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Modern Pakistan throughout its history has been affected by various cultures and belief system but it is quite a lesser known fact that the roots of Christianity in what is today Pakistan are possibly as old as Christianity itself.

Ancient texts speak of St. Thomas, one of Jesus’s disciples, to have visited Taxila and met the Indo-Parthian king in the 1 CE.

Of St. Thomas and King Gondophares.

These ancient texts known as the “Acts of Thomas” were most probably as old as the 2nd or 3rd century CE, but have been written and rewritten in various languages with the original form being lost, nevertheless retaining much of the original elements.

These texts speak of St. Thomas being enslaved and forced to join a man over the seas in a long tedious journey. The area where the ship eventually hit anchor was the ancient city of Taxila in Gandhara. It was then ruled by King that the texts speak of being named ‘Gundaphar’ in whose courts St. Thomas eventually ended up. This King gave him money to build a palace which he spent on the poor saying that he created for the king a house in paradise. The king though enraged first had to deal with his brother ‘Gad’ who suddenly fell sick and later died. Gad after his death got to witness the palace that St Thomas had built for Gundaphar in heaven before being allowed to come back alive to narrate it to his brother. The King, after hearing his brother’s account, wanted St. Thomas’s forgiveness and adopted his beliefs. And then the Saint moved on.

The texts had been around for more than a millennium and for a similar amount of time it wasn’t known who exactly this king ‘Gundaphar’ was until in the year 1834 in Kabul valley, ancient coins were discovered bearing the name of a ruler called ‘Gondophares’. A more concrete account of this king later came when a slab was discovered in the ancient Takht-i-Bahi monastery in Mardan speaking of a king named Gondophares and giving the timeline of his rule.

Gudaphar turned out to be the Indo-Parthian king Gondophares who ruled from Taxila in the first century CE and was known for his works through the ancient land of Gandhara. Of the many structures he helped rebuild, one of the main creations of his era was the Takht-i-Bahi monastery.

Thus though it was believed that the texts contained much legend and were and are still under heavy debate, it was accepted that the core of the story could be historical and that a possible visit by St Thomas much east in South Asia in what’s today Pakistan could have occurred.

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