Tag Archives: madras-mylapore archdiocese

St. Thomas Mount closed to public – HinduPost Staff


“The Catholic Church owns the largest portion of Bharat’s non-agricultural land. … The Catholic Church acts like a state within a state in the Union of Bharat yet gives its feudal allegiance to the Pope in Rome!” – HinduPost Staff


Big Mount

A tweet series on popular St. Thomas Mount in Chennai caught social media’s attention recently. This mount is a beautiful hill located close to Chennai international airport. Many Christians in Bharat believe the myth that Thomas the Apostle stayed and was “martyred” on this hill, although researchers and scholars have found no evidence to back this claim. The St. Thomas Garrison Church is located at the bottom of this hill. A shrine dedicated to Mary was built in 1523 on top of the mount, by invading Portuguese colonials. A flight of 160 steps leads up to the summit of the mount.

The tweet series mentioned that of late the shrine management has started restricting people who wish to come to the hill for activities other than praying; boards have been put up banning activities like walking, jogging, exercising etc on the hill.

St Doink Tweets

As mentioned in the tweet series, this board restricting entry has been put at the foot of the hill which clearly says morning and evening exercises are “banned” on the hill :

Catholic Church Sign Board

Mr. G. Christuraj, who is the parish priest and rector at St. Thomas Mount National Shrine about this issue. We asked him if such boards have indeed been put aimed at banning the usual activities of residents / visitors other than praying, and if the entire hill is owned by the shrine management.

He confirmed that boards have been put up at both gates at the bottom of the hill to prevent morning / evening walking and exercises. The reason he gave is that people were misusing the “privilege” granted by the Church management and disturbing the prayer activities. He said that people can still access the hill for walking, jogging, exercises on the following conditions:

1. They should be “appropriately dressed”.

2. They should avoid coming during Church prayer times (morning, noon and evening).

3. They cannot come right to the top where the shrine is located unless they wish to pray.

Mr. Christuraj claimed that the entire hill is owned by the Archdiocese of Madras—Mylapore, which comes under the Roman Catholic Church of India. It was originally “owned” by Portuguese missionaries who transferred control to the Church. He also added that locals themselves have expressed concern that some were using the hill as a “lovers park”, and hence the management had decided to take this step. He also confirmed that the Army’s OTA (Officers Training Academy) too uses the hill at times (around once a month) but that is done with permission of the Church management.

But the signage boards clearly mention “banned” and hence, going by the above conversation with Mr. Christuraj, the text on the signage boards needs to be corrected—as walking is not “banned” but “restricted”. Mr. Christuraj’s claim the entire hill is owned by the Catholic Church also needs to be probed.

Catholic Church: Largest non-agricultural land owner in Bharat

It is surprising that large pieces of land are still under the exclusive control of various churches in Bharat, which were allotted to them as grants by British and other invaders. Unfortunately, these parts of land were not nationalized after independence. In various states, land reforms were effected which aimed at distributing the land evenly but it seems that land owned by churches was not touched. There are very few details available on the internet and there is hardly any transparency in information regarding minute details of land owned by various Christian organizations and churches. As per this article written in 2014, Catholic Church owns the largest portion of Bharat’s non-agricultural land. Note, this does not include the land holdings of the Protestant Churches and other Christian sects.

According to the census of 2011, official records state Christian population as approximately 27.8 million, constituting 2.3 percent of total Bharat’s population. So organizations that control just 2.3% of population own the largest portion of land after government in this country. How much more skewed can the allocation of this most valuable resource be?

In the past, Catholic groups have expressed concerns and asked for a white paper on land dealings by the Church bishops and related powerful people, as this news report suggests. The Catholic Church in Bharat acts like a state within a state in the Union of Bharat yet gives its feudal allegiance to the Pope in Rome. Contrast this to the way many large Hindu temples are controlled by the Government, donations offered by devotees siphoned off, and temple lands sold / leased for a pittance or encroached by political-criminal mafias.

While the Church and its organizations exercise absolute control over land allotted to it by old colonial masters, pastors attempting conversions to Christianity have dared to enter holy Hindu lands like sacred Tirumala hills.

The Church in Bharat should seriously consider giving up a large chunk of its humongous land holdings, much of it in prime urban areas, which was bequeathed to it by European colonials who captured the same from natives. This land should be redistributed to benefit local communities. Or the Government has to take steps to nationalize this land bank currently under Church control, and use the same in a transparent manner for the nation’s development. – HinduPost, 16 September 2016

Portuguese church on St. Thomas Mount


Jude Sannith and the Times of India: Telling lies for St. Thomas – Koenraad Elst


In Catholic universities in Europe, the myth of the apostle Thomas going to India is no longer taught as history, but in India it is still considered useful. Even many vocal “secularists” who attack the Hindus for “relying on myth” in the Ayodhya affair, off-hand profess their belief in the Thomas myth. The important point is that Thomas can be upheld as a martyr and the Brahmins decried as fanatics. – Dr. Koenraad Elst


Times of India: When Mylapore saw a Miracle: 20 August 2011

Jude Sannith S.


When Mylapore saw a miracle – Jude Sannith

Overcome with awe at the aura that surrounds the National Shrine of St. Thomas Basilica at Santhome, you might tend to overlook a narrow lane that lies adjacent to the southern compound wall of the cathedral that leads you towards the seashore. A walk down this lane takes you to what seems to be a coastal hamlet that lies in the midst of what seems to be a tall weathered wooden pole. On looking back, the tall spire of the cathedral is almost hidden by the trees in the vicinity—it is the wooden structure that occupies pride of place and rightly so. After all, the very foundation of the Christian faith in the city owes its existence to the wooden pole and the legend behind it.


