Tag Archives: myth as history

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


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


Koenraad Elst


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


Coins of Gondophares I minted in Drangiana.


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


William Dalrymple


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

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

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


Gondophares ruled Drangiana, Arachosia & Gandhara.


 

A Feast of St. Thomas – Ishwar Sharan


“The Roman Catholic Church in India owes Hindus an abject apology for the blood libel she has perpetuated for centuries, falsely charging Hindus with the murder of St. Thomas even as she falsely charges Jews with the murder of Jesus.” – Ishwar Sharan


St. Thomas by Georges de LaTour (1625-30)


IS-SDSThe Deccan Chronicle in Chennai carried on 2 July 2012 a “mystic mantra” column called “Feast of Thomas” by Fr. Francis Gonsalves, the former president of the Jesuit-run Vidyajyoti Theological College in New Delhi. The feast for St Thomas is celebrated on July 3rd every year in India. Fr. Francis knows better than this writer that the story of St. Thomas in India is untrue. He also knows that prestigious Jesuit schools in Europe would never refer to the Thomas in India story without first qualifying it as an unverified Gnostic moral fable. But Fr. Francis whose ancestors were Christian converts in Goa—by force or fraud we do not know—is an Indian Jesuit under a communal compulsion to deceive his congregation and support their fanciful apostolic aspirations for India.  And there is also the politics of which his religious order is more than famous—or should we say infamous. Fr. Francis had a candidate for the Indian presidency in the person of a deracinated tribal convert called Purno Sangma. Therefore Fr Francis must continue to perpetrate the St. Thomas in India lie as he believes that Thomas has already claimed India for Christ and that claim could have been actualized in the person of Purno Sangma. So Fr Francis wrote:

Fr Francis Gonsalves, SJI’m often asked by the people here in India and abroad, “When did Christianity come to India?” “Indian Christianity is about 2,000 years old,” I reply, adding, “Ever since St. Thomas, one of Jesus’ beloved disciples, came to India.”[1] Thus, we have the so-called “St. Thomas Christians”[2]—mainly from Kerala—whose ancestors received Jesus’ “Gospel” soon after his resurrection. On July 3, Christians will celebrate the feast of Saint Thomas.

The Gospel of John records three utterances of St. Thomas that give glimpses of his character. First, when Jesus desires to go to Bethany, bordering Jerusalem, the disciples try to prevent him from going since he was almost stoned there for claiming kinship with God. Thomas, however, sticks by Jesus, and says, “Let’s also go that we may die with him” (John 11:16). This shows Thomas’ courage and his commitment to Jesus.

Second, when Jesus announces his imminent death and assures his disciples that he’ll prepare a place for them, he adds, “You know the way to the place where I’m going.” Thomas answers candidly, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5). This prompts Jesus to reply, “I am the way.”

Thomas’ third utterance gives not only him, but also gifts us the appellation “doubting Thomas”. Being no pushover, Thomas asks for “proof” before he believes the unprecedented news of Jesus rising from the dead. But, on meeting the Risen Christ, he exclaims: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). These words are etched in gold over the tomb of St. Thomas at the San Thome Cathedral, Chennai: a magnificent 16th-century Gothic church visited by innumerable pilgrims.

Having lived in Chennai, I cherish unforgettable moments at monuments built in memory of Apostle Thomas. I remember that morning of Sunday, December 26, 2004, when I was presiding over morning worship at San Thome Cathedral and the mighty ocean came crashing down upon Marina beach, leaving us distraught at the destruction wrought by the tsunami.

Two other churches in Chennai commemorate the Apostle: one built in 1523 atop “Saint Thomas Mount” near the airport, and, another big, circular one constructed in 1972 on “Little Mount”. The former contains the “Bleeding Cross”, believed to have been sculpted on stone by St. Thomas, while the latter rests beside the cave where the Apostle prayed.

Saints are not the exclusive property of one religion. St. Thomas teaches us all three things: (a) to be courageous and committed to a cause; (b) to be candid and to clarify things when in doubt; and (c) to be critical of things outside human experience; yet, also to believe in God who forever remains “The Beyond” while inspiring us to exclaim, “My Lord, my God!” in the everyday ordinariness of life.Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 2 June 2012

There is no historical evidence to support the legend that St. Thomas, called Judas Thomas in the Acts of Thomas, ever came to India. And when we say there is no historical evidence in Western literature, we say emphatically that there is no evidence for St. Thomas or Indian Christianity in ancient Tamil literature either. Even up to the tenth century and Raja Raja Chola’s time, Tamil literature has no record of Christians or Christianity being present in the land.

The story of Thomas’s Indian sojourn exists only in the Acts of Thomas. This long religious romance was probably written by the Syrian Gnostic poet Bardesanes about 210 CE at Edessa, Syria. Bardesanes was familiar with India and had met and discussed Indian philosophy with Buddhist monks travelling west to Alexandria and Rome. It was therefore quite natural for him to place his moral fable in India, a land from which all kinds of religious ideas emanated.[3]

Bardesanes story is centred on the moral imperative that all Christians must lead a chaste and celibate life. In the story he has Judas Thomas, who is presented as a look-alike twin brother of Jesus, persuade a newly married royal couple not to consummate their marriage. This angers the Parthian king of the desert land where Thomas is present and he has to flee for his life to another part of the country. Here he comes into contact with another Parthian king called Gundaphorus—possibly a first century king of  Gandhara i.e. West Pakistan—and promises to build him a palace. Thomas cheats the king of his money but succeeds in converting him to Christianity. He then leaves Gundaphorus and concerns himself with a talking donkey and a dragon who claims to be Satan. Thomas slays the dragon, but because of his interest in converting the women and girls of the area to Christianity and alienating them from family life, is called before a third Parthian king called Mazdai—Mazdai being a Zoroastrian name after the Zoroastrian deity Ahura Mazda—and ordered to leave the country. When Thomas ignores the king’s warning and converts the queen and her son, the king in exasperation at the apostle’s evil deeds orders him executed. He is then speared to death by soldiers on a royal acropolis and the body shortly afterward taken away to Edessa.

In all records Thomas is executed on the Parthian royal acropolis and soon after buried at Edessa where a cult grows up around his tomb—until Marco Polo in his famous travel book puts his tomb on the seashore in an unnamed little town in South India. Marco, who never came to India, was repeating the stories told to him by Muslim and Syrian Christian merchants he met in Constantinople.

