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

St. Thomas in India: Tiruvalluvar ‘baptised’ to betray Hindus – B. R. Haran

George Orwell“History is always written by the victors and whoever controls the writing of history books control the past. Without doubt, the most consistently powerful force in the western world over the last two thousand years has been the Roman Catholic Church and consequently history has often been what it wanted it to be.” – George Orwell in 1984

St. Thomas the Apostle of the EastAs rightly expressed in those immortal words by George Orwell, the Indians have been fed with distorted history by the Western Christian elite before independence and the same has been continued even after independence, thanks to the takeover of the nation’s history by the Marxists and Christian stooges, who continued the dark and sinister legacy of Max Mueller and Macaulay. As an important part of the perverted history, which was planted by the western scholars, the so-called St. Thomas’s arrival, life, and death were thrust on South India. This thrust gave a solid foundation to the Church to claim as if Christianity was also an indigenous religion.

Max MuellerThomas MacaulayAs brilliantly shown in the article St. Thomas in India: An IAS officer revisits a 400-year-old history hoax by V. Sundaram, many attempts have been made at regular intervals to impose the concocted history of Thomas on the people, thereby removing the facts from their minds, about the persecution of Hindus and destroying of Hindu temples by the Christian invaders (Portuguese, French, and British) from the fifteenth century onwards.

Dr. M. DeivanayagamOne such attempt, in the line of Arulappa and Acharya Paul, was made by a writer by name Deivanayagam, who wrote a book titled, Vivliyam (Bible), Tirukkural, Saiva Siddantham – Oppu Ayvu (Comparative Research), which was published in 1985-86 by none other than the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Adayar, Madras, either without any application of mind, or, as a deliberate act of connivance. Shockingly Deivanayagam was also awarded a Doctorate by the University of Madras. Deivanayagam had predetermined to conclude his book with a finding that Tiruvalluvar was a Christian and a disciple of the so-called St. Thomas and most of the Shaiva Siddhantha and the vivid knowledge found in Tirukkural were nothing but the sayings of the Bible. In order to achieve this devious motive, he distorted and misinterpreted the verses of Kural and Shaivite philosophical works and completed the book. Later on, Tamil and Shaivite scholars protested against this and the Dharmapuram Adheenam, a famous Shaivite Math, came out with a book of refutation written by Tamil Shivite Scholar Arunai Vadivel Mudaliar and released it amongst a congregation of Tiruvalluvareminent scholars, who strongly criticized Deivanayagam for his perversion of history. This was done mainly to prevent the usage of such deceitful materials by the future generations for research activities.

The planting of the so-called St. Thomas story was not only to have a foundation for Christianity in India, but also to spread it through out the country. This fabrication succeeded slightly, over the years, in the areas of Madras, Nagappatinam and Pondicherry, mainly because of the fact that the Kapaleeshwara Temple, Mylapore, Vel Ilankanni Amman Temple near Nagappattinam and Vedapureeshwara Temple, Pondicherry were destroyed and Santhome Basilica, Velankanni Church (Our Lady of Health Basilica) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Pondicherry were built on their remains respectively. Well Swastika flag represents the best of Hindu civilization.known scholars of archeology have established that, the details of the destruction of original Kapaleeshwara Temple could be found in Tamil inscriptions on the walls of the Marundeeswarar Temple in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai, even today!

But, the glorious religious tradition and cultural heritage of Sanatana Dharma had been so hugely established that, despite the cooperation from the Dravidian racists, Marxists and the English language media, the Catholic Diocese couldn’t expand beyond a certain limit. As a result, it started indulging in inculturation methods (dressing in Hindu ochre,  pada yatra, calling Santhome Mary as “Thirumayilai Annai”, giving sugar-rice as prasad, etc) to confuse and win over the gullible masses.

