“THE VARTHAMANAPPUSTHAKAM” written by Cathanar Thomman Paremmakkal
“An account of the history of Malabar Church between the years 1773 and 1786 with special emphasis on the events connected with the journey from Malabar to Rome via Lisbon and back undertaken by Malpan Mar Joseph Cariattil and Cathanar Thomman Paremmakkal”.
“Varthamanappusthakam” (1785) is the first travelogue written in an Indian language. The narrative of “Varthamanappusthakam “ begins with the death of Florence, Vicar Apostolic of Malabar in 1773. It elaborates all that happened after the death of Florence including the journey of Malpan Cariattil and Cathanar Paremmakkal to Europe with the events connected with it and ends with their return journey until they sighted the island of Ceylon. Dr. Placid J Podipara CMI translated this book into English and it is published by Pontifical Oriental Institute of Rome in 1971.
About the Author
Cathanar Thomman Paremmakkal was born on September 10, 1736 Kadanad in the present Syro Malabar eparchy of Palai. He was ordained as a priest in 1761 and was the pastor of a few churches including his native church at Kadanad. He was well versed in Malayalam, Syriac, Latin, Sanskrit, Italian and Portuguese. He also authored a number of books including the translation of the book entitled ‘Imitation of Christ’ into Malayalam.
Cathanar Thomman Paremmakkal returned from Goa as the Governador or the Administrator of vacant See of Cranganore. He could not do anything officially for the reunion with Mar Thomas VI as the faculties were given to Mar Cariattil.
Up on return, Paremmakkal resided at Angamali. In 1787, the representatives of all churches assembled at Angamali and executed the famous Padiyola. All their grievances beginning from the death of Mar Abraham ( 1599) is addressed in Padiyola. They asked the Queen of Portugal to nominate Paremakkal as the archbishop, and in case the Queen did not agree, they decided to re course to Chaldean Patriarch. In due course, the Carmelities got assurance from Portugal through Rome that Paremmakkal would not be made archbishop.
Tippu Sultan’s invasion caused Paremakkal to shift his residence and administration of the Church to Vadayar near Palai in 1790. He moved to Ramapuram towards the end of his life and administrated the Church from there. He died at Ramapuram on March 20th 1799.
On March 26 1936, the body was exhumed and the remains were taken out and deposited in the wall of the sanctuary of old church at Ramapuram.
After the Coonan Cross Oath, the Saint Thomas Christians were divided in to two groups one under the Archdeacon and the other with Rome.
Among the Catholics, the Carmelite delegate in 1663 consecrated Alexander Parampil ( Chandy Pallivettil) as Vicar Apostolic of Cranganore and Malabar under the Propaganda for those who were reluctant to be under the Padraoado Cranganore ( Jesuits ). No native was appointed as his successor and was followed by Carmelities. The Malabar Catholics had several complaints about the ‘Propaganda’ authorities who were all Carmelities. They alleged that their priests were treated so badly that even one was killed at the instigation of the Vicar Apostolic.
Those under the Archdeacon were ruled by the successors of Mar Thomas I. The Vicar Apostolic Francis Sales was not favorable to the re union of Mar Thomas VI ( known as Mar Dionysius I).
After many deliberations at different places, the Malabar Church assembly resolved to send a delegation to Rome. The delegation included Malpan Joseph Cariattil and Cathanar Thomman Paremmakkal. They were authorized to do anything appropriate for the good of the Malabar Church. The main concerns were reunion with Mar Thomas VI and matters concerning the Arch diocese of Crangangore which had remained vacant. Two boys were also sent with them to be admitted to the Propaganda College, Rome. The journey started from the boat jetty at Athirampuzha in 1785. The delegates, the two boys and several others traveled through land visiting Periamala and Chinnamala, and finally in search of a ship in any of the ports at Coramondal Coast. Only Malpan Joseph Cariattil, Cathanar Thomman Paremmakkal and the two boys were permitted to go. They took a Portuguese ship at Chinnapattanam near Madras. Rounding the Cape of Good Hope, they reached Benguela on the other side of Africa. Then they went to Bahia in Brazil. From Bahia, they reached Lisbon in Portugal, where they submitted their petition to the Queen of Portugal. Then they went to Genova and from there, to Rome. Their journey to the destination took more than a year.
They submitted to the Pope in person: the profession of faith of Mar Thoma VI, and his petition, and their own petition.There were many enemies who were mighty and powerful. The Propaganda Congregation, which took up the question of Mar Thoma VI was deadly against them. However, the Portuguese government took an interest in the matter. The Propaganda Congregation at the instance of Pope, made enquiries about Mar Thoma VI. While in Rome, both of them were able to revoke the nomination of Carmelitie John as the Vicar Apostolic of Malabar in place of Francis Sales, who was advised to resign in 1779.
