Tag Archives: santhome cathedral

Geeta Padmanabhan votes for St. Thomas – Ishwar Sharan


“The Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese offers generous rewards to any newspaper columnist promoting its (in)famous San Thome Cathedral and the fable of St. Thomas that goes with it. And there are in India any number of journalistic ‘presstitutes’ (courtesy Gen. Singh) who are eager to collect the Catholic moolah and record the falsified history of St. Thomas as dictated by the parish priest and his greedy bishop. A fine example of this ‘presstitution’ which appeared in The Hindu, Chennai’s notoriously Hinduphobic newspaper, is posted below.” – IS


The HinduGeeta Padmanabhan


St. Thomas and the city – Geeta Padmanabhan

San Thome Basilica, Santhome

In a city with many churches known for their antiquity, history, religious significance and architectural grandeur, this one stands tall. Its imposing neo-Gothic design is enhanced by a series of spires, with the tallest rising to 155 ft.

The colossal central area, stunning stained-glass murals and life-size portraits inside, and the slender towers and pinnacles outside, make it a huge tourist attraction.

But, the cathedral’s significance goes beyond architectural beauty. The basilica is one of the three places associated with St. Thomas in Chennai. Legend has it that he landed in India in 52 CE and established churches on the West Coast before heading to the Coromandel coast and Madras. After his martyrdom in 72 CE, his disciples buried him in Santhome, and the church came up on the spot.

Wrote Marco Polo: “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.” The Portuguese arrived in the 16th century, were shown the tomb by Armenian merchants, excavated it in 1523, found a few relics and rebuilt the shrine.

By 1893, the church, again in disrepair, was demolished to give way for the present one. In 1956, the church was declared a minor basilica. In 2002, in a further renovation, a new passage to the tomb from outside and a museum of St. Thomas memorabilia were added. The spear that killed the saint, stones that have deeds of St. Thomas etched on them, and two postage stamps are part of the collection.

The cathedral became a centre of conversation when the tsunami that devastated areas all around left the newly-renovated church untouched. Folklore has it that St. Thomas had mounted a log of wood at the top of the steps leading to the Cathedral saying the sea would not pass that point. People believe this “miraculous post” kept the sea away that fateful day.

Little Mount

The story of St. Thomas’ association with Chennai begins in a tiny cave in Little Mount (Chinnamalai) at Saidapet. The apostle is believed to have lived and preached here. The cave’s mouth is about 5 feet in height and one-and-a-half feet in width. Another opening supposedly leads to a tunnel through which the apostle is believed to have escaped his assailants. The clear palm print near the tunnel’s entrance and the footprint at the foot of the hillock are believed to be those of St. Thomas. The freshwater spring nearby is supposed to have appeared miraculously to quench the thirst of his followers.

A portrait of St. Thomas, a Portuguese inscription, a tiny church built by the Portuguese in 1551 and a masonry cross at the top of the hill add to the place’s importance. A new circular modern church dedicated to our Lady of Health, has been built to commemorate the 19th Century of St. Thomas’ martyrdom.

St. Thomas Mount

A flight of 160 steps, built by the Armenian merchant Coja Petrus Uscan, leads to the top of St. Thomas Mount. Here you get to see what is believed to be a piece of St. Thomas’ bone and the “bleeding” cross, that legend says was carved by St. Thomas himself. It is while he was praying before it that he is said to have been martyred, and it was stained with his blood. This cross was discovered in the 16th century by workers digging to lay the foundation for the church. People believe it sweated blood on December 18 every year from 1551 to 1704 AD.

Also, look for the picture of Our Lady or the Scapular of St. Thomas, said to have been painted by St. Luke the Evangelist and brought here by St. Thomas. – The Hindu, 4 October 2016

Geeta Padmanabhan is a freelance journalist and a retired English teacher. Happiness to her is exchanging ideas with young people—(telling them the truth about Mylapore’s sordid Portuguese history is to be avoided though! – IS). Geeta lives in Chennai, India.- The Hindu, 4 October 2016


Gulf of Mannar


Ishwar Sharan replies

The reason we have taken issue with Geeta Padmanabhan’s article in The Hindu is because The Hindu’s editor refuses to allow any dissenting view or counter comment to the article. We know of half a dozen readers who have commented on Geeta’s article but have had their comments deleted.

