Category Archives: st. thomas

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The question of the St. Thomas origin of Indian Christianity – C.I. Issac

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“The Thomas origin of Christianity in the Dravidian South was the outcome of the missionary schema against Hindu religion and culture.” – Prof. C.I. Issac Speech by Prof. C. I. Issac, Former Head of Department of History, Mahatma Gandhi University, … Continue reading

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Pope denies St. Thomas evangelised South India – Ishwar Sharan

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Pope Benedict XVI’s statement on September 27, 2006 during a public audience, that the apostle St. Thomas only reached as far as North-West India — today’s Pakistan — was factually correct and reflected the statements of the Early Church Fathers and the geography … Continue reading

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Did a Hindu king kill St. Thomas? – Ishwar Sharan

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Hindus will never hear from Christian leaders a sincere confession of wrong doing. What Hindus will hear and see are more spurious histories of  St. Thomas and charges of “deicide” by motivated faith writers like Ponnu Elizabeth Mathew and unscrupulous … Continue reading

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St. Thomas: The making of an “Indian” apostle – 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


St. Thomas


As 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.

Sharan 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.


Bardaisan


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.

One 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.

Between 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.

German 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.

» The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple, 3rd ed., Voice of India, Delhi, 2010; Pages: 407; Price: Rs 450. — Vijayvaani & The Pioneer, Sept 13, 2011

Jude Sannith and the Times of India: Telling lies for Thomas – Koenraad Elst


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. – Dr. Koenraad Elst


Times of India: When Mylapore saw a Miracle: 20 August 2011

Jude Sannith S.


A miracle by the seashore, as the legend goes, allowed St Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ to lay the foundations for the first church in the city. Jude Sannith S. retraces the legend …

Overcome with awe at the aura that surrounds the National Shrine of St Thomas Basilica at Santhome, you might tend to overlook a narrow lane that lies adjacent to the southern compound wall of the cathedral that leads you towards the seashore. A walk down this lane takes you to what seems to be a coastal hamlet that lies in the midst of what seems to be a tall,weathered wooden pole. On looking back,the tall spire of the cathedral is almost hidden by the trees in the vicinity – it is the wooden structure that occupies pride of place and rightly so. After all,the very foundation of the Christian faith in the city owes its existence to the wooden pole and the legend behind it.

According to the legend, shortly after St Thomas arrived in India in 52 AD, a large wooden log was carried downstream by a river in Mylapore, to lodge itself by the river’s mouth and result in a flood. Try as hard they might,the king’s men failed to remove the log,which prompted the king to call on a certain hermit who lived in the area and was believed to perform miracles.” Along came St Thomas with a blessed girdle that was given to him by Mother Mary (the mother of Jesus Christ), “narrates Fr. S. Kanickairaj, the Rector and Parish Priest of the National Shrine of St Thomas Basilica, as he retraces the Legend, “He prayed for a while, and tied the girdle to the log.He heaved.With the first try,the log was removed and the river flowed into the ocean. St Thomas then took a portion of the log and planted it,pointing towards the heavens, stating that the sea would never cross the pole.” The legend,according to Fr. Kanickairaj goes on relate how the pleased king, as a sign of gratitude, offered Mylapore and its surrounding areas to the saint, who then constructed a small chapel near the sea, which today (after a series of renovations) is the majestic Neo-Gothic-styled National Shrine of St Thomas Basilica – a development of what was perhaps the very first church in the city. “Many believe that the reason that Santhome escaped the Tsunami of 2004 is simply the existence of the pole which continues to stand upright today,” he says. “The St Thomas Pole; in gratitude to God for saving Santhome from Tsunami 2004,”its inscription declares.

One of only three churches to be constructed over the tomb of an apostle (the other two being St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain), the National Shrine of St Thomas Basilica has all the makings of a site that abounds in religious significance. “The body of St Thomas was interred here until the 12th Century before the Papacy decided to ship his remains back home,” explains Fr. Kanickairaj. The Cathedral Museum houses a tiny relic of the apostle with the spear that brought his end. In the same museum, one can find inscriptions in Portuguese about St Thomas’ journeys in the city and his early ministry. Murals of the miracle by the river and rock carvings of King Gondophares (of the Indo-Parthian kingdom who St Thomas preached to in North India) are also present. Just below the museum is the crypt where the body of St Thomas was interred. “The site has miraculous powers even today, centuries after the saint died,” claims Fr. Kanickairaj. When the Portuguese wrested control in erstwhile Madras, they reconstructed St Thomas’ small shrine into the original cathedral (whose design is displayed in the museum), before the English constructed the present Neo-Gothic basilica in 1896.

