Posts Tagged ‘vatican’

Indegenization, Indianization or Hinduization: Dubious “Inculturation” activities of Christians without any ethics, morality and integrity

September 14, 2019

Indegenization, Indianization or Hinduization: Dubious “Inculturation” activities of Christians without any ethics, morality and integrity

St John church in Deshnur, Linga inside-Derek Fernandez

Bishop Derek Fernandes, wearing saffron robes and with a vermilion tilak[1]: Photographs on social media of Belagavi diocese Bishop Derek Fernandes, wearing saffron robes and with a vermilion tilak, have stirred a controversy for the Roman Catholic Church in the country[2]. The pictures of Fernandes accompanied by unidentified men – all in the same attire and with some sporting rudraksha malas – appear to show the bishop performing the sacrament of the Eucharist in a church with pictures of Hindu swamis[3]. The pictures, posted on Twitter by journalist-activist Savio Rodrigues, set off a firestorm of charges against the prelate[4]. Some accused Fernandes, whom Pope Francis appointed as the sixth bishop of Belgaum on May 1, of trying to mislead Hindus and described it as a ploy to convert them. Several Christians on Twitter warned the bishop against such activities and some charged him with blasphemy. Bishop Fernandes, currently in Rome, was unavailable for comment. In Karnataka, D. S. Amalopavadass (1932-1990) has already done such experiments inviting criticism from the Church itself. However, the CBCLC, Bangalore has been promoting such activities. Now, he is appreciated as “Indian prophet” and so on[5].

church in Deshnur, 28km from Belagavi.

Inculturation – not-known people may talk, and write anything: How the Hindus have been gullible, the Christians manipulative and the media biased, opportunistic to created sensation can be seen in these postings and the stuff created as news. Ever since, Vatican Council – II was created, the Catholic Christians have bee carrying on these dubious, fraudulent and fancy-dress theology in the name of “inculturation” to have “inter-religious dialogue” with gullible and idiotic Hindus, who do not know what these Christian guys have bee doing. In Chennai, the case of Arulappa vs Ganesh Iyer has been well known, where, the Archbishop Arulappa gave lakhs to Ganesh Iyer to manufacture forged manuscripts, copper plates etc . In the same way, highly arrogant, racist and fundamental Christians of Kerala have been engaged in similar activities. They too do not bother about any ethics, morality and other such values to follow in their activities. Though converted Christians, they behave as if they descended from heaven or born with the mythical Jesus Christ.

St John church in Deshnur, Linga inside

Activist receives threats for tweeting bishop’s pics: Philip Kutty Joseph, vicar general of the Belgaum diocese, said the photographs were taken on August 29 on a visit by Bishop Fernandes to a church in Deshnur, 28km from Belagavi[6]. “The church was earlier called Virakta mutt,” he said. “Jesuit priests first went there more than 40 years ago and adopted Indian practices such as donning saffron robes. In fact, the tabernacle is in the form of a Shiva linga.” Fr Nelson Pinto, a priest of the diocese who responded when TOI attempted to contact Bishop Fernandes at his residence by phone, explained that when the first Jesuit priests went to Deshnur, in a predominantly Lingayat region, they adopted the local culture[7]. “The Jesuit priests became vegetarians and embraced other local practices,” Pinto said. “They did not do it to convert the people who lived there.” Metropolitan Archbishop of Goa & Daman and Patriarch of the East Indies Filipe Neri Ferrão said he was unaware of the incident involving Bishop Fernandes, but said it appeared to be part of a practice that the Catholic Church calls inculturation. “The photographs appear to be of a ceremony that includes inculturation, which the Catholic Church advises in liturgy, attire and so on[8]. It’s the assimilation of local culture,” he said. Even as the Church played down the controversy, however, journalist and activist Rodrigues received threats for tweeting pictures of Bishop Fernandes[9].

St John church in Deshnur, 28km from Belagavi.

