Where is the Brahmin, seeker of the highest truth? – Makarand Paranjape

Brahmin

Prof Makarand R. ParanjapeIndia is filled not only with Brahmin-baiters and Brahmin-haters, but also of brainwashed and de-brahminised Hindus. … The main strategy is to ascribe all the evils not only of the caste system but of Hinduism itself to “Brahminism.” – Prof Makarand Paranjape

No right-thinking Indian can justify the ancient régime of varna vyastha, whose injustices, inequalities, and indignities have survived into our own times. Yet, arguably, it is caste, not ideology, that is still the driving force in Indian society and politics. This contradiction of repudiation-reification makes us pose the moot question, “Has the Brahmin disappeared from India?”

Some 20 years ago, Saeed Naqvi, in The Last Brahmin Prime Minister of India, conferred that dubious distinction on P. V. Narasimha Rao. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ascension to the august office proved Naqvi wrong. Rani Sivasankara Sarma’s autobiographical account in Telugu, The Last Brahmin, published soon after Naqvi’s, also asks similar questions, though from a socio-religious, rather than political, standpoint.

I was startled to learn that on his last visit to India in 1985, the great philosopher and teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti raised the same question in his conversation with Professor P. Krishna at Rajghat, Varanasi (A Jewel on a Silver Platter: Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti by Padmanabhan Krishna). Krishnamurti is quick to clarify that “Brahmin” is “Not by birth, sir, that is so childish!” As the conversation unfolds, Krishnamurti narrates a story to illustrate.

After defeating Porus, Alexander is impressed by the efficiency of the former’s administration. Alexander hears that the person responsible, Porus’s Brahmin Prime Minister, has left the capital after the loss. Sending after him, Alexander is further surprised at the Brahmin’s refusal to call on him. Deciding to visit him instead, Alexander asks, “I am so impressed with your abilities. Will you work for me?” “Sorry,” says the Brahmin, “I must teach these children; I no longer wish to serve emperors.”

Krishnamurti’s tale is a variation of the story of Alexander the Great and the Stoic. The latter refuses to give up philosophy even in face of the monarch’s threats or blandishments; clearly, this story has both Greek and Indian versions. Krishnamurti concludes: “That’s a Brahmin—you can’t buy him. Now tell me, Sir, has the Brahmin disappeared from this country?”

In thus defining a Brahmin, Krishnamurti is following a tradition as old as the Buddha. In Canto 26 of the Dhammapada titled, “Who is a Brahmin,” the Tathagata says, “who is devoid of fear and free from fetters, him I call a Brahmin.” Verse after verse clarifies, enumerates, and explains the qualities: “He who is contemplative, lives without passions, is steadfast and has performed his duties, who is free from sensuous influxes and has attained the highest goal—him I call a Brahmin” (386). “Not by matted hair, by lineage, nor by birth (caste) does one become a Brahmin. But the one in whom there abide truth and righteousness, he is pure; he is a Brahmin” (393).

Traditionally, those born in the Brahmin jati were supposed to aspire to and espouse such high ideals, whether Vedic or Buddhist. But in these contentious times, the Buddha’s words themselves have been politicised. There are many “modern” translations of the Dhammapada where the word “Brahmin” has been removed completely. The Vedas, of course, are rejected altogether for being “Brahminical.” The object is clearly to attack, denigrate, and destroy the abstract category called “Brahmin.”

Often, the main strategy is to ascribe all the evils not only of the caste system but of Hinduism itself to “Brahminism.” Actually, the latter word was invented by Orientalists to refer to the worship of “Brahman” in contra-distinction to the Buddha, which was called Buddhism. The rule of Brahmins, though there was possibly never such a thing in actual Indian history, should more properly be termed “Brahminarchy”, a term no one uses. Much misinterpretation has also entered our own languages through the back translation of “Brahminism” as “Brahmanvad.” The latter is understood as the ideology of Brahmin domination promoting a hierarchical and exclusionary social system.

Maharaja NandakumarThe history of anti-Brahminism should not, however, be traced to Phule, Periyar, or even Ambedkar, who were all trying to reform rather than destroy Hindu society. The real culprit was more likely British imperialism. If the Muslim invaders tried to annihilate the Kshatriyas, the British attempted to finish off the Brahmins. After the East India Company assumed the overlordship of Bengal, their first execution was of “Maharaja” Nandakumar, a leading Brahmin opponent of the Governor-General, Warren Hastings. On 5 August 1775, Nandakumar was hanged for forgery, a capital crime under British law. But how was such a law applicable to India?

Macaulay, though an imperialist, called the execution a judicial murder. He accused Elijah Impey, the first Chief Justice of the Calcutta Supreme Court, of colluding with Hastings.

The hanging of Nandakumar took place near what is now the Vidyasagar Setu. The entire Hindu population shunned the British, moving to the other bank of the river, to protest against British injustice and to avoid the pollution caused by the act.

Today, India is filled not only with Brahmin-baiters and Brahmin-haters, but also of brainwashed and de-brahminised Hindus. My own university, JNU, is full of pamphlets and posters against Brahminism, one even blaming “Brahminical patriarchy” for the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed, who went missing on 15 October 2016. Anti-Brahminism, however, is never considered hate-crime or hate-speech. Why? Don’t Brahmins have human feelings or rights? Brahmins, moreover, are soft targets, scripturally and culturally enjoined not to retaliate. As the Dhammapada (389) puts it, “One should not strike a Brahmin; neither should a Brahmin give way to anger against him who strikes.”

Is it time intellectually to re-arm Brahmins so that they maintain both their own dignity and the veneration of their inherited calling? Does the ideal of the Brahmin continue to be relevant to India, whether we define a Brahmin as one who cannot be bought, a seeker of the highest truth, or a teacher and guide? Shouldn’t such a person, regardless of the jati she or he is born in, continue to be a beacon of light and leadership? As to those born into the community, they may well remember the Kanchi Paramacharya’s sage advice: Fulfill the responsibilities but do not expect the privileges of your birth. – Swarajya, 6 January 2017

» Prof Makarand Paranjape is an author and teaches English at JNU, New Delhi. 

Brahmin & Moghul

See also

Vatican has never apologised for its crimes, and will not apologise for the Goa Inquisition – Aravindan Neelakandan

The Inquisition

Aravindan NeelakandanIn 1999 the VHP raised the issue of apology for Inquisition during the Papal visit to India, Indian Catholic officials crisply declared that “tendering an apology for the so-called inquisition was not on the Pope’s agenda.” And termed such a request by Hindus as “raking up unnecessary issues for cheap publicity.” – Aravindan Neelakandan

When it comes to ‘apologising’ for genocides, which it either directly instigated or facilitated through tactical support, Vatican is a conjurer adept in sleight of words and institutions. You are made to believe that Vatican has changed; that the Vatican has apologised but then you go through what has been actually said officially and by whom, and you realise that nothing has changed.