This prejudiced editorial position of The Hindu vis-a-vis the St Thomas myth is not new. We have had three editions of our study of the St Thomas myth rejected by The Hindu’s editors, in 1991 when it was first published, then again in 1995 and 2010 when these later expanded editions were sent to the paper for review.

This deeply discriminatory attitude of The Hindu is equally true of other mainstream newspapers, namely The New Indian Express and The Times of India. All of them publish St. Thomas stories and all of them refuse outright to consider the actual historical evidence against St. Thomas’s mission and murder in India, or the evidence for the destruction of the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach and the building of the first San Thome Church on its foundations by the Portuguese.

The whole fable is exploded by the fact that the complete skeleton of St. Thomas has been in the possession of the Ortona Cathedral Basilica (Basilica-Concattedrale di San Tommaso Apostolo) in Italy since the 12th century. Therefore the Portuguese could not have found any bones or spear heads or pots of blood-soaked earth in the royal tomb—allegedly of a Chola prince—they opened in the 16th century!

Geeta Padmanabhan undermines her own concocted story for St Thomas in Mylapore when she quotes Marco Polo. He wrote: “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.”

Obviously this is a reference to the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka, not the Mylapore beach area that is now called Santhome.

All told Marco never visited India. He is only repeating the fanciful tales of Syrian Christian merchants that he met in Constantinople.

Why are educated and cultured South Indian intellectuals so reluctant to tell the truth of history and the fact that the Portuguese imposed the St. Thomas tale on Mylapore by force and fraud, that they totally destroyed Mylapore as far as their ships’ cannon could reach—about 2 kms inland—and then “restored” the town with their St. Thomas churches built over ruined temple foundations? Why?


 

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

 


The News Minute’s pro-belief pronouncements on St. Thomas – Ishwar Sharan


The News MinuteMadhumita Gopalan


“The St. Thomas in India story is a Christian myth and it should be identified and presented to the Indian public as a myth—indeed a Catholic myth as most Protestants reject it—by the so-called secular Indian media.” – Ishwar Sharan


Luz Church or Our Lady of Light Church


Chennai’s colonial-era churches: Tranquil sanctuaries in a bustling metropolis – Madhumita Gopalan

Chennai is most commonly thought of as a gateway to Tamil Nadu, the land of thousands of magnificent temples. What’s less known is that the city has had a long association with Christianity since as far back as the 1st century AD, and is peppered with beautiful churches built by the colonial powers between the 16th and 20th centuries.

The Church of Our Lady of Light, locally called the Luz Church, is probably the oldest church in Chennai. In the early 16th century, Vasco da Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer, discovered a maritime route to India. Right after that, it is said that 8 Portuguese priests came to India to preach Christianity. On their way to the eastern shores of south India, they were hit by bad weather and got lost at sea. Legend has it that a bright light mysteriously appeared out of nowhere and guided them to safety. This church was built in the year 1516 at the place that the light led them to.


St. Thomas & San Thome Cathedral


There are two more iconic churches in Chennai originally built by the Portuguese, and both have a deep connection with St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. It is said that he was unable to believe the news of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, and needed proof to be convinced of it—this was the origin of the phrase ‘doubting Thomas’. St. Thomas is believed to have travelled to south India in the middle of the 1st century AD, to spread the gospel. Many historians credit him with bringing Christianity to India. He is said to have arrived on the Malabar Coast and eventually made his way to the eastern coast. In 72 AD, he was killed at St Thomas Mount and buried in the Mylapore area of Chennai. This version of history is however debated by many.


