What Every Nasrani Needs to Know–And Doesn’t

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What Every Nasrani Needs to Know–And Doesn’t
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There are huge wooden doors and spacious door-ways at the front and side entrances to the naves and in the gate houses in Kerala Churches. To protect the front and side doors from inclement weather there are pillared porticoes, which have benches inside to sit down. The three sided gabled roof of the portico has a Monthayam in front at the junction of the three sloping sides which often has exquiste wooden carvings. The porch Columns, rafters, and beams display the skill of Kerala’s carpenters. The Mammoth pillar-less roofs of the churches are skillfully crafted from Kerala’s renowned timber varieties like Teak and rosewood.

Many Churches are vertiable museums of old glass lamps, Chandeliers, Candelabras, Colourful mercury globes and prisms. There are also many varieties of bronze lamps in the churches such as the bird lamp, the Peacock lamp, the Hanging lamp, the many-storeyed floor lamp, the Kuthuvilaku, the Kolvilakku and the Kindivilakku. The Elephant Lamp of Kanjoor and the hanging lamp of Ramapuram are famous.

The four lions of the Asoka Stampa are to be seen again on the pedestals of the baptismal fonts at Edappally and Kanjoor. The huge stone baptismal fonts of Kaduthuruthy, Changanassery, Kadamattam,Kalluppara, Kottayam, Chengannoor, Mylakombu and Muthlakodam have depictions of leaves, flowers, creepers and biblical scenes in addition to basket and coir patterns.

The balconies have huge gold coated beams supported by highly realistic wooden Elephants. The Wooden railing separating men from women in the nave and the Bhandarams in wood, metal or stone have remarkable artistic distinction.

The wooden pulpit or rostrum is called Puzhpam meaning flower. The wooden stem or Stalk of the flower-like pulpit proceeds from the mouth of a Lion, an Elephant or a Dragon. There are interesting Puzhpams at Ollur, Thrissur, Chungam, Palai, and Kanjoor. The 40 foot wooden pulpit of Ollur is perhaps the tallest in Asia. The Evangelists and Saints carved on the pulpits are both beautiful and inspiring. Heaven is represented by the chancel or Madbaha where the Altar is located.

There are 3 Altars inside the Madbaha in the West Syrian tradition of Kerala while in the East Syrian tradition the 2 side Altars are found outside the Madbaha. The Altar, the reredos or Altarpiece, and the ceiling of the Madbaha are glorious examples of wooden Sculpture. To prevent the ceiling panels from bending they are coated with mud and some herbs. The Mammoth Altar-pieces are made of wooden blocks joined together without the use of metal nails. They have gold encrusted carvings of Flowers, leaves, plants and creepers.

There are also apostles and Saints in wooden relief, in addition to pillars, pilasters, and groups of angels. There are also many tabernacles in Kerala which are remarkable examples of wood carving.The wooden Candlesticks, Ramshethis or bouquet, and crosses are also excellent achievements of the wood carver. There are many ceilings which illustrate heaven as such. There is at least one church in Kerala displaying more than 5000 angles in Murals, Frescos, Wood and Plaster.

Hundreds of mural picturers decorate the walls of old Kerala Churches which excel the Rajput and Mughal paintings in artistic merit, Indianess, and antiquity. As the biblical Scenes and the 15 Mysteries and notable personalities have been painted using basic colours obtained from nature, they have lasted many centuries and enjoy a high place in the mural tradition of the land.

There are famous Altar and Madhbaha decorations in Ollur, Kanjoor, Kottayam, Alangad, Koratty, Chengannur, Akaparambu, Paliakkara, Pazhuvil, Thumpamon, Palai, Kaduthuruthy and Mulanthuruthy.

The huge Angamaly paintings of Hell and the Last Judgement are incomparable contributions of Kerala to the world mural heritage.

The mural paintings of Cheppad, Piravam, Paliakkara, Angamaly,Akaparambu, Kanjoor, Ollur, Pazhaji and Vechoor deserve world recognition for their artistic excellence and skill of execution. The centuries old jute panels which decorate the ceiling of the Ollur Church are 300 squre feet each in size.

The walls and ceillings of the Chancel and the nave of that church are so fully covererd with exquisite frescos and murals that one is reminded of Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.The thousands of Images and statues in wood, metal, stone and ivory are another attraction of Kerala Churches.

In many churches there are 25 to 75 wooden statues which are not in daily use. The gate-house, the priests’ house, the house for explosives, the bell tower, and the Drummers’ hut are the main subsidiary structures. Domes, Outdoor Crosses, 4 & 8 tongued coconut Scrapers made of a single block of wood, granaries, canoes and boats, boxes of different sizes for various uses, lamps, Chinese jars and measuring utensilss made of wood, stone, metal, ivory or ceramics are found in these structures.

A few old books and palm leaf Granthas of Pre-Portuguese origin are to be still seen in some old churches.

