Tag Archives: temple breaking

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


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


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


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

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


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


In his rejoinder, Ishwar Sharan wrote:

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

References

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

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


Sri Kapaleeswara Temple: Ancient and enduring landmark – Lakshmi Venkatraman


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


Kapaleeswara Temple Raj Gopuram


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

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

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


Temple pillars in San Thome Cathedral Museum


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

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

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

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

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

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


Arulmigu Kapaleeswara Temple


The structure

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

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

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

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

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


Kapaleeswara Temple Tank


Temple tank

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

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


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


Festivals

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

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


Kapaleeswara Temple tank and gopuram (1906)


Temple looting in Kerala: Yesterday and today – Leela Tampi


How did it happen that the Hindus of Kerala stood silently by when their hallowed, highly venerated temples were thus plundered, dishonoured and reduced to beggary? The fact is, in the course of centuries of slavery we Hindus have assiduously taught ourselves to mistake apathy for tolerance, servility for gentleness and cowardice for pacifism. The process is still continuing, with the Hindus tricked into accepting self-hate and self-destruction as secularism. –  Leela Tampi


Thrikkavadoor Temple


The Hindu people of India, even if belatedly, are now awakening to the humiliation, tragedy and tremendous loss inflicted on them through the savage destruction of their ageless, holy temples by invading hordes in the name of their religion of the Arabian desert.

In spite of this heartening fact that the nation has now woken up and is carefully taking stock of the unspeakable atrocities and national loss it had suffered at the hands of the butchering, bestial invaders, sadly enough the devastation suffered by the temples of Kerala has not attracted the nation’s attention. On the one hand the impression that the Kerala temples had escaped destruction has gained ground: probably because unlike in the other parts of India, in Kerala mosques are not seen squatting on top of temple foundations; nor is the Kerala landscape pockmarked with heartbreaking rotting mounds that were once the holy temples of the Hindus.

But it certainly is not that Kerala was more fortunate than the rest of India in the matter of the destruction of temples. The stark truth is that the devastation suffered by Kerala temples at the hands of foreigners and local quislings is as direful as that suffered by temples elsewhere in India. The only difference is that as most of the damage was perpetrated by the cunning British, it was accomplished insidiously, like murder being committed by slow suffocation without any wound being seen on the outside.

While the rabidly fanatic Tipu Sultan ‘the bandit of Mysore’ destroyed two thousand temples in the Malabar region to establish Islam, it was the British rulers acting at the behest of Christian missionaries who, starting from two hundred years ago, dug the grave of the Kerala temples. The wily British accomplished this not by resorting to anything so crude and beastly as demolishing them: but by simply confiscating all of them “in the name of the state of course” along with all their landed properties and then making sure that the temples rotted away from calculated, steady attrition.

The present [1991] United Democratic Government of Kerala, under the command of the Muslim League and the Kerala Congress (a front party for the Churches) is now living up to the tradition of all former Kerala governments by following this same policy with enthusiasm and vigour.

Not only the British overlords but also the governments that came into power in Kerala after 1947 were never content with this wholesale robbery alone of temple properties. They continuously plundered, and helped others plunder, the relatively better off temples of even parts of the grounds the temples stood on; and also of the offerings of devotees. The latest of these forays is the still standing order (now under review by the High Court) of K. Karunakaran, the Chief Minister of Kerala, that the Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple Dewaswom (the management appointed by the Government) withdraw ten crores from the banks and deposit the amount with the state treasury to help the Government out of its present financial crisis.

This grave and sinister development has for once jolted the lethargic Hindus of Kerala out of their perennial slumber and into awareness of the pitiful plight their temples have been reduced to as a direct result of the suzerainty the Kerala Government had usurped over them. When Hindu organisations and long-suffering devotees vehemently protested, the chief minister issued an unctuous rationale to the effect that the ten crores would be as safe with the Government as with the banks, and that interest would be paid. He also added duplicitously that “there will be no compulsion to obtain funds from the houses of worship of any religion”. He was feigning that the places of worship of all religions had always been treated equally by the state, when the truth is that it was the temples — and temples alone that had been subjected to ruthless plunder by the Government; so much so that they now have practically no assets left except the offerings of devotees. And this too had been steadily looted by the politicians running the Government.


Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore


This operation to annihilate the temples of Kerala was first organised and put into effect two hundred years ago by Colonel John Munro, the British Resident in the erstwhile State of Travancore (the former princely States of Travancore and Cochin, along with Malabar, formerly a district of the Madras Presidency, together form the Kerala State). The British in 1810 made the then ruler of Travancore, Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, appoint the British Resident, Col. Munro, as Dewan of the state also. With supreme audacity Munro would convert his “advice” to the Rani as Dewan into commands by virtue of his position as Resident. Munro who was a committed Christian missionary as well as a ruthless colonialist, naturally considered it his pious duty to debilitate the Hindu religion and at the same time foster Christianity. He also realised that this would help cement Christian colonialism in the region. He achieved both these aims at one shot by the simple expedient of taking over by fiat (euphemistically called “proclamation”) nearly all the temples of Travancore and Cochin and also by seizing all their landed properties without any compensation whatsoever. When he was thus busily confiscating temple lands without compensation, Munro parallelly issued hundreds of munificent land grants to the Christian Churches.


John Munro


The cultivated and cultivable temple lands thus expropriated were so vast and the income from them so enormous that within the year the annual land revenue accruing to the state doubled. Of course as part of his well-laid plan to extirpate the Hindu religion and temples, Munro kept all the income from the expropriated temple lands with the state and did not remit any amount at all to the temples. Very soon the temples, thus impoverished and effectively devitalised, fell into wrack and ruin.

The disorganised, apathetic Hindus were very slow to awaken to the catastrophe inflicted on them by Munro. Apart from the usual spiritlessness of the Hindus, this submission was also due to the fact that at that time the Christian and Muslim population was very small and Hindus for this reason deluded themselves into believing that the confiscated lands, even if with the Government, still belonged to them.

Soon vast demographic changes took place. The Muslim population through forcible conversions by Tipu Sultan and the Christian population through British-sponsored fierce proselytism, increased by leaps and bounds. These now powerful minorities lost no time in making it clear to the faction-ridden, enervated Hindus that the temple lands, now that they had been vested with the state, belonged to them as much as to the Hindus.

When at long last the Hindus awoke to the awful disaster that had been wreaked upon them and made bold to demand the return of the seized lands to the temples, they found to their dismay that Munro had been too clever for them. The Resident-Dewan-missionary had seen to it that the records of the sequestered temple lands and of state-owned lands were thoroughly intermixed; so much so that it had been made quite impossible to catalogue temple lands separately from government lands.

This convenient excuse “that it was no longer possible to distinguish temple lands from state lands” which made shameless use of outright brigandage, was to be used in the future times without number by the Government and double-crossing politicians not only to hang on to the temple properties but also to foil the feeble attempts made by Hindus from time to time to claim compensation for the seized lands.

To remit even part of the huge income from the confiscated lands to the temples for their upkeep was not even thought of. It was a full hundred years later that a commission was appointed to look into the matter. This commission determined the income from the temple lands at the absurdly low rate of land revenue levied on them; and recommended not that at least this puny amount be paid to the temples, but only that the interest due on it — and that too only at three percent — be paid. Even this the Government did not do for a decade. This commission’s recommendation that the temples which were falling into ruins be repaired by the Government (as it had taken over their property) was studiously ignored.

After years of agitation, in 1922, the interest on the income — payment of compensation or of the actual income was never again to be considered at all — due to the temples was fixed at a paltry twenty-two lakhs. In 1948, again after prolonged agitation the amount was increased to fifty-one lakhs, but without any provision for compensation for inflation. This amount of fifty-one lakhs today is worth less than one lakh at 1948 value of the rupee. And yet the Kerala Government has arrogantly ignored the urgent pleas of Hindu organisations for upward revision of the amount to compensate for the dismal fall in the value of the rupee.

Because of the wholesale confiscation of the properties bestowed on the temples for rituals and upkeep, thousands of temples in Kerala do not have the wherewithal even for token rituals; thousands more have fallen into ruins. Thus the shrewd and crafty missionary-cum-Resident-cum-Dewam accomplished through his single bloodless coup the ruin and devastation of Hindu temples — and Hindu pride “which the Muslim raiders through the centuries and local-born despicable tyrants like Aurangzeb could only do after numberless battles, massacres, rape and arson.

