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Eighty Years of Indo – Serbian Orthodox Relations and Saint Dositej Vasić of Zagreb

Reception at Belgrade on 21 September 1937. H.H. Basalius Geevarghese II, Catholicos of the East, Abo Alaxios O.I.C. & Metropolitan Dositej of Zagreb
Reception at Belgrade on 21 September 1937. H.H. Basalius Geevarghese II, Catholicos of the East, Abo Alaxios O.I.C. & Metropolitan Dositej of Zagreb

Ecumenism was something novel in the Christian world a century ago. While every denomination was nesting in their doctrinal shell, Inter-Church relations were absurd. Politics, lack of communication and transport kept the Orthodox Churches away from interaction amid them. Perhaps except in the Holy city of Jerusalem, it was almost zilch till the middle of the twentieth century, where also the relation was hostile most of the time.

Even in this scenario, the Malankara Orthodox Church of India, a member of the Oriental Orthodox community in the south-west corner of the Indian Peninsula and the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Byzantine community in the Eastern Europe, developed a warm relation as early as in 1936. It expanded even to the mutual visits of the Hierarchs in 1937. The amazing story of the brotherhood of two geographically remote Churches of the Pan Orthodox community was initiated by the Serbian Orthodox Confessor Saint Dositej Vasić of Zagreb.

Saint Dositej of Zagreb

Metropolitan Dositej was born in Belgrade in 1887. He took his Master of Theology from Kiev Religious Academy in 1904. He spent two years at the University of Berlin studying theological and philosophical science followed by philosophy at Leipzig. From 1907 to 1909 he taught at the Seminary of St. Sava in Belgrade. He studied at the Sorbonne and the College of Social Sciences, Paris from 1907 to 1909 and in Geneva from 1910 to 1912. Besides his native Serbian, he was fluent in Russian, Czech, German and French. He also learned Bulgarian and English.

In 1899, he was ordained to the rank of the monk in the monastery of Manasija. In May 1913, the Holy assembly of bishops of the Kingdom of Serbia elected him as a bishop. Subsequently, he was consecrated as the bishop of Nis on 25 May 1913. It was a herculean effort to tender his sheep through catastrophic situations crated by successive wars and the earthquake of 1927. The Bolshevik revolution of Russia in 1917 also added up his burden. When the Russian people in exile dying of hunger in 1920’s, Bishop Dositej was the delegate of the Royal Yugoslavian Government in the International League for the facilitation of hungry Russians, and preached throughout Yugoslavia, urging mercy and brotherly love for the Russian people die painfully.

In 1931, Bishop Dositej was appointed the first Metropolitan of the newly established Zagreb Diocese. He was described as an excellent teacher at the seminary, a great organizer, a good orator, well-mannered and full of Christian goodness and a true patriot. He was sent abroad by the Serbian Orthodox Church frequently as its delegate to Geneva, Basel, Athens, Bulgaria etc. Metropolitan Dositej visited India during the winter of 1936/37.

During the World War II, Metropolitan Dositej was arrested and imprisoned by the Nazi controlled regime of Croatia. He was brutally tortured in the prison. It is accused that the Roman Catholic nuns were also actively participated in enhancing his agony while he was hospitalized. Later, the Germans transported the unconscious and terribly battered Metropolitan Dositej by train from Zagreb to Belgrade where he was housed in a Gestapo prison. Later, Metropolitan Dositej was transferred to a sanatorium since he was in critical condition. Even though he escaped a sudden death, he never recovered mentally or physically. Metropolitan Dositej spent the last days of his life at Belgrade Monastery of the Ascension under the care of the sisters of the Russian abbess Angelina. He entered into eternal rest on 14 January 1945 by sustained physical and psychological wounds from the persecution. He was entombed in the churchyard of this monastery. On 22 May 1998 the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbia Orthodox Church declared Metropolitan Dositeja (Vasic) of Zagreb and Ljubljana as a Confessor.1 Hiero-confessor Dositej of Zagreb and Vavedenje, was added to the list of the Serbian saints by the decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church from May 2000. On May 13, 2008, his sacred relics were transferred to the monastery church from the tomb in which he rested from January 15, 1945.2

Saint Dositej in India

According to the Serbian cyber data, “It is little known that the Metropolitan Dositej was also in India. There he resided during the winter of 1936/37 year, the Russian mission among the Indians. Metropolitan Dositej was preaching even visited the Malabar Coast. Great was the love of Christ and courage converts Hindus, because they were persecuted majority Hindus. How many missionary work in these climates sometimes be dangerous, it can be seen from the following events. On one occasion, Metropolitan Dositej observed in the church, behind the icon, a cobra snake. She repeatedly appeared. He was later informed that a believer died from its bite.”3

We have no evidences to confirm or counter-check his mission in India or even the Russian Orthodox Mission in India. But the records of the Malankara Orthodox Church confirm his visit to India, especially to Malabar, now known as state of Kerala in India, in 1936/7. Metropolitan Dositej participated4 in the world conference of Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) held at Mysore, India from 2 January 1937 onwards.5 According to the available sources, he visited India in connection with this conference.