Despite the renovations that it has seen, there’s no denying that the National Shrine of St. Thomas Basilica was once the first church to be established in the city, when the apostle constructed a small shrine in the landed that the king offered to him. “A few more churches were built-in the areas around the shrine,” explains Fr. Kanickairaj, “Together, these churches were the first that the city saw.” The miracle-working power of St Thomas – a man who walked with Jesus Christ has allured visitors from all over the world. Some of the more notable visits include Pope John Paul II who paid a visit to India in 1986 and prayed at the tomb of St. Thomas, and King Albert and Queen Paolo of Belgium who visited the city in 2008.

Today, the Basilica serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore – its tall, white spire a perfect indicator that it is indeed one of the most majestic religious sites in the city. The faithful throng the basilica, some of them offering intercessory prayers at the crypt while the others meditate in the peaceful confines of the church’s altar.” The church transcends the manmade boundaries of religion,” Fr. Kanickairaj says,”Simply put, it is faith that brings people to the basilica. In fact people of all religious faiths throng the shrine,imploring St Thomas to work miracles in their lives.” – Times of India, Chennai, August 20, 2011


Dr. Koenraad Elst


Telling lies for Thomas – Koenraad Elst

According to Christian leaders in India, the apostle Thomas came to India in 52 AD, founded the Syrian Christian Church, and was killed by the fanatical Brahmins in 72 AD. Near the site of his martyrdom, the St. Thomas Church was built. In fact this apostle never came to India. The Christian community in South India was founded by a merchant called Knai Thoma or Thomas of Cana in 345 AD — a name which readily explains the Thomas legend. He led four hundred 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 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.

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’s 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.

No one knows how many Hindu priests and worshipers were killed when the Christian soldiers came to remove the curse of Paganism from the Mylapore beach. Hinduism does not practice martyr-mongering, but if at all we have to speak of martyrs in this context, the title goes to these Jina- and Shiva-worshipers and not to the apostle Thomas. — Dr. Koenraad Elst

  • REad More of dr. Elst here
  • more on 2004 tsunami and St. Thomas miracle here 
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Muziris: Dr. Nagaswamy nails false propaganda on St. Thomas – Media Reports

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“When looking at the literature on the life of St. Thomas, it is not mentioned anywhere that he came to India. It is only a myth, which has now been connected with the excavations at Pattanam, near Kodungalloor,” – Dr. … Continue reading

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Blasphemous evangelical distortions – B. R. Haran


“It must be noted that in most of the schools run by the various Christian denominations, Hindu students—who obviously are more in number—are not allowed to sport tilaks on their forehead and girl students are not allowed to have flowers on their heads. Last year a boy was reprimanded and sent out by the management of a Christian school in Chennai city for having applied mehendi in his palms. … In another school in Dindigul, some boys, who were fasting for Sabarimala pilgrimage, were allowed to write their examinations only after having a haircut and removing their tulasi malas. In certain schools Bible is being taught and the Hindu students are forced to attend such classes. The parent community is also aware of these kinds of tortures undergone by their wards, but they prefer to keep quiet in the fear that their wards’ education would be affected.” — B.R. Haran


Kapaleeswara Temple looking at Rajagopram from the inside courtyard.


A Tamil weekly magazine (14 November 2008): has reported the following in its latest issue:

“On Friday 24 October, the devotees of the world-famous Sri Kapalishwarar Temple, Mylapore, Chennai were literally shocked when they were given five booklets each containing defamatory write-ups about Hinduism, Vedas, Vedic heritage, Hindu Shastras, Hindu culture & tradition, Sabarimala Ayyappan and denigrating articles on Sage Thirumoolar, Nayanmars and others, by a bunch of mean-minded Christian evangelists just in front of the temple entrance! For example, in the book titled Light in Darkness, it is written that, the word ‘Sadhaa’ in the verse ‘Sadhaa Shivaaya’ means ‘forever’ and there is only one God, who blesses and takes care of this world forever, and he is ‘Jesus’ and the verse ‘Sadhaa Shivaaya’ denotes only him! All the five books are said to have contained more defamatory stories about Hindu Gods and religious gurus. Many people have called up this magazine and sent mails to it giving complete details about what happened in front of the temple that day.”

