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The Ishwar Sharan Archive


“The oriental ubiquity of St. Thomas’s apostolate is explained by the fact that the geographical term ‘India’ included the lands washed by the Indian Ocean as far as the China Sea in the east and the Arabian peninsula, Ethiopia, and the African coast in the west.” — Prof. Leonardo Olschki

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“The Nestorians of India venerated St. Thomas as the patron of Asiatic Christianity — mark, not of Indian Christianity.” — Prof. Leonardo Olschki


Kapaleeswarar Shiva & Devi Karpagambal

Arulmigu Kapaleeswara Shiva & Devi Karpagambal of Mylapore, Madras.


Old Kapali Temple on the Mylapore Beach

Old Kapali Temple: Drawing of the original Kapaleeswara Temple destroyed by the Portuguese and replaced by San Thome Cathedral.


Kapaleeswara Temple Tower in 1906: This is the second temple built in the 16th century by Mayil Nattu Muthiyappa Mudaliar after the Portuguese destroyed the original temple on the Mylapore sea shore.


Kapaleeswara Temple Tank

Kapaleeswara Temple Tank , Mylapore, Madras.


Kapali Temple Memorial Plaque

Kapaleeswara Temple: This memorial plaque was placed in the Kapali Temple by Arunai Vadivel Mudaliar in 1992 with the intention of informing the public about the destruction of the original temple by the Portuguese. However the text of the plaque contains wrong information regarding the alleged visit of St. Thomas and should be corrected or removed.


Kapali Temple Memorial Plaque

Kapaleeswara Temple: This is the complete memorial plaque placed in the temple by Arunai Vadivel Mudaliar and others. Its reference to the alleged visit of St. Thomas to Mylapore is mistaken and the plaque should be corrected or removed.


Alexander's routes

The Acts of Thomas records that Judas Thomas and Abbanes landed at Andropolis after a short sea journey, a royal city somewhere to the east of Jerusalem. Andropolis has been identified as Sandaruck, one of the ancient Alexandrias, in Balochistan. The geographical term “India” has been used twice in the whole text of the Acts of Thomas, and it is used as a synonym for Asia.


Routes the Apostles

This map indicates the traditional routes the Apostles took to their destinations. Note that Thomas’s route was to Parthia and Gandhara (North-West India now in Pakistan) not to South India.


Bardesanes or Bardaisan (154–222)

Gnostic poet of Edessa Bardesanes (154–222) is the alleged author of the Acts of Thomas on which the St. Thomas in India fable is predicated. He had met and discussed Indian religion with sramanas (Buddhist monks) who had come to Edessa and was familiar with Buddhist and Hindu religion. There is no evidence he actually travelled to India.


A. B. Mahapatra

Apostle Thomas was the look-alike twin brother of Jesus according to the Acts of Thomas.


Apostle Thomas

St. Thomas in Syrian Christian costume. This is a popular image in Kerala churches.


Pantaenus

Pantaenus (died AD 216) was a Stoic philosopher in Alexandria who converted to Christianity and tried to reconcile Greek philosophy with Christian theology. He is believed to have visited India sometime between 180 and 190 where he found the Gospel of Mathew in Hebrew left behind by St. Bartholomew who had reached India before him. This story is legend built on more legend. Historians today assert that he didn’t travel further east than Arabia Felix (Southern Arabia, Oman and Yemen). And even if he did reach the Kerala coast ca. 200, it does not prove that St. Thomas (or St. Bartholomew) got there before him; it only proves that there was trade and traffic between Muziris (Kodungalur) on the Periyar River and Alexandria.


Thomas of Cana

Knai Thomman or Thomas of Cana ca. 345 CE. He is the first Christian leader to have established a church in India according to the historical record. He was also known as Thomas of Jerusalem and it is probable that Syrian Christians have identified this man with the first century apostle Judas Thomas.


Knai Thoma Bhavan

Knai Thoma Bhavan: Its location in Kerala is not revealed in the Knai Thomman Wikipedia article.


Joseph of Edessa

Bishop Joseph of Edessa was the companion of Thomas of Cana. There is no historical reference to him after he arrived in Malabar, but he can be said to be the founder of the Christian Church in India.


Tabula Peutingeriana Muziris

Tabula Peutingeriana: This 4th century Roman map portion shows the ancient port of Muziris at the mouth of the Periyar River in Kerala. The port existed for 2500 years and allowed India to trade with West Asia and Europe up the the 13th century when it suddenly disappeared due to a natural disaster.


Cosmas Indicopleustes

Cosmas Indicopleustes: This Nestorian merchant and traveller from Alexandria visited the Malabar Coast in 522 CE. He is the first person to leave an authentic record stating that there were Syrian Christians living in Malabar and Ceylon. Cosmas is the author of the book Christian Topography.


