The legend of St Thomas in India is neither factual nor secular – Koenraad Elst

St. Thomas

Koenraad ElstThe Roman Catholic Church in India owes Hindus an abject apology for the blood libel she has perpetuated for centuries, falsely charging Hindus with the murder of Thomas even as she falsely charges Jews with the murder of Jesus. – Ishwar Sharan

A predictable component of platitudinous speeches by secularist politicians is that “Christianity was brought to India by the apostle Thomas in the 1st century AD, even before it was brought to Europe”. The intended thrust of this claim is that, unlike Hinduism which was imposed by the “Aryan invaders”, Christianity is somehow an Indian religion, even though it is expressly stated that it “was brought to India” from outside. As a matter of detail, St. Paul reported on Christian communities living in Greece, Rome and Spain in the 40s AD, [1] while St. Thomas even according to his followers only came to India in 52 AD, so by all accounts, Christianity still reached Europe before India. [2] At any rate, its origins lay in West Asia, outside India. But this geographical primacy is not the main issue here. More importantly, there is nothing factual, nor secular, about the claim that Thomas ever came to India.

Thomas of CanaThat claim is a stark instance of what secularists would denounce in other cases as a “myth”. By this, I don’t mean that it was concocted in a backroom conspiracy, then propagated by obliging mercenary scribes (the way many Hindus imagine the colonial origins of the “Aryan invasion myth” came into being). It came about in a fairly innocent manner, through a misunderstanding, a misreading of an apocryphal text, the miracle-laden hagiography Acts of Thomas. This is not the place to discuss the unflattering picture painted of Thomas in his own hagiography, which credits him with many anti-social acts. The point for now is that the text never mentions nor describes the subcontinent but merely has the apostle go from Palestine eastwards to a desert-like country where people are “Mazdei” [Zoroastrian] and have Persian names. This is definitely not lush and green Kerala. Not only is there no independent record of Thomas ever coming near India, but the only source claimed for this story, doesn’t even make this claim either.

However, we know of a Thomas of Cana [3] who led a group of Christian refugees from Iran in the 4th century, when the christianisation of the Roman empire caused the Iranians to see their Syriac-speaking Christian minority as a Roman fifth column. The name “Thomas Christians” may originally have referred to this 4th-century leader. [4]

Then again, those refugees may also have been “Thomas Christians” before their migration to India in the sense that their Christian community had been founded in Iran [viz. Church of Fars] by the apostle Thomas. That he lived and worked in some Iranian region is attested and likely, but in no case did he ever settle in India.

Eusebius of CaesareaThe Church Fathers Clement of Alexandra, Origen and Eusebius confirm explicitly that he settled in “Parthia”, a part of the Iranian world. From the 3rd century, we do note an increasing tendency among Christian authors to locate him in a place labelled “India”, as does the Acts of Thomas. But it must be borne in mind that this term was very vague, designating the whole region extending from Iran eastwards. [5] Remember that when Columbus had landed in America, which he thought was East Asia, he labelled the indigenous people “Indians”, meaning “Asians”. Afghanistan is one area that was Iranian-speaking and predominantly Mazdean [Zoroastrian] but often considered part of “India”. Moreover, in some periods of history it was even politically united with parts of “India” in the narrow sense. So, Afghanistan may well be the “Western India” where Pope Benedict placed St. Thomas in his controversial speech in September 2006, to the dismay of the South Indian bishops.

While the belief that Thomas settled in South India came about as an honest mistake, the claim that he was martyred by Brahmins was always a deliberate lie, playing upon a possible confusion between the consonants of the expression “be ruhme”, meaning “with a spear”, and those of “Brahma” (Semitic alphabets usually don’t specify vowels). That was the gratitude Hindus received in return for extending their hospitality to the Christian refugees: being blackened as the murderers of the refugees’ own hero. If the Indian bishops have any honour, they will themselves remove this false allegation from their discourse and their monuments, including the cathedral in Chennai built at the site of Thomas’s purported martyrdom (actually the site of a Shiva temple). Indeed, they will issue a historic declaration expressing their indebtedness to Hindu hospitality and pluralism and pledging to renounce their anti-Hindu animus.

Sri RamaSecularists keep on reminding us that there is no archaeological evidence for Rama’s travels, and from this they deduce the non sequitur that Rama never existed, indeed that “Rama’s story is only a myth”. But in Rama’s case, we at least do have a literary testimony, the Ramayana, which in the absence of material evidence may or may not be truthful, while in the case of Thomas’s alleged arrival in India, we don’t even have a literary account. The text cited in the story’s favour doesn’t even have him come to a region identifiable as South India. That is why Christian scholars outside India have no problem abandoning the myth of Thomas’s landing in Kerala and of his martyrdom in Tamil Nadu. I studied at the Catholic University of Louvain, and our Jesuit professor of religious history taught us that there is no data that could dignify the Thomas legend with the status of history.

This eliminates the last excuse the secularists might offer for repeating the Thomas legend, viz. that the historical truth would hurt the feelings of the Christian minority. 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 mentioned above) 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. – Extracted from the foreword to The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1995.

» Dr Koenraad Elst is a Flemish Indologist and historian from Belgian who frequently visits India to lecture. He is a leading Voice of India author.


