May priests wear a shawl while celebrating Holy Mass?


OCTOBER 13/23, 2016


May priests wear a shawl while celebrating Holy Mass?


The “squatting Mass”* is the Indian rite of the “Mass”** of the heretical Catholic Ashrams movement*** and encourages a number of aberrations apart from those “approved” (read as “fraudulently obtained from”****) by the Vatican. It has spawned some variations such as the “shawl” Mass in which priests do not squat but are not vested according to the liturgical requirements*****. (For * see page 2)

The six other files further below (listed on page 2) are closely related to the issue of the Indian rite Mass and the use of the shawl.

If Jesus was a yogi as is increasingly depicted by Catholics in pictures and by icons, he evidently squatted on the floor as one unavoidably does to practice yoga. Since the priest is an alter Christus and in persona Christi while offering Holy Mass, it is easy for him to justify squatting like the yogic Jesus while celebrating the Eucharist, more especially since almost every Indian seminarian undergoes theoretical and practice exposure to Hindu yoga as part of his formation.


While researching the subject of the “squatting Mass”, I came across two pictures of a long-time friend Fr. Bryan Lobo (Mangalore/Bombay) and a fellow Jesuit saying Mass wearing saffron shawls over civilian dress.

Fr. Bryan Lobo SJ is no ordinary priest. He is the Director of the
Department of Theology of Religions, part of the faculty of Missiology at the Gregorian University Rome
. In the pictures (below) he prefers a chair to sit on while celebrating Mass, instead of floor-squatting.


Source: “Jesuits Fr. Neelam Lopes (left) and Fr. Bryan Lobo (right) celebrating the Eucharist.”


Source: “Fr. Neelam (the first one, wearing a yellow scarf) and Fr. Bryan (sitting close to him wearing an orange scarf) during the Mass.” I suppose they mean “shawl” instead of “scarf”.



When I sought a clarification from Fr. Bryan Lobo about what exactly the faithful were doing in the queue in front of the altar*, he turned hostile because of the way that I had worded my enquiry. Taken aback, and fully aware that he knew of the nature of my ministry from my correspondence and regular updates to him since January 2005 I immediately realized that there was something more important in those photographs: it was the manner in which the two priests were vested for Mass — wearing saffron-coloured shawls over their shirts and trousers. This file is the result of a study into that issue, and the results of my enquiries with twenty priests surprised even me. The edited letters are available on pages 29 through 33.

*Fr. Lobo had replied to me that “the faithful are placing their offerings at the altar“.

As we will see from the replies of my priest-friends, as per the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM #73), one would expect offerings to be placed at the foot of the altar or elsewhere but not on the altar as the picture seems to show, which would be a violation of the rubrics of the Mass.

Not a single one of the priests who replied thought that it was the procession to the altar with the gifts, and not a one of them could identify what part of the Mass it relates to!!! That makes it a very serious matter.

It means that Fr. Bryan Lobo and Fr. Neelam Lopes were not being faithful to the rubrics of the GIRM. Looking again at their casual dress for the Sacred rite and considering that Jesuits are known to improvise and innovate at Mass (I have reported many such instances), I could only wonder what other aberrations and liturgical abuses are committed by priests such as these while offering Mass especially to small communities and in homes and for their own families.

In the above pictures, and they are definitely taken in a chapel if not in a church at a mission station, one cannot see the sacred vessels that are normally used at Holy Mass*. If their excuse is that the church is in a remote area, I would counter that they very well remembered to carry their personal effects and saffron shawls with them but not their cassocks or the sacred vessels. One can see a backpack belonging to one of the priests to the side of the Eucharistic table and against the wall in the first picture on the previous page.

*The details of the altar table may be clearly viewed at, June 12, 2016.















At, Fr. Bryan Lobo writes:

Last year, during my usual annual visit in India during the summer time, I had the joy to celebrate the liturgy with Fr. Neelam Lopes, S.J., Superior of the Missions in Shirpur (North Maharashtra, India). In the photos I am pleased to share I and Fr. Neelam are celebrating Mass in the Indian style for the tribals.

The people of this area belong to the Pawara tribe, a native tribe that is found in the western and central parts of Maharashtra. The Masses are normally celebrated, as seen in the photographs, in one of the halls constructed by the Catholic missionaries.

The saffron colored shawls worn by the celebrants is significant to the Indian culture. The color saffron signifies renunciation. Saffron colored clothes are normally used by celibate Hindus (monks and nuns).




Note that Fr. Lobo confesses that “The Masses are normally celebrated, as seen in the photographs“.

Against Fr. Lobo’s comments above, I thought that I would do some research into what the shawl (called a ponnadai in Tamil and chaddar in Hindi) and the colour saffron signify in Indian culture and Hinduism.

Saffron, also called “ochre“, is not a Catholic liturgical colour. Neither is a shawl a liturgical vestment.

The saffron colour and shawl are exclusive to Hinduism and Buddhism. Jains and Muslims wear white.

So do Brahmin priests. It is only the ascetics who wear saffron.

Sikhs wear orange (they generally prefer not to call it saffron), or blue and white.

Radical Hindus are described as “saffronised”. So, wearing a saffron shawl is not Indian culture as claimed by Fr. Lobo. It is Hindu or “Hinduisation”.

There seems to be no doubt that saffron is the sacred colour of the Hindu religion, and a shawl is not in common use as most sants, gurus, babas and holy men are either bare-bodied or saffron-robed.


There are some really occult explanations (as per Hinduism) for the shawl such as at the Hindu dharma site:
(Emphases theirs):

The three predominant colors of sunset and agni are yellow, orange/saffron and red. These three thus became the holiest colors of Hinduism. The bottom of the fire is usually red (where the coal is red hot), the middle is yellow and at the top it is orange. The same usually gets played in how we wear these holy colors.
Red is usually the color of worship – women wear kumkum (processed turmeric powder) and red sari during weddings/holy festivals. Yellow is usually worn by priests who are not monks. Saffron robe is usually reserved for the highest – those who have renounced everything.

-Saffron comes from the color of fire (Agni). And Agni is always given an auspicious position in the Hindu culture for various reasons. In the Tantric and Yogic traditions, Agni signifies the Kundalini energy. 
The raising fire when performing a yagna (or homa) represents the raising kundalini energy (from the spine to sahasrara chakra in the head).

In Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism), the deep saffron color is associated with sacrifice, religious abstinence, quest for light and salvation. Saffron or bhagwa is the most sacred color for the Hindus and is often worn by sanyasis who have left their home in search of the ultimate truth.

Buddhist monks in the Theravada tradition typically wear saffron robes (although occasionally maroon—the color normally worn by Vajrayana Buddhist monks—is worn). (The tone of saffron typically worn by Theravada Buddhist monks is the lighter tone of saffron shown above.)

(And as for Jains), Svetambara monks wear thin white robes while the Digambara monks reject any form of clothing whatsoever and live naked, or ‘sky clad’.


The significance of saffron in Hinduism

In India, colours assume a critical part in religion and societies, demonstrating a profound significance that rises above decorative values. Artists use various colours on the god’s idols and their dresses implies their qualities.

Appropriate utilization of colours develops an environment, which as a result can keep a person happy. Some of the colours that are greatly utilized as a part of religious services are red, yellow (turmeric), green from leaves, white from wheat flour and so forth. But the fundamental colour that most Eastern religions and societies use, especially in Hinduism, is Saffron.

A colour that symbolizes all parts of Hinduism, it is Saffron – the shade of Agni or flame. Fire burns away the darkness and brings light and it is symbolic of knowledge burning ignorance. Fire additionally demonstrates the soul of Yagna (Ritual of the sacred flame) which is critical to Self-knowledge. In that capacity, the fire altar is viewed as an iconic image of traditional Vedic rituals.

A symbol of purity, it speaks to religious abstinence, cleansing and resultant purity. It is the shade of holy saints and ascetics, the individuals who have renounced the world. Wearing saffron colour symbolizes the mission for Knowledge of Godhead.

In symbolism, Saffron contains the shades of Sun, Mars and Jupiter that identifies with: Driving the Desire (Mars) for Truth or Salvation, freedom (Sun) with the help of information and one who dispels it (Jupiter).

When sages moved, starting with one ashram then onto the next, it was standard to carry fire along. The inconvenience to carry a burning object over a long course of time may have given birth to the symbol of a saffron flag. Triangular and often forked saffron banners are seen rippling on most Hindu temples.

same is also conveyed at and
(“The most sacred color for the Hindu saffron.“)



What do Hindu priests wear?

Hindu Priests, if they are Brahmins, wear a white or orange wrap around called a lungi and have the Upanayanam thread. They may also wear shawls.

Traditionally, they do not wear shirts when doing services.

Priests from southern India may wear only a sort of scarf (shawl) over their upper bodies because of the heat, whereas priests from northern India, where it’s colder, may wear woven garments on their upper bodies. The lower garment traditionally consists of cloth draped around the body.

Hindu worshippers also eschew shoes when in their temples. “Shoes may come into contact with all sorts of unclean stuff,” Indra Neelameggham, a founder of the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah, said, “so you leave it outside the home when you enter the home, and the most sacred home is the home of God.”

As per the Agama Shastras, a Hindu priest is not expected to cover the upper part of his body while doing puja.




One therefore cannot help but wonder why our Indian Catholic priests (like Rome-based Fr. Bryan Lobo and his former Provincial Fr. Paul Vaz
below) make the pretense of Indianisation by wearing a shawl to celebrate Holy Mass where it is nowhere permitted or prescribed in the rubrics, and at the same time wear footwear, and cover the upper parts of their bodies unlike their Hindu/Brahmin counterparts for their pujas, and then emerge to lead a thoroughly Westernized lifestyle in real time. So much for Fr. Lobo’s talk of “renunciation”.

For more on Fr. Bryan Lobo, please proceed to pages 11 (bottom of the page) ff.



Jesuit Fr. Paul Vaz’s squatting Mass (L) and (R) the table at a seated Mass which is presided over him.

Once again, note the absence of the proper sacred vessels (and absence of a crucifix).



Wearing a shawl over a t-shirt as Fr. Paul Vaz does above at the New Age retreats that he gives or draping it over regular priestly vestments is frighteningly common nowadays. Here are examples:


Maundy Thursday Observed at NBCLC in Indian Style

The event photographed below occurred on April 5, 2007.

The NBCLC is the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), in Bangalore. It is the leading source of error (such as in children’s catechisms), Hinduisation in the name of inculturation, and freewheeling innovation and liturgical aberrations in the Indian Church.

It is also the lynchpin of the New Age, heretical Catholic Ashrams movement.

Fr. Thomas D’Sa, Director of the NBCLC wearing a shawl



Above (L) is a picture of a squatting Indian Rite Mass at Matridham Ashram, Varanasi. The “acharya” of the Ashram is Fr Anil Dev IMS (R) who has been an office bearer of the National Service Team of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. There is NO crucifix either on or behind the altar at Masses said at this Ashram.

These priests of the Indian Missionary Society wear saffron coloured shawls or saffron kurtas.

They also do yoga and chanting of “OM”.

Below, a Bishop concelebrates Mass with the IMS Fathers wearing a shawl.


Below, Archdiocese of Bombay yoga guru Fr. Joe Pereira

Says Fr. Joe to Catholics in Brazil -” You don’t need to leave the church to practice yoga.”




Below, the Pilar Fathers, Goa celebrate a squatting Mass


The Mass, above, is being celebrated by the Passionist Fathers (L) and the Capuchins (R)


It’s anybody’s guess as to what goes on with the shawl here at the Tomb of St. Thomas in Madras-Mylapore


Miscellaneous images of the shawl Mass sans proper liturgical vestments



Saffron clad Jesuit priest Swami Shilananda (formerly Fr. Peter Julio) at his Shiva-lingam “tabernacle” in Nashik


With a flowing white beard, and saffron-colored clothes, Father Peter Julio looks just like a Hindu monk but the 91-year-old Spaniard Jesuit, and two of his companions, are among the post-Vatican II pioneers, who helped develop what modern day evangelization means in Asia.

“I had come with a mission to convert Indians and make them Christians,” says Father Julio. “However after spending so many years with the people I realized, I cannot convert them but I can share the love of Christ with them,” says the priest with conviction.

His colleagues — 90-year-old Father Fredrico Sopena Gucci and 86-year-old Father George Gispert Sauch — share the same belief that evolved from having worked in India for over six decades. Much of that time was about implementing the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Source: April 8, 2016; also at,


Indian Jesuits pioneered the yogic Jesus, the substitution of liturgical vestments with a kurta & the sacred vessels with profane utensils, the shawl, and the squatting Mass. The images that follow are from 1973!



Jesuits in India. En Inde, en mai 1973, le père jésuite Alfonso assis en tailleur, portant une étoffe jaune sur les épaules, célèbre une messe ‘à l’indienne’, en compagnie d’un séminariste.




Jesuits in India. En Inde, en mai 1973, un Jésuite d’origine indienne, à la barbe et aux cheveux longs, assis en tailleur sur le seuil d’une église, tenant devant lui un tableau représentant Jesus


The Indian Jesuit priest Swami Amalananda


Andhra province Jesuits. The kurta-trouser attire common to the Indian Jesuit (a t-shirt or half-sleeves sometimes used in place of the kurta. It is a rarity to see a Jesuit priest in a cassock.



Fr. D. S. Amalorpavadass (died 1990), Founder of Anjali Ashram, Mysore, Founder-Director of the CBCI’s NBCLC which is a lynchpin of the Catholic Ashrams movement doing his squatting Mass


Swami Gnanajyothi, a Catholic priest, guru of the Anjali Ashram, Mysore and his squatting Mass


Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB, Shantivanam, Saccidananda Ashram, Thaneerpalli, the Catholic Ashrams movement pioneer and New Ager was always clad in saffron. Godman Sri Sathya Sai Baba (R)


So was Fr. Henri Le Saux OSB (founder Shantivanam, Saccidananda Ashram) a.k.a Swami Abhishiktananda




The Capuchins (Holy Trinity Friars) of Karnataka Province wearing shawls with the Tau cross.

Aren’t they required to wear their chasubles instead of their friars’ robes for Mass?


Saffron, the colour of the shawl used at Mass by our priests, is the colour of upper-caste Hinduism


The Shankaracharyas (left), Swami Vivekananda (centre) Yoga guru Baba Ramdev (right), all saffron-clad



In the CAN story below, Fr. Bryan Lobo is concerned that religion is being abused politically, resulting in violence to Christians, and a new and different approach to interreligious dialogue is required:

October 9, 2013 […]

I second that, but my primary concern is the violence being perpetrated on Catholic orthodoxy by rebellious, liberal and “Indianised” theologians who write on complex Hindu-Christian themes (that have nothing to do with sin and salvation) but little or nothing on the rich Tradition (Early Church Fathers, Saints) that is ours.



Fr. Bryan Lobo is slated to present a talk at the Gregorian Centre For Interreligious Studies in Rome

October 22 – Christianity in India under attack: Hindu fundamentalism after Mahatma Gandhi and the response of the Indian Catholic Church*

October 12, 2016

October 18, 2006


9.30 am: Welcome and Presentation of the Centre, Fr. Laurent Basanese SJ, Director

10.00 am: Christianity in India under attack: Part I, Fr. Bryan Lobo, SJ, Gregorian University

10.45 am: Break

11.15 am: Christianity in India under attack: Part II, Fr. Bryan Lobo, SJ, Gregorian University

12.00 pm: Questions and discussions

12.30 pm: Conclusion

*I am more concerned about the attack on Catholicism from (the Trojan horses embedded) within the Church in India than from Hindu fundamentalism. History has shown that external persecution has always resulted in the blossoming of faith and the growth of the Church. But when the faithful are systemically corrupted by clergy who are unfaithful to orthodoxy, tradition and Church teaching, there arises decadence and prophets who must speak up and warn the people to not do what they do (although we are now in times when it is difficult for the masses to know whether correct teaching is being handed down to them by the priests and bishops, or not, and like the Bereans, Acts 17:11, we are constrained to check their words and praxis against what Scripture, tradition, the catechism and Church instructions say).

All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not. For they say, and do not. –Jesus (Matthew 23:3) Douay-Rheims


On December 18, 2006, Fr. Bryan Lobo wrote to me:

I have just finished my second chapter of the Thesis and it was on the founding father of Indian Christian Theology:  Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (1861-1907) of Calcutta who was a Hindu Brahmin and then converted to Catholicism. He has attacked Annie Besant and the whole theosophy movement which was taking shape during that time and which has influenced the New Age movement a great deal. He depended a lot for his theology on St. Thomas Aquinas. His arguments are extremely theological and he has even defeated Besant in an open challenge on the question whether God is personal or impersonal. I recommend two books if you are interested. -Julius J. Lipner, Brahmabandhab Upadhyay: The life and thought of a revolutionary (New Delhi: Oxford Press, 1999). -Julius J. Lipner & George Gispert-Sauch, The writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol. I, II (Bangalore: The United Theological College). There are more but these will suffice. Well next year is his centenary celebrations. The Indian Church is going all out to see that his message reaches the Catholics and the Clergy. In your Catholic Times you should have something on him especially his arguments against, Blavatsky, Besant, Vivekananda and the group. They are extremely theological and doctrinal. You could pick up a lot from the early writings of Upadhyay against the New Age and i assure you your arguments will be well appreciated.

My response:

I had studied about Brahmabandhab Upadhyay when I did my Master’s in Christian Studies and Master’s in Philosophy & Religion. He did have some excellent propositions, but some of the things he proposed were not very favorable if I recall… but now I am uncertain as to what. He is also looked at by the Catholic Ashram Movement as a father figure– I am not sure if it’s their problem or his- and you know what that has deteriorated into (my report on CATHOLIC ASHRAMS).

Fr. Bryan replied:

That is precisely the point. The whole Ashram movement in India has taken Brahmabandhab Upadhyay as a father figure (as you rightly said) but have not understood him or his zeal at all. Now if you show those Ashram movement fellows that their very founding father was against this New Age kind of theology and philosophy, you will strike them at their very roots. I have already written an article (I was asked by the editor of Vidyajyothi to contribute for the centenary celebrations in Delhi where Hindus and people of other religions will be there. My article would rather shock them and also the Christian theologians (especially the likes of Michael Amaladoss SJ*) but it is extremely doctrinal following Upadhyay.
Ashram is only a word that seems Hindu. It is the underlying patterns of thinking that have to be challenged theologically.
You know that I too am against the New Age movement. I found that if Brahmabandhab Upadhyay was alive today he would have gone headlong against the New Age movement. He wanted Christianity to be Indian in outlook so that Indians could come to recognise Jesus Christ as the true Lord and God. He wanted the whole of India to be Catholic in religion and Hindu in culture (without compromising the faith). *He has been castigated by Rome for his theology


Here is an August 2012 write-up (pages 13-22) of Fr. Bryan Lobo SJ (my footnotes and comments in green):

Tripersonalising the Parabrahman – Brahmabandhab Upadhyay

Fr. Bryan Lobo SJ




The Hindu-Christian dialogue has led to a great enrichment of Christian theology in India. The initiative for such a dialogue has mostly, if not always, been from the Christian side. Has this dialogue ever helped Hindu theology in general and Advaita (Advaita Vedanta) in particular? If this dialogue is a sign of a Hindu-Christian symbiosis, then the symbiosis is incomplete if there is no learning or give and take on both sides.

