Translation of the autobiography of Maphriyono Mor Baselios Shakralla, describing his journey and the question of the passage of money. The original Syriac manuscript was in the possession of late E M Philip and he published the translated version in the Church History he wrote in 1908. The same is reproduced below.
"In the month of March 1748, came to the city of Beruva, Deacon Antonios, bringing with him letters from Mor Ivanios Metropolitan [i.e.the iconoclast] and Mor Thoma to the addresses of Mor Ignatius Geevarghese III, Patriarch of Antioch, and myself. At that time, I was ill. The letter to Mor Ignatius was sent to Amid [Diarbekir], and I intimated to him that I had been ill two months. Afterwards Deacon Antonios went to the Patriarch and informed him that the people of Malabar wanted a Maphrian, as written in the letters of Mor Ivanios and Mor Thoma. After recovery, I visited the Patriarch at Amid, which was distant from Beruva by fifteen day's journey. On the way robbers attacked me, but they did not do any injury to me. I was consecrated Maphrian and after a short stay I returned to Beruva on the 25th of August, and was again ill for some days. Mor Ignatius sent Mor Gregorius and another Metropolitan and a Chorepiscopa, who travelled along the River Tigris and reached Baghdad. Afterwards, owing to illness, the other Metropolitan and Chorepiscopa returned to Amid and Gregorius remained at Baghdad awaiting my arrival. But I was delayed by the absence of caravans to Baghdad, through rumours of robbers in the wilderness. So I had to remain four months at Beruva. In the meantime, I collected Rs, 3,000 besides articles and books required for the voyage and for the Church. On Sunday the 7th of January 1749, I left Beruva with the Chorepiscopa, Deacon Antonios and my own deacon. On Sunday the 28th, robbers fell upon us and wrestled with us for fifteen hours, killing two Turks and wounding many men. Many horses and camels also died. At this time another band of robbers arrived, who saved us from the other robbers. The head of the second band took from the caravans nine thousands gold coins each worth Rs. 3, and from us all our books and articles. He also demanded money from me. We paid him Rs. 1,500 and received back our books and articles, and glorified God for having saved our lives. We then reached a place called Aneh and remained there two months, no one daring to go forward from fear of robbers. On the 1st of April, we crossed the Euphrates and reached Helleh, and thence we went to Baghdad incurring large expenses on the way.
At Baghdad, we met Mor Gregorius, The other bishop and the chorepiscopa had returned to Amid owing to illness and difficulties. Gregorius did not look behind, but patiently suffered with Ramban John all the difficulties in the way and at Baghdad, waiting eleven months for me. Afterwards we hired a vessel and we all went down the Tigris to Bassorah, spending Rs. 500 in all. On the way, we were again attacked by robbers, but they could not do us any harm. God saved us from their hands. All the expenses from Beruva upto Bassorah were Rs. 5000. On the 8th of May we reached Bassorah and interviewed the head of the [Dutch] Company. He hired for us a house on Rs. 80. We asked him a loan of money, which he refused, saying that he could not lend any sum from the Company's funds, since he had no letter for that purpose. Deacon Antonios told him that he had brought a letter from the [Dutch] Commodore [at Cochin] to the person who was lately head of the Company at Bassorah, authorising him to lend the Maphrian, from the Company's funds, all the sums that he demanded. But he replied that he could not give anything from the Company's assets, but proposed to lend us money from his own funds on interest at 20%. Our creditors were pressing us; they would not let us go without payment; and we had need of money to reach Cochin. For these reasons, and because we wanted to go to Cochin at any cost, we borrowed from him Rs. 6,666 on which he charged an interest of Rs. 1,334, and we gave him a bond for Rs. 8,000. We paid the house rent Rs. 80, and then, because there was no ship at Bassorah belonging to the [Dutch] Company, we hired an English ship for Rs. 700 and also paid from this sum of Rs.6,666 our debts and all our boarding expences in Baghdad, in Bassorah, and in the ship. As the time was one of famine in Bassorah and in the surrounding places, articles were very dear and we had to pay very high prices.
