Sunday, October 08, 2006

Unique Contributions of Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara in Education

Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, was a great sage that Kerala saw in the 19th century, who left indelible marks on the religious, social and educational fields of Kerala. It was he who began the transformation of the Catholics in Kerala, primarily engaged in and known for their acumen in agriculture and business, towards the top layer of educational, social and cultural horizons. It was his vision and farsightedness that enabled the Catholic community of Kerala reach the enviable position in educational field that it has acquired today. Fr. Chavara realized the vast potentials of ‘education’ and his work has played a unique role in the building of modern Kerala. If we have to know the depth of his contribution towards moulding the literate Kerala of today, we need to and look at the educational history of Kerala of the 19th century.


Kerala in those days was a land of family schools known as ‘kudipallikkoodam’ and learning centres under single tutors known as ‘Aasankalari’. Though the State was earlier divided into over 20 Principalities and later as Travancore, Cochin and Malabar, there was no noticeable change in the educational system followed by the people in the different regions. A slight change in the educational system took place with the arrival of the Missionaries from the west. The Sanskrit education that was prevalent in Kerala from the early days, did not give sufficient exposure to the Keralites to the outside world. Sanskrit was considered only as a medium of religious teachings and caste superiority.
The 1819 order of Queen Gowri Parvathy Bhai of Travancore,i setting up Vernacular schools could have brought about radical changes in the educational arena. Though a large number of schools were established after this declaration, many of them were closed down in a short span of time for various reasons. It was Swathi Thriunal Maharaja who began English education in Travancore. He brought Rev. Roberts, the Head Master of Nagarcoil Seminary, and started a school in 1834.ii The first English school of Cochin was established by Rev. Dasen in 1818 in Mattanchery.iii The Basel Mission established the first English School in Malabar – at Kallai in the year 1848.iv The first higher education centre of Travancore was the CMS school that was upgraded as a college in the year 1866. This school was started under the aegis of Church Mission Society to train the clergy in 1816.v Though there were such positive movements in the early part of the 19th century in the educational realm in Kerala, it was beyond the reach of the Syriac Catholics.


The Synod of Diamper (Udayamperur) was an event that changed the course of history of the Syriac Christians of Kerala. Besides making many basic changes in the worship and liturgy of the native Christians, the Synod also interfered in many other matters including education. The Synod prohibited Syriac Catholics learning from the people of other It also insisted that Syriac Christian tutors should not try any thing particular to attract the children of other faiths.vii The consequences of these restrictions on the community were too severe and negative in the context of the limited available educational opportunities.
Those who took over the rein of the Church after the Synod, did succeed to a great extent in implementing the Synodal decisions. The educational activities among the Syriac Christians were totally ignored until the foreign missionaries left the administration of the Church. It is recorded in the historical report of Ignatius Persico: “The Carmelites who rule the Syriac Christians have not done any thing considerable in the educational field.viii In general, the missionaries have not done anything remarkable for the education of the priests and the Christians who were entrusted to their care. The Syriac Christians who were experts in agriculture and business were not encouraged to tread in a changed path.”ix This is the basic reason for the absence of any leading literary figure or academic genius coming up from among the Syriac Christians before Blessed Chavara. The points noted in the Letter to the Prefect of the Propaganda by the assembly of Syriac clergy on October 5, 1884, is noteworthy here. “There is no one from among the Syriac Christians who have completed college education and secured a degree. There are more than a hundred degree holders among the Jacobites. While there are many lawyers, doctors and judges in other communities, there is none among us."x


