobilize the weaker sections of Hindu society against it with “blood and soil” slogans. Seeing how the nativist movement in the Americas is partly directed against Christianity because of its historical aggression against native society (in spite of Liberation Theology’s attempts to recuperate the movement), the Indian Church tries to take over this nativist tendency and forge it into a weapon against Hinduism. Christian involvement in the so-called Dalit (“oppressed”) and Adivasi (“aboriginal”) movements is an attempt to channel the nativist revival and perversely direct it against native society itself. It advertises its services as the guardian of the interests of the “true natives” (meaning the Scheduled Castes and Tribes) against native society, while labelling the upper castes as “Aryan invaders”, on the basis of an outdated theory postulating an immigration in 1500 B.C.

To declare people “invaders” because of a supposed immigration of some of their ancestors 3500 years ago is an unusual feat of political hate rhetoric in itself, but the point is that it follows a pattern of earlier rounds of Christian aggression. It is Cortes all over again: Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, could defeat the Aztecs, the ruling nation which had immigrated from Utah three centuries earlier, by enlisting the support of nations subdued by the Aztecs, with himself posing as their liberator (of course, they were to regret their “liberation”). The attempt to divide the people of a country on an ethnic basis—whether it is a real ethnic distinction as in the case of Cortes’ Mexico, or a wilfully invented one as in the case of India—is an obvious act of hostility, unmistakably an element of warfare.

While in the post-colonial decades, Church rhetoric has markedly softened, its action on the ground has only become more aggressive. Shourie quotes intelligence reports on the role of missionaries in armed separatist movements in the North-East, and on their violations of the legal restrictions in Arunachal Pradesh on conversion by force or allurement.[12] The World Council of Churches officially supports separatism in the tribal areas (and even among the Schedules Castes, another “indigenous nation”!), in pursuit of the long cherished project of carving out Christian-dominated independent states. In its 1989 Darwin Declaration, the WCC announces: “Indigenous peoples strive for and demand the full spectrum of autonomy available in the principle of self-determination, including the right to re-establish our own nation-states”. The Churches and governments have an obligation to see [this] come to reality by providing the necessary means, without any restriction attached.”[13] What sounds fair enough in the case of the Tibetans or the East-Timorese, is used in India as a step on the way to unrestricted exercise of clerical power, a formalization of the already existing trends in the Christian-dominated states of the Indian republic.

Therefore, “without any restriction”, Christians are teaching some sections of Hindu society hatred against other sections. You don’t normally try to create hostility between your friends, so the Church’s policy to pit sections of Hindu society against one another should be seen for what it is: an act of aggression, which warrants an active policy of self-defence and counter-attack. This counter-attack should take a proper form, adapted to the genius of Hinduism.


Paul & Onesimus


Why Christianity should be rejected

The Hindu response to Christian aggression should concentrate on consciousness-raising. Information should be widely disseminated on the two fundamental reasons why Christianity is totally unacceptable as an alternative to Hinduism.

The first is its historical record, with its destructive fanaticism as well as its opportunistic collaboration with whichever social force seemed most helpful to the Church’s expansion. Contrary to current propaganda, Christianity has historically supported feudalism, absolute kingship, slavery and apartheid, all properly justified with passages from the Bible. St. Peter and St. Paul gave a clear message to the oppressed of the world: “Slaves, accept with due submission the authority of your masters, not only if they are good and friendly, but even if they are harsh.” (1 Peter 2:18) And: “Slaves, be obedient to your earthly masters with devotion and simplicity, as if your obedience were directed to Christ Himself.”(Ephesians 6:5)[14]. Liberation Theology, far from constituting a break with the Church’s long-standing collaboration with the dominant powers, is merely the application of the same strategy to new circumstances: now that the masses constitute a decisive political force, now that social activism is a theme which ensures political and financial support from different quarters, the Church has decided to tap into this new source of power as well.

The other (and in my opinion the most important) fact about Christianity which ought to be the topic of an all-out education campaign, is the scientific certainty that its fundamental teachings are historically fraudulent, intellectually garbled, and psychologically morbid. Jesus was neither the son of a virgin mother nor the Only Begotten Son of God. Jesus’s perception of himself as the Messiah and the Son of God was a psychopathological condition, supported by hallucinations (especially the voice he heard during his baptism, the visions of the devil during his fast, the vision of Elijah and Moses on Mount Tabor), and partly caused by his most ordinary but traumatic shame of having been conceived out of wedlock. Numerous manipulations (interpolation, omission, antedating, deliberate mistakes of translation and interpretation) of the textual basis of Christian doctrine by the evangelists and other Church Fathers have been discovered, analyzed and explained in their historical context by competent Bible scholars, most of them working at Christian institutes.[15]

Now some Hindus will object that there must also be a bright side. I am well aware that Christian history has produced some important contributions to human progress in culture, art, philosophy. I have a rather positive opinion of some of the Christian classics, such as Thomas Aquinas‘s philosophy, or the Church’s social teachings (which are rather different from Liberation Theology), and I stand by my earlier suggestion that Hindu political ideologues would gain a lot from studying the works which inspired their natural European counterpart, the Christian Democrats.[16] However, a closer analysis shows that the truly important elements in these contributions are ultimately of non-Christian origin.

The intellectually most attractive elements in Christian doctrine are bits of Hellenistic philosophy co-opted by the Church Fathers, without any prophetic or revelatory origins, apart from elements of Judaic tradition which predated Jesus and were in no way augmented or surpassed by his supposed teachings. The way Christianity incorporated them is often a superficial cover-up of the contradictions between mutually exclusive teachings. Thus, the Platonic notion of an immortal soul, which is part of Church doctrine, makes the central Christian message of the “resurrection of the body” (which originated in a Jewish tradition ignoring the notion of an afterlife) superfluous. If death does not really exist, if it is merely a step from this type of life to another type, why bother about bodily resurrection? And if we partake of the divine nature by sharing God’s immortality, where is the need for a saviour?

On the other hand, those contributions which set Christianity apart from the prevailing religious and intellectual atmosphere in the Greco-Roman world, are not always the most desirable. Thus, Christianity’s emphasis on the individual’s dependence on Scriptural or Church authority has suffocated millions of people in their spiritual development and directly caused the persecution and killing of numerous freethinkers. Its contorted and repressive attitude towards human sexuality is notoriously responsible for untold amounts of psychological suffering. Add the negative attitude towards worldly pursuits including science; the sentimental fixation on a single historical person with his idiosyncratic behaviour, extolled moreover to a divine status (Jews and Muslims have a point when they consider this the ultimate in “idolatry”); the concomitant depreciation of all other types of human character (artist, warrior, householder, humorist, renouncer) in favour of the pathetic antisocial type which Jesus represented; and the morbid love of martyrdom. Our list of Christianity’s failures is not complete, but is sufficient to justify the evaluation on which millions of Christian-born people have come to agree: Christianity is not true.


Jesus


Jesus was not God’s Only Begotten Son, and he was not the Saviour of mankind from its Original Sin. Historically, he was just one of the numerous antisocial preachers going around in troubled Palestine in the period of Roman rule. He believed the End was near (definitely a failed prophecy, unless we redefine “near”), and had a rather high opinion of himself and of his role in the impending catastrophe. We can feel compassion for this thoroughly unhappy man with his miserably unsuccessful life, but we should not compensate him for his failure by elevating him to a super-human status; let alone worshipping him as Saviour and Son of God. Whatever the worth of values which Christians claim as theirs, nothing at all is gained by making people believe in a falsehood like the faith in Jesus Christ.

Life after Christianity

Hindus with their conservative and pluralistic concern for the continuity of people in their respective faiths may wonder whether, for Christians, there is life after Christianity. Let me speak from my own experience. I have grown up in a Catholic family, gone to Catholic schools, and am a member of Catholic social organizations, so in a sociological sense I belong to the Catholic community. Moreover, I publish articles defending the Christians against the Islamic onslaught in foreign countries as well as against cultural aggression by Left-secularists in my own country. I also like to point to the worthwhile contributions of the Church tradition and of Christian thinkers and artists against the sweeping anti-Christian positions of some of my atheist and Hindu friends. Yet, like most of my friends from the same background, I have gradually discovered that Christianity is an illusory belief system, and without any outside intellectual or other pressures, my attachment to it has dissolved.

This step from belief in an irrational “revealed” doctrine towards truthfulness and the spirit of independent inquiry has not been a loss to me, nor to most people in the same situation that I know of. On the contrary, I have found that St. Paul’s dictum is fully valid: “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

For many thoughtful Westerners, the end of Christianity has not turned out to be the end of religion and morality, contrary to the predictions of our teachers. To be sure, there has been a profound change in public morality, which is partly a liberation from repressive prejudice, but partly also a real decline in moral sensitivity and responsibility, as demonstrated by the rising crime rate and the increasing number of broken families. Christianity claims to be the solution to this problem (hence the call for a “second evangelization”), but to quite an extent it should accept the blame for this development. By identifying religiosity and morality with its own irrational belief system, Christianity has made many people who outgrew this belief system throw out the annexes of moral responsibility and spiritual striving as well. Now, people are needing some time to discover for themselves that religion and morality still make sense after the demise of Christianity.


Adonis


Back to pre-Christian roots

Though the decline of Christianity in the West brings a few problems with it, that is no reason to reverse the process. Instead, we are reconstructing religion and morality for ourselves. One of the sources of the post-Christian religious revival, numerically still marginal but of great symbolic significance, is the rediscovery of ancestral Paganism. Intellectually, this movement still lacks solidity and consistency, and finds itself associated with a variety of social and political concerns stretching across the ideological spectrum: ethnic revivalism, nationalism, ecologism, feminism, communitarianism, anarchism. Part of the reason is that in European Paganism, unlike in Hinduism, there is no historical continuity, so that (except for the well-documented Greek traditions) there is ample room for guessing and fantasizing about the historical contents of ancient Paganism: an open invitation to romantics and theosophists to project their own pet ideas onto the mute screen of the ancient religion. Perhaps that is why the most consistent neo-Pagan movement arose in Iceland, where the memory of ancient Paganism was best preserved.


Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson


When Pope John-Paul II visited Iceland, he was received by Christian dignitaries, but the first one to address him was the country’s senior most religious leader, Sveinbjšrn Beinteinsson (1924-93). Originally a farmer, Beinteinsson gained fame across northern Europe as a traditional singer and songwriter (what the English call, with a term from the Celtic part of their cultural ancestry, a bard), and in 1972 he founded the Asatruarfelagid, the “society for the Ase religion”, which was officially registered as a religion on 3 May 1973.[17] As “the whole people’s invocator” (Allsherjargodi)[18] of the reconstituted ancestral religion, he spoke with mild irony to the Pope, about these “new fashions in religion” (meaning Christianity) which his tradition had seen arriving in Iceland.