Indian Christian theology has gone miles ahead in integrating many aspects of Hindu theology and culture into its ever widening gamut of concepts, symbols and images, theology and philosophy. But the Hindu mind at the conceptual, philosophical and theological level has not been affected much by Christian theology. In fact our dogmatic assertions, in principle, especially with regard to the Trinity, seem absurd if not downright foolish to the Advaitin. On the other hand the Christian impact in India has been negatively perceived as one of robbing people from their religion with promises of education, social liberation from caste system and finally eternal salvation, to christianize them and widen the Church in India. This has put our Indian Christian theologians on guard against an exclusive and inclusive theologizing much to the benefit of interreligious dialogue.
But has Christian theology ever had a positively transformative impact on the theological and spiritual concepts of Hinduism? Would an Advaitin affirm the veracity of the tripersonal God in the same way as an Indian Christian theologian affirms the veracity of the Advaita doctrine?
1 At the most, a personal dimension of the Divine, which Christianity has, would be considered as a lower level conception, which cannot be accorded to the Parabrahman. If the Advaitic sadhus and Gurus and Pandits and scholars have not at least in principle seen the truth of the Trinity as a Christian theologian does, then Hinduism stands to loose [sic]
and Indian Christian theology has still a long way to go.

If the Hindu-Christian dialogue has enriched a great deal the Indian Christian thinking, it needs to do the same to Hindu thinking as well. For this we need to thank Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (henceforth Upadhyay), the founding father of Indian Catholic theology, who by spearheading the hinduization of Christianity [see my comment on page 27] on the basis of his Thomistic reading of saccidānanda, has indirectly presented a challenge to the God conception of Advaita, envisioning thereby the Parabrahman, as personal/tripersonal. This article is written having this direction in mind. It will show that by tripersonalizing the Parabrahman of Advaita, Upadhyay has offered to Advaita a totally new and revolutionary horizon of understanding God.


This article has three sections
—The first is the background which will deal with the understanding of the Parabrahman according to Śankara and the understanding of God as personal / tripersonal in Christian scriptures and tradition. 

—The second section will deal with Upadhyay’s reaction to the translation of nirguna as impersonal and his subsequent presentation of the saccidānanda as tripersonal. 

—In the final section we shall present some reflections that would emerge from Upadhyay’s vision.


1. Why would anIndian Christian theologian affirm the veracity of the Advaita doctrine?

Advaita is monistic and non-dualistic. Those philosophies are antithetical to the truths of Christianity.

Advaita (literally, “not-two”) is the oldest extant sub-school of the Vedanta schools of Hindu philosophy and religious practice. One of the classic Indian paths to spiritual realization, Advaita postulates that the true Self, Atman, is the same as the highest Reality, Brahman, providing Hindu scriptural authority for the postulation of the non-duality of Atman and Brahman. Followers of Advaita seek liberation/release by the acquisition of vidya (knowledge) of the identity of Atman and Brahman. It emphasizes jivan mukti, the idea that moksha (freedom, liberation) is achievable in this life. Many scholars describe it as a form of monism, some as non-dualism.


The background

1. Śankara’s idea of the Parabrahman

It is a well-known fact that for Śankara the ultimate reality is the Parabrahman.1
But did Śankara ever think of the Parabrahman as a personal Being? This is really not clear.2
2 As of the relational understanding of person today, in principle, Śankara cannot accept the Parabrahman as a personal Being because the very idea of person would signify necessary relation, and necessary relation would be seen as a limitation because it involves a dependence on another. So Parabrahman who is infinite and unlimited cannot be possessing this limitation.3   

Secondly the world which is mistakenly taken to be real by unenlightened humans, is, according to the Advaitic God experience actually unreal.4 So the Parabrahman cannot be relating to something that is unreal or actually an illusion.

Thirdly, Śankara takes the Parabrahman to be one-only-without-a-second (ekam eva advitiyam). This would mean that the Parabrahman is alone, a monad by himself, but residing in total bliss. It is only when the Parabrahman is seen in relation to the world that a distinction has to be made between the highest Brahman namely the Parabrahman as nirguna (without ties) and the lower Brahman as saguna (with ties).3 So it is only the saguna Brahman that is related to the world, which in the final analysis is an illusion, a dream.5

Positing personality to the Parabrahman would be heretical in Śankara’s idea of the Parabrahman. On the other hand the neti neti (not this, not this, Br. Up. II.3.6), formula is applied to the questions regarding the attributes of the Parabrahman. So as regards the attributes or qualities nothing can be spoken of the Parabrahman. But to avoid this type of talk to fall into a kind of general void, Śankara, positively describes the nature of Brahman as reality, knowledge, infinity (sat, cit, ananta). The term ‘ananta’ became ‘ānanda’ among the later Vedantists making it sat cit ānanda (Being, intelligence, bliss).6 The Parabrahman is therefore sat, cit, ānanda.




From the presence of cit (intelligence), one could infer that Śankara had a subjective understanding of the Parabrahman, namely that, the Parabrahman is a subject (a Being that could not be taken as an object), but whether he understood the Parabrahman as a person in the modern sense of the term, is doubtful, or rather impossible.

The philosophy of Śankara was propounded by great scholars and commentators, and invariably the Parabrahman was presented as an impersonal God. According to them this is the highest realization that man could reach in their search for God. So if man has reached the very foundation or the ground of all existence, in his attempt at brahmajijñāsā (desire to know the nature of Brahman), through the Advaitic experience in which God is propounded as the Impersonal God, then any notion of the personal God is bound to be taken as a lower level idea or as mentioned in Advaita, as the saguna Brahman.

The Christian God who is basically encountered as a Personal God therefore recedes into the background of the saguna level. This is precisely what Upadhyay will challenge on the basis of the saccidānanda affirmation of Śankara. Before we deal with it, we need to briefly look into the personal / tripersonal God encountered in Christian scriptures and tradition.


2. “This is really not clear“? Fr. Bryan should have instead written “NO.” If Adi Shankara had ever believed or posited that the Parabrahman was a personal Being, it would be common knowledge.

3. Saguna Brahman is Brahman conceived of as the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of the Universe corresponding to Isvara. Advaita Vedanta, however, considers Nirguna Brahman as the only Reality. See page 23



1Parabrahman would generally refer to the Nirguna Brahman which is presupposed as the higher Brahman that is not related to creation, in contrast to the Saguna Brahman which is Brahman related to creation.

2There is no small controversy regarding this assertion. It is well know that the great Hindu scholars like Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan held that the Parabrahman is impersonal. Modern scholars with the help of the Purusha sukta (Rg Veda 10.90) argue just the opposite. See Subhash Anand4, Hindu Inspiration for Christian Reflection: Towards a Hindu-Christian Theology (Anand: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 2004), pp. 10-14. Here Subhash Anand is taking the Purusha Sukta as central to Vedanta. 
But if the Purusha Sukta is intrinsically connected to creation, then according to Advaita Vedanta it should fall into the category of the saguna Brahman.

3Relation is basically seen as a dependence because it presupposes a relation ad extra on some object or person. If God is taken to be One then any relation posited of him has to be posited ad extra. A relation ad intra would be inconceivable to the mind of Śankara. So Brahman does not depend on the world, rather it is the other way about. It is the world that is dependent on Brahman as the effect depends on the cause. The idea of tādātmya signifies this. See Sara Grant, “Contemporary Relevance of Advaita,” in New Perspectives on Advaita Vedānta: Essays in Commemoration of Professor Richard De Smet, S.J., ed. Bradley J. Malkovsky (Leiden: Brill, 2000), pp. 153-154. This view is contested although not radically by Bede Griffiths. See Albano Fernandes, The Hindu Mystical Experience (New Delhi: Intercultural Publications, 2004), p. 173.

4 For the idea of the unreality of the world in Advaita, see Pierre Johanns, S.J., “A synopsis of, To Christ through the Vedanta,” Light of the East Series, no. 4 (Ranchi: Catholic Press 1930), p. 29 

5According to Upadhyay this higher, lower distinction of Brahman is found in the last section of the last chapter of the Vedanta Sutra, and is the keystone of Vedantic Theism. The Twentieth Century, vol. 1, no. 3 (31st March, 1901), p. 62.

Upadhyay’s articles will be documented under the general title of his magazines. Most, if not all the primary sources on Upadhyay could be found in the Goethals Library of St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta. See also, Julius Lipner & George Gispert-Sauch, The Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol. II (Bangalore: The United Theological College, 2002), p. 302.

6See, Timothy C. Tennent, Building Christian on Indian Foundations (Delhi: ISPCK, 2000), pp.125-128. 

4. Subhash Anand is a liberal priest-theologian who promotes the ordination of women as priests.


2. The personal God in Christian Scripture and Tradition

2.1 In the Old Testament

The idea of the personal God hits the reader at the very outset of the OT. The anthropomorphic ways of describing God’s behaviour were precisely intended to present a personal God. In the book of Genesis we have God talking to Adam and Eve (Gen 3:8-19), making a covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:17-21), wrestling with Jacob (Gen 32:22-32). The high point of this personal encounter with God is seen in the book of Exodus where God reveals his ‘name’ to Moses as “I am” (Ex 3:13). “Thus you shall say to the Israelites ‘I am has sent me to you.'”(Ex 3:14). Many more references could be given from the OT presenting the anthropomorphic symbolisms used for God, just to show how the living God is personal. 

As Ludwig Köhler says, “Through the anthropomorphisms of the Old Testament God stands before man as the personal and living God, who meets him with will and with works, who directs his will and his words towards men and draws near to men. God is the living God (Jeremiah 10:10).”

This statement of Köhler is important because the anthropomorphisms used for God in the OT are not (as many would think) primitive ways of expressing the Divine experience, but the expression of the encounter with a God who really invades the human situation in a very personal way: He talks, dialogues and relates to human beings. The relationship which today is seen as fundamental in the understanding of person, is seen as belonging to God in his relationship with man as highlighted in the OT.




2.2 In the New Testament

The personal identity of God reaches scandalous proportions for the Jews in the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, by addressing God, the all-powerful creator and liberator, as ABBA was most shocking the Jewish hierarchy. The Jews had conceived of God as Father-Creator, but never as ABBA. “Jesus came across as expressing a unique filial consciousness and as laying claim to a unique filial relationship with the God whom he addressed as ‘Abba’.”8

The Synoptic Gospels are unanimous in presenting Jesus as the “Son of God.”9 They show others recognizing Jesus as the Son of God.

To name a few, the centurion after the death of Jesus (Mk 14:33, 16:16; Mt 27:54); the angel announcing his birth as the Son of God (Luke 1:32-35); the evil spirits tempting him or naming him with the same title (Mt 4:3, 6; Lk 4:3, 9, 41; Mk 3:11; 5:7).
This title given to Jesus was not like the one used in the olden times for Kings (Ps 2:7), Prophets and Israel (Ex 4:22). It was not even a title given to show some kind of adoption or choice by God. It was a title given to Jesus to show his ontological oneness with the Father perceived through his life, actions, death and resurrection. “Those functions (his ‘doing’) depended on his ontological relationship as Son of God (his ‘being’).”10 

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus was the spectrum through which his eternal pre-existence was perceived as an obvious conclusion. This became a valid pre-supposition of Pauline Christology and soteriology as well.11, 12 John, asserting the pre-existence of Jesus as the eternal Logos, sets the stage for the second person in the Godhead. 

The Holy Spirit, which will be given by the Father at the behest of the Son (John 14:15), is the ‘Advocate’, “… the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him”12 (John 14: 16-17), is received at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) and convinces the early Christians of its distinct existence within the Godhead because “the Holy Spirit (was) not a mere impersonal gift, … (but) also a personal giver … the third person of the Trinity.”13, 14
It was then left to the coming generation to make sense of this deposit of revelation of the inner nature of the personal God that appeared to be tri-personal.


2.3 Defending the Tri-Personal God

The monopersonal God of the OT reveals himself as the tripersonal God in the NT. Not that there was an evolutionary change in God from one to three. He was always tripersonal, but, it needed the incarnation of the second person (Son of God) for a concrete understanding of the tripersonality of God even in the OT. This was basically seen through the context of the Christ event. It was therefore the Christ event that enlarged the vision of a monopersonal God to a tripersonal God.

The problem that the early Fathers of the Church faced was of how to present the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (revealed in the NT), in God as one yet three. To put in modern terms, how to present the threeness in the oneness of God.

The Greek word prosopon, which was used by Hippolytus to connote the distinctive individuality of one’s social role, 14 was used by Tertullian with its Latin translation of persona, for the three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) in the Godhead. The use of persona, was not in its original sense of ‘individuality’ but its Biblical sense of dialogue and relation.15 

Tertullian finally gave his definition for the Trinity as “una substantia-tres personae,” three persons in one substance. But this definition rather than making matters clear for one’s faith led to more problems and heretical explanations because of the prevailing philosophies. We cannot get into the history of the Trinitarian heresies here. Finally the Church put an end to all the divergent views by its Trinitarian explications at the Council of Constantinople (381).16 In short, God was three distinct persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), united in one divine substance. The philosophies of that time which tended to seek logical arguments and consistencies in their conceptions about God could not simply conceive of a God of seeming contradictions, namely of being One in Three or Three in One.

As the Church Fathers fought might and main to present the three distinct persons of the Trinity united in substance, it became clear that ‘relation’ was the only possible category to defend such a distinction. In the bargain person itself came to be understood as relation. This was evident from the way the Greek Fathers presented the persons in the Trinity as a communion, (koinonia), existing in a ‘perichoretic’ way.17 

For Augustine ‘person’ seemed as an answer to those who would ask “three what.”18 In his De Trinitate Augustine in his attempt at trying to explain the threeness and oneness of the tripersonal God, gave many images from creation. But he finds in man the true image of the Trinity (Gen. 1.28) and more particularly in the human soul, which led to the famous psychological analogy (mind – knowledge – love).19
5 was right in stating that Augustine’s psychological analogy determined the course of later speculation for Latin Trinitarian theology.20

It was Boethius who defined person as “an individual substance of rational nature.”21 Later it was Aquinas who under the influence of Aristotelian metaphysics22 and scholastic epistemology23 used the psychological analogy to present one of the most comprehensive, convincing and lasting treatises of the Trinity in Latin theology.24 Having thus clarified philosophically the way the Trinitarian dogma could be understood, Aquinas does not present this as a comprehension of the Trinity. Instead he says it is only a way to understand analogically the ineffable Mystery of the Trinity which always remains beyond comprehension.

Among the saints we have many who have had the vision of the Trinity in symbolic ways. St. Ignatius sees the Trinity as three keys of the piano. He also sees himself as placed with the Son. The mystical experiences of the Christian saints also speak of a deep union with God, as, e.g., St Theresa of Avila. Never has any saint denied the Trinity. They did surely uphold that God is one (this could be taken to mean one-without-a-second), but God was always tri-personal. The Trinitarian dogma has been maintained in all the mystical experiences of the Saints who had them. Upadhyay, on the other hand not only stood by the Trinitarian mystery to the very end, but applied the Thomistic presentation of that mystery to the saccidānanda of Śankara, in turn revivifying it with a fresh personality that is three dimensional.

5. Cardinal Walter Kasper was leading the liberal lobby of reform against the conservatives who opposed the proposed fundamental changes (in marriage, divorce, etc.) at the 2014-5 Synod on the Family



7 Ludwig Köhler, Old Testament Theology,, 06/12/06.

8 Gerald O’ Collins, S.J., Christology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 126.

9 Although this title, not shown as explicitly used by Jesus, is implied because it is applied to Jesus.

10 Collins, Christology, p. 126.

11 Ibid., especially p. 128

12 Italics mine to show that Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit as a person.

13 Walter Kasper, The God of Jesus Christ, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell (New York: Crossroads, 1989), p. 210. Brackets mine.

14See, Edmund J. Dobbin, “Trinity”, in The New Dictionary of Theology, eds. J.A. Komonchak, M. Collins, D.A. Lane (Bangalore: TPI, 2003), p.1054.

15For a detailed exposition of this aspect see, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “Concerning the notion of Person in theology,” in Communio, vol. XVII, no. 3 (Fall 1990), pp. 439-447.

16ND 306/1-24, DS 153-176.

17See Gerald O’Collins, S.J., The Tripersonal God (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1999), p. 132.

18De Trinitate, 5.10. Here Augustine acknowledges the great poverty of the human language to answer the question “three what.” But he feels it better to say something rather than be silent because there was no going back on the conviction that there is plurality in God (which was revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

19Books IX, X and XI of his “De Trinitate” deal concretely with Augustine’s Psychological image or the Mental image of the Trinity. PL 42, 8.

20 Kasper, The God of Jesus Christ, p. 272.

21Boethius, “DePersona et duabus naturis contra Eutychen et Nestorium”, 3. PL 64, 1343.

22Aristotle through logical arguments reaches the conclusion that the intellectual activity is the life of God, “…for intellectual activity is life, and God is that activity; and the essential activity of God is the life which is best and eternal.” Meta., bk XII, ch. 7, 1072b26. Secondly since all operation tends towards the good, the intellectual operation in God also tends towards the same giving Him the greatest pleasure (Meta., bk XII, ch. 7, 1072b16). Since the greatest good is God Himself then it follows that God has to be thinking about himself which gives Him the greatest pleasure.

23The scholastic (Thomistic) epistemology in short (which is also Aristotelian in origin), is that ‘the knower becomes one with the object that he knows. Thus the knower becomes the known.’ This depends upon the theory that like is known by like, simile simili cognoscitur. (ST Ia. 84, 2 responsio). Here Aquinas quotes Aristotle, De Anima I, 2.