This is how St. Thomas got to South India. The Portuguese who knew Marco’s popular book Il Milione decided quite arbitrarily that Mylapore was the unnamed little town Marco was referring to [4]—and Mylapore also had a good harbour and a great heathen temple that could be turned into a Christian apostle’s tomb. As they say, the rest is history—and a falsified history at that!

Though Bardesanes represents Judas Thomas as a second Christ, he does not represent him as a good man. What we gather from the story in the Acts, and what Fr. Francis and his Church neglect to tell the faithful, is that

  • Jesus was a slave trader who sold Thomas to Abbanes for thirty pieces of silver;
  • Thomas was an antisocial character who lied to his royal employer and stole money from him;
  • Thomas ill-treated women and enslaved them;
  • Thomas practised black magic and was executed for disobeying the king’s order to stop the practise and leave the country;
  • Thomas was Jesus’s twin brother, implying that the four canonical Gospels are unreliable sources which have concealed a crucial fact, viz. that Jesus was not God’s Only Begotten Son. In fact, Jesus and Thomas were God’s twin-born sons. In other words, accepting the Thomas legend as history is equivalent to exploding the doctrinal foundation of Christianity.

Enough said about Judas Didymus Thomas.

About San Thome Cathedral which houses his fake tomb—the real tomb for St. Thomas is at Ortona, Italy—it has been established by reputed Jesuit and Indian archaeologists that the church stands on the ruins of the original Kapaleeswara Shiva Temple destroyed by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. So do the churches at Little Mount and Big Mount stand on ruined Murugan and Shiva temples respectively. The “Bleeding Cross” Fr. Francis refers to and which is kept in the Portuguese church on Big Mount, has these words carved around the edge of it in Pahlavi script: “My lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht the Syrian, who cut this.” The cross is dated by experts to the eighth or ninth century.

Apostle Thomas was a Jew and the Roman cross would have been a most abhorrent symbol to him. Certainly he did not bring a cross—or a Bible for that matter; there was no Bible in the first century—to India. Christians did not use the Roman cross as a religious symbol until the third century or later. They used a fish sign with the Greek word ΙΧΘΥC (ikhthus meaning “fish”)—an acronym for JESUS—inscribed in its body to identify themselves and their cult. Curiously Indian Christianity has never referenced or employed a fish symbol in its religious culture. This is because there were no Christians in India before the fourth century. The cross and Bible were brought later by Syrian Christian refugees after the fourth century.

We wish to assure Fr. Francis and the Christian congregations that he has deceived, that Hindus are not going to demand the return of temple property the Church has forcefully taken from them over the centuries. But we do feel an apology for past crimes is in order and that some restraint is observed when perpetuating the communally-charged St. Thomas tale among the faithful—especially as Thomas’s persecution and death are falsely attributed to a Hindu king and his Brahmin priests. Arun Shourie has stated that the apology should include the following items:

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

Besides this apology, we feel the Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore may donate a piece of the vast estate Bishop’s House stands on for a memorial to the courageous Hindus who resisted the Portuguese when they with the help of Franciscan, Dominican and Jesuit priests were destroying the Kapaleeswara Shiva Temple by the sea.

The Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, who may be an honest man unlike his predecessors, also must stop perpetuating the claim that Tiruvalluvar was a disciple of Thomas and a Christian convert. Tiruvalluvar lived a hundred years before Christ and anybody who has read the Tirukurral can see that this claim is a malicious falsehood.

The St. Thomas legend is now part of Indian history and Indian history must be told according to the known facts, not according to the fabricated anti-national theories of Indian Jesuits and Marxist historians. Even Pope Benedict has denied that St. Thomas came to South India—never mind that his editors changed his statement the next day to include South India because Kerala’s bishops had threatened secession or worse if the Church did not support their dearly held tale of origins.

Dr Koenraad Elst, educated in Europe’s most prestigious Catholic university at Leuven, Belgium, writes in his foreword to The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple: “It is clear enough that many Christians including the Pope have long given up the belief in Thomas’s Indian exploits, or—like the Church Fathers—never believed in them in the first place. In contrast with European Christians today, Indian Christians live in a 17th century bubble, as if they are too puerile to stand in the daylight of solid historical fact. They remain in a twilight of legend and lies, at the command of ambitious “medieval” bishops who mislead them with the St. Thomas in India fable for purely selfish reasons.”

What a sad observation on Indian Christians who have access to the best education and health care in the country. And what a shrewd observation on Indian bishops who are probably the most wealthy, corrupt, and politically astute caste living in India today.

› Francis Gonsalves teaches systematic theology  at Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune.

› Ishwar Sharan is the author of The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, Voice of India, New Delhi.


1. India’s political leaders are fond of telling their constituents and the nation that Christianity arrived in India before it arrived in Europe. This historical conceit is not true. Apostle Paul says in Romans 15:24 & 15:28 that he plans to visit Spain (which already had a Christian community). In Acts 19:21 he travels from Ephesus to Greece—Macedonia and Achaia—en route to Jerusalem, and then on to Rome. This took place in the 40s CE—some historians say he was writing after 44 CE. So even if it was true that Apostle Thomas landed in Kerala in 52 CE—the spurious date is of 19th century origin—Christianity would still have arrived in Europe a decade earlier.

2. Thomas of Cana, also known as Knai Thoma, led the first group of 72 Syrian Christian families to India in 345 CE. There is no record of Christian communities in India prior to this date. Thomas of Cana and his companion Bishop Joseph of Edessa also brought with them the tradition of St. Thomas the Apostle of the East. Later, Christian communities in Kerala would identify Knai Thoma with Mar Thoma—Thomas of Cana with Thomas the Apostle—and claim St. Thomas had arrived in Kerala in AD 52 and established the first Christian church at Musiris—the ancient port near present day Kodungallur—the main trading center of the day.

The Rev Dr G. Milne Rae of the Madras Christian College, in The Syrian Church in India, did not allow that St Thomas came further east than Afghanistan (Gandhara). He told the Syrian Christians that they reasoned fallaciously about their identity and wove a fictitious story of their origin. Their claim that they were called “St Thomas” Christians from the 1st century was also false.