The Icelandic example is being followed in other Germanic countries including North America. Celtic-based revivals are flourishing in Celtic countries or countries with a Celtic past (France, where some 40 different neo-Druid societies of divergent quality co-exist, England and Belgium). Slavic and Baltic countries have their own variety, with Russia and Lithuania being particularly fertile grounds for neo-Paganism.[19] In the former Soviet provinces of Tajikistan and Ossetia, there is a revival of Zoroastrianism, while forms of Shamanism are resurfacing from Kyrgyzstan to Hungary. In North America, these movements are partly absorbing those circles which were flirting earlier with Native American spirituality (Sweat Lodge Ceremony). They now accept that the Native Americans themselves don’t appreciate this type of imitation and prefer European-descended people to rediscover their own Pagan heritage. While evangelists are working hard to christianize tribals in the interiors of Latin America, many christianized Native Americans are returning to their ancestral traditions. In Brazil, supposedly the world’s largest Catholic country, the black and mulatto populations are taking to the elaborately polytheistic Candomble cult, with the sympathy of growing sections of the European-descended people, who view this cult of African origin as the emerging national religion.

Most of these neo-Pagan groups are still too obviously immature, groping in the dark created by the Christian destruction of their historical roots; it is interesting to watch some of them adapt their own rituals and doctrines to new scholarly findings about their chosen religious ancestry.[20] We shall have to see how this line of response to the post-Christian vacuum develops; but already, its very existence poses a powerful symbolic challenge to Christianity.


Nun Yoga


Meanwhile, the biggest actual challenge to Christianity in the West is the appeal of Oriental religions. Now long past the stage of beatnik experimentation with Zen Buddhism and hippie affectations of Indian lore, the Western daughter-schools of Asian schools of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism are gaining in authenticity and respectability as well as in attendance numbers. Some people formally convert and declare themselves followers of these religions; many more just practise the techniques they’ve learned and try to live according to the teachings, all while insisting on their individual non-attachment to any organized religion. Thus, in Germany (at least among natives, as opposed to the prolific Muslim immigrants), Buddhism is the fastest growing religion with some 300,000 practitioners. Even more far-reaching is the gradual penetration of small bits and pieces of Oriental heritage: most sportsmen as well as pregnant women preparing for birth now learn some elementary yogic breath control (prānāyāma) techniques, while even among Christian monks and nuns there is a substantial percentage who defy the Pope’s warnings and practise non-Christian forms of meditation.

Part of Christianity’s appeal among Indian tribals and fishermen is the (waning, but still palpable) prestige of the West. They should realize that the West is gradually opening up to the traditions of India and China, even while the elites of these countries are still spitting on their own heritage and pursuing westernization. Indians living in the middle of these traditions should have no problem finding a worthwhile alternative to Christianity. Even Dalits with a grudge against Hinduism should have no problem in rejecting the eager invitations of Christianity and Islam, and in following their leader Dr. Ambedkar onto the path of the Buddha. In time, closer study of the Buddha’s teachings may well reveal to them that, just as Jesus was a Jew, the Buddha was a Hindu.

Christianity against Paganism

It is interesting to see how the mild and harmless people who run the leftovers of the once powerful Churches in Europe suddenly show a streak of fanaticism when confronted with signs of life in the long-buried corpse of Paganism. In Iceland, the established Lutheran Church has intervened to stop the ongoing construction of a Pagan temple halfway; the government complied with the pressure and temporarily halted the construction work.[21] In contemporary polemical publications from the Christian side, we see a boom in attacks on what is loosely called the New Age Movement, meaning the mixed bag of feminist neo-witchcraft, ecologist philosophy (“deep ecology”), astrology, Pagan revivalism, Taoist health techniques and Hindu-Buddhist meditation. The Pope himself has condemned yoga, and in January 1995, his derogatory utterances on Buddhism provoked an anti-Pope agitation during his visit to Sri Lanka.[22]

By contrast, the Church leadership strongly opposes any serious criticism of Islam.[23] In India’s Hindu-Muslim conflict, the Christian media with their world-wide impact have thrown their weight completely behind the Islamic aggressor. The reason for this uneven treatment of Paganism (in the broadest sense) and Islam is not merely the relative closeness of Islam as a fellow monotheist religion, nor just the fear which Islam inspires. Churchmen have the (correct) impression that the Pagan alternative, though softer and weaker than Islam in a confrontational sense, ultimately has a stronger appeal to the educated Western mind. They calculate that the better-educated mankind of the next century will typically go the way of today’s European intellectuals, rather than the way of today’s Black Muslims or Christian Dalits.

Islam’s money and muscle power may look impressive, certainly capable of doing some real damage to targeted countries and societies, but Islam has no chance of becoming the religion of a science-based, space-conquering world society. Exclusivist revelations have no appeal among educated people, especially after they have acquainted themselves with the Vedantic or Buddhist philosophies. That is why the Churches are investing huge resources in the battle for Asia’s mind, where they face their most formidable enemy. That is why they are so active in India: not only is India’s atmosphere of religious freedom more hospitable to them than the conditions of Islamic countries, or even of non-Islamic countries where proselytization is prohibited (countries as divergent as China,  Myanmar, Israel, and, at least formally, Nepal); but they also know and fear the intrinsic superiority of the Indian religion.


Temporary Ram temple on the disputed Babri masjid site in Ayodhya.


The role of disputed places of worship

In the present struggle to death which Christianity is waging against Hinduism, is it any use for Hindus to rake up disputes over usurped places of worship? Or, as Christians who have the preservation of their churches in mind, are wont to ask: isn’t one Babri Masjid problem enough?

The Hindu response should be in proportion to the seriousness of the matter. Within the hierarchy of Hindu sacred places, I don’t think that any of the most important ones has been usurped by Christianity, the Mylapore Shiva temple being (with due respect) of secondary rank; though I admit that this is all relative. Of course, the Church itself is welcome to make a move and offer the stolen places of worship back. In fact, until the Church voluntarily offers to give some of its illegitimate property back, there is every reason to be skeptical about its protestations of a “new spirit of dialogue”. However, in my opinion, it may be wasteful and strategically counterproductive to start clamouring for the return of stolen places of worship.

Hindu society should be more ambitious. A place of worship may be an important focus for mobilization and consciousness-raising (vide Ayodhya), but it is hardly important in itself.[24] Better to go for the big one: attract the worshippers, and they will bring the places of worship along with them. Not the places but the offerers of worship are to be liberated from Christianity.


St. Francis Xavier in Goa.

Mohan C. Lazarus, Ezra Sargunam, Jegath Gaspar


The fate of Hindu sacred sites at the hands of Christian missionaries, as a piece of significant historical information, may have a certain auxiliary role to play in this process of consciousness-raising. Their ruins are witnesses to the antireligious and destructive edge of a Church which now advertises itself in India as the bringer of progress and social justice. A formal “liberation of sacred sites” need not be put on the agenda, but the Hindus have every right to insist on a mental and verbal breakthrough: Christians must acknowledge the historical fact that, from Bethlehem to Madras, most of their sacred sites are booty won in campaigns of fraud and destruction. Since their theology urges a sense of sinfulness and guilt anyway, they should not find it too difficult to make such a confession.

Against Missionaries


1. We do not hear about the Christian problem because the mainstream “secular” media is either Christian-owned, Christian-controlled, or Christian-influenced in India. – IS

2. Joan Taylor: Christians and the Holy Places, Oxford University Press 1993.

3. Michael Arnheim: Is Christianity True?, Duckworth & Co., London 1984.

4. The church is known today as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was built to enclose the alleged sites of the cross and the tomb which were believed to the close to each other. Its first building was dedicated ca. 336 A.D.

5. In their own version of the winter solstice, the Romans celebrated December 25th as the birthday of Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness, at the close of their most popular festival, the week-long Saturnalia. January 1st was then celebrated as the beginning of the New Year. The contention of Protestant fundamentalists that Christmas, the New Year and Easter are Pagan festivals is correct. The names of the days of the week and months of the year in the Western “Christian” calendar are also of Pagan origin, as is the choice of Sunday as the designated holy day.

6. The Indian Express, true to its current negationist editorial policy, continues to publish sentimentalized and misleading articles about this missionary and his Lutheran counterpart Bartholomeus Ziegenbalg, and about Portuguese churches built on temple sites, in its features pages. These missionaries and others are presented as lovers of and contributors to Tamil learning and culture, when in fact they came to India with the sole intention of destroying both. Prof. Maria Lazar, the author of a Ziegenbalg piece, has also done an article on Hindu craftsmen who manufacture images of Christian saints, and sententiously comments that this is a much needed example of religious tolerance today. Hindu craftsmen doing this kind of work are not unusual in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and real religious tolerance will be seen in South India when Christian craftsmen start making images of Hindu deities with the same dedication and respect. – IS

7. The phenomenon of Christian violence against Hindus in South India, generally ignored by Western India-watchers, is briefly mentioned by Susan Bayly in her (otherwise anti-Hindu) article: “History and the Fundamentalists: India after the Ayodhya Crisis”, in Bulletin of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, April 1993. The problem has hardly been documented by Hindu organizations, with their usual slothfulness in gathering and providing information. One of the few exceptions is Thanulinga Nadar: Unrest at Kanyakumari, Hindu Munnani, Kanyakumari 1982.

8. In Roman days and long afterwards, “India” was synonymous with “Asia”, from Ethiopia to Japan. Columbus expected to reach Zipangu (Chinese Ribenguo, “land of the sun’s origin”, i.e. Japan), and when he thought he got there, he called the inhabitants “Indians”.

9. Pope John-Paul II had even announced a comprehensive statement of the Church’s guilt by the year 2000. This provoked a lot of protest from other Church dignitaries.

10. Arun Shourie: Missionaries in India: Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas (ASA Publ., New Delhi 1994), P. 229. The book is an expanded version of his lectures before a conference called by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. Its publication provoked a new round of debate (rather less friendly, this time) of which the proceedings are being published by Voice of India: Arun Shourie and His Christian Critic. See also the related essay by T.R. de Souza, Historiography of Missions: Cultural, social and economic implications.

11. Ibid.

12. Op. cit., p. 234-235. A study yet to be written might usefully add some research into the complicity of Indian politicians. Thus, I know a Jesuit missionary working in Chhotanagpur, expelled from India by the Rajiv Gandhi administration because of political agitation. Back in Belgium, already preparing to move to another country, he received news that the new (Janata Dal) government would extend help to whomever the Hindus disliked; he applied for a visa and is now back among his flock practising Liberation Theology. I won’t doubt the man’s honesty (“I was only agitating against the redeployment of tigers in the jungle by urban ecologists who value wildlife more than tribal people!”), but the point is that any Christian agitation and intrigue will be supported by other factions of India’s colourful anti-Hindu coalition.

13. Published in Link, the bimonthly newsletter of the WCC’s “Programme to Combat Racism”, 1989/4.

14. This is not to deny the merits of some Christians at some stages in the struggle against slavery, e.g. the Jesuits in Brazil and Paraguay in the 17th and 18th century, and the Quakers in the USA in the 19th century. But remark that the Jesuit efforts were stopped by the Church itself, and that in the 18th century, the Quakers had been quite well-represented among slave-owners themselves. Christianity as a doctrine cannot claim the honour of freeing the oppressed.

