Category Archives: History

Pope denies St. Thomas evangelised South India – Ishwar Sharan

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 of the Acts of Thomas. That the Pope’s minders changed his statement the next day on the Vatican website, to include South India in Thomas’s travels, is no surprise to us. Telling lies for Jesus and his Vicar in Rome are also very much part of Catholic Church tradition and history. – Ishwar Sharan

On 27 September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI made a speech in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican City in which he recalled an ancient St. Thomas tradition. He said that “Thomas first evangelised Syria and Persia and then penetrated as far as western India, from where Christianity also reached South India”.[1] This statement greatly upset the Indian bishops in Kerala, and as it was perceived to be a direct violation of the beliefs of many Indian Christians, it was brought to the attention of the Pope’s editors and amended the next day on the Vatican’s website to read that St. Thomas himself had reached South India. G. Ananthakrishnan’s article “Thomas’s visit under doubt” in the Times of India, 26 December 2006, reads:

His reluctance to believe what fellow disciples said about Jesus Christ’s resurrection earned him the name Doubting Thomas. Centuries later, St Thomas—believed to be the man who brought Christianity to India—finds himself in the shadow of ‘doubt’ with none other than the Pope contradicting his evangelical trek in the country, only to modify it a few days later. But far from dousing the fire, the Pope has rekindled a debate and given critics an issue on the platter.

Pope Benedict XVI made the statement at the Vatican on September 27, 2006. Addressing the faithful during the Wednesday catechises, he recalled that St. Thomas first evangelised Syria and Persia, and went on to western India from where Christianity reached Southern India. The import of the statement was that St. Thomas never travelled to south India, but rather evangelised the western front, mostly comprising today’s Pakistan.

Knowingly or unknowingly, he had in one stroke challenged the basis of Christianity in India and demolished long-held views of the Church here that St Thomas landed in Kerala, where he spread the gospel among Hindus. The comments were especially a letdown for the Syrian Christians of Kerala, who proudly trace their ancestry to upper-caste Hindus said to have been evangelized by St Thomas upon his arrival in 52 AD.

The comments went unnoticed until Sathya-Deepam, the official mouthpiece of the Syro-Malabar church, picked it up. Writing in it, George Nedungat, a member of the Oriental Pontifical Institute of Rome, conveyed the community’s anguish and claimed that previous popes had recognised St. Thomas’s work in south India.

The Pope’s original statement given out at St. Peter’s, before it was amended on the Vatican website, was factually correct and reflected the geography of the Acts of Thomas, i.e. Syria, Parthia (Persia/Iran) and Gandhara (Afghanistan, North-West Pakistan). There is no historical evidence to support the tradition that St. Thomas came to South India, and on 13 November 1952 Vatican officials sent a message to Kerala Christians stating that the landing of St. Thomas at Muziris (Cranganore now Kodungallur) on 21 November 52 AD was “unverified”. When this writer sought confirmation of the 1952 Vatican statement in 1996, the Vatican’s reply was disingenuous and non-committal. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints said that he needed more information and that the life of St. Thomas was the object of historical research and not within his congregation’s competence.[2]

Earlier, in 1729, the Bishop of Madras-Mylapore had doubted whether the tomb in San Thome Cathedral was that of St. Thomas and wrote to the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome for clarification. Rome’s reply was never published and we may assume it was a negative reply. Again, in 1871 the Roman Catholic authorities at Madras were “strong in disparagement of the special sanctity of the localities [viz. San Thome, Little Mount, and Big Mount identified by the Portuguese after 1517] and the whole story connecting St. Thomas with Mailapur.” However, in 1886 Pope Leo XIII stated in an apostolic letter that St. Thomas “travelled to Ethiopia, Persia, Hyrcania and finally to the Peninsula beyond the Indus”, and in 1923 Pope Pius XI quoted Pope Leo’s letter and identified St. Thomas with “India”. These papal statements also reflect the geography of the Acts of Thomas, as does Pope Benedict’s statement, and make no reference to South India. In fact, the India they refer to is now Pakistan.

Pope John Paul II visited India twice in 1986 and 1999 and prayed at the alleged tomb of St. Thomas in San Thome Cathedral, but, like St. Francis Xavier before him, he had nothing to say about St. Thomas’s visit to South India or Mylapore in the first century. This is a curious omission on the Pope’s part in that he was an ardent missionary who openly promoted the evangelising of India and Asia, and a statement from him confirming a visit by St. Thomas to South India would have certainly supported his agenda and that of his Indian bishops.