There are many old inscriptions yet to be fully deciphered and studied in many Churches including the Thazhakkat and Edappally rock inscriptions, the Tharissapally and Palayur copper plates, the Kanjoor and Chowara tomb stones, and the Kanjoor and Kundra beam writings. At least from the beginning of the 2nd Millennium a 3 tierd roofing pattern is obtained in churches, the Madbaha or Garbhagriham having the tallest roof and the portico at the other end having the lowest roof. Outside the Church many plaster and rock monuments of a historical nature are seen at Palayur, Ramapuram and Kuravilangad.

Generally the Cemetery is found to the South of the church. The body is buried with the head to the west facing the rising sun sympolising Christ and the hope of resurrection. From the distance the bell beckons the faithful to the House of God.

There are huge bells and tall bell-towers at Muttuchira, Chalakudy, Ollur, Mylakombu, Palayur, Pazhuvil, Changanassery and Kuravilangad

The inspiring call of the bells and the towering belfries announce the presence of the church to the people spread far and wide in all directions.

Pictures-

a) First three pictures are of Twin Church at Ramapuram which is in demolition line

b) The picture of Giant bell with undeciphered code is of Kuravilangad Martha Mariam Church.

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NB- Guest Contribution for NSC Network

Source- Prof. George Menanchery Articles – 1.Indian Church History Classics (ICHC) 2.The Thomapedia 3. SARAS

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25 Comments

  1. Lijo says

    Many thanks to NSC effort in promoting Nazarene way of life and enlighten as about our heritage.
    There are many museums in Kerala and around showcasing the legacy of St Thomas and of Nazrani’s. It would be much appreciated if a post can be made.

  2. R. Kurissingal Varghese says

    This is a very dedicated site that should be commended and supported.
    Let us form stronger bonds among those of us who are being diluted and our history being adulterated.

  3. Dr. JTM says

    very interesting indeed to learn this.

  4. John Mathew says

    “Our synagogues were changed to churches”? This is a rather extreme view of history.

    First of all, it is hard to determine what we were prior to the arrival of the Portuguese.
    Although the bulk of the evidence (which is in the form of East Syriac manuscripts, which represent the oldest testament to the Syriac tradition in Kerala) points to an origin in the Church of the East, there are still other possibilities, including

    (a) Jacobites (the evidence for this is slim, but the evidence that exists — namely,
    1. the reported reference tor Mor Severios that the Buchanan Bible is supposed to have, and
    2. the reports from ancient travelers that the Nasranis revered Mor Dioscoros — is interesting), or even

    (b) Manichaeism (again from reports by ancient travelers to the Malabar coast).

    Second, why stop at Judaism? If you are interested in going back to your roots, why not go back further, or if you feel you are 100% Jewish, why not go back to the ancient polytheistic Mesopotamian religion? Or animism before that? Where does one stop with this sort of regressive reasoning — how far back?

    Finally, it’s very difficult to believe that our churches were *all* synagogues. After all, with the old Syrian churches of Kerala there is the matter of those ancient granite crosses that likely predate the arrival of the Portuguese, and other “intimidating” colonialists.

    1. Raju Ollukaren says

      Yes. All these were of Church of the East, till persecution made by the invaders, who changed the churches to their own ideology. Hence the congregation of the most ancient Church of the East, reduced into a meagre few. Let God Almighty correct the deviations where ever necessary.

  5. Stephen says

    Many of these are new information to me. Can a picture of the baptismal fonts at Edappally and Kanjoor showing four lions of the Asoka Stampa and elephant lamp and hanging lamp be included ?

  6. Cherian Thomas says

    Interesting, a few lines on all old churches and legends or history behind each and the prominence it enjoyed in the early dates with locals and rulers would be worth reading much more.In a time when faith erodes and people drift from faith denominations for quickfix faith the site should make inroads to the perspectives of old and solid faith and binding beliefs the forefathers had and adhering to the old faith.

    Thank you

  7. John Mathew says

    Many of us have heard of the SRITE project; if not, check out http://www.srite.de/ to learn more (basically, they are preserving the literary heritage of the Syrian Christian community of Kerala).

    Dr. Perzcel of SRITE has produced an interesting presentation in July 2008 detailing some of the work they’ve done. It’s a very interesting read, which you can find at:

    http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/hpg/ragh/ccs/photoGallery/2008-07-24-Istvan/2008-07-24-Istvan.pdf

    I think this is highly relevant to all of us Nasranis (especially the real ones who never embraced Protestant heresy!) so perhaps admin can get this on NSC.

  8. JEEVAN PHILIP says

    Dear John Mathew,

    Thanks, Indeed you are a NAZRANI.Time constraints;I I shall revert back to you.

    Thanks again.

    jeevan.

  9. Sunny Alan says

    The Srite.De entusiasm evokes mixed feelings.

    I feel happy of the project to see atleast a non-Nasrani seen value in preserving Nasrani history. At last history of Nsranis may be co-ordinated, codified to a chronological manner, for study of our children. Something is better than nothing…….. may be by a foreigner…..

    I feel really sad and ashamed that neither a Nasrani nor any Nasrani denomination Church authority found it serious enough to ponder into our history and arrange artifacts in a scientific manner and further digging to find what we believe, claim and defend is true( the Thomas origin). (Or are they true sons of doubting Thomas to doubt the belief may proven false if dug much deeper ??)

