Myth of Saint Thomas India Visit.

The chief items of information contained in C.A. Simon's writings are as follows:
  1. St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Christ (a disputed fact), came to India in A.D. 52 with Habban, a foreign trader.
  2. He landed at Maliankara (Cranganore) in Kerala, preached the Gospel, wrought miracles, and got many converts.
  3. Then he came to Mailepuram (Mylapore), then went to China, after some time returned to Maliankara, and from there came again to Madras where he spent the rest of his life teaching, preaching and drawing a large number of the oppressed and the suppressed into his fold.
  4. He performed miracles which made the local king Mahadeva offer him a place near the seashore where the old church of Mylapore now stands.
  5. His conversion activities incensed the orthodox and enemies from their rank vowed to finish him.
  6. He had therefore to hide himself in a cave at the Little Mount near the present St. Thomas Mount (about five kms. away from Mylapore).
  7. Finally, he was murdered there, i.e., at St. Thomas Mount, by those fanatical enemies.
  8. His body was brought to Mylapore and buried in A.D. 73 at a spot which was forgotten for many centuries.
But the greatest miracle was to occur in 1523, nearly fifteen hundred years after the saint was supposed to have died. That was the rediscovery of the tomb and remains of the murdered saint by the priest in charge of the Mylapore church for building a new church—pieces of bones, a skull, a vessel containing mud supposedly from the place where the saint's blood was shed, and a spearhead of the shape of an olive leaf fixed on a wooden shaft.

Wonder of wonders! Even after about fifteen centuries these remains, including the stick, had not become fossilized or crumbled into dust, but could be got intact and buried at an undisclosed place in the church. That church was damaged beyond recognition in the course of the battles waged round it during the rivalry between the Dutch, the French, and the British and Hyder Ali. (Strangely, the Portuguese are not said to be involved in it, perhaps because they were the heroic defenders) At last in 1893 the present Santhome Church with Gothic architectural excellence was built. (It must be by the Portuguese and none else.) The papal seal over this whole story was stamped in 1956 when Pope Pius XII gave it recognition as a Minor Basilica , all the four major ones being outside India.

while some Christian historians doubted the very existence of an apostle named St. Thomas, some others had denied credibility to the Acts of Thomas, I am more concerned about the visit of st. Thomas and his stay here. Let us now analyze the facts.

1.The respected Mylapore archaeologist Dr. R. Nagaswami, who has worked on San Thome Cathedral with the Jesuits, tells of the destruction of Jain and Buddhist temples along with all of the buildings of the Kapaleeswarar Temple on the Mylapore beach. Before him the Portuguese historian Gaspar Correa describes a holocaust that extended from Mylapore to Big Mount, south of the Adyar River. Even the St. Thomas protagonist Archbishop Arulappa admitted that Hindu temples once stood on the sites now occupied by St. Thomas–related churches in Madras, at Mylapore, Saidapet, and Big Mount now called St. Thomas Mount.

2.the Protestant missionary Claudius Buchanan, writing in the last century, in Christian Researches in India, says, "The nation in general are called St. Thomas Christians in all parts of India, and it imparts an antiquity that reaches far beyond the Eutychians and Nestorians or any other sect... I am satisfied that we have as good authority for believing that the Apostle Thomas died in India as that the Apostle Peter died in Rome."

This "good authority" is of course no authority at all. There is no historical evidence that St. Peter died in Rome or that St. Thomas died in India. The assertion that the appellation "St. Thomas" Christians is used in all parts of India and imparts an antiquity, is simply not true. Syrian Christians were not called St. Thomas Christians until after the fourteenth century and that too by Roman Catholic missionaries in Malabar. Claudius could as easily argue that Syrian Christians come from Syria because they are called "Syrian" Christians. He would be closer to the truth.

3.the Roman Catholic historian Fr. A. Mathias Mundadan, writing in the early 1980s, in History of Christianity in India: From the Beginning up to the Middle of the Sixteenth Century, says, "Our effort should be to concentrate on the common, basic content of the tradition upheld by the various versions and couched in many unnecessary flourishes. The investigations made ... into the western tradition and different aspects of the Indian tradition give me the impression that the central content stands out in clear relief, namely St. Thomas the Apostle preached, died and was buried in South India."

