“Thomas myth” raked up by the Kerala Church to suppress the multi-crore land scam racist, liturgical and  catechetical problems (2)

“Thomas myth” raked up by the Kerala Church to suppress the multi-crore land scam racist, liturgical and  catechetical problems (2)

Discussing Thomas myth- Thelakkat and Narayanan

G. S. Narayanan pointed out that Kerala was not habituated during first centuries: Noted historian M G S Narayanan said there were no historic documents to suggest that St Thomas had come to India for evangelisation work[1]. “There were no human habitations here at that time in Kerala. There was only forest here. How would he visit such a place? For what? . Human settlements began towards the end of Mauryan dynasty, he said. It is common for religious heads and political parties to twist history for their benefit, he told a Malayalam TV channel. The Syrian Christian community in Kerala believes that St Thomas came to this part in AD 52 and had established churches. The community considers St Thomas as the ‘Father in Faith’ of Christians in India. The Syro-Malabar Church has over 30 dioceses in the country and four outside– in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and Britain–serving over five million faithful. M.G.S. Narayanan had earlier questioned the claim[2]. “Thomashleeha (as St. Thomas is known in Kerala) is an imaginary thing. He is one of the apostles. He should be Christ’s contemporary. If he had come to Kerala, there would have been only forests in Kerala, let alone Brahmins,” Narayanan told Outlook. “Syrian Christians’ trade relations with Kerala started in 2nd and 3rd century. Brahmins came as a hegemonic community in Kerala only in 8th Century,” he said. Pius Melekandathil, professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who is an expert on maritime history and church history, admitted that it is a matter of dispute however saying that the probability factor has to be taken into consideration.

Geevargheese Mor Cooilos denies Brahmins were converted by Thomas
The Bishop, Geevarghese Mor Coorilos asserted that Thomas never converted Brahmins[3]: The Bishop of Niranam diocese, historically one of the oldest dioceses of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church in Kerala, has criticized the upper caste tendencies among believers fuelled by a “mythical” belief that St. Thomas converted Brahmins to Christianity in Kerala[4]. It is also widely believed that St Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Christ, had converted members of top Brahmin families in Kerala to Christianity. Though the Abrahamic faith is devoid of caste hierarchies, Christian families often hold get-togethers to celebrate their lineage and put out books proclaiming their Brahmin origin[5].  The Bishop, Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, however, in a Facebook post announced[6] that he would not attend any such get-togethers, dubbing them as “programs to assert their artificially created upper caste identity and lineage.” “They say their ancestors were Brahmins converted by St. Thomas. They even put out their family history in books proclaiming such false notions. These baseless, savarna caste-oriented and reactionary myths have to be busted,” read his statement in Malayalam, adding, “I did attend such events due to my personal intimacy with them. But, I regret it. I can’t (do it) any more”.

Geevarghese Mor Coorilos asserts that Brahmins not converted by Thomas

Supporting Brahmin or Dalit – the Church divided: “It is a matter of debate. But, many historians have seen it as highly probable and reliable. The earliest reference to St. Thomas preaching gospel to Brahmins is from St. Jerome of 4th century. Among the converts , the Brahmin converts seem to have been quite significant enough to attract the special attention of St. Jerome, who mentions that the apostle went “ut Christus apud Brachmanas praedicaret” (to preach Christ to the Brahmins),” he said. “This needs more investigation. It is more nuanced and complex. Brahmin does not mean one single category of social group. There were different categories of Brahmins in Kerala. It was not a period where there was absence of Brahmins. It’s true they came as a hegemonic group only in 8th Century. But, there were Brahmins as scattered and fragmented community even before that. Duties and obligations of Brahmins under Chera empire are mentioned in Sangam literature,” he said. Melekandathil also said that there are written documents of maritime trade agreement between Muziris (in Kerala) and Alexandria from 2nd century obtained from Vienna archive in 1985. The Bishop, who also serves the World Council of Churches as moderator of its Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME), later added, “Many address me as ‘Thirumeni’, a myth created by the upper caste[7]. They can call me a friend or father. If they want it to be formal, it can be Bishop. We have to change and should change many things,” To make his point, the Bishop quoted writer OV Vijayan’s statement “The English language is the best weapon to challenge the caste”.  He had also supported the hartal organised by Dalit outfits on 09-04-2018, Monday. “Normally, I do not support hartals as such protests in Kerala have not served their purpose. But I support the Dalit hartal wholeheartedly as it is against the atrocities faced by the marginalised sections under the fascist and feudal system. The people who are opposing the strike should introspect over their approach and mentality to the caste system and Dalits,” he posted on Facebook[8].