    But despite all I don’t think we should give full weightage and over emphasis to this project:
    1. The findings could be biased version.
    2. Even othevise the weightage could go to pure scientific historical research rather than based on Nasrani heritage, our tradition, beliefs etc. Many of our traditions, fond beliefs may be sidelined or even opposed and refused when digging history from a pure scientific platform.
    3. With such an ‘academic project’ by a non-Nasrani, a Nasrani-centered, Nazrani heritage based research will not be done(mostly), and the findings can be negative and become ‘authoritative evidence’ to quote for Nasrani-bashers.
    4. Example: our Thomas origin is just a matter of claim and a trivial issue of study subject for such projects. It is the toughest part to establish without big time research spending of millions to prove a 2000 year old fact. Doubtful is such a massive funding here.
    5. The outlook and ultimate aim of researcher is important to the positive result.We cannot gurantee this.
    6. So by over-emphasising and authorizing fully we may end up and forced to accredit a negative finding of a weak project.

    A Nasrani initiative is the need of hour.

  10. M Thomas Antony says

    Thanks John, very interesting.

    Perhaps, the local people- Indians- involved in the project should take more interest in keeping all the information perfect and not to mislead the researchers. I could find a silly mistake in it. Regarding the vattezhuthu in Kanjoor, “kochawda” is “little Joseph”, not Abraham. Whoever translated it made it wrong.

    Another surprising information is regarding the attempts of reunion to Pazhayacoor by Mar Dionysius- I and the journey of Mar Kariatti and Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar in AD 1778 to Rome. This proves the hesitancy of Puthencoor community and its leaders to embrace Antiochian church fully, even when the Antiochian mission was in Kerala for more than 100 years by then-since 1665!! This is a proof that Puthencoor community showed resistance against antiochianisation and was even ready to join the catholic fold to keep the East Syrian liturgy and traditions rather than joining another church be it syrian or eastern whatever,to get converted into a new tradition and liturgy !! Probably, after all the efforts have failed due to the Portuguese opposition, they might have just succumbed to antiochinisation.

    It is so surprising that Mar Kariatti manipulated the letter by Mar Dionysius in favor of him to become the Metropolitan and he succeeded in it!
    Their Rome mission was organized by the whole Nasranis- both Puthencoor and Pazhayacoor together and I think it was under the leadership of a few prominent laymen, and the money was raised by both groups from our parishes. (According to T K Varkey’s book, Kerala Maria theerthangal, my parish, Champakulam church had given 13000 kalippanam-2000 rupees- ref- Changanasserry athiroopatha innale, innu II). It also seems that the Pazhayacoor were happy to accept Mar Dionysius as the Metropolitan of the united Nasranis- this also proves that the Puthencoor was probably using the East Syrian liturgy at that point also.

    Again, many of the documents portraying Mar Abraham as a Nestorian, are probably the attempts of the Portuguese to show that they had converted the Nestorian Nasrani Christians of Malabar to true faith. This was the same attitude of all the invader churches, be it Antiochian, Dutch, English etc. We do not know whether they were Nestorian or not. The Church of the East does not want to say that they are Nestorians.

    Even, the Roman Catholic Church does not look like keeping the same attitude to nestorianism now. Rome has recently clarified that the Anaphora of Addai and Mari are valid and acceptable, albeit they had modified them in the synod of Diamper.

    Kadavil Chandy kathanaar’s usage of the words “Thomasian priests” is very interesting.

    1. Dr. C.K. Mathews says

      THOMAS Antony’s loyalty his syro-malabar church is obvious in his post. If we are looking at history, we should do it dispassionately and not with bias. When talking about pre-PORTUGHESE era, let us not confuse it with post Portughese perood.

      CK Mathews

  11. John Mathew says

    Dear Sunny:

    Different strokes for different folks I guess.

    This project will uncover knowledge that is directly relevant to us, and moreover, has a scholarly basis Unlike the silly stories and myths our Nazrani people have passed around and distorted — while simultaneously destroying our heritage!

    Your talk of “bias” is curious … this project is using presenting actual evidence, as opposed to inventing theories. How can bias creep into this? A Nazrani initiative has a higher chance of bias and distortion, as each partisan tries to invent a theory that advances his own creed and/or enhances his ancestry. Forget that! We need science and cold hard facts to tell us the *truth*.

    At any rate, the pdf is an interesting read. For example, the ancient name Qurodu is a version of Kuriakose, apparently. Perhaps this means Koruthu = Kuriakose.

    One question: can anyone provide an answer as to why our ancestors (of the last few centuries) went around destroying ancient murals and artifacts? Was electricity so important so as to warrant the defacement of a mural of the crucifixion? What were the Church authorities who allowed such idiotic renovations thinking?

  12. John Mathew says

    Dear M. Thomas Anthony:

    From what I’ve read, Mar Dionysius’ interest was in ended the tragic division of the Syrian Christian community, and he was willing to join the Catholics for that cause. That was his opinion and perhaps the opinion of some other Syrian Christians — perhaps even a majority had that opinion, but I doubt it: the Puthenkoor were quite pissed off at Mar Dionysius’ celebration of a Catholic liturgy in Alleppey — which means that had Dionysius’ union happened, there would have been another schism anyways.

