Tag Archives: st. thomas apostle

ASI doubting Thomases suspend dubious KCHR St. Thomas project – G. Ananthakrishnan


“What has snowballed into a controversy is the open declaration by KCHR director, P. J. Cherian in the official bulletin of the Assyrian Church of the East on March 2011, that Pattanam has been identified as ancient Muziris, where Apostle Thomas landed in India 2000 years back for propagating Christianity, which he claims has been vindicated by the excavations,” said B. S. Hari Shankar, a research fellow with the Delhi-based India Policy Foundation.


P. J. Cherian & Robert Eisenman


The history battle has gone all the way back to St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is believed to have brought Christianity to India and whose scepticism gifted the world the idiom “doubting Thomas”.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided not to extend the permission granted to an excavation project in Kerala to “reinstate the cultural and historical significance of the legendary Muziris port”.

The Muziris port was said to be where St. Thomas arrived in AD 52. But the exact location of the port, which was destroyed in a flood, is a mystery although the general consensus appears to be that it was located somewhere near Kodungalloor in Thrissur, a northern district and cultural capital of Kerala. 

Many Christians believe that St. Thomas — who accepted Jesus had risen from the dead only after the Lord appeared and invited the apostle to touch Him — baptised several Brahmins in Kerala and set up one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.


Syrian bishop with Pope Benedict XVI


(The arrival of St. Thomas is of extreme significance for Christians since Jesus had only 12 apostles and he was one of them. In 2006, the Vatican had to issue a retraction after the then Pope, Benedict XVI, seemed to suggest St. Thomas had travelled only till western India from where Christianity reached the south.)

The Gospel according to John mentions that once a convinced Thomas said “My Lord, My God”, Jesus told him: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed (are) they that have not seen, and (yet) have believed.”

It was those who insist on seeing before believing that some advocates of the project were hoping to convince by coming up with evidence that St. Thomas had indeed set foot on what is now a village called Pattanam (which means town) in Kodungalloor.

“Rules demand that extension beyond five years can be given only after those carrying out the excavation submit reports. In the case of the Muziris project, the digging has been going on for over seven years now, but no report was filed. So no fresh permission can be granted,” ASI joint director R. S. Fonia told The Telegraph over the phone from New Delhi.

Fonia, however, added that the matter could be revisited as and when the reports were filed and reviewed.

The executors of the project, the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), could not be contacted despite repeated attempts to confirm whether they had not filed any report till now.

The denial of an extension would have been treated as a routine bureaucratic decision but for the fact that the Sangh Parivar had long been opposing the project on the ground that its intention was to “legitimise the yet unproven story” of the arrival of St. Thomas in Kodungalloor in AD 52.

That the Kerala historical council was an autonomous body floated by an erstwhile government of the CPM-led Left Front has ensured that the matter has the essential ingredients for a controversy in the highly politicised state.


K. N. Panikkar


The council is headed by historian K. N. Panikkar, a regular target of the Sangh Parivar for his Left-leaning views and vocal stand against the so-called “nationalist” history. Some members of the council are viewed by the Sangh outfits as “pro-Church”.

“What has snowballed into a controversy is the open declaration by KCHR director, P. J. Cherian in the official bulletin of the Assyrian Church of the East on March 2011, that Pattanam has been identified as ancient Muziris, where Apostle Thomas landed in India 2000 years back for propagating Christianity, which he claims has been vindicated by the excavations,” said B. S. Hari Shankar, a research fellow with the Delhi-based India Policy Foundation.

Cherian could not be contacted for comment.

While the Bharateeya Vichara Kendram, a Sangh affiliate, smelt in the excavation project a “conspiracy to manufacture history”, a “Marxian historian” had felt that the site was unfit for archaeological excavation because of construction and digging of wells.


M. A. Baby


But CPM politburo member M. A. Baby, who was the culture minister when the council took up the project, said: “Although there is no conclusive evidence, it is widely believed that apostle St Thomas came to Kodungalloor and through him Christianity reached Kerala even before it reached Europe.

“On the one hand, the BJP government is trying to establish fairy tales as history while on the other, it is trying to shut down genuine research in history. The agenda is very clear. Now, if the ASI says it can’t be continued, it is unscientific and against the science of history.”

That the CPM, traditionally considered an adversary of the Church, is supporting such a project speaks volumes about the politics of Kerala.

Now in the Opposition, the CPM is fearing an erosion of its Hindu support base towards the BJP, considered a rising force in a state where it has not made much headway till now. Against such a backdrop, it does not make sense for the CPM to antagonise Christians.

Such tilts and counter-tilts are common in Kerala. In 2001, the historical council that was later entrusted with the Muziris excavation was dissolved by a government headed by the Congress.

