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Dr A.V. Koshy is presently working as Assistant Professor in Dept. of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Jazan University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has authored or co-authored seven or eight books of poetry, theory and criticism. He is an editor and anthologist. He is also a distinguished teacher of the English language and literature and a critic, with a Ph.D in modern poetry, specifically Samuel Beckett's poems in English. He was a Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry in 2012 and his book Art of Poetry was selected as Best Reads 2012 by Butterfly and the Bee. He has been editor's pick on Camel Saloon thrice and poet of the month thrice in Destiny Poets UK besides often having his poems appear in the highly selected category. Has other international awards, diplomas and certificates to his credit too.

In Search of Good Poetry

To come back to this knotty problematic. The words artist, poet, literature, writing, poetry, poems, human being/s are all interconnected but down the ages, fortunately, or unfortunately, some people have got the name of the great poet, or good poet, and some poems have got the name of great poetry or good poetry. While all this may be pooh-poohed by many who want poetry to be just something that makes them feel, this “I feel it, I feel you business” is only one of the measures of good poetry. There is the question of what made you feel, and how, and why. In academia, poetry is judged by many yardsticks. Some talk of political correctness or relevance as a measure if they go by the content-centric school. Some go by things like how a poet uses figures of speech, imagery, and ‘sound’ or music devices, and themes if they believe in and go by the tenets of new criticism and close textual analysis. Poets themselves are as diverse as leaves on a tree in their opinions, as are readers as to what constitutes good poetry or great poetry. Is it its resonance with a certain culture or national pride or savviness in making things popular and canonized. or the other many things it is supposed to be, including where all one got published and in which all libraries one’s book appears in that makes writing good? Is popularity a measure?

I return to my main point, poetry is not really all this but a linkage between the author, the text, what the references are, as in what the poem refers to, and the richer the references or allusiveness the better for the poem, or the readers who bring to it their own references, texts, and worlds and emotions and interpretations, thus enriching what is at the beginning, at best, just a bare outline and at worst not even that, and if this happens the poems becomes itself and comes into its own. At this point, I can widen the frame of reference and say this definition includes not just poetry but any form of written art or any kind of art. The modern world moves towards groups and if we look at museums the curator matters, if we look at anthologies the editors matter, if we look at communities interactive participation matters and individualism plays only a part in all this. This democratization or post-modern levelling where all matters and everything does, and no one matters and nothing does, is also not what I am talking of when I mean good or great poetry as it is only part of the process around it, framing it, according to me. The final proof of it is in the writing if the poet has been sincere enough to give it his or her best, and the reader too gives it his or her best and this becomes a groundswell that leads to hundreds and thousands and billions of people reading it in many places/spaces and over time, that is over hundreds of years, and writing of/about it, in the effort to keep it alive, and if it survives the ravages of time, space, readers, forgetfulness, discrimination, and chaos, then perhaps it is destined to be called great or good poetry.
Let me take a poem for consideration, to illustrate some of my points. I will not say who it is by, initially.

With Annie gone,
Whose eyes to compare
With the morning sun?

Not that I did compare,
But I do compare
Now that she’s gone.

This is a very simple poem. I am sure people who read it will like it though it is small. The first line talks of parting from a loved one and this might have been through a falling out or even death, it is not clear. The second line alludes to a typical poetic device or figure of speech, the simile, and bringing in ‘sun’ at the end of the third, a slant rhyme. There is implicit visual imagery too, there. Those familiar with Shakespeare may remember the line “My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun” at this juncture.

This is the reader, me, bringing in the Shakespearean sonnet-text, to make more sense of the quoted poem. Shakespeare compares, and comparing finds that while poets lie by exaggerating their muse’s beauty probably to please him/her/them, this does not mean that he loves his mistress less. The quoted poem in this frame is apposite, the lover did not compare, but now that the beloved is gone, does. There is regret, wistfulness, and guilt, as he realizes the value of the person gone, but it is too late to set it right. This is beautiful how with a few words, a bareness, an economy, the poet, who is Leonard Cohen, by the way, tells us how much he feels that he should have been more sensitive to the inner and external beauty and needs of someone he actually loved but lost due to his inability to “compare” and articulate what he found. What he regrets, unlike Shakespeare, is that his love was not genuine and poetic enough, while Shakespeare says false love couched in poetic terms (“false compare”) does not interest him, he would rather love genuinely and not use hyperbole but its antithesis, understatement, to describe his lover’s beauty. There is no doubt that both are good poems and good poets but let me now give Shakespeare’s poem.

