India’s intellectuals can cry hoarse about oppression, they can pontificate on Twitter, and they can say “fascist” more times than you can count…but they can’t do a simple Google search.
Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar today put on his historian’s hat to claim that the first church in India, outside of Portuguese territories, was built during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar. “The first church made in India ( out of Portuguese territories) was in Agra during Akbar ‘s regime with his permission and blessings,” he tweeted.
Akhtar, who claims to be an “atheist”, was clearly trying to spread the leftist narrative that Muslims in India were peaceful and tolerant, and allowed for religious diversity. But it turns out Akhtar wasn’t only wrong — he was off by more than 1500 years.
The first church in India were made in 52 AD by Saint Thomas, who had landed on the coast of Kerala from Syria. Akbar, in turn, had reigned nearly a millennium later in 1500 AD.
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Church in Palayoor in Kerala, which seems to have conveniently disappeared from Javed Akhtar’s version of history, was the first church built in India. It was built by Saint Thomas, who had reached Kerala and was trying to convert the local Brahmins and Jews in the region. In all, St Thomas established seven churches in Kerala, including at Cranganore, Kokkamangalam, Kottakkavu, Kollam, Niranam, and Chayal (Nilackal).
And these churches were built with the patronage of Hindu rulers, not emperor Akbar as Akhtar wants to claim. Local rulers in Kerala gave the St. Thomas Christians various rights and privileges which were written on copper plates. These are known as Cheppeds, Royal Grants, Sasanam, etc. There are a number of such documents in the possession of the Syrian churches of Kerala which include the Thazhekad Sasanam, the Quilon Plates (or the Tharisappalli Cheppeds), Mampally Sasanam and Iraviikothan Chepped, etc. Some of these plates are said to be dated around 774 AD.
But Akhar’s revisionist history seems to imply that the only time that Christians had religious freedom in India was during the time of the Mughal emperor Akbar. It’s not hard to see why Akhar would make such a blatantly false claim — Akhtar and his leftist cronies have been trying to demonize Hinduism for years, while trying to whitewash the many atrocities committed by historical Islamic figures. Akhtar, though, seems to fail to realize that the days in which leftist figures managed to peddle their propaganda are long gone — all it takes now to call out their lives is a simple Google search.