Syrian Christians were called Nasranis (from Nazarean) or Nestorians (by Europeans) up to the 14th century. Bishop Giovanni dei Marignolli the Franciscan papal legate in Quilon invented the appellation “St Thomas Christians” in 1348 to distinguish his Syrian Christian converts from the low-caste Hindu converts in his congregation.

3. The oriental ubiquity of St. Thomas’s apostolate is explained by the fact that the geographical term “India” included, apart from the subcontinent of this name, the lands washed by the Indian Ocean as far as the China Sea in the east and the Arabian peninsula, Ethiopia, and the African coast in the west.

Ancient writers used the designation “India” for all countries south and east of the Roman Empire’s frontiers. India included Ethiopia, Arabia Felix, Edessa in Syria (in the Latin version of the Syriac Diatessaron), Arachosia and Gandhara (Afghanistan and Pakistan), and many countries up to the China Sea.

In the Acts of Thomas, the original key text to identify St Thomas with India (which all other India references follow), historians agree that the term India refers to Parthia (Persia) and Gandhara (Pakistan). The city of Andrapolis named in the Acts, where Judas Thomas and Abbanes landed in India, has been identified as Sandaruck (one of the ancient Alexandrias) in Balochistan.

4. Marco Polo had written,  “It is in this province, which is styled the Greater India, at the gulf between Ceylon and the mainland, that the body of Messer St. Thomas lies, at a certain town having no great population.”

So Marco’s reference is to a town on the Gulf of Mannar and not to Mylapore at all!


Thomas & Hindu Assassin


St Thomas Tomb, San Tommaso Basilica, Ortona, Italy


The fake tomb of St Thomas in San Thome Cathedral, Mylapore, created by the Portuguese


  • See more photos HERE

 


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

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

 


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


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


K. N. Panikkar


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

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

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

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

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


P. J. Cherian (L)


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


Romila thapar


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

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

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

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

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


Ancient silk road route and water route to India from Rome


National Shame: President Mukherjee repeats the St. Thomas in India tale to Santa Claus – Rajat Pandit


“We, in India, also celebrate Christmas in quite a big way. Christianity was brought to India by Saint Thomas, the Apostle himself, in the year 52 AD. Thus, the faith was embraced by the people of India well before many European nations. Today, the number of Christians in India is about 24 million.” – President Pranab Mukherjee to Santa Claus in Finland


Pranab Mukherjee & Santa Claus


When President Pranab Mukherjee crossed the famed Arctic Circle on Thursday evening, becoming the first Indian head of state to do so, there was somebody even more famous eagerly awaiting to greet him with an unmistakable “Ho, ho, ho” deep-throated laugh.

A chubby and merry white-bearded man, clad in a red coat trimmed with white, surrounded with mischievous-looking elves, reindeers with huge antlers and, of course, “Jingle Bells” playing softly in the background.

Yes, Mukherjee also became the first Indian President to meet and greet the “original” Santa Claus in his “official home” on the Arctic Circle. Accompanied by daughter Sharmistha and his official delegation, Mukherjee crossed the Arctic Circle line on foot to enter Santa’s abode around 8 km north of Rovaniemi, which is the capital of Finland’s northernmost province Lapland and a huge tourist attraction for both wonder-struck children and their parents around the globe.

And as one would expect, out came the gifts even if Christmas was still far away, and the snow had barely begun to fall. Mukherjee surprised the gregarious Santa by presenting him with a marble Indian elephant. “Usually, I give presents. You have made my day,” said a beaming Santa.


Pranab Mukherjee


Then, it was time for photographs with Santa. A smiling President and his visibly excited daughter sat on either side of Santa, who asked them if they would mind if he put his arms around them, and then did exactly that. “Namaste, give my love to the people of India,” said Santa.

Then, it was a free-for-all with the dozens of politicians, diplomats and bureaucrats in Mukherjee’s entourage scrambling to get pictures clicked with Santa like awestruck children. “He was humming Christmas carols quite well,” said BJP MP Babul Supriyo, himself a popular singer.

Mukherjee also took a stroll of Santa’s village, including the main post office that receives millions of letters from children around the globe, including from India. Mukherjee told Rovaniemi mayor Esko Lotvonen that it was “a memorable occasion” to be at the Arctic Circle — in the land of Santa Claus, so near to the North Pole.

“I had the privilege of meeting Santa Claus himself and confirming that he does exist! The people of Rovaniemi are fortunate to have the opportunity to live and work with him. It must feel like Christmas all the year through,” said Mukherjee.

“We, in India, also celebrate Christmas in quite a big way. Christianity was brought to India by Saint Thomas, the Apostle himself, in the year 52AD. Thus, the faith was embraced by the people of India well before many European nations. Today, the number of Christians in India is about 24 million,” he added. – Times of India, 17 October 2014


St Thomas by Georges de la Tour (1625-30)


Ishwar Sharan’s comment 

Contrary to President Mukherjee’s statement, St. Thomas did not come to India nor did Christianity reach India before it reached Europe—it reached Greece, Italy, and Spain in the 40s CE. Nor is it true that “the faith was embraced by the people of India” at any time. Mukherjee is only repeating the popular tale that has been repeated by Indian politicians before him to catch the Christian vote. This is to be expected of a Congress party man who idolises Chairman Deng Xiaoping and spends public money on a state tour to meet Santa Claus in a Finnish amusement park. Will his next official foray abroad be to Disneyland to meet Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?  Are Indians aware that it is just this kind of false and foolish statement by an Indian head of state that makes India a laughing-stock in Europe?


 

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


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


Shashi Tharoor


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thomas of Cana


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

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

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

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

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


SRG


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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

 

The Deccan Chronicle Deceits – Ishwar Sharan


“Journalists have a vested interest in ignorance.” – George Bernard Shaw


For the note on the early Christian FISH SYMBOL and their later adoption of the CROSS as an identifying mark, scroll to the bottom of the page.