The present news have been planted for publicity: So the threatening and all clearly exposes that they have been doing this just for publicity. The photos have been planted, though such activities have been going on. In fact, many more photos are available in internet and it is a wonder how these alert Hindu guys or enthusiastic Christian guys do not know about it. The non-Catholic might oppose and criticize, but, they coolly enjoy as to how the gullible Hindus are being cheated since 1958. Books  like “Catholic Ashrams” have already come out running into several editions[10]. So in such Ashrams, the Christians would appear and roam as Swamis only. Ironically, the pastors, bihops and other clergy are called as “Iyer” in Tamilnadu. Therefore, these neo-Brahmins of Christianity have been experimenting with such “tamashas.”

St John church in Deshnur,inner side

Inculturation – lying Christians[11]: In May 2003, when Indian bishops met Pope John Paul II before concluding their ‘ad limina’ visit to Rome, the Holy Father said[12], “India, blessed with so many different cultures, is a land in which the people yearn for God; this makes the Indian liturgy very distinct.” Though the Roman Catholic Church did not take this incident seriously, the activist cum journalist Rodrigues, who posted the pictures on Twitter has received several threat messages. One of the message says, “Savio Rodrigues, Judas in the name of Catholic. Reward of Rs 50,000, if anyone makes his face black and garlands him with shoes.” Some other Catholics have felt offended by this post of Savio Rodrigues. One such person said, in reply to the tweet of Rodrigues, “Hey Savio or whoever you may be. Please do not speak against our Catholic religion. You have no right to talk against our religion.”

St John church in Deshnur,inner side-2

To add a bit more on the belief system of both cultures, here are similarities between Catholicism and Hinduism:

  • Hindus worship many gods and Catholics worship many saints, both with the burning of candles and incense before statues. Both use images, icons, music, and ritual prayers as means to create an atmosphere of worship. While Hindus chant ritual “mantras,” Catholics chant rosary prayers.
  • Both have a priesthood that acts as an intermediary between the people and God.
  • Both believe in the effectiveness of “holy water” in various cleansing rites.
  • Both believe everyone needs “perfecting” before going to the ultimate reward. Catholics see time in purgatory as necessary to perfection of character, while Hindus believe that reincarnation will give the necessary steps towards perfection.
  • Both believe in the effectiveness of repeated offerings and sacrifices. Catholics believe the mass will effectively offer Christ again and again as a sacrifice for sins, while Hindus will present their gods with sacrifices and offerings of flowers.
  • Both religions have a strong belief that spiritual exercises will lift the worshiper out of the usual round of daily living, and will promote a mystic and superior understanding of existence. St. Ignatius is not really very different in his outlook on “spiritual exercises” than the Hindu mystic in his concentration on escaping this physical world and entering nirvana.
  • Both religions worship a mother goddess. Hindus worship the Goddess Durga as the Supreme Mother, while Catholics venerate Mother Mary .
  • Of course it can be pointed out that Hinduism is polytheistic (worshiping many gods) while Catholicism is monotheistic (worshiping only one God). In practice, Catholicism encourages worshipers to see Mary and the saints as interceders between God and humanity.

St John church in Deshnur,pators standing

Thiruppali book, in Tamil was banned by Vatican[13]: This is cited as an example. A civil court here has banned the use of a 1993 Tamil translation of Catholic prayer book ‘Missal’ (‘Thiruppali book’) until prior approval is obtained from the Vatican. Noting that some words had been wrongly translated and some others removed in the Tamil version, the court recently declared the translation as incorrect and against the canonical law. The Tamil translation of liturgical prayers and texts was first published in 1970 with prior approval from the Vatican. The book was updated in 1975 and underwent some more changes in 1993. Against the last alteration, three suits were filed[14]. Claiming that the changes had been made without approval from Rome and that the authorities had disobeyed the law, the petitioners said it was a case where “additions and omissions from the prescribed text were made”. Further, the four tenets of liturgy – sacrifice, eternal life, sin and doctrine — were dealt in a superficial manner, they said. In their reply, the archbishops of Chennai and Puducherry said the petitioners did not have a locus standi as under the tenets of the religion, they did not have a right to question the translations. The prayers “involved spiritual and religious aspects of the church” and “the court did not have jurisdiction to go into the veracity of church’s authority.” If there was a doubt, “superiors and doctors of church” could be approached, they said. In his order, IV assistant judge T Chandrasekar said it was a mere translation of liturgical book and the priests had failed to prove that the translation had been carried out with approval of the Vatican. If the court was barred from dealing with the matter, “everybody would release translations to suit their convenience,” the judge said. It also prohibited the translated version of book from being used in churches till prior review and approval was obtained from the Vatican.

