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Diocese / Eparchy of Kothamangalam

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on January 11, 2013

The eparchy of Kothamangalam was erected by Pope Pius XII through the Papal Bull ‘Qui in beati Petri Cathedra’ of July 29, 1956 separating the protopresbyterates – Arakuzha, Kothamangalam and Mailacombu- of the then Archeparchy of Ernakulam- Angamaly. Mar Mathew Pothanamuzhi was ordained as the first bishop of the eparchy in Rome on November 18, 1956. The inauguration of the eparchy and the installation of the new bishop took place on January 10, 1957. Mar Mathew Pothanamuzhi who guided the eparchy with paternal care and succeeded in curing the teething troubles of the eparchy retired after two decades of memorable ministry. His Excellency Mar George Punnakottil succeeded Mar Mathew Pothanamuzhi. He was ordained and was installed in office on April 24, 1977. The developmental programmes in the eparchy got new vigour and verve and there were new initiatives to augment this process. At present the Eparchy is constitute of 115 parishes. The continuous showering of the grace of God from His kingdom lead this eparchy to the service of successful 50 years and we commemorate this divine providence in 2007 with grant celebration.

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Directories of the Eparchy of Kothamangalam

Eparchy of Kothamangalam – Directory 2012-13

Bulletin of the the Eparchy of Kothamangalam

Deivarajyam 2013 January

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Bishop:

Mar George Madathilkandathil

Bishop Mar George Madathilkandathil

Moto: “സ്നേഹം ഒരിക്കലും അവസാനിക്കുന്നില്ല”  “Love Never Ends” (I Cor 13, 08)

Profile:

Date of Birth : 1956-05-09

Contact:

Mob : +91 485 2862237
Email : madathikandathil@gmail.com
  • Diocese image of Kothamangalam

Short History of Kothamangalam Diocese

Group: : Syro-Malabar
Phone : +91-485-28 62 236, +91-485-28 62 692, +91-485-28 61 625
Address : Bishop’s House,
P.B. No. 6,
Kothamangalam,
Ernakulam district,
Kerala, India – 686 691.
Website : http://www.kothamangalamdiocese.org

The diocese of Kothamangalam was established in the year 1956, and inaugurated in January, 1957. Mar Mathew Pothanamuzhy was appointed as the first bishop of the diocese of Kothamangalam in 1957. On his retirement in 1977, Mar George Punnakkottil was appointed the bishop. The Kothamangalam diocese initially encompassed the areas of the current Idukki diocese also, until the new Idukki diocese was formed in 2002. The diocesan cathedral is St George’s Cathedral, located at the High Range Junction, the centre of Kothamangalam town. The eparchy covers 12 foranes, with 115 parishes. Recently the diocese was bifurcated to form Idukki diocese. Kothamangalam is a small town lying on the foothills of the Western Ghats and is referred to as The Gateway to the High Ranges. Until the recent past, the town was also a very important trading center for spices and hill produce. Kothamangalam is known for its old Christian churches and its prominent educational institutions. St. Thomas is believed to have preached in this place and converted about 240 Brahmin families to the Christian faith.

Geography
Located at (10°4’48″N 76°37’12″E) It is surrounded by the Archdiocese of Ernakulam and Madurai and the Dioceses of Kanjirapally, Palai, Idukki and Coimbatore. Situated in the centre of Kerala, the Eparchy of Kothamangalam with 4,800 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the taluks of Kothamangalam, Devikulam, Kunnathunad, Udumbanchola and Thodupuzha.

Climate
The diocese enjoys four seasons – Winter, Summer, South-West Monsoon and North-East Monsoon. The winter season starts with the end of the northeast monsoons i.e. from the later part of November lasting till the middle of February. During this season temperature is comparatively low. In the Highlands where the climate is cool throughout the year, winter temperatures often fall below 10?C. This season witnesses the lowest amount of rainfall. The flora is tropical. The heavy rainfall combined with moderate temperature and fertile soil support a luxuriant vegetation.

Topography
The diocese lies mainly on the highland consisting of the hills and forests respectively. The hilly or eastern portion is formed by a section of Western Ghats. Muvattupuzha and Periyar are the main rivers of which the latter flows through Thodupuzha, Muvattupuzha, Aluva, Kunnathunadu and Parur taluks. During rainy season these rivers are full and heavy floods affect the low-lying areas on the banks, but in the summer season they generally go dry and narrow. The Periyar is stretched over a length of 229 km.

Languages
Malayalam, English and Tamil are the spoken languages in the diocese.

STATISTICS

Name Type
Catholic Population 2,26,900
Parishes 112
Diocesan Priests 236
Religious Priests 63
Total Priests 299
Religious Sisters 2,171
Religious Brothers 3
Ecclesiastical Institutions 3
Colleges 2
Schools 167
Professional Colleges 1
Orphanages 25
Hostels 10
Hospitals 14
Publications 2

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Click here for the Official Website of the Eparchy of Kothamangalam

Click here for the Official Blog of the Eparchy of Kothamangalam

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Diocese of Kothamangalam (Syro-Malabarese)

Dioecesis Kothamangalamensis


Show: All | General Information | Ordinaries | Historical Summary | Statistics | Affiliated Bishops, Living | Affiliated Bishops, Deceased


Bishop(s)

General Information

  • Type of Jurisdiction: Diocese
  • Erected: 29 July 1956
  • Metropolitan: Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly (Syro-Malabarese)
  • Syro-Malabarese Catholic Church of the Chaldean Tradition
  • Country: India
  • Square Kilometers: 4,840 (1,869 Square Miles)
  • Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6, Kothamangalam 686691, Kerala, India
  • Telephone: (0485)86.22.36
  • Fax: 86.15.55

Past and Present Ordinaries


Historical Summary

Date Event From To
29 July 1956 Erected Archdiocese of Ernakulam (Syro-Malabarese) Diocese of Kothamangalam (Syro-Malabarese) (erected)
15 January 2003 Territory Lost Diocese of Kothamangalam (Syro-Malabarese) Eparchy of Idukki (Syro-Malabarese) (erected)

Statistics

Year Catholics Total Population Percent Catholic Diocesan Priests Religious Priests Total Priests Catholics Per Priest Permanent Deacons Male Religious Female Religious Parishes Source
1970 194,948 560,000 34.8% 165 37 202 965 50 1,565 142 ap1971
1980 242,950 200 47 247 983 56 1,693 179 ap1981
1990 334,390 805,990 41.5% 237 61 298 1,122 69 2,098 197 ap1991
1999 474,530 1,255,410 37.8% 280 104 384 1,235 214 2,738 213 ap2000
2000 495,520 1,273,130 38.9% 286 115 401 1,235 229 2,858 223 ap2001
2001 500,180 1,320,230 37.9% 273 124 397 1,259 241 2,867 225 ap2002
2002 400,318 1,194,318 33.5% 275 83 358 1,118 203 2,870 226 ap2003
2003 500,580 1,315,230 38.1% 274 122 396 1,264 272 2,661 227 ap2004
2004 206,270 702,300 29.4% 176 86 262 787 171 2,070 112 ap2005
2009 223,990 764,050 29.3% 176 96 272 823 186 2,256 115 ap2010

Note: Any changes in boundaries over time are not indicated in the above table.


Affiliated Bishops, Living

Affiliated Bishops, Deceased

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Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Kothamangalam

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Kothamangalam is a Roman Catholic diocese in India, under the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. It was established by Pope Pius XII in 1957. Mar George Punnakottil served as the bishop until January 10, 2013, when his resignation was accepted by the synod. He will be succeeded by George Madathikandathil.[1]

Situated in the central region of the Indian state of Kerala, the Eparchy of Kothamangalam lies extended in Ernakulam and Idukkii districts of Kerala, neighbouring the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, eparchies of Irinjalakuda, Idukki and Pala.

English: Picture of Vazhappilly church

English: Picture of Vazhappilly church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vazhappilly Church

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Boundaries

North: River Chalakudy and northern boundary of Devicolam Taluk
East: Uzhavathadam River – Cheeyapara Waterfalls – Karimanal Power house – Kulamavu Dam (Eastern boundaries of Pazhampallichal, Neendapara, Rajagiri and Uppukunnu parishes)
West: Eastern boundaries of Thripunithara and Vallam of Ernakulam Archeparchy
South: Southern boundaries of Ramamangalam,Memuri,Marady and Arakuzha Villages of Marika Kara and Purapuzha and Karimkunnam Villages,Vazhipuzha River(Kingnithodu),eastern boundary of Velliamatam and southern boundary of Thodupuzha Taluk.

[edit] Population

The Kothamangalam Diocese has a total of approximately 231,300 faithful under its jurisdiction.

[edit] Foranes & Parishes

1.Kothamangalam Forane

1. Kothamangalam
2. Injoor
3. Kallelimedu
4. Keerampara
5. Kottapady
6. Kuruppampady
7. Kutthunkal
8. Kuttampuzha
9. Malippara
10. Manikandamchal
11. Mathirappilly
12. Nadukani
13. Nedungapra
14. Nellimattom
15. Njayappilly
16. Pooyamkutty
17. Thrikkariyoor
18. Urulanthanni
19. Vadattupara
20. Veliyelchaal
21. Vettampara
22. Allungal

2.Arakkuzha Forane

1. Arakuzha
2. Arikkuzha
3. Meenkunnam
4. Peringuzha
5. Perumballur
6. Thottakkara

3.Kaliyar Forane

1. Kaliyar
2. Koduvely
3. Mannukkad
4. Mundanmudy
5. Njarakkad
6. Thennathur
7. Thommankuthu
8. Vannappuram

4.Karimannoor Forane

1. Karimannoor
2. Cheenikkuzhy
3. Cheppukulam
4. Chilavu
5. Kaithappara
6. Malayinchi
7. Mulappuram
8. Neyyasserry
9. Pallikkamuri
10. Peringasserry
11. Thattakkuzha
12. Udumbannoor
13. Uppukunnu

5.Mailakkombu Forane

1. Mailakkombu
2. Ezhallur
3. Kaloor
4. Nakappuzha
5. Perumbillichira
6. Thazhuvamkunnu

6.Maarika Forane

1. Maarika
2. Kolady
3. Kuninji
4. Nediyasala
5. Purappuzha

7.Muthalakkodam Forane

1. Muthalakkodam
2. Chalasserry
3. Kodikkulam
4. Paarappuzha
5. Vandamattom
6. Vazhakkala

8.Muvattupuzha Forane

1. Holy Magi Forane Church, Muvattupuzha
2. St Sebastian’s Church Anicadu
3. Karakkunnam
4. Marady
5. Mekkadambu
6. Mudavoor
7. Muvattupuzha East
8. Randaar
9. Vazhappilly East

