The Armenians of India
‘Hayastan’, or Armenia in English, is a small landlocked country sandwiched between Turkey to the west, Georgia to the North, Azerbaijan to the East and Iran to the south and it is steeped in history. The first country in the world to officially adopt Christianity, the country has played an important role in history. As travelers, merchants, and financiers, Armenians seem to have made the world their own, throughout history. In fact so entrenched were they in the Mughal court in India, that during the liberal rule of Emperor Akbar – a Mughal Queen – one of Akbar’s wives, his Chief Justice and some of the most influential merchants and financiers of the time, were all Armenian!
It was St. Gregory, whose enormous statue stands behind St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, who played a pivotal role in making Armenia a Christian nation with the full support of its ruler King Thiridates III. It must be remembered that the faith was brought here by Jesus’ own disciples Thaddeus and Bartholomew. But the faith evolved in a unique way. The Armenian Orthodox Church, a branch of Christianity, has its own Pope – the Catholicos who is based in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. The very first Catholicos was St. Thaddeus, while his more famous fellow disciple Peter became the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.