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III

KERALA TRADITION

 

Kerala Tradition starts from AD 52 only when Thomas arrived in Kodungallur.  If Thomas landed in Taxila in AD 40 this will give him a period of 12 years of ministry in the Northern India, Parthia and China.  It is probably during this period the Apostle traveled to Ephesus and to Jerusalem to visit the grave of Mother Mary 

 

 

The House believed to be where Mother Mary lived under the care of Apostle John untill her death in Ephesus, Selçuk in Turkey

 

She was placed in a sacrophage in Jerusalem.

The Biblical Magi "Gaspar"

The Gospel of Matthew,  alone  mention the Magi, states that they came "from the east" to worship the Christ, "born King of the Jews". Although the account does not tell how many they were, the three gifts led to a widespread assumption that they were three as well.  There might have been several Kings and Wise Men from several countries.

The Magi are popularly referred to as wise men and kings. The word Magi is a Latinization of the plural of the Greek word magos (μαγος) itself from Old Persian maguŝ from the Avestan magâunô, i.e. the religious caste into which Zoroaster was born, (see Yasna 33.7:' ýâ sruyę parę magâunô ' = ' so I can be heard beyond Magi '). The term refers to the priestly caste of Zoroastrianism,  The same word is generally used for wise men if the olden times.  They were the scientists if the period and were Magicians,  Sorcerers and were advisers to Kings and emperors.    We meet  "Elymas the sorcerer" in Acts 13:6-11, and Simon Magus, in Acts 8:9-13.  Daniel was considered a Magician in the Babylonian Court.

Traditions identify a variety of different names for the Magi. In the Western Christian church they have been commonly known as:

  • Melchior 
  • Caspar or Gaspar (and several other Greek or Latin variants such as Gathaspa,  Jaspar, Jaspas, etc.).
  • Balthasar (Bithisarea,  Balthassar).


These names apparently derived from a Greek manuscripts probably composed in Alexandria around 500 A.D.,

 

One candidate for the origin of the name Caspar appears in the Acts of Thomas as Gondophares (AD 21 – c.AD 47) The name of Gondaphares was translated in Armenian in "Gastaphar", and then in Western languages into "Gaspard". He may be the "Gaspard, King of India", who, according to apocryphal texts and eastern Christian tradition, was one of the three Biblical Magi who attended the birth of Christ.Bible historian Chuck Missler mentions about an Armenian tradition identifying the Magi as Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia and Gasper of India.

“Rajakkalude Pally”

Piravam Valiya Pally in Muvattupuzha river at Piravom,   is popularly known as the 'Church of the Kings' (“Rajakkalude Pally”). "The place-name Piravom means “Nativity".  It is believed that three of the wise men who were experts in Astronomy came from this area. 

Indian traditions assigns other Kings from Kerala as well.   

 

'Church of the Kings' , Muvattupuzha

      An ancient painting in the church

(St. Mary with infant Jesus being worshipped by MAGI)

When they returned, they built a church to woship infant Jesus on this mount.  Kaniyanparambil Kurian Corepiscopa in the History of St.Thomas (Page. 15; Suriyani Sabha) states that St. Thomas himself acknowledged these ‘Megusans’ (MAGI), while he was in Kerala.

All the ancient documents in the churh were destroyed by the Portugese during the Udayamperoor Synod  (Suriyani Sabha. Page. 131).

 

According to Pierre Perrier this was in AD 51 taking the silk route back to Ephesus and Jerusalem.  A very ancient tradition fixes the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in that year, and  the travel of Apostle Thomas.  This time, St. Thomas decided to leave by the south, to take the sea route that leads to India, by following the trading posts founded by Hebrew merchants along the Spice Route. He landed on the Indian coast at the end of summer 52, at Maliankara in present-day Kérala. He landed in AD 52 in Kodungallur.  It is possible that he touched Bombay Kalyan area enroute.

 

 

        

 

 

 

 

Archaeologists in Kerala have discovered a 2000-year-old port settlement probably dating back to the first BC to third AD, in Pattanam about 50 km from the modern day port city of Kochi.  The Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) suggests that this could be the lost town of Muzires (Muziris) mentioned in early Roman manuscripts of Periplus.  Pattanam is now being excavated  

 

                     

 

Chronology of Pattanam: a multi-cultural port site on the Malabar coast

P. J. Cherian1, G. V. Ravi Prasad, Koushik Dutta, Dinesh Kr. Ray,

V. Selvakumar and K. P. Shajan

 

They attended the banquet at the marriage ceremony of the daughter of Cheraman Perumal (the King of the Chera Kingdom) where Thomas came across a Jewish girl in the King's court. During the period of seven days of his stay there, several Jewish people were converted to Christianity.


It is said that Thomas ordained one Prince Peter to be the head of the church of the Jews and left for the other areas of India.

 

Here he preached to a jewish community who accepted mesia and their synagogue became a Christian church.

 

He returned to Kerala where he established seven and half churches with 75 Brahmin families as teachers and over 3000 converts from Kshatriyas, Nairs and Chettiars. These new converts were called St: Thomas Christians. This church is one of the most ancient churches in Christendom.

 

Traditional site where St. Thomas landed - Cranganore in Malabar coast -in 52 AD.

Legend:

A: Major cultural currents of the prehistorical period, based on archaeological studies.

B: Pre-Mauryan Indian routes based on Buddhist sources

C: Mauryan network, according to Greek sources and archaeological studies.

D: Trade routes at the beginning of the Christian era, based on literary sources.

E: The Indian "Z"