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Guru

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The Niyogi Committee Report Contents
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VINDICATED BY TIME

The Niyogi Committee Report  
On Christian Missionary Activities

Introduction by

Sita Ram Goel 
 

Voice of India, New Delhi

 



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Contents

Preface

The Sunshine of �Secularism�

Rift in the Lute

REPORT OF THE 
Christianity Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee 
1956

VOLUME I

Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Madhya Pradesh

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Appendices

REPORT OF THE 
Christianity Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee 
1956

VOLUME II 
Part A

Tour Programmes of the Committee 
 

Explanatory tour notes including important petitions received by the Committee on tour

District Raigarh

District Surguja

District Raipur

District Bilaspur

District Amravati

District Nimar

District Yeotmal

District Akola

District Buldana

District Mandla

District Jabalpur

District Chhindwara 
 

Questionnaire 
 

Replies to Questionnaire

Replies submitted by Shri J. Lakra

Replies to Questionnaire concerning the area covered by Jashpur, Khuria and Udaipur of the Raigarh district

Replies submitted by the Catholic Sabha of the Raigarh district Replies

Replies submitted by Shri Gurubachan Sing, Raipur

Replies submitted by Chairman and Secretary of the General Conference, Mennonite Mission in India, Saraipali, Raipur district

Replies submitted by Rev. Canon, R. A. Kurian, Nagpur

Replies submitted by Rev. E. Raman, President, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madhya Pradesh, Gopalganj, Sagar

Replies submitted by Miss M. L. Merry, Khirkia R. S., Hoshangabad district, Madhya Pradesh

Replies submitted by Shri L. E. Hartman, Amravati Camp, Berar, Mission Bungalow, Amravati Camp, Berar

Replies submitted by Umri Mission Hospital, Umri, via Yeotmal, Madhya Pradesh

Replies submitted by Shri F. B. Lucas, President, Independent Christian Association, Yeotmal

Replies submitted by Shri R. W. Scott, Secretary, National Christian Council

Replies submitted by Dr. E. Asirvatham, Nagpur

Replies submitted by Shri P. S. Shekdar, Khamgaon, district Buldana

Replies submitted by Shri Sohanlal Aggarwal, Secretary, Vedic Sanskriti Raksha Samiti.

Replies submitted by Shri T. Y. Dehankar, President, Bar Association, and six others of Bilaspur

Replies submitted by Shri M.N. Ghatate, Nagpur Sangh Chalak.

Replies submitted by Shri R. K. Deshpande, Pleader, Jashpurnagar 
 


VOLUME II 
Part B

Correspondence of Roman Catholics with the Committee, the state government and the Central Government

Extracts from Catholic Dharma ka Pracharak and other pamphlets showing the methods of propaganda 
 

Short History of Chhattisgarh Evangelical Mission 
 

Statement made before the Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee.

Camp: Raipur (22-7-1955)

Camp Bilaspur (25-7-1955)

Raigarh (28-7-1955)

Jashpur (22-11-1955)

Jabalpur (8-8-1955)

Sagar (11-8-1955)

Mandla (15-8-55)

Khandwa (17-8-55)

Yeotmal (10-8-55)

Camp Amravati (13-8-1955)

Washim (16-8-1955)

Buldana 18-8-1955

Malkapur (20-8-1955)

(22-8-1955)

Nagpur (20-9-1955)

Camp Ambikapur (19-11-1955) 
 

Activities of Christian Missions in the Eastern States and proselytism in the Udaipur State by the Jesuit Mission 
 



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Guru

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PREFACE

 

It was the summer of 1982.  VOICE OF INDIA had hardly started its programme of publications.  One fine morning an aged and visibly ailing sannyasi dropped in at my office in New Delhi.  He had travelled all the way from some place (I forget the name) in Andhra Pradesh.  Someone had given him a copy of my booklet, Hindu Society Under Siege, and having read the chapter, �Residue of Christianism�, he had concluded that I was the guy he had been looking for.  He introduced himself as Baba Madhavdas and placed on my table printed copies of a summary of the Niyogi Committee Report in English and Hindi, published by him.  Before I could ask him to take a seat, he shot a question at me, �You must have read the full Report?  What do you think of it?�

 

I felt small and confessed that although I had seen the full Report soon after it was published; I had not read it even cursorily.  His face fell.  I had disappointed him.  He brightened only when I told him the story of how I had missed reading the full Report till that time, and promised to read it as soon as I could lay my hands on it from a Government shop or some library.  He told me that it was no more available in the Government shops because Christian missionaries had bought all available copies and destroyed them.  Even in libraries, it was rarely available because the same missionaries had seen to it that copies were removed, or borrowed and not returned.

