Wednesday, May 07, 2003
More on the Knanaya Christians
My friend Saiju has sent me some material on the history, traditions and customs of the Knanaya Christians of South India. I'll be posting it in parts over the next few days or so. Happy reading!
The existence of any community is closely associated with its
history. In fact, history is that which gives authenticity to the
existence of any person, community or society. Hence it is very
important to pay attention to the study of history in any scientific
study. A brief historical inquiry into the existence of the Knanaya
Community is done in this chapter. Knanaites consider themselves as
having a long history of sixteen and a half centuries. This chapter
mainly deals with four topics, namely, the ancient records,
tradition, modern European writers and native writings. An analysis
of the contents of these topics is done at the end.
1:2 ANCIENT RECORDED HISTORY
History is the record of past events. Though the Knanaites consider
themselves as having a lengthy history of more than sixteen
centuries. We have no real written records of their existence prior
to the 16th cent. This questions the very existence of them before
the 16th cent. However, this problem may be solved if we understand
the common traits of early Indians, especially the Keralites.
Actually, they showed no care in making or preserving historical data
(Menachery and Chakkalakal, 1987, 27). An added reason is that even
if there were any records for the Syrian Christians, they were burned
during the Synod of Diamper in 1599 by the order of Archbishop Dom
Menezis (Cathanar, 1989, 470).
The only ancient record prior to the 16th century which may throw
light upon the existence of the Knanaya Community is the so-called
Knaithomman Chepped or Knaithomman Copper plates. It is supposed to
be the Copper Plates which was granted to Thomas of Knai -Thomas of
Cana as he is popularly known in English- by Ceraman Perumal the king
(Kollaparambil, 1986,11). It was granted in 345 AD and seventy-two
privileges were engraved on it. But we do not have it today. We do
not know where it exists today or how it is lost. Certain Europeans
in the 16th cent have written that it was in the Cochin fortress and
later taken to Europe. E.g. Dionisio, Gouvea, Francis Ros etc.
(Polackal, 1976, 12). If we were able to decipher it, it would have
brought much light on the history of the Knanites.
Even though the original is lost, we are blessed with having a
Portuguese translation of it (Francis Ros in 1604, Kollaparambil,
1986,14). Francis Ros gives the content of the Chepped in his Report
about the St. Thomas Christians. This document is extent in British
Museum Library (Kollaparambil, 1986, 13-18).
Source: Knanaya Yahoo! Group
posted by Kensy |