St. Thomas in India: True or False? – N.S. Rajaram

N.S. RajaramHere is the substance of the St. Thomas story: First, if he existed he was a twin brother of Jesus which is unacceptable because Jesus was the Only Son of God. Next, he could not have preached Christianity in 52 AD because Christianity and the New Testament came into existence only in the fourth century, after the Council of Nicaea called by Roman Emperor Constantine in 325 AD. The first Christians came to India with the Syrian merchant Thomas in 345 AD escaping persecution in Persia. Lastly, the Namboothari Brahmins settled in Kerala only after the fourth century AD, so could not have been converted by Apostle Thomas in 52 AD using the Bible from three centuries later. – Dr. N.S. Rajaram

St. ThomasAccording to Christian leaders in India, the Apostle Thomas came to India in 52 A.D., founded the Syrian Christian Church, and was killed by the fanatical Brahmins in 72 A.D. His followers built the St. Thomas Church near the site of his martyrdom. Historians however say this apostle, even if he existed, never came to India. The Christian community in South India was founded by a Syrian (or Armenian) merchant Thomas Cananeus in 345 AD. He led four hundred refugees who fled persecution in Persia and were given asylum by the Hindu authorities.

This story was too commonplace to attract converts. So Christian leaders identified the merchant Thomas with Apostle Thomas and created the dramatic story of the Apostle’s persecution and death at the hands of the “wicked” Brahmins of South India. This became current in the 16th century when the Portuguese gained control of the west coast of India and forced the Syrian Christians to follow the Catholic faith. The Portuguese also destroyed the Kapaleeswara Temple that originally stood on the site now occupied by the San Thome Cathedral on the beach.

Kapali TempleThe creation of this myth and the history is told in detail by the Canadian scholar Ishwar Sharan in his famous book The Myth of St. Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. The purpose of the myth was to create a local martyr. Christianity depends heavily on the appeal of martyrs who are projected as victims like Jesus Christ. Then as now, Church leaders liked to pose as victims to generate sympathy and propaganda. But no matter how much they tried, the Hindus of India refused to supply the Portuguese with martyrs. So they were forced to create their own. So they turned the merchant Thomas into the Apostle Thomas killed by the Hindus.

In his foreword to Ishwar Sharan’s book, the Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst wrote: “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.”

San Thome CathedralTargeting Brahmins to undermine Hinduism was a favorite tactic among missionaries. Elst gives the true picture: “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’ 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.”

Another motivation for the myth was to erase the unsavory record of the Catholic Church’s close association with the Portuguese pirates and even worse, the Goa Inquisition inspired by St. Xavier. But serious scholars including Christians have rejected this myth as we shall soon see.

Who was this Apostle Thomas and why was his name invoked? The main sources relating to Apostle Thomas are two Gnostic (non-Biblical) texts known as the Acts of Thomas and the Gospel of Thomas. According to them Thomas was the twin brother of Jesus. For this reason the Thomas myth is not accepted by the Vatican because of a doctrinal problem: Jesus as the Only Son of God cannot possibly have a twin brother. (Greek for Thomas is Didymus, which means twin brother.)

Christians in South India who identify themselves as St. Thomas Christians claim that their ancestors were blessed by Apostle Thomas in 52 A.D. who preached from the Bible. This has no historical basis as we shall see. In fact, there is no evidence that Thomas even existed. His “history” is full of contradictions as will become apparent.

Marco PoloAs just observed the Portuguese missionaries who came to India in the 16th century found that they could not do without a local martyr and created the myth of St. Thomas claiming that he was martyred in India. They gave no explanation as to how they discovered it more than 1500 years later. Marco Polo is supposed to have mentioned it but there is no authentic manuscript that can be attributed to him. Then there is the question of how he discovered it more than a thousand years later.

There is even a tomb that is supposed to contain his martyred remains in Mylapore in Chennai. But the problem is there are several such memorials spread across Persia, Acre (Israel) and a few other places dating to different times, all laying claim to be the place where Apostle Thomas was martyred and buried!

After examining all the evidence, the late Father Heras, former Director of the Historical Research Institute, St. Xavier’s College, Bombay, said in 1953 that he was convinced that the tomb of St. Thomas was not in Mylapore. He had earlier said, quite emphatically in The Aravidu Dynasty of Vijayanagara, that the Portuguese account of their discovery of some relics was “a most barefaced imposture [with] all elements of a forgery.” Heras was himself a Jesuit father but also an eminent historian.

Henry HerasThis is not the end of the story, for while denying the myth because it challenges Jesus as the “Only Son of God” the Vatican wants to have it both ways. On September 27, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at St. Peter’s in Rome in which he recalled an ancient tradition claiming that Thomas first evangelized Syria and Persia, then went on to Western India, from where Christianity also reached Southern India. Syrian Christians derive status within the caste system from the tradition that they are converted Namboothiris (Brahmins), who were allegedly evangelized by St. Thomas after he allegedly landed in Kerala in AD 52.

