Fable of ‘Martyr’ Devasahayam Pillai: Church’s lies exposed
by B R Gauthaman on 08 Dec 2012 7 Comments

The First Indian to become a Saint!

The Son of soil becomes a Saint!

A great hullabaloo in the district of Kanyakumari!


As a first step towards making a Saint out of one Devasahayam Pillai, the Pope declared him a ‘martyr’ on June28, 2012. Frontline newspapers and magazines carried this news item as the day’s headlines and celebrated this announcement as if the whole world has been made holy.


Now what is the ulterior motive behind the beatification? Do the so-called facts rest on solid foundations of history? Who becomes a ‘martyr’? Should we not turn the spotlight on these questions?


A martyr is none but a Warrior who enlists himself in the army of the Pope, who reigns in Europe thousands of kilometers away from Kanyakumari; and this ‘valiant martyr’ thrives on the conquest and conversion of the vanquished and in the process sacrifices his life. The 2nd-century church father Tertullian wrote that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church,” implying that the martyrs’ willing sacrifice of their lives leads to the conversion of others.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_martyrs)


As to the question of motive behind this ‘supreme sacrifice’, and the motive behind this beatification, it is verily religious conversion. This has been further confirmed by Pope John Paul II and he does not stop there, but glorifies the ‘martyrs’ as “warriors conquering in the name of the Vatican”.


“The Church of the first millennium was born out of the blood of martyrs”, he said and called on the universal Church not to forget the legacy of martyrs. He urged taking up “these nameless,unknown soldiers as it were of God’s great cause.”


retrieved on 30.11.2012)


What is to be noted here is the phrase - “nameless, unknown soldiers”.

-        To which army do these warriors belong?

-        For whose cause is this army waging war?

-        Which nation is this marauding army conquering?

-        Which culture is this army destroying?

-        What is its motive?


The deeds of this army explain themselves. And to commit these very deeds alone the religion resting on the persona of Jesus Christ became a handmaiden for the ruthless army. The question then arises about the role and functions and the very purpose of this religion.


A Religion is one which elevates a person to a conscious state of his/her humanness, and from there on raises humans to a state of Divinity. There are no two opinions on this. If a religion were to adhere to the above enunciated and accepted principle, then it deserves to called religion. However if the core objective of this ‘religion’ is conquering lands and nations, the question arises, what should people belonging to this religion be called?


Furthermore, in the process of conquering nations, when these marauders attempt to convert the natives to Christianity through fraudulent means and threats, and when the natives retaliate and kill some of these “warriors”, such ‘foreign legions’ who have been killed by the natives are those glorified by the Church establishment as “martyrs”.


It is to be remembered that this very same Pope John Paul II admitted shamelessly on this soil, on the auspicious day of Deepavali, “We converted Europe in the first millennium;America in the second millennium; in the third millennium, we shall plant the Cross in the whole of Asia”.


As remarked by father Tertullian,the Catholic Church requires ‘harvest of souls’ and as a consequence, ‘martyrs’. To accomplish this task, the Church is seriously involved in unearthing ‘martyrs’ in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and north Sri Lanka. This fact has been admitted by the Kottar Diocese in their website.

“A suitable method for not forgetting the memory of the martyrs is to collect the essential documentation of their heroic testimony and update martyrologies”, says Pope John Paul II.


retrieved on 30.11.2012)


The man thus caught in this ‘holy excavation’ is none other than ‘our own indigenous martyr’, Vedha-saatchi Devasahayam Pillai. The history of Devasahayam Pillai has been enumerated thus in the websites of Christian Assemblies:

Devasahaayam Pillai was born Neelakantha Pillai in the year 1712 in the upper caste Nair family. Subsequently, he served in the Padmanabhapuram Palace belonging to the Thiruvithaangoor (Travancore) Princely State. It was during this period that he is acquainted with the Dutch general of Maarthaandavarma Raja, De Lannoy.