The response of Fr. Chavara to the pathetic condition of the community to which he belonged was very extra-ordinary. Fr. Chavara taking up the leadership of the first monastic Congregation of India, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), channellized his and the Congregation’s divine charisms towards the progress of the society. He made a great opening for the overall progress of the Syriac Christians by establishing the first school and a printing press to facilitate its all round development.
Fr. Chavara, who had not seen the corridors of systematic schooling, was determined that the formal education that was denied to him and his ancestors, had to be made available to the contemporary and future generations. The projects that he implemented to uplift the fellow brethren from the pathetically backward conditions in education, are symbols of his farsightedness and courage. The members of his Congregation keep alive that passion for the community in taking the lead role in educational field even today. It is an undisputed fact that the greatest contribution of the Congregation to the people of Kerala is education in high standards. If there is any field where the minority Christians have got universal acclaim in the country, it is the educational field. It is true that the schools have never aimed at turning the country Christian at any point of time. But the role played by these Christian institutions in building up a Christian vision of ethics in identifying and responding to moral and immoral acts, is not small.xi


An isolated stand from the material welfare of the fellow brethren will weaken any religious organization. Fr. Chavara wanted to overcome such an unpalatable situation. On the 15th year of the commencement of the monastery at Mannanam, i.e., in the year 1846, he established a Sanskrit school. Sanskrit was made the medium of education here for the fear that English education might spread the Protestant ideology. This severe attitude of the administrators had the backing of the Synod of Diamper. The status that Sanskrit had among the people in the upper layer of the then society might also have influenced him in adopting Sanskrit as the medium of education in this school. Fr. Parappurath Varkey, one of the contemporaries of Fr. Chavara, recorded about the establishment of this school like this : “Along this time a Sanskrit school was establishment as part of the Mannanam Monastery. The priestly inmates and children from the neighbourhood were studying here. A tutor belonging to the Varyar community was brought from Thrissur, to run this School. He was well versed both in Malayalam and Sanskrit."xii
The success of the Sanskrit school made Fr. Chavara more enthusiastic. He began to focus on the downtrodden in the society. He realized that the lamentable condition of the backward and depressed class could not be changed merely by financial support. The Mannanam and Arpookara schools are living examples of his attempts to revive the very humanity of these poor communities, that was thrashed down by the unjust social system, through literacy and civilization. These schools were the silver stars that spread glitters in the inner soul of these downtrodden members of the society who were deprived admission to public schools.xiii On this Fr. Parappurath Varkey wrote: “While the work on the Mannanam School began, a place on the Arpookara Thuruthumali hill was located to build a Chapel and school for the converts from the Pulaya caste." xiv Fr. Chavara was the first Indian who not only dared to admit the untouchables to schools but also provided them with Sanskrit education which was forbidden to the lower castes, thereby challenging social bans based on caste, as early as the former part of the 19th century.xv


We have seen that in the 19th century there were very few schools in Kerala. Starting a school itself was a great deed. It was in such a context that Fr. Chavara thought of establishing higher education centres. It was his desire to start a central college at Mannanam,xvi that would help the multifaceted growth of the Syriac Christians. He began his efforts towards achieving this goal. Unfortunately it was exactly at this time the event that shook the whole Kerala Church took place– the arrival of Bishop Roccos in Kerala. The administrators of the Church who totally failed to resist the tide of Roccos had but one choice before them – to promote the universally acceptable Fr. Chavara to the top of the leadership. In June 1861, Archbishop Bernardinos appointed Fr. Chavara as the Vicar General of the Malabar Church with wide powers. He was then transferred to Koonammavu. His attachment to the monastery where he spent more than 30 years of active life and the dream to transform Mannanam as a major educational centre did not stand on the way of this great martyr of obedience. Later, he could not return to Mannanam and due to the busy schedules of the new assignment as Vicar General his dream of establishing the college remained unfulfilled.


After taking over as the Vicar General, Fr. Chavara gave a resplendent leadership to the Kerala Church. The root cause for the tremendous growth of education and hundred percent literacy in Kerala can be traced back to a circular of Archbishop Bernadinos, that Fr. Chavara got issued. The circular was that “each parish should establish educational institutions, or else they will be debarred from the communion”. It was a warning circular. The order that the churches that do not follow the instructions would be closed down, had salutary impact in creating a revolutionary change in the academic hemisphere. That circular which was written by Fr. Chavara in his own hand, was signed with the official seal by the Archbishop Bernadinos. Fr. Chavara did not remain complacent after getting the circular issued. He delegated the members of his Congregation to ensure the implementation of the order and to energize educational activities. Each monastery was to oversee these activities of the parish churches in its neighourhood.xvii Schools attached to the churches thus became the live wire and symbols of educational activities in Kerala.