1. India’s political leaders are fond of telling their constituents and the nation that Christianity arrived in India before it arrived in Europe. This historical conceit is not true. Apostle Paul says in Romans 15:24 & 15:28 that he plans to visit Spain (which already had a Christian community). In Acts 19:21 he travels from Ephesus to Greece—Macedonia and Achaia—en route to Jerusalem, and then on to Rome. This took place in the 40s CE—some historians say he was writing after 44 CE. So even if it was true that Apostle Thomas landed in Kerala in 52 CE—the spurious date is of 19th century origin—Christianity would still have arrived in Europe a decade earlier. – IS

Jawaharlal Nehru2. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru provides an excellent example of how some innocents abroad lap up lies sold by powerful organizations. “You may be surprised to learn,” he wrote his daughter, Indira, on April 12, 1932, “that Christianity came to India long before it went to England or Western Europe, and when even in Rome it was a despised and proscribed sect. Within a hundred years or so of the death of Jesus, Christian missionaries came to South India by sea…. They converted a large number of people.” (Glimpses of World History, OUP reprint, fourth impression, 1987, quoted by Sita Ram Goel in History of Hindu-Christian Encounters: AD 304 to 1996, Second Revised Edition, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1996.) – IS

3. Thomas of Cana, known variously as Thomas of Jerusalem, Thomas the Merchant and to Syrian Christians as Knai Thoma, led the first group of 72 Syrian Christian families to India in 345 CE. There is no record of Christian communities in India prior to this date. Thomas of Cana and his companion Bishop Joseph of Edessa also brought with them the tradition of St Thomas the Apostle of the East. Later, Christian communities in Kerala would identify Knai Thoma with Mar Thoma—Thomas of Cana with Thomas the Apostle—and claim St Thomas had arrived in Kerala in AD 52 and established the first Christian church at Musiris—the ancient port near present day Kodungallur—the main trading center of the day.

The Rev Dr G. Milne Rae of the Madras Christian College, in The Syrian Church in India, did not allow that St Thomas came further east than Afghanistan (Gandhara). He told the Syrian Christians that they reasoned fallaciously about their identity and wove a fictitious story of their origin. Their claim that they were called “St Thomas” Christians from the 1st century was also false.

4. Syrian Christians were called Nasranis (from Nazarean) or Nestorians (by Europeans) up to the 14th century. Bishop Giovanni dei Marignolli the Franciscan papal legate in Quilon invented the appellation “St Thomas Christians” in 1348 to distinguish his Syrian Christian converts from the low-caste Hindu converts in his congregation.

5. The oriental ubiquity of St Thomas’s apostolate is explained by the fact that the geographical term “India” included, apart from the subcontinent of this name, the lands washed by the Indian Ocean as far as the China Sea in the east and the Arabian peninsula, Ethiopia, and the African coast in the west.Ancient writers used the designation “India” for all countries south and east of the Roman Empire’s frontiers. India included Ethiopia, Arabia Felix, Edessa in Syria (in the Latin version of the Syriac Diatessaron), Arachosia and Gandhara (Afghanistan and Pakistan), and many countries up to the China Sea. In the Acts of Thomas, the original key text to identify St Thomas with India (which all other India references follow), historians agree that the term India refers to Parthia (Persia) and Gandhara (Afghanistan-Pakistan). The city of Andrapolis named in the Acts, where Judas Thomas and Abbanes landed in India, has been tentartively identified as Sandaruck (one of the ancient Alexandrias) in Balochistan. – IS

San Thome Cathedral: This tableau of St. Thomas and his Hindu assassin was built after the publication of Ishwar Sharan's book in 1995. Its objective is to malign the Hindu community with the accusation of the murder of a Christian apostle and saint, and to further the propagation of the St. Thomas legend which has made India's bishops very wealthy and supports their political claim on India.

See also


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

St. Thomas

Dr 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 a Bible created three centuries later. – Dr N. S. Rajaram

Artist's conception of the ancient Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore Beach. The temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and replaced with San Thome Cathedral.According 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.

The 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.”

So 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 website.

Cover of the 3rd revised edition of The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple by Ishwar Sharan, published by Voice of India, New Delhi.

See also

St. Thomas: The making of an ‘Indian’ apostle – Sandhya Jain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 » B.R. Haran is a senior journalist » 

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

Senthamizhan Seeman at Kapaleeswara Temple Mylapore (May 2010)

This report was planted allegedly by The New Indian Express employee Babu Jayakumar, a  Christian activist who operates within the newspaper’s newsroom. The New Indian Express colluding with fanatic Christians who give false reports is nothing new. Babu Jayakumar doing his anti-Hindu propaganda dirty work continues in 2016!

