Tag Archives: indian history

San Thome Cathedral cover-up uncovered – G.P. Srinivasan


“There were some broken pillar lengths, and bottom portion of Shiva lingam, and a round stone kept atop the bottom avudayar of Shiva lingam. In the few feet gap between the church’s backside and the chapel, there was a broken Tamil inscription on granite stone piece peculiar to Hindu temples.” – G.P. Srinivasan


Martyrdom of St. Thomas by Peter Paul Rubens (1636-38)


Chennai’s self-styled historian S. Muthiah has been propagating the fable of Thomas’s visit to India promoted by the Portuguese over 500 years ago. The Catholic establishment has generously supported this fable. Elders used to mention to their children about the presence of an old Shiva temple on the sea coast. After publication of the book The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple by Ishwar Sharan, in 1991, the public were aware of the dangers of the theory of the visit of Thomas to India. The Church was trying to make Hindus villains, like what they have done to the Jews for 2000 years.

By 1990 eminent citizens of Madras installed a 15 feet by 4 feet high marble memorial plaque on the eastern gopuram of the Kapaleeswara Temple, Mylapore, Chennai, whereon they inscribed that the Portuguese destroyed the original temple on the beach side in the 16th century.[1] Though the mischief of S. Muthiah and his colleagues like Archbishop Arulappa, Deivanayagam and Ganesh Ayer were exposed in Ishwar Sharan’s the book, S. Muthiah was in no mood to give up. In an article in The Hindu of 7 January 2004, S. Muthiah had revised his theory. He modified his article, this time without the prefix ‘Saint’ before Thomas, and the title “The Mount of Thomas” was given. But within the article he made a sarcastic remark about Ishwar Sharan. We brought it to the notice of Ishwar Sharan and also Veda Prakash who had done much of the research, and requested them to send a detailed rejoinder to S. Muthiah and The Hindu. Immediately they both sent their rejoinders to The Hindu and to S. Muthiah. And as usual, their replies were not published by The Hindu.[2]


Pseudo-historian S. Muthiah & Comrade N. Ram: Neither have the courage to tell the truth about the Portuguese in Mylapore and the destruction of the original Kapali Temple.


In his rejoinder, Ishwar Sharan wrote:

“My quarrel with Mr. Muthiah and the English-language media that promote the St. Thomas legend, is that the legend does indeed intrude on and demean the Hindu community. It falsely implicates a Hindu king and his priests in the persecution and murder of a Christian apostle and saint, and there is good reason to believe that this maligning of the Hindu community is exactly what is intended today when the legend is repeated and promoted ad nauseam by the Catholic Church and her agents in the press. In fact, the Hindu community is doubly wronged. It not only did not kill the fictional St. Thomas but for the saint’s cause it lost a number of important temples to the aggressive religious bigotry of the Portuguese. It took more than fifty years for the Portuguese to bring down the original Kapaleeswara Temple and build a St. Thomas Church in its place. I wonder how many Indian lives were lost in defence of the Great God Shiva and His house on the Mylapore beach.”

His reply exposes how the Roman Catholic Church has written and is writing and trying to perpetuate pseudo history in South India.

Here, I would also like to share my experience with your readers. I came across the book The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple by Ishwar Sharan and Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai by Veda Prakash, in 2001, and decided to visit the spots mentioned in the book.


https://ishwarsharan.com/the-myth-of-saint-thomas-and-the-mylapore-shiva-temple/Bones pieces in the San Thome Cathedral museum.


In July 2001 when I went to the Mylapore St. Thomas Church, the stone pillar from the remains of the old Hindu temple, which was mentioned by Ishwar Sharan, was exactly there near the compound wall, as mentioned in the book. I took a walk around the church. In an area  between the main church and a chapel on the backside [viz. a lane from Santhome High Road to the beach, the church on the left and the bishop’s house on the right], there was a board in English announcing “Museum”. It was locked but I saw that there were some broken pillar lengths, and bottom portion of Shiva lingam, and a round stone kept atop the bottom avudayar of Shiva lingam. In the few feet gap between the church’s backside and the chapel, there was a broken Tamil inscription on granite stone piece peculiar to Hindu temples. Subsequently I took some Hindu friends to show these temple remains, and we had to do it discretely. This was to create eyewitness evidence. We made a couple of visits, and found the remains intact.

Sometime later, I was driving along the Santhome High Road, and found some construction going on in the church. A new grotto with water fountain and a Christ-like figure standing in the cave’s entrance had come up. I checked up for the original pillar from the temple measuring 12 to 14 feet. It was not there. I was perturbed. At least these remnants from the original temple should be preserved.


Lorry disposing of rubble and other 'waste' from the San Thome Cathedral some place in the Chennai area without authority from the ASI (photo for illustrative purpose only).


On a visit in December 2001, I found there was a big celebration going on the church grounds. The pastor was speaking. Some parts of his talk drew my attention.

He said that he was worried whether the function would go at all. And so lorry loads of building waste material had to be removed. And one Kumar lorry operator or contractor, obviously close to the church, has done a fine job. He was appreciated and honored by the pastor who spoke on the dais on 31 December 2001. He said that he was greatly relieved, for that building waste removal has not attracted any unwanted attention. I presumed that what he meant was that the new stage was constructed after the removal of the old mandapam from the compound, and the pastor was worried about the consequences of this illegal removal.

It is not known whether San Thome Church authorities took permission from the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to remove the ancient Shiva temple rubble? Secondly, they should not have dumped the lorry loads of the old dilapidated mandapam, completely removed from the compound and clandestinely taken to some waste yard. Did they take permission to do it from the Archeological Survey of India?[3]


1. In part the plaque reads: “Ptolomey the Greek geographer has referred to Mylapore in his books as ‘Maillarpha’, a well known seaport town with a flourishing trade. Saint Thiruvalluvar, the celebrated author of Thirukkural, the world famous ethical treatise, lived in Mylapore nearly 2000 years ago. The Shaivite saints of the 7th century, Saint Sambandar and Saint Appar, have sung about this shrine in their hymns. St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus, is reported to have visited Mylapore in the 2nd century (sic) AD. Mylapore fell into the hands of the Portuguese in 1566, when the temple suffered demolition. The present temple was rebuilt about 300 years ago. There are some fragmentary inscriptions from the old temple, still found in the present shrine and in St. Thomas Cathedral.”

2. The Hindu immediately put a copyright notice on the article on its online edition so that it could not be reproduced for comment by Ishwar Sharan in 2004. The notice has since been removed and the article has been made available for comment.

3. The Archeological Survey of India is deeply involved in the cover-up at San Thome Cathedral. It is a government department and therefore subject to the dictates of the politicians in power and their policy of minority appeasement. Even former directors of the Tamil Nadu Department of Archeology like Dr. R. Nagaswamy, who have all the details of the destruction of the Kapaleeswara Temple by the Portuguese and the building of San Thome Cathedral on the ancient temple site, are not willing to speak out.

References

  • S. Muthiah’s article “The Mount of Thomas” in The Hindu, Chennai.
  • Ishwar Sharan’s rejoinder to  Muthiah’s article “The Mount of Thomas” in The Hindu, Chennai.

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


Muziris : The lost city – Srinath Perur


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


Muziris


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tabula Peutingeriana


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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Pattanam ‘urban’?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Map of places mentioned in the Periplus


 

The question of the St. Thomas origin of Indian Christianity – C.I. Issac


“The Thomas origin of Christianity in the Dravidian South was the outcome of the missionary schema against Hindu religion and culture.” – Prof C.I. Issac


St. Thomas, Vasco da Gama & Marco Polo


Speech by Prof. C. I. Issac, Former Head of Department of History, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, on the occasion of the release of the book Breaking India by Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan, in Chennai on February 3, 2011.

First of all I would like to congratulate Mr. Rajiv Malhotra and Mr. Aravindan Neelakandan for their painstaking endeavour of the book Breaking India. Most of our intellectual community conveniently bypasses the contemporary realities that are chasing the Hindu society in their mother land.

The respected authors of Breaking India have shown enough courage to unwrap the vanity of the pseudo-secularist and democrats of contemporary India. The book gives us a thumbnail picture of how far the missionaries misused the word “dravida” and “arya” in order to balkanize and Christianize India since the days of British Raj.

The fabrication of South Indian history is being carried out on an immense scale with the explicit goal of constructing a Dravidian identity that is distinct from that of the rest of India. It is factual that term dravida is derived from the Greek tongue. They used dhamir and dhamarike respectively for Tamil and Tamizakaom. Similarly they introduced our arasi and inchi in the West as rice and ginger.


Anglican Bishop Robert Caldwell: He invented the Dravidian race!


But Bishop Caldwell, with his missionary zeal, misused the Greek derivative of Tamil and Tamizakaom and had given an anthropological representation. It was started in the 19th century with specific designs.

Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1890-1977), a renowned linguist, was of the opinion that Friedrich Max Muller, by the middle of 19th century, introduced Aryan-Dravidian dichotomy. Subsequently Bishop Robert Caldwell (1814-1891) followed the same foot-steps and in 1856 published the book A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages.

This book epitomized distinctive anthropological status to the South and pictured as linguistically separate from the rest of India with an un-Indian culture. There is no definite philological and linguistic basis for asserting unilaterally that the term dravida. His work was influenced with the defunct Aryan-Dravidian race theories proposed by Max Muller the German linguist. Thereupon the term dravida became the name of the family of a language.

During the early days of Common Era (CE) Greeks used dhamir damarike for Tamil / Tamizakaom. Ancient Sri Lankans used dhamizha for Tamil. Sanskrit also used dramida dravida for Tamil long before the birth of Common Era, probably between 1500 to 1000 BCE.