Take for example the absolutely safe sounding name for one of the oldest congregations in Vatican— ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’. That is the modern name. The original name? ‘Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition’. And what did it do? Banned books and burnt the heretics. And what does it do now? It still bans and restricts books within its sphere of influence like the books of Rev. Anthony de Mello SJ and the fact that it does not burn the heretics no more is more because of the want of power than because of the want of willingness. The spirit behind is the same: ‘Roma locuta; causa finita est‘ – Rome has spoken and the case is closed as every student of theology knows, even if the case closed means the closing of the lives of millions in torture chambers.

So it will be prudent for the followers of Indic faiths to understand how the Church has reacted with response to its role in other genocides. Here we take the example of three cases: Nazi Holocaust, Native American genocides and Rwandan genocide. And in each case we shall see briefly the Indic parallels.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp EntranceNazi Holocaust

When Pope John Paul II expressed his regret for the Holocaust, the same play with words was in display in full plumage. In the much popularised ex cathedra statement issued by Vatican We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah, the Church laid the blame everywhere else except on itself. The Holocaust “was the work of a thoroughly modern neo-pagan regime” and “its anti-Semitism had its roots outside of Christianity”, the communication stated.

The fact is that paganism as such had no institutionalised anti-Semitism. Most of the virulently anti-Semitic laws had their origin in Christian laws. For example, in 1592 Jesuits introduced the rule forbidding admission of men of Jewish origin calculating their ancestry to the fifth generation. Derived from the Jesuit rule, ‘German blood certificate’ of Nazis introduced in 1935 calculated Jewish ancestry for three to four generations. Similarly blood-libel, a Christian propaganda against the Jews based on which the Church even manufactured martyrs, Passion plays which incited mobs to attack Jews, were all substantial Catholic contributions to Nazi propaganda. Yet, the Church without hesitation could call the Holocaust as the workings of a Neo-Pagan regime whose anti-Semitic roots were outside Christianity.

Then it pointedly called Jews “the elder brothers”, quoting Christian scripture. To the uninitiated in Christian theology it looks very pleasant. But in Christian theology it has a specific meaning. The elder brother is always wrong in Christian discourse. When quoting their scripture to call Jews “the elder brothers”, the theologians who crafted the document were well aware that this phrase actually links in their theology the Jews with Cain. In the grand narrative of Church the verse “…the elder shall serve the younger” in Hebrew Bible (Genesis 25:23) is darkly transformed to mean Jews serving the Christians in servitude. Maximinus to Tertullian, the founding fathers of the Church had allowed the ink to flow in torrents to explain how Jews as elder brothers were cursed like Cain. Historian Leon Poliakov in the third volume of his authoritative book The History of Anti-Semitism points out that one of the “essential points” of the teaching of the Church has been “the fall from grace of the elder brother, since wandering Jew, wandering like Cain was also marked by a similar sign on the temple.”

Interestingly the document contained not a single word of apology and had only a single word expressing “regret” for the six million Jews died in the Holocaust. This is the nature of “regret” showed by Church in the most popular and horrible Holocaust of recent history. One should couple with this two important phenomena. One is the installation of “Auschwitz crosses“. This happened when a Carmelite convent was opened near Auschwitz and a huge cross was erected there. Jews protested this blatant Catholic aggression into one of their most painful recent memories. Yet in 1998 the same year Vatican issued “We remember” document on Holocaust, the Archbishop as well as the Cardinal of Catholic Church opposed the removal of the cross which insulted the memory of the Jewish victims of Auschwitz.

And the Church has not bothered to express even such mild watered down, theologically correct, regrets for Gypsies and other “undesirables” killed by the Nazi regime with which Vatican had signed a concordat.

St Thomas and Hindu assassinPresent parallel in India

If it is blood libel for Jews, it is the manufacture of Christian “saints” martyred at the hands of Hindus in general and Brahmins in particular, in India. Complete pseudo-histories have been fabricated like in the case of “martyr” Devasahayam Pillai, in which the Hindu king of Travancore ordered torturing and killing of him for embracing Christianity. In reality, the kings of Travancore had been pro-Christian. The missionaries writing to British government actually cited the example of the Travancore Hindu princely state which allowed Bible teaching in government schools and where large parcels of lands were freely given to Christian missionaries. Yet the Church has been actively propagating the fabricated martyr story. The very historicity of this ‘martyr’ has been questioned by historians. Yet stage dramas are conducted demonizing Hindus and full efforts are on to canonise him.

In the case of St. Thomas myth in India also, the Hindus are made the treacherous villains who stabbed St. Thomas. In the case of this legend, there is a well manipulated evolution of narrative to suit the local prejudices. So the initial Christian account spoke of “low caste man” having killed Thomas by accident. In these earlier narratives, they attributed elephantiasis as the curse of St. Thomas. As anti-Brahminism became a popular political and evangelical tool, the current stories speak of Brahmins as the schemers and killers of St. Thomas.

In Christian propaganda literature endorsed by top Catholic clergy, fake “secret circulars” of RSS similar to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion used by Nasis to demonise Jews, were published.

Junipero Serra & Native American BoyNative American Genocide

Doctrine of Discovery” forms the theological basis of the Native American genocide. It involves the fifteenth and sixteenth century Papal Bulls which gave the Christian invaders the right to own the “discovered” American lands for their Christian States and allowed them to convert, enslave or in case of refusal for conversion, exterminate the Native Americans.

Often Native Americans were lured with gifts from Spain and then they were trapped through baptism and their old ways destroyed. No wonder the missionaries called these Spanish goods “bait and means of spiritual fishing”. The converted Native Americans were kept within the mission compounds and had to labour. Their women produced food for the mission. The men cultivated land and took care of the cattle—effectively becoming cowboys of the mission. To this day, missionary propaganda murals depict these events as one of peaceful serene coexistence.

However contemporary accounts by neutral observers give a different picture. For example the journals of French man Jean Francois de la Perouse, who was sympathetic to the missionaries called the mission compound resembling a “slave plantation”. Native American men were whipped in public and punished if they disobeyed. Women too were whipped but in secret chambers lest it ignite the men folk to raise a rebellion.

