NEW WEBSITE: www.ephesians-511.net AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2006
CATHOLIC PRIEST INVESTS RS. 15 MILLION IN A MUSIC AUDIO,
FLOATS LIMITED COMPANY WORTH RS. 100 CRORES
This exposé concerns the production of a music audio in praise of the Hindu god Shiva and the floating of a limited company by Catholic priests, with the blessings of a Bishop, and the [mis]use of Catholic [Madras-Mylapore Archdiocesan and Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council] organizations, facilities, man-power and other resources for the purpose.
FR. JEGATH GASPAR RAJ, a Catholic priest, founder of TAMIL MAIYAM, an organisation with the stated aim of the promotion of Tamil arts, literature and culture, joins hands with Tamil maestro Ilaiyaraaja to produce a music audio of Thiruvasagam, a collection of poems written by Manickavasagar, a 13th century devotee of Shiva, in praise of the Hindu god.
The priest, with the blessings of Most Rev. Antony Devotta, Bishop of Tiruchirappalli, and the support of other Catholic priests, Fr. Vincent Chinnadurai, Fr. Lourdu Anandam, Fr. M.A. Joe Antony S.J. [Editor of the New Leader], Fr. Joe Arun S.J. [Director of the Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions, Loyola College campus, Chennai], and the full knowledge of Archbishop Most Rev. Malayappan Chinnappa SDB and Auxiliary Bishop Most Rev. Lawrence Pius Dorairaj of Madras-Mylapore, uses the studios, offices, communications systems, infrastructure, personnel, time [over 3 years] and money of the Church in the pursuit of his goal, with a budget of Rs. 1.5 crore [Rs. 15 million] towards which he has made borrowings of at least Rs. 1 crore [Rs. 10 million], much of it at an interest rate of 20%.
Fr. Jegath was an acknowledged supporter of Tamil Eelam, the separatist movement in Sri Lanka of the Tamil Tigers of the LTTE. Those connections, and his stint with Radio Veritas, Manila, gave him a popularity base which helped in his overseas visits for raising funds for Tamil Maiyam’s Thiruvasagam venture. The project has also made him popular within the Tamil Shaivaite community, particularly Brahmins, as is evidenced in the postings on the Ilaiyaraaja Fans Yahoogroups, where many Ilaiyaraaja fans and Thiruvasagam devotees come out on the side of the Catholic priest when the project runs into staggering financial losses, reported in the press at over Rs. 60 lakhs [Rs. 6 million] for the priest and his Tamil Maiyam, and disputes arise between the priest and the maestro.
Says Fr. Jegath, “At Tamil Maiyam, we went on a borrowing spree to fund the project. Our borrowings now stand at about Rs. 75,00,000, some of it at over 20 per cent interest rates.” On June 30, 2005, at the release function of the Thiruvasagam audio, he states that his debts are Rs. 1 crore.
On 25 Sep. 2005, a source close to Fr. Jegath quotes the priest as stating that his losses are Rs. 1 crore (10 million).
Some members of the fan club cry foul, support Ilaiyaraaja, but others claim that Tamil Maiyam adopted an uninformed marketing strategy despite the high profile free-ride given by the print media towards awareness, accuse Tamil Maiyam and the priest of incompetence and skimming off the money, and demand that accounts be made public. Fr. Jegath elects to “forgive” Ilaiyaraaja, and, despite the bombing of his initial foray into music, he embarks on a new musical project called “Mozart Meets India”, and floats a limited company called Goodwill Communications Ltd. with a share capital of Rs 100 crores [Rs. 1000 million] through a Church organization under the chairmanship of the same Bishop, Most Rev. Antony Devotta of Trichy, with Fr. Vincent Chinnadurai and Fr. Lourdu Anandam, and with himself as Managing Director.
This gives rise to more speculation, and many questions, including how he has cleared [if it all he has] the massive debts that Thiruvasagam incurred, who paid most of the bills in its production from Catholic institutions, whether there has been proper acknowledgement and auditing of the donations, whether it is ethical or permissible for a Catholic priest to float a limited company ostensibly for doing business, etc. etc.