St John church in Deshnur,inner side-3

Hinduization – how praised and condemned: Swami Kulandaiswami condemned Hinduization like anything, as pointed out by K. V. Ramakrishna Rao. However, Amarlopavadass, Bede Griffiths and others were praised and condemned by the Christians, in spite of the Catholic and non-Catholic affiliations.  Under Vatican Council – II, they claim that it has been their right to do so. Thus, their duplicity is exposed in cheating the Hindus, misinterpreting Hindu scriptures etc., at one side and appropriating the Hindu culture, heritage etc., at other side is also noted. With all these, they also cry that the tribal are Hinduised and so on!

© Vedaprakash

14-09-2019

vatican council II

vatican council II

[1] Times Of India, Furore over Belagavi bishop’s saffron robe, TNN | Updated: Sep 13, 2019, 9:41 IST.

[2] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hubballi/furore-over-belagavi-bishops-saffron-robe/articleshow/71106070.cms

[3] MyNation, Belagavi bishop dons saffron robes, all hell breaks loose, By Team Belagavi, First Published 13, Sep 2019, 11:52 AM IST

[4] https://www.mynation.com/india-news/belagavi-bishop-dons-saffron-robes-all-hell-breaks-loose-pxrb1n

[5] Paul B. Steffen SVD, An Indian Christian Prophet:Duraiswami Simon Amalorpavadass (1932-1990),  NURT SVD 1 (2018) s. pp. 209-225 pbwsteffen54@gmail.com, Gregoriana University, Rome.

Father Duraiswami Simon Amalorpavadass (1932-1990) is one of the most significant Indian priests and theologians of the twentieth century. In 1967, he founded the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC) in Bangalore, and then headed it until 1980. He developed an authentic Indian and Christian spirituality, liturgy and theology of evangelization and inculturation.

[6] Daijiworld Media Network, Unusual saffron cloak of Belgaum Bishop creates controversy, Belagavi, Fri, Sep 13 2019 02:10:54 PM.

[7] https://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay.aspx?newsID=624208

[8] NewsTimeNow, Belagavi Bishop Stirs Row by Dressing as a Swamy, By Raj Shankar -September 13, 2019

[9] http://newstimenow.com/belagavi-bishop-stirs-row-by-dressing-as-a-swamy/

[10] Sita Ram Goel, Catholic Ashram, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1994.

[11] Indian Catholics Matters, Catholics Raise Eyebrows as Bishop Dons Saffron Robes!, September 13, 2019 Team ICM News, By Verghese V Joseph.

[12] https://indiancatholicmatters.org/catholics-raise-eyebrows-as-bishop-dons-saffron-robes/

[13] Times of India, Tamil version of Catholic prayer book banned, Manish Raj | TNN | Updated: Nov 7, 2013, 2:00 IST.

[14] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Tamil-version-of-Catholic-prayer-book-banned/articleshow/25338212.cms

The Christian-Vaishnavite dialogue continues: Clooney’s 2011 visit to Chennai!

August 12, 2011

The Christian-Vaishnavite dialogue continues: Clooney’s 2011 visit to Chennai!

Fr Clooney SJ - lecture -2011

Silent critics, active dialoguers and sleeping theologians: The visit of Francis Xavier Clooney to Chennai / India during July-August 2011 has not been informed, noted or publicized by his critics like last year or so[1]. Those who used to write something to him or to the newspapers have also been silent. Like last year, perhaps he has also not started his blogging at “American Catholic Journal” site[2]. However, from the media (mainly through browsing), I find there has been coverage about him attending seminars, conferences as usual. I have just tried to collect and post here for reference chronologically. Readers and interested dialoguers can add, point out the left outs and other comments as usual.

