D. S. Amalorpavadass
Rev. D. S. Amalorpavadass
|Born||15 June 1932|
Kallery, Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu
|Died||25 May 1990 (aged 57)|
|Ordained||12 April 1959|
|Writings||Destiny of the Church in India today|
|Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore|
|Pastor in Viriyur|
Rev. Duraiswami Simon Amalorpavadass (15 June 1932 – 25 May 1990) was a Catholic South-Indian theologian who played a vital role in the renewal of life and mission of the Roman Catholic Church in India, particularly after Vatican II. He was fluent in Tamil, French and English. He is the younger brother of Cardinal Lourdusamy.
Rev. Stephen Bevans, S.V.D., in a paper presented to celebrate 30 years of Evangelii nuntiandi, writes that Amalorpavadass, one of the two special secretaries on the 1974 Synod of Bishops (“Evangelization in the Modern World”), convened by Pope Paul VI, “attempted to propose an interpretation that took into account many of the important movements in Asia and other parts of the Third World. His ideas revolved around a greater role for the local church and the emergence of the theology of liberation.”
- 1 Early years
- 2 Seminary studies and ordination
- 3 Post-graduate studies and research
- 4 Appraisal
- 5 Criticism
- 6 Writings
- 7 Memberships
- 8 Death
- 9 References
Seminary studies and ordination
In 1953 Amalorpavadass joined St. Peter's Pontifical Seminary in Malleswaram, Bangalore.
He served in the parishes of the Archdiocese before being appointed to The Regional Catechetical Centre of the archdiocese to animate and coordinate the work of the centre for the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Post-graduate studies and research
In 1962 Fr. Amalorpavadass was sent by his bishop to Paris, France to the Catholic University of Paris (Institut Catholique de Paris) to pursue a degree in catechetics. In addition to completing his master's degree, he also became very proficient in French.
After completing his masters and doctorate studies he returned to India, in 1966, and was assigned a parish role in Viriyur in order to gain pastoral experience.
National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Centre
Fr. Amalorpavadass founded the National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC), Hutchins Road, Bangalore in February 6, 1967. at the invitation of the CBCI. He was the Director from its inception in 1967 till 1982. He worked tirelessly to renew the Church in India and implement all that was envisioned by Vatican II. This was often done through his training of bishops, priests, sisters, laity all over India and through his prodigious writing. He was constantly in demand all over India, the world, and by the various dicastries at Vatican, as a well known Theologian, to lead, guide, speak at and participate in countless gatherings of all kind.
He initiated scholarly discussions and invited the learned scholars of India including Victor Premasagar and K. David the then members of faculty of the ecumenical Andhra Christian Theological College in Hyderabad.
Word and Worship
The liturgical journal "Word and Worship" was started during the period of Father Amalalorpavadass.
Initiatives at the University of Mysore
Chair of Christianity
The University of Mysore, the first university in Karnataka (established in 1916 by the Maharaja of Mysore, N. Krishna Wodeyar) instituted a chair in Christianity with substantial endowment from the Catholic Diocese of Mysore in 1979. Amalorpavadass was visiting professor in the chair.
Department of Christianity
Later, in 1981, a Department of Christian Studies (the first of its kind in India) was established by Amalorpavadass for promoting advanced studies and research in Christianity in the secular, multi-religious, interdisciplinary and pluralistic context of India in order to promote Christianity as an academic and scientific discipline Amalorpavadass headed the Department for a while.
While Fr. Amalorpavadass was in Mysore, he founded a Christian ashram and named it "Anjali Ashram" and served as an Acharya-Guru for thousands of seekers from all walks of life, including bishops, priests, nuns, lay people from India and abroad, till his death in 1990.
The name "Anjali" was adopted to illustrate the hospitality and love with which everyone was received in the ashram.
In the first week or according to the need of every month, the ashram offers Atma Purna Anubhava' (APA);– introduction to Indian Christian spirituality, and the second deeper experience 'Brahma Sakshatkara Anubhava' (BSA) for those who have participated in the first experience and keep practising their sadhana as and when required. Guruji Amalor had initiated 60 APA's and 6 BSA's during his time and now Swami Gnanajyothi(Fr.A. Louis) the present Guru continues his mission. It is now 233 APA's so far from 1984 and 7 BSA's.