T. V. R.DC headerDeccan Chronicle Editor R. Mohan: Balls and no brains!


The Deccan Chronicle is South India’s largest circulation pro-Christian newspaper and the newest proponent in Chennai of the St. Thomas in India fable (following The Hindu and The New Indian Express). It is a popular newspaper that depends entirely on Hindu subscriptions for its existence, and therefore must hide its anti-Brahmin, pro-Catholic agenda. This is done by promoting anti-Hindu views covertly from behind a columnist’s byline or by publishing the provocative statements of the local San Thome Cathedral priest. The priest, who cannot distinguish between his beliefs and real Indian history, declares: ”The existence of the San Thome Church is a proof by itself that Christianity in India is more than 2000 years old” (Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 8 April 2007).

The San Thome Cathedral pastor is alluding to the St. Thomas in India legend and the claim that the apostle St. Thomas established Christianity in South India in 54 AD. The story is accepted tradition among Christians in Kerala. It is also a classic Christian persecution and martyrdom myth that was invented to malign and demoralise Christianity’s religious opponents. Christians have vilified Jews for 2000 years by blaming them for the murder of their god, and Christians have vilified Hindus for centuries by claiming that a Brahmin priest or Hindu king in Mylapore murdered St. Thomas. Both ancient communities, Jews and Brahmins — the latter being the custodians of Hindu culture — can thereafter be charged with deicide and subjected to the most wicked abuse and overt attempts to exterminate their religion and culture.[1] The mainstream media in India subscribes to this vicious communal agenda and promotes the fable in its columns at regular intervals though it has been aware of the legend’s falsehood and malefic intent for at least twenty years. This is inexcusable by any universal standard but gives a revealing insight into the nature of secular democracy and freedom of speech in India today. Hindus have no voice in the English-language print media and have become second class citizens in their own motherland. In states like Tamil Nadu they are virtually a disenfranchised people and under constant attack by an atheistic, racist government that overtly supports the foreign-financed Christian missions and NGOs that work in the state to alienate the Tamil people from their ancient civilization.

The Deccan Chronicle’s current resident editor in Chennai is cricket commentator R. Mohan, a self-righteous secularist of the Nehruvian school who assiduously follows the Christian practice of treating Hindu history as mythology and Christian mythology as history. In true Indian secularist fashion he does not tolerate dissent and letters sent to the editor concerning the lies and distortions that appear in Deccan Chronicle articles are neither acknowledged or published. Every effort is made by Mohan and his correspondents to provoke and insult Hindu readers and undermine their Hindu identity. This culturally subversive activity is called “freedom of the press” in our secular socialist India that is Bharat.

Chairman Reddy and resident house boy Mohan regard criticism of themselves and their “eminent” contributors — many of them foreigners based in London and New York — as a manifestation of Hindu communalism and ignorance. Indeed, dissent can attract a very spiteful response from Mohan Sahib (as this writer knows from experience). Yet both of these clever media men, whose decisions influence the opinions of half a million readers and more every day, will ignore facts and figures as extraneous irritants except where the facts and figures can be employed in subtle Hindu-bashing exercises[2] or otherwise to whitewash the bigoted, violent and licentious history of Islam and Christianity in India.

What follows is a collection of short items that are related to the St. Thomas legend, that appeared in the Deccan Chronicle in 2008. The items. called “name-stake” items with photos were published to establish the Christian ownership of the places they describe. The truth that all the places described once had Hindu temples on them until the Portuguese arrived, is thus negated and erased in the public mind.


Little Mount Church built 1551 AD by the Portuguese.


Little Mount

It is also called Chinna Malai, and is a little before St. Thomas Mount. There are two churches here, which are associated with the legends of the Apostle of India—Our Lady of Health Church and Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The annual festival at Our Lady of Health is a noteworthy event in the Madras calendar. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 16 July 2008

Ishwar Sharan respondsThe appellation “Apostle of India” for St. Thomas is a recent Roman Catholic invention conceived in 1953 when Cardinal Eugene Tisserant brought a piece of St. Thomas arm bone from Ortona to Kodungallur for a shrine. Prior to this date St. Francis Xavier held the title Apostle of India. Prof. Leonardo Olschki, a world authority on Christianity, writes, “The Nestorians of India [Syrian Christians] … venerated St. Thomas as the patron of Asiatic Christianity—mark, not of Indian Christianity”.

There are four places in Madras and its environs, other than San Thome, that the Portuguese associated with St. Thomas. The first is a rocky hillock called Little Mount, four miles southwest of Mylapore, on the south bank of the Adyar at Saidapet. Fr. Herman D’Souza, in In the Steps of St. Thomas, writes, “Hoary tradition among Catholics and non-Catholics … proudly holds that this part of [Madras] extended shelter to the Apostle, when the ministers of the local king, Mahadevan, were out to murder him…. The favorite of the king, Thomas was ever in danger of losing his precious life—thanks to the scheming ministers whipped up by Hindu priests…. There is a version that the Apostle was actually handled brutally more than once in his apartment, in the absence of the king. In order to save his life for yet a little while for the greater glory of God, Thomas is reported to have sought refuge in the jungle of Little Mount.”

This sly communal tale, invented by Jesuits and improved on by Fr. D’Souza, is peculiar to Madras [and still published by the San Thome Diocesan Press in Chennai]. He tries to establish Hindu support for the story, by quoting Hindu publications that repeat it. But Hindu traditions about Little Mount and other “St. Thomas” sites are quite different and much older than those of the Portuguese. They believe that the hillock, with its cave and spring and imprint of peacock’s feet in the rock, was sacred to Murugan, and Hindu women used to visit the site even after the Portuguese had cleared it of Hindu shrines. In 1551, a church was built by the cave, called Our Lady of Health, and the Jesuits built a second church by the spring. Nothing remains of these buildings today, and the archaeological evidence on the site was destroyed years ago when it was blasted to make way for the modern church that now stands there.

St. Thomas had to leave Little Mount when the king’s men found him in the cave. He fled to Big Mount [St. Thomas Mount], two miles further south, by a secret underground passage. But Big Mount did not offer refuge either. Fr. D’Souza writes, “His murderers sought him there and were on the point of seizing him. How long St. Thomas made his abode on top of the hill, one cannot say. Unbroken tradition maintains that while the Apostle was praying before a cross carved by him on a stone, an assassin suborned by King Mahadevan’s priest and ministers, crept up stealthily and pierced him with a lance from behind. Thereupon the Apostle is reported to have fallen on the stone cross and embraced it; his blood crimsoned the stone cross and the space around. Thus did he seal his Apostolate with his blood, even as the other Apostles, save St. John…. His disciples took his body to [Mylapore] … and interred it at his dear old place, about the year AD 68.”