As a consequence of this association, he was attracted towards Christianity. In the year 1745, he was converted to Christianity by one Fr. Giovanni Battista Buttari of Vadakkankulam Church. On becoming a Christian, he adopted the name Devasahaayam Pillai and moved closely with the people belonging to the lower castes and converted themto Christianity too. Not able to tolerate these acts, the people belonging tothe upper castes like the Brahmins and Nairs, instigated the king and leveled a spate of allegations upon him. Consequently, Devasahaayam Pillai was arrested on February 23, 1749. Between the three years - 1749 and 1752, DevasahaayamPillai was put to untold tortures and finally at a place called Kaathaadi Malai, on the Nagercoil-Tirunelveli road, near, Aaralvaaimozhi he was shot dead on January the 14th by the soldiers of king Maarthaandavarma Raja.

(http://www.martyrdevasahayam.org& http://cbci.in/FullNews.aspx?ID=648)

(Retrieved on 30.11.2012)


What is the purpose of excavating this history? The website of Kottar Diocese explains it thus:

The past 259 years have shown such a continuity of presence of the Servant of God in the minds, piety, spirituality and prayer of the people of God in Tamil Nadu, south Kerala and northern Sri Lanka that he cannot be counted as one of “these nameless, unknown soldiers” in those areas. However, bereft of recognition by the Church and officialacceptance by the authority in the Church, it is impossible to make such a meaningful event bear fruit in the Church and society at large.


retrieved on 30.11.2012)


What is the significance of the statement “to make such a meaningful event bear fruit in the Church and society at large”? it means that Devasahayam is a commodity, an instrument for the Church. The Church itself has made it amply clear that there is no spiritual motive behind this act, whatsoever.


If that be so, what are the areas in which this ‘commodity’ is to be utilized? The answer to the aforesaid query is readily answered herein: “a continuity of presence of the Servant of God in the minds, piety, spirituality and prayer of the people of God in Tamil Nadu, south Kerala and northern Sri Lanka” leading to more religious conversion.


But still the big HOW remains? And more still, WHICH footprints of tradition is the church scheming to destroy through the act of beatification? The puzzle was unraveled by Christians themselves on 2 December 2012at Nagercoil, where the beatification of Devasahayam Pillai took place.

Cardinal Angelo Amato agreed to designate January 14 as the day to celebrate Devasahayam Pillai Festival to mark the canonization of Devasahayam Pillai. The date January 14 is significant; it is Pongal, the joyous Hindu festival of harvest, celebrated with fervour in Tamil Nadu, northern Sri Lanka and south Kerala. The Makara Jyoti of Sabarimala also appears on that day.

The website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) announces that Devasahayam Pillai was murdered on January 14 or January15. (http://cbci.in/FullNews.aspx?ID=648;retrieved on 30.11.2012). The CBCI is keeping the date of the murder of the “historic” Devasahayam Pillai conveniently open and flexible for only one reason.

The reason for this “seeming vagary” is that the Thamizh month of THAI is sometimes born on January 15. The design behind this “seemingly innocent vagary” is very apparent – to link the Christian Devasahayam Pillai Festival to the Hindu festival Pongal so that Christians may celebrate both.The ignoble motive being – to appropriate Pongal sometime in the near future as also being a Christian festival.

This is typical Church modus operandi in Inculturation.

Many Christian festivals have been so “created” in line with the festivals of the local people. In the process, the reasons behind these festivals and cultural identities in the minds of the locals have all but been annihilated, for which history bears testimony. By keeping the date of the death of Devasahayam Pillai conveniently open, it is amply clear that the ‘Devasahayam Pillai Festival’ too has been craftily created by the Church to destroy the ancient tradition of celebrating Pongal.

Religious conversions notwithstanding, the website of Kottar Diocese clears all vestiges of doubts,if any, about the political motives that lurk behind.