Priests are the spokespersons of any religion. The role of priests in shaping the public image of religion is immense. For this reason every religion paid special attention in moulding efficient priests. It was not otherwise in Christianity as well. The Catholic Church had always taken the training of the clergy very seriously. Seminaries are centers for training the clergy. The present day seminary system was originally established by the Synod of Trent (1545-1563).

In Europe and other western countries, several renowned learning centres have come up along with the Seminaries. Though the western missionaries had started a few seminaries in Kerala, the majority of the Syriac priests including Fr. Chavara had their basic learning from religious tutors called ‘Malpans’. However, there were very few among them who were knowledgeable and scholarly. Fr. Chavara who understood these ground realities, took the lead in establishing seminaries along with monasteries. He was aware that only erudite and scholarly priests could lead the community and the society to progress. In 1833 he established the first Seminary of Syriac Christians at Mannanam. This was followed by the establishment of Seminaries at Vazhakulam in 1866 and Elthuruth in 1868.xviii The foundation of the seminary at Pulincunnoo also was initiated by Fr. Chavara but which was realized only in 1872. In the course of time the vision of Fr.Chavara got realized. What happened in Europe, did happen in Kerala too. Mannanam, Vazhakulam, Elthuruth and Pulincunnoo became leading educational centres of Kerala.


If the foundation of the religious Congregation was the out come of the collective efforts of many, including Fr. Chavara, the educational activities sprang from Fr. Chavara’s vision alone. He knew the value of education. When the thought came as to which would be the right platform the Congregation should step into in order to uplift the community, it was the field of education that blazed bright before him. If the establishment of the Congregation has helped the spiritual growth of the Malabar Church, the educational activities paved the way for the overall growth of the Kerala society.
Blessed Chavara had a clear vision on education. He wrote: “As soon as children are able to recognize things, they should be sent to school. Besides, the parents should enquire about their studies and their friendship. Every Sunday, their learning should be checked.”xix He entrusted the well to do members of the community and the parishes with the responsibility of providing educational facilities for poor students. He also found out viable means to maintain the schools established by him.xx In considering Blessed Chavara’s contribution towards education, it is not the number of schools established by him that matters most. Rather it is the new thought process he injected into the consciousness of the society that education is inevitable for its all-round progress and development. Further, he made it obligatory to the parish churches and monasteries to provide the people with learning facilities, in spite of all sorts of inconveniences. Blessed Chavara’s vision of education is unique and ever relevant in this regard.
i Sarvavijnana Kosam (Encyclopaedia) vol.8 Thiruvananthapuram: State Institute of Encyclopaedic Publications, Keralam, 390.
ii Sarvavijnana Kosam, 386.
iii Sarvavijnana Kosam, 387.
iv Vijnanam Malayalam Encyclopaedia Vol.8 Thiruvanathapuram: A. Sreedhara Menon, ‘Kerala Charithram’, 9761.
v Sarvavijnana Kosam, 386.
vi Udayamperoor Soonahadosinte Kanonakal Session 111, Decree 12.
vii Udayamperoor Soonahadosinte Kanonakal Session 111, Decree 11.
viii Paingot, Charles. Kerala Sabha Pathonpatham Noottandil Kottayam; OIRSI, 41.
ix Paingot, Charles, 70.
x Archives of Oriental Congregation, s.c. Malabaresi Quote in Paingote, Charles, 103.
xi Kilichimala, Kraisthava Vidyalayangalude Avasyakatha, Article in Chavara Charamasadabdi, 160.
xii Parappram, Nalagamam, 1474.
xiii Thondipura, Chavarayachan: Samudayika Parishkarthavu, Article in Chavara Charamasadabdi, 58.
xiv Parappram, Nalagamam
xv Kokkttu, Wilson. Vazhthappetta Chavarayachante Dalit Darsanam, 8.
xvi Romeo, Thomas. Malankara Sabha Mathavinte Oru Vira Santhanam, 138.
xvii Valerian. Malankarasabhamathavinte Oru Veerasanthanam, 138.
xviii John, Romeo. Vazhthappetta Chavarayachan: Vyaktiyum Vikshanavum Vol. 1., 67-68.
xix Chavara, Kuriakose Elias. Oru Nalla Appante Chavarul, 18.
xx Kanjirathinkal, Varghese. Kerala Deepam, 38.