Tom's pole on beachPlaque on the St. Thomas Pole


“According to the legend, shortly after St. Thomas arrived in India in 52 AD, a large wooden log was carried downstream by a river in Mylapore, to lodge itself by the river’s mouth and result in a flood. Try as hard they might, the king’s men failed to remove the log, which prompted the king to call on a certain hermit who lived in the area and was believed to perform miracles. Along came St. Thomas with a blessed girdle that was given to him by Mother Mary (the mother of Jesus Christ),” narrates Fr. S. Kanickairaj, the rector and parish priest of the National Shrine of St. Thomas Basilica, as he retraces the legend, “He prayed for a while, and tied the girdle to the log. he heaved. With the first try, the log was removed and the river flowed into the ocean. St. Thomas then took a portion of the log and planted it, pointing towards the heavens, stating that the sea would never cross the pole.” The legend, according to Fr. Kanickairaj goes on relate how the pleased king, as a sign of gratitude, offered Mylapore and its surrounding areas to the saint, who then constructed a small chapel near the sea, which today (after a series of renovations) is the majestic Neo-Gothic-styled National Shrine of St Thomas Basilica—a development of what was perhaps the very first church in the city. “Many believe that the reason that Santhome escaped the Tsunami of 2004 is simply the existence of the pole which continues to stand upright today,” he says. “The St. Thomas Pole; in gratitude to God for saving Santhome from Tsunami 2004,”its inscription declares.

One of only three churches to be constructed over the tomb of an apostle (the other two being St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain), the National Shrine of St Thomas Basilica has all the makings of a site that abounds in religious significance. “The body of St. Thomas was interred here until the 12th century before the papacy decided to ship his remains back home,” explains Fr. Kanickairaj. The Cathedral Museum houses a tiny relic of the apostle with the spear that brought his end. In the same museum, one can find inscriptions in Portuguese about St. Thomas’ journeys in the city and his early ministry. Murals of the miracle by the river and rock carvings of King Gondophares (of the Indo-Parthian kingdom who St. Thomas preached to in North India) are also present. Just below the museum is the crypt where the body of St. Thomas was interred. “The site has miraculous powers even today, centuries after the saint died,” claims Fr. Kanickairaj. When the Portuguese wrested control in erstwhile Madras, they reconstructed St. Thomas’ small shrine into the original cathedral (whose design is displayed in the museum), before the English constructed the present Neo-Gothic basilica in 1896.

Despite the renovations that it has seen, there’s no denying that the National Shrine of St. Thomas Basilica was once the first church to be established in the city, when the apostle constructed a small shrine in the landed that the king offered to him. “A few more churches were built-in the areas around the shrine,” explains Fr. Kanickairaj, “Together, these churches were the first that the city saw.” The miracle-working power of St. Thomas—a man who walked with Jesus Christ has allured visitors from all over the world. Some of the more notable visits include Pope John Paul II who paid a visit to India in 1986 and prayed at the tomb of St. Thomas, and King Albert and Queen Paolo of Belgium who visited the city in 2008.

Today, the Basilica serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore – its tall, white spire a perfect indicator that it is indeed one of the most majestic religious sites in the city. The faithful throng the basilica, some of them offering intercessory prayers at the crypt while the others meditate in the peaceful confines of the church’s altar.” The church transcends the manmade boundaries of religion,” Fr. Kanickairaj says,”Simply put, it is faith that brings people to the basilica. In fact people of all religious faiths throng the shrine, imploring St. Thomas to work miracles in their lives.” – Times of India, Chennai, August 20, 2011


Dr. Koenraad Elst


Telling lies for St. Thomas – Koenraad Elst

According to Christian leaders in India, the apostle Thomas came to India in 52 AD, founded the Syrian Christian Church, and was killed by the fanatical Brahmins in 72 AD. Near the site of his martyrdom, the St. Thomas Church was built. In fact this apostle never came to India. The Christian community in South India was founded by a merchant called Knai Thoma or Thomas of Cana in 345 AD—a name which readily explains the Thomas legend. He led four hundred refugees who fled persecution in Persia and were given asylum by the Hindu authorities.

In Catholic universities in Europe, the myth of the apostle Thomas going to India is no longer taught as history, but in India it is still considered useful. Even many vocal “secularists” who attack the Hindus for “relying on myth” in the Ayodhya affair, off-hand profess their belief in the Thomas myth. The important point is that Thomas can be upheld as a martyr and the Brahmins decried as fanatics.

In reality, the missionaries were very disgruntled that the damned Hindus refused to give them martyrs—whose blood is welcomed as “the seed of the faith”—so they had to invent one. Moreover, the church which they claim commemorates St. Thomas’s martyrdom at the hands of Hindu fanaticism, is in fact a monument of Hindu martyrdom at the hands of Christian fanaticism. It is a forcible replacement of two important Hindu temples—Jain and Shaiva—whose existence was insupportable to the Christian missionaries.