Fr. Mundadan is saying that he supports the Portuguese tale introduced into India in the sixteenth century and imposed on Mylapore by fraud and force of arms, even though it is known to be a fabricated tradition. This suggests that his position is political rather than academic. He has done his research with a foregone conclusion in mind and has reached the inevitable result. It is typical Roman Catholic scholarship and until the story of St. Thomas is taken out of such hands and looked at in its totality, which includes the traditions of the Hindu society in which it survives, we will never know the full truth of St. Thomas and India.

4.There is yet more reasoning for St. Thomas in India, which is often presented to laymen by motivated clerics. It is a psychological device to put the unwary St. Thomas doubter on the defensive. It is called the "Why not?" argument. Duncan Forbes uses it in his book The Heart of India, more in an attempt to convince himself than his reader. He writes, "And why not believe?... There is really no reason why St. Thomas should not have come here. The route between the Roman world and India, which was Romes source for large quantities of fine muslins, pearls and spices, was well established."

The route between Rome and India was indeed old and established and the travellers went the other way too, to Alexandria and Rome from India. But the possibility that St. Thomas could come to India from Palestine does not prove that he did so. The possibility does not even make for a probability. We are looking for historical proof—travellers' tales just don't constitute proof; they only excite the imagination.

5.the Acta Indica by P.V. Mathew. It has everything in it to make a good nights read—exploding meteors over Malabar and Prophet Mani of Persia camping at Kanchipuram—but it doesn't have St. Thomas buried in Mylapore. P.V. Mathew believes that St. Thomas came to Malabar but not to Mylapore and asserts that the Mylapore story is a Portuguese invention. Not willing to leave well enough alone, he then asserts that Prophet Manis disciple Mar Ammon is buried in Mylapore instead. This Mar Ammon, according to P.V. Mathew, is now worshipped in Tamil villages as Goddess Mariamman, that Prophet Mani is worshipped in the same villages as God Subramanian, and that the Pallavas were really Persians.

6. Papacy: Its Doctrine and History (Voice of India, New Delhi, 1986) the historian Sita Ram Goel writes about the St. Thomas myth:



Some Catholic scholars have been busy for many years marshalling literary and archaeological evidence in an effort to prove that St. Thomas came to India in 52 A.D., converted some Hindus in the South, and was killed by Brahmins at Mylapore in Madras while giving the Good News to the local people.
7.some historians have seriously doubted the very existence of an apostle named Thomas. Distinguished scholars like R. Garbe, A. Harnack and L. de la Vallee-Poussin have denied credibility to the Acts of Thomas, an apocryphal work on which the whole story is based. Some others, who accept the fourth century Catholic tradition about the travels of St. Thomas, point to the lack of evidence that he ever went east beyond Ethiopia and Arabia Felix. The confusion, according to them, has arisen because the ancient geographers often mistook these two countries for India.

8.Stephen Neill in his History of Christianity in India: The Beginnings to 1707 A.D. published by the Cambridge University Press, England, as late as 1984. He says,'A number of scholars, among whom are to be mentioned with respect Bishop A.E. Medlycott, J.N. Farquhar and the Jesuit J. Dahlman, have built on slender foundations what can only be called Thomas romances, such as reflect the vividness of their imaginations rather than the prudence of rigid historical critics.' Pained by the spread of this spurious history among large sections of Indian Christians, he observes,'Millions of Christians in India are certain that the founder of their church was none other than apostle Thomas himself. The historian cannot prove it to them that they are mistaken in their belief. He may feel it right to warn them that historical research cannot pronounce on the matter with a confidence equal to that which they entertain by faith.' Stephen Neill was a bishop who had spent long years in India.

9.There is reason to believe that St. Thomas Church stands on the ruins of a Jain Neminathaswami temple and a Hindu Shiva temple which had a Nataraja shrine attached. The epigraphical data for the existence of the Jain temple on this site is recorded in Jain Inscriptions in Tamil Nadu by A. Ekambaranath and C.K. Sivaprakasham (Research Foundation for Jainology, Madras, 1987). The evidence for the existence of the Shiva temple, which may be the original Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach that got eroded by the sea, is compiled in an excellent Tamil-language book called Indiavil Saint Thomas Kattukkadai (The Saint Thomas Myth in India) by Ved Prakash (R.A.F.R., Madras, 1989).