    You are Catholic and so probably believe that one must follow one’s leaders. I’m Orthodox: I don’t care about leaders. I know enough history to see the hoards of Popes and Patriarchs who were false teachers, and were ultimately anathemized. And so I don’t believe in their infallibility nor in their right to lead me. So just because one of my bishops made a decision, does not mean that the community followed it.

    I can’t help but comment, however, on your use of the term “invader Church” to refer to the Orthodox Church. This makes no sense on several fronts, which I’m commenting on just so that this discussion is complete (i.e., I don’t want to debate this with you, because books provide ample evidence, and I don’t want to get into another meaningless debate since your dogma that the Roman Catholic Church is the Universal Church conflicts with my dogma that the former is heretical, and rather the Oriental Orthodox are the Universal Church).
    1. The Syriac Orthodox (Jacobites) came by invitation to assist the Syrian Christians in Kerala after the Roman Catholic Church forcefully caused our native Church to break communion with the East Syriac Church and join the Dyophysite (Chalcedonian) Catholic Church. They did not come with soldiers, nor did they use force.
    2. The Syriac Orthodox Church is a fully Oriental Church, with a shared cultural background with the East Syriacs. The East Syriacs and the West Syriacs are far more closer to each other, than either is to Catholic Church. Case in point: although the West Syriacs use the Liturgy of St. James and not that of Mar Adai and Mari, the liturgy and our prayer books are saturated with the authentic Syriac prayers of Mar Ephrem, Mar Balai, Mar Jacob, Mar Issac, etc. You Syro-Malabar may use a East Syriac derivative (you *do NOT* use the original liturgy — e.g., you use the Filoque clause, and many latinizations), but I’d be willing to bet that many of your priest’s prayers are probably recent innovations (i.e., last 600 years) and not syriac originals. After the Coonen Cross Revolt, it is true that the Catholics brought back the old Rites—but only after they were sufficiently modified. And several centuries of foreign domination (let’s not forget that while us Jacobites had native bishops from the 17th century, you guys only recently started taking charge of your own affairs—and even then only with the permission of your Latin superiors) have left your rites in tatters. Even your Syriac liturgy (used up to 1960) is not the original East Syriac one (with the three old Anaphoras), but rather a Syriac translation of Latin rites, with some of the butchered Chaldean Rite added in. It is not like our Syriac Liturgy which is fully inline with that of the Oriental Syriac Church, with no innovations added in by European foreigners.
    3. “Antiochization” was merely the adoption of the West Syriac Rite by our community since, prior to that, our community had no rite. Every Church used a hodgepodge derived from the Catholics, Jacobites, and the Chaldeans. This situation was remedied on our end, by proper theological education in the fully West Syriac rite—no more Latin, and Chaldean discontinuities. Our practices and cultural ethos were still that of the Eastern Church. Don’t forget, the formative phases of the Kerala Jacobite Church was done under the tenure of the Eastern Maprians—whose practices were quite different from that of the Western Patriarchate. For example, the Rogation of the Ninevites and many Syrian fasts and festivals are rigorously observed by the Jacobites of Kerala, to a greater degree than the Jacobites of Turkey (and probably to a greater degree than the SyroMalabar). This is due to our keeping of the traditions of the Eastern Syriac Churches (there were two: one Church of the East, and one Jacobite).

    And so on. You (and many Syro-Malabar apologists) like to denigrate the Jacobites of Kerala by stating that we are “Antiochianized” and “converted” but that is only to cover up the truly shameful fact that for several centuries your Church was mistreated by and subservient to the Roman Catholic Church, and your ancestors (and yourselves) didn’t have the fortitude to leave the aggressor and join an authentic Eastern Church: either the Church of the East (i.e., an Eastern Syriac Church that does not subscribe to the councils past Ephesus, like our ancestral Church) or the Jacobite Church.

    Most of what I have to say on this topic can be found in works even by Catholic scholars. For example, Bede Griffiths (a Catholic monk of the Kurishamala Ashram of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church) wrote an excellent introduction to the West Syriac Rite in his translation of the West Syriac Daily Offices. In it, you can find our exactly how much of our Rite comes from the Greek, and how much comes from the Syriac. The structure is Greek (as are all old rites), but the prayers of the West Syriac Rite were mainly composed by Syriac writes of the Schools of Edessa, Nisibis etc.

    Point: the Jacobites are a Syriac Church, allied with an old Patriarchate, and following doctrines developed by the two major schools of Christian thought—that of Alexandra and Antioch. The East Syriac Church of the East is also a Syriac Church.

    The Roman Catholic Church is a Western Church which, in the last few centuries due to the financial, military, and political power of its adherents, has managed to absorb many, formerly free Eastern Churches. It is not the oldest Church, it is not Eastern, and it is a far cry from the old Syriac Churches. To say that you, a Syro Malabar who follows the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church (since your head must ultimately come under the Pope in all matters), are *more* Syriac or *more* Oriental than I, a Jacobite, is highly laughable and false.