On the 24th of June we left Bassorah and reached Bushire, where there were some of the Company's men who honoured us. After leaving this place, the wind was contrary to us, and we had to encounter many troubles. The prayers of the Mother of God preserved us from the danger of the sea. Next we reached Bundarabbas where too there were the Company's men who showed us every mark of respect. Here a ship arrived from Batavia, the captain of which informed the Chief Officer of the Company that other ships from Batavia were expected in ten days. The latter then asked us and other passengers to wait for the coming ships and informed us that the expected ships were larger than the one they had there and that by those ships we could go direct to Cochin, whereas if we were to start in that ship, it had to go by Bombay and would involve us in heavy expenses. We therefore remained at Bundarabbas, especially to avoid unnecessary expenses.
After twenty days, there arrived a ship from Batavia. A few days after, we purchased articles required for our voyage and sent our baggage to the ship, when a report that robbers were coming to plunder the fort caused the Chief Officer of the Company to detain the ship. Next we heard another rumour that there was a mutiny among the robbers, in which they murdered their captain and ran away. Besides, there was war among the chiefs of Persia, and one of them had come somewhere near Bundarabbas, which also caused the Chief Officer to detain the ship. There was no other ship, and so we had to remain seven months, suffering from diseases, panics, and other troubles of various kinds. We spent Rs. 1,000 here. From that time up to the present, the Chorepiscopa has been incessantly ill.
Then on the 24th of February 1751 we left this port in the Company's ship and reached Surat. Before entering the harbour, two large ships and about twelve small ships met us and made war with us for about five hours; but they had to retire in the end. On the 17th of March, we anchored, God having saved us from the pirates. We remained in the ship and did not land at Surat. Here we embarked on board another ship, which conveyed us to Cochin. Before we reached Cochin, there were troubles from adverse winds, and rain for three days, fulfilling in us David's words, "All Thy waves and all Thy billows are gone over me."
hen we anchored at Cochin, the Commodore sent us the Company's boat, took us to the Fort with honour, and enquired after our health. We had our meals with him that day. We entered the Fort of Cochin on the 23rd of April(Medom), in the year 2062 of the Greek era (i.e., A.D. 1751) being St. George's Day. Then the Commodore detained us, in order that Mor Ivanious and Mor Thoma might come and receive us. After twenty days, the Metropolitan Mor Ivanios come to us, but not Mor Thoma. We sent the latter four letters, but he did not come. The Metropolitan always quarrelled with us. He would not permit us to deal lovingly and peaceably with Christians. Every day he quarrelled with those with whom he came in contact, beating some and kicking others. Therefore we kept him in the Fort, waiting for a ship to send him back to Mor Ignatius, Patriarch of Antioch, in conformity with the directions contained in Mor Ignatius' letter concerning him, viz. to keep him with us if submissive or to send him back otherwise. All our expenses the Company bore. When the Commodore saw that Mor Thoma did not put in his appearance, he allowed us to go to Kandanad and compel Mor Thoma to submit. But he did not come. During the seventy-two days we remained [at Cochin], the Company charged us Rs. 429. On the 3rd of July (Karkadagam), being St. Thomas's Day, we were sent to the Raja of Cochin with the Company's men and soldiers and a Jew named Hezekiel. We saw the Raja and presented him with five gold coins each worth Rs. 5, which we got from the Commodore. That night we slept in Hezekiel's house. On the next day we went to Kandanad. Our debts to the Company are Rs.8,000 at Bassorah, Rs. 1,000 at Bundarabbas, and Rs. 454 at Cochin, including the price of the gold coins presented to the Raja. Besides these, the Company demand from us Rs. 2,000 said to have been borrowed by Mor Ivanios and given to Deacon Antonios when he started for Antioch. So the whole amount the Company demand is Rs. 11, 454."