During the talk of Bl. John Paul II quoted above, delivered at Lourdes, he spoke of “a new kind of religious persecution” spreading in the world today. It is very true in India today.There is an anti-Christian atmosphere being spread by Hindu fundamentalists,fully supported by certain political outfits for their own political motives.It is as if the Indian Church has already entered into “an era of persecution”.


retrieved on 30.11.2012)


Not just politics, Christianity dons many caps, adapting itself with the belief systems of the local people in whose midst it plans to plant the church and the cross. Inculturation, which means to fraudulently convert the natives using their own native symbols, cultural and religious practices, severing them from their native religious and cultural roots and thus conspiring to bring them under the suzerainty of the Church.This goal shall be achieved through the beatification of ‘martyr’ Devasahayam Pillai, states the website of Kottar Diocese:

Another point that makes this martyrdom relevant today is the role the laity have to play in the mission of the Church Ad Gentes. The laity are not simply “belonging to the Church”,indeed “they are the Church”. It is then only natural that one speaks of the mission ad gentes of the Laity, because “The Church on earth is by its very nature missionary” and the missionary activity of the Church flows immediately from the very nature of the Church.


retrieved on 30.11.2012)


People may believe that such beatifications (that are designed for the very purpose of religious conversions) may be based upon strong historical foundations. More so, if such words like, ‘son of the soil’, ‘laity’ are suitably woven in, then the people of the regions would be overwhelmed and would never dream of investigating further to know the Truth. This is a fact that the Church knows only too well.However, on research, we stumble upon the fact that this fable of ‘son of the soil’ is contrary to the truth.


Renowned historian Sridhara Menon in an interview to the Pioneer dated 20.1.2004 asserts, “Leave alone execution,not even a single case of persecution was recorded in the history of Travancore in the name of religious conversion. It is a well-concocted story and a figment of the imagination.”


MGS Narayanan, former Chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), said he had never come across anyone named either Neelakanda Pillai or Devasahayam Pillai as the army chief of Marthanda Varma in Kerala’ s history.


Shri Nagam Aiyya, who recorded thehistory of Travancore princely state observes, “It is one evidently started by the later converts, from a habit of apotheosizing their ancestors or heroes; so common among the people” (Travancore Manual, Vol. II, p 129-130, M. Nagam Aiya)


These fiction writers have gone to great lengths to establish that Christians were tortured in the reign of the king of Travancore. On the contrary, what does history offer evidence to? The very Maharaja of Travancore who is said to have persecuted Devasahayam Pillai on account of Pillai converting to the Christian religion and for converting others to Christianity, has in fact extended tax exemption for the lands that he gifted to the Church at Varappuzha. (Travancore Manual, Vol. I, p16, T.K. Veluppillai)


Devasahayam Pillai allegedly was drawn to Christianity by the Dutch general De Lannoy, according to this church authored fable. “The Maharaja of Travancore, Kaarthigai Thirunaal met the expense of building Udayagiri church at the request of De Lannoy and granted a salary of 100 panams to the Vicar”, records Shri. T.K. Veluppillai (Travancore Manual, Vol-I, p 16). Far from being religious bigots, these kings may in fact even be termed foolish for entrusting the administration of the Devoswom Board to Col. Munroe, a European Christian.

It is pertinent to recall here that in the times when Neelakanda Pillai (allegedly) converted to Christianity, there were bloody and violent clashes between Catholics and Protestants in Europe and in other parts of the world. This Catholic-Protestant internecine war had its echo in India too. On capturing the Kochi Fort, the Holy Antonio Catholic Church where the mortal remains of Vasco da Gama were interned after his death was renamed ‘Holy Francis Protestant Church”. This Church is presently under the control of the Protestant Church of South India (CSI).

The Dutch De Lannoy was a Protestant Christian. His Church at Udayagiri Fort was a Protestant Church. Moreover, the Dutch in India were vested with the right to authorize baptism of the newly converted. Under such circumstances, why should De Lannoy send Neelakanda Pillai to a Catholic denomination for baptism into Christianity? Besides, would it not be ‘profitable’ to be baptized by the General of the Maharaja? What benefit would accrue to the upper caste Neelakanda Pillai were he to be baptized by the Catholic Church which had no political power then?