Fr Clooney SJ - Vidyajoti- lecture -2011

1. Hindu Texts for Christian Theology?—Prof. Francis Xavier Clooney SJ[3]: This was the topic of the special lecture given by Prof. Francis Xavier Clooney SJ at Vidyajyoti on July 27, 2011. He spoke of the importance of reading the texts of other religions while doing Christian theology[4]. Doing theology in the Indian context evidently calls for special attention to Hindu texts. In many ways, reading and reflecting on other religious texts are similar to reading and reflecting on biblical texts. In either case, one needs to give much time and go back to the text again and again. This leads to better understanding and newer insights. One needs to ask: What is the God experience hidden in the Hindu/Christian text? Dr. Clooney illustrated his ideas by bringing together select texts from Song of Songs of the Bible and Tiruvaymoli of the Tamil bhakti tradition.

Dr. Clooney is the Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology at Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also the Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions. He is well-versed in the Sanskrit and Tamil traditions of Hindu India and is an acclaimed contributor in the developing field of comparative theology. The scholarly lecture was very enlightening and led to a lively discussion moderated by Fr. George Gispert-Sauch SJ, an eminent Indologist and emeritus Professor at Vidyajyoti.

NOP Vaishnava college, Clooney- resource person

2. Shape of religious trajectories to come[5]: August 1, 2011:  No amount of praise will be enough for the Principal of the Chennai-based MOP Vaishnav College for Women and the Head of its Department of Sociology for organising an International Seminar on August 2, on the continuities and changes as well as the traditions and improvisations that are likely to influence the dynamics of religious trajectories in the decades ahead.
Not only is the choice of the theme imaginative and inspired in the light of the challenges, problems and dilemmas bearing on the precepts and practices of various religions, but it is also relevant and timely in the context of the debate provoked world-wide by the delusional rantings of Anders Behring Breivik who perpetrated the shocker of a carnage at Oslo (Norway).

The topics covered by the participants are a happy blend of the elucidation of the tantalising aspects such as the secularisation of bindi on the forehead, universalisation of religion in story-telling, Diwali as Nature’s nemesis and the power of Sanskrit, and the exploration of the important “affects” (as the sociologists call them to differentiate them from “effects”) of religion in relation to economics, environment, pluralism, globalisation and modernisation.

NOT A STAND-ALONE CONCEPT Karl Marx’s often quoted statement, “Religion is the opiate of the masses” is actually the concluding part of his observation which is not that censorious: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.” Religion is also the end-product of the quest of humankind for a dispenser of happiness and a refuge from forces of evil to which it finds itself unequal.

Saints, seers and sages have regarded religions as so many paths to the same Supreme Power by whatever name called. Scholarly writings based on a deep study of the real purport and purpose of religions of the world have quoted chapter and verse from every religious scripture to bring out the breadth of vision that looks at the whole humankind as one family and its total well-being as the paramount objective. Religion was never interpreted as a stand-alone concept but as being part of a continuum of religion-spirituality-ethics and morality-humanity.

Indeed, there are many passages in religious books enjoining respect for different faiths, harmony, fellow-feeling and compassion which are almost identical in language and content; if the information about the source from which they have been taken is undisclosed, it will be hard to tell which passage pertained to which religious teaching.

‘HEAVEN OF FREEDOM’ Of late, though, religious denominations are being exposed to severe tensions. First and foremost among them is the spread of religious prejudices, especially after 9/11. The Norway outrage cannot be dismissed as resulting from a single person’s sick mind, because there are many elsewhere too who entertain with varying degrees of intensity and conviction the same fears of being swamped by religious fanatics and immigrants with whom the native populations have little in common.

Second, social mores are undergoing a sea-change, throwing state-religion-society relations into a state of turmoil. As a paper on the subject of religious trajectories puts it, “demands for the recognition of gay marriage, teen marriage and inter-marriage…undermine existing religion-state agreements. Societies can….display secular trends, while state institutions remain bound to religious norms, or societies may become more religious while states remain, or attempt to remain, secular…” Third, the interconnectivities brought about by globalisation and the vast unknown of the new economy pose the dilemma of adjustment and threat of marginalisation to religion.