404b17. Aquinas also holds the Aristotelian idea of the intellect which is understood as a writing tablet on which nothing is written. (ST Ia. 84, 3, sed contra). Thus it is always in potency and its knowing anything is always in act in the sense that it comes to know the essence of the object by having the form of the object impressed upon it (which is immaterial). The final act of knowing is the word (verbum mentis) which contains the definition of the object known (which in turn contains the explanation of the essence of the object). For a detailed explanation of what I have said above see Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, vol. II (London: Burns & Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1950), pp. 388-398. In God the object of His knowledge is He Himself, which gives rise to the Word (which proceeds as subsisting in the same nature unlike in human beings), and in this knowing He gets the greatest pleasure which is signified as love by Aquinas. So the Father is the principle without principle, Son being the Word that is generated (Generation within the Godhead is eternal) from the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the love that flows from the Father and Son. ST Ia, qq. 33-37.

24Refer to ST Ia, qq. 27 -43 for Aquinas’ detailed exposition of the Trinity.


The Parabrahman is Tripersonal

The main contention of Upadhyay was that the Parabrahman is personal because he is sat cit ānanda (being, consciousness and bliss). It was only from this premise that he could develop his Trinitarian theology using the Thomistic argument. With this conviction in mind he could not tolerate the translation of ‘nirguna’ as ‘impersonal’.

1. Translation of “Nirguna” as “impersonal”

The problem of the ‘impersonal’ reality of Brahman arises from the translations of the works of Śankara during the time of Upadhyay. It should be noted that the translations into English were done by Christian scholars or western scholars who had come from Christian backgrounds. Since relationship was intrinsic to the idea of a person, it was natural that a Being having no relations should be considered as impersonal. But this does not justify the translation of nirguna as impersonal, because nirguna can very well have been translated into ‘tie-less’ (as Upadhyay would suggest). But the translators never had any intention, like Upadhyay had, of reconciling the Christian God with the Parabrahman. If this was the case they would have been extremely careful in their translations. They simply felt that ‘unrelational’ is against ‘personal’ so therefore should be impersonal. Therefore the absolute Brahman is impersonal. 

It is also interesting to see that the word ‘impersonal’ was not problematic for other scholars except for Upadhyay.
In fact A. Hegglin, S.J., who defines theism, in contrast to Advaita, as “that system of philosophy which teaches the existence of a Personal God, infinitely perfect and independent, creator of the universe out of nothing, the Preserver and Ruler of the world,”25 gives names of some scholars who would go with his line of thinking. He mentions the names of Prof. Monier Williams, R.N. Apte, Rev. Goreh, Murdoch, Rev. Lal Dey, Prof. Frazer, Prof. Weber and Prof. A.E. Gough.26
He quotes Gough, the author of the philosophy of the Upanishads as saying, “There is, according to the Vedanta, but one substance or reality, and this is the supreme spirit, the impersonal self…”27
He also quotes Weber on Vedanta saying, “The notion that creation is but an illusion, and that the transcendental Brahman is alone the Real, but throning in absolute infinitude without any personal existence, is the fundamental doctrine of this system.”28


With impersonal being the common denominator used to express the Brahman of Advaita or even Vedanta, it was evident that M. Thibaut an Indologist and Professor at Varanasi and Allahabad, 29 translated the nirguna as impersonal when he translated the dense work of Śankara’s Vedanta Sutras, into English. It is the response, rather the reaction of Upadhyay to this translation that is enlightening and has in fact set the tone for this whole article.


2. Upadhyay’s response to the translation of Nirguna into impersonal

Upadhyay vehemently opposed this translation of M. Thibaut. It was evident by the forceful language he uses in this article where he says, “M. Thibaut has, to the great misfortune of the civilized world, seen the Vedanta through coloured glasses… (he) has been subject to a huge misconception… nothing can be more unjust than to translate

“nirgunam” as “impersonal.”30 In the ensuing argument in which Upadhyay tries to validate his point it is interesting to note how he finally presents the nirguna brahman itself as supra-personal “to avoid confusion”, which literally would involve the dynamics of being personal, that in its very definition embodies relatedness, although in a different way. Or, shall we say in an analogical way?

Upadhyay says, “He (Parabrahman) is “nirguna”, lit., tie-less, because “guna” means rope, a tie.”31

To be ‘tie-less would mean to be unrelated and this is exactly what he maintains about the Parabrahman, but later towards the end of the paragraph he says, “To be a person is to be related. A person is self-conscious, free individual… God is self-conscious and free, though unrelated, and can not therefore be styled an impersonal being. To avoid confusion he may be called supra-personal.”32

In this way he could affirm the personhood of God because he prepares the reader a little before by saying that intelligence (cit) and bliss (ānanda) are not attributes of the Being, God (Parabrahman), instead they are part and parcel of his nature. Since “guna” ordinarily means attribute and since we are dealing with the nirguna Brahman, we are talking of God as being, intelligence and bliss (sat, cit, ānanda) as God’s nature, without talking about His attributes. So the God who is being, intelligence and bliss is evidently self-conscious and free, which in turn are the premises for the definition of a person. The Parabrahman is therefore a person.

The Sanskrit language, on the other hand has no proper equivalent for ‘person’.33 So logically Śankara would not have had the concept of a person in human terms when talking positively of God as sat, cit, ānanda or (ananta). But Upadhyay, precisely on the basis of the sat, cit, ānanda affirms the personality of God. This he could do because he carried within him the Thomistic definition of person, namely subsistens distinctum in natura rationali (that which subsists as distinct in a rational nature).34 Since intelligence (cit) implies rational nature it follows that Parabrahman has to be personal.
But having the fear of this being understood in a human way, Upadhyay felt it better to use the word “supra-personal” “to avoid confusion.” What he actually had in mind was that when the term person was applied to God, it had to be applied in an analogical way. In the bargain what Upadhyay does is to present the nirguna Brahman as a person (which would be totally against Śankara’s understanding, but well in keeping with the Christian analogically understanding of God as personal). But as Upadhyay says, if nirguna means unrelated, and “to be a person is to be related,” is he contradicting himself by presenting the nirguna Brahman as a person or (supra-personal)? Not really. This shall be briefly clarified in the next point.


The problem of Relation solved:

Moving towards the Tripersonal Parabrahman Nirguna which literally means unrelated, is a perfect application to the highest Brahman in the logic of Advaita philosophy since relation (as we have mentioned before), to an object outside oneself meant dependence and therefore a limitation to absolute existence. Since God is absolute existence he cannot be limited in this way and therefore attributing relation to Parabrahman (transcendentally), is a limitation.
So if ‘person’ means to be related then it cannot be applied to the Parabrahman. One seems to have arrived at an impasse here because the argument is fully valid and Upadhyay was fully aware of its validity. The only way that he could get out of this conundrum was to take recourse to the Trinitarian concept of Christian theology. If God is taken to be one and not Triune, then there is no way out but to accept the logical proposition stated above.

Even Śankara (who was well known for his arguing skills) would have hammered this very point to the utter dismay of his opposition. But using the very principle of Śankara’s sat, cit, ānanda, and combining it with the psychological analogy of Aquinas, one can show God to be personal, related within himself (ad intra), and not necessarily outside himself (ad extra). This is exactly what Upadhyay did. He understood relation in this sense, not as limitation.
If God is sat, cit, ānanda, then it necessarily follows that God is tripersonal, as shown in the Thomistic Trinitarian theology, and therefore related within himself and not without. Relation without is dependence and limitation, not relation within. So if God is conceived as one and not triune then relation has to be understood as implying relation with an object outside (without) therefore a limitation, but if God is conceived as triune (that is oneness in threeness), then relation is evident, but within, avoiding the limitation of a necessary relation without. In this way Upadhyay personalises the Parabrahman, using the very system of Śankara but interpreting it in the light of Thomistic Trinitarian theology.35 

At this point we shall give some quotes from Upadhyay himself to substantiate the point that we have made so far. Upadhyay had given a lecture in the Framji Cowasji Hall in Bombay, the summary of which appeared in the next month’s December issue of Sophia Monthly. Here he is quoted to have said, External relationship indeed implies limitation; but not so internal relationship. The Infinite self-sufficient Being is related within Himself. He is not necessitated to enter into relationship with any objective unit external to Himself. The Subjective Self of God sees and contemplates the Objective self of God and in this single, eternal act are his knowledge and love fully satisfied.36

In the following quote we find Upadhyay asserting that God is a person by rational argument. By reason we can also prove the personality of God. Every cause must be adequate to its effect. There can be no excess in the effect over the cause. If there be any then that excess will have no cause, which contradicts the first principle: every effect must have a cause.

The First Cause, then, is adequate to its effect – the universe. Therefore, there can be nothing in the universe which is not contained in the First Cause in a pre-eminent way.



We find there are beings endowed with intelligence and will; therefore the First Cause must contain intelligence and will pre-eminently. Therefore God is a person, the definition of person being an individual having intelligence and will. We are aware that this proof is beset with many difficulties. But it can be shown that those difficulties cannot upset our simple and logical proof of the personality of God.37

Finally we give a quote from the same summary mentioned above, which is directly connected to the Trinity and the Personal God. “The Vedantist went further and proclaimed that this Infinite unity, was no cold intellectual abstraction, but a Personal Being who knows all, who watches over us with a Father’s eye – a Being who is the plenitude of being; consciousness, pure and luminous, and bliss supreme: sat, chit, anand.”38

From the above, we see that Upadhyay explicitly states that God is a person, because of intelligence and will (cit and ānanda). He therefore is indirectly saying that the Parabrahman (sat, cit, ānanda) is actually personal. The problem of relations is solved by falling back on the same concept of the sat, cit, ānanda, but this time giving it a threefold

interpretation within the context of the tri-personal God of Christianity. 

Therefore sat, cit, ānanda is the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We shall deal very briefly with this assertion of Upadhyay through his Canticle to the Trinity.

4. Canticle to the Holy Trinity (Vande Saccidānandam) 39: Tripersonalising the Parabrahman In his wonderful canticle to the Holy Trinity, Upadhyay presents the Parabrahman in a tripersonal way. He says, “the canticle sings of the Father-God (Parabrahman), the Logos-God (Śabda-Brahman) and the Spirit-God (Śvasita-Brahman), One in Three, Three in One.”40 

Although Upadhyay is not giving theological explanation in this hymn, we shall insert his theological pre-suppositions wherever necessary, for a better understanding of his ideas.

In the last line of the first stanza Upadhyay refers to God as trisańga (thrice related) which is actually referring to the three-fold subsistent relation, the three Persons in God, which represents the inexpressible inter-subjectivity, a community.41

The first person, the Father, the Parabrahman, the Sat is dealt with in the second stanza. He is called the Supreme Lord, the creator. His creation is considered intelligent (īksana), and therefore a personal act, not an impersonal evolution.42 

But this act of creation is outward and unnecessary (as Upadhyay would always affirm). But there is an act which is necessarily within Being (Sat) itself because for the “Parabrahman … to be is to know.”43 

So therefore knowing is the first act within oneself, which results in selfknowing. This act leads to a distinction within Being as the knowing self and the known self, which then necessarily involves a self-related cit.44

The third stanza, which is addressed to the Son, the cit, has amidst some titles given to the Son, namely, “Infinite” and the “Word” (om), the title of the Purusha (meaning Person), given to the Son, which goes far beyond the Samkhya terminology of an intelligent monad because He is prasūta, which is begotten (in eternity).45 

Here again the explanation of Cit in the Parabrahman which leads to a second self in the act of knowing Himself, is taken for granted. So Cit, which technically means, ‘intelligence,’ is the ground of self-knowledge where the one ‘I’ becomes a second ‘I’ by virtue of intelligence. Upadhyay beautifully puts it, “Parabrahman, the supreme Being, is essentially Cit…. He reproduces his self as Sabdabrahman (Logos) by īkshana (beholding).”46 

This beholding of the Parabrahman is understood by Upadhyay in a very Thomistic way (see ft.nt. 24), as the self-comprehension of the Parabrahman. He can therefore very categorically state in his Sophia Monthly about the Parabrahman saying, His eternal self-comprehension or word is to be conceived as identical with the divine nature and still as distinct from the Supreme Being in as far as He, by comprehending Himself generates His word. God, knowing Himself by producing or generating His own image and word, is called Father; and God as known by Himself by this inward generation of the word is called the Word or the Son.47

The fourth stanza, Upadhyay dedicates, to the Holy Spirit, who is Ānanda or bliss. By the very way he begins the stanza it becomes clear that he is thinking of Ānanda as not just an emotion or state of rest in the Godhead but as a ‘someone’ (a ‘One’), who in this context is presupposed as a person. He says, “One who proceeds from the union of Sat and Cit, the blessed (breath), intense bliss.”48 Although here, as in the previous two, there is no argument to affirm the personhood of bliss (Holy Spirit), but it has already been solved in Upadhyay’s previous argument where he tries to assert a personal distinction within God yet maintaining God’s unity by supporting it with the understanding of sattva, rajas and tamas as three distinct elements which are found unitedly in prakriti.49

For Upadhyay it was very clear that the Trinity – saccidānanda exhibited “the very nature of God as one essence possessed undividedly by Three Persons.”50 

His understanding of person was also in keeping with the contemporary Christian theology.

He says, “The term ‘person’… denotes a rational individuum, a being endowed with reason and free will.”51

Finally to sum up we shall quote

Upadhyay himself

The knowing Self is the Father, the known Self or the Self begotten by His knowledge is the Son; and the Holy Ghost is the spirit of reciprocal love proceeding from the Father and the Son. It is a necessity, Christian revelation teaches us, for the subsistence of the Godhead to be related within the term of Its essence without being divided. 
Thus lives the Supreme Being in the beatitude of triple colloquy, from eternity to eternity, selfsatisfied, self-sufficient, without any need of external communication or response from without.52



25 A. Hegglin, S.J., “Vedantism and Maya”, in Varia: Miscellaneous articles by or on Upadhyaya Brahmabandhab, p.184 (Italics mine).

26Ibid., p. 212.

27Ibid. (Italics mine).

28Ibid. (Italics mine).

29In Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Bramabandhab Upadhyay, vol. II, p. 283, ft.nt., 38.



30The Twentieth Century, vol. 1, no. 2 (28th Feb., 1901), pp. 36-7. Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol. II, pp. 293-4.

31The Twentieth Century, vol. 1, no. 2 (28th Feb., 1901), p. 37. Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol. II, p. 295.


33R.V. De Smet, “Ancient Religious Speculation”, in Religious Hinduism (Allahabad: St. Paul Publications, 1964), p.46.

34See Karl Rahner, The Trinity, trans. Joseph Donceel (London: Burns & Oates), p. 104, ft.nt., 25.

35Refer to ft.nt., 24, for any clarification on Thomistic Trinitarian theology and its epistemological presuppositions.

36Sophia Monthly, vol. 4, no. 12 (December, 1897), p. 3.

37Sophia Monthly (September 1897), in Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol. 1 (Bangalore: The United Theological College, 1991), pp. 124-5.

38Sophia Monthly, vol. 4, no. 12 (December, 1897), pp. 1-2.

39Henceforth we shall use saccidānandam wherever necessary for sat, cit, ānanda. This word is normally used in adoration to God (‘vande’ would connote the similar meaning), and “is a compound of three traditional philosophical religious terms, which in their simple form are sat (existent, being), cit (consciousness, intelligence) and ānanda (bliss, felicity).” In G. Gispert-Sauch, S.J., “The Sanskrit Hymns of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay,” Religion and Society, 19/ 4 (1972), p. 66.

40Sophia Monthly (Oct. 1898), in Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol.1, p. 126.

41See Gispert-Sauch, “The Sanskrit Hymns of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay,” p. 70. We shall not be entering into the intricate usage of Sanskritic literature and aspects of Hindu religious culture and worship used in this hymn. For this, refer the article of Gispert-Sauch stated above.

42Ibid., p. 71.

43Sophia Monthly, vol. 6, no. 3 (March 1899), p. 238; Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol. 1, p. 128.

44For a brief explanation of this see, Tennent, Building Christianity on Indian Foundations, pp. 233-234.

45Gispert-Sauch, “The Sanskrit Hymns of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay,” p. 72.

45 Sophia Monthly, vol. 6, no. 3 (March 1899), p. 238; Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol. 1, p. 128. Īkshana is a technical term used in Vedanta to show how creation takes place by the

beholding of Parabrahman. Creation is therefore an intelligent and a personal act. See Gispert-Sauch, “The Sanskrit Hymns of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay, p. 71.

45 Sophia Monthly, vol. 2, no. 4 (April, 1895), p. 11, in Tennent, Building Christianity on Indian Foundations, p. 225.

45 Sophia Monthly (Oct. 1898), in Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol.1, p. 127.

46Gispert-Sauch, “The Sanskrit Hymns of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay,” p. 72.

47Sophia Monthly, vol. 6, no. 3 (March 1899), p. 238; Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol. 1, p. 128. Īkshana is a technical term used in Vedanta to show how creation takes place by the beholding of Parabrahman. Creation is therefore an intelligent and a personal act. See Gispert-Sauch, “The Sanskrit Hymns of Brahmabandhav Upadhyay, p. 71.

48Sophia Monthly, vol. 2, no. 4 (April, 1895), p. 11, in Tennent, Building Christianity on Indian Foundations, p. 225.

49Sophia Monthly (Oct. 1898), in Lipner & Gispert-Sauch, Writings of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, vol.1, p. 127.

50Sophia Monthly, vol. 4, no. 2 (Feb., 1897), p. 8.

51Ibid., p. 9.

52Ibid., p. 8.



In short what we have said above is that Upadhyay, in connecting the saccidānanda of Śankara, to the Triune God of Christianity, is offering the Advaitin, a tripersonal Parabrahman. Saccidānanda is not a Trinitarian concept in Advaita. What Upadhyay does is to transforms that term by giving it a tri-prersonal (sic) hermeneutics from the Christian perspective and transforms it from within. Something similar happened with the terms

like ‘Logos’ and ‘persona’, in the history of the first three centuries, when they were pulled out from their contexts and placed within the transfomative (sic) experience of the Christ event.



From the above it becomes very clear that Upadhyay is re-visioning the monistic understanding of the Parabrahman through the Trinitarian hermeneutics of Thomas Aquinas. This re-visioning does not destroy the Advaitic concept of the Parabrahman, because Trinity in itself contains unity, in the sense the Triune God is One God and three persons. So the Trinty (sic) gives Advaita an abundance, it makes it three-dimensional, from one it makes it three, without loosing (sic) the one. Upadhyay is not doing this consciously.

He was basically interested in presenting Christianity in Hindu terms especially in Advaitic terms. In the bargain those very Advaitic terms attain a Christian flavour.

The proposals that follow are some reflections that spring up in the whole context of what we have said above.