Fr. Jegath has also used the students, not a few of them Catholics, of the Loyola College, Stella Maris College, and some convent schools for campaigning and for dance and drama performances including the Thiruvasagam release function, where obeisance was paid to Shiva.
“The involvement of the Catholic Church in the project was a great service to India” says Mr. N. Ram, the editor-in-chief of The Hindu. Fr. Jegath “assured that most of the churches and catholic organizations were in support of him in this project and he mentioned that his bishop had really appreciated him for doing this project, as inter-religious dialogue was one of the duties of a catholic priest for maintaining religious harmony”.
Fr. Jegath participates in Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation programs along with the godman, and also promotes yoga through Tamil Maiyam. Catholic sound studios are used for inter-religious purposes such as the projection of spiritual music dedicated to the ‘Divine’ Mother of the Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
Tamil Maiyam and Fr. Jegath insist that they are committed to the promotion of ARTS and CULTURE, but the priest himself, and all media reports stress the fact that Thiruvasagam is a SPIRITUAL endeavour.
Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj, who is “bothered” by “the revival of evangelism”, speaks of his “karma”,
himself accepts “Manickavasagar helped me to find my own God in Thiruvasagam”; “I salute the one that is called Siva in the south, but known as God throughout the world.” He is proud that, even though he is a Catholic priest, temples of the deities Shiva and Murugan belong to him. He teaches that ‘love is God’, which is not Scriptural.
The primary questions addressed to the Bishops are, therefore, if this is the calling of Catholic priests, if this is what priests and Church facilities are now expected to be dedicated to [in the name of “inter-religious harmony and dialogue” and “collaboration”], that they openly and with impunity propagate false teachings,
devotion to “other gods” [see First Commandment] instead of preaching the Gospel and witnessing to Jesus Christ.
Both Ilaiyaraaja and Fr. Jegath initially pledge that “the proceeds from the sale” will go to Trusts for traditional arts and culture and for setting up an international college of Indian music and “taking up similar projects such as composing of Devaram and Tirukkural in symphony by Tamil Maiyam”. None of this has materialised.
With the failure of the Thiruvasagam venture, Fr. Jegath turned against Ilaiyaraaja, stating that “The agreement [between us] was signed under duress as Ilaiyaraaja had total control and possession of the tracks.”
After the release of the audio, leading music experts like Dr. Vee find major flaws and even deception in the making of Thiruvasagam. Ilaiyaraaja denies that he composed Thiruvasagam as a “symphony”, and that he only used the “oratorio” form. Fr. Jegath called the Thiruvasagam rendition a “symphony”, then a “symphonic oratorio”, whereas it is neither. “Symphony” and “oratorio” are themselves two different western music forms.
So, Fr. Jegath is also guilty of misleading music aficionados everywhere.
This exposé provides documented information against all the above statements, and seeks to move the concerned Tamil Nadu Bishops, and the concerned Commissions of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India to investigate the matter more thoroughly, with a request that they take cognizance of the situation which has caused serious concern to the Catholic faithful, put an end to both, the anti-Catholic as well as the business activities of these priests, and make a public statement on the whole issue.
In Sri Lanka, the Catholic Bishop of Anuradhapura, Rt. Rev. Oswald Gomis and the Bishop of Badulla, Rt. Rev. Winston Fernando had strongly objected to certain media activities of Fr. Jegath some years ago, but the priest had declined to obey their summons to come before them. We, Catholics who firmly denounce his current activities, repose our confidence in our Bishops to succeed where the Sri Lankan Bishops failed.
The priest conducts a campaign of retribution against dissenters in the Church organisation that they are employed in, and, in fulfilment of earlier threats made against them by Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj, one of them is arrested on charges of attempted murder.
Meanwhile, this writer and others have held press conferences and given press interviews, the publication of which has elicited threats of legal action from the priest against his “detractors”.
This writer and this Catholic ministry are not against Thiruvasagam as a Shaivaite devotion, or against Hindus, but seek to expose those leaders within the Catholic tradition like Fr. Jegath Gaspar Raj who abjure their faith and calling by such activities as above which are detrimental to the Catholic Church of which we are members.
For full report “In Praise Of Shiva“,
read Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India
Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India