9.Unnukal Forane

1. Unnukal
2. Ambikapuram
3. Injathotty
4. Maamalakkandam
5. Neendapaara
6. Neryamangalam
7. Parikkanni
8. Pazhambillichal
9. Perumannur

10.Paingottoor Forane

1. Paingottoor
2. Kalvarigiri (Kulappuram)
3. Kadavoor
4. Mullaringad
5. Pothanikkad
6. Punnamattom
7. Rajagir (Vellallu)

11.Thodupuzha Forane

1. Thodupuzha
2. Alakkodu
3. Anjiri
4. Chittur
5. Kalayanthani
6. Kallanikkal
7. Methotty
8. Nazareth hill (Thoyipra)
9. Nediyakaad
10. Pannimattom
11. Ponnanthanam
12. Thalayanad
13. Thodupuzha East
14. Vettimattom

12.Vazhakkulam Forane

1. Vazhakulam
2. Ayavana
3. Beslehem
4. Enanelloor
5. Kadalikkad
6. Kalloorkkad
7. Kavakkad
8. Nadukkara
9. Vadakodu

[edit] Priests

Priests belonging to the Eparchy 226
Priests working outside 46
Priests out for studies 8
Priests Retired 25

[edit] Educational institutions

University Colleges 2
Engineering College 1
Self financing colleges 3
Teacher Training College 1
Technical Schools 6
Higher Secondary Schools 21
High Schools 20
Upper Primary Schools 26
Lower Primary Schools 51
Unrecognized Schools 4
Nursery Schools 53

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Kothamangalam is a Roman Catholic diocese in India, under the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. It was established by Pope Pius XII in 1957. Mar George Punnakottil served as the bishop until January 10, 2013, when his resignation was accepted by the synod. He will be succeeded by George Madathikandathil.[1]

Situated in the central region of the Indian state of Kerala, the Eparchy of Kothamangalam lies extended in Ernakulam and Idukkii districts of Kerala, neighbouring the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, eparchies of Irinjalakuda, Idukki and Pala.

Vazhappilly Church

Contents

[hide]

[edit] Boundaries

North: River Chalakudy and northern boundary of Devicolam Taluk
East: Uzhavathadam River – Cheeyapara Waterfalls – Karimanal Power house – Kulamavu Dam (Eastern boundaries of Pazhampallichal, Neendapara, Rajagiri and Uppukunnu parishes)
West: Eastern boundaries of Thripunithara and Vallam of Ernakulam Archeparchy
South: Southern boundaries of Ramamangalam,Memuri,Marady and Arakuzha Villages of Marika Kara and Purapuzha and Karimkunnam Villages,Vazhipuzha River(Kingnithodu),eastern boundary of Velliamatam and southern boundary of Thodupuzha Taluk.

[edit] Population

The Kothamangalam Diocese has a total of approximately 231,300 faithful under its jurisdiction.

[edit] Foranes & Parishes

1.Kothamangalam Forane

1. Kothamangalam
2. Injoor
3. Kallelimedu
4. Keerampara
5. Kottapady
6. Kuruppampady
7. Kutthunkal
8. Kuttampuzha
9. Malippara
10. Manikandamchal
11. Mathirappilly
12. Nadukani
13. Nedungapra
14. Nellimattom
15. Njayappilly
16. Pooyamkutty
17. Thrikkariyoor
18. Urulanthanni
19. Vadattupara
20. Veliyelchaal
21. Vettampara
22. Allungal

2.Arakkuzha Forane

1. Arakuzha
2. Arikkuzha
3. Meenkunnam
4. Peringuzha
5. Perumballur
6. Thottakkara

3.Kaliyar Forane

1. Kaliyar
2. Koduvely
3. Mannukkad
4. Mundanmudy
5. Njarakkad
6. Thennathur
7. Thommankuthu
8. Vannappuram

4.Karimannoor Forane

1. Karimannoor
2. Cheenikkuzhy
3. Cheppukulam
4. Chilavu
5. Kaithappara
6. Malayinchi
7. Mulappuram
8. Neyyasserry
9. Pallikkamuri
10. Peringasserry
11. Thattakkuzha
12. Udumbannoor
13. Uppukunnu

5.Mailakkombu Forane

1. Mailakkombu
2. Ezhallur
3. Kaloor
4. Nakappuzha
5. Perumbillichira
6. Thazhuvamkunnu

6.Maarika Forane

1. Maarika
2. Kolady
3. Kuninji
4. Nediyasala
5. Purappuzha

7.Muthalakkodam Forane

1. Muthalakkodam
2. Chalasserry
3. Kodikkulam
4. Paarappuzha
5. Vandamattom
6. Vazhakkala

8.Muvattupuzha Forane

1. Holy Magi Forane Church, Muvattupuzha
2. St Sebastian’s Church Anicadu
3. Karakkunnam
4. Marady
5. Mekkadambu
6. Mudavoor
7. Muvattupuzha East
8. Randaar
9. Vazhappilly East

9.Unnukal Forane

1. Unnukal
2. Ambikapuram
3. Injathotty
4. Maamalakkandam
5. Neendapaara
6. Neryamangalam
7. Parikkanni
8. Pazhambillichal
9. Perumannur

10.Paingottoor Forane

1. Paingottoor
2. Kalvarigiri (Kulappuram)
3. Kadavoor
4. Mullaringad
5. Pothanikkad
6. Punnamattom
7. Rajagir (Vellallu)

11.Thodupuzha Forane

1. Thodupuzha
2. Alakkodu
3. Anjiri
4. Chittur
5. Kalayanthani
6. Kallanikkal
7. Methotty
8. Nazareth hill (Thoyipra)
9. Nediyakaad
10. Pannimattom
11. Ponnanthanam
12. Thalayanad
13. Thodupuzha East
14. Vettimattom

12.Vazhakkulam Forane

1. Vazhakulam
2. Ayavana
3. Beslehem
4. Enanelloor
5. Kadalikkad
6. Kalloorkkad
7. Kavakkad
8. Nadukkara
9. Vadakodu

[edit] Priests

Priests belonging to the Eparchy 226
Priests working outside 46
Priests out for studies 8
Priests Retired 25

[edit] Educational institutions

University Colleges 2
Engineering College 1
Self financing colleges 3
Teacher Training College 1
Technical Schools 6
Higher Secondary Schools 21
High Schools 20
Upper Primary Schools 26
Lower Primary Schools 51
Unrecognized Schools 4
Nursery Schools 53
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Blessed Devasahayam Pillai (1712–1752)

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on December 7, 2012

Blessed Devasahayam Pillai (1712–1752)

Blessed Devasahayam Pillai (1712–1752)

Martyr Blessed Devasahayam Pillai was born in the year 1712 at a village called Nattalam to Vasudevan and Devahiammai in a nair community which was considered a high caste in a caste divided society.

His original name was Neelakandapillai. He married Bargaviammal. From his early childhood he was a learned man well versed in Malayalam Tamil and Sanskrit. He was an expert in the ancient Indian martial arts.

As a young man he was employed at Padmanabapuram palace when King Marthanda Varma was ruling the state. He was very loyal to the king and as a result he was holding number two position in the palace. He was entrusted with the responsibility of supervising the construction of Udyagiri Fortress. He was held in high esteem by the King Marthanda Varma and the people of the country.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blessed
Devasahayam Pillai
தேவசகாயம் பிள்ளை

Devasahayam Pillai
Martyr
Born April 23, 1712
Nattalam, Kanyakumari District, India
Died January 14, 1752 (aged 39)
Aralvaimozhy
Honored in Catholic Church
Beatified 2 December, 2012, St. Xavier’s Church, Kottar, Tamil Nadu by Angelo Amato (On behalf of Benedict XVI)
Major shrine Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier
Feast 14 January[1]
Attributes Tied up in chains, praying on knees before execution
Part of a series on
Christianity
in India
Christianity in India
Indian Christianity portal

Blessed Devasahayam Pillai (1712–1752), born Neelakanta Pillai in southern India, is a beatified layman of the Catholic church. Born into a Hindu family in the 18th century, he converted to Christianity and is considered a martyr of the Christian faith.[2] Pillai was an official in the court of the king of Travancore, Maharaja Marthanda Varma,[3] when he came under the influence of Dutch naval commander, Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, who instructed him in the Catholic faith.[4] He is believed to have been killed by the then Travancore state for upholding his Christian faith.[2][3]

In 2004, at the request of the diocese of Kottar, Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC) and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) recommended Devasahayam Pillai for the process of beatification to the Vatican.[5] This initiative was objected to by some Hindu groups that there was no evidence of religious persecution in Travancore during that period, and that Pillai was executed for sedition.[6] However, documents dating back to the period of Devasahayam Pillai show that conversion of court officials to Christianity was not tolerated.[7]

On June 28, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree regarding the martyrdom of Devasahayam Pillai and he was referred to as “Venerable“.[8]

On 2nd December, 2012, a ceremony of beatification and declaration of martyrdom was held in Nagercoil, in the Roman Catholic diocese of Kottar in Southern India presided by Angelo Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, acting as papal delegate. Devasahayam Pillai is the first lay person to be elevated to the rank of “Blessed” in India (the step preceding raising a person to Sainthood under the Canon Law of the Catholic Church).[9]

Contents

Account of life according to Roman Catholic tradition

Early life

Devasahayam Pillai (named Neelakanda Pillai at birth)[3] was born into an affluent Naircaste family at Nattalam in the present-day Kanyakumari District, on 23 April 1712.[10] His father Vasudevan Namboodiri, hailed from Kayamkulam, in present-day Kerala state, and was working as a priest at Sri Adi Kesava Perumal temple in Thiruvattar in present-day Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. His mother Devaki Amma hailed from Thiruvattar in Kanyakumari District. In the Nair matriarchal traditions of the day, Devasahayam Pillai was raised by his maternal uncle, and was inculcated with Hindu beliefs and traditions early on.

Devasahayam’s family had much influence in the royal palace of Maharaja Marthanda Varma, king of Travancore, and Devasahayam went into the service of the royal palace as a young man.[11]:12 His capabilities and enthusiasm did not go unnoticed in the palace, as he was soon put in charge of state affairs as an official under Ramayyan Dalawa, the Dewan of Travancore.[12]:55-56

Conversion to Christianity

In 1741, Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, a Dutch naval commander, was sent on command of a Dutch naval expedition by the Dutch East India Company to capture Colachel, a port under the control of Travancore, and establish a trading post there. In the battle (Battle of Colachel) that followed between the Travancore forces and De Lannoy’s men, the Dutch forces were defeated and the men were either killed or captured. Eustachius De Lannoy, his assistant Donadi and a few other Dutch soldiers were captured and imprisoned.[13]

De Lannoy and the Dutchmen were later pardoned by the king, on condition that they serve in the Travancore army. De Lannoy later earned the trust of the king and went on to become the commander of the Travancore armed forces, winning many battles and annexing various neighbouring territories to Travancore.