According to the Indian Sources, Metropolitan Dositej visited Kottayam, Kerala, India along with F.T. Pianoff6 in January 1937 after the Mysore conference. Feodor T. Pianoff (1889-1969), a leader of the Russian Student Christian Movement. He had left Russia in 1918. He had worked for YMCA and actively participated in the activities of the Orthodox Theological Institute, Paris. As the guest of Catholicos H. H. Basalius Geevarghese II, he stayed for about two weeks at Old Seminary, Kottayam, with the former.7 By informing his joyful experience with the Catholicos, to H. H. Patriarch Vernava of Serbia, he established the relation between the Malankara and Serbian Churches. He created a colourful impression about the Malankara Church to Patriarch Vernava.

Father Andronic, the Russian

Another important event during the Indian tour of Metropolitan Dositej was his meeting with Father Andronic, a Russian monk – priest. Father Andronic was stayed with the monastery of Transfiguration, Mount Tabor, Pathanapuram, Kerala, India for nine years as a visitor. He expressed his desire to engage in farming since he studied the same while in Germany. The monastery allocated one of its detached farmlands at Pattazhi, Kerala, India at his disposal. He constructed a small building and a chapel in that property along with his farming activities. He visited several Malankara Orthodox parishes and attended many priests meetings to preach. Perhaps this was referred to as “the Russian mission among the Indians” in the Serbian records about Metropolitan Dositej.

Metropolitan Dositej also visited the monastery of Transfiguration during his Indian voyage. During his stay at the monastery, he too enlightens the monks over there. From there, he visited Father Andronic at Pattazhi and elevated him as Archimandrite. Later, Father Andronic left India since his services were requested among the Russian migrants in the North Amarica.8 Even after his departure, Father Andronic was in warm relation with the Malankara Orthodox Church. He even gifted three sets of chalices for the Diaspora parishes of the Malankara Orthodox Church in 1950’s.9.

Visit of Catholicos Geevarghese II to Belgrade

As the result of the report given by Metropolitan Dositej, Patriarch Vernava invited Catholicos Geevarghese II to Yugoslavia that was accepted by the latter. Catholicos Geevarghese II planned to visit Yugoslavia after his participation in the second World Faith & Order Conference assembling at Edinburgh, U. K., in August 1937. Catholicos Geevarghese II invited Patriarch Vernava as the chief guest of the silver jubilee celebrations of the establishment of the Catholicate in India scheduled for 1937.10 Unexpectedly, Patriarch Vernava demised on 23 July 1937. Catholicos Geevarghese II received this tragic news en route to Edinburgh. On 25 July, he conducted a memorial service at Paris, France, together with Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Eulogius Georgievsky of Paris.11 As the result, Catholicos Geevarghese II considered calling off his Yugoslavian trip after this awful incident. But Metropolitan Dositej, who was the Locum tenens Patriarch as the president of the synod, insisted to continue with the scheduled tour. Along with this, the accomplices of Catholicos Geevarghese II encouraged him to carry on. Finally he agreed to visit Belgrade.12

Catholicos Geevarghese II in Yugoslavia

Immediately after the Edinburgh conference, Catholicos Geevarghese II left to Yugoslavia, with Abo Alaxios O.I.C. They reached Belgrade via Paris by train On 21 September 1937. The Indian primate was received royally by Metropolitan Dositej and a large array of Serbian clergy. Catholicos Geevarghese II was honoured with the same reverence extended to their own Patriarch. He was made to sit on the Patriarchal throne in all parishes and monasteries they visited. He was addressed as “Patriarch Basali” in the Holy Eucharist and Litany. Metropolitan Dositej assigned two bishops, Bishop Seraphim and Bishop Nicholas, as the ‘bishops on waiting’ to accompany Catholicos Geevarghese II during his travels.