1. Saccidānanda re-signified

The term saccidānanda which contains in its essence the teachings of the Upanishads (although appearing late in the Upanishads), is central also to Advaita. It is like an ādeśa, which is a compact presentation of a truth.53  



It enjoys the status of the spiritual formulas like om, neti neti (cf. Bķ.-Ā. Up. 2.3.6), tattvamasi, aham brahmāsmi, tadvanam etc.54 So when this formula is uttered in the Advaitc (sic)
system it is pregnant with meaning. It carries within it the Advaitic experience. At the same time it is a positive statement made about the Parabrahman namely that the Parabrahman is being, consciousness and bliss. This statement is philosophically defended by later commentaries of which the Pancadaśi, is famous55 and was to be fully translated by Upadhyay who could not complete it due to his untimely death. Continuing this philosophical trend, Upadhyay, in his articles and magazines, defends the personality as well as the tri-personality of the Parabrahman through this very formula, as we have seen before. 

It is by doing this that he re-signifies the formula saccidānanda. In fact he places himself in the very tradition of the earliest trends of Christian inculturation where the words Logos and Persona were appropriated in the Christian system due to which they received a meaning that did not destroy their original meaning instead, added to them dimensions that were not perceived before, but became perceptible precisely because they were in some way seen through the Christian eye. The original meaning of the words were not destroyed rather enhanced. Talking about the word Persona, it was a translation from the Greek prosopon by Tertullian who finally defined the Trinity as “una substantia-tres personae” (as stated above). 

This appropriation re-signifies the word ‘Persona’ to the extent that from its original meaning of ‘individuality’ it attains the Christian meaning of dialogue and relation.56 It was the God that we encountered in Scripture and in the person of Jesus Christ that styled our way of understanding person.


Ratzinger says:

… the concept of person arose from two questions that have from the very beginning urged themselves upon Christian thought as central: namely, the question “What is God?” (i.e., the God whom we encounter in Scripture); and, “who is Christ?” In order to answer these fundamental questions that arose as soon as faith began to reflect, Christian thought made use of the philosophically insignificant or entirely unused concept “prosopon” = “persona”. It thereby gave to this word a new meaning and opened up a new dimension of human thought.57

What Upadhyay did was the same thing. He gave the saccidānanda a new dimension by presenting it as three dimensional through his Christian reading of the same.

It is through this reading that the tri-personal aspect of the saccidānanda has been excavated so to speak and brought to the fore, that renders it more brilliant and still more mysterious.



53See Gispert-Sauch, “The Sanskrit Hymns of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay”, p. 66.

54 Ibid.

55See Śrimad Vidyāranya Swāmi, The Panchadasi, translated into English by a humble devotee of Śri Gopala Krishna (Bombay: Tatya-Vivechaka Press, 1912).

56For a detailed exposition of this aspect see, Ratzinger, “Concerning the notion of Person in theology,” pp. 439-47.

57 Ibid., p. 439.


2. Maintaining the mystery of the Parabrahman
In the Advaita system, if saccidānanda is proclaimed as the nature of the one supreme God and if it is taken to be the last insight that one could have about the nature of God then it remains very much at the philosophical level because that insight was logically reached by Aristotle as well. In his Metaphysics this is precisely his search and finally he arrives at a Being, whose essence is to exist intellectually and in happiness.58 

So if saccidānanda is the last word on the inner nature of God then the Advaitin with Aristotle can jump up victoriously and say that finally I have discovered it: God is sat, cit, ānanda (being, intelligence, bliss). It would mean that I have understood this God and there is nothing more left to know about Him. He has been reflected upon by acute selfawareness with the resultant being that his nature is sat, cit, ānanda. 

If Aristotle would have been present today just to here that his conclusion, that Being is intelligent and happy within Himself or (Itself), which he reached through a scientific enquiry (Metaphysics) into the Supreme Being is the same conclusion of the spiritual enquiry of the Advaita system, then he would surely be deluded into thinking that the ineffableness of God does not exist. God can be understood and there is nothing else to wonder about Him. But then on the other side it is the neti, neti of Advaita that really challenges this very assertion of Advaita. 

It is in neti neti that the seeker finally says “I don’t know,” rather, “I know but I cannot express it.” It is here that the mystery is maintained just to allow another mystery to sink in which is expressed in words but still remains a mystery and that is the Trinity. To say that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three persons, one in substance but distinct in relations, is not explaining away the mystery because it still remains a great puzzle as to how can three persons be all one and at the same time different. How can Monotheism allow tri-personality? Doesn’t Trinity amount to Tritheism?

More than clarity, this created and still creates confusion. The proud philosopher seeking clarity in divine things, did not want to live with this confusion. The temptation of clearly understanding God in human categories was always at work. This is exactly what the early Church fought against right from the inception of its Trinitarian assertion.

So rather than explaining away the mystery of God it entered deeper into it, recognising that it has still not captured it and never will. This Trinitarian affirmation that maintains the mystery finally bows down to the ineffableness of God. It is to this Trinitarian mystery that the philosophy of Aristotle was put to use as an ancilla theologiae (handmaid of theology) and it is to this Trinitarian mystery that the philosophy of Advaita is put to use through its saccidānanda formula maintaining fully the mystery of the Parabrahman in its initial and humble whisper of “neti neti.”




3. The Impersonal God is dead

If for Nietzsche God was dead then for Upadhyay the impersonal God is dead. As we said before, Hindu scholars of Advaita have interpreted the Parabrahman as the impersonal God the worship of whom or which, is considered as the highest form of worship.59 

The question that arises is that when they mentioned the ‘impersonal’ Brahman, did they mean that He was not a ‘Subject’? 

Is the nirguna Brahman a kind of object or shall we say ‘subjectless Being’? 

They surely could not have called him an object because if I am a subject and if I am Brahman then Brahman has to be a subject. 

Secondly if He is a subjectless Being then it is a contradiction because Being cannot be without consciousness because to lack consciousness means deficiency in Being.60 

This is precisely why Upadhyay would fight for a personal Parabrahman. But the point that we are trying to make is that, the impersonalists have no option but to maintain a Parabrahman that is a Subject therefore self-conscious and therefore a person.

Parabrahman is therefore personal right from the start. Otherwise the impersonalist Advaitins would be preaching a New-Age, Theosophist kind of God which is a Divine principle, a kind of a divine immanent energy that is etheral, a life-giving force that has to be harnessed and to which all beings have to be attuned to. Once this attuning reaches perfection there is moksha, liberation, Nirvana, awakening and enlightenment.

Great sages, spiritual leaders, swamis and gurus are attuned to this principle or become one with this principle feeling one with the Divine and so are able to utter the Mahavakya for themselves; Aham Brahmasmi. (I am Brahman). This New Age kind of God concept is rather diffuse.61 

The danger of such impersonal theology finally lands up in a no God’s land. Once again we could blame the translators for translating nirguna as impersonal which was subsequently used by Hindu Scholars. Probably or rather certainly Śankara may have really meant a personal being whose deep personal experience led him to forget himself in a way that St Paul says, “its no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me” (Gal 2:20). 

He gave expression to this experience in an Advaitic, non-dualistic way, which seemed to unfortunately portray a God that was impersonal. It was Upadhyay who way back in the 19th century held that the very Parabrahman or nirguna Brahman that Sankara preached was personal thanks to his Thomistic formation. It is only at the personal level that the neti neti of the Upanishads (Advaitic mystics), and the nada nada of the Spanish Christian mystics meet. 

Even Aquinas after having the Divine vision towards the end of his life, never abrogated all that he wrote on the Trinity or what he wrote in the Summa Theologica. He only compared it to a straw which only goes to say that the Christian mysteries are truths, but ineffable, and beyond comprehension. 

The Triune God is therefore not negated through that experience of Aquinas, rather it is upheld with a greater and mysterious profundity. God’s personality is much much greater than we can imagine, “Supra-personal,” to repeat what Upadhyay said. We can only talk about that personality analogically through our personality. It is only because God is personal rather tri-personal that we are Persons but in a much human way.


4. The problem of the concept of person and understanding it in the light of God’s tri-personality

The concept of person, with its rationalistic definition, after Descartes, attained a kind of individualism which practically destroyed its communitarian dimension. Today many theologians frown on the usage of persons for the Trinity in God especially after the critique of Rahner. But Rahner himself is not against the use of the concept of person.

He is rather cautioning against a prevalent understanding of person that is harmful to the understanding of person in God, which cannot be understood individualistically because then that would destroy the unity and lead to a tri-theism.62 So what is required is a better understanding of the concept of person namely as “distinct manners of subsisting.”63

Even if one thinks of abandoning the word ‘person’ and using “three distinct manners of subsisting” it does not help prayer and worship. O’Collins says, “Personal language for God makes our prayer and deep relationship to God possible.

How could one adore and glorify Rahner’s “three distinct manners of subsisting?”64

Rahner himself declares that “there is really no better word, which can be understood by all and would give rise to fewer misunderstandings.”65

So the concept of person remains and once again referring to what Cardinal Ratzinger said, that it was precisely because of the usage of ‘person’ in the Trinity, that its understanding was modified to the benefit of humanity. In the same vein, person in the Trinity cannot be understood without relations. Even Aquinas had placed his discourse on relations before dealing with the persons in the Trinity.66 

The persons in the Trinity are Father, Son and Holy Spirit, precisely because they are related to each other. Now if Ātman is Brahman or if we are in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26), then we too are intrinsically relational beings yet distinct. It is by our understanding of persons in the Trinity, that our personhood has to be understood and not vice versa. 

Our personhood cannot be understood without relations imbued with self-giving love. In fact it is the self-giving (kenosis) that is crucial to understand the relations as well as the oneness of the persons in the Trinity. It is this understanding that actually breaks down the very barriers of caste and Dalit oppression because its existence would be an insult to the tri-personal Parabrahman itself. On the other hand it would be that Parabrahman who would become the model of our communion and togetherness helping us to live like members of one family, a real Vasudaivakutumbakam. 


O’Collins beautifully puts it:

The Trinity’s koinonia or absolutely blissful communion of love presents itself as the ultimate ground and goal of all other such relations-in-communion. In a world where sharing and community have often tragically broken down, the perichoretic existence of the tri-personal God invites us to live in communion with each other and with our God.



Because the divine life is one of total self-giving and unconditional sharing, human beings, because they are made in the divine image and likeness (Genesis 1:26), are invited to exist in a communion and loving solidarity with each other and with the divine persons.67


5. Love or Bliss?

Finally the question that arises is, if self-giving love is crucial to the understanding of the inner nature of the Triune Godhead, then would it mean discarding the term ‘ānanda’ (bliss), which is again crucial in the saccidānanda experience of Advaita? Certainly not.

In fact the article of (Fr.) Gispert-Sauch (see page 8), “Ānanda, Hēdonē and the Holy Spirit,” argues precisely against this point.68 He leads the reader towards understanding that bliss is basically the non-dualistic unity of the Father and the Son. This bliss (ānanda) is precisely the Spirit. So rather than understanding the Spirit as love proceeding from the knowledge of the Father and the Son, it could be understood as a state of rest in the blissful union of the Father and the Son.69 He quotes Abhishiktananda
(see page 10) extensively for this Advaitic way of understanding the Spirit in the Godhead.

This is true of Love also. Love is basically unifying rather than dividing. Balthasar, as quoted by Gispert-Sauch is saying the same thing, that the Spirit as love expresses and seals the unity between the Father and the Son.70 So the question of love or bliss does not arise. We have to talk of love and bliss. Both the words can carry positive and negative connotations based upon contexts. This then is important even when seeing how Abhishiktananda or Gispert-Sauch have understood Ānanda wonderfully as bliss of union between the Father and Son precisely because they understood it in the context of the Trinity. 

In Advaita union cannot exist because there is only one reality or to put it more appropriately reality is non-dual. So it is not ‘I and Brahman are one’ but ‘I am Brahman.’ So bliss in Advaita if applied to the social context could be understood as individualistic or in isolation to the detriment of social communion. It is only in the context of the Trinity that bliss gains a unitive perspective. So both love and bliss go hand in hand precisely in the Trinity or saccidānanda, where love unites to rest in bliss. Applying this to the social context would mean self-giving love in blissful communion. It would mean in our very self-giving love there is bliss and because there is bliss there is self-giving love. It is like the self-giving love of the cross is intrinsically connected to the bliss of the resurrection. We cannot separate one from the two.



The basic proposition of this article has been that Upadhyay, by placing the saccidānanda, that signifies the Parabrahman, in the context of the tri-personal God and applying the Trinitarian theology of Aquinas to it, has (according to us), presented a tripersonal Parabrahman to Advaita. This may not be acceptable to the Advaitin. It may seem as an invalid superimposition of foreign, Christian concepts and belief systems over the pure and simple experience of Advaita. 

He or she may find the sacred saccidānanda profaned by the Trinitarian dogma. But the Indian Christian through his deep encounter with the Triune God in Jesus Christ cannot but see the saccidānanda, glow with a three dimensional personality of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It is this perspective that makes the Parabrahman come alive, whom we can worship and adore together with Upadhyay singing “Vande Saccidānandam”.



58Refer to ft.nt., 23.

59″Radhakrishnan maintains that understanding God as personal does not fully satisfy our religious needs. Therefore the worship of the Absolute is higher that (sic) that of a personal God.” In Anand, Hindu Inspiration for Christian Reflection, p. 11. Vivekananda is quoted to have said, “The highest ideal in our scriptures is the impersonal and would to God everyone of us here were high enough to realise that impersonal ideal.” In Ibid., pp. 10-1.

60This is a basic Thomistic argument but one finds it also among some Christian Hindu-scholars like, Bede Griffiths, Vedanta and Christian Faith (Los Angeles: The Dawn Horse Press, 1973), p. 20.
61Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the “New Age”, a provisional report by the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue (Mumbai: Pauline Publications, 2003), p. 64. 

See Rahner, The Trinity, pp. 103-15.

62Ibid., p. 114.

63Collins, The Tripersonal God, pp. 175-6.

64Collins, The Tripersonal God, pp. 175-6.

65In Ibid., ch. 10, end note, 2, p. 222.

66ST Ia. qq. 28-29.

67O’Collins, The Tripersonal God, pp. 179-80.

68In Indica, 16 (1979), pp. 83-102.

69Ibid., pp. 94-7

70 Ibid., p. 96.



After the first few pages, I decided to drop my commentary on Fr. Bryan Lobo’s thesis (although he is a high-ranked theologian, keep in mind that the above is only a thesis [it is “theologizing”] and not the opinion of the Church). But I would like to now include my own conclusions on this sat-cit-ananda-is-the-Trinity thing.





1. The Swami from Oxford – Fr. Bede Griffiths Wants To Integrate Catholicism and Hinduism

Say Robert Fastoggi Ph. D., associate professor of religious studies at St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas,
Jose Pereira, a native of Bombay and professor of theology at Fordham, the translator and editor of ‘Hindu Theology: A Reader‘ (Doubleday), Crisis, March 1991, Issues – heresies,

The dubious quality of Griffiths’ attempt at a Hindu-Christian integration is also revealed in his attempt to explain
the Trinity
in Hindu terms. In his book The Marriage of East and West Griffiths equates the Trinity with the Hindu triad of Being-Consciousness-Bliss
(sat-chit-ananda). As he writes: “we could then speak of God as Saccidananda, and see in the Father, sat . . . we could speak of the Son as the cit . . . we could speak of the Spirit as the ananda.”

While there might be some apparent similarities between the Christian Logos and Hindu Consciousness and between the Christian Spirit (who is Love) and Hindu bliss,
the differences between Saccidananda and the Trinity
are so pronounced as to discount any attempt to equate them

For Hinduism, the triad of Being-Consciousness-Bliss refers to nothing other than three aspects of the same reality, which are distinguished only in concept but not in reality. There is no question of any of them originating from either or both of the others as in the Christian Trinity. These Hindu qualities are better identified with scholasticism’s three transcendental attributes of being– unity, truth and goodness–to which they largely correspond.

If Griffiths persists in equating the Trinity with the Hindu Saccidananda, then he is either distorting the meaning of the Hindu triad, or he is promoting a view of the Trinity which is unacceptable in Christian orthodoxy.

Griffiths is also guilty of theological distortion in his attempt to identify God the Father with the Hindu concept of nirguna brahman, the Qualitiless Absolute, and God the Son with saguna brahman, the Qualitated Absolute. He describes the Father as the “infinite abyss of being beyond word and thought” and the Son as the “Self-manifestation of the unmanifest God.” However, from the Hindu viewpoint, the Qualitated Absolute is an inferior aspect of the deity, an illusory deformation of it projected by an ontological ignorance. If Griffiths is serious about his equation, he has made the Son less than the Father in a way destructive of Christian orthodoxy.See page 14, Fr. Bryan Lobo


literally is ‘Pure Being – Pure Consciousness (Awareness/ Knowledge) – Pure Bliss’ or
SAT-CIT-ANANDA. Or, the Absolute Joy that proceeds from the Absolute Self-Realization of Absolute Being.

This concept is equated with the Christian understanding of the
three Persons of
the Holy Trinity, with
being the Father,
the Holy Spirit, and
the eternal Logos that proceeds from them. At least three Indian Catholic Ashrams have this name, “a Hindu term for the godhead used as a symbol of the three persons of the Christian Trinity,” as one ashram brochure explains.

The ‘trimurti’ according to Hindu tradition represents the three aspects of the Godhead as Creator (Brahma), Destroyer (Shiva) and Preserver (Vishnu) of the universe. This has been one of the “inculturations” of the Indian Church.


2. Seminary as gurukul: church quietly going ‘swadeshi’ in BJP’s bastions–swadeshi–in-bjp-s-bastions/231404/

By Milind Ghatwai, Bhopal, October 23, 2007 EXTRACT

Fr Rajesh of Satchitanand Gurukul [seminary] says, “The Indian idea of
(truth, consciousness, bliss) and the Christian concept of the trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit)
gel in a way. The philosophies of all religions converge at some point. We have also realised that when we adopt Indian names it helps us gain acceptance among locals.”

At the seminary, yoga and meditation are very much part of the curriculum. So it is in many churches.


The statement of Fr. Rajesh and all the Indian theologians and bishops who propound the Hindu idea of sat-chit-ananda as being identical to the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity is a blatant falsehood.

Sat-chit-ananda is used by Catholic Hinduisers variously as Saccidananda, Satchidananda, Sachidananda etc. I visited the Saccidananda Ashram, also called Shantivanam, at Thaneerpalli, Kulithalai in Tamil Nadu for seven days in
December 2004, and that resulted in my October 2005 report on the heretical, New Age

According to ashram literature,
they christened the ashram

SACCIDANANDA for the Christian Trinty,

In naming the ashram as such: “a Hindu term for the godhead used as a symbol of the three persons of the Christian Trinity,” ashram literature explains that “they intended anticipating [!] the Second Vatican Council and the All-India Seminar (Bangalore, 1969), to show that they sought to identify themselves with the Hindu ‘search for God’… and to relate this quest to their own experience of God in Christ in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.”