Philosophical Foundations of Fr. Placid Podipara’s Theology

“There is no province of human experience, there is nothing in the whole realm of reality, which lies beyond the domain of philosophy,” thus writes John Carid. Adherence to the theological precepts never makes any one devoid of philosophical insights. The role of real philosophers is to help to build the world anew. A humble attempt is made here to appreciate the role of philosophy in the life of Fr. Placid, the great ecclesiastical luminary of the Indian Church in the 20th century. Man is not merely a socio-psycho-physical being. He is, indeed, a spiritual being. Hence, philosophy is concerned with rational and systematic explanation or interpretation of all types of human experience. Thus, it is evident that the scope of philosophy is quite vast and covers all such things, which are of concern for human beings. Philosophy is not merely a way of thought, but is a way of life. In India, philosophy is for life, it is to be lived. The various systems of philosophy in India are not merely interested in intellectual satisfaction, but they have the touch of humanity.

Fr. Placid was not an exception to this. As a profound historian and theologian of 20th century, he is in the line of the Fathers of the Church. He revolted against the colonial attitude of the Latin Church, stood for the restoration of the identity of the individual churches and researched relentlessly to unveil the authentic identity and the true history of them. He philosophized his daily-lived experience. He had a way very distinct from his contemporaries. Actually, this is the true mode of every philosopher. He dealt ecclesiology, Church History, Liturgy, Canon Law and many other theological disciplines with such a vision that everything originated from him had something philosophical in the essence. To have in writing, what actually ‘his philosophy’ is, it may lack the systematic formulations. However, I use here some of his writings, which bring about a few of his philosophical insights which are very much connected with the Oriental Churches. The concepts of identity, individuality, truth and many other philosophical themes are directly or indirectly shone forth in his writings, his deeds and above all throughout his life. Since philosophy is the science of sciences, and it deals with everything, I am so proud enough to name the philosophy promulgated through Fr. Placid’s life as ‘ecclesial philosophy.’

The philosophy and vision of Fr. Placid has become a part of the thought-structure of the modern Church. His influence is not limited to the East, but is also penetrating to the West. The existential concerns of the present century got a parallel counterpart in the field of ecclesiology. Fr. Placid is undoubtedly one of the most gifted original thinkers of the liberative movement of the Oriental Churches in the 20th century. As he himself once put it, he was neither pro-oriental nor an anti-occidental, nor he was of any syndicate, but an obedient son of the Catholic Church, who believed in the identity and individuality of churches. In the process of analyzing the thought process of Fr. Placid, I have tried to acquaint my readers with one of the premises of his basic philosophy i.e., each individual is unique and this uniqueness provides ample explanation for the communion of individuals.

This article examines and analyses the philosophical foundations of Fr. Placid’s ecclesiology with a view to bring out his seminal contribution to the study of history and greatness of Churches, which are as old as Christianity itself. I may peep into Fr. Placid’s penetrating analysis of the Church, especially the individuality of Churches. Fr. Placid, unlike the so-called philosophers, was not a system-builder. No philosophical treatises are ascribed to him. Drawn into the vertex of reformation movement, he was reaching to particular events, sometimes creating them also. A correct perspective is often developed by one’s objective approach to the social process as well as by the issues and the influences of different ideological currents and events on that particular individual. It is from these different aspects that an individual’s thought-pattern or his ecclesial vision is formed.