Missionaries coveted the Indian land for three reasons: it made conversions easy; landless natives converted and provided slave labour; and it placed vast lands at the disposal of missionaries. “Civilizing the Indian can only be achieved by denaturalizing them,” said Fermín Lasuén, another prominent missionary at the mission. That Fermín Lasuén belonged to Franciscan order of the Catholic Church is an interesting paradox for Hindus (like this writer) who love to eulogize St. Francis of Assisi as a saint with ecological sensibility. However, the point is that such “denaturalizing” of Native Americans at once provided the mission with slave labour and vast land resources.

Along with such naked aggression, the violent proselytizing was also supported by the myth of St. Thomas. Catholic clergy spread the story among Native Americans that St. Thomas had come long before Spaniards to South America. Famous Virgin Goddess they venerated became the image of Mary which the Apostle had kept as a holy relic. Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent divinity was St. Thomas. The native God Tehuitzahuac was actually Jesus Christ himself. These ideas spread through sermons in the Church thus justified the destruction of native culture which was supplanted by Christianity. St. Thomas myth fitted well with the “doctrine of discovery”.

Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 reiterated this mindset of “doctrine of discovery” when he addressed the Native Americans. He declared that the natives were ”silently longing” for Christianity and ”the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.” The present Pope Francis had simultaneously displayed words seeking forgiveness from Native Americans but the deeds were exactly opposite. He is proceeding with the St. Francis Xavier: The Scourge of the Coromandel Coast!canonizing of Junípero Serra—the founder of Catholic Missions in San Francisco, who ran a mission estate for Native Americans chillingly similar to Auschwitz minus the gas chambers.

Present day parallels in India

In many places across India, Indian Catholics are made to venerate ‘St.’ Xavier the architect of Goan Inquisition. The most prominent Catholic seminary to this day stands on the destroyed Siva temple considered the holiest place in Goa for Hindus.

The St. Thomas myth has been propagated in India also. The Church has been increasingly lending its voice in support of crackpot theories that Hinduism is a derivative of Christianity preached by St. Thomas. In Tamil Nadu, using the Dravidian political movement, sustained efforts have been made to push this crackpot agenda. In the ground level, evangelical guidelines have been issued to missionaries which make use of these crackpot theories to confuse the ordinary Hindus.

Vincent NsengiyumvaRwandan Genocide

Now we come to the “apology” of Vatican for Rwandan Genocide. The fact is that Vatican has not expressed apology and Rwandan government has rightly pointed that out. It was actually an inadequate apology by a Rwandan Catholic bishop. The role of Catholic Church in Rwanda in building the racial tensions is far more sinister and heavy to be washed off in such inadequacies.

The two communities in Rwanda, Tutsi and Hutus, were identified as racial types by the European missionaries, anthropologists and colonial administrators. The Tutsi were invaders and they were “clever”, similar to Europeans to a degree and they appropriated the land through trickery from Hutu who became their slaves. Implanting this myth initially, the colonial administration and its religious arm, the Catholic Church favoured the Tutsis, agreeing with colonial government policy in considering Tutsi and Hutu as distinct races. However, the Church’s support to Tutsis waned dramatically with the Rwandan revolution in 1959.

As some Rwandan patriots of Tutsi origin started questioning the Catholic Church in meddling in politics, the Church joined hands with the Hutus. The Church started filling its local hierarchies with Hutus and the Belgian Catholic clergy even participated in drafting the Bahutu Manifesto in 1957, which paved the way to the genocide later. With colonial and Church support, the Hutu republican party captured power in 1959 and initiated the first Rwandan massacre in which more than 20,000 Tutsis were killed. A report points out:

The demonization of Tutsis preceded the 1994 genocide. Even though this was a clear and grave human rights violation, Bishop Perraudin and his senior aides dismissed these events as a social revolution intended to redress social injustices. For thirty years these views were not questioned.

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 is the result of a long chain of events in which Church was a major player and hence a key facilitator of genocide. Yet, the Vatican has not found it right to express “regret” or apology—what has happened is the statement of a regional official of the Church.

Robert CaldwellIndian Parallel

Church has been at the forefront of spreading the Aryan-Dravidian racial divide theory and has invested much into this conflict creating narrative. Despite the fact that renowned anti-caste fighters like Dr. Ambedkar had denounced racial interpretation of caste conflicts, the Church and its affiliates go on with the propaganda of “Aryan Brahminical religion” oppressing the so-called Dravidians. The Dravidians are traced to Abraham and through him Jesus is made a Dravidian! In Indian North East and in tribal areas of India, many Catholic missionaries take forward the pseudo-scientific race theories claiming that the Hindus and tribals are separate races etc. This sustained campaign on racial lines camouflaged as “social justice” just as in the case of Rwanda, contains in it the grim possibilities of many such massacres in India. Only Indian culture’s innate strength is holding on against such human tragedies happening.

So we come to the crux of the question. Will Vatican apologise for Goan Inquisition? The answer is emphatic “No”. It has never apologised for its crimes against humanity which have been more documented and more publicised. Hindus have never publicised the crimes done against them by the invaders systematically. Hindus seldom have a museum or memorial for those martyred for Dharma by the Catholic Inquisition. There have been no plays, no movies through which the memories the cruelty of Inquisition and more importantly the sacrifices of the Hindus to defend their religion, have been taken forward to their next generation.

So when in 1999 the VHP raised the issue of apology for Inquisition during the Papal visit to India, Indian Catholic officials crisply declared that “tendering an apology for the so-called inquisition was not on the Pope’s agenda”. And termed such a request by Hindus as “raking up unnecessary issues for cheap publicity”. In other words Hindus weigh definitely less than the Jews, Native Americans and Rwandans in the public relations radar of Vatican. The only solace is despite the Church running in India all the tactics it used in Rwanda, pre-holocaust Christendom and against Native Americans, Hindus still survive as a religion, culture and nation. – Swarajya, 4 December 2016

» S. Aravindan Neelakandan is the co-author of a path-breaking book on Dravidian and Dalit faultlines, Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines.

Hitler's Pope Pius XII

From top-left, going clockwise: Leo XIII with Otto von Bismarck (Germany, 1862-1890), Pius XII with Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-1943), Pius XII with Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945), John Paul II with Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973-1990), Benedict XVI with Álvaro Uribe (Colombia, 2002-2010), Francis I [as a priest] with Jorge Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981), Pius XII with Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic, 1930-1961), Pius XII with Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975).

Pope Francis the Actor

See also

Francis the Actor: Argentinians dissatisfied with the pope’s response to the ‘dirty war’ – Vinod Sreeharsha

When will the Catholic Church apologise for the Goa Inquisition? – Shefali Vaidya

Pope FrancisShefali Vaidya“Goa is sadly famous for its inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshipped the devil, and it is they who have served him.” – Voltaire

The palace has been razed to the ground. Hordes of chattering tourists walk over the site now, clicking selfies against the massive white-washed facade of Saint Catherine’s Church in Old Goa. Children crowd around an ice-cream cart. Couples canoodle under an ancient banyan tree nearby. No traces remain of the dreaded “Vhodle Ghor” or the “Big House” as it was referred to in hushed tones by the terrified people of Goa, except a few moss-covered blocks of laterite stones that lie scattered in the grass. Those stones are the only surviving witnesses of the bloodiest chapter in Goan history—that of the Goa Inquisition.