1. As quoted in Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, of 23 November 2006, under the title “Pope angers Christians in Kerala”.

2. Our letter to the Prefect, Sacred Congregation of Rites, Vatican City, dated 26 August 1996, read: “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 AD 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.” The reply from the Prefect, Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Rome, dated 11 September 1996, read: “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.” This reply was a brush off. The Prefect knew what we were asking for and could have located the 1952 Vatican letter in a few minutes if he wished to.

Courtes: www.ishwarsharan.com

For more details read this book…

Rathasapthami and Surya Bhagwan

I was reading the Adityahrudayam, from the Ramayana (Yuddha kanda, canto 107) and came across this verse that describes the water cycle.

नाशयत्येष वै भूतं तदेव सृजति प्रभुः।

  पायत्येष तपत्येष वर्षत्येष गभस्तिभिः॥ 23

“Salutaions to the Sun God, who destroys everything”

Link https://www.indiawaterportal.org/sites/default/files/iwp2/hydrology_in_ancient_india_nih_1990.pdf

14th Dec 2019 Tweet

That was and creates them all again and whom, by his rays, consumes the waters, heats them up (into water vapor) and brings them down again as rain.” Naturally I went looking for Vedic references to the hydrological cycle and came across this book which is a veritable gold mine.

14th Dec 2019

The Ṛg Veda, Atharva Veda, Linga Purana, Matsya Purana, Mahabharata, Kishkinda Kanda of Ramayana, etc all contain scientific explanations and elaborate descriptions of the water cycle. For example, here is what the Vayu Purana has to say:

the water evaporated by sun ascends to atmosphere through the capillarity of air, and there gets cooled and condensed. After formation of clouds it rains by the force of air. Thus, water is not lost in all these processes but gets converted from one form to other continuously”

(51. 14-15-16). Similar descriptions of surface and groundwater, hot and cold springs, origins of perennial vs seasonal rivers, weather phenomena, etc. are all described, and Varahamihira’s Vraht Samhita (550 AD) has three chapters devoted to Hydrometeorology.

It is not news that credit to scientific discovery is highjacked by the west. But despite all the ancient evidence stacked against them, guess who is credited? Frenchman Bernard Palissy is often credited as the “discoverer” of the modern theory of the water cycle, the “pioneer” of hydrology, published Discours admirables, de la nature des eaux et fontaines, tant naturelles qu’artificielles, des metaux, des sels et salines, des pierres, des terres, du feu et des maux (Paris, 1580). Prior to him, Aristotle (384-300BC) is known to have speculated the nature of the water cycle but struggled with explaining how rivers flowed in the absence of rainfall. His predecessors, Anaxagoras and Plato both maintained that the source was fluvial water was a giant cavern within the earth, but Aristotle was the first to reject this notion.

Palissy was also one of the first Europeans who maintained that fossils were once living organisms, and contested the prevailing view that they had been produced by the biblical flood/astrological influence. (note: Padma Purana, Skanda Purana, Garuda Purana etc all state that Salagrama stones, which are Ammonoid/mollusc fossils of the Devonian-Cretaceous period from 400-66 million years ago, are to be worshipped as Lord Vishnu himself, each representing an avatar of Vishnu. it is implied that they have organic origin but not sure if explicitly stated)

Palissy was a Protestant, imprisoned for his beliefs and sentenced to death. He died in a Bastille dungeon during the French Wars of Religion which was a prolonged period of war between the Catholics and Protestants/Calvinists.

Lastly, Newton in 1666 is credited with proving the compostite nature of white light but the Ṛg Veda (II, 12.12), at least 3000 years prior (a conservative estimate) describes sun light containing seven colors of rays. We know pythogoras theorem wasn’t his original work either

-Credit to Sai Priya ji (@priya_27_)

The Brigadier Who Defied Enemy Tanks in 1971 War

Compiled By: Shri Ramakrishna Prasad

The famous battle of Longewala (1971) was one of the first major engagements in the western sector during the Indo-Pak war of 1971, fought between assaulting Pakistani forces and Indian defenders at the Indian border post of Longewala in the Thar desert of Rajasthan. A company of the Indian Army’s 23rd battalion, Punjab Regiment, commanded by Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri with just 120 men against a full-fledged attack by advancing Pakistani Patton tanks and over 2,000 soldiers, was left with the choice of either attempting to hold out until reinforced, or fleeing on foot from Pakistani force. Choosing the former, Chandpuri ensured that all his assets were correctly deployed, and made the most use of his strong defensive position, and weaknesses created by errors in enemy tactics. When the operation ended, 22 Pakistani tanks had been destroyed.

