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Classic travel writing
Christianity came to India much before it went to the West. There are eight main religions practiced in India. While four of these are indigenous to the land, four of these came from the West. The religions that came from the West, were, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam while the homegrown include Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Interestingly, Judaism came to and flourished in Kerala, following the escape of the Jews to India after the conquest of Judea in 586 B.C., while Christianity arrived in India with Apostle Thomas in 52 A.D. Be that as it may, many Keralites became Christians even before St. Peter reached Rome. Thus it will be seen that Kerala Christians have longer history than that of Christians of many of the European countries.
In India, the spread of Christianity has been in three distinct phases. These three phases can be broadly classified as Apostolic, (since St. Thomas the Apostle brought this into India); Portuguese and the Colonial phases. The Syrian Malabar Nasranis are perhaps the first Christians in India and include the Jews of the Jewish diaspora, of the pre-Christian era, that was resident in Kerala. The community, comprise several ancient Aramaic Christian settlements in Kerala. These also accounted for Nestorians who were fleeing their native land due to persecution.
On arrival of St. Thomas in the Malabar Coast, he established seven and half churches at Kodungallur, Palayur or Parur, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Nilakal or Chayal and Port Kollam. These new converts were called St. Thomas Christians and are also known by the name of ?Syrian Malabar Nasrani.? The half church refers to the chapel where the Apostle himself prayed and is not there on ground now. The Apostle, who attained martyrdom in 72 A.D., at Little Mount at Mylapore near Chennai was buried by his followers in the tombs of the Chiefs at Mylapore where the San Thome Cathedral Basilica in Chennai stands today.
With the arrival of the Portuguese in 1498, large scale proseytisation of the population in the coastal regions took place. Their invocation of ?Padroado,? introduced Latinisation of the Church in India and this brought about a confrontation with the Kerala Christians. Whereas Missionaries became active in India during the seventeenth century the charter of the British East India Company did not welcome them and in fact deported such people until removal of the ?Missionary Clause? from the charter in 1813 by the British Parliament. With this, missionaries spread Christianity to many parts and Christians took their rightful place in the pluralistic society of India.
About the Author
Major General Shubhi Sood was born and brought up in Simla. On completion of his schooling from there, he joined the "National Defence Academy" at Kharakwasla near Poona. Commissioned into the 4th Battalion of The 8th Gorkha Rifles, he saw action with the battalion in 'Jhangar' in the 'Rajouri Sector' of J&K and later in Manipur and Nagaland. In September 1968 he was posted as Aide de Camp (ADC) to Lt. Gen. Sam Manekshaw then GOC-in-C Eastern Command at Calcutta. On his promotion as Chief of Army Staff, Sam took Shubhi along with him as one of his Aides in Delhi.
Just before the 1971 war, Captain Sood was promoted to the rank of Major and appointed Deputy Military Assistant to the Chief of Army Staff. In addition to his duties as Dy MA, he was also carrying out the duties of ADC since the second ADC had reverted to his unit on their mobilization from Delhi. It was thus that the author had a ringside view of the "War of 1971."
He left to attend the Staff College Course at Camberley in the UK in the end of September 1972.
Having done the job of 'Brigade Major' in Mizoram and Assam, he commanded the 1st Battalion of the 8th Gorkha Rifles, the 'Mechanized Battalion' of the Gorkhas. Having attended important courses like the 'Higher Command' and 'National Defence College Course' where he was also an instructor, he went on to command the 26 Infantry Division in Jammu and Kashmir. On 31st March 1998, he took retirement from the Army when he was Chief of Staff at 12 Corps.
On retirement, Gen. Sood worked as 'Chief Executive Officer' for "AVIS Rent a Car" in India, from where he retired in 2003. Post retirement he has been busy writing books. Another book published in December 2004 is titled 'Younghusband, Troubled Campaign' about the "Tibet Mission" led by Colonel, Sir FE Younghusband into Lhasa in 1904, in which the battalion that he commanded participated and won a 'Victoria Cross' in addition to six 'IOM' (Indian Order of Merit).
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