SC- converted christians- controversy

Catholic drama of caste, casteism and savarna: Fr. Paul Thelakat, former Syro Malabar Church spokesperson, echoed Coorilose’s statement. “In India we have bane that we irrespective of our religion have Manu sleeping within our consciousness. Everyone wants to establish one’s own upper caste glory. It is found in the ancient Christians of Kerala e.g certain families claiming to have been baptised from Brahmin families by St Thomas himself. St Thomas is supposed to have come to Kerala, it would be in the first century. Brahmins came to south India only in the 8th century. I am sorry to say upper caste mentality can be found also in Marxists in Kerala. Even though Marxism has a universal humanistic ideology, we find the upper caste surname kept, like Nampoodirpad, Menon, Pillai, Nair etc,” he said. Firm on his position despite the sharp and mixed reactions to his statement, Coorilos later wrote on the same post: “I am adding this after reading many comments to this post. Many of you are calling me ‘Thirumeni’ (a feudal honorific). That’s also a product of the savarna consciousness. You can call me a friend or Father. Or, if you want to make it more formal, you can call me Bishop.” “(Writer) OV Vijayan had said that English is the best weapon to resist caste. We must change. Change is must,” he said.

Church corrects Thelekkat - MM- 15-04-2018

Rs 80 crores land sold for Rs 27.30 crore: Just like Vatican, the Indian Church has also been involved in many scandals from sex to money swindling and other activities. Particularly, from Kerala, the crimes related to the Church have been horrible from murder, sex and financial scams involving all types of priests, bishops and cardinals also. Pressure is mounting on Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church based in Kerala, to resign after allegations that church land had been sold below market value in a deal that he had approved. Alencherry, 72, was ordained as a Cardinal, a priest of the highest rank in the Roman Catholic Church, by Pope Benedict XVI in February 2012. He is one of only five Cardinals in India. The deal in question concerns the sale of three acres of land in Kochi by the Ernakulam archdiocese in 2016 to repay a Rs 60-crore bank loan it had taken to build a medical college. The agent appointed by the church to conduct the deal had estimated the value of the land at Rs 27.30 crore, but the church has so far received only Rs 9.13 crore of that amount. However, priests and lay people critical of the action claim that the plot was actually worth at least Rs 80 crores However, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) doesn’t seemed to be amused over the controversy. “There is no need to discuss the issue now. Those who raised the issue should solve it,” said KCBC official spokesperson Fr Varghese Vallikkatt[9]. But church sources pointed that Fr Thelakkat’s statement was made in connection with the ongoing land controversy in the Eranakulam-Angamali archdiocese and the tiff between the Ernakulam-Angamali diocese and the Changanacherry archdiocese respectively[10].

© Vedaprakash

17-04-2018

CPM organises 'BEEF FESTIVAL' inaugurated by 'Fr' Paul Thelakkat. Reported with glee by 'THE HINDU'.

[1] Covai Post Network, Historian Narayanan rubbishes St Thomas’s visit to Kerala to convert Hindus, April 15, 2018.

[2] https://www.covaipost.com/kerala-news/historian-narayanan-rubbishes-st-thomass-visit-to-kerala-to-convert-hindus/

[3] Indian express, Kerala Jacobite Church Metropolitan Geevarghese Mor Coorilos fires salvo at faithful’s ‘false beliefs’, By Express News Service | Published: 10th April 2018 03:24 AM, Last Updated: 10th April 2018 03:24 AM

[4] http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/kerala/2018/apr/10/kerala-jacobite-church-metropolitan-geevarghese-mor-coorilos-fires-salvo-at-faithfuls-false-belief-1799309.html

[5] Outlook, Bishop Demolishes The Biggest Conversion ‘Myth’ of Kerala , 13 APRIL 2018 Last Updated at 5:21 PM.

[6] https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/bishop-demolishes-the-biggest-conversion-myth-of-kerala/310974

[7] News.18, Histories of Old Christian Families in Kerala ‘Fabricated’, Chandrakanth Viswanath | News18Updated:April 10, 2018, 11:45 PM IST.