He was decorated with the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) for the heroic stand-off that forced the enemy to retreat.

The MVC citation read: “Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri was commanding a company of the Punjab Regiment occupying a defended locality in the Rajasthan Sector. On the 5th December 1971, in the early hours of the morning the enemy launched a massive attack on this locality with infantry and tanks. Major Chandpuri exhibited dynamic leadership in holding his command intact and steadfast.”

“Showing exceptional courage and determination, he inspired his men moving from bunker to bunker, encouraging them in beating back the enemy till reinforcements arrived. In this heroic defence, he inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and forced them to retreat leaving behind twelve tanks.

“In this action, Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri displayed conspicuous gallantry, inspiring leadership and exceptional devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the Indian Army.” 

The feat of Brig. Chandpuri and his men later became celluloid history through the J.P. Dutta-directed Bollywood blockbuster “Border” which was released in 1997. His action-packed role was played by actor Sunny Deol.

Brig. Chandpuri was a third generation officer in the Indian army. Born in 1940 at Montgomery, Punjab in undivided India, his family settled into their native village, Chandpur Rurki in Balachaur. He graduated from the Government College in Hoshiarpur in 1962. Thereafter, he joined the Indian Army. He passed out of the Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai, in 1963 and was commissioned into the 23rd Battalion of the Punjab Regiment. Apart from displaying his grit in the 1971 Battle of Longewala, he had also fought the 1965 war in the western sector. In addition he also served in the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) at Gaza in Egypt for a year. He was also honoured on the board of The War Decorated India, an association of gallantry awardees and nominated as a councillor in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. His heroic life came to end on 17th November 2018.

Col. Narendra Kumar Secured Siachen For India

Compiled By: Shri Ramakrishna Prasad

Col. Narendra Kumar (born on 8th December 1933), the  mountaineering legend (who lost four of his toes to frostbite in 1961) is one of the most highly decorated officers in India. He is the only colonel awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) distinction in all three services (normally accorded only to generals). He has also been honoured with the Padma Shri, the Kirti Chakra, the Ati Vishist Seva Medal, the Arjuna Award and the IMF Gold Medal by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. Yet, few people in Indian know about Col. Kumar’s pioneering contributions to both mountaineering and national security. Its time we give him the respect and recognition he truly deserves.

It all started with a German mountaineer and an American map. In the late 1970s, Col.Kumar was in charge of the High Altitude Warfare School in Gulmarg (which was also the mountain warfare school of the Indian Army). A German explorer — with whom Kumar had earlier traversed the upper reaches of the Indus river in Ladakh — showed him an American map of northern Kashmir that marked the Line of Control (LoC) much further to the east than he expected. Realising that the US appeared to have cartographically ceded a large chunk of eastern Karakoram (including the Siachen glacier) to Pakistan, a furious Col. Kumar bought the map and sent it straight to the Director General of Military Operations. Alarm bells ringing loudly in his head, he also volunteered to organise an expedition to the area to “correct the map”. Realising the need to cut through red tape and get to work, the recon mission was thus termed a ‘practical training session’ for students.

Soon after, Col. Kumar headed into uncharted territory with a team of students from the High Altitude Warfare School. It was the first Indian expedition into the heart of Siachen — the largest alpine glacier on earth that has nearly two trillion cubic feet of ice. Beginning at the snout of the glacier, Col. Kumar and his team slowly but steadily made their way up the massive bulk of unforgiving ice. On the way, they had to navigate tricky crevasses and stay ahead of avalanches while braving temperatures that dipped to a numbing -50 degrees Celsius. However, news of this expedition soon leaked across the border. By the time Col. Kumar’s unarmed team reached the icy source of Siachen, Pakistani fighter jets had started flying over them, firing coloured smoke!