15. For a synthesis of the findings of critical Bible scholarship with the proper logical conclusions, however, we have to refer to studies by non-Christian or ex-Christian scholars, because Christians tend to avoid the consequences of their findings (e.g. by claiming that “the Jesus of history” is unknowable and unimportant). See e.g. Michael Arnheim: op.cit.; Robin Lane-Fox: The Unauthorized Version. Truth and Fiction in the Bible, Viking, London 1991; and Herman Somers: Jezus de Messias: Was het Christendom een Vergissing? (“Jesus the Messiah: Was Christianity a Mistake?”), EPO, Antwerp 1986.

16. For example Jacques Maritain’s seminal book Humanisme Integral (1936); the title should ring a bell among Hindu nationalist ideologues professing “integral humanism”.

17. Ase is the ancient Germanic word for “God”, cognate to Sanskrit Asura (which simply meant “Lord” before the wars between the Vedic people and the Asura-worshipping Iranians gave it a negative meaning).

18. Godi, like its Sanskrit cognate hotr, means “worshipping priest”; hence the related Germanic word God, “the worshipped one”. In 1993, he was succeeded by Thorstein Gudjonsson. The Asatr Society publishes a periodical, Huginn ok Muhinn, PO Box 1159, IS-121 Reykjavik.

19. Lithuania, even more than Iceland, has a fair claim to some threads of continuity with historical Paganism because of its late christianization.

20. Historians are gradually bringing more reliable information to light, a prime example being Ronald Hutton: The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, Blackwell, Oxford 1993. Often, this research highlights both the limitations of our knowledge of ancient Paganism, and the distance between the original and the imagined Paganism (esp. Druidry) of Theosophy or the Wicca movement. It certainly makes neo-Pagans envy the comfortable situation of Hindus with their uninterrupted age-old tradition.

21. Iceland News, April 1994.

22. See Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation, and Pope John Paul’s Mission of the Redeemer: John Paul II on the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate. Hindu and Buddhist intellectuals who fancy that they are in dialogue with the Jesuits, and Liberal Catholics who still believe that the declarations of the Second Vatican Council regarding non-Christian religions are valid, should study these documents carefully. Copies are available on the Vatican website. – IS

23. For example, in May 1993, a lecture series on Islam, organized by a Catholic foundation, and in which I (K.E.) was one of the speakers, was prohibited at the last minute by the authorities of the Jesuit University in Antwerp.

24. This is not true for the Hindu, who may believe a particular site to be sacred for a variety of reasons and continue to visit it even after a mosque or church has encroached on the consecrated area (as in the case of Ayodhya and Velankanni). However, the point being made here is well-taken. – IS


Ancient Historians


‘Thomas in India’ neither factual nor secular – Koenraad Elst


“It is clear enough that many Christians including the Pope have long given up the belief in Thomas’s Indian exploits, or—like the Church Fathers—never believed in them in the first place.” – Dr. Koenraad Elst


St. Thomas by Georges de LaTour (ca. 17th century).


A predictable component of platitudinous speeches by secularist politicians is that “Christianity was brought to India by the apostle Thomas in the 1st century AD, even before it was brought to Europe”. The intended thrust of this claim is that, unlike Hinduism which was imposed by the “Aryan invaders”, Christianity is somehow an Indian religion, even though it is expressly stated that it “was brought to India” from outside. As a matter of detail, St. Paul reported on Christian communities living in Greece, Rome and Spain in the 40s AD, while St. Thomas even according to his followers only came to India in 52 AD, so by all accounts, Christianity still reached Europe before India.[1] At any rate, its origins lay in West Asia, outside India. But this geographical primacy is not the main issue here. More importantly, there is nothing factual, nor secular, about the claim that Thomas ever came to India.

That claim is a stark instance of what secularists would denounce in other cases as a “myth”. By this, I don’t mean that it was concocted in a backroom conspiracy, then propagated by obliging mercenary scribes (the way many Hindus imagine the colonial origins of the “Aryan invasion myth” came into being). It came about in a fairly innocent manner, through a misunderstanding, a misreading of an apocryphal text, the miracle-laden hagiography Acts of Thomas. This is not the place to discuss the unflattering picture painted of Thomas in his own hagiography, which credits him with many anti-social acts. The point for now is that the text never mentions nor describes the subcontinent but merely has the apostle go from Palestine eastwards to a desert-like country where people are “Mazdei” [Zoroastrian] and have Persian names. This is definitely not lush and green Kerala. Not only is there no independent record of Thomas ever coming near India, but the only source claimed for this story, doesn’t even make this claim either.[2]


Thomas of Cana


However, we know of a Thomas of Cana who led a group of Christian refugees from Iran in the 4th century, when the Christianisation of the Roman empire caused the Iranians to see their Syriac-speaking Christian minority as a Roman fifth column. The name “Thomas Christians” may originally have referred to this 4th-century leader.

Then again, those refugees may also have been “Thomas Christians” before their migration to India in the sense that their Christian community had been founded in Iran [viz. Church of Fars] by the apostle Thomas. That he lived and worked in some Iranian region is attested and likely, but in no case did he ever settle in India.


Clement of Alexandria


The Church Fathers Clement of Alexandra (ca. 150–ca. 215), Origen (ca. 184–ca. 253) and Eusebius (260/265–339/340) confirm explicitly that he settled in “Parthia”, a part of the Iranian world. From the 3rd century, we do note an increasing tendency among Christian authors to locate him in a place labelled “India”, as does the Acts of Thomas. But it must be borne in mind that this term was very vague, designating the whole region extending from Iran eastwards. Remember that when Columbus had landed in America, which he thought was East Asia, he labelled the indigenous people “Indians”, meaning “Asians”. Afghanistan is one area that was Iranian-speaking and predominantly Mazdean [Zoroastrian] but often considered part of “India”. Moreover, in some periods of history it was even politically united with parts of “India” in the narrow sense. So, Afghanistan may well be the “Western India” where Pope Benedict placed St. Thomas in his controversial speech in September 2006, to the dismay of the South Indian bishops.

While the belief that Thomas settled in South India came about as an honest mistake, the claim that he was martyred by Brahmins was always a deliberate lie, playing upon a possible confusion between the consonants of the expression “be ruhme”, meaning “with a spear”, and those of “Brahma” (Semitic alphabets usually don’t specify vowels). That was the gratitude Hindus received in return for extending their hospitality to the Christian refugees: being blackened as the murderers of the refugees’ own hero. If the Indian bishops have any honour, they will themselves remove this false allegation from their discourse and their monuments, including the cathedral in Chennai built at the site of Thomas’s purported martyrdom—actually the site of a Shiva temple. Indeed, they will issue a historic declaration expressing their indebtedness to Hindu hospitality and pluralism and pledging to renounce their anti-Hindu animus.


San Thome Cathedral Basilica


Secularists keep on reminding us that there is no archaeological evidence for Rama’s travels, and from this they deduce the non sequitur that Rama never existed, indeed that “Rama’s story is only a myth”. But in Rama’s case, we at least do have a literary testimony, the Ramayana, which in the absence of material evidence may or may not be truthful, while in the case of Thomas’s alleged arrival in India, we don’t even have a literary account. The text cited in the story’s favour doesn’t even have him come to a region identifiable as South India. That is why Christian scholars outside India have no problem abandoning the myth of Thomas’s landing in Kerala and of his martyrdom in Tamil Nadu. I studied at the Catholic University of Louvain, and our Jesuit professor of religious history taught us that there is no data that could dignify the Thomas legend with the status of history.


Fr. Lawrence Raj


This eliminates the last excuse the secularists might offer for repeating the Thomas legend, viz. that the historical truth would hurt the feelings of the Christian minority. It is clear enough that many Christians including the Pope have long given up the belief in Thomas’s Indian exploits, or (like the Church Fathers mentioned above) never believed in them in the first place. In contrast with European Christians today, Indian Christians live in a 17th century bubble, as if they are too puerile to stand in the daylight of solid historical fact. They remain in a twilight of legend and lies, at the command of ambitious “medieval” bishops who mislead them with the St. Thomas in India fable for purely selfish reasons.


1. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru provides an excellent example of how some innocents abroad lap up lies sold by powerful organizations. “You may be surprised to learn,” he wrote his daughter, Indira, on April 12, 1932, “that Christianity came to India long before it went to England or Western Europe, and when even in Rome it was a despised and proscribed sect. Within a hundred years or so of the death of Jesus, Christian missionaries came to South India by sea…. They converted a large number of people.” (Glimpses of World History quoted by Sita Ram Goel in History of Hindu-Christian Encounters: AD 304 to 1996.) – IS

2. The Acts of Thomas says that Judas Thomas and Abbanes landed at Andropolis after a short sea journey, a royal city somewhere to the east of Jerusalem. Andropolis has been identified as Sandaruck in Balochistan, one of the ancient Alexandrias. The geographical term “India” has been used twice in the whole text of the Acts of Thomas, and it is used as a synonym for Asia. – IS


San Thome Cathedral: This tableau of St. Thomas and his Hindu assassin was built after the publication of Ishwar Sharan's book in 1995. Its objective is to malign the Hindu community with the accusation of the murder of a Christian apostle and saint, and to further the propagation of the St. Thomas legend which has made India's bishops very wealthy and supports their political claim on India.


See also


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


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


Shashi Tharoor


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thomas of Cana


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

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

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

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

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


SRG


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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

How Christians created their persecution mythology – Candida Moss


“There is an overpowering myth that Christianity was built on violent persecution by the Roman emperors. But that is very bad history—and sets a dangerous precedent for hyperbolic accusations of a ‘war on Christians’ today.” – Dr. Candida Moss


The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer by Jean-Léon Gérôme


For Christians, the crucifixion is the event that changed everything. Prior to the death of Jesus and the emergence of Christianity most ancient people interpreted oppression, persecution, and violence as a sign that their deity was either irate or impotent. The crucifixion forced Jesus’s followers to rethink this paradigm. The death of their leader was reshaped as triumph and the experience of persecution became a sign of elevated moral status, a badge of honor. The genius of the Jesus movement was its ability to disassociate earthly pain from divine punishment. As a result Christians identified themselves as innocent victims; they associated their sufferings with those of Jesus and aligned the source of those sufferings with the forces that killed Jesus. From the very beginning, victimhood was hardwired into the Christian psyche.

The enduring impact of this idea is evident in the rhetoric of modern-day Christians. In the weeks that followed the recent papal resignation, Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, who was accused of participating in the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, described himself in terms appropriate to a martyr: as a scapegoat who suffered like Jesus. Because of the nature of the crimes for which he is suspected, Mahony’s claims that he is being persecuted have been universally dismissed, but other similarly hyperbolic instances of American Christians crying “persecution” slip into the public square.


