Q: Are you Saint Thomas Christians or Hindus?
To us they are the same thing. Jesus lived in India from the age of fourteen until he returned to Israel when he was thirty. There he taught the dharma he had learned in India and incurred the wrath of the religious authorities who eventually brought about his death by the Romans who were occupying Israel.
His guru, Chetan Nath, a leading figure of the Nath Yogi Sampradaya, revived Jesus by his yoga powers and they returned to India where Jesus lived the rest of his life mostly in the Himalayas in Kashmir.
A short time after Jesus returned to India Thomas, one of his twelve apostles, also went to live in India, first in Kashmir and then in what is the present-day state of Kerala. He had many disciples who were called Ishannis (“of Isha”–Isha Nath being the Sanskrit name of Jesus as a Nath Yogi). The Ishanni Sampradaya was fully a part of Sanatana Dharma as were the sampradayas of other acharyas such as Shankara, Ramanuja, etc. All of the Ishannis were Brahmins who adhered strictly to Sanatana Dharma. Only after the coming of the Portuguese and other Europeans did the Ishannis become known as Saint Thomas Christians.
It is important to understand several distinctive characteristics of the Saint Thomas Christians who adhere to the original principles of Jesus and Saint Thomas:
- They consider Jesus of Nazareth to be a perfected yoga siddha, a jivanmukta like the great acharyas such as Shankara. They honor him greatly as all sampradayas honor their founders, but they do not believe him to be God the creator or somehow the only savior of the world in whom people must believe to be “saved.”
- Their beliefs are completely those of Sanatana Dharma, the religion of the ancient rishis of India as found in the eleven major Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures.
- Just as each sampradaya in India has distinctive features, mostly ritualistic, in the same way the Saint Thomas Christians are distinguished by the rituals instituted by Jesus and known as sacraments. However these rituals reflect and express the principles of Sanatana Dharma such as karma, rebirth and the divine nature of the Self in all human beings.