The only extant monuments of' early Christian settlements in southern India are the so-called Nasrani crosses. These beautifully hand cut stone crosses are the treasure of ancient churches in India. These Crosses are found mainly in Southern Indian State of Kerala. These, of which Eight are known, are really solid stone slabs, on which a cross is cut, the central panel, which contains the Figure of the cross with its symbolical ornaments, being enclosed by an arch, the surface of which is intagliated with an inscription in the Pahlavi character of Sassanian Persia (Book Pahlavi). The most famous of these crosses is the one that was discovered on St Thomas's Mount, Madras, in the sixteenth century by Portuguese Jesuits. They are also found in state of Goa and Tamil Nadu. These stone crosses are broadly classified as Nasrani Cross(മാര്ത്തോമ നസ്രാണി സ്ലീവ ) and Open air rock cross.The Nasrani Crosses are smaller in size and are found inside the Kerala churches at Kadamattom, Muttuchira, Kothanalloor, Kottayam and Alengad. Outside Kerala, they are at St. Thomas Mount, Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu, Pilar Seminary Museum, Goa, Anuradhapura [ 2 nos ] in Sri Lanka. The large crosses are found at the frontage of many churches in Kerala. There are also other flowery ancient Stone Crosses found in Kerala Churches. Kerala has many churches of antiquity. It is recorded that before the arrival of Portuguese there were more than 150 ancient churches in Kerala.
The Stone crosses are at the following locations.
†St. Thomas Mount, Tamil Nadu: The Cross is at Our Lady of Expectations Church under the Latin Catholic diocese of Chingelpet (Madras-Mylapore). This Cross is considered as the oldest cross in India.
†Kadamattam, Kerala. This Cross is at Kadamattom Church of the Malankara Orthodox Church.
†Muttuchira, Kerala. This Cross is at Holy Ghost Church under the diocese of Palai of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.Kottayam, Kerala.
†Kottayam Valiapally (St.Mary's Southist Jacobite Church). One cross is considered of late origin ( Ca 10th century).
†Kothanalloor, Kerala. This Cross is at Kanthishangal Church under the diocese of Palai of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.
†Alangad, Kerala. This Cross is at St. Mary's Church under the diocese of Ernakulam- Angamaly of the Syro Malabar Church.
†Agasaim, Goa. The Cross is now kept at Pilar Seminary Museum. This Cross is dated of 6th Century.
†Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The cross is kept at Anuradhapura museum. It was found during excavations in 1912 Anuradhapura [ 2 nos ]. This Cross is considered as the oldest Cross.
Other flowery Stone Crosses.
The Saint Thomas Kottakkavu Church at North Paravur under the diocese of Ernakulam-Ankamaly of the Syro Malabar Church and the St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Church, Niranam under the Niranam diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church has ancient flowery Persian Cross.
†Discovery of Mylapor Cross
|Mylapor Cross and Old Santhome Church|
The Cross of Mylapore merits respect in as much as it is the most ancient Christian emblem as yet discovered in India and has been the object of veneration by generations of Indian Christians. It was, therefore, very appropriate on the part of the inter-confessional Church History Association of India to have the Cross of Mylapore adorn the volumes of its prestigious series History of Christianity in India. The Cross of Mylapore clearly manifests signs of distinctiveness from the eighth century Nestorian Cross" on the Hsian-fu stone-monument in China, discovered in 1625.In 1547 the Portuguese were engaged in digging the foundations for an oratory on the alleged site of the martyrdom of St Thomas, when they found unexpectedly an ancient granite cross. This cross, of unusual type, was incised beneath an arch, around which was an inscription in unknown letters and an unknown tongue. Since then, four other similar crosses have been found in various places in Travancoor. The general view of archaeologists is that the 1541 cross, commonly called the Thomas cross, is the original and that the others are copies, or copies of copies.
