Devapriyaji - True History Analaysed

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        Gondophernes the Parthian King and Gandhappar Raja were great friends because of their trade relations even before they visited the Infant Jesus at Bethlehem, Ovari (Ophir) the sea port of Naaraankottai (Maanaveera Naadu) was attracting merchants from India and abroad who travelled here to purchase precious pearls and ornaments made out of sea shells (Sangu). This trade brought in plenty of gold and silver from abroad and enriched the country. Therefore Maanaveeranaadu was recorded in the ancient inscriptions as “Velli Pon Veesum Veeramulla Naadu.” It means - a brave country glistening with Silver and gold.1 There were many industrial work establishments, sale depots and attractive shopping complexes along the river banks of Ovari exchanging wholesale trade of costly gems, pearls and ornaments.
        Herman D’souza writes: “Indian ships plied between western and Indian ports with cargoes of gold, ivory, silver and precious stones.” 2 It is also said that the pearls of this Fishery Coast were the finest ones, and that only in this coast crystal ornaments were manufactured, and therefore the finest pearls, gems and crystal ornaments of this coast were exported for the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and also rice for her soldiers. Not only that, but many varieties of sweet crystal candy products (Karkandu) of the Palmyra trees also were exported to Rome and other European countries.3 Therefore, George Mark Moraes says that it is an established fact that even before the dawn of history there was considerable inter-course and trade relations between the Indian sub-continent and the western world. 4
        In this context it is to be noted that the relationship between these two kings, chiefly after their contact with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary and their friendship with Habban after he was baptized, became very thick and cordial - to the extent that both of them had combined their stately affairs and even made financial commitments together. For instance, their Indo-Parthian commercial undertakings were expressed by minting common coins for both of their kingdoms. This we know, says Herbert Thurston, both from the discovery of coins, some of them of Parthian type with Greek legends, others of the Indian type with legends in an Indian (Tamil) dialect, in Kharoshthi characters.5 And Dr. Fleet, one of the scholars concludes: “There is an actual basis for the tradition in historical reality, and St. Thomas did visit the courts of these two kings, of whom one was Gunduphara (Gandhappar) of kharoshthi inscription and the other was Gondophares (Gondophernes) of the Takht-I- Bahi inscription.” 6
        This Inscription was discovered about the year 1857. In a Syriac edition of a book called ‘The Doctrines of the Apostles’ it is said: “India and all its own countries and those bordering on it (Ceylon), even to the farthest sea (Indian ocean), received the Apostles’ hand of Priesthood from Judas Thomas…”7 Thus it becomes certain that The un-clarified destination of his ‘coming to India’ in the second Act of Thomas in 34 A.D. is nothing but the Southern Pandian kingdom called Maanaveera Naadu.
        It is admitted that the Acts of Thomas have great many gaps and missing parts (lacuna) in the manuscripts, especially the details of the Apostle’s South Indian expedition of his first mission (A.D.33 to 46). This is confirmed by George Moraes when he says: “The Acts in fact seem to have a lacuna which is admirably filled in by this South Indian tradition. For, (he explains) while the Acts make St. Thomas leave Takshasila (the Parthian kingdom of Gondophernes) for the court of King Masdai (of Mailapore) under whom he meets his end (death), we are told in the ‘De Transita Mariae’…..that from his mission at Takshasila the Apostle was summoned to be present at the bedside of the Blessed Virgin in her last moments.”8 Now the death of the Blessed Virgin occurred in 46 or 48 A.D. But the martyrdom of The Apostle at Mailapore took place only in 72 A.D at the end of his second mission which commenced from the port of Crangannore in 52 A.D. Thus the discovery of his first mission in the Southern Pandian Kingdom becomes so evident, that he was called to the bedside of the Blessed Virgin from Takshasila only at the end of his first mission in the Southern Pandian Kingdom called Maanaveera Naadu.
        St. Thomas in the meanwhile had founded a community of Christians and settled them at Kanakkankudiyiruppu on the bank of lake “Tharuvai,” and there he had built a church. This was the first Church which the Saint had ever built. The location of this first church has been miraculously commemorated by the present Manal Maatha Kovil (at Chetty Vilai, near Peria Thaalai) belonging to the parish of Sokkankudiyiruppu, Tuticorin Diocese. On the altar of this church he had erected a Cross with two cross bars; on the one with the nail marks and on the other the death sentence INRI. This double Cross was the object of veneration in all the churches he built during his first mission i.e. before the Assumption of Our Lady. The saint was preaching the gospel, offered Holy Sacrifice of the mass, and was administering the Sacraments in this church. Thus Kanakkankudiyiruppu became the very first place where Christianity was born in India, and where the first community of St. Thomas’ Christians was formed. Later, in his second mission, the Apostle erected the statue of Our Lady (now kept in the Parish church of Chettivlai) and dedicated the church to Our Lady of the Assumption. “I am now satisfied that the Christian Church (Community of St. Thomas Christians) is extremely ancient.” says the historian Vincent Smith.
        Sir Henry Yule quotes the words of Friar John Of Monte Corvino, a Franciscan who visited India, worked amongst the St. Thomas’ Christians and visited the Apostle’s tomb, does notmention the place but simply says “I remained in the country of India wherein stands the Church of St. Thomas the Apostle.”10
        Thus St. Thomas the Apostle constructed on earth the foundation of the Heavenly Palace for King Gandhappar Raja at Kanakkankudiyiruppu. It was at this church King Gondophernes, his daughter and his son-in-law met St. Thomas even before Gandhappar Raja returned from Ceylon. They prostrated at the feet of St. Thomas and said: “O blessed and most worthy servant of God! We have totally dedicated ourselves to God. Make us perpetually remain in truth, and help us consecrate ourselves to His service for ever. The Saint really admired at their faith in the true religion of Jesus Christ. He encouraged them in their resolution and instructed them on Christian doctrines. After having prepared them for forty days he administered them the Sacrament of Baptism on December 25, A.D. 33. King Gondophernes received his baptismal name as Xantiphus (Melchior), his daughter as Pelagia and his son-in-law as Denis.11
        Xantiphus took the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ literally and decided to follow the way of Christian perfection: “Everyone that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall posses life everlasting” (Mt. 19: 29). And therefore he offered himself for the spread of the kingdom of Jesus Christ in the company of St. Thomas. He was ordained a Deacon and thence forward he was following St. Thomas very faithfully. Denis was consecrated Bishop of Anthropolis, and Pelagia lived a consecrated life. When a new king came to the throne of Parthia, Pelagia, after being persecuted for being a Christian, died a martyr. Thus she became the first virgin martyr for Christ in Parthia.
        St. Thomas preached the gospel to multitudes of people and generously gave alms to the poor with the wealth and money entrusted to him by Gandhappar Raja. And thus he was building a Spiritual Palace for Gandhappar Raja in heaven.12


1.   Alex C. Muthiah ibid. Page 93.
2.   Herman D’Souza ibid. Page 6.
3.   Alex C. Muthiah ibid. Page 14, 15.
4.   George Mark Moraes ibid. Page 13.
5.   Catholic Encyclopedia ibid. Page 658.
6.  Herman D’Souza ibid. Page 7.
7.   Ibid. Page 5.
8.   George Mark Moraes ibid. page 34.
9.   Herman D’Souza ibid.Page 16.                                                                                                         
10. Ibid. Page 25.                                                                                                                                      
11. Fr. Motha Vaz ibid. Pages 8,9,10.                                                                                                     
12. Ibid. Page 10.


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