Saturday 1 January 2022


I have used the word 'unbeknownst' in the title intentionally meaning 'without someone's knowledge' which is more apt than just 'unknown'!! Hardly publicized  episodes of the erstwhile  ' Portuguese India' which is being continued as part II!

When I read and reread about the atrocities committed by the Portuguese on Hindus, Jews, Muslims etc and their beliefs and cultures during Inquisition of Goa from 1570 in the name of Christianity, I felt sad for my fellow countrymen and felt self defeated being a Christian. I made a number of checks on the truthfulness  of the same to find some escapism on that for no reason but found absolutely correct. Finally in 1800 equality was restored and same status was given to all the citizens there. When I read that, I felt relieved for the same reason. Is it for the love for fellow country men? Or is it love for Christianity? Could be both.

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" is what Jesus Christ is believed to have prayed  while on cross. I think this is applicable to Portuguese or anyone for that  matter who is indulging in injustice in the name of Jesus Christ and Christianity!

Cochin becomes Administrative capital of 'Estado Portugues da India' and then shifted to Goa...

When da Gama left Cochin in his second trip to India he left Diogo Fernandes Correa to look after Portuguese trade and other interests including propagation of Christianity in the region. Their first fort which they named as Manuel fort after their king was built in the same year in the vicinity. The very name of Fort Cochin which is being used to this day is derived from this fort. Portuguese could take control of Cochin as its colony in 1503 albeit skirmishes with Zamorin of Calicut continued where the Portuguese had the final victory. In 1505 king Manuel I appointed Francisco d'Almeida as the first Viceroy of India with Cochin as administrative capital, which remained so until they shifted to Goa in  1510.But the Portuguese could continue to keep Cochin as its colony till 1663 when it was taken over by the Dutch. As per records it is estimated that there were 5000 Portuguese living at Fort Kochi in 1520.

In 1509 Alfonso de Albuquerque was appointed as the Viceroy. Finding Goa more strategically located to be the headquarters of Portuguese operations in India, China(Macua) and Timur (Malay archipelago)he captured Goa in 1510 from Sultan of Bijapur with the help of Timoji who was with erstwhile Vijayanagar empire. Unlike the Dutch or British who ruled India later, one of his immediate action  was encouraging Portuguese  to marry indigenous women and to settle in Goa as farmers, traders or artisans. Once in power the Portuguese started actions against local Hindus, Muslims and Jews. The official archdiocese of the Estado da India was created by a Papal bull in 1533 headed by an archbishop at Goa and later at Cochin. Interestingly at Cochin the Portuguese were against even the original Christians in Kerala who are believed to be converted by Saint Thomas, disciple of Jesus Christ in 52 AD known as Syrian Christians .They are so known because their prayer and church liturgy is based on Syriac language. The Portuguese couldn't digest the facts that they followed Eastern Christianity beliefs, held Hindu way of life, church rites in old Syriac language which was very close to the Aramaic language that Jesus Christ spoke and never recognized the supremacy of pope! The Portuguese could split the Syrian Christian church but many sections hold such beliefs dear to them to this day!

Bombay (Mumbai) was given as a dowry by the Portuguese!

It is unbelievably true how India was treated by the western colonists on many occasions. King John IV of Portugal had a daughter who was known as Catherine of Braganza. She became the Queen of England between 1665-1685 as wife of King Charles II. The present day Mumbai( Bombay) which is constituted by seven islands were in control of Maratha rulers but had to be ceded to the Portuguese empire .The same Mumbai was given by the Portuguese King to that of England as a dowry of Queen Catherine at the time of her marriage in 1661!

Portuguese Inquisition in Goa..

Jesus Christ was a man of peace in all respects but Christianity or I would say many churches were or are practicing quite far from His teachings. Catholic church under Portugal rule in India seems gone very far from His noble teachings! 