Wrong Report and Right Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mythical Thomas and his fake Indian connection

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

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

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

The Arulappa-Acharya Paul show

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

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



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

St. Thomas in India Resources:

  1. Acta Indica: The St. Thomas in India Swindle
  2. The Ishwar Sharan Archive

» This article originally appeared on Vijayvaani at

St. Thomas in India: An IAS officer revisits a 400-year-old history hoax – V. Sundaram

Pope Benedict and Malabar Syrian Bishop

V. Sundaram“In November 2006 Pope Benedict XVI had categorically stated that St. Thomas never visited South India. Is it not the inviolable duty of the Catholic Archdiocese of Madras to implicitly accept with reverence and humility the public stand taken by Pope Benedict XVI on the issue of St. Thomas and his alleged visit to South India?” – V. Sundaram

The myth of St. Thomas and the destruction of the Mylapore Shiva temple by the Portuguese was thoroughly exposed by Ishwar Sharan in his landmark book, The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Templefirst published in 1991. The second revised edition of this book was brought out by Voice of India, New Delhi, 1995. This interesting book brought out how history was distorted by our foreign rulers to conceal their misdeeds and how even today these fraudulent myths are accepted as real history by many in this country including the government itself. Long before Ishwar Sharan published his book in 1991, one T.K. Joseph wrote a number of books on St. Thomas in the early 1920s. He had done years of research on the South Indian tradition, and had presented his findings to a number of famous scholars of his time, who had replied to him by post. For example, in 1926, Prof. E.J. Rapson, who had written on St. Thomas in the Cambridge History of India, wrote as follows to T.K. Joseph: ” I have read your letter carefully and my impression is that you have given good for doubting the historical truth of the story of St. Thomas in South India.”

In 1927, Sylvain Levi, the renowned French Indologist and scholar, wrote to T.K. Joseph:  “You are right in  denying any historical value to local legends which have nothing to bring to their support. What is known from early books points only to Northwest India, and no other place, for St. Thomas’s apostolic activity and martyrdom. This is, of course, mere tradition, not real history”. Likewise, in 1952, Prof. K.S. Latourette, the Yale University church historian, and author of A History of the Expansion of Christianitywrote to T.K. Joseph and said: “The evidence against St. Thomas in South India is very convincing.”  The same view was repeated in 1953 by Father H. Heras, SJ, the then Director of the Historical Research Institute, St. Xavier’s College, Bombay, when he wrote to T.K. Joseph: “I am fully convinced that the tomb of St. Thomas has never been in Mylapore. I have said that many times.”

What is interesting to note is that T.K. Joseph also wrote to the Encyclopaedia Britannica editor at Chicago in 1950 pointing out the glaring errors in the article on St. Thomas in the Encyclopaedia’s 14th edition in 1947. He was not successful in getting them corrected. Ishwar Sharan in his book referred to above, has clearly shown that the article on St. Thomas in that edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica was grossly mistaken, not only in factual essentials but also in proper interpretation. In this context the words of Ishwar Sharan are worth quoting, “We can only conclude that the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s editors like their cooked up St. Thomas story and plan to keep it intact for more editions to come”.

[The Encyclopaedia Britannica which is a Catholic-oriented encyclopaedia, still maintains the same spurious St. Thomas entry in its Internet edition today and is followed closely by the Internet’s infamous Wikipedia. Wikipedia has become an overt platform for Christian propaganda in India, and is presenting the public with a fabricated and factually incorrect account of the St. Thomas fable and related St. Thomas churches and sites in India. Any attempt to change these entries is met with violent resistance by the articles’ Indian Christian editors and administrators – Editor].

Now what is the fraudulent myth about St. Thomas? We are told by Catholic “historians” that Judas Thomas, a brother as well as an apostle of Jesus Christ, landed in Malabar in 52 AD, founded the Syrian Christian Church, and travelled to Tamil Nadu for spreading the Good News when he was killed by the “wily Brahmins” in 72 AD at the Big Mount (now called St. Thomas Mount) near Madras, at the behest of a Hindu king named Mahadevan. The San Thome Cathedral on the beach in Mylapore is built on the spot where the saint is supposed to have been buried.

As Sita Ram Goel puts it, “This spot, like many others of the same spurious sort, has become a place of Christian pilgrimage not only for the flock in India but also for the pious Christians from abroad”. He had examined the story of St. Thomas in 1986 when he wrote a book on the papacy during he Pope’s visit to India. Sita Ram Goel had discovered that while some Christian historians doubted the very existence of an apostle named St. Thomas, some others had denied credibility to the Acts of Thomas, an apocryphal work, on which the whole story is based. Even those Christian historians who had accepted he fourth century Catholic tradition about the travels of St. Thomas, had pointed out the utter lack of evidence that he ever went beyond Ethiopia or Arabia Felix. The confusion according to them, had arisen because ancient geographers of the Graeco-Roman world often mistook these countries for India.”

Bishop Stephen Neill in his History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to 1707 AD declared: “A number of scholars among whom are to be mentioned with respect Bishop A.E. Medlycott, J.N. Farquhar, and the Jesuit Dahlman, have built on slender foundations what can only be called Thomas romances, such as reflect vividness of their imagination rather than the prudence of historical facts”.

Bishop Stephen Neill was very pained by the spread of the spurious history and he lamented: “Millions of Christians in India are certain that the founder of their Church was none other than the apostle Thomas himself.  The historian cannot prove it to them that they are mistaken in this belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.”

Now a question can be raised: What difference does it make whether Christianity came to India in the first or the fourth century? Why raise such a squabble when no one denies the fact that Syrian Christians of Malabar are old immigrants to this country? The motives for the manufacturing of the myth of St Thomas were carefully analysed and detailed by Sita Ram Goel as follows:

Firstly, it is one thing for some Christian refugees to come to a country and build some Churches, and quite another for an apostle of Jesus Christ himself to appear in flesh and blood for spreading the Good News. If it can be established that Christianity is as ancient in India as the prevailing forms of Hinduism, then no one can nail it as an imported creed brought in by Imperialism.