[8] https://www.news18.com/news/india/kerala-syrian-church-bishop-calls-histories-of-old-christian-families-in-kerala-fabricated-1714533.html

[9] Times of India, Fresh row in church over St Thomas’s ‘visit’ to Kerala, TNN | Apr 13, 2018, 10:50 IST

[10] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/fresh-row-in-church-over-st-thomass-visit-to-kerala/articleshow/63742878.cms

 

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5 Responses to ““Thomas myth” raked up by the Kerala Church to suppress the multi-crore land scam racist, liturgical and  catechetical problems (2)”

  1. vedaprakash Says:

    Thomas’s visit under doubt
    Ananthakrishnan G | TNN | Dec 26, 2006, 01:14 IST

    https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Thomass-visit-under-doubt/articleshow/926822.cms

    NEW DELHI: His reluctance to believe what fellow disciples said about Jesus Christ’s resurrection earned him the name Doubting Thomas. Centuries later, St Thomas — believed to be the man who brought Christianity to India — finds himself in the shadow of ‘doubt’ with none other than the Pope contradicting his evangelical trek in the country, only to modify it a few days later. But far from dousing the fire, the Pope has rekindled a debate and given critics an issue on the platter.

    Pope Benedict XVI made the statement at the Vatican on September 27. Addressing the faithful during the Wednesday catechises, he recalled that St Thomas first evangelised Syria and Persia, and went on to western India from where Christianity reached Southern India.
    The import of the statement was that St Thomas never travelled to south India, but rather evangelised the western front, mostly comprising today’s Pakistan.

    Knowingly or unknowingly, he had in one stroke challenged the basis of Christianity in India and demolished long-held views of church here that St Thomas landed in Kerala, where he spread the gospel among Hindus. The comments were especially a letdown for the Syrian Christians of Kerala, who proudly trace their ancestry to upper-caste Hindus said to have been evangelised by St Thomas upon his arrival in 52 AD.

    The comments went unnoticed until Sathya-deepam, the official mouthpiece of the Syro-Malabar church, picked it
    up.

    Writing in it, George Nedungat, a member of the Oriental Pontifical Institute of Rome, conveyed the community’s anguish and claimed that previous Popes had recognised St Thomas’ work in south India.

    • M. Nachiappan Says:

      Sociologist Susan Viswanathan, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, who has written a book titled, The Christians of Kerala, agreed that it was hard to prove conclusively whether St Thomas visited Kerala. “Whether they were Brahmins or not in the first century is a puzzle as is the question as to St Thomas coming to Kerala,” she said.

      But she also pointed out that St Thomas Christians – another name for Syrian Christians – have used their upper caste status through history to remain close to power. “Legends have their own emphases on probability rather than certainty,” she said. “These [Syrian] Christians are patrilocal and patrilineal like the Brahmins they claim descent from.”

  2. vedaprakash Says:

    Pope view angers Kerala Christians
    Pope’s statement that St Thomas landed in western India and Christianity spread from there to the South has kicked off a debate, reports Ramesh Babu.
    INDIA Updated: Nov 23, 2006 05:14 IST
    https://www.hindustantimes.com/india/pope-view-angers-kerala-christians/story-kh3xB2jJqRdbVwsCcBBzRO.html

    Pope Benedict XVI’s statement that St Thomas had landed in western India and Christianity had spread from there to south India has kicked off a debate among Christians in Kerala.

    Addressing a vast crowd at the St Peter’s Square during the Wednesday homily, Pope Benedict XVI stated: “Let us remember that an ancient tradition claims Thomas first evangelised Syria and Persia and then penetrated as far as western India from where Christianity reached also south India.”

    Kerala’s Christians are broadly divided into descendants of early Christians baptised by St Thomas and the rest drawn from marginalised sections and converted by St Francis Xavier in the 16th century.

    The former are called Syrian Christians, which refers to the liturgical rites akin to Syrian traditions and underlines their upper caste origins.

    The Syrian Catholic church was obviously not pleased with the papal homily, which questions their very origin.

    Cardinal Varkey Mar Vithayathil, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church, has pleaded the Vatican to shed more light on the part pertaining to St Thomas’s trip to India.

    The community in Kerala believes that St Thomas came to their land in AD 52 and established churches.

    Unless Pope Benedict XVI brings more clarity to his sermon, Christians, especially Syrian Catholics, have reasons to feel let down since what he said goes against their traditional beliefs.

    Fr Kuriakose Mundadan, editor of Satyadeepam (a church publication), agrees there’s little evidence to prove that the apostle had visited South India some 20 centuries ago.

    “But it’s our faith,” Fr Mundadan said. “It is the question of faith over which the Pope has total infallibility, but the tradition associated with apostle St Thomas baptising the early Christians in Kerala is linked to our existence, tradition and our custom.”

    It is not only Syro-Malabar Church that is offended by the controversial homily but also the Marthoma church, which as it is does not accept the Pope entirely as their supreme spiritual leader.