To the best of my knowledge, here we seem to have before us the very first art piece combining cross and Holy Spirit, as we do not know of any such combination in olden times and certainly not at all in the field of early western art. Hence we may conclude that it was in India that such a combination had been thought of which makes a fine theological sense-Arno Lehmann A brief history of Indian Christian art
|Dome of Basilica of St.John Lateran,Rome|
Ignorance? The sarcophagus of Archbishop Theodore, Ravenna(AD 658)
The sarcophagus of Galla Placidia(AD 450)
The sarcophagus of Galla Placidia(AD 450)
|Tomb of Archbishop Theodore, Ravenna,Italy(658AD)|
|Galla Placidia Cross-450AD|
sarcophagus of Aelia Galla Placidia (392 – 450), daughter of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I.Placidia was a fervent Chalcedonian Catholic Christian. She was involved in the building and restoration of various churches throughout her period of influence. She restored and expanded the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. She built San Giovanni Evangelista, Ravenna in thanks for the sparing of her life and those of her children in a storm while crossing the Adriatic Sea. The dedicatory inscription reads "Galla Placidia, along with her son Placidus Valentinian Augustus and her daughter Justa Grata Honoria Augusta, paid off their vow for their liberation from the danger of the sea."
Since the Portuguese and others supposed that this cross was already in existence in the days of the apostle and had perhaps looked down upon his martyrdom, it was from the beginning treated with the greatest reverence; before long miraculous properties were ascribed to it and various miracles were recorded.The curiosity of the Portuguese was aroused by the mysterious inscription, but there was no one who could interpret. Eventually a Daniel was found in the person of a learned Kanarese Brahman, who undertook to read the writing, and interpreted it no doubt to his own satisfaction and to that of the waiting Portuguese. This interpretation was distinguished among other interpretations by the fact that it made no contact at any point whatever with the language or the meaning of the original which it professed to expound. Since, however, the rendering proved to be highly edifying, it was readily accepted by the Portuguese and widely distributed. It became sufficiently well-known to he included by Cardinal Baronius in his Annales
The inscription on the older tablet at Kottayam and on the one at the Mount is longer than that of the altar tablet at the former place, the first part being omitted in the Last. The inscription on the two former is divided into two parts by a small cross on the right of the arch. The first part is then to be read downwards, and the second over the arch to the left.According to Dr. West it is not so easy to suggest any really satisfactory reading of the whole inscription, as only the three words denman, madam and bokht are indisputable (Academy, 24rh January 1874, p. 97).
†Classification of Stone crosses.
|Mylapor Cross--Kottayam Cross--Goan Cross--Kadamattom Cross|
†Interpretation of the inscriptions
(I)Interpretation by Dr. Burnell(1873).
Dr. Burnell, archeologist with the government of India, in 1873, was the first one tried to translate this mysterious inscription he positively identified the inscription as Book Pahlavi translated the inscriptions as follows:
"In punishment by the cross (was) the suffering of this one; He who is the true christ, and God above and Guide ever pure."
On the large cross at Kottayam, there is this additional sentence in Estrangelo syriac (Galatians 6:14)
” Let me not glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” ( Syriac translation )
Dr. Burnett's interest in the discovery of the Pahlavi inscriptions was from the point of view of supporting Prof. Weber, who had, in his essay on the Ramayana “suspected Greek influences in the composition of that poem" (op. cit. p. 237). He said:" It will now, in consequence of this discovery, be possible to prove that much in the modern philosophical schools of India comes from some form of Christianity derived from Persia ; and this fact at once explains also the origin of the modern Vedanta sects in Southern India exclusively." Dr.Burnell added: " The number of these tablets proves that there must have been [Chrifitian] communities in several places, and those large enough to have Churches, both on the S. W. and S. E. coasts of India." The early Christian settlers from Persia were taken to be Manicheens,and Dr Burnell thought, that Manigramam, the name of the settlement of the Persian Christians, came from Mani, the founder of Manichaeism. Shankaracharya(Aadi Shankara), Ramanuja and Madhavacarya who founded the modern schools of Vedanta, were all supposed to have come under the influence of Christian settlers whose settlements were not far from the towns of these founders.
Further manipulation in Burnnels translation by Kerala Masala His-Storians
"In punishment by the cross (was) the suffering of this one; He who is the true God(Instead of Christ), and God above and Guide ever pure."
Claim- The most acceptable translation by Burnell indicates that the trinity (ie He who is the true God, and God above) suffered on the cross.
“In punishment by the cross (was) the suffering of this one; He who is the true christ, and God above and Guide ever pure."-Dr Burnnel 1873
Regarding the acceptability of Burnnels transilation please read the next portion of this article “Controversial Hypothesis by Dr. Burnell – Manichean(Gnostic) origin & Vedanatha Hinduism from this Manichean(Gnostic) Sect in south India.”. The simple interpretation of the above translation(by Burnnel) is that the one suffered on cross is true Christ (Human nature) and God above (The divine nature). Our Masaala church historians Removed Christ Lfrom Burnnel’s translation and put God instead to prove their vested interests.
