The man who nailed Lucifer
by George Augustine on 23 Jul 2011 10 Comments

Leo Panakal will go down in history as the man who drove a stake through Satan Lucifer’s heart. If you are a gentle ordinary soul who doesn’t know who Lucifer is or doesn’t care, don’t tread here, for Leo Panakal had little patience for the lot of you when he was alive. Nobody knew very well what he was talking about while he was alive, so the chances are that you would know less now that he is no more on this earth. But Leo Panakal’s legacy is going to live on much more than you or I can surmise.


Looking back at those times when he was alive and talking to me, I now realise I was being initiated into the world of words and their meanings and the origin of them all – the scriptures – when he was explaining the involvement of Cain and Abel in ostensibly the first homicide that took place in a temple between the altar and the house in the Old Testament. In common parlance, this realm of scriptures is the world of the occult where the layman is welcome only at his own peril. With no assurance of a fit burial that would secure a decent afterlife, not many faithful, including ordinary apostates, would venture. But it doesn’t matter, for a dead body is just a dead body, savam as opposed to sivam, as Panakal used to say.


For those who are still reading this without having an inkling of who Lucifer is: Lucifer is Satan, the worst conceivable demon, the supreme devil, the personification of evil, the originator of lies, deceit and fraud, and if there is anything worse than that, that too. It is difficult to conjure Lucifer in a world of grey, for he has devised a grey camouflage around him, virtually like James Bond’s car in ‘Die Another Day’, projecting the landscape behind the car on the viewing side, making it indiscernible.


Lucifer stands between the gods and you, and pretends to be the ultimate god. While blending himself thus in the environment, Lucifer projects the aura of the gods behind him on his viewing side. Lucifer falsely claims to be the supreme god and that is his fault or sin for which he is destined to fall like the shooting star, for he too is subject to gravity. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, …” Isaiah 14:12. (King James Version)


Typically, the scenario offers a challenge for the human hero to identify the wolf amongst the sheep, or the devil amongst the gods, the proverbial pretender. The devil is so well camouflaged in a spiritual blend that it is difficult to detect the fangs, horns and the tail. It is not supposed to be easy to identify the universal devil, for he pretends to be God, the perfection of goodness. Who is the devil who claims and pretends to be the only true god and sows so much evil on this earth? Who is the god who claims to have intervened in history by falling like a shooting star? Who is the fallen god called Lucifer in real life?


The publication of Panakal’s thesis ‘Jesus = Lucifer = The Devil’ was released in 1988 in his own journal ‘Insight’ in Kochi, Kerala, India. Established in 1971, Panakal’s journal ‘Insight’ was originally a mouthpiece of Traditionalist Catholics, funded by one of his brothers who was a priest in the US. ‘Insight’ came to a stop in 1974, when his research on a Hindu god on behalf of and for Traditionalist Catholics ended in a brief but painful personal disaster for Panakal and his immediate family. He had to be treated for schizophrenia for about six months. He confided in me years later that the commission he couldn’t accomplish for his sponsors was to prove that historically Krishna was a plagiarisation of Jesus Christ by the Hindus, which endeavour, however, enabled him a thorough and deep look at Hindu thought and literature.


The resurrection of ‘Insight’ came almost a decade after its lapse into non-existence. In the meantime after he recuperated from his illness with great suffering for himself, his wife and little sons, and started working for CNS and later for RNS, clawing back into reality, accepting its vagaries and imperfections in one stride. He became obsessed with Hindu scriptures, taught himself to read Sanskrit and discussed philosophically relevant issues with visitors, including those who came merely to see him and hear what he had to say and share his tea. The incredulous findings of Panakal’s interrupted research that got encapsulated in their title equation popped like a bombshell one fine morning in early 1986, more than a decade after he fell ill. He stopped his journalistic work and quit pot smoking completely and concentrated on his thesis. It took another two years for it to be published, but these years and their aftermath were a period of intense struggle for Leo Panakal and his family.


It was not so much the apostasy that characterised the headline of the reborn journal, but the utter incredulity of the statement that stopped people in their stride and forced them to swallow their tongues rather than challenge it. It was easy for most of his relatives and acquaintances (for friends were scarce) to regard him as a mad man from whom the ultimate in madness could be expected. Many of his ‘faithful’ visitors stopped their visits, but there were scores of new ones popping in, among them foreign tourists, to sample the exotic eccentric of Fort Cochin. Lucifer’s fall, Panakal said to all and sundry, is history and we are supposed to become aware of it only after Lucifer’s self-assured guarantee period of 2000 years was over.


Being his chief assistant at the time when he was filing his last stories for RNS with the byline ‘Lily F. Janet’ and propounding his earth-rattling proposition, I had the privilege of witnessing his thesis unfold like a small seed gradually sprouting into a gigantic tree with unbelievable ramifications for the religious and spiritual history. For the same reason, I was one of the first few who reviewed Panakal’s contention and challenged it, compelling him to delve deeply into the existing scriptures of all kinds to prove his thesis. Panakal’s methodology is impeccable: he proves his statement exclusively on the basis of the contents of the Christian bible, but in addition he displays data from Hindu scriptures and history to authenticate and demonstrate the verity of his contention.


My challenges were such an adrenaline rush for both Leo Panakal and I that we stayed awake till the wee hours for days on end and later when we met the next morning, he would resume discussion from the last thing we talked in the previous session. In due course, it became impossible for me to refute his metaphysical enterprise by the two markers of phenomenal reality, yukti and anubhavam. Yukti is more than logic. It is similar to it in that it is an instrument to verify consistency in a system, but it is more because it also demands the consistency to extend to objective and subjective human experience (anubhavam) at once, meaning any true object or proposition under scrutiny had to fit like a jigsaw puzzle in the canvas of objective and subjective experience. Anything that doesn’t fit into objective and subjective experience at once is a false proposition and unworthy to be accepted.


For a man who started out as a mainstream journalist, the ‘Jesus’ thesis is Leo Panakal’s pièce de résistance in the realm of investigative, spiritual journalism. Panakal served Reuters from 1958 to 1964 in the prime of his journalistic career. During this period, he co-edited Catholic News of India, the first-ever Catholic news agency in Asia, along with pioneering American Jesuit Father John Barrett and won laurels. However, true to his traditions, which he insisted were Hindu, he surrendered to the prevailing argument and reverted to Hinduism in May 2005, assuming the name Shivkumar. He died on May 19, 2007.


In my opinion, the thesis is as solid as it ever will be, but too dry and often pedantic for souls in various stages of evolution to comprehend or tolerate. For vested interests, Panakal’s claim is best left unchallenged, for none of them will ever be able to raise a valid argument against it. Religion will wither away, predicted Leo Panakal, once Lucifer’s identity becomes known to the wide world. His thesis can be checked out at the link below.




The author is a professional translator

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