 

When the Report was published by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1956, I happened to be in the district town of Shahdol in Vindhya Pradesh (then a separate State, now merged in Madhya Pradesh) for filing my nomination papers from that Lok Sabha constituency in the Second General Elections (1956-57) as a Jana Sangh candidate.  Pandit Prem Nath Dogra, President of the Jana Sangh at that time, was also in Shahdol that day.  He was on a lecture tour of Vindhya Pradesh.  We were staying in the same room as guests of a local gentleman.  As we sat and chatted about the shape of things in the country at that time, half-a-dozen Party activists rushed into the room in a state of excitement and placed three volumes on the bed on which Pandit Dogra was sitting.  One of them shouted in a tone of triumph, �Here it is at last.  Christian missionaries have been disrobed (naNgA kar diyA hai).  Now it is for the Party, Panditji, to take it up and make it known to the country at large.�

 

Pandit Dogra thumbed through the volumes and promised to place it before the Working Committee of his Party at the very next meeting.  Then he handed over the volumes to me and asked me to go through them so that I could tell him in the evening the gist of what they contained. I looked at the title.  It was Report of the Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee Madhya Pradesh, 1956 in 2 Volumes and three Parts, Volume II being divided into Parts A and B. It became famous as the Niyogi Committee Report because its Chairman was Dr. M. Bhawani Shankar Niyogi, a retired Chief Justice of the Nagpur High Court.

 

I glanced through the Report and was impressed by the evidence marshalled, literary as well as oral.  What struck me as very significant was that the Christian missionary activities in India had been viewed as part of the world-wide missionary operations.  But that was all. I could not find time to read even Volume I of the Report because I was busy otherwise throughout the day.  In the evening Pandit Dogra took away the Report with him as he was going to another place to address a meeting. I was certainly curious to know more about Christian missionaries than I knew at that time.  It was only a few months earlier that a Jesuit priest from Patna had tried and failed to convert me.  The talk I had had with him during a retreat in a Catholic monastery outside Hazaribagh in Bihar, had left a bad taste in the mouth.  The convert I met in the library of St. Xavier�s School at Patna later on had turned me against Christian missions.1

 

Years passed and I forgot all about the Niyogi Committee Report.  The struggle to survive after having invited the ire of the, Nehruvian establishment by the opposing Communism, was too grim.  Moreover, I wanted to know much more than I knew about my own SanAtana Dharma and its culture, before I could evaluate Christianity and its missions. I was ready for that task to a certain extent when I wrote that essay in Hindu Society Under Siege in the last quarter of 1981.  But I had yet to learn a lot.

 

Baba Madhavdas did not tell me why and when he had taken sannyas, and how he had got involved in Hindu resistance to Christian missions.  All I could learn from him was that he had moved all over the tribal areas in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam, starting since a few years before India attained independence in 1947.  He had watched the Christian missionaries and their activities from close quarters, and the knowledge he had acquired about their means and methods was considerable.  And he was very happy that the Niyogi Committee Report had confirmed in so many words all that he had learnt first hand about the missionary apparatus and its operations.  At the same time, he had felt deeply pained that whatever resistance to Christian missionaries he had noticed before independence, had evaporated fast as soon as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru emerged as a colossus after the death of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

 

He had begged for small amounts of money, bought copies of the Niyogi Committee Report, and presented them to leaders of the Jana Sangh, the Arya Samaj, the Hindu Mahasabha, the Vishva Hindu Parishad when it was formed in 1964, and various rich men known for their sympathy towards Hindu causes.  All that he wanted them to do was to read the Report and mobilize public opinion for persuading the Indian State to stop the flow of massive foreign funds, which Christian missions were using for conversions by means of force, fraud and inducements.  But his appeals had fallen on deaf ears.  Different people had advanced different reasons for their unwillingness or incapacity to do anything in the matter.  As a last resort he had got several thousand copies of a summary of the Report printed in English and Hindi and distributed them widely as he moved along.