No one knows how many Hindu priests and worshipers were killed when the Christian soldiers came to remove the curse of Paganism from the Mylapore beach. Hinduism does not practice martyr-mongering, but if at all we have to speak of martyrs in this context, the title goes to these Jina- and Shiva-worshipers and not to the apostle Thomas. – Koenraad Elst

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Old Kapali Temple


 

Blasphemous evangelical distortions – B. R. Haran


“It must be noted that in most of the schools run by the various Christian denominations, Hindu students—who obviously are more in number—are not allowed to sport tilaks on their forehead and girl students are not allowed to have flowers on their heads. Last year a boy was reprimanded and sent out by the management of a Christian school in Chennai city for having applied mehendi in his palms. … In another school in Dindigul, some boys, who were fasting for Sabarimala pilgrimage, were allowed to write their examinations only after having a haircut and removing their tulasi malas. In certain schools Bible is being taught and the Hindu students are forced to attend such classes. The parent community is also aware of these kinds of tortures undergone by their wards, but they prefer to keep quiet in the fear that their wards’ education would be affected.” — B.R. Haran


Kapaleeswara Temple looking at Rajagopram from the inside courtyard.


A Tamil weekly magazine (14 November 2008) has reported the following in its latest issue:

“On Friday 24 October, the devotees of the world-famous Sri Kapalishwarar Temple, Mylapore, Chennai were literally shocked when they were given five booklets each containing defamatory write-ups about Hinduism, Vedas, Vedic heritage, Hindu Shastras, Hindu culture & tradition, Sabarimala Ayyappan and denigrating articles on Sage Thirumoolar, Nayanmars and others, by a bunch of mean-minded Christian evangelists just in front of the temple entrance! For example, in the book titled Light in Darkness, it is written that, the word ‘sadhaa’ in the verse ‘Sadhaa Shivaaya’ means ‘forever’ and there is only one God, who blesses and takes care of this world forever, and he is ‘Jesus’ and the verse ‘Sadhaa Shivaaya’ denotes only him! All the five books are said to have contained more defamatory stories about Hindu Gods and religious gurus. Many people have called up this magazine and sent mails to it giving complete details about what happened in front of the temple that day.”

Incidentally, the Santhome Cathedral stands on the ruins of the original Kapaleeswarar Temple, which was destroyed by the Portuguese invaders and now the evangelical invaders are trying to destroy the Hindu culture and religion in front of this reconstructed Kapaleeswarar Temple.

This outrageous incident has brought out the following facts:

The evangelists have made bold to distribute blasphemous literatures and conduct a hate-campaign against Hinduism, that too in front of a very famous historic temple.

The minority appeasement policies of a “minority” government, which openly said that it is committed to the welfare of minorities, and its anti-majority stand have emboldened these evangelists to indulge in this kind of illegal activity.

The policemen who have been posted near the temple for security—Mylapore temple is under terror threat—have turned a blind eye to this venomous act, probably due to fear motivation from the “minority” government or money motivation from the evangelists.

The Hindus have just exposed their dhimmitude by remaining passive without acting against those evangelists. Sadly, not even one devotee has exhibited the courage to lodge a police complaint against them. The traders near the temple have not bothered to drive away those Christian rapscallions. Certainly the number of devotees must have easily outnumbered those evangelists and they must have caught them with their collars and taken them to the Mylapore police station. Instead of doing all this, some people have written to this particular weekly magazine.

Similarly, in Coimbatore, on 24 September, five staff of Chennai-based East Coast Christian Matriculation School have been arrested by the police for distributing blasphemous literatures propagating Christianity and degrading Hindu Gods and engaging in evangelisation. The police action has been prompted by the complaint given by the local people belonging to BJP and Hindu Makkal Katchi, who caught those evangelists and took them to the nearby police station. Ironically those evangelists have asked the students (most of them are Hindus) to distribute those pamphlets and the innocent students have obeyed the order out of fear. This has been done while taking the students on an excursion (study tour) to Ooty. If this is the way study tours are conducted by a Christian school, one can imagine the standard of education imparted by it.

In this context, it must be noted that in most of the schools run by the various Christian denominations, Hindu students (who obviously are more in number) are not allowed to sport tilaks on their forehead and girl students are not allowed to have flowers on their heads. Last year a boy was reprimanded and sent out by the management of a Christian school in Chennai city for having applied mehendi in his palms. His parents were made to run from pillar to post to reinstate him. In another school in Dindigul, some boys, who were fasting for Sabarimala pilgrimage, were allowed to write their examinations only after having a haircut and removing their tulasi malas. In certain schools Bible is being taught and the Hindu students are forced to attend such classes. The parent community is also aware of these kinds of tortures undergone by their wards, but they prefer to keep quiet in the fear that their wards’ education would be affected.

Recently in a church in Kakkan Nagar, in the Ambedkar slum dwellings of Adambakkam, a Chennai suburb, the pastor, during morning prayers, had openly ridiculed the practice of abhishekam of Amman deities saying that “they are nude and naked worships performed with an erotic motive.” As the pastor was addressing a group of “converts”, his blasphemous speech was heard by the slum dwellers through loud speakers. A Hindu woman, who was drawing drinking water from a nearby municipal water-pump, got outraged by the blasphemous speech, threw out the water from her vessel and filled it with gutter from the nearby ditch and threw it inside the Church. Only then the Hindu men realised the seriousness of the issue and reportedly damaged the window panes of the church. The pastor lodged a police complaint and the police promptly booked those Hindus, who damaged the window panes, and the pastor, who was the real culprit as per the law of the land, went scot-free!

These incidents may look like isolated due to the fact that the Hindus rarely exhibit courage to take on those evangelists, but these strategies adopted by the Church and missionaries are a regular phenomenon going on for years in the state. Mariamman and Aiyappan are two deities which attract millions of devotees, particularly the Scheduled Castes, as evidenced by the Sabarimala pilgrimage and Melmaruvathur pilgrimage. Since the SCs are the targeted audience of the evangelists, the churches come out with literatures, pamphlets and books denigrating Goddess Amman and Swami Ayyappan and ridiculing their worship.


