Friday, March 11, 2016

The confabulated murder of Saint Thomas

On 21 Dec. 2015, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article by David Green propagating the Christian claim that "Thomas the Apostle was murdered in India".
( In the brief letter below, published on 11 March 2016, I set the record straight:

The confabulated murder of Saint Thomas

                 So your source is "common Christian tradition"? Fortunately, we are past the stage where we believe a story just because "tradition" says so. Therefore, we don't believe the blood libel against the Jewish people anymore, eventhough for centuries it has been supported by "common Christian tradition". Likewise, we don't believe the blood libel against the "priests of Kali" either.

Nothing of this legend is proven. The only written source for it is already some 50 years younger than this Thomas's suppose martyrdom: the apocryphal "Acts of Thomas". There, he is presented as coming to "India", then a very large term (when Columbus landed in what he thought was Zipangu/Japan, he called the natives "Indians", meaning Asians), in a part that was desert-like and where the people had Persian names. This describes Afghanistan or western Pakistan well, but not the lush and rich tropical landscape of South India. When he has committed several crimes against society, the king asks him to leave, and only when he refuses this diplomatic solution does the king have him executed.     

I first learned about the hollow mythical nature of the Saint Thomas story while studying in Leuven Catholic University, from a Jesuit Professor of Comparative Religion, Frank de Graeve. Not exactly a "fanatical Hindu" source. More recently, Pope Benedict XIV publicly declared that St Thomas had come to Western India, and that from there, after an unspecified amount of time, Christianity (not Thomas) reached South India. I am aware that Indian Christians have raised hell against this scholarly assessment, and have pressured the Vatican into removing this statement from its website. But that is not going to alter the verdict of scholarly historiography: there is no evidence at all to support this story.

And when Christians did reach the coastal area of South India, probably as 4th-century refugees from the Persian empire that had turned hostile after the Christianization of its Roman rival, they were welcomed rather more cordially than any treatment given by Christians to Pagans. Far from being "murdered by the priests of Kali", they were given hospitality and integrated into Hindu society, without any questions asked about the contents of their religion. Hindus have extended their hospitality more recently to Parsis, Armenians and Tibetan Buddhists; and more anciently to the Jews. That glorious record is the target of gross injustice in the fictional story of Saint Thomas.

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ramesh said...

No matter how much they might fight each or massacre each other, when it comes to anything pagan or polytheists, the children of Abraham band together. Jews should know better than to believe in fables of Christian martyrs.

Karthikrajan said...

The idiotic columnist , David B Green , who wrote that article should first read the book written by Ishwar charan : The Myth Of St. Thomas And The Mylapore Siva Temple , and available on

Ishwar has thoroughly stripped thomas and his modern era sycophants.

Unknown said...

Great write up . Hindus have had extended a warm welcome to all the persecuted foreigners from all over the world for millennia. The newcomers were allowed to practice their faith with no hassle.

Propaganda machinery has been on overdrive in some european lands, especially that of England and Germany for a long time. Vatican is the mother of all propaganda establishments. With the european people embracing atheism in large numbers vatican now feels emasculated in the current century. The empty churches started alarming the pontiff and hence as a compensatory measure the efforts to evangelize the poor and gullible asians are now redoubled. India is the biggest victim of such invasion. Surya

Gururaj B N said...

It seems that the Hindus of the yore as well as the present are indifferent to others' religions. This is both a strength and a weakness. While this indifference let our ancestors to let others live with us, this indifference is also a weakness of the Hindus in combating the aggressive designs of Abrahamic religions. Common Hindu is generally ill informed of Islam and Christianity, to capitalise on their flaws and shortcomings.