On 23 September, Catholicos Geevarghese II addressed a gathering of about 1,000 Serbian priests and several bishops. On the next day he visited Military Museum and National Museum in Belgrade. On 26 September Catholicos Geevarghese II visited the monasteries of Pustinja and Žiča followed by a visit to the famous Đurđevi stupovi on the next day. He was received by clergy and laity at all Serbian parishes en route joyfully. He was accompanied in these visits by Bishop Seraphim and Bishop Nicholas of the Serbian Church.

Catholicos Geevarghese II and Abo Alaxios O.I.C. left Yugoslavia on 30 September 1937 to India via Rome. Metropolitan Dositej, Metropolitan Anastasy Gribanovsky of Kishinev, then prelate of the Russian Orthodox Church in exile, four bishops and a huge gathering was assembled at the railway station to see them off.13 They reached back Kottayam, India on 30 October 1937.

The emergence of the Second World War, captivity and martyrdom of Metropolitan Dositej followed by the political restructuring of the Balkan countries made further communications and visits impossible. And hence, the strong relations started to build up were broken. Even then, the visit of Catholicos Geevarghese II was sweet memory at Belgrade even in 1952.14


Even though the Indian documents revels these much about the Indian connection of Metropolitan Dositej and the Serbian Church at large,there are still some unsolved mysteries. They are;

1. Does Metropolitan Dositej have any knowledge about the Malankara Orthodox Church prior to his arrival in India?

2. Did he ever in touch with Abo Alaxios during the latter’s tour in England for more than six months in 1933?

3. Did Metropolitan Anastasy Gribanovsky of Kishinev have any role in the visit of Metropolitan Dositej to India? The former met Catholicos Geevarghese II at Jerusalem on 24 September 1934.15 He urged for the close relation between Indian and Russian churches during that meeting. As the chief organizer of the Russian Church in exile, he often had been in Belgrade too.

4. Did Metropolitan Dositej pre-known to Father Andronic while in Germany? If not, how does he dare to elevate him as an Archimandrite?

5. Did Russian Orthodox Church in Exile in general or F.T. Pianoff in particular had any role in the visit of Metropolitan Dositej to Kerala?

These questions cannot be answered on the basis of the available Indian sources.


1 A.), B.)…/svdositej-zagrebacki.htm
4 The Orthodox Sabha Magazine, Chingam 1113
5 A) Malayala Manorama, 8 January, 1937, B) The Sydney Morning Herald, February 20, 1937
7. The Orthodox Sabha Magazine, Chingam 1113
8 Thoma Mar Dionysius Metropolitan, cf in Chandanappally, Dr. Samuel, Malankara Sabha Pithakkanmar Vol II, 2012, Chandanappally, pp 657-8
9. Alaxios Mar Theodosius Metropolitan, cf in The Indian Orthodox Church Mission, The History and Report of the Orthodox Parishes Outside Malabar, 1955, Madras. P 5
10. The Orthodox Sabha Magazine, Chingam 1113
11 Kuriakosu Remban, M.C., Edinburgho Yaathra, Kottayam, 1938
12 Philipose Mar Theophilus, Malankara Sabhayude Yasassuyarthy, cf in Paulose OIC (Ed), Bethaniyude Panimalar, 1976, Ranni-Perunad. p 40 -1
13 Thomas, Dr. M. Kurian Thomas, Kurichy Bavayude Moonnu paradesha Yathrakal, 2015, Kottayam, pp 293 -5
14 Philipose Mar Theophilus, cf in Thomas, Dr. M. Kurian, Abo Alaxios – Nadithulyam Saantham, 2015, Kottayam, p 66
15 Kasheesha, C, M, Skriah, Jurusalem Yathra, 1935, Kottayam. p 172

Columns Features Opinions

False Calendar of Mar Joseph Metropolitan of Marthoma Church

The recent common circular of H.G. Joseph Marthoma Metropolitan, Head of Malankara Marthoma Church has brought out a controversy. The sum and substance of the circular is the statement that H.G. Palakkunnathu Abraham Malpan celebrated Holy Qurbana on 15th August 1835, by reciting the prayers like the Promiyon and Sedra in Malayalam, while holding and watching the Liturgy in Syriac and the 175th anniversary of the event would be celebrated on 15th Aug 2010. In short the entire circular is the compilation of wrong entries, especially in regard to the actual dates.