It was during their influential roles under the King of Travancore that Devasahayam Pillai and De Lannoy became well acquainted. De Lannoy’s Christian faith interested Devasahayam and De Lannoy enlightened him on the faith, leading to his conversion in 1745.[3]

Baptism

On Devasahayam’s acceptance of the Christian faith, he was baptized at the Roman Catholic Latin Rite church at Vadakkankulam village (in the present Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu), where the Jesuits had a mission under Rev. Fr. R. Bouttari Italus S.J.[14]:281 Neelakanda Pillai, his name at birth, was then changed to Lazar, although he is more widely known by the Tamil & Malayalam translation Devasahayam (meaning God’s help).[15] Pillai was married[3] by this time to Bargavi Ammal of Travancore. She was also persuaded and converted to Christianity by her husband. His wife was given the baptismal name of Gnanapoo Ammaal (equivalent to Theresa in Tamil & Malayalam). Fearing reprisal in Travancore against her religious conversion, she chose to be a migrated-resident of this village. Some of Devasahayam Pillai’s immediate family members also received baptism later, after being converted to Christianity.[12]:68-69

Orders based on accusations and charges

Church chroniclers say that the Brahmin chief priest of the kingdom, the feudal lords, members of the royal household and the Nair community brought false charges on Devasahayam to the Dewan, Ramayyan Dalawa.[14]:282 Pillai was divested of his portfolio in the administration and was later accused of treason and of divulging state secrets to rivals and Europeans. He was later arrested and tortured for three years.[9] After his execution orders were passed, he was initially ordered to be taken on a buffalo to Kuzhumaikkad, where he would be executed.[11]:41-42 [16] But the original Royal order was altered later to finally to be taken on a buffalo back to Aralvaimozhy border for a meaningful punishment of banishment after carrying out a series of tortures by ten different karyakkars on the advice of the ministers.[11]:42-65

Other traditions and beliefs

Devasahayam Pillai was marched from Padmanabhapuram Palace to Aralvaimozhy by soldiers, over the period of a few days. Pillai was treated like a cruel criminal and as was customary in those days for very cruel criminals, his body was painted with red and black spots, and was intentionally marched through populated areas, sitting backward on top of a water buffalo[14]:283 [17] (the mythical vehicle or vahana of Yama, the lord of death in Hinduism) through the streets of South Travancore. As a method of torture, he was beaten everyday with eighty stripes, pepper rubbed in his wounds and nostrils, exposed to the sun, and given only stagnant water to drink.[17]

While halting at Puliyoorkurichi, not far away from the Padmanabhapuram Palace of the Travancore king, it is believed by Christians that God quenched his thirst by letting water gush through a small hole on a rock, the very place where he knelt to pray. The water hole is still found in the compound of a church at Puliyoorkurichi, about 15 km from Nagercoil.[11]:54 [14]:285

It is also believed that the leaves of a neem (Margosa) tree in the village of Peruvilai, to which he had been tied while being marched to Aralvaimozhy, cured illnesses of sick people in the village and around. Many more miracles are attributed to Devasahayam Pillai.[14]:286

Death

Tomb of Blessed Devasahayam – St. Xavier’s Cathedral, diocese of Kottar

In 1752, the original order of the King and his Dewan was to deport him from Travancore, into the Pandya country, at Aralvaimozhy. He was let off in the forested hills near Aralvaimozhy. There, he is believed to have begun deep meditations, and the people from the adjacent villages began visiting the holy man. Christian sources allege that at this time, high caste Hindus plotted to do away with Devasahayam.[12]:134

Some people believe that the soldiers went up the forested hills and tried to shoot Devasahayam, but were unable to fire; after which he took the gun in his hands, blessed it and gave it back to the soldiers to shoot him to death, if they wished to. The soldiers took the gun back and fired at him five times. His body was then carelessly thrown out near the foothills at Kattadimalai.[14]:285 [18]:83

It was at Kattadimali in Kanyakumari district that Devasahayam Pillai died on 14 January 1752.[3] His mortal remains were interred near the altar inside St. Xavier’s Church, Kottar, Nagercoil, which is now the diocesan Cathedral.[14]:285

Canonization efforts

According to the report submitted by the then Bishop of Cochin (under whom Kanyakumari church was then functioning) in 1756 CE, the Christian martyrdom of Devasahayam Pillai was promptly intimated to Vatican. Prominent witnesses to his saintliness and martyrdom include Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar.[19]

In 1780, Kariattil Ouseph Malpan submitted a petition to the Vatican for canonization of Devasahayam Pillai.[18]:94-96 [20]

The church historian C. M. Agur concluded in 1903 that although apostasy was never considered illegal in Travancore, it was not viewed indifferently, particularly in the case of the King’s palace servants, and this led to the martyrdom of Devasahayam Pillai.[14]:285

In 1984, a group of lay persons from the diocese of Kottar, especially members of Nagercoil Catholic Club, once again took the initiative to seek the beatification of Devasahayam.[21] This is unusual for a layman,[3] but he is regarded as one who was totally devoted to Christ.[5] Since the days of the interment of the mortal remains of Devesahayam Pillai in St. Xavier’s Cathedral of the diocese of Kottar many Christian pilgrims visited his tomb and offered prayers[5]

After a series of initiatives by the diocese of Kottar and much deliberation, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council (TNBC), later in 2004, duly recommended his beatification, following scrutiny of available historical evidence, in consultation with others.[5] Bishop Chrysostom said that the CBCI did not intend any controversy whatsoever in moving this forward.[5]

However, Professor A. Sreedhara Menon (1925-2010), a noted historian and writer on Travancore, said that no cases of persecution in the name of religious conversion were recorded in the history of the kingdom.[6] P. Parameswaran, president of the Hindu spiritual organisation Vivekananda Kendra, accused the CBCI of an attempt to hurt Hindu sentiments. Referring to the Travancore state manual, he insisted that Devasahayam was a palace employee who was executed after confirmation of sedition, because he had tampered with palace records and passed them to De Lannoy.[6]

Catholic records of the time state that the kingdom of Travancore did not tolerate palace officials converting to Christianity.[7]

In June 2012, Pope Benedict XVI officially recognized a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints stating that he lived a life of “heroic virtues” – a major step towards beatification – and Pillai was then referred to as “Venerable“.[22]

Beatification and declaration as a martyr

Devasahayam Pillai was declared a Martyr and Blessed on December 2, 2012, at a solemn ceremony held in the Diocese of Kottar at Carmel Higher Secondary School Grounds, Nagercoil, near the place of his burial. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Angelo Cardinal Amato presided at the function as Delegate of Pope Benedict XVI.

Several cardinals, archbishops and bishops from India and elsewhere, as well as numerous priests, religious men and women and over 100,000 Catholics[23] from all over India participated in the grand ceremony which included a Solemn Pontifical Mass.

Among the dignitaries officiating at the altar were Angelo Cardinal Amato, Oswald Cardinal Gracias (Archbishop of Mumbai), Telesphore P. Cardinal Toppo (Archbishop of Ranchi), George Cardinal Alencherry (Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church), Moran Mor Baselios Cleemis Catholicos (Major Archbishop of Syro-Malankara Catholic Church), Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio (Apostolic Nuncio to India), and Bishop Peter Remigius (Bishop of Kottar).

Blessed Devasahayam Pillai is the first lay person from India to be canonised by the Catholic Church.

On the same day as Devasahayam Pillai was declared a Blessed in the Diocese of Kottar, India, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the pilgrims gathered in Rome. During his Angelus Message the Pope mentioned the event in Italian and English.[24] He said in Italian:

“Today in Kottar, India, Devasahayam Pillai, a faithful layman, who lived in the 18th century and died a martyr, was proclaimed Blessed. Let us join in the joy of the Church in India and pray that this newly Beatified sustain the faith of the Christians of that great and noble country.”

Then he addressed the crowds in English:

“I welcome all gathered here today to pray with me. I especially greet the people of Kottar who celebrate today the beatification of Devasahayam Pillai. His witness to Christ is an example of that attentiveness to the coming of Christ recalled by this first Sunday of Advent. May this holy season help us to centre our lives once more on Christ, our hope. God bless all of you!”

Places of interest

Devasahyam Pillai is buried in the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier at Kottar in Nagercoil.[3][15]Devasahayam’s tomb in St. Xavier’s Cathedral of the Diocese of Kottar has been restored and beautified in view of the declaration of martyrdom and beatification.[25]

Devasahyam Pillai’s clothes and other belongings are kept in a church in the small town of Vadakkankulam in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu State, India. They are exposed at the church on 15th of August every year, the feast of the Assumption of Mary. His wife was buried in the cemetery there.

Puliyoorkurichi, location of the water fountain believed to have quenched Devasahayam’s thirst, is on the NagercoilTrivandrum highway.

Aralvaimozhy, where Devasahayam was killed, is on the NagercoilTirunelveli highway. At that spot on the hillock (called Kaattadimalai), devotees believe that rocks fell and were broken at that moment. One rock at the place makes bell-like sounds when knocked with a stone.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Devasahayam Pillai