Inquisition is a tribunal founded by Pope Innocent in the 12th century to be practiced in few Catholic countries. The very objective was examination and punishment of heretics-what is believed against the church dogma, simply to put it but in practice it is much complex than it looks. Having successfully executed in Italy and Spain , the official Inquisition was established in Portugal in 1536 at the request of its King John III. The main target of Inquisition were those who were newly converted then from Judaism to Christianity but silently practiced Judaism, who  mostly migrated from Spain. 

The Portuguese Inquisition expanded its scope to colonies such as Brazil and Goa in India. In Goa it was established in 1570 and remained till 1812 for 242 years, a fact most of the Indians are not aware of or not seen in the school history books. In Goa the administration initially targeted crypto-Hindus, one who practiced Hinduism  secretly after getting converted to Catholics. But over the years the Inquisitors burnt anything written in Konkani, Sanskrit, Dutch or even English! Many natives -mostly Hindus- were criminally charged, flogged in public and some even sentenced to death. It was during this period that thousands of Konkani speaking Hindus had to flee the state leaving their possessions to neighboring as well as far off states and towns including Kochi my home town where they are settled even now. Francis Xavier, a Spaniard Jesuit who was later elevated as a saint by the Catholic church cannot deny the role he played during this period, I presume.

The clear religious discrimination of Hindus, Jews and Muslims were practiced in many ways such a Xenddi tax, similar to Jizya tax imposed by some of the Islamic rulers. Jobs in the Govt service were reserved for Christians only!! The famous French writer Voltaire had remarked "Goa is sadly famous for its Inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshipped the devil and it is they who have served him"! 

However it is also to be added here that such religious oppression ended with a new Portuguese Civil Code of Goa, Daman and Diu in the 1800s where all citizen were given equal rights. Here it is also to be noted that since then Hindus, Christians, Muslims and all live in Goa in full harmony.

Portuguese Inquisition In Cochin and Kerala..

Due to the fact that Cochin was only under the direct control of Portuguese for a smaller period, the perils of Inquisition was much lesser here than in Goa. Interestingly it was directed more on the existing Christians, their beliefs and practices and  their church than other religions! The very fact that Christianity was brought to Kerala in 52 AD by none other than Saint Thomas, Disciple of Jesus Christ is something even now not accepted by Pope. I do not know about  reasons behind this move than could be non acceptance of more pedigree roots of original Christians in Kerala than those who control Vatican! And the 'wise' Portuguese burnt all the documents related to that!

Any way in 1599, the Portuguese could split the existing Syriac church then by conducting the Synod of Diampur, a council that laid down rules and regulations for the ancient Saint Thomas Christians formally uniting with Catholic church disconnecting their relations with Eastern church. This led to creation of Catholic Syro Malabar church.In1542 with the arrival of Francis Xavier, the Portuguese  could start a Portuguese Indian Church in Goa and Kerala with Latin rites.



Tomb of Vasco da Gama is 'majestically' displayed!!But true story of events will never be told ....until lions have their historians ...tales of the hunt always glorify the hunters!

The synod instructed to stop use of Aramaic language, the one Jesus himself was speaking along with closer old Syriac language which was used as liturgy by Saint Thomas Christians and instead to use Latin! All the older records of the older church were destroyed without any trace. It seems like done else where, they were more loyal to pope than even Jesus Christ! However a section of the original Saint Thomas Church revolted and reverted back to their beliefs and customs in 1653 after the Coonan Cross  pledge known as Jacobite church which flourished later years to this day in spite of few splits within. The Portuguese built a number of churches along the coast of Kerala and converted a lot of Hindus to be Christians. Portuguese to be followed by the Dutch and British later also contributed to form a new society named as Anglo Indians. But never meted out a la Goa in Kochi anytime which has a thriving most secular society of all in the state.It has to to be specifically noted that during the last 2000 years since Christianity came to Kerala, Hindus including all the rulers never troubled the Christians or their beliefs but the Christian Portuguese could!!