Incidentally, the Santhome Cathedral stands on the ruins of the original Kapalishvarar Temple, which was destroyed by the Portuguese invaders and now the evangelical invaders are trying to destroy the Hindu culture and religion in front of this reconstructed Kapalishvarar Temple.

This outrageous incident has brought out the following facts:

The evangelists have made bold to distribute blasphemous literatures and conduct a hate-campaign against Hinduism, that too in front of a very famous historic temple.

The minority appeasement policies of a ‘minority’ government, which openly said that it is committed to the welfare of minorities, and its anti-majority stand have emboldened these evangelists to indulge in this kind of illegal activity.

The policemen who have been posted near the temple for security—Mylapore temple is under terror threat—have turned a blind eye to this venomous act, probably due to fear motivation from the ‘minority’ government or money motivation from the evangelists.

The Hindus have just exposed their dhimmitude by remaining passive without acting against those evangelists. Sadly, not even one devotee has exhibited the courage to lodge a police complaint against them. The traders near the temple have not bothered to drive away those Christian rapscallions. Certainly the number of devotees must have easily outnumbered those evangelists and they must have caught them with their collars and taken them to the Mylapore police station. Instead of doing all this, some people have written to this particular weekly magazine.

Similarly, in Coimbatore, on 24 September, five staff of Chennai-based East Coast Christian Matriculation School have been arrested by the police for distributing blasphemous literatures propagating Christianity and degrading Hindu Gods and engaging in evangelisation. The police action has been prompted by the complaint given by the local people belonging to BJP and Hindu Makkal Katchi, who caught those evangelists and took them to the nearby police station. Ironically those evangelists have asked the students (most of them are Hindus) to distribute those pamphlets and the innocent students have obeyed the order out of fear. This has been done while taking the students on an excursion (study tour) to Ooty. If this is the way study tours are conducted by a Christian school, one can imagine the standard of education imparted by it.

In this context, it must be noted that in most of the schools run by the various Christian denominations, Hindu students (who obviously are more in number) are not allowed to sport tilaks on their forehead and girl students are not allowed to have flowers on their heads. Last year a boy was reprimanded and sent out by the management of a Christian school in Chennai city for having applied mehendi in his palms. His parents were made to run from pillar to post to reinstate him. In another school in Dindigul, some boys, who were fasting for Sabarimala pilgrimage, were allowed to write their examinations only after having a haircut and removing their tulasi malas. In certain schools Bible is being taught and the Hindu students are forced to attend such classes. The parent community is also aware of these kinds of tortures undergone by their wards, but they prefer to keep quiet in the fear that their wards’ education would be affected.

Recently in a church in Kakkan Nagar, in the Ambedkar slum dwellings of Adambakkam, a Chennai suburb, the pastor, during morning prayers, had openly ridiculed the practice of abhishekam of Amman deities saying that “they are nude & naked worships performed with an erotic motive.” As the pastor was addressing a group of ‘converts’, his blasphemous speech was heard by the slum dwellers through loud speakers. A Hindu woman, who was drawing drinking water from a nearby municipal water-pump, got outraged by the blasphemous speech, threw out the water from her vessel and filled it with gutter from the nearby ditch and threw it inside the Church. Only then the Hindu men realised the seriousness of the issue and reportedly damaged the window panes of the church. The pastor lodged a police complaint and the police promptly booked those Hindus, who damaged the window panes, and the pastor, who was the real culprit as per the law of the land, went scot-free!

These incidents may look like isolated due to the fact that the Hindus rarely exhibit courage to take on those evangelists, but these strategies adopted by the Church and missionaries are a regular phenomenon going on for years in the state. Mariamman and Aiyappan are two deities which attract millions of devotees, particularly the Scheduled Castes, as evidenced by the Sabarimala pilgrimage and Melmaruvathur pilgrimage. Since the SCs are the targeted audience of the evangelists, the Churches come out with literatures, pamphlets and books denigrating Goddess Amman and Swami Aiyappan and ridiculing their worship.


Mu. Deivanayagam


An evangelist by name Dr Theivanayagam has founded an organisation by name Diravida Aanmeega Iyakkam (Movement of Dravidian Spiritualism) to spread the concept of ‘Thomas Christianity’, in the name of ‘Aadhi Christhuvam’ (Early Christianity).Through this concept, he attempts to project Shaivism and Vishnavism as sub sects of Christianity. He wrote a book titled Vivliyam (Bible), Thirukkural, Saiva Siddantham—Oppu Ayvu (Comparative Research) and published it in 1985-86 and has been steadfastly campaigning on this concept since then. Very recently, he convened Agila Ulaga Dravida Samaya Maanaadu (International Dravidian Spiritual Conference) under the aegis of Mylapore Diocese, in which the following blasphemous distortions were projected as researched facts:

Aadhi Christhuvam (Early Christianity) was promulgated and established in Tamilnadu by St. Thomas is the original religion of the Tamils.

