Photo courtesy: Photo for representational purpose only
Manufacturing antiquity: Conspiracy to link Harappa sites to St Thomas hoax
Author and archaeologist Michel Danino, in an article, Digging into the human mind, writes the motives of Alexander Cunningham, the first director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), “were not wholly disinterested”. Cunningham hoped to “show that Brahminism …was of comparatively modern origin, and had been constantly receiving additions and alterations; facts which prove that the establishment of the Christian religion in India must ultimately succeed.” (Muziris: Attimariyude Reethisasthram)
Of late, the ASI has launched itself into a controversy after the Department of Archaeology in the University of Kerala has excavated the Harappan sites at Moti Cher, Nani Rayan and Navinal in Gujarat. They claim its antiquity going back to 2000 years which tally with the date of Pattanam in Kerala (KU team digs up history at Rann of Kutch, The Hindu July 18, 2015). It is not a question of a university involved in archaeological excavations. The excavator Rajesh SV, who is also Assistant Professor in the Kerala University department is also in the administration of the dubious Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR). http://kchr.ac.in/staffs.html
PJ Cherian, former KCHR director and who earned much notoriety after the scandalous Pattanam excavations, currently heads an NGO PAMA in Kerala. He claims he had on-hand documentation of the Kodumal, Alagankulam, Korkai and Pattaraiperumbudur excavated materials from Tamil Nadu (Do ancient Tamilakam sites deserve rediscovery?, The Times of India, Nov.30, 2018). How did his NGO get easy access to the excavated material from these Tamil Nadu archaeological sites in government possession? It has enabled Cherian for identifying similarities with Pattanam and Tamil Nadu sites to claim that there is a common link of ‘brotherhood’ (Pattanam, Keezhadi excavated materials similar, says expert, Deccan Chronicle, Oct. 31, 2018). This issue cannot be viewed lightly. However, he did not present either ceramics, metals or any other remains showing the cultural homogeneity between Pattanam and Keezhadi. How did the ASI hand over excavated materials to an NGO under Cherian which has a dubious record in tampering with Pattanam with aid of foreign funds and agencies? It has fuelled huge controversies since the site also claimed itself as the sacred spot associated with Apostle Thomas in India.
In 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) identified the unbridled foreign funds received by KCHR and cancelled its licence under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010. (The New Indian Express, Dec. 8, 2016). R Sivanantham, deputy director, Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology should have been aware that the KCHR was accused in the creation of fake government documents, illegal appointments and financial irregularities worth crores. Sivanatham who is also current excavator of Keezhadi invited the controversial Pattanam project director PJ Cherian to deliver a lecture where he made dubious claims that there are many similarities between the two sites.
Read more: in https://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/rampant-irregularities-detected-at-kchr-kerala-kerala-council-for-historical-research-corruption-1.1478483
When the Archaeological Survey of India began a probe into alleged unscientific approaches adopted by the KCHR at Pattanam, Amarnath Ramakrishna, the then superintendent archaeologist of the ASI, Bengaluru centre, started investigations into the Pattanam excavations (ASI probe into KCHR’s ‘Pattanam excavations’, Business Standard, Jan. 5, 2016). His findings are not revealed, but later Amarnath Ramakrishna took up the Keezhadi excavation. Possibly, he prepared a report liked by the CPI(M) and Left historians in KCHR. As Amarnath Ramakrishna examined the Pattanam excavation report and was in-charge of Keezhadi, the Left lobbies have been able to notice striking similarities in antiquarian remains from the two sites.
In April 2018, the Federation of Tamil Sangams in North America (FeTNA) invited Amarnath Ramakrishna to deliver a lecture on the Keezhadi excavations. The ASI denied him permission to participate as the guest of honour at this event, possibly because FeTNA publicly supported the cause of ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils in the Sri Lankan civil war. The Catholic Church is heavily involved with the LTTE from the 1970s.
Prof K Rajan of Pondicherry University marshals the cause of Pattanam in Tamil Nadu and associates it with recently excavated sites in the state. Along with Cherian, he links Pattanam with Kodumanal, Thandikudi, Porunthal Keezhadi and other archaeological sites in Tamil Nadu. Rajan is well-conscious of duplicity on Pattanam and its Biblical agenda. It now raises serious doubts on sites in Tamil Nadu which he excavates and constantly associates with Pattanam. Rajan is also one of the administrators of KCHR in Kerala.
Pattanam is strongly claimed by its excavator as the landing site of St Thomas. Currently, Tamil Nadu Catholic priest PJ Lawrence Raj has written many letters to the bishops of the Catholic world seeking brand recognition for St. Thomas in Tamil Nadu whom he claims is largely credited for bringing Christianity to India. Fr. Raj put hard efforts to bring St. Thomas back to the mainstream narrative of Chennai’s Roman Catholic world (An apostle returns: Bringing St. Thomas back to Chennai, The Hindu, Oct.27, 2018). What is now needed are some major archaeological sites in Tamil Nadu and also Northwest such as Gujarat to get affiliated with the Apostle.
Knowing the controversies associated with KCHR, how did the ASI give licence to one of its administrators such as Dr. Rajesh to excavate Harappan sites in Gujarat to link with Pattanam? The ASI has to give a reply.
In 2014, DK Chakrabarti delivered a lecture at the Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi, on “Foreign Archaeological Collaborations and India’s Security Concerns”. He said that there is strong pressure from interested groups to hand over some major Indus sites to foreign money and foreign participants. Chakrabarti also criticizes the Pattanam excavations in Kerala by Left historians with Euro-American collaboration, keeping ASI and Indian Universities out. The association of Pattanam with Biblical sites in Fertile Crescent and West Asia by KCHR has generated many controversies. There is also an attempt to link Harappan sites in Gujarat and Pattanam. The foreign agencies and their Indian collaborators work hard to associate these two sites with the Fertile Crescent and West Asia which accommodates the major Biblical sites of the world. If Pattanam opts for a maritime route to India from the Fertile Crescent, Harappan sites in Gujarat picks up a land route for Apostle Thomas through the northwest. The objectives are now clear.