Devapriyaji - True History Analaysed

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               After six months of sojourn in Ceylon, Gandhappar Raja returned to Naaraankottai eagerly wishing to see the palace constructed by St. Thomas. Joyfully he invited his friends to come with him to have a look at the palace. “O Maharaj!” the king’s man said: “No such palace has been built here. That stranger does not seem to have started the work yet so far. On the contrary, travelling all over the kingdom and preaching a new religion, he has gathered a great number of people to his side. What he preaches is very strange. He assures that those who embrace his religion will possess eternal life, and that those who believe in the God whom he preaches will after their death have life everlasting. Not only that; he drives away the devils, heals the sick, raises the dead. For all these good deeds he doesn’t accept anything in return. There is no doubt that he is a magician. He is going about all over your country deceiving the people. He has thus wasted all your wealth and money in building churches, helping his followers and by abundantly giving alms to the poor and the sick. After wandering everywhere in the country and squandering all your money, we hear that he has now come to Kanakkankudiyiruppu. All these sayings made the king burn with anger and he ordered St. Thomas to be brought to him immediately.
            The saint was brought to the king. And the king enraged by the report shouted at St. Thomas saying; “You are sure to die if you don’t build the palace instantly.” The saint replied with graceful calmness: “O Lord King! The palace has been already built!” but not in this world, it’s in heaven! Only after going there you will see and admire it.” The king still in a higher pitch of anger cried with loud voice: “Aha…h! How cleverly you are deceiving us, do you think we are fools? Beware! I will not be enticed by your crafty words.” Thus saying the king ordered Habban and St. Thomas to be imprisoned. The Apostle, rejoicing to suffer for the sake of Christ, happily went to the jail, and consoled Habban saying: “fear not, have confidence in God, we are sure to possess eternal life immediately after leaving this world.” But the king was thinking with what kind of death he could punish the culprits.1
        It is said in the second Act of Thomas: “Gundafor imprisoned him, but the Apostle escaped miraculously and Gundafor was converted.”  In fact the Apostle did not want to escape at all. But while he was eagerly expecting a death of martyrdom, God wanted to work a miracle to extend the life of St. Thomas. Let us hear Fr. Motha Vaz narrating this miraculous episode.2
         “While St. Thomas and Habban were in jail, Gaatthiappar Raja (Gad, called Chinna Perumal) the younger brother of Gandhappar Raja happened to die a sudden death. The king loved his brother so much that he could not bear the grief. And in order to demonstrate his affection, the king had arranged for a solemn funeral procession. A great multitude of people attended the function. While the ceremonies were going on, a strange occurrence happened. The dead body rose from the bed; and was searching for someone in the crowd which was panic struck at the sight. The dead man opened his mouth and began to speak: “I want to see my brother, please call him.” Immediately a messenger rushed to the king and said; “your brother has risen, he is alive, he calls you.” Gandhappar Raja taken aback by the news came rushing to the spot. When he saw his dead brother face to face he was blushing with fear and awe, he could not speak a word and was trembling and perspiring. “Do not be afraid, brother! I have come back alive to request a favour from you. I am sure that in order that I may live, you will not refuse even if I ask half of your kingdom! Would you please allow me to possess a treasure which you have merited so far with a great price? That is the favour which I ask of you. The king wanted to know what exactly he was asking for. Gaatthiappar said: “Promise me first that you will sell it to me.” Gandhappar Raja promised and swore that he would give whatsoever which really belonged to him.
        “After getting this assurance, Gaatthiappar said with all eagerness: “O my brother, please sell me that palace which you have bought for you in heaven”. But the king exclaimed:  “who bought a palace in heaven? I do not remember to have bought one!” Then Gaatthiappar said: “It is that man whom you have put in jail to be executed for having bought for you the palace in heaven! He is a holy man, a great friend of God. Immediately after my death the angels took me from this earth to heaven. There I saw a huge palace. No one can explain its beauty and grandeur. With shining marble walls, decorated with all kinds of gems and gold, it was ineffably beautiful. The angels told me, “This is the palace built by St. Thomas for your brother; but he has become unworthy of it. And therefore St. Thomas prayed for you, you will be sent to the world to merit it by sacrificing all your wealth and money for the poor and for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
        Hearing this Gandhappar Raja received the inspiration to realize the instructions of Our Lady at Bethlehem how he should have accepted the Apostle, how he should have abandoned everything for the kingdom of God and cooperated with St. Thomas to convert all in his kingdom to embrace  Christianity.