  3. vedaprakash Says:

    Did Thomas the Apostle visit South India?
    WRITTEN BY Don Sebastian

    Updated: Nov 28, 2006, 11:34 PM IST

    http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-did-thomas-the-apostle-visit-south-india-1066746

    After Kerala’s Syro-Malabar Church voices concern, Vatican corrects papal remark

    Pope Benedict XVI, who became the target of global protest after his comments on Islam and Prophet Mohammed, faces dissent from among the flock for his rediscovery of history.

    After the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala voiced its concerns over the papal remark doubting Thomas the Apostle’s visit to south India, Vatican has corrected the speech in its official website.

    The Pope, in a general audience at St Peter’s Square on September 27, said: “Let us remember that an ancient tradition claims that Thomas first evangelised Syria and Persia then went on to Western India from where Christianity also reached Southern India.”

    The new version on the website supplants ‘Christianity’ with ‘he’ (St Thomas), returning to the old theory of the apostle’s visit to south India. The Syro-Malabar Church, which accounts for 4 million of the 24 million Christians in India, objected to the Pope’s casual remarks made in a series of catechesis on the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.

    The Church’s mouthpiece Sathyadeepam (Light of Truth), a fortnightly, ran an article on its November 19 issue criticising the Pope’s remarks.

    The article titled ‘St Thomas the apostle of India or of Pakistan’ written by Jesuit priest George Nedungattu reads: “Pope Benedict may seem to distance himself from his predecessors, especially Pope John Paul II, who on several occasions has referred to St Thomas as the Apostle of India. According to Pope Benedict XVI, however, the area St Thomas evangelised was not south India, but what he called “western India,” corresponding roughly to Pakistan today.”

    “Pope Benedict XVI has the reputation of being a theologian, but this is not the same as competence in Church history. His negative stand does not erode the merit of the Indian tradition about St Thomas as the Apostle of India.” The priest, who is working with Oriental Pontifical Institute in Rome, sites sources from early Popes to former Indian Presidents Rajendra Prasad and Shankar Dayal Sharma to prove his point. In 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Santhome Cathedral in Chennai, where St Thomas is believed to be buried in a crypt.

    Syro-Malabar Church, one of the three Catholic Churches in Kerala, claims to have been formed by those directly baptised by the apostle, who landed in Kerala in AD 52 and was martyred in Tamil Nadu in AD 72. But Latin Catholic Church, established in the 15th century, has been less insistent on the claim.

    “The Pope’s statement is contrary to the views expressed by earlier Popes and official view of the Church. Earlier Popes acknowledged St Thomas as Apostle of India in their statements and records,” Father Paul Thelakat, chief editor of the fortnightly, said. Though there was no official rebuke to the papal theory, believers did not try to hide their resentment. Syro-Malabar Archbishop Joseph Powathil, however, said that “The Pope has been misquoted.”

  4. vedaprakash Says:

    MARXISTS DIG FOR APOSTLE THOMAS
    Tuesday, 03 April 2018 | Sandhya Jain l
    http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/edit/marxists-dig-for-apostle-thomas.html

    Kerala’s attempt to create spurious evidence of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in India merits wider dissemination. It must be seen as part of a concerned attempt to entrench the Cross in Asia

    Rescuing the antiquity of Indian civilisation from the biblical mythology of Max Mueller, rubbishing the well-orchestrated history-as-dogma of the Aryan invasion and proving the existence of river Saraswati, excavating and resurrecting the still unknown past, and restoring the once handsome architectural marvels that have fallen victim to time or iconoclasts, Indian archaeologists have their task cut out for them. Their work is critical in correcting the lacunas, misinterpretations and falsifications of history in various parts of the country, especially at the hands of scholars with a pronounced bias against our native traditions.

    Unless repudiated, invented history enters the popular mind as ‘fact’. The Aryan fable still persists because Marxists have been able to prevent all historical and scientific findings, disproving the movement of people into India at the time of the alleged ‘invasion’, from entering school textbooks where the foundations of knowledge are laid. This is why noted archaeologist BS Harishankar’s debunking of the Kerala Council for Historical Research’s (KCHR) attempts to create spurious evidence of the arrival of Apostle Thomas in India, unequivocally denied by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2006, merits wider dissemination.

    The excavations to identify Pattanam, in Ernakulum district, with ancient Muziris of the Cheras, began soon after the Syro-Malabar Church scrambled to rescue the legend that claimed India as the first mission of the church, long before it went to Europe. As a result, in November 2006, the Vatican Secretariat accepted the story as history, to project Christianity as an indigenous faith of great longevity. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) embraced the project with alacrity; the brochure, ‘Muziris Heritage Project — Pattanam Excavations 2008’, lists Prof Romila Thapar as one of the patrons.

