Caspar of Kerala
Caspar the Magi
Of the three wise men popularized by the Gospel of Matthew, at least one was believed to have been an astrologer from India: Caspar. The name Caspar, or Gaspar/Kaspar, is thought to be derived from the name Gudapharasa or Indo-Parthian Gondophares. [More about Gudapharasa]
Caspar, as the Indian magi was referred to, was the young, beardless sage who brought frankincense to the young Jesus as a representation of his divinity. The other two sages were Melchior of Persia And Balthazar of Babylon. The Gospel of Matthew describes these three sages in verses 2:1-9, while the names of the sages were derived from a Greek manuscript composed in around 500 C.E., likely in Alexandria. Over history some believed that there were as many as twelve astrologers or sages, but because three gifts were given (and the number 3 is frequently used in Christian mythology as a reference to the Trinity) the officially undocumented number of sages has been unofficially documented as three.
Caspar the Jyotiṣka
It’s now commonly understood that these men who traveled from the east (from the rising of the sun), as Matthew remarked, were not kings as previously believed, but rather “men who studied the stars” who could foresee the birth of a Messiah (Sanskrit: Masiha), whom was referred to as Isha/Issa (God). In fact, the birth of Jesus (Isha Masiha) is said to have been predicted in Puranic texts hundreds of years prior to his birth. The wise star followers are believed to have traveled the ancient silk road from the east to Bethlehem. Although it appears impossible to prove in current times, many believe that all of the “wise men” who visited baby Jesus were Indian sages and astrologers.
“Long before the time of Christ, India had trade relations with Palestine; much of the commerce between the Orient and the Mediterranean civilizations (including Egypt, Greece, and Rome) passed through Jerusalem”, so it is very likely that Wise Men could have been “great sages of India”, as Paramahansa Yogananda wrote in his “The Second Coming of Christ – The Resurrection of the Christ Within You” (2004, pp. 56–59).
Caspar is believed to have been a native of what is now South India, possibly in Piravom (Malayalam for “birth”) in Kerala. There are three churches in and around Piravom named after these three sages, while only three other such churches exist in all of the remainder of India. It’s well-known that Thomas the Apostle traveled to South India, whose tales are closely linked to Gudapharasa.
The Star of Bethlehem
Was the Star of Bethlehem an actual star, a planet, or was this term simply used as a reference to the science of astrology itself or the planetary placements which occurred at the time of Jesus’s birth? Some believe that a quasar was visible at this time, while others indicate that a particular planetary conjunction (Venus and Jupiter) took place which made a number of planets appear as one bright star in the night sky.1
After the Pilgrimage
After leaving Bethlehem the sages actively attempted to avoid King Herod, so are believed not to have returned to their homes via the silk road. In fact, some believe that Saint Thomas himself baptized them on his way to India. Caspar was eventually martyred with the other sages, and their relics found in Persia by Saint Helena (now kept in the Cologne Cathedral).