Return to the ruins of the Palace of the Inquisition in the evening, after the last busload of tourists has departed. Sit a while on a laterite block as the sun goes down. If you are sensitive enough, you can still hear the terrified screams of hapless victims being tortured inside the “Vhodle Ghor” by the Inquisitor’s court. In 1560, the erstwhile palace of Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, in Old Goa was turned into a terrible torture chamber with the addition of a chapel, the residence of the Inquisitor, more than 200 windowless prison cells and many torture chambers.

Burning at the stake by the InquisitionNot many people outside Goa know about the terrible Goa Inquisition. The Inquisition was introduced in Goa in 1560 by the then Portuguese king Joao III at the behest of Francis Xavier, the Jesuit monk whose mummified remains lie in a church just across the road from the site of the Palace of Inquisitions. Inquisition lasted in Goa till 1812—a period of more than 250 years! It was temporarily abolished in 1774 by the relatively moderate Marquis De Pombal, but was reinstated promptly in 1778 after his fall from grace. Under the Inquisition, thousands of people, both men and women, were arrested on charges of heresy and subjected to inhuman torture. Many were burnt alive at ritualistic public spectacles known as autos-da-fe.

The Court of Inquisition was set up as a royal tribunal, headed by a judge answerable only to the king based in Lisbon. One of the first acts of the Inquisitor’s office in Goa was to forbid public practice of the Hindu faith. Hindus were forbidden to worship their Gods and Goddesses in public. In 1566, a vice-regal order prohibited Hindus from constructing temples or repairing old temples. In 1567 the Portuguese started destroying Hindu temples. In Bardez district alone, more than 300 temples were razed to the ground and churches built in their place.

All Hindu rituals including marriages, thread ceremonies and cremations were banned by law. All people above 15 years of age were forced to attend Christian preachings. The Palace of Inquisition became a torture chamber for Hindus, Jews, Muslims and even for converted Christians who clung to their Hindu customs and traditions. More than 42 Hindu customs were considered heretical, including wearing the sacred thread, wearing a tilak on the forehead, greeting people with a namaste and removing of slippers outside a place of worship.

Historian Alfredo de Mello describes the Goa Inquisition as a collection of “nefarious, fiendish, lustful, corrupt religious orders which pounced on Goa”. According to François Pyrard de Laval, a Frenchman who lived in Goa between 1608-1610, the Goa Inquisition was more severe than the one practised in Portugal. The most authentic account of the tortures of the Goa Inquisition comes from another Frenchman, a doctor named Dellon, who was imprisoned at the palace of the Inquisition. He describes his experiences in his book De Relation L’Inquisition De Goa [English-language edition]. The translation of this book is a part of the famous Goa historian A. K. Priolkar‘s seminal work on the subject.

For me, the Goa Inquisition was not just a sterilised remote term to be read in history textbooks. My own family had borne the brunt of the Inquisition. My ancestors had to leave behind their village, their land and all their wealth to save their faith. As their original village Nagoa was destroyed by the Portuguese under the religious command of the fanatical Jesuit priests, my family moved to Cuncolim and started a new life. They made a choice to not surrender their faith. Some others chose otherwise. Converting to Christianity meant official patronage and a good life. The Court of Inquisition guaranteed “protection” to Hindus who converted to Christianity and gave them rights over the lands of people who had chosen to leave their homes rather than convert to Christianity.

Jesuit priests killed at CuncolimIn 1583, all temples in my own village of Cuncolim were destroyed by the Portuguese army under direct orders from the court of Inquisition. The proud warriors of my village were not ones to suffer in silence. They led an armed rebellion on 25 July 1583 against the Portuguese. Five Jesuit priests and 14 local converts were killed in the attack. Enraged by this, the Portuguese sent a massive army that burnt and pillaged the village and unleashed unspeakable atrocities on the people. The local warriors still did not give up. They merely hid in the surrounding forests and attacked the Portuguese forces using guerrilla tactics. The Portuguese then tried to be cunning. They invited the leaders of the revolution for talks at a nearby fort and in a stunning act of treachery, sixteen unarmed chieftains were brutally massacred by the Portuguese. Only one escaped by jumping into the river. The sacrifice of the chieftains of Cuncolim is still remembered in Goa as its first ever freedom struggle.

The effects of the Goa Inquisition are felt in Goa till today. There are families torn forever into two, one branch still carries the ancestral Hindu name while the other bears a Christian name. Churches exist where temples once stood.

A few days ago, the Catholic Church apologised for its role in the horrific 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A Church statement officially accepted that its members planned, aided and executed the genocide, in which more than 800,000 [actual count is 1,074,017] people were brutally massacred. In 2015, Pope Francis had apologised for the “many grave sins” committed by the Church against the indigenous people of South America while speaking in Bolivia. Before that, his predecessor, Pope John Paul II had apologised to the Muslims for the crusades and to the Jewish people for the anti-semitism of the Catholics that had aided the holocaust and for the involvement of the Church in African slave trade.

When will the Catholic Church apologise for the terrors of the Inquisition it inflicted upon the people of Goa? – Swarajya, 26 November 2016

» Shefali Vaidya is a freelance writer and newspaper columnist based in Pune.

Inquisition Victims

OLD GOA: Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian victims of the Inquisition, their hands nailed to posts, listen to a Catholic padre read out charges against them. They will be burned at the stake in an auto-da-fé. A Portuguese nobleman waits and watches on a horse. He and the Church will share between themselves the confiscated properties.

Pope wants to visit India next year – PTI

Pope Francic

Joseph Kalathiparambil“What I understood is that the Pope wishes to visit India next year. An indication in this regard was given to me when I visited him at his residence at Santa Marta in Vatican,”  – Archbishop-designate Joseph Kalathiparambil

Pope Francis, Head of the Roman Catholic Church, is likely to visit India next year, a senior Catholic priest here said today.

Archbishop-designate Joseph Kalathiparambil, who returned from Vatican today, said an indication in this regard was conveyed to him when he visited the Pope at his residence.

“What I understood is that the Pope wishes to visit India next year. An indication in this regard was given to me when I visited him at his residence at Santa Marta in Vatican,” he said.

