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Sthathikon given by Saint Yeldho Mor Baselios Bava to Mor Ivanios Hidayatullah Bava and the
interpretation by Dr Thomas Athanasius of Muvattupuza

 By T M Chacko, Manarcad, Kottayam


A few days back I happen to read an article by Dr. Thomas Athanasius in the diocesan bulletin published from his bishop’s house in Muvattupuzha. It was later reproduced in some other MOC publications also. The Sthathikon given by St. Yeldho Mor Baselios Bava to Mor Ivanious Hidayatullah Bava during the later’s metropolitan ordination was the basis of the article. Through this article Thirumeni was trying to prove that the Syrian Church in India of the 17th century was under the Catholicate and the Patriarchate was not at all in the scene. Thirumeni has very wisely carved out an interpretation to the Sthathikon which in reality seems to be far away from truth.

THE ONLY THING THIRUMENI ADMITTED, OR FORCED TO ADMIT, WAS THAT, ST. BASELIOS YEDHO WAS AN ORTHODOX BELIEVER; NOT A NESTORIAN AS CLAIMED BY SOME OF HIS FELLOW MOC HISTORIANS. In reality there was no other alternative for Thirumeni other than to accept this notion, as the said
Sthathikon says about the necessity of up keeping the three Holy Synods.

The first major mistake that Athanasius Thirumeni made was that he didn’t bothered to mention the source of the
Sthathikon, for reference purpose. Throughout his article he was saying only about a ‘Pathrekkeese supporter’ who published this document, but nowhere in the said article had Thirumeni mentioned the real name of the publisher, translator, source etc. Since this was a serious omission on the part of the interpreter, there was no other alternative other than to enquire with Thirumeni and his aramana for the source and this continued for many days. Finally we came to know that the 'Pathrekkese supporter' whose name Thirumeni did not mention at first was none other than Prof. A V Zacharia. And now Thirumeni also have put the full text of the Sthathikon in the latest issue of his bulletin, after repeated enquiry. Thanks to thirumeni.

 

About the translator and publisher of the Sthathikon: The Malayalam translation of the Sthathikon was published by Prof. A V Zacharia in his books ‘Rakkad Pally Charithram’, and ‘Tubden’. The translator of the text from Syriac to Malayalam was none other than Joseph Sir who is known as the living saint of Malecuriz Dayara. The original Sthathikon is still there in the library of Thozhiyoor Church of Kunnamkulam.

-----------------------------

Now let me try to clarify a few key points that Thirumeni tried to stress in his article. I am not claiming that whatever i have highlighted here is perfect, it is just an attempt to present my findings based on the original text of the Sthathikon. I think a Church historian like Moolelachen can easily and perfectly give a much better explanation than me. However let me continue.

 

One of the major arguments of Thirumeni was that ‘since nothing is mentioned in the said Sthathikon about a Antiochean Patriarcahate or the names of any Patriarchs in person, it is to be believed that the Malankara Church of that time was under the Catholicate of the East’.

 

It is here that the Athanasius Thirumeni’s imaginations started working. A person who reads only the Thirumeni’s article may think that the Sthathikon mentions a lot about the powers of the Catholicate over Malankara. But the fact is that, in the entire text of said Sthathikon, there is not a single word mentioning about the Catholicate, Maphrianate or Metropolitan of East or anything like that. So i can’t really understand on what basis did Thirumeni summarized that the Malankara Church was under an independent Catholicate of the East at that time. It is now that it became a necessity for one to check the original Sthathikon. It is true that nothing about the patriarchate is mentioned anywhere in the Sthathikon. BUT IT IS ALSO TO BE NOTED THAT THE SAME Sthathikon SAYS NOTHING ABOUT A CATHOLCIATE, MAPHRIANATE, METROPOLITAN OF EAST OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT, EITHER. Nor is there any mentioning about the powers of Catholicate over the Church in India. When this is the fact how could Thirumeni simply summarize that ‘since nothing is mentioned about a patriarchate, the Malankara Church comes under the Catholicate’ ? What a wonderful way of misleading an innocent reader.

 

Now about the argument that the submission to the Patriarchal throne is not mentioned in the Sthathikon: In order to analyze this argument, we have to compare it with the other Sthathikon given to Mor Gregorios Abdul Jaleel Bava about 5 decades before it was given to Mor Ivanios. This sthatikon is also there in the library of Thoziyoor Church and a photo copy of it is there in the Paravur Church where the Saint is buried. The Malayalam translation of this Sthathikon is given in the ‘Rakkad Pally Charithram’ published by Prof A V Zacharia. It was translated into English by Prof. Sebastian Brock of Oxford University. This Sthathikon written by a Patriarch himself (Patriarch Abded Mesiha I) is not mentioning a single word related to the Patriarchal jurisdictions and instead what mentions in it is about the Syrian Orthodox faith which the new bishop has to upkeep in his future activates.