There are serious problems with this theory: the Namboothiris started settling in Kerala only from the fourth century onwards, which means they did not exist at the time the alleged St. Thomas allegedly came to Kerala. So we have a possibly non-existent apostle preaching in the first century from a text, the New Testament, dating to the fourth century, to a people, the Namboothiris who settled in the fourth century or later. In reality the Pope’s original statement at St. Peter’s, reflected the geography of the Acts of Thomas, i.e. Syria, Parthia (Persia / Iran) and Gandhara (Afghanistan / Northwest Pakistan) — all far removed from Kerala in the southernmost tip of India.

Bleeding CrossThis is not the end to the contradictions. If Thomas landed in Kerala in 52 AD, he could not have taught from the Christian Bible (New Testament) with its four gospels which came into existence only in the fourth century. In fact Christianity did not exist at the time because there was no Christian scripture! In addition, the famous St. Thomas Cross supposedly brought by him made its appearance in Kerala only in the fourth century, about the same time as the Namboothiri Brahmins. So it is quite possible that the highly ornate St. Thomas Cross [with Hindu motifs carved in it] was borrowed from the Namboothiris, having nothing to do with St. Thomas or even Christians. The Church borrowed its cross from the Egyptians and the oldest so-called St. Thomas Cross is a pagan Persian symbol.

Prof. Francis Xavier Clooney, SJAs if this were not confusing enough, Father Francis Clooney, a theologian with the Harvard Divinity School has stated that St Thomas had preached in Brazil, no matter that Brazil as we understand today was unknown in his time. According to Clooney, one Ruiz de Montoya, writing in Peru in the mid-seventeenth century, thought that since God would not have overlooked the Americas for fifteen hundred years, and since among the twelve apostles St. Thomas was known for his mission to the “most abject people in the world, blacks and Indians,” it was only reasonable to conclude that St. Thomas had preached throughout the Americas:

“He began in Brazil – either reaching it by natural means on Roman ships, which some maintain were in communication with America from the coast of Africa, or else, as may be thought closer to the truth, being transported there by God miraculously. He passed to Paraguay and from there to the Peruvians.”

St. Thomas Book CoverSo here is the substance of the St. Thomas story. First, if he existed he was a twin brother of Jesus which is unacceptable because Jesus was the Only Son of God (born to a virgin). Next, he could not have preached Christianity in 52 AD because Christianity and the New Testament came into existence only in the fourth century, after the Council of Nicaea called by Roman Emperor Constantine in 325 AD. The first Christians came to India with the Syrian merchant Thomas in 345 AD escaping persecution in Persia. This was probably because Roman and Persian empires were great rivals. The Namboothiri Brahmins settled in Kerala only after the fourth AD, so could not have been converted by Apostle Thomas in 52 AD using the Bible from three centuries later.

Finally, the myth was created by Portuguese missionaries in the sixteenth century with the help of pirates. They destroyed also the Kapaleeswara Temple and a Jain temple building the church known as San Thome Cathedral in 1504. It acquired its present status and recognition as a cathedral (grand church) under British patronage in 1893. It was also the Portuguese who converted the Syrian Christians to the Catholic faith.

So, all these contradictions have to be reconciled before the myth of St Thomas can be taken seriously. – Folks Magazine, 7 November 2009

» Editor’s Note: Historians do not agree about the date for the coming of Namboothiri Brahmins to Kerala. Marxist historians make their arrival as late as the sixth century AD. However with the identification of the Namboothiri priest Mezhathol Agnihothri (b. 342 AD), the date can be moved back to the fourth century. Namboothiri historians themselves do not give a date for the arrival of their community in Kerala from North India.

» Dr. N.S. Rajaram has referred to the second (1995) edition of The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple for this article. The second edition is now out of print and not available on-line. However the third (2010) edition, which contains everything in the second edition, revised with corrected dates and many new references, is available on The Ishwar Sharan Archive.

See also

Feast of St. Thomas: Fr. Francis continues to perpetuate a history fraud on the Indian people – Ishwar Sharan

Thomas & Hindu assassin

Ishwar SharanThe story of St. 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. It was therefore quite natural for him to place his moral fable about Judas Thomas in India, a land from which all kinds of religious ideas emanated.” – Ishwar Sharan

Mar ThomaThe Deccan Chronicle in Chennai carried on 2 July 2012 a “mystic mantra” column called “Feast of Thomas” by Fr. Francis Gonsalves, the principle of the 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 a 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 has 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 is aware that Thomas has already claimed India for Christ and that claim may soon be realized in the person of Purno Sangma. So Fr. Francis wrote:

Francis GonsalvesI’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.” Thus, we have the so called “St Thomas Christians” — 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. It was therefore quite natural for him to place his moral fable in India, a land from which all kinds of religious ideas emanated.