Kalathiparambil is set to take over as the Archbishop of Latin Archdiocese of Verapoly in Kerala on December 18.

Earlier, there were reports that Pope Francis would “almost certainly” visit India but no dates were specified.

Kalathiparambil said he requested the Pope to visit Kerala and Verapoly Archdiocese, and his response was positive.

Pope John Paul II is the only Pope to have visited Kerala, where the Catholic community has a strong presence. He had visited India for the first time for 10 days in 1986, and again in November 1999, his 89th Apostolic visit outside Italy, for the occasion of solemnly promulgating in the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, in New Delhi.

During his India visit in 1986, Pope John Paul II had visited the state to beatify Sister Alphonsa and Kuriakose Elias Chavara popularly known as Chavara Achen.

Prior to appointment as the archbishop, Kalathiparambil was serving as the Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People after being called for the assignment by Pope Benedict XVI in February 2011.

The 64-year-old bishop replaces Archbishop Francis Kallarakal, who has retired. – Business Standard, 24 November 2016

St Thomas Mount closed to public – HinduPost Staff

St Thomas Mount

HinduPostThe Catholic Church in Bharat acts like a state within a state in the Union of Bharat yet gives its feudal allegiance to the Pope in Rome! – HinduPost Staff

A tweet series on popular St. Thomas Mount in Chennai caught social media’s attention recently. This Mount is a beautiful hill located close to Chennai international airport. Many Christians in Bharat believe the myth that Thomas the Apostle stayed and was “martyred” on this hill, although researchers and scholars have found no evidence to back this claim. The St. Thomas Garrison Church is located at the bottom of this hill. A shrine dedicated to Mary was supposedly built in 1523 on top of the mount, by invading Portugese colonials. A flight of 160 steps leads up to the summit of the mount.

The tweet series mentioned that off late the shrine management has started restricting people who wish to come to the hill for activities other than praying; boards have been put up banning activities like walking, jogging, exercising etc on the hill.

St Doink Tweets

As mentioned in the tweet series, this board restricting entry has been put at the foot of the hill which clearly says morning and evening exercises are ‘banned’ on the hill :

St Thomas Mount Notice Board

Mr G. Christuraj, who is the Parish Priest & Rector at St. Thomas Mount National Shrine about this issue. We asked him if such boards have indeed been put aimed at banning the usual activities of residents / visitors other than praying, and if the entire hill is owned by the shrine management.

He confirmed that boards have been put up at both gates at the bottom of the hill to prevent morning / evening walking and exercises. The reason he gave is that people were misusing the “privilege” granted by the Church Management, and disturbing the prayer activities. He said that people can still access the hill for walking, jogging, exercises on the following conditions:

1. They should be “appropriately dressed”.

2. They should avoid coming during Church prayer times (morning, noon and evening).

3. They cannot come right to the top where the shrine is located unless they wish to pray.

Mr Christuraj claimed that the entire hill is owned by the Archdiocese of Madras—Mylapore, which comes under the Roman Catholic Church of India. It was originally “owned” by Portuguese missionaries who transferred control to the Church. He also added that locals themselves have expressed concern that some were using the hill as a “lovers park”, and hence the management had decided to take this step. He also confirmed that Army’s OTA (Officers Training Academy) too uses the hill at times (around once a month) but that is done with permission of the Church management.

But the signage boards clearly mention “banned” and hence, going by the above conversation with Mr. Christuraj, the text on the signage boards needs to be corrected—as walking is not “banned” but “restricted”. Mr Christuraj’s claim the entire hill is owned by the Catholic Church also needs to be probed.

Catholic Church: Largest non-agricultural land owner in Bharat

It is surprising that large pieces of land are still under the exclusive control of various Churches in Bharat, which were allotted to them as grants by British and other invaders. Unfortunately, these parts of land were not nationalized after independence. In various states, land reforms were effected which aimed at distributing the land evenly but it seems that land owned by Churches was not touched. There are very few details available on the internet and there is hardly any transparency in information regarding minute details of land owned by various Christian organizations and churches. As per this article written in 2014,  Catholic Church owns the largest portion of Bharat’s non-agricultural land. Note: this does not include the land holdings of the Protestant Churches and other Christian sects.

According to the census of 2011, official records state Christian population as approximately 27.8 million, constituting 2.3 percent of total Bharat’s population. So organizations that control just 2.3% of population own the largest portion of land after government in this country. How much more skewed can the allocation of this most valuable resource be?

In the past, Catholic groups have expressed concerns and asked for a white paper on land dealings by the Church bishops and related powerful people, as this news report suggests. The Catholic Church in Bharat acts like a state within a state in the Union of Bharat yet gives its feudal allegiance to the Pope in Rome. Contrast this to the way many large Hindu temples are controlled by the Government, donations offered by devotees siphoned off, and temple lands sold / leased for a pittance or encroached by political-criminal mafias.

While the Church and its organizations exercise absolute control over land allotted to it by old colonial masters, pastors attempting conversions to Christianity have dared to enter holy Hindu lands like sacred Tirumala hills.

The Church in Bharat should seriously consider giving up a large chunk of its humongous land holdings, much of it in prime urban areas, which was bequeathed to it by European colonials who captured the same from natives. This land should be redistributed to benefit local communities. Or the Government has to take steps to nationalize this land bank currently under Church control, and use the same in a transparent manner for the nation’s development. – HinduPost, 16 September 2016

Our Lady of Expectation Church on St Thomas Mount

See also

  1. A Feast of St Thomas – Ishwar Sharan
  2. Pope Benedict denies St Thomas evangelized South India – Ishwar Sharan
  3. The Legend of St Thomas in India is neither factual nor secular – Koenraad Elst

 

Kolkata will take a century to recover from Mother Teresa – Aroup Chatterjee

'Saint' Mother Teresa

Aroup ChatterjeeMy own wish would be to reclaim Kolkata from Teresa—to sever the automatic connection of the two names as the whole wide world sees it. Kolkata’s image under the yoke of Mother Teresa will take a century to recover. In the last 50 years, the city has lost an unimaginable amount from the loss of international business and tourism and will continue to do so. But let us at least loudly, proudly proclaim that we have nothing to do with a medieval creature of darkness—not any more. – Dr Aroup Chatterjee

If Mother Teresa, to be canonised at the Vatican on September 4, is to be named a patron saint of anything it should be for “misinformation”. In the last 20 years of her life, truth became an unknown entity to her. The media aided and abetted her lack of integrity and in a way she cannot be blamed for believing in her own lies.