Brahmin convert to Catholicism
Brahmabandhab Upadhyay [1861-1907], regarded as a pioneer of the ashram and inculturation movement, was the first to propose that “the Christian doctrine of God as
is exactly the same as the Vedantic conception of Brahman as
” as explained by Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj SJ in ed. (RSCJ Sr.) Vandana Mataji’s occult work Shabda Shakti Sangam, page 294.




3. In the CATHOLIC ASHRAMS report, I wrote about Saccidananda Ashram, quoting ashram literature:

The church building is called the temple or mandir. Ashram literature continues: “The church is built in the style of a South Indian [Shaivite] temple. At the entrance is a ‘gopuram ‘ or gateway on which is shown an image of the Holy Trinity in the form of a ‘trimurti‘, a three-headed figure, which according to Hindu tradition represents the three aspects of the Godhead as Creator, Destroyer and Preserver of the universe. This is taken as the symbol of the three Persons in one God of the Christian Trinity. The figure is shown as emerging from a cross, to show that the mystery of the Trinity is revealed to us through the cross of Christ.



The de facto guru of the ashram, Bro. Martin Sahajananda, commented thus on the Trinity at one of his “satsanghs”: “The language used is old and dogmatic, and does not appeal to us or have any meaning for us today.

One of the contributors to Shantivanam’s golden jubilee commemorative Saccidanandaya Namah
Francoise Jacquin
wrote that, while still in France, the “only thing”
Fr Jules Monchanin, one of the ashram’s co-founders, wanted was to contemplate the mystery of Sat-Cit-Ananda
“in a Hindu ashram.”

But Fr. Henri Le Saux (see page 10) was not to be left out. Monchanin said of him,Fr. Le Saux has returned from a stay of two months at Arunachala, the sacred place of Hinduism, a triangular mountain which according to myth is
the tejolinga (fire lingam of Siva)
where Ramana Maharshi lives, and from where he has brought back an essay which moved me… I believe that no one has yet gone as far in the spiritual understanding of Hinduism, an understanding which requires a rethinking of the Holy Trinity and of Creation.”
(Letter to Edouard Duperray, 30/12/1953)

Fr. Thomas Matus OSB confirms this, From the beginning, Fr. Monchanin had insisted (against Abhishiktananda’s taste for Gregorian chant) on the priority of meditative practice with respect to liturgical solemnity. The letters exchanged between the two priests from 1948-1952 are missing and would have been revelatory. The first letter in 1947 written by Monchanin to Le Saux in France listed the problems posed by meeting Christian thought- the Trinity, the Mystical Body, the salvation of non-Christians, Creation, etc. with that of Hinduism.

(Spanish theologian Raimundo) Panikkar is the favourite of all shades of liberation theologians. He calls for a ‘universal Christology’ in inter-religious dialogue which makes room not only for different theologies but different religions as well. He makes clear that his ‘Christ’ is not to be identified exclusively with Jesus of Nazareth [The Trinity, page 53]. Jesus is simply one of the names for the cosmotheandric principle.

In An Indian Benedictine Ashram, chapter 6, A Life of Prayer, “The holy syllable AUM should be the object of constant meditation, which should not be considered as the exclusive ownership of the Hindus.”

Making an analogy with the
Hindu trinity of Sat-Cit-Ananda, Le Saux
says, “And just as
AUM is one sound out of three elements (A, U, M), so also the mystery of the one identical essence in three ‘hypostases’ may be expressed by that pregnant sacred utterance.”

Further on in the same report on the CATHOLIC ASHRAMS, concerning the
Trinity and Sat-Cit-Ananda, and quoting from Jules Monchanin: Pioneer in Christian-Hindu Dialogue, ISPCK, 1993
, I wrote,

Sten Rodhe on pages 67-68 of Jules Monchanin: Pioneer in Christian-Hindu Dialogue, ISPCK, 1993, quotes Bede (Griffiths OSB) ‘on the problem of the relation between Christian Trinitarian faith and Hindu advaita, which was at the centre of Monchanin’s thinking’ and comments, Griffiths does not mention here that towards the end of his life Monchanin more and more found Hindu advaita and Christian Trinitarian faith, which according to Griffiths are complementary, separated by an abyss.

From the above we see that after his life-long search at the well-springs of advaitic Hinduism, Monchanin found it, along with its two flagships yoga and the Sat-Cit-Ananda principle, irreconcilable with Biblical Christianity, in fact separated from it by an “abyss” in the words of two different biographers. Yet … the Ashram Movement’s protagonists (in the Indian Church) have doggedly continued to tread the advaitic path towards that abyss.


The “Catholic” Anjali Ashram is situated about four kilometers from Mysore City founded in 1979 by Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass, the brother of Cardinal Lourduswamy, the architect of the squatting Indian rite Mass, has the Sat-cit-ananda temple (as they call it), the temple of ‘being-knowledge-bliss’.


4.“Asato ma sat gamaya” and “OM, Shanti, Shanti” chanted at the beginning of Holy Qurbana at Delhi Syro-Malabar Convention

“Asato ma sat gamaya” and “OM Shanti, Shanti” were chanted at the beginning of Holy Qurbana at Delhi Syro-Malabar Convention on 16th November, 2008 against the instructions of the Holy See.  Who cares for the Holy See or the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church! 

In this connection, we reproduce below the relevant portion of an article written by Bishop Mar Abraham Mattam (cfr. The Nazrani, vol. 15, No.5).

St Thomas introduced the Gospel in Tamizhakam, as described above, in the Dravidico-Semitic cultural milieu.  There were Jewish presence, and besides Dravidian race and culture manifest much affinity with Semitic Jewish culture.  The Church in South India in its growth absorbed many elements from the local culture in living the Christian faith and was well established before the arrival of the Nambudiris in the 7-8th centuries. What is said about inculturation by the Second Vatican Council and the Roman documents deal with new encounters of the Gospel with cultures and new Christian communities?  This is not the case with the Apostolic Syro-Malabar Church as if we were new converts of yesterday.  Jawaharlal Nehru in his book Discovery of India says: “There were large numbers of Syriac Christians and Nestorians in the South and they were as much part of the country as anyone else” (Discovery of India, p.12).  The Western image of Christianity in India was the result of Western missionaries and the Protestant and Latin Churches.  Well read Hindus understand this difference. 

Syncretism: Syncretism in the religious sphere means choosing and mixing up of elements from different religions, as for example, borrowing elements from Hinduism or Jainism into Christianity.   The Church does not approve such steps in the name of inculturation, because they may have a different religious significance.  The Roman document The Roman Liturgy and Inculturation brings out the following points which are equally valid for other liturgies.  It says: “The liturgy is the expression of faith and Christian life, and so it is necessary to ensure that liturgical inculturation is not marked, even in appearance, by religious syncretism.  This would be the case if the places of worship, the liturgical objects and vestments, gestures and postures let it appear as if rites had the same significance in Christian celebration as they did before evangelization. The syncretism would be still worse if biblical readings and chants or the prayers were replaced by texts from other religions, even if these contain an undeniable religious and moral value” (RLI n. 47).  (For a detailed treatise on the subject, see Bishop A. Mattam, “Forgotten East”, Satna, 2001, “Christianity and Inculturation” pp. 235-263).

In India, we are facing a serious problem in this connection.  Hindu scriptures and terms are used in some Christian circles, without verifying their exact meaning, and sometimes giving a Christian interpretation contrary to the universally accepted meaning.  We may mention a few cases in concrete.  Vande Saccidanandam“, “OM“, “Asato ma sat gamaya…”, etc. are chanted.  Some people think “asat” means untruth and “sat” truth, whereas “asat” means unreal or maya and “sat” real. This chant is taken from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28 where it means “Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality”.  Saccidananda” is applied to the Holy Trinity.  But this is not what has been revealed by Christ.  Holy Spirit is not “ananda” or bliss, but a Person of the Trinity.

These and other similar texts and chants were incorporated in the “Indian Mass” prepared for the Latin Church and the “Indianized Mass” composed by some CMI Fathers of Dharmaram c. 1979.  They were sent to the Holy See for approval.  The use of “Indian Mass” was prohibited by the Congregation for the Sacraments.  The Congregation for the Oriental Churches made several Observations on these compositions in a letter to the Syro-Malabar Bishops on 12-8-1980.  To quote few lines from the comments. On ‘asato ma’… it is stated: “In point of fact God has already drawn us out of the unreality, darkness and death: possessing Christ we are in the supreme reality of the new creation, we have eternal life, we have become sons of the light … It must also be noted that in the original context well-known to all the Upanishad from which the prayer in question is taken, the unreal, the darkness and death are nothing but the phenomenal world, in which we are immersed as long as we are drawn along in the cycle of rebirths and from we are liberated by knowledge of its merely apparent existence and out identity with the Brahman”.

On “Sachidananda” the Communication from Rome further points out:  “Besides – to reduce – as is here done – the proclamation of the Trinity in the three terms “Being, Knowledge, Bliss”.  The people of God have the right to call God by the three names by which he has revealed Himself. And above all, has the right and duty to do so at the supreme moment of the Eucharistic doxology. “Saccidananda”… the original Sanskrit, it has even more a formal connotation, being compounded in a single name: It is all the more suggestive, and, therefore, all the more unacceptable as a formula of worship”.

On the invocation “OM” the Holy See observes, “…according to what innumerable passages of the Upanishads continually and repeatedly affirm is the synthesis of all the Vedas and of all the “gnosis” of Hinduism… (OM) is charged with meanings so unmistakably Hindu, that it simply cannot be used in Christian worship… Moreover, “OM” is an essential, integral part of Hindu worship”.  If these Hindu terms and chants are not to be used in Christian worship it is not proper either to use them in Christian prayers.

In spite of all this, “asato ma sat gamaya” and “OM Shanti, Shanti” were chanted at the beginning of the Holy Qurbana of the Delhi Syro-Malabar Convention 2008.  To say the least, it was unfortunate.


5. The Paganized Catholic Church in India

By Victor J. F. Kulanday, 1985

Appendix X – Bede Griffiths and Indianisation, by Moti Lal Pandit EXTRACT



Please read the article by Rev. Fr. Peter Lobo in the ‘LAITY’ of Feb. 1979 on inculturation’. Things from other religions cannot be just imposed on the Catholics. In the name of Indianisation and inculturation what is being done is systematic Hinduisation reducing Catholicism to Hindu religion. It is a matter of conscience for me. I cannot equate the Holy Trinity with Hindu Trimurti*
or recite
while claiming to be a Christian.

*Saccidananda or Sachidananda


I am no theologian and I cannot rebut Fr. Bryan Lobo’s thesis line by line or even in its entirety, but all of the above information that I have provided on the preceding three pages (and I have still more in my computer files) is quite sufficient to convince the reader that the propositions of Fr. Bryan Lobo equating or trying to compare the Christian Trinitarian God with the Hindu sat-cit-ananda concept are erroneous to say the least, even if he has based them on the theologizing of the eminent Brahmin convert Brahmabandhab Upadhyay.

Fr. Bryan Lobo posits in his thesis: “Indian Christian theology has gone miles ahead in integrating many aspects of Hindu theology and culture into its ever widening gamut of concepts, symbols and images, theology and philosophy“. One point I must make is that it is not ‘culture’ that they assimilate but the Hindu religion. India has hundreds, if not thousands, of distinctive cultures, but all that is ever adapted into Catholic liturgy is HINDU as my numerous reports have shown (see list of files at the end of the present file).

Fr. Bryan Lobo is honest in admitting that Catholic theology has been steadily integrating Hinduism into it.

Look into any issue of the Vidyajyothi magazine for which Fr. Lobo was asked to contribute his article (page 12); the average Catholic would not understand head or tail of most of what the journal contains. The same goes with most of the theses submitted by our priests (Bishop Thomas Dabre’s on “the God experience of Sant Tukaram — a study in religious symbolism“, 1979, is a good example, and he rose to be Chairman of the CBCI’s Doctrinal Commission — and advocates yoga and the use of the “OM”) for their doctorates and one will find that they are on Hindu-Christian “comparative theology” which benefits the salvation of Catholics and the development of Church doctrine absolutely nothing. But the priests who the seminaries have been turning out know little else and an examination of their curriculum explains why. One of my priest-friends who heads a seminary turned down a tithe from us in support of vocations, asking me not to waste my money!!!

On February 15, 2005, I wrote this to Fr. Bryan Lobo:

One of my friends left a Jesuit seminary after 7 years of personal struggle. The sad thing is, he still has a vocation, but who will take him in? It has been discerned by him after retreats & discussions with many priests over the last year. Angela and I had worked hard to keep him in the seminary, but he could not stay. I have saved all his letters to me, [he was permitted two a month] and I know that he could not accept what he was being taught or asked to do. He was a Hindu, got baptized and joined the seminary. [His family are still Hindu]. All his letters tell us that he was being taught to accept, practice and inculcate things that are not Catholic, or even Christian. I cannot even begin to give you one example because it will take much time. He has brought a lot of evidence when he landed up in our home.
He loves Jesus, and the Church and has a burning desire to preach the Gospel, and according to him, everything he was getting in the seminary was against that, and a syncretization of religions and a return to the Hinduism he had abjured.

It was a long letter. Fr. Bryan Lobo did not respond. I traveled to Kanyakumari to the young man’s home. It did not help. The younger brother of Fr. Bryan Lobo had given (through me) a donation towards the fees of this youth to attend the International Catholic Programme for Evangelization school in Bangalore. Later I traveled to Kanyakumari and stayed at his home in an attempt to guide him back to a vocation. Nothing helped. After working with a couple of priests who taught him alternative medicine, he became a Protestant.

Fr. Bryan Lobo is also aware of the son of a close friend of his brother in Mangalore who joined the seminary in Mumbai to become a Jesuit. I have prayed with this family on many an occasion when the young man was a teenager and had been edified by his piety and holiness reciting the rosary with his arms outstretched. When I heard that he was studying to become a Jesuit, I told his proud parents that they had made a very big mistake. A few years later they began to share that things were not shaping well. Eventually, the youth completed his education and returned home. But that is not the story. I met him once after his return and found that he was not the boy I had known. He had become extremely and openly cynical about prayer and about his faith and I could not get across to him. It seemed that there was a divide that I could not bridge.

Another priest-friend who teaches at seminaries across India counseled a potential vocation to the priesthood not to join any seminary in India!!! A young friend of mine from Mumbai joined the Carthusians in the United States after doing seminary in India. A few others embedded in Indian seminaries are secretly in touch with my ministry for fear of their association with me becoming known to their superiors and professors. A couple of Indian priests who are in touch with me by email moved to the USA and joined lesser-known conservative religious orders. Three young men, the oldest being just 21, and their little sister have all joined a traditional (not Traditionalist please) religious order that now has houses in India. I can go on. No one at all has a good word for the Jesuits. If something is wrong somewhere, it must be the Jesuits, people say. I like to read the readers’ comments to Catholic blogs, and I have found that invariably there are well-founded and justified critical statements about the Society of Jesus. Pope Francis’ being a Jesuit has not helped the Jesuit image one bit during his Pontificate. If anything, it has only made people blame his being a Jesuit for the many controversial things that he says and does.



Of course, Fr. Lobo can argue as other priests have done in their letters to me, that Nostra Aetate #2 (Pope Paul VI, October 28, 1965) declares that “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men“, but every one of them very conveniently DO NOT EVER reproduce the sentence that IMMEDIATELY follows: “Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.

The Document says absolutely NOTHING about our being obliged to assimilate, adapt, adopt or incorporate their “ways of conduct and of life, those rules and teachings” into our faith, rituals and way of life. It only says that we do not reject but we respect what is true and holy for them.

It also says that they only contain “a ray of that truth which enlightens all men”.

Key words: “a ray”, “that truth”.

Christianity is that “truth which enlightens all men”. The Word of God (Scripture plus tradition) is the fullness of that revealed truth. But Catholic scholars and theologians would still prefer to chase “a ray of that truth”. They play with the mirror, struggling to grasp intangible reflections while ignoring the blazing glory of Light that is their treasured possession.

The Indian bishops have not ever clarified, in black and white, exactly what is “true and holy in other religions” in the Indian context thus making equally clearly for the simple faithful what is not.


Other inculturationists who
interpret the above sentence as a Vatican mandate for the Hinduisation of the Church prefer
the second most invoked (by them) Document, Pope John Paul II’s November 6, 1999 Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia #15, and it — and the four preceding paragraphs — simply says good things about the Asian peoples and their tolerance, harmony, non-violence, etc.

Following the lead of the Second Vatican Council, the Synod Fathers drew attention to the multiple and diversified action of the Holy Spirit who continually sows the seeds of truth among all peoples, their religions, cultures and philosophies. This means that these religions, cultures and philosophies are capable of helping people, individually and collectively, to work against evil and to serve life and everything that is good. The forces of death isolate people, societies and religious communities from one another, and generate the suspicion and rivalry that lead to conflict. The Holy Spirit, by contrast, sustains people in their search for mutual understanding and acceptance. The Synod was therefore right to see the Spirit of God as the prime agent of the Church’s dialogue with all peoples, cultures and religions.

Key word: “seeds”.


Another quotation invoked by the inculturationists for their ends is taken from #53 of Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation “On Evangelization in the Modern World“, Evangelii Nuntiandi, December 8, 1975:

The non-Christian religions carry within them the echo of thousands of years of searchings for God, a quest which is incomplete… They are impregnated with innumerable ‘seeds
of the Word’ and can constitute a true ‘preparation for the Gospel’.

Key words: “echo”, “searchings … incomplete”, “seeds”, “preparation”. What can be clearer than that?


A fourth favourite of the inculturationists which they misinterpret to justify what they do is from #26 of The Attitude of the Church Towards the Followers of Other Religions: Reflections and Orientations on Dialogue and Mission,
Statement of the Pontifical Secretariat for Non-Christians, June 10, 1984, the key phrases, all of which are in fact quotes from Vatican II Documents: “
which are true and good” (Lumen Gentium 16); “elements
of truth and grace“, “seeds
of the Word“; “seeds
of contemplation“; (Ad Gentes 9, 11 &15, 18) and “rays of truth
which enlighten all men.”

Key words: “elements”, “seeds”, “rays”.


Do these Church teachings exhort Catholics — who possess the fullness of Truth and Light — to nurture the embers and seeds of the religious aspirations of non-Christians with the Gospel, or do they direct Catholics to explore the echoes, searchings, elements and rays of other religions and experiment with them?