“In punishment by the cross (was) the suffering of this one; He who is the true Messiah, and God above, and Holy Ghost.”
Claim-Translation by Burnell indicates that the trinity suffered on the cross which is a heresy similar to Sabellianism or Patrippasianism.Is that true? Did Dr Burnnel translated anything like this?
“In punishment by the cross (was) the suffering of this one; He who is the true christ, and God above and Guide ever pure."-Dr Burnnel 1873
“He who believes in the Messiah, and in God on high, and also in the Holy Ghost, is in the grace of Him who bore the pain of the Cross" M. Haug, 1874
On the appearance of Dr. Burnels Transilation, Dr. Martin Haug, attempted a reading and translation in the Beilage zurallgemeinen Zeitung (No.29) of 29th January 1874. Haug's reading and rendering are given by Burnell in the reprint of his pamphlet in the Indian Antiquary for November 1874.Our Masaala church historians combined the translations of both Burnel and Haug and produced a BRAND NEW TRANSLATION L
“In punishment by the cross (was) the suffering of this one; He who is(From Burnel) + Messiah, and in God on high, and also in the Holy Ghost(From Haug ).
Claim -Dr Burnnel proposed the Gnostic origin because of the nature of the Pahlavi inscriptions.
Read from Burnnels own book Page 11,12
What Dr Burnnel stated in his book is that there is nothing in his translation to give a least clue to identify the Christian sect which originally had it set up. He suspects a Gnostic origin because of the representation of the cross ie design. Now below we have five Christian cross samples dating from 450 AD. In all these crosses you can see representations like Doves, flowery bottom, round edges etc. Interestingly unlike south India in both these places (Armenian & Rome) we have confirmed Gnostic /Manichean presence in the past. Now compare and decide which one is Gnostic? , which one is Christian? Even after reading all these and comparing the early Christian crosses if you still feel that the third one is Gnostic then you are definitely a Hypocrite.
|Armenian Cross--Italian cross(AD658)--Nasrani Cross(AD 700-900)--Armenian Cross--Roman Cross(AD 450)|
Controversial Hypothesis by Dr. Burnell – Manichean(Gnostic) origin & Vedanata Hinduism from this Manichean(Gnostic) Sect in south India.
Dr. Burnell was the first one to propose the hypothesis of Gnostic origin of this cross and Thomas Christians. In order to understand why burnnel need to connect this cross with Gnostics we need to study his arguments especially one like“Vedanata Hinduism from Persian gnostic Sect in south India.
It is true that the greatest reformers of south india were born near Persian settlements.[Hindu reformers like Adi Shankara (Advaita vedānta Near Kodungaloor), Śrī Ramanuja(leading expounder of Viśiṣṭādvaita, one of the classical interpretations of the dominant Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy-Near Madras), Basava(Guru Basaveshwara (1134–1196) A philosopher, Statesman and a social reformer from present-day Karnataka, India(Kalliana). He was the founder of Lingayatism), Thiruvalluvar(was a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher whose contribution to Tamil literature is the Thirukkural-Near Mylapoor) ]
But what Burnnel suggesting is that these reforms or modern south Indian Hinduism influenced or even originated from some Persian Gnostic Sect in south India. Or Simply VEDANTA HINDUISM ORIGINATED FROM PERSIANS?(From the point of view of supporting Prof. Weber, who suspected Greek influences in the great Indian Epic Ramayana).
Now it’s clear that Dr Burnell translated this inscription with a biased mind to support Webber. This is not a blind accusation read the opinion of other scholars about Burnnel and his translation.
Dr. Burnett's interest in the discovery of the Pahlavi inscriptions was from the point of view of supporting Prof. Weber, who had, in his essay on the Ramayana “suspected Greek influences in the composition of that poem" (op. cit. p. 237). He said:" It will now, in consequence of this discovery, be possible to prove that much in the modern philosophical schools of India comes from some form of Christianity derived from Persia ; and this fact at once explains also the origin of the modern Vedanta sects in Southern India exclusively-- JIVANJI JAMSHEDJI MODI, President, Asiatic Society 1924.