Intellect was not her strong point and, for someone like her, to be surrounded by hordes of sycophants who were telling her if she said black was white then that had to be true, it became intoxicating. The media did spread the mega-myth about her, but she herself was the source. She repeatedly told the world she went around the city 24×7 “picking up” destitute from its squalid “gutters” (she did not), that she fed up to 9,000 in her soup kitchens (she did not), she never refused a helpless child (she did as a rule), that the dying destitute in her so-called home for the dying Nirmal Hriday died a “beautiful death” (they were treated harshly and often died a miserable, painful death).

Mother Teresa was an ultimate politician who worked on behalf of the Vatican. No, she was not an “agent” as that would be conspiratorial. She did not have to do much subterfuge or skulduggery in India itself, as Indians, particularly the media, were in awe of her and connived with her.

When she said in her Nobel speech that she created 61,237 fewer children from (slum) couples abstaining from sex, no one challenged her on her bogus and fantastic figure; neither did they ask her how at the height of the Cold War abortion could be the “greatest destroyer of peace” (said a thousand times, including in her Nobel speech).

I do not blame world media as much as I blame Indian and particularly Kolkata media. Here she was, a jet-setting celebrity—although appended with the epithet “of Calcutta”—spending six to nine months in a year in Europe and the US, making strange claims about her work and about the disgusting state of the city, but never to be seen in the city’s disasters—major or minor.

Why was she not asked why she re-used needles on her residents in Nirmal Hriday (it was official policy) when she herself received the finest care in the world’s best hospitals?

Even after her death, the Indian fear of blue-bordered saris continues. On August 1, 2005, UK TV showed a child tied to a cot overnight in her orphanage—one Kolkata newspaper grudgingly reported the matter with lots of “alleged”. During her lifetime, even that would be unthinkable. She was white, she hobnobbed with President Ronald Reagan (they were closest of buddies), and oh yes, she had the Nobel—so she had to be divine.

IOR (Vatican Bank) inside Vatican CityDid no one know that she hobnobbed with the Duvaliers of Haiti whose brutality was unsurpassed (whose opponents were often cut up and fed to dogs)? No one in India wanted to know. For the Western media, she was a metaphor, a set-piece, a stratospheric certainty of image in an uncertain and changing world. Conversely, Kolkata was the opposite metaphor of absolute degradation where “foetuses are given to dogs to eat” (as remarked by her “other self” Francis Goree).

It was beyond the West’s interest, energy or remit to robustly challenge these wrong stereotypes. But did Indian journalists not know that her main bank was the Vatican Bank, a dark cavern of corruption, intrigue and murder? Before she died, it was well known that she had accepted millions from Charles Keating, the notorious American swindler, but no one in India cared.

Mother Teresa MedalBengalis showed some rare guts when she was beatified through a “miracle” in 2003. Doctors, and even the then Health Minister, made statements that Monica Besra was cured by prolonged treatment, and not by an aluminium medal. Even Besra herself periodically said her cure was not a miracle. But the Vatican treated Indian opinion with the contempt it always has and proceeded with canonisation.

But what is so great about Catholic saints? People should realise a Catholic saint does not have to be saintly or nice in the secular sense, but has to be pure to Catholic dogma, especially on contraception and abortion. Jose Maria Escriva, a Fascist, is a Catholic saint; another Fascist, Cardinal Stepinac, is a “blessed”. “Saint” John Paul II actively shielded the prolific paedophile and criminal Marcial Maciel over many years. Mother Teresa also wrote a letter of support for a convicted priest Donald McGuire, asking people to overlook his “imprudence”.

If one looks around Mother Teresa’s homes in Kolkata today, one would find many of them acceptable. But one must not forget that this comes after 25 years of campaigning by me, and also persistent global criticism from Hemley Gonzalez, the American former volunteer who in 2008 was so utterly disgusted by what he saw that he founded the Stop the Missionaries of Charity movement and founded his own Responsible Charity. Moreover, in the last six months the order has spruced up a great deal, preparing for the canonisation on Sunday.

And yet, like obliging picaninnies, the Indian government is dutifully sending a delegation to the black-magic ceremony in Rome. (Hindus please note: the Pope is not allowed to wish Hindus personally even on Diwali.)

Be that as it may, my own wish would be to reclaim Kolkata/Calcutta from Teresa—to sever the automatic connection of the two names as the whole wide world sees it. Kolkata’s image under the yoke of Mother Teresa will take a century to recover. In the last 50 years, the city has lost an unimaginable amount from the loss of international business and tourism and will continue to do so. But let us at least loudly, proudly proclaim that we have nothing to do with a medieval creature of darkness—not any more. – The Economic Times, 3 September 2016

» Dr Aroup Chatterjee was born and brought up in Calcutta. He now lives and works as a physician in London. He was, if anything, positively inclined towards Mother Teresa while he was living in Calcutta, though he knew little about her. Upon coming to the West he was appalled at the Teresan mythology and at the gruesome image that his home city had in the world. He has done research on Mother Teresa for over twenty-five years and can be called the world’s foremost authority on the late nun. He is the author of the famous book Mother Teresa—The Untold Story.

Sushma Swaraj & Pope Francis (Sept. 2016)

Hindus protest Mother Teresa's criminal activities in New York City

When will Velankanni’s true history be known? – Dev

Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni

Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni, Tamil Nadu : The Portuguese-style idol is dressed in an Indian Tamil-style sari and kept in a glass box high above the church hall.

Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi is a Christian pilgrimage site—that is what most of us have been led to believe. We may however be surprised to learn about its Śaiva origins.

‘Kaṇṇi’ in Tamil means ‘she who has beautiful eyes’. In the ‘agam’ poems of the Sangam corpus belonging to the ‘kuriñjithiṇai’, we find the name of an ancient lady poet bearing the name ‘Kāma-kaṇṇi’

In the history of the Śaiva tradition in Tamil Nadu, there is one thing that draws our attention—in the Śivālayas that were constructed after the lifetime of the Samaya-kuravas, the tradition of using unique Tamil names to refer to the Śiva and Śakti deities in Śaiva temples, which was established by the Dēvāram-trinity, is faithfully followed. When we read the Dēvāram poems, we come across several such names of Ambikā.

‘Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi’ is etymologically derived from the old name ‘Vēlana-kaṇṇi’a name by which Ambikā is known in the Dēvāram:

mālai mathiyoḍu nīraravampuṉai vārchaṭaiyāṉ
vēlanakaṇṇiyoḍum virumpummiḍam…

— Srī Jñāna Sambandhar

Being known for possessing eyes (kaṇ) shaped like fish (cēl), she is known as cēlaṉa-kaṇṇi;  similarly owing to her eyes appearing like a spear-head (vēl = spear) eyes, she is also known as vēlaṉa-kaṇṇi. Feminine epithets such as cēlaṉa-kaṇṇi and vēlaṉa-kaṇṇi are based on uvamai (similes).

