D. S. Amalorpavadass

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D. S. Amalorpavadass
Born (1932-06-15)15 June 1932
Kallery, Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu
Died 25 May 1990(1990-05-25) (aged 57)
Mysore, Karnataka
Nationality Indian
Occupation Theologian
Ordained 12 April 1959
Writings Destiny of the Church in India today
Congregations served
Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore
Offices held
Pastor in Viriyur
Title Reverend Doctor

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.

Father Bevans, in a paper presented to celebrate 30 years of Evangelii nuntiandi, writes that Amalorpavadass was one of the two special secretaries on the Synod of Bishops for 1974 convened by Pope Paul VI which took up the theme "Evangelization in the Modern World" who proposed 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.

Amalorpavadass was a member of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians[1] (EATWOT).[2]

Early years[edit]

Amalorpavadass was born in Kallery, a village in the Viluppuram district of Tamil Nadu, on 15 June 1932.[1][3]

He had been an alma mater of St Anne's High School, Tindivanam and St. Joseph's Higher Secondary School, Cuddalore.[3]

Seminary studies and ordination[edit]

Amalorpavadass studied at the St Agnes Minor Seminary in Cuddalore and later graduated from St Joseph's College in Tiruchirapalli[3]

In 1953 Amalorpavadass joined St. Peter's Pontifical Seminary in Malleswaram, Bangalore.

After his completion of theological studies in Bangalore he was ordained on 12 April 1959[3] as a priest of the Archdiocese of Pondicherry and Cuddalore.[4]

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 center for te South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.[3]

Post-graduate studies and research[edit]

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.[3] In addition to completing his master's degree, he also became very proficient in French.

Continuing his stay in Paris he enrolled as a candidate at the same institute to pursue a Doctorate of Theology degree. His doctoral dissertation was entitled Destiny of the Church in India today.[3]

After completing his masters and doctorate studies he returned to India, in 1966, and was assigned a parish role in Viriyur[3] in order to gain pastoral experience.

National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Centre[edit]

Fr. Amalorpavadass founded the National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Centre (NBCLC),[3] Hutchins Road, Bangalore in October 1966. at the invitation of the CBCI.[5] He was the Director from its inception in 1966 till 1985. 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[edit]

The liturgical journal "Word and Worship" was started during the period of Father Amalalorpavadass.

Initiatives at the University of Mysore[edit]

Chair of Christianity[edit]

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.[6] Amalorpavadass was Visiting Professor in the Chair.[7]

Department of Christianity[edit]

Later, in 1980, 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[8] Amalorpavadass headed the Department for a while.

Anjali Ashram[edit]

While Fr. Amalorpavadass was in Mysore, he founded a Christian ashram and named it "Anjali Ashram"[9] 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.[10]

The name "Anjali" was adopted to illustrate the hospitality and love with which everyone was received in the ashram.[11]

In the first week of every month, the ashram offers Atma Purna Anubhava – introduction to Indian Christian spirituality.

Anjali ashram has a unique architectural design. The entrance to the ashram is marked by an outer mandapa. 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 reach another structure used for meditations and prayer meetings. Then comes the hostel for inamates. Then comes the sanctum. The last building is the sanctum sanctorum containing the chapel and the residential arrangements for the inmates. 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.


  • Stephen Bevans, a Divine Word Priest:
  • John Prior, a British missiologist:
  • Catherine Cornille, Associate Professor (Theology Department), Boston College, North America:[11]
  • Matthew N. Schmalz, Associate Professor, College of the Holy Cross, North America:


  • Michael T. Buchanan,[14] Australian Catholic University:

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.

B. V. Subbamma of the Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church initiated Christian Ashrams and adopted indigenous forms like burra katha to spread the gospel that was met with success.[15]

Sampathkumar who earlier served in the NBCLC, Bangalore points out[16] 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 resistance to the experimental deeds of Amalorpavadass towards inculturation of Catholicism into the Indian context. Matthew N. Schmalz points out that some Indian Catholics resisted inculturation.[13] A few South Indian Catholics took Amalorpavadass to court to stop the experimentation 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[17]
  • Gospel and Culture: Evangelisation and Inculturation, NBCLC, Bangalore, 1978[18]
  • NBCLC Campus: Milieu of God-Experience. An Artistic Synthesis of Spirituality, NBCLC, Bangalore, 1982[19]
  • 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.[20]

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.[21]
    • Paul Puthanangady ed., Church in India: Institution or Movement ? (1991)


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.


  1. ^ a b 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 [1]
  2. ^ EATWOT was formed in 1976
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Amalorananda, Swamy, Atma Purna Anubhava (within Ashram Anubhava – Experience of Indian Christian Spirituality), Anjali Ashram, Mysore, 2000. Introduction to the author.
  4. ^ Archdiocese of Pondicherry & Cuddalore. Internet, accessed 28 May 2008 [2]
  5. ^ The National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Centre
  6. ^ 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.[3]
  7. ^ The Chair of 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.
  8. ^ 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.[4]. 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.
  9. ^ Official site of Anjali Ashram, Chamundi Hill Road, Mysore 570 011, Karnataka [5]
  10. ^ 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 [6]
  11. ^ a b Cornille, Catherine, The Guru in Indian Catholicism: Ambiguity of Inculturation?, Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs, Peeters Press, Louvain, 1990, pp. 144–144 [7]
  12. ^ 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.[8]
  13. ^ a b 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 [9]
  14. ^ Michael T. Buchanan, Pedagogical drift: The evolution of new approaches and paradigms in religious education, Australian Catholic University, 2005 [10]
  15. ^ Frank L. Roy, A Caste Hindu Tells Her Story, Mission Frontiers, The Bulletin of the U.S. Centre for World Mission, November–December 1997
  16. ^ Word and Worship, NBCLC Journal, Bangalore, March 2008
  17. ^ 403 Forbidden
  18. ^ FABC Papers No
  19. ^ "Chaos 44". ISBN 978-87-635-0449-2. 
  20. ^ A full biography of Amalorpavadass and his renewal movement can be found in Fully Indian – authentically Christian by Gerwin van Leeuwen.[11]
  21. ^ Quoted in Kirsteen cKim's article in Henry Martyn Centre, Cambridge Archived 31 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
Further reading