It is the latter that the inculturationists would have us believe. And how! The commentator(s) noted that this was “the mind of the Church”. It sure is! But, to quote selectively is to deceive.

All four of the above were cleverly inserted into a full page box on page 94 as part of the commentary on the Book of Exodus in the heretical St Pauls’ New Community Bible (NCB) 2008, a publication that had the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur but was withdrawn by the bishops after a year-long-crusade and media campaign led by this ministry which took the matter to Vatican dicasteries in Rome through the very same Fr. Bryan Lobo.

Reader, be informed that the entire page mis-citing for devious and insidious purposes all those Vatican Documents was excised from the 2011 Revised Edition of the NCB!

In fact, at least 90% of those contents of the NCB that we protested against were expunged.

The stand of this ministry was vindicated … and with assistance from the same Fr. Bryan Lobo who writes (page 13) “we need to thank Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (henceforth Upadhyay), the founding father of Indian Catholic theology, who by spearheading the hinduization of Christianity



John Paul II and the Other Religions: From Assisi to “Dominus Iesus”, the
Vaticanista Sandro Magister
wrote (June 18, 2003):
In effect, beginning from the affirmation of the Second Vatican Council in the decree “Nostra Aetate,” according to which “
the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in other religions,
the period after the council saw the widespread approval of the idea of transforming the missions into a simple commitment to foster the maturation of the “seeds of truth” present in the various religions – in other words, to help the Hindu be a good Hindu or help the Muslim worship his one God – as if these seeds were themselves distinct ways of salvation, independent of Christ and even more independent of the Church.

For more information on this issue, see my article RELATIONSHIP TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS


For the record, in the matter of the NCB, 7 out of the 30 “collaborators” who wrote the heretical commentaries that were removed were Jesuit priests. An eighth priest is Fr. Subhash Anand (see page 14) who is cited by Fr. Bryan Lobo. In fact most of the priests who he appeals to in his thesis on Brahmabandhab Upadhyay are liberals and Hinduisers. I am confident that if I checked up on the backgrounds of those other authors not known to me, I would find that more are of the same type.

The pity of it all is that Fr. Bryan Lobo is a friend, and his family are known to me for two decades. I attended his sacerdotal ordination at his Mangalore home on December 27, 2001 (or 2002?) At his home I met Fr. Paul Vaz (page 4), his Jesuit superior who was quite cold when I tried to introduce myself and my ministry to him. I gave him a packet of my photocopied writings (I had yet to begin to use a computer) which he declined to carry back to Bombay with him because he had only recently undergone heart surgery he said. However Fr. Bryan dedicated a fair amount of his time to me, even admitting that at seminary he had been exposed to yoga, vipassana meditation, and you know what else. He confessed that my ministry for the first time threw light on these practices and he came to know about New Age (The Vatican was to release its Document only in February 2003). And he graciously accepted a pile of papers that I gave him.

But there came a time when he declined to comment on my reporting of Fr. Paul Vaz’s New Age earth-centred retreats, even saying that the priest was “inspired by the Holy Spirit” while counseling someone.

In 2008, in a series of emails, he defended the unapproved (I say false) ecumenical Greek Orthodox mystic Vassula Ryden whose True Life in God publications are being promoted by members of his family.

It is notable that Fr. Bryan Lobo in his write up on Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (pages 13-22) speaks critically of the New Age Movement and even cites the Vatican Document in his thesis, but this is what he wrote to me about Homoeopathy on January 25, 2005: “You quote a lot the Vatican document against New Age but I am sorry to say you have not comprehended the spirit of that document. On the basis of that document you have sometimes told my parents that even Homeopathy is New Age. Why don’t you tell the Bishop of Mangalore to close down Fr. Muller’s Homeopathic section and to announce Fr. Muller as Satanic, deceivably so, just because he had propagated Homeopathy during his time. It is here that you need some foundation in theology and especially taught by the Jesuits.

You see, the Vatican Document mentions homoeopathy in its list of New Age remedies and therapies, and his family in Mangalore manufacture them! So, for Fr. Bryan, I have to have one yardstick and “spirit of comprehension” for homeopathy and another yardstick for other issues which he accepts as New Age!

If I am required to write to the Bishop of Mangalore asking him to close his Homeopathy College, doesn’t Fr. Bryan Lobo have to correct his fellow Jesuits for a great many aberrations and errors that are known to him?

After all he is the Director and a leading Professor in a Roman Seminary and has the authority to do so.

In March-April 2009, Fr. Bryan assisted me in reaching copies of the 2008 St. Pauls New Community Bible to the concerned ecclesiastical authorities in Rome through a priest who carried them to him in Rome for me, which eventually resulted in the withdrawal of the “Bible” by the Indian bishops and the expunging of at least 90% of its heretical line-drawings and commentaries before the release of a revised edition in 2011.

Despite that case, I really wonder as to what “foundation in theology and especially taught by the Jesuits” I need.

If he were really faithful to the theology that the Church teaches in its various directives to the faithful AND to priests, he might have taken a different attitude to some of the issues that I related above on this page.

AND especially to the rubrics of the liturgy. Leaving all other things aside, how does a lay person respect and obey a priest who disobeys the rubrics of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and flouts the laid down dress code for priests in the celebration of Holy Mass? If he does so, it means that he isn’t concerned what the Church says, and this is reflected in Fr. Lobo’s selective approach to the defense of homoeopathy (18 files at my web site) despite its inclusion in the Vatican Document on the New Age and his confidence in Vassula Ryden despite the warnings of her own Orthodox Church, Vatican statements and other Catholic bishops, priests and eminent lay persons about the genuinity of her “messages” and “visions” (68 files at my web site).

After receiving Fr. Bryan Lobo’s hostile response to my badly-put enquiry to him (I had said that the faithful “clearly seem to be intincting the hosts and self-communicating” in the photograph on page 1 to which he replied “Is this the way you do your research? You should ask me the question you ask finally before you make a conclusive statement like that“) on October 4, I immediately tendered an apology to him which was, however, not accepted by him.


Seeing that Fr. Lobo stood by his statement that “It is offertory time and the faithful are placing their offerings at the altar. I distributed communion later. See the image in the attachment,” I wrote to him again:

The position of the hands of the faithful do not indicate that they are carrying a gift to offerAnother aspect is your use of the saffron-coloured shawl over civilian clothes. I am not able to locate any sanction of this practice in the directives of the Indian Church.
By the Vatican directive Prot. N. 802/69 of April 25, 1969, 12 Points of Adaptation were permitted in India, and the use of the shawl is not one of them. Would you like to clarify that too for me?

In that letter of October 11 (written a week from the first enquiry), I informed Fr. Lobo that because of his silence I had meanwhile sent the photograph to other priests for their opinions to which he replied at once:

I am once again upset with your modus procedendi (even if you have not used my name). You should have asked me for an explanation as to what the offerings were about or why were the offerings made on the altar and not at the foot of the altar before you sent the picture to 20 Indian priests. You personally know me and are considered as a family friend and so I would have readily given you all the explanations as I did by sending you the photo of me distributing communion.

In principle I do not owe you any explanation and I shall not give you any in future.


This is the letter that I individually emailed to priests, and some of the (edited) responses that I received and to the photograph sent to them by me (I identified one of the priests as Jesuit Fr. Bryan Lobo to two of the respondents) on receipt of their replies:


Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016

Dear Fr. X,
By the Vatican directive Prot. N. 802/69 of April 25, 1969, 12 Points of Adaptation were permitted in India.

It says absolutely nothing about a shawl.
May I have your opinion on the wearing of a shawl (draped over civilian clothes) instead of an alb, girdle, stole and chasuble by priests while celebrating Holy Mass?
Question no. 2 is: May the offerings of the people ever be placed on the altar?


Date: On acknowledging receipt of their replies to my first email

What do you think the faithful are doing in this photograph?
Does it appear that any of them are bringing offerings in their hands? It does not at all appear like that to me. I cannot figure out as a lay person what part of the Mass this is.


1. Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 03:34:59 +0000 (UTC)

To answer your first question I’m not sure what the Indian bishops’ conference has decided in terms of valid liturgical dress. I’ve been to places where sometime the chasuble isn’t worn or stole worn over the chasuble. Is it allowed in an Indian rite? I don’t know. Personally I adhere to the chasuble over the stole over the alb.

The second answer is found in a way in the document Redemptionis Sacramentum (para 70).

In order to preserve the dignity of the sacred liturgy, in any event, the external offerings should be brought forward in an appropriate manner. Money, therefore, just as other contributions for the poor, should be placed in an appropriate place that should be away from the eucharistic table. Except for money and occasionally a minimal symbolic portion of other gifts, it is preferable that such offerings be made outside the celebration of Mass

An Indian priest serving a community overseas

Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 23:28:09 +0000 (UTC)

I’m afraid I have no idea what the picture is all about and what is the context that the photo is taken in and so cannot comment.


2a. Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 09:38:28 +0530

Regarding the adaptations, please ask Archbishop Jala of Shillong since they have brought out a set of liturgical guidelines. The shawl in these areas [North East, West Bengal] where the faithful are present is not used.

An Indian priest who is a canon lawyer


Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 20:58:30 +0530

Dear Michael,

Can’t make out if it is communion time or anything else. This is not according to the present liturgical practice. The faithful cannot take it from the altar. They have to receive it from the priest.


2b. Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 13:02:02 +0530/ Sat, 8 Oct 2016 13:04:10 +0530

Dear Archbishop Dominic Jala,
Since Fr. x suggested that I write to you because your archdiocese of Shillong has brought out new liturgical guidelines, I would like to know from you whether priests may wear a shawl (draped over civilian clothes) instead of an alb, girdle, stole and chasuble while celebrating Holy Mass. Thanking you in advance for your response, Michael NO RESPONSE



Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 10:10:05 +0530

I never approve wearing shawl over civilian clothes for liturgical celebrations including administration of sacraments (Confession, anointing of the sick, etc.)
Shawl over alb/cassock is permitted and is in practice in many places both in India and abroad. In Mumbai archdiocese some years ago Cardinal Ivan Dias had sent a circular saying: “Priests should use alb and stole (minimum requirement) for the celebration of Holy Mass”. But I know in Mumbai, many priests especially religious priests, use shawl over civilian dress or stole over civilian dress. It is against the dress-code proposed for the liturgical celebrations. I both resent and condemn such practices. May God give good sense to our priests

Indian priest of a religious order


Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 10:14:19 +0530

1. Offerings of the people should NEVER BE PLACED ON THE ALTAR. Strictly speaking nothing except what is used for the Holy Mass (only a standing crucifix, chalice, paten, the host and the wine to be consecrated, corporal (the towel that is used to keep the paten and the wine) are placed on the altar. Altar is the place of sacrifice and therefore not even flowers and candles are to be placed on the sacrificial table (altar) in order to safeguard the sanctity and holiness of the altar. But many take the liberty even to decorate the altar with flowers! 

2. The picture you have sent me does not speak clearly of the juncture of the Mass. Closely observing, I conclude that it is the time of Holy Communion (not offertory). The line that is formed in front of the table is a mixed group: young, old and children. On the altar Eucharist under both species is kept. Here it is self-service! Even self-service is not allowed. Eucharist should be GIVEN by the EUCHARISTIC MINISTER, preferably a priest.


4. Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 20:39:03 -0700

1. Since the shawl is not a liturgical vestment it is not advisable to use it during liturgy for the faithful in the parishes and of course not over civilian dresses. It may be allowed to use over an alb with the permission of the local ordinary in a context of house masses in North Indian settings.

2. Offering can never be placed on the altar during Liturgy but may be in front of the altar.

These are very quick answers to your queries. 

An Indian priest serving overseas as a parochial vicar


5. Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 21:07:10 +0200

Thanks for the mail. I am not for wearing simply a shawl draped over civil dress for Catholic liturgy in so far as the shawl is not an official liturgical sign in Christian worship and in so far as the shawl is a sign of worship in Hindu temples for puja, which is not in itself sacrifice. The Holy Mass is not merely a puja nor a ceremony to appease a “deity”. Catholic official liturgical regulations speak of prescribed vestments: precisely because liturgy is not a private act of worship, the liturgical celebrant has to follow those regulations. My answer is both personal and official.

The offerings of the people cannot be placed on the altar. On the altar only the bread and wine, and the Bible and the other sacred utensils are allowed. Even flowers are not right. Unless the bishops take the matter seriously enough we cannot change anything. Even the use of “for all” instead of “for many” in the consecration formula is illegitimate and improper.

An Indian priest serving overseas as a professor of theology


Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 19:51:43 +0200

I have seen often in the Latin Rite Liturgies in India that the congregation places the wafer in a sacred vessel placed at the entrance of the church but not on the altar. The wafers will be then taken at the time of offertory to the altar for consecration. This seems to be officially permitted. This is better than consecrating too many wafers and keeping them in the tabernacle. The way of putting the wafers directly on the altar at any part of the liturgy is not ideal as is suggested in the photo. It only disturbs the order of the whole sacred atmosphere and disrupts the holy flow of the ritual actions.


6. Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 21:12:51 +0530

As far as I know the practice of wearing a shawl was introduced by the Indian liturgy on experimental basis but it never got an official approval.

In a recent directive Cardinal Oswald prohibits even placing of flowers and candles on the altar. Altar is to be reserved only for the Sacrifice and hence to be used only with the offertory upto the communion point. Starting of the mass and concluding of the mass is to be done from the presidential chair.

An Indian priest serving in the North East


7. Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2016 12:44:13 +0530

As far as I know since my seminary days, at NBCLC, as part of inculturation, a shawl with a symbol of the cross or anything similar was used. I personally think a shawl if used must be draped over an alb and a stole must be used.  I for one, never like to see a shawl carelessly draped without even the use of a stole.

We were told in the seminary that any use of symbols/sacred clothing as part of inculturation, must be used with sanctity and only after the congregation is explained the meaning and purpose of the symbolism.

An Indian priest influenced by the errors of the NBCLC (see page 5).




Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 23:03:48 +0530

I cannot judge by the picture, but it is a common practice. I have seen that in some small chapels or mass centres, including convents, unconsecrated host is placed in the ciborium based on the number of people who would attend the service. Personally I feel it is not a good practice for everyone to personally place the unconsecrated host by themselves because, people may come with sullied hands.

8. Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2016 18:25:34 +1300

There are instruction given by Office for the Liturgical celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff with regards to Liturgical Vestments and the Vesting Prayers. Now with regards to your first question it says “Since the stole is an article of enormous importance, which, more than any other garment, indicates the state of ordained office, one cannot but lament the abuse, that is now quite widespread, in which the priest does not wear a stole when he wears a chasuble,”

You can also refer to the document Redemptionis Sacramentum

In my personal opinion I prefer to wear the Alb, Cincture, Stole and the Chasuble and this is how I celebrate the mass.

So in my opinion the priest should wear the liturgical garments prescribed by the Church as each of the vestments have a deep spiritual meaning attached to it.

The answer to your second question is: 

Except for the Bread and Wine for consecration the rest of the offerings of the people are to be placed below the altar. 

Another Indian priest serving a community overseas


Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 18:24:40 +1300

From my point of view I would not wear a shawl over the civilian clothes while celebrating the mass. Since I went through my formation in Rome we were always taught to use the Alb, Cincture and Stole for the liturgical celebrations and being used to seeing the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Priests using proper liturgical vestments at the Vatican I would continue celebrating the mass with the Alb, Cincture and Stole while concelebrating the mass and Alb, Cincture, Stole and Chasuble while presiding the mass.


9. Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 05:59:44 +0000 (UTC)

In the Instruction REDEMPTIONIS SACRAMENTUM of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2004), the paragraphs nn. 121-128 clearly state that the proper vestments for the celebrant of the Holy Mass are alb, cincture, stole and chasuble. The same document insists on priests’ using these vestments.

Unfortunately in the name of Indianisation all sorts of abuses have crept in. I have seen priests without any of the above vestments, i.e., just in their lay dress, celebrating Mass along with the main celebrant who wore just a shawl. And these concelebrants were sitting not around the altar or near the altar, but scattered among the lay participants. The above instruction was issued precisely to put an end to such aberrations.

On the altar there should be nothing except the Missal and the sacred vessels used in the Mass and a crucifix. Other things are all to be kept outside the altar. So evidently the offertory gifts are not to be kept on the altar. (See nn. 296-308 of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal.)

Indian priest of a religious order


Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 03:13:14 +0000 (UTC)

Sorry, I cannot make out anything from the photo you sent me. […]


10. Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 12:16:12 +0530

My personal opinion on the use of shawl is simply like this. After the II Vat. Council there has been a process of Indianization in Liturgy – hence we began to use kuthuvilakku, arati, going barefoot for Mass etc. And the use of shawl for celebration of MASS appeared in this spirit. Personally I am not for the use of shawl at community Eucharistic celebration. The usual chasubles are just appropriate and dignifying for India. The NBCLC at Bangalore has devised an enlarged shawl which looks like an Indianized chasuble, to be used only over a cassock or an alb cum cincture and not simply on civilian clothes. I have found it quite modest.    

The offerings of the people may be placed below the altar and not over it. But if they bring offerings like the hosts and wine to be used for the Mass as in Marriage Masses they can certainly be placed on the altar.

Vicar-General of an archdiocese


Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 16:13:06 +0530

With regard to the picture you have sent me, what I notice is that the people in queue are approaching the altar for communion – it is a self-communion which is not permitted by the Church. And the two celebrants are vested in shawls over their civil dress. On the whole there is no real decency about the liturgy.





11. Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 09:13:43 +0000 (UTC)

I suppose the whole question of the shawl and the other point of adaptation had been in the context of “INCULTURATION” in the light of the Indian context. 

A public celebration of the Eucharist is always to be done with proper vestment and decorum and any watering down of it is NON-NEGOTIABLE. From my reading of things, especially by listening to the propagators of this new adaptation, I can only read one thing: A rebellious Indian pride, synonymous with such bloat headed Indian theologians that demands pandering by the Vatican and the local Bishops. Many of the Bishops actually do so and even cater freely to their demands. 

In case of a shawl there are some practical questions which arises in the light of the Indian context: 

The colour of the shawl is the foremost; which colour does one choose? In most cases the colour opted for is saffron, which strongly communicates a Brahminical hegemony over the lower caste of Indian society, especially the dalits who have responded to the faith of Christ. Hence this issue itself reveals a mindless subterfuge assertion towards adaptation. There is no concrete theological foundation to the use of the shawl and more so in the Indian context. 

[…] In fact, even practically, the gospel in the Indian context is proclaimed well irrespective of the adaptation and that, further it needs to be stated, the adaptation has been more damaging to the proclamation of the gospel than to its spread. What is worse: Such an adaptation has damaged the faith of the existing laity, including the neo-converts, scandalizing many. 