            Motha Vaz continues: “Immediately he knelt down on the ground and prayed; “O God of St. Thomas! forgive my fault and have mercy on me” and he continued to pray as he used to pray ‘The Our Father’ taught by Our Lady, “Heavenly Father, Blessed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In the meanwhile King Gaatthiappar rushed to the prison, prostrated at the feet of St. Thomas and greeted him with these words: “O holy Apostle of the Lord, blessed be the God of your forefathers. Kindly forgive my brother and have pity on him.” St. Thomas gladly looked at his face, blessed him with the sign of the Cross on his forehead and said: “My son, may the peace of the Lord be with you.
        “The prison doors were thrown open and king Gaatthiappar brought the inmates out in the presence of Gandhappar Raja who fell at the feet of St. Thomas and requested him to forgive and bless him, “O Saint! Most pleasing to God,” he cried, “O Holy Apostle of Jesus Christ! I really did not know your greatness. Only now I realize that you were planning to construct a heavenly kingdom for me. Please pray to the Eternal King Whom I adored at Bethlehem that I may become worthy of possessing that palace which you have built for me in heaven. Guide and help me to be a faithful servant of the God whom you worship.” St. Thomas gave them instructions on Christian doctrines for seven days together with a great number of people of the king’s court and prepared them for baptism”.
             Then on May 1, 34 A.D. the Apostle baptized them all. He named Gandhappar as Peter and Gaatthiappar as Paul. This fact has been confirmed also by Dr. V. Lawrence: “King Gundnapar (Gandhappar) of India sent Habban to get an architect to build a palace. Habban took with him Thomas who was sold to him by Christ…… Both went to Gundnapar. Thomas sought money to build the Palace, but spent it for the poor. Thomas was imprisoned. Gundnapar’s brother saw in heaven the palace built by Thomas. He was released and the royal brothers were baptized.” 3
        Let us now read the same story in a different version found in the Second Act of Thomas (Nos. 20 to 27).
The Second Act: concerning his coming unto the king Gundaphorus. (No. 20 to 27)
         “Now when the king came to the city he inquired of his friends concerning the palace which Judas that is called Thomas was building for him. And they told him: Neither hath he built a palace nor done aught else of that he promised to perform, but he goeth about the cities and countries, and whatsoever he hath he giveth unto the poor, and teacheth of a new God, and healeth the sick, and driveth out devils, and doeth many other wonderful things; and we think him to be a sorcerer. Yet his compassions and his cures which are done of him freely, and moreover the simplicity and kindness of him and his faith, do declare that he is a righteous man or an apostle of the new God whom he preacheth; for he fasteth continually and prayeth, and eateth bread only, with salt, and his drink is water, and he weareth but one garment alike in fair weather and in winter, and receiveth nought of any man, and that he hath he giveth unto others. And when the king heard that, he rubbed his face with his hands, and shook his head for a long space.
        “And he sent for the merchant which had brought him, and for the apostle, and said unto him: Hast thou built me the palace? And he said: Yea. And the king said: When, then, shall we go and see it? but he answered him and said: Thou canst not see it now, but when thou departest this life, then thou shalt see it. And the king was exceeding wroth, and commanded both the merchant and Judas which is called Thomas to be put in bonds and cast into prison until he should inquire and learn unto whom the king’s money had been given, and so destroy both him and the merchant.
        “And the apostle went unto the prison rejoicing, and said to the merchant: Fear thou nothing, only believe in the God that is preached by me, and thou shalt indeed be set free from this world, but from the world to come thou shalt receive life. And the king took thought with what death he should destroy them. And when he had determined to flay them alive and burn them with fire, in the same night Gad the king’s brother fell sick, and by reason of his vexation and the deceit which the king had suffered he was greatly oppressed; and sent for the king and said unto him: O king my brother, I commit unto thee mine house and my children; for I am vexed by reason of the provocation that hath befallen thee, and lo, I die; and if thou visit not with vengeance upon the head of that sorcerer, thou wilt give my soul no rest in hell. And the king said to his brother: All this night have I considered how I should put him to death and this hath seemed good to me, to flay him and burn him with fire, both him and the merchant which brought him (Syr. Then the brother of the king said to him: And if there be anything else that is worse than this, do it to him; and I give thee charge of my house and my children).