Anjali ashram has a unique architectural design. The entrance to the ashram is marked by wide open entrance without a gate(openness to all) which leads to Viswagopuram and an outer mandapa without walls meant for yoga, upadesa and dialogue meetings. On both sides of this mandapa, there are two footpaths in a curved fashion taking you to the inner area directly. If you walk directly through the mandapa, you pass through Swagata Nilaya - welcome abode and reach another structure(Atma Purna Nivas) used for meditations and prayer meetings. Then comes the residences for inamates like Dasavatara cottages, Star shaped Buildings, pyramidal buildings, Om Building, Yin Yang and the 24 hermitages. There are trees Peepal tree( morning samdhya) Fig tree (Noon samdhya) and Banyan trees (for upadesas). Then comes the sanctum. The last building is the sanctum sanctorum containing the Satcitananda Mandir within which the samadhi of the Founder is found.. The small cottages for the inmates are built on either sides of the sanctum sanctorum. There is a footpath that takes you directly to the other gate from the sanctum sanctorum. Beyond it is found Ashtabhagya gopuram inviting everyone either to sing kirtana (praises) or be in mauna(silence). Still beyond is the Navagrahavana forest of nine planets.
- Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka:
|“||As a young seminarian I first heard about the Cardinal Lourdusamy back in the late 1960s from the Bishops of Sri Lanka who participated in the Second Vatican Council. They spoke glowingly of the Cardinal and his contributions towards the decisions of the Council. His Eminence’s brother Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass was even better known in Asia as a post Councilar Asian Theological mind of great value.||”|
- Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, OFM – Archbishop of Durban, South Africa:
|“||I attended the workshop by the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences in their social action programme called BISAVI (Bishops Initiative for Social Action) in Thailand in 1986. I was surprised to discover that the priest dressed in saffron robes as he delivered a very inspired and inspiring talk on inculturating the Gospel, Fr. Amalorpavadass, was in fact Cardinal Lourdusamy's brother. What a contrast! What an amazing proof that God's grace is always there to surprise and spur us on to the higher and more challenging heights. I found it hard to picture your two uncles growing up and living in the same family, first their blood family and then their faith family.||”|
- Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy, Archbishop Emeritus of Trichur, India
|“||In the history of the Church in India, one may, without hesitation state that Fr. Amalor was in the center of the 20th century and the central figure radiating great influence on the whole Church in the second half of that century. This thinly bearded lean priest was a genuine Indian Guru, frail from fasting, prayer and yoga. He gave copious lectures on Indian Spirituality, Catechism and Prayer Life, assimilating the Spirit of ancient Indian spirituality. He advocated and practiced adaptation of Liturgy to Indian Culture faithful to the reforms of Vatican II Council. He shared the same thru prolific and profound writings. Had Fr. Amalor lived longer, our Indian Church would have acquired a beautiful Indian Liturgy. I remember with joy the seminars I attended in Bangalore. Fr. Amalor was a great man, exceptional personality, with scarcely anyone to compare with. In his short span of life, he rendered enormous service to the Church. May the Lord who cannot be outdone in generosity recompense him.||”|
- Bishop Bosco Puthur, Bishop of St. Thomas The Apostle Syro Malabar Diocese, Melbourne, Australia
|“||As Assistant Director of Diocesan Catechism Department for Trichur diocese, I participated in a national catechetical seminar in NBCLC in 1976, conducted by Fr. Amalor. Spell bound I listened to him. His personality greatly impressed me. His vision for the Church renewal captivated me. Like a master magician he mesmerised his audience, including me. At my request, Bishop Joseph Kundukulam in 1967 invited Fr. Amalor for two seminars on Self Renewal and Church Renewal for the entire clergy of the Diocese of Trichur. It was a huge success. The clergy of the diocese was so enthused by the seminar that the Diocese celebrated 1978 as “renewal year”. Now in Australia I am often surprised to hear from several priests that they still remember the inspiring lectures of Fr. Amalor.||”|
- Bishop J. Kingley Swampillai, Bishop Emeritus of Trincomalee and Current Administrator of the Diocese of Mannar, Sri Lanka:
|“||Fr. Lourdusamy had become an Auxiliary Bishop, Coadjutor Bishop and Archbishop of Bangalore. There he also served as Chairman of the Liturgical and Catechetical Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI). There he was joined by his brother Fr. Amalorpavadass who, at the request of the CBCI, founded the National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC). Both brothers, who were chosen by God in a special way and imbued with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and spearheaded the Vatican Council teachings in the process of “aggiornamento” and set it on fire all over India and especially in the South where Bangalore is located. Bishop Lourdusamy had also attended Vatican II Council as a Council Father. In fact, the monumental Institution in Bangalore, India, called 'NBCLC” is like a beacon of Catholic teaching for Priests, Religious and lay leaders of India as well as Asia.||”|
- Stephen Bevans, a Divine Word missionary and priest:
|“||.....attempted to propose an interpretation that took into account many of the important movements in Asia and other parts of the Third World. His ideas revolved around a greater role for the local church and the emergence of the theology of liberation.||”|
- John Prior, a British missiologist:
|“||.....Amalorpavadass authored "a coherent, comprehensive, contextual theology of mission, drawing in both the bold new ventures of the majority and the questions of the cautionary minority," but his contributions, for all practical purposes, were ignored by the persons responsible for the official draft that was to come before the bishops in the synod's final days. Amalorpavadass, when he realised this, had his own version duplicated and distributed among the bishops, who, when comparing it to the official draft, refused to approve it when it came to the final vote. It was four days before the closing of the Synod, and there was no time to write and then discuss another draft. It was then, as Cardinal Moreira Neves recalls, that Cardinal Karol Wojtyla suggested that "the Synod's recommendations be entrusted to the Pope so that he could transform them into the Synod's final document." The result was Evangelii nuntiandi.
Prior points out that Paul VI's document actually incorporated much of what was in Amalorpavadass’ draft, and so it is a document that is much broader in scope than the document rejected by the bishops at the Synod.
|“||.....In the untimely death of Fr. Amalorvapadass, on 25 May 1990, following a car accident, not only the Church in India but the whole ecumenical world has suffered an irreparable loss. Fr. Amalor, as we used to call him, was a devout Catholic priest, an outstanding scholar and theologian, a committed missionary and evangelist and a warmhearted friend. Many throughout the world mourn his loss, and at the same time praise and thank God for the life and ministry of this great servant of God.||”|
- Catherine Cornille, Associate Professor (Theology Department), Boston College, North America:
|“||.....Amalorpavadass believed that theoretical study ought to be coupled with and supported by a genuine Christian community life, lived in an Indian tradition, context and atmosphere, following an Indian life-style.||”|
- Matthew N. Schmalz, Associate Professor, College of the Holy Cross, North America:
|“||.....the Indian Theologian D. S. Amalorpavadass had the most decisive influence on the inculturation movement. Empowered by the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and a variety of indults ad experimentum, Amalorpavadass envisioned an experimental Indian rite mass that would supplant the imported Roman or Latin rite. Though not approving Amalorpavadass's most radical reforms, the Vatican issued "12 Points of Adaptation," which allowed a variety of accommodations to Indian culture in the Latin rite mass: Priests dressed in ochre robes characteristic of renunciants, and the Bible and the Eucharist were honored through offerings of flowers and incense. Amalorpavadass envisioned these adaptations as bridging the gap between Catholic and Indian identities. Moreover, such adaptations were designed to embrace Indian culture and nationhood. Amalorpavadass and many Indian bishops hoped that Catholicism would no longer be seen as foreign but as very much a part of the Indian nation.||”|
- Michael T. Buchanan, Australian Catholic University:
|“||.....In the early 1970s Religious educators in Australia were strongly influenced by the Indian theologian Amalorpavadass. He visited Australia in 1973, and his understanding of revelation was a major influence in developing a life-centered pedagogical approach to religious education. He argued that,
Revelation calls for faith. Faith is a personal and living encounter with the living God, a total acceptance of the revealing and giving person by a loving surrender of one's life according to His word. All this should result in the sealing of a covenant and the realisation of a fellowship in love. Therefore our inter-personal relationship is one of dialogue, covenant and fellowship. Therefore man's response or reaction to God's revelation will be essentially attention and responsibility, expectation and listening, openness and acceptance, and reciprocal self-gift in a total surrender and dedication of oneself. This is what we call faith
It may be concluded that Amalorpavadass wanted to highlight the Indian ethos and indigenise worship forms rather than force alien forms of worship.