Bardesanes (154–222)Bardesanes story is centred on the 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. North-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 not a Hindu name—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 immediately taken away to Edessa.

Marco PoloThomas remained in the Parthian royal acropolis in all records until Marco Polo put 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 book Il Milione decided quite arbitrarily that Mylapore was the unnamed little town Marco was referring to—and Mylapore also had a good harbour and a great temple that could be turned into an 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 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.

San Thome CathedralEnough said about St. 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 an abhorrent symbol to him. Certainly he did not bring a cross—or a Bible for that matter—to India. Christians did not use the Roman cross as an religious symbol until the third century or later. They used a fish sign with the Greek word ΙΧΘΥC (ikhthus meaning “fish”)—and 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 the cross was brought to India by Syrian Christian refugees after the fourth century.

Arun ShourieWe 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.

Archbishop ChinnappaBesides 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. Anybody who has read the Tirukurral can see that this claim is a malicious falsehood.

The St. Thomas legend is 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.

Pope Benedict XVIDr. Koenraad Elst, educated in Europe’s most prestigious Catholic university in 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 an shrewd observation on Indian bishops who are probably the most wealthy and politically astute caste in India today.

Thomas tomb at Ortona

Thomas tomb Mylapore

St. Thomas: The making of an “Indian” apostle – Sandhya Jain

Sandhya Jain“The claim that Christianity came to India before it went to Europe is a ploy to make it a sort of native religion, even if it came from West Asia. The origin is a Gnostic Syrian fable, Acts of Thomas, written by poet Bardesanes at Edessa around 201 CE. The text never mentions or describes the sub-continent, but says the apostle went from Palestine eastwards to a desert-like country where people are ‘Mazdei’ (Zoroastrian) and have Persian names. The term India in Acts of Thomas is a synonym for Asia.” – Sandhya Jain

Dr. R. NagaswamyAs Christian evangelists intensify efforts to bring India under their sway, their brethren in the south are trying to (mis)use current excavations at Pattanam to revive the myth of Apostle Thomas arriving in the country in the first century AD and establishing a fledgling community. They are trying to link the ancient port of Muziris with Pattanam, where Thomas reputedly landed, though Muziris was more logically Kodungalloor, where the river joins the sea. R Nagaswamy, former director, Tamil Nadu Archaeological Survey, debunks this mischief and avers that none of the literature on the life of St Thomas claims that he came to India.

Yet, so strenuously has the myth been perpetuated that Swami Devananda Saraswati (pen name Ishwar Sharan), a Canadian born into a Protestant family who became a Smarta Dashanami sanyasi at Prayag in 1977, decided to get to its historical roots. The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple (updated third edition, Voice of India), is the fruit of his labours.

Thomas & Hindu assassinSharan was intrigued by the story of the alleged murder of the apostle by a conniving Brahmin. In September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI declared that Thomas never came to India, but Rome later fell silent after a nudge from the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore. The myth includes the implausible conversion of Tiruvalluvar by the foreign evangelist, though Tamil scholars believe the sage lived around 100 BCE, perhaps even 200 BCE.

The claim that Christianity came to India before it went to Europe is a ploy to make it a sort of native religion, even if it came from West Asia. The origin is a Gnostic Syrian fable, Acts of Thomas, written by poet Bardesanes at Edessa around 201 CE. The text never mentions or describes the sub-continent, but says the apostle went from Palestine eastwards to a desert-like country where people are ‘Mazdei’ (Zoroastrian) and have Persian names. The term India in Acts of Thomas is a synonym for Asia.

The Acts of Thomas identifies St Thomas as Judas, the look-alike twin of Jesus, who sells him into slavery. The slave travels to Andropolis where he makes newly-weds chaste, cheats a king, fights with Satan over a beautiful boy, persuades a talking donkey to confess the name of Jesus, and is finally executed by a Zoroastrian king for crimes against women. His body is buried on a royal mountain and later taken to Edessa, where a popular cult rises around his tomb.

Thomas of CanaOne Thomas of Cana led a group of 400 Christians (from seven tribes and 72 families) from Babylon and Nineveh, out of Persia in the 4th century, when Christianisation of the Roman Empire made the Persians view their Syriac-speaking Christian minority as a Roman fifth column. The ‘Thomas Christians’ could originally have referred to this merchant. They reputedly landed at Cranganore in Malabar in 345 CE. Sharan warns this migration cannot be treated as historical fact, but says that Cosmas the Alexandrian, theologian, geographer and merchant who traded with Ethiopia and Ceylon, visited Malabar in 520-525 CE and provided the first acceptable evidence of Christian communities there in Christian Topography. This Thomas was probably ‘converted’ (metamorphosed) to St Thomas.