 

He was happy once more when after the passing away of Pandit Nehru and before the rise of Indira Gandhi to supreme power, the Congress Governments of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh had passed Freedom of Religion Acts in 1967 and 1968 enabling the authorities to prevent conversions by means of force, fraud and inducements.  Now citizens who came to know such malafide cases of conversion in these two States could report to the police or move the courts.  But he discovered very soon that the Acts remained dead letters because people who could notice and report such cases were simply not there in the missionary fields.

 

The Jana Sangh and the Vishva Hindu Parishad had disappointed him in particular.  When he asked the leaders and workers of these organizations to read the Report, they said that they had no time for books because they were active in the field.  But when he requested them to survey the field and report the cases of malafide conversions to the concerned authorities, they had replied that the police was corrupt and the courts too slow to do anything.  At the same time, they had boasted that they were developing and employing some �positive� methods to match the missionary network and beat them at their own game.  He had yet to see these �positive� methods bearing fruit.  Conversions were going on as ever before.

 

Baba Madhavdas felt totally disheartened when I told him the truth about VOICE OF INDIA, namely, that it had no office of its own, no staff except myself, and very limited funds collected through donations mainly from a few small businessmen with big hearts.  He was, he said, a tired old man, sick in body and disillusioned in mind, and wanted to retire to Vrindavana so that he could die in peace.  He wanted me to do him a favour - take the few hundred copies of the summary he had left with him.  I bought them immediately and included the title in the catalogue we published next.  At the same time, I promised to the Baba that I would read the full Niyogi Committee Report and reprint it as soon as I got sufficient funds.

 

I read the Report soon after and was overwhelmed by the wealth of material it presented, theoretical as well as empirical.  But funds for reprinting the Report were not available till now.  Meanwhile, I had summarised the Report in my own way in my History of Hindu-Christian Encounters published in 1989.2 That summary is being included in the Introduction to the reprint.

 

The name of this volume which combines the reprint with an introduction has been suggested by Arun Shourie, as in the case of Hindu Temples: What Happened to them.

Sita Ram Goel 

New Delhi 
25 December, 1997 
 

Footnotes:

1I have told the story of what I heard and saw in How I Became A Hindu (1982), Third Enlarged Edition, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1993, pp. 46-49.

2A Second Enlarged Edition has been published by Voice of India, New Delhi, in 1996.



__________________


Guru

Status: Offline
Posts: 1203
Date:
Permalink  
 

PREFACE

 

It was the summer of 1982.  VOICE OF INDIA had hardly started its programme of publications.  One fine morning an aged and visibly ailing sannyasi dropped in at my office in New Delhi.  He had travelled all the way from some place (I forget the name) in Andhra Pradesh.  Someone had given him a copy of my booklet, Hindu Society Under Siege, and having read the chapter, �Residue of Christianism�, he had concluded that I was the guy he had been looking for.  He introduced himself as Baba Madhavdas and placed on my table printed copies of a summary of the Niyogi Committee Report in English and Hindi, published by him.  Before I could ask him to take a seat, he shot a question at me, �You must have read the full Report?  What do you think of it?�

 

I felt small and confessed that although I had seen the full Report soon after it was published; I had not read it even cursorily.  His face fell.  I had disappointed him.  He brightened only when I told him the story of how I had missed reading the full Report till that time, and promised to read it as soon as I could lay my hands on it from a Government shop or some library.  He told me that it was no more available in the Government shops because Christian missionaries had bought all available copies and destroyed them.  Even in libraries, it was rarely available because the same missionaries had seen to it that copies were removed, or borrowed and not returned.

 

When the Report was published by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1956, I happened to be in the district town of Shahdol in Vindhya Pradesh (then a separate State, now merged in Madhya Pradesh) for filing my nomination papers from that Lok Sabha constituency in the Second General Elections (1956-57) as a Jana Sangh candidate.  Pandit Prem Nath Dogra, President of the Jana Sangh at that time, was also in Shahdol that day.  He was on a lecture tour of Vindhya Pradesh.  We were staying in the same room as guests of a local gentleman.  As we sat and chatted about the shape of things in the country at that time, half-a-dozen Party activists rushed into the room in a state of excitement and placed three volumes on the bed on which Pandit Dogra was sitting.  One of them shouted in a tone of triumph, �Here it is at last.  Christian missionaries have been disrobed (naNgA kar diyA hai).  Now it is for the Party, Panditji, to take it up and make it known to the country at large.�

 

Pandit Dogra thumbed through the volumes and promised to place it before the Working Committee of his Party at the very next meeting.  Then he handed over the volumes to me and asked me to go through them so that I could tell him in the evening the gist of what they contained. I looked at the title.  It was Report of the Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee Madhya Pradesh, 1956 in 2 Volumes and three Parts, Volume II being divided into Parts A and B. It became famous as the Niyogi Committee Report because its Chairman was Dr. M. Bhawani Shankar Niyogi, a retired Chief Justice of the Nagpur High Court.

