Buddha’s Tooth, Peter’s Bones and Jesuit Pope’s Hypocrisy

pic of Buddha from the RijksMuseum posted by Arun ShanbhagCirca 1560 CE
Portuguese forces based in Goa, India, raided the town of Jaffnapatam, Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). They looted the temples and pagodas and torched the town. One of the items they stole was a reliquary containing a tooth of Buddha – the Enlightened One.

The Buddhist community was distraught and the King of Pegu (present day Myannmar) sent an ambassaor to Goa and offered to pay an astronomical ransom of 300,000 – 400,000 cruzados for the return of the sacred relic. The Portuguese Viceroy of Goa, Constantino de Braganza was inclined to accept the ransom and return the tooth. He argued it would help with the States needs. Strenuous discussion between the political and religious groups, primarily the Jesuit priests took place in Goa during the spring of 1561.

For context, in the previous winter of 1560 the King of Portugual, at the urgings and admonitions of Francis Xavier, had established the Inquisition in Goa. New Inquisitors along with a zealous archbishop Gaspar Leao Periera had arrived in Goa. It was the beginning of a long reign of terror unleashed on the Hindus, Jews and Muslims in Goa and would last for ~ 250 years.

Banner of the Inquisition in Goa India posted by Arun ShanbhagWith the Inquisition in the backdrop, the zealous Jesuits warned that accepting the ransom in exchange of the tooth would be a serious sin, encourage idolatory of the heathens (yes, Hindus were called heathens, idolators and barbarians) and dishonor the (christian) lord. Perhaps they even believed that by destroying temples, pagodas, and now the tooth, it would showcase the power of the christians and compel the natives to convert in fear.

The Viceroy worried that he could be a target of the Inquisition and could be burn’t at the stake if he did not go along, and relented.

In front of a large crowd of townspeople, including the Ambassador from Pegu, the Viceroy handed the tooth to the Archbishop, who placed it in a mortar and pounded it to a powder. He cast the powder in a fiery brazier. The Jesuits must have really worried about the sacred powers of the tooth, cause they even took the ash and charcoal from the brazier and dumped it in the middle of the river Gomti (present day Mandovi).

Fast forward 452 years to the present.
During Sunday mass in Rome, Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit priest unveiled bone fragments of Peter. The fragments were showcased in a jewel box inside a bronze display case. The Pope even “clutched the case in his arms for several minutes.”

Isn’t this hypocrisy? The Christians blamed the Hindus of idolatory and destroyed the Buddha’s tooth; yet today they venerate bones suspected from one of their own. Vatican experts and archaelogists doubt the authenticity of the fragments which were held for many years in a shoebox in an attic of a worker. But the Pope considers them sacred with nary a thought of idolatory.

Credits: Both pics are from the Rijksmuseum Online collection and available for free use.


19 thoughts on “Buddha’s Tooth, Peter’s Bones and Jesuit Pope’s Hypocrisy

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    1. Over the last 5+ years I have done extensive research on the Inquisition and the difficulties that the hindus had to go thro were horrifying. I started out by researching the history of our Konkani Temples in Goa and that led me to the Portuguese. One of these days, I will put it together, likely still as a history of the Temples.

      And yes, so few even know of the Inquisition. Interestingly, Hindus go to pray at the tomb of Francis Xavier, little do they know that he was responsible for bringing the Inquisition to Goa and for the subsequent genocide of the Hindus in Goa.
      /rant *phew*

      Happy New Year,

      1. You know I was always fascinated by Konkanis in Kerala and how they have evolved and yet kept their identity and I have a close friend from there, then I met a close friend who was also Konkani but from Goa and the nuances and similarities between the two fascinated me. This was 20 years ago and I was a teenager and thought about it..but couldnt research it as much as I have now.
        you know praying is not such a bad thing,Xavier did bring the inquisition to India, you are right, but what I like about India is their ability to celebrate and rejoice in any religion. In the US its about being tolerant, in India its about celebrating.
        And thats whats great about it.

        1. I went to a catholic school and have no problems in celebrating Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Jainism, or anything else. I just want to make informed decisions about honoring folks who worked hard to destroy our people and their faith.

          In many ways India is more secular than the US; In the US I have never seen a celebration of Islam; in Mumbai particularly, it is difficult not to participate and enjoy Ramzan and eid.

          1. you are correct. I have a hard time with Columbus day! Why are we honoring a tyrant? a mass murderer, same for Francis Xavier. Ironically they do it in the name of Jesus (…) . I doubt he would have been ordering inquistions or such. The things people do for power and money and then blame it on religion.
            Which is why I celebrate culturally. I would love to read about the history of the temples.

        2. Hi Aaina – In India especially in the cities it has become a test of tolerance and not celebrations anymore. I do not know how recently you have visited India in the past and especially during festivals – the celebrations have constantly degraded and has become a mere tolerance test. For eg. the Ganesh utsav – Ganesha is taken to the immersion on the streets by drunk people dancing to the tunes of “Halkat Jawaani” and “Munni Badnam Huwi”.

