General, Heritage, History, Indian Tradition, Lifestyle, Syond of Diamper - Thursday, May 19, 2011 1:06 - 15 Comments
In A.D. 52, St. Thomas – Doubting Thomas of the New Testament, is said to have landed at the Kerala port of Muziris and started his task of spreading the Christian faith. From this date, all Syrian Christians believe, their Church began and has continued without interruption.
Christianity gained a foothold in Kerala well over 300 years before it succeeded in obtaining official recognition in Europe, or in becoming the established religion of Rome. The respect and toleration shown to this faith, found expression in the fraternal treatment extended to its adherents, who were accorded and retained for themselves an honoured place, in the social and economic life of kerala.
They succeeded in doing this because they were Christian in faith only, but in all else, they were Indian. They were no doubt staunch in their adherence to their faith, and proud of the apostolic origin of their church, but they made no attempt to evangelise, or become a militant body. Their primary concern was to live in harmony and requite the hospitality and toleration shown to them by the Hindu kings and princes. This could only be done by respecting the faith and customs of their rulers.
They were not slow to realise that if they desired to occupy an important place in society, they had necessarily to conform to the pattern and practises governing a caste society. In this perhaps, they can be accused of not having followed the strict tenets of their faith and doctrine, which emphasised the equality of man.
But to this small community striving to achieve importance in the social hierarchy, doctrinal affiliations had to give way to expediency. In this they succeeded completely, by assimilating themselves in the society in which they lived and by adopting the language, dress and habits of their Hindu brethren.
In A.D. 1599, Alexis Menezes, Archbishop of Portuguese Goa, arrived at Cochin on a mission to ‘purify’ the faith and customs of the St. Thomas Christians. This mission culminated with the Synod of Diamper on the 20th of June, 1599 at Udayamperur (in western literature called Diamper). The synod was an assembly of six hundred and forty representatives of churches across Kerala as well as sixty three Nasrani priests under the presidentship of Archbishop Alexei Menezes with the Nasrani Archdeacon Geevarghese in meek attendance.
Dr. Scaria Zacharia in his scholarly work upon “The Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Diamper 1599″ sums up this synod as the first organised attempt to westernise Kerala society as part of Colonisation. The Portuguese colonialists shaped by their history and socio-religious experience tried to impose upon a Church far ancient than their own and pluralistic in outlook, their own imperialistic notions of Christianity and Christianisation. The apostolic church of Kerala was compelled to piggyback western concepts of social and cultural mores as well as embrace the Holy Roman religious dogma. Continue…
- Nazrani Christians and the Social Processes of Kerala, 800-1500
- Letters of St. Thomas the Apostle to Edessa from India
- Hymns of Saint Ephraem (Ephrem) the Syrian, on Apostle Thomas and India
- Early references about the Apostolate of Saint Thomas in India, Records about the Indian tradition, Saint Thomas Christians & Statements by Indian Statesmen
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Nasrani Syrian Christians NETWORK Snapshot
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