    For every one Mar Dionysius that sought union with the Catholics (there are two: Mar Dionysius and Mar Ivanios) there were several, if not close to a hundred, Orthodox bishops that decided to stay put and faithfully sing the prayers of Ephram, Jacob, Issac, Balai etc.

  13. M Thomas Antony says

    Dear John,

    I agree with you in many of your arguments. Most of the SMC also agree with you in those points otherwise, the SMC would not have existed, instead, completely accepted the Latin rite and became Roman Catholics. If we/our ancestors did not have an attitude towards our old traditions and practices, post Coonan cross oath scenario would have been very easy for the Portuguese. If we did not accept that we were Latinized, there would have no attempts for restoration but further latinisations and finally embraced the Latin Church. The mere existence of the SMC is due to the fact that we were latinised and our struggle to recover from it. Again, the extent of latinisation is debatable. Synod of Diamper was to introduce Latin liturgy. But they had to compromise and to make modifications only on the liturgy according to the norms with Roman church. That means the Portuguese could not succeed in their aim.

    Were they wrong? Is filioque clause wrong? to be anathemised? We have to study about the circumstances and the politics of that time. Something right at an old time may not be right now.

    Liturgy of Addai and Mari did not have the institutional words which were added. The Antiochian church also did not want to accept a liturgy without the words of institution. They also did not want to continue Nestorian ideas. I think the Antiochian church would also had made those modifications if they were in that position. I am not saying that what Romans did were right.

    All the rest of the churches accused the CoE as Nestorians. Even the The Antiochian church wanted us to get purified and saved from nestorianism. That was why you people had to take the Antiochian liturgy and hence the name Puthencoor. The Antiochian church was invited to provide Bishops only but they culturally invaded the community and converted them. I think, the IOC holds that idea and that is why, they do not want to be under the Patriarchate of Antioch. (But they still keep the liturgy)

    Regarding Mar Dionysius’s (Mar Thoma VI) attempts of reunion- note that he was the head of the church at that time. In the history, we can see that all Mar Thoma s-I-VI tried to rejoin the Pazhayacoor. I am not blaming them. Both our communities- the laymen and the clergy wanted reunion. Do not simplify that it was only his opinion. If the head of your church wants to opt a wrong union, wouldn’t the rest of the clergy and laymen removed him from that position. Mar Thoma VI continued in his position and became Mar Dionysius. Think about Mar Ivanios and Syro Malankara church. Mar Ivanios was delegated by the synod of the IOC to hold talks with Rome for communion. Due to political reasons, the rest of the church stayed back and Mar Ivanios entered into communion with Rome.

    I agree, Antiochian church did not come with force, but they have culturally invaded the Puthencoor faction.

    You (and many Syro-Malabar apologists) like to denigrate the Jacobites……. It is not true John. We agree and proclaim that we were mistreated by the Roman Church, and we fought against it. But you refuse to agree that you were converted into a new liturgy and tradition. We could keep our liturgy, tradition and language with some modifications only, where as Puthencoor had to leave everything for a new church.
    “Antiochization” was merely the adoption of the West Syriac Rite by our community since, prior to that, our community had no rite……. Is it true? You did have a rite before antiochianisation. You were East Syriac as we were. Even after Coonan Cross oath, the Puthencoor were using east Syriac liturgy until antiochianisation and re consecration of Mar Thoma VI as Mar Dionysius! So, adoption of Antiochian liturgy was an enculturation. Why Mar Thoma VI had to be reconsecrated?? Until then, was their Bishopric not legitimate??

    You said Roman Catholic Church is not older. So what? How younger the RC than Antiochian? Does God love the members of old church more? Much older is Judaism, would you consider joining Judaism?
    Do you think Latin is bad and Syriac is good? Christianity evolved in three different cultures and languages- Syriac, Latin and Greek. I do not think one is better than the other. Do you think God love only the Eastern Christians ?. The SMC has accepted some Latin religious practices. Are they keeping us away from God?

    Your consideration of two east Syrian churches- if there was a Jacobite east Syrian church, that was the result of Antiochian missions among the East Syriacs- just like the Romans did in here. Just because the CoE was Nestorians and hence to purify them. They were rivals.

    It seems that in your consideration, the Jacobite church is the only true church and the rest are all wrong. To me, the SMC, Roman Church, Mar Thomites, IOC, jacobites all are sister churches. They all have their own justifications.

  14. Sunny Alan says

    Dear John,
    I can understand your objections about my caution about Srite project, many will join you wondering why fellow against when somebody doing it free of cost.
    Pls note I too congrat him for his yeoman effort, but I dont think it is wise to acknowledge and accredit their proposed findings in advance in a hurry; due to obvious reasons.