This war of attrition waged on the temples of Kerala for a century and a half actually picked up momentum after independence. The double-dealing politicians, wearing the mask of secularism, were only too glad to betray the Hindu community by heaping further blows on the temples. For they knew that this would secure their positions with the “minorities”, who with their monolithic, anti-secular and powerful organisations were holding the reigns of power in the state. Very soon after independence the Congress Government enacted the Land Reforms Act which was so crafted that it effectively denuded the temples but not the churches and mosques of what little bits of land that still remained with them. The Central Government also did its secular act of destroying temples by confiscating by special legislation again with absolutely no compensation — the vast forest lands of the Malabar temples which were promptly taken over by Christian and Muslim encroachers. It is well-known that the greatest beneficiaries of the Land Reforms Act in the whole of Kerala were Christians and Muslims, and the greatest losers the Hindu temples and Hindus.

While this sequestration and annexation of temple lands had been going on for the last two hundred years, no Government of Kerala past or present, had ever dared to take over one single church or mosque or just one cent of their vast land holdings. Not only this; some years ago the Kerala Government with much fanfare sanctioned as annual grant “that is to say, a yearly free gift for all time to come — of fifteen lakhs for pension for the mukris of mosques. This when priests of the temples, properties of which had been stolen by the state, had no such pension and were miserably paid besides. Moreover, to get Muslim goodwill all the immense wakf properties in Kerala (and in the whole of the rest of India, as this is a Central Government Act) have been exempted from the Buildings and Rent Control Act, which is now strangling the remaining few buildings of temples and ashrams in Kerala, not to speak of the rest of India.

At present forty-five percent of the population of Kerala is Christian and Muslim and a section of Hindus, being communists, are atheists [this article was written in 1991]. Hence the Government is not only mostly non-Hindu, but anti-Hindu. In these circumstances, and also being fervidly “secular”, the only right course for the Government to follow is to dissociate itself completely from the temples and vest their administration with true devotees. But with unbelievable brazenness and hypocrisy the Kerala Government is not only clinging to ownership rights over the temples but is also claiming rights the maharajas of old, who were real protectors of temples, never even dreamed of. Today it is heart-breaking to see the holy, ancient temples of Kerala debased to the status of a lowly, inconsequential department of a Government that is in effect run by Christian and Muslim religious leadership. This is not all; the temples are also under the mercy of greedy quislings all too ready to further bleed them to satisfy their masters.


Guruvayur Temple


While the number of grand churches and mosques in Kerala has increased more than a hundred times in the last five decades, not a single temple of significance has been built during this time. Worse still, during this period hundreds of temples have fallen down and disappeared into the dust.

When India was at war with China, the Guruvayur Dewaswom was “persuaded” to transfer to the Central Government a huge quantity of gold. As far as is known this gold was never returned to the temple. The Guruvayur Dewaswom was also “persuaded” by the Kerala Government to invest one crore of rupees in the Indira Vikas Patrika. Huge amounts were plundered for political shows like the Congress Party souvenir. A nondescript motion picture was also made on Guruvayur temple which made the temple poorer by twenty lakhs. It has become a practice to disburse money under false headings to politicians, their relatives and friends. More crores would have been looted from the temple by politicians but for the timely intervention of courageous devotees who blew the whistle in time.

Not even during times of national emergency like the time of war when Hindu women donated their gold mangalya sutras, did the Kerala Government dare to make any effort to obtain deposits from the opulent churches and mosques — nor did the bishops or the moulvis offer any deposit or donation. To put it in a nutshell, where the Hindus are concerned, for the Kerala Government it is loot, loot, loot; and where the churches and mosques are concerned, it is give, give, give.


Sabarimala pilgrims


While the Kerala Government thus considers the accumulated offerings of devotees at the great temples as their own to pocket and squander as they please, they consider it an anathema to provide even the minimum facilities for pilgrims at the great temples of holy pilgrimage. Repeated frantic requests for a few acres of forest land for the provision of some basic amenities for the millions of pilgrims converging on the forest temple at the Sabarimala Sri Sasta Temple have been flatly turned down on the ground that forest land cannot be alienated without the permission of the Centre. At the same time ten hectares of forest land were granted in a jiffy to build a church, proclaimed by the bishops as a rival pilgrim centre, close to the Sabarimala temple. And the successive Governments of Kerala in the last fifteen years have been falling over each other to provide free titles to the well-organised, Church-backed encroachers — all of them Christians of course “to huge areas of forest land, running into more than a million acres.