Early Church Fathers like Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Eusebius are explicit that Apostle Thomas settled in ‘Parthia’, and established a church in Fars (Persia). This is supported by the 4th century priest Rufinus of Aquileia, who translated Greek theological texts into Latin, and the 5th century Byzantine church historian, Socrates of Constantinople, who wrote a book on ecclesiastical history, the second edition of which survives and is a valuable source of early church history. Nothing much is known about St Thomas. He was called the Apostle of the East in West Asia and India until 1953, when the Church demoted him to Apostle of India, dislodging St Francis Xavier.

Marco PoloBetween the 4th and 16th centuries, the Syrian Christians of Malabar reinvented the tale several times, finally bringing St Thomas to India to evangelise the heathen. In the 13th century, Marco Polo embellished the tale with a South Indian seashore tomb and in the 16th century the Portuguese transferred this seashore tomb to Mylapore. They created their own redactions of the Acts of Thomas and began destroying temples in the port city and building their St Thomas churches, pretending these were the sites of Thomas’s martyrdom and burial.

The primary objective of the Thomas-in-India or Jesus-in-India stories is to vilify Brahmins and malign the Hindu religion and community. The second is to present Christianity as an indigenous religion — not a piece of Western imperialism. A deeper aim is to insinuate it as the ‘original’ religion of the Tamil people. Finally, it is to help Syrian Christians maintain their caste identity, their claim to be Jews or Brahmins, descendants of Namboodiris converted by St Thomas in the 1st century.

Ishwar Sharan cites a wealth of historical, textual and epigraphic material to prove how various authors and travellers like Marco Polo, mistakenly or deliberately, falsified evidence regarding St Thomas. He traces Marco Polo’s mischief to a book the legendary explorer dictated to fellow prisoner and writer, Rustichello, when he was captured by Genoa. The book became a hit in Europe, and the myth of a St Thomas’s tomb on a seashore was firmly planted.

San Thome Bishop's MuseumGerman scholars, whose work remains to be translated into English, have consistently maintained that most 16th and 17th century churches in India contain temple rubble and are built on temple sites, just as in Europe they took over pagan sites. In fact, at the end of the 19th century, a landslip on San Thome beach revealed carved stone pillars and broken stones of mandapam found only in Hindu temples.

The Portuguese in the 16th century had one of their earliest settlements at San Thome, and razed many Hindu temples to the ground. Vijayanagar’s ruler, Rama Raya, waged war on them in Mylapore and Goa simultaneously to save Hindu temples. After his victory, he exacted a tribute from them for their vandalism. But when Vijayanagar fell before the Muslim armies at the Battle of Talikota (1565), the Portuguese resumed their iconoclasm.

The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple is a treasure trove of information that an article cannot do justice to; it’s a must read for lovers of Hindu temples and history.

Ishwar Sharan, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, 3rd Edition, Voice of India, Delhi, 2010; Pages: 407; Price: Rs 450 - VijayvaaniThe Pioneer, Sept 13, 2011

Temple, not Court, is supreme in Bharat – B. R. Haran

Hindu flag“Shockingly, no Hindu organisation, ostensibly existing to defend the Hindu dharma and the Hindu people from precisely such assaults from the secular state and its soulless institutions, spoke ONE WORD in defence of the Temple, the Deity, the Royal Guardians of the Temple, nor dared condemn the Supreme Court Order. Only the Revered Kanchi Acharya came out with a clear and categorical statement saying that wealth belongs to Bhagwan and the Royal family is its custodians.” – B.R. Haran

Padmanabhaswamy TempleShame on us! I mean, shame on Hindus! Something outrageous has been happening since the first of this month in one of the most sacred places on our bhumi, and we, sons of this bhumi, are shamelessly watching the sacrilege without an iota of fury. The Supreme Court of India, which is just 60 years old, has constituted a seven member committee to take inventory of the centuries-old treasures kept safely inside secret vaults of the famous Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Tiruvananthapuram.

Why? Because, a small time advocate filed a case against so-called mismanagement of the temple by the Travancore Royal Family. Before going into details, let us go to the origin of this case. It all started like this:

Maharaja of Travancore Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma wanted to fulfill his ancestor’s (Swathi Thirunal) wish of gold plating of the Artha Mandapam in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum. As sufficient gold could not be procured, R. Sashidaran, an executive in the administration of the temple, released a circular dated 2 August 2007, in the name of Marthanda Varma, permitting opening of the secret vaults.

Advocate T.K. Ananthapadmanaban challenged the circular and approached the court. The Trivandrum Sessions Court ruled that the existing management had no legal claim to administer the temple and asked the state government to take over the administration of the temple. On 31 January, the Kerala High Court upheld the lower court’s order that the state government must take over the temple.

Raja Marthanda VarmaT.P. SundararajanThe Royal Family was outraged and a member, Rama Varma, challenged the order, after which the dispute went to the Supreme Court. After staying the High Court order asking the state government to take over the temple, the Supreme Court constituted a seven member committee to take inventory of the “treasures” inside the temple, on the basis of a petition filed by another Advocate T.P. Sundararajan.