First of all the date, 15th August 1935, on which date it is mentioned that Palakkunnath Abraham Malpan had celebrated Holy Qurbana and recited the Promion and Sedra in Malayalam is absolutely wrong. The CMS Missionary council held on 22nd March 1836 had entrusted four priests including Palakkunnath Abraham Malpan to introduce the reformation in the liturgy, by paying salary after their utter defeat at the Mavelikkara Synod on 5th Makaram 1836. When slight alterations were introduced in the liturgy by the four priests, which was later known as Half Qurbana (Ara Kurbana in Malayalam), two of them disagreed to celebrate the Holy Qurbana on the basis of the reformed Liturgy.

According to the records available Palakkunnathu Abraham Malpan celebrated the Holy Qurbana at Maramon Church using the Half Qurbana Liturgy on which date the 15 days Lent of the year 1836 concluded. The revised liturgy was not ready as on 15th August 1835, as claimed by H.G. Joseph Marthoma Metropolitan. Secondly the date 15th August 1935 is also wrong. Malankara Orthodox Church accepted the Gregorian calendar on 14th May 1953, the day on which the Church observed the feast of Ascension of Lord Jesus of the year. Until then the 15 days’ Lent used to conclude on 15th Chingam. (A month in Malayalam calendar)

It is clearly mentioned in the Marthoma Church history published in 1936 by Mr. T.C. Chacko that the abovementioned incident took place on 15th Chingam 1012 (1836) The Marthoma Church commemorated the centenary of the reformation in 1936. All these evidences prove that the statement of H.G. Joseph Marthoma Metropolitan is baseless.

Another interesting and funny thing is the statement that the 175th anniversary celebrations would be on 15th August 2010, the feast of the 15 days Lent. When did the Marthoma Church start the celebration of the feast after the Lent, as the Marthoma Church has totally denied the Lent?

The next topic is Palakkunnathu Abraham Malpan and the Malayalam translation. In the book ‘Lamentations’ (Vilaapangal) published by Rev. Thazhathu Chacko Chandapillai who has served a long period as private Secretary to H.G. Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasios Metropolitan as well as a joint Trustee, that the Liturgy modified by Abraham Malpan was in Syriac language. So also there is a mention to the effect in the Order of Holy Qurbana (Qurbaana Kramam) of the Malankara Syrian Marthomites published by the Liturgy reformation committee.

T.C. Chacko has clearly mentioned that Abraham Malpan used the prayers in Syriac language for the private prayers and all those of the public function in Malayalam. In that case what is the reason for limiting just to the Promiyon and Sedra? From where did he gather the information?

Even if the statement that Abraham Malpan recited the Promiyon and Sedra in 1936 in Malayalam for the argument sake, how great was the translation done by Konatt Abraham Malpan Ist in 1820? In 1820 he translated the daily prayer including the Ten Commandments for the ordinary faithful and the portions to be recited by the altar assistant as well as the participating faithful into Malayalam and compiled them as book. And the same book was in use in the Churches across Malankara. More than half of the sayings (responses to the celebrant) are to be recited mostly by the lay participants including the altar assistants. There is no record to prove that Palakkunnathu Malpan had attempted for a translation which might attract a great number of faithful to the worship. So far the Marthoma Church has not attempted in claiming so. If so how the half Qurbana celebrated by Palakkunnathu Malpan could be interpreted as the beginning of the reformation in Malankara Church?

The prayer book of 1920 is a clear evidence of the fact that Konatt Abraham Malpan was a genius of progressive ideas other than the accusation of the British Missionaries that he was a conservative. With this accusation only the British Missionaries had sent out Abraham Malpan Konatt from the Seminary. Konatt Abraham Malpan used “My father you please bless” (Ente Achaa nee vazhthaname) in the place of ‘Barekmor’ of these days. (For more details please see the article ‘Our Lord ….(Njangalkkulla Karthave..)that covers 190 years)

If someone has altered the liturgy, after accepting the monthly salary from the British Missionaries, no one would name it as service to the Church. Especially when the meeting of the Parish representatives, the authoritative body of the Church in taking apt and ideal decisions in regard to the spiritual, secular, worship and administrative matters (assembled at Mavelikkara in 1818 and 1835) denied the suggestions of the reformations. As and when they introduced the one sided decisions, they proved the indiscipline of those people only. Actually the honor for introducing the revolution of translations into Malayalam is to be vested with Kayamkulam Philipose Ramban, who did the translation of the Holy Gospels in accordance with the lectionary of the Holy Church and the Holy Church started using the same since 1811. This is the first literary translation of worship in Malayalam. Palakkunnathu Malpan also might have made use of this book but Mar Joseph Metropolitan has brought out darkness over the fact.