We have to conclude therefore that those who fabricated the fiction called “Devasahayam Pillai” had neither any knowledge of the socio-political climate of the Travancore princely state, nor did they have any idea of the then prevalent situation in Europe.


During the times of Maarthaanda Varma Maharaja, the army of Travancore had Izhavas, Christians and Muslims, records T.K Veluppillai, quoting Colonel Wilks (op. cit., Vol.IV, p 122).


Indian Historians would naturally be biased in favour of the Hindus, allege Christians, while insisting that the fiction the Church peddles as history is the ultimate truth.


Let us take on their argument head on. Pope Clement XIV in his letter dated 2 July 1774, to the Maharaja of Travancore appreciates “his kindness towards the members of his church resident in Travancore” (Travancore Manual, Vol. I, p 387, M. Nagam Aiyya).


Is Pope Clement XIV lying? Or is Pope John Paul II lying? Or the Kottar Diocese? Or the incumbent pope, Pope Benedict? If the king gave grants of land to the church, if there were Christians in the king’s army, if the king entrusted the administration of the Devasvom to a foreigner who was also a Christian, these self-contradictory ‘facts’ by subsequent popes cannot all be true. So who really is lying?


For the sake of the General De Lannoy who allegedly drew Devasahayam Pillai to Christianity, De Lannoy, the Maharaja of Travancore Marthanda Varma waged war against the General of Anjango. Do you know the reason? De Lannoy fell in love with the daughter of the General of Anjango! (Travancore Manual, Vol. II, p 130, M. Nagam Aiyya)


If the fable, fiction and fraud scripted by the Church today to beatify ‘Martyr’ Devasahayam Pillai is to be believed, then Maharaja, Marthanda Varma, who gladly waged war for a lovelorn De Lannoy, ordered the torture and shooting of this man whom De Lannoy converted to his faith.


In this Christian fable, the minister Raamaiyyan Dalawa is said to have disapproved of the close association of De Lannoy with Devasahayam Pillai and this is also purportedly one of the reasons for the anger of Raamaiyyan Dalawa against Devasahayam Pillai. This closeness aggravated Dalawa’s vengeance or so goes the fraudulent narrative of the spin doctors fabricating the story of this ‘martyr’ who was tortured to death by the Maharaja of Travancore.


It is recorded by T.K. Veluppillai (Travancore Manual, Vol. IV, p 77) that capital punishment is awarded to crimes (1)inciting or committing acts of insurrection, and pre-meditating or attempting the death of the Raja, (2) Murder, (3) Gang robbery. Based on these observations, we have to view the history of Travancore as recorded by Shri Nagam Aiyya.

Probably as a palace official, Nilakanda Pillai was detected tampering with political secrets, on the strength of which action must have been taken against him, years after he was converted to Christianity. Baptism could not have had anything to do with it...” (Travancore Manual, Vol. II, p 130, M. Nagam Aiyya)


This fraudulent rendition of history does not stop with the religious conversion of Devasahayam Pillai; it flavors the narrative with a contemporary caste-conflict human interest element. “Since,he mixed with the people of lower castes, the people of higher castes began hating him, hence he was killed”. The Church has shamelessly inserted the caste factor into this fiction. Needless to say there is not even an iota of historical evidence of inter-caste conflict.


What is the past record of the “secular and holy” Catholic Church? If we are to understand the ‘yeoman service’ rendered by the Catholic Church to eradicate untouchability, then we may have to turn to the order of Pope Gregory XV, titled Bulla Romanae SedisAntistitis, dated 31 January 1623, which accedes to the requests of the missionaries to accommodate themselves to certain caste practices and usages of the new converts.



This papal bull was issued 120 years before Neelakanda Pillai converted to Christianity. Until now, this proclamation has not been withdrawn or modified. As a result, untouchability against dalit Christians and segregation continues to rage with full force in Indian Churches till date.