I am glad that someone is again raising his voice against the adaptations permitted and that abrogating such an adaptation, with the proper explanation of the gospel priorities, would go a long way in purifying the contaminated faith of the laity contaminated by pseudo theologians. 

An Indian diocesan priest


Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:37:48 +0000 (UTC)

On the offerings and photograph, I am not sure which part of the Eucharist it is or whether it is pre-Eucharist.


12. Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 12:27:28 +0000 (UTC)

I put the questions you asked to our liturgist. This is what he had to say:

1. Shawl without alb, cincture and stole is non-liturgical when worn over civvies.

2. Offerings other than the bread and wine are not to be placed on the altar. They can be placed at the foot of the altar.

Indian priest of a religious order


Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 06:23:01 +0000 (UTC)

Dear Michael,

I cannot comment on the photograph because I cannot tell what is happening and it would be wrong for me to surmise something which may be far from the truth. But the Jesuits through their liberalism often water down the seriousness of the Eucharist. In fact end up making a mockery of the Eucharist.


13. Mon, 10 Oct 2016 16:19:16 +0000 (UTC)

It is better to keep the offertory on the floor of the altar than keeping on the altar. Altar should be decorated with candles and flowers. In certain places, even flowers are not allowed to be kept- only candles. 

An Indian priest living overseas


Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 18:10:17 +0000 (UTC)

Sorry to see the photo of Fr. Bryan Lobo. I have no wonder that he celebrates mass thus!

Today even many bishops are compromising Christian faith with Hinduism.
In Kerala the synod of the bishops have forbidden the preachers to speak against Yoga or other esoteric practices! I am sure you know better about it. Onam is no more a Hindu festival but Christian festival even celebrated solemnly in the Church! I don’t where they will lead the church to!! They have money and power and all media are with them. They are “wise” and we are fools! They are applauded by the majority and we are humiliated and put to shame by them!

Michael, I am always proud of you and your stand. I speak the truth boldly. In certain places I have spoken about your uncompromising attitude and your zeal for preaching the undiluted Gospel.


14. Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 17:54:47 +0000

In the picture that you sent me, we see two priests talking to each other and so whatever is happening is some event before Mass. It could be people putting in their cash offerings before Mass. It is not placing their host in the ciborium because we see no container of hosts and ciborium. […]

I felt that is was not during Mass, because the body language of the priests seems to be very casual. But it could also possibly be during offerings. During an offertory procession priests usually stand and receive reverently the gifts offered by the people and also bless each one of them – In villages, people usually bring crops – We don’t see any gifts in their hands.

At home Masses I have to use an alb or soutane and stole, because otherwise it would necessary to have chasubles of different colours as the saint of the day varies. For a public Mass I wear a chasuble.




A priest cannot dress as he liked while offering Mass. We have the GIRM and other documents that have to be followed. I am very what one may call conservative in strictly following the GIRM.

To be more specific, the offertory procession is according to GIRM #73-76  

The Preparation of the Gifts

73. At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist the gifts, which will become Christ’s Body and Blood, are brought to the altar.

First, the altar, the Lord’s table, which is the center of the whole Liturgy of the Eucharist, [70] is prepared by placing on it the corporal, purificator, Missal, and chalice (unless the chalice is prepared at the credence table).

The offerings are then brought forward. It is praiseworthy for the bread and wine to be presented by the faithful. They are then accepted at an appropriate place by the priest or the deacon and carried to the altar. Even though the faithful no longer bring from their own possessions the bread and wine intended for the liturgy as in the past, nevertheless the rite of carrying up the offerings still retains its force and its spiritual significance.

It is well also that money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church, brought by the faithful or collected in the church, should be received. These are to be put in a suitable place but away from the Eucharistic table.

74. The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory chant (cf. no. 37b), which continues at least until the gifts have been placed on the altar. The norms on the manner of singing are the same as for the Entrance chant (cf. no. 48). Singing may always accompany the rite at the offertory, even when there is no procession with the gifts.

75. The bread and wine are placed on the altar by the priest to the accompaniment of the prescribed formulas. The priest may incense the gifts placed upon the altar and then incense the cross and the altar itself, so as to signify the Church’s offering and prayer rising like incense in the sight of God. Next, the priest, because of his sacred ministry, and the people, by reason of their baptismal dignity, may be incensed by the deacon or another minister.

76. The priest then washes his hands at the side of the altar, a rite that is an expression of his desire for interior purification.

An Indian diocesan priest who too trained at the NBCLC


Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 16:52:00 +0000

As far as I am concerned, the shawl is one item that is part of the experimentation of vestments for the Indian Rite Mass until the final church approval of vestments that the priests in India will wear at Mass.


15. Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 11:25:30 +0530

Dear Michael,

I am not an expert in liturgy. However I would say that wearing a shawl alone is an aberration or abuse. As far as I understand according to the Missal offerings of the people like fruits etc. should not be placed on the altar. This is my personal opinion.

God bless you, Fr. Augustine

An Indian diocesan priest


Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 23:19:20 +0530

1) One never wears a shawl for mass.

2) Altar is supposed to be bare at mass time; that it is how it stays when I say mass. I sometimes allow a single candle, otherwise candles too on the floor or on a stand near the altar. Gifts at the foot of the altar

Hope all is well – up to my neck in paper corrections at the end of the semester

An Indian priest who is a professor of theology


16. From: CCBI Secretariat
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 18:07:28 +0530


Your email has been directed to me as secretary of the Liturgy Commission, by Fr. Stephen Alathara. 

Well, there was never a time in the Church when priests were permitted to celebrate Mass or the Sacraments without liturgical dress. In other words, no priest can celebrate liturgy with a shawl or a stole on civilian clothes.

The CCBI has just published “Directives for the Celebration of the Liturgy”. It was released on the 20 September, 2016 at St. John’s, Bangalore. 

The vestments for Mass are an alb, cincture, stole and chasuble. The shawl takes the place of the chasuble. Concelebrants too put on the sacred vestments they customarily wear when celebrating Mass individually. However should a just cause arise (e.g. a more considerable number of concelebrants or a lack of vestments), they may omit the chasuble but never the Stole (RS 123, 126); (GIRM 209; GIRM 335; GIRM 345; Redemptionis Sacramentum 124). 

Do not use only the stole over the monastic cowl or the common habit of religious or ordinary clothes, the abuse is reprobated (RS 126); Liturgicae Instaurationes, n. 8c: AAS 62 (1970), p.701

Offerings of the People: Besides Bread and wine, other gifts including the money are to be kept in a suitable place at the side and not on the Altar or at the foot of the Altar. The Chalice is never to be carried in the offertory procession.  

You could order from the CCBI, the Directives.

Thank you for your interest in matters liturgical and may God Bless you!

Fr. Ayres Fernandes, Secretary of the Liturgy Commission of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, Bangalore (as instructed by Fr. Stephen Alathara, Deputy Secretary General, CCBI)



From the above letters written by 16 priests (several other priests thought it prudent not to answer my queries and others lacked clarity), one can see that not one priest could correctly identify what part of the Mass was represented in the photograph on page 1.

Concerning the use of the shawl to celebrate Mass, a couple of priests who self-admittedly attended programmes at the NBCLC were (naturally) a tad soft on the use of the shawl, but even they did not categorically approve it while opining that it might be used in exceptional circumstances. They were clear that it is not a liturgical vestment. Most of the other priests thought that the use of the shawl was offensive, Hindu, and a liturgical abuse on the part of the priest who wears them.

But the CCBI directive above, coming at the same time as my investigation into the issue, settles the matter once and for all. The CCBI pronouncement came evidently because of the increasing liturgical abuses being perpetrated by the priests themselves, and I cannot wait to lay my hands on a copy of the new directives.

During Mass in village, some of the Priest uses shawl instead of Chasuble, Stole and Alb over Cassock“. The authors failed to add that priests also use shawls sans any vestments, over their t-shirt and jeans for Mass.

Liberalisation and Indianisation indeed! The above was contributed by one of the 16 priests who responded.

I am including the above-referred article at the end of the present file for academic purposes, see pp. 38 ff.

For the IMS Fathers, scroll back to page 6.


I was not so troubled when Fr. Bryan Lobo took a pass on homoeopathy and Vassula Ryden, but his open disobedience of the liturgical rubrics shocked and scandalized me and, friend or no, this report would have been written.

Fr. Bryan wrote to me, “In principle I do not owe you any explanation and I shall not give you any in future,” page 28. He is wrong, very wrong. It is the same problem with the great majority of our priests, bishops and cardinals. They believe that they are not answerable to the laity who can simply be ignored or dismissed by them if they feel like it. I encounter this problem, aggravated by my ministry, all of the time. The clerics are arrogant, haughty and very often even unapproachable. Fr. Lobo must realize that he is a “minister”, one who serves the faithful and the Church; through his Orders, he has been empowered and mandated to do that. In theory, they are to serve, not to be served, but in practice it is the other way around. The priest is also the servant of the liturgy and not its master for him to do as he desires and pleases during the Mass.

And, Canon Law 212.3 confers on laity the duty and the right to question, admonish, reprove and correct their priests and bishops should they transgress moral or Church law in their public life.

So, Fr. Bryan Lobo is obliged to give me an explanation if I ask one of him, and he does me no favour if he replies, but he does me (and the Church) great injustice if he shuts the door in my face.

Since he will not take any more questions from me, I cannot ask him about the veracity of the following information, and so it will remain a permanent record (Isaiah 30:8) on our web site.


It concerns something very serious that I was informed about Fr. Bryan Lobo. When I first read it, I did not take it seriously, but today, I do. I was asked to keep this information confidential, but I cannot do so now.

This is what a priest-friend of Fr. Bryan Lobo wrote to me (his exact words, without editing):

You must know that he has no faith in the Eucharist. He said that he obtained (his) doctorate in theology by disproving the presence of the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist!



I have no alternative but to believe this priest. Anything is possible in these terrible times. The charge may not be one hundred percent accurate (I do not want to pursue the matter by questioning the priest whose credibility is beyond any shadow of doubt) but there must be enough of truth in it to warrant the sharing of it with me by a brother-priest of Fr. Bryan Lobo.


An indictment of liturgical abuses by priests. Fr. Anselm Poovathani SSP on the ‘Indian Rite Mass’:


From the Editor, PETRUS magazine, February 2006

What puzzles me is that in India many of those who celebrate the so-called “Indian-rite Mass” and those who participate in it seem to be untouched by the teaching of the Magisterium. As I see it, the “Indian-rite Mass” is often nothing but the Latin-rite Mass celebrated squatting and flouting important liturgical rules and without the required spirit and signs of reverence.

I am only presenting here what I had observed earlier and observe even now.

I was once for a few days in a group of priests, brothers and sisters. Every morning we had the Eucharistic celebration. The main celebrant would sit on a seat behind the Eucharistic table. All others – priests, brothers, sisters – would sit in front and along the sides. Free seating was the rule. I suppose all the priests were concelebrating. But no one had any liturgical vestments – not even the stole. The main celebrant had just a shawl. No one could make out who was a celebrant and who a participant.

At communion the ciborium-cum-chalice was passed around for self-communion.

In the light of what is said in nn. 94, 104, 126, etc. of Redemptionis Sacramentum, such celebrations of the Mass are not only devoid of all reverence and dignity, but are gravely unworthy. It is better not to celebrate at all than celebrate in an unworthy way. As Francis Bacon says in his essay on Superstition, atheism which denies the existence of God is better than superstition which worships God in ways that are unworthy. Atheism ignores God, superstition dishonours Him.

Even after all the insistence of the Magisterium, after all the publicity given to the Documents mentioned above*,
in India there are still communities where in the name of the “Indian-rite Mass” many abuses and aberrations continue rendering the celebration in an unworthy and irreverent act.

In some communities it happens that at communion time an aspirant or a seminarian or a sister comes up and asks for the ciborium-cum-chalice to pass it around for communion.

All the faithful, or at least the priests and religious are supposed to read and follow the directives of the Church.

If by some chance they have not read them and so are in ignorance, then it is our duty to tell them what they have to do.

I think we celebrants cannot let them continue in their ignorance. That is not the mind of the Church – letting people continue in their ignorance and in error.

To help us celebrate the Eucharist reverently, worthily, and thus fruitfully, we shall do well to pay attention to n. 173 of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments’ Redemptionis Sacramentum:

“Although the gravity of a matter is to be judged in accordance with the common teaching of the Church and the norms established by her, objectively to be considered among grave matters is anything that puts at risk the validity and dignity of the Most Holy Eucharist, namely, anything that contravenes what is set out above in nn. 48-52, 56, 76-77, 79, 91-92, 94, 96, 101-102, 104, 106, 109, 111, 115, 117, 126, 131-133, 138, 153 and 168.

Moreover, attention should be given to the other prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law, and especially what is laid down by canons 1364, 1369, 1373, 1376, 1380, 1384, 1385, 1386, and 1398.”

*Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, and the Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine



I sourced the email address of Fr. Neelam Lopes SJ, the co-celebrant at Fr. Bryan Lobo’s Mass, and wrote to him using an alternative email id. Below is our exchange of emails:

Neelam Lopes
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2016 16:22:31 +0530

Dear Father Neelam,

I obtained your email id from Bro. Romeo Fernando.

I saw your photographs on the Internet and wanted to ask you a couple of questions. May I, please?

Date: Thu, 20 Oct 2016 05:43:44 +0530

Greetings of the Lord Jesus Christ to you. I am happy to receive your mail.

Feel free to ask your questions through mail or you can phone me up on the numbers listed below:

9421508333 / 8805458867

Neelam Lopes S.J

Vishwa Mandal Sevashram, Shirpur, Dhule (dt), Maharashtra 425 405

Date: Thu, 20 Oct 2016 07:19:32 +0530

Dear Father Neelam,
Good morning. Thank you for your prompt response.
I wanted to know which part of the Mass it is [bringing of the gifts, or the offertory or communion, or some other ceremony] in the photograph attached and also what the symbolism is of the saffron scarf that priests wear over their shoulders. God bless



Fr. Lopes has not replied at the time of my releasing this updated file. His reply does not really matter now.

One can only conjecture as to the reasons why he does not answer my questions. It will be fairly easy for the reader to figure them out.

If he was saying Mass according to the rubrics and if he could give good reason for his wearing of the shawl over shirt and trousers, and if he has nothing to hide, he will reply.


Is this the way you do your research?” asked Fr. Bryan Lobo of me (page 27) despite receiving many of my investigative reports spanning more than a decade, including the unique series of 29 files on the New Community Bible, our crusade against which he played an important part. I trust that he will be satisfied with the research that I put into the preparation of this report.










7/14 SEPTEMBER 2016

















































Reader, beware! The spellings and grammar are atrocious. My comments at the end.

Study on Liberalization and Incluturation in Vestments worn by Catholic Christian Priests and Bishop

By Prabhjot Kaur, Lecturer in Fashion Design, Dev Samaj College for women, Chandigarh, and Ruby Joseph, Head, Dept. of Clothing and Textile, Home Scinece College, Chandigarh

January 2010



Christianity in India started in Coastal areas after arrival of St. Thomas and spread during the British rule through out India. This study is an attempt to make people aware of the changes which has come in the vestments due to Liberalisation & Inculutration & to trace out their origins. In the present study, data was collected by interview cum questionnaire method. The sample was collected only from two diocese- Jalandhar & Shimla-Chandigarh almost covering whole Northern India. Findings of this study are that after Vatican council II, there was awakening among the Indian Priests & Bishops hence leading to changes in their Vestments have brought them more closer to lay people & can understand their problems better. The liberalization i.e. simplification of vesture leading to abolishment of some Vestments and other left to minister’s choice. Meeting of All India Seminar at Bangalore in May 1969 marked a major turning point leading to Inculutration i.e. Adoption & adaptation of Hinduism into Chrismanity
by using not only Indian Form of liturgical worship & dresses but also customs of Hindus.

Origin of all the vestments & symbols were traced back from articles of dress worn during Roman (753 BC- 476BC) & Byzantine (476 AD-850 AD) times. Priests lead a simple life, suffering for common people & their life is full of worships but they feel proud of their vestments & don’t want any improvements in them. Accessories includes objects used in material settings for divine worship –sacred vessels , Altar linings, Holy water, oil, Candles , Sacred books & Church furnishings .



Vestments are the ceremonial garments worn by priests & others in performing the offices of religion. Eecclesiastical vestments are those special articles of costumes worn by officers of Church at all times of ministration as distinct from clerical costumes worn everyday. Vestments of Jesus Christ & his disciples were simple long seamless cloak which was always described pure white. From the pages of history, we can see that Christianity was at its peak during New Rome & Byzantine empire under the rule of Constantine and Justinian. This was the time when the emperor was the Priest king & the Imperial dress always had ecclesiastical look. Hence all the vestments have been originated from the garments worn during Roman & Byzantine times. Meeting of All India Seminar at Bangalore in May 1969 marked a major turning point in Indian Catholic life & its post concleal renewal i.e. ‘Indianisation of the liturgy’. In India, Christianity is present in India since the commencement of christian era but failed to reap rich harvest among the hindu heathens. Hence Incluturation and liberalization come into practice. It has become a very central aspect of relation of church to Asia & Africa and is basis for the present existence of catholic Ashrams. It stands for a marriage of Hinduism & Christianity. The church must have made the attempt to translate the gospel message into the anthropological language & symbols of the culture into which it is inserted. Under Incluturation, Catholic Ashram, where adoption & adapting of Hindu Dharma took place has opened all over India. Priest’s & Bishop’s Vestments are modified according to customs, climate & culture of India.


Aims & Objectives.

1. To study the changes that has come with time in the status of vestments in India.

2. To trace out its origin.

3. To study the various accessories used for divine worship.

4. To find out Priests opinion towards their vestments & problems faced by them & give suggestion.



1. Study was limited to two diocese i.e. Jallandhar & Shimla & Chandigarh.

2. Only eight religious congregations were taken (Capuchin, Carmelites, Redemptorists, Salesians of St. John Bosco, Indian Missionary Society, Missionary of St. Francis Xavier, Little Flower Congregation, and Jesuits).

3. Number of respondents were limited to two of each religious congregation.

4. Vestments worn by priests belong to Latin rite were studied.

5. The study was limited to the vestments of Bishop & Priests of catholic church hierarchy.



Information regarding the vestments worn by Priest & Bishops was obtained from liturgical centre, Actual manufacturing units of vestments in India i.e. in Bangalore, Bombay, Madras & New Delhi. In the present study, data was collected by interview cum questionnaire method. 34 Respondents including 16 of Religious order (in Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Kartarpur, Kauni (Patiala), Ambala Catt, Malout, Sirsa & Karnal), 16 Diocesan priest (8 from Chandigarh 18 from Jallandhar) & 2 Bishops (one of Jallandhar & other of Chandigarh Shimla disease) were interviewed.