Brahmins of India broadly divided themselves into two groups Pancha Gauda (Gaudam / Bengal, Saraswatam, Kanyakubjam, Utkalam, Kashmeeram) and Pancha Dravida (Gurjara, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra, Dravida includes Kerala and Tamilnadu). Thus it has no anthropological base (Suniti Kumar Chatterji, Dravidian, Annamalai Nagar, 1965, passim).

In the light of the said Aryan-Dravidian dichotomy it is better to make an enquiry into the contemporary attempts to transform Tamil identity into the Dravidian Christianity. The advocates of this venture are striving to baptize Saint Thiruvalluvar through re-writing history.  For instance Chennai Archbishop Arulappa once hired Ganesh Iyer alias Acharya Paul for re-writing the history with the said end. Such vicious endeavours targets to transform even Saint Thiruvalluvar, the pride of Mother India, as the disciple of Saint Thomas. (Anyhow their rationality failed to depict Saint Thiruvalluvar as the disciple of Jesus).

They are reducing Saint Thiruvalluvar’s greatness by making him as the disciple of Thomas who never visited India. Thomas’s mission to India is rejected even by Vatican also.  Thus, I think, it is genuine to peep into the futility of apostolic origin of the Indian Christianity.


Lord Parshuram with Brahmin settlers commanding Lord Varuna to make the seas recede to make the Konkan.


First question to be discussed here is the question of the arrival of Saint Thomas and subsequent conversion of Hindu aristocracy, particularly the Namboothiris / Brahmins, to Christianity.

Second one is the date of the question of the origin of Christianity in Kerala, the gateway of Christianity to India.

Third is the European interest behind popularization of generating aristocratic (savarna) feeling among the native Christians.

Before the arrival of Europeans in India, a nominal Christian presence was seen only in the Travancore and Cochin regions of Kerala. According to Ward and Conner, even after two centuries of the birth of Christianity, the number of Christians on the Malabar Coast shrank to eight families (Ward and Conner, The Survey of Travancore and Cochin States, Trivandrum, 1863, p. 146).

The antagonism that was generated amongst the Christians and Muslims due to the Crusades of 11th, 12th and 13th centuries prevented Christians from planting their roots in the Malabar region where Muslims got roots quite earlier.

The Christian population altogether in Travancore and Cochin during the early decades of the 19th century CE was 35,000 with 55 churches (Ward and Connor, The Survey of Travancore and Cochin States, Trivandrum, 1863, pp. 146 & 147).

C.M. Augur says that from the arrival of Portuguese till the early decades of the nineteenth century here in Kerala there were only less than 300 Christian churches for of all the denominations (C.M. Agur, Church History of Travancore, Kottayam, 1902, pp. 7, 8, 9).

G.T. Mackenzie observes, Christians prior to the arrival of Portuguese, did not form the part of Travancore aristocracy (G.T. Mackenzie, Christianity in Travancore, Govt. Press, Trivandrum, 1901, p. 8).

Pope Nicolas IV sent John of Montecorvino, a missionary to convert India and China into Christianity and thus he wrote to pope in 1306 that “There are very few Christians and Jews (in India) and they are of little weight”. (See G.T. Mackenzie, Christianity in Travancore, Govt. Press, Trivandrum, 1901, p. 8). Cosmas Indicopleustes comments that Christians are not masters but slaves (N.K. Jose, Aadima Kerala Christavar, Vechoor-Vaikom, 1972, p 127).

The center of the present savarna feeling of Syrian Christians of Kerala is the upshot of the wealth, which they had acquired through enhanced spice trade of the European period and the Portuguese pre-eminence in the Church. Above all the Christian-Muslim antagonism of West Asia was the real cause of the birth of Christianity of Kerala as seen today. To escape from the Muslim persecution several Persian, Syrian, etc. regions Christians secured refuge in India and thus it resulted in the birth of Christianity here. It is evident from the above mentioned pre-European period Christian-Muslim settlement pattern of Kerala.

In 1816 CE there were, in the Travancore State (now the part of Kerala), 19,524 temples and 301 churches for all denominations. But in 1891, that is after 76 years, the number of temples had shrunk in to 9,364 and the number of churches had burgeoned to 1,116 (C.M. Agur, Church History of Travancore, Kottayam, 1902, pp. 7, 8, 9).


John Munro of Teaninich (1843)


Under the recommendation of Diwan (Col. John Munroe, a British subject) in 1812 Queen of Travancore nationalized 378 wealthy temples. The villain Diwan tactically awarded a natural death to the temples with insufficient resources. Considering the geographical area, the number of the temples set ablaze or knocked down or tactically buried down in Travancore (a princely state of modern Kerala) was proportionately much higher than that of temples demolished by the Muslim rulers of Northern India or Mysore Sultans.

In the year 1952 CE, the native Catholic Church approached the Papacy in Rome for pontifical approval to celebrate 1900th year of proselytism of Thomas. The Papacy declined the request of the Kerala Catholics on the ground that the claim has no historicity. Pope Benedict XVI had also declined the Thomas’s arrival and mission in the peninsular India. Only after the Portuguese Christianity in the South became a notable religious sect.


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


St. Theresa Church Copper Plate Grant (Terisapalli Cheppedu) executed in 849 CE by Ayyan Atikal Tiruvatikal of Venadu during the reign of Emperor Sthanu Ravi (844-855) is the available oldest historical document linking to Christianity of Kerala. That the grant holders were not native Christians is a notable fact.

Kottayam is the Rome of India. First church of Kottayam (Valiyapalli or Big Church) was built by a Hindu raja (Thekkumkur dynasty) in 1550 CE for the Persian Christian merchants (Knanaya Christians) who settled here (A. Sreedhara Menon, A Survey of Kerala History, Kottayam, 1970, p 43).

The quality of missionaries to India until early British period was also remarkably very low. Missionary urge for Christianization of India was fermented in England long before the 1813 Charter Act. In 1793 William Carey reached in Bengal, at Serampore, with missionary spirit without proper permission from the Company. Originally he was a cobbler by profession and turned out to be a Baptist missionary and became instrumental to the general missionary spirit that prevailed over England during this period (R. C. Majumdar & Others, An Advanced History of India, Madras, rpt. 1970, pp. 810, 811).

It is the fact that several of the much applauded missionary families of the colonial period were failed business men or opportunity seekers.

Christian population became decisive power only after the European intervention in the socio-economic structure of Kerala. Robert De Nobili, an early 17th century Catholic Missionary of India, who lived in the attire of a Hindu hermit and established a monastery in Madurai to convert Brahmins. His attempt was to present Christianity in India as an aristocratic and Vedic offshoot. Thus the Thomas origin of Christianity in the Dravidian South was the outcome of the missionary schema against Hindu religion and culture.


St. Thomas Icon


The construction of Dravidian identity and induction of Saint Thomas myth is a calculated affair by the European Church which is now facing the extinction syndrome. The fragility of Christian base in the West is a well attested factor. In this changing scenario the Church cast its eyes in the third millennium over a highly spiritualistic society, the Hindu, for its survival. To a certain extent missionaries of the South succeeded to construct and politicize the Dravidian illusion. The need of the hour is to prepare the society to counter all such disguised and overt anti-Hindu accomplishments.

Nota Bene

See the comment below regarding the origin of the Terisapalli Cheppedu Copper Plate Grant.


 

St. Thomas and Caste – Ishwar Sharan


The exploitation of the Christian faithful by the Christian clergy has been going on from the very beginning. St. Paul returned the runaway slave Onesimus to his Christian owner Philemon of Colosse in Phrygia—the Epistle of Paul to Philemon being the covering letter he sent with him—and St. Thomas is depicted in art with two slaves, two lions and a cloak of peacock feathers—hardly an image of a servant of the poor! — Ishwar Sharan


Onesimus & St. Paul


In his article “In Memory of a Slain Saint”, C.A. Simon wrote, “St. Thomas spent the last part of his life in Madras preaching the Gospel. A large number of people listened and embraced the way of life preached by him. The oppressed and downtrodden followed him and claimed equal status in society as it was denied them by prevailing social norms. He condemned untouchability and attempted to restore equal status to women.”

This stereotyped and oft-times-proven untrue description of ancient Hindu society has been promoted by Christians for centuries. By repeating it C.A. Simon shows that his interest in writing the article is not “purely academic”. He is championing a cause, and he has presented St. Thomas as the champion and pioneer of a cause—Liberation Theology.

This new role for St. Thomas is absurd, and whatever the merits of the new ideology—and they are doubtful—neither Jesus nor his brother Judas Thomas can be presented as champions of the oppressed and downtrodden if we are to believe the Acts of Thomas. Its first verses record that Thomas was sold into slavery by the very Jesus whose “message of liberation” he is supposed to have brought to India. The Acts then describe how he enslaves the aristocratic women he converts and destroys their families. Finally we learn that this is the reason that King Mazdai of Parthia has him executed—and it is a good reason.

C.A. Simon seems not to have read the Acts of Thomas or heard the traditional Syrian Christian version of the apostle’s “good works” in India. In one of these tales St. Thomas only accepts Brahmins into his new creed—with the curious exception of one barber convert. This isolated soul is never given a place in the Christian community even during the apostle’s lifetime, and to present St. Thomas as a champion of the poor is ironical, even grotesque—but then Liberation Theology itself is proving to be just another means by which the Church can further exploit the faithful.

Indeed, the exploitation of the faithful has been going on from the very beginning. St. Paul returned the runaway slave Onesimus to his rightful owner Philemon—the Epistle of Paul to Philemon being the covering letter he sent with him—and St. Thomas is depicted in art with two slaves, two lions and a cloak of peacock feathers—hardly an image of a servant of the poor!


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


Today the number of lower caste converts to Christianity is myriad and they are no more accepted by their upper caste brethren than was their mythical first century barber ancestor. The plain truth is that the Churches of India are riddled with caste and to highlight this situation, Scheduled Caste Christians demonstrated against the untouchability practiced in the Church when Pope John Paul II visited India in 1986. They probably did not know that Pope Gregory XV (1621-1623) had sanctioned caste within the Indian Church and that his edict has never been rescinded. Earlier in 1599 the Council of Diamper and again in 1606 the Council of Goa had sanctioned the same. These sanctions have governed Catholic practice ever since—though Christians piously maintain that caste is contrary to Christ’s teachings.