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

We imagine Annie and her eyes and the comparison but here, in the second poem, we not only have a sonnet with meter, rhyme, and perfect stanzas and form, but beautiful imagery and more to imagine as comparison and contrast with inverted similes(“nothing like the sun”), and striking metaphors. We find a rare felicity in the words used that expands our vision and vocabulary. We find humour in the comparisons that make us laugh or at least bring a smile on our face and at the same time the ending brings in an exalted note of both the inner virtue of the woman and the sincere love of the poet.

For me, the first is a good poem, a lovely one, but the second is a great poem. If I was to judge solely on the basis of these two poems, the first poet would be what I call a good poet and the second a great poet but fortunately, I do not have to judge, as both exist in the wide realms of poetry, art, literature, writing as their own suns, lights, moons, candles or flames and have their own niches or mansions but while there may be some who say both poems are equally good and there is no need to “compare”, or that the first one is better being more minimal, etc., for me, the second one teaches more while I also enjoy the first one, and so I lean to that as winning the contest, self-made if this is a contest. Forgive me.

Readers will of course be of many sorts and if given two poems to read and compare with no names of writers attached they will come up with interesting subjective choices as to which they like and some will even say they dislike both or hate both or are indifferent to both or like the one you don’t or love it and vice versa. This is called reader response but even here, over time, objectivity is reached if the readers persist in reading and rereading and are honest with themselves and others as to their own reactions even as they also change.

We see poetry can be enjoyed at many levels but to come to decide for oneself whether it is good or great one has to give it, as readers, more than one takes from it, to reduce one’s biases and prejudices as well as the ones that others would thrust on us as to how to read it, who to read, why, when and where, and probably that is what I want to say in this essay apart from saying that poetry is a world as wide as the universe and so one must walk in it humbly to learn all that it has to give one.

Updated Bio of the Author: Dr. Koshy A.V. is a fiction writer, literary critic, essayist, non-fiction writer, editor, anthology maker, literary theoretician and poet. He has founded Autism for Help Village Project, with his wife, Anna Gabriel, The Significant League, with Reena Prasad, and instituted the Reuel International Prize for Literature besides inventing the Roseate Sonnet form. He is working presently for I-Nurture at Jain University, SET, Bangalore, India, teaching ESP. He has 25 books with his name on the cover. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and has certificates from Harvard X, World Bank, and other places, besides having two Amazon best-seller books to his credit with Santosh Bakaya and Jagari Mukherjee, named Vodka by the Volga and Wine-kissed Poems. He is famous for his A Treatise on Poetry for Beginners.

You can cage me but I shall still sing.

“You say you’ve seen seven wonders

and your bird is green

You can’t see me

You can’t see me” – Lennon/McCartney/The Beatles from the song “And your bird can sing.”

“Do you know why I still sing?”

The caged bird asked the free bird.

“No. Do you know why I sing?”

The free bird asked the caged bird

“I sing because I am free

I sing because it comes to me

Naturally, spontaneously”

She told the caged bird, flapping her wings

Just outside her cage, fluttering around freely.

“I sing remembering freedom”

The caged bird said in song, sad, and sweet

“I sing imagining freedom

Though I am caged, and alone, I am free

Now you know why, though my wings are clipped

I still sing, and sing free.”

I still sing as song can’t be caged

I still sing as song is free

I sing through to song, to create the free

Now I too know why the caged bird still sings.

You can cage me too, but I shall still sing.

All rights reserved by Dr. Koshy AV

To my daughters on Daughter’s Day

I may not get you the sun and moon

or everything your hearts desire

but if I could, I would

and you know that full well, my deer

I wish you the strength to be in the world

but not worldly

fleet-footed like deer

to escape from its snares

when and whereit’s needed

yet brave enough to take it on

full throttle

life’s challenges

and come through victorious

Whatever happens, remember

there is one person

after the One above

who thinks you are the best

whatever the rest think

and always will be

whatever the test

whatever grades or marks you get

who will always only see

you are both A plus

& a hundred upon hundred.