Thus it is not only that every government in Kerala had been ruthlessly sabotaging and destroying temples for the last two centuries with no let up till today; these governments have also during this time deliberately and eagerly functioned as the transhipment point for the transferring of Hindu wealth to non-Hindus.

It is against this shockingly larcenous background that the latest demand of the Kerala Government for ten crores from the Guruvayur temple should be viewed by the Hindus of India.

While much noise is being made about the availability of ten crores with the Guruvayur Dewaswom (offerings of mostly poor devotees for temple purposes only), the case of thousands of temples in Kerala without the wherewithal for rituals or repairs is carefully concealed. And this ten crores with the Guruvayur Dewaswom is but a microscopic sum when compared to the vast funds—running into thousands of crores “available with the lavishly foreign-funded churches and mosques. And of course they have kept their colossal landed properties also. It is well-known that the Churches in Kerala are the biggest landowner after the state. In just one instance, a missionary outfit in Malabar owns such a huge area of land in a single holding that they renamed the place “Bibleland”. And what is more the Postal Department of secular India has also named their office in the area Bibleland Post Office. The Churches own countless plantations which have been carefully left outside the purview of the Land Reforms Act.

In addition the Churches in Kerala own vast extents of urban land in the best part of every city and town. (This is of course the case in the rest of India also.) In Tiruvananthapuram the palace of just one bishop — among several bishops and their palaces stands on nearly thirty acres of land abutting on the Raj Bhavan compound. This bishop, not one to hide his might and power, has also built a high-profile church practically touching the Raj Bhavan entrance. And this bishop, and the other bishops and convents own hundreds of acres in the city. The Churches have been for quite some time investing in a big way in multi-storeyed shopping and office complexes. They also have huge holdings in other real estate, publishing houses, banks and companies.

But of course in Kerala the limitless flow of treasure into the Churches is from the education sector. They have established from British times a near monopoly in education, from primary schools to first grade colleges. More than fifty percent of the hundreds of crores the Kerala Government spends on education is commandeered by the bishops and mother superiors.

In spite of this golden flow from the state into the Church coffers, and in spite of all their colossal wealth and foreign funds, the Government will never dare to request them for funds, no matter how critical the financial crunch. At the same time the Government considers the small bits of the remaining assets and funds of the temples to be their ordained targets for regular booty taking—much of it to be used to further destroy the temples.

For the Hindus of Kerala to retrieve even part of their lost honour and dignity, firstly the present niggardly payment of fifty-one lakhs (such is the perfidy and hatred of the perfidy and hatred of the anti-Hindu politicians towards the temples that they regularly refer to this sum as a “grant”), should be raised sufficiently to tally with the income from the seized temple lands at present rates. A small beginning can be made by increasing the present insulting, measly payment of fifty-one lakhs to compensate for the steep fall in the value of the rupee since 1948; and this newly determined amount should be revised every year henceforward. After all the Kerala Government is doing exactly this in every area — except, of course, in the case of the temples.

Secondly, the Hindus have to get the confiscated temples released from the stranglehold of the politicians (themselves the willing hostages of the Muslim League, Kerala Congress and atheists) who happen to be born as Hindus but are avowedly anti-Hindu by conviction. Interestingly these politicians who declare they are not Hindus see nothing dishonourable and dishonest in voting on temple matters as Hindus “with the open aim of snatching the maximum spoils for themselves and their cohorts.

When the Kerala chief minister equates the depositing of Guruvayur temple funds with the treasury with bank deposits the crucial fact that there is no withdrawal facility in the treasury is kept under wraps. And if by some horrible chance the ten crores are placed in the treasury, we can expect a replay of the Munro scenario — the Government seizing the capital for ever, and later with pious protestations of fair intentions, offering to pay the interest on the interest on the ten crores if and when it chooses.