Our Lady of Expectation Church


Many centuries later, the Portuguese built one church with its altar at the spot where the apostle was martyred, and another over his grave near Mylapore. The church at St. Thomas Mount is said to date back to 1523, and commands stunning views of the city. The church built on St. Thomas’ grave was rebuilt by the British in 1893 as the Santhome Basilica. The magnificent white Gothic style church stands close to the Marina Beach, and pilgrims from all over the world come to pray at the apostle’s tomb.  (Article abridged)The News Minute, Saturday, July 23, 2016


Ishwar Sharan’s Comment

When we informed the author, Madhumita Gopalan, and the editor of The News Minute that there was no historical evidence for St. Thomas in India, a sentence was added to the third paragraph of the photo essay above which reads, “This version of history is however debated by many.”

Two lines above the added sentence, is another sentence which reads, “Many historians credit him with bringing Christianity to India.”

So the objective of the photo essay remains. The fable of St. Thomas in India as presented by Madhumita Gopalan in The News Minute is Indian history.

But if truth be told, it isn’t Indian history at all. This writer has shown in his carefully researched book, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, that forty plus leading historians and scholars, many of them Christian divines, have doubted and denied Thomas’s travels to India and a few have even doubted his existence.

The point is that the St. Thomas in India story is a myth and it should be identified and presented to the public as a myth—indeed a Catholic myth as most Protestants reject it—by the so-called secular Indian media.

But the mainstream Indian media has shown itself to be a small-minded and pusillanimous institution, neither well-informed or ethical, so appeasing a minority Indian community by presenting its favorite religious fairy tale as true Indian history is quite in form for them.

But it is not quite in form for the Hindu community that stands accused of killing St. Thomas out of jealousy. The accusation is vicious and false, a blood libel on the Hindu nation, and if the media continues to make it it will have to be taken to a court for review.

Four of the five Portuguese churches in Madras are built on temples ruins. Had the author of the article above visited the San Thome Cathedral museum, she would have found in it carved stone pillars and other artefacts that may have been part of the original Kapaleeswara Temple that the cathedral church replaces.


Temple pillars in San Thome Cathedral MuseumBones in the San Thome Bishop's Museum


Christians, like Muslims, are quite proud of the fact that they have destroyed the heathen temples of Hindus in Hindustan.

In 1996 this writer asked the Vatican archives for information or confirmation that St. Thomas had visited India. The Vatican’s reply was that it was a matter for historians to decide. And indeed a leading Catholic theologian and scholar did decide the issue in 2006 when Pope Benedict XVI stated that St. Thomas did not take Christianity to South India.

This being the case, the discussion should end with Pope Benedict’s statement. But it does not end because the media is still squeezing money—and Hindu blood—from the fable.

We are letting a leading historian and Indologist who studied under Jesuits have the last word here on St. Thomas in India.

Dr. Koenraad Elst writes:

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.

A new 2019 print edition of The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple is available from publisher Voice of India in New Delhi. The book with its extensive references and bibliography is also available online in pdf format.


 

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


 

S. Muthiah: Chennai’s own holocaust denier – Ishwar Sharan


This article is a rejoinder to S. Muthiah’s column “The Mount of Thomas” on 7th January 2004 in The Hindu, Chennai.


S. Muthiah


All eminent historians writing on colonial India describe the devastation of Mylapore and its environs by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The respected Mylapore archaeologist Dr. R. Nagaswami, who has worked on San Thome Cathedral with the Jesuits, tells of the destruction of Jain and Buddhist temples along with all of the buildings of the Kapaleeswarar Temple on the Mylapore beach. Before him the Portuguese historian Gaspar Correa describes a holocaust that extended from Mylapore to Big Mount, south of the Adyar River. Even the St. Thomas protagonist Archbishop Arulappa admitted that Hindu temples once stood on the sites now occupied by St. Thomas–related churches in Madras, at Mylapore, Saidapet, and Big Mount now called St. Thomas Mount.