In both the Sthathikons there is no mentioning regarding the powers or jurisdiction, of either the Patriarchate or the Catholicate. Remember it was a Patriarch and a Maphrian (Catholicos) who wrote it respectively. Instead of saying anything about a patriarchate or a catholicate or its powers, what both the Sthathikons emphasizes is the necessity to upkeep the true Syrian Orthodox faith. So this must have been the way in which the Sthathikons were written in those days. As we all know, the Sthathikons have no fixed formats at any point of time. Even now a Sthathikon given to one bishop differs from that given to another. Sthathikons are in a way, a written document, authorizing and advising his representative, how to function, behave etc.. At the time when Mor Baselios Yeldho Bava gave the
Sthathikon to Mor Ivanios, the threat for the Church was primarily from the Roman Catholics and also the Nestorians whose faith and rituals differed from the Orthodox sect. May be because of all this, the Maphrian Mor Baselios Yeldho Bava, stressed more on this subject than anything else. The same was the case of Mor Gregorios Abdul Jaleel Bava too. This may be the reason why the Patriarch Abded Mesiha I who issued the Sthathikon to Mor Gregorios Jaleel Bava also did not mention in particular anything about the Patriarchal jurisdiction and instead concentrated on advising the new bishop with the necessity for preserving the Orthodox faith.

One of the other major arguments of Athansius Thirumeni was that, since Mor Baselios Yeldho Bava gave special powers to Mor Ivanios for ordaining dignitaries in India, consecrate churches, moroon etc., he is part of a autocephalous Indian Church. Here what Thirumeni forgets or intentionally hide is the situation existing in those days. This was a time when Roman Catholic and foreign dominations was very much an issue in Malankara and it was nearly impossible for any bishop from outside to easily come to Malankara. The killing of Mor Ahatulla Bava was very much there in the minds of all our forefathers of that time. So it is only natural for a high priest like Baselios Yeldho bava who came here in disguise, to give independent powers for ordination, consecration etc. This does not mean that he was part of an independent hierarchy. These are things which can be easily understood if one read the
Sthathikon with an open mind.

The other main thing Thirumeni stressed in his article to prove his point is about the St. Peters’s legacy mentioned in the
Sthathikon. Thirumeni raised this point to interpret that the patriarchal mediatory is not required for the passing of the priesthood from the apostle to bishop; However through this point Thirumeni himself, knowingly or unknowingly, was accepting that Apostle St. Peter has greater importance or some sort of primacy in the general structure of the Church and it is what was stressed by holy Maphrian Mor Baselios Yeldho Bava in the Sthathikon given to Mor Ivanios. In the Sthathikon, there are at least 3 portions which say about, Apostolic Benediction, authority and priesthood being passed on from St. Peter to the new bishop which is ofcourse the fundamental of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox faith. So by accepting this Sthathikon in its totality, one has to openly admit the prominence of St. Peter over any other apostles.

 

Now on the issue of St. Thomas legacy in Malankara which Thirumeni avoided to mention at all: At least twice in the Sthathikon it is mentioned that the new bishop will act as the representative of Shemavun Pathros, but at the same time, there is not a single word mentioned about Apostle St. Thomas in the Sthathikon. If it was the St. Thomas legacy that existed here in India or if it had a greater importance in the Maphriante, then the Maphrian would have certainly mentioned something about Apostle St. Thomas in his Sthathikon given to Mor Ivanois. But we see nothing of that sort in the Sthathikon. Since Dr. Athanasius Thirumeni has took a lot of pain in his article to make claims about the independent status of Malankar Church and the powers of Catholicate etc., it become a necessity to discuss on why nothing about St. Thomas legacy was mentioned anywhere in the Sthathikon. I think Dr. Athanasius Thirumeni being very intelligent, was extra careful by not touching this point !!

Before ending this note, let me kindly request Dr Thomas Athanasius Thirumeni to check his own salmoosa that was submitted to the Patriarch and the Catholicos, during his Metropolitan ordination and also the Sthathikon he received after consecration.

 

T M Chacko,

Manarcad, Kottayam.
SOCM Forum member ID # 0903

Here is given the link to the book named 'ITHU VISWASATHINTE KARYAM' written by Dr. Thomas Athanasius and published in 1994 when he was part of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church. Unlike some of the recent notes prepared by thirumeni this one is a very scholarly work by him, similar to that of 'Madopadesasarangal' by Vattasseril Thirumeni (ofcourse the subject here is very different) or the book named 'Were Syrian Christians Nestorians' by Mor Ivanios the founder of Malankara Reeth Church. All these are very useful books for the students of Church history.

 

The full text of Athanasius thirumeni's book is available in the below link.

 

Link 01 or Link 01

 

Preface by thirumeni:

 

Malayalam Translation of Sthathikon given by Yeldho Mor Baselios Bava to Mor Ivanios

Translated by Rev. Dn. Joseph

(Source: ‘Rakkad Pally Charithram’, and ‘Tubden’ by Prof. A V Zacharia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
       
       
       
 

 

 

 
       
 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 
   
       
       
 
   

 

   

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