Paedophile Priest


The belief that Christians are continuously persecuted has a basis in Scripture. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus instructs his followers to take up their cross and follow him and predicts that his followers will be persecuted for his name. Then again, in the very same passage he predicts that some of those standing before him will not taste death before the arrival of his kingdom in glory. Why do we accept the prophecy of persecution when the statement about the disciples living until the last judgement clearly failed? The reason why Jesus’s statements about persecution have had such a pronounced impact on the formation of Christian identity is that this prophecy is believed to have been proven in the experiences of the Early Church. The Church has suffered since the beginning, the argument goes, and we are persecuted now as we have always been.

But what if Christians were not always persecuted? What if there never was an “Age of the Martyrs”? When we look at the evidence, it becomes clear that the stereotype of cruel Roman emperors persecuting innocent Christians is a myth. From the Roman side, there is scant evidence for the persecution of Christians. It is not even clear that the Romans knew about the existence of Christians until the early second century. Even then they didn’t see Christianity as a religion. They describe it, rather, as a foolish superstition that could potentially harm local economies.  Christians undoubtedly died as a result of legislation passed during the reign of the emperor Decius (ca. AD 250), but not because he was targeting them. Intriguingly, not a word of our Roman evidence for his legislation refers to Christians.


Emperor Diocletian (244–311 CE)


With the exception of the Great Persecution of Diocletian (AD 303-305), when Christians were indeed actively persecuted, it is difficult to find any examples of Roman emperors behaving as Christians typically portrayed them. Apart from this comparatively brief period, and an even briefer one during the reign of Valerian in 257-58, Roman emperors never targeted Christians for attack. At the beginning of the second century, the emperor Trajan actually stipulated that Christians were not to be sought out. Roman emperors simply don’t appear to have been that interested in Christians. For most of the first three centuries of their existence Christians flourished: they held lofty political positions, and were so comfortable under the Romans that they even constructed a prominent church across the road from the imperial palace in Nicomedia.

The overwhelming majority of Christians idealized martyrdom and suffering like Jesus, but very few of them died violently—and even fewer died as the result of the kind of persecution described in Sunday school. Romans had good reason to be concerned about Christians. Scandalous rumors of Christians participating in incestuous orgies and practicing cannibalism were widely circulated. More important, Christians sounded a lot like revolutionaries. In courtrooms they stated that they were unable to respect anyone but Christ, their new emperor. Roman officials had no problem executing political subversives—this was a world in which Jon Stewart would be executed for his institution-challenging satire. Ancient empires were accustomed to reshaping the religious identities of those they bested in war. The Romans magnanimously allowed conquered groups to maintain their own religious traditions and implement their own law at their own discretion. But this generosity ended when it became socially disruptive or politically subversive. Christians threatened the stability of the empire, and when we look at their interactions with Roman authorities, we might even find ourselves sympathizing with the Romans.

Given that the Roman evidence for persecution is so thin, the origin of our misunderstandings about the Early Church must, and does, lie with the early Christians themselves. There are literally thousands of stories of Christians martyrs being brutally tortured and killed, but the overwhelming majority of these were written long after the events they claim to describe. Who is responsible for these misunderstandings about history? And why did they alter the historical record? One of the reasons is the explosion of the cult of the saints, the passion for collecting and displaying holy relics, in the fifth century and beyond. Everyone wanted a piece of the action and innumerable stories about martyrs were fabricated to support local churches and to attract pilgrims to particular towns.


Crucifixion of St. Peter by Michelangelo


Even the earliest, most ostensibly trustworthy, martyrdom stories have been edited and reworked. The authors of these accounts borrowed from ancient mythology, changed the details of events to make the martyrs appear more like Jesus, and made the Roman antagonists increasingly venomous. Peeling back the layers of editorial work is like watching textual plastic surgery; even small changes radically alter our understanding of the subject. Legend maintains that the Apostle Peter asked to be crucified upside down out of humility, but comes from a sixth century rewriting. Fascinatingly, the earliest version of the story gives a very different and almost mysterious explanation. Other ancient authors were less artful. Lazy biographers of the saints sometimes pasted together the story of a martyr’s death from the writings of his colleagues and we can pull these apart without difficulty. We need not accuse the priest-scribes who created these accounts of any malicious deception, as these kinds of literary practices were fairly common at the time, but nor, certainly, can we conclude that they’re giving us the historical facts. Even if Christians choose to venerate individual martyrs—regardless of whether the stories are true or not—we should not leap to the conclusion that ancient Christians as a collective whole were constantly persecuted. We simply lack the necessary evidence to support such a claim. Faith in martyrs is one thing; historical claims about persecution are quite another.


Eusebius of Caesarea


Claims about violent persecution may not be historically accurate, but in the hands of ancient Christian writers they did valuable work shoring up the authority of the Church. The fourth-century historian Eusebius was able to use the stories of the martyrs to combat heresy and to establish the succession of bishops in the early Church. When the origins of the episcopacy in France were clouded, Eusebius invented an anecdote in which Gallic martyrs wrote to the bishop of Rome recommending a particular candidate. When he wanted to demonstrate the errors of a particular heresy, he would cleverly tell a story in which a martyr denounced the schismatic group’s leader. This fascinating invention of the history of persecution set a precedent. Later generations of medieval copyists would do the same—inserting doctrinal formulae into the mouths of expiring martyrs. Eusebius began a long-lived tradition of equating dissent and disagreement with persecution. He argued that the Church is fundamentally under attack and that, just as Roman officials attacked her in the past, now heretics attack her in the present. The essential idea is polarization: us against them, good against evil. Once Constantine allowed Christianity to become a state-sponsored religion in the fourth century, some Christians went on the offensive. They sought out Pagan temples to destroy, with high hopes of dying and becoming martyrs. The memory of authentic persecution under Diocletian did not make Christians forgiving and generous toward the now disenfranchised Pagans. The rhetoric of persecution perpetuated by early Christian writers, rather, created a polarized view of the world that only heaped violence on top of violence.

This idea of constant attack and Christian victim-hood is grounded in the myths of the Early Church, but it endures to this day. It is evident in the rhetoric of modern American media pundits, politicians, and religious leaders who proclaim that there is a war on Christianity in modern America. The problem with identifying oneself and one’s group as a persecuted minority is that it necessarily identifies others as persecutors. It is certainly the case that Christians—and members of other religious groups—around the world endure horrifying violence and oppression today. But it is rarely those voices or calls for action on their behalf that reach our ears. On the contrary, these experiences are drowned out by louder, local complaints.

Instances of oppression, violence, and persecution do not need a history of persecution or a commitment to victim-hood to support them. The mistreatment of Christians in modern India, for example, is not wrong because it is part of a history of persecution. It is just wrong. Nor is it somehow more outrageous than violence against Muslims or Hindus there.[1]

Most importantly, the myth of persecution can actually generate violence. At the beginning of the First Crusade, Pope Urban II promised Christian soldiers the rewards of martyrdom if they died in the conflict. The historical factors are complicated, and medieval European Christians did see themselves as under attack, but their actions cannot be dismissed as “self-defence.” This is a cautionary example for us. There is always the possibility that we have no sense of our own position in a conflict. Even though we cast ourselves as martyrs, we might be crusaders.

The example of Jesus that hangs at the centre of Christianity encouraged his followers to embrace suffering and to stand firm in times of persecution. But even if Christians are called to embrace suffering and victimization, we can do without a story of persecution that is inaccurate, unproductive, and polarizing. Nor should we build our interpretation of the present on errors about the past. – The Daily Beast, 31 March 2013


Michaelangelo's Crucifix


Dr. Candida Moss is an author and Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham, UK. See Egypt never enslaved the Israelites, Moses never freed them.

Note

1. Christians in India are not and have never been persecuted. It is an absurd statement for the learned author to make. Christians are a very privileged minority community in India with social and political influence far exceeding their numbers. Isolated attacks on missionaries by exasperated Hindu individuals in Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, provoked by the offensive conduct of the missionaries themselves, cannot be extrapolated into a “mistreatment of Christians in modern India”. In fact from the 4th century to the 16th century, Christian migrants from West Asia and Persia, and Portuguese colonists and missionaries from Europe, were the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes against Hindus in India including the destruction of temples in order to build St. Thomas churches, forced conversions to Christianity and the establishment of the notorious and cruel Inquisition in Goa brought by Francis Xavier. – IS


San Thome Cathedral: This diorama of St. Thomas and his Hindu assassin was built after the publication of Ishwar Sharan's book in 1995. Its objective is to malign the Hindu community with the accusation of the murder of a Christian apostle and saint, and to further the propagation of the St. Thomas legend which has made India's bishops very wealthy and supports their political claim on India.


St. Thomas: India’s own infamous Christian persecution myth – Ishwar Sharan

Bardesanes wrote the Acts of  Thomas, the source of the St. Thomas in India legend, as a moral fable to instil sexual discipline in his Edessene Christian congregation—the Church has always had a problem with sexual deviancy. He set the story in India as being the place of all kinds of exotic religions that he had heard about from travelling Brahmins and Buddhist monks. In his tale he has Judas Thomas—twin brother of Jesus no less—cheat a Persian king of large sums of money by promising to build him a palace. After he is caught, imprisoned, and released, Thomas runs away and has a number of exciting adventures including a fight to the death with Satan. He meets another Persian king, who, initially showing him great kindness and generosity, loses patience with his wicked deeds and has him executed for abducting women and practising black magic. This king, Mazdai by name—indicating a devotee of the Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda—has Thomas buried in a royal tomb on a mountain in a desert country that is never named. Later in the 4th century, when West Asian Christian migrants brought the tale from Edessa to the Malabar Coast, Thomas is identified with India rather than Persia and even made the missionary of Nambudiri brahmins in order to give the new Christian community caste status. In Kerala the tale of Thomas grows and evolves with new additions made by new Christian refugees from Persia. It no longer reflects Bardesanes’ moral fable but rather a concocted mythology of Indian Christian identity. These Syrian Christians—as they are still called—were great travellers and merchants, and Marco Polo hears the tale from them, probably in Constantinople—as scholars now doubt that he ever went to China. The story of Thomas’s death—by accident according to Marco—and internment is included in his famous adventure book Il Milione published in Europe in the 13th century. Marco places Thomas’s tomb on the Coromandel’s Gulf of Mannar Coast in an unnamed Tamil village rather than on a Persian mountaintop as in the Acts of Thomas. From this popular piece of travel fiction there is no going back, and the tomb of St. Thomas is later identified with the great Kapaleeswara Shiva Temple in Mylapore by the Portuguese in the 16th century. They invade Mylapore, a prosperous port with a good harbour, have the Kapaleeswara Temple destroyed—it seems to have taken them fifty years to do this evil deed by encroachment and vandalism, and because they are resisted by the native Hindu population until it is overwhelmed by superior Portuguese force—and build a fake St. Thomas tomb out of materials brought from Goa. Soon after the empty tomb is established a new St. Thomas Church is built over it by Dominican monks, where no church has ever stood before—then back-dated 1500 years to the 1st century!  The pious fable of  a Christian apostle’s persecution and death at the hands of a Hindu raja and his jealous brahmin priest is now established in South India and the world. The Christian community can claim—by the grace of Portuguese pirates—to be the followers of the “original” Christian religion brought by Thomas to the Tamil people. They can and do solicit recognition and money for it from the world Christian community. More important, the Hindu community that has generously hosted the Christian community in India since the 4th century, can be maligned and spiritually discredited as the vicious assassins of a Christian apostle and saint. The fact that no scholar of Christian history, starting with the Early Church Fathers Clement and Origen, and the first official Christian historian Eusebius, to the learned historians of the last two hundred years including Pope Benedict XVI, subscribe to the details of this fable and support it as true, does not matter to the Indian Christian community in the least. They have got their dearly loved persecution tale with its blood and gore, and they are not going to let go of it even for the Pope in Rome.