        “And as they talked together, the soul of his brother Gad departed. And the king mourned sore for Gad, for he loved him much, and commanded that he should be buried in royal and precious apparel (Syr. sepulcher). Now after this angels took the soul of Gad the king’s brother and bore it up into heaven, showing unto him the places and dwellings that were there, and inquired of him: In which place wouldest thou dwell? And when they drew near unto the building of Thomas the apostle which he had built for the king, Gad saw it and said unto the angels: I beseech you, my Lords; suffer me to dwell in one of the lowest rooms of these. And they said to him: Thou canst not dwell in this building. And he said: Wherefore? And they say unto him: This is that palace which that Christian builded for thy brother. And he said: I beseech you, my lords, suffer me to go to my brother, that I may buy this palace of him, for my brother knoweth not of what sort it is, and he will sell it unto me.
        “Then the angels let the soul of Gad go. And as they were putting his grave clothes upon him, his soul entered into him and he said to them that stood about him: Call my brother unto me, that I may ask one petition of him. Straightway therefore they told the king, saying: Thy brother is revived. And the king ran forth with a great company and came unto his brother and entered in and stood by his bed as one amazed, not being able to speak to him. And his brother said: I know and am persuaded, my brother, that if any man had asked of thee the half of thy kingdom, thou wouldest have given it him for my sake; therefore I beg of thee to grant me one favour which I ask of thee, that thou wouldest sell me that which I ask of thee. And the king answered and said: And what is it which thou askest me to sell thee? And he said: Convince me by an oath that thou wilt grant it me. And the king sware unto him: One of my possessions, whatsoever thou shalt ask, I will give thee. And he saith to him: Sell me that palace which thou hast in the heavens? And the king said: Whence should I have a palace in the heavens? And he said: Even that which that Christian built for thee which is now in the prison, whom the merchant brought unto thee, having purchased him of one Jesus: I mean that Hebrew slave whom thou desiredst to punish as having suffered deceit at his hand: whereat I was grieved and died, and am now revived.
        “Then the king considering the matter, understood it of those eternal benefits which should come to him and which concerned him, and said: That palace I cannot sell thee, but I pray to enter into it and dwell therein and to be accounted worthy of the inhabiters of it, but if thou indeed desirest to buy such a palace, lo, the man liveth and shall build thee one better than it. And forthwith he sent and brought out of prison the apostle and the merchant that was shut up with him, saying: I entreat thee, as a man that entreateth the minister of God, that thou wouldest pray for me and beseech him whose minister thou art to forgive me and overlook that which I have done unto thee or thought to do, and that I may become a worthy inhabiter of that dwelling for the which I took no pains, but thou hast builded it for me, labouring alone, the grace of thy God working with thee, and that I also may become a servant and serve this God whom thou preachest. And his brother also fell down before the apostle and said: I entreat and supplicate thee before thy God that I may become worthy of his ministry and service, and that it may fall to me to be worthy of the things that were shown unto me by his angels.
        “And the apostle, filled with joy, said: I praise thee, O Lord Jesu, that thou hast revealed thy truth in these men; for thou only art the God of truth, and none other, and thou art he that knoweth all things that are unknown to the most; thou, Lord, art he that in all things showest compassion and sparest men. For men by reason of the error that is in them having overlooked thee but thou hast not overlooked them. And now at mv supplication and request do thou receive the king and his brother and join them unto thy fold, cleansing them with thy washing and anointing them with thine oil from the error that encompasseth them: and keep them also from the wolves, bearing them into thy meadows. And give them drink out of thine immortal fountain which is neither fouled nor drieth up; for they entreat and supplicate thee and desire to become thy servants and ministers, and for this they are content even to be persecuted of thine enemies, and for thy sake to be hated of them and to be mocked and to die, like as thou for our sake didst suffer all these things, that thou mightest preserve us, thou that art Lord and verily the good shepherd. And do thou grant them to have confidence in thee alone, and the succour that cometh of thee and the hope of their salvation which they look for from thee alone; and that they may be grounded in thy mysteries and receive the perfect good of thy graces and gifts, and flourish in thy ministry and come to perfection in thy Father.