References

  1. ^ Terry Jones, Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, Star Quest Production Network. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Syro Malabar Church, 1 July 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h CBCI report, The Hindu, 10 January 2004. Retrieved 27 Sept 2009.
  4. ^ De Lannoy
  5. ^ a b c d e “CBCI report”. NewIndPress.com. 13 January 2004. Archived from the original on 30 August 2004. Retrieved 27 Sept 2009.
  6. ^ a b c Balram Mishra, “Deafening silence?” Daily Pioneer, 20 January 2003. Cited at HinduWisdom.com. Retrieved 27 Sept 2009.
  7. ^ a b Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo (1748-1806), Voyage to the East Indies, 1800 (original Italian, 1796). He writes: “The king of Travancore threatens with imprisonment and death every nobleman who shall quit his court to become a Christian, and who shall afterwards fall into his hands; and indeed Nilampulla, an officer of a noble family, was shot at Arampalli because he refused to renounce the religion of Jesus Christ. In the year 1787 I saw four Nayiris or noble Shudris, thrown into prison at Tiruvandaburam, because they would not apostasise from the Catholic Church.” (pp. 207-208).
  8. ^ Vatican Decree on martyrdom of Devasahayam Pillai
  9. ^ a b Church beatifies India’s first ‘lay’ martyr, Business Standard, 2 December 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  10. ^ Amalagiri Anthonymuthu, “Vedasatchi Devasahayam Pillai Virivaana Varalaaru” (Tamil), Nanjil Book Stall, Nagercoil, 1988, 3rd Edn.,2006, Page:15.
  11. ^ a b c d Pushpa Raj P, “Devasahayam Pillai: The Martyr”, Nanjil Book Stall, Nagercoil, 1988, 2nd Edn., 2005
  12. ^ a b c Rosario Narchison J, “Martyr Devasahayam: A Documented History”, Bishop’s House, Nagercoil, 2002.
  13. ^ V. Nagam Aiya, The Travancore State Manual Vol. 1, 1906
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Agur, C. M., Church History of Travancore, Madras, 1903, Reprint: Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 1990, Part II, Chapter V. ISBN 81-206-0594-2
  15. ^ a b History of the Diocese, Roman Catholic Diocese of Kottar, 2010. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
  16. ^ Stephen, A.P., “Retham Chintha Chintha” (Tamil), Kottar Diocese, Nagercoil, 1975, page 29.
  17. ^ a b Samuel Mateer, Native Life in Travancore, London, 1883. ISBN 81-206-0514-4. Page 291.
  18. ^ a b Thangasami M.S.J., “Vanjinaattu Vedasaatchi Devasahayam Pillai Varalaaru” (Tamil), Nanjil Pathippaham, Nagercoil, 1989.
  19. ^ Gover Nethor Parammakkal Thoma Kathanar, “Vathamana Pusthakam” (Malayalam), First Travelogue in an Indian language & Malankara Catholic records, edited by Most Rev. Fr. Thomas Muthedan, published by Janatha Book Stall, Thevara, Ernakulam, 1778–87.
  20. ^ Kariattil Ouseph Malpan
  21. ^ Process of beatification on devotees’ website
  22. ^ “Two Indian laymen placed on sainthood road”. ucan india. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  23. ^ Indian Express News
  24. ^ Pope Benedict on Devasahayam Pillai’s Beatification
  25. ^ Bishop Peter Remigius, “Circular Letter on the Martyrdom and Beatification of Devasahayam Pillai”, Kottar Newsletter, August 2012, Bishop’s House, Nagercoil, India.

Further reading

  • Leita, Clement Joseph C. Martyrdom of Devasahayam. An Extract from the Report submitted to Pope Benedict XIV on the occasion of the Ad Limina Visit by Most Rev. Clement Joseph C. Leita, S.J., Bishop of Cochin, 15 November 1756. Canonization Committee, Diocese of Kottar, 2009.
  • National Symposium on Devasahayam Pillai. Department of History and Tourism & Historical Commission for the Cause of Martyr Devasahayam. Nagarkoil, 2008.
  • Mathavadiyan, A. Devasahayampilla Charthram. [Malayam. History of Devasahayam Pilla.] Trivandrum: City Press, 2006.
  • Ferroli, D. Jesuits in Malabar. Vol. II. Bangalore, 1951.
  • Ibrahim Kunhu, A.P. Marthanda Varma: The Rise of Modern Travancore. [Malayalam.] Thiruvananthapuram: Cultural Publications Department, Govt. of Kerala, 2005.
  • Kottukapally, Joseph. “Devasahayam Pilla: Convert, Apostle, Revolutionary, Martir [sic], I.” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 76/1 (2012) 27-42.
  • Kottukapally, Joseph. “Devasahayam Pilla: Convert, Apostle, Revolutionary, Martyr, II.” Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 76/2 (2012) 108-120.
  • Antonimuthu, Amalagiri. Viswaa Deepam. Daivadasan Devasahayam Pilla. 3rd ed. [Malayalam translation of Tamil original.] Nagarkoil.
  • Narchison, Rosario J. Martyr Devasahayam. A Documented History. Nagarcoil: Canonization Committee, 2009.

Blessed Devasahayam Pillai

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God the Father

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on November 19, 2012

God the Father, Cima da Conegliano, Circa 1510-17.

God the Father, Cima da Conegliano, Circa 1510-17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God the Father is a title given to God in modern monotheist religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Bahá’í, in part because he is viewed as having an active interest in human affairs, in the way that a father would take an interest in his children who are dependent on him.[1][2][3]

In Judaism, God is described as father as he is said to be the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector.[4] However, in Judaism the use of the Father title is generally a metaphor and is one of many titles by which Jews speak of and to God.[5]

Since the second century, Christian creeds included affirmation of belief in “God the Father (Almighty)”, primarily as his capacity as “Father and creator of the universe”.[6] Yet, in Christianity the concept of God as the father of Jesus is distinct from the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle’s Creed where the expression of belief in the “Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth” is immediately, but separately followed by in “Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord”, thus expressing both senses of fatherhood.[7]

The Islamic view of God sees God as the unique creator of the universe and as the life-giver, but does not accept the term “father” in reference to God, as well as in regard to his relationship to the prophet Isa, i.e. Jesus in Islam.[8]

Contents

Overview

An image of God the Father by Julius Schnorr, 1860.

In modern monotheist religious traditions with a large following, such as Christianity, Judaism and Bahá’í, God is addressed as the father, in part because of his active interest in human affairs, in the way that a father would take an interest in his children who are dependent on him and as a father, he will respond to humanity, his children, acting in their best interests.[1][2][3] Many monotheists believe they can communicate with God and come closer to him through prayer – a key element of achieving communion with God.[9][10][11]

In general, the title Father (capitalized) signifies God’s role as the life-giver, the authority, and powerful protector, often viewed as immense, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent with infinite power and charity that goes beyond human understanding.[12] For instance, after completing his monumental work Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas concluded that he had not yet begun to understand God the Father.[13] Although the term “Father” implies masculine characteristics, God is usually defined as having the form of a spirit without any human biological gender, e.g. the Catechism of the Catholic Church #239 specifically states that “God is neither man nor woman: he is God“.[14][15] Although God is never directly addressed as “Mother”, at times motherly attributes may be interpreted in Old Testament references such as Isa 42:14, Isa 49:14-15 or Isa 66:12-13.[16]

Although similarities exist among religions, the common language and the shared concepts about God the Father among the Abrahamic religions is quite limited, and each religion has very specific belief structures and religious nomenclature with respect to the subject.[17] While a religious teacher in one faith may be able to explain the concepts to his own audience with ease, significant barriers remain in communicating those concepts across religious boundaries.[17]

In the New Testament, the Christian concept of God the Father may be seen as a continuation of the Jewish concept, but with specific additions and changes, which over time made the Christian concept become even more distinct by the start of the Middle Ages.[18][19][20] The conformity to the Old Testament concepts is shown in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8 where in response to temptation Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 and states: “It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.”[18] However, 1 Corinthians 8:6 shows the distinct Christian teaching about the agency of Christ by first stating: “there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him” and immediately continuing with “and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.”[19] This passage clearly acknowledges the Jewish teachings on the uniqueness of God, yet also states the role of Jesus as an agent in creation.[19] Over time, the Christian doctrine began to fully diverge from Judaism through the teachings of the Church Fathers in the second century and by the fourth century belief in the Trinity was formalized.[19][20]

The Islamic concept of God differs from the Christian and Jewish views, the term “father” in not applied to God by Muslims, and the Christian notion of the Trinity is rejected in Islam.[21][22]

Judaism

Main article: God in Judaism

The Biblical Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew Name for God the Father.

In Judaism, God is called “Father” with a unique sense of familiarity. In addition to the sense in which God is “Father” to all men because he created the world (and in that sense “fathered” the world), the same God is also uniquely the patriarchal law-giver to the chosen people. He maintains a special, covenantal father-child relationship with the people, giving them the Shabbat, stewardship of his oracles, and a unique heritage in the things of God, calling Israel “my son” because he delivered the descendants of Jacob out of slavery in Egypt[Hosea 11:1] according to his oath to their father, Abraham. In the Hebrew Scriptures, in Isaiah 63:16 (ASV) it reads: “Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name.” To God, according to Judaism, is attributed the fatherly role of protector. He is called the Father of the poor, of the orphan and the widow, their guarantor of justice. He is also called the Father of the king, as the teacher and helper over the judge of Israel.[23]

However, in Judaism “Father” is generally a metaphor; it is not a proper name for God but rather one of many titles by which Jews speak of and to God. In Christianity fatherhood is taken in a more literal and substantive sense, and is explicit about the need for the Son as a means of accessing the Father, making for a more metaphysical rather than metaphorical interpretation.[5]

Christianity

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Main article: God in Christianity

Since the second century, creeds in the Western Church have included affirmation of belief in “God the Father (Almighty)”, the primary reference being to “God in his capacity as Father and creator of the universe”.[6] This did not exclude either the fact the “eternal father of the universe was also the Father of Jesus the Christ” or that he had even “vouchsafed to adopt [the believer] as his son by grace”.[6]

Creeds in the Eastern Church (known to have come from a later date) began with an affirmation of faith in “one God” and almost always expanded this by adding “the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible” or words to that effect.[6]

By the end of the first century, Clement of Rome had repeatedly referred to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and linked the Father to creation, 1 Clement 19.2 stating: “let us look steadfastly to the Father and Creator of the universe”.[24] Around AD 213 in Adversus Praxeas (chapter 3) Tertullian provided a formal representation of the concept of the Trinity, i.e. that God exists as one “substance” but three “Persons”: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.[25][26] Tertullian also discussed how the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.[25]

The Nicene Creed, which dates to 325, states that the Son (Jesus Christ) is “eternally begotten of the Father”, indicating that their divine Father-Son relationship is seen as not tied to an event within time or human history.

There is a deep sense in which Christians believe that they are made participants in the eternal relationship of Father and Son, through Jesus Christ. Christians call themselves adopted children of God:[27][28]

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

The same notion is expressed in Romans 8:8-11 where the Son of God extends the parental relationship to the believers.[28] Yet, in Christianity the concept of God as the father of Jesus is distinct from the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle’s Creed.[7] The profession in the Creed begins with expressing belief in the “Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth” and then immediately, but separately, in “Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord”, thus expressing both senses of fatherhood within the Creed.[7]

Trinitarianism

God the Father by Girolamo dai Libri c. 1555. The triangular halo represents the Trinity.