About 10 kilometres south of the site of the Veḷāṅkaṇṇi basilica, we find another town named ‘Karuṅkaṇṇi’ (“she who is black-eyed”).

‘Karuntaṭaṅkaṇṇi’ is also one of the epithets of Ambā. Vēliṉērtaru-kaṇṇi is also one of the epithets by which she is praised in the Dēvāram.

Iru-malar-kaṇṇi is another beautiful epithet of Himavān’s daughter. The undying fame of Maduraiyaambati (Madurai) is due to the power of aṅgayaṟkaṇṇi (Meenakshi). At the temple of Tirukkaṟkuḍi, she is known as maiyār-kaṇṇi, or maimēvu-kaṇṇi (añjanākṣī).

At Kōḍiyakkarai in the kuzhagar-ālayam, Ambā is known as maiyār-taṭaṅ-kaṇṇi. Chēramān Perumāḷ Nāyanār and Sundaramūrti Swāmi have arrived and worshipped together at this sthalam. Aruṇagirināthar has also composed hymns on this shrine. This site is also pointed out in the late Śri Kalki R. Krishnamurthy’s famous novel ‘Ponniyiṉ Selvaṉ’. This is also a śiva-sthala located near the shore. Vāḷnutaṟkaṇṇi is another name—when Īśa was deep in tapas, and her oblique glance disturbed him, the result was the appearance of Muruga. One can come across her other similar names such as Kāvyaṅkaṇṇi, Nīḷneḍuṅkaṇṇi, Vēlneḍuṅkaṇṇi, Varineḍuṅkaṇṇi, Vāḷārkaṇṇi, etc.

Māṉeḍuṅkaṇṇi is another name—it means ‘she who has wide eyes like a deer’ (deer = maan in Tamil):

māṉeṭuṅkaṇṇi maṇikkatavu aṭaippa
iṟaiyavaṉ itaṟkuk kāraṇam ētu eṉa
maṟikaṭal tuyilum māyavaṉ uraippāṉ….”

Kāḻipiḷḷai describes the fish-like eyes of Ambikā thus:

“nīlanaṉ māmiṭaṟṟa ṉiṟaivaṉ ciṉattaṉ neṭumā vuritta nikaril
cēlaṉakaṇṇi vaṇṇa morukū ṟurukkoḷ tikazhtēvaṉ mēvupatitāṉ….”

Thus have the saints submerged in the ‘science of beauty’ described the mother’s beautiful and karuṇā-laden eyes using many epithets.

All these names are most certainly influenced by the Dēvāram. It was considered the duty of the king to inscribe at least one or two patikas (poems of the Tirumurai) on the paliṅku (marble) boards in every śivālayait was to demonstrate that the patika of the Devāram had an inseparable association with that town.

Even Māṇikkavāchakar has praised the beautiful eyes of Ambikā:

“māvaṭuvakiraṉṉakaṇṇi paṅkāniṉ malaraṭik kēkūviṭuvāy” 

— Thiruvāchakam

Seashore  Śivālayas

All along the eastern coast of Tamilnadu, the Śaiva tradition had prospered. Jñānasambandhar describes the māsi-magha festival thus:

“maṭalārnta teṅkiṉ mayilaiyār mācik
kaṭalāṭṭuk kaṇṭāṉ kapālīc caramamarntāṉ….”

In all the shore-temples, for the māsi-magha tīrthavāri, it is an ancient custom to take the deity’s utsava murtis (idols) to the seashore for a ritual immersion into the waters, and this tradition still prevails today.

Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi is also one among  several seashore temples like Ādipurīśvara at Tiruvoṟṟiyūr, Kapālīśvara at Mylāpūr, Marundīśvara temple at Tiruvānmiyūr, Vēdapurīśvara temple in Pondicherry, Kāyārohaṇeśvara temple in Nāgapaṭṭanam, Kuzhagar temple in Kōḍiyakkarai, Vēdavananātha temple in Vēdāraṇyam, Darbhāraṇyeśvara temple in Kāraikkāl, Māsilāmaṇinātha temple in Puhār, which are situated along the southern coast.

In Mylāpūr we have Vālīśvara, Mallīśvara, Veḷḷīśvara, Kāraṇīśvara, Tīrthapālīśvara, Virūpākṣīśvara sthalas—apart from the Kapālīśvara temple. Across Chennai, most areas are filled with Śivālayas, which are too numerous to cover here.

Tiruvadikai Vīraṭṭānam (one of Śiva’saṣṭa-vīrasthānas where He is worshipped as Tripurāntaka)—is associated with the history of Tirunāvukkarasar and one of the sthalas that the samaya-kuravas have composed hymns on. Here the main deity is called Vīraṭṭānēsvara (Vīrasthānēśvara) and his consort is named Periyanāyaki (Bṛhannāyakī).

Tiruchōpuram (also called Tyāgavalli)—is a shore temple near Kaḍalūr on which Jñāna-sambandhar has composed hymns. The main deity is Chōpuranātha (also called Maṅgalapurīśvara), his consort is Vēlneḍuṅkaṇṇi.

Tiruchāykkāḍu (also called Chāyāvanam)—again this is a seashore temple located at the mouth of the Kāvēri river, built by Chola king Kōcheṅkaṇāṉ, worshipped by Iyaṟpagai Nāyanār and is also the site of his mukti.

Tirunāvukkarasar, Kāḻipiḷḷai and Aiyaḍikaḷ Kāḍavarkōṉ have composed hymns on this shrine. The main deity is Chāyāvanēśvara.

“Nitta lunniya mañceytu nīrmalar tūvic
citta moṉṟaval lārkkaru ḷuñcivaṉ kōyil

Matta yāṉaiyiṉ kōṭumvaṇ pīliyum vārit
tattunīrp poṉṉi cākara mēvucāyk kāṭē” 

— Jñānasambandhar

Tiruvalampuram is one more important seashore temple. The main deity is Valampuranāthar and his divine consort is called Vaḍuvakirkaṇṇi.

aṅkorutaṉtiruviralāliṟaiyēyūṉṟi
yaṭarttavaṟkēaruḷpurintaaṭikaḷinnāḷ
vaṅkamalikaṭalpuṭaicūḻmāṭavīti
valampuramēpukkaṅkēmaṉṉiṉārē!

The 9th century hymn itself makes it amply clear that it is a temple located near the sea shore.

Currently the temple comes under the area called Melapperumpallam.  Situated near Puhār (Poompuhar)

The Silappadhikāram says that there were temples of the Unborn One (Śiva) and the six-faced god (ṣaṇmukha kārttikeya) in Puhār:

“piṟavāyākkaipperiyōṉkōyilum,
aṟumukaccevvēḷaṇitikaḻkōyilum….”

