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

The Inquisition

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

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

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

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

Auschwitz Concentration Camp EntranceNazi Holocaust

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

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

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

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

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

St Thomas and Hindu assassinPresent parallel in India

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

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

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

Junipero Serra & Native American BoyNative American Genocide

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

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

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

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

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

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

Present day parallels in India

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

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

Vincent NsengiyumvaRwandan Genocide

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

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

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

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

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

Robert CaldwellIndian Parallel

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

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

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

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

Hitler's Pope Pius XII

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

Pope Francis the Actor

See also

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inquisition Victims

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

Tipu Sultan: Shades of grey – Sanjeev Sanyal

Tipu Sultan

Sanjeev SanyalGiven [Tipu’s] record of brutality towards fellow Indians, it is difficult to think of him as a great freedom fighter. At best, he belongs to the shades of grey that mark a lot of history. – Sanjeev Sanyal

Despite their success in Bengal and control over the sea, the British were far from being the masters of India. The Marathas would remain the biggest threat to their hegemony for another half a century till they were finally defeated in the third Anglo-Maratha war of 1917-18. The East India Company also had to contend with the hostility of a number of other rulers such as Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore. Tipu is often portrayed as a great patriot in Indian history textbooks for having opposed British colonization but his record is not so straightforward. While it is true that he fought the British, he was constantly trying to subjugate other Indians—the Marathas, the Nizam of Hyderabad, Travancore, the Kodavas of Coorg to name just a few. He was also considered a usurper by many of his own subjects.

Tipu Sultan came to the throne in 1782 on the death of his father Hyder Ali. Hyder Ali had usurped the throne of Mysore from the Wodeyar dynasty that he served as a military commander. Over the next few years, Tipu crushed all dissent within his kingdom as well as took over the smaller kingdoms adjoining Mysore. The Karnataka coast and the Kodavas of Coorg (now Kodagu in Karnataka) soon found themselves under savage assault. The indiscriminate cruelty of Tipu’s troops is not just testified in both Indian and European accounts but also in the letters and instructions that Tipu himself sent to his commanders on the field

You are to make a general attack on the Coorgs and having put to the sword or made prisoners the whole of them, both the slain and prisoners, with the women and children, are to be made Mussalmans…Ten years ago, from ten to fifteen thousand men were hung upon the trees of that district since which time the aforesaid trees have been waiting for me.

Around 1788, Tipu Sultan turned his attention on the Kerala coast and marched in with a very large army. The old port city of Calicut was razed to the ground. Hundreds of temples and churches were systematically destroyed and tens of thousands of Hindus and Christians were either killed or forcibly converted to Islam. Again, this is not just testified by Tipu Sultan’s enemies but in his own writings and those of his court historian Mir Hussein Kirmani. Interestingly, one of the things that Tipu loudly denounced in order to justify his cruelty was the matrilineal customs of the region.

Not surprisingly, hundreds of thousands of refugees began to stream south in Travancore. Tipu now used a flimsy excuse to invade the kingdom founded half a century earlier by Marthanda Varma. Travancore’s forces were much smaller than those of Mysore but Lannoy had left behind a well-drilled army and a network of fortifications. A few sections of these fortifications have survived to this day and can be seen north of Kochi, not far from where the ancient port of Muzeris once flourished. Tipu’s army was repeatedly repulsed by the Nair troops but Travancore knew that it was up against a much larger military machine and was forced to ask the East India Company for help.

The British responded by putting together a grand alliance of Tipu’s enemies that included the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad and, in 1791, they marched on Mysore. Within a few months, the allies had taken over most of Tipu’s kingdom and were bearing down on his capital, Srirangapatna. Eventually, he was Napoleon (1806)forced to accept humiliating terms—half his kingdom was taken away and he was made to pay a big war indemnity. Given his record of reneging on treaties, the East India Company kept two of his sons hostage till he paid the indemnity.

Friendless in India, Tipu now began to look for allies abroad. It is known that he exchanged letters with Napoleon and had great hopes of receiving support from the French. He also wrote to the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul and urged a joint jihad against the infidel British. The problem was that Napoleon had occupied Egypt and the Ottomans considered the French the real infidel enemies and the British as allies! The Ottoman Sultan’s reply, later published in the Madras Gazette, makes the point clearly: “We make it our special request that your Majesty will please refrain from entering any measure against the English.”