This rendition of the fable has no equivalent in Malabar and no relationship to the account in the Acts of Thomas, though it does have in it the priest and the lance found in the Portuguese De Miraculous Thomae. There is no record that Mylapore had a temporal king of any name in 68 CE—the date first appeared on a memorial plaque in San Thome Cathedral in the eighteenth century and was afterwards incorporated into the story. But as is the case with many historical fabrications, it contains an element of truth and this gives the fictional parts credibility. Mahadevan is a reference to Lord Shiva, who was of course the King of Mylapore in the first century CE, even as He is the King of Mylapore today.


Santhome Cathedral


Town of Thomas

At the south end of Marina is San Thome, today a part of Mylapore. With its inspiring Basilica on a site where for 19 continuous centuries has stood some church or other. Just before the Basilica on this road is the former palace of the Maharaja of Mysore, now hidden behind formidable gates. Here live the representatives of Russia. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 1 September 2008

Ishwar Sharan respondsThe article above is a continuation of the Deccan Chronicle’s policy of prostituting Indian history to further its pro-Catholic agenda. Telling lies for Jesus—or in this case for his brother Thomas—has never been a problem of ethics for newspaper chairmen or editors who are born with Hindu names but who willingly sell their Hindu mothers down the river for a few dinars. The Deccan Chronicle and Asian Age are said to be owned by a Saudi Arabian company. There is no contradiction here between an Arab-owned Indian newspaper and its pro-Catholic agenda, as both Muslims and Christians and their secular Indian front men are willing to work together for the total annihilation of Hindu religion and culture.

Historically, the first Christian church to appear on the Mylapore beach was built in 1523 by Augustinian friars beside the new tomb of “St. Thomas” that had been dug and seeded with bones and other material brought from Goa by Albuquerque’s attendant Diogo Fernandez.

Earlier, in 1521–22, the Portuguese had opened two tombs in the Shiva temple’s northern precincts. One tomb contained a “black” skeleton, which, according to its inscription, belonged to a Chola king. The Portuguese nevertheless “identified” him as being a disciple of St. Thomas (as today Catholic historians “identify” Tiruvalluvar as being a disciple of St. Thomas). The second tomb revealed a “white” skeleton, which, naturally, “belonged” to the white Jew Thomas. This second skeleton was sent to Goa for verification—where it languishes till today, unsung and unrecognised.

As these diggings did not produce the required result, Diogo Fernandez was asked, in 1523, to excavate a third tomb which lay partly under the foundation of a dilapidated temple building that had been occupied by the Portuguese. He refused at first but was persuaded by the attending priest, Fr. Antonio Gil, who heard his confession and that of the two men, Braz Fernandez and Diogo Lourenco, who would assist him in the pious enterprise. They then began the excavation of a deep and elaborate, and very much empty, tomb. It was Saturday afternoon, and they continued the work into the late evening, when, on the suggestion of Diogo Fernandez, they abandoned their unproductive labours and retired for the night. The excavation was left open and unattended until the next morning, a Sunday, when the men began digging again. It was not long now before the grave disgorged bones that were “much worn out”, portions of skull and spine, and a clay pot of earth “bedewed with blood”, with a thigh bone in it, and hidden in the red earth an iron Malabar spearhead shaped like an olive leaf, which, after fifteen Christian centuries, still had a piece of wooden shaft miraculously preserved in its socket.

This church, originally built in 1523 and called San Thome or San Thome de Meliapore, was subsequently enlarged and extended, and the encroachment on the Kapaleeswara Temple began in earnest. The Christians had done this before, building a church against a temple wall and then slowing taking over the temple, and that the Shiva temple survived as long as it did, up to 1566 according to some authorities, is grand testimony to the patient and courageous resistance the Hindus of Mylapore had put up against this ruthless Catholic power.


Pius XII & Adolf Hitler


In 1606 the Pope, at the request of the King of Portugal, made San Thome de Meliapore into a diocese independent of Goa. The church was extended again and became the seat of a bishop, but, in 1893, this building was demolished by the bishop and the present Gothic cathedral put up in its place. It was completed and consecrated in 1896. In 1952 the archdiocese of Madras and Mylapore was constituted, and in 1956, after much lobbying by the Indian hierarchy, Pope Pius XII raised the status of San Thome to that of a minor basilica. This church dignity is of no consequence but it affords the archbishop some minor liturgical privileges.

Diogo Fernandez’s “St. Thomas” relics still remain in the church today. The iron spearhead and piece of skull are kept in a monstrance, along with the relics of St. Francis Xavier, St. Isabella, St. Vincentio and the Martyrs of Morocco. The first “St. Thomas” tomb, which contained the “white” skeleton that was sent to Goa, is empty and ignored, but the second “St. Thomas” tomb has recently been renovated and refurbished at great expense and a new life-size plaster idol of a “sleeping” Thomas still clutching the spear that killed him lies on top of it and is pointed out to pilgrims and tourists. It contains the remainder of Diogo Fernandezs “findings”, the pieces of spine and thigh bone, and, presumably, the pot of “blood-bedewed” earth.

Yet this is not the end of the bones at San Thome. The cathedral also has in its possession a piece of Church-certified Ortona bone, which it obtained from Cardinal Tisserant in 1953, after he had deposited the apostle’s right arm at Kodungallur. The pastor of San Thome can now say with some pride that he is the keeper of a real St. Thomas bone—keeping in mind that the acceptance of the Ortona gift is also an admission that the Portuguese relics in his care are not those of St. Thomas.


Big Mount church.


Serene Mount Beckons – George Adimathra

Chennai and its suburbs are replete with heritage sites such as the Tiruneermalai Vishnu temple (6th century), Tiruvottriyur Adipureeswarar temple (8th century), Kovalam Thameemun Ansari Dargha (7th century) and the St. Thomas Mount near the Chennai airport.

It is believed that St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ, died on the mount in AD 72 (first century), which makes it one of the oldest heritage sites in Chennai and also one of the oldest Christian sites in the world.

Believed to be one of the first Christians to reach India and preach Christianity in a country dominated by Hindus, St. Thomas was assassinated and the site where he was martyred came to be known as St. Thomas Mount.