Secondly,  the Catholic Church in India stands badly in need of a spectacular martyr of its own. Unfortunately or it, St. Francis Xavier died a natural death and that too, in a distant place outside India. Hindus, too, have persistently during the last 500 years, refused to oblige the Church in this respect in spite of all provocations. The Church has had to use its own resources and turn out something. St Thomas, about whom nobody knows anything, offers a ready-made martyr.

Thirdly, the Catholic Church can malign the Brahmins more confidently. Brahmins have been the main targets of its attack from the beginning. Now it can be shown that the Brahmins have always been a vicious brood, so much so that they would not stop from murdering a holy man who was only telling God’s own truth to a tormented people. At the same time, the religion of the Brahmins can be held responsible for their depravity.

This is the argument that Karunanidhi, the Tamil Nadu chief minister, loves most and therefore I am not surprised he has agreed to participate in the inaugural function connected with the proposed movie on the manufactured myth of St Thomas. He would only have serious political doubts about the engineering qualifications of Lord Rama (who, definitely, is not from Syria or the Middle-East!) and not about the baseless myth of St. Thomas!

Fourthly, the Catholics in India need no more feel uncomfortable when faced with clinching historical evidence about their Church’s close cooperation with the Portuguese pirates in committing abominable crimes against the Indian people in the sixteenth century. By connecting the fraudulent myth of St. Thomas to the first century AD, the commencement of the Church can be disentangled from the atrocities of the Portuguese era. The Church was here long before the Portuguese arrived. It was a mere unfortunate coincidence that the Portuguese also called themselves Catholics. Guilty by association is groundless.

Lastly, it is quite within the ken of Catholic theology to claim that a land, which has been honoured by the visit of an apostle, has become the legitimate patrimony of the Catholic Church. India might have been a Hindu homeland from times immemorial. But since the day St Thomas in India in 52 AD, the Hindu claim stands cancelled. The country has belonged to the Catholic Church from the first century onwards, no matter how long the Church takes to conquer it completely for Christ.

Koenraad Elst wrote a brilliant foreword to Ishwar Sharan’s book titled The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. Let us hear his words:  

St. Thomas never came to India and the Christian community was founded by a merchant Thomas Cananeus [aka Thomas of Cana, Thomas of Jerusalem, Thomas the Merchant, Knai Thoma/Thomman] in 345 AD, a name which readily explains the Thomas legend. He led 400 refugees who fled persecution in Persia and were given asylum by the Hindu authorities. In Catholic universities in Europe, the myth of the apostle Thomas going to India is no longer taught as history, but in India it is still considered useful. Even many vocal “secularists” who attack the Hindus or “relying on myth” in the Ayodhya affair, off-hand profess their belief in the Thomas myth. The important point is that St. Thomas can be upheld as a martyr and the Brahmins decried as fanatics. In reality the missionaries were very disgruntled that the damned Hindus refused to give them martyrs whose blood is welcome as “the seed of the faith”), so they had to invent one. Moreover, the church which they claim commemorates St. Thomas’s martyrdom at the hands of Hindu fanaticism is in fact a monument of Hindu martyrdom at the hands of Christian fanaticism.

In November 2006 Pope Benedict XVI had categorically stated that St. Thomas never visited South India. When Catholic Indian missionaries want to manufacture false and fictitious fables to deliberately mislead the poor and gullible masses of India for purposes of mass conversion (known as “harvesting of souls”), then they are capable of  treating even  the Pope in Rome with supreme political contempt! The mega budget film on St. Thomas to be produced by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chennai should be viewed against this background.

Historian Veda Prakash, after conducting a methodical research published a book in Tamil in 1989. In this book, Indiavil Saint Thomas Katukkathai, he called the bluff of St. Thomas—a bluff marketed by the Catholic Church and its missionaries in India since the middle of the 16th century—and convincingly proved with irrefutable documentary evidence that the present Santhome Church, has been built on the very site where the original Kapaleeshwara Temple of Mylapore stood for centuries till the 1560s. Sometime after 1560, the Portuguese destroyed the Kapleeshwarar Temple on the beach at San Thome and built a church.

Veda Prakash’s statement about destruction of the original Kapaeeshwara  Temple by Christians was confirmed by Dr. R. Nagaswamy, formerly Director of Archeology Tamil Nadu. In an article “Testimony to Religious Ethos”, published in The Hindu of 30 April, 1990, he wrote: “A great study of the monuments and lithic records in Madras reveals a great destruction caused by the Portuguese to Hindu temples in the 16 century AD. The most important temple of Kapaleeshwara lost its ancient building during the Portuguese devastation and was originally located near the San Thome Cathedral. A few Chola records found in the San Thome Cathedral and Bishop’s House refer to Kapaleeswara Temple and Poompaavai. A Chola record in fragment found on the east wall of the San Thome  Cathedral refers to the image of Lord Nataraja of the Kapaleeshwara Temple. The temple was moved to the present location in the 16th century and was probably built by one Mallappa …. A fragmentary inscription, 12th century Chola record, in the San Thome Church region refers to a Jain temple dedicated to Neminathaswami.”