If you are not yet convinced
If you are not yet convinced
|On some Pahlavī inscriptions in South India by Arthur Coke Burnell|
But Burnnel knows In order to support his hypothesis he need prove 1) Presence of Gnostics or Manicheans in south India. 2)Their number ie large enough to influence the Hindu community.As far as we know there is no Reliable Documentary or archeological evidence available to prove the presence of Gnostics or Manicheans in south India.So Burnnel simply turned towards the ancient Christian community of south India (St Thomas Christians) and their most ancient Christian emblem the Nasrani Cross. According to him, the early Persian settlers in India were Persians probably Manicheans or Gnostics(Quoting Cosmas Indicopleustes). The transition from Manichaeism or Gnosticism to Nestorianism took place in the eleventh or twelfth century AD. The change-over from Pahlavi to Syriac epitomizes this shift.
|Around 540 AD Cosmos Indicopleustes attested the presence of Christian churches|
in Calliana,Male and Taprorane but he couldn't visit the eastern coast of India.
“Even in the Island of TAPRORANE(Lanka) in Further India. where the Indian sea is, there is a church of Persian Christians who have settled there, and a Presbyter who is appointed from Persia, and a Deacon and a complete ecclesiastical ritual. But the natives and their kings are heathens. [Top. Chr.11.14]..And such also is the case in the land called Male(Malabar)…where the pepper grows and in the place called Calliana' there is a bishop appointed from Persia…as well as in the island which they call the Isle of Dioscoris(Socotra) in the same Indian Sea.
Did cosmos say he found just Persian settlers? No he said he found a Christian church, with Deacon and a complete ecclesiastical ritual, Presbyter and a bishop appointed from Persia.Again for the sake of argument one can argue that cosmos Misunderstood Some Gnostic sects with Christianity but it’s highly unlikely that a learned Christian monk like Cosmos who himself was an adherent of Nestorianism and native of a Monophysist Bastion Alexandria didn't know the difference between Gnostism and Christianity.
Read More About
Now about the second point The change-over from Pahlavi to Syriac (1200AD) as claimed by burnnel. The actual shift from Pahlavi or Persian to Syriac took place around 9th century and not 12th century as claimed by Burnnel.
It was probably about the 9th century that the Syrian Estrangelo alphabet was carried by Nestorian missionaries to India, where it is still used by the so-called "Christians of St. Thomas," on the Malabar coast. Nine additional characters have been borrowed from the Malayalim, a local Indian alphabet, in order to express certain peculiar Dravidian sounds. The original twenty-two Syriac letters have however remained almost absolutely true to the Nestorian forms of the 9th century[We possess Nestorian MSS. dated in the years 600 and 768 A.D., but the forms vary little from the Estrangelo of the 6th century. The distinctive Nestorian peculiarities make their earliest appearance in a MS. written at Haran in 899 A.D. ]. This curious composite alphabet is called KARSHUNI, a term whose meaning is unknown, though it is probably of Syrian origin, being also applied by the Maronites to the Syriac characters in which Arabic is sometimes written. 
Read More about
(1)The Origin ofSyro-Chaldean Karshuni(Suriyaani Malayalam).
But above change-over from Pahlavi to Syriac is not an evidence for conversion as claimed by Burnnel but showing the power shift from the Persian speaking church in Fars(Rev-Ardeshir) to Syriac speaking church of Babylon(Kokhe). Indian Christian community were initially part of the metropolitan province of Fars(400-800 AD), but were detached from that province in the 7th century, and again in the 8th, and given their own metropolitan bishop by the patriarch Ishoʿyahb III. Note that the Alexandrian Nestorian monk Cosmas Indicopleustes, who visited India around the middle of the 6th century, mentioned three distinct areas of Persian Christian settlement in India: the trading port of Calliana,Male (Malabar), and Srilanka. Communications between Mesopotamia and India were not always good, however, and in the eighth century the patriarch Timothy I again detached India from Fars and created a separate metropolitan province for India(Beth Hindey). In a letter to Shemʿon of Fars Patriarch Ishoʿyahb complained that Shemʿon had refused to consecrate a bishop for 'Kalnah' (the 'Calliana' of Cosmas Indicopleustes), because the Indian Christians had offended him in some way. Now the recently discovered cross from Agasam Goa(Near Calliana) validate the above statement.