British intelligence was fully aware of what Tipu was doing and decided to finish him once and for all. The allies again March on Srirangapatna in 1799. The Mysore army was a shadow of its former self and the allies had little difficulty in reaching the capital. After three weeks of bombardment, the walls were breached. Tipu Sultan died fighting, sword in hand. The allies would restore Mysore to the old Wodeyar dynasty from whom Tipu’s father had usurped the throne. Napoleon would do little to rescue his ally but the siege of Srirangapatna would bolster the reputation of a thirty-year-old British colonel named Arthur Wellesley. Now remembered as the Duke of Wellington, he would defeat Napoleon 16 years later at Waterloo.

The Srirangapatna fort lives on a river island just off the Bangalore-Mysore highway. The final siege is so well documented that one can wander around the area and get a very good feel of how the last weeks unfolded. Tipu’s personal effects were taken by the visitors and most of them were shipped to England where they can be seen in various museums.

Tipu died a warrior’s death, defending his fort to his last breath. Moreover, despite the extreme cruelty towards Hindus and Christians in Kerala and Coorg, there are also instances of his making generous grants to temples. His critics will argue that most of these were given after his defeat in 1791.

It is difficult to say if this was a genuine change of heart or a tactical retreat by a cornered bully desperately looking for new friends. Still, given his record of brutality towards fellow Indians, it is difficult to think of him as a great freedom fighter. At best, he belongs to the shades of grey that mark a lot of history. – Newsbred, 23 October 2016. Excepted from The Ocean of Churn by Sanjeev Sanyal.

» Sanjeev Sanyal is an Indian economist, bestselling author, environmentalist, and urban theorist.

Finding the Body of Tipu Sultan

See also

Evangelist struck dumb when attempting to demolish traditional African shrine – Nigerian Tribune

Nigerian Community Shrine

Pentecostal Pastor & Traditional African Priest

If the traditionalists complain to the police about the destruction of their shrine, the Pentecostal pastor will be charged for sacrilege and malicious damage. Everybody has right to worship anything he so desires. – Ogun Police

A [Pentecostal] pastor, Wale Fagbere, was rendered unconscious and speechless after invading a community shrine at Ketu–Ayetoro in Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun state, Nigeria.

His mission was to destroy the shrine.

Reports said he was trapped by forces suspected to be spirits. And he also became dumb. The Gods meted out instant justice.

Fagbare was said to have boasted before his members he would flatten the shrine where the community traditionalists congregate to worship.

But he was said to have struck motionless until people spotted him, according the News Agency on Nigeria (NAN), quoting from media reports.

NAN quoting from media reports said: Those who sighted him in his agony, unable to lift his feet, raised the alarm, which drew attention of priests in charge of the shrine.

It was learnt the priests demanded some rituals must be carried out before the trapped pastor could be set him free.

He was, however, said to have regained consciousness after treatment following intervention of the Alaye of Ayetoro, Oba Abdulaziz Adelakun.

Ogun Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the incident.

He hinted the cleric may be charged with “sacrilege and malicious damage.”

According to Oyeyemi: “The Command got the report at its Division in Ayetoro that one Evangelist Wale Fagbere went to Ketu to destroy traditional worshippers’ shrines.

“After the destruction, the man became unconscious, motionless and could not talk.

“When the policemen visited the place, the traditionalists claimed that the subject cannot be taken away until some spiritual exercise was performed.”

He added: “The Alaye of Ayetoro, Oba AbdulAzeez Adelakun, waded into the matter which led to the release of the man.

“The victim has been revived and handed over to his family.

“The police’s next step would be determined by the traditionalists.

“If they complain to the police about the destruction of their shrine, the victim would be charged for sacrilege and malicious damage.

“Everybody has right to worship anything he so desires.” – Nigerian Tribune, 26 September 2016

Ogun, Nigeria Police

Pastor Wale Fagbere will be charged – NAN

The Ogun Police Command says it will prosecute a Pentecostal pastor, Wale Fagbere, who allegedly invaded a traditional shrine in Ketu area of Ayetoro in Ogun.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Mr Abimbola Oyeyemi, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abeokuta on Monday that the cleric would be charged for malicious damage and conduct likely to cause a breach of public peace.