    In Pattanam: Constructs, Contexts and Interventions (2017), Harishankar denounces the presence of European and American scholars in the dig, while excluding the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Indian universities. Eminent historians Prof Dilip K Chakbrabarti and Prof MGS Narayanan, and archaeologists Prof R Nagaswamy, Prof A Sundara, and Prof T Sathyamurthy, denounced the attempts to link Pattanam with Muziris, when Kodungalloor where the river meets the sea, is far more logical. Neither archaeological evidences nor historical records support Apostle Thomas arrived in India; he possibly visited Fars (Persia) and the Afghanistan region.

    Harishankar has referenced the Pattanam excavations with all researched and published material available. The KCHR, headed by Prof KN Panikkar of JNU, is alleged to have manipulated archaeological evidence and manufactured new evidence to ‘prove’ that Pattanam had historical ties with Jerusalem and other regions in West Asia from 1000 BC. He discusses the evidence that debunks the theory that there was ever a port city at Pattanam along the west coast, which the KCHR historians claim was an international trade route dating back to 800 BC.

    Interestingly, the claim that Apostle Thomas established the first settlement at Pattanam was independently debunked by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay, and the National Institute of Oceanography, Kochi. The BARC scientists, who successfully traced the course of the Saraswati through radio isotope studies, examined Kerala’s mud banks during the monsoons and concluded that marine and palaeo-hydrological studies rule out the possibilities of a port city, wharf or township at Pattanam. In fact, the area excavated by the KCHR does not qualify for excavations as the cultural stratigraphy has been badly damaged by monsoons, floods, erosion, and construction activities. Moreover, as Harishankar maintains, the ASI is the only body competent to authorise excavations.

    Pattanam is not an archaeological mound, as claimed by KCHR. Western India, Harishankar argues, has several archaeological sites with ramparts or mud embankments to prevent floods. No such evidence has been found at Pattanam. On the contrary, the site at Pattanam in lower Periyar has coastal alluvium with sand and clay, and lacks laterite formation or thick soil. Hence, it was not chosen as an Iron Age settlement.

    Moreover, urbanism in early historic India involves certain precursors such as immense size, internal planning, public architecture, settlement hierarchies, enclosing walls, script, craft specialisation, long-distance trade, subsistence strategies and population growth. None of these exist at Pattanam, yet KCHR’s chosen scholars claimed as an urban site and port city. When the absence of these parameters were pointed out, the KCHR historians toned down their claims and alleged that the structural remains unearthed were carried away by locals, which is simply ridiculous.

    Curiously, KCHR forwarded the plant remains found at Pattanam to the Spices Board, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, though it has no competence to examine them. And despite premier institutions available in India, the carbon dating was done abroad. But what is more pertinent, KCHR’s modern historians with no experience in field archaeology should not have excavated Pattanam with foreign funds and a crew of Biblical scholars.

    KCHR appointed Dr PJ Cherian, with no academic background in archaeology, as director of the Pattanam excavations. Cherian’s PhD dissertation is on ‘The Communist Movement in Travancore: From the Origins to the Uprisings in 1946’ (University of Calicut, 1993). However, The University of Rome Tor Vergata granted a three-year research fellowship to PJ Cherian, Director, KCHR, and Pattanam excavations.

    To assist Cherian, some distinguished Biblical historians and Latin scholars were attached to the project. They include Istvan Perczel (Hungarian scholar of Byzantine history and early Christianity); Roberta Tomber (specialist in Roman and Indian Ocean pottery); Frederico de Romanis (expert on Roman and Portuguese pepper trade); and Irving R Finkel (British philologist and Assyriologist, expert in the script, languages and cultures of the Middle East). None is equipped to handle excavations; it’s a Max Mueller style of biblical mumbo jumbo.

    In an exhibition at the National Museum in 2014, KCHR claimed Pattanam is the third Indian site to unearth terra sigillata pottery after Arikamedu and Alagankulam in Tamil Nadu, though it has been found at Uraiyur, Kanchipuram, Vasavasamudram, Kodumanal, Karur and Sulur in Tamil Nadu and several sites in Gujarat and western India. It claimed that rouletted pottery from Pattanam was reported for the first time on the west coast, when it was found in 124 sites across the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

    Cherian is the executive president of the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage. His claim that his excavation unearthed evidence of a 2,000-year-old port city at a place where Saint Thomas allegedly landed rests more on faith than on history or archaeology. It must be seen as part of a concerned attempt to entrench the Cross in Asia, particularly India.

    (The writer is Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library; the views expressed are personal)

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