Son’s Day Poem

{“Do Not Be Anxious.” The apostle Luke recorded Jesus’ words : “Consider (meaning: give regard to, study well, learn from) the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Luke 12:27 ESV).

Today is Son’s Day so writing this poem for Ru (Reuel, which means friend of God)}

My son is a sunflower

Always turning to the Sun

A flower-tower

He gives his beauty to us


For no prize, price, or cost

A flower smells sweet, is soft to the touch

And beautiful to look at

Till it crosses its prime

And he too has all these traits

From bud to full bloom

Then the flower

Fades, wilts, its petals get dismantled

And it dies

And like the grass of the field that Jesus says

Is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire/furnace (gone)

Yet God cares for it too as it too is born, lives and dies like all his other creations

So will my son

A flower lives and dies without knowing why

So does my son

Who makes many happy

But does not know he does

Or even the reason for his existence

But he does not peddle drugs

And it is hardly likely he will kill or rape anyone

We keep him safe

As he is precious, a diamond

When others boast of their sons’ achievements

We boast of his (to each other in our small, tightly-knit family)

Being peaceful, calm, and happy through the day

If he is

It’s a great achievement

Or if he stays hale, hearty, and healthy

He is our bright, morning star

My son has stripped me of all needless junk and baggage

All garbage In life

To see

There is no need to ask why

Just live

And try to be happy

Each day of your life

Till you die

Like the birds of the air and the flowers of the earth

There is no need to count wins or losses

All that matters is love

Food, shelter, clothing

And cosseting

Of and by your loved ones

My son is the greatest teacher

Like flowers, green grass and birds are

And we call him the friend of God

As in his eyes, that just happen to be clear pools, we see divinity

Sometimes, not always

For hours and hours.

(This poem is dedicated to all on the autism spectrum.)

An Elegy for a Fellow Poet I Never Knew

Dear poet,
You were on my friend’s list
I think
I was on yours
I still haven’t checked
I never spoke to you
You never spoke to me
I forget who sent whom the friend request
Probably me
It is the kind of thing I would do
And then let go
I never read any of your poems
I doubt you read any of mine
I used to see your name on certificates
You gave out
To seemingly everyone
Except me, of course
Which did not matter to me
As I don’t crave for them
I was always withdrawn
It’s okay. I too gave you none
Now that you, I hear, are dead
And I read all these encomiums
About you
I wonder if I should have
Tried talking to you
But what about?
I seldom have anything to say
It does not matter much
A poet is a poet
Read or unread
Talked to or not
And when every poet dies
It presages my death
I expect no one to read
My verses after I am gone
Or anyone to write
Poems mourning me
I am ‘another sort’
What links us then?
Only one thing does
We both, it seems, resort/ed
To words to pen our thoughts
On this thin thread’s bridge
Like a candle in the dark
I write my elegy
A kind of a dry sob
But still from the heart.

I Never Look Back

The waves are black
The night flies
Far away
From the city lights.

Wait for me.
The crash of waves
Is in my ears.

The sand is dark
Beneath my feet.
This was the day
I took my life.

This is my ghost
Wandering the beach.

Those shells were once
Perhaps, my eyes.
The stars were once,
Perhaps, your lies.

Black is the sky.
Those dots of light
Litter them
Without a plan

Like your love for me
That too had none.

Wet is my cheek.
I never look back
To glimpse you

Over my shoulder,

Lonesome, waiting
On that inky boulder.

You are real.
I am a shade.
No longer worlds
Together. Twain.

Gowli Shasthram (Lizard Science)

The Lizard Science of Prediction – a short story based on TSL’s Pandorathon prompt given by Santosh Bakaya May 30th.

A light romp of a story in Indian English.

