A certain sorcerer called "Manikka Vachakar" came to Kollam and converted back to Hinduism 116 persons belonging to 72 families from Puhur, 4 of about half a dozen families subsequently came from Coromandel Coast (perhaps from Puhur itself) and 20 families of local Christians (presumably from Quilon).
At this time the Christological discourse and controversies were raging in the West. The Council of Nicea was held to draw up the Nicean Creed in order to establish the cannon of faith. 318 bishops attended it among them was a Bishop Johannes, the Persian, for the churches of the whole of Persia and Greater India. The Indian Church had ties with the Persian Churches right from early period. It is assumed that Indian Churches invited Persian priests to teach the Bible. The earliest bibles translated from Greek are found in Syriac. Malayalam did not have bible until recently. So it was necessary to have priests from Syria to reach and explain to the believers. The church administrations were completely controlled by the local elders while the clergy who were brought into the country provided the ecclesiastical services and doctrinal teachings.
A merchant named Thomas Cana trading on this coast became acquainted with this Christian Church and in the year 345 he brought to Cranganore a colony of four hundred Christians from Bagdad, Nineve and Jerusalem. It is assumed that they came because of the Persian persecution under Zorastrianism. Other sources indicate that they were sent by the Catholicos of Jerusalem to get information about the state of the Church in Malabar. Whatever be the reason, they were received kindly by the Cheraman Perumal who gave him permission to buy land and settle down. Among them was a bishop from Edessa named Joseph and several priests and deacons. From the time of this immigration the Church seems to have been on a much firmer footing. It is said that the Ruler of Cranganore, Cheruman Perumal, conferred special privileges upon Thomas Cana and on his people.These include all the honors to speak and to walk like a king. This copper plate was in existence till 1498. Copies of it are still found though the plates themselves are missing. This group kept their social identity and forms the Kananaya Christians. Thomas is said to have married a local woman and hence had two groups - known as Eastern Group and the Western Group. That this Church was now in communication with the Churches of Asia appears from the tradition that the body or part of the body of the Apostle was carried, towards the close of the fourth century, from Mailapur to Edessa.
The story as stated briefly in a letter written by Mar Thoma IV, one of the bishops of the Syrian church in the eighteenth century is as follows: - "From this date (i. e. St. Thomas's death) the faithful diminished little by little in our country. At that time (4th century) St. Thomas appeared ill a vision to the Metropolitan of the town of Edessa, and said to him: "Wilt thou not help India?" and he also appeared to Abgar, king of Edessa, who was the king of the Syrians; and then by order of the king a nd the bishop three-hundred and thirty-six families composed of children and grown-up people, clerics, men and women, came to India under the leadership of Thomas, the Canaanite, from Canan, which is Jerusalem. All these sailed in the sea and entered Kodungalloor (Cranganore) our country. They inhabited it by special permission from the King Cheraman Perumal, who was ruling the country at that time. All this took place in A. D. 345. From that time the church of our country spread in all directions, to the numbers of 72 churches." Another and a more detailed account of tile arrival of Thomas of Cana given by a 19th century writer belonging to the Syrian Christian community is given below: -- Christians of Malayalam (i.e. Malabar') were in a state of disorder for about 300 years from the time that Apostle Mar Thomas (i. e.. St. Thomas) visited Malayalam and established the Faith, as it had neither head nor shepherd. But by the Grace of the Lord, the Episcopa of the Syrian land called Uraha had a vision in his sleep, in which a person appeared to him and said, Grieve ye not for the flock that suitor and collapse in Malayalam, which I won even at the sacrifice of my life'? The Episcopa hereon awoke and at once announced the important tidings to the holy Catholic a of Jerusalem He thereon called together learned real arts (i. e., priests who are theological teachers) and others, and consulted them; and it was resolved that the respected Christian merchant Thomas of Cana residing in Jerusalem should be sent to Malayalam and the particulars ascertained through him. And thereon, lie was sent to Malayalam on a trading enterprise. "This Thomas of Cana arrived at the Cranganore Bar and landed and saw and, from the cross they wore round the neck, recognized the Christians who were brought to follow Christ by the exertions of the apostle Mar Thomas, and who in spite of the oppressions of the heathens and heathen sovereigns continued to remain in the True Faith without any deviation. He struck their acquaintance and asked them about their past particulars and learned that their grievance was very hard on account of the want of priests and that the Church was, owing to that reason, in a tottering condition. On learning these particulars he thought delay was improper and l a ding his ship with the pepper etc., which he then could gather, sailed