Fr. Placid’s ideas lie scattered in many of his writings, speeches, articles contributed to journals, lectures and activities. However, a survey through all these brings to one’s notice, an inner consistency of ideas which is a unique characteristic of philosophizing. His preoccupation with the concepts of identity, equality, freedom etc. which appear explicitly and implicitly in all his writings and utterances weave a consistency which go in for making the core of his philosophy. He developed an ‘ecclesial philosophy,’ which is obviously visible if we make an empirical examination and a critical analysis of his life and works.

Authenticity of Fr. Placid’s Personality
An authentic person is one who knows his way, walks along it and leads others through it. This authenticity makes a person a real philosopher. Fr. Placid knew, walked and led others in the right way. Fr. Placid’s one and only aim in life was “to be the witness of truth.” Truth meant to him is not a biased or a diluted one, but the ultimate truth. He searched incessantly for the unchangeable truth. He not only searched but also did researches on the proved and believed truths in the field of ecclesiology and church history. To his great dismay, he found that much of the concepts in the mind of the folk of the Church in his time were mere shadows of truth. They resembled truths but were not exactly truths. Whatever be the criterion, truth is ultimately one and the same. There was a consistent struggle between the Patriarchs of both East and West, over their supremacy. During his seminary days, young Placid had quietly prepared a very scholarly book entitled “The Patriarch of Antioch.” It was a historic-dogmatic polemic for the primacy of St. Peter and his successors. With more than 400 citations from the Scriptures and from the early Christian writings he proved that Rome and not Antioch was the seat of the primacy of Peter. It was a prophetic call to the separated Jacobite brethren of Kerala to return to the mother Church and to reunion with Rome. The book was found to be of such topical interest that it was from the pen of a person who is often referred as one with strong oriental feelings.

Jiddu Krishnamurthi, one of the most famous contemporary religious thinkers and philosophers, once said: ”Truth is what you are. Truth is a living thing.” In the life and works of Fr. Placid, we can see this impressive idea. He truly lived and his was truth itself. All his works were the expression of truth. As in the case of Krishnamurthi, he also considered truth as a living thing. In as many fields he engaged, such as ecclesiology, church history, liturgy etc., he was the proponent of truth. He never swallowed ideas without critical evaluation. Through his life, he poured out the authentically unquestionable and worthily mentionable variety of the trait of personality. His searches and researches were for practicality rather than for mere ideology.

Less words, more deeds 

Great men of the world are not of words but of deeds. As Charles Sanders Pierce says, ”Beliefs are rules for action; and the whole function of thinking is but one step in the production of active habits.” This does not mean that words are not necessary. Words are necessary and essential for everyone. But greatness is weighed only by considering how one’s words go hand in hand with one’s actions. Fr. Placid could do a lot to the church as a whole and Indian Church in particular. His field of activities never bound him to a particular section. He was fully to the universal church. He was a peritus ( expert) in the II Vatican Council, consulter to many bishops, professor of a number of great sons of the Church, member of the Pontifical Commission of the codification of Canon Law of the Oriental Churches, consulter to the Holy See etc. It is mainly because of his relentless work in Rome, Oriental Churches in India could extend their boundaries outside Kerala and in particular Syro-Malabar Church is raised to the status of a Major-Archie Episcopate, functionally equal to a patriarchate. Man for a cause In a flash back to the history of mankind, we see that only a few persons could live for a certain cause. They are the ones who are actually the makers of history. They are always single-minded. They never go for a compromise at the cost of the cause they stand for life. They are rebels in the eyes of people with vested interests and because of their propaganda, in the eyes of all who watch them from a distance. The acid test for such persons is the test of time itself. Billions and billions of people were born and lived in this world through centuries. But only a few are still remembered. These died-but-living personalities contributed much to the social, cultural and religious upliftment of the generations. One such luminary is Fr. Placid. He lived for a cause, a cause which many dare not to take up; a cause which was to the integral development of Oriental Churches. His mindset was sharp and transparent in this regard. Whatever hiccups he got, no matter how others treated, he was alone in the battlefield. He fought steadily and earnestly for the establishment of truth.