 

I glanced through the Report and was impressed by the evidence marshalled, literary as well as oral.  What struck me as very significant was that the Christian missionary activities in India had been viewed as part of the world-wide missionary operations.  But that was all. I could not find time to read even Volume I of the Report because I was busy otherwise throughout the day.  In the evening Pandit Dogra took away the Report with him as he was going to another place to address a meeting. I was certainly curious to know more about Christian missionaries than I knew at that time.  It was only a few months earlier that a Jesuit priest from Patna had tried and failed to convert me.  The talk I had had with him during a retreat in a Catholic monastery outside Hazaribagh in Bihar, had left a bad taste in the mouth.  The convert I met in the library of St. Xavier�s School at Patna later on had turned me against Christian missions.1

 

Years passed and I forgot all about the Niyogi Committee Report.  The struggle to survive after having invited the ire of the, Nehruvian establishment by the opposing Communism, was too grim.  Moreover, I wanted to know much more than I knew about my own SanAtana Dharma and its culture, before I could evaluate Christianity and its missions. I was ready for that task to a certain extent when I wrote that essay in Hindu Society Under Siege in the last quarter of 1981.  But I had yet to learn a lot.

 

Baba Madhavdas did not tell me why and when he had taken sannyas, and how he had got involved in Hindu resistance to Christian missions.  All I could learn from him was that he had moved all over the tribal areas in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam, starting since a few years before India attained independence in 1947.  He had watched the Christian missionaries and their activities from close quarters, and the knowledge he had acquired about their means and methods was considerable.  And he was very happy that the Niyogi Committee Report had confirmed in so many words all that he had learnt first hand about the missionary apparatus and its operations.  At the same time, he had felt deeply pained that whatever resistance to Christian missionaries he had noticed before independence, had evaporated fast as soon as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru emerged as a colossus after the death of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

 

He had begged for small amounts of money, bought copies of the Niyogi Committee Report, and presented them to leaders of the Jana Sangh, the Arya Samaj, the Hindu Mahasabha, the Vishva Hindu Parishad when it was formed in 1964, and various rich men known for their sympathy towards Hindu causes.  All that he wanted them to do was to read the Report and mobilize public opinion for persuading the Indian State to stop the flow of massive foreign funds, which Christian missions were using for conversions by means of force, fraud and inducements.  But his appeals had fallen on deaf ears.  Different people had advanced different reasons for their unwillingness or incapacity to do anything in the matter.  As a last resort he had got several thousand copies of a summary of the Report printed in English and Hindi and distributed them widely as he moved along.

 

He was happy once more when after the passing away of Pandit Nehru and before the rise of Indira Gandhi to supreme power, the Congress Governments of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh had passed Freedom of Religion Acts in 1967 and 1968 enabling the authorities to prevent conversions by means of force, fraud and inducements.  Now citizens who came to know such malafide cases of conversion in these two States could report to the police or move the courts.  But he discovered very soon that the Acts remained dead letters because people who could notice and report such cases were simply not there in the missionary fields.

 

The Jana Sangh and the Vishva Hindu Parishad had disappointed him in particular.  When he asked the leaders and workers of these organizations to read the Report, they said that they had no time for books because they were active in the field.  But when he requested them to survey the field and report the cases of malafide conversions to the concerned authorities, they had replied that the police was corrupt and the courts too slow to do anything.  At the same time, they had boasted that they were developing and employing some �positive� methods to match the missionary network and beat them at their own game.  He had yet to see these �positive� methods bearing fruit.  Conversions were going on as ever before.

 

Baba Madhavdas felt totally disheartened when I told him the truth about VOICE OF INDIA, namely, that it had no office of its own, no staff except myself, and very limited funds collected through donations mainly from a few small businessmen with big hearts.  He was, he said, a tired old man, sick in body and disillusioned in mind, and wanted to retire to Vrindavana so that he could die in peace.  He wanted me to do him a favour - take the few hundred copies of the summary he had left with him.  I bought them immediately and included the title in the catalogue we published next.  At the same time, I promised to the Baba that I would read the full Niyogi Committee Report and reprint it as soon as I got sufficient funds.