Gulf of Mannar


St Thomas (BJP-INC) Header


C.I. Issac: Christian historian disputes St. Thomas in India claim, calls for ban on conversions – G. Sreedathan

“Although a St. Thomas Christian himself, Dr. Issac disputed the claim that St. Thomas landed in Kerala and converted Namboodiri Brahmins. ‘They are targeting higher jatis. They realized that without converting Brahmins they can’t bust the very foundation of Hinduism.'” – G. Sreedathan


C.I. Issac


The lone Christian member in the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) under the Human Resources Development ministry and noted historian, C.I. Issac, has put up a passionate defence of the Sangh Parivar’s ghar wapsi (home coming) programme and called for a ban on conversions.

A retired history professor and author of over 10 books, including Evolution of Christian Church in India, Issac is now vice-president of Kerala-based right-wing think-tank Bharateeya Vichara Kendram. “Ghar wapsi is not religious conversion. It is a measure of opening doors for those who left earlier from poorva dharma due to historical reasons. Article 25 of the Constitution is not a provision for a one-way traffic or of a non-return valve. In no way with this Article, the founding fathers of our Constitution thought of any sort of conversion. Their intention was the healthy coexistence of all cultures and religious groups. Conversion by brainwashing, coercion, allurement, incentives, etc. is cruel in cultural terms,” said Issac.

According to him, ghar wapsi is a legitimate right of the Hindus. This movement began not only after May 26, 2014.  “Its origin in Kerala goes back to British period that is 1921. It started systematically as the shuddhi movement in the 19th century CE by Arya Samaj leader, Swami Dayananda Saraswati.”

Calling for capital punishment for indulging in conversions, he said, “The conversion is a criminal offence against humanity. The death of a religion means the total vanishing or death of a culture, civilization and knowledge system which generated by a religion through generations…. We lost the Greeks, Mayans, Persians, Romans, etc, like classical societies legacies. We missed Bamiyan statues of Afghanistan. Nobody can retrieve the lost knowledge. They have a substantial, objective, and observationally demonstrated information framework, obtained through generations. We, as an enlightened society, are bound to secure all societies and their commitments appropriately,” he added.


Anil Couto


When his attention was drawn to Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto’s statement in an interview to Business Standard that he has a problem with the word ghar wapsi and not conversion, he said, “Behind this answer a fraudulent design is hidden. Ghar wapsi means return to poorva dharma. In it there is nothing as wrong. On the other hand, if it is conversion they can level charges against the Hindu society in international forms that Hindus are forcibly converting Christians to Hinduism, Hindus are fundamentalists, etc. Now they can’t raise such allegations. Above all in Hinduism there is no provision of conversion to Hinduism. Prima-facie, one may feel it is an innocent and genuine demand. But in fact it is cunning and putting Hindus in doldrums.”

Claiming himself to be a practicing Christian, he said, “The Church has good relations with me. When I was nominated to ICHR, the bishop arranged a meeting to congratulate me. I believe in Christ but I don’t believe Christ as the only way.”

On Delhi church attacks, he said, “Martyrs and saints are fuels for the gigantic engines of the Church (like jihadis for Islam) without which it cannot sustain. The nature and character of the Delhi church attack is doubtful. All the churches subjected attacks were suffered with minor damages. After the Delhi election they never pressed for the arrest of the persons behind attack or further investigations. It can be considered as a self-goal strategy.”


St. Thomas


Although a St Thomas Christian himself, Issac disputed the claim that St Thomas landed in Kerala and converted Namboodiri Brahmins. “They are targeting higher jatis. They realized that without converting Brahmins they can’t bust the very foundation of Hinduism. In this line they deputed Robert de Nobili, an Italian padre, to Madurai in 17th century CE and he studied Sanskrit and wrote Jesus Veda, and lived in sanyasin attire in order to convert high-class Hindus, and miserably failed. Madras Bishop Arulappa bribed Ganesh Iyer and converted him as John Iyer and deputed him for manipulations and attempted to high-jack ancient Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar.” – Business Standard, 11 July 2015

› G. Sreedathan is an assistant editor at Business Standard, New Delhi Area.



How St. Thomas-Quetzalcoatl myth was manufactured, justified and continued in the New World – K.V. Ramakrishna Rao


The Church and the clergy of different levels—from pope to ordinary pastor—have been involved in spiritual fraud, financial crimes, land scams, rape of nuns and pedophilia, even murder. In India itself it has become the order of the day. Therefore, it is better for the “holy” men of Christ to keep their houses clean and stop falsifying Indian history. – K.V. Ramakrishna Rao


Aztec God Quetzalcoatl : The Mormons believe Quetzalcoatl was Jesus and the Jesuit missionaries made him out to be the apostle St. Thomas.


Introduction

As I had participated in conferences related to archaeology, I was reading many books, research papers and related materials during last two months (July-August 2019). At that time, I came across the paper, “Uses of the Past: Archaeology in the Services of the State” written by Don D. Fowler.[1] He was explaining how the Christian myths were manipulated and exploited for religious propaganda and political authority in the Central and South American nations. However, the linking of St. Thomas in that context is most intriguing. When the related literature was studied, it exposed that the Christians wanted to exploit the Quetzalcoatl myth, though historical and archaeological evidences were not there. Some 35 years back, there was a similar situation where the Chennai (Madras) Christians were desperately engaged in a similar exercise. In 1987, I had contacts with Christians[2] and as well as Saivite experts,[3] because of the controversial book written by one M. Deivanayagam.[4]  When I was discussing this with Nal. Murugesa Mudaliar, he told many details about the Kapaleeswarar Temple and gave some books also.  Actually, the original Kapaleeswarar Temple was on the seashore at the spot where the Santhome Church now stands. Thus, the paper of Don D. Fowler provoked me to read further about the Quetzalcoatl myth. Above all, I find that Thomas Charles Nagy[5] and Henry Jenne[6] have also indulged in propagating such myths under the guise of researchers and history. Incidentally, Ishwar Sharan’s revised edition of the book[7] on the same subject was also published in July 2019. It is not known if all these incidents have been accidental or “God’s plan” to happen together and getting my attraction towards them. Why all these things have been happening?

Colonial historians want native history, historiography and historians as their slaves

As nations started getting independence from the European colonial forces, they knew that the liberated nations would start writing their own histories. Thus, the colonial historians devised historiography with which they tried to perpetuate, propagate and protect their colonial past, so that the liberated native nations would again be confined to dictated research methodology, incarcerated historiography and enslaved history continued. Ironically, religion also played a crucial role with engaged historians, outsourced archaeologists and contracted experts. Thus, it is found that new myths were created, relics manufactured and histories tampered, just like what was happening in the medieval period. As the liberated nations or countries should be continued to be exploited, subjugated and demoralized, they wanted the native religion, culture, tradition, heritage, civilization and all other connected factors disparaged, denigrated and forgotten soon. During their conquest they destroyed the evidences of the past, as happened in the New World or such vandalism continued slowly by them in other countries. The smugglers would be stealing all the ancient historical evidences. Thus, the newly floated myths would be continuously appearing in the print and electronic media, as if that is very important to the native people. The St. Thomas myth appearing in different nations, countries and continents during the last 70-100 years have been attractive, fascinating and amazing. Interestingly, it was planted at places separated by thousands of kms distance and operated effectively.

Mary, Jesus and Thomas appear, disappear and get venerated differently in all the continents without any resemblance

That the Thomas myth was found in the New World has been intriguing, surprising and amazing also.[8] It was found in South America and South India. As the Catholics had been experts in creating myths, according to legend on December 12, 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared in the form of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In fact, they themselves had been wary in manufacturing many virgins.[9] Though, the “idolatry” is denied and theology discussed, they have not bothered about the fake relics manufactured and pictures and idols added with the multiplication of “Our Lady” in various sizes, shapes and facades.[10] So also, Jesus Christ and his “didymus” have been. As they claim,

“Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, is a Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary associated with a Marian apparition and a venerated image enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.”

The issue was discussed in 19th century realizing the reality. Thus, one Catholic priest cautioned.[11]

“We do not pretend that the arguments given are incontrovertible. But it cannot be denied that they give to this opinion such a degree of probability that, until stronger arguments are produced against it, it cannot justly be underrated.”

The head or the tail, we always win type position is followed in their interpretation.

How the St. Thomas myth was planted in Mexico

David Brading[12] detailed as to how the Thomas myth was planted in Mexico. Fray Servando Teresa de Mier, an exiled Dominican priest, declared that St. Thomas the Apostle, known to the Indians, i.e., American Indians not Indian Indians, as Quetzalcoatl, had preached the gospel in Anáhuac and had brought with him a cape on which the Virgin Mary had miraculously imprinted her image of Guadalupe. This is a reversal of the legend that Mary dropped her girdle to Doubting Thomas. St. Thomas had introduced the Christian religion into Mexico, since, as Mier exclaimed, “What was the religion of the Mexicans but Christianity confused by time and the equivocal nature of the hieroglyphs?” Milanese nobleman Lorenzo Boturini Benaducci, who had discovered any number of codexes and manuscripts dealing with the civilisation of ancient Mexico banished the devil from any historical role and found evidence of the presence of St. Thomas in the form of Quetzalcoatl. His work had immediate effect, as can be observed by the unpublished history of his Mexican disciple, Mariano Veytia, who equally espoused the identification of Quetzalcoatl as St. Thomas. They are discussed below.


Quetzalcoatl by Jesuit Juan de Tovar


The syncretism of Tonantzin-Guadalupe and St. Thomas-Quetzalcoatl[13]

Initially, they floated a story that Jesus was Quetzalcoatl and then changed and started equating him with Doubting Thomas. Thus, it was believed that St. Thomas who, before the arrival of the Spaniards in America, had already begun to evangelize the New World. This myth was used to serve as a link between the old pre-Hispanic beliefs and the convictions of the colonial Christian world.[14] The myth of Quetzalcoatl is one of the best known and diffused in pre-Hispanic societies of Mesoamerica.  The word Quetzalcoatl means in Nahuatl “the feathered serpent” and the creator of indigenous values, having donated agriculture and corn.  Serpent and peacock were also added. In Mylapore, the peacock myth exploited, exposed the Catholic trick and hoax, had failed miserably. According to the idea of ​​St. Thomas / Quetzalcoatl validated not only biblical accounts, but also justified divine action. It was hard to understand that God had forgotten crowds of people in different parts of the earth and search for the origin of myths at different places. “The answer was then Quetzalcoatl / St. Thomas,” curtly commented Rubén Torres Martínez.