But the true story about the annihilation of Mylapore, the ancient Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage town established long before the Christian era, is not to be told by today’s self-appointed guardians of Chennai heritage. The truth is not overtly denied, it is simply not admitted, and is covertly replaced by a fabulous Christian tale about St. Thomas coming to Mylapore in 64 C.E. and getting himself killed eight years later on Big Mount. The tale turns the victims of a holocaust into the slayers of an important Christian saint, the doubting apostle of the Gospels, and–yes!–the twin brother of Jesus, no less. With this story to cover up the true story of Mylapore, Hindus can be made into “Christ killers” just like the Jews before them, and treated accordingly—damned and reviled by the Christian power then, the Portuguese, and damned and censored by the Christian power now, the Americans who, like the Portuguese, use Christianity to give them moral authority for their imperial expeditions, and as a means to gain influence and sympathy through converts in an India that they wish to dominate.


The HinduS. Muthiah (2nd L) & N. Ram (R)


The main champion of St. Thomas in Madras today, besides the Catholic Church who owns the shrines and collects the money, is the Sri Lanka-returned journalist and producer of picture books, S. Muthiah, who got his stripes sitting at the feet of the notorious Indian Express columnist Harry Miller, Muthiah’s current patron is The Hindu, an obloquial communist rag that is known up and down Mount Road as “The Dinosaur” because it is big and old and dumb, and makes so much noise as it lumbers along through the capitalist swamps of secular, socialist India. Its editor is an ideological Neanderthal called N. Ram.[1] His forte is “secularism” which, in today’s political parlance, means he is anti-national and anti-Hindu. He believes that China is the great leader and assiduously follows the Chinese two-systems system in his newspaper–economic freedom and political oppression for all. His opinion columns are filled with gloom and doom, and the rest of the paper is given over to the celebration of consumer goods for the urban rich. One of the special items for sale on January 7th, 2004, was the tale of St. Thomas in an article called “The Mount of Thomas” by S. Muthiah (since removed from The Hindu website or behind a paywall).


Madras Musings


Muthiah, himself an editor of sorts at Madras Musings, opens his article on the glorification of the Portuguese churches at Little Mount and Big Mount with a disclaimer of sorts. He says he is going to do a little unhistorical storytelling, and pretends that he can only just recall our book, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple when in fact he received copies of it when he was an editor at another communist rag The Indian Review of Books. He did not review the book, of course, and to our knowledge has never done any research of his own on the St. Thomas legend except to consult Catholic religious pamphlets and visit the St. Thomas churches. Muthiah would like to dismiss us, deport us to one of Uncle Joe Stalin’s gulags for truth-tellers. He and his editor at The Hindu, had they any conscience at all, would be deeply troubled by the reality that it is a foreign sadhu in India for religious reasons, without means or influence, who has had to find out the facts and expose the St. Thomas fraud in Madras. They have not had the intellectual integrity or courage to do the work themselves. Muthiah then has the presumption to advise us to be tolerant as he proceeds to mislead the public, as much as by what he does not say as by what he does, about the cave and two churches which were earlier Hindu shrines destroyed by the Portuguese. Muthiah is a very astute propagandist, a very persuasive man engaged in a cover-up. He would be better employed selling used cars. He writes:

“Several years ago, there was an American (?) turned Hindu ascetic who was never happy whenever I wrote of Thomas Didymus, the Apostle of India. In fact, he wrote a book, I recall, devoting a considerable and angry part of it to my unhistorical approach to the legend of Thomas in particular. I don’t know whether he’s still around, but if he is, I wish he’d realize that articles of faith, like his own, are not disputable, calling, instead, for tolerance. And that a little unhistoric story-telling, like today’s does no one any harm.”