 

I read the Report soon after and was overwhelmed by the wealth of material it presented, theoretical as well as empirical.  But funds for reprinting the Report were not available till now.  Meanwhile, I had summarised the Report in my own way in my History of Hindu-Christian Encounters published in 1989.2 That summary is being included in the Introduction to the reprint.

 

The name of this volume which combines the reprint with an introduction has been suggested by Arun Shourie, as in the case of Hindu Temples: What Happened to them.

Sita Ram Goel 

New Delhi 
25 December, 1997 
 

Footnotes:

1I have told the story of what I heard and saw in How I Became A Hindu (1982), Third Enlarged Edition, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1993, pp. 46-49.

2A Second Enlarged Edition has been published by Voice of India, New Delhi, in 1996.



__________________


Guru

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 THE SUNSHINE OF �SECULARISM�

 

 

Hindus from early seventeenth century Pandits of Tamil Nadu to Arun Shourie in the closing years of the twentieth, have spent no end of ink and breath to demolish the dogma of Christianity and denounce missionary methods.  But it has hardly made any difference to the arrogance of Christian theologians and aggressiveness of Christian missionaries.  That is because the dogma was never meant for discussion.  It is an axiom of logic that that which has not been proved cannot and need not be disproved.  Who has ever proved that the nondescript Jew who is supposed to have been crucified by a Roman governor of Judaea in 33 AD atoned for the sins of all humans for all time to come?  Who has ever proved that those who accept that man as the only saviour will ascend to a heaven of everlasting bliss, and those who do not will bum forever in the blazing fire of hell?  Nor can the proclamation or the promise or the threat be disproved.  High-sounding theological blah blah notwithstanding, the fact remains that the dogma is no more than a subterfuge for forging and wielding an organizational weapon for mounting unprovoked aggression against other people.  It is high time for Hindus to dismiss the dogma of Christianity with the contempt it deserves, and pay attention to the Christian missionary apparatus planted in their midst.

 

The sole aim of this apparatus is to ruin Hindu society and culture, and take over the Hindu homeland.  It goes on devising strategies for every situation, favourable and unfavourable.  It trains and employs a large number of intellectual criminals ready to prostitute their talents in the service of their paymasters, and adept at dressing up dark designs in high-sounding language.  The fact that every design is advertised as a theology in the Indian context and every criminal euphemized as an Indian theologian, should not hoodwink Hindus about the real intentions of this gangster game.

 

Hindus are committing a grave mistake in regarding the encounter between Hinduism and Christianity as a dialogue between two religions.  Christianity has never been a religion; its long history tells us that it has always been a predatory imperialism par excellence.  The encounter, therefore, should be viewed as a battle between two totally opposed and mutually exclusive ways of thought and behaviour.  In the language of the Gita (Chapter 16), it is war between daivI (divine) and AsurI (demonic) sampads (propensities).  In the mundane context of history, it can also be described as war between the Vedic and the Biblical traditions.

 

This is not the place to go into the premises from which the two traditions proceed. I have presented them in some detail elsewhere.1Here I will indicate briefly the behaviour patterns they promote.

 

The Vedic tradition advises people to be busy with themselves, that is, their own moral and spiritual improvement.  Several disciplines have been evolved for this purpose tapas (austerity), yoga (meditation), jñAna (reflection), bhakti (devotion), etc.  A seeker can take to (adhikAra) whichever discipline suits his adhAra (stage of moral-spiritual preparation).  There is no uniform prescription for everybody, no coercion or allurement into a belief system, and no regimentation for aggression against others.

 

The Biblical tradition, on the other hand, teaches people to be busy with others.  One is supposed to have become a superior human being as soon as one confesses the �only true faith�.  Thenceforward one stands qualified to �save� others.  The only training one needs thereafter is how to man a mission or military expedition, how to convert others by all available means including force and fraud, and how to kill or ruin or blacken those who refuse to come round.

 

The Vedic tradition has given to the world schools of SanAtana Dharma, which have practised peace among their own followers as well as towards the followers of other paths.  On the other hand, the Biblical tradition has spawned criminal cults such as Christianity, Islam, Communism, and Nazism, which have always produced violent conflicts as much within their own camps as with each other and the rest of mankind.