Review of Literature

According to Webster Dictionary, Vestment means a garment, robe, gown especially official robe or gown. In ecclesiastical usage, it is any of the garments worn by official ranks & their assistants during civil services & rites. It is derived from latin word ‘Vesture‘ meaning ‘clothe‘ .

In New Testament, Christ is described as high priest simply to bring out the dignity of his priesthood, he used to wear white seamless robe as it is mentioned at the time of Crucification. Priests continued to wear same dresses during Roman

Empire but in A.D. 330, when Emperor Constantine founded Byzantine, Christianity became religion of rulers or higher classes of the society. The simplicity of old Roman dress gave to the gay colouring, fringes, tassels and jewels of the east.

Development to specific priesty costume took place only between 4-9 is century reason being the abandonment of long lunics & mantles by layman & their continued use in the Church.

The Recent second Vatican Ecumenical council has however shed new light on the dignity & office of Bishops in the church & lead to liberalization i.e. simplification of Pontifical rites, Vesture & Insignia. Later meeting of All India Seminar at Bangalore in May 1969 lead to Indianisation of the liturgy.


Results & Discussion

Vestments not only symbolize the function proper to each ministry but also contribute to the beauty of rite. In Persona Christe– ‘they should wear a grab that reminds others & themselves of what they are & what ought to be made manifest in them’.

Vestments can be defined as wide range of attire accountrements & markings used in religious rituals that may be domestic or personal in nature & they can be used to distinguish priest from lay members of a group or to signify various orders or ranks within priesthood. Liturgical as well as Non Liturgical vestments worn by Bishop & Priest have also not only undergone changes but some are not in use today as shown in table –I.





Almost all the vestments have developed from articles of dress worn during the Roman Empire and not from the ornaments of Jews as was previously thought.

Origin of Cassock was traced from the normal civilian dress in the late Roman Empire i.e. ‘Tunica Talaris’. It was sometimes filled with hoods and capes hence the habit worn by religious congregation priests are also evolved from it. Hoods are traced back from ‘Cucullus‘ which was a hood attached to Paenula worn during Roman times by fisherman. Origin of Ecclesiastical Alb was traced back from ‘Tunica Alba’ worn during Roman period by common men as it was white linen garment reaching to heel. In 10th century, it was decorated with embroidery on hem & cuffs and with time, various change in fashion i.e. amplitude of cut, use of lace or other decoration has continued to be worn during present day.

Origin of Chasuble was traced back from an outer cloak i.e. ‘Paenula‘ worn in Greek-Roman world by all classes & both sexes. Two edges of Paenula were sewn together to form a conical or tent shaped cloak. It underwent changes by way of reduction of size & increase in decoration. Later it became merely a vehicle for the display of highly decorated cut of embroidery with rich silks, velvets, Metallic threads, pearls & jewels. In 19th Century, Gothic chasuble together with matching stole & maniple became popular but now new designs have begin to replace them.


Origin of stole was traced back from ‘Toga‘ which was the upper garment worn during Greek –Roman times by common people till AD100. Later it become narrow band called pallium & then it got modified but it remained long & narrow & were decorated with three crosses in the middle & one at each end.

Origin of Dalmatic was traced back from “Tunica Dalmatic‘ worn during Roman period. It was a loose garment with flowing sleeve, open partly at the sides & have clavi as decoration. It didn’t became a vestment until the 9th Century. Now it has become ornament rather than garments as it is regarded as Festal Vestment.

Origin of Cope was traced from ‘Paenula‘ worn by common people as an cloak or over garment fastened at shoulder with little broach.

Pallium is similar to ‘Stole’ i.e. Roman Toga’ worn during Roman times which mush have been folded so the entire garment was concealed.

Rochit is a modification of Alb so its origin is also form ‘tunica Alba’.

Skull Cap {Zucchetto} is similar to close fitting brimless hat called ‘pileus‘ during Roman times was worn by slaves who used to shave their head.

Origin of Mitre was traced back from ‘Phrygian cap’ worn during Byzantine times as a richly ornamented helmet with two or four flaps in the back. Two pendent band of embroidered material which hung at back are called ‘infule’ and was originally used to tie under chin but later it become merely ornamental.

Pastoral staff’s origin was traced back from simple walking stick used by people during Roman times.

Hence the vestments of Christian Church are developed from articles of the dress worn during Roman & Byzantine empire & its form being inspired by classical Greek attire. Origin of all the symbols used on chasuble can be traced back also from Byzantine times when Christian emblems including crown, Dove, Animal, geometric and abstract design etc. were popularly used as symbols on garments.

Accessories are the objects which include material setting for divine worship in Church. It includes Sacred vessels, Altar linings, Holy water oils, Candles, Church furnishing and Sacred books.

Sacred Vessels are the containers or utensils employed during Liturgical celebrations.

Chalice is sacred vessel in which the Eucharistic wine is consecrated and it consists of three parts i.e. Cup, Base and a Node separating the two. Previously inner part of the Cup was Gold plated but today it is made of non-absorbant material. Ciborium is a covered container in which are reserved the small hosts used for distribution of communion. It is made from any noble and solid metal of durable material. Base is added for handling and exposition.

Monstrance is a sacred vessel designed to expose the consecrated hosts to the faithful. It was large and extended on sides with small statues with apex being a crucifix and having Gothic structure.

Paten is a round thin convex plate of same material as the Chalice enough to extend over the Chalice and bread is consecrated on it.

Pyx is a small watch shaped recepticle used to carry communion to the sick.

Lunula is a receptacle having the shape of circle or semicircle which serves to hold the host in an upright position on the monstrance.

Sprinkler is an object to sprinkle holy water and is made of metal with a hollow handle and sponge at the ball shaped top so that water can be srinkled from there.

Cruets are the vessels or bottles usually in the form of jug, having a handle and beak made of glass or metal intended to contain the wine and water for Mass.

Communion Plate has a projecting handle on the saucer like metal gilded plate which makes it easy to hold it under the chin of the communicant to catch any fragment that might fall from sacred host.

Boat is a small oblong receptacle which holds the incense that is transferred to the thurible with the spoon.

Thurible is used for burning incense at various offices of the Church.

Oil stocks are the vessels in which holy oils blessed on Holy Thursday in the chrism Mass is kept.

Altar Linings are the clothes used during Mass for covering altar and other sacred vessels.

Altar cloth is used to cover the Altar and its size, shape and adornment should suit the structure of Altar.

Antepondium is a decorative and protective veil or hanging from the front of Altar covering its entire length from top to bottom.

Corporal includes sacred cloth of white linen around 20 inches square upon which the Chalice, Paten and Ciboria are placed during mass.

Chalice Veil is a square cloth of silk large enough to cover the Chalice and Paten.

Purificator is a small piece of white absorbant linen approx. 8 by 16″ folded in three length wise and marked with a cross in the centre employed during Mass and used to wipe the lips of Chalice.

Holy Oils includes oil of catechumen, chrism and oil of the sick used for blessing fronts in baptism, confirmation, consecration, blessing by Bishop, of Paten, bells and Chalice. Chrism is blend of olive oil and balsam.

Baptismal water is the blessed water used in rite of Baptism on the Easter Vigil.

Candles and Candle stands are important part of the Church ceremonies.

Sacred Books used in Church during different ceremonies are Roman Missal, Sacramentary, Pontifical and Bible.

Roman Missal is a daily prayer book.

Sacramentary is a book containing the rules for Mass and other sacraments.

Pontifical is a book containing the rites some of whch can be performed by the Bishop only and others by Priest. Religious scripture of Christianity is Bible. It is collection of seventy three writings which are further divided into two sections.




Old testament has forty six writings and New testament consist of twenty seven writings.

Old testament is based on Jewish religious beliefs. The history and the preaching of Jesus constitute the New testament.

Church Furnishisngs include Altar, Bishop’s cathera, Confession Box, Bells and Images of Christ, Mary and Saints.

Altar is a table upon which the host is consecrated in Mass. It can be fixed or moveable. It is made of either natural stone or solid material. It is covered by Altar cloth, candles and cross.

Tuberanacle is receptacle either round or rectangular blessed sacrament is kept.

Ambry include closet and cupboard used for books and sacramental vessels.

Sanctuary is the area of the Church in which the ministry carry out their function in the celebration of Liturgy.

Baptistary is usually outside Church or west side of Church gate where Baptism take place.

Confession Box is a wooden box where confession is done by penitient in pesence of Priest.

Sacristry is a room in Church near Altar where furnishisngs or vestments are kept.

Stations of the cross are the steps where special events in Christ’s journey to calvary took place and each pilgrim stop at each step to meditate. Each station is marked by a wooden cross to which a picture is often added. Fourteen stations are:

1. Jesus is condemned to death.

2. Jesus takes up his cross

3. Jesus falls the first time

4. Jesus meets his mother

5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus

6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

7. Jesus falls the second time

8. Jesus speak to the women of Jerusalem

9. Jesus falls the third time

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross

12. Jesus dies on the cross

13. Jesus is taken from the cross

14. Jesus is laid on the tomb.

All these pictures are found in all the Churches around the world.








After the meeting of Vatican Council II, liberalsation and incluturation was introduced to allow common people to draw maximum benefit from the services of the Clergy. Liberalisation laid stress on the simplification of some of the vesture and insignia. Today, there is no hard and fast rule about wearing of certain Vestments and some of the vestments are no longer used and rest are left to the minister’s choice.

Use of Buskins, Sandles, Maniple, Amice, Gloves, Tunicle, Dalmatic, Mantellata was abolished. Wearing of Rochet, Dalmatic by Bishop under Alb was emitted or left to the ministers choice. Choice of wearing simple, plain, Ornate Mitre was left to the Bishop.

Instead of Typical Clerical dress, Bishop wears simple white Cassock instead of violet prescribed in Books. There is no compulsion about wearing Stole in a particular style i.e. either crossed at chest or not. Today, Bishop and Priest are free to wear Stole in any way. Colour of the day can only be worn by celebrants not necessarily by cocelebrants.

If there is a shortage of Chasuble then all the co-celebrants at mass can wear simple Stole over Alb or Cassock. For Religious order Priests, wearing of Habit is not compulsory. Tonsure is also not practiced today (see Table III)





has become a very central aspect of the relation of the Church to Asia and Africa and is the basis for the present existence of Catholic Ashrams. It means changes in vestments and way of praying with climate and culture of that particular country without sacrificing the essential message of the Liturgy.

Adjustments or variation in the Vestments were done according to the local custom of India. During Mass in village, some of the Priest uses shawl instead of Chasuble, Stole and Alb over Cassock. Black is considered symbol of mourning in India so it is avoided so instead of Black Cassock, white ones are used. Some of the Indian originated Religious congregatrion has adopted Hindu customs by opening Catholic Ashrams.

They have given themselves Hindu holy names with swami at one end and Ananda at the other. They are dressed in Ochre robes or Dhoti Kurta and wear rudraksha or Tulsi Mala around their necks. They paint their foreheads with sandal paste in the morning, kumkum at noon and sacred ash at night. Hindu symbols and scriptural texts are used in their thrice daily worship which they call Sandhya. They celebrate mass after the pattern of Hindu pooja with dhoopa, deepa and arti. They sing Hindu devotional songs composed by Hindu saints in various Hindi languages. They have built chapels which look like Hindu temples. The mission station where they live are now known as Ashrams. The mission emblems carry the Om, the sacred Hindu symbol and mantra, interlocked with Christian cross e.g. – Indian Missionary Society Priests. Other changes which took place are – the posture during Mass both for the Priests and the faithful are adapted to the local usage i.e. sitting on the floor and footwear removal before entering Church. Kissing of objects is adapted to local custom i.e. touching the objects with one’s finger or palm of one’s hand and bringing the hand to one eyes or forehead. The corporal could be replaced by a tray (thali) of fitting material. Oil lamps could be used instead of candles. Prayers in local languae instead of Latin or Syrian makes it easy for common people to participate. Even the way of receiving the communion has changed. Previously Priest used to give it to the faithful people as they were not allowed to touch it but now people takes it as Hindu’s take Prasad.

Bishops and Priest dedicate their life in service of common people. They don’t have their own source of income and no personal belongings as all their possessions are in the form of offerings and rewards. All their needs are looked after by Church itself. Edcuational and health institutions are the main sources of income to the Church. They are not allowed to marry hence living the life of celebracy so that they serve God with less restraint and with undivided heart.


Training of Priest begans after tenth or twelth class.

First the person goes to Minor Seminary where he completes his twelth and graduation along with courses in piritual languages. He spends three years in minor seminary then he goes to major seminary for studying philosophy in 3 years. One to two years of practical training period called Regancy in any Church. After this period he comes back to the seminary for studying theology in four years. He can also go for higher studies. The person is ordained as Priest by the Bishop. Transfer of Priest takes place usually after 3 years but it is not compulsory. Ecclesiastics can also resign. Superiors are told to accept resignations without proposition and cause. Bishop may either accept or reject the resignation.



When question regarding the problem faced by them in relation to Vestments was asked, responses of all Priests were same. They all believed that their life is full of hardships and their main purposes of Priesthood is to serve people irrespective of their problems. They didn’t considered vestments hindrance to their comfort and they respect them and are ready to suffer while performaing their task of serving common and poor people as Jesus Christ.


Conclusion– The liturgical movement of the twentieth Century sought to give the vestments of celebrants & ministries a form that was both close to the original & more artistic. But still the orthodox churches continues to this day perform its ceremonies in vestments not essentially different from those worn by Byzantine emperors.



1. Gibbon, E. “Christianity & the Decline of Rome”, Collier Books, New York, 1962.

2. Gods Greatest Gift”, ICI University Publication, N-Delhi 1991.

3. Goel, S.R. ‘Catholic Ashrams-Adopting and adapting Hindu Drama” Voice of India, New Delhi 1988.

4. Houston, M.G. “Medieval Costume in England & France”, Morrison & Gibb Ltd. London 1950.

5. Lister M “Costume – An Illustrated survey from ancient times to the Twentieths century”, Barrie and Jenkins, London, 1968.

6. Martimort & Sloyan “The Church at Prayer” The liturgical Press, lollegeville Minnesota.

7. Moras, G.M. “A history of Christianity in India” Manaktalas Bombay, 1964.

8. Pike, E.R. “Encyclopedia of Religion & Religions”, George Allein & Unwin Ltd., London.

9. Walker L.J. your New life, ICI University Publication, New Delhi, 1960.

10. Willox, R.T. “Dictionary of costume” B.A. Batsford Ltd, London 1969.

11. Laver, J. “The concise history of costume and fashion”, Harry N Abrams, Inl. publishers, New York.



This title of this project report of two Chandigarh-based textile fashion designers, one apparently a sardarni and the other Catholic, is aptly named “Inclutteration” to further mis-spell their rendering of “inculturation”.

They also called it “liberalization” and it says much about the disposition of those Catholic priests (Capuchins, Carmelites, Redemptorists, Salesians, Indian Missionary Society, Missionary of St. Francis Xavier, Jesuits) of the Jalandhar and Simla-Chandigarh dioceses whom they interviewed/questioned to get their information, and the Hinduized condition of the Church in India.


My conclusion (page 23, and in many of my earlier reports) that the 1969 All India Seminar in Bangalore was the starting point of the mess of the Holy Mass is confirmed by authors Kaur and Joseph (they termed it “a major turning point leading to Inculutration” and “All India Seminar at Bangalore in May 1969 lead to Indianisation of the liturgy“) which they explain as “Adoption & adaptation of Hinduism into Chrismanity
(sic) by using not only Indian Form of liturgical worship & dresses but also customs of Hindus.

Hinduism, Hindus. How then does the word “Indian” suddenly pop in? As I repeat ad nauseam, “Indian” means a vast, diverse, multicultural, multi-religious melting pot. It is plainly evident that there is nothing else that goes into inculturation but Hinduism and so the correct term for what is being implemented in the Church is “Hinduisation” and not “inculturation”. It is perverse for one to keep interchanging the words “Indian” and “Hindu” as if they were one and the same thing.


The two researchers were on spot when they wrote “Catholic Ashram, where adoption & adapting of Hindu Dharma took place has opened all over India” and “Incluturation
is the basis for the present existence of Catholic Ashrams“. That too has been my contention since the year 2005. And Fr. Bryan Lobo’s ideal, Brahmabandhab Upadhyay, is a father figure of the Catholic Ashrams Movement, not to mention that in his August 2012 thesis he appeals to a number of 20th century Ashram leaders.


From the authors’ passage on Inculturation I extract the following sentences to examine:

They have given themselves Hindu holy names with swami at one end and Ananda at the other. They are dressed in Ochre robes or Dhoti Kurta and wear rudraksha or Tulsi Mala around their necks. They paint their foreheads with sandal paste in the morning, kumkum at noon and sacred ash at night. Hindu symbols and scriptural texts are used in their thrice daily worship which they call Sandhya. They celebrate mass after the pattern of Hindu pooja with dhoopa, deepa and arti. They sing Hindu devotional songs composed by Hindu saints in various Hindi languages. They have built chapels which look like Hindu temples. The mission station where they live are now known as Ashrams. The mission emblems carry the Om, the sacred Hindu symbol and mantra, interlocked with Christian cross e.g. – Indian Missionary Society Priests. Other changes which took place are – the posture during Mass both for the Priests and the faithful are adapted to the local usage i.e. sitting on the floor and footwear removal before entering Church … Oil lamps could be used instead of candles. Even the way of receiving the communion has changed. Previously Priest used to give it to the faithful people as they were not allowed to touch it but now people takes it as Hindu’s take Prasad.



One must always keep in mind that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre or NBCLC in Bangalore is the central figure of the Ashram Aikiya and the Catholic Ashram’s Movement. From there to the dozens of Catholic Ashrams across the nation to the meditation and retreat centres now also being named “ashrams”, the slow poison of Hinduisation is being disseminated in the Church. In the long list of files on pages 36 and 37, I have researched the origins and meanings of several of the Hindu articles, symbols and rites such as the construction of churches that resemble temples, the ceremonial use of the bindi and tilak, the “OM” mantra and symbol, the rudraksha, the kuthuvilakku or nilavilakku temple oil lamp, the arati and the anjali hasta, the dwajastambha or flag pole, Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam dance, the squatting Mass, and much more listed in red colour in the preceding paragraph. The two researchers even note that people receive communion in the hand as the Hindu receives prasada offered to the deities.












Categories: Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India, Liturgical Abuses

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