In India, similar attempts have been made by Eric J. Lott and other pioneers.
Sampathkumar who earlier served in the NBCLC, Bangalore points out that Indian Sanyasis like Sadhu Sundar Singh and M. Devadas of the Bible Mission, Guntur developed indigenous methods of worship and could attract many towards Christ.
H. L. Richard analyses K. Subba Rao and his movement of Hindus following Jesus in Andhra Pradesh in "Exploring the Depths of the Mystery of Christ: K. Subba Rao's Eclectic Praxis of Hindu Discipleship to Jesus" (Bangalore: Centre for Contemporary Christianity, 2nd ed. 2009).
There was some resistance towards inculturation of Catholicism into the Indian context. Matthew N. Schmalz points out that some Indian Catholics resisted inculturation. A few South Indian Catholics took Amalorpavadass to court in vain, since they believed that these adaptations threatened their own distinctive identity.
Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass had written and edited numerous volumes. A few of them are:
- Approach, Meaning, and Horizon of Evangelization, NBCLC, Bangalore, 1973
- Gospel and Culture: Evangelisation and Inculturation, NBCLC, Bangalore, 1978
- NBCLC Campus: Milieu of God-Experience. An Artistic Synthesis of Spirituality, NBCLC, Bangalore, 1982
- Poverty of the Religious and the Religious as Poor, NBCLC, Bangalore, 1984
- Integration and Interiorization (1990)
In 1990, Gerwin van Leeuwen brought out a book entitled:
- Fully Indian – authentically Christian: A study of the first fifteen years of the NBCLC (1967–1982), Bangalore, 1990.
In 1994, Cyril de Souza sdb brought out his research entitled: Catechesis for India Today: An Appraisal of the Catechetical Proposal of D.S. Amalorpavadass, Kristu Jyoti Publications, Bangalore.
- Two memorial volumes came out in 1991:
- J. Russel Chandran (ed.), Third World Theologies in Dialogue: Essays in Memory of D. S. Amalorpavadass, EATWOT, Bangalore, 1991.
- Paul Puthanangady ed., Church in India: Institution or Movement ? (1991)
Anjali Ashram has brought out the experience of Atma Purna Anubhava(APA) in 2000 his two doctoral thesis 'India Seeking God' and 'The destiny of the Church in India' in 2004 and Brahma Sakshatkara Anubhava(BSA) in 2004. 'An India Christian Guru' the Biography in 2011 and 2015 on the occasion of his 25th anniversary of mahasamdhi all his mission theology series have been compiled as one volume 'Mission Theology' and other writings as 'In search of Identity'. All his writings on Liturgy, Catechetics and Bible as three separate volumes Biblical Renewal, Liturgical Renewal and Catechetical Renewal. There are four books in Tamil.
Fr. Amalorpavadass was constantly in demand and was much sought after. He was very active in many international organizations, including
- Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT),
- International Commission for English in the liturgy,
- World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate,
- International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS)
- Secretary, Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Commissions of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India (CBCI).
He was appointed by Pope Paul VI as one of the two special secretaries for the Synod of Bishops on evangelisation in 1974, in the Vatican. The outstanding contributions he made were well recognized as acknowledged above.
Fr. Amalorpavadass (Amalor) died in an automobile accident on his way to Bangalore from Mysore. He is buried at Anjali Ashram. His final services were officiated by his older brother Simon Cardinal Lourdusamy who was then the Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Rite Churches.
- Michael Amaladoss in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Anderson, Gerald H. (Ed.), William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1998, ISBN 0-8028-4680-7, pp.15–16 
- Amalorananda, Swamy, Atma Purna Anubhava (within Ashram Anubhava – Experience of Indian Christian Spirituality), Anjali Ashram, Mysore, 2000. Introduction to the author.