        “Being therefore wholly set upon the apostle, both the king Gundaphorus and Gad his brother followed him and departed not from him at all, and they also relieved them that had need giving unto all and refreshing all. And they besought him that they also might henceforth receive the seal of the word, saying unto him: Seeing that our souls are at leisure and eager toward God, give thou us the seal; for we have heard thee say that the God whom thou preachest knoweth his own sheep by his seal. And the apostle said unto them: I also rejoice and entreat you to receive this seal, and to partake with me in this Eucharist and blessing of the Lord, and to be made perfect therein. For this is the Lord and God of all, even Jesus Christ whom I preach, and he is the father of truth, in whom I have taught you to believe. And he commanded them to bring oil that they might receive the seal by the oil. They brought the oil therefore, and lighted many lamps; for it was night (Syr. whom I preach: and the king gave orders that the bath should be closed for seven days, and that no man should bathe in it: and when the seven days were done, on the eighth day they three entered into the bath by night that Judas might baptize them. And many lamps were lighted in the bath).
        “And the apostle arose and sealed them. And the Lord was revealed unto them by a voice, saying: Peace be unto you brethren. And they heard his voice only, but his likeness they saw not, for they had not yet received the added sealing of the seal (Syr. had not been baptized). And the apostle took the oil and poured it upon their heads and anointed and chrismed them, and began to say (Syr. And Judas went up and stood upon the edge of the cistern and poured oil upon their heads and said):
       “Come, thou holy name of the Christ that is above every name. Come, thou power of the Most High, and the compassion that is perfect. Come, gift (charism) of the Most High.
        “Come, compassionate mother. Come, communion of the male. Come, she that revealeth the hidden mysteries. Come, mother of the seven houses that thy rest may be in the eighth house.           
        “Come, elder of the five members, mind, thought, reflection, consideration, reason; communicate with these young men.
       “Come, Holy Spirit, and cleanse their reins and their heart, and give them the added seal, in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost.
        “And when they were sealed, there appeared unto them a youth holding a lighted torch, so that their lamps became dim at the approach of the light thereof. And he went forth and was no more seen of them. And the apostle said unto the Lord: Thy light, O Lord, is not to be contained by us, and we are not able to bear it, for it is too great for our sight.

        “And when the dawn came and it was morning, he brake bread and made them partakers of the Eucharist of the Christ. And they were glad and rejoiced.  And many others also, believing, were added to them, and came into the refuge of the Saviour.” 4
        Thus the King and the people of Maanaveera Naadu became Christians in the first century itself. King Peter (Gandhappar Raja) named his capital city as “Jesupuram” and wanted to teach Christian doctrines to all the people in his country. He appointed St. Thomas as the King’s priest and Poet, and requested him to write down all the teachings of Jesus Christ in a super eminent style so that it might surpass all the works of the existing literatures and Vedas. Accepting this royal task of creating a literary master piece in Tamil language, St. Thomas became worthy of the inscriptions found on the copper plates of Chinnamanoor, Velvikkudy, which claim that the Pandian family had the honour of owning an Arian - Agasthia Priest.”5 St. Thomas now decked with the royal authority and unlimited capacity, travelled first throughout Maanaveera Naadu and then to the surrounding regions and preached the gospel and converted 9,000 men excepting the women and children.6 Deacon Xantipus, the king of Parthia and King Paul (Gad), now ordained a Deacon were the constant companions of St. Thomas in his missionary works.



        In those days the Pandians of Maanaveera Naadu had extensive business travels with their precious products of pearls, ornaments of sangu, dry fish, karkandu, Jaggery, baskets and rice to the neighbouring Chera and Chola countries. For this business travels, the kings had constructed road ways with trees, resting places and drinking water wells all along. One such road way was in use at the time of St. Thomas. It was between Maanaveera Naadu (east coast) and Venaadu (west coast). In fact, it was these two Naadus or States that were called the original “Malabar” of St. Thomas Christians. This traditional route, starting from the ports of Ovari, Kooduthaalai and Periathaalai, ran through Kanakkankudiyiruppu, Rammadupuram, Changanaankulam, Vadakkankulam, Pazhavoor, and crossing the Western Ghatsthrough Edamalai Thondu, (the Seventh Pass) ran through Ramanaathichan Puthur, Marungoor, Kottar, Vettoornimadam,         
Kaarangadu and reached Thiruvithaankodu. There are some traces found to prove this route in the forms of chatrams with rock pillars, naazhi kinarugal (narrow wells) etc.7 St. Thomas with his disciples traveled along this route, preaching the gospel in all the villages and towns, and reached Thiruvithaankodu.