Catholic nationalism vs pre-Hispanic nationalism

Rubén Torres Martínez gives these details: The myth of St. Thomas / Quetzalcoatl would be controversial because of the speech of Brother Servando Teresa of Mier Noriega y Guerra (1794) who took over the study of Jose Ignacio Borunda, Clave general of interpretation of the Mexican hierarchies (1792?). Borunda relied on a hermeneutic exercise to ensure that St. Thomas was actually Quetzalcoatl, and that the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe was drawn on the layer of the apostle. However, the myth of Quetzalcoatl / St. Thomas remained and spread rapidly in various sectors of the population. The Virgin of Guadalupe will quickly find its place in the Mexican social imagination.  It will be, in its own right, one of the founding elements of the new Mexican identity. But the myth of Quetzalcoatl will not have the same importance, at least during the 19th century. By the beginning of  the 20th century the debate on the myth of Quetzalcoatl / St. Thomas were taken over by the revolutionary Mexican state. During the colonial era, it was the myth of the Virgin of Guadalupe that had ensured a certain Catholic nationalism.  With the myth of St. Thomas / Quetzalcoatl, there was an attempt to form both Catholic and pre-Hispanic nationalism. However, the image of St. Thomas has disappeared, but that of Quetzalcoatl has managed to stay.  Today, the Catholics claim that the myth of Quetzalcoatl has become part of both Catholic and Mexican nationalism.

Quetzalcoatl-Jesus myth to Quetzalcoatl-Thomas myth

The Catholic priests taking special interest in Quetzalcoatl, tried to equate him with Jesus, but because of an “unsettling chaos of Christianity”, they debated whether Quetzalcoatl was the devil or a Christian evangelizer, perhaps even the Apostle Thomas. According to biblical narratives, Thomas was twin of Jesus and hence known as “Didymus”. To support “Didymus”, they picked out the duo or twin found in the myth of Popol Vuh. According to legend, the father, Hun Hunahpu, and his sons, particularly his namesake Hunahpu, are related to maize and may be designated as maize gods. In the Popol Vuh the twins’ association with maize is described. Importantly, David H. Kelley presents[15] additional evidence from the Popol Vuh that Hun Hunahpu and the maize god are one and the same. Many stories were there about the twins. For example, in the Popol Vuh, the hero twins’ bones were ground like maize, thrown into a river, turned into fish, and eventually resurrected. These were treated as punishments, generally as a part of persecution, so that anybody could become martyr and so on to fit into the Christian martyrology.


St. Thomas in Brazil


St. Thomas: Chosen apostle for the New World

The assertions made about the apostolate of Doubting Thomas have been significant to note in the context of myth-making. Sarah Enright[16] gives these details,

“St. Thomas, who went east to ‘the Indies’, seemed to be the only Apostle that could have reached the New World. When priests looked through Mesoamerican mythology for a figure that resembled a prophet, Quetzalcoatl stood out as the most likely candidate.”

Lafaye[17] gave a detailed history of how St. Thomas was chosen through a process of elimination as the most likely candidate for having been the Apostle of the Americas…. Among the missionaries, the Jesuits, who arrived to the New World in 1572, in particular supported the Quetzalcoatl-St. Thomas version of the story. They tried many ways to protect the indigenous peoples from being enslaved, and developing the Quetzalcoatl-St. Thomas myth was convenient for this objective. Had he been chosen for the New World, as per the “divine plan”, his myth need not have been transferred to Chennai (Madras).

Jesuits spread the Thomas myth, wherever they went

The Apostle of the Americas gained popularity in the mid 1600s, when priests were searching for more proof to support the story about the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, to Juan Diego in 1532. In 1662, there was an initiative to ask the Pope to recognize the growing cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and while a majority of priests focused on gathering details about the miracle of Juan Diego’s vision of the Virgin Mary, some apparently believed that the appearance of an apostle in the Americas would further validate the story. Thus, the Vatican intervention and support were found in promoting such myths. Again, the Jesuits were especially interested in the apostle. How then, other groups of Jesuits were engaged in manufacturing evidences to plant the Thomas myth is not known. Whether they did not have co-ordination or co-opt, collaborate and collude to produce such myths, wherever, they went.


Fr. Anthony Vieira SJ


Doubting Thomas in Brazil

They wrote often about traces of St. Thomas in the New World, which include a set of footprints he left in a rock in Brazil. The Jesuits discovered the presence of Thomas in Mexico and as well in Brazil separated by a distance of 6920 kms. In the case of Quetzalcoatl myth, his presence at Mexico was dealt with by equating him to Jesus first and then to Thomas. In Brazil, he was identified with footsteps found at Etaoca. The appearance of St. Thomas was important because it showed that Christianity had a history in the New World prior to the conquest, which meant that the Americas had always been spiritually equal to Spain. Lafaye says,[18]

“… the creoles preferred Saint Thomas, who redeemed their American patria from the stigma of having lain in darkness for sixteen centuries, isolated from revelation.”

About the footprints, Robert Southey[19] gives the details,

“We came to a place called Etaoca, that is to say, the stone-house; as strong a thing I never saw, for it was a great huge rock, and it hath an entrance like a great door within it as any hall in England. The Indians say, that St. Thomas did preach to their forefathers there. Hard by standeth a stone as big as four great cannons, and it standeth upon the ground upon four stones, little bigger than a man’s finger, like sticks. The Indians say that it was a miracle which the Saint shewed them, and that that stone had been wood. Likewise, by sea-side there are great rocks, upon them I saw great stone of prints of the footing of bare foot; all which prints were one bigness. They say that Saint called flashes of the sea and they heard him.”

Now, in 2014 / 2017, Nagy[20] mentions it. Thus, the myth has been perpetuated from 19th to 20th centuries without any concern about archaeological dating, verification of evidences and the historicity attached to them.  However, historians like Francisco Javier Clavijero[21] refuted these myths, as they had no evidences. In any case, such myths have no history, but are hagiographical notes, recordings and writing of Christians. One quotes the narrative and the other quotes the first as authority. Then comes, the third to quote the second as authority. Thus, the quoted quote is carried on and finalized as established fact. This has been the methodology of the Christians to write histories for the apostles.

Myth-making activities went on with the blessings of the Vatican

Incidentally, the whole Christian research has been based on Codex Vaticanus documents preserved at Vatican. Both the early priests and the conquistadores believed that the indigenous religions were heretical. While Juan de Zumárraga, the Apostolic Inquisitor of Mexico in 1535, ordered the destruction of all of the pictorial manuscripts in Texcoco, Cortez and his troops defaced all of the religious monuments, idols, and images that they encountered on their way to Tenochtitlan.[22] In the same way, there have been the documents about the Thomas myth manufacturers. However, when the Portuguese demolished the Kapaleeswarar Temple on the seashore, there were no records about the quantum of destruction of temples and manuscripts. When Acharya Paul met the Pope[23] along with the Madras Catholic delegation in 1977, and made his claims about the early Christian origins in Tamil Nadu, evidently, the Pope had already verified and thus did not show any interest. Here the point is that such activities had the blessings of the Vatican, though other non-Christian researchers could not have access to the Vatican documents and the transactions of the Madras Archbishop Arulappa. As Arulappa went to court, some documents came out in public and thus, people came to know about the fraud of creating myth, manufacture of fake palm leaves, copper plates and other documents.[24] The illegal excavations carried out at the Parangi Malai (St. Thomas Mount) were also revealed through the book of Arulappa. The contrast has been, while the natives were asked to reproduce the destroyed ones in Brazil, here in Madras, forged documents were ordered to be produced.

Jesus-Quetzalcoatl Myth

There have been researchers who held that Jesus Christ and Quetzalcoatl are the same individual.[25] Probably, as they wanted to insist on their “Jesus in America” theory, such works continued. The supporters of the myth pointed out that,[26]

“Among those mentioned in post–Spanish conquest manuscripts were that Quetzalcoatl was the Creator, that he was born of a virgin, that he was a god of the air and earth (in his manifestation as the Feathered Serpent), that he was white and bearded, that he came from heaven and was associated with the planet Venus, that he raised the dead, and that he promised to return.”

However, they realized the weakness of myth and manipulation of records during more than 1000 years leading to many mismatches. The physical evidences available for Quetzalcoatl have been specific and historical, whereas, for Jesus, they are unhistorical. However, because of discrepancies, the hypotheses and theories were changed and thus, instead of Jesus, Doubting Thomas was brought in.  Yet, the Jesuits were playing tricks in India also.

South Indian myths expose the Christian manipulations and forgeries

Indian myth started with Vasco de Gama in 1503, because of his mistaking of “Mari”, the Hindu goddess, with “Mary”. In the Mylapore or Cranganore myth, there was no Mary or Guadalupe. In 1599, Claudius Buchanan came to verify the “evidences” for the Thomas myth, but he found that all were fake. After his visit to Diamper, the books not favourable to Christianity were reportedly burnt.  However, Buchanan recorded that he deposited some copper plates, though fake, with the Cambridge University (see below for details). Later, they tried to exploit Mari / Bhagwati Amman, the Indian goddess and even tried to equate her with Mary, but utterly failed as the Indian Christian theologians and Church historians did not bother about any historical and archaeological evidences.[27] Ironically, whatever evidences they did produce to support their floated myth turned out to be fake and forgeries dated to medieval and even 17th-19th centuries. But their shocking attitude has been to use and quote such forgeries. Incidentally, in India, they could not produce any twin to satisfy the Didymus story! The European Christologists, historians and experts started proving that Jesus was a myth, that Christ, a legendary character copied and derived from eastern gods, and JesusChrist was a creation later involving and accommodating many myths. It is intriguing to note why they were / have been engaged in equating the Quetzalcoatl myth with that of Jesus and then Thomas. Had they been satisfied with the Acts of Thomas and the tomb located in Mesopotamia, then their myths could have been developed and tallied to some extent. The Acts of Thomas says the following:[28]

  1. And when he had thus prayed he said unto the soldiers; Come hither and accomplish the commandments of him that sent you. And the four came and pierced him with their spears, and he fell down and died.
  1. And all the brethren wept; and they brought beautiful robes and much and fair linen, and buried him in a royal sepulchre wherein the former (first) kings were laid.
  1. And he went and opened the sepulchre, but found not the apostle there, for one of the brethren had stolen him away and taken him unto Mesopotamia.

And thus, the Mesopotamian legends would help them to fix the Thomas myth and settle it once for all. Of course, they have Thomas tombs at Edessa, Ortona and Patmos venerated by the respective believers.


St. Thomas Cathedral at Ortona.