What is mentioned about the Shiva temple is as follows: "...many evidences available in Santhome Church show there was a Shiva temple and it was occupied, then step by step demolished and converted into a church. Many documents and books also prove this. A fragmentary Tamil inscription of 8 lines on a stone found at the cathedral registers a tax-free gift for burning at night a lamp before the image of Kuthadumdevar (Nataraja) in the temple of Suramudayar (Suramudayar Kuthadum Devarkku) was found in 1924. It belongs to Vikrama Chola's time, i.e., 12th century. Moreover, when the urchava murthy was taken for procession from the existing Kapaleeswara Temple, there was a practice of lowering it reverently three times before the Santhome Church at that time (16th-18th centuries). The temple was there up to the 16th century. Then, when the Christians started demolishing it completely, Hindus built the present temple out of whatever they could salvage from the ruins of the old temple.

10.Sometime about A.D. 450 one Canai Thomas with seventy-two Syrian families arrived in Kerala and whatever traces of early Christianity there were got mixed up with this Syrian brand of it. So these Christians, known till then as Nazaranis (Nazarenes), got also the name Syrian Christians. Their connection to this day is with the Orthodox Church of Syria. The grafting of this powerful group with the existing fragmentary Christian groups must have led to the identification of Kerala Christians with the Thomas tradition, to which they hold steadfastly to this day. The St. Thomas of their fancy must really be Canai Thomas of Syria.

11.The great Saivite saint of sixth century A.D., Tirujnanasambandar, sings in the 6th Poompavai Padikam Thevaram:



The Lord of Kapaleeswaram sat watching the people of Mylapore
A place full of flowering coconut palms
Taking ceremonial bath in the sea on the full moon day of the month of Masai.

12.Arunagirinathar, who came to Mylapore in 1456, in his Tirumayilai Tiruppugazh:


O Lord of Mailai (Mylapore) temple, situated on the shores of the sea with raging waves...13 The destruction of the seashore Temple of Kapaleeswara is said to have taken place in 1561. The new temple at its present site, about one km. to the west, was built by pious Hindu votaries about three hundred years ago, i.e., about two hundred and fifty years after its destruction. When the Santhome Church was repaired in the beginning of the current century, many stones with edicts were found there.


So in conclusion the Visit of St. Thomas is a myth. why was such a myth spread
Firstly, it is one thing for some Christian refugees to come to a country and build some churches, and quite another for an apostle of Jesus Christ himself to appear in flesh and blood for spreading the Good News. If it can be established that Christianity is as ancient in India as the prevailing forms of Hinduism, no one can nail it as an imported creed brought in by Western imperialism.

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

Thirdly, the Catholic Church can malign the Brahmins more confidently. Brahmins have been the main target of its attack from the very beginning. Now it can be shown that the Brahmins have always been a vicious brood, so much so that they would not stop from murdering a holy man who was only telling Gods own truth to a tormented people. At the same time, the religion of the Brahmins can be held responsible for their depravity.
Fourthly, the Catholics in India need no more feel uncomfortable when faced with historical evidence about their Churchs close cooperation with the Portuguese pirates in committing abominable crimes against the Indian people. The commencement of the Church can be disentangled from the advent of the Portuguese by dating the Church to a distant past. The Church was here long before the Portuguese arrived. It was a mere coincidence that the Portuguese also called themselves Catholics. Guilt by association is groundless.

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


Some of other Thomas visit Legends

1.S. Muthiah's Madras Discovered published by Affiliated East-West Press. The following are the facts gleaned from it: Thomas shunted between St. Thomas Mount and Mylapore, separated by about five kms., doing his preaching work and converting thousands. He lived in a cave at Little Mount in Saidapet, three kms. from St. Thomas Mount. There is, to the east of the cave, an opening which is said to have opened in those days into a tunnel from the Little Mount to St. Thomas Mount. The saint is supposed to have fled from his persecutors through this cave. He was however murdered by them at St. Thomas Mount. Mylapore has only the honour of being the place where his dead body was brought and buried. From there his remains were taken to Edessa in Syria where every July a great festival is held to commemorate his reburial. From Edessa they are said to have been moved to the Greek island of Chios, thence to Ortona on Italy's Adriatic coast where they remain to this day. But each resting place still has some relic of Thomas—Madras has a small hand bone and the head of a lance in the St. Thomas Basilica crypt.