“What he did was wrong and so he must be charged to court. If it was the other way round too, they will also be charged to court.

“Everyone has a right to worship whatever deity one chooses without fear or favour,” he said.

Oyeyemi, however, said he could not tell in which court the accused would be arraigned as at press time.

NAN reports that Fagbere on Saturday attempted to pull down a traditional shrine in Ketu, Yewa North Local Government Area of the state.

But he was reported to have immediately gone numb upon entering the shrine, attracting a crowd to the scene.

He, however, regained consciousness after the traditional ruler of the town, Oba Abdulaziz Adelakun, intervened and directed that some traditional rites be carried out on him. – Naira Naija News, 26 September 2016

Destroyed African Shrine

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

Our Lady of Good Health at Velankanni

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

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

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

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

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

mālai mathiyoḍu nīraravampuṉai vārchaṭaiyāṉ
vēlanakaṇṇiyoḍum virumpummiḍam…

— Srī Jñāna Sambandhar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kāḻipiḷḷai describes the fish-like eyes of Ambikā thus:

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

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

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

Even Māṇikkavāchakar has praised the beautiful eyes of Ambikā:

“māvaṭuvakiraṉṉakaṇṇi paṅkāniṉ malaraṭik kēkūviṭuvāy” 

— Thiruvāchakam

Seashore  Śivālayas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nitta lunniya mañceytu nīrmalar tūvic
citta moṉṟaval lārkkaru ḷuñcivaṉ kōyil

Matta yāṉaiyiṉ kōṭumvaṇ pīliyum vārit
tattunīrp poṉṉi cākara mēvucāyk kāṭē” 

— Jñānasambandhar

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

aṅkorutaṉtiruviralāliṟaiyēyūṉṟi
yaṭarttavaṟkēaruḷpurintaaṭikaḷinnāḷ
vaṅkamalikaṭalpuṭaicūḻmāṭavīti
valampuramēpukkaṅkēmaṉṉiṉārē!

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

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

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

“piṟavāyākkaipperiyōṉkōyilum,
aṟumukaccevvēḷaṇitikaḻkōyilum….”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Idols unearthed in Velankanni

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

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

Sri Rajatha Giriswarar Swami Temple at Velankanni

Sri Rajata Girisvarar Swami Kovil at Velankanni

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

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

Cultural appropriation by missionaries

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

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

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

Some Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

» Tamil to English translation support by Sri Ram Sury

Basilica of Our Lady of Health at Velankanni, Tamil Nadu

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

Tipu Sultan: Common icon of Pakistan and Congress – Balbir Punj

Tipu Sultan

Balbir Punj“Tipu’s ambition, no doubt, was to achieve personal power. The only ideological underpinning to his life was his commitment to Islam. And starting with Muhammad Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, and Aurangzeb, he had many precedents available to him to follow in his conduct as a ruler. The reign of each one of them (and several others) is marked by wanton destruction of Hindu temples, killing of ‘infidels’ and forcible conversions of non-Muslims to Islam.” – Balbir Punj

Tipu Sultan's SwordWhy did the Congress government in Karnataka plan state-wide celebrations of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan’s 165th birth anniversary on November 10th?  Resurrecting Tipu’s memory at this time has no historic significance, except that it may serve the party’s political ends.

Next year Karnataka goes to polls.  And Congress Chief Minister Siddaramaiah—a lateral entrant into the party has nothing much to show the tech savvy state voter to get back to power once again. In fact, he is facing the combined opposition of several interest groups within his own party. These groups have been knocking on the doors of  Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi for some time now, in hopes of showing Siddaramaiah the door.

It is under this circumstance that the Congress has resorted to its age-old game of divisive politics. Reviving Tipu Sultan’s memory on November 10 has raised widespread opposition in Karnataka, and not from Hindus alone, but from many other communities, including Christians from Mangaluru and the West Coast of Karnataka.

According to news reports from Mangalore, an important Christian centre, United Christian’s Association leader Alban Menezes said that  Tipu in 1784 had  destroyed the Milagres Church in Mangaluru built in 1680. Menezes added: “Tipu had imprisoned 60,000 Catholics,  suspected of being British spies.”