Manichaeism was basically a propagandist movement founded in the third century by a Persian named Mani or Manes. Its enterprising missionaries spread its tenets far and wide and attracted many into its fold.“”The first historical notice of a mission to India we have is that of Persians who Manicheans were. It is uncertain. Though not improbable, that Mani himself preached in India, but one of his works was a Greater Epistle to the Indians and it also appears probable that one of his disciples came to this country. As, after his execution, about 272 AD, his numerous and influential followers were much Persecuted in their native country, it is not unreasonable to suppose that many migrated to India and Ceylon. Without some such event, it is difficult to understand how the Christians became so numerous in Southern India during the middle Ages'“”.[Dr. Burnell-On some Pahlavi inscriptions of south India]
Wow if Greater Epistle to the Indians(which India ?) means exactly south India then why Burnnel purposefully avoided the following Christian missionaries to "INDIA" ?
(i)Eusebius of Caesarea records that his teacher Pantaenus visited a Christian community in India in the 2nd century(180-200).
(ii) The bishop David of Maishan, who flourished c.285, during the reign of the bishop Papa of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (280–315), left his seat to evangelise India.-Chronicle of Seert
(iii)Mar Aphrem (St. Ephrem the Syrian) writes in length about the Apostle Thomas' visit and death in India. The remains of the Apostle martyred in India are brought to Edessa, Mesopotamia by a merchant.( 306-350 AD)
(iii)Theophilus the Indian (Probably Arian)(355 AD).
(Iv) 425 AD: Daniel, the Indian-Daniel, an Indian priest helps Mar Komai in translating the Greek epistles to Syriac.
Date, Language and Script of the Inscriptions.
Dr. West says on this subject:
Regarding the date of the Pahlavi Inscriptions nothing very definite can be ascertained from the forms of the letters . . . All the peculiarities can be found in the Kanheri Pahlavi inscriptions of 10th October and 24th November 1009, and 30th October 1021 ; and some of them in the Pahlavi signatures of witnesses on a copper-plate grant to the Syrian Church in Southern India which has been attributed to the ninth century.
Dr. Burnell wrote:
"The characters and language are nearly those of the books(Book Pahlavi), but are not by any means of the earliest period. If one may judge by the legends on coins, the dates of which are known, the earliest of these inscriptions may belong to the 7th or 8th century. The earliest appears to be the ones at the Mount and in the south wall of the Kottayam old church, the latest that behind a side altar in the same church and on which is also a sentence in Syriac in the ordinary Estrangelo character, to judge by facsimiles of MSS. of a period not older than the 10th century.
Before going any further here we need to analyse three scripts. First one is Book Pahlavi(Used for the inscriptions in the cross) used to write middle Persian and the second one is a specific Manichaean script which was used by Manichaean sect to write anything of sacred nature.Third one is a less known Psalter Pahlavi.
The Pahlavi script consisted of two widely used forms: Inscriptional Pahlavi and Book Pahlavi. A third form, Psalter Pahlavi, is not widely attested. Book Pahlavi is a smoother script in which letters are joined to each other and often form complicated ligatures. Book Pahlavi was the most common form of the script, with only 12 or 13 graphemes (13 when including aleph) representing 24 sounds. The formal coalescence of originally different letters caused ambiguity, and the letters became even less distinct when they formed part of a ligature. Book Pahlavi continued to be in common use until about AD 900. After that date, Pahlavi was preserved only by the Zoroastrian clergy.
Manichaean script is a sibling of an early form of Pahlavi script, and like Pahlavi is a development from Imperial Aramaic, the official language and script of the Achaemenid court. Unlike Pahlavi, Manichaean script reveals influences from Sogdian script, which in turn descends from the Syriac branch of Aramaic. Manichaean script is so named because Manichaean texts attribute its design to Mani himself. Later texts using Manichaean script are attested in the literature of three Middle Iranian language ethnolects. The Manichaean system does not have a high incidence of Semitic language logograms and ideograms that are an essential characteristic of the Pahlavi system. Moreover, because Manichaean scribes considered the script a sacred instrument, it was protected from the evolution that Pahlavi script underwent, and is hence more archaic than Book Pahlavi.
Now read a small foot note from Dr.Burnnels book
If the inscriptions were Manichean then it would probably in a peculiar character.ie Middle Persian in Manichean sacred script unfortunately the script was written in book Pahlavi which manechieans considered as an inferior script to write anything of sacred nature.(Note that the inscriptions around the cross is not like ordinary literature or religious commentary it’s an object for veneration so definitly an object of sacred nature, it is highly unlikely and even impossible to assume that Manicheans wrote something in book Pahlavi around such a cross-as evident from Burnnels observation).
Psalter Pahlavi Script.