This and the trash that the team had found along the way — Pakistani cigarette packs, food cans and climbing gear — convinced him that the Pakistanis had been stealthily trying to entrench their claim on Siachen. Taking this trash and photos of the hovering jets as proof of Pakistani incursions, the team returned to base. Despite this recon report, it took Col. Kumar a while to convince his seniors about the seriousness of situation. It was not until early 1981 that he finally got the go-ahead to map the entire glacier, all the way from the snout to the Chinese border.

And so Col. Kumar returned to Siachen, this time becoming the first Indian to climb the Sia Kangri  —at 24,350 feet, this peak offers stunning views of the sprawling glacier. He came back with a detailed ‘sit-rep’ (situational report) that was immediately dispatched to Indian Army’s headquarters. Realising that the Indian Army was now clearly involved, Pakistan ramped up its stealthy bid to secure Siachen for itself. Recognizing the strategic threat, India immediately dispatched troops of Kumaon Regiment to the Siachen for control of the glacier and the neighbouring peaks in the Saltoro range. Under Operation Meghdoot, IAF choppers pushed themselves to their maximum capabilities to air-drop soldiers at Bilafond-La (that translates to “Pass of the Butterflies” in Balti language).And this is how India established a crucial military foothold in what would go on to become the world’s highest battlefield, beating Pakistan by a week. Their most important weapon? The detailed maps, photographs and videos made by Col. Kumar and his team. In the years that followed, a key army post on the glacier was named Kumar Base, making Col. Kumar perhaps the only living Indian army officer to enjoy this extremely rare honour.

M Kamal Naidu – 1st Civilian to Get Shaurya Chakra!

Compiled By: Shri Ramakrishna Prasad

M Kamal Naidu, a graduate of Hyderabad’s agriculture university cleared the UPSC examination and joined Indian Forest Service in 1962. A decade later, in 1972, he was posted as district forest officer in Karimnagar (a thickly forested district of undivided Andhra Pradesh), a hotbed of Naxal activity. The left-wing extremists were involved in illicit cultivation on 4,200 acres of forest land and warned Naidu about obstructing them. Undeterred by the threats and taunts, the dedicated IFS officer stood his ground and continued to protect government property.

On August 10, 1972, Naidu was on duty when he was ambushed by the Naxals near Paloncha.

“The first bullet hit me in the mouth. I was alone; my associates ran away. I lost all of my right jaw teeth. They smashed my face with a rifle butt. The second bullet went through my arm and exited from my shoulder. I got a blow on my head which required 18 stitches,” the courageous officer later recalled to the Deccan Chronicle.

As a result of the grievous injuries he suffered, Naidu remained confined in the hospital for three and a half months. Even after he was discharged, the painful effects of those wounds lingered. In fact, nearly 40 years after the incident, he underwent another operation (his last one) in 2013 to remove minute bullet pellets that had remained embedded in his mouth. However, Naidu’s exemplary dedication to duty and courage in the face of danger remain unacknowledged and unappreciated by the government.

Naidu was the principal chief conservator of forests in Andhra Pradesh from 1995 to 96 and was well-known in wildlife and forest conservation circles for his efforts to protect forests and wildlife. He had also worked as the director of the National Zoo in New Delhi. The IFS officer survived another close encounter with death. This time, the attack came from a cobra when he was director of the Delhi Zoo. On being informed that a six-and-a-half-foot black cobra had entered the lions’ enclosure, Naidu rushed to the rescue of the two cubs who were in danger. He aimed at the cobra’s spine with his gun but missed. Realising that any further delay could lead to the death of the cubs, he picked up the deadly serpent by its tail. Naidu was trying to get hold of its neck when the cobra twisted and sank its fangs into his hand. He flung it away but the enraged snake attacked him again. But this time, he was successful in killing it. Hiring an autorickshaw, the bleeding officer immediately went in search of life-saving anti-venom, going from hospital to hospital till he found it! It was only after a three-day struggle that the doctors managed to save the IFS officer’s life. Soon afterwards, the then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi got to hear of Naidu’s two death-defying escapades and sent him a get-well letter. The PM was also the one who initiated the process to honour Naidu with India’s third highest peacetime gallantry award, the Shaurya Chakra, in 1988. Even after his retirement, Naidu continued to work with the civil society. He was also appointed to the Supreme Court Commission tasked with the inspection of the disputed boundary areas between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. He passed away on April 18, 2018 in Hyderabad at the age of 79.