Cariattil and Paremmakkal returned to Lisbon from Rome. In Lisbon, Cariattil was nominated and consecrated as the Archbishop of Cranganore in 1783. The enemies and difficulties only increased after this. Both of them returned to Malabar with faculties issued by Propaganda to receive Mar Thoma VI. On further enquiries and reports, the Propaganda agreed to recognize Mar Thoma VI as Bishop.
On their way back home, they stayed in Goa where Mar Cariattil died. Before his death, Mar Cariattil appointed Thoma Cathanar as the Governador (governor) after him.
The Introduction is written by Dr. Placid J Podipara. It contains sections for history, the authors, the book, the vicissitudes of the book ( Pandari & Sankurikkel, Propagadna titular archbishop, Verapoly and two other vicariates, Berandine and Roccos, Synod and Condemnation, Leonard and Mellos, New Arrangements, Indigenous prelates), translation, Mar Thomas VI and his Church.
The history section include subsections for 1.Home and Habitat 2. Early History 3. Liturgy 4.Hierarchey 5. Gate of All India 6. Administration 7.Privilages 8. The Portuguese 9.Bishops- Goan Councils 10.Mar Abraham’s last days 11.The Archdeacon 12. Dom Menezis in Malabar 13.Diamper 14.Latin rule : Padroado 15: All India: abolished 16: Jesuit role 17: Ahatallah: Coonan Cross Oath 18: Carmelite Commissaries 19: Mar Alexander: Jacobitism 20: Raphel : Carmelities 21: Carmelities: Propaganda: Mar Simon 22: Padroado and Propaganda 23: Mar Gabriel 24: Prelates and residences 25: Kingdom of Travancore 26: Troubles under Propaganda 27: Msgr.Sales 28: Mar Thomas VI and Cariattil 29: Cariattil in Rome 30: John and Carlo 31; Cariattil:Archbishop.
I. On what happened at Verapoly after the death of Msgr. Florence. bishop of Areopolis
II. That by virtue of the invitation of the churches assembled at Alangat all the churches of Malabar assembled at Angamale
III. On what happened after the assembly at Angamale had begun the deliberations
IV. The church assembly of Edappalli takes its complaints to the representatives of the churches assembled at Angamale
V. On what happened after the Padres had arrived at Angamale
VI. On what happened at Angamale after the Padres handed over the Padiola to the representatives of the churches and before the assembled took leave of each other.
VII. On what happened at Angamale after the blessing and the banquet ..
VIII. On what happened after Francis Sales. bishop of Germnicia had arrived as Vicar Ap. of Malabar
IX. On what happened after the bishop was made to stay at Alangat
X. On what happened after the civil authority had heard of the solemn conducting of the bishop from Verapoly to Alangat
XI. That bishop Mar Thomas of Niranam wrote a letter to Alangat to bishop Sales
XII. On what happened after Malpan Cariattil had approached bishop Mar Thomas
XIII. On the return of bishop Sales to Verapoly from Alangat and on what happened in consequence
XVIII. On Udayagiri and what happened after reaching it.
XIX. On Thuthukkuti and on what happened there .
XX. On what happened after we had arrived at the house of the Kuppayakkaran Parunki
XXI. On what happened after our arrival at Tharankanpati
XXII. On what happened after our departure from Tharankanpati ….
XXIII. On our journey to Periamala and Chinnamala after the meeting with the bishop at Mylapore and on other things
XXIV. On the ship and on the efforts we made to embark ….
XXV. On what happened afterwards until we embarked …
XXVI. On what happened after we had embarked….
XXVII.On Benguela and on what happened to us there
XXVIII.On Bahia and what happened there
XXIX. On what happened after the archbishop had received us
XXX. On the city of Lisbon and on the administration of the king
XXXI. On Padre Cajetan and on what he did for us
XXXII.On what happened after this ….
XXXIII.The original wording of the petition the Malpan Cariattil and Cathanar Thomman Paremmakkal submitted to the queen of Portugal in August the year 1779 after the birth of the Lord of the world
XXXIV.The reasons why the six points mentioned above were included in the petition
XXXV.On what happened after we had prepared the petition
XXXVI.On what happened at Quellus after we had gone there to see the queen
XXXVII.On the arguments that we added to the petition .
XXXVIII.On what happened after Padre Cajetan had been informed that we had submitted the petition
XXXIX.On what happened in Genoa after we had reached Genoa by the grace of God
XL. On the city of Genoa and on the letter of Padre John of St. Margaret
XLI. On how Padre John of St. Margaret went to Rome and became the Vicar Apostolic
XLII. The letter Padre John wrote to us – a true translation
XLIII. On our Journey from Genoa and on what happened on the way
XLIV. On what happened after we had reached the town Livorno
XLV. On what happened after our departure from Pisa
XLVI. On what happened after we had spoken with the Cardinal
XLVII.On what happened when we were in Sant Antonio and on our going to the Propaganda to live there and on our petition to the Pope …..