Mu. Deivanayagam


An evangelist by name Dr Theivanayagam has founded an organisation by name Diravida Aanmeega Iyakkam (Movement of Dravidian Spiritualism) to spread the concept of “Thomas Christianity”, in the name of “Aadhi Christhuvam” (Early Christianity). Through this concept, he attempts to project Shaivism and Vishnavism as sub-sects of Christianity. He wrote a book titled Vivliyam (Bible), Thirukkural, Saiva Siddantham—Oppu Ayvu (Comparative Research) and published it in 1985-86 and has been steadfastly campaigning on this concept since then. Very recently, he convened Agila Ulaga Dravida Samaya Maanaadu (International Dravidian Spiritual Conference) under the aegis of Mylapore Diocese, in which the following blasphemous distortions were projected as researched facts:

Aadhi Christhuvam (Early Christianity) was promulgated and established in Tamilnadu 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 the 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 “Brahmma-Vishnu-Rudran”.

The “holy trinity” concept has beautified the Indian religions. The “Holy-Spirit-Father” combination can be identified with “Arthanareeswarar” and “Sankaranarayanar” formations.

St Thomas’s teachings were abounding in Thirukkural and Sage Thiruvalluvar was a disciple of St. Thomas.

Many such blasphemous distortions were presented in the conference. Close on the heels of the conference the inauguration of the Rs 50 crore production of a movie on St. Thomas was also conducted. The chief guest of the inauguration was none other than the Tamilnadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi, who waxed eloquent on the “supposed” history of St. Thomas, despite having excellent knowledge on Thiruvalluvar and Thirukkural. Dr Deivanayagam has recently released a book titled Thiruneeraa, Siluvaiya? (Sacred Ash? Or the Cross?), in which, he has again brought out blasphemous distortions. A few examples are given below:

The Hindu practice of applying sacred ash on the forehead has actually started from Ash Wednesday the first day of the penance (Lent days). The sacred ash comprises within it all the three stages of death, resurrection and pardon due to the fact that the ash cannot be destroyed, as how 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 Thirugnana 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. Also, as they carry the messages of Christ, the Bible is the only Veda.

All these things go to show that a sustained campaign has been going on for years and the momentum keeps on increasing with foreign aids and local support. The Dravidian political parties, which are bent on alienating the Tamils from the Hindu fold, have been aiding and abetting these anti-Hindu forces and this unholy nexus between them is creating havoc in the society. Though the religious gurus are deeply concerned about the speedy developments in this area of evangelisation and the alarming rate of conversion going on in the state, they feel helpless and fear the Dravidian rulers. So, the onus lies purely on political and social Hindu organisations to take legal action against persons like Deivanayagam and their organisations for destroying the Hindu cultural heritage and religious traditions posing a danger to communal harmony.

Evangelisation has gone beyond the limits of tolerance by abusing the constitutional provisions for freedom of religion and the general public must also be aware of their moral responsibility to act against those who indulge in blasphemy against their religion and the government machineries must also act as per the rule of law. – News Today, 11 November, 2008


Jesus Christ Book Cover


 

1 – Archbishop Arulappa’s history project goes terribly wrong – K.P. Sunil;


“The Christian Church of India, considered to be amongst the oldest in the world, is believed to have been founded by St. Thomas in 52 A.D. Arulappa held the view that St. Thomas, before his martyrdom on a hill near Madras, now called St. Thomas Mount, met Tiruvalluvar and influenced the bard to the extent of converting him to the nascent faith. The theory had been propounded. What remained to be obtained was proof of such an occurrence.” – K.P. Sunil


St. Thomas and his Hindu assassin


The case has been closed. And the dramatis personae prefer to maintain a studied silence. For fear that a post-mortem would reveal hidden cadavers in their cupboards. For even a superficial examination of the fraud that shook the foundations of the Catholic Church in Madras in the late seventies and early eighties indicates that a lot of embarrassing details have been swept under the mat.

Reverend Dr. R. Arulappa, former archbishop of the Madras diocese, who claims to have been duped by one Acharya Paul, also known as Ganesh Iyer, is ill. Incapacitated by serious cardiac problems. In fact, it is his ill-health that forced him to retire from his post as head of the diocese. So the infamous scandal had to be pieced together from court records, police files and the ramblings of the main character – Ganesh Iyer.

It all began in the early seventies. Ganesh Iyer, who had adopted the Christian faith and was a self-styled Bible preacher known as John Ganesh, went to Tiruchi in the course of his evangelical journeys and met a Catholic priest Father Michael of the Tamil Illakiya Kazhagam (Tamil Literary Society). He is reported to have presented himself to the priest as Dr. John Ganesh, professor of philosophy and comparative religions at the Banaras university, and recently returned from Jammu and Kashmir where he was involved in research on Christianity in India. Michael put him on to another priest, Father Mariadas of Sriviliputhur.

John Ganesh impressed Mariadas with his mastery over Christian theology. He showed him copies of notices extolling him as a speaker. He reportedly produced letters written to him by various scholars in the fields of education and religion. He is also reported to have shown Mariadas photographs of palm leaf writings and copper plate inscriptions several centuries old.

These documents, he reportedly claimed, traced the origins and development of the Christian faith in India. Since further research on the subject required money which John Ganesh claimed not to have, Mariadas took upon himself the task of locating funds for the project the successful completion of which, he felt, would provide a shot in the arm for Christianity in India.

Mariadas gave John Ganesh something in the range of  Rs. 22,000 toward the research. And as his own funds were depleted, he introduced the researcher to the head of the Catholic Church in Madras, R. Arulappa.