Mosque and church in Palayam


We hear a great deal day in and day out about the wonderful religious harmony that prevails in Kerala as exemplified by a church, a mosque and a temple standing close together in Palayam, in the heart of Tiruvananthapuram. One close look at these places of worship will prove that what they actually demonstrate is something quite different: the impoverishment, abasement and servitude of the Hindus. The church in Palayam is a magnificent edifice on a vast tract of priceless land; the mosque too is an imposing new building on spacious grounds. But the temple—it is just a dilapidated hutment standing on just four cents of land.

This in general is the pathetic, degraded condition of the Hindu temples, brought on by the ceaseless plundering first by the British colonialists intent on spreading Christianity, by the studied negligence of the state governments, wholesale destruction by Tipu Sultan, and in post-independence days, by the looting by governments owned and operated by powerful Christian and Muslim vested interests; not to mention the greedy quislings out to fatten themselves at the expense of the temples.

How did it happen that the Hindus of Kerala stood silently by when their hallowed, highly venerated temples were thus plundered, dishonoured and reduced to beggary? The fact is, in the course of centuries of slavery we Hindus have assiduously taught ourselves to mistake apathy for tolerance, servility for gentleness and cowardice for pacifism. The process is still continuing, with the Hindus tricked into accepting self-hate and self-destruction as secularism.

Thorough rethinking and strong corrective measures based on the truly Hindu principles of truth and fearlessness on the part of the downtrodden Hindus of Kerala has become imperative if the Hindu temples, religion and culture are to survive at all. Fearless and concerted action is also needed for regaining the lost honour and dignity of the Hindus.


 

2 – Legend of a slain saint to stain Hinduism – Swami Tapasyananda


Swami Tapasyananda, the author of this article, was an erudite Indian scholar sannyasi and vice-president of the Ramakrishna Order from 1985 to 1991. He wrote this article when he was president of the Ramakrishna Math in Mylapore, Madras, in 1989. A comment by the equally erudite Hindu yogi scholar and Samkhya philosopher Ram Swarup follows this article. – IS


Swami Tapasyananda

The Vedanta Kesari


This article has been provoked by two write-ups in the Madras edition of the Indian Express. The first of these is “In Memory of a Slain Saint” by C.A. Simon in the Express Weekend of the Indian Express of 30 December 1989, and the second, a rejoinder to it by Ishwar Sharan in the “Weekend Post” of the Express Weekend of 13 January 1990.

The first write-up, C.A. Simon’s, whether based on facts or fiction, is highly derogatory of Hinduism, which is, even to this day, highly tolerant of other religions. The chief items of information contained in C.A. Simon’s writings are as follows: (1) St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Christ (a disputed fact), came to India in AD 52 with Habban, a foreign trader. (2) He landed at Maliankara (Cranganore) in Kerala, preached the Gospel, wrought miracles, and got many converts. (3) Then he came to Mailepuram (Mylapore), then went to China, after some time returned to Maliankara, and from there came again to Madras where he spent the rest of his life teaching, preaching and drawing a large number of the oppressed and the suppressed into his fold. (4) He performed miracles which made the local king Mahadeva offer him a place near the seashore where the old church of Mylapore now stands. (5) His conversion activities incensed the orthodox and enemies from their rank vowed to finish him. (6) He had therefore to hide himself in a cave at the Little Mount near the present St. Thomas Mount (about five km away from Mylapore). (7) Finally, he was murdered there, i.e., at St. Thomas Mount, by those fanatical enemies, and (8) his body was brought to Mylapore and buried in AD 73 at a spot which was forgotten for many centuries.

But the greatest miracle was to occur in 1523, nearly fifteen hundred years after the saint was supposed to have died. That was the rediscovery of the tomb and remains of the murdered saint by the priest in charge of the Mylapore church for building a new church—pieces of bones, a skull, a vessel containing mud supposedly from the place where the saint’s blood was shed, and a spearhead of the shape of an olive leaf fixed on a wooden shaft.

Wonder of wonders! Even after about fifteen centuries these remains, including the stick, had not become fossilized or crumbled into dust, but could be got intact and buried at an undisclosed place in the church. That church was damaged beyond recognition in the course of the battles waged round it during the rivalry between the Dutch, the French, and the British and Hyder Ali. (Strangely, the Portuguese are not said to be involved in it, perhaps because they were the heroic defenders!) At last in 1893 the present Santhome Church with Gothic architectural excellence was built. (It must be by the Portuguese and none else.) The papal seal over this whole story was stamped in 1956 when Pope Pius XII gave it recognition as a Minor Basilica, all the four major ones being outside India.