St. Thomas's Skeleton


The relics of Thomas were in Italy only

In the pursuit of truth and the Doubting Thomas in the art of early modern Italy, Erin Benay[29] gives many interesting details. Thomas’s relics were later transported to the Isle of Chios in the Aegean Sea. Although the details of this transfer are mysterious, it is clear that in 1258 the Prince of Taranto raided Chios and had the relics brought to the small port of Ortona, Italy. Thereafter most of St. Thomas’s body has remained in the Ortona Cathedral, although there are notable exceptions: Thomas’s jawbone is preserved in the Scuola dei Mureri at San Samuele, Venice, where the guild of builders commissioned Cima da Conegliano’s Incredulity of St. Thomas to adorn their chapel altar. In addition, Cardinal Tisserant arranged for Thomas’s arm bone to be brought to Cranganore (Kodungallur) in 1952; Although Ortona was a major port until its destruction by the Venetians in the 15th century, the interior of the 12th century cathedral is largely ruined today due to bombings during World War II. Emilia Polidoro and Paula Pasquini,[30] contributors to the volume cited above, both suggest that Marco Polo and his contemporaries’ accounts of Thomas’s tomb in India are fictitious and instead favor the Latin version of the Acts of Thomas which describes the transfer to Edessa. Pasquini notes the account of Guglielmo di Tiro who reports that Thomas’s relics were in Edessa as late as 1142, but it is unclear why this traveler’s observations would have any more validity than Marco and his fellow explorers.


Skull of St. Thomas , Patmos, Greece


Suppression of facts, excessive negationism, and bias

Even after the Arulappa vs Acharya Paul case, the Church writers have been unrelenting and still engaged in bringing out unblushing stories on doubting and doubtful Thomas. The thesis of Thomas Charles Nagy has been the recent glaring example. Vedaprakash[31] has been the first researcher to bring out the facts of Christian manipulations in a book in 1989 in Tamil. This was necessitated when they printed such myths in the state text books. Then, Ishwar Sharan brought out his book in 1991 in English drawing the attention of many. Nagy mentions S. Muthiah, Sita Ram Goel and Ishwar Sharan but, does not mention Arulappa, Ganesh Iyer, Vedaprakash, etc. Though, he has friends in Chennai, and interacted with many Catholic bishops, pastors and historians, he could not access them or their documents. Therefore, the suppression of facts, excessive negationism, and bias could be noted in their attitude and writings. As far as Henry Jenne is concerned, he wrote like a traveller but without compromising with the myth of Thomas in both countries.


Claudius Buchanan

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


The copper plates and what Claudius Buchanan noted

To explain and expose the position of doubting and doubtful Thomas and his researchers in India, the following example is cited just for illustrative purposes. As the Kerala Christians make much fuss about the copper plates, what Claudius Buchanan recorded about them are noted here. They are as follows:[32]

“But there are other ancient documents in Malabar, not less interesting than the Syrian Manuscripts. The old Portuguese historians relate, that soon after the arrival of their countrymen in India, about 300 years ago, the Syrian Bishop of Angamalee (the place where I now am) deposited in the Fort of Cochin, for safe custody, certain tablets of brass, on which were engraved rights of nobility, and other privileges granted by a Prince of a former age ; and that while these Tablets were under the charge of the Portuguese, they had been unaccountably lost, and were never after heard of. Adrian Moens, a Governor of Cochin, in 1770 who published some account of the Jews of Malabar, informs us that he used every means in his power, for many years, to obtain a sight of the famed Christian Plates; and was at length satisfied that they were irrecoverably lost, or rather, he adds, that they never existed. The Learned in general, and the Antiquarian in particular, will be glad to hear that these ancient Tablets have been recovered within this last month by the exertions of Lieutenant Colonel Macauley, the British Resident in Travancore, and are now officially deposited with that Officer.”

Copper plates script engraved later and none could read it in India

Buchanan continued,[33]

“The Christian Tablets are six in number. They are composed of a mixed metal. The engraving on the largest plate is thirteen inches long, by about four broad. They are closely written, four of them on both sides of the plate, making in all eleven pages. On the plate reputed to be the oldest, there is writing perspicuously engraved in nail-headed or triangular-headed letters, resembling the Persepolitan or Babylonish. On the same plate there is writing in another character, which is supposed to have no affinity with any existing character in Hindoostan. The grant on this plate appears to be witnessed by four Jews of rank, whose names are distinctly engraved in an old Hebrew character, resembling the alphabet called the Palmyrene: and to each name is prefixed the title of ‘Alagen’, or Chief, as the Jews translated it.

“It may be doubted, whether there exist in the world many documents of so great length, which are of equal antiquity, and in such faultless preservation, as the Christian Tablets of Malabar.

“The Jews of Cochin indeed contest the palm of antiquity: for they also produce two Tablets, containing privileges granted at a remote period; of which they presented to me a Hebrew translation. As no person can be found in this country who is able to translate the Christian Tablets, I have directed an engraver at Cochin to execute a copper-plate facsimile of the whole, for the purpose of transmitting copies to the learned Societies in Asia and Europe. The Christian and Jewish plates together make fourteen pages. A copy was sent in the first instance to the Pundits of the Sanskrit College at Trichiar, by direction of the Rajah of Cochin; but they could not read the character.

“From this place I proceed to Cande-nad, to visit the Bishop once more before I return to Bengal.”

Analysis of Buchanan’s notings of the copper plates

A careful reading of Buchanan proves the following facts:

  1. Even during 16th century, manufacturers of copper plate inscriptions were available.
  2. They could manufacture the required copper plates even if they could not read the script they inscribed. In other words, they engrave as pictures and not as script or other details.
  3. Who suddenly produced the copper plates for Buchanan is intriguing?
  4. Buchanan made copies and circulated them for getting translation.
  5. He also sent copies to London.
  6. Original copper plates were not available.
  7. Therefore, the Portuguese must have manufactured the copper plates.

About the claimed relics throughout the world

About Thomas everything has been doubtful and doubting only, as none knew or knows specifically anything about him.

  1. His birth and death are not known.
  2. How he died: Not known.
  3. Whether he was killed or died: Not known.
  4. If killed by sword, lance, spear, staff or any such thing: Not known.
  5. Where died: Not known.
  6. How many bodies and skeletons: Not known.

As he was having many bodies, skeletons and tombs, he must not have been a human being, just a myth. As there has not been any specific day or date for the death of Thomas, Christians celebrate him on various designated days:

  1. First Sunday after Easter,
  2. October 6,
  3. June 30,
  4. July 3,
  5. December 21,

and so on, as none knew him or his whereabouts. Archeologists could easily date the relics and find out the truth. Here, in Chennai (Madras), from the writings of the Europeans, it has been proved that all relics, paintings and sculptures belong to the medieval period and thereafter. As the Portuguese demolished the original Kapaleeswarar Temple at the seashore in 1523, the dates tally. To add a tail piece, before concluding, the following is quoted,[34]

“The relics enclosed in some of them comprised a portion of the milk of the Virgin Mary, parts of the skulls of St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas the Apostle. … A shirt of St. Thomas the Martyr, a white girdle given by St. John the Evangelist to St. Mary, and a small part of the skull of St. Thomas the Apostle, and a candle end of the Virgin Mary.”

Forced propaganda carried on

As I have been attending hundreds of conferences being a life member, executive member of IHC, SIHC, APHC, TNHC, AIOC and “scientific and secular history” is always claimed, it is a wonder as to how this type of mythistory, biased historiography and historiographical methodology could go on in spite of exposures of fakes, forgery and frauds. Ironically, no historian, archaeology or connected expert questions such myth-making, fake relic manufacturing and subversive forcing of such stuff on the students and public. All this proves that something is wrong somewhere and the involved do not bother for anything, as they want to do only propaganda at any cost. As the propaganda should continue for years, they think that such myths, myth-making, fake manufactures and bogus archaeology get legitimised by force and thrust. Only there would be few to expose the truth, but they can be suppressed and people forget soon. Before another finds out and cries, already there would be more relics, more fake evidences and books.


Martyrdom of St. Thomas by Peter Paul Rubens


Conclusion

Actually, Indians do not care about the belief system of others, as they respect all considered as “divine”. Nowadays, as non-Hindus and such categories have started criticizing and attacking Hindu belief systems, Hindus started analyzing the non-Hindu belief systems. Ironically, the non-Hindus have only been joining with atheists and anti-Hindus, and started attacking Hindu belief systems. Thus, in the context, the following observations are made as a conclusion:

    1. Historically, whether Jesus existed or not is not an issue for Indians or Hindus.  In fact, only European and non-Indian historians, archaeologists and researchers have proved that such a personality never existed.
    2. Jesus, Christ and Jesus Christ have been three different concepts and thus they are mythical. It is not a problem for Indians.
    3. Therefore, whether such a mythical character had 12 apostles or many more is also left for them to decide as to whether it is myth or otherwise.
    4. The Acts of Thomas claims that Thomas was killed by the soldiers of Ghondoporus and buried in Mesopotamia and therefore his burial of the body at another place or places is ruled out.
    5. A human being, if he at all existed, could have only one body and skeleton and therefore, discovering many tombs, skeletons, and more than one skull proves that many forgeries, fakes and duplicates have been created or the skeletons and bones belong to other unknown persons.
    6. Thus, the many narratives and stories show that one myth is created based on another myth and so on. Thus, the myth-making has led to lies, forgeries, and frauds and that is what has been happening till today.
    7. The writers involved have not been bothered about history, historicity, historical evidences, or cross-checking the evidences claimed.
    8. As far as Chennai (Madras) is concerned, the case of R. Arulappa vs Acharya Paul alias Ganesh Iyer has exposed the Church, the archbishop and others involved directly in the manufacture of evidences for a Thomas myth, and all have been caught red-handed.
    9. The involved persons have become desperate and controversial, indulging in divisive communal politics to hide their ugly practices.
    10. Above all, the Church and the clergy of different levels — from pope to ordinary pastor  have been involved in spiritual fraud, financial crimes, land scams, pedophilia and rape of nuns, even murder. In India itself it has become the order of the day. Therefore, it is better for the “holy” men of Christ to keep their houses clean and stop falsifying Indian history.

1. Fowler, Don D., “Uses of the Past: Archaeology in the Service of the State”, American Antiquity, CUP, Cambridge, April 1987.

2. Hrudhayam, Ignatius; Francis, T. Dayananda; Kulandai, Swami; Carvalho, Selvaraj; et al in connection with inculturation as well as the St. Thomas myth in Mylapore.

3. Mudaliar, N. Murugesan & Mudaliar, Arunai Vadivelu. The former taught me Saiva Siddhanta and later wrote the rebuttal against the Deivanayagam book. See news item.

4. Deivanayagam, N., He wrote and published Viviliyam, Thirukkural, Saiva Siddhantham inviting challenge from the Saivite scholars. Arunai Vadivelu Mudaliar wrote the rebuttal book.

5. Nagy, Thomas Charles, Catholic Shrines in Chennai, India: The politics of renewal and apostolic legacy, Routledge, New York, 2017. Read thesis online.

6. Jenne, Henry,  Entre Trilhos e Estrelas, Chiado Books, 2017 and the English version is published as Between Rails and Stars, United Verlag, 2019.

7. Sharan, Ishwar, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, Voice of India, New Delhi, 2019. Earlier editions in 1991, 1995, 2010. Read fourth revised edition online.

8. The New World is the name used for North and South America including the islands of the West Indies and Bermuda, Falkland Islands, Greenland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and Oceania.