Now let us leave Trivandrum / Delhi and go to Chennai.

On 25 May 2010, the Chennai Corporation demolished a Devi (Selli Amman) Temple on First Avenue, Shastri Nagar, Adayar, in the name of clearing unauthorized encroachments. After razing the temple to dust with a bulldozer, the authorities advanced towards the Srinivasaswamy Temple located some 100 yards from Selli Amman temple. Fortunately, local citizens thwarted this attempt before the authorities could complete their evil job.

Next morning, a fish stall and a mutton stall, owned by minority communities, sprung up exactly at the spot where the Selli Amman temple stood! When concerned citizens approached the corporation authorities to remove the stalls, they were treated with contempt.

Radha RajanFive months later, the corporation officials came again to demolish the Srinivasa Temple on 16 October, the sacred day of Saraswati Pooja. Outraged by this arrogance, well known writer and activist Radha Rajan filed a Writ Petition at the Madras High Court, praying for stay of demolition of Srinivasaswamy temple and removal of the fish stalls from the said place. The “Honourable” Bench of the Madras High Court refused to stay the demolition, but ordered removal of the fish stall. But before doing so, the “Honourable” Bench had the “intelligence” to ask Radha Rajan the golden question in any court of law, “What is your locus standi?”

Now, let us get back to Supreme Court, Delhi:

Velankanni Church, Besant NagarThe law of the land is NOT supposed to be different for a temple or a church or a mosque!

What is applicable to Selli Amman Temple is applicable to Velankanni Church and Thousand Lights Mosque – or should be. So if Selli Amman Temple could be demolished for illegal encroachment, the same should have happened to Besant Nagar Church and Thousand Lights Mosque which have also illegally encroached corporation lands. But, it never happened! That’s “Indian Secularism” for you!

Similarly, the law of the land should NOT be different for Radha Rajan and Sundararajan! What is applicable to Radha Rajan should be applicable to Sundararajan. Is it not?

Sorry readers, it is not! That is what we can infer from the Supreme Court order!

Madras High CourtThe “Honourable” Madras High Court with a sadistic smile said straight to Radha Rajan’s face, “Removing a fish stall is easier than removing a temple” and asked with temerity, “What is your locus standi?”

What for? To remove a fish stall run by a Christian from the site where a Hindu temple existed for years until it was callously uprooted? (Ironically showing scant regard to the High Court’s order [read contempt], the Christian reinstalled his fish stall within days of the judgment! The corporation of course allowed it.

The “Honorable” Supreme Court never felt any compunction in ordering the opening of the secret vaults of the centuries-old Padmanabha Swamy Temple. Nor did it ask petitioner Sundararajan, “What is your locus standi?”

What is involved here is not a few thousand rupees worth of fish stall, but an ancient temple of immeasurable sanctity and wealth of unknown value.

In both the courts, it is the “Hindu” who has been at the receiving end of Justice (sic). That is “Indian Justice” for Hindus – based not on Law – but on “Indian Secularism”!

The Presiding Deity of a temple is the owner of the concerned temple and whatever is present within the premises belongs to Him. The Presiding Deity is also a juridical person as confirmed in the recent Allahabad High Court’s Ayodhya Verdict which confirmed that Sri Rama as owner of His place of birth. In another case related to Ayodhya, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court confirmed that a temple belongs to its Presiding Deity, which is believed and recognized as actually living inside the temple.

Sri PadmanabhaswamyIn the light of these facts, the Supreme Court should have asserted that Bhagwan Padmanabha Swamy is Presiding Deity of the temple, its owner, and everything inside the temple premises belongs to Him. It should have outright dismissed the petition filed by the petitioners. At the very least it should have waited for the outcome of the Chidambaram Natarajar Temple case, which is pending before the very same apex Court.

Instead, the “Honourable” Supreme Court preferred to entertain the petition without even going into the antecedents of the petitioners and determining if there was any prima facie evidence in the allegations made in the petition regarding so-called mismanagement by the Royal Family.

When devotees and general public have no grievances with the management and the Royal Family, the Courts should have refrained from going to the extent of forcing open the secret chambers. The Supreme Court could have solved the case without ordering this ‘sacrilege’.

Supreme Court of IndiaWas the Supreme Court’s order really sacrilegious? Yes, of course! As Hindus we do not worship the deity alone; we worship the entire temple; the Temple Tower; the Dwajasthambam; the Bali Peetam; the walls; the pillars; the Temple Tank (Theertham); the Temple’s Tree (Sthala Viruskham); the ornaments worn by the deity; the clothes worn by the deity; ultimately we worship everything inside the temple premises! The entire Temple is sacred for us!

Neither the government nor the court has any business to meddle with the things belonging to the Deity. Ordering the opening of the secret chambers was uncalled for, and this sacrilege has been committed to satisfy a frivolous petition. By this order the Supreme Court has opened a can of worms.