The point of view of Veda Prakash on the spurious and dubious visit of St. Thomas to Mylapore was later confirmed and established with formidable documentary and literary evidence by Ishwar Sharan in his book titled The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple published in 1991. Ishwar Sharan has demolished the fabled, fabricated and fraudulent myth of the visit of St. Thomas to Mylapore in the first century AD and his murder and martyrdom in 73 AD.  My current story is wholly based on the facts presented by Ishwar Sharan.

The legend of St. Thomas in Madras is clearly the fabrication of the Portuguese to camouflage their destruction of the ancient Hindu Shiva Temple of Kapaleeswarar in 1561, which was situated on the seashore, at the very place where the San Thome Church now stands. Nearly 1000 years before the barbarous and savage Catholic Portuguese destroyed the Kapaleeswarar Temple, the great Saivite saint of sixth century AD, Thirugnanasambandar, sang 6th Poompavai Padikam Thevaram as follows:

Thirugnanasambandar sings of Kapaleeswara Shiva (6th century).

Thirugnanasambandar wrote in a moving manner: “The Lord of Kapaleeswaram sat watching the people of Mylapore—a place full of flowering coconut palms—taking ceremonial bath in the sea on the full moon day of the month of Masi”.

In the same strain sang yet another great Tamil mystic, saint and poet Arunagirinathar who visited the Kapaleeswarar Temple in San Thome in 1456, in his Thirumayilai Thiruppugazh:

St. Arunagirinathar sings of Kapaleeswara Shiva (1456).

The above verse of Arunagirinathar can be translated into English thus: “Oh Lord of  Mylai (Mylapore) temple, situated on the shores of the sea with raging waves….”

The ancient Kapaleeswarar Temple at San Thome visited by Thirugnanasambandar in 6th century AD and Arunagirinathar in 1456 was destroyed by the Catholic Portuguese in 1561. To cleverly cover up this criminal act, the Catholic Church has come up with the fraudulent fable of martyrdom of St. Thomas at Mylapore in 73 AD. The Portuguese domination of Mylapore lasted from 1522 to 1697, by which time the British had established themselves in the Fort St. George and adjoining territories and the Portuguese had to withdraw to Goa where heir empire lasted in 1962.

As Swami Tapasyananda has observed: “In Goa Portuguese rule was noted for a spree of destruction of Hindu temples and persecution of the Goanese, so much so that large sections of them had to flee that territory and settle all along the west coast of India. They are the Gauda Saraswats. The fate of these Goanese would have overtaken the temples and the people of Madras also, a foretaste of which contingency they got in he destruction of the holy  Kapaleeshwara Temple. Thanks to the British domination of the region after 1697 and the consequent elimination of the Portuguese, this tragic fate did not overtake them. The British had more political maturity and diplomatic perception, which helped them perceive that trade was more important for themselves than religious propaganda”. No wonder that the British kept an attitude of indifference towards the religion and religious edifices of the people of India in whose midst they carried on the trading activities which eventually led to the establishment of a great political empire not only in India but in other parts of the world.

Sita Ram Goel in his outstanding book titled History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (AD 304 to 1996)has given his magisterial verdict:

The history of Christianity, crowded as it is with crimes of the most horrendous kind, provides a running commentary on the Christian doctrine. And the biggest share in Christian crimes down the centuries can safely be allotted to the Roman Catholic Church, its head, its hierarchy, its theologians, its religious orders and its missionaries. There is, however, one criminal field in which the Roman Catholic Church has remained unrivaled. No other Christian denomination—there are as many as 23,000 of them—comes anywhere near the Roman Catholic Church when it concerns the committing of blatant forgeries and foisting of pious frauds. It is no exaggeration to say that starting with Jesus Christ, the entire doctrinal and institutional edifice of Catholicism rests on a series of staggering swindles. The Roman Catholic Church in India has remained true to this tradition. The literature it has produced during the last five centuries is full of lies of the filthiest sort, not only about Hindu religion and culture but also about its own “religion” and role. And this garbage heap is topped by the hoax about the so-called St. Thomas.

After our Independence, the Catholic Church went on spreading the myth of murder and martyrdom of St. Thomas at Mylapore in the first century AD. Meanwhile, the Liberation Theology of the Church had added a new dimension to it. St. Thomas  started being sold not only as the first founder of Christianity in India but also as the first to proclaim a new social message in this country. A section of the “secular” media in Madras, in the late eighties, presented this new portrait of St. Thomas through an article written by one C.A. Simon in the Indian Express under the title In Memory of a Slain Saint“. After repeating the same old standard fraudulent story of the Catholic Church in India,  C.A. Simon struck a new revolutionary note: “St. Thomas spent the last part of his life in Madras preaching the Gospel. A large number of people listened and embraced the way of life preached by him. The oppressed and downtrodden followed him and claimed equal status in society as it was denied to them by the prevailing social norms. He condemned untouchability and attempted to restore equal status to women”.