At this juncture, there fell on the Indian Catholic head like a bolt from the blue, the categorical statement from Pope Benedict that the so-called St. Thomas never ever visited India! This resounding statement from the Papacy, which shocked the Catholic community, had shaken the very foundation of  Christianity in South India! As the Papacy didn’t bother to listen to the Indian Catholic community and their protests, the Madras and Cochin bishops met in Cochin, Kerala during the second week of June 2008, to find out ways and means of reestablishing the history of the so-called St. Thomas.

Deputy Archbishop of Madras Fr. Lawrence PiusArchbishop A.M. ChinnappaAs a step in that direction, the Archdiocese of Santhome, Madras, decided to produce a feature film on the so-called St. Thomas the Apostle of India, at a cost of Rs. 50 crore under the banner of “St. Thomas Apostle of India Trust“, which has Archbishop A.M. Chinappa, Deputy Archbishop Lawrence Pius, Treasurer of the Diocese Mr. Ernest Paul and Script Writer Dr. Paulraj Lourdusamy as office bearers. The movie will be presenting the life and times of the so-called St. Thomas in South India in general and Madras in particular. The film will have certain supposedly important events like the alleged meeting between Thomas and Tamil sage Tiruvalluvar, the establishment of  Santhome  Cathedral and the alleged killing of Thomas by a Hindu Brahmin priest.

G.U. PopeThe story of Tirukkural containing biblical verses was first concocted by G.U. Pope, a Christian missionary, who learnt Tamil and translated the Tamil literary works such as Thiruvachagam, Naaladiyaar and Tirukkural in English. Missionaries like G.U. Pope, Constantine Joseph Beschi (who took the Tamil name Veeramaa Munivar) and Robert Caldwell have a modus operandi of learning the native language with a motive of distorting history to suit their missionary agendas. The Dravidian racist political party, which always thrived on the bogus Aryan Invasion Theory, took immense satisfaction in glorifying these missionaries by erecting statues for them along the Marina Beach when it ruled Tamil Nadu in the late sixties and early seventies, thereby exhibiting its unholy connection with Christian missionaries. No wonder, the Chief Minister Karunanidhi inaugurated this 50 crore movie-magnum on the so-called St.Thomas!

G.U. Pope lived up to the true tradition of Christian missionaries, by telling that Tiruvalluvar lived in Madras between 800 and 1000 years after the birth of Christ! The Tamils never bought this story and laughed at it. As per the available records it is believed that Tiruvalluvar could have lived during the second century based on the evidence that Tirukkural was included in the group called Pathinen Keezh Kanakku (Eighteen Literary Works) during the Kadai Sangam (Last Sangam) days. Those days, there was a literary-grammatical procedure by which the author would always make it a point to convey to the readers the identification of his guru and patron apart from his own personal details such as name, native place, worshipping deity, etc. But Tirukkural is without such details, and hence, the connection between Tiruvalluvar and Thomas is a mere figment of imagination. 

Raja Raja CholaWhereas, a look at many other literary works written after the second century, say for example Kamba Ramayanam, or Periya Puranam, could lead to the mentioning of Tirukkural or its philosophy in them and none of them would have any information about a religion called Christianity. The glorious rule of Raja Raja Chola was during the 10th century and there was no trace of Christianity then! Also the Santhome Cathedral had the inscriptions of  Rajendra Chola of the eleventh century on its corridor walls! Then what meeting is this Archdiocese talking about between Tiruvalluvar and the so-called St.Thomas?

M. Karunanidhi & Catholic BishopsEven the Chief Minister during his speech at the inauguration function, has not mentioned anything about the alleged meeting between Thomas and Tiruvalluvar. It is a well-known fact that, Karunanidhi, himself being a Tamil scholar and well versed with Tamil literary works, had written his masterpiece Kuraloviyam on Tirukkural. As he had not talked anything about the connection between the Bible and Tirukkural or Thomas and Tiruvalluvar at the inaugural function of the movie, it becomes obvious that the Thomas story is an absolute falsehood! But, he has waxed eloquent on the supposed killing of the so-called St.Thomas at the hands of a Hindu Brahmin priest and went on to say that the particular scene alone is enough for the success of the movie! But for this (Thomas’s killing) also, the Church doesn’t have even an iota of evidence.