- Archdiocese of Pondicherry & Cuddalore. Internet, accessed 28 May 2008 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 December 2007. Retrieved 28 May 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- The National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Centre Archived 25 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Thomas, Joy, Mission in the Context of Universities, a tabled paper sent to the International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS) Conference in 2004 held in Port Dickson, Malaysia."Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 January 2006. Retrieved 6 April 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- The chair in Christianity had been vacant since the death of Amalorpavadass in 1990. The chair has since been revived vide circular of 2002 issued by the Diocese of Mysore. The University of Mysore selected Joy Thomas to the chair.
- Thomas, Joy, Mission in the Context of Universities, a tabled paper sent to the International Association for Mission Studies (IAMS) Conference in 2004 held in Port Dickson, Malaysia."Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 January 2006. Retrieved 6 April 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link). There are also similar chairs in the universities of Madras, Calicut, Mangalore, and Madurai. The University of Pondicherry also has a Chair in Christianity headed by P. A. Sampath Kumar, the past President of the Society for Biblical Studies in India.
- Official site of Anjali Ashram, Chamundi Hill Road, Mysore 570 011, Karnataka 
- Michael Amaladoss in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Anderson, Gerald H. (Ed.), William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1998, ISBN 0-8028-4680-7, pp.15–16 
- Cornille, Catherine, The Guru in Indian Catholicism: Ambiguity of Inculturation?, Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs, Peeters Press, Louvain, 1990, pp. 144–144 
- J. Russel Chandran in Network for Strategic Missions, commenting about the death of D. S. Amalorpavadass, 1 January 1991, Volume 8:1, pp. 104–106.
- Schmalz, Matthew N. in the Indian Church: Catholicism and Indian Nationhood in Paul Christopher Manuel, Lawrence C. Reardon (Eds.), The Catholic Church and the Nation-State: Comparative Perspectives, Georgetown University Press, Washington, 2006, ISBN 978-1-58901-115-1 
- Michael T. Buchanan, Pedagogical drift: The evolution of new approaches and paradigms in religious education, Australian Catholic University, 2005 [permanent dead link]
- Frank L. Roy, A Caste Hindu Tells Her Story, Mission Frontiers, The Bulletin of the U.S. Centre for World Mission, November–December 1997
- Word and Worship, NBCLC Journal, Bangalore, March 2008
- 403 Forbidden[permanent dead link]
- FABC Papers No Archived 21 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Chaos 44". ISBN 978-87-635-0449-2.
- A full biography of Amalorpavadass and his renewal movement can be found in Fully Indian – authentically Christian by Gerwin van Leeuwen.
- Quoted in Kirsteen cKim's article in Henry Martyn Centre, Cambridge Archived 31 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Further reading
- Anderson, Gerald H. (Ed.) (1998). "Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, United Kingdom". ISBN 978-0-8028-4680-8.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Catherine Cornille and Valeer Neckebrouck (1992). "A Universal Faith ? Peoples, Cultures, Religions, and the Christ, Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs, Vol. 9, Peeters Press, Louvain, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan".
- Christopher Manuel, Lawrence C. Reardon (Eds.) (2006). "The Catholic Church and the Nation-State: Comparative Perspectives, Georgetown University Press, Washington". ISBN 978-1-58901-115-1.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Cheriyan Menacherry (1999). "The Meaning and the Effects of the II Vatican Council for the Inter-religious relations of the Catholic Church in India in Journal of Religious Culture, Edited by von Edmund Weber, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat Frankfurt am Main, ISSN 1434-5935" (PDF). 26. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2008.
- Judith M. Brown, Robert Eric Frykenberg (Ed.) (2002). "Christians, Cultural Interactions, and India's Religious Traditions, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0-7007-1601-7". ISBN 978-0-8028-3955-8.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Robert Eric Frykenberg (Ed.) (2003). "Christians and Missionaries in India: Cross-cultural communication since 1500, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Michigan, 2003, ISBN 0-8028-3956-8". ISBN 978-0-8028-3956-5.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- Paul M. Collins (2007). "Christian inculturation in India, Ashgate Publishing Limited". ISBN 978-0-7546-6076-7.