To Trinitarian Christians (which include Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and most but not all Protestant denominations), God the Father is not at all a separate god from God the Son (of whom Jesus is the incarnation) and the Holy Spirit, the other Hypostases of the Christian Godhead.[29][30][31] However, in Trinitarian theology, God the Father is the “arche” or “principium” (beginning), the “source” or “origin” of both the Son and the Holy Spirit, and is considered the eternal source of the Godhead.[32] The Father is the one who eternally begets the Son, and the Father eternally breaths the Holy Spirit.[24][32]

As a member of the Trinity, God the Father is one with, co-equal to, co-eternal, and con-substantial with the Son and the Holy Spirit, each Person being the one eternal God and in no way separated, who is the creator: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent.[24] Because of this, the Trinity is beyond reason and can only be known by revelation.[30][33]

The Trinitarians concept of God the Father is not pantheistic in that he not viewed as identical to the universe or a vague notionthat persists in it, but exists fully outside of creation, as its Creator.[34][29] He is viewed as a loving and caring God, a Heavenly Father who is active both in the world and in people’s lives.[34][29] He created all things visible and invisible in love and wisdom,<and man for his own sake.[34][35]

The emergence of Trinitarian theology of God the Father in early Christianity was based on two key ideas: first the shared identity of of the Yahweh of the Old Testament and the God of Jesus in the New Testament, and then the self-distinction and yet the unity between Jesus and his Father.[36][37] An example of the unity of Son and Father is Matthew 11:27: “No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son”, asserting the mutual knowledge of Father and Son.[38]

The concept of fatherhood of God does appear in the Old Testament, but is not a a major theme.[39][36] While the view of God as the Father is used in the Old Testament, it only became a focus in the New Testament, as Jesus frequently referred to it.[39][36] This is manifested in the Lord’s prayer which combines the earthly needs of daily bread with the reciprocal concept of forgiveness.[39] And Jesus’ emphasis on his special relationship with the Father highlights the importance of the distinct yet unified natures of Jesus and the Father, building to the unity of Father and Son in the Trinity.[39]

The paternal view of God as the Father extends beyond Jesus to his disciples, and the entire Church, as reflected in the petitions Jesus submitted to the Father for his followers at the end of the Farewell Discourse, the night before his crucifixion.[40] Instances of this in the Farewell Discourse are John 14:20 as Jesus addresses the disciples: “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” and in John 17:22 as he prays tothe Father: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.”[41]

Non-trinitarianism

Main article: Nontrinitarianism

A number of nontriniatarian traditions reject the doctrine of the Trinity, but differ from one another in their views, variously depicting Jesus as a divine being second only to God the Father, Yahweh of the Old Testament in human form, God (but not eternally God), prophet, or simply a holy man.[42] Some broad definitions of Protestantism include these groups within Protestantism, but most definitions do not.[43]

Mormon depiction of God the Father and the Son Jesus.

In Mormon theology, the most prominent conception of God is as a divine council of three distinct beings: Elohim (the Father), Jehovah (the Son, or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son are considered to have perfected, material bodies, while the Holy Spirit has a body of spirit.[44] Mormons believe that God the Father presides over both the Son and Holy Spirit, but together they represent one God.

Mormons officially consider the Godhead a Divine Council, the Father being over the Son and Spirit in time and power. This conception differs from the traditional Christian Trinity of co-equal and co-eternal members; in Mormonism, the three persons are considered worthy to be members of godhood by being united in will and purpose.[45] Mormons often refer to this Council as the “Godhead” to distinguish it from the traditional Trinity.[46] As such, the term Godhead has a different meaning than the term as used in traditional Christianity.[47]

In Jehovah’s Witness theology, only God the Father is the one true and almighty God, even over his Son Jesus Christ. While the Witnesses acknowledge Christ’s pre-existence, perfection, and unique “Sonship” with God the Father, and believe that Christ had an essential role in creation and redemption, and is the Messiah, they believe that only the Father is without beginning. They say that the Son had a beginning, and was “brought forth” at a certain point, as the Father’s First and Only-begotten, and as the Father’s only direct creation, before all ages. They believe that all other things were created through the Son, in the service of God the Father.[48]

Jehovah’s Witnesses emphasize God the Father, in their services, studies, and worship, more than Christ the Son. In their theology, they teach that the Father is greater than the Son.[49][50] The Witnesses, though they do give relative “worship” or “obeisance” (Greek: proskyneo) to Jesus as God’s Son and Messiah, and pray through Him as Mediator, do not give him the same degree of worship or service as they give to God the Father.[51][52]

Oneness Pentecostalism teaches that God is a singular spirit who is one person, not three divine persons, individuals or minds. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are merely titles reflecting the different personal manifestations of the One True God in the universe. When Oneness believers speak of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, they see these as three personal manifestations of one being, one personal God.[53][54]

Other groups include Sabbatarian traditions, such as the Living Church of God and the Philadelphia Church of God, Armstrongism, the Unitarian Christian Association, Binitarianism, etc.

Islam

Main articles: God in Islam and Shirk (Islam)

God, as referenced in the Qur’an, is the only God and the same God worshiped by members of the other Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Judaism. (29:46).[55] However, though Islam accepts the concept of God as creator and life-giver, and as the unique one, Islam rejects the term “father” in reference to God, particularly in regard to his relationship to the prophet Isa, i.e. Jesus in Islam.[8]

The Qur’an states:[56]

“Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.” (Sura 112:1-4, Yusuf Ali)

In Islamic theology, God (Arabic: Allāh) is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe.[57][58] Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular (tawhid).[59] God is unique (wahid) and inherently One (ahad), all-merciful and omnipotent.[60] The Qur’an asserts the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world; a unique and indivisible being who is independent of the entire creation.[56]

Other religions

Although some forms of Hinduism support monotheism, there is no concept of a god as a father in Hinduism. A genderless Brahman is considered the Creator and Life-giver, and the Shakta Goddess is viewed as the divine mother and life-bearer.[61][62]

God the Father in Western art

Depiction of God the Father (detail), Pieter de Grebber, 1654.

For about a thousand years, no attempt was made to portray God the Father in human form, because early Christians believed that the words of Exodus 33:20 “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see Me and live” and of the Gospel of John 1:18: “No man hath seen God at any time” were meant to apply not only to the Father, but to all attempts at the depiction of the Father.[63] Typically only a small part of the body of Father would be represented, usually the hand, or sometimes the face, but rarely the whole person, and in many images, the figure of the Son supplants the Father, so a smaller portion of the person of the Father is depicted.[64]

In the early medieval period God was often represented by Christ as the Logos, which continued to be very common even after the separate figure of God the Father appeared. Western art eventually required some way to illustrate the presence of the Father, so through successive representations a set of artistic styles for the depiction of the Father in human form gradually emerged around the tenth century AD.[65]

By the twelfth century depictions of a figure of God, essentially based on the Ancient of Days in the Book of Daniel had started to appear in French manuscripts and in stained glass church windows in England. In the 14th century the illustrated Naples Bible had a depiction of God the Father in the Burning bush. By the 15th century, the Rohan Book of Hours included depictions of God the Father in human form. The depiction remains rare and often controversial in Eastern Orthodox art, and by the time of the Renaissance artistic representations of God the Father were freely used in the Western Church.[66]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: God the Father