Part 1

In the Puranas we were considered to be something big. There had once been a time when we ruled the earth as dinosaurs, as you all know, but we had dwindled away to being amongst the smallest creatures on earth more or less, lucky that even a few of us had survived. We were decimated by a meteor. We were given obnoxious names like Freddy in places like the UK but in my house, the humans just called me Gowli. I always had a view from the top as I lived on the ceiling and they lived down there, as the inferior beings they were. They said it belonged to them and I would go “tmirk tmrik tmirk” and the foolish things would think I was seconding them, and go “sathyam, sathyam, sathyam” (truth, truth, truth), when I was actually laughing at them.

There were only two occupants there – a Lizzie (yes, laugh) and her husband whose name was Peter or John or some such equally funny name. Lizzie was horribly attractive, I was probably her lover in her past life or mine; but the problem was in this one she was terribly afraid of lizards. Here was I madly in love with her and peeking down her blouse every chance I got, from above, and there was she going Eek and Screech, and making other ungainly sounds, and doing strange calisthenics with her body every time she saw me, especially in the bathroom, which only made her more attractive to me.

They had a whole lot of beliefs about us which was helpful to me. They believed if I fell on her right cheek she would be widowed. So I did that one day. Apart from almost getting me killed, by A Hefty Swipe from her to free herself of me, that threw me twelve feet across the room to the floor with a thud leaving me immobilized for an hour, nothing happened to her Peter, or John. The karmic-bond husband was the one who would get killed, probably. And that was, probably: Poor Me!

Now, fortunately, due to some ill-luck in his office, Peter, wanting an upswing in FORTUNES, turned to gowli shasthram (the lizard science of prediction). Since they considered me a necessary nuisance in their dwelling, they now turned to me for ways to make it good.

“സ്ത്രീയുടെ ശിരസ്സില്‍ ഗൗളി പതിക്കുന്നത് ഐശ്വര്യമാണ്…. “
(If a lizard touches a woman’s body it is auspicious.)

“സ്ത്രീയുടെ വലത് ചെവിയിൽ സ്പർശിച്ചാൽ ദീർഘായുസ്സും ഫലം. ഇടതുചെവിയിൽ സ്വർണ്ണലാഭം, ധനലാഭം,…”
(If it touches her right ear long life for her follows and if the left ear gold profit, wealth profit…)

“രണ്ടു തോളിലും വീണാൽ ഭർത്തൃസുഖം, സുഖാനുഭവങ്ങൾ, …”
(If it falls on both shoulders pleasure from/for husband and other pleasures follow.)

“കൈയുടെ പുറത്ത് വിരലിൽ വീഴുന്നത് ആഭരണലാഭത്തെ സൂചിപ്പിക്കുന്നു.”
(If it falls on the finger it will bring ornaments.)

“കാൽവിരലിൽ ഗൗളി സ്പര്‍ശമുണ്ടായാൽ സന്താനലാഭവും ധനലാഭവും…”
(If it touches the toe of any foot you will get security for your wealth and/or your children’s.)

Excited by reading all this Peter, or John, decided the only way to become well off in life, and lucky, was to make Lizzie and I become fast friends. The only problem was that while I was eager to touch her on all parts of her body, being a white lizard with spots, the kind they considered a Brahmin lizard (!!!!!!!), such fools these mortals be, Lizzie was mortally afraid of me. There was also a matter of the right day, and time, in gowli shastram. It is all fucking complicated and crazy, let me tell you!

Peter got more and more lost in studying these matters and praying to all the gods that I would fall all over Lizzie in all the right places. He was slowly going mad, seeing me run overhead, seeing her move around underneath, and seeing no congress happening immediately, or over several days, to change his luck. Never saw a husband before so eager for infidelity.

Finally, in desperation, he got some sleeping powder and mixed it in her drink. Nowhere was it said that the lizard was meant to fall on her head voluntarily, though it was understood. His plan was to catch me while she slept and make me touch her wherever he wanted.

He called her to the dining table one night and said, “Lizzie, drink this orange juice I made just for you.”
“You? Made Orange Juice? For Me?!!!!!” Lizzie was flabbergasted.
“Tmirk Tmrik Tmirk”, I went, overhead.
“He’s just jealous”, she told Peter, offhand, with no rhyme and reason. Peter looked bemused
“You shut up, you Gowli”, said Lizzie, looking up.
She simpered at Peter and said, “Thanks, darling”. How obnoxious!
Five minutes later she was out cold. He put her on their bed and came looking for me.
Then Peter climbed up on chairs and tables trying to catch me. I gave him a merry chase. A run for his money. Just for the heck of it.

