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PHASES OF PERSECUTION OF DEVASAHAYAM PILLAI AND HIS DEATH BY EXECUTION

The Baptism took place on 14th May 1745 and the arrest on 23rd February 1749. The things that happened between these two events set the stage for the tortures and the death of the Servant of God. What did the neophyte Devasahayam Pillai do during these years? Subsequent to his conversion to Christian faith, did he have to suffer some sort of persecution even before he was officially arrested by the soldiers of the kingdom? After speaking briefly on this question, we shall go through the different phases in the persecution of Devasahayam Pillai. We shall divide this chapter into the following parts:

  1. The Neophyte Devasahayam Pillai faces tension the Family and from the caste

  2. On coming home after baptism, the neophyte Devasahayam shared his joy with his wife and invited her too to share his joy. He did it from two aspects: first, because both were married they should follow the same path and secondly, because it was better for her to place her faith in the true God. He tells her:

    «Though we are two persons, aren’t we united as one in marriage? That being the case is it not wrong for you to worship false gods while I worship the true God? Since the true God is without any imperfections, and possesses all perfections in Him, and is capable of all things, if we worship Him, He will bless us with the fullness of life which will never pass away. Those who worship other gods will receive only eternal damnation in the fire of hell and will not receive the eternal happiness which does not pass away. Therefore, you must also accept the holy Faith.»3

    The first part of this saying is an appeal from the aspect of a couple following the same path in life. The second part is from the aspect of true faith.

    As Devasahayam was trying to evangelize his own wife, the persons opposed to him in this attempt was none other that Nilakandan’s mother-in-law, the mother of Bhargaviamma, who, as the Bishop of Cochin writes, “was vehement in her attempt to stop her daughter from becoming a Christian”4.

    The arguments and sharing of Devasahayam overtook the opposition of his mother-in-Law and Bhargaviamma was eventually baptized at Vadakkankulam and took the Christian name of Gnanapu, which is a Tamil rendering of the Christian name Theresa.5 Nevertheless one can see in this opposition a permanent trouble for the neophyte Devasahayam, brewing up within his own family against his new-found Christian faith. This should have eventually resulted in the ostracisation of the new Christian from the Nair caste and his wider family (though not from his wife), spearheaded by the mother-in-law.

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FOOT NOTE