9. Rendino, Stéphanie, Our Lady of Ocotlán and our Lady of Guadalupe: Investigation into the origins of parallel virgins, University of Montreal, Canada, 2008.

10. Cruz, Joan Carroll, Miraculous Images of Our Lady: 100 Famous Catholic Portraits and Statues, Tan Books, USA, 1993.

11. Defouri, J. H., “Was the Apostle St. Thomas in Mexico?”, Catholic World, December 1881. Read article online.

12. Brading, David A., “Myth and Images in Mexican History: Foundations and Legitimacy,” Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Mexico City, 2011.

13. Murray, Tim & Evans, Christopher (Ed), Histories of Archaeology: A Reader in the History of Archaeology, OUP, New York, 2008.

14. Martínez, Rubén Torres, St. Thomas and Quetzalcoatl. An attempt to construct an identity from the rewriting of the myth. See also Gardener, Brant, The Christianization of Quetzalcoatl. Read article online.

15. Kelley, David H., “Astronomical Identities of Mesoamerican Gods”, Archaeoastronomy (supplement of Journal for the History of Astronomy), 1980.

16. Enright, Sara, “Quetzalcoatl: A Mestizo Myth,” Undergraduate Research Journal, 2006.

17. Lafaye, Jacques, Quetzalcoatl and Guadalupe: The Formation of Mexican National Consciousness 1531-1813, UCP, Chicago, 1976,

18. Lafaye, Jacques & Keen, Benjamin (Tr), Quetzalcoatl and Guadalupe: The Formation of Mexican National Consciousness 1531-1813, UCP, Chicago, 1976.

19. Southey, Robert, History of Brazil, London, 1822.

20. Nagy, Thomas Charles, Catholic Shrines in Chennai, India: The politics of renewal and apostolic legacy, Routledge, New York, 2017. Read thesis online.

21. Clavijero, Francisco Javier, Historia Antigua de México, 1780.

22. Carrasco, Davíd, Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire: Myths and Prophesies in the Aztec Tradition, UCP, Chicago, 1982. There are very few resources available that document Quetzalcoatl’s role in pre-conquest Mesoamerican civilization. By the time the Spaniards took an interest in the original culture and belief systems of the societies they conquered, they had already killed most of the indigenous priests and burned all but sixteen of their sacred books. Instead, the Spanish scholars relied on oral histories, on reproduced manuscripts, and on the analysis of the remaining picture codices—so there was a lot of room for misinterpretation, ethnocentric misunderstandings, and manipulation of the text.

23. Paul VI, Known as Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, Pope Paul VI died on August 6, 1978.

24. These details came out in local Tamil and English newspapers with photographs.

25. Taylor, John, “Mediation and Atonement,” Deseret News, Salt Lake City, 1882 (for a view that Jesus Christ and Quetzalcoatl are the same individual). H. Roberts came to a similar conclusion in his “New Witnesses for God,” Deseret News, Salt Lake City, 1909–11. See also the booklet by Mark E. Peterson, “Christ in America,” Deseret News, Sal Lake City, 1972.

26. Wirth, Diane E., “Quetzalcoatl, the Maya maize god, and Jesus Christ,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 1992–2007.

27. Bayly, Susan, Saints, Goddesses and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South Indian Society 1700-1900, CUP, Cambridge, 1989.

28. James, Montague Rhodes, The Apocryphal New Testament (including the Acts of Thomas), Oxford, 1924. Read Acts of Thomas online.

29. Benay, Erin. The pursuit of truth and the Doubting Thomas in the art of early modern Italy, Rutgers University, New Jersey, 2009.

30. Polidoro, Emilia & Pasquini, Polidoro, L’apostolo Tommaso è ad Ortona, Ortona, 2006. As quoted by Erin Benay.

31. Vedaprakash, Indiyavil Saint Thomas Kattukkathai (The Myth of Saint Thomas in India), Institute for the Study of Western Religions, Madras, 1989. Read book online (in Tamil).

32. Buchanan, Claudius, Two Discourses preached before the University of Cambridge, on the commencement of Sunday July 1, 1810 and a sermon before the Society of Missions to Africa and the East; at their tenth anniversary. June 12, 1810. To which added Christian Researches in Asia,  Cadell, T. & Davies, W., London and Deighton, J., Cambridge, 1811.

33. In a footnote, Buchanan recorded, “Most of the Manuscripts which I collected among the Syrian Christians, I have presented to the University of Cambridge; and (they are now deposited in the Public Library of that University, together with the copper-plate facsimiles of the Christian and Jewish Tablets.” Thus it is evident that there were no originals of the said copper plates and the available / claimed copper plates have no historical value.

34. Tighe, Robert Richard & Davis, James Edward, Annals of Windsor being A History of the castle and town; with some account of Eton and places adjacent, Longmans and Brown, London, 1858.

K.V. Ramakrishna Rao is a retired tax commissioner, author and historical researcher.  He blogs at https://kvramakrishnarao.wordpress.com/.


Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, eating a missionary.


The Dalrymple massage of the St. Thomas myth – Koenraad Elst


There is no document supporting the fond belief of Christians [that St. Thomas arrived in Kerala in 52 AD], ritually incanted by all politicians and journalists whenever they mention Christianity. … Even if it were found to be true, Christianity remains an erroneous belief system and a foreign religion whether imported in the 1st or the 4th century. — Dr. Koenraad Elst


Koenraad Elst


The article “The Incredible Journey” by William Dalrymple in The Guardian, London, on 15 April 2000, is a wonderful exercise in pushing the beliefs of the “minorities”―in fact local daughters of a global movement, helped by the foreign headquarters with resources and strategy―to the utmost. There is no document supporting the fond belief of the Christians [that St. Thomas arrived in Kerala in 52 AD], ritually incanted by all politicians and journalists whenever they mention Christianity. And there still is none after Dalrymple’s article, a fact that all his innuendo about new insights is meant to obscure. Not even the apocryphal Acts of Thomas could prove this, either before or after Dalrymple’s intervention. These only mention Thomas going east to a desert country where people speak Iranian. This is clearly not lush tropical Malayali-speaking Kerala.


Coins of Gondophares I minted in Drangiana.


With all his rhetoric slamming open doors, such as that there was a lot of trade between Malabar and the Roman empire―which we already knew―he has only one piece of hard evidence to claim, viz. the coins by king Gondophares confirming the Acts’ mention of such a king, and that already by 19th-century British archaeologists. Now, if there had been such a find, it would have been plastered all over the front pages, and every Christian dignitary would quote it on every suitable occasion. I may have missed something, but I haven’t heard that. Such a discovery would, among other things, have to transfer Gondophares from Afghanistan to Kerala and turn his name from standard Iranian to Malayalam. Note that Dalrymple, ever careful to specify North versus South India, here leaves that crucial specification in the dark. When the very erudite Pope Benedict XVI said in 2006 that Thomas came to “Western India”, and that it was not he but “Christianity” that then went on to Southern India, he was speaking in full consciousness of the relevant evidence, of all that Dalrymple here suggests as proof in favour of the Christian belief.


William Dalrymple


He commits all the errors that our first-year course of Historical Method warned us against. If someone spreads a story―say, the Christians arriving in Kerala from Persia in the 4th century, whose leader Thomas Cananeus was confused with Saint Thomas―and then a hundred consumers of the story reproduce the story, these are not “a hundred sources in unison”, this is just one source. So all his talk about how many believers there are―including gullible Hindus―can over-awe a layman, but mean nothing to a historian.

Of course, ultimately it is not important whether Thomas came to Kerala or not. Even if it were found to be true, Christianity remains an erroneous belief system and a foreign religion whether imported in the 1st or the 4th century. But because Hindus have set great store in refuting the Thomas legend, the secularists invest a lot in supporting it, here be this article, more usually in pro-belief pronouncements, and the media will censor any serious scepticism about it. Except that they will greatly highlight any anti article on condition that it also covers itself in ridicule by espousing some P.N. Oak type of history rewriting.

And note the irony: one always speaks of “doubting Thomas”, also the title of Dalrymple’s film, but the finality of this article is to provide intellectual respectability to the all-out secular effort of suppressing doubt about the Thomas myth.


Gondophares ruled Drangiana, Arachosia & Gandhara.


 

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


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


KCHR


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

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

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

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


P. J. Cherian


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

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

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

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


Pattanam dig and St Thomas


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


Prof. K. Rajan


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Iravatham Mahadevan


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj


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

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

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

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

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


Syrian-style gold cross


Read more at:


 

Syrian Orthodox bishop doubts St. Thomas visited South India – Times News Network


“St. Thomas did not visit Kerala and did not convert upper caste Hindus to Christianity.” – Bishop Geevarghese Mor Coorilos of the Jacobite Syrian Church


Geevarghese Mor Coorilos


The following remarkable news item appeared in The Times of India, Kochi edition, on 13 April 2018:

After the land scam, another controversy has erupted in the Syro-Malabar Church. This time around, the ruckus is over the historical validity of the claim that St. Thomas the apostle had visited Kerala.

Three days ago, Bishop Geevarghese Mor Coorilos of the Niranam diocese of the Jacobite Syrian Church said St. Thomas hadn’t visited the state and did not convert upper caste Hindus to Christianity.


Paul Thelekatt


Syro-Malabar Church official spokesperson and senior priest belonging to Enakulam-Angamali diocese Fr. Paul Thelekatt too agreed with the Niranam bishop: “There is no valid evidence to prove the visit of St. Thomas to Kerala. It is believed that he visited Kerala in the first century and converted Brahmins to Christianity. But the migration of Brahmins to Kerala began only in the 7th century,[1] indicating that such claims were false. The fact is that a group of people followed Christianity for several centuries in Kerala.”

Syrian Christians in Kerala believe that St. Thomas had visited Kerala and converted the upper caste Namboodiris to Christianity. They believe St. Thomas had also built eight churches (also known as 7.5 churches) in various parts of Kerala. The Syrian Christians are also known as St. Thomas Christians. “Even the Pope has made it clear that St. Thomas had not visited Kerala. But a certain section among Kerala Christians have been nursing a certain caste bias claiming to be descendants of upper caste Hindus who were converted to Christianity,” said Fr. Thelakkat. In fact, Syrian Christians in Changanacherry, Pala and Kanjirappally claim that they belong to upper caste Hindu families converted by St. Thomas. Most of the families in these areas reportedly claim they hail from “Athi Puratana Katholika Kudumbam”.

However, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) doesn’t seemed to be amused over the controversy.

“There is no need to discuss the issue now. Those who raised the issue should solve it,” said KCBC official spokesperson Fr. Varghese Vallikkatt. – The Times of India, 3 April 2018


1. There is a record of Namboodiri Brahmins in Kerala in the middle of the fourth century CE, when the practice of the Vedic Shrauta traditions were revived. The 6th, 7th, or 8th century dates for their appearance is a politically-coloured Marxist conjecture. But it is true that there is no record of Namboodiris in Kerala in the first three and a half centuries CE, as there is none for Christians.


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