All night long.

Part II

Lizzie woke up with a sudden start. Why was Peter shouting in the morning? She had a headache and could not fathom why but she went to look in the dining room.

“How dare you !!!!” His words rolled out spasmodically, eyes riveted on a tailless lizard hanging from the ceiling. Gowli’s tail was in his hand, and Peter was at his wit’s end. Gowli looked at her, and Lizzie could have sworn it tmirked timrked at her, and winked.

References to Gowli Shasthram taken from here:

The Quantum of Malice

The Quantum of Malice

Malice was not Alice. She was her evil twin. Malevolent Land was not Wonderland. It was its opposite. Malice loved watching Maleficent. The Disney movie. Malice was basically a bundle of Energy but of the wrong kind, negative, destructive etc.
We know that there is only one way to defeat Malice, Energy gone sour. That is by wrapping it up in Matter and dispersing it through the universe so it no longer has any power, being broken up into a million, discrete particles that can never be assembled together again. The three wizards, Sane Matter, Gray Matter, and Had Matter thus had a wizard’s cohort to decide how to put paid to the budding threat that was Malice and her Malevolent Land where fishes walked on land, birds swam, amphibians flew and animals talked. Everything there was ulta pulta, but with dark energy pulsing through it, or else it would have been fascinating like Wonderland.
Sane Matter said – let me wrap her in my embrace.
Gray Matter said – don’t forget to dissolve her land into the ether.
Had Matter, the most powerful of the three, who had once been Matter but was now anti-matter, said – I can put the finishing touch to the ‘matter’ at hand, but I will then be turned into Mad Hatter.
They destroyed Malice in Malevolent Land but Had Matter became Mad Hatter in the process and now only two wizards are left to guard the earth with Matter, using E=Mc2, from Energy if it runs amok again.

And thus was it put paid to, for the time being, the Tao of Malice.

A Story from Aithihyamala translated from Malayalam by Dr. Koshy AV

May 23rd prompt TSL’s Pandorathon: Exorcist/Exorcism – given by Santosh Bakaya

“There is a very ancient church located in Kadamattom near Kolenchery, Moovattupuzha, The church was made famous through the stories on Kadamattathu Kathanar, a priest who was believed to have possessed supernatural powers and was an exorcist. The church is well maintained and very picturesque. You can also see the well associated with the Kathanar stories.” The stories appear in Ithihyamala – which means necklace or garland of stories that are local legends.

This exorcism story is a free translation from Malayalam done by me, a humble attempt.

Once Kadamattathu Kathanar (the priest) and Shemashan (apprentice priest) were about to go the church for the evening service. Then the kapiyar ( priest’s helper, bell ringer etc.,) came running and told them: “the church is full of demons, Father (acho). They are each as tall as coconut trees and broad as the size of several plantain trees tied together and have evil scowling faces as black as thunder. I can’t go in or ring the bell. What will we do?”

“Don’t be afraid, son,” said the Shemashan. “Let us go there anyway and see what we can do.”

When they went they understood that the kapiyar was not lying or hallucinating, the church actually was full of these huge giant-like demons who looked like legendary tribals from the jungles but clearly were something more as they had supernatural powers. They were there to stop the worship of God.

The Shemashan went on calmly, unafraid, while Kathanar and Kapiyar stood rooted to the spot.

“Will you go in peace, leave here and return to where you came from or will you resist?” asked the Shemashan.

“We resist you,” said the leader of the demons.

In front of the fascinated eyes of the Kathanar and kapiyar Shemashan did a magic trick, a vidya, and all the demons fell down as if dead on the floor,

Then the kapiyar went in and rang the bell.

That evening the service was not only full of people but the church overflowed as they came in huge numbers to see the demons lying there unable to move, looking like giants, as well as the Shemashan who had conquered them.

After the service, the Kathanar asked, “what shall we do with these bodies? Are they dead or alive? If they remain here they will trouble us. But how to remove them from here?”