As and when we might evaluate the historical facts of this circular, we could find heaps of baseless anti truth statements. Mar Joseph Metropolitan has mixed up events together and has presented as one like the embracement of Rev. Fr. George Mathen with the Anglican Church, the consecration of Palakkunnath Rev. Dn. Mathews as Bishop from Antioch and denial of ordination to the disciples of Palakkunnath Abraham Malpan. In fact all these incidents are not interconnected. The matter which was discussed once in detail by Messrs. P. Cherian, P. A. Oommen and Z.M. Parett is not repeated here. The Roman Catholics attributed the name ‘Jacobites’ to the Malankara Nazranies by the end of the 17th century. The Catholics named the Malankara St. Thomas Christians as Jaobites as and when the participants of the Coonan Cross oath remained together keeping aloof from the Catholicism. In the version of Catholics the ones who remained away from them had accepted the new Jacobite faith. Varappuzha Metropolitan wrote to Rome that the Jacobites have no authority over the Churches in Malankara due to this reason and this is the first time of addressing us as Jacobites. Later this name got prominence in the Government records as well as public use.

The Patriarchs of Antioch had claimed spiritual supremacy over Malankara from the early decades of the 18th century and at least from the time of Marthoma V, Malankara Metropolitan. Mainly they insisted for the authority of consecrating the Metropolitans and entrusting the Stathikon (document of authority) to the Malankara Metropolitan. Pakalomattam Marthoma Metropolitans as well as H.G, Cheppad Mar Dionysius did not agree to those claims. Palakkunnathu Mathews Mar Athanasios is the first one to agree with the claim.

Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasios is the first Malankara Nazrani to reach Marddin to accept consecration from the Patriarch of Antioch in 1842. When he claimed the authority of the throne of Malankara Metropolitan before the local Government authorities, he upheld the credit that he was consecrated by the Patriarch of Antioch. It is true that as and when he got recognition of being the Malankara Metropolitan, the supremacy of Patriarch over Malankara came into existence for the first time in history. As a result the power of Malankara Association to elect the Metropolitans and to take decisions to consecrate them became null and void.

As and when H.G. Joseph Mar Dionysius V accepted consecration from the Patriarch of Antioch and claimed for the authority over the throne, Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasios changed his stand. When the Patriarch of Antioch paid a visit to Kerala in 1876, Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasios denied his allegiance to the Patriarch. The consecration of Palakkunnath Thomas Mar Athanasios as his successor was one sided and without the cooperation of Patriarch. H.G. Joseph Mar Dionysius V convened a fresh meeting of the representatives of Parishes of the Church at Parumala in 1873 with an intention of reviving the Association which lost its frame work and rules and regulations due to the arrival of Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasios as Malanakara Metropolitan. H.G. Joseph Mar Dionysius could re-instate the Malankara Syrian Christian Association and to elect the Managing Committee. But there was a legal problem as the Malankara Metropolitan in power only could do so and the legal rights vested with Palakkunnath Mar Athanasios Metropolitan. Hence the decisions of the meeting remained ineffective.

H.G. Joseph Mar Dionysius V invited H.H. the Patriarch to Kerala in 1876 in the light of these circumstances. Until that time Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasios had never denied the authority of the Patriarch publicly. His earlier claims for the position did not allow him to publicize his denial in those days. Mar Dionysius attempted so with the firm faith that the dissident leader would not question the legality of the Association convened by the superior whom the dissident leader also accepted with due respects.

The attempt not only succeeded but also the meeting of the Parish representatives held at Mulanthuruthy in 1876 re-approved the decisions of the Parumala Association held in 1873. The meeting formed the legal Association and elected Mar Dionysius as its President. Hence Mar Dionysius got the honor of being elected by the people which was unavoidable for the Malankara Metropolitan.

Nothing more happened in the Mulanthuruthy Association. As mentioned above, the Malankara Church had the name ‘Jacobite’ since the end of the 17th century. In those days no body had thought about the name ‘Marthoma Church’. In the first decades of the 20th Century an application was submitted to the Travancore Government officials and got the name “Marthoma Church” approved. A partition took place in the Church only when H.G. Joseph Mar Dionysius V got victory in the Royal Court judgment of 1889. It could be easily proved that H.G. Mar Dionysius or his followers did not intend or think to bring in a partition in the Church in 1889 or in 1876 or later. The first decision of the Parumala meeting of the Church representatives was to try for an amicable settlement with the dissidents. It is a truth that H.G. Mar Dionysius had expressed to relinquish his position for the sake of peace and harmony with H.G. Mathews Mar Athanasios during the peace talks initiated by King of Travancore soon after the Royal Court judgment of 1889. But unfortunately H.G. Mathews Mar Athanasios remained adamant on his stand without a mind of reconciliation.