Former Archbishop of Madras R. Arulappa


Arulappa was a Tamil scholar who also had the reputation of being a researcher. He had translated the New Testament into Tamil and set to tune the Book of Psalms. He had also rendered in Tamil the life of Christ, Ulagin Uyir (“The Life of the World”). He had learned Sanskrit and translated several Christian tenets into that language. He had also done extensive research on Tirukkural, the creation of the Tamil bard, Tiruvalluvar.

Tiruvalluvar is known to modern generations through his immortal literature. The exact time of his existence is lost in the mists of the hoary past. Some historians believe Tiruvalluvar to be a product of the early Sangam period in Tamil literature, several centuries before Christ. The Tamil Nadu government bases its calendar on the year of his birth. For this purpose, it is assumed that Tiruvalluvar was born exactly 2018 years ago [this article was written in 1987], i.e. in the first century before Christ. Some literary experts place Tiruvalluvar in the first century after Christ, others date him 300 years after.


Tiruvalluvar


Just as little is known about Tiruvalluvar’s origins, his religious beliefs are also shrouded in some mystery. Attempts have been made, going by the precepts contained in his verse, to speculate about his religion. While he is widely believed to have been a Hindu and the Tirukkural considered a revered Hindu scripture, other religions too have staked a claim on him. Since the Tirukkural enshrines the ideals of ahimsa, dharma and asceticism, many experts consider Tiruvalluvar to have been considerably influenced by Jain thought.

A recent paper presented by Dr. S. Padmanabhan makes Tiruvalluvar out to be a Hindu chieftain from the Kanyakumari district. Archbishop Arulappa felt that the Tirukkural was so profound and filled with compassionate sentiments that it must have been influenced by early Christian missionaries who came to South India in the first century after Christ, notably St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Christ.

The Christian Church of India, considered to be amongst the oldest in the world, is believed to have been founded by St. Thomas in 52 A.D. Arulappa held the view that St. Thomas, before his martyrdom on a hill near Madras, now called St. Thomas Mount, met Tiruvalluvar and influenced the bard to the extent of converting him to the nascent faith. The theory had been propounded. What remained to be obtained was proof of such an occurrence.

It was this that Ganesh Iyer, posing as John Ganesh, reportedly promised to unearth for the archbishop.

Since this suited the archbishop’s scheme and since Arulappa was convinced that Ganesh was in a position to ferret out the evidence necessary to prove his pet theory, he engaged him to take up the research. The archbishop was apparently lulled into complacency by Ganesh’s mastery of Christian theology and his apparent sincerity of purpose. As if establishing a nexus between St. Thomas and Tiruvalluvar were not enough, John Ganesh also informed the archbishop that he could bring evidence that the three wise men from the East who prophesied the birth of Christ were none other than the epic Hindu sages, Vasistha, Viswamithra and Agasthya.

In 1975-76, John Ganesh began his research. And the archbishop started funding the same.

Ganesh produced photographs of palm leaf writings and copper plate inscriptions at periodic intervals. When the archbishop asked to see the originals, he was informed that they were stashed away in the safe custody of the archaeological departments and museums all over the country. It would therefore, not be possible to persuade these agencies to part with the priceless documents. He, however, promised to get his photographs authenticated by the respective agencies themselves. Thereafter, all photographs produced by Ganesh Iyer before the archbishop bore seals of the museums and departments from which he claimed to have obtained them.

Using the funds provided by the archbishop, Ganesh Iyer made a pretense of travelling extensively. It was a well-orchestrated programme. He would first inform the archbishop that he was going to Kashmir in connection with his research.

Next, the archbishop would receive letters from some Christian and Hindu religious heads in Kashmir informing him that they had come across Ganesh Iyer or, as he now called himself, Acharya Paul. The letters spoke in superlative terms about his sincerity of purpose and his noble research.

Whatever doubts the archbishop may have entertained about his researcher vanished in the face of these letters from eminent personages. More money changed hands. Though he was quite poor when he first met the archbishop, by the time he was through, Iyer had his own house in Srirangam. He owned two cars. He had purchased considerable gold jewelery for his wife and daughters. He had substantial deposits in banks in his name.

Most of the funds for the research had come from individuals and organisations abroad. If Iyer is to be believed, the archbishop even made out his personal car in Iyer’s name for a nominal Rs. 25,000. Iyer himself claims that he had not paid anything.

Questions were being asked around this time about the large sums of money being given to Acharya Paul for his research. The sceptics demanded proof that something tangible, that would benefit Christianity in the long run, had indeed been achieved. Only the archbishop’s pre-eminence prevented a direct confrontation.

In 1976, Iyer obtained a passport in the name of Acharya Paul. In 1977, accompanied by the archbishop, he went abroad. To the Vatican, among other places, where he had a lengthy audience with Pope Paul VI. The duo then visited several religious congregations and spoke about comparative religions. Everywhere he went, he spoke about the origins of Christianity in India and about his “monumental” research while the archbishop displayed the evidence. Money was collected for funding further research.

During their absence from India, individuals inimical to John Ganesh had organised themselves into a powerful force. Even as he was relaxing in his home in Srirangam after his return, the archbishop was pressurised to file a complaint with the police. That he had been duped by Ganesh Iyer who had claimed to be a bachelor, but was in reality a married man. That he had defrauded the archbishop to the tune of around Rs. 14 lakhs in the name of research into Christianity.