    Different strokes for different folks ……
    —- No. Right stroke for the right ones.
    This project will uncover……….destroying our heritage!
    —— Agree 100%.
    Your talk of “bias” is curious … How can bias creep into this?
    —Well I admit guilty but studying our long struggle for freedom of faith, not many outsiders helped us with out bias. Many are out there to claim that Nasrani were Nestorians, Hindu, what not… prior ‘our’ arrival… prior Diamper etc. Many claim they made us Christians. But we ARE the oldest Christianity with Antioch than Roma.
    A Nazrani initiative has a higher chance of bias and distortion, ………
    —- I am not for a ‘biased Nasrani’ initiative, but for a focused initiative—focused on ORIGIN rather than preservation of Syriac etc. Nobody more focused out there than a ‘concerned Nasrani’ (with inferiority complex) to try earnestly to prove his origin. If our Thomas origin is proven we are no more liars. See below excerpts from Srite site. They are not just preserving manuscripts but out to conclusions with the ‘available’ proofs. But any simple ‘peek’ or analysis of available ‘Thaliyola’ vattezhuthu is not enough, but hard, costly digging is needed. Most of available manuscripts are already deciphered and translated by Indians. What to find newly than affirming existing half truths ?
    (……in the third stage of the process, the data obtained are used for clarifying many an obscure point of the history of Christianity in Kerala,……. )
    I value Muziris kind of deep study. Many things are to be unearthed to fill in the gaps. If we are criminally lazy and indifferent to sweat and find them doesn’t mean they are not existing. But it need real big effort than rearranging and jump to affirm the already available negative conclusions like Vedapraksh’s which is based on ‘floating debris’ when the ‘truth’ is buried at deep bottom. Aren’t we ‘educated, monied,’ lazy lot not to take a big initiative to prove our origin than waiting to accept somebody’s ‘new stories’?
    Until we prove ourselves we are no more eligible to be called Thomas Christians than ‘so called Thomas Christians’. Im sorry.
    Vedaprakashs will do ‘Thandav’ on our head while our Hierarchies busy doing “Higher education’ business to amass money to be deposited at Catholic Syrian Bank, pity not a single pie is used for such essential aims.
    At any rate, the pdf is an interesting read. For example, the ancient name Qurodu is a version of Kuriakose, apparently. Perhaps this means Koruthu = Kuriakose.
    —- Yes, I agree. A spade is a spade.
    One question: can anyone provide an answer as to why our ancestors (of the last few centuries) went around destroying ancient murals and artifacts? Was electricity so important so as to warrant the defacement of a mural of the crucifixion? What were the Church authorities who allowed such idiotic renovations thinking?
    —– Dear John why scold ancestors (they were ignorant at least). Are we the 21st century ‘cultured and history seeking’ are any better for that matter ? Come, let us go Ramapuram asking those idiots why they demolish one of the invaluable proofs of ancient Thomas Christianity in Kerala when enough vacant land is available at the plot and many surrounding Nasranis will donate land for the purpose if motivated. They say no space to hold Parishioners at prime time Holy Mass. Let us ask them after 10/20 years HOW MANY OF THE NEXT GENERATIONS WILL ATTEND HOLY MASS at the hall. Truth is less than the present numbers. Why destroy and build a ‘five star Church” unless for siphoning big money ?

    It’s a question of self pride and true love to Christ and Christianity.
    I sincerely acknowledge and regard all of us at NSC spending time for the right and noble end.

  15. John Mathew says

    Dear M. Thomas Anthony,

    No, I would certainly never say that either of Syriac, Latin, Greek or Coptic are superior or inferior. I was merely taking exception to your statement that the Jacobites were invaders. They weren’t. After the Jacobites came, the Puthenkoor still used a combination of the Latin, East Syriac and Jacobite liturgies — they weren’t forced to change. However, over two centuries, as more intercourse occurred between TurAbdin and Kerala, it was only natural that Kerala would migrate to a full West Syrian liturgy. After all, the Portuguese did a good job of erasing the old complete rites. The rites that were used in Kerala after Diamper were not pure and complete East Syrian rites, but a mixture of Latin and Latinized East Syriac — that’s what I meant by saying we had no rite— of course we had a rite, but it was not a complete Oriental one.

    So after the Jacobites came, the Puthenkoor had access to a bona fide Oriental liturgy, and a complete one. Rather than taking the Latinized scraps that were offered by foreigners, we adopted a complete Oriental rite, with no danger of foreign mixture or omission. That is why I don’t find it a big deal that we moved (or, as you say, “converted”) to the West Syriac Rite.

    Look at the problems faced by the SMC now. What is your liturgy? The Pope said you can revert back to the Chaldean East Syriac rite (i.e., the rite, minus the controversial Anaphoras) — but what has your Church done in practice? Developed hybrid liturgies, fight over Indianization vs Latinization vs Syriacization. Your bishops still take Western names, and physically look nothing different from Latin bishops (clean shaven, no beard, using names like Augustine, etc.) Your priests are still unmarried. Most of your people use foreign names as well. No big deal, to be honest, but still the Puthenkoor look and feel more Oriental than the general SyroMalabar Catholic.