Kodungallur Bhagawati Temple

Kodungallur Bhagawati Temple: According to triumphalist Syrian Christian legend, St. Thomas defeated this Kali when he landed at Muziris in 52 CE. However She is going strong even today and it is the Apostle’s existence and sojourn in India that has come into question!


Mar Thoma Church

St. Thomas Church, Azhikode, Kodungallur: This church stands on the site of the church which according to the Malabar legend St. Thomas built on his arrival at Muziris. It is more probable that the first church in Malabar was built by Thomas of Cana and Bishop Joseph of Edessa, ca. 345, on land given to them by Raja Cheraman Perumal.


Reliquary for Apostle Thomas's bone.

St. Thomas Church, Kodungallur: This reliquary holds a bit of the right arm of Apostle Thomas. It was a gift to the Christians of Kerala from the San Tomasso Cathedral in Ortona, Italy, and was brought to India by Cardinal Tisserant in 1953. In the same year St. Thomas was declared the Apostle of India. Prior to 1953 he was known in the Church and throughout West Asia as the Apostle of the East.


The St. Thomas miracle.

Apostle Thomas makes water stand in the air: This is the miracle that allegedly caused some Namboodiri Brahmins to convert to Christianity. The story is used by Syrian Christians to establish their caste identity. It ignores the fact that there was no Christianity in the 1st century – Thomas was a Jew – and there were no Namboodiri Brahmins in Malabar before the 4th / 6th century CE.


Marco Polo

Marco Polo is the first author to place the tomb of St. Thomas on the Coromandel seashore in an unnamed village that the Portuguese later identified with Mylapore. Marco Polo did not visit the Tamil coast at any time. He collected his stories from Syrian Christian merchants who visited Constantanople to trade, which he recorded in his famous book Il Milione. There is some doubt about Marco’s travels among scholars and even during his lifetime he was called a liar.


Marco Polo Route Map

Marco Polo’s Route: If Marco Polo did go to China, this is his return route by sea to Hormuz. He passed through the Gulf of Mannar and did not touch the Coromandel Coast. His story that the Tomb of Thomas lay in an unnamed village on the Coromandel Coast is pure fiction.


Marco Polo article in the Deccan Chronicle, Chennai.

Marco Polo is the first writer to put the tomb of St. Thomas on the sea shore in South India. Prior to his story in Il Milione, all legends followed the Acts of Thomas for the location of the tomb. This was a mountain containing the sepulchres of kings in an unnamed desert city in Parthia.


San Tomasso Cathedral Basilica

San Tomasso Cathedral Basilica: This church in Ortona, Italy contains the actual tomb of Thomas the Apostle.


Ortona tomb of St. Thomas

San Tomasso Basilica: The actual tomb of St. Thomas in Ortona, Italy. The complete skeleton of the apostle has rested in this cathedral since 1258. Therefore it is not possible for the Portuguese to have found his bones in Mylapore in the 1523.


The skeleton of Apostle Thomas  in the Ortona church.

San Tomasso Basilica: The complete skeleton of Apostle Thomas has lain in this cathedral since 1258. Therefore it is not possible for the Portuguese to have found his bones in Mylapore in the 1523.


San Thome Cathedral, Mylapore, Madras, was built in 1893 by the Portuguese. The first St. Thomas church to appear on the Mylapore beach was built in 1523 by Augustinian friars against the ancient Kapaleeswara Temple wall. The Christian tactic of encroaching on Hindu buildings and holy sites and then taking them over continues in Tamil Nadu till today.


Tomb of St. Thomas in San Thomb Cathedral.

San Thome Cathedral: This empty tomb is the second tomb the Portuguese opened in 1523. The popular belief today is that the Archbishop uses it as a vault to store the vast wealth the church accumulated during the Portuguese period when they were looting the Hindu temples of Mylapore.


St. Thomas  tomb created in 1523 by the Portuguese.

Diagram of the fake St. Thomas tomb in San Thome Cathedral created in 1523 by the Portuguese and seeded with bones, a pot of earth and blood, and a spear head brought from Goa.


Thomas & assassin

San Thome Cathedral: This tableau in the tomb crypt has been added by San Thome authorities to stir up communal feelings among the Catholic pilgrims who visit the empty tomb. According to the Acts of Thomas, the only authority on the Apostle’s travels, Thomas was executed by a Zoroastrian king in Parthia for crimes against women. His executioners were four Persian soldiers who used spears to stab him at his own request.


Apostle Thomas about to be stabbed by a "headless" Hindu.

San Thome Cathedral: This tableau in the tomb crypt has been added by San Thome authorities to stir up communal feelings among the Catholic pilgrims who visit the empty tomb. According to the Acts of Thomas, the only authority on the Apostle’s travels, Thomas was executed by a Zoroastrian king in Parthia for crimes against women. His executioners were four Persian soldiers who used spears to stab him at his own request.


St. Thomas's log of wood.

Behind San Thome Cathedral: This is said to be part of the log of wood miraculously lifted by St. Thomas in the Mylapore legend. The real miracle is that it still stands and that nobody has cut it down and carted it away, as it is an alleged relic of the Apostle.