XLVIII.On what happened after we had prepared the petitions that were to be submitted to the Pope…
XLIX. That letters were received from Portugal in consequence of the reports concerning our experiences in Home
L.On what happened after Padre John of St. Margaret had reached Genoa and how he was impeded from proceeding to Malabar
LI.On how Cardmna1 Antonelli the new Prefect of the Propaganda concluded our affair….
LII. On what happened after the Cardinal had given the final decision about our case..
LIII. On the Propaganda…
LIV. On how we left Rome after taking leave of Cardinal Antonelli, the Pope and those to whom we were indebted
LV. On what happened after we had left Rome
LVI. Starting from the city of Ancona we reached Genoa: on what happened thereafter . ..
LVII. That after we had been at Madoneta we left Genoa; on what happened after we reached Cadiz by ship from Genoa
LVIII. That we reached Tavira from Cadiz and Lisbon front Tavira
LIX. On what happened after we had reached the shipbuilding yard called Arsenan
LX. On what Padre Cajetan did at the end of what has been mentioned above
LXI. On what happened to our affairs while the above mentioned events were taking place
LXII. On what happened after the Malpan had spoken with the Viscount
LXIII. On what happened after Padre Cajetan had known we were managing our affairs ourselves and on the direction our affairs were taking
LXIV. That the Malpan was nominated archbishop and on what happened after this
LXV. On how the archbishop went and expressed thanks to the queen, to the king and to the ministers
LXVI. That our friend Mesquita visited the archbishop the next day and that the archbishop going with him to visit the Viscount a second time removed all the obstacles created by Padre Cajetan, and on what happened after this…
LXVII.That the archbishop went to the Internuncio and underwent the scrutiny; and on what happened after this
LXVIII.On what happened after the scrutiny at the house of the Internuncio had been concluded
LXIX. On what happened until the arrival of the credentials from Rome: that the credentials were given to the archbishop
LXX. On the consecration of our archbishop and on what happened after that
LXXI. On what happened during our stay in Lisbon which was caused by the jealousy of the minister mentioned above
LXXII. On what Padre Joseph de Soledade, the bishop of Cochin and the missionaries who work in Malabar wrote about us.
LXXIII. On what happened to our cause after the adverse reports of the bishop of Cochin and of the missionaries had arrived
LXXIV. On what happened after this regarding the case of Mar Thomas….
LXXV. On what the minister mentioned above did afterwards and on what followed
LXXVI. That after having made all the preparations we took leave of the queen and of the others, and what happened afterwards
LXXVII. On what happened after we had left Lisbon by ship
LXXVIII. On what happened after we had reached this house
About the Book
The book as it stands is incomplete. The MS doesn’t contain many of the documents which the Author mentions as included in the Appendix. But these documents have come to us through other sources. Chapters XIV, XV,XVI and a good part of Chapter XVII are lost.The Author mostly uses the term ‘Malankara’ in Varthamanappusthakam to represent Catholics of those times. It has been rendered in translation as “Malabar”. Both “ Malankara” and “Malabar” stands for the same region. In today’s ecclesiastic language “ Malankara” denote the West Syriac rite of the “Malankra Orthodox”, “Malankara Jacobite”, “Malankara Mar Thoma” and “Syro Malankra”. The “ Malabar” denote the East Syriac rite of the “ Syro Malabar Church”.
The Varthamanappusthakam was widely read in Malabar. During the troubled times between 1861 and 1865 it was proposed to read a chapter of Varthamanappusthakam, every Sunday after the Holy Qurbana. Three Carmelite vicars, in a synod held at Verapoly in 1862, condemned the Varthamanappusthakam. The reading was forbidden and a circular was issued. The Roman Archives has a communication from Carmelities which demands banning the book. On the front page of an MS kept at Carmelite monastery, it is called as “Forbidden Book”.
The original MS of the book were kept by Parayil Tharakans. During the regime of indigenous prelates the Varthamanappusthakam has began to make public appearances gradually.
Cathanar Joseph Parapilly, vicar of Kumpalam copied it from the original MS between 1898-1900. In 1902 a copy was made from the original then kept at CMI house, Chethipuzha. The Latin and Italian documents were copied by Cathanar Thomas Kurialacherry. Another copy was made in 1903 at Athirampuzha by Cathanar Mathai Paremakkel.
It was published in 1936 by Saint Mary’s press Athirampuzha based on the Athirampuzha MS by Luka Mathai Plathottathil. Before this, certain portions were published in papers and magazines. The first five chapters were included as the syllabus of MA ( Master of Arts) degree examination of Kerala University. These Chapters were published separately by National Book Stall, Kottayam.
In 2000, Parayil Tharakans, the custodians of original manuscript handed over the MS to the newly set up Museum at Saint Thomas Mount, Ernakulam.
Author can be reached on admin at nasrani dot net