References

  1. ^ a b Calling God “Father” by John W. Miller (Nov 1999) ISBN 0809138972 pages x-xii
  2. ^ a b Diana L. Eck (2003) Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras ISBN 0807073024 p. 98
  3. ^ a b Church Dogmatics, Vol. 2.1, Section 31: The Doctrine of God by Karl Barth (Sep 23, 2010) ISBN 0567012859 pages 15-17
  4. ^ Gerald J. Blidstein, 2006 Honor thy father and mother: filial responsibility in Jewish law and ethics ISBN 0-88125-862-8 page 1
  5. ^ a b God the Father in Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity: Transformed Background or Common Ground?, Alon Goshen-Gottstein. The Elijah Interfaith Institute, first published in Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 38:4, Spring 2001
  6. ^ a b c d Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Creeds Longmans:1960, p.136; p.139; p.195 respectively
  7. ^ a b c Symbols of Jesus: a Christology of symbolic engagement by Robert C. Neville 2002 ISBN 0-521-00353-9 page 26
  8. ^ a b The Concept of Monotheism in Islam and Christianity by Hans Köchler 1982 ISBN 3-7003-0339-4 page 38
  9. ^ Floyd H. Barackman, 2002 Practical Christian Theology ISBN 0-8254-2380-5 page 117
  10. ^ Calling God “Father” by John W. Miller (Nov 1999) ISBN 0809138972 page 51
  11. ^ Church Dogmatics, Vol. 2.1, Section 31: The Doctrine of God by Karl Barth (Sep 23, 2010) ISBN 0567012859 pages 73-74
  12. ^ Lawrence Kimbrough, 2006 Contemplating God the Father B&H Publishing ISBN 0-8054-4083-6 page 3
  13. ^ Thomas W. Petrisko, 2001 The Kingdom of Our Father St. Andrew’s Press ISBN 1-891903-18-7 page 8
  14. ^ David Bordwell, 2002, Catechism of the Catholic Church,Continuum International Publishing ISBN 978-0-86012-324-8 page 84
  15. ^ Catechism at the Vatican website
  16. ^ Calling God “Father”: Essays on the Bible, Fatherhood and Culture by John W. Miller (Nov 1999) ISBN 0809138972 pages 50-51
  17. ^ a b The Names of God in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: A Basis for Interfaith Dialogue: by Máire Byrne (Sep 8, 2011) ISBN 144115356X pages 2-3
  18. ^ a b Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism by Wendy North and Loren T. Stuckenbruck (May 27, 2004) ISBN 0567082938 pages 111-112
  19. ^ a b c d One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism by Larry W. Hurtado (Oct 25, 2003) ISBN pages 96-100
  20. ^ a b A History of the Christian Tradition, Vol. I by Thomas D. McGonigle and James F. Quigley (Sep 1988) ISBN 0809129647 pages 72-75 and 90
  21. ^ The Concept of Monotheism in Islam and Christianity by Hans Köchler 1982 ISBN 3-7003-0339-4 page 38
  22. ^ Christian Theology: An Introduction by Alister E. McGrath (Oct 12, 2010) ISBN 1444335146 pages 237-238
  23. ^ Marianne Meye Thompson The promise of the Father: Jesus and God in the New Testament ch.2 God as Father in the Old Testament and Second Temple Judaism p35 2000 “Christian theologians have often accentuated the distinctiveness of the portrait of God as Father in the New Testament on the basis of an alleged discontinuity”
  24. ^ a b c The Doctrine of God: A Global Introduction by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen 2004 ISBN 0801027527 pages 70-74
  25. ^ a b The Trinity by Roger E. Olson, Christopher Alan Hall 2002 ISBN 0802848273 pages 29-31
  26. ^ Tertullian, First Theologian of the West by Eric Osborn (4 Dec 2003) ISBN 0521524954 pages 116-117
  27. ^ Paul’s Way of Knowing by Ian W. Scott (Dec 1, 2008) ISBN 0801036097 pages 159-160
  28. ^ a b Pillars of Paul’s Gospel: Galatians and Romans by John F. O?Grady (May 1992) ISBN 080913327X page 162
  29. ^ a b c International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Mar 1982) ISBN 0802837824 pages 515-516
  30. ^ a b The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity by Gilles Emery O. P. and Matthew Levering (27 Oct 2011) ISBN 0199557810 page 263
  31. ^ Critical Terms for Religious Studies. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998. Credo Reference. 27 July 2009
  32. ^ a b The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology by Alan Richardson and John Bowden (Jan 1, 1983) ISBN 0664227481 page 36
  33. ^ Catholic catechism at the Vatican web site, items: 242 245 237
  34. ^ a b c God Our Father by John Koessler (Sep 13, 1999) ISBN 0802440681 page 68
  35. ^ Catholic Catechism items: 356 and 295 at the Vatican web site
  36. ^ a b c The Trinity: Global Perspectives by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (Jan 17, 2007) ISBN 0664228909 pages 10-13
  37. ^ Global Dictionary of Theology by William A. Dyrness, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Juan F. Martinez and Simon Chan (Oct 10, 2008) ISBN 0830824545 pages 169-171
  38. ^ The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1988 ISBN 0-8028-3785-9 page 571-572
  39. ^ a b c d The Doctrine of God: A Global Introduction by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen 2004 ISBN 0801027527 pages 37-41
  40. ^ Symbols of Jesus by Robert C. Neville (Feb 4, 2002) ISBN 0521003539 pages 26-27
  41. ^ Jesus and His Own: A Commentary on John 13-17 by Daniel B. Stevick (Apr 29, 2011) Eeardmans ISBN 0802848656 page 46
  42. ^ Trinitarian Soundings in Systematic Theology by Paul Louis Metzger 2006 ISBN 0567084108 pages 36 and 43
  43. ^ Encyclopedia of Protestantism by J. Gordon Melton 2008 ISBN 0816077460 page 543
  44. ^ “Godhead”, True to the Faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), 2004. See also: “God the Father”, True to the Faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), 2004.
  45. ^ Robinson, Stephen E. (1992), “God the Father: Overview”, in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Mcmillan, pp. 548–550, ISBN 0-02-904040-X
  46. ^ Dahl, Paul E. (1992), “Godhead”, in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Mcmillan, pp. 552–553, ISBN 0-02-904040-X
  47. ^ The term with its distinctive Mormon usage first appeared in Lectures on Faith (published 1834), Lecture 5 (“We shall in this lecture speak of the Godhead; we mean the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”). The term Godhead also appears several times in Lecture 2 in its sense as used in the Authorized King James Version as meaning divinity.
  48. ^ Insight on the Scriptures. 2. 1988. p. 1019.
  49. ^ Revelation Its Grand Climax, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, pg 36, “In the songbook produced by Jehovah’s people in 1905, there were twice as many songs praising Jesus as there were songs praising Jehovah God. In their 1928 songbook, the number of songs extolling Jesus was about the same as the number extolling Jehovah. But in the latest songbook of 1984, Jehovah is honored by four times as many songs as is Jesus. This is in harmony with Jesus’ own words: ‘The Father is greater than I am.’ Love for Jehovah must be preeminent, accompanied by deep love for Jesus and appreciation of his precious sacrifice and office as God’s High Priest and King.”
  50. ^ The Watchtower, April 15, 1983, pg 29, “Why is God’s name, Jehovah, missing from most modern translations of the Bible? Superstition that developed among tradition-bound Jews caused them to avoid pronouncing God’s personal name, Jehovah. This has contributed to worldwide ignorance regarding the divine name. Added to this has been Christendom’s tendency to focus attention on the person of Jesus Christ, thus relegating Jehovah to second place in their triune godhead.”
  51. ^ “Should you believe in the Trinity?”. The Watchtower. 1989. Retrieved 13 April 2012. “Chapter: Is God Always Superior to Jesus?”
  52. ^ Watchtower 1984 9/1 p. 25-30.
  53. ^ James Roberts – Oneness vs. Trinitarian Theology – Westland United Pentecostal Church. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  54. ^ See also David Bernard, A Handbook of Basic Doctrines, Word Aflame Press, 1988. ISBN 0-932581-37-4 needs page num
  55. ^ F.E. Peters, Islam, p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003
  56. ^ a b Vincent J. Cornell, Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol 5, pp.3561-3562
  57. ^ Gerhard Böwering, God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia of the Quran
  58. ^ John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.22
  59. ^ John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.88
  60. ^ “Allah.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica
  61. ^ Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology Set by C. Scott Littleton 2005 ISBN 0-7614-7559-1 page 908
  62. ^ Fundamentals of the Faith by Peter Kreeft 1988 ISBN 0-89870-202-X page 93
  63. ^ James Cornwell, 2009 Saints, Signs, and Symbols: The Symbolic Language of Christian Art ISBN 0-8192-2345-X page 2
  64. ^ Adolphe Napoléon Didron, 2003 Christian iconography: or The history of Christian art in the middle ages ISBN 0-7661-4075-X pages 169
  65. ^ James Cornwell, 2009 Saints, Signs, and Symbols: The Symbolic Language of Christian Art ISBN 0-8192-2345-X page 2
  66. ^ George Ferguson, 1996 Signs & symbols in Christian art ISBN 0-19-501432-4 page 92

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ദൈവവിളിക്കായുള്ള പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥന / Prayer for Vocation

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on September 23, 2012

ദൈവവിളിക്കായുള്ള പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥന

“വിളവധികം വേലക്കാരോ ചുരുക്കം, അതിനാല്‍ തന്റെ വിളഭൂമിയിലെക്ക് വേലക്കാരെ അയക്കാന്‍ വിളവിന്റെ നാഥനോട് പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കുവിന്‍” എന്ന് ആഹ്വാനം ചെയ്ത ഈശോ നാഥാ ലോകത്തെ മുഴുവന്‍ അങ്ങേക്കായി നേടുവാന്‍ ധാരാളം  നല്ല ശുശ്രൂഷകരെ തിരുസ്സഭക്ക് നല്‍കണമേ. അവര്‍ അങ്ങയുടെ ജനത്തെ വിശുദ്ധീകരിക്കുകയും നയിക്കുകയും പഠിപ്പിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യട്ടെ. തനിക്കു ഇഷ്ടമുള്ളവരെ അരികിലേക്ക് വിളിച്ചു പരിശുദ്ധാത്മാവിനാല്‍ നിറച്ച്‌ ലോകത്തിന്റെ നാനാ ഭാഗങ്ങളിലേക്കും അയച്ചതുപോലെ അങ്ങേ അറിയാത്ത അനേകായിരങ്ങളുടെ അടുത്തേക്ക്‌ കടന്നുചെന്ന് അവരെ അങ്ങയിലേക്ക് നയിക്കുവാന്‍ നല്ല അജപാലകരെ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് നല്‍കണമേ. ധാരാളം നല്ല ദൈവവിളികള്‍ നല്‍കി ഞങ്ങളുടെ കുടുംബത്തെയും  അനുഗ്രഹിക്കണമേ.   അങ്ങയുടെ ഹൃദയത്തിനിണങ്ങിയ നല്ല മകനായി/മകളായി  എന്നെയും മാറ്റണമേ. അങ്ങനെ ലോകത്തിനു ദീപവും ഭൂമിക്കു ഉപ്പുമായി തീരുവാന്‍ എനിക്കും ഇടയാകട്ടെ. അങ്ങയുടെ വിളിയും തിരഞ്ഞെടുപ്പും മനസ്സിലാക്കുവാനും അതിനു പ്രത്യുത്തരം നല്‍കുവാനും എന്നെ സഹായിക്കണമേ. അതിനായി അങ്ങയുടെ പരിശുദ്ധാത്മാവിന്റെ ദാനങ്ങളും   ഫലങ്ങളും എന്നില്‍ നിറയ്ക്കണമേ.  നിത്യ പുരോഹിതനായ ഈശോ അങ്ങയുടെ വിളി സ്വീകരിച്ച് അങ്ങേക്കായി ജീവിക്കുന്ന സമര്‍പ്പിതരെ അങ്ങേ തിരുഹൃദയത്തില്‍ കാത്തുകൊള്ളണമേ. ഞങ്ങളുടെ അമ്മയായ പരിശുദ്ധ കന്യകാമാതാവേ, കന്യാവ്രതക്കാരുടെ കാവല്‍ക്കാരനായ മാര്‍ യൌസേപ്പിതാവേ എനിക്കുവേണ്ടിയും ഞങ്ങളുടെ  കുടുംബത്തിനുവേണ്ടിയും പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ. എന്റെ കാവല്‍ മാലാഖയെ   ദൈവതിരുമുന്‍പില്‍ നിര്‍മലനായി/നിര്‍മലയായി ജീവിക്കുവാന്‍ എന്നെ സഹായിക്കണമേ. എന്റെ പ്രത്യേക സ്വര്‍ഗ്ഗീയ   മദ്ധ്യസ്ഥരെ… നിങ്ങളും  എനിക്കുവേണ്ടി പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കണമേ. ആമ്മേന്‍

Prayer for Vocations

Jesus, High Priest and Redeemer forever, we beg you to call young men and women to your service as priests and religious. May they be inspired by the lives of dedicated priests, Brothers, and Sisters. Give to parents the grace of generosity and trust toward you and their children so that their sons and daughters may be helped to choose their vocations in life with wisdom and freedom.

Lord, you told us that the harvest indeed is great but the laborers are few. Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest. We ask that we may know and follow the vocation to which you have called us. We pray particularly for those called ot serve as priests, Brothers and Sisters; those whom you have called, those you are calling now, and those you will call in the future. May they be open and responsive to the call of serving your people. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Vocation Promoter (Fr Maneesh MCBS)

MCBS Seminary, Athirampuzha

Kottayam 686562, India

Click her for the Detailed Web Page

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Religion, Violence and Civil Society

Posted by Fr Nelson MCBS on June 23, 2012

Religion, Violence and Civil Society

Dr Vincent Kundukulam

 

Vincent Kundukulam

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

From the genes of our animal ancestors, we humans have inherited loyalties toward our own kin and aggression toward outsiders. This was essential for the survival and development of the most viable genotypes. Today however as biological evolution has given rise to cultural evolution and as cultural evolution has advanced from kinship to interdependence of nations, the conditions for survival have changed. Now cultures and nations will survive not by aggression and dominance but by cooperation. But unfortunately we are heading into an epoch of unlimited violence and terror. South Asia is at the centre of conflict and could suffer the most from it.