The Aryan invaders distorted Thomas Christianity and conceived new concepts called Shaivism and Vishnavism and hence they must be treated as the sub sects of Thomas Christianity.

The ‘holy trinity’ of ‘Father-Son-Holy-Spirit’ is denoted by ‘Shiva-Muruga-Shakti’ and the same is also denoted by ‘Brahmma-Vishnu-Rudran’

The ‘holy trinity’ concept has beautified the Indian religions. The ‘Holy-Spirit-Father’ combination can be identified with ‘Arthanarishvarar’ and ‘Sankaranarayanar’ formations.

St Thomas’s teachings were abounding in Thirukkural and Sage Thiruvalluvar was a disciple of St Thomas.

Many such blasphemous distortions were presented in the conference. Close on the heels of the conference the inauguration of the Rs. 50 crore production of a movie on St.Thomas was also conducted. The chief guest of the inauguration was none other than the Tamilnadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi, who waxed eloquent on the ‘supposed’ history of St. Thomas, despite having excellent knowledge on Thiruvalluvar and Thirukkural. Dr Deivanayagam has recently released a book titled Thiruneeraa, Siluvaiya? (Sacred Ash? Or, The Cross?), in which, he has again brought out blasphemous distortions. A few examples are given below:

The Hindu practice of applying sacred ash on the forehead has actually started from Ash Wednesday the first day of the penance (Lent days). The sacred ash comprises within it all the three stages of death, resurrection & pardon due to the fact that the ash cannot be destroyed, as how the resurrected body cannot be destroyed.

When Vaishnavism got separated from Shaivism, the style of applying sacred ash was changed from horizontal pattern to vertical pattern.

Shiva is supposed to have given his left half to Shakthi. If that left half is worshipped as woman, it becomes Shaivism and if the same is worshipped as man it becomes Vaishnavism.

Thiruneetru Pathigam, a collection of Shaivite hymns sung by sage Thirugnana Sambandhar comprises a number of messages of Christianity.

All Shaivite literatures namely Thirumurai, Thevaram, Thiruvasagam and Thirupathigam do not talk about the four Vedas namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Adharvana. Also, as they carry the messages of Christ the Bible is the only Veda.

All these things go to show that a sustained campaign has been going on for years and the momentum keeps on increasing with foreign aids and local support. The Dravidian political parties, which are bent on alienating the Tamils from the Hindu fold, have been aiding and abetting these anti-Hindu forces and this unholy nexus between them is creating havoc in the society. Though the religious gurus are deeply concerned about the speedy developments in this area of evangelisation and the alarming rate of conversion going on in the state, they feel helpless and fear the Dravidian rulers. So, the onus lies purely on political and social Hindu organisations to take legal action against persons like Deivanayagam and their organisations for destroying the Hindu cultural heritage and religious traditions posing a danger to communal harmony.

Evangelisation has gone beyond the limits of tolerance by abusing the constitutional provisions for freedom of religion and the general public must also be aware of their moral responsibility to act against those who indulge in blasphemy against their religion and the government machineries must also act as per the rule of law. - News Today, 11 November, 2008 

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How Christian missionaries invented “Dravidian Christianity” – Rajiv Malhotra

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In south India, a new identity called Dravidian Christianity is being constructed. It is an opportunistic combination of two myths: the “Dravidian race” myth and another that purports that early Christianity brought by St. Thomas shaped the major Hindu classics! … Continue reading

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The Deccan Chronicle Deceits – Ishwar Sharan

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Journalists have a vested interest in ignorance.” – George Bernard Shaw For the note on the early Christian FISH SYMBOL and their later use of the CROSS as an identifying mark, scroll to the bottom of this page. The Deccan Chronicle is … Continue reading

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Temple looting in Kerala: Yesterday and today – Leela Tampi

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How did it happen that the Hindus of Kerala stood silently by when their hallowed, highly venerated temples were thus plundered, dishonoured and reduced to beggary? The fact is, in the course of centuries of slavery we Hindus have assiduously … Continue reading

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