There are also unresolved questions about the impact on religion of advances in technology, such as space research poking into the Universe and genomics revolution abolishing death itself.

 Finally: Will the cumulative effect of all these changes be a situation in which either there will be no need for religion or the society will on its own be freed from the hold of any kind of religious identities, enabling the world to awake into that “heaven of freedom” described by Rabindranath Tagore in his poem “Where the mind is without fear…”.

Clooney at MOP Vaishnava college, Published on August 01, 2011

3. Religious Trajectories: Continuities and Changes, Traditions and Improvisations[6]:  CHENNAI: In the modern world, understanding of God has become smaller and there is a need to go deeper into tradition to understand what God is like, according to director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University, Prof Francis X Clooney.

Addressing a seminar on Dynamics of Religious Trajectories: Continuities and Changes, Traditions and Improvisations at the M O P Vaishnav College here, Clooney said traditions were not the things of the past, they could cha-nge the world.

He said religion was not static and it kept changing as the modern world. “God is like a lover and tends to change. We can’t restrict him saying he belongs to me,” he said.

Clooney, who is also Parkman professor of divinity and comparative theology, said that in the current scenario the focus was more on power, politics as well as material gains and in the process, ireligion and tradition are ignored. He said the world could be changed by one who had religious values.

Clooney- gave Radhakrishna lecture -2011

4. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Endowment Lectures: Department of Philosophy organized Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Endowment Lectures on 5th August 2011. Prof. Francis X. Clooney, Parkman Professor of Divinity and Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University, USA delivered two lectures on theme “Comparative Theology as 21st Century Christian Theology” and “The Drama of a God Who Comes and Goes: Reading the Biblical Song of Songs with the Srivaishnava Thiruvaymoli“.

The Principal, Dr. R.W. Alexander Jesudasan[7] presided over the function and the Bursar, Mr. C. Sundaraj and student and faculty of various departments were present on the occasion[8].

Loving God or devotee or dialoguer or incuturation? Only for the Indian Express report, I could respond as follows[9]: “Your report is partial, as Clooney’s intention has been otherwise. It is not that God is like a lover, but the question is the theologian’s attempt to impose enslaving act of restriction with the assertion that only “I can love him, you cannot”. Or “I can only love more than you”. But the the hidden agenda has been, “I love the God, but you do not; and you love a god that I cannot love”. As long as theocratic arrogance trots under the hypocritical religious superiority, love is lost!


[5] B. S. Raghavan, Shape of religious trajectories to come, http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/b-s-raghavan/article2311234.ece

[6] ‘God Is like a lover, can’t restrict him’,  Express News Service, Last Updated : 03 Aug 2011 09:23:22 AM IST, http://expressbuzz.com/cities/chennai/god-is-like-a-lover-can%E2%80%99t-restrict-him/300447.html<

[7] DrR. W. Alexander Jesudasan. Principal. Address: Madras Christian College TambaramChennai Tamil Nadu 600 059.

“The Myth of St. Thomas in India” – the greatest historical fraud in the world

July 27, 2009
“The Myth of St. Thomas in India” – the greatest historical fraud in the world
Published on November 25th, 2007 In Uncategorized, Blogging, Philosophy | Views 1095 <!– by Vedaprakash –>

“The myth of St. Thomas in India” has been the greatest historical fraud in India and the world also and the historians have been shameless even to question such myth. Instead, they go on promote such myth aiding and abetting, as is evident from appearing so-called “research papers” in the proceedings of South indian History Congress, Tamilnadu history congress, textboks etc. It is a blot on historians, whenever, that fraud is perpetuated, nurtured or quoted in the name of history.

So I post the following article of K. P. Sunil appeared in 1987, which has bearing on the subject matter.

Archbishop Arulappa Makes History 1

By K.P. Sunil

Ganesh Iyer, Sri Rangam

Ganesh Iyer, Sri Rangam

The case has been closed. And the dramatis personae prefer to maintain a studied silence. For fear that a post-mortem would reveal hidden cadavers in their cupboards. For even a superficial examination of the fraud that shook the foundations of the Catholic Church in Madras in the late seventies and early eighties indicates that a lot of embarrassing details have been swept under the mat.