Psalter Pahlavi derives its name from the so-called "Pahlavi Psalter", name given to a 6th- or 7th-century fragment, consisting of twelve pages written on both sides, of a Middle Persian. translation of the Syriac Psalter. This text, which was found at Bulayiq near Turpan in northwest China, is the earliest evidence of literary composition in Pahlavi, dating to the 6th or 7th century AD. The extant manuscript dates no earlier than the mid-6th century since the translation reflects liturgical additions to the Syriac original by Mar Aba I, who was Patriarch of the Church of the East c. 540 - 552.The script of the psalms has altogether 18 graphemes, 5 more than Book Pahlavi and one less than Inscriptional Pahlavi. As in Book Pahlavi, letters are connected to each other. The only other surviving source of Psalter Pahlavi are the inscriptions on a bronze processional cross found at Herat, in present-day Afghanistan.
Not all scholars were convinced that Burneil had found the true solution; in the next half century a number of other solutions appeared, distinguished, if by nothing else, by their almost total difference from one another.
(II)Interpretation by Dr. Martin Haug(1874).
On the appearance of Dr. BurnelPs pamphlet, Dr. Martin Haug, attempted a reading and translation in the Beilage zurallgemeinen Zeitung (No.29) of 29th January 1874. Haug's reading and rendering are given by Burnell in the reprint of his pamphlet in the Indian Antiquary for November 1874 (p. 314).
He who believes in the Messiah, and in God on high, and also in the Holy Ghost, is in the grace of Him who bore the pain of the Cross" (M. Haug, 1874)
He who believes in the [Messiah, and in God on high, and also in the Holy Ghost] =Holly trinity, is in the grace of Him who bore the pain of the Cross [Christ]".Now the first part look like a Trinitarian formula and regarding the second part it has some similarities with the Christology of Mar Isaac of Nineveh(8th century) like “The knowledge of the Cross is concealed in the sufferings of the Cross”[ From the Ascetical Homilies of Mar Isaac].
The Incarnation and the death on the Cross of the Savior, Mar Isaac claims, happened not to redeem us from sins, or for any other reason, but solely in order that the world might become aware of the love which God has for His creation. Had all this astounding affair taken place solely for the purpose of forgiveness of sin, it would have been sufficient to redeem us by some other means. What objection would there have been if He had done what He did by means of an ordinary death? But He did not make His death at all an ordinary one - in order that you might realize the nature of this mystery. Rather, He tasted death in the cruel suffering of the Cross. - referring to the Incarnation and the renewal He brought about.
(III)Interpretation by Prof. Harlez and Sanjana(1892-1914).
In 1892, Prof. Harlez gave his reading and translation, before the Eighth International Congress of Orientalists, which met at Paris (Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Orientalists,Paris, 1892)
He who is the Messiah , the reconciler, the resuscitator, for ever purified by virtue of his crucifixion.(Harlez 1892).
Shams-ul-ulama Dastur Darab Peshotan Sanjana gave four alternative readings and renderings in his paper entitled “The Pahlavi inscription on the Mount Cross in Southern India.
Such was the affliction of the wounding and spearing of him on the cross, who was the faithful Messiah, the merciful one, the descendant of the great Abraham, who was the descendant of Chaharbukht.(Sanjana 1914).
(IV)Interpretation by Dr. Jivanji Jamshedji Modi(1924).
The inscription at Kadamattom church when translated is,
”I, the beautiful bird of Nineveh has come to this land. Written by me Shapper, who was saved by the Holy Messiah from misery.”
I think that there is reason to believe that these Crosses were not put up Manichaean Christians, or Christian Manichaeans, because the history of the Manichaeans and of the Albigenses who were an offshoot of the Manichaeans, shows that the Manechaeans were persecuted by the orthodox Christians on the ground that they were not true followers of Christ. Manichaeism was a mixture of Zoroastrianism, Christianity and even of Buddhism. One may say that in spite of their not being true orthodox Christians, they believed in Christ. But what we know of the tenets of Manichaeism does not permit us to believe that they had that faith in the personality of Christ as a redeemer of afflictions,as seems to have been evinced by the offerers of the Crosses in question, in the Pahiavi inscriptions. So, I think that the Christians who offered the Crosses were the Christians who had to leave Persia, like the Zoroastrians, to escape from the persecutions of the Arab invaders of Persia. I therefore think that the Crosses may be the offerings of some of the Christians who had come to the shores of India in the middle or latter part of the seventh century and in the eighth century, owing to the persecution of the Arabs, and, in referring to the afflictions of Christ, they allude to their own afflictions of being compelled to leave their country for their faith. ( JIVANJI JAMSHEDJI MODI, President, Asiatic Society 1924)
ASIATIC PAPERS-A CHRISTIAN CROSS WITH A PAHLAVI
INSCRIPTION RECENTLY DISCOVERED IN THE TRAVANCORE
STATE By Jivanji Jamshedji Modi- 1924, Page 37
(1) Li zibah vai min Ninav val denman
(2) Napisht Mar Shapur
(3) Li (mun) ahrob Mashiah avakhshahi min khar bokht.