Spear head with wooden shaft

San Thome Cathedral: This is the spear head the Portuguese manufactured and planted in the fake tomb they opened in Mylapore in 1523. According to historian Veda Prakash it was made in Goa.


Apostle Thomas's relic (Ortona) in San Thome Cathedral

San Thome Cathedral: A piece of the Apostle’s arm bone kept in a crucifix reliquary. It was a gift to San Thome Cathedral from San Tomasso Cathedral Basilica, Ortona, Italy, and was brought to India in 1953 by Cardinal Tisserant.


San Thome Bishop's Museum: Carved temple columns and other Hindu artefacts.

San Thome Bishop’s Museum: Carved temple columns and other Hindu artefacts. These stone columns are proof enough that a Hindu temple once stood on the site that the church now occupies.


San Thome Bishop's Museum: Whose bones are they?

San Thome Bishop’s Museum: Are these the bones of the Chola prince whose samadhi the Portuguese opened up in the Kapaleeswara Temple courtyard in 1523? And why are they still in the possession of the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese?


Pope John Paul II in San Thome Cathedral

Pope John Paul II praying at the empty tomb of St. Thomas in San Thome Cathedral in 1986. Though the Pope visited India twice, he had nothing to say about Thomas’s alleged visit in 52 CE. In his homily he treated the tomb as a memorial, not an actual grave site.


Madras-Mylapore Archbishop Dr. R. Arulappa

Late Madras-Mylapore Archbishop Dr. R. Arulappa: He engaged in criminal activities and fabricated fake palm leaf documents in an attempt to create a historical record for St. Thomas in India.


Pope John Paul II & Archbishop Arulappa at San Thome Cathedral

Pope John Paul II & Archbishop Arulappa at San Thome Cathedral in 1986. The pope had nothing to say about St. Thomas and his homily at the empty tomb was in the nature of a memorial only.


Madras-Mylapore Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa

Madras-Mylapore Archbishop A.M. Chinnappa: In total defiance of Pope Benedict, Chinnappa and his fellow bishops planned a movie on St. Thomas and his fictional Indian sojourn.


Little Mount Church

Blessed Sacrament Chapel: This Portuguese church at Little Mount, Saidapet, replaces the Murugan temple and cave that the Portuguese took over in the 16th century.


Our Lady of Light Church or Luz Church

Luz Church: Built in 1516, it may be the first church the Portuguese built in Mylapore displacing a Vishnu temple according to local tradition.


St. Thomas Mount

Big Mount or St. Thomas Mount. Originally the seat of Rishi Brungi (Bhrigu), it was occupied by the Portuguese after 1523 and the Hindu temple on it demolished to make way for the Church of Our Lady of Expectation.


Our Lady of Expectation Church

Our Lady of Expectation Church: The Portuguese began to settle around Big Mount in 1523 and the first Christian chapel was built on the hill in 1545. The building of the church was started in 1547 presumably after the Shiva temple it sits on was removed.


Persian cross dated to the 7th-8th century.

St. Thomas Mount Church: This 8th century Persian cross is inscribed with Phalavi script and is signed by the carver as Afras the Syrian. The inscription reads, “My lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras, son of Chaharbukht the Syrian, who cut this”.


Early Christian Fish Symbol

Early Christians were practcing Jews who held the cross in abhorrence as it was both a Pagan religious symbol and an instrument of torture used by the Romans. Up to the 3rd century Christians used a fish symbol with or without the Greek word “ichthus” (fish) inscribed in it to identify themselves and each other.


Crucified Orpheus 3rd century BCE.

This “Orpheus-Bacchus” crucifix is dated 3rd century BCE / CE and depicts Orpheus crucified. It is of dubious origin and may be a fake. Christians adopted the cross / crucifix as a symbol after the 3rd century CE. Had Apostle Thomas had come to India, he would not have brought a cross with him. He was a Jew and crosses – especially Roman crosses – were abhorrent to him. Crosses were introduced into Indian Christianity by Syrian and Iranian Christian immigrants after the 7th century CE.


Virgin & Child icon by "St. Luke"

St. Thomas Mount Church: Virgin & Child Portuguese icon attributed to the Apostle Luke. There are a number of these fake icons around the world, the most famous one being in Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome.


St. Thomas Mount Memorial Plaque

Telling lies for Jesus: The commemorative plaque inside the St. Thomas Mount Our Lady of Expectation Church.


1964 St. Thomas India Postage Stamp

1964 St. Thomas India Postage Stamp: The image is of a silver bust of Thomas in the San Tommaso Basilica, Ortona, Italy.


1973 St. Thomas India Postage Stamp

1973 India Postage Stamp: The image is of the 8th century stone cross carved by Afras the Syrian. It is attributed to St. Thomas and kept in the Portuguese church on St. Thomas Mount.