Interviewed by George Alexander – OCP News Service- 23/7/19
1. Please Introduce yourself.
My Name is Rohit Gupta, and I am 32 years old. I was born in Punjab, completed my education in Himachal Pradesh, and currently lives in Delhi. I am married to Medha, and we have a three years old son named Aarsh. I am a postgraduate and worked in the banking sector for four years. In 2014, I started my own business of fund management. Since then, I am trying to establish and develop my own company.
2. What motivated you to become an author?
One significant incident motivated me to become a writer. In April 2018, I was diagnosed by Septic Shock and was in a critical situation. After surviving that I thought that -” What would be my legacy if I suddenly die one day.” I decided to read and write books, and as a result, I published my first book titled “Live, Laugh and Travel Europe.” I read books whenever I can, and it helps a lot to overcome the trauma.
3. Tell us about your book on the Malankara Church.
The book is about Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, also known as the Indian Orthodox Church. It is an autocephalous Church centered in the Indian state of Kerala. It is one of the Churches of India’s Saint Thomas Christian community, which has its origin in the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. The current Primate of the Church is Catholicos of the East and the Malankara Metropolitan, presently Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II.
The book consists of details on the origin of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, history, theology, Liturgy, significant figures, list of all parishes under Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, list of all Current and previous Prelates, Saints of the Church, dioceses, and the Church constitution.
4. What made you write and publish a book on the ancient Malankara Church?
Two incidents resulted in writing a book on the ancient Malankara Church
A) In July 2017, I visited Leicester city, and during the city tour, I came across ‘St. George Indian Orthodox Church’. It was my first encounter with a parish Church with the adjective ‘Indian’ in its name and that too in Europe. I was astonished. This incident attracted me to know more about the Indian Orthodox Malankara Church.
B) I read about “Jews in India,” and in the history of the Cochin Jews, I found some information about St. Thomas in India (during the 1st century). These facts attracted me, as well.
5. What did you find unique about the Malankara Church?
As of my understanding, Malankara Church is the oldest Church in the world after Jerusalem. The Malankara Church provides a form of Christianity, which is Semitic in nature, and her culture is not far from the one that Jesus Christ himself experienced.
6. Do you think that Malankara Nasrani community is an indigenous community and they were one of the first followers of Jesus of Nazareth?
Malankara Nasrani’s follow Jesus of Nazareth since the 1st century, and they are also the followers of Saint Thomas. He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Malankara Nasrani’s venerate the life, faith, and teachings of St. Thomas. For a long period (after the first century), Malankara Nasranis were free from any foreign influence or rule. Nasrani’s lived a simple life with their principals, unique customs, traditions, practices, and beliefs. These things make them one of the first followers of Jesus of Nazareth, his teachings, and beliefs.
7. How do you understand European colonial Christianity and its impact on the indigenous Malankara Church?
As we know, European colonial Christianity is based on money and imperial dominance. They ruled and dominated the indigenous Malankara Christians in the name of Jesus Christ. After the 15th century, they entered present-day India. Colonial Christianity damaged & insulted several belief systems and believers, especially the Malankara Nasranis who were followers of Jesus Christ since the 1st century. In reality, they almost destroyed Malankara Church (acting from the state of Goa) and their actions caused massive losses in other parts of India as well.
8. Do you think that the Indian Orthodox Malankara Church is the National Church of India? If so, why?
Yes, I entirely agree with the term ‘National Church of India’, and it belongs to the Indian Orthodox Malankara Church. As per my opinion, the Malankara Orthodox Church is the first official Christian Church of India. They use the adjective ‘Indian’ even with their parish Churches outside India. It is a great matter of pride to see Indian Orthodox Churches in Europe, USA, and elsewhere. As an Indian Citizen, I am proud of the ancient Malankara Orthodox Church of India. Without any doubt, I can say that She is the national Church of our country.
9. Did you travel to Kerala for the purpose of writing your book?
I did not travel to Kerala to write the book on Malankara Orthodox Church. I acquired most of the information from St. George’s Indian Orthodox Church, Leicester, England, and St. Mary’s Orthodox Syrian Cathedral, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I met one person in Trivandrum (during a family trip) who is a faithful of the Malankara Orthodox Church, and I also consulted a Russian Priest named Father Saleh Gebretsadk, who cleared my doubts while writing the book.
10. What are your upcoming projects and what is the nature of your collaboration with the Orthodoxy Cognate Society?
I have written six books so far. The book “Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church” is my 4th book, (on 1st May 2019). I am planning to release two more books. I am also planning to start working on a book based on the ‘Ancient Silk Route.’
I have recently started my communications with the OCP Society. I have begun to collaborate on OCP research and publications, and also with the Center for Orthodox Studies (COS). I am hoping for further cooperation in future endeavors as well.
The Malankara Nasrani Church
The ancient Orthodox Church of Malankara was established by St. Thomas the Apostle of Christ. The Primate of the Malankara Orthodox Church (Orthodox Syrian Church of the East) is the Chief of the Office of the Catholicate of the East, who is seated on the Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas. The Primate is also the Chief Custodian of the Malankara Nasranis.
OCP News Service