The grievances of Scheduled Caste Christians remain to this day and often surface in the national press—to the embarrassment of wealthy bishops who have interests to protect other than those of their flock. This happened in July and August of 1990 in the columns of the Indian Express. On August 2nd a letter appeared by Raju Thomas of Madras. He held M.A., B.Th., B.D. and M.Th. degrees, and wrote:

No self-respecting Scheduled Caste Christians will ask the Government to include them in the Scheduled Caste list. Is it not shameful for the Indian Church, even after centuries of Christian tradition, to say that it has a vast majority of untouchable Christians?

I myself come from a state where Christianity reached in the first century itself before it went to Europe, and that state, Kerala, the highly literate state in India, has more than 35 lakh untouchable Christians out of a total population of 51 lakh Christians. But these majority Scheduled Caste Christians do not have any voice in the Church administration and in the ecclesiastical structure.

The Christian population of India is just 3 per cent out of the 800 million total population of India, and 85 per cent of the Christians are from the Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes. The Scheduled Caste Christians, instead of asking for reservation on par with the Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Scheduled Castes, should demand that the Indian Church implement reservation first in their home itself. Charity should begin at home!

The Indian Christian Church has the best educational, technical and medical institutions in the country and it is unfortunate that the presence of the untouchable Christians in these prestigious institutions is worse than anywhere else. Why is the Indian Church blind to this brutal injustice and discrimination committed to its own family members?

While the Indian Church enjoys the minority rights guaranteed in the Constitution it violates the legitimate human rights of Dalit Christians. Instead of begging the Government, the Church must render justice to her own—least brothers and sisters—by sharing power and wealth with Scheduled Caste Christians in proportion to their population.[1] The Church must respond to the cries of the Dalit Christians.

Once justice is established at home the Church can put pressure on the Government of India to get the Constitution amended to help Scheduled Caste Christians to get the constitutional rights enjoyed by their Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist counterparts.

This letter—in places self-contradictive-–shows an insensitivity to the position of Hindus and ignores the financial privileges enjoyed by the Church. Christian religious and educational institutions are fully autonomous and collect large foreign donations, unlike their Hindu counterparts which must accept state-controlled administrations and finance. That these foreign moneys collected in the name of the Scheduled Castes almost never reach the Scheduled Castes, is the cause of on-going scandal in churches of every denomination.


The New Indian Express Masthead


We did not comment on these issues in our reply to Raju Thomas. We had observed over the years that the Indian Express while permitting Christians to lecture Hindus in its columns, did not permit Hindus to comment on what it deemed to be Christian matters. But we did take issue with the assertion that Christianity had reached Kerala in the first century C.E. as this was a matter of Indian history. The Indian Express now had two copies of our reply to C.A. Simon’s feature which it had declined to publish even in summary, as well as Swami Tapasyananda’s article which it had simply ignored. There was no excuse for the Indian Express letters editor to allow Raju Thomas his claim unless he wished to provoke a response. We responded on August 3rd:

Mr. Raju Thomas may assert that he comes from an Indian state where Christianity was established in the first century C.E. (I.E. Aug. 2), but he must know that his claim has never been substantiated in history. Even the generous K.S. Latourette, in A History of the Expansion of Christianity, does not allow the possibility of Christians coming to India by any route before the third century C.E.

The consensus among most historians who do not have a theological axe to grind, is that the first Christians to arrive in India, landing at Cranganore, Kerala, came in 345 C.E. They were four hundred refugees belonging to seven tribes of West Asia, who were fleeing religious persecution by the Persian Shapor II. Their leader was a Syrian who is known to history as Knae Thomman, Thomas Cananeus, Thomas of Cana, or Thomas the Merchant. It is probably this man whom the Syrian Christians later converted into the first century apostle-martyr St. Thomas.

Though the myth of St. Thomas coming to Kerala in 52 C.E. was invented by Syrian Christians, it was resurrected and embellished in the sixteenth century by Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries who needed a pious story of persecution to cover up their own persecution of the Hindus. During this period they and their Portuguese masters destroyed the great Shiva temple on the Mylapore beach, the Murugan temple on Little Mount and the Shiva temple on Big Mount, and built Christian churches on the ruins.

The Roman Catholic Church continues to promote this vicious tale as part of her ancient effort to vilify Hindus and malign Hinduism—and, of course, to support her religious and political claims to India. Those interested in the ongoing campaign may refer to an excellent article by Swami Tapasyananda called “The Legend of a Slain Saint to Stain Hinduism’ in the recent June issue of The Vedanta Kesari published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Madras 600004.

This letter was not published in the Indian Express but a copy of it had been sent to Raju Thomas. He replied on August 31st:

Thank you for the copy of your letter to the editor, Indian Express, Madras, dated 3 August 1990. I have been expecting that that letter would be published in the columns of the Indian Express. But so far it is not being published.

I have already posted a long letter on this issue as many people have come forward with the same question about the existing of Christianity in the first century in the Indian subcontinent.

Yes, Mr. Ishwar Sharan, I too agree with your views that Christianity did not exist in the first century in the Indian subcontinent. It is only a traditional belief that St. Thomas had come to India and converted the Brahmins to Christianity but this claim does not have any historical proof. However, this traditional belief of the Christians in Kerala is so deep-rooted that they relentlessly go on propagating it.

You may ask me if such is the case, why did I too assert that Christianity had come to India before it had reached Europe? My answer to this question is that I deliberately wanted an open debate and discussion on this subject. But except a few nobody has come with challenging theories or written in the Indian Express. But why? We will be able to challenge and question such falsified histories and traditional beliefs only when we take up such issues to the public and do not keep them as the top secrets. But the question is: How many of our ‘intellectuals’ are ready to have open-minded debates and discussions? Our sole aim is to eat, drink, make money and enjoy. This is the Indian reality. How many of us take up discussion on issues? We are concerned about the pension, non-supply of water, not getting facilities in the buses and trains, etc. Is this what a healthy society is to think and debate? I do not know.

I also agree with your opinion about the historicity of the Thomas Christians in Kerala in ancient Cheranadu. I also have some if not full soft corner towards your argument: “… this man whom the Syrian Christians later converted into the first century apostle-martyr St. Thomas.” I am sure provided much light is shed on this argument the truth will certainly come out.

Do you know the real story of these Jerusalem Christians who had come to Kerala? Today their total number is 1,60,000 and 1 lakh within the Roman Catholic Church and 60 thousand in the Jacobite Church. It is also unfortunate that these Christians (?) do not maintain any kind of relationship with other Christians in India, no marital relationship, not giving baptism to non-Knaya Christians in their church, not allowing Dalit Christians in their houses, etc. They want to keep up the purity of their blood. In fact they are the worst enemies of the Dalits in Kerala.

Your other remarks on the Franciscans and the Jesuits, etc., have to be seriously studied. I am interested in this kind of research works. But do we have sufficient documents? I am very much enthusiastic to get that article, “The Legend of a Slain Saint to Stain Hinduism” by Swami Tapasyananda, published in The Vedanta Kesari. Would you help me to get one copy of this?

Thank you for writing to me. I welcome more enlightenment in these matters. I do not know whether the Indian Express will publish my letter which is a lengthy one.

The Indian Express did not publish Raju Thomas’s letter even in an edited form, as it had not published ours. The Indian Express did not approve of “issues” in its precious columns—especially as they were not perceived by the experts to add prestige or profits to the newspaper’s already overflowing coffers. These were the “principles of publishing” followed by most big post-independence Hindu newspaper publishers. It was not that nobody has come with challenging theories or written to the Indian Express as Raju Thomas thought, but rather that they weren’t published after numerous submissions. We replied to Raju Thomas on September 5th:

Thank you for the letter dated August 31st.

You will have received by now Swami Tapasyananda’s article. He had originally submitted it to the Indian Express. They ignored it. After waiting three months he published the article in his own magazine.

I, too, submitted an essay debunking the myth of St. Thomas to the Indian Express in March. It was a reply to C.A. Simon’s article which appeared in the Express Weekend last December. My submission was also ignored for months. Finally the IE resident editor rejected it in June with the lame excuse that he had no space and that I had already had my say in a letter published in the Express Weekend.

My latest letter replying to your statement on St. Thomas, is only one of many sent to the Indian Express over the last eight months. Many others have written also and I have copies of their letters. None of these letters have been published. I am sure that your letter will also not be published. My long experience is that the Indian Express only publishes material promoting the myth of St. Thomas as true Madras history (excepting for the three edited letters which appeared in the Express Weekend early this year).

The Indian Express consistently suppresses all material, no matter how well documented, that shows up this political tale for what it really is.

So you see, Mr. Thomas, the “fearless Jesuits” in that editorial office are no different from your priests and our politicians. They are full of grand rhetoric and promises of salvation which it does not cost them anything to make. But the moment they perceive that the truth threatens their bank accounts and official positions, they are utterly ruthless in suppressing it and the persons who speak it. Gandhiji once said that it was cowardice that was the threat to our nation, not poverty. I believe he was right — again!

As it is, I am blacklisted at the Indian Express offices and none of my letters are published any longer. This will please many of their Christian readers, for I am a long-time student of Christian history and a critic of Church politics and ideology.

This should not be misunderstood to mean that I am hostile to Christians of faith. This is not the case at all. In fact I see the Christian layman as the first victim of Church politics. This is why I firmly believe that Christians activists like yourself must go to the Church for redress of your grievances before you go to the Government. To go to the Government is to let the Church off the hook. Why do that? What has the Church done for you really? The whole edifice of the Church is built on the emotional, psychological and material exploitation of the poor and ignorant.

You know better than I do that the Church has vast quantities of foreign money meant for the poor which never reaches the poor. You also know that caste is fully sanctioned within the Church. So-called saints like Francis Xavier, John de Britto and Robert de Nobili all practiced untouchability—not to mention the fabled St. Thomas! There is one—perhaps two—papal bulls sanctioning caste divisions in churches and social relations. And there are the edicts of the Council of Diamper which sanction the same. To argue that caste is un-Christian is really beside the point.

But to return to the original subject of this letter. My essay called The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Templeis in the press but its publication has got delayed. It will be out in a month or so and I will send you a copy.[2] You will discover that I make no statement and draw no inference that I cannot document.

I am very happy that you have written to the Indian Express about this issue. And I am sorry that your letter will not get published. But because it will not be published I would very much like to have a copy of it, if you would kindly send me one. I continue my study of this myth and am always eager for new references and points of view.

Raju Thomas did eventually send us a copy of his lengthy letter. It is a bitter indictment of the Roman Catholic Church and Church of South India for the discriminatory treatment that they have meted out to their Scheduled Caste converts. We do not include it here because it repeats in detail what he had already written to us on August 31st. But the Indian Express should have at least published edited portions of it including his retraction of the claim that St. Thomas had come to India. In the letter he quotes Jesus in the Gospel of Mathew 23:15 which applies as much to campaigning secular journalists as it does to Christian missionaries:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.


1. Pope John Paul II has reaffirmed that the Church is an autocracy not a democracy—and that he is the present autocrat.

2. The reference is to the first edition of this book which was published in February 1991. The observations made here about the editorial policy of the Madras edition of the Indian Express are as true today—June  2010—as at the time of writing the letter in September 1990.


 

1 – In memory of a slain saint – C.A. Simon


The article which follows, published in the Indian Express, Madras, on 30 December 1989, and the refusal of the editor to publish our reply, was the reason we began our research into the St. Thomas in India legend. Had the Indian Express editor Ramanathan allowed us to reply, we would have never bothered to begin our extended research into the legend which has resulted in four editions of our book. — Ishwar Sharan


San Thome Cathedral: A minor basilica of no consequence.


It is difficult to say whether Mylapore found its place in travel notes of many ancient foreign travellers because it had on its soil the tomb of St. Thomas or if the tomb itself was mentioned therein because of its location at Mylapore on the eastern coast. It is a historical fact that many foreign travellers used to visit this coast after sailing a long distance thanks to the Coromandel winds. Marco Polo, the great traveller, has referred to the tomb in his travel diary.

The present Gothic church was constructed over the tomb only in 1893; but it is going to be almost 20 centuries since the first church was constructed by St. Thomas, the father of Christianity in India, before his martyrdom in 73 AD.

The tomb of St. Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles (disciples) of Jesus Christ, attracts people from all over the world. It is a pilgrim centre for Christians, especially during Christmas and Easter seasons. Its history, battles fought over the mortal remains of the saint, burial, excavation, relocation of the tomb, etc., all form part of a high drama the church witnessed over the centuries.

Today Santhome has in its possession only a piece of bone and the metal spearhead with which the saint was assassinated in Madras. These are kept under the safe custody of the priests. It is exposed for public veneration during the annual solemn novena for the feast of St. Thomas on July 3rd every year.

The expression “doubting Thomas” originated after Thomas, disciple of Jesus Christ, who was not ready to believe the resurrection of the Christ when it was narrated to him by other disciples to whom Jesus appeared for the first time after the crucifixion and burial. Thomas declared: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

According to the Bible, Jesus appeared again inside a closed room where all the disciples were planning their next course of action. Jesus called Thomas and asked him to put his finger on the mark of the wounds. Thomas was taken aback. Thomas felt divine reality encountering human weakness of doubt face to face. He was convinced. He knelt down and uttered: “Thou art my Lord and God”.

Thomas landed at Maliankara (Cranganore in Kerala) in 52 AD with Habban, a foreign trader. He preached the Gospel, wrought miracles and went to Mailepuram (now Mylapore) and then on to China. He returned to Maliankara at the behest of the son-in-law of the Raja of Thiruvanchikulam.

Thomas spent the last part of his life in Madras preaching the Gospel. A large number of people listened and embraced the way of life preached by him. The oppressed and downtrodden followed him and claimed equal status in society as it was denied them by the prevailing social norms. He condemned untouchability and attempted to restore equal status for women.

Many stories are sung as folk songs and have descended to us through the generations. One of them about the origin of the church at Santhome is very interesting.


The 'miraculous' log of wood behind San Thome Cathedral


A huge timber log was washed ashore by the waves. In spite of the battery of strong men deployed by King Mahadeva, they could not succeed in bringing it to the shore. As suggested by some of his courtiers, the king summoned the saint. St. Thomas performed another miracle. Pleased by this, the king offered a place near the shore where the timber was first sighted. Thus the old church at Mylapore was built.

As he preached and performed miracles, enemies also grew in number and strength. They vowed to finish him. He had to spend some time in a cave at Little Mount hiding from his enemies. Finally he was killed at what is now known as St. Thomas Mount.

His body was brought to Mylapore, buried and the exact location was forgotten for a long time. Later, in 1523, while digging for laying foundation for a new church they came across signs of the tomb. Immediately the priest in charge of the operation sought the help of higher authorities and then continued excavation.

They removed a lot of earth. After removing two concrete slabs placed between sand and earth they came upon pieces of bones and skull. At the foot there was an earthen vessel supposedly filled with earth taken from the spot where the saint’s blood was shed. They further unearthed a metal spearhead having the shape of an olive leaf and also struck upon a wooden shaft.

The bones and other mortal remains were kept in a box and later buried at an undisclosed location near the church as the priest feared for the safety of the same since the news of possible attack by neighbouring kings were pouring in.

Rivalries among Dutch, French and British wrought devastation on Santhome. The Golconda Sultans attacked and occupied the place for years. In 1646, Mir Jumla, Nawab of Carnatic, also attacked.

Hyder Ali, Sultan of Mysore, besieged Santhome three times during 1769, 1780 and 1782.

Due to several attacks and siege, Santhome church was damaged beyond recognition. In 1893 the new church was constructed. The tall bell-tower is an evidence of Gothic architectural excellence.


Pius XII & Adolf Hitler


The church was made a minor basilica in 1956 by Pope Pius XII. The basilica title is conferred on churches based on its antiquity, magnificence and celebrity. The word basilica means a church with honorific privileges. There are only four major basilica in the whole world. None of them is in India and the most prominent among them is the St. Peter’s at Vatican.

The tomb of great historical importance is inside the church at Santhome near the sanctum sanctorum. It is open to visitors almost during the whole day. The Tourism Development Corporation on its conducted tours makes a stop at the tomb.

A lot of efforts are on to provide better facilities for the tourists visiting the church every day. Fr. Charles, assistant priest, further informed this writer that there may be celebrations on the 3rd of every month, starting from January 1990 onwards, with the help of parishioners.[1]

Postscript

This story, with photographs of Santhome Cathedral Basilica, appeared on 30 December 1989 on the front page of the Express Weekend. It was placed below a feature of Madras city history. No indication was given to show that one article dealt with popular legend and the other with historical fact. They were presented together to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the founding of the British factory north of Mylapore and Triplicane at the fishing village of Madrasapattinam.

On reading the St. Thomas feature, we sent a letter of protest to the Indian Express editor exposing Simon’s story. It was published on 13 January 1990 in the Express Weekend. The paragraphs that were excised by the editor are reproduced here in italics:

Apropos of the article “In Memory of a Slain Saint” (EW, Dec. 30), it is indeed astonishing that the Indian Express allows its respected columns to be used to promote this Catholic romance as historical fact in this age of excellent critical scholarship.[2]

In his book Papacy: Its Doctrine and History (Voice of India, New Delhi, 1986) the historian Sita Ram Goel writes about the St. Thomas myth:

“Some Catholic scholars have been busy for many years marshalling literary and archaeological evidence in an effort to prove that St. Thomas came to India in 52 AD, converted some Hindus in the South, and was killed by Brahmins at Mylapore in Madras while giving the Good News to the local people….

“It would be a waste of time to present the pros and cons of this controversy which tends to become more and more technical. Suffice it to say that some historians have seriously doubted the very existence of an apostle named Thomas. Distinguished scholars like R. Garbe, A. Harnack and L. de la Vallee-Poussin have denied credibility to the Acts of Thomas, an apocryphal work on which the whole story is based. Some others, who accept the fourth century Catholic tradition about the travels of St. Thomas, point to the lack of evidence that he ever went east beyond Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. The confusion, according to them, has arisen because the ancient geographers often mistook these two countries for India.

“The whole subject has been examined recently by Stephen Neill in his History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to 1707 A.D. published by the Cambridge University Press, England, as late as 1984. He says, ‘A number of scholars, among whom are to be mentioned with respect Bishop A.E. Medlycott, J.N. Farquhar and the Jesuit J. Dahlman, have built on slender foundations what can only be called Thomas romances, such as reflect the vividness of their imaginations rather than the prudence of rigid historical critics.’ Pained by the spread of this spurious history among large sections of Indian Christians, he observes, ‘Millions of Christians in India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove it to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.’ Stephen Neill … was a bishop who had spent long years in India.”

There is also reason to believe that St. Thomas Church stands on the ruins of a Jain Neminathaswami temple and a Hindu Shiva temple which had a Nataraja shrine attached. The epigraphical data for the existence of the Jain temple on this site is recorded in Jain Inscriptions in Tamil Nadu by A. Ekambaranath and C.K. Sivaprakasham (Research Foundation for Jainology, Madras, 1987). The evidence for the existence of the Shiva temple, which may be the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach that got “eroded” by the “sea”, is compiled in an excellent Tamil-language book called Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai (“The Saint Thomas Myth in India”) by Veda Prakash (RAFR, Madras, 1989). This book is recommended for its wealth of information and is available from RAFR, 57 Poonamallee High Road, Maduravayal, Madras 602102.”

When this letter appeared in the Express Weekend without the last paragraph, which referred to the destroyed temples, we sent a letter of protest on January 16th to the Indian Express resident editor:

Apropos of my letter on St. Thomas and the St. Thomas Church, I must observe that the truncated version published in the Express Weekend of Jan. 13th, which omits all reference to the building of the church, is not acceptable and does not do justice to history.

As a Catholic apologist was given prime space in the Express Weekend on Dec. 30th to tell his version of this controversial story, the Indian Express is obliged to give space to another writer or at least permit an open review of the subject.

The destruction of temples by Muslims has been discussed in the Indian Express by many persons including Arun Shourie, as has the destruction of Jain (and if I remember correctly, Buddhist) temples in Kanchi and Kashmir by certain Hindu kings. The Christians have completely escaped this review though they were the worst perpetrators of these kinds of deeds. This is ironical, for Christian missionaries continue to try to force conversion and destroy village temples in Central India.

The editorial tactic of only permitting Christians to criticize Christians does not wash and indicates a double standard operating in the newspaper. The editors have never hesitated to permit Christians to lecture and criticize Hindus and Muslims when they choose to do so.

The Express Weekend refuses to review Veda Prakash’s Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai (The Saint Thomas Myth in India) or even list it as a book received, though in fact the newspaper has received four copies of it.

When the Pope in Rome can no longer enforce the Index,[3] how is it that the Indian Express can censor our reading material, obstruct free access to information, and suppress discussion of a subject because it is controversial?

In honour of free speech, the very least you can do is give a fair review to this interesting little book on St. Thomas and the legends that surround him and the church at Mylapore.

Veda Prakash’s book was never reviewed by the Indian Express, though the editor acknowledged receipt of a copy and promised to give it his attention.

But our protest did not go unnoticed, and as we had sent out copies of the January 13th letter to various interested people, the excised paragraph would appear in the Indian Express on February 10th in a letter from Swami Jyotirmayananda. His letter was cut too and those lines which offended the editor appear below in italics:

Sri Ishwar Sharan has rightly debunked the so-called historical feature “In Memory of a Slain Saint” (EW, Jan. 13) quoting distinguished historians who have seriously doubted the very existence of an apostle named St. Thomas.

In fact the feature that appeared in EW December 30th is false and misleading and there is a large body of evidence saying that there never was a Thomas at all, never mind that he came to Madras.

There is reason to believe that St. Thomas Church stands on the ruins of a Jain Neminathaswami temple and a Shiva temple which had a Nataraja shrine attached. The epigraphical data for the existence of the Jain temple on this site is recorded in Jain Inscriptions in Tamil Nadu by A. Ekambaranath and C.K. Sivaprakasham (Research Foundation for Jainology, Madras, 1987). The evidence for the existence of the Shiva temple, which may be the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach that got eroded by the sea,[4] is found in “The Saint Thomas Myth in India” (in Tamil) by Veda Prakash (RAFR, Madras, 1989), who has provided a wealth of information on the subject.

This paragraph―for the non-publication of which we had taken the Indian Express editor to task―contained wrong information about the Kapaleeswara Temple and to make matters worse, the wrong information was attributed to a wrong source. The correct source for the wrong information about the original temple, was the 1985 edition of the TTK A Map’s Guide Book to Madras which says, “A tradition has it that the first temple was by the sea but erosion caused it to be shifted inland.”

The real tradition of course was that the “erosion” of the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the seashore had been caused by Christians. This fact would finally be brought to light in the Express Weekend on March 3rd in a letter from Veda Prakash:

This refers to the letter of Swami Jyotirmayananda published under the caption “Santhome Church” (EW, Feb. 10). Certain details he has mentioned about my book Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai (The Saint Thomas Myth in India) are incorrect as pointed out below.

He writes, “The evidence for the existence of the Shiva temple, which may be the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach that got eroded by the sea, is found in ‘The Saint Thomas Myth in India’ (in Tamil) by Veda Prakash, (RAFR, Madras, 1989), who has provided a wealth of information on the subject.” But, nowhere in the book do I mention that the Shiva temple on the Mylapore beach was eroded by the sea. What is mentioned about the Shiva temple is as follows: “… many evidences available in Santhome Church show there was a Shiva temple and it was occupied, then step by step demolished and converted into a church. Many documents and books also prove this. A fragmentary Tamil inscription of 8 lines on a stone found at the cathedral registers a tax-free gift for burning at night a lamp before the image of Kuthadumdevar (Nataraja) in the temple of Suramudayar (Suramudayar Kuthadum Devarkku) was found in 1924. It belongs to Vikrama Chola’s time, i.e., 12th century. Moreover, when the urchava murthy was taken for procession from the existing Kapaleeswara Temple, there was a practice of lowering it reverently three times before the Santhome Church at that time (16th-18th centuries). The temple was there up to the 16th century. Then, when the Christians started demolishing it completely, Hindus built the present temple out of whatever they could salvage from the ruins of the old temple.” (P. 41-42, Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkadai.)

The publisher is not RAFR. Either it should be MMAK (Menattu Mathangal Araychi Kazhagam) or ISWR (Institute for the Study of Western Religions), 57, Poonamallee High Road, Maduravayal, Madras 602102.

This was the third and last letter published in the Express Weekend in reply to C.A. Simon’s article. The letters were not a sufficient or comprehensive reply, but the Indian Express would not tolerate further criticism of the St. Thomas fable in its columns.


1. This article, which appeared in the Indian Express on 30 December 1989, was the reason we began our research into the St. Thomas in India legend.

2. This paragraph was converted by the editor into the prosaic introductory line: “This refers to ‘In Memory of a Slain Saint’ (EW, Dec. 30).”

3. The Vatican’s official list of books Catholics are forbidden to read.

4. The words “eroded” and “sea” should have been in quotation marks.


Is not Archbishop Chinnappa obliged to accept the Pope’s stand on St. Thomas in India? – V. Sundaram


“Every cleric must obey the Pope, even if he commands what is evil; for no one may judge the Pope.” – Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)


Former Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore A.M. Chinnappa:
Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese


A rupees 50 crore plus mega production in silver screen on St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, who is believed to have spread the Christian faith in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is under way. This film is going to be launched as a major project by the Catholic Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore on 3 July 2008. This proposed film will deal with the story relating to the journey of St. Thomas to Edessa, a town in Syria in 29 AD. His travel through Persia to Taxila in modern Pakistan and return to Jerusalem will also be covered. It has been reported that the legend relating to his reaching Kerala in 52 AD and his subsequent 20 years of preaching the Christian faith in India will constitute the major part of the proposed film. St. Thomas’s meeting with Tiruvalluvar is going to be yet another interesting part of the story.

The unlimited capacity of the Catholic Archdiocese in Madras to manufacture fraudulent fables was brought to full public view in open court on 6  February 1986 when P. Aruvudayappan, II Metropolitan Magistrate, Madras delivered his judgment in criminal case No.100087/82. I am quoting below the operative portion of this judgment: “Taking advantage of the soft attitudes of public witnesses 2 and 3 (Father Mariadoss and Father Arulappa), the Defendant Ganesh Iyer had taken from them about Rs.13.5 lakhs between 1975 and 1980. This has been clearly established.”

How and why did Archbishop Arulappa hand over a whopping amount of Rs.13,49,250/- to Ganesh Iyer for a spurious research project on St. Thomas? Why had the Archbishop not bothered to verify the authenticity of the criminally fake ”documents” produced by Ganesh Iyer in support of his research thesis (which was originally proposed to him by Archbishop Arulappa himself!) Why did Archbishop Arulappa not deem it necessary to accompany Ganesh Iyer to the various sites of his ”research” in India when he had found adequate time to accompany him to Rome, the Vatican, Germany, France, Spain and the United States.

The story of the intimate intellectual relationship between Archbishop Arulappa and Ganesh Iyer (given the title of Acharya Paul by Archbishop Arulappa himself!) indeed constitutes a glorious landmark in the intellectual history of Christianity in India! Archbishop Arulappa had directed Acharya Paul to establish a nexus between St. Thomas and Tiruvalluvar, regardless of the concerns for exact chronology or authentic history. ”Scrupulous” Acharya Paul extended his full cooperation to the equally “Scrupulous” Archbishop! The whole story relating to this gigantic hoax was exposed in an article in The Illustrated Weekly of India in its issue dated April 26-May 2, 1987. This article, titled “Hoax!” was authored by K.P.Sunil. This very article was incorporated by Ishwar Sharan in his book on St. Thomas under the title “Archbishop Arulappa Makes History”.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Madras seems to be drawing its inspiration today from Archbishop Arulappa and Acharya Paul for establishing the spiritual relationship between St. Thomas and Tiruvalluvar in its proposed mega-film project on St. Thomas.


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict


Pope Benedict has denied that St. Thomas brought Christianity to South India, a public statement that Archbishop Chinnappa apparently has ignored. In an attempt to understand the relationship between the Pope and his bishops, I have been reading in the Internet a series of articles on Rome’s fraudulent history by Dave Hunt. I am quoting below some excerpts from his brilliant book titled A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days by Dave Hunt.

“The Roman Catholic Pope has often been the most powerful religious and political figure on earth. This is true today, even though the Pope no longer has at his disposal the armies and navies of past Roman pontiffs…. The Vatican’s constituency of 980 million followers is at least three times the number of citizens in any Western democracy and is exceeded only by the population of China. Even more important, these 980 million people are scattered throughout the world, many of them holding high political, military, and commercial positions in non-Catholic countries. Moreover, the Pope has thousands of secret agents worldwide. They include Jesuits, the Knights of Columbus, Knights of Malta, Opus Dei, and others. The Vatican’s Intelligence Service and its field resources are second to none…. Remember, the Pope’s 980 million subjects are bound to him by religious ties, which are far stronger than any political loyalties could ever be. No secular government can compete with the motivational power of religious belief….”

The extra-ordinary position of the Pope in relation to members of the Church was expressed succinctly in Rome’s La Civilta Cattolica, which a papal journal described in the mid-nineteenth century as “the purest journalistic organ of true Church doctrine” (J.H. Ignaz von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council) “It is not enough for the people only to know that the Pope is the head of the Church … they must also understand that their own faith and religious life flow from him; that in him is the bond which unites Catholics to one another, and the power which strengthens and the light which guides them; that he is the dispenser of spiritual graces, the giver of the benefits of religion, the upholder of justice, and the protector of the oppressed” (La Civilta Cattolica, 1867, Vol. XII).

The Catholic World in August 1871 (Vol. XIII) declared as follows: “Each individual must receive the faith and law from the Church with unquestioning submission and obedience of the intellect and the will…. We have no right to ask reasons of the Church, any more than of Almighty God…. We are to take with unquestioning docility whatever instruction the Church gives us”. The same requirement of unthinking submission is demanded in Vatican II. The Code of Canon Law likewise reasserts the same rule: “The Christian faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound by Christian obedience to follow what the sacred pastors, as representatives of Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or determine as leaders of the Church” (James A. Coriden, Thomas J. Green, Donald E. Heintschel, eds., The Code of Canon Law, Canon 212, Section 1; Paulist Press, 1985).

In November 2006 Pope Benedict XVI had categorically stated that St. Thomas never visited South India. In the light of what has been stated above, is it not the inviolable duty of the Catholic Archdiocese of Madras to implicitly accept with reverence and humility the public stand taken by present Pope Benedict XVI on the issue of St. Thomas and his alleged visit to South India?[1][2]


1. This article is excerpted from a four-part article called “Fraudulent Myth of the Tomb of St. Thomas” which appeared on the News Today website on 2 to 5 July 2008. The original article can be accessed in the News Today archives.

2. See Pope Denies St. Thomas Evangelised South India.


 

Mythical Thomas, devious Deivanayagam, and conniving Church – B.R. Haran


“Tamil Hindus must understand that the Church is frustrated at the decimation of LTTE and would get back with more vigour and venom, applying different strategies. Tamil Hindus are certainly in for tougher and troubled times. The onus lies on the various Hindu organizations to rise to the occasion and thwart all attempts made by alien and chauvinistic forces.” – B.R. Haran


Seeman addressing Christian protesters at the Kapali Temple


Wrong  report, right action

It was shocking to see a report (with an accompanying photograph) in The New Indian Express (3 May 2010) titled, “Stir seeking right to worship”. The report said, “Members of the ‘Federation of All Self-Respecting Tamils’ observed a fast inside the Kapaleeswarar Temple demanding right to worship inside the temple in Mylapore. Federation president Mu. Deivanayagam[1] said the fast was to condemn one section which had hijacked the rights of Tamils to perform puja inside the sanctum sanctorum. He demanded the state government appoint unbiased interlocutors to resolve the issue and ensure the rights to perform puja inside the garbagraha as in Kasi Viswanathar Temple.”

The photograph showed film director Seeman, who shot to sudden (in)fame espousing the cause of LTTE, addressing the gathering of about two dozen people brought to the venue by Deivanayagam.

We at Hindu Dharma Padukappu Iyakkam (Hindu Dharma Protection Movement) were surprised as both Deivanayagam and Seeman are Christians and unashamedly anti-Hindu, and yet the Executive Officer of the famous temple had given (as per the report) permission to such dubious characters to protest inside a Hindu temple. Moreover, the issue taken up by the protestors is sub-judice, as the All Caste Archanas Ordinance passed by Tamil Nadu Assembly itself stands challenged in the Supreme Court of India.

At the same time, we were amused as there was every chance that the report was wrong, as it is quite common for newspapers and magazines to file factually wrong reports and then publish a regret note in some corner, if required. So we decided to confirm the veracity of the news report. Unsurprisingly, we learnt that the event had not happened inside Kapaleeswarar Temple and that New Indian Express had wrongly mentioned the venue as the Mylapore temple.

By afternoon, while preparing for the protest, we learnt that the hunger strike demo was actually conducted at Rajarathinam Stadium, Egmore, with due police permission. It was simply appalling that the police gave permission to Christian bullies to demonstrate on a Hindu cause, even if this was not inside the temple premises. We decided to register our protest with the Commissioner of Police.

CoP being unavailable, we met a senior official (Intelligence) and apprised him of our concerns and feelings of outrage. We felt strongly that the police had erred in giving permission to Christians to demonstrate on a Hindu issue and questioned the locus standi of the demonstrators. The official, who never expected a well-articulated protest, could not give convincing answers. Later, we submitted a complaint against Deivanayagam, who has a notorious track record of virulent anti-Hindu activities for over three decades.

Mythical Thomas and his fake Indian connection

The Western Christian elite, from Max Mueller to Macaulay, distorted our history and fed us their distortions. After independence, Marxists and other Western stooges took over as ‘historians’ and continued the dark and sinister legacy of the West. The mythical St.  Thomas was planted and thrust on South India by Western historians to give a solid foundation for Christianity in ancient India. Many attempts have been made at regular intervals to impose the concocted story of Thomas (his arrival, life in Mylapore and death at the hands of a Brahmin) on the people, thereby removing the facts about the persecution of Hindus and destruction of Hindu temples by Christian invaders (Portuguese, French, British) from the fifteenth century onwards.


Vailankanni Church: Originally the Vel Ilankanni Amman Temple taken over by the Portuguese in the 16th century.


The planting of the St. Thomas story was not only to have a foundation for Christianity in India, but also to spread it throughout the country. This fabrication succeeded slightly over the years in the areas of Madras, Nagapattinam and Puducherry, mainly because the Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore, Vel Ilankanni Amman Temple, Nagapattinam, and Vedapureeswarar Temple, Puducherry, were destroyed and Santhome Basilica, Velankanni Church (Our Lady of Health Basilica) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception built on their remains respectively. Well known scholars of archaeology have established that the details of the destruction of the original Kapaleeswarar Temple could be found in Tamil inscriptions on the walls of the Marundeeswarar Temple in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai!

The so-called history of St. Thomas had been totally demolished by historian Ishwar Sharan in The Myth of St. Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, translated into Tamil in elegant prose by Dr. B.M. Sundaram. Historian Vedaprakash wrote a Tamil book titled Indiavil St. Thomas Kattukkathai (“Fake story of St. Thomas in India”). Both authentically establish that the Thomas story was hundred percent false.

The most important part of Ishwar Sharan’s research is the Vatican’s letter of September 11, 1996, to him saying,

“This Congregation for the Causes of Saints has received your letter of 26th August last in which you have asked for information regarding Saint Thomas’ presence in India. We have not found in our Archives the letter supposedly written by this Congregation on 13th November 1952, of which you speak, because of a lack of more precise data (Diocese, destination, etc.).[2] Nor do we have other data regarding Saint Thomas since this Archive was begun in 1588. His life is the object of the research of historians which is not the particular competence of this Congregation.”

No wonder Pope Benedict categorically said Thomas had never visited India!

The Arulappa-Acharya Paul show

Late Dr. Arulappa, former Archbishop of Mylapore, played a vital role in keeping the Thomas story alive despite being fooled by one Acharya Paul (formerly Ganesh Iyer), a Srirangam based Brahmin who converted to Christianity and became a Bible preacher. He claimed to have obtained a Doctorate from Benaras Hindu University and presented himself as Dr. John Ganesh, professor of philosophy and comparative religions. He met a Catholic priest, Father Michael, of Tamil Ilakkiya Kazhagam (Tamil Literary Forum) and impressed him with his articulation on the Bible and Christianity. Father Michael took him to Father Mariadas of Srivilliputhur, who in turn introduced him to Archbishop Arulappa.

Arulappa, who wanted to create some sort of “proof” for Thomas and his influence on Thiruvalluvar, was taken aback by the impressive presentation of John Ganesh and committed to finance his “research” to establish the Thomas story as authentic. Between 1975 and 1980, John Ganesh got Rs. 14 lakhs from Arulappa in the name of research. Realising very late that he had been taken for a ride, Arulappa made a police complaint and John Ganesh was arrested on April 29, 1980, after due investigations. Though the Madras High Court awarded him ten month rigorous imprisonment, he got away with just 59 days remand period due to the compromise petition filed by Arulappa.

Senior journalist K.P. Sunil wrote this full story under the title “Hoax!” in The Illustrated Weekly of India, April 26 – May 2, 1987, Bombay. He concluded:

“What is even more curious is that even as criminal proceedings against Iyer were in progress in the magistrate’s court, a civil suit for a compromise had been filed in the Madras high court. The compromise decree was taken up immediately after the conclusion of the criminal case. Since Iyer had admitted the offence, his jail term was reduced to a mere two months imprisonment. And since he had already served 59 days of remand, this period was adjusted against the sentence.

“In other words, Iyer, who had defrauded the archbishop to the tune of about Rs. 14 lakhs, was let off without any further punishment. He was ordered to forfeit all claim on the money given to him by the archbishop. Accordingly, the ornaments and money seized from him by the police were returned to the archbishop. As part of the compromise, Iyer was allowed to retain the large bungalow he had purchased with the archbishop’s money….

“… And the case, though officially closed, remains in many minds, an unsolved mystery.”

Exit John Ganesh, enter Deivanayagam

As Dr. Arulappa’s attempt to establish the Thomas story was marred in legal tangles, the Catholic Diocese took the services of a low profile evangelist named Deivanayagam and encouraged him to spread the Thomas canard. While the court battle was going on between Arulappa and Acharya Paul (John Ganesh), Deivanayagam was busy “researching” the history of Thomas.

In 1985-86, he had authored a book titled, Viviliyam, Thirukkural, Saiva Siddantham – Oppu Aayvu, wherein he attempted to conclude that Thiruvalluvar was a Christian and a disciple of the mythical St. Thomas, and that most of the Saiva Siddantha and the vivid knowledge found in Thirukkural were nothing but the sayings of the Bible! To achieve this devious objective, he distorted and misinterpreted verses of the Kural and Shaivite philosophical works. The book was published by the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Adyar, Madras and a “Doctorate” was conferred on him by the University of Madras, which goes to confirm the unholy Dravidian-Christian nexus!

Senior Journalist R.S. Narayanaswami noted, “Justice Krishnaswami Reddiar strongly criticised the modern tendency of publishing trash in the name of research. He said research must have an aim, a purpose, to get at the truth. Research was not meant to find evidence to denigrate an ancient faith. Research should not start with pre-conclusions or prejudices. Here the author’s motive was to show the superiority of Christianity. Religion was based not only on facts but also on faith and beliefs. The book had hurt Hindu beliefs. Justice Krishnaswami Reddiar quoted from the works of Sita Ram Goel and Ishwar Sharan and asserted that the visit of St. Thomas to India was a myth. He wondered how such a book could be published by [the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Adyar, Madras,] set up by the Government. It was a crime that such a book had been written and published and awarded a doctorate degree [by the University of Madras,] he said.” (Ref: https://wp.me/pLasb-aB)

Since then Deivanayagam has been writing and publishing many books, all offensive against Hinduism.

Pope’s shocker results in film production!

As the Catholic Diocese was devising other strategies, Pope Benedict’s statement “St. Thomas never visited India” fell on its head like lightning. This resounding statement from the Papacy, which shocked the Catholic community, shook the very foundations of Christianity in South India! As the Papacy didn’t bother to listen to the Indian Catholic community, the Madras and Cochin Bishops met in Cochin, Kerala, during the second week of June 2008, to find out ways and means of re-establishing the history of the so-called St. Thomas.

As a step in that direction, the Archdiocese of Santhome, Madras, decided to produce a feature film on the mythical St. Thomas, at a cost of Rs. 50 crores, under the banner of the St. Thomas Apostle of India Trust; the office bearers included Archbishop A.M. Chinappa, Deputy Archbishop Lawrence Pius, Treasurer of the Diocese Ernest Paul and Script Writer Paulraj Lourdusamy.


Tamil Nadu CM Karunanidhi & San Thome Bishops: Promoting the St. Thomas tale at the expense of Indian history.


The movie will present the life and times of the mythical St. Thomas in South India in general and Madras in particular. It will have supposedly important events like the alleged meeting between Thomas and Tamil sage Thiruvalluvar, establishment of Santhome Cathedral and alleged killing of Thomas by a Brahmin priest. As confirmation of the unholy Dravidian-Christian nexus, the Hon’ble Chief Minister Karunanidhi inaugurated this movie-magnum on the mythical St. Thomas!

In his speech, the Chief Minister did not mention the alleged meeting between Thomas and Thiruvalluvar. Karunanidhi, being a Tamil scholar and well versed with Tamil literary works, refrained from talking about the connection between the Bible and Thirukkural or Thomas and Thiruvalluvar, thus confirming that the “Thomas story” is an absolute falsehood!

But true to his policy of minority appeasement and majority provocation, he waxed eloquent on the supposed killing of Thomas by a Brahmin and went on to say that the particular scene alone would be enough for the success of the movie, though the church does not have an iota of proof of this alleged murder! The Chief Minister, a well-known expert on Thirukkural, felt it unimportant to ascertain the truth of the so-called meeting between Thomas and Thiruvalluvar. He knows well that questioning the historicity of Thomas will cost him votes, unlike questioning the historicity of Rama or Krishna!

After the much touted inauguration, there has been no information about the film. It is not clear if the Diocese has shelved the idea of producing the film on mythical Thomas (Ref: https://wp.me/pLasb-5P9).


Mu. Deivanayagam


Thamizhar Samayam or Thoma Kiruththuvam (Tamil Religion or Thomas Christianity)

Close on the heels of the inauguration function, Deivanayagam organized a four-day meet titled “Thamizhar Samayam – Muthal Ulaka Maanaadu” from August 14-17, 2008, under the aegis of Dravida Anmeega Iyakkam (Movement of Dravidian Spiritualism), a movement started by him to spread the canard called “Thomas Christianity” in the name of “Adi Christhuvam” (Early Christianity). The event was backed by the Mylapore Archdiocese which hosted the event in its own premises in Santhome near Mylapore.

Here, the following blasphemous distortions were projected as researched facts:

  • Adi Christhuvam (early Christianity), promulgated and established in Tamil Nadu by St. Thomas, is the original religion of the Tamils.
  • The Aryan invaders distorted Thomas Christianity and conceived new concepts called Shaivism and Vaishnavism and hence they must be treated as sub-sects of Thomas Christianity.
  • The holy trinity of Father-Son-Holy Spirit is denoted by Shiva-Muruga-Shakti and the same is also denoted by Brahma-Vishnu-Rudra.
  • The “holy trinity” concept has beautified Indian religions. The “Holy Spirit-Father” combination can be identified with “Ardhanarisvarar” and “Sankaranarayanar” formations.
  • St Thomas’s teachings abound in Thirukkural and Sage Thiruvalluvar was a disciple of St Thomas.

Due to the timely posting of an article titled, “St. Thomas who taught Tamils to think” by famous Tamil writer and novelist Jeyamohan in his blog www.jeyamohan.in and timely action by www.tamilhindu.com and some individual Hindu activists, Deivanayagam tasted defeat and his four-day meet ended in miserable failure. Later he released a book titled Thiruneeraa, Siluvaiya? (Sacred Ash, Or, The Cross?), which piled on fresh distortions:

  • The Hindu practice of applying sacred ash on the forehead actually started from Ash Wednesday the first day of the Lent Penance. The sacred ash comprises within it all the three stages of ‘Death, Resurrection & Pardon due to the fact that the ash cannot be destroyed, as the resurrected body cannot be destroyed.
  • When Vaishnavism got separated from Shaivism, the style of applying sacred ash was changed from horizontal pattern to vertical pattern.
  •  Shiva is supposed to have given his left half to Shakti. If that left half is worshipped as woman, it becomes Shaivism and if the same is worshipped as man it becomes Vaishnavism.
  •  Thiruneetru Pathigam, a collection of Shaivite Hymns sung by Sage Thirugnaana Sambandhar comprises a number of messages of Christianity.
  • All Shaivite literatures namely Thirumurai, Thevaram, Thiruvasagam and Thirupathigam do not talk about the four Vedas namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva; as they carry the messages of Christ, the Bible is the only Veda.

Hindu Munnani president Ramagopalan filed a complaint with the then Commissioner of Police in November 2008, but the Tamil Nadu Police has so far not taken any action against Deivanayagam. Hindu Munnani failed to pursue the matter further despite Deivanayagam slapping a legal notice against it.

The Sri Lankan connection

Late last month, Deivanayagam proclaimed in an interview to Tamil biweekly Nakkeeran that he and his supporters would storm into the Kapaleeswarar Temple and capture it, as it was constructed on the ruins of a church, which allegedly stood at the site centuries ago! As a first step, he has organized a “hunger strike” with hand-picked supporters on May 2, 2010. His further plans include:

  • May 10 – 20: workshop for volunteers to involve them in the forthcoming protest.
  • May 23: March from Thiruvalluvar Temple, Mylapore, to Santhome Basilica and Kapaleeswarar Temple; public meeting near temple.
  • June 13: Storming and entering sanctum sanctorum of Kapaleeswarar Temple and Santhome Church to perform pujas and conduct prayers.

Deivanayagam claims to have conducted a meeting uniting three categories of people namely, Tamil-Hindus who have got liberated from enslaving Brahminical thoughts, Tamil-Hindus who have got liberated from enslaving European Christian thoughts, and Tamil-Hindus who follow atheism, on December 27, 2009, under the aegis of Federation of All Self-Respecting Tamils. This was followed by a meeting on February 27, 2010, wherein they resolved to liberate Kapaleeswarar Temple from Brahmin priests through various agitations.

Deivanayagam claims the present Santhome Church was originally a Shiva temple built on the grave of St. Thomas and that the present Kapaleeswara Temple was originally a church! The inclusion of Santhome Church in the protest march and storming entry agitation is just a ploy to show he is also against the Church. He pretends he is not a Christian and that he practices only “Tamil Religion” (Thamizh Samayam, or, Thomas Christianity). But the fact remains that the Mylapore Archdiocese (present head Archbishop Chinnappa) has stood solidly behind all his activities for more than 30 years. The very fact that he is able to peddle nonsensical theories, author books on the same, and print and publish them without any known sources of income for over three decades confirms that the Catholic Church is backing him.

On March 27, 2010, he wrote to the Chief Minister requesting him to liberate Kapaleeswarar Temple from Brahmin priests which would have special significance to the World Classical Tamil Conference. Copies were marked to Minister and Commissioner of HR & CE Department. The same day, he shot off letters to Archbishop of Mylapore and Head Priest of Kapaleeswarar Temple conveying his plans to storm both Santhome Basilica and the temple.

On April 2, he wrote to Tamil Nadu BJP President Pon. Radhakrishnan of his plans to storm the temple.

On April 18, he wrote to the Chief Minister reminding him of his previous letter and demands. He urged the Chief Minister to appoint unbiased scholars as interlocutors to conduct his proposed dialogues with the Church and Temple authorities. Copies were marked to Mylapore Archbishop, Temple’s Head Priest, HR & CE Department and others.

On April 16, he wrote to the Commissioner of Police requesting permission to for a hunger strike near Rajarathinam Stadium on May 2, which was permitted. Previously, when he sought to conduct a demonstration on April 14, against the Brahmin community, the police refused permission citing law and order problems.

On April 22, he again wrote to the archbishop and temple’s head priest that he had informed the chief minister and other authorities of his plan of action. He mentioned that the Archbishop of Mylapore had agreed for talks and asked the Head Priest to reply at the earliest.

As mentioned in the police complaint lodged by Hindu activists on May 3, 2010, Deivanayagam has a notorious track record of virulent anti-Hindu activities for over 30 years. Deivanayagam takes advantage of the tolerance shown by Hindus, who have also made the mistake of ignoring him for many years. The hunger strike conducted by him and Seeman indicates a new trend – the development of an unholy nexus between Christianity and Tamil Chauvinism. This combination, in the absence of the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, will seek to destabilize society by playing “caste-cards” and “Tamil-cards”, both aimed at Hindus.

As observed by Radha Rajan, editor of Vigil Online, “This new convergence of interest between Deivanayagam and the violent Tamil extremists like Seeman is a new trend and is headed only in this direction:

  • The Sri Lankan Tamil issue is for now over. The extermination of the LTTE has denied the violent Tamil extremists in TN all avenues for creative self-expression and has brought their political career to an abrupt end. The Tamil extremists in TN and Sri Lanka in turn play the roles of engine and coach. Whenever the LTTE found the going tough for them in Sri Lanka they hitched themselves to the ideological engine in TN to keep themselves going. Whenever the LTTE gained in strength in Sri Lanka, the Tamil extremists in TN hitched themselves to the militarily powerful LTTE engine. It has been a mutually profitable association for both sides.
  • The Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in the US, Canada and Europe funded the extremists in both countries generously as did all Church denominations in Sri Lanka, America and Europe. Now that the Tamil Diaspora is scattered in North America and Europe and the TN extremists have been deprived of their military might and the LTTE decimated in Sri Lanka, one leg of the Tamil tripod – LTTE, TN Tamil extremists and the Tamil Diaspora – has been sawed off. The TN leg is shaking, while the Diaspora leg even if it is strong in itself, cannot support the tripod alone.
  • The idea is to strengthen the shaking TN leg and inject blood into a lifeless limb. The only way to keep the idea of the Christian state of Tamil Eelam alive is to keep the pot boiling in TN – keep this violent constituency united on an issue and keep them from being scattered. If there is one thing all Dravidians have in common, it is their congenital anti-Hindu hatred. Karunanidhi may find Tamil extremism in TN courts difficult to explain to judges here and in Delhi, but he can point the blood-thirsty ghouls in the direction of TN’s Hindus to turn them away from the police and the government.
  • So, in the guise of Tamil pride, the violent Seeman, Thol Thirumalvalavan, Pazha Nedumaran and other erstwhile LTTE acolytes are now being actively courted by Christian Tamil priests to take up the cause of demanding that all castes be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of all TN temples to offer poojas.
  • TN’s Hindu organizations have long disappeared from public life and the field is empty of all protest and challenge. The TN government and the Church have nothing to lose and everything to gain by pointing this violent group in the direction of Hindus and Hindu temples.
  • They stand to gain if the Dravidian parties abjure separatism and seek a huge bite in the Delhi pie; they stand equally to gain if the church succeeds in realizing the Christian state of Tamil Eelam from out of TN and the north and east of Sri Lanka. They may even concede their own Pakistan in Amparai if the Christian state of Eelam comes into being.”
  • When the Eelam War-IV was at its peak and LTTE was getting decimated, Theivanayagam planned a demonstration at Memorial Hall in Chennai on April 7, 2009, in the name of “Thamizh Eezham Vendi Thamizhar Samaya Maanaadu” (Tamil Religious Conference Demanding Tamil Eelam). But police refused permission. In the literatures prepared for the conference, he claimed:
  • Sri Lanka connected with Tamil Nadu was a part of Kumari Kandam (Continent of Kumari aka Lemuria) before it was separated by Tsunami.
  • Eelam Tamils are original inhabitants of Sri Lanka; Sinhalese migrated from India during the time of Emperor Ashoka; the Tamil indentured labourers were sent by British government from India
  • Sinhala Buddhists are persecuting Eelam Tamils and the birth of Tamil Eelam is the only solution.
  • Tamil Eelam and Tamil Nadu will together constitute Tamil Nation via Thomas Christianity, which is the religion of Tamils.

This will help readers to understand the association of Tamil chauvinist and LTTE supporter Seeman with Christian Deivanayagam. We learn that Pazha Nedumaran, president, Tamil Nationalist Movement, and a known LTTE supporter, pulled out from participating in the event at the last minute.

Conclusion

Tamil Hindus must understand that the Church is frustrated at the decimation of LTTE and would get back with more vigour and venom, applying different strategies. Tamil Hindus are certainly in for tougher and troubled times. The onus lies on the various Hindu organizations to rise to the occasion and thwart all attempts made by alien and chauvinistic forces.

Hindus missed the opportunity first when Arulappa and Acharya Paul were fighting in court; they missed a second chance when Dharmapuram Adheenam demolished the perverted distortions of Deivanayagam; they missed a third opportunity when Deivanayagam organized a four-day conference hosted by Mylapore Archdiocese.

Here is yet another chance, which must be utilized at any cost. Deivanayagam’s theories are not only anti-Hindu but also anti-national. Lumpen elements like Deivanayagam and Seeman are a serious threat to communal harmony and national integration. Criminal complaints have to be registered demanding immediate police action. His premises must be raided, blasphemous books and materials confiscated, and financial sources screened.

The role played by the Catholic Church in backing him must be investigated. Simultaneously, watertight legal cases have to be filed to expose their nefarious activities and to assert the real identity and true history, and safeguard our temples and culture. Conferences and public meetings must be organized throughout the state to tell people the true story of Mylapore and the sham story of Santhome.

This is a perfect opportunity to demolish the so-called Thomas story once and for all![3]


1. This name is spelled variously Deivanayakam, Deivanayagam, or with a Sri Lankan accent as Theivanayagam.

2. On 13 November 1952 the Vatican sent a letter to the Christians of Kerala stating that the alleged landing of St. Thomas at Muziris (Kodungallur) was unverified. The Vatican chose not to confirm the sending of this letter to Ishwar Sharan in 1996 on the disingenuous grounds that he had not supplied them with enough information to locate it in their archives.

3. Originally published under the title “Mythical Thomas, devious Theivanayagam, conniving Church” on the Vijayavani website in three parts on May 13, 14 & 15, 2010.

› The late B.R. Haran was a Tamil-language senior journalist in Chennai. 

Gallery

“Film will legitimize destruction of the original temple,” says Dr. Subramanian Swamy

This gallery contains 5 photos.

“Around the mid sixteenth century, two anti-Hindu brutalities were committed by foreigners. The first was the demolition of the Sri Rama Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya by an agent of the invading plundering Babar and the second was the destruction of the hoary Shiva … Continue reading

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Kapaleeswara Temple Memorial Plaque – Ishwar Sharan


This 4 ft. x 15 ft. high marble plaque was erected on the eastern gopuram wall in the present Kapaleeswara Temple by eminent citizens of Chennai led by Vidwan Arunai Vadivel Mudaliar in 1990.


Kapali Temple Memorial Plaque


The section “Mylapore’s Ancient Past” reads:

Ptolemy the Greek geographer has referred to Mylapore in his books as ‘Maillarpha’, a well known seaport town with a flourishing trade. Saint Thiruvalluvar, the celebrated author of Thirukkural, the world famous ethical treatise, lived in Mylapore nearly 2000 years ago.

The Shaivite saints of the 7th century, Saint Sambandar and Saint Appar, have sung about this shrine in their hymns. St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus, is reported to have visited Mylapore in the 2nd century (sic) AD.

Mylapore fell into the hands of the Portuguese in 1566, when the temple suffered demolition. The present temple was rebuilt about 300 years ago. There are some fragmentary inscriptions from the old temple, still found in the present shrine and in St. Thomas Cathedral.

We observe that the date for the alleged visit if St. Thomas to Mylapore is wrong. It should read 1st century AD. But the entry is not required and should be removed as Pope Benedict has categorically stated that St. Thomas did not visit South India. The entry on this memorial plaque is misleading and gives a wrong impression to visitors.

The same wrong information about St. Thomas is repeated on the Arulmigu Kapaleeswara Temple website.

We have brought this matter to the attention of the Kapaleeswara Temple executive officer a number of times. He ignores our mail and does not reply to us.

When Hindu temple authorities themselves promote the fiction that St. Thomas visited Mylapore, we cannot expect the San Thome Church authorities to do differently.

The Kapaleeswara Temple executive officers can be contacted at 044-24641670 or 044-24611356



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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples


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

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

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

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

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

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


St. Peter by Andrea Vanni


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

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

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

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

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


Nasrani menorah


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

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

Briefly, if it is true that the apostle Thomas came to India, then the following information furnished by the Acts of Thomas is also true:

• Thomas was an antisocial character;
• Jesus was a slave trader;
• Thomas was Jesus’s twin brother, implying that the four canonical Gospels are   unreliable sources which have concealed a crucial fact, viz. that Jesus was not God’s Only Begotten Son. In fact, Jesus and Thomas were God’s Twin-born Sons. In other words, accepting the Thomas legend as history is equivalent to exploding the doctrinal foundation of Christianity.

The original Christian doctrine on equality has been expressed by St. Paul, who opposed attempts by slaves to free themselves because “we have all been freed in Christ” and that should be enough. St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon is actually a covering note which he sent along with a runaway slave whom he returned to the legal owner, the Christian convert Philemon.

For St. Paul on slavery see Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-25 & 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and Philemon. See also 1 Peter 2:18-25, which begins: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.

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


Slave trade


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

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