Chapter Twenty-two

Most ethnic and religious communities localise their myths of origin when they migrate to new lands and establish themselves there permanently. This is part of the psychological process of becoming a native. The tradition they bring from abroad is altered enough to identify its main themes and characters with local places. Time does the rest and the second and third generation soon forget the original story and its foreign locales. Inter-community relationships will mix in local legends with the imported myth. In the case of the Syrian Christians, the process was irresistible because the charismatic, semi-legendary Thomas of Cana who led the first Christian immigrants to Malabar from Persia and Mesopotamia in 345 CE, was not really any different a community hero than the charismatic, semi-legendary Thomas the Apostle. The fact that both leaders were also known as Thomas of Jerusalem would have made the identification of the fourth century merchant with the first century saint inevitable.

None of this would amount to anything more than an ethnological curiosity except that the Syrian Christian tradition of St. Thomas became the property of the Portuguese and the Roman Catholic Church. Both imperialist powers needed this emotionally-charged fable in their ideological arsenal to legitimize their presence and justify their violent, viciously bigoted conduct in India.

T.G. Percival Spear, author of India: A Modern History and co-author of the Oxford History of India, commenting on the Portuguese in India in an Encyclopaedia Britannica article, writes, “The Portuguese early considered that no faith need be kept with an infidel, and to this policy of perfidy they added a tendency to cruelty beyond the normal limits of a very rough age; the result was to deprive them of Indian sympathy. In religion the Portuguese were distinguished by missionary fervour and intolerance. … Of the latter, there was the Inquisition of Goa and the forcible subjection of the Syrian church to Rome at the Synod of Diamper in 1599.”

The Synod of Diamper was followed by the burning of Syrian books by Archbishop Menezes of Goa, and the myth of St. Thomas, now firmly in the hands of the Church, took on a marked anti-Hindu character. Roman Catholic bigotry is ancient and universal―and it continues till today. Percival Spear observes, “Then came Roman Catholicism, which today has perhaps 5,000,000 followers and an array of churches, convents, and colleges all over India. A by-product has been a tradition of intolerance, which still lingers.”

This last remark is a serious indictment of Indian Christianity, coming as it does from a reputed Cambridge historian, and it probably has not been made about any other modern religious community in the whole Encyclopaedia.

Christians have always capitalized on the established tradition that they have been persecuted, but the plain truth is that they have done most of the persecuting in recorded history and this started in earnest when they obtained political power in Rome in the fourth century (see note 18). If they attracted persecution before this time from the Pagan emperors, it was exactly because of their religious intolerance and a peculiarly Christian crime that originated in Rome and continues in India today: the forging of documents to create a fabricated social and religious history that Christians believe will give Christianity authority and prestige, and which disparages the ancient Hindu civilization that hosts it.

Arthur Frederick Ide, in Unzipped: The Popes Bare All, writes, “One primary reason Rome turned against the Christians was the Christians were violently intolerant. Christians would not accept altars to gods other than their own even though the Romans offered an altar to the Christian god. Christians spat upon those who would not convert. They hid documents. They alienated families. They prayed for the end of the empire and the enthronement of their god as the new king. These were actions which were socially disconcerting, disrupting, and dangerous.

“Contrary to the Christian apologist Justin, the Christians were not dispatched from this life because they were Christians. Christians were executed only after their actions (not their beliefs) were seen as riot-inducing, treasonous, and detrimental to the family unit, and especially dangerous to the children.”

Christian churches in India continue these same ancient anti-social activities today. The difference is that they have vast sums of money from Christians abroad with which to finance their culturally destructive missionary enterprises. They also have the sympathy of alienated anti-Hindu Leftist intellectuals and academics, the so-called secular mainstream media which is wholly or partly owned by Christian interests, and the support of state governments that are run by nominally Hindu criminal families as private fiefdoms.

Christians have never been persecuted in India by Hindus,[71] and their deeply resented and disruptive socio-political activity, religious conversion, is accommodated by Indian politicians because the Christian community represents a dedicated vote bank. Yet this coddling and a long list of other official favours has not made Indian Christians any more tolerant today than their Mediterranean counterparts were in the fourth century.[72]

Percival Spear’s remark about a “tradition of intolerance” is unfortunately true of Christianity itself. Jesus was the first religious teacher in history to threaten those who did not agree with him with eternal damnation. This is the only original idea that he contributed to the world’s vast body of religious thought, and in two millennia it has destroyed nations and whole civilizations and caused Thomas Jefferson to declare, “The Christian God is cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.”

[71] The seventeenth century Jesuit missionary John de Britto was executed by the Raja of Ramnad for breaking the law. He had been repeatedly warned to stop his antisocial activities and stay out of the principality. Instead, he carefully planned his “martyrdom” and went to great lengths to provoke the Raja. He was canonised in 1947 by a Vatican decree.

[72] On April 7, 1994, the Indian Express reported an assault on a prominent Madras social worker, S. Vidyakar, by a Christian family who lived next door to one of his houses for destitute women and children. Vidyakar states, “For some time now our social worker, Sundari, was being teased and taunted by some members of the family.” Sundari adds, “They are Christians and start clapping and dancing whenever we sing [devotional songs] and taunt us about worshipping [stone]. When things went a little too far that evening and I was abused in filthy language, I called up Vidyakar and gave him details.” Vidyakar went to talk to the family the next day, but they attacked him with a log and broke his arm. This is not an isolated incident. It goes on all the time with the connivance of local police and politicians. This writer was also driven from his ashram in Tirumullaivoyal by Christian converts who were provoked by the fact that a white foreigner had become a Hindu sannyasi and lived like a Brahmin among Brahmins.