The above legend, that is dexterously built into a mighty balloon to boost Christian fanaticism, is neatly pricked in the rejoinder by Ishwar Sharan, published as a letter to the editor in the “Weekend Post” of the Indian Express of 13 January 1990. The points mentioned by him are as follows: In his book Papacy: Its Doctrine and History, Sita Ram Goel writes:

Some Catholic scholars have been busy for many years marshalling literary and archaeological evidence in an effort to prove that St. Thomas came to India in 52 AD, converted some Hindus in the South and was killed by the Brahmins in Mylapore in Madras. Suffice it to say that some historians have seriously doubted the very existence of an apostle named St. Thomas. Distinguished scholars like R. Garbe, A. Harnack and L. de la Vallee-Poussin have denied credibility to the Acts of Thomas, an apocryphal work on which the whole story is based. Some others who accept the fourth century Catholic tradition about the travels of St. Thomas, point to the lack of evidence that he ever went beyond Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. The confusion, according to them, has arisen because the ancient geographers often mistook these two countries for India.

He further refers to Stephen Neill’s book History of Christianity in India: From the Beginnings to 1707 A.D. published by the Cambridge University Press, England, in 1984, as follows:

A number of scholars, among whom are to be mentioned with respect Bishop A.E. Medlycott, J.N. Farquhar and the Jesuit J. Dahlman, have built on slender foundations what may be called Thomas romances, such as reflect the vividness of their imaginations rather than the prudence of rigid historical critics.

Pained by the spread of this spurious history among large sections of Christians, he observes:

Millions of Christians in India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove it to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.

Stephen Neill was a bishop who had spent long years in India.

To these we want to make ensuing comments to disprove these assumptions of pious Christians. Further absurdities in Thomas legends are revealed in S. Muthiah’s Madras Discovered published by Affiliated East-West Press. The following are the facts gleaned from it: Thomas shunted between St. Thomas Mount and Mylapore, separated by about five km, doing his preaching work and converting thousands. He lived in a cave at Little Mount in Saidapet, three km from St. Thomas Mount. There is, to the east of the cave, an opening which is said to have opened in those days into a tunnel from the Little Mount to St. Thomas Mount. The saint is supposed to have fled from his persecutors through this cave. He was however murdered by them at St. Thomas Mount. Mylapore has only the honour of being the place where his dead body was brought and buried. From there his remains were taken to Edessa in Syria where every July a great festival is held to commemorate his reburial. From Edessa they are said to have been moved to the Greek island of Chios, thence to Ortona on Italy’s Adriatic coast where they remain to this day. But each resting place still has some relic of Thomas—Madras has a small hand bone and the head of a lance in the St. Thomas Basilica crypt.

More miracles in proof of this legend of murder are yet to come. In 1547 the Vicar of Mylapore during excavation at St. Thomas Mount discovered a “bleeding” cross with old Pahlavi inscriptions. It had spots that looked like blood stains which, it is claimed, reappeared after being rubbed away. This cross is built into the wall behind the altar of the church on the mount dedicated to Madonna of the Mount. The tradition about this cross is that it was chiseled from a rock by the apostle himself. It is said that it used to bleed periodically. The first publicly noticed bleeding was on 15 December 1558 and the last in 1704.

Apart from these fanciful anecdotes about St. Thomas in Madras, Christianity of a brand which had nothing to do with Western Christianity had come to the Malabar coast very early. Sometime about AD 450 (sic) one Canai Thomas with seventy-two Syrian families arrived in Kerala and whatever traces of early Christianity there were got mixed up with this Syrian brand of it. So these Christians, known till then as Nazaranis (Nazarenes), got also the name Syrian Christians.[1] Their connection to this day is with the Orthodox Church of Syria. The grafting of this powerful group with the existing fragmentary Christian groups must have led to the identification of Kerala Christians with the Thomas tradition, to which they hold steadfastly to this day. The St. Thomas of their fancy must really be Canai Thomas of Syria. The members of this community were adventurous traders with business connections with many countries abroad, and through commerce they brought much wealth to the country. They therefore enjoyed the patronage of the local kings. Their numbers increased not only by the absorption of the existing fragment of the Christian community but the influx of many Hindus from highly aristocratic classes owing to the rigorous rules of excommunication that prevailed among them. Such excommunications were common among them for breach of caste rules, and these excommunicated individuals, men or women, had no other course than to join this new community. This crossbreed Christian community of Kerala is distinguished from the converts by later Catholic and Protestant missionaries both in appearance and talents. In modern India they are everywhere found to occupy high positions in the professional and business life of the country. Their names too are usually different from the European names by which most of the later converted Christians were known till very recent times.