(1) I, a beautiful bird from Nineveh, (have come) to this(country).
(2) Written (by) Mar Shapur.
(3) Holy Messiah, the forgiver, freed me from thorn (i.e.affliction).
Now who is this Shappir(A beautiful bird of Nineveh), who was saved by the Holy Messiah from misery ?
Any guess? Read Kandishangal-Sapir Isho from Nineveh ?
(I)Interpretation by Prof C.P.T Winkworth(1925)
A new day dawned when, at the request of Professor C.P Burkitt," C.P.T. Winckworth, at that time reader in Assyriology in the University of Cambridge, took the matter in hand, and produced a version which differed radically from all that had come from the hands of earlier scholars. This version which was read before the International Congress of Orientalists held at Oxford in 1925 is as follows:
"My Lord Christ, have mercy upon Afras son of Chaharbukht the Syrian, who cut this (or, who caused this to be cut)." 
On the large cross, there is this additional sentence in Estrangelo Syriac(Galatians 6:14)
”May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This met with immediate acceptance, though with reservations on minor points, and has never been radically challenged. So attempts to End profound theology, Nestorian or other, in the inscription have had to be abandoned. It turns out to be no more than the expression of a natural and rather simple piety.
Palacographers are in agreement that the style of the lettering is consistent with a date in the eighth century. it is tempting to think that Afras may be the same as that Mar Prodh (Aphroth) whose name we have found in various forms of the tradition, and who is alleged to have arrived in India in AD 823, lf so, he may well have brought with him from Persia an exemplar from which the Indian cross was carved or he may created a master INDIAN CROSS by blending both Persian and Indian (budhist) ideas." Once this cross had become familiar to the local Christians, they might well conclude that this was the right kind of cross to have displayed in their churches; so the copies which have been identified came to be cut by masons who did not know the language or meaning of the inscription, and perhaps many others of which we have no knowledge.
Now who is this Afras son of Chaharbukht ?
Now who is this Afras son of Chaharbukht ?
Any guess? Read Kandishangal-MarAproth-An East Syrian Bishop From Persia?
†Theology and symbolism
There is no doubt that these croses were once tomb crosses
†Similar crosses from Christendom
†Other Tomb Crosses from Christendom
The last picture (No 5) is the tombstone of Andreas da Perugia, Franciscan Bishop of Quanzhou (Zayton) China.This Franciscan bishop of Zayton died and was buried in the city of Quanzhou in 1332. His badly weathered stone still shows signs of the Latin inscription along with carvings of two figures with billowing scarves and flowing draperies supporting a stand bearing a lotus flower and the lower arm of a cross. The use of Persian Christian iconography for the tombstone of a Latin bishop is worthy of note.
Discovered in 1946, a photograph of the stone taken by Wu Wenliang was sent to John Foster – a scholar of Nestorianism in China – in the UK who identified the language as Latin and sought the advice of Professor C. J. Fordyce, then Professor of Humanity (i.e. Latin) at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Fordyce’s partial decipherment follows.
† Hic …sepultus est Andreas Perusinus (devotus ep. Cayton.......ordinis (fratrum min.) ....... Jesus Christi........Apostolus........(in mense) ....... M (cccxx)xii + 1332 †.
Here is buried Andrew of Perugia devoted bishop of Quanzhou... Order of Friars Minor ...Apostle of Jesus Christ in...month...1332 .
Fordyce’s approximation of the obituary inscription remains unsurpassed, even though a conference in honor of Andreas da Perugia attempted a new version in 1992.
|(1)Sarcophagus of Sariguzel, Constantinople(500AD ?)(2) Flying Kinnara, from Central Java,(3)Persian Christian Tomb stone Quanzhou China.|
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