Being, not Having

One of the most famous existentialist philosophers of the 20th century, Gabriel Marcel, proposed the idea of “being and having.” In his view, there are two basic attitudes in humankind. One is either a person of being or a person of having. Person of “having” mentality finds every other as an object. He always looks for the benefits he could receive from others. Achievement is the motivating factor for his life. On the other hand, a person of “being” is one who, shares, cares and gives oneself completely. He upholds the ideas of communion and fellowship. Fulfillment is the motivating factor in his life. Taking into account, the life and principles of Fr. Placid, we can categorically affirm that he was a man of being. He was what he was. Or he was not what he had. His practice of religious life was never vertical to the horizontality of ideal religious life. In Fr. Placid we see the functionality of the ideas of Marcel. The philosophical mindset of Fr. Placid could overshadow the petty thoughts for life and fame. Fr. Placid’s unassuming power of living a life of authenticity is a model to all in this age of increasing complexity. As time and space changes, truth can be repositioned. But ultimate and universal truth never moves a bit from it position. Fr. Placid lived quarter a century as a shining star in the holy city Rome, but nothing affected his life principles. He proved himself as someone of a rare breed.

Togetherness as the focal point of values 

Togetherness is an important value. Fr. Placid emphasized ‘togetherness’ in every field of activity. Values grow only in the context of togetherness. Considering the special situation of India, it is necessary and must to have the feeling of togetherness. Ours is a pluralistic society. Here, churches have a very special role to witness Christian life and faith in the field of their apostolic activities through mutual cooperation, dialogue and collaboration. Desolation of the identity and thus merging as one church or as one rite is not an intelligible idea for the churches in India. Because, as Buber puts it, “Only in the context of a strong ‘I’, ‘We’ grows and only in the context of a strong ‘We’, ‘I’ grows.” By mutually sharing and caring every church can grow into its potential, a state every church is supposed to attain. Fr. Placid stressed the idea of ‘togetherness’ not exactly as the philosophers used, because his field of activities centered round the church. As a whole, we can see the idea of ‘togetherness’ beetling in the life and works of Fr.Placid. Accepting the Other as a Person A person becomes a person only in the context of another. We see in the person of Fr. Placid, this unassuming quality. He fought to wipe out the casteism and untouchability prevailed in the ecclesial circles. Whatever be the denomination, Latin or Syrian or Malankara, everybody has the same position, dignity right and mission as far as Catholic teachings are concerned. In other words, one is not superior to other in any respect. Catholic Church is a union of 22 individual churches of five different traditions. Latin Church is one among them only, which even today many do not know or pretend to be ignorant of.

Identity of Individuality 

Principle of individuality is defined as “the idea that which uniquely identifies an individual.” Natures’ goal is man’s individuality. In the case of Churches also this characteristic note is valid. In the ecclesiastical circles, the term individuality frequently occurs now in the discussion of personal identity and of the way in which an individual Church is to be identified in relation to others. Dun Scotus’ theory of haecceity is almost similar to Fr. Placid’s idea of the identity and individuality of Churches. Haecceity means ‘the formal property of a person or an object by virtue of which it is uniquely individuated as just this person or object. Identity of Individual Churches The concept of identity is a multiloquent one in this age of cross-cultural cooperations. Whether one has to preserve one’s identity or to lose it depends on the type of personality trait one has developed. Every individual has an identity of his own. So also is the case of every community. Being unaware of one’s identity is ridiculous in nature. Hence Fr. Placid, being an authentic personality, undoubtedly made use of the sense of identity. In the dispute of identity of his mother church, he researched and brought into limelight the special notes that identify her. In this process, it is very evident that, his philosophical mind is revealed. For, the Latin proverb tells, Nemo Dat Quod Non Habet, which means ‘no one can give what one does not have.’ His concept of the identity of the church of St. Thomas Christians is clearly put in the article ‘Hindu in Culture, Christian in Creed and Oriental in Worship’ which is published in 1973. View on individuality of churches According to Fr. Placid, each Church is an expression of faith by a community who shares and lives according to the evangelical counsels. Every Church is individual in itself. Because of their individual nature, they are free too. Throne of Peter is in the Latin Church. It does not mean that every other Church is subservient to it. Bishop of Rome, Pope, is first among equals only. Everyone has the right to be free, to be authentic and to be unique. In the Catholic Church, the order of values is not ‘maximum control and minimum freedom’ but, ‘minimum control and maximum freedom.’ It is this concept that is stressed in II Vatican council. The council termed it as the principle of subsidiarity, which is in fact coined by Pope Pius XI. Church always proclaims freedom of the individuals. This freedom is valid not only for individuals but also for every Church, which is in communion with the Catholic Church. The term Church refers not only to the universal church but also to every individual community of the faithful. Only in a close encounter between the churches, freedom can be satisfactorily experienced. Churches in India are facing this situation now. Today, church needs, not uniformity but unity; it needs not centralization but a centre. Fr. Placid reiterated the need for having more freedom and self-reliance for the Churches of every nation and continent to solve the problems, hassles and obligations. This is actually the practical side of the ‘principle of subsidiarity.’