off, and by the Divine Grace, reached Jerusalem without much delay, and communicated to the Venerable tile Catholica of Jerusalem in detail all facts he had observed in Malayalam. And t hereon, with the sanction of Eusthathius Patriarch of Antioch, and odd persons, comprising men, women and boys, with Episcopa Joseph of Uratta and priests and deacons, were placed under the orders of the respectable merchant, Thoma of Cana, and sent off by ship to Malayalam, with blessing. "By the Grace Almighty God all these arrived at Cranganore in Malayalam in the year our Lord, without experiencing any inconvenience of distress on the way. On this, the people of Kottakkayal Community received them.... They acknowledged allegiance to Joseph Episcopa who came from Jerusalem as their metropolitan. And the affairs of the church continued to be regulated by Thoma and others. "Thoma went and obtained and interview of King Cheraman Perumal, the then ruling sovereign, who was pleased and said that he, the Lord of the land, would undoubtedly render all help. Not only was command issued to have all aid rendered to the Christians, but privileges of honour were also bestowed under title deeds with sign manual and engrossed on copper plates, the sun and moon bearing witness, to be enjoyed without any demur from any quarter as long as the sun, the moon etc. shall exist.
Persecution in Persia
King Shapur ruled over Persia during AD 309-379. He wanted to bring back the old Zoarostrian religion into the country. The first order was that the Christians should pay double tax in lieu of services in war. Mar. Shimum, the Catholicos of the time refused to take the order on ground that the Christians were poor and that the Bishop is not a tax collector. Consequently on Good Friday of AD 339 Mar Shimum and five bishops along with 100 clergy were executed at Susa, the capital of Elam. This was followed by severe massacre of Christians for forty years. In order to ovoid this massacre Thomas of Cana suggested the colonization of Malabar.
The Text of the Copper Plates of Cheraman Perumal, Ruler of Cranganoor conferring of privileges to Thomas Cana and the Christians May Coquarangon be prosperous, enjoy long life and live one hundred thousand years, servant of God, strong. True, just, full of good works, reasonable, powerful, over the whole earth, happy, conquering, glorious, and rightly prosperous in the ministry of God, in Malabar, in the great city of the great idol. While he reigned at the time of Mercury of February, on the seventh day of the month of March, before the full moon. The same king, Coquarangon being in Carnelur, there arrived in a ship Thomas Cananeo, a chief man, who had resolved to see the uttermost part of the east. And some men, seeing him, as he arrived, went to inform the King. And the King himself came and saw and called the said chief man Thomas, and he disembarked and came before the King, who spoke graciously to him. And to honour him he gave him in surname his own name, calling him Coquarangon Canneo. And he received this honour from the king and went to rest in his place. And the king gave him the city of Maggodayarpatanam forever. And the said king, being in his great prosperity, went one day to hunt in the forest, and the same king surrounded the whole forest. And he called in haste for Thomas, who came and stood before the King in a lucky hour. And the king questioned the soothsayer, and the king afterwards spoke to Thomas, saying that he would build a city in that forest. And he answered to the king, first making reverence, and said, "I desire this forest myself." And the king granted it to him and gave it fore ever. And at once, the next day, he cleared the forest and cast his eyes on it the same year, on the eleventh of April, and gave it as an inheritance to Thomas at the time and year aforesaid, in the king's name, who laid the brick for the Church and for the house of Thomas Cananeo, and made there a city for all of them, and entered the Church and there made prayer the same day. After these things, Thomas himself went to the king's palace and offered him presents, and afterwards he asked the king to give that land to him and to his descendants; and he measured two hundred and sixty four elephant cubits, and gave them to Thomas and his descendants for ever; and at the same time sixty two houses which immediately were erected there; and gardens and tress, with their enclosures, and with their paths and boundaries and inner yeards. And he granted them seven kinds of musical instruments, and all honors, and to speak and walk like a king, and that at weddings the women may give signal with their finger in the mouth, and he granted him distinct weight, and to adorn the ground with carpet and he granted the royal fans, and to double the dandal mark on the arm, and a royal tent in every part of the kingdom forever, and besides five tributes to Thomas and to his lineage and to his confederates, for men and for women, and for all his relatives, and his children of his law for ever. The said king Signed Witness these people Codaxeri canden Cherucara protachaten comeren - King's Chief door keeper Areunden counden - King's councsellor Amen Atecounden guerulen - Captain of the Army Chirumalapro taitiriuicramen Comeren - Registrar f East side of Malavar Preu i ualaitiataadi - singer of the King's Court Perubal atia tacottocoude - Guard of the Gate Bichremen Chinguen -King's Chamberlain.