    These fights/conditions don’t exist in the Orthodox Churches because we have a fully Oriental rite which doesn’t need to be approved, restored, or whatever. That we use a West Syriac rite doesn’t make us less Syriac—the West Syriacs *are* Syriac! Our Church Fathers are the same old old Orientals who predated the Nestorian schism: Ephrem, Isaac, Jaocb, etc. So what have the Puthenkoor lost? We lost an incomplete, modified liturgy. We lost controversy over what to do. That is, we lost nothing. We still even follow the old East Syriac traditions, since the Eastern Jacobites (Mar baselios Yeldo, and the other Maprians) followed them — in common with the East Syriac Church. There are many differences between modern Orthodox (Syriac or Malankara) in Kerala and those of Turkey — many customs in our Malankara Churches are absent in the Turkish/Syrian ones, and these traditions are precisely those ancient East Syriac customs that *both* the eastern “Nestorian” and “Jacobite” churches followed.

    And you say that the Jacobites in the East were the product of missionary activity of the Jacobites. Not at all! When the East Syriac “Persian Church” (Church of the East) broke communion with Antioch over the Nestorian issue (i.e., they declared the Catholicate independent of Antioch, etc.), there were still several Christians in the East that wanted to remain in communion. They were persecuted by the “Nestorian” East Syriacs, until the Patriarch of Antioch was sufficiently powerful as to resurrect the Orthodox Catholicate in Persia (i.e., the office of Bar Hebraeus, etc.).

    There were historically two lines of prelates that derived from the “Catholicate” presumably started by Thomas, Addai, Mari, etc. One line is the East Syriac “Nestorian” Patriarcate of the Church of the East. Another line is the West Syriac “Jacobite” Maphrianate. Both sides claim the same office (just like five bishops claim the position at Antioch — which one is true? They all can make similarly good/bad claims.). To say that the Jacobites in the East were just converts is false: they were Easterners who wanted to remain in communion with the Orthodox faith.

    Again I say: I don’t find any Catholic/Orthodox Church in Kerala inferior to the other (I disagree with you, however, on the Mar Thomite issue—they are inferior, heretics who have no place in the Syrian Christian community). In fact, I personally hope for closer relations between the Syro-Malabar and Orthodox Churches. I find it nauseating that the Mar Thomites and the Orthodox communities are close: in fact, I believe that the Mar Thomites ought to be outcast, in favor of closer Orthodox/Catholic relations. But, unfortunately, the Orthodox Church is being run by misguided incapable leaders at this point in time (in my view, Paulos Mor Gregorios was the last greatOrthodox bishop: every one else—whether Jacobite or Malankara Orthodox—can’t hold a light to him).

    I personally wish that a leader like your great Mani Kathanar would arise, to help both the Catholics and the Orthodox in Kerala to develop a stronger Nasrani Church. And if the Syro-Malabar were to re-establish its original East Syriac rite in full (from East Syriac sources, and not using Latin retranslations), with bearded, married priests (i.e., Oriental in look and feel and substance), I would be very happy.

  16. JEEVAN PHILIP says

    Dear John Mathew,

    This is becoming more interesting.So much of hatred no logical arguments and analysis (not from you).Today I found the reason- means I went through the whole pdf.I can understand and it is quite natural.Revert to you

    jeevan

  17. JEEVAN PHILIP says

    Dear John Mathew,

    The project is appreciable even what ever may be the outcome. Many of the so called Nazranies accept only those projects with preplanned outcome or one with church sponsorship. This has proved many times and poor Nazranies forced to face all type of questions loaded with historical evidences from scholars put them in embarrassing situation .The time has come to end it so that Nazranies can face any challenges. Come what may we need non biased, independent projects and historical writings.

    Going through the project details, I find their approach is comparatively good. The challenges and tasks described in the pdf tell us that even it conclude with a negative result with respect to Thomasine origin, I think we will be better off with some restoration of our decaying documents and artifacts. Probably we shall be able to show it to our children.

    I have very little information about the project director except he is a Syriac scholar; but I hope that the person is unbiased and have no vested interest. I am happy that they included non Christians in their team. As far as two priests are concerned, I heard about Kurukkoor; they could have included one from opposing faction certainly will give more credibility. I have no details about Dr. Susan Thomas, historian and her subject of prime interest, over all a good team.

    The pdf displays only few documents and they need to go through plenty of it which are scattered around. We individuals and churches should help them by allowing them to go through all documents and related artifacts .I wish them good luck.

    TAIL PIECE FOR ALL

    You might know MALAYALAMNORAMA’S BHASHAPOSHINI magazine. I think it is in the late50s or early60s they had a column for SAMASYAPOORANAM. One of the samasya was this

    Kattakayam christhava kalidasan!

    The prize was won by the following couplet

    Pottakinattil pulavan bhanindran
    Thattumpurath aakhu mrigendra rajan
    Kattakayam christhava kalidasan!

    Dear Sunny Alan &Thomas Antony, I don’t want to be Kattakayam, I don’t want to be Christhava historian.
    (If John finds difficulty in understanding ask any Mallu around you. Excuse me; there may be one more line. I don’ remember, No hard feelings please)
    Thanks

    Jeevan

  18. Sunny Alan says

    Dear Jeevan,
    Kattakkayam is dead for 72 years, let him rest in peace.
    He is still known ‘Mahakavi’ to Malayalam, self made, contributed his might.
    Pity, he won’t bother to come out of grave to defend himself.