        This Thruvithaankodu is another important place which St. Thomas chose as a centre of his first mission. It was the capital city of Venadu situated in the South West coast of Tamil Naadu.   Alex C. Muthiah describes the history of this mission centre as follows: “In those days, Parasuraman a valiant King of North East India brought from the province of the river Ganges sixty four families of Arians and settled them in this province of Chera Naadu. The descendants of these Arians were ruling as kings of Venaadu, and they were called “Thiruvadigal”. Hence, the country which was ruled by these Thiruvadigal was known as “Thiruvadi Desam”, and the city where these Thiruvadigal lived was called “Thiru Vaazhum Kodu.” Thus the capital of Venaadu took the name “Thiruvaankodu” and in course of time became “Thiruvithaankodu.” 8
        The Christians who were first converted in Venaadu were settled in this city of Thiruvithaankodu and a church was built there for their worship. This was the first church built by St. Thomas in Chera Naadu, still existing after many renewals and modifications.This fact recorded by Alex C. Muthaiah, has been confirmed in a documentary video C.D. produced by the ICS Creations called “Ezharappallikal” where Professor George Menachery speaks as follows: “In the district of Kanyakumari, at Thiruvithaankodu St. Thomas the Apostle erected a Cross and then built a small church, which still exists after undergoing some modifications and renovations.” In the same documentary film Professor Rev. Dr. Xavier Koodappuzha, Vicar of St. Dominic’s Cathedral Church in Kanjirappalli says; “St. Thomas, the Apostle came not only to Kerala, but there is a tradition that before coming here he went to many other places in the south country such as Thiruvithaankodu.”
        While staying at Thiruvithaankodu, St. Thomas visited all over Kanyakumari district in between Marthandam and Kottar. In every place of his visit he went on baptizing new Christians and appointing Catechists to look after them. As he trained the Catechists to teach catechism to the new converts, the Apostle was also composing the Christian doctrines in poetry form in order to present it to Gandhappar Raja.
         For such works of extra ordinary wisdom he used to find places of recollection and meditation. In Venaadu St. Thomas found a hill top of tranquil and of cool breeze, exactly six kilo meters bird’s eye view distant west of Thiruvithaankodu. On the top of this hill called ‘Matha Malai’, St. Thomas used to sit atop the hill on a stone for prayer and meditation for a long time; and therefore the rock on which he rested his right foot, we can see now his foot print. In one of the caves of this hill Our Lady has appeared to him several times and inspired him to compose the Tamil literature of Christian doctrines. (Rev. Thirumeni Varghese of Kappiyara has written the history of this hill)
        After six months of sojourn in Venaadu, St. Thomas returned to meet his first Christians in Maanaveera Naadu by the same route through which he came first. But after Ramanaathichan Puthur he discovered another pass through the mountains called “Narithondu.” After crossing this pass he found a beautiful and fertile area on the hill side. There were two streams perennially flowing from the mountains, one having its source from Peria Malai called “Sambanchunai;” another from Nilapparai Malai called Kanjanchunai. 
The place in between these two streams was a green grove and a beautiful garden where probably “Kanja” plants were growing, and therefore the stream was called Kanjanchunai and the mountain was also called “Kanjomalai.” St. Thomas found this place suitable for rest and also a platform to preach to the people gathered around him. There is a cave in which he used to pray and meditate. A demon came to disturb his prayers and meditation. St. Thomas told the demon to depart from him and wait for him in a distant place. And it is said that this demon is still waiting for him and calling: “Thomas when will you come?” This calling of the demon was reported to have been heard by some in that region until the recent past.10
                   While starting from Kanjomalai (Nilapparai) the Saint somehow missed his way and landed at Pandarakulam, east of Vallioor where, according to traditional belief, it is said that he founded a small community of new Christians by the side of a river which made the place very fertile and pleasant. 
St. Thomas erected a Cross there with the inscriptions (INRI) on it, carved by his own hands in his own peculiar style, which can be seen there now on the northern side of St. Thomas’ church (Now a beautiful shrine has been built in the same place with that miraculous cross as the object of veneration). He liked this small community so much that he made it a point to pass through Pandarakulam whenever he went to and from Thiruvithaankodu. Since this community of St. Thomas’ Christians was later visited by various Missionaries like Sts. Francis Xavier, John De Britto, Veeramamunivar (Constantine Beschi) etc. who were known as "Pandara Swamigal", this place got the name Pandarakulam. This village is one of the sub-stations of the present Kilavaneri Parish in Tuticorin Diocese. From Pandarakulam St. Thomas took a different route along the river Nattaaru (Nambiaru) and reached Kanakkankuditiruppu in the month of December, 34 A.D.

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