72 privileges by Cheraman Perumal to Knai Thommen
72 privileges granted by Cheraman Perumal to Knai Thommen in the Cheppedu These Cheppeds were grants inscribed on copper plates, of several privileges, given by the ruler of Malabar of the time Cheraman Perumal to Knayi Thomman in AD 345. This Cheppedu consisted of two copper plates each about one foot long and two inches wide inscribed on both sides and tied together at its left with chains in iron. This Cheppedu was in the possession of the descendants of the Syrian colonists till the arrival of the Portuguese in 1498. But it disappeared with the Portuguese mysteriously soon after the Coonan Kurisu Sathyam. Ambari (Howdah on an elephant) Ankaram (courtyard) Antholam (palanquin) Ammoolam (tax gathering) Arpu (cheers) Aala vattam (Peacock feather fan) Aana savari (Elephant riding) Uchippoovu (Head Turban) Kacha (Robes) Kacha puram (Over coat) Kankanam (Bangles) Kaal thala (Anklet Rings) Kaal chilambu (Anklets Bells) Kurava (Tongue Cheers) Kuthirasavari (horse ride) Kuzhal (Bugles) Kodi (Flag) Kaikara (Hand Ornaments) Kaithala (Bangles) Cheli (a kind of tax) Chemkombu (another tax) Chenda (Drum) Thamburu (String Instruments) Thazha kkuda (Royal Palm Umbrella) Ner vaal (Straight Sword) Pattu chatta (Silk Coat) Patturumal (Silk Handkerchief) Pattumundu (Silk dothi) Pakal vilakku (Day Lamp) Padi pura (Entry Gate House) Pathakkam (Necklace) Panni pudava (Embroidary Robes) Paravathani (Carpet) Pavaada (Royal Cloth) Pallakku (Palanquin) Pavada (Royal Cloth) Panchavadyam (Five Instrument Orchestra) Pandal Vithanam (Pandal Decoration) Pathinezhu Parichamel Kathruthwam (Control over the 17 Low castes) Maddalam (Hand Drum) Manarkolam (Platforms) Mudi (Crown) Mudikuzhabharanam (Head ornaments) Mammoolam (Tax) Methi adi (Wooden Chappels) Raja vaadyam (Royal Orchestra) Raja Sankham (Irippu) (Honour to sit in court with the King) Rajabogham (Honor to eat with King) Veena (String Instrument) Deevetti (Indigenous Torch) Thookku manchal (Swinging Cot) Thondon Thoranam (Decoration) Thol vala (Armpit Bangle) Theendalkattal (untouchability) Nada (Cheers) Nayattuhubhogam (Privilege for hunting) Naikudiparisha Nedizakuda (Royal Umbrella) Nettipetti (Cloth Box) Nettikettu (Head Dress) Veera vaadyam (Heroic Bugles) Veera madalam Veera srimkhala (Royal Chain) Viri panthal (Honour to errect Pandal) Venchamaram (Royal Fan) Sankhu (conch) Sangu Edam Piri (Conch with left screw) Sankhu Valampiri (conch with right screw) Bhoomi Karamozhivu (land tax evation) Nayattu (Hunting) Paalamarangal (Forest concession).