Shemashan replied, “they are not dead, only put in a trance to keep them from doing any harm, if you want I can kill them or wake them up.”

Kathanar said, “no, don’t kill them, they must be made to return to where they come from and promise us not to come here to trouble us again. That is all.”

Shemashan woke the demons up from the deep slumber they had fallen into and asked them ” do you want peace or more imprisonment from me? Will you go back where you came from peacefully and never come back to trouble us again or resist?”

“Ayyo, we will not resist,” the leader said. We will go back and never return.” Then they fled back to where they came from never to return to that place.

“You are a mighty exorcist, sorcerer, and magician,” Kathanar told Shemashan.

“No, no, ” said Shemashan, “it is all God’s grace, power, might, and glory. Which man can do anything by himself or in his own strength? It is all done by God in and through me. Give God the glory.”

“Yes, true, to God be the glory, great things he has done today in our presence,” said Kathanar and the kapiyar in the same breath.

“Amen,” said Poulose, the Shemashan.

Aithihyamala or Ithihyamala (Malayalam: ഐതിഹ്യമാല) (Garland of Legends) is a collection of century-old stories from Kerala that cover a vast spectrum of life, famous persons and events. It is a collection of legends numbering over a hundred, about magicians and yakshis, feudal rulers and conceited poets, kalari or Kalaripayattu experts, practitioners of Ayurveda and courtiers; elephants and their mahouts, tantric experts.

Kottarathil Sankunni (23 March 1855 – 22 July 1937), a Sanskrit-Malayalam scholar who was born in Kottayam in present-day Kerala, started documenting these stories in 1909. They were published in the Malayalam literary magazine, the Bhashaposhini, and were collected in eight volumes and published in the early 20th century.

It includes popular tales such as about the twelve children of Vararuchi and Parayi (a woman of Paraiyar caste), Kayamkulam KochunniKadamattathu Kathanar among many others. The story of 12 children is popularly known as Parayi petta panthirukulam.” (Wikipedia)

The church shown below is the famous St. George church in Kadammattom, Kerala, where these miracles took place. It is still there.

The inside of the church

The Acts of the Apostle St. Thomas in South India

Historical fiction. May 15 TSL Pandorathon Prompt given by Nikhat Mahmood

The Acts of the Apostle St. Thomas.

Around 2000 years back roughly, a man had been washed ashore on a beach in India, after a shipwreck. In Tamil Nadu, to be exact. Or he came there on a ship or in a boat or swimming. His arrival is known but not the exact method. What is important to note is that he came alone. His name was Thomas and he was a carpenter. His second name was Didymus and it meant “twin,” but it was not immediately clear who he was the twin of.

In the morning seven Brahmins came there to worship the sun, do surya namaskar as it was their usual ritual or wont or habit. That they are seven in number may be symbolic. The man came up to them and asked them, surprisingly making himself understood, having the gift of tongues, who they were worshipping.

“The sun,” one replied, “isn’t it obvious?”
He said, “Don’t worship the sun, but the One who made the sun.”
They laughed.
“Show him to us and we shall,” one said.
“No man has seen him at any time, but I have come to show you his power and declare him unto you,” he said. “Take these drops of water from the ocean and throw them up, and you will see they naturally fall down. But if I throw them up, as I pray to the God of the Universe and actually know him, they will stay up.”
“Show us, then,” another said, still laughing, but also astounded, at his claim.
He said, “you pray and throw up the water first.”
They did it and it fell down, the power that had once dwelt in them of knowing the true God has long since departed into mere ritualistic actions and story, though they still were priests and enjoyed all the privileges. Their prayers had no effect.

Then this man, who had long brown hair and a thick beard and a thick mustache and was dressed in a simple brown robe took water in his hands and threw it up to the sun praying:

“Lord, I ask you to hear my humble prayer to prove to these my brothers that they should worship you and not the works of your hands, and make these drops of water stay up in the air. Do this simple miracle for me, you for whom all things are possible. In Yeshua’s name, I pray.”

Who is this Yeshua?, they wondered.

The drops of water remained in the air, glittering and sending out rainbows as they caught the sun.

The astounded men gathered around him and said: “we will follow you, teach us how to be connected once again to God whom we no longer know, but you still do.”