This bold and brazen Christian scribe had written with great confidence because similar fictitious stuff, presented in a plethora of books [by S. Muthaih of The Hindu] as well as the popular press, had passed off without being challenged. He was not aware that formidable Hindu scholars had started examining Christian claims about Christian doctrines and Christian saints, as also the calculated Christian calumny about Hinduism, Hindu society, Hindu culture, and Hindu history. It is very unfortunate that certain editors of the pseudo-secular media allowed their respected columns to be used to promote this Catholic romance as historical fact in this age of excellent and critical scholarship. Though Veda Prakash had sent his book on the myth of  St. Thomas to the Indian Express as early as September 1989 for review, yet the Indian Express had ignored it. The Indian Express did not apply the same standard of censorship to C.A. Simon. While it treated Simon with respect, it treated Veda Prakash with utmost contempt.

The anti-national and anti-Hindu pseudo-secular mafia of print and electronic mass media is being closely watched by the awakened Hindus of India today. Hindus of India are determined to win their war against the planned, organized and launched dissemination of disinformation in regard to Sanatana Dharma, Hindus, Hinduism, Hindu culture and Hindu society by the criminal cabal controlling the print and electronic media in India today.

Very recently Pope Benedict XVI shocked the Christians of South India in general and Syrian Christians of Kerala in particular by making a statement to this effect: “St. Thomas preached Christianity in western India [now Pakistan] from where it spread to other parts of the country. He was not the Apostle who ever came to southern India”.

This statement of the Pope has been viewed by Christians of South India as having the effect of taking away from St. Thomas, the traditional title of “Apostle of India”. Though the Pope  referred to St. Thomas having preached Christianity in western India, yet he did not actually use the expression “Apostle of Pakistan”. According to George Nedungatt, a faculty member of the Oriental Pontifical Institute, Rome, who wrote an article in Satya Deepam, a mouthpiece of the Syro-Malabar Church, the Pope’s recent statement may indirectly imply that St. Thomas is an “Apostle of Pakistan” and not India! In the same article, it has been stated that perhaps Pope Benedict XVI feels that the area St. Thomas evangelized was not south India, but what he called “western India” corresponding roughly to today’s Pakistan. As the Pope sees it, south India was not evangelized by St Thomas , but by Christians from North-Western India, seemingly at a later period.

Ishwar Sharan in his pioneering work of research, has clearly brought out the fact that the myth of St. Thomas is a prototype of today’s popular Jesus-in-India story. The first story of St. Thomas in India was invented by the Syrian Christians of Malabar and later taken over by the Portuguese. The second story of Jesus in Kashmir was promoted around the beginning of the 20th century by Western spiritualists who also paraded as historians of the arcane. To quote the words of Ishwar Sharan: “Both fictions are attractive to foreign spiritual seekers and to convent-educated Hindus who fancy the idea that an apostle of Jesus, or Jesus himself may have visited India. The Hindus do not notice that in these legends neither St. Thomas nor Jesus are presented as seekers of Truth or admirers of Hindu religion and culture. They are presented as teachers of a superior faith or as enlightened social reformers who are persecuted by avaricious and degenerate Pagan Brahmin priests.”

The St. Thomas story was invented to give the Syrian immigrants Indian ancestry and the patronage of a local martyr-saint—Christianity is the religion of martyrs—and it was resurrected and embellished in the 16th century by Jesuit and Franciscan  missionaries who needed a pious  story of persecution to cover up their own persecution of the Hindus. There is another reason for the Catholic Church to promote the story in Madras, for during that period (16th century) she and her imperial Portuguese “secular arm” destroyed many Hindu  temples in Mylapore and its environs. The original Kapaleeshwar Temple was destroyed in 1561 and on its site the present St. Thomas Cathedral was built.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has never investigated the origins of early Christian churches in India in the same way it has studied old mosques and other Muslim monuments. Proper study of ancient churches has been done by German scholars and awaits translation and publication in English. The work done by the German scholars shows that most 16th and 17th century churches in India contain temple rubble and are built on temple sites.

The story relating to the martyrdom of St. Thomas on St. Thomas Mount in Madras is fictitious. This will be clear from the physical fact that there are six tombs for St. Thomas in South India. Two are in San Thome Cathedral at Mylapore, a third is on an island south-west of Cochin, a fourth in a Syrian church at Thiruvancode in Tranvancore, a fifth in a Shiva temple at Malayattur in Tranvancore and a sixth at Kalayamuthur, west of Madurai, near the Palani Hills. Likewise, there are six tombs for  St. Thomas abroad. One is in Brazil, a second in Germany, a third in Japan, a fourth in Malacca, a fifth in Tibet and the sixth in China.

The most exciting part of the fraud is that, this is not the end of the matter of tombs. Marco Polo (1254-1324) was the first story-teller to place the tomb of St. Thomas in south India and an unnamed village on the Tamil coast. According to the apocryphal Acts of Thomas by Bardesanes (154 AD to 233 AD) of Edessa in Syria, St. Thomas was buried in a royal tomb on a mountain in King Mazdai’s desert country and the Ethiopian version of the same Acts of Thomas has the tomb located in Quantaria, which some say is ancient Gandhara in Afghanistan. The Alexandrian Doctors of the Church say that the tomb is in Parthia, i.e., Persia, but Antipope Hippolytus of Potus says it is in Calamina, a city much discussed and never found, and which today remains as elusive a place as the Elioforum of the Passio Thomae (a medieval redaction of the Acts). Still others say the tomb is in Betumah, which the Syrians identify with Mylapore but which the Arabs say is east of Cape Camorin. Col. Gerini in his Researches on Ptolemy’s Geography of Eastern Asia, says Bethuma is to the East of Singapore.

