S’veta tvaca rAks.asA-s (Portuguese) in Malabar, religious intolerance and treachery of Syrian Christians

The Syrian Christians had entered Kerala as refugees in the fourth century. They were given refuge and even recognition by the Hindu Rajas of Kerala. Tharisapalli Copper Plates (9th century) confer several rights and privileges to the Syrian Christians. This magnanimous conduct of the Hindus was rewarded with treachery. When the Portuguese visited Malabar (Gama being the first of the inhuman white rascals to set foot on Malabar), they were able to gain the allegiance of the Syrian Christians almost immediately. Kerala Pazhama and Manuel de Faria e Sousa mention this treachery.  KM Panikkar notes:

“they surrendered their privileges and authority to Portugal and undertook to conduct their affairs only in the name of the Portuguese King. The ancient records and insignia which the Chief possessed were also handed over to Gama. More than even this, they suggested to him that with their help he should conquer the Hindu Kingdoms and invited them to build a fortress for this purpose in Cranganore. This was the recompense which the Hindu Rajahs received for treating with liberality and kindness the Christians in their midst” (Malabar and the Portuguese, pg.185).

Add to this, the treachery of the Muslims troops of Vijayanagar in the Battle of Talikota, Hindus have enough reason to not employ either of these communities in their armed forces. Of course, Hindus have failed to learn from history time and again leading to more failures from same mistakes (look at how Haider Ali usurped the throne of Mysore from his Hindu sovereign much later).

The religious intolerance of Portuguese is well established by the high handed nature of Goan Inquisition and the way the Hindu populace of Goa was systematically destroyed and converted by this new variety of rAks.asA-s. King Joao III of Portugal wrote:

“the great concernment which lies upon Christian princes to look to matters of Faith and to employ its forces for its preservation makes me advise how sensible I am that not only in many parts of India under our subjection but even in our city of Goa, idols are worshipped, places in which our Faith may be more reasonable expected to flourish; and being well informed with how much liberty they celebrate their heathenish festivals, we command you to discover by diligent officers all the idols and to demolish and break them up In pieces where they are found, proclaiming severe punishments against anyone who dare to work, cast, make in sculpture, engrave, paint or bring to light any figure of idol in metal, brass, wood, plaster or any other matter, or bring them from other places; and against who publicly or privately celebrate any of their sports, keep by them any heathenish frankincense or assist and hide the Brahmins, the sworn enemies of the Christian profession… It is our pleasure that you punish them with the severity of the law without admitting any appeal or dispensation in the least.” (ibid, Pg 186-7)

– So much for the vaunted European/Christian human values.

For a century, the Portuguese tried to capture and subjugate the Malabar Kingdoms. But it ended with their pathetic exit and the victory of the SamUtiri (Zamorin of Kozhikode). Any serious Portuguese attempt to subjugate ended within 75 years of their landing at Kozhikode. With their defeat at Chaliyam in 1571, the Portuguese dream about Malabar was forced to remain a dream forever. But the Hindu Rajahs of Malabar had still not understood the danger of ‘pious treachery’. When Haider Ali and Tipu invaded Malabar, the local Moplah Muslims joined hands with the invading Mohammedan army. This was their behavior despite the fact that the Hindu Rajahs had always ensured that Muslims enjoyed absolute religious freedom in their territories. History has shown that the liberality of Hindu Kings was almost always compensated with treachery on the part of the Abrahamic religionists. Exceptional cases were just that – exceptions. The dangers of having such easily malleable troops in one’s army need not be emphasized. As late as 1947, its effect was seen. The Muslim troops of Kashmiri army in Muzaffarabad and Gilgit joined hands with the invading armies of Pakistan. Gilgit scouts had simply joined the invading forces and went on to capture more territories for the Islamic state and even came close to capturing Leh before they were forced to retreat by Indian army. Thus, the pattern of history is very similar – trusting the ekarAks.asa religionists with positions in the army has always led to disaster for Hindus. The question of the day is: have we learned our lesson or not? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be NO.


4 thoughts on “S’veta tvaca rAks.asA-s (Portuguese) in Malabar, religious intolerance and treachery of Syrian Christians”

  1. “More than even this, they suggested to him that with their help he should conquer the Hindu Kingdoms and invited them to build a fortress for this purpose in Cranganore.” I will be delighted if you can give me a reference to this statement of Sardar Panikkar’s. He should have quoted it. I don not have a copy of the Book.

    1. Hello Olikara,

      I am not associated with this blog in any way, but I thought I would do some searching on the Internet for a reference from Panikkar’s “Malabar and the Portuguese: being a history of the relations of the Portuguese with Malabar from 1500 to 1663”. Due to copyright issues, I couldn’t find the full copy online, but on HathiTrust (an Internet archive/digitized research library) I was able to confirm that the words “More than even this, they suggested to him that with their help he should conquer the Hindu Kingdoms and invited [them] to build a fortress for this purpose in Cranganore” are indeed found in consecutive order on the 185th page of the book.


      1. Thank you very much for your effort. I will now try to inquire about the vents around that incident. Very interesting.

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