2.n 1547 the Vicar of Mylapore during excavation at St. Thomas Mount discovered a A bleeding cross with old Pahlavi inscriptions. It had spots that looked like blood stains which, it is claimed, reappeared after being rubbed away. This cross is built into the wall behind the altar of the church on the Mount dedicated to Madonna of the Mount. The tradition about this cross is that it was chiselled from a rock by the apostle himself. It is said that it used to bleed periodically. The first publicly noticed bleeding was on 15 December 1558 and the last in 1704.

Source
The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple by Ishwar Sharan

9 comments:

  1. If Muthiah is shown a Thomas shroud, something like the Turin shroud, he will include it in his next edition. He is an expert in shrouding the Thomas story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The conclusions of this article do not stand any firm logic or historical evidences or lack of it. There are frequent references to what happened after 1500 AD. What has this to do with St Thomas coming to India in AD52? In reality St Thomas's landing at Muziri (Cranganore) is NOT dependent on what happened afterwards but what happened prior to that! Mixing with colonial powers, colonial agenda, later religious agenda etc spoils the historical research.

    Facts are very clear. After the crucification of Jesus Christ, the whole of Israel was under the Romans, who were not believers of Jesus those days. Followers were hunted and had to run away. The Apostles were also dispersed. Ecclesiastical History of Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (4th century), says"(Peter)..at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head-downwards; ... What do we need to say concerning Paul, who preached the Gospel of Christ from Jerusalem to Illyricum, and afterwards suffered martyrdom in Rome under Nero?"

    Ecclesiastical History also says Thomas evangelized Parthia (part of today's Iran). Acts of Thomas, written in Syriac also supports this. It says Thomas visited the court of the Indo-Parthian king Gondophernes, who put him in charge of building a royal palace. He was also imprisoned there some time for spending the money for charity.

    There are no hidden motives for anyone those days to simply say Thomas went to Parthia or India.

    Once in Iran, the journey to India is not very far. There are archeological evidence of trade between South India and Roman Empire. Roman seals have been excavated in several places in Kerala, S.India. Thomas is supposed to have landed by sea at the port of Muziris(Cranganore today) in central Kerala. Local traditions and beliefs strongly support this theory.

    Basic issue is that Churches in the West do not want to accept the fact that there was Christianity in India, even before there were Christians in Rome! Roman Catholic Church has brainwashed or forced some of their own followers to accept Rome's view here. And today some Hindu fundamentalists and ultra-rightwing bodies cling to the same idea. It is interesting to see that two paradoxical religiuous groupings have joined together happily to "disown" St Thomas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand. You don't like the article because, it does not support your view.

      Apart from that you have don't show a single piece of evidence to support Thomas existed and he came to India.

      If you don't have any evidence, Don't bother to post.

      Delete
  3. Pope Benedict XVI declares St Thomas did not evangelize south India.
    The Pope, addressing a vast crowd at St Peter's Square, is said to have stated, "Thomas first evanglised Syria and Persia and then penetrated as far as western India from where Christianity also reached south India".
    See - http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/nov/22pope.htm
    This is also mentioned in his book you have referenced. Of course Kerala Christians are not willing to take his view.
    Also The only source "Acts of Thomas" - from which this story started - does not provide any evidence about spreading to India. No mention of Saint Thomas in India until Portugese visited

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Thomas_Christians

      Delete
  4. By the way only source of this incident is Act Of Thomas. Act Of Thomas is a gnostic writing, Gnostic writings were rejected in Council of Nicea(325 CE) when various Pagan elements like 25th December Festival actually Roman Pagan Festival Saturnalia for Pagan Deity Saturn. Therefore it's authenticity can be doubted even more. One side note, forget Thomas even Jesus did not exist. http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/A_Silence_That_Screams

    ReplyDelete
  5. Why fight like monkeys. Practice 100 percent the whatever religion you follow.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Superbly said Mr. Swami Iyer. India thrives by the presence of sane minded people like u!

    ReplyDelete

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