T.K. Joseph, author of Six St. Thomases of South India accepts Marco Polo’s story but believes that the identification of the tomb in Mylapore as a Christian tomb is a case of wrong identification, of the Syrian Christians identifying the tomb of a Muslim Thomas with their Christian Thomas. T.K. Joseph is unwilling to concede that the Mylapore tomb is a Portuguese fake. He seems to treat the problem of St. Thomas as an internal matter of the Christian community rather than as a problem of Indian history. He refuses to consider the Hindu side of the story or to admit that temples were destroyed in Mylapore in the 16th century by Franciscan monks and Jesuit priests. As Ishwar Sharan hilariously concludes:

T.K. Joseph rejects the Malabar and Mylapore legends of St. Thomas as inventions, but seems to be unaware that Marco Polo’s “tall tale” is also that—a tall tale of St. Thomas picked up in a Ceylonese port bazaar and retold with additions to an Italian public [new research suggests most of Il Milione was invented in Constantinople and that Marco never travelled to China at all – Ed]. His acceptance of the geographical designation “India” in the Acts of Thomas, as the field of the apostle’s work, is unreasonable, as the internal cultural evidence of the Acts points to West Asia and not North-West India. T.K. Joseph admits that he is forced to accept Thomas did come to North-West India and may have been buried near ancient Taxila.

T.K. Joseph and other Christian scholars who depend on the Acts of Thomas to fulfill their St. Thomas desires—seem to be unaware of Thomas Paine’s famous dictum concerning another collection of acts and gospels—the Bible. Thomas Paine (1737-1809) said:

It has often been said that anything may be proved from the Bible; but before anything can be admitted as proved by the Bible, the Bible itself must be proved to be true; for if the Bible be not true, or the truth of it doubtful, it ceases to have authority and cannot be admitted as proof of anything.

Against this background it can be asked, where then is the tomb of St. Thomas, if the two in Mylapore are Portuguese fakes? Where did he experience his passion and seal his mission with blood if not in India? We do not know the answer to these questions, but there is a verse in an ancient St. Thomas hymn which reveals more than it conceals:

Thou despisist error; Thou destroyest unbelievers:  For, in the city where thou truly liest, There never lives any of the heretics, Jews, or Pagans.

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

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

The story of the intimate intellectual relationship between Archbishop Arulappa and Ganesh Iyer (given the title of Acharya Paul by Archbishop Arulappa himself!) indeed constitutes a glorious landmark in the intellectual history of Christianity in India! Archbishop Arulappa had directed Acharya Paul to establish a nexus between St. Thomas and Thiruvalluvar, regardless of the concerns for exact chronology or authentic history. “Scrupulous” Acharya Paul extended his full cooperation to the equally “Scrupulous” Archbishop! The whole story relating to this gigantic hoax was exposed in an article in the Illustrated Weekly of India in its issue dated April 26-May 2, 1987. This article, titled “Hoax!” was authored by K.P.Sunil. This very article was incorporated by Ishwar Sharan in his book on St. Thomas (1995 edition) under the chapter titles Archbishop Arulappa Makes History” and “Acharya Paul Adds A Footnote“.

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

Popes & Fascists

Post Script

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

I have been reading in the Internet a series of articles on Rome’s fraudulent history by Dave Hunt. I am quoting below some excerpts from his brilliant book titled A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days

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

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

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

In November 2006 Pope Benedict XVI had categorically stated that St. Thomas never visited South India. In the light of what has been stated above, is it not the inviolable duty of the Catholic Archdiocese of Madras to implicitly accept with reverence and humility the public stand taken by present Pope Benedict XVI on the issue of St. Thomas and his alleged visit to South India? In these columns yesterday, I had referred to the gigantic fraud that shook the foundations of the Catholic Church in Madras in the late 1970s and early 1980s when  Reverend Archbishop Arulappa was the head of the Catholic Church in  Madras. The Catholic Church has seen to it that a lot of embarrassing details relating to this fraud have been swept under the mat. The fearless journalist who exposed this fraud in April 1987 was K.P. Sunil. He wrote an article under the title “Hoax!” in The Illustrated Weekly of  India, April 26-May 2, 1987. I am summarizing the facts contained in the article.

