Devapriyaji - True History Analaysed

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Author’s Preface
                    As Jesus Christ was a historical figure who preached the kingdom of God in Palestine, so was St. Thomas the Apostle a historical figure who evangelized India and merited the title “the Apostle of India”.
          The tradition of the “Saint Thomas Christians” in south India also is very concrete and true. Recently on 27 September 2006 Pope Benedict, during his Angelus address at Vatican said that the Apostle Thomas preached the gospel in north western India, from where Christianity reached also south India, meaning that the Apostle did not preach the gospel to south India personally. But when there was media uproar in India, the Vatican responded through its official website on 27 November 2006 that the Apostle St. Thomas had proceeded to preach the gospel also in south India. 
          Famous historians have tried to trace out the historicity of the times and place of the evangelization of St Thomas the Apostle in India. For example: 1) The Rev. Henry Hosten S. J. in his “Antiquities from Sant Thome and Mylapore” (in 1927); 2) George Mark Moraes in his “A History of Christianity in India” (in 1964); 3) George Nedungatt S.J. in his “Quest for The Historical Thomas Apostle of India” (in 2008); and 4) James Kurikilamkatt in his book “First voyage of the Apostle Thomas to India”- 2005 - 264 pages asks: “If St. Thomas reached India in 52 AD, where was he preaching in the years prior to this?” He does not give the comprehensive answer to his question. But this research gives the answer with historical proof that St. Thomas was preaching the gospel in Media, Parthia and in the southern Pandian kingdom in India during the period A.D. 33 to 46..
          The present “New Discovery on St. Thomas” dependant and independent of the apocryphal writings on St. Thomas the Apostle, attempts to bring out the undocumented history of “St. Thomas’ first visit to India” between 33 and 46 A.D.  P. J. Thomas in his article: “Was the Apostle Thomas in South India?” published as a preamble in the above mentioned book of Fr. H. Hosten writes: “St. Thomas is also said to have converted a certain king called Kandapparaser” (Page, xi).   According to George Nedungatt “…where Thomas first arrived was the India ruled by king Gundaphar” (Page, 186).
          This Kandapparasa, one of the Magi kings (Gaspar) was ruling Jaffna a part of Ceylon and the Southern Pandian kingdom called Maanaveera Naadu. This Southern Pandian Kingdom in between Thiruchendur and Kanyakumari was covered by a huge sand hill since the year 1649. So the fact of St. Thomas converting Kandapparasa and performing his missionary activities from A.D. 33 to 46 could not be traced out by the historians until recent findings and documentations.
          The “City of God” by Mary of Agreda (Spain 1665) reveals through the lips of St. Peter the Apostle that “The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Thomas, will follow his Master preaching in India, in Persia and among the Parthians. He shall baptize the three Magi Kings….” (City of God Vol. IV Nos.227, 229, 230).
          Alex Cruz Muthaiah (1995) in his research book called “Maanaveera Naadu of the Southern Pandian Kingdom” (pages, 132 to 140), proves the Southern Pandian Kingdom ruled by Kandapparasa having been baptized by St. Thomas the Apostle, and that he was one of the Magi Kings.

          “Joao de Barros, the Portuguese historian, in his book, “Asia de Joao Barros, dos fectos que od Portuguese fizeram no descobrimento & conquista dos mares & teras do Oriente,” published after 1563, relates, “a king of the island of Ceilam, called Primal, went in a ship to the coast of Muscat, to join other kings, who were going to adore the Lord, at Bethlehem, and that he was the third.”
“………..An early king of Jaffna was one of those who paid his adoration to the infant Jesus; also Christianity was in existence in Lanka, since from the very beginning of the Christian era.”
                There is a tradition that this Peria Perumal (Kandapparasa) came to south India and was baptized by St. Thomas the Apostle as Gaspar. This fact is described by Fr. Motha Vaz in his “History of St. Thomas the Apostle of India” (1971, pages 32 and 33) as follows: “Peria Perumal, the King of Jaffna (Ceylon) journeyed to India to meet the Apostle. As soon as he saw St. Thomas, he requested him: “O Apostle of the Redeemer of the world! I am one of the Magi Kings who at the sight of the star in the East, followed it and visited the Holy Infant Messiah at Bethlehem. Therefore, please explain to me His life and teachings and baptize me. The Saint, accepting the request and having instructed on the life and teachings of the Saviour, baptized him as Gaspar.”
          Excavations (1799) have revealed the existence of a church below the said sand hill of Maanaveera Naadu dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and an ancient wooden Statue of Our Lady. St. Francis Xavier while tracing out the places of St. Thomas (1542) has visited this church, as recorded by Fr. F. W. Faber D.D. (1923) in his “The Life of St. Francis Xavier” (page, 67).

The present Church of Manal Matha Kovil replaces earlier churches built on the same site going back to the time of St. Thomas The Aposle

More excavations on this spot will reveal the kingdom of the magi king Gaspar, where St. Thomas first came to preach the kingdom of God, before the death of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

(See details in Chapters 4, 14 and 15).
          The admirable location of this underground church is a sure proof of the Southern Pandian Kingdom, ruled by Kandapparasa who was baptized by St. Thomas the Apostle. The king’s store house (Pandakasaalai) and the settlement of his accountants (Kanakkaayars) near the lake gave the name of the place as Kanakkankudiyiruppu. It was also called Naaraiyoor because of the settlement to Naarais (Pelicans) on the trees around the lake. These names are found in the letters and the life of St. Francis Xavier. (See chapter 14).
          A critical study on the existing story of “Thiruvalluvar”, the “Deiva Pulavar” will show that the super -eminent character of the person, the divine eloquence of the doctrines, and the un-equivalent style of the literature could be attributed to the Christian doctrines of St. Thomas written at the request of Kandapparasa. It is astonishing to find that Kandapparasa was one of the petit kings of “Ukkiraperuvazhuthi”, the Pandian King at Madurai to whom “Thirukkural”, the “Deiva Nool” was submitted! (See chapter 7).
          The “Act of Thomas” is filled in by this south Indian tradition. Chapter one to six speak about his sojourn in Maanaveera Naadu and Venadu (Travancore), building churches and monuments, working miracles and preaching the kingdom of God. These events of the six chapters are given here with their proper locations, followed by the original text. There is no mention about his journey to China and to Takshasila. But we are told in the “De Tansita Mariae” that from his mission at Takshasila the Apostle was summoned to be present at the bed side of the Blessed Virgin in her last moments.
          George Moraes in his book “A History of Christianity in India” admirably noted a lacuna in the Acts of Thomas (page, 34). Lacuna means cavity or space. Between chapter six and chapter seven, many things are omitted. His journey to Ethiopia, Armenia, Hyrcania etc. in A.D. 46, and his second journey to Kerala in A.D. 52 and there finding seven churches etc. are omitted in the Act.
          The Act of Thomas begins once again at the end of his mission in Kerala and narrates his journey to Mailapore, the conversions and miracles, and ends with his glorious martyrdom. The texts of the chapters 7 to 13 are given in the Appendixes.
          Readers are welcome to express their opinion. It will be of much help to improve this documentation and correct mistakes.
                                                                          Fr. Pancras M. Raja

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