    We can agree/ disagree on issues., that’s why we are here, to debate.
    You can dead against to anybody.

    The greatest evil in Malayali is inferiority complex.
    He seldom acclaim himself nor fellow men.
    Off late he contribute sarcastic words like ‘Mallu’ ‘Adipoli’ to Malayalam,

    The standard Malayali still exclaim thus:
    “Naadan para pula kaalikooli
    Nattinnasesham gunamethumilla
    Dhwarayaakilenthoru venma thanjam
    Dhwara thaadanam polumananya bhagyam”

    (Dhwara=white man)

    No hard feelings …….
    Laughing is not injurious to health.

  19. JEEVAN PHILIP says

    Dear sunny,

    I am sorry; you don’t seem to understand the samasya. I did not mean to laugh at Kattakayam or you. I want you to understand the sense behind the samasya. You must think about how others think of christhava sahithyam. I want to put this in mind and correlate it with christhava historians. Kya socha dha kya paya!

    Any way I like no Nazranies to produce historical work based only on folklore .That is why I supported the project.

    ‘The greatest evil in Malayali is inferiority complex’ where are you taking me?

    Sunny, please read my postings and then comment .I arrange my posting with logical arguments and observations. Take for eg. Palayoor stories, foreign prelates, church relations. You can disagree but with dignity means-no camouflaged attacks. If you have any point to cut my observations do it, not like this. I am happy to be questioned.

    Any way I have no hard feelings. But I expect little more decent reaction. If you could not do so then also I have no problem. But at least be a Nazrani.

    Thanks

    Jeevan

  20. Sunny Alan says

    Dearest Jeevan,
    I AM sorry if you are hurt. But I never planned to hurt.
    I am not at NSC to hurt anybody, even Parivarji Vedapraksh who is a hardcore opponent of Christianity.
    Then why you ?
    Many of your postings are really valuable.
    You note I didn’t utter anything abt your freedom to criticize my opinion of caution abt Srite.
    But I request our ancestors a lot, they are of pride for me. You know they were simpletons but real gem of human, we are much crooked comparing to them.
    We have NO right to tease dead ones. I felt such a tone, was moved, replied little tough.
    No good Christian literature ???
    Have you read Sr. Mary Baneenja (Mary John Thottam) ?? Read her poems and elegies, I bet you will feel sorry for your statement abt Christhava Sahithyam. What abt Arnos Padre and his “Amma Kanya” ?? (Pity is how many youngsters read it ever??)
    ………….Any way I like no Nazranies to produce historical work based only on folklore .That is why I supported the project………………
    This is my point: apart from folklore what is ther on our history? Our origin is still folklore. There exists many voids(say from 300/400 AD till 1200AD there is a big gap in our history, nobody knows. Unless we do real tough exploring by all methods we cannot find. But by all available proofs I STRONGLY BELIEVE in our Thomas Christianity.
    I can understand the existing folklores and stories. But not any more new stories coming out of fresh makeshift exploration & theories, that’s why I am skeptic abt Srite.
    If they do real effort and come up with ‘provable’ proof, Im ready to accept and congrat.
    Also nothing wrong to support them. But I prefer an initiative by Nasrani. When one is teased abt his parents (say fatherless) will he depend on stories of teasers ? No, he will set out to FIND by HIMSELF to prove.
    That will be the truth.
    I didn’t mean no camouflaged attacks. No. I was critic abt our craze for anything ‘foreign’ and the tone that Kattakkayam and Christian literature is cheap.
    Anyway just rest assured I was not against or attacking you…..

  21. Sunny Alan says

    Dear Admin, All,

    Ref: the post of Admin on attacks on Christians all over India.

    Anybody heard of a Christian based terrorist group in India ? I never heard of one.
    But I fear it is the explosive climate for birth of Adivasi terrorist outfits in North India.
    Non-Christian groups will be labeled as Christian !
    In North equations and communal perspective is much different than Kerala. Those living in North knows. Christians are considered low cast(native Christians are mostly low-cast) by all Hindus. The widespread attack can flare-up retaliation forming terrorist outfits.
    Adivasi Christians are 1% (may be less)Hindus are 80%. We know Christians are peace-loving but when ones mother, sister or daughter molested or raped in front of one (fanatics do this) and when he is helpless, this happens. Obviously 1% cannot retaliate and win by numbers.
    That’s the right climate for birth of terrorism anywhere.
    In this type of war numbers & majority is no winning factor. Casualty % could be 1:100. 1 terrorist: 100 innocent.
    There are other factors too: in North-east they hate India, they feel India is neglecting them. And Nagas, Manipuris are always in fighting mood.
    And Mavoists are lurking for a chance, they may use this people.

    How to avert such a situation is the big question.

  22. climus nazarani says

    dear brothers.
    its glad to know that we are thinking about our roots
    whatever may be the view we must think and also engage other brothers also do the same.
    our own people exploited us . by various resons.

    there are great tasks are awiting us

    shalom nazrani

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