The following observations refer to the article “Early Tamil Oral, Literary and Archaeological Traditions and St. Thomas Christians” by Dr. K. Sadasivan, Professor and Head of the Department of History, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, which appeared in the Journal of Indian History and Culture, March 2003, 10th issue. The JIHC is published by the prestigious C.P. Ramaswami Aiyer Institute of Indological Research, C.P. Ramaswami Aiyer Foundation, 1 Eldams Road, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu, India. It is edited by Dr. G.J. Sudhakar, and the editorial board consists of Dr. K.V. Raman, Dr. R. Nagaswamy, Dr. T.K. Venkatasubramanian, and Dr. Nanditha Krishna.
In his article of some twenty pages in the JIHC, Dr. Sadasivan spewed forth the usual Christian missionary propaganda about St. Thomas in India. He appears to be guided by the unholy spirit of the late document forger Archbishop Arulappa. He writes:
It can be understood from the foregoing study that even in the absence of any documented history, the universal and local Christian traditions are unanimous in their views that St. Thomas arrived in India in 52 AD, reached Mylapore via the West Coast (Thirivithancode-Aralvaimozhi Pass), performed there his apostolic service in converting the natives to his religious fold and suffered martyrdom there at the hands of a native in AD, though there are differing versions about his killer(s) and the place of his martyrdom. Moreover, the presence of a strong St. Thomas community, the tomb, the chapel, and the cross, and the architectural remains, make us believe that St. Thomas was living among Tamils of first century AD. However, it is premature to postulate a theory of Christian influence in Tamil works, particularly, Tirukkural, though it seems to display the possibility of having been influenced by the Bible or Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount”. But, a spark of Christian influence on the Tirukkural is not impossible as this didactic work is believed to have been written in the second century AD, when St. Thomas Christians in the West Coast were still entrenched and began spreading the Gospel of Christ. – JIHC, March 2003, pp. 33-34.
In this extraordinary piece of duplicitous writing, Dr. Sadasivan states openly that there is no documented history of St. Thomas in India and that it is a matter of belief; yet, he has the conceit to present it as history. Obviously, he has not read what Dr. Nagaswamy has written about St. Thomas and the replacement of the Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach by San Thome Cathedral.
Furthermore, none of Dr. Sadasivan’s “architectural remains” stand up to scrutiny. His claim that there is a universal and unanimous view among Christians that St. Thomas arrived in India in 52 AD is an outright lie. There is no universal and unanimous view among Christians about St. Thomas in India. In fact, Protestant Christians regard the whole St. Thomas legend as a Catholic superstition brought to India by the Portuguese.
Next, Christians did not use the cross to represent Christianity until after the fourth century (see Koenraad Elst, The Return of the Swastika, New Delhi, 2007). Early Christians were Jews who continued to practice Jewish religious law. They held the inauspicious Roman cross, an instrument of torture and death, in abhorrence, and used a fish symbol with or without the name of Jesus in Greek inscribed in its body as their symbol of religious identity. The adoption of the cross as a Christian symbol does not come about until the third century at the very earliest. So the “bleeding” cross on Big Mount cannot be attributed to St. Thomas. It has been correctly identified as Persian and dated to the eighth century, and the Syrian Christian artisan who carved the cross has identified himself in the Pahlavi inscription surrounding it as Afras son of Chaharbukht the Syrian.
As for the “architectural remains” referred to by Dr. Sadasivan, they consist of temple ruins on which early Nestorian Christian missionaries and the later Portuguese pirates built their St. Thomas churches. The irony is that Christian writers today attribute the destruction of the Hindu temples in question and the building of the churches on their ruins to St. Thomas himself. They absolve themselves of the crime by blaming it on their apostle and patron saint, Thomas!
There is also the problem of the Bible and the “Sermon on the Mount” found in the Gospel of Mathew, chapters five to seven. There was no Bible as such until the fourth century, and indeed no official Bible until after 326 AD when Emperor Constantine has his revised and edited version published, so neither St. Thomas nor Tiruvalluvar―assuming that he had lived in the first century AD―could have possessed one, and the “Sermon on the Mount” is known by historians to be a late interpolation into the New Testament. It is believed to have had a Pagan author, very probably a Neo-Platonist author, which is why it expresses non-sectarian universal values that have an appeal to non-Christians. It could not have influenced the writing of the Tirukkural because it didn’t exist in Tiruvalluvar’s time. And this, of course, brings us to the prime deceit in Dr. Sadasivan’s thesis: he would like us to accept that the Tirukkural was written in the second century AD and not the second century BC. But it is widely accepted by historians that the Tirukkural was written between 100 and 200 BC. So what is Dr. Sadasivan’s agenda? And why has he tried the old trick of giving a late date to the Tirukkural in order to claim a Christian influence on it?
But, a spark of Christian influence on the Tirukkural is not impossible as this didactic work is believed to have been written in the second century AD, when St. Thomas Christians in the West Coast were still entrenched and began spreading the Gospel of Christ. — JIHC, pp. 33-34.
Had Archbishop Arulappa been alive, he would have generously funded Dr. Sadasivan’s “research” in Tirunelveli, as he did that of Acharya Paul in Srirangam. How is it that Dr. Sadasivan uses the same bogus research methodology as Archbishop Arulappa and his collaborator Dr. M. Deivanayagam, and the gang of St. Thomas propagandists and promoters at the Madras-Mylapore Archdiocese? The latter can be excused for their advancement of the St. Thomas fable as they have an investment to protect for the gullible Christian faithful: an empty St. Thomas tomb which they have renovated and decorated with a plaster idol of the dead apostle, gold and silver accoutrements, and a fake assassin’s spear made in China and bought in Chennai’s Burma Bazaar for a hundred rupees.
Dr. Sadasivan is an intellectual criminal and a disgrace to Indian history writing, but his editor Dr. G.J. Sudhakar at the Journal of Indian History and Culture has not covered himself with glory either. He writes, “Dr. K. Sadasivan, of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, has added scholarship through his paper ‘Early Tamil Oral, Literary and Archaeological Traditions and St. Thomas Christians’. He has been a history professor at Loyola College, editor of several history journals, office bearer of IHC, SIHC, TNHC, etc.”
Dr. Sadasivan has not produced any scholarship in this paper and Dr. Sudhakar is sucking up to some very ordinary academic positions and titles with his praise of Dr. Sadasivan’s motivated contribution to the St. Thomas in India controversy. He shows a lack of discrimination and appears to be devoid of any academic ethics. He should be ashamed. Under his editorial guidance the Journal of Indian History and Culture has lost all credibility among research scholars and academics worldwide.
1. Dr. Nanditha Krishna of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyer Foundation, Chennai, is a St. Thomas in India protagonist who publishes in The Hindu and other media. But a scholar like Dr. R. Nagaswamy who has exposed the St. Thomas fable and studied the replacement of the Kapaleeswara Temple on the Mylapore beach by San Thome Cathedral, allowing Dr. Sadasivan’s article to be published in the Journal of Indian History and Culture is inexplicable.