II

 

 

History of Hindu-Christian encounters falls into five distinct phases.  In all of them Christian missionaries stick to their basic dogma of One True God and the Only Saviour which Hindus should accept or be made to accept.  But they keep on changing their methods and verbiage to suit changing circumstances.  To start with, spokesmen for Hinduism offer a stiff resistance to the Christian message as well as missionary methods.  But due to a number of factors, Hindu resistance weakens in subsequent stages and then disappears altogether so that Christianity forges ahead with a sense of triumph.

 

In the first-phase, which opens with the coming of the Portuguese pirates in the sixteenth century, more particularly the Patron Saint of those pirates, Francis Xavier, Christianity presents itself in its true colours.  Its language is as crude as in its homeland in Europe, and its methods as cruel.  Hindus are helpless and suffer any number of atrocities.  Fortunately for them, this phase does not last for long.  The Portuguese lose power except in Goa and some other small territories.  The other European powers that take over have not much time to spare for Christianity except the French for a brief period in Pondicherry and their other possessions.

 

The second phase opens with the consolidation of the British conquest after the final defeat of the Marathas in 1813 CE.  The British do not allow Christian missions to use physical methods.  But missionary language continues to be as crude as ever.  Christianity enjoys a brief period of self-confidence particularly in Bengal.  The phase ends with the rise of Hindu reform movements, particularly the clarion call given by Maharshi Dayananda and Swami Vivekananda.  Christianity suffers a serious setback.

 

The third phase starts with the advent of Mahatma Gandhi and his slogan of sarva-dharma-samabhAva.  Christian missions are thrown on the defensive and forced to change their language.  The foulmouthed miscreants become sweet-tongued vipers.  Now they are out to �share their spiritual riches� with Hindus, reminding us of a beggar in dirty rags promising to donate his wardrobe to wealthy persons.  The phase ended with the Tambram Conference of the International Missionary Council (IMC) in 1938, which decided to reformulate Christian theology in the Indian context.

 

The fourth phase which commenced with the coming of independence proved a boon for Christianity.  The Christian right to convert Hindus was incorporated in the Constitution.  Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who dominated the scene for 17 long years, promoted every anti-Hindu ideology and movement behind the smokescreen of a counterfeit secularism.  The regimes that followed continued to raise the spectre of �Hindu communalism� as the most frightening phenomenon.  Christian missionaries could now denounce as a Hindu communalist and chauvinist, even as a Hindu Nazi, any one who raised the slightest objection to their means and methods.  All sorts of �secularists� came forward to join the chorus.  New theologies of Fulfilment, Indigenisation, Liberation, and Dialogue were evolved and put into action.  The missionary apparatus multiplied fast and became pervasive.  Christianity had never had it so good in the whole of its history in India.  It now stood recognized as �an ancient Indian religion� with every right to extend its field of operation and expand its flock.  The only rift in the lute was K.M. Panikkar�s book, Asia and Western Dominance, published from London in 1953, the Niyogi Committee Report published by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1956, and Om Prakash Tyagi�s Bill on Freedom of Religion introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 1978.

 

The fifth phase, which is continuing now, started with the Hindu awakening brought about by the mass conversion of Harijans to Islam at Meenakshipuram in Tamil Nadu, renewed Muslim aggression in many ways, and Pakistan-backed terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir.  The Sangh Parivar which had turned cold towards Hindu causes over the years, was startled by the rout of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 1984 elections to the Lok Sabha, and decided to renew its Hindu character.  The RAmajanmabhUmi Movement was the result.  The Movement was aimed at arresting Islamic aggression.  Christianity or its missions were hardly mentioned.  Nevertheless, it was Christian missions which showed the greatest concern at this new Hindu stir, and started crying �wolf�.  Christian media power in the West raised a storm, saying ad nauseum that Hindus were out to destroy the minorities in India and impose a Nazi regime.  The storm is still raging and no one knows when it will subside, if at all.

III

 

 

The Constitution of independent India adopted in January 1950 made things quite smooth for the Christian missions.  They surged forward with renewed vigour.  Nationalist resistance to what had been viewed as an imperialist incubus during the Struggle for Freedom from British rule, broke down when the very leaders who had frowned upon it started speaking in its favour.  Voices which still remained �recalcitrant� were sought to be silenced by being branded as those of �Hindu communalism�.  Nehruvian Secularism had stolen a march under the smokescreen of Mahatma Gandhi�s sarva-dharma-samabhAva

 

What was far more favourable to Christian missionaries, was the complete collapse of Hindu resistance which had been pretty strong during the Struