Tag Archives: kapaleeswara temple

Sri Kapaleeswara Temple: Ancient and enduring landmark – Lakshmi Venkatraman


“In 1516 Mylapore was under the control of the Portuguese, who had demolished the Kapaleeswarar Temple and built their fort on the spot. … Remains such as pillars, inscriptions and sculptures were found during an archaeological excavation in the Santhome Cathedral in 1923 conducted by the ASI.” – Lakshmi Venkatraman


Kapaleeswara Temple Raj Gopuram


Increase in population and commercial activities has not changed the status of Kapaleeswarar Temple as the epicentre of the cultural and religious life of Mylapore and its neighbourhood.

Mylapore, in fact, has always been an important place, being one of the 32 holy centres dedicated to Lord Shiva in Thondainadu, comprising the present day districts of Chennai, Kanchipuram and Chinglepet. Now the residents of Mylapore are looking forward to the mahakumbhabhishekham scheduled for August 30, [2004]. The temple has been spruced up and the rajagopuram looks radiant painted in five bright colours. Tamil literature from as early as the sixth century A.D. mentions Mylapore and several poets and authors have written specifically on the temple and Lord Kapaleeswarar and His consort Karpagavalli.

Brahmasirachethamoorthy is one of the forms of Lord Shiva. He got the name after plucking the fifth head of Brahma when the Lord of Creation began considering himself equal to Shiva as he too had five heads. As Siva carried the skull or the kapala He was known as Kapali and the place He dwelt in became Kapaleeswaram. Saint Thirugnanasambandar mentions Kapaleeswaram in his verses. Another reason given for the name is that this temple belonged to the Kapalikas, members of a branch of Shaivism. It is believed that Kapalikas lived in Mylapore and Thiruvottriyur in ancient times.


Temple pillars in San Thome Cathedral Museum


The present temple is believed to have been built during the 16th century and before that it was near the Santhome Beach. It is believed that the old temple went under the sea during a deluge [in fact the temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and the rubble thrown into the sea–Ed]. Remains such as pillars, inscriptions and sculptures were found during an archaeological excavation in the Santhome Cathedral in 1923 conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India. The inscriptions including one by Raja Raja Chola I also reveal this fact. One of the Thiruppugazh verses of Saint Arunagirinathar (1540 AD) on Lord Singaravelar in this temple also refers to this temple’s proximity to the sea.

The verses of Saint Thirugnanasambandar and Thirumazhisai Azhwar also establish this fact.

In 1516, Mylapore was under the control of the Portuguese, who had demolished the temple and built their fort on the spot.

Some scholars also hold that the old temple was in the same place as the present one and that the latter was rebuilt. The designs of the pillars are in the Vijayanagar style of 16th and 17th centuries AD. The legend connected with the temple goes thus:

Once in Mount Kailash when Lord Siva was giving Gnanopadesam to Goddess Parvati she was distracted by the beauty of a peacock.

The Lord got angry and cursed her to be born as a peacock. When she pleaded for pardon, Shiva said He would join her when the “peacock” worshipped a Sivalingam. After a long period of penance, the peacock found a Shiva lingam under a Punnai tree and worshipped the Lord offering flowers it carried in its beak. The Lord appeared on the scene and the divine couple reunited.


Arulmigu Kapaleeswara Temple


The structure

The Kapaleeswarar Temple follows the general plan of a Shiva temple. The main entrance or the 125-ft tall rajagopuram, built around 1902, faces east. The gopuram facing west next to which is the temple tank is quite small.

The shrine of Lord Kapali faces west against the normal practice of facing east. Of the five faces of Lord Shiva the one facing west is known as Sathyojatham.

On the northern wall of the sanctum sanctorum is the small shrine dedicated to Goddess Durga. On the back wall is the image of Lingodbhava. Opposite to this are arranged images of the sixty-three Nayanmars.

On the southern wall is the shrine of Dakshinamoorthy. The shrine of Karpagavalli, also known as Karpagambal, faces south. Like the heavenly celestial Karpaka tree that grants boons, the Goddess, it is believed, is gracious in answering the prayers of devotees. Karpagavalli worshipping Her lord in the form of a peacock is in a separate shrine on the northern prakaram adjacent to the sthala vriksham, Punnai.

Other important shrines in this temple are that of Narthana Vinayakar in front of the rajagopuram, Saneeswarar on the eastern prakaram and the Navagraha shrine, which is of a more recent origin.


Kapaleeswara Temple Tank


Temple tank

The temple tank with a Neerazhi Mandapam in the middle is on the western side, which is believed to have been built by Mayilai Muthaiappa Mudaliar in the 16th century. The brimming tank with lotus blooms is an enchanting sight to behold. Now, of course because of the drought, it is dry.

However, with kumbabhishekam round the corner, water is being pumped into the tank. The steps were built during the early 1900s. On the western bank near the eight-pillar mandapam is the image of Jyeshta Devi, believed to belong to the earlier temple and was from seventh century AD. There are a few stories regarding this tank. One of them has it that the place belonged to the fakirs and when they were out of town, a Brahmin minister of the Nawab got this tank dug. When the fakirs complained later to the Nawab, he said that both Hindus and Muslims could use it. Another story says that there was a Muslim burial ground. The Nawab gave permission to Muslims to use the tank on the 10th day of Muharram. According to a decree by the Madras High Court, if Muharram and the temple festival fall on the same day, the first preference should be given to Muslims. This practice is continued even today.


Thirvalluvar and Vasuki at the Arubathu Moovar Thiruvizha festival in Mylapore.


Festivals

Several festivals are conducted during the year in the Kapali Temple. Thirugnanasambandar’s Poompavai Padikam (7th century AD) discusses the festivals in ten verses. Not all of them may be held now but many are being held on a weekly, monthly and annual basis, drawing considerable crowd.

The annual Brahmotsavam is celebrated for 10 days and is held during March-April (Panguni) ending with the wedding of the Lord and the Goddess on the day of star Uthram. Devotees across Chennai make it a point to attend the festival, especially Adikaranandi on the third day, Vrishabha Vahana on the fifth, the chariot on the seventh and Arupathumoovar on the eighth. — The Hindu, 27 August 2004


Kapaleeswara Temple tank and gopuram (1906)


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.


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. 

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


“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 temple by the invading Portuguese barbarians. The Hindu society was not prepared for these uncivilised hordes, and hence remained mute witness to the destruction and sacrilege.’ – Dr Subramanian Swamy


Dr. Subramanian Swamy


The recent announcement that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr. Karunanidhi will patronize screening of the mega budget movie on Saint Thomas and his fictitious missionary activities in the first century in Tamil Nadu, read with the Union Government’s decision to cancel the allotment of forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board intended for creating facilities for housing and parking Hindu tirth yatris, are a part of the pernicious and sinister attempt to put the Hindus under siege, about which I have been warning the nation for the last three years. See my book: Hindus Under Siege: The Way Out

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 temple by the invading Portuguese barbarians. The Hindu society was not prepared for these uncivilised hordes, and hence remained mute witness to the destruction and sacrilege.


Sonia-G & Karunanidhi


But no more. The Hindu has now stood up. Hence there is now a Ramjanmabhoomi movement in the country with a determination to re-build the temple. The Karunanidhi-Sonia duo to demolish the Rama Setu by implementing the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project was challenged, and despite the duo being in power in Chennai and Delhi, the duo was unable to marshal arguments in the Supreme Court. The Hindus carried the day and the project has gone back to the drawing
board.

I therefore on behalf of Hindus and those others who proudly acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus, warn this duo to desist from trying to patronize the falsification of history about the presence in Tamil Nadu of Saint Thomas, to legitimize the Portuguese destruction of the Shiva Temple to build the Santhome Church. The Church will have to go, and the Kapaleeshwara Temple re-built on that site. Hindus will do it with the help of sane and civilized Christians if possible, without them if necessary, and despite them if forced. When 83 percent Hindus unite, let those who are seeking to debase Hindu icons by bogus history realize that a religious tsunami will wash them away.


 

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