People of various religions visit the holy shrine, negotiating the 160 steps built by Armenian merchant Choja Bedros Woskan leading to the top with 14 “stations of the cross” erected along the way. At the summit stands the church built by the Portuguese with its altar located at the very spot where St. Thomas breathed his last.

There are relics too, among which is the “Bleeding Cross” chiseled by the Apostle himself. The cross, which is said to “bleed” periodically, is believed to have been in the hands of the Apostle while he lay dying.

The oil painting of the Madonna, believed to be one of the seven painted by St. Luke, the evangelist, and brought to India by St. Thomas is placed above the altar.

This is considered to be the oldest Christian painting in India.

The place is also ideal for picnics [and romantic encounters if the warning notices placed by the resident nuns are to be believed].

The metropolis, spread all around the hillock, seems a distant dream land.

However the calm is shattered by the scream of the aircraft taking off or landing at the airport nearby. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 24 November 2008

Ishwar Sharan responds: The Deccan Chronicle in this article continues its St. Thomas deceits, this time with a by-line to absolve the editor of the crime of knowingly misleading the reading public with communal propaganda. Some bits and pieces of Hindu archaeology are thrown in with the express purpose of making the alleged Christian site—St. Thomas Mount—the older/oldest place of pilgrimage. This is in accord with the current Catholic “inculturational” programme of making the great Tamil Shaivite saint Tiruvalluvar a disciple of St. Thomas. According to the Mylapore archbishop and his spin doctor Deivanayakam, Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta and the Tamil bhakti movement are a by-product of the Christianity that St. Thomas brought to India and taught to Tiruvalluvar—Christianity being the “original” religion of the Tamils. It is all humbug of course, a wicked plan set in motion by wicked priests with the express purpose of undermining the cultural and religious integrity of Hindu society. If the Indian bishops succeed in destroying the Tamil Hindu identity and then appropriating the Tamil ethnic identity for Christianity, they will be well on the way of conquering India for Christ and of gaining recognition in Rome. Recognition by the Pope and Roman Curia is what the Indian bishops crave even more than the power and pelf they already enjoy in India with government support. The late Mylapore archbishop Arulappa admitted as much when his little scam to forge historical documents relating to St. Thomas in India was uncovered.[3] Forging religious artifacts and historical documents is a very old Christian pastime, and it is therefore not surprising to find Indian bishops and their “secular” minions at the Deccan Chroniclecontinuing the “pious” practice in 2008, by attempting to rewrite the religious history of the Tamil people.


R. Arulappa


The late archbishop of Mylapore, Dr. R. Arulappa, in Punitha Thomayar, asserts that Big Mount (St. Thomas Mount) was originally called Brungi (Bhrigu) Malai and was the seat of the Hindu sage Brungi Rishi until St. Thomas came and chased him away. This story, like the one above, is another piece of fiction that has at its core a little truth. The hill was sacred to Brungi Rishi, as the Tamils call Bhrigu Rishi, and it is the Portuguese who chased the “rishi” away, not St. Thomas. The Shiva temple associated with the rishi was destroyed around 1545, when they gained effective control of the hill, which was the highest in the area and the southern limit of their territory. Portuguese historians describe it as being crowded with ruins then, and broken temple stones could still be found on its slopes in 1995, on the south and west side.

The Portuguese had begun to settle around Big Mount as early as 1523 — the same year they “discovered” the tomb of “St. Thomas” — and one of the first to take up residence there was Diogo Fernandez. He would succeed in erecting a small chapel on the hill before 1545, but the construction of the church, called Our Lady of Expectation, did not commence until 1547. It was built on the east — west alignment of the temple foundation — the ancient granite base of the flag pole is on the eastern side of the church (and now covered over with asphalt since the publication of our book) — but the Portuguese reversed this order in keeping with established Christian practice when building on a Pagan site, and the church entrance is on the western side. In 1707, the building was extended by an Armenian merchant and the royal arms of Portugal were added to the facade of the main porch.


Persian cross dated to the 7th-8th century.


It was when clearing the rubble for the church, in 1547, that the Portuguese “discovered” the famous Persian “St. Thomas” cross in the temple foundation. Diogo Fernandez is not implicated in this fraud, but the Vicar of San Thome, Fr. Gaspar Coelho, and the Captain of the Coromandel, Gabriel de Athaide, are, as the construction was under their direct supervision. What is known for certain is that St. Thomas did not carve this cross — it is dated to the eighth century, like its counterparts in Kerala — and as a cross it did not originate on Big Mount. The inscription around it is in Pahlavi (Persian) and the sculptor has signed his name as Afras the Syrian. It was kept inside the church behind the altar, and used to “bleed” at irregular intervals up to 1704. This phenomenon stopped as soon as the sensible and schismatic British began to move into the area and build a cantonment.[4]


Virgin Mary & Child: There are at least seven icons of the Theotokos attributed to St. Luke scattered around the world. The first one appeared in the 5th century in Palestine and was sent to Constantinople.


The other “St. Thomas” relic in the church is a brightly coloured icon of Mary and the child Jesus. It is said to have been painted by St. Luke and brought to India by St. Thomas, who wore it on his breast as a scapular or badge of mission. In fact, it does not appear in Portuguese records until 1559, and the diverse stories that go with it were invented after this date.[5]

The church also has paintings of all the Apostles and of St. Thomas and his Hindu assassin. One of them, on the reredos of the altar, depicts an Iyengar Brahmin with namam, about to stab the praying apostle from behind. It defeats its purpose inasmuch as Vaishnavas did not wear namam, the U-shaped forehead mark, until after Ramanuja introduced it in the eleventh century. The other painting, very large and part of a series of the apostles and their various modes of death, shows St. Thomas with a book, a lance, and his sturdy Hindu assassin, who, this time, does not wear sectarian marks or orthodox dress.

The paintings and altar decorations were contributed to the church by the Armenian merchant community in Madras in the eighteenth century.


DC blurb


Legendary bleeding cross at St. Thomas’s church – Meera Iyer

The narrow road wound its way uphill, past houses bearing names like Rose Cottage, many camouflaged by the exuberant greenery in their gardens. The ambiance was straight out of a hill station. We were in the city to explore the story of St. Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, who is said to have come to Kerala in 52 AD and then moved to Chennai where he eventually died in 72 AD.