Even in Vadakkan Kulam, where Devasahayam Pillai is purported to have been converted to Christianity, did not the Vellala Christians and other caste Christians refuse to go to the same Church and when they did, did they not sit separately? How did Christianity which proclaimsloudly that is against untouchability and caste itself, claim to haveeradicated casteism and yet permit this to happen in the times of DevasahayamPillai and in the very Church of Devasahayam Pillai? How can it explain thepractice of untouchability and segregation in its churches even today?


A fictitious incident is given thecolour of Truth, painted with the brush of social reform and to this giganticfraud the Vatican has extended its seal of approval and legitimacy.

Is it valour, is it piety to destroythe tradition of a country and the culture of its native populace by honoringthese so called warriors or “martyrs” as the Church calls them, who in realityharvested the souls of Hindus and betrayed the trust of the people who welcomedthem and allowed them to build their churches in their midst and generouslyallowed them to practice an alien religion?


There is no meaning in posing thesequeries to the Pope, his bishops, cardinals and his foot-soldiers. In theprocess of establishing the rule of the Pope, if a warrior of the Christianarmy dies, he becomes a martyr. The same warrior, if he butchers the people ofthe conquered lands becomes a “Saint”. This is the history of Christianity andthis is how Christianity expanded across continents and this is howChristianity became global.


“A House of Inquisition should beestablished to torture those who refuse to convert to Christianity in India”,wrote St. Francis Xavier. For this purpose, he wrote a letter to his patron, KingJohn III of Portugal, in 1545 (Source: Joseph Wicki, Documenta Indica,Vol. IV, Rome, 1956) and by establishing the House of Inquisition at Goa,Francis Xavier was instrumental in the genocide of the Hindus of Goa. Today,this Francis Xavier is a Saint! In his name, there is a church at Kottar inKanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu! Besides, there are many such churches inother parts of Tamil Nadu and north Sri Lanka!


Today, this same Kottar Diocese has beatified Devasahayam. Not surprising because Kanyakumari has a very large Christian population and the man who killed for Jesus Christ and in the name of the Pope has converted significant numbers of Hindus in the coastal areas of southern Tamil Nadu too. For converting the few remaining Hindus, the fiction of this Christian ‘warrior-cum-martyr’ who was tortured and killed by the Maharaja of Travancore has now been scripted by the Church.


The self-serving ungrateful Church,with this fraudulent rendition of history has made a murderer of a noble and generous Hindu king and Hindu society has been portrayed as a regressive society. The Hindus have been painted as a barbaric race. Indeed, a fraud has been committed.


What is the net result? The son of the soil is a martyr and a saint - through such enticing proclamations the Christian laity is instigated to do more to convert Hindus and to plant the cross in every village.


Weaving such fiction and selling fables as facts is nothing new to the Church and they are past masters in this craft. The fable of St. Thomas, who supposedly landed on the shores of Mylapore beach in Chennai is one such fable. This fictitious “Thomas” (doubt not) was created, ‘made’ to stay at Chennai and ‘made’ to be murdered by a Brahmin priest and in an attempt to package the fiction as fact, the Church continues to maintain that the skeletal remains of the ‘fictitious’ Thomas is interned in the Santhome Basilica. Worshipping relics is a calculated Abrahamic tactic.


Just like the St. Thomas fairy tale is the Devasahayam fairy tale. To put it bluntly, the Church does not have a shred of evidence even for the historicity of Jesus Christ. It does not matter to Hindus at all, but to Christians who dismiss the Hindu religion as myth and pass off their religion as history, it should matter that they cannot prove the historicity of Jesus Christ.


And that is precisely the reason why the present Pope observed that Jesus Christ may have been actually born 200 to500 years before the officially accepted date and year of his birth. If that be so, then the fundamentals of Christianity are on shaky ‘historical’ foundation.


Secular intellectuals and politicians should tell us if this beatification of the Soldiers of Christ who want to conquer our land and reduce to rubble the land of the Cheras, Cholas and the Pandyas is moral, ethical and in the real interest of communal harmony.


A fraud is a fraud is a fraud.


The author is an HR professional, research scholar, writer, and founder president of the Vedic Science Research Centre, Chennai 

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