History records that the Congress’ new found ‘secular icon’, Tipu, made the captive Christians walk all the way to Mysuru without any food or water and thousands perished on the way. In 2013, the same Christian organisation had protested along with Hindu organisations against naming a central university in Srirangapatnam after Tipu.

Tipu Sultan Stamp India Post (15 July 1974)No doubt, Tipu put up a brave fight against the British. He did so against the Marathas as well, the principal power fighting the East India Company, which was striving to colonise India. It was only in 1803, after the company forces under General Lake defeated the Maratha army in a battle at Patparganj (present day Noida), that the British captured Delhi and became the real rulers of India. The then Mughal emperor, who was a pensioner of the Marathas, happily started accepting the dole from his new masters!

Tipu’s opposition to the British did not mean he was in principal opposed to foreigners colonising India. He invited the French to invade the country. After a eunuch Ghulam Qadir blinded the then Mughal emperor Shah Alam II on August 10, 1788, Tipu had no compunction in writing to  Zaman Shah Durrani, the then ruler of Afghanistan to attack India and help him finish the Marathas and the British to establish an Islamic empire.

Tipu’s ambition, no doubt, was to achieve personal power. The only ideological underpinning to his life was his commitment to Islam. And starting with Muhammad Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, and Aurangzeb, he had many precedents available to him to follow in his conduct as a ruler. The reign of each one of them (and several others) is marked by wanton destruction of Hindu temples, killing of ‘infidels’ and forcible conversions of non-Muslims to Islam.

Hyder AliTipu’s father Hyder Ali had usurped the kingdom from the Wodyars, the Hindu ruling family of Mysuru state. Hyder who was a military officer in the state, rapidly rose to power and emerged the defacto ruler of Mysuru in 1761. He claimed descent from the Quraysh tribe of Arabs, the—tribe prophet Muhammad belonged to. In his last commandant to his son Tipu, Hyder wrote,  “The Mussalmans are more united and more enterprising than the feeble Hindu. It is to them that should belong the glory of saving Hindustan…. My son, combine all your efforts to make the Koran triumph. If God helps this noble endeavour, the day is not far, perhaps, when the sword of Muhmmad will place you on the throne of Tamerlane .”

Tipu tried his best to live up to the expectations and the ideals his father had laid for him and even went a few steps further in promoting the Islamic agenda and following what he perceived were his religious duties.

Colonel Mark Wilks’ Historical Sketches, K. P. Padmanabha Menon’s History of Cochin State and Sardar K. M. Panikkar’s and Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai’s articles and the detailed accounts left behind by the court historians of Tipu vividly bring out the ugly reality that the 17 odd years of his regime witnessed massive persecution of non-Muslims, vandalisation of their religious places and forced conversions to Islam.

One of the leading Congressmen of pre-independence days K. Madhava Nair observes in Malabar Kalapam (Mappila Outrage), “The communal Mappila outrage of 1921 in Malabar could be easily traced to the forcible mass conversions and related Islamic atrocities of Tipu Sultan. Many thousands of Hindus were forcibly converted into the Muhammadan faith.”

In a letter to Budruz Zuman Khan on 19 January 1790, Tipu himself states: “Don’t you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed Raman Nair (Rama Varma Raja of Travancore) very soon, since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatanam now.”

Panikkar cites a letter from Tipu, dated 18 January 1790, and written to Syed Abdul Dulal: “With the grace of Prophet Mohammed and Allah, almost all Hindus in Calicut are converted to Islam. Only on the borders of Cochin State a few are still not converted. I am determined to convert them also very soon. I consider this as Jihad to achieve that objective.” Tipu tried to replace Kannada with Persian and made the latter a Court language. He changed the names of several places. The new names had Islamic colour.

