South Indian Christians trace their history to the ministry of the Apostle Thomas in modern-day Kerala and in Mylapore. Orthodox Christianity in South India has most complex history. Members are native to Kerala; yet most carry on the legacies of ancestors who were loyal to either the Patriarchs in Persia and Constantinople or the Popes in Rome. Under these external ties lie the forces of caste identity and rivalries among influential families. Socio-religious customs of varna, avarna and jāti still affect society, despite opposition from religious groups. Since 2014, the fundamentalist ideology of one nation, one religion, one language, one people and one culture, forced dissidents and minorities to blend in. While Christianity in South India is an urban phenomenon, it has not spread among the Adivasis (‘original inhabitants’) of South India, who live in tune with the nature surrounding them. In fact, most South Indians call themselves Hindus; they may belong to either philosophical or popular Hinduism, each consisting of numerous subgroups. Theological education is still offered through several outlets; however, despite the history and presence of Christianity, many Christians have yet to engage fully with the intellectual and spiritual heritage of South India.
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