The Syrian Connections
The West Syrian bishops who had been present among the Orthodox Thomas Christians from 1665 gradually introduced their Church traditions among them. Exploiting the severe opposition mentality prevailed within the Orthodox against the Roman Catholics the West Syrians tried to introduce doctrinal, liturgical and other Church disciplinary measures among them. This was not too difficult to achieve, though it needed time for people to accept the change. From the time of Mar Gregorios in 1665he had obviously begun to work on it and those who came after him continued on what he had done. However it was from the middle of the 19th cent. West Syrianization process was speeded up in the Orthodox.
Substantial affinities prevalent in languages, traditions, disciplines, except in the case of subtitle theological differences between the East Syrian and West Syrian traditions were conclusive to the introductions of West Syrian among Orthodox of India. Moreover differentiate situations prevalent from time to time also speeded up West Syrianization. But it should be observed another thing here. While accepting the Services of Mar Gregorios the Orthodox of Malabar was not coming into the jurisdictional set up of the Autio Syrian Church. In order to impart services of Mar Gregorios’ to the Orthodox of India, with which the Patriarch of the West Syrian Church had no connection then, that Patriarch had to get a thing done at once. It was necessary that the Indian church formally accept that Patriarch as the Supreme head of the church. As the Portuguese had done in 1599 by extracting submission to Rome from the Indian church the West Syrian Patriarch from the beginning of the Indian Church’s relationship with him desired similar submission of the Indian culture to him. But to fulfill this intention, it was not easy: Mar Gregorios does not seem to have taken any step to promote it. After his time those two West Syrian dignitaries who came in 1685 intended to achieve the Patriarchal destination. But unfortunately they achieved nothing, because of the death of one soon after their arrival. Mar Ivanios lived for about nine years and there were two opportunities before him opened to exercise the patriarchal demand because it was he who conferred Episcopal positions on Mar Thoma III and IV. Some historian suggest that he had made such demand but Mar Thomas abruptly rejected such claim. Hence till 1751 the patriarch sent no bishops to Mar Thomas inspite of repeated request from them. Moreover the West Syrian delegation which came in 1751 had clear motivation to implement the intention of their patriarch with regard to the Indian church. When Mar Thoma V refused a rival metran was consecrated against him getting a group of Supporters from the adherents of Mar Thoma V. In 1772 the appointment of Thozhiyoor met ran secretly by Gregorios was another attempt in the same direction. But Mar Thoma V & VIth foiled all these attempts and the Patriarch’s jurisdictional claim remains unrealized while all Mar Thoma metrans were serving thair church. But a party within the followers of Mar Thomas, who were favourably disposed to the West Syrian bishops and to there patriarchs’s realization of of jurisdictional claims over the Indian Church, had been formed during the middle of the 18th century. Mar Thomas V, VI and VII were seriously troubled by this party from time to time. This party was very active while the Indian Church was involved in collaboration with the Anglicavu mission between 1816 and 1836 and the major factor behind the collapse of that co-operation was again the activities of that party. This we shall analyse in the forthcoming Section
The Final Attempt to reinforce East Syrianism
It should be also observed here before entering into other issues of the Thomas Christians who were under the Marthoma bishops, their East Syrian Church identity. Between 1709 and 1731 a bishop named Mar Gabriel from the East Syrian Patriarch had arrived into Kerala to reclaim his Flocks with which from the time of 1599 that Patriarch had lost all relation. Seeing the changed political condition of South India took place this arrival of Mar Gabriel. At this arrival a number of churches and considerable body of Thomas Christians, both from the non-Romo and Romo Thomas Christians accepted him. He died at Kottayam and was buried at Cheriapally, which later on came under the Orthodox where his anniversary feast used to be celebrated every year till the end of the 19th cent. This went shows that during the 18th and 19th centuries, till the Orthodox were fully identified with the West Syrian Church, they were also remaining identified eccelesiastically with the East Syrian Christianity. The Eastern Syrian they were following their liturgical language and this practice prevalent till Western Syriac was imposed upon them from 1876 after the Synod of Mulanthruthy.
It is a fact with the arrival of Mar Gabriel it was not possible full reintroduction and reinforcement of East Syrian Christianity among the Thomas Christians. Because the Thomas Christian were remaining in a divided state: one under the Roman Catholics and the other under Marthoma bishops. Mar Thoma bishops IVth and Vth were not ready to receive Mar Gabriel, but they clashed with him both theological and administratively. As the Mar Gabriel since died without a Successor his hopes upon the future of his church’s continuation remained unrealized. Thus with this event the connection of the Indian church with the East Syrian church came to an end forever. Although the Indian Church continued basically in the East Syrian Church traditions along with the West Syrian ones, which were newly introduced, hold of the East Syrian ones, gradually began to be declined. There were two basic causes behind: The Portuguese all along had condemened the East Syrian Church as Nestorian a dreadful here and they had accomplished a substantial amount spade work and the Malabar church had began to assimilate this stand point. The West Syrian contact with the Orthodox of India also opened an era of denouncing the East Syrian Christianity as heretical. In these situation gradually the Indian Orthodox had to quite off their East Syrian identity, instead as Substitute to it were fixed to embrace. West Syrian identities.