PNS Tipu SultanMuch is made out of the grants Tipu had made to some Hindu temples. In V. R. Parameswaran Pillai’s biography of the Dewan of Travancore, the author states: “With respect to the much-published land-grants, I had explained the reasons about 40 years back. Tipu had immense faith in astrological predictions. It was to become Emperor (Padushah) after destroying the might of the British that Tipu resorted to land grants and other donations to Hindu temples in Mysuru, including Sringeri Mutt, as per the advice of the local Brahmin astrologers. Most of these were done after his defeat in 1791 and the humiliating Srirangapatanam Treaty in 1792. These grants were not done out of respect or love for Hindus or Hindu religion but for becoming Padushah as predicted by the astrologers.” Sadly for the Congress, it has been late in recalling what it considers the sterling role of Tipu Sultan in India’s history, for Pakistan has done it much earlier and on a far bigger scale. Till date the Pakistan Navy has named three of its war ships as PNS Tipu Sultan. The first was acquired in 1949 (in service until 1979), second in 1980 (scrapped in 1994) and the last one in 1994. It has also named its missile and several educational institutions after Tipu.

Does not the fact that Congress and Pakistan share a secular icon in Tipu say a lot? – The New Indian Express, 14 November 2015

» Balbir Punj is a senior journalist, columnist, and BJP member of the Raja Sabha.

Tipu Sultan, Republic Day tableau representing Karnataka, 2014

See also

Analysis: Mainstream media reportage of temple attacks – IndiaFacts Staff

TV News India

IndiaFacts“Highlighting a very tiny number of incidents of church attacks and giving it frequent and repeated coverage while downplaying the real fact of repeated attacks against temples—almost one temple attack per day—certainly lends itself to the conclusion that the media is indeed creating, shaping, and pushing a false narrative.”- IndiaFacts Staff

Of late there has been a spate of news reports, articles, panel discussions and editorials on attacks on churches in India. Most of these reports have been consistent in blaming Hindu groups for these attacks. Equally, in an age of social media and free access to information, doubts have been raised both about the attacks and the veracity of these reports.

On the other side, there is almost no coverage, analysis, editorials, and TV shows on attacks on the places of worship of non-Abrahamic religions including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Could it be the case that there were no attacks at all on these places of worship?

INDIAFACTS commissioned a study-cum-analysis of mainstream English media’s coverage of attacks on Hindu places of worship. The findings are quite revealing.

To begin with, secularism is an article of faith for the Indian English mainstream media. With that in mind, and with coverage of temple attacks as the context, our analysis also examined three broad aspects:

  • Does the Indian English mainstream media really practice the secularism it preaches?
  • Is our mainstream English media being fair in its coverage?
  • Is our mainstream English media making an attempt to narrow the focus to a particular set of incidents with the intention of creating a false narrative?

Methodology

The INDIAFACTS team sourced news reports, articles, opeds, and TV shows mainly from the Internet, and print for good measure. These news sources were spread across the most popular and widely read newspapers, online news channels, and TV media.

Data was collected based on coverage related to attacks, thefts, vandalism, hate crimes, corruption, misgovernance, and land grab with respect to temples (where temples are generically defined as stated earlier: places of worship of non-Abrahamic faiths). Data was collected for a period of six months: between 01 October 2014 and 31 March 2015, which is a decent sample size to be considered as representative to arrive at reasonably accurate conclusions.

Preliminary observations

Two preliminary, high-level observations stand out in our analysis:

There were 145 incidents of attacks on temples during the stated period—that is, approximately, at least one temple was attacked every day (more precisely, 0.8 per day).

A vast majority of them were Hindu temples, and a few were Jain, Buddhist and Sikh as well. For the sake of brevity and ease of presentation, they’re generically grouped as Hindu temples and could be de-grouped as needed, on a case by case basis.

Detailed analysis

This geo-data map shows the spread of attacks on Hindu temples across India. A darker gradient of red represents states with the highest number of temple attacks. As is evident from the map, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh top the list, followed by Kerala, Telangana and Karnataka.

Figure 1: Tamil Nadu & Uttar Pradesh have the most attacks on temples, followed by Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana.

Figure 1: Tamil Nadu & Uttar Pradesh have the most attacks on temples, followed by Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana.

Weekly attacks

The following chart shows the number of attacks on Hindu temples every week for the six month duration of our study. In our study, we have considered Sunday as the starting day of the week and Saturday as the ending day.

The height of the bar represents the total number of temple attacks for that week. Attacks on Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist temples are differently colour-coded.

Note: October being the starting point of our study, the first week has only four days—1 October thru 4 October 2015.

Figure 2: Weekly attacks on temples.