The chief minister then was A. K. Antony named after a Catholic saint, and the Congress was then supposed to have been courting Hindus. But a court reinstated the council. – The Telegraph, 1 October 2015

See also

  1. In search of Muziris – A. Srivathsan
  2. Muziris: Dr. Nagaswamy nails false propaganda on St. Thomas – Media Reports
  3. KCHR’s Muziris Project: Digging for the bones of St Thomas – B. S. Hari Shankar
  4. The question of the St. Thomas origin of Indian Christianity – C.I. Issac
  5. Treachery: India and the Syrian Christians of Kerala – Pradeep Nair
  6. Pope denies St. Thomas evangelised South India – Ishwar Sharan
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Pope denies St. Thomas evangelised South India – Ishwar Sharan

This gallery contains 4 photos.

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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Ishwar Sharan’s correspondence with the Vatican


“Nor do we have other data regarding Saint Thomas since this Archive was begun in 1588. His life is the object of the research of historians which is not the particular competence of this Congregation.” – Prefect, Congregation for the Causes of Saints


Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints


The request:

The Prefect
Sacred Congregation of Rites
Vatican City, Italy
26 August 1996

Respected Sir,

I am doing research on St. Thomas in India and have learned that your office issued a letter on November 13, 1952 which stated that the landing of St. Thomas at Cranganore in 53 A.D. is unverified.

I would like to know if in fact the said letter was issued and, if that is not the case, whether you can confirm that St. Thomas was martyred and buried in Madras.

I would be most grateful if you could direct me to any authentic evidence supporting the story of St. Thomas in India.

Thanking you,
Yours sincerely,

Ishwar Sharan


Vatican letterhead for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.


The response:

This Congregation for the Causes of Saints has received your letter of 26th August last in which you have asked for information regarding Saint Thomas’ presence in India.

We have not found in our Archives the letter supposedly written by this Congregation on 13th November 1952, of which you speak, because of a lack of more precise data (diocese, destination, etc.).

Nor do we have other data regarding Saint Thomas since this Archive was begun in 1588. His life is the object of the research of historians which is not the particular competence of this Congregation.[1]

Rome, September 11, 1996.

[The letter was authenticated with the Vatican seal]

Congregation for the Causes of Saints
10, Piazza Pio XII
Rome – 00193 Italy


Notes

  1. On 13 November 1952 the Vatican sent a letter to the Christians of Kerala stating that the alleged landing of St. Thomas at Muziris (Cranganore/Kodungallur) was unverified. The Vatican chose not to confirm the sending of this letter to Ishwar Sharan in 1996 on the disingenuous grounds that he had not supplied them with enough information to locate it in their archives. In fact they could have given him a positive reply if they had wished to. Pope Benedict XVI has since stated in public that St. Thomas did not evangelize South India.

References:

Ishwar Sharan's letter to the Vatican

Vatican's reply to Ishwar Sharan

 

 

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1 – In memory of a slain saint – C.A. Simon

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The article which follows, published in the Indian Express, Madras, on 30 December 1989, and the refusal of the editor to publish our reply, was the reason we began our research into the St. Thomas in India legend. Had the … Continue reading

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2 – Archbishop Arulappa sends his document forger to jail – Ganesh Iyer & K.P. Sunil

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“When some celebrations were held in Kerala over two decades ago, Jawaharlal Nehru, our then prime minister, who attended the functions, asked the learned priests who had gathered: ‘Is it really true that St. Thomas came to India?’ Nobody answered … Continue reading

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Is not Archbishop Chinnappa obliged to accept the Pope’s stand on St. Thomas in India? – V. Sundaram

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“Every cleric must obey the Pope, even if he commands what is evil; for no one may judge the Pope.” – Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) A rupees 50 crore plus mega production in silver screen on St. Thomas, one of the … Continue reading

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Kapaleeswara Temple Memorial Plaque – Ishwar Sharan

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This 4 ft. x 15 ft. high marble plaque was erected on the eastern gopuram wall in the present Kapaleeswara Temple by eminent citizens of Chennai led by Vidwan Arunai Vadivel Mudaliar in 1990. The section “Mylapore’s Ancient Past” reads: … Continue reading

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Alas and alack, Robert Beckford is no Dan Brown! – Ishwar Sharan

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Dr. Beckford’s ancestors where slaves brought from Ghana to Jamaica by European Christian traders who had a well developed “theology of slavery” to justify their inhuman trade. Considering this and the “divinely inspired” pro-slavery statement in St. Paul’s Letter to … Continue reading

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Tamil scholars condemn Christian author for misrepresenting Tiruvalluvar as St. Thomas’s disciple – R.S. Narayanaswami

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“Dr. R. Nagaswami, eminent archaeologist, who had done some excavations at Santhome Church along with a Jesuit, quoted profusely from the writings of Jesuits and exploded the myth of the visit of St. Thomas to India.” – R.S. Narayanaswami The … Continue reading

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