This short paper is an humble attempt to expose the underpinnings and undercurrents of religious violence, which affect adversely the preservation of civil society in India. It has four sections. After making some preliminary remarks on the key terms of this paper – religion, violence and civil society – we will reflect upon the psychological and sociological aspects of religious violence. Secondly we will discuss the role of religion in violence. Third section is a review of civil society in India, which is actually sickened by erosion of secular public institutions and silence of the majority against the minority that involves in violence. Lastly, we will make a few suggestions to counter the insane marriage between religion and violence in India.

1. Clarification of terms

Religion: Among the numberless definitions that have been suggested to religion, those that have been most frequently adopted for working purposes are that of E.B. Tylor, J. G. Frazer and F. Schleiermacher. They define religion as a conciliation of powers superior to man, which is believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life. Religion stands for the pattern of beliefs and practices through which men communicate with or hope to gain experience of that which lies behind the world of their ordinary experience. Typically it focuses on an Ultimate or Absolute, thought of by some believers as God[1]

Sociologists and anthropologists are not satisfied with the above-mentioned formalistic and experiential type of definitions. To them religion is never an abstract set of ideas, values or experiences developed apart from the total cultural matrix. Religion is only partly studied if it is not seen as part of a longer social order. Sociologists perceive religion as a social institution related to the structure and processes of human societies and which reflects and affects the stratification systems in society, political and economic processes, levels of integration and conflict and the course of social change[2]. In this essay since we assess the impact of religious violence on the formation of civil society we will deal with religion from the sociological and anthropological perspectives.

 

Violence: The word violence makes us think of acts of destruction; how one is made the object of physical abuse. It is exertion of any physical force considered with reference to its effect on another than the agent. An expanded definition of violence can be found in the Latin root, violare meaning to violate. Whatever violates another in the sense of infringing upon or abusing the other, whether physical harm involved or not, can be understood as an act of violence.[3] We understand here the meaning of violence in terms of its Latin context which embraces all sorts of violations done against another.

Civil society: Understanding civil society through definitions is a difficult task because definitions make sense only if the subject concerned is a repeated phenomenon before our eyes. Civil society is not an institution which survives permanently. It emerges at special moments of history, when the conscious members of society perceive a gap between the social aspiration of the people and the opportunities given to them by the State. In Europe, civil society expressed the views of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau who envisaged a society founded essentially upon the liberty and equality of men. When the citizen is denied his rights, the elites engage in debates and discussions for a new order and these discourses give shape to the form of the civil society. Thus civil society is here seen as an intermediate institution between the individuals and the State, which grants liberty, equality and fraternity to all citizens when the government seems to fail in exercising the liberating mission of the Constitution.[4]

2. Psycho-social backdrop of religious violence

 

2.1 Myths, Rituals and Cultural Unconscious

The constituent elements of  culture are symbols, myths and rituals. Myths, especially founding myths tell us that we are a unique group in the world with a particular destiny. Myths are the memory bank for people as they tell us of past defeats and victories. It is through myths that we are raised above the ordinary things of life; they give us powerful visions of what can be and the energy to do what must be done to realize them. Little wonder that people are prepared to act violently against those who dare to question or suppress their myths. Nor is it surprising if people are tempted to violence when their myths disintegrate or cease to be operative in life. Myths recounting former defeats can arise in people the desire to revenge the humiliation. When a people experiences disintegration they feel the urge to rediscover and relive their creation myth.

The function of rituals is to impose, strengthen and reaffirm conformity to the status quo as desired by leaders of a particular society. The national flag is such a powerful symbol of national identity that its raising carries considerable ritual importance especially in times of national tragedy. Following the terrorist assaults on the US in 2001 the whole country was aflutter with flags; tiny flags were attached even to baby carriages. Their display was a ritual of defiance and reaffirmation of the identity signifying that Americans would not be coerced into submission. Ritual can be a powerful way also to degrade people. For example the parade of those who were taken in hostage at the American Embassy in Iran in 1979 through the streets of Teheran symbolized the humiliation of American nation.

Cultures through their myths and symbols have an innate tendency to create feelings like ‘us and them’. This happens by subscribing most often unconsciously to rooms of purity and pollution. The fear of pollution defines and protects the boundaries of group.   Groups see their own cultures as clean or pure and others as dirty or impure and therefore to be eliminated. The Islamic fundamentalists regard Western civilization as polluting force to be kept at a distance or destroyed. Hitler considered that Jews endangered the purity of Aryans and so had to be eliminated.

Walter Wink speaks of the Myth of ‘redemptive violence’ in Western society. By this he means that violence is necessary for a society’s continued existence. Violence is presented as something that solves conflict. Even the threat of violence is able to stop aggressors. Violence is redemptive in the sense that it restores the society to a state of peace and justice[5].

In short, to disintegrate one’s myths is equal to destroy ones self itself. Groups will therefore resort to violence when their cultural symbols or rituals are attacked. They will try to regain their lost identity by way of promoting violence in and through the celebration of its myths and rituals.

2.2 Communal Identity and Violence

There are three processes that interact in the perpetuated construction of communal identities. First, there are everyday practices of neighborliness often marked by discrete stereotypes in the communities about the other. In India today, the relatively limited interaction across the communities is worsened by a relative separation of economic activities. The interaction of Hindus with Muslims is more and more limited on account of the widespread stereotypes they have concerning the dirtiness and food habits of Muslims. The stereotype that works among Muslims against Hindus is that of their cowardice and lack of firmness. Hindus are weak and afraid. And they dare to fight only in group whereas Muslims are brave, know how to fight, and never give up even when the enemy is outnumbered[6].

Second factor that forms the communal identity is the narratives, rumors and experiences of riots which perceive the other as the source of absolute evil and brutality.  Wandering stories are recycled again and again (about gang rape, poisoning of food and water, decapitations, etc.) during riots. The proliferation of these narratives demonizes the other community and suspends the normal parameters of honour and humanity.

The third dimension of the complex reproduction of communal violence is the organization and dissemination of an inferior political identity. In India, among Muslims the modes of identification of self and community seem to be organized around a fatalistic acceptance of being caught in a marginalized position In India. Whereas, in the case of Hindus, the display of discipline and power at Friday Namaz in the Muslim world evokes in them a sense of fear and fascination[7].

The fundamental reason behind the formation of inferior identity is lack of self esteem, self respect and self discipline. The image of the strong and lustful other is always characterized by fascination. The communities always fantasize about the special ways in which the other enjoys life, ultimately revealing to themselves ways in which they could also have more fun in life. The inability to control the self, to discipline one’s enjoyment, and to unfold fully one’s own enjoyment as part of the country produce self hatred and a sense of castration. The community feels to be weak sinful and unfulfilled. The only way to remedy this is destroying the other whose very presence weakens the manliness of the community[8].

During religious festivals thousands of frustrated young men seek to organize their enjoyment by nosily occupying and domesticating public spaces that are normally seen as neutral ground in and around streets, temples and mosques. To attack homes and shops, to burn, to kill and to loot become a way of shedding their own perceived humiliation and a way of restoring masculinity[9].

If brief, violence is stitched into the very process of overcoming the lived inferiority of a community and affirming its masculinity before others.

2.3 Injustice

To characterize violence / terrorism only as the result of a clash of cultures would be unrealistic. A thorough study of the roots of violence calls our attention to the economic underpinnings of the issue. It seems that terrorism emerges fundamentally from the unbalanced distribution of material wealth and democratic rights. When the institutions of governance are not able to assure people prosperity, dignity and liberty it leads to animosity towards the authority. The victims then resort to violence in pursuit of political objectives.[10]

This leads us to the fact that the basic form of violence is injustice. It does not necessarily do any physical harm, yet it is a violation of personhood. It is the institutionalized destruction of human possibilities. It is present whenever the structures of society act so as to depersonalize people by making them objects rather than subjects. When the injustice of society becomes too oppressive it takes the course of revolt. Violence as revolt is directed against the status quo, against those who have the power and are responsible for injustice. Unless and until we get at the root of injustice we will be dealing in only a superficial way with the problem of violence.[11]

We have been trying to grasp the phenomenon of violence from psychological and sociological angles. The above study about the formation and expression of violent culture, communal identities and injustice is taking us to another factor contributing to violence namely religion. The question that has to be answered now is whether violence is intrinsic to religion? Why people accuse religion as responsible for violence?

3. Violence Prone in religions?

When we study the history of religions we come across several incidents where the religious leaders despise other religions as enemies. Crusades are best examples in the history of Christianity. Pope Urban II’s speech was proficient to instigate violence: “I beseech and exhort you – and it is not I but God who beseeches and exhorts you as heralds of Christ – both poor and rich, to make haste to drive that vile breed from the regions inhabited by our brethren, and to bring timely aid to the worshippers of Christ. I speak to those here present, I will proclaim it to the absent, but it is Christ who commands …If those who go thither lose their lives on land or sea during the journey, or in battle against the pagans, their sins will at once be forgiven; … What can I say more? On one side there will be poor wretches, on the other the truly rich; there the enemies of God, here his friends. Pledge yourself without delay.[12]

The justification offered for demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas on 26th February 2001 was that these graven images offended the religious sentiments of Taliban. Their supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was quoted as saying: ‘I ask Afghans and the worlds Muslims to use their sound wisdom… Do you prefer to be a breaker of idols or a seller of idols? Is it appropriate to be influenced by the propaganda of the infidels? The mode of expressions that President Bush employed over the September 11th terrorist activity also had an extremist slang. He posed the entire problem not in terms of secular international politics but rather as problem of faith. Bush gave the proposed military operation a code name, ‘Infinite Justice’. The reference was again to the belief that only the Lord can bestow infinite justice. America sees itself as the Lord of the universe. It was not president George speaking but rather St. George speaking[13].

In the light of the above-mentioned inglorious stories, can we conclude that violence is native to religions? The answer depends on how we comprehend religions. The social scientists make a difference between religion as faith and religion as an identity. Religion as faith has largely a spiritual function and religion as identity acquires political overtones[14]. As social institution religion is mot merely a set of revelations. It includes also dogmas and laws, which are the results of the interpretations made on the revealed texts to meet the cultural social and sometimes even the political aspirations of the believers. Consequently, some scriptural texts and their interpretations may have extremist slant. Thus  religion as identity is vulnerable to violence.

As evidence, we see the martial metaphors in the Scriptures. The Hebrew Bible contains military exploits of great kings. The great epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata are tales of unending conflict and military intrigue. The ideas of Salvation Army in Christianity, Dal Khalsa in Sikhism, notion of Jihad in Islam, etc. denote images of warfare. These martial metaphors show that religion is an order restoring institution. The institutionalized religions would allow struggle for the order to be restored.  Whenever the religious activists feel commissioned to protect the good from the satanic forces they may draw on violent means. In the Sri Lankan conflict the militant bhikkhus state that the people there live in dukkha, in an immoral world. The conflict is between dhamma and adhamma: order and disorder, religion and irreligion. That means, religions may give moral sanction to violence for the cause of bringing order in the world[15].