Seven families were converted that day by St. Thomas the Apostle, who had wandered all the way to India to preach the gospel. The others turned against them and they had to leave their home, but on going away cursed it for persecuting them and even today it is called Chavakad (Shapakad) .

Thomas wrote a gospel.

Thomas became the friend of a king ruling in south India then called Gondoriferus who saw his honesty and gave him a huge treasure as he was a carpenter to make a huge palace for the king like the ones in the land he had come from. Thomas went around giving away all the money to the poor, healing the sick etc., and the angry king coming to hear of it ordered that he be brought to him and told him that he would be killed for his treachery of using the money in the king’s treasury for something other than what he was asked to do.

Thomas laughed, it is said, and told the king: “But I have indeed made a palace for you with your money.”

The king asked, still angry: “How?”

“You foolish king,” Thomas said, ” your palace is now in the hearts of your people who love you as I have made them love you through these good deeds done to them in your name.”

Then he, it is also said, tore open the sky to show Gondoriferus heaven, and there the king saw a magnificent palace made and kept for him for eternity with his name written on it.

As Thomas grew in power, name, and fame, the people grew jealous as the new faith was increasing in Kerala and Tamil Nadu with more believers and Thomas gained two disciples who were with him all the time.

A king, perhaps the same foolish one, angry with him for all this, and other things, like the report that Thomas had attacked a temple to show idolatry was not the way to God, like Buddha too used to preach, decided to kill him.

Knowing that he prayed in a cave he sent soldiers there, but Thomas came out and said: “don’t you know that you cannot kill me, unless God permits you.”

Twice the soldiers fell to the ground before him, as he was shielded by the power of prayer. Then he said, “now you can kill me, now that you have understood God’s power. But let my two disciples go free.”

They killed him, then. Like all the other apostles, after being conformed to the exact image of Yeshua his master, he too became a martyr for the faith. He, Thomas Judas Didymus, had indeed become the twin of none other than his master Jesus/Yeshua and would not, henceforth, anymore, be known only as the doubter of Yeshua but as God’s appointed apostle to India. Though separated from all of Jesus’ other disciples and friends and isolated, he too had fought the good fight, run the race, and won the crown.

His martyrdom is commemorated in St. Thomas Mount in Chennai. Many pilgrims flock there in memory of the man who came alone to India or was sent here from Israel by God and Jesus to spread the faith of his master and it is said that prayers there are still answered miraculously.

The gospel of Thomas is different from the other gospels as it is made up of 114 sayings of Jesus and not of his life. Written away from the mainstream it also seems to take into account the philosophy of the place he had come to, to make it clearer to them. Thomas’s followers were unable to get rid of casteism. Many centuries later when the Bible came, the British were surprised to find a form of Christianity already in India stretching back 2000 years as well as having meanwhile already made connections to the churches in Antioch and Syria, and having adopted much of their customs and liturgy.

Here are examples from the gospel of St. Thomas: “(1) His disciples said to him: “The kingdom — on what day will it come?”
(2) “It will not come by watching (and waiting for) it.
(3) They will not say: ‘Look, here!’ or ‘Look, there!’
(4) Rather, the kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.”

(66) Jesus says:

“Show me the stone that the builders have rejected. It is the cornerstone.”
(67) Jesus says:

“Whoever knows all, if he is lacking one thing, he is (already) lacking everything.”
(68) Jesus says:

(1) “Blessed are you when(ever) they hate you (and) persecute you.
(2) But they (themselves) will find no place there where they have persecuted you.”
(69) Jesus says:

(1) “Blessed are those who have been persecuted in their heart.
They are the ones who have truly come to know the Father.”

(70)(1) “If you bring it into being within you, (then) that which you have will save you.
(2) If you do not have it within you, (then) that which you do not have within you [will] kill you.”

Note: The early Christians may have been from Kerala or Tamil Nadu but Malayalis claim they were the seven and Chavakad is presently in Trishur in Kerala, though the place of Thomas’s martyrdom is, as I have stated, in Tamil Nadu. What is historically relevant and indisputable is that St. Thomas did indeed come to South India and Brahmins were converted first and he was martyred in the South.