The Portuguese also contributed many  words which are still used in Malayalam such as Janal (window),chaavi(key),alamari (cupboard),kurishu(cross),maestri(foreman), pena(pen) and took Malayalm words to Portuguese such as jaco(jackfruit),manga(mango), teco(teak) and jagry(jaggery).Portuguese cuisine has  influenced many especially  in and around Kochi as well as Goa. Even now the central part of Fort Kochi is named as Vasco Da Gama Squire while there is a Cabral's yard close by!

Tomb of Vasco da Gama is ceremoniously exhibited in a highly decorated marble cask in Jeronimos Monastery at Lisbon. The place is a tourist attraction since the Govt of Portugal wanted to show case the location for its rich maritime past and colonizing power! But true story of events will never be told ....until lions have their historians ...tales of the hunt always glorify the hunters!



  1. C R Manjunath: it's indeed a very good article as usual.

  2. This has come out nice as always...N G KUTTY

  3. Very interesting to read, especially the beginning of the 'kaldaya' era of Christianity in Kerala.

  4. BABY SIMON:Vasco da Gama lands in India Edit
    The first Portuguese encounter with the subcontinent was on 20 May 1498 when Vasco da Gama reached Calicut on the Malabar Coast. Anchored off the coast of Calicut, the Portuguese invited native fishermen on board and immediately bought some Indian items. One Portuguese accompanied the fishermen to the port and met with a Tunisian Muslim. On the advice of this man, Gama sent a couple of his men to Ponnani to meet with ruler of Calicut, the Zamorin. Over the objections of Arab merchants, Gama managed to secure a letter of concession for trading rights from the Zamorin, Calicut's ruler. But, the Portuguese were unable to pay the prescribed customs duties and price of his goods in gold.[3]

    Later Calicut officials temporarily detained Gama's Portuguese agents as security for payment. This, however, annoyed Gama, who carried a few natives and sixteen fishermen with him by force.[4]

    Nevertheless, Gama's expedition was successful beyond all reasonable expectation, bringing in cargo that was worth sixty times the cost of the expedition.

  5. Jaison, I read it.
    When you said explosive, I thought you will be writing about the horrendous Inquisition in greater details, the atrocities committed on Hindus. You have softened it, maybe for obvious reasons of diplomacy.
    Your explosive comment is about the reactions this can ignite among the Christians itself?
    Anyway a good exercise on the subject which many people may not dare to write with this much openness ( on Christanity, of course)
    But as earlier opined, still do you subscribe to that it all started in AD 52 itself, much before Christianity started and spreading its wings. At AD 52,what would be the age of St Thomas and his health to traverse all the way to India.?
    How long he lived in India. Earlier also I conveyed about the arrival of Namboodiris to Kerala, it's time line. I may be wrong KAILASNATHAN

  6. Thomas Abraham
    As usual Jaison writes after in-depth study.Very informative

  7. Francis John Britto
    Very well compiled and written Jaison .👌👍👏

  8. George Mathew
    Wonderful narration .
    Of history in true colours by Jaison. Congrats

  9. Henry A Dsouza
    History lessons with thorough research 😌

  10. Vineeth Abraham
    Very interesting and informative.

  11. As usual you have carved out the article exceedingly well. Started with the word unbeknownst the apt word to make the episode meaningful without aberrations. Atrocities made by Christians on Hindus and Muslims, splitting of Christianity into different group, Portugese inquisition to expand to colonise such as Brazil,Goa etc. Well explained. Many of the events subsequently explained are the result of your commited excavation which even the historical books failed to reveal,is undoubtedly admirable.
    You have braved a good analysis on the subject which people may not right so lucidly especially on Christianity. No doubt you are deserving to be a scintillatting intelligensia among the few.AVM NAIR



Writing about the end of own life, that too after knowing that it could happen any time is hard to write for anyone. I am not an exception. ...