If religions, as social institutions, are exposed to the danger of extremism, building up a peaceful society will remain utopist unless creative measures are taken to curb the excessive interpretations of Scriptures. How to protect the revealed texts from disruptive interpretations? The best remedy is religions themselves. Religions as faith possess by nature anti-extremist potentials. The inner dynamism of religions consists in generating universal and pluralistic values, which create solidarity and equality in the society. This is possible because religions, by their origin, are liberative. All the major religions extol the value of self-sacrificing love, non-violence, solidarity of mankind, justice, reverence for life, truthfulness, etc. This is not a over ambitious project because religions, as M. Juergensmeyer has rightly observed, provide images capable of conquering violence too. In rituals, violence is symbolically transformed. Christ’s crucified image induces Christians to sabotage violence. In the Sikh tradition the two edged sword is an example of domestication of violence. Islamic mystics have come out to speak of the true jihad as the one to take place within each person[16].

4. The Collapse of Civil Society in India

Two and half months of continuing violence in Gujarat (2002) and the recent attacks against Christians in Orissa have raised a series of questions regarding the strength of secular fabric of our nation. What surprised most the secular thinkers in both these incidents was that in the face of violence there were not many who could exercise moral authority and rescue the dialogical space. How did it happen? One reason is the erosion of secular culture from Gujarat which gave birth to the sage of non-violence.

4.1 The erosion of Secular Public Institution

In Gujarat, after Gandhi’s death, the void left by him had been immediately sought to be filled by the voluntary sector. The secular movements and NGOs engaged to create lively hood, to defend the human rights, and to solve the issue of Dalits, Adivasis and women in the state. But the race for globalization changed the cultural and political aspirations of the people. The Green and white revolution together with the industrialization got grip of political and social power. The combined effort of the new emerging class – politicians, bureaucrats, business men – found the Gandhian culture as a hindrance in the march towards global economy. The eagerness for money, power and success got over the Gandhian principles of ahimsa, inter-religious fellowship and dignity of human person. It was this morally disintegrated Gujarat that became the laboratory for politics based on collective communal Hindu identity[17]. Violence became a legitimate form of political and cultural intervention in Gujarat. Gandhi’s memory and legacy came to be museumised.

To blame religion alone for horrors of the kind perpetuated in Gujarat would be unscientific and unjust. The accelerating erosion of our public institution the apathy of the judges and the death of professionalism in the civil services are matters of far more concern than the inroads of religion into nation’s politics. Whatever you do religion will affect politics, at times even dominate it particularly in this country. No constitution can effectively fence off our country’s politics form religious prejudice. We have to recognize the failure of leadership and the breakdown of our public institutions in the country specially the civil services.

As Harsh Mander has rightly observed it was the duty of public services in Gujarat to assure that the law and order be kept fearlessly and impartially. If even one higher official had acted courageously in Ahmadabad, there would have been enough police forces and army to halt the violence. He writes: ‘I have heard senior officials blame the communalism of the police constabulary for their connivance in the violence. The same forces have been known to act with impartiality and courage when lead by officers of integrity’[18].

4.2 Violence of Silent Majority

 

In our country after every major communal riot the well wishing citizens reiterate the old cliché – the majority of Indians are secular minded and they believe in living together in peaceful harmony. We interpret the riots as misdeals perpetrated by a gang of criminals only in the pay of unscrupulous politicians in league with a handful of fanatic religious groups. To defend the wishful image of tolerant majority we pick up any news   that describe in some isolated incident a single brave Hindu individual or family saving a Muslim neighbour or vice-versa.

While admiring such courage, needless to say that exception do not always make the rule. We refuse to accept that the silence of the majority provide the social sanction for outbreak of violence. The holocausts in Gujarat and Orissa show that the majority is no longer silent. When the gangsters went on looting and burning the properties of minorities it was not out of fear that the silent majority kept silence. They had loyalty and sympathy for the attackers. We have to admit the stark fact that much tilt has taken place in the mind of Indians during the last decades.

The silent support of the majority in favour of violence is partly due to the antediluvian and communal attitudes of religious leaders. The statements and the customs they dictate during tensed situations accentuate divisive feelings in the minds of believers. It is in this environment that the war-cries like jehad and dharmayuga get easily upper hand among the people.[19]

5. Some concrete steps to counter religious violence

Mankind is today in the midst of one of the greatest cries in history. Despite the fact that the great scientific inventions liberated us from servitude to nature, we seem to suffer from a type of religious neurosis. We need a moral and spiritual therapy, which would heal the human mind. The best medicine would be a new spirituality of religions and the following ones may be some of its constituents.

Propagate noble values of all religions: Ignorance about other religions is a great hurdle in the path of communal harmony. The UNESCO Constitution begins by saying. “As wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defense for peace must be constructed.” If this remains true the culture of unity and diversity must be instilled in the people educating in them the noble values of all religions. We have to pursue a methodology of education, which helps the people so to understand their own religious traditions as to affirm and celebrate the significance of other religions. Religions, in and through all their academic and cultural institutions, can cultivate human and religious values in the minds of pupils. Initiation to inter-religious prayer gatherings and readings from different Scriptures are to be multiplied all over the country.

Virtue of Interdependence: Every religion has something unique to contribute for the welfare of the world. For example, Islamic life is known for prayerfulness and fellowship, Hindu-Bahai mind for universal vision, Sikh-Buddhist-Jain heart for Courage Compassion and Non-Violence, Parsi intellect for initiative and creativity, Jewish will for strict adherence to law, and Christian spirit for forgiveness and self-sacrifice. But at the same time we know that religions have influenced each other, helped each other and enriched each other in developing their specific virtues. For example, Christianity received from Babylonia the idea of God as the maker of heaven and earth, from Persia the dualism of Satan and God, from Egypt last judgment, from Phrygia the worship of the Great Mother, from Greece and Rome the idea of universal law.[20]

If so, it is naïve to harp on exclusiveness and assert one’s superiority either in belief, or in tradition or in culture. The virtues of interdependence transcend the barrier of caste, creed, race, colour, language and nationality. It can be built up through mutual trust. An atmosphere of understanding one another, not in religious or caste terms but as human beings with same needs, aspirations and obligations is to be created. Ways of worship and objects of worship may be differed, style of life may be varied, language may be different, but these are only the outward manifestations, which need not erode the basic trust in one another as human beings. Peace which is result of trust among the people can prosper only when social interdependence becomes a way of life of the people.[21]

Counter-cultural and political formation: Compared to the activities of communal forces, the resistance put up by the religions is very less now. Today the religious and cultural leaders don’t come forward exposing the failure of police and the bureaucracy during communal violence. Using art forms – painting, music, street plays – have been a method successfully experimented in this sphere.  The cultural forums at the village levers can employ these methods to disaffiliate society from the logic of communalism. The counter cultural formation has to be done also through mass media. Disseminating teachings, stories, legends and myths from different religious traditions would instill in the people universal love and respect for the other. Mere cultural response will not be sufficient if not followed up with more substantive moves on the political front to check the wave of violence.  Solution would be an extensive campaign sponsored by all those sections of civil society, who believe in non-communal politics.

Overcome structural injustice: Violence cannot be checked by maintaining an unjust status quo which is in the advantage of the powerful. Let us avoid situations where a section of people gets so alienated and start believing that violence is the only means to get justice. The way to avert physical violence in our society is to overcome structural violence. What prevents believers from fighting for the justice is the false conception they have regarding religion. Many think that the task of the religious community is to avoid conflict and to reconcile; it should not divide but unite; it should not be a centre of agitation but a source of peace, and so on. This concern is right. But its antithesis is false. Much that passes for the reconciliation is phony reconciliation, covering up conflict rather than confronting it honestly. To stand on the side of justice will make many people unhappy; particularly those who benefit from the structures of injustice and to be on the side of justice will thereby create conflict.

St. Joseph Pontifical Institute

Mangalapuzha, Aluva

e-mail: kundu1962@yahoo.co.in


[1] Encyclopedia Americana, vol.23, USA: Grolier Incorporated, 1988, p. 359.

[2] The New Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 15, Chicago, 1980, p. 604.

[3] R.M. Brown, Religion and Violence, Philadelphia: the Westminster press, 1973, pp 6-7.

[4] N. Abercrombie, S. Hill & B. S. Turner, Dictionary of Sociology, England: Penguin Books, 1994, p. 56; S. Dasgupta, Civil Society Through Clear Eyes, Economic and Political weekly, vol.35, no.40, September 30, 2000, pp 3614-3615.

[5] G. A. Arbuckle, Violence Society and the Church, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2004, pp. 12-17; 31

[6] S. Kakar, The Colours of Violence, New Delhi: Penguine Books, 1995, pp. 160-168.

[7] T.B.Hansen, The Saffron Wave, New delhi, Oxford university press, 1999, pp. 207-209.

[8] S. Zizek, For They Know Not What They Do, London: Verso, 1992, p. 200.

[9] A. Feldman, Formation of Violence, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991, pp. 78-81.

[10] Editorial, Terrorism: Eliminating The Sources, Economic and Political Weekly, vol.36, no.28, September 22, 2001, p. 3569.

[11] R.M. Brown, Religion and Violence, Philadelphia: the Westminster press, 1973, pp 9-13.

[12] P. Regine, The Crusades, London, 1962, pp. 23-24.

[13] GPD, Everyone a Fundamentalist?, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 36, no. 39, September 29, 2001, pp. 3668-3669.

[14] A.A. Engineer, September 11: Many Messages, Economic and Political Weekly, vol.36, no.42,October 20, 2001, pp.3982-3983.

[15] M. Juergensmeyer, Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State, Delhi, 1993, pp. 157-164.

[16] M. Juergensmeyer, Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State, Oxford University Press,, 1993, p. 159.

[17] T. Suhrud, No Room for Dialogue, Economic and political weekly, vol.37, no.11, march 16, 2002, pp.1011-1012.

[18] J. B. D’ Souza, Politics, Religion and Our Ailing Public Institutions, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 37, no. 19, May 11, 2002, pp. 1779-1780.

[19] S. Banerjee, When the silent majority backs a violent minority,  Economic and Political weekly, vol.37, no.13, March 30, 2002, pp. 1183-84.

[20] S. Radhakrishnan, The Present Crisis of Faith, 51-58.

[21] S. K. Parmar, Inter-religious Co-operation for Peace and Value Education: Response to Consumerism and Communalism, Peace and Values Education, K. P. Joseph [ed.], 30-33.

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