First, a closely guarded secret has been made known to the entire world in a very cavalier fashion. Second, the temple’s security has come under permanent peril. Third, anti-Hindu forces have started demanding inventorying the wealth of all major temples, as if they have a rightful claim to it. Fourth, the religious sentiments protected by the Constitution have been mauled and will continue to hurt. Finally, the apex Court has set a bad precedent and if it does not reconsider this path, the consequences will be dangerous for communal harmony in the country.

San Thome CathedralIf one can file a case against an ancient historic temple making flimsy allegations and get one’s petition admitted by the Supreme Court and receive a favourable order, then a petition with irrefutable evidences must certainly be admitted, heard and given a favourable order. Here are just two cases for the readers’ attention.

The first is about Santhome Cathedral, Mylapore, Chennai. History has enough proofs that Santhome Cathedral was built on the ruins of Mylapore Shiva Temple. When the Portuguese invaded the Indian coast, they also landed in Madras, destroyed the magnificent Kapaleeshwarar Temple and built Santhome Cathedral over its ruins. They looted the entire wealth of the temple, and the present day Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a latter-day construction.

Until recently, many people are believed to have seen ancient stone carvings, stone walls and even pillars with Hindu signs inside the Bascilla. But it is learnt that the Mylapore Archdiocese destroyed the remaining evidences indicating the presence of a Shiva Temple underneath the Cathedral. In fact, the Church is peddling the nonsensical theory of a Saint Thomas who came to India, in cohoots with a conniving media. School children have been fed with this farcical story as “history” for years!

Old Kapali TempleThis writer and lakhs of Hindus firmly believe the Church was built on the ruins of a Shiva temple after demolishing it, and that despite the destruction by Church authorities, evidences will remain of the existence of an ancient temple. This writer believes the Church authorities could have hidden a portion of the looted Temple wealth in secret vaults inside the church.

Now, will the Supreme Court order an investigation by Archaeological Survey of India, first to ascertain the presence of an ancient Shiva Temple, and second, to take a complete inventory of the wealth inside the Church? If a petition is filed showing historical evidences, will the “Honourable” Supreme Court dare entertain it and issue a similar order as given against the Travancore Temple, or will it revert to its secular style of asking, “What is your locus standi?”

Amir MahalThe second case pertains to “Amir Mahal”, the palace of the “Prince” of Arcot in Royapettah, Chennai. The Nawabdom was established by Aurangzeb and the Nawabs ruled the Carnatic region from 1690 to 1850, with their seat in Arcot. Their territory extended from Krishna River to Coleroon and up to Madurai in the south. They looted many temples and the Virinchipuram Shiva temple, with only one tower, near Vellore, is standing testimony to the destruction caused by the Arcot Nawabs.

The Arcot Nawabs have usurped and looted all the territories and wealth of the Hindus. At a later stage, they returned some lands and tanks to the temples due to political compulsions, but claimed to have “donated” these with magnanimity! The present “Prince” of Arcot in Chennai has been peddling such outrageous stories at every opportunity, as if his ancestors had donated their own hard-earned wealth to Hindu temples. Who donates whose properties to whom, eh?

Prince of Arcot Mohammed Abdul AliMind you, when all Hindu Kings, true sons of this punya bhumi, acceded their rightful kingdoms after independence with passion, patriotism and magnanimity, and lived as ordinary citizens, the so-called Princes of Arcot, descendents of invaders, enjoy all privileges, including the title and tax-free pensions in perpetuity! And they have the temerity to say they have donated a lot for the wellbeing of Hindus!

This writer, like many other Hindus, strongly believes that “Amir Mahal” Palace of the “Prince” of Arcot has many ancient hidden treasures looted by his ancestors from Hindu temples. Once it was even believed that there was an underground connection by means of a tunnel, from Arcot to Amir Mahal.

So, will the Supreme Court constitute a committee to investigate Amir Mahal and take an inventory of the wealth there? If a petition is filed, showing historical evidences, will the “Honourable” Supreme Court entertain it and issue a similar order as given against Travancore Temple, or will it play the old ‘secular’ game and ask the petitioner, “What is your locus standi?”

Check! When the Supreme Court has not bothered to ensure a “Common Civil Code”;

 When the Supreme Court has not nullified the HR & CE Act, which is against the Constitution;

When the Supreme Court has not brought Churches and Mosques under the purview of Government Religious Endowments at par with Temples;

When the Supreme Court has not put an end to subsidizing Haj Pilgrimage;

What is wrong in saying the Supreme Court has erred in the case of Travancore Temple?

What is wrong in saying the Supreme Court had committed sacrilege?

What is wrong in saying the Supreme Court had hurt our religious sentiments?