Fr. Placid was a profound and authentic authority regarding the ancient history of the Church of Kerala. Fr. Placid approached historical ventures with an objective examination and subjective evaluation. “Fr. Placid was a person who wrote historical treatises only after studying the true documents. Therefore it is befitting to say without the least exaggeration that whatever he wrote, were ‘original.’” Usually, history is written by the winners. Hence all the histories, in one way or the other, contain biased materials to support the part of the winners. There are many persons who wrote the history of St. Thomas Christians of Kerala. Most of them are written either to support certain blocks or as a result of mere speculations. There are a few historical documents remaining in Kerala about the pre-Portuguese period. So, it is very difficult from the part of the writers to show justice to the historical writings. It needs an earnest mental disposition to take pains to conduct researches and to write. Hardly, we see these qualities among the historians. Fr. Placid was an exception to this natural phenomenon. He had the metal to be different. All his works bring forth originality and authenticity. From the very dawn of his historical excavations, he was loyal to the sources and that made him what he was. Frankly speaking, fidelity and faithfulness to the sources was seen in all his endeavours. “Fr. Placid is hailed as the historian of the Malabar Church. His researches and investigations into the stygian darkness of the past brought to limelight the pristine practices and traditions of our ancient Church.”

 “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost There are plenty of paths, which are already used by many. There are many other ways, which are liked by many. But, only a few could walk through the less traveled paths. This few are the extra-ordinaries among the ordinaries. They are the product of the time. They have been formed to open up virgin paths so that others can walk along them. Fr. Placid was one such a person. He was a person having a universal outlook and unique lifestyle. He was a man of great vision; a man of insight and foresight. He lived ahead of his time. He was an exemplary religious. He never lost his identity even in the midst of the strong undercurrents, which resulted in the eradication of many. He never sacrificed principles for momentariness. He lived a church-oriented life, stemmed out of his God-orientation. Every form or genuine greatness is a reflection of the “all Holy.” Hence, he had genuine greatness. He had no pretensions whatsoever and he stood for his ideals. He had the natural simplicity of a villager shone forth in his words and deeds, though he is counted among the megastars of the Church at that time. Even at the highest of his power and influence, he was courteous and very respectful to even the least.

The history of mankind, down through the centuries, reveals and affirms one fact; the persons who went through life with a precise goal, a definite idea, with one ambition, a motive force, always succeeded in their lives. Failures never daunt their virile spirit. Fr.Placid’s definite goal spurred him on to great success. Difficulties and trials manifest genuine stuff, what one is! Suffering reveals one’s true personality, the genus of courage, fidelity and heroism. Confucius, the wise from China, once said: “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man be perfected without tears.” Fr. Placid was exactly a very extraordinary stuff of person who marched alone along the path of opposites. At the same time, he was a prophet of coexistence, mutual sharing and caring.