Mar Thoma VI
Malankara Church.
Enthroned May 8, 1765
Reign ended April 8, 1808
Predecessor Mar Thoma V
Successor Mar Thoma VII
Personal details
Died April 8, 1808
Buried Puthencavu (now St.Mary's Orthodox Cathedral)

Mar Thoma VI was the Malankara Metropolitan from 1765 to April 8, 1808. He was a shrewd administrator.He was born in Pakalomattom family, one of the oldest families in Kerala.It was a period much remembered in the history of the Malankara church. Formation of Thozhiyoor church, end of Dutch supremacy and the entry of British in India, arrival of English missionaries, translation of the Bible from old Syrian to Malayalam were some of them.


On the South Western coast of India lies a small state known as Kerala It was here in the first century, Thomas the Apostle arrived to preach the gospel to the Jewish community. Some of the Jews and locals became followers of Jesus of Nazareth. They were known as Malabar Nasrani people and their church as Malankara Church. They followed a unique Hebrew-Syriac Christian tradition which included several Jewish elements and Indian customs.

In Malankara (Kerala) St. Thomas did not appoint any bishops, but an elder (Mooppen in Malayalam) was selected to lead the people. The parish leader was called Edavaka Mooppen and the church as a whole had a Malankara Mooppen. This was the tradition till 1653.

Canons of the Synod of Diamper, Malayalam versions [1] use these titles throughout the report except in three places where they use the Latin word archidiāconus. [2] [3] There is no chance for the Malankara Church to use this Latin word. Portuguese were not familiar with Malayalam word Malankara Mooppen and so they might have used Latin word Archidiāconus. The Malayalam name Jathikku Karthavian, given by some historians was not used in the Malayalam version of the canons.


After the great swearing in 1653 it became necessary to appoint a bishop. For this purpose a special chair was made and the first bishop of Malankara church was enthroned. This throne used for the consecration of Mar Thoma I, is in the possession of the Mar Thoma Church and is kept at Tiruvalla. It has been used in the installation of every Mar Thoma Metropolitan, to this day, so that the continuity of the throne of Mar Thoma is ensured. This was the throne used for the consecration of Mar Thoma VI.


Mar Thoma VI was consecrated by Mar Thoma V, at Niranam Valia palli in 1761. Three bishops from Antioch were in Kerala at that time. Realizing that it was not necessary to have a foreign bishop to consecrate a bishop for Malankara church they were not invited. In 1765, Mar Thoma V died and Mar Thoma VI, took charge of the Malankara church.

But there were people in parishes who followed these foreign bishops. In 1770, to avoid a split in the church, Mar Thoma VI had accepted re-consecration by these Antiochan bishops. Because he was consecrated this time by a bishop of another church he was given the episcopal title Dionysius a Graeco-Roman name. He was the first such bishop of Malankara church. But because of his strong desire to be independent he did not go after Antiochan church.

Thozhiyoor church

Mar Gregorius of Jerusalem one of the bishops from Antioch built a church at Cochin and there he consecrated Rev. Abraham of Mulanthuruthy Kattumangattu family in 1771. Rev.Abraham was given the episcopal name Abraham Mar Koorilos. This action was not approved by Mar Thoma VI. He complained to the Dutch company that was powerful at that time. Realizing that a bishop once consecrated cannot be excommunicated, the court ruled that Mar Koorilos be subjected to the authority of Mar Thoma VI. [4] Mar Koorilos later went to Anjoor in Malabar and settled there. His followers formed the Thozhiyoor Sabah (church). In 1862 this church was given the name Malabar Independent Syrian Church.

Invasion by Mysore

Mysore was a land locked kingdom. Hyder Ali, ruler of this kingdom decided to invade Malabar to get access to the Arabian Sea. He entered Malabar in 1781 and crushed the Nair soldiers. After his death Tippu Sultan came to the throne. During that period Christians were persecuted. [5] [6]


Bala Rama Varma was the ruler of Travancore at this time. He was one of the least popular sovereigns whose reign was marked by unrest and various internal and external problems to the state [7]. He became King at the young age of sixteen and came under the influence of a corrupt nobleman known as Jayanthan Sankaran Nampoothiri from Calicut. One of the first acts of atrocities during his reign was the murder of Raja Kesavadas [8], the existing Dewan of Travancore. Sankaran Nampoothiri was then appointed as Dewan (Prime minister) with two other ministers. [9] Using his influence, Mar Thoma VI was put in jail at Alleppy and was forced to conduct a service according to Catholic rites, but escaped during a rebellion in Travancore under Velu Thampi in 1799.[10] [11]

Relation with Anglican church

Rev.Dr. Claudius Buchanan (1766-1815) visited Kerala in 1806 and made arrangement for the translation of the Bible into Malayalam. Marthoma gave him the manuscript of the Bible written in the old Syrian. This manuscript was later deposited in the public library of the University of Cambridge.[12]

During the visit Dr. Buchanan suggested to have close relationship with Anglican church. Soon after his visit Mar Thoma convened a meeting of the elders of the church at Aarthattu declared that Malankara church will not accept the doctrine of Rome or England or Antioch or any other foreign churches.[13]


Mar Thoma VI consecrated Pakalomattom Mathen Kathanar as his successor in 1796 at Chengannur church. No foreign bishops were invited for this function and the Graeco-Roman name Dionysius was not given to him.