Sri RamaAt this juncture, it can be recalled that the Chief Minister had recently questioned the truth of Bhagwan Rama, historicity of Ramayana and existence of Rama Sethu, despite the availability of so much of archeological, literary, cultural, numismatic, geographical and historical evidences. But, he has not exhibited the courage to question the historicity of the so-called St. Thomas, despite being aware of the fact that there is absolutely no iota of evidence. The Chief Minister, who is a well-known expert in Tirukkural, has unfortunately not felt it important to ascertain the truth of the so-called meeting between Thomas and Thiruvalluvar, but conveniently left it untouched at the inauguration function. Though the people are aware of the Chief Minister’s hostile stand against the majority community, it doesn’t augur well for him to openly pander to the minority community accepting their devious machinations.

The Archdiocese talks of three vital places in Madras namely Santhome (Mylapore), Little Mount (Saidapet) and St. Thomas Mount (Brungi Malai). While Santhome Cathedral stands on the ruins of Kapali Temple, Little Mount was also built after demolishing a temple and the church on the Big Mount was also built on the ruins of a temple. The Big Mount was called as Brungi Malai named after Brungi Maharishi, who sat in penance there invoking Bhagwan Shiva seeking his darshan and blessing. Ultimately Bhagwan Shiva appeared before Brungi Munivar as Nandeeshwara and as clear evidence the Avudai Nayagi Sametha Nandeeshwara Temple stands near the St. Thomas Railway Station, from where one could see the Brungi Malai clearly. This Stala Purana (temple record) can be found in the form of inscriptions on the walls of the Nandeeshwara Temple even today! Even while the Archdiocese has been attempting to establish the fallacy of St.Thomas over the years, it has not exhibited the courage so far to face a public debate despite invitations from learned Tamil Hindu scholars.

San Thome Cathedral Basilica, Mylapore, Madras.The Archdiocese has the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion to propagate its faith, but it cannot be done at the cost of other religious faiths. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion cannot be used to distort history, or christianize the icons of other religions, with a motive of belittling the other faith, which is native in all respects and which has a well-established glorious religious tradition and cultural heritage spanning thousands of years even before the birth of Christianity. Thrusting of falsehood on the gullible masses cannot be allowed. It is not too difficult to understand the aims and objectives of the Madras Archdiocese behind this movie project. So, it would be better for them to understand the sensitivity attached with this project, as they have a social responsibility. The government must also ensure that history is not distorted and the people are not repeatedly fed with fabrications and fallacies.

Dr. Subramanian SwamyIt would be appropriate to conclude with the sensible and courageous words of Dr. Subramanian Swamy“The church will have to go, and the Kapaleeshwara Temple re-built on that site. Hindus will do it with the help of sane and civilised Christians if possible, without them if necessary, and despite them if forced. When 83 percent Hindus unite, let those who are seeking to debase Hindu icons by bogus history realise that a religious tsunami will wash them away.”

Politics has always been interwoven with religion and history in our nation of diversity and in such a scenario, it would be better to leave this project untouched, for the sake of Unity!

  • See The Myth of St. Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, Chapter 18for all details of the Portuguese occupation of Big Mount now called St. Thomas Mount.

Brungi Malai / Big Mount / St. Thomas MountThe video below is of the Portuguese built Our Lady of Expectation Church on Big Mount or St. Thomas (originally called Brungi Malai after the rishi who had lived there). It was built in 1547 when the Portuguese destroyed the Hindu temple on the hill. The church contains an 8th century stone Persian cross that is attributed to St. Thomas. The church also contains a number of paintings depicting St. Thomas being killed by a Brahmin wearing namam. The whole story is a fabrication maintained by the Church and meant to malign and denigrate Brahmins and the Hindu community. – Editor

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