Our exploration of the apostle’s Chennai connection began where he died, at St. Thomas Mount. The peripatetic Italian, Marco Polo, who visited Chennai in the 1290s, recounts the story Church brethren told him of how the saint was killed when a hunter aiming at some peacocks accidentally hit the apostle. At the summit is the Church of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin, a simple church that is devoid of ostentation, but rich in myth and legend.

It was first built by Armenians and rebuilt by the Portuguese in 1521 and again in 1547. The Armenian influence is evident in the 14 beautiful paintings (dating to the 1700s) of Jesus and the apostles that line the walls. You can also see many Armenian inscriptions in and around church.

The altar here is believed to mark the spot where St. Thomas fell. The cross embedded in the wall behind the altar has an interesting story. It was unearthed by the Portuguese during excavations here.

The large granite slab bears a cross and an inscription on top, and once had red stains on it. This is the famous bleeding cross, which has been reported to sweat blood several times between 1556 and 1704. Tradition has it that it was fashioned by St. Thomas himself and that he died holding it. But controversy and doubts seem essential ingredients of all stories associated with Doubting Thomas. The strange lettering inscribed on the cross definitely added to its aura of mystery.

Although it was first assumed to relate to St. Thomas, in the late 1800s historians realised the inscription was actually in Pahlavi and, somewhat anti-climatically, had nothing to do with St. Thomas, but recorded only the name of the person who fashioned the cross. The inscription and hence the cross were dated to 650 AD, making it the oldest of only about half a dozen such Nestorian crossed in India.

Next to the bleeding cross is a beautiful oil painting on wood of the Madonna with baby Jesus, which according to legend was brought to India by the apostle himself and was painted by Luke the evangelist. Our next stop was the stately Santhome Cathedral Basilica, near Marina beach, built over the spot where St. Thomas was buried.

The church’s fortunes seem to have waxed and waned through the centuries for, although a magnificent church stood here in the 1200s, by the 1500s it was languishing. The Portuguese rebuilt it in the 1600s. In 1893, this building was demolished and the church in its present form came up and was consecrated in 1896.

Today’s cathedral is a grand Gothic edifice, complete with soaring towers and spires. Light streams in through exquisite stained glass windows in the clerestory.

One set of three large stained glass windows depicting the episode where Jesus appears to Doubting Thomas, was made in Germany in the 1870s.

At the very heart of the church, in the basement, is the apostle’s crypt and a tomb chapel. I learned that the soil around the grave has always been renowned for its miraculous powers. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 25 April 2010

IshwarSharan responds: The Deccan Chronicle appears to have become aware that it cannot maintain its St. Thomas deceits forever. It has changed tactic, conceding that the bleeding cross on Big Mount is a Nestorian creation of the seventh century but introducing Marco Polo’s story of having visited the Coromandel Coast and seen the apostle’s tomb for himself in 1292.

Marco Polo did not visit the Tamil coast at any time in his career, nor did he name the little town on the Tamil coast that allegedly played host to St. Thomas’s tomb. Marco was a story-teller and one of the world’s great liars. Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy, said as much even during Marco’s lifetime. Today there are scholars who doubt that Marco Polo ever left Constantinople or visited China. Marco Polo collected his travel tales from Muslim and Syrian Christian merchants who came to Constantinople to trade. His fabulous travel book called Il Milione was dictated to a cell mate when he was in prison in Genoa. We may assume that Marco Polo never went to China. But even if he did, he never visited the Coromandel Coast as he was “in China” in 1288 and in 1292 which are the dates given for his Coromandel visit. But this is not the main thrust of the Deccan Chronicle’s St. Thomas articles that appear regularly at intervals to mislead the Chennai reading public.

The Deccan Chronicle is trying to establish in the public mind that there were always Christian churches of one sort or another on the sites now claimed for St. Thomas. They have now introduced the Nestorians—and Armenians who were late comers—whom even Chennai’s pseudo-historian Muthiah does not depend on to authenticate the St. Thomas churches.

If the Deccan Chronicle and Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese can establish that there were churches in Mylapore and Saidapet and on Brungi Malai—St. Thomas Mount—before the arrival of the Portuguese in the early 1500s, then the Hindu claim to these sites stands cancelled.

But there is no authentic record of churches in Mylapore and its surrounds prior to the arrival of the Portuguese. None at all. And on the three sites in Madras associated with St. Thomas there is—or was until we published our observations in 1991—Hindu temple rubble. This writer has seen it himself on St. Thomas Mount and in 1985 was able to identify the granite foundation stone for the flag pole of a Hindu temple that existed on the hill prior to 1545. There is also the testimony of the late Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, Dr. R. Arulappa, in his book Punitha Thomayar that yantra stones from the foundations of Hindu temples were found in all St. Thomas sites. And there is the eye-witness account of G.P. Srinivasan in his article “Santhome Cathedral Cover-up Uncovered”, of temple rubble being removed from the San Thome Cathedral compound surreptitiously in 2001. And lastly there is the official testimony of Dr. R. Nagaswamy, former Director of the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology, that inscriptions on stone found only in Shiva temples were found in the walls of San Thome Cathedral.[6]

But none of this evidence exists today in the public sphere (though records will be there in government archives). It has all been removed by the San Thome diocesan authorities and the three Madras churches associated with St. Thomas have been cleaned up and renovated at the cost of crores of rupees. They are major tourist attractions, attract money and prestige for their Christian owners, and the Catholic Church has never been known to give up land it has acquired for any reason. That said, this writer has never at any time demanded that the three sites be returned to their legitimate Hindu owners. What he has asked for is a forensic investigation of the so-called relics in the St. Thomas tomb and a full accounting by Church authorities of the crimes committed by the Church and its agents in India over the centuries.


San Thome CathedralA.M. Chinnappa


The Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore owes the people of Madras an abject apology for the destruction of the Kapaleeswara Temple that once occupied the high point of the Marina beach that is now occupied by San Thome Cathedral. And to establish the sincerity of the abject apology, the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese may donate a piece of land from the vast Bishop’s House estate to the existing Kapaleeswara Temple Trust for the building of a memorial to the Hindu martyrs who died resisting the Portuguese invaders who destroyed the ancient great Shiva temple. But such an apology will not be forthcoming, for the Indian Church like the Indian media is ruled by brown sahibs who have sold their souls to white sahibs, and who are in fact traitors to their ancient native Hindu civilization and culture. The leaders of India’s Brown Church do not have the moral character to make such a confession — though confession of wrongdoing — unless it is the “doing” of little boys — is very much part of Roman Catholic Christian sacrament.


