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Situation leading to the Arrest

  1. A Christian in the Hindu palace

  2. As Neelakandan, now transformed into Devasahayam the Christian, resumed his duties in the palace he became an eyesore to his co-workers, especially to the Brahmins. His new way hurt their eyes: First, because of his new found faith, he stopped attending the religious rituals conducted on a regular basis in the temple attached to the palace. Instead he frequented to Catholic churches for Sacraments. Secondly, imbibed by the same faith, and following the example of Christ, he moved freely on terms of equality with the so-called low caste people. Table fellowship, the praxis of Jesus centuries ago, is the best expression of equality among human beings. Devasahayam chatted and ate with people of all castes and communities. Thirdly, strengthened by the grace of God and prompted by the Spirit of Christ, he announced the Gospel to others and argued against the superstitions and injustices perpetrated by the Brahmins and the ruling class.56

  3. His arguments with the Brahmins and especially with Dalava and Singaram Annavi and their waiting for an occasion to catch him

  4. The neophyte Devasahayam felt urged to speak out clearly about his new faith. This brought in heated arguments with the Brahmin priests and learned teachers. This was naturally too much for them, especially because as a palace official he was expected to uphold the supreme greatness of the religion in which the majority of the populace believed and which was the official religion of the King and the Kingdom.

    He declined to accept the “prasadam” (“sacred” food from temple) offered by a Brahman priest57. He spoke strongly against the priests who had been called in by his relatives to conduct a “pooja” (worship) in his home at Nattalam in reparation for the sin of forsaking the religion of the ancients. Emboldened by his faith in the Lord Jesus and strengthened by his conviction about the truth of the Christian religion, Devasahayam often challenged the Brahmins working in the palace to respond to his criticism of their teachings and beliefs. One day an important person in the king’s court, the chief secretary, tried to argue with the Servant of God with a view to win over him and make him renounce his Christian faith.

    Seeing the tenuous faith of Devasahayam, the official challenged the Servant of God saying that if he did not succeed in changing Devasahaym’s mind and driving the Christian religion out of the country, he would cease wearing the “poonul” (the sacred thread worn by the Brahmins as a mark of their superior status in the caste hierarchy). To this the Servant of God answered saying that if the Brahmin did not succeed in his challenge, the same poonul would become his araijnan or waist thread. The same kind of arguments had come up on another occasion when a Brahmin mendicant went to the neophyte for alms.58

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FOOT NOTE