Reverend Dr. R. Arulappa, former archbishop of the Madras diocese, who claims to have been duped by one Acharya Paul, also known as Ganesh Iyer, is ill. Incapacitated by serious cardiac problems. In fact, it is his ill-health that forced him to retire from his post as head of the diocese. So the infamous scandal had to be pieced together from court records, police files and the ramblings of the main character-Ganesh Iyer.

It all began in the early seventies. Ganesh Iyer, who had adopted the Christian faith and was a self-styled Bible preacher known as John Ganesh, went to Tiruchi in the course of his evangelical journeys and met a Catholic priest Father Michael of the Tamil Illakiya Kazhagam (Tamil Literary Society). He is reported to have presented himself to the priest as Dr. John Ganesh, professor of philosophy and comparative religions at the Banaras university, and recently returned from Jammu and Kashmir where he was involved in research on Christianity in India. Michael put him on to another priest, Father Mariadas of Sriviliputhur.

John Ganesh impressed Mariadas with his mastery over Christian theology. He showed him copies of notices extolling him as a speaker. He reportedly produced letters written to him by various scholars in the fields of education and religion. He is also reported to have shown Mariadas photographs of palm leaf writings and copper plate inscriptions several centuries old.

These documents, he reportedly claimed, traced the origins and development of the Christian faith in India. Since further research on the subject required money which John Ganesh claimed not to have, Mariadas took upon himself the task of locating funds for the project the successful completion of which, he felt, would provide a shot in the arm for Christianity in India.

Mariadas gave John Ganesh something in the range of Rs. 22,000 toward the research. And as his own funds were depleted, he introduced the researcher to the head of the Catholic Church in Madras, R. Arulappa.

thomas-myth-manufacturers-Ganesh Iyer etc

Arulappa was a Tamil scholar who also had the reputation of being a researcher. He had translated the New Testament into Tamil and set to tune the Book of Psalms. He had also rendered in Tamil the life of Christ, Ulagin Uyir ( A The Life of the World ). He had learned Sanskrit and translated several Christian tenets into that language. He had also done extensive research on Tirukkural, the creation of the Tamil bard, Tiruvalluvar.

Tiruvalluvar is known to modern generations through his immortal literature. The exact time of his existence is lost in the mists of the hoary past. Some historians believe Tiruvalluvar to be a product of the early Sangam period in Tamil literature, several centuries before Christ. The Tamil Nadu government bases its calendar on the year of his birth. For this purpose, it is assumed that Tiruvalluvar was born exactly 2018 years ago, i.e. in the first century before Christ. Some literary experts place Tiruvalluvar in the first century after Christ, others date him 300 years after.

Just as little is known about Tiruvalluvar”s origins, his religious beliefs are also shrouded in some mystery. Attempts have been made, going by the precepts contained in his verse, to speculate about his religion. While he is widely believed to have been a Hindu and the Tirukkural considered a revered Hindu scripture, other religions too have staked a claim on him. Since the Tirukkural enshrines the ideals of ahimsa , dharma and asceticism, many experts consider Tiruvalluvar to have been considerably influenced by Jain thought.

A recent paper presented by Dr. S. Padmanabhan makes Tiruvalluvar out to be a Hindu chieftain from the Kanyakumari district. Archbishop Arulappa felt that the Tirukkural was so profound and filled with compassionate sentiments that it must have been influenced by early Christian missionaries who came to South India in the first century after Christ, notably St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Christ.

The Christian Church of India, considered to be amongst the oldest in the world, is believed to have been founded by St. Thomas in 52 A.D. Arulappa held the view that St. Thomas, before his martyrdom on a hill near Madras, now called St. Thomas Mount, met Tiruvalluvar and influenced the bard to the extent of converting him to the nascent faith. The theory had been propounded. What remained to be obtained was proof of such an occurrence.

It was this that Ganesh Iyer, posing as John Ganesh, reportedly promised to unearth for the archbishop.