Investigations into the sordid episode began. The police, led initially by Inspector Seshadri and later by Inspector Chandrayaperumal, searched Iyer’s residence. They unearthed the  originals of all the photographs produced by Iyer as proof of his research-writings on strips of brown paper cut to resemble medieval palm frond writings, pasted on sheets of white paper. The police learnt that the photographs had been taken at a studio in Tiruchi and this led to the seizure of all the relevant negatives.

The police discovered how the photographs had been authenticated by various institutions-seals and rubber stamps of all the concerned institutions were lying in Iyer’s home. Letter-heads bearing the names of various Hindu and Christian scholars were recovered. The letters purported to have been received by Iyer from these personages, which he allegedly used to dupe Mariadas and later the archbishop, were declared to be clever forgeries by the state handwriting expert Srinivasan. The writing on these and the writing on the brown paper, though cleverly disguised, compared favourably with Iyer’s specimen. Account books showing details of amounts received from the archbishop and the amounts spent by him were recovered.

Iyer’s antecendents were thoroughly investigated and it was proved that he was a middle school dropout, not having studied beyond standard seven. Further confirmation was obtained from the Banares university that they did not have Dr. John Ganesh on their staff either teaching or doing research into philosophy and comparative religions.

The police case was complete. On April 29, 1980, Iyer was arrested and placed under remand, while prosecution proceedings were instituted under sections 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 465 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 473 (making and possessing counterfeit seals with intent to commit forgery) of the Indian Penal Code and under section 12-B of the Indian Passports Act (obtaining a passport supplying false information).


Man with beard


Archbishop Arulappa testified against Iyer before the court. Iyer initially pleaded innocence, but later admitted to the fraud on all counts. He prayed that in view of his advancing age and critical family circumstances, he be shown leniency.

On February 6, 1986, P. Aruvudayappan, second metropolitan magistrate, Madras, delivered his judgment in case number 100087/82: “Taking advantage of the soft attitudes of public witnesses 2 and 3 (Father Mariadas and Father Arulappa),” he averred, “the defendant (Ganesh Iyer) had taken from them about Rs. 13.5 lakhs between 1975 and 1980. This has been clearly established. Taking into consideration the nature of the offenses, the defendant is being held guilty under various sections of the I.P.C. and has to undergo 10 months imprisonment and 5 month’s rigorous imprisonment under section 12-B of the Indian Passports Act. These sentences are to run concurrently. He had been arrested on April 29, 1980 and let off on bail on June 27, 1980. These 59 days of imprisonment are to be deducted from the total sentence as required under section 428 of the code of criminal procedure.”

The magistrate’s judgment notwithstanding, doubts still linger. Why were the archbishop’s suspicions not aroused until he had handed over a whopping Rs. 13,49,250 (according to records, though Iyer claims to have received far in excess of that sum) on a spurious research project? Why had the archbishop not bothered to verify the authenticity of the “documents” produced by Iyer with the museums and other institutions concerned, directly? Why did he not bother to accompany Iyer to the actual site of his “research” when he had found time to accompany him to Rome, the Vatican, Germany, France, Spain, the United States?

With the archbishop still indisposed, answers to these questions are not forthcoming.

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 offense, 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.

“I agreed to this compromise because there was nothing else I could do,” says Iyer. His viewpoint in understandable. For, going by the lower court’s verdict, he would have not only had to serve 5 months of rigorous imprisonment, but would have automatically had to forfeit all his properties including the house. Why the archbishop agreed to the compromise is not understandable.

Today Ganesh Iyer lives on the first floor of his house in Srirangam—the lower portion is let out on rent, enabling him to receive a monthly income. He is by no means affluent, but is certainly a far cry from the penury to which his family and he would have been consigned, if it were not for the compromise. Father Arulappa is convalescing, recovering from a major surgery. He has handed over the mantle of archbishop to Reverend G. Casimir on health grounds .

And the case, though officially closed, remains in many minds, an unsolved mystery.[1]

Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese


1. Originally published under the title “Hoax!” in The Illustrated Weekly of India, April 26 – May 2, 1987, Bombay.


 

Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese plans blockbuster movie on St. Thomas – Ishwar Sharan


“I therefore on behalf of Hindus and those others who proudly acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus, warn this karunanidhi-sonia 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. ” — Dr. Subramanian Swamy


Portuguese shipsFrancis XavierRoberto de NobiliPope John Paul II & Archbishop Arulappa in 1986 at San Thome Cathedral: The Pope didn't believe Arulappa's fabricated evidence for St. Thomas in Mylapore.Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict in RomeArchbishop of Madras-Mylapore A.M. Chinnappa: Promoting the St. Thomas tale by Dravidian politics and cinema.Tamil Nadu CM Karunanidhi & San Thome Bishops: Promoting the St. Thomas tale at the expense of Indian history.


The silence of Pope John Paul II on St. Thomas during his visits to India in 1986 and 1999, and the categorical statement of his successor Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 that St. Thomas did not visit South India, put the cap on the St. Thomas fable for all time to come – except in India. In India the Church operates rather like the European Church operated in the Middle Ages: the Pope in Rome may say what he likes but the bishop in his Indian diocese will do what he likes in connivance with the local government so long as he can deliver the Christian vote to the state’s politicians. When Dr. Koenraad Elst, an agnostic “cultural Catholic” scholar from Belgium writes in the foreword of this book that “in contrast with European Christians today, Indian Christians live in a seventeenth century bubble, as if they are too puerile to stand in the daylight of solid historical fact, … at the command of ambitious “medieval” bishops who mislead them with the St. Thomas in India fable for purely selfish reasons”, he has understood the Indian Christian and the Indian Church exactly. Therefore it is not surprising that The Indian Catholic, Kochi, reported on 12 June 2008 that:

The Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore is planning to produce a 300 million rupee movie on St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, revered as the Apostle of India.

Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa, who heads the archdiocese, presented the 30 crore project before a meeting of Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council seeking their support this week.

The project, scheduled to be inaugurated by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, is expected to match Hollywood big-budget movies such as Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments in budget and in quality.

Church officials plan to launch the project on July 3, the feast day of St. Thomas, in the San Thome Basilica campus in Chennai. The 70-mm, two-and-half-hour feature film would have the bigwigs of Indian film industry on the credit line.

Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of Faith, supports the project along with the bishops in Tamil Nadu, media said quoting Archbishop Chinnappa.

St. Thomas is believed to have arrived in Kerala in 52 AD and established seven churches on the western coast. Tradition also holds that he was martyred in 72 AD in Mylapore. Hence the churches in Kerala and Tamil Nadu have special importance for the movie, said the archbishop.

The archbishop also hoped that a film on the life of St. Thomas would have spiritual consolation for people of all walks of life as it evolved around the theme of human equality and dignity for all.

The film will be made in Tamil first, then in Malayalam and Hindi and later dubbed into various other languages, including English and French, according to Church officials.


Plaster idol of Thomas on the fake tomb in San Thome Cathedral.


In response to this announcement, we wrote on The Ishwar Sharan Archive website that Roman Catholic bishops in India, rather than making a movie on a fictitious first century Christian missionary, owe Hindus an abject apology and crores of rupees in reparations for the Church’s crimes in India over the centuries. But if they insist on the Rs. 30 crore movie, are they going to tell the public the following facts about Judas Thomas as recorded in the Acts of Thomas, that:

  • Thomas was the look-alike twin brother of Jesus;
  • Jesus sold Thomas as a slave for thirty pieces of silver;
  • Thomas deceived the kings of Parthia-”India” who gave him respect and hospitality;
  • Thomas was a thief;
  • Thomas abducted and locked-up women;
  • Thomas engaged in various forms of black magic; and
  • Thomas was executed by a Zoroastrian king who had initially shown him mercy and asked him to repent of his crimes and leave the country.

Are the bishops going to tell the public this ancient apocryphal story? Or are they going to twist the tale as their Portuguese predecessors did and make Brahmins the villains of the piece and a Hindu king the assassin of a Christian saint?

The St. Thomas in India legend was invented to vilify Hindu priests and malign the Hindu community. It adds insult to injury as Hindus were and are today its real victims, not Christians and their apostle Thomas. It is a vicious communal tale created by a ruthlessly colonizing Roman Catholic Church, and it has no place on the modern Indian cinema screen. That Catholic bishops should even consider such a production tells us a lot about the Catholic Church in India today.

But what we and the historians of the last two hundred years may say and think about St. Thomas doesn’t matter in today’s racist Dravidian Tamil Nadu state. Peer Mohamed in the Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, reported on 24 June 2008:

Call it the Dasavataram impact. A Rs. 50-crore-plus mega production in silver screen on Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, who had spread Christian faith in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is underway.

A period film on St. Thomas spanning continents is to be made in Tamil first with the help of technicians from Hollywood, Bollywood and Kollywood. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi is launching the ambitious project of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mylapore on July 3, 2008.

“We are not looking for a superhero like Kamal Hassan or Vijay to play the lead role of St.Thomas. When Mel Gibson made Passion of the Christ, he chose James Caviezel, a look-alike of Jesus to play the lead. We are searching for someone who resembles St.Thomas,” said Dr Paulraj Lourdusamy, the chief researcher and script-writer of the film.

Though the film is a tragedy, ending with the killing of St. Thomas in Chennai, it will have enough entertainment with nine songs.

The blueprint of the film says, “In the two songs that Saint Thomas sings in Kerala, 22 types of dances of Kerala with their distinct music will be included. In a song that St. Thomas sings in Tamil Nadu, we will present 12 types of dances of Tamil Nadu and their special music as the background to the songs.”

The story begins with the journey of the apostle to Edessa, a town in Syria around 29 AD. Thomas’s travel through Persia to Taxila in modern Afghanistan (sic) and return to Jerusalem is also covered. He reaches Kerala by around 52 AD and the next 20 years of preaching Christian faith in the continent is the major part of the film. St. Thomas’s meeting with Tiruvalluvar is an interesting part of the story.

His encounter with the “reported animal and human sacrifice in the Chennai of first century” may create some controversy once the film is ready for release in 2010.

The Deccan Chronicle, it should be noted, is a popular pro-Christian, pro-Congress newspaper. It could not resist the last line about animal and human sacrifice in Mylapore, though in fact there are no records at all for first century Mylapore and the records that do exist for later centuries are moneylenders account books. Tamizhchelvan wrote to the newspaper two days later on June 26th:

This is with reference to the report Rs. 50 crore film on St. Thomas (DC, June 25). It has been proved beyond doubt by historians that the St. Thomas history propagated by Christians of South India is a myth. Even the Christian records talk about different Thomases at different periods and the Vatican has not upheld even one! The so-called encounter between Thomas and Tiruvalluvar is also a concocted one to give a Christian colour to Tirukkural and draw a parallel between Bible and Tirukkural. The South Indian Christian community has lost its foundation after the categorical statement of Pope Benedict, which demolished the myth of St. Thomas, and this attempt of making a film on Thomas is just to reinvent the myth and establish it again in the minds of the gullible masses, and it is unfortunate that the chief minister is helping such a dubious cause.


