(Speech by Dr. P. C. Alexander, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India at Sapthathi celebration public meeting in 1982 September 12 at Kottayam)
Respected Rashtrapathiji, Your Holiness Marthoma Mathews I, Catholicos of the East. Your Holiness Catholicos- Patriarch Ilia, Archbishops, Representatives of the Christian Churches, Eminent Emissaries of His Holiness the Pope, Heads of various Christian Communities in India, Heads of Religious Communities present here and my fellow members of the Indian Orthodox Church.
Let me at the very outset as a member of the India n Orthodox Church, offer our respectful felicitations and gratitude’s to our Res. Rashtrapathi for his gracious gesture of his presence in our midst this evening . Sir, we are greatly honored and privileged by your presence here. To the members of the Orthodox Community your presence should carry a greater message. That the head of the 700 million people of India, should find the time and take trouble to corns allover to this corner of our State and to be present here for a small function organized by 1. 5 million people of the State, speaks volumes about the concern and the patronage with which he looks at, and his Government looks at all communities. It is an eloquent tribute to the policy of his Government that they make no distinction between one community and another; and the size of a community does not matter at all. In the same way, the presence of the luminaries, dignitaries of the various Churches here should also convey to us great message. It is not merely we are rejoicing in this great function of ours, which is indeed a recognition of the eminent position which our Church has acquired after we regained our independence. Whenever I think of this small community of Orthodox Christians in lndis, I am struck by one simple factor and that is the real life. vigor and vitality of this small community. I have lived in various
parts of the world, had different times and occasions to see Christian Communities in operation and I tell you with full knowledge of facts, there are very few communities in this wide world of Christianity with as much spiritual life, as much vigor and vitality as this small community has. I have asked this question how is it that for 1900 years, this community has survived, the turmoil’s, the troubles, the litigations; and how is it that the Church has been able to retain its faith. I have only a few answers to that. The first is the passionate faith of this community in the tradition of St. Thomas I am not claiming this tradition as the exclusive heritage of the Orthodox Christians. St. Thomas belongs to the whole of India. In fact Jawaharlal Nehru once said when he was participating in the 1900 years’ celebrations of St. Thomas, that St. Thomas belongs to the whole Indian heritage. We are not making an exclusive claim of St. Thomas.
But there is a special point for this community. While for other Christians, it may be a part of history, while for some others it may be a part of heritage, for Orthodox Syrian Christians it is a part of their emotion, something which we have imbibed from the milk of mothers. Something which we want to transfer to our children and to our children’s children as treasure to be preserved with awe and pride. This is the special feature about St. Thomas as far as we, Christians are concerned I have always Wondered why 51. Thomas chose to come to this ancient land of ours, which is the cradle for the four religions of the world. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism and I have the answer for that.
In this ancient holy land of ours, Christianity out of necessity has to come from the authentic hands of the Apostle of Christ himself. Imagine what would have the inadequacy been of Christianity, if our ancestors have been converted by the missionaries who carne with the Portuguese, the French or the Dutch. It was one of the justifications of the historical necessity and inevitable part of history that in this land, the authenticity of Christianity should be established by the disciple of Christ himself. When we speak about the authenticity of Christianity, we should also remember another thing and that is to preserve the faith of our fathers. On this day of joy and gratitude let us remember them also.