Figure 2: Weekly attacks on temples.

Subsequent weeks follow the Sunday-Saturday scheme. 11 January 2015—31 January 2015 appears to be the most peaceful period with only one attack per week.

Media coverage of temple attacks

The following graph shows the number of articles published by news media for the temple attacks shown for the six-month period. Although some of the reports were actually published a few days later, falling into the subsequent week, they were counted for the week on which the incident actually occurred. This would simplify the counting.

 Figure 3: News reports covering temple attacks.

Figure 3: News reports covering temple attacks.

Number of media reports on temple attacks increase or decrease corresponding to the attack incidents, indicating a correlation with Figure 2.

The 145 incidents of attack on temples were covered by 293 news articles from various publishers and media outlets—that is, there were an average of 2.02 news articles published per incident.

State-wise analysis

The following graph shows the state-wise grouping of temple attacks, based on the actual location of the attacks.

Figure 4: State-wise temple attacks.

Figure 4: State-wise temple attacks.

Red indicates incidents that could have been prevented by ensuring good governance and law and order mechanisms,and blue indicates attacks due to breakdown of law and order/lack of security. Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh top the list followed closely by Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana. In other words, South India has witnessed the worst attacks on temples.

The next graph shows the number of news reports published related to these attacks in their respective states.

Figure 5: Media reports on state-wise attacks on temples.

Figure 5: Media reports on state-wise attacks on temples.

Red indicates reports on temple attacks incidents that could have been prevented by good governance and blue indicates reports on incidents that needed effective law and order mechanisms.

Comparing attacks on temples and churches

The following graph shows a comparison between attacks on temples and attacks on churches for the period under consideration.

Figure 6: Comparison between temple attacks and church attacks.

Figure 6: Comparison between temple attacks and church attacks.

Exactly four incidents of attacks on churches took place across India in the period under consideration.The overall picture that emerges is clear: there’s a huge gap in the attacks against temples compared to Christian places of worship. In other words, temples are targeted more frequently whereas churches remain largely unmolested.

State-wise grouping of attacks on temples and churches

The following graph shows the state-wise grouping of the attacks on temples including the four attacks on Christian places of worship.

Figure 7: Attacks on Christian places of worship added to the state wise chart shown in Figure 4.

Figure 7: Attacks on Christian places of worship added to the state wise chart shown in Figure 4.

Media coverage comparison

Upon including the reports published in the media about attacks on Christian places of worship into the graphs of respective states, we obtain the following graph.

Figure 8: Media reportage on temple and church attacks.

Figure 8: Media reportage on temple and church attacks.

Upon including the attacks on Christian places of worship into the week-wise chart of media reportage on temple attacks, we arrive at the following graph.

Figure 9: Week-wise media reportage on temple and church attacks.

Figure 9: Week-wise media reportage on temple and church attacks.

Conclusions

  • On an average,the English mainstream media reported about 46.25 news articles per incident of attack on Christian places of worship whereas it reported a mere 2.02 news articles per incident of attack on Hindu places of worship
  • Further, the 46.25 reports per incident related to attacks on a Christian place of worship had approximately 80 oblique references to the BJP, Narendra Modi, parliament debate, elections, ghar wapsi. However such oblique references were rarely found in reports related to attacks on temples.
  • According to the concept of secularism as commonly defined and understood, the Indian English mainstream media should ensure that its reportage remains religion-neutral. Unfortunately, as our analysis shows, the 46:2 ratio of its reportage on attacks on places of worship of Christians to those of Hindus doesn’t pass this religion-neutral test by any standards. Therefore, there is very little evidence to show that the mainstream English media is reporting news based on the spirit of secularism it claims it adheres to.
  • The same ratio also shows that our mainstream English media is being significantly selective and therefore unfair in its coverage.
  • Highlighting a very tiny number of incidents of church attacks and giving it frequent and repeated coverage while downplaying the real fact of repeated attacks against temples (almost one temple attack per day), certainly lends itself to the conclusion that the media is indeed creating, shaping, and pushing a false narrative.

Based on such hard data, it is not entirely inaccurate to conclude that the Indian mainstream English media is behaving like the mouthpiece of select religious institutions. – IndiaFacts, 11 May 2015

Indian Media