Reverend Dr. R. Arulappa, Archbishop of Madras Diocese claimed that he had been duped by one Acharya Paul, also known as Ganesh Iyer. The “criminal” (at any rate not “civil” by any standard!) association between these two characters began in the early 1970s. Ganesh Iyer, ho had embraced the Christian faith, was a self-styled Bible preacher known as John Ganesh. During the course of his evangelical journeys, he went to Thiruchirapalli and met a Catholic priest called Father Michael of the Tamil Ilakkiya Sangam (Tamil Literary Society). He presented himself to Father Michael as Dr. John Ganesh, Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religion at the Banaras Hindu University. He also told Father Michael that he had returned from Jammu and Kashmir where he was involved in research on Christianity in India. Father Michael put him on to another priest, Father Mariadoss of Srivilliputhur. Dr. John Ganesh impressed Father Mariadoss with his mastery over Christian theology. He showed him copies of notices extolling him as a speaker. He produced letters written to him by several scholars in the fields of education and religion. He also showed Father Mariadoss many photographs of palm leaf  writings and copper plate inscriptions, which were several centuries old. Dr. John Ganesh told Father Mariadoss that these ancient documents  and artifacts in his possession, traced the origins and development of the Christian faith in India. He convinced Father Mariadoss that he was not in a position to further pursue the research on account of want of money and other constraints. Taken in by the approach of Dr. John Ganesh, Father Mariadoss took upon himself the task of locating funds for the successful completion of the research project which he felt would prove to be a shot in the arm for Christianity in India. Father Mariadoss gave Dr. John Ganesh Rs. 22,000/- towards his research project. As he could not give more money, he introduced the researcher to Archbishop Arulappa, the head of the Catholic Church in Madras. Thus began the most exciting intellectual relationship between Archbishop Arulappa and Dr. John Ganesh who was given the name Acharya Paul by Archbishop Arulappa himself.

Archbishop Arulappa held the view that St. Thomas before his martyrdom on a hill near Madras in 72 AD, now called St. Thomas Mount, met Tiruvalluvar and influenced the bard to the extent of converting him to the nascent Christian faith. Thus a  revolutionary theory had been propounded. What remained to be obtained was proof of such an occurrence. Archbishop Arulappa came to the conclusion that Ganesh Iyer, posing as Dr.John Ganesh, could play a vital role in establishing his new theory. Archbishop Arulappa  entered into a deal with Ganesh Iyer and entrusted the research work relating to the establishment of the spiritual connection  between St. Thomas and Tiruvalluvar to him. The Archbishop was also overwhelmed by Ganesh Iyer’s mastery of Christian theology. As a clever and crooked operator,  Ganesh Iyer agreed not only to establish the nexus between St. Thomas and Tiruvalluvar through his  research but also to furnish formidable  evidence as to how the three great epic Hindu sages from the East—VashishtaVishwamithra and Agastya—had clearly prophesied the birth of Jesus Christ.

In 1975-76 Ganesh Iyer began his research. And the Archbishop Arulappa started funding the same in a liberal fashion. Ganesh Iyer produced photographs of palm leaf writings and copper plate inscriptions at periodic intervals. Whenever the Archbishop asked to see the originals, he was informed by Ganesh Iyer that they were stashed away in the safe custody of the Indian government’s archaeological departments and museums all over the country.  As it was not possible to persuade these agencies to part with the priceless documents, Ganesh Iyer agreed to get the copies of the relevant documents duly authenticated by these agencies. Thus Ganesh Iyer produced forged copies of photographs and other documents bearing the seals of the state archaeological departments and the museums from which he claimed to have obtained them for purposes of completing his research. The cruel joke is that Archbishop Arulappa gave a total amount of nearly 13.5 lakhs to Ganesh Iyer between 1975 and 1980 for doing his great research for tracing the hallowed roots of Christianity in India!

The point to be noted is that Archbishop Arulappa never went even once along with Ganesh Iyer to any part of India to see for  himself whether Ganesh Iyer was doing genuine work or not. Archbishop Arulappa knew  how totally the spurious whole effort was right from the beginning. In 1976, Ganesh Iyer obtained a passport in the name of Acharya Paul. In 1977, accompanied by Archbishop Arulappa, he went abroad to the Vatican, among other places, where he had a lengthy audience with Pope Paul VI. The duo then visited several religious congregations and spoke about comparative religion. Wherever they went, Ganesh Iyer, spoke about the origins of Christianity in India and about his “monumental research”. Lot of money was collected in Europe for funding further research.

Soon after their return to India, Archbishop Arulappa was pressurized to file a complaint with the police against Ganesh Iyer. After a through  investigation, the police arrested Ganesh Iyer on April 29, 1980. A criminal case was filed against him and on February 6, 1986, P. Aruvudayappan, Second Metropolitan Magistrate Madras sentenced Ganesh Iyer to undergo 10 months rigorous  imprisonment. Even when the criminal case was going on in the court, a civil suit for compromise was also filed by the Archbishop in the Madras High Court. Soon after the verdict in the criminal  case was given on February 6, 1986,  the compromise decree was also taken up in the Madras High Court. Ganesh Iyer who had defrauded the Archbishop to the tune of nearly 14 lakhs was let off without any  further punishment. Thus ended with a calculated whimper, one of the “holiest” subterranean alliances in the history of Christianity in India!

To conclude with the  words of  Sita Ram Goel: “High-sounding  theological blah blah not withstanding, the fact remains that the Christian dogma is no more than a subterfuge for forging and wielding an organizational weapon for aggression against other people. It is high time for Hindus to dismiss the dogma of Christianity with the contempt it deserves, and pay attention to the Christian missionary apparatus planted in their midst. The sole aim of this apparatus is to ruin Hindu society and culture and take over the Hindu homeland”. – News Today,  20??

» The late V. Sundaram was an IAS officer. He lived in Chennai and blogged at Ennapadam Panchajanya.

Blood Libel : Tableau of St. Thomas and his fictitious Hindu assassin in San Thome Cathedral

1991 — The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple — Ishwar Sharan

2010 — The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple  — Ishwar Sharan