Muthiah’s claim that the St. Thomas legend is an article of faith is a travesty of Christian doctrine. It is an emotional appeal, an attempt at moral blackmail. He is deeply committed to hiding the historical facts, and would like Madras citizens, Christians and Hindus alike, to accept the legend at face value—he would like them to accept it as Indian history. He would also like them to condemn us for intolerance when we expose the story, and the way it is manipulated by interested parties like himself and his editor, as a fraud. He has invested a lot of money and prestige in the legend. But our concern is Madras history and not Muthiah’s social standing at the Madras Club. We wrote The Hindu editor on January 16th, with a copy of the letter to S. Muthiah. We said:

Mr. Muthiah’s patronizing reference to me in the first paragraph of his Jan. 7th article, “The Mount of Thomas”, so typical of the self-righteous Indian (?) scribe, is wrong on two counts and deserves a reply. First, as I have shown in my book, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple (Chapter 19 and also the Vatican letter published on Acta Indica, the legend of St. Thomas in Madras is not an article of faith in the Catholic Church at all, though it can be said to be a dearly held sentiment among some Christian believers; and secondly, an article of faith or religious sentiment of a particular religious community can be tolerated in a pluralistic society so long as it does not intrude on or demean the beliefs and sentiments of another and different religious community. My quarrel with Mr. Muthiah and the English-language media that promote the St. Thomas legend, is that the legend does indeed intrude on and vilify the Hindu community. It falsely implicates a Hindu king and his priests in the persecution and murder of a Christian apostle and saint, and there is good reason to believe that this maligning of the Hindu community is exactly what is intended today when the legend is promoted and repeated ad nauseam by the Catholic Church and her agents in the press. In fact, the Hindu community is doubly wronged. It not only did not kill the fictional St. Thomas, but for the saint’s cause it lost a number of important temples to the aggressive religious bigotry of the Portuguese. It took more than fifty years for the Portuguese to bring down the original Kapaleeswarar Temple and build a St. Thomas Church in its place. I wonder how many Indian lives were lost in defence of the Great God Shiva and His house on the Mylapore beach? And has Mr. Muthiah, the self-important Madras city reporter after Harry Miller, ever considered writing a panegyric to these forgotten martyrs—true martyrs!—of a universal and tolerant faith?

This letter was ignored, of course. The reader’s right of reply is not recognised at The Hindu, though the media mafia who operated the newspaper make a lot of noise about press freedoms when they fancy their own freedoms are under attack. Other concerned readers sent protests to the editor, including the Tamil scholar Veda Prakash, himself an expert on Mylapore history and the St. Thomas legend. He had analysed the article and called for a full scientific investigation into the various alleged St. Thomas relics held in the churches, despite Muthiah’s claim that articles of faith are not disputable. His letter caused great consternation in the newspaper’s office. The editor cannot deny the validity of his request, nor, for that matter, can the Bishop of Madras-Mylapore.

But, notwithstanding the attempts of The Hindu to silence us, the article attracted a large number of visitors to our now defunct website Hamsa.org over the week after publication. We are satisfied that the facts of a controversy created by the press and suppressed by the press when they are caught in the lie and challenged, is now reaching an interested public worldwide.


1. This writer once had the misfortune of meeting The Hindu editor, N. Ram. He arrived one morning in 1992 on our ashram doorstep with a Muslim friend. He did not identify himself except to say that his name was Ram, and was eager to push forward his companion. Finally, his manner radiating hostility, he asked us our opinion about the demolition of the disputed building called Babri Masjid in Ayodhya earlier in the year. We replied that we did not feel that Muslims had any vested interest or claim in Ayodhya. It was a Hindu pilgrimage town for many centuries and had no religious value to Muslims. The disputed building was a victory monument built by a foreign invader’s governor who had wished to subdue and intimidate the local Hindu inhabitants. We wondered how Indian Muslims, the citizens of a free and independent India whose religious rights were protected, could place any value on such a structure? There was a dead silence for a minute after this reply, while Ram glared at us menacingly (his Muslim companion had closed his eyes and sunk down in his chair). “No use talking to you,” he growled, and got up and stomped out of the room with his companion in tow.