In today’s Puhār, we find a temple for Śiva (known as Pallavaneśvara, with his consort known as Saundarya-nāyaki).

There is a small town called Paravai about 2 kms west of Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi. Sundaramūrti Swāmi’s wife Paravai Nācciyār was born there. In Tamil, ocean is called Paravai. Upamanyu Bhakti Vilāsam refers to this lady as Sāgarikā. Since the ocean has retreated, the temple here is not situated close to the shore now like it once used to be.

Nāgūr has a shore-temple of Śiva as Nāganātha (Lord of Nāgas) with goddess Nāgavalli. The town gets its name from the name of this deity. Associated with Kāmika-āgama, this is a very ancient temple. The Nagore Dargah (grave site of a Sufi dervish known locally as Nagūr-āṇḍavar i.e. the god of Nagūr) was established much later during the Maratha rule. The true nāgūr-āṇḍavar (god of Nāgūr) was the consort of goddess Nāgavalli—Śri Nāganātha.

In the Nāgapattanam region, one of the 63 Nāyanmārs called Adipatta Nāyanār who was born in a kula (family) of fishermen in a village called Nuzhaippāḍi by the seashore—where there exists a temple.

Before Lord Muruga (Skanda) went to war against the asuras, he is said to have got the blessings of the three-eyed lord (Śiva) at Tirucchendūr.

Rāmeśvaram has the world-famous pilgrimage site where Lord Rāma sought the help of Śiva on his way to Laṅkā.

Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi is just one more such shore temple like all these.

Idols unearthed in Velankanni

When a building site in Velankanni was dug up to lay the foundations, Somaskanda, Rama, Goddess Sivakami, Saint Sundarar, Narttana Vinayaka and 13 other panchola silas (murtis) were found. They have been deposited at Kilavelur Taluka Office.

Archeologists have found large number of daiva-śilās and pañcaloha idols buried in this location. In the Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi  town, there is another śivālaya called Rajatagirīśvara. Whether this is an ancient temple or a recently rebuilt one is yet to be established. If its origin is found, it is possible to unearth other bits of the place’s history.

Sri Rajatha Giriswarar Swami Temple at Velankanni

Sri Rajata Girisvarar Swami Kovil at Velankanni

A few centuries back, when the Portuguese, Danish, and French invaded these shore sites, they destroyed several Hindu temples. They also established Christian churches there. The demolition of the Kapālīśwara temple at Chennai and the Vedapurīśwara temple at Pondicherry are good examples of the level of Christian tolerance.

The Goa shores also had several temples which were destroyed by the Portugese. In 1567 Portugese missionaries destroyed about 350 temples in Goa. In those times, Hindus were even forbidden to grow the tulasi (holy basil) plant.

Cultural appropriation by missionaries

Wearing kāvi (saffron) robes, building churches that resemble temple architecture, placing Koḍi Marams (dhvaja sthamba) in front of churches, deliberately using Sanskrit words like Vedāgamam, Suviseṣam, Agni, Abhiṣekam, Sarvāṅgadahanabali, flag hoisting, doing ratha yātras and other rituals are being appropriated and used specifically to lure Hindus into their religion, and this has been happening over centuries. One of the aspects of this deception involves clothing idols of Mother Mary in sarees according to the Tamil style and using the name of the local Hindu deity ‘Vēlana-kaṇṇi’ to refer to Mary as Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi. This is the truth.

Mother Umā is known as Periyanāyaki (Skt. bṛhannāyakī). In the famous Thanjāvūr temple, Śiva is known by the name Bṛhadīśvara and his consort is called Bṛhannāyakī—and this is known to all. This name has been stolen without shame and used by missionaries as the name of Mary, as Periyanāyaki-Mātā.

Truth hurts. Christians have no reason to get annoyed. After insulting Hindu deities calling them devils, demons, etc—and on the other hand appropriating their names and symbols and using them in Christianity to refer to Jesus and Mary—this is in no way proper. Christians in Tamilnadu who have a conscience should reflect on these things.

Some Questions

Today Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi has been promoted and established as an extremely popular Christian pilgrimage site. But the questions that probe how it came to be a Christian site remain.

Is there any Biblical proof to show that Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi is a Christian name?

Else who named it Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi? Were they Portugese sailors, or the Papal authority in the Vatican? Or is it the missionaries who came later?

Is worshipping Mary as an independent deity (opposed in Trinitarian Christianity) acceptable to Biblical and Christian theology?

If this is a common Christian shrine, why don’t all sects of Christians come and worship here?

What is the relation between Ārogya and the name Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi? (Arogya Matha—Lady of Health)

What is the relation between Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi and Lourdes of the East conceptually? Is there any tradition of flag hoisting and ratha yātras at other Lourdes shrines? Will European devotees of the Lady of the Lourdes shave their heads?

It has been accepted by Christians themselves that there is no basis for the apparitions of Mother Mary that are claimed to have occurred in Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi. That being the case, how did this church become ‘Lourdes of the East’?

Why is Mary, the Lady of the Lourdes, not commonly worshipped in other places as the Lady of Good Health?

Why did this site where many miracles are said to have occurred not gain the status of basilica until 1962? The miracles are claimed to be hundreds of years old, yet why did it not gain basilica status during British rule?

They say this holy site was believed to have mahimā right from the start. Yet from Warren Hastings until Mountbatten, among the forty or so governor generals who ruled India, there is no record of any of them having visited the Lady of Health at Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi. What is the reason for this contradiction?

Even those native Christian scholars such as Henry Albert Krishna Piḷḷai, who wrote Rakṣaṇya Yātrikam (a Tamil retelling of the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’), Māyūram Vedanāyakam Piḷḷai, etc., who lived just a century ago do not appear to have mentioned anything about the Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi apparitions, or shaved their heads in Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi.

Even in the ‘Christian Songs’ book of Devaneya Pāvāṇar who passed away in 1981, there are no songs about Arogya Mātā (Lady of Health). Is there anything more to say?

Although large numbers of Indian Christians congregate and worship at the Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi Church, no pope has visited or prayed to Arogya Mātā. What is the reason?

Without the approval of the Holy See, how did this become a basilica?

Does Biblical authority support ostentatious rituals in worshipping Mary, as well as large celebrations such as what we see in Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi?

Only when someone looks for answers with substantive proofs for all these questions, Vēḷāṅkaṇṇi’s true history will be known.

» Tamil to English translation support by Sri Ram Sury

Basilica of Our Lady of Health at Velankanni, Tamil Nadu

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni, Tamil Nadu