Now to go back to the legend of St. Thomas in Madras. It is clearly the fabrication of the Portuguese to camouflage their destruction of the Hindu Temple of Kapaleeswara which was situated on the seashore, probably at the very place where Santhome Church now stands. The great Saivite saint of sixth century AD, Tirujnanasambandar, sings in the 6th Poompavai Padikam Thevaram:

The Lord of Kapaleeswaram sat watching the people of Mylapore
A place full of flowering coconut palms
Taking ceremonial bath in the sea on the full moon day of the month of Masai.

In the same strain sings Arunagirinathar, who came to Mylapore in 1456, in his Tirumayilai Tiruppugazh:

O Lord of Mailai (Mylapore) temple, situated on the shores of the sea with raging waves …

This clear and indisputable evidence gives the lie to the legend that the Portuguese invented to hide their nefarious work. The Portuguese domination of Mylapore was from 1522 to 1697, by which time the British had established themselves in the Fort St. George and adjoining territories, and the Portuguese had to withdraw to Goa where their empire lasted till 1962. In Goa their rule was noted for a spree of destruction of Hindu temples and persecution of the Goanese, so much so that large sections of them had to flee that territory and settle all along the west coast of India. They are the Gauda Saraswats. The fate of these Goanese would have overtaken the temples and the people of Madras also, a foretaste of which contingency they got in the destruction of the holy Kapaleeswara Temple. Thanks to the British domination of the region and the consequent elimination of the Portuguese, this tragic fate did not overtake them. The British had more political maturity and diplomatic perception, which helped them perceive that trade was more important for themselves than religious propaganda. And so they kept an attitude of indifference towards the religion and religious edifices of the people in whose midst they carried on their trading activities, which eventually led to the establishment of a political empire.

The destruction of the seashore Temple of Kapaleeswara is said to have taken place in 1561. The new temple at its present site, about one km to the west, was built by pious Hindu votaries about three hundred years ago, i.e., about two hundred and fifty years after its destruction. When the Santhome Church was repaired in the beginning of the current century, many stones with edicts were found there. Among them one mentions Poompavai, the girl whom Tirujnanasambandar is said to have miraculously revived from her ashes kept in an urn.

These are all matters of the forgotten past. Both the Kapaleeswara Temple and the Santhome Church are now thriving and catering to the spiritual needs of the Hindus and the Christians. In such a situation it is better not to rake up the memories of these unpleasant facts. According to forward-looking people many things of the past are better forgotten than remembered and ruminated upon. The history of the Kapaleeswara Temple and Santhome Church belongs to this category.

But the priests of the Santhome Church will not allow this. They want to keep the flame of fanaticism bright. It is distressing to note the following passage in C.A. Simon’s write-up in the Indian Express of 30 December 1989:

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

What is still more threatening is the concluding sentence:

Fr. Charles, assistant priest, further informed this writer that there may be celebrations on the 3rd of every month, starting from January 1990 onwards, with the help of the parishioners.

This attempt to keep up the fanaticism of the minority may inflame the fanaticism of the majority too, and lead to situations like the Babri Masjid controversy. All right-thinking men should foresee and avoid the occurrence of such a contingency.

Postscript

This article appeared in the June 1990 issue of The Vedanta Kesari, published by the Sri Ramakrishna Math in Mylapore, Madras. It had been submitted three months earlier to the Indian Express, Madras, but had elicited no response from the “fearless” newspaper—though, as will be seen, the resident editor was fully aware of its existence in his office.