Vattipanam. (Fixed deposit)

In 1790, Sakthan Thampuran (1751-1805), became the ruler of Kochi. He was an efficient ruler. He never encouraged Portuguese Missioners but offered land and other grants to Syrian Christians. His Grants to Syrian Christians paved way for the flourish of Syrian Christians. During his time the business in foreign trade improved. This resulted in more income to the people. Church members gave more to the church. The church made improvements to its buildings. Still the church had more savings. This was the condition of Kochi when Mar Thoma VI was consecrated in 1796.

But by 1799, situation in Travancore was different. When Velu Thampi took charge as the Diwan (prime minister) of Travancore, treasury was empty. At that time Velu Thampi was in good terms with the British. He made an agreement with them. According to that Travancore had to pay a large sum to the British for protection. So the Travancore government was forced to collect more money from its people.

It was at this time Mar Thoma VI and Mar Thoma VII, discussed what to do with the extra money. They thought of depositing the additional income as a fixed deposit and with the interest they could begin training the priests. But Mar Thoma VI was not able to take action on it. Later Mar Thoma VII was able to deposit an amount with the government that is known as Vattipanam.

Last days

Mar Thoma VI died on April 8, 1808 at Niranam. Funeral service was conducted by Mar Thoma VII and was laid to rest in St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Puthencavu.

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1765 – 1808 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:

See also


  1. Five of the Malayalam versions were available in 1952.
  2. Daniel, K.N. Canons of the Synod of Diamper, prepared using five of the available Malayalam versions.
  3. Antonio de Gouvea (1606) Jornada do Arcebispo Aleixo de Menezes quando foy as Serra do Malaubar.
  4. Varghese Kassessa, K.C. Malabar Swathantra Suryani Sabha Charitram. Page 37.
  5. Sankunny Menon, P. (1878) A History of Travancore from the Earliest Times, (Thiruvithancore Charitram). Page 199.
  6. Mathew, Adv.P.C., Aarthattu pallipattum charitra rekhakalum Page 24-26.
  7. Travancore State Manual by Nagam Aiya
  8. History of Travancore by P. Shungunny Menon. Page 245.
  9. History of Travancore by P. Shungunny Menon. Page 245
  10. History of Travancore by P. Shungunny Menon. Page 246.
  11. Puthenkavu Cathedral Smaranika. Page 175, 183.
  12. Buchanan, Rev. Claudius, Memoir of the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India. Page 76.
  13. Mathew, P.C. Aarthattu Padiola, Nazrani Christians of Kerala. Page 114.

For further reading

    1. Juhanon Marthoma Metropolitan, The Most Rev. Dr. (1952). Christianity in India and a Brief History of the Marthoma Syrian Church.. Pub: K.M. Cherian.
    2. Daniel, K.N. (1952). Canons of the Synod of Diamper, CSS. Tiruvalla.
    3. Zac Varghese Dr. & Mathew A. Kallumpram. (2003). ‘’Glimpses of Mar Thoma Church History’’. London, England. ISBN 81/900854/4/1
    4. Chacko, T.C. (1936) Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charithra Samgraham’’. (Concise History of Marthoma Church), Pub: E.J. Institute, Kompady, Tiruvalla.
    5. Eapen, Prof. Dr. K.V. (2001). ‘’Malankara Marthoma Suryani Sabha Charitram’’. (History of Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church). Pub: Kallettu, Muttambalam, Kottayam.
    6. Ittoop Writer, (1906). ‘’Malayalathulla Suryani Chistianikauleday Charitram’’. (History of Syrain Christians in the land of Malayalam)
    7. Mathew, N.M. ‘’Malankara Marthoma Sabha Charitram’’, (History of the Marthoma Church), Volume 1.(2006), Volume II (2007). Volume III (2008) Pub. E.J.Institute, Thiruvalla
    8. Mathew, Adv.P.C. (1994) Aarthattu pallipattum charitra rekhakalum. (Aarathattu church history and records).
    9. Sankunny Menon, P. (1878) A History of Travancore from the Earliest Times, (Thiruvithancore Charitram).
    10. Varghese Kassessa, K.C. (1972) Malabar Swathantra Suryani Sabha Charitram. (History of Malabar Independent Syrian Church).

External links

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