 Jayendra SaraswatiShockingly, no Hindu organisation, ostensibly existing to defend the Hindu dharma and the Hindu people from precisely such assaults from the secular state and its soulless institutions, spoke ONE WORD in defence of the Temple, the Deity, the Royal Guardians of the Temple, nor dared condemn the Supreme Court Order. Only the Revered Kanchi Acharya came out with a clear and categorical statement saying that the wealth belongs to Bhagwan and the Royal family is its custodians.

Handing over Bhagwan’s wealth to the government, which is full of corrupt elements and criminals, or keeping them in a government museum, or using them for ‘secular’ expenditure which is anti-Hindu in Indian parlance, is not at all acceptable. The status quo must be maintained and the matter must be closed at once.

Supreme Court LogoThe Supreme Court must unequivocally declare that all temples in India, in their entirety, belong to the respective Bhagwan, relieve them from the government’s stranglehold and handover their administration to locally eminent and honourable bhaktas or Hindus associations that have no foreign or minority representation in their ranks. – Vijayvaani, New Delhi, July 9, 2011

 » B.R. Haran is a senior journalist » 

1 – Mythical Thomas, devious Deivanayagam, and conniving Church – B.R. Haran

This report was planted allegedly by The New Indian Express employee Babu Jayakumar, a Christian activist who operates within the newspaper's newsroom. The New Indian Express colluding with fanatic Christians who give false reports is nothing new.

Wrong Report and Right Action

M. It was shocking to see a report (with an accompanying photograph) in The New Indian Express (3 May 2010) titled, “Stir seeking right to worship”. The report said, “Members of the ‘Federation of All Self-Respecting Tamils’ observed a fast inside the Kapaleeswarar Temple demanding right to worship inside the temple in Mylapore. Federation president Mu. Theivanayagam said the fast was to condemn one section which had hijacked the rights of Tamils to perform puja inside the sanctum sanctorum. He demanded the state government appoint unbiased interlocutors to resolve the issue and ensure the rights to perform puja inside the garbagraha as in Kasi Viswanathar Temple.”

The photograph showed film director Seeman, who shot to sudden (in)fame espousing the cause of LTTE, addressing the gathering of about two dozen people brought to the venue by Theivanayagam.

We at Hindu Dharma Padukappu Iyakkam (Hindu Dharma Protection Movement) were surprised as both Deivanayagam and Seeman are Christians and unashamedly anti-Hindu, and yet the Executive Officer of the famous temple had given (as per the report) permission to such dubious characters to protest inside a Hindu Temple. Moreover, the issue taken up by the protestors is sub judice, as the ‘All Caste Archanas Ordinance’ passed by Tamil Nadu Assembly itself stands challenged in the Supreme Court of India.

Seeman: Tamil film director and LTTE sympathizer. He was recently deported from Canada.

At the same time, we were amused as there was every chance that the report was wrong, as it is quite common for newspapers and magazines to file factually wrong reports and then publish a regret note in some corner, if required. So we decided to confirm the veracity of the news report. Unsurprisingly, we learnt that the event had not happened inside Kapaleeswarar Temple and that New Indian Expresshad wrongly mentioned the venue as Mylapore Temple.

We promptly got in touch with other Hindu organizations, some were out of station. Hindu Janajagruthi Samithi, Nandanar Peravai (Nandanar Forum) and Desiya Sinthanaiyalar Peravai (National Thinkers Forum) agreed to send volunteers to assemble in front of Mylapore police station and lodge a complaint against Deivanayagam and Seeman and later to protest against HR & CE Dept. We prepared a letter to the Chief Minister demanding the ouster of Executive Officer, Joint Commissioner, Commissioner and the Minister for HR & CE Dept.

By afternoon, while preparing for the protest, we learnt that the hunger strike demo was actually conducted at Rajarathinam Stadium, Egmore, with due police permission. It was simply appalling that the police gave permission to Christian bullies to demonstrate on a Hindu cause, even if this was not inside the temple premises. We decided to register our protest with the Commissioner of Police. CoP being unavailable, we met a senior official (Intelligence) and apprised him of our concerns and feelings of outrage. We felt strongly that the police had erred in giving permission to Christians to demonstrate on a Hindu issue and questioned the locus standi of the demonstrators. The official, who never expected a well-articulated protest, could not give convincing answers. Later, we submitted a complaint against Theivanayagam, who has a notorious track record of virulent anti-Hindu activities for over three decades.

Mythical Thomas and his fake Indian connection

The Western Christian elite, from Max Mueller to Macaulay, distorted our history and fed us their distortions. After independence, Marxists and other Western stooges took over as ‘historians’ and continued the dark and sinister legacy of the West. The mythical St.  Thomas was planted and thrust on South India by Western historians to give a solid foundation for Christianity in ancient India. Many attempts have been made at regular intervals to impose the concocted story of Thomas (his arrival, life in Mylapore and death at the hands of a Brahmin) on the people, thereby removing the facts about the persecution of Hindus and destruction of Hindu temples by Christian invaders (Portuguese, French, British) from the fifteenth century onwards.