Ram Swarup


Ram Swarup of New Delhi, on reading the article, sent a letter to The Vedanta Kesari editor on June 27th:

Reference Swami Tapasyananda’s piece, “The Legend of a Slain Saint to Stain Hinduism”, in your journal of June 1990. I beg to point out respectfully that a most excellent article has been marred by a bad ending. Can’t we in all veracity speak of Semitic iconoclasm without first accusing ourselves of fanaticism? And where is the much feared Hindu fanaticism in the so-called Babri Masjid controversy? Does it consist in our remembering that fanatic forces destroyed our temples and that we must do something about it? But must we start indulging in self-condemnation even before we have started doing anything and the issues have joined? In the language of the Gita, this state of mind comes from hridaya-daurbalyam and karpanya-dosha and can achieve little.

The psychological disarmament of Hinduism has been going on for a long time and we have learnt to pull down our defences even before we have built them. Unfortunately, it has been often preached by some of the best minds of Hinduism.

This letter was not published in the magazine. The Vedanta Kesari does not publish letters to the editor.

We had also sent copies of Swami Tapasyananda’s article to C.A. Simon, the Archbishop of Madras at Santhome, and the Indian Express editor. C.A. Simon was the only one to respond with a letter on August 9th. He had learned from the Express Weekend editor that we planned to include his article in the appendix of a book, and though he had not yet been informed of the project, he wrote:

Thank you for sending me the xerox copies of the articles written by Swami Tapasyananda and published by Vedanta Kesari.

My interest in that article is purely academic as I am not championing anybody’s cause. Also I was not aware of the version given in your letter or in the article.

Main sources for my article was two books:

  1. In the Steps of St. Thomas by Rt. Rev. Herman D’Souza.
  2. St. Thomas Christian Encyclopaedia edited by Sri George Menachery.

A few of the leaflets were also referred for the article. A facsimile of postal stamp released by Govt. of India during the occasion (said to be) of the 19th centenary in 1972 also was seen. The speech given by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, former president of India, “Remember St. Thomas came to India …” was also referred.

I am trying to say that the article was not written with any malafide (sic) intention, and I was not aware of the controversial version given by Sri Sita Ram Goel. Since I am aware of it now I note to honour the other version also.

I learned that you are going to publish a book and intend to include my article as the Christian version. As I do not stand for any religious sect or group you may desist from doing so. Instead you may refer to more authoritative works of this subject if you feel so.

Being a scholar of great understanding about the subject, I hope, you may take this in proper spirit.

You may bring this to notice of Swami Tapasyananda in order to clear any misunderstanding.

Kindly acknowledge this letter. You may feel free to write to me.

We did indeed acknowledge this letter and replied to it on August 14th as follows:

This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of August 9th.

My essay on the myth of St. Thomas has been written in reply to your article which appeared in the Indian Express of 30 December 1989.

Considering this, and that you and the Indian Express initiated the controversy by publishing the sly communal tale as Madras city history, you can hardly ask me to desist from reprinting it.

Your article is the subject of public discussion and a necessary reference, and is being reproduced as an appendix to my reply.[2]

It is difficult to believe that your interest in St. Thomas is only academic. You have not named any unbiased scholar nor given any credible academic reference.

In fact you have written an excellent piece of Roman Catholic propaganda—in the steps of Rt. Rev. Herman D’Souza who went to great lengths to manipulate Indian history and vilify Hindus in his work—and I must congratulate you on your success.

As you quote Marco Polo and Rajendra Prasad as proof that St. Thomas came to India, so Indians will now quote you and the Indian Express as further proof that St. Thomas came to India.

Your letter amounts to a disclaimer and should really be directed to the editor of the Indian Express, but if you wish to communicate further with me you are of course welcome to do so.

This was the end of the correspondence. C.A. Simon did not communicate further with us and as no disclaimer appeared in the Express Weekend, it may be assumed that neither he nor his editor regretted the publication of the “historical” communal tale in Indian Express columns.


1. Thomas of Cana and the seventy-two Syrian families arrived in 345 CE. They were the first Christians to arrive in India. Swami Tapasyananda has made an error here and identified the Jerusalem merchant with a later migration from West Asia. All early Christian groups in Malabar, whether called Nazaranis (Nasranis) or Nestorians, were of Syrian or Persian origin. They were divided into two basic groups: those who married Indians and those who did not.

2. In the first edition of this book, published in February, 1991, where Simon’s article appears in the appendix.


 

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.