“Who was that?” I asked the Mataji of the ashram later. “Oh, that was Ram of The Hindu,” she said, laughing. “You can be sure of a bad press from now on! You had better find another name to write under. The one Ram knows you by will be on every media black list by tomorrow.” And so it has come about. Jai Sri Ram!


Tsunami: St. Thomas abandons fishermen, saves himself – Ishwar Sharan


“The English-language press in India is politically correct, opportunistic, and engaged in minority appeasement just like the politicians. It is a commercial commodity without ideals or ethics. It has no credibility among the informed public because it is wedded to a secularist fundamentalism that is at odds with the spiritual ethos of the Indian people.” – Ishwar Sharan


Susan Muthalaly


In an extraordinary example of superstitious and deceitful reporting, Susan Muthalaly wrote on 4 January 2005 in The New Indian Express, Chennai edition, an article called the “Santhome miracle”. It was a crass attempt by the lady scribe at Christian one-upmanship when the Tamil fisher coast was in crisis from the tsunami.

It is not clear why the newspaper gave her space to blow pious bubbles, though soft-soaping the religious minorities is the accepted practice in India’s English-language press. Even so, The New Indian Express, better known for plain speaking and bad English prose, caused some consternation among its trusting readers with the preposterous miracle story that unwittingly showed up St. Thomas as a selfish man interested only in saving his own skin while the fishermen’s huts below his church were washed away. Susan Muthalaly wrote:


Fr. Lawrence Raj: Parish priest of San Thome Cathedral


Father Lawrence Raj, the parish priest of the Santhome Cathedral Basilica has been inundated with inquiries about the story of St. Thomas’ miraculous post, supposed to have kept the sea away on December 26. The 450-year-old church, located a few metres from the water, remained unaffected by the tsunamis even though buildings in line with it on either side were ravaged by the waves.

The belief, says Father Lawrence, is that when St. Thomas planted the post at the top of the steps leading to the cathedral, he said the sea would not pass that point.

“But that is the legend,” stresses the father, “nobody knows whether it is true.” The priest sounds wary of declaring it a miracle. Puzzling, considering his job and that he gives visitors what he jokingly calls “credit cards to heaven” – neat little plastic cards laminated with a pinch of soil from St. Thomas’ tomb that fit into your wallet. He offers logical explanations, like perhaps it is because the church is built on a higher level. “But then,” he reasons, “the lighthouse is on roughly the same plain, and the water reached it.”

Father Lawrence says that for the people who have faith, it would be a miracle. “I believe it is,” he adds. He takes you to the terrace from which he saw the sea in action, as it surged across the road and flooded the huts in front of St. Thomas’ post. It is an innocuous looking log of wood, mounted on a cement pedestal.


Tom's pole on beachPlaque on the St. Thomas PoleThe real miracle is that nobody has cut this  ‘St. Thomas’ pole down and carried it away to their puja room or a European museum!


The story goes that a village in the Mylapore area was flooded when a huge tree trunk fell across the river. The local king brought a royal pachyderm to lug it away, but the task seemed impossible. Then St. Thomas came along, removed the girdle from waist and handed it to a bystander and asked him to yank the log with it. He did so and the log moved easily. There is a mural illustrating the episode in the cathedral museum.

Father Lawrence says the post is believed to be from that same log of wood. Though there is another story that the post comes from the chapel that St. Thomas built in 74 A.D.

“People have been asking about this story. It has always been around but it is difficult to confirm as fact something that occurred nearly 2,000 years ago. That is why I have been trying to verify the story with other people,” says the priest.

Father Lawrence is certainly not alone in believing the story about the safety of his church.

“Till December 31 we had about 2,000 people taking shelter over here. Partly because it is a church, it is a centre point for distributing relief material. I suppose it is also because people feel safe here.”