The planting of the St. Thomas story was not only to have a foundation for Christianity in India, but also to spread it throughout the country. This fabrication succeeded slightly over the years in the areas of Madras, Nagapattinam and Puducherry, mainly because the Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore, Vel Ilankanni Amman Temple Nagapattinam and Vedapureeswarar Temple, Puducherry, were destroyed and Santhome Basilica, Velankanni Church (Our Lady of Health Basilica) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception built on their remains respectively. Well known scholars of archaeology have established that the details of the destruction of the original Kapaleeswarar Temple could be found in Tamil inscriptions on the walls of the Marundeeswarar Temple in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai!

The so-called history of St. Thomas had been totally demolished by historian Ishwar Sharan The Myth of St. Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, translated into Tamil in elegant prose by Dr. B.M. Sundaram. Historian Vedaprakash wrote a Tamil book titled Indiyavil St.Thomas Kattukkathai (“Fake story of St. Thomas in India”). Both authentically establish that the Thomas story was hundred percent false. The most important part of Ishwar Sharan’s research is the Vatican’s letter of September 11, 1996, to him saying, “This Congregation for the Causes of Saints has received your letter of 26th August last in which you have asked for information regarding Saint Thomas’ presence in India. We have not found in our Archives the letter supposedly written by this Congregation on 13th November 1952, of which you speak, because of a lack of more precise data (Diocese, destination, etc.). Nor do we have other data regarding Saint Thomas since this Archive was begun in 1588. His life is the object of the research of historians which is not the particular competence of this Congregation.” [1] No wonder Pope Benedict categorically said Thomas had never visited India!

The Arulappa-Acharya Paul show

Dr. R. Arulappa: Late archbishop of the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese.Late Dr. Arulappa, former Archbishop of Mylapore, played a vital role in keeping the Thomas story alive despite being fooled by one Acharya Paul (formerly Ganesh Iyer), a Srirangam based Brahmin who converted to Christianity and became a Bible preacher. He claimed to have obtained a Doctorate from Benaras Hindu University and presented himself as Dr. John Ganesh, professor of philosophy and comparative religions. He met a Catholic priest, Father Michael, of Tamil Ilakkiya Kazhagam (Tamil Literary Forum) and impressed him with his articulation on the Bible and Christianity. Father Michael took him to Father Mariadas of Srivilliputhur, who in turn introduced him to Archbishop Arulappa. Arulappa, who wanted to create some sort of “proof” for Thomas and his influence on Thiruvalluvar, was taken aback by the impressive presentation of John Ganesh and committed to finance his ‘research’ to establish the Thomas story as authentic. Between 1975 and 1980, John Ganesh got Rs. 14 lakhs from Arulappa in the name of research. Realising very late that he had been taken for a ride, Arulappa made a police complaint and John Ganesh was arrested on April 29, 1980, after due investigations. Though the Madras High Court awarded him ten month rigorous imprisonment, he got away with just 59 days remand period due to the compromise petition filed by Arulappa. Senior journalist K.P. Sunil wrote this full story under the title “Hoax!” in The Illustrated Weekly of India, April 26 – May 2, 1987, Bombay. He concluded:

San Thome Cathedral: This Portuguese church is built on the Mylapore beach  site of the original Kapaleeswara Temple.

“What is even more curious is that even as criminal proceedings against Iyer were in progress in the magistrate’s court, a civil suit for a compromise had been filed in the Madras high court. The compromise decree was taken up immediately after the conclusion of the criminal case. Since Iyer had admitted the offence, his jail term was reduced to a mere two months imprisonment. And since he had already served 59 days of remand, this period was adjusted against the sentence. “In other words, Iyer, who had defrauded the archbishop to the tune of about Rs. 14 lakhs, was let off without any further punishment. He was ordered to forfeit all claim on the money given to him by the archbishop. Accordingly, the ornaments and money seized from him by the police were returned to the archbishop. As part of the compromise, Iyer was allowed to retain the large bungalow he had purchased with the archbishop’s money.… “… And the case, though officially closed, remains in many minds, an unsolved mystery.” Continued http://bharatabharati.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/2-mythical-thomas-devious-deivanayagam-and-conniving-church-b-r-haran/


Notes:

1. On 13 November 1952 the Vatican sent a letter to the Christians of Kerala stating that the alleged landing of St. Thomas at Muziris (Kodungallur) was unverified. The Vatican chose not to confirm the sending of this letter to Ishwar Sharan in 1996 on the disingenuous grounds that he had not supplied them with enough information to locate it in their archives.

St. Thomas in India Resources:

  1. Acta Indica: The St. Thomas in India Swindle http://apostlethomasindia.wordpress.com
  2. The Ishwar Sharan Archive http://ishwarsharan.wordpress.com

» This article originally appeared on Vijayvaani at http://vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1220

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