It is true that from the day on which H.G. Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasios took over the Malankara Metropolitan’s office, there were two groups in the Church. And it was a practice in the Church to have a rival group against the local Metropolitan in power. There must be solid reasons on the basis of the local and personal grounds. This is the picture of the facts provided by the Church history and there were no other reasons for having two groups at the time of Mar Athanasios of Palakkunnath.

The claim of the Marthoma Church and the accusation of the opponent group of those days that Mar Mathews Athanasios introduced the reformation in the Church is an important topic to be studied with deserving seriousness. Rev. Chacko Chandapillai, who had served as the private secretary to H.G. Mar Athanasios Palakkunnath provides a number of hints to the effect that there was no introduction of the reformation.

The court case that had ended with the Royal Court judgment of 1889 was re-opened only after the demise of Mar Mathews Palakkunnathu Thirumeni. Each group argued for the power of the entire Church and a partial success was not the intention. H.G. Thomas Mar Athanasios and his followers formed the Reformed Syrian Church when His Grace had to return the official rod and crown, isolating them from the Mother Church followed by the failure in the court case.

Now let us think about the statement that the Malankara Orthodox Church was established in 1912. As mentioned above, the claim that the Metropolitans are to be consecrated by the Patriarch, got influence in Malankara since the consecration of Palakkunnath Mathews Mar Athanasios, who was consecrated by the Patriarch. It became mandatory in the Royal court judgment of 1899. Patriarch of Antioch only consecrated H.G. Vattasseril Joseph Mar Dionysius in 1908. In 1912 the Patriarch of Antioch of those days elevated a Metropolitan as Catholicose of the East and transferred the powers enjoyed by Patriarch to the new Catholicose. (Especially to consecrate the Malankara Metropolitan and other Metropolitans) It was not the formation of a new Church or a change of the systems that existed till then. Before this incident, two Metropolitans (H.G. Julius Mar Alvaris and H.G. Rene Vilathi Mar Themothios) were consecrated by the Metropolitans of Malankara jointly with the permission of the Patriarch. The Catholicate in Malankara is the net result of the kind gesture of the Patriarch, giving permanent arrangement after giving approval for the timely developments. As and when the Catholicate was established, there did not take place any change or limitations to the power of the Malankara Metropolitan. In other words what was submitted to H.G. Mar Mathews Athanasios in 1842 has been taken back and re-scheduled with the Catholicose in 1912.

The Church in Malankara had not accepted the title name “Orthodox’ in those days. Catholicate was established when the Church was known as Jacobite Church. The Church officially accepted the name ‘Orthodox’ when the constitution of the Church was accepted in 1934. It is clearly mentioned in the 3rd clause of the Constitution that the Church is also known as Jacobite Church, its real and original name is ‘Orthodox Syrian Church’. It is specifically mentioned so and it doesn’t mean that it is not due to the establishment of a new Church. As the position of Malankara Metropolitan is there in the Constitution as it was there since its inception, no one could say that it was due to the formation of a new church. In the Church knowledge, ‘Orthodox’ stands for right and straight faith. The name of the church headed by the Patriarch of Antioch is also ‘Orthodox’.

It is an interesting truth that the Malankara Church has the name ‘Orthodox’ at least from the end of the 17th century, when the Church was named ‘Jacobite’. H.G. Mar Ivanios Hidayathallah’s common circular (order) of 1686 starts with the saying, “of Indian orthodox Syrians…” The head line of the prayer book translated and published by Konatt Abraham Malpan is: “of Orthodox Jacobite Syrian Christian’s….”

In fact the faction of the Church which adopted the name “Reformed Church” immediately after the Royal Court Judgment of 1899 formed the new Church and it was named Marthoma Syrian Church in 1911. The Marthoma Church cannot claim or inherit the heritage of the Malankara Orthodox Church in view of the historical, doctrinal or legal grounds.

Malankara Orthodox Church would be celebrating the centenary of the establishment of its Catholicate in India. It might be the need of the Marthoma Church and its head H.G. Joseph Metropolitan to organize a celebration program. But the means for this should not to ridicule the mother Church or should not try to present wrong information against the historical facts.

This article is translated from Malayalam by Jose Kurien Puliyeril