Father Lawrence and his reporting scribe Susan Muthalaly are speaking out of both sides of their mouth. According to them, the story of St. Thomas and his miraculous log of wood is true and not true at the same time. Of course, it is not true as they both very well know but are unwilling to say as faithful Christians.

We have to help them tell the truth. We have scholarship on our side and are not tied to an unforgiving and infructuous religious faith. We wrote The New Indian Express editor on January 5th, with a copy of the letter to Father Lawrence Raj. We wrote:

Apropos the article “The Santhome miracle” (TNIE, Jan. 4), Santhome Cathedral and Bishops House stand on the site of the original Kapaleeswara Temple which was destroyed in 1566 by the Portuguese. This site is the highest point on the Mylapore beach and is naturally protected from sea surges, Dr, R. Nagaswami, former director of the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology, has written: “The most important Kapaleeswara Temple lost all its ancient building during the Portuguese devastation and was originally located by the Santhome Cathedral. A few Chola records found in the Santhome Cathedral and Bishop’s House refer to Kapaleeswara Temple and Poompavai. A Chola record in fragment found on the east wall of the Santhome Cathedral refer to the image of Lord Nataraja of the Kapaleeswara Temple.” And, “A 12th century Chola record in the Santhome Cathedral region, refers to a Jain temple dedicated to Neminathaswami,”

Dr. Nagaswami and the Jesuit he worked with also recorded the finding of Buddhist images in the same area. There is no literary or archaeological evidence that a Christian church ever stood at this site prior to the Portuguese occupation of Mylapore.

The story of the wooden log which St. Thomas miraculously lifted was borrowed from the Jagannath Puri stala purana and introduced into the Mylapore St. Thomas legend by the Portuguese. The wooden log now standing on the beach at the bottom of the steps leading from the church (which miraculously has not yet been stolen) can be dated by radiocarbon testing, as can the bones in the two alleged St. Thomas tombs. When the dates of these relics have been established by forensic science (as is done with relics in European churches), their true nature and identity can be more easily ascertained.


The New Indian Express Masthead

Manoj K. SonthaliaAditya Sinha


This letter was not published in The New Indian Express and when we realised that the newspaper was not going to allow a rejoinder to its outrageous miracle story, we sent a personal appeal to the Managing Editor M. K. Sonthalia. He had on past occasions shown himself to be a responsible editor of courage and integrity when dealing with the St. Thomas controversy. But this time he was silent.

A second appeal was sent to him on January 19th, expressing our dismay at his silence and refusal to accommodate a reply to Susan Muthalaly’s article. We accused him of cowardice and of hiding behind the skirts of philosophy—Indian editors who have read a book or two take refuge in philosophy when they do not want to take responsible action. We also pointed out that Santhome Cathedral Basilica was a monument to religious bigotry not a house of miracles.

But the silence continued, and we learned it was the silence of recreance, not philosophy, The managing editor had allegedly come under pressure from his Christian editors and shareholders not to publish our rejoinder, and he had succumbed to their demands even as he had earlier succumbed to their dictate that the popular columnist Francois Gautier be dismissed for his pro-Hindu views.

This sad state of affairs at The New Indian Express leads to the larger question of journalistic ethics and integrity. The English-language press in India is politically correct and opportunistic. It is a commercial commodity without ideals. It has no credibility among the informed public because it is wedded to a secularist fundamentalism that is at odds with the spiritual ethos of the Indian people. At the same time it is able to shape public opinion to some extent, and it benefits politically from its morally criminal position of untruth. But one day this will change, and one day the people of Mylapore will learn the true history of the holocaust that took place on their beaches in the 16th century in the name of a malevolent foreign god whose intolerant nature and imperial ambitions were first recorded in the Old Testament.[1]


1. The article “The Santhome miracle” by Susan Muthalaly appeared on 4 January 2005 in the Chennai edition of The New Indian Express. When our response to it was not published, we informed the managing editor of our intention to reproduce the article in full on this web site and asked him to inform us if he had any objection. We have not received any objection from him to date.