Did Christianity Exist Before Hindus Came to South India?
“Uday Sir, the Malayalam television channel run by Marxist party said that Christianity came to Kerala much before Hindus came here. Is it true?” Ramanathan, a reader from Kerala has mailed me this question.
“Udayji, isn’t it true that Thomas the Apostle, direct disciples of Jesus Christ, came to Kerala and South India in CE 52 and converted Namboothiri Brahmins into Christianity and also established 8 Churches with Stone Crosses?” this question was from Varghese, a friend who follow s Christianity.
Obviously, both questions were quite contradictory. If Hindus were not there, then how come the conversion story becomes true? And vice-versa. I asked both of them to come online together so that we could discuss about it.
I replied the first question:-
“Yes, it is true. Christianity was here in Kerala much before Hinduism.”
“That’s shocking – how can it be true?” Ramanathan asked.
“Today’s Hinduism doesn’t have any history beyond a couple of centuries. Our ancestors followed Sanatan Dharma (or Vaidika Dharma) which at least is 10,000 years old! Hinduism is a corrupt form of Sanatan Dharma. Sanatan Dharma was based on science, logic and rationale. But today’s Hinduism is based on beliefs and superstitions. Also, the structure of today’s Hinduism is majorly influenced by missionaries and leftist thinkers. So, what the channel said must be true. It was British who coined the term Hinduism for classifying those people who do not follow Semitic religions.” (The word Hindu existed for centuries, but the term Hinduism is coined later)
“Seriously Udayji, did St. Thomas come and convert Namboothiri into Christianity and establish Malayalam Churches?” Varghese asked.
“Even if he wanted to it would be impossible for him as facts do not support this story…”
“Let’s go by facts. They say Thomas came to Kerala in CE 52, right?”
“Then, he would have never even met Namboothiri. Because according to all records, the first arrival of Namboothiris in Kerala happened around the 5th-7th century CE after the fall of the first Chera Kingdom and then they settled in 32 gramams (villages) throughout Kerala. So how would he meet Namboothiris 500 years prior to their arrival?”
“So he didn’t convert Malayali Namboothiris?” Varghese repeated.
“Yeah, he said that is a serious factual error. According to Chrisitians, Thomas dead in CE 72 approx 500 years before Namboothiri’s arrival.” Ramanathan replied.
“Incidentally, the language Malayalam came into being in 16th century. So, it would be difficult for them to speak in Malayalam…” I added.
“But the Christian history says that Thomas debated with the Namboothiri Brahmins and converted many “prominent people” including a King who was a Namboothiri Brahmin. They said the new converts voluntarily changed 8 temples into Churches. The Christian historians might have used the word ‘Namboothiri’ as synonym for ‘Brahmins’ as other Brahmins may have got converted,” Varghese said.
“Possible. But why should they use specific words “Namboothiri Brahmin” then? I am not sure whether even Brahmin as a caste existed then. Factual error number one: No Brahmin had ever ruled in this country. And even if a Brahmin did (rarest of rare) he would cease to be a Brahmin as the professional of ruling was known as Kshatriya. The caste system came to India after invasions from the Middle East. Varna (profession) became birth-based caste system very recently. If a King was converted, how can he be a Brahmin…..?” I raised these doubts and said: “Let’s leave all those facts aside. Even if we assume that Brahmins existed during the period of Thomas’s arrival, the conversion to Christianity would have been totally impossible…”
“Why?” both asked simultaneously.
“St. Thomas could not have preached Christianity in CE 52 because Christianity and the New Testament came into existence only in the fourth century, after the Council of Nicaea called by Roman Emperor Constantine (CE 272 -337) in CE 325. Brahmins could not have been converted by Apostle Thomas in 52 AD using the Bible from three centuries later.”
“Hmm. So you mean to say St. Thomas didn’t come to Kerala? ” Varghese asked.
“Even if I agree, your Pope won’t. Pope Benedict XVI went on record refusing to accept St Thomas myth as history. This created a huge controversy and confusion among Christians. Later, following pressure by Syro Malabar Church, Vatican secretariat send letter to Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil in Kerala on November 25, 2006 accepting St Thomas myth as history and initiating activities for establishing it as truth.”
– Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR) also intends to propagate that St Thomas landed in Kerala coast in first century AD to propagate Christianity, though there are no archaeological evidence or historical records to substantiate that Apostle Thomas arrived in India.