Since this suited the archbishop”s scheme and since Arulappa was convinced that Ganesh was in a position to ferret out the evidence necessary to prove his pet theory, he engaged him to take up the research. The archbishop was apparently lulled into complacency by Ganesh”s mastery of Christian theology and his apparent sincerity of purpose. As if establishing a nexus between St. Thomas and Tiruvalluvar were not enough, John Ganesh also informed the archbishop that he could bring evidence that the three wise men from the East who prophesied the birth of Christ were none other than the epic Hindu sages, Vasistha, Viswamithra and Agasthya.

In 1975-76, John Ganesh began his research. And the archbishop started funding the same.

Ganesh produced photographs of palm leaf writings and copper plate inscriptions at periodic intervals. When the archbishop asked to see the originals, he was informed that they were stashed away in the safe custody of the archaeological departments and museums all over the country. It would therefore, not be possible to persuade these agencies to part with the priceless documents. He, however, promised to get his photographs authenticated by the respective agencies themselves. Thereafter, all photographs produced by Ganesh Iyer before the archbishop bore seals of the museums and departments from which he claimed to have obtained them.

Using the funds provided by the archbishop, Ganesh Iyer made a pretence of travelling extensively. It was a well-orchestrated programme. He would first inform the archbishop that he was going to Kashmir in connection with his research.

Next, the archbishop would receive letters from some Christian and Hindu religious heads in Kashmir informing him that they had come across Ganesh Iyer or, as he now called himself, Acharya Paul. The letters spoke in superlative terms about his sincerity of purpose and his noble research.

Whatever doubts the archbishop may have entertained about his researcher vanished in the face of these letters from eminent personages. More money changed hands. Though he was quite poor when he first met the archbishop, by the time he was through, Iyer had his own house in Srirangam. He owned two cars. He had purchased considerable gold jewellery for his wife and daughters. He had substantial deposits in banks in his name.

Most of the funds for the research had come from individuals and organisations abroad. If Iyer is to be believed, the archbishop even made out his personal car in Iyer”s name for a nominal Rs. 25,000. .i.Iyer;Iyer himself claims that he had not paid anything.

Questions were being asked around this time about the large sums of money being given to Acharya Paul for his research. The sceptics demanded proof that something tangible, that would benefit Christianity in the long run, had indeed been achieved. Only the archbishop”s pre-eminence prevented a direct confrontation.

Ganesh Iyer met Pope at Vatican

In 1976, Iyer obtained a passport in the name of Acharya Paul. In 1977, accompanied by the archbishop, he went abroad. To the Vatican, among other places, where he had a lengthy audience with Pope Paul VI. The duo then visited several religious congregations and spoke about comparative religions. Everywhere he went, he spoke about the origins of Christianity in India and about his A monumental research while the archbishop displayed the evidence. Money was collected for funding further research.

Ganesh Iyer met Pope at Vatican.Arulappa took him

During their absence from India, individuals inimical to John Ganesh had organised themselves into a powerful force. Even as he was relaxing in his home in Srirangam after his return, the archbishop was pressurised to file a complaint with the police. That he had been duped by Ganesh Iyer who had claimed to be a bachelor, but was in reality a married man. That he had defrauded the archbishop to the tune of around Rs. 14 lakhs in the name of research into Christianity.

Investigations into the sordid episode began. The police, led initially by Inspector Seshadri and later by Inspector Chandraya-perumal, searched Iyer”s residence. They unearthed the A originals of all the photographs produced by Iyer as proof of his research-writings on strips of brown paper cut to resemble medieval palm frond writings, pasted on sheets of white paper. The police learnt that the photographs had been taken at a studio in Tiruchi and this led to the seizure of all the relevant negatives.

The police discovered how the photographs had been authenticated by various institutions-seals and rubber stamps of all the concerned institutions were lying in Iyer”s home. Letter-heads bearing the names of various Hindu and Christian scholars were recovered. The letters purported to have been received by Iyer from these personages, which he allegedly used to dupe Mariadas and later the archbishop, were declared to be clever forgeries by the state handwriting expert Srinivasan. The writing on these and the writing on the brown paper, though cleverly disguised, compared favourably with Iyer”s specimen. Account books showing details of amounts received from the archbishop and the amounts spent by him were recovered.