          Religion/culture was a way of living and still remains so. However, a persons ability to understand its profoundness has degraded over the time.

  1. Luis,
    As a former catholic and now a non religious person, let me be the first to tell you, if you think the Church didnt order the inquisition or crusades that killed millions of people, you need to crack open a history book. Look at what we have dont to the Native Americans.
    Look at what that Tyrant Columbus did.
    The indigenous people he encountered, the Lucayan, Taíno, or Arawak, were peaceful and friendly. Noting their gold ear ornaments, Columbus took some of the Arawaks prisoner and insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold.[48] From the 12 October 1492 entry in his journal, in which he wrote of them, “Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. If it pleases our Lord, I will take six of them to Your Highnesses when I depart, in order that they may learn our language.”[49] He remarked that their lack of modern weaponry and even metal-forged swords or pikes was a tactical vulnerability, writing, “I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased.”[50]
    Source Wikipedia

    Within a few years of his landing, all of the indigenous people whio had lived there for thousands of years were killed,hundreds of languages lost and spanish established.

    If Arun, feels the pope is being hypocritical he has every right to feel so, his people had to flee from their homeland in order to avoid Persecution by the Portuguese.
    If you think religions havent been the bane of humanity, look around you without a prejudiced eye.

  2. Arun, your post is full of anguish, and some anger too. I honestly don’t find hatred in it as someone has said.
    Americans object to yoga being taught in schools as they worry that their children may be fed alien concepts in the guise of exercise. Should Indians worry about what ‘The Joshua Project’ is doing in India? This project was started by Bush in the nineties as ‘AD 2000 and Beyond’. If India were a Christian country this would be a commendable thing to do. But India isn’t.
    Some Indians do worry that The Joshua Project can destabilize India, especially the restive northeast. They say that as religion and culture are connected, people who come under the influence of The Joshua Project will likely start disconnecting culturally from India as they adopt the new values that have been fed to them.
    They worry that Indians living in those parts may demand a separate country once their cultural ties to India are weakened. What happens to India’s integrity then? Will we have one more frontier with enemies on the other side?
    I think ‘religion’ has become unnecessarily complicated. We should’ve stuck to the nature worship of all our collective ancestors – Indian, Mesopotamian, Syrian (Hittite), Greek, Celtic, Norse, Egyptian, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, African, Inca, Oz aborigines – every culture worshiped only Nature and was better off for having done so.

    1. Hi Shyamala,
      Thank you for leading me to search for the Joshua Project. It is yet another example why Hindus and others need to organize and resist the Christian Crusades, yet again.

      It is also more scary because it has the tacit (and often overt) backing of Western governments and money.

      Its time to rededicate out selves to our faiths,
      Happy New year

  3. It wasn’t so much that a tooth (or a bone) was/is considered sacred, rather that it was a BUDDHIST tooth rather than a Catholic one. Catholics have a LONG history of venerating relics, be they bones or bits of hair or fragments of cloth, whether “authenticated” or not.

    1. Thank you Esther and sorry for the delay in replying.
      Please see the note on the Joshua Project and you will see how the Crusades (or Inquisition) haven’t really ended.

      Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

  4. Hi Arun,
    Yet one more truth surfacing! All the stories from our colonial past is nothing but a irreparable loss of our culture,our way of living and more importantly our self esteem. We are yet to learn the values of unity(from our aggressors – both outside and inside) for a better and balanced future. As someone rightly pointed Sardar Patel united the land mass once again but no one could unite the Hindus. We are still a dissipated and disparate lot. God only knows who will colonize us next!!!

  5. Your post is interesting to learn from history. Nevertheless comparing what jesuits did more than 450 years ago to the modern Day jesuit Pope is completely unfair. The context and way of thinking is completely different.
    Your comments seem full of hate and dont fit in to the Love you supposedly share in your teachings. This is it for me in your blogs that are moré focused on your ego and selling than spreading real Love. My best wishes to you and Drew.

    1. Luis, I am sorry that you feel that way, but there is no statute of limitations on genocide.

      The clarifying light of history can indeed be scary for those who wish the truth can be swept away with a new makeover. But as you well know, those seeking forgiveness need to fully confess their sins. The Catholic church has never revealed all the details of the Inquisition, particularly in Goa, … and make amends.

      As we would say in Goa, Dev Barae Karo (May God treat you well)

    2. Luis, with all respect, the reason you say this is because you do not know very much about Jesuits. Their mandate has not changed, it has only become more clandestine through the centuries. This is an understatement of course.
      In no way what-so-ever did this great little article come across as ‘full of hate’.
      I’d like to see more like it. The history of the Jesuits has to be, nay, needs to be exposed world wide for the diabolical order they truly are, for they are still in control of our earth and all in it.

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