“Since India is a huge market, such story has great benefits in selling religion…” Ramanathan commented.
“So what about the Churches he established?” Varghese asked.
“Constantine recognized Christianity as a legal religion in CE 313. Till then the idea of building Churches was not popular. So we can’t say for sure…”
“But he had installed Stone Crosses, right? It is said that Saint Thomas installed few Stone Crosses known as Mar Thomas Sliba (Saint Thomas Christian crosses).”
“But this story lacks credibility. Cross was not used as a Christian symbol during that time. It became a part of Christian iconography only during the time of Constantine I”
“Hmmm. Udayji, as an unbiased person, what’s your inference from the study on Christianity in Kerala?”
“I think Christians were here in Kerala even much before they reached Rome or Europe. I have two reasons to say that.”
“What are those reasons?”
“Firs treason is simple – earlier records call them Nazranis, not Christians. Even the word ‘Christian’ did not exist during Thomas’s time; it was coined in Antioch around CE 65. Till then the followers of Christ were known as Nazranis, a name that continues to be used in Kerala.”
“And the second?”
“Though the story of converting Brahmins into Christianity doesn’t have any proof or merit, it is possible that St. Thomas initially targeted the Jews who were already in Kerala. A large section of Jews in Kerala might have converted into Christianity during those times…”
“Hmm. Even most of the Christians like me do not know about our great history and look into Rome for everything.”
“Uday sir, a personal question. Do you believe Jesus Christ existed?” Ramanathan asked.
“I believe he was. If you ask proof for it, there is none. If you go by historical records NO contemporary literature (other than Bible) mentions about life of Jesus Christ. So we can’t prove Jesus was real. But then, most of our 33 crore Gods are not in the history. But I believe all those Gods existed. ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N9PAGLT ) So I don’t have any problem in adding Jesus Christ as one among my millions of Gods. Especially when a person who was really enlightened like our thousands of great sages.”
“So you accept Christianity?” Varghese asked.
“No. We cannot compare Jesus’s great teachings with Christianity. Christianity and Church use Jesus, that’s all. The Church and Christianity are commercialized institutions and naturally need to exploit people for their survival – they don’t have any other income, right? If Jesus was alive he would have turned against all those rich, pleasure seeking priests who live in the extreme luxury and comforts. But I personally know there are good dedicated priests too who are really frustrated about the current situation. If you really follow Jesus Christ, you will keep yourself away from Christianity and Church.”
“You are right Udayji…A true follower of Jesus Christ cannot agree with those Christian sects who use unethical and unholy methods to convert innocents in India…” Varghese said.
Ramanathan suddently asked: “Uday sir, lot of new-convert Christians in Tamil Nadu say that the temple dedicated to virgin goddess Kanyakumari (kanya=virgin, kumari=unmarried woman) was actually belonging to the Virgin Mary (Kanya Mary). So the government should change the name of the town Kanya-kumari to Kanya-mary. They aslo say that Vedic sage Agastya was actually Saint Augustine of Christianity, so Agasthyarkoodam or Agastya Mala (1,868-metre-tall peak within Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary) should be given to Christianity to build a memorial.”
I said: “Such things don’t even deserve any reply. So no comments.”
“No Udayji, such claims made by recent business denominations and sects are really shameful for decent traditional Christians like us. I understand those claims are far cry from the real truth, but why do they claim like that?” Varghese asked.
“How would I know? You should ask them. I won’t be surprised if the governments yield to their pressure. The fake Aryan Migration theory had successfully planted and is also being taught even today!”
“But is there any connection between Augustine-Agasthiar or KanyaMary and KanyaKumary…Please clarify – you might have studied all those things…”both of them had almost same query.
“According to Bible Genesis theory, Jehowa created the entire universe approx 4000 years ago! Christianity came into being 2000 years ago. Right? Sage Agasthya was a Vedic Rishi who might have lived 7000 years ago. And the Puranic story of KanyaKumari dates back to nearly 5000 years ago. Does any sensible person propagate such ridiculous stories?”
“No. But there should be some agenda. There are always takers for such stories.”
“I can’t comment as far as I don’t have any facts. I am not a party to it. So I don’t want to waste my time on arguing with such people.” I concluded.
“That’s right – I am also like you Udayji – I give priority to tradition and culture of our country. Country comes first. Religion comes later…” Varghese added.
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