Tiruvalluvar


Tamil scholars agree that the Tamil saint and cultural icon Tiruvalluvar lived before the Christian era, dating him ca. 100 BC with some scholars dating him as early as ca. 200 BC. Whatever the exact date, he could not have been a contemporary of St. Thomas. He lived his whole life in Mylapore and the Tamil year is dated from his birthday in January. His samadhi shrine is believed to have been close by or in the courtyard of the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore sea front. Tiruvalluvar’s shrine and the Shiva temple were destroyed by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. The Deccan Chronicle, continuing its report on the mega-movie project, said on July 2nd:

Superstar Rajinikanth may play the role of ancient Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar in the Rs 50-crore-plus movie St. Thomas being produced by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chennai-Mylapore. The film will also have actors like Ajith, Vijay and Vikram in guest roles, according to the film crew.

“The film is to be launched by chief minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday. We are in discussion with Hollywood actor James Caviezel who played Jesus in Passion of the Christ. He may act in our film as Jesus. Some other Hollywood actor will play St. Thomas,” said Dr Paulraj Lourdusamy, chief researcher and scriptwriter of the film.

“An important part of the film is St. Thomas’s meeting with sage poet Tiruvalluvar. We thought Rajinikanth would fit that role perfectly. We are trying to discuss the subject with him,” Paulraj added.

Dr. Paulraj who has three doctorates earned from various foreign universities, spent one year in libraries across the world to find the existing literature on St. Thomas. Well-versed in French, he did the script in French first and then in English.

“The script is currently being translated simultaneously into Tamil and Malayalam. The film will be made in Tamil and Malayalam first. The shoot will be conducted in Idukki and Munnar region in Kerala which still preserves the 2,000-year-old biodiversity intact,” said Mr. Sekar, production manager of the film.

The film is to be produced in the name of St. Thomas Apostle of India Trust which has Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa, Deputy Archbishop Lawrence Pius, Treasurer of the diocese Mr. Ernest Paul and Dr. Paulraj as office-bearers.

And finally the day after the famous launch of the infamous film project by an Archdiocese known for its criminal bishops, the Deccan Chronicle reported on July 4th:

Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has asserted that the DMK-led alliance would sweep the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state.

“Mr Peter Alphonse wished me success in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls. His wishes will come true,” he said while speaking at the launch of the film St.Thomas here on Thursday.

“I am proud of being referred to as the head of a “minority” government as my government has always toiled for the welfare and well-being of the minorities,” said Mr. Karunanidhi.

Donning the believer’s mantle, the normally atheist chief minister said, “Whether I am accepted by God is more important than whether I accept God. I have to help humanity for being accepted by God. The audience applauded when he said this statement, which he had also made in the presence of Sai Baba last year.

The chief minister said the martyrdom of St. Thomas had inspired him in many ways. Drawing a parallel to King Pari of the Sangam age, who was also killed by the conspiracy of several kings, he said, “History remembers those who were killed by conspirators. St. Thomas was also a victim of conspiracy.” Mr Karunanidhi launched the film by operating the movie camera.

State electricity minister Arcot N. Veerasamy, Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chennai-Mylapore, Dr. Paulraj Lourdusamy, chief researcher and scriptwriter of the film, were present at the function.

And finally The New Indian Express, usually the first newspaper to report on St. Thomas and his Indian trials, did not have anything to say until the day after the function on July 5th:

The life of St. Thomas, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, who lived in India, preached the Gospel and died a martyr at Mylapore, is soon to be made into a feature film. The project will be funded by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chennai, Mylapore and the script has been written by Dr. Paulraj Lourdusamy.

Launching the movie on Thursday at Santhome Church, where St Thomas’ grave is located, chief minister M. Karunanidhi said history chose who to highlight, and St Thomas was one such a noble soul. “We remember the man who was murdered, St. Thomas, but not the one who killed him. History shows us who is to be remembered,” he announced.

On a lighter vein, he added that it seemed fit that an atheist like him should be attending the launch of a movie by a “minority community”, because his government has been hailed a minority government in the recent past. “By asking me if I’ve accepted god, would only degrade your god who is so great. On the contrary, let’s strive to be good people for god to accept us,” the chief minister added. The movie, said Archbishop Dr A.M. Chinnappa of Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore, would be made in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and English, and later, in all languages of the world “It is not an attempt to convert people to our faith but to convey the message of this great saint,” he added. Profits from the movie will be used to establish the Archbishop Chinnappa’s Educational Fund, that will provide higher education to a least 5,000 poor students.

The industry, meanwhile, is rife with rumour that leading stars like Ajith and Vikram have been approached for special appearances in the movie.


Subramanian Swamy


Lastly, in a strongly worded statement Dr. Subramanian Swamy, President of the Janata Party, said on July 8th:

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 pilgrims, 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.

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.

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 attempt 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.

And this was the last we heard of the mega-movie project till today in July 2010. We are told that the project was shelved because of the negative response from Tamil scholars who were very unhappy with the idea that Tiruvalluvar, Tamil Nadu’s famous sage and cultural icon, was to be baptized a follower of Jesus — there was no Christianity as such in the first century and Judas Thomas was himself a practicing Jew. But there is no telling what cultural surprises the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese might spring on the Tamil people, and even tomorrow a movie with nuptial actors wrapped in wet see-through saris, jiggling their wide fertile hips, may be presented to the public by the present archbishop, with a prayer to Jesus that he may forgive the historical deceits and save the heathen soul of the Dravidian race from the machinations of the heathen Aryan race and its wicked Brahmin priests who are still camped in Mylapore even after so many thousands of years.