Iyer”s antecendents were thoroughly investigated and it was proved that he was a middle school dropout, not having studied beyond standard seven. Further confirmation was obtained from the Banares university that they did not have Dr. John Ganesh on their staff either teaching or doing research into philosophy and comparative religions.

The police case was complete. On April 29, 1980, Iyer was arrested and placed under remand, while prosecution proceedings were instituted under sections 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 465 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 473 (making and possessing counterfeit seals with intent to commit forgery) of the Indian Penal Code and under section 12-B of the Indian Passports Act (obtaining a passport supplying false information).

Archbishop Arulappa testified against Iyer before the court. Iyer initially pleaded innocence, but later admitted to the fraud on all counts. He prayed that in view of his advancing age and critical family circumstances, he be shown leniency.

Arulappa vs Ganesh Iyer

On February 6, 1986, P. Aruvudayappan, second metropolitan magistrate, Madras, delivered his judgment in case number 100087/82: A Taking advantage of the soft attitudes of public witnesses 2 and 3 (Father Mariadas and Father Arulappa), he averred, A the defendant (Ganesh Iyer) had taken from them about Rs. 13.5 lakhs between 1975 and 1980. This has been clearly established. Taking into consideration the nature of the offences, the defendant is being held guilty under various sections of the I.P.C. and has to undergo 10 months imprisonment and 5 month”s rigorous imprisonment under section 12-B of the Indian Passports Act. These sentences are to run concurrently. He had been arrested on April 29, 1980 and let off on bail on June 27, 1980. These 59 days of imprisonment are to be deducted from the total sentence as required under section 428 of the code of criminal procedure.

The magistrate”s judgment notwithstanding, doubts still linger. Why were the archbishop”s suspicions not aroused until he had handed over a whopping Rs. 13,49,250 (according to records, though Iyer claims to have received far in excess of that sum) on a spurious research project? Why had the archbishop not bothered to verify the authenticity of the A documents produced by Iyer with the museums and other institutions concerned, directly? Why did he not bother to accompany Iyer to the actual site of his A research when he had found time to accompany him to Rome, the Vatican, Germany, France, Spain, the United States?

With the archbishop still indisposed, answers to these questions are not forthcoming.

What is even more curious is that even as criminal proceedings against Iyer were in progress in the magistrate”s court, a civil suit for a compromise had been filed in the Madras high court. The compromise decree was taken up immediately after the conclusion of the criminal case. Since Iyer had admitted the offence, his jail term was reduced to a mere two months imprisonment. And since he had already served 59 days of remand, this period was adjusted against the sentence.

r-arulappa-biodata

In other words, Iyer, who had defrauded the archbishop to the tune of about Rs. 14 lakhs, was let off without any further punishment. He was ordered to forfeit all claim on the money given to him by the archbishop. Accordingly, the ornaments and money seized from him by the police were returned to the archbishop. As part of the compromise, Iyer was allowed to retain the large bungalow he had purchased with the archbishop”s money.

A I agreed to this compromise because there was nothing else I could do, says Iyer. His viewpoint in understandable. For, going by the lower court”s verdict, he would have not only had to serve 5 months of rigorous imprisonment, but would have automatically had to forfeit all his properties including the house. Why the archbishop agreed to the compromise is not understandable.

Today Ganesh Iyer lives on the first floor of his house in Srirangam—the lower portion is let out on rent, enabling him to receive a monthly income. He is by no means affluent, but is certainly a far cry from the penury to which his family and he would have been consigned, if it were not for the compromise. Father Arulappa is convalescing, recovering from a major surgery. He has handed over the mantle of archbishop to Reverend G. Casimir on A health grounds .

And the case, though officially closed, remains in many minds, an unsolved mystery.

[1] Originally published under the title “Hoax!” in The Illustrated Weekly of India, April 26 – May 2, 1987, Bombay.

VEDAPRAKASH
25-11-2007