Husain's naked Brahmin


Notes

1. Anti-Brahminism and anti-Semitism are the same ethno-religious prejudice directed at an accomplished minority group who are perceived, wrongly, to be the cause of a nation’s social and economic ills, or, otherwise, to be controlling a nation’s cultural, political, or economic destiny from behind the scenes in their own interest. Koenraad Elst, in Indigenous Indians: Agastya to Ambedkar, writes, “In fact, apart from anti-Judaism, the anti-Brahmin campaign started by [Christian] missionaries is the biggest vilification campaign in world history.”


Idol worship


2. An example of an anti-Hindu exercise is the use of the term “idol” for Hindu images. Technically correct, the word is loaded with negative connotations and is part of the abusive rhetoric of Christian missionaries in India. The same newspaper on another page uses the neutral term “statues” for Christian images. Clearly, there is editorial bias at work here. In the forty plus years that I have lived in India, I have never met a Hindu who worships “idols”. Hindus worship their Gods, and even a simple village woman knows that the Gods are made of spirit not matter.

3. See Archbishop Arulappa’s History Project Goes Terribly Wrong

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

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

These crosses are evidence of the connection of the Christian church in India with Persia, but they may also be evidence of temple destruction and the planting of Christian relics in temple foundations – at least the one on St. Thomas Mount may be so considered.

The motif on this black granite slab is cut in relief, and on each side of the cross, which is surmounted by a descending dove, are pillars crowned with supernatural composite animals, or yalis, from whose mouths issue an arch that joins together above the dove.

These yalis are Hindu symbols, not Christian, and Veda Prakash, Director of the Institute for the Study of Western Religions, Madras, asserts that the cross on St. Thomas Mount is an over-cut temple stone. He claims support for this view from the most unexpected quarter. Dr. R. Arulappa, the former Roman Catholic archbishop of Madras, in Punitha Thomaiyar, says that yantra stones in temple foundations were dug up by the Portuguese on three of the four sites in Madras that they associated with St. Thomas and where they built churches—Mylapore, Little Mount at Saidapet, and Big Mount at St. Thomas Mount.

The dove-and-cross motif of this stone has been described by one writer as Manichaean and by another as Nestorian. Fr. Herman D’Souza, in In the Steps of St. Thomas, quoting Francis Gouvea on the sixteenth century Portuguese “excavation” at St. Thomas Mount, identifies the motif with that used by the Knights of Aviz in Portugal.

The solution to this problem of the origin and identification of the Persian crosses and all other relics associated with St. Thomas is to have them examined by independent forensic experts. If the Bishop of Turin could surrender the famous Shroud of Turin, alleged burial cloth of Jesus, to scientists and accept their verdict that it is a mediaeval fake, then the Archbishop of Madras should be willing to do the same with the various St. Thomas relics in his possession.

5. There are seven of these icons by “St. Luke” scattered around the world. The most famous one hangs in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, which was built by Pope Sixtus III in 432 C.E. after he had demolished the Temple of Cybele on the Esquiline Hill.


Cross varieties used by ChristiansGreek cross from the Rome catacombs: Early 3rd century.


About the Christian fish and cross

The cross as a symbol of Christianity did not come into popular use until the 3rd century. There are two reasons for this: first, early Christians were practising Jews and the cross was an abhorrent symbol of torture and death, and second, the cross was already used as a religious symbol by adherents of various Pagan cults throughout West Asia and Greece. It is argued by some scholars that the Christians borrowed the cross from the Orphics in the 3-4th centuries. But in fact it did not gain popularity as a Christian symbol till some centuries later.

Even if Judas Thomas had come to Mylapore, he would not have made cross symbols as he was a practising Jew. First century Jews whether Moses or Jesus followers (there were no “Christians” in the 1st century) were rigid iconoclasts and could not tolerate Pagan cross symbols. The Christian cross was introduced into India by Christian immigrants from Persia after the 7th century CE.


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

Christian fish symbol


For the first three centuries, Christians used the fish with or without the word “ΙΧΘΥΣ” (Ichthys), Greek for FISH, drawn in the fish body as their religious identity symbol. The symbol was an acronym for “Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ”, (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr), which translates into English as “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior”. 


Mary & Child by "St. Luke".

This icon attributed to St. Luke, kept in the Portuguese Church of Our Lady of Expectation on St. Thomas Mount, is very obviously a product of 16th century Portuguese piety. The first icon attributed to St. Luke—there are seven of “his” Theotokos icons in churches around the world—appeared in Palestine in the 5th century and was sent to Constantinople. It is now in the Benedictine Abbey church of Montevergine, Italy. But the most famous of these icons “by St. Luke” hangs in Santa Maria Maggiore  Basilica in Rome.

Nor was the Virgin Mary venerated until some centuries later. Historically, neither the cross nor the painting(s) of the Virgin Mary can be associated with the 1st century apostles Thomas and Luke. The association was made by pious Christian authors and artists long after Christianity was imposed on the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine. The Indian Christian today naively believes that the Christianity of 1st century Jerusalem was a fully developed religious system, the same religion presented to Indians in the 16th century by the Portuguese.

Minucius Felix expounds on the cross

Minucius Felix, the 3rd century Christian apologist, wrote: “We assuredly see the sign of a cross naturally, in the ship when it is carried along with swelling sails, when it glides forward with expanded oars; and when the military yoke is lifted up it is the sign of a cross; and when a man adores God with a pure mind, with arms outstretched. Thus the sign of the cross either is sustained by a natural reason or your own religion is formed with respect to it.”

This remark by Minucius Felix is followed by an even more interesting one: Crosses, moreover, we Christians neither venerate nor wish for. You indeed who consecrate gods of wood venerate wooden crosses, perhaps as parts of your gods. For your very standards, as well as your banners, and flags of your camps, what are they but crosses gilded and adorned? Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it.”