Encounter of the Servant of God with Christians and Christian Faith

A.   Christians and Nilakandan before Conversion :

It is possible that some of those who trained him in the South Indian martial art and varmasastra were Catholic by religion and it is possible that in some way he came in contact with Catholic faith in his dealings with them. As an educated person he could have read some Christian books on Malayalam and Tamil, with both of which he was very well-versed.

B.   Friendship with De Lannoy :

During first months after he joined the Travancore army, De Lannoy fought under general Duijvenschot on the side of Travancore. De Lannoy also served as instructor in the use of flintlocks. At the end of 1742, De Lannoy reorganized the palace guards and got them fully trained in three months. The palace guards were so trained that they came to be armed and dressed like the Europeans. Marthanda Varma was pleased with that and made De Lannoy commander of the palace guards. De Lannoy trained the palace guards in three months so well that Marthanda Varma could send back the Madurai troops, thus saving for the king 60,000 Rupees per month.

The king was so pleased that he appointed De Lannoy successor to Duijvenschot as Venattu Kapittan (Captain of Venad). Soon, the rest of the army was thoroughly reorganized. Together with other Europeans in the army, De Lannoy played a key role in the modernization of Travancore army through “military academies” one of which was at Udayagiri. De Lannoy also constructed firearms and established gunpowder factories near Udayagiri. De Lannoy began improving the Udayagiri Fort by replacing the mud walls with brick ones. After De Lannoy was made Commander of Udayagiri, he married Margaret, the daughter of a Syrian Christian who was serving the Travancore kings and the English as interpreter at Anjengo. 

The work of Nilakandan Pillai brought him in touch with De Lannoy again. Frequent high level contacts brought them together and an intimate friendship blossomed between them. They would often spend time in personal conversation and which sealed their friendship further.

C. Crisis in the Life of the Servant of God and the Consultation with De Lannoy :

“In 1744 by God’s Providence, he had been submitted to heavy trials. Then he was not in position to understand the nature of this recovering”. One day De Lannoy observed Nilakandan Pillai to be extremely sad and as a friend De Lannoy enquired about the cause of his excessive melancholy. Nilakandan Pillai then shared with De Lannoy about the losses he had incurred. After many losses, finally, as it were the last straw, some of his best bullocks had died. Nilakandan Pillai wondered whether the gods were angry with him despite the fact that he had been performing all his religious duties. He was also afraid if some persons were against him and had carried out some sort of a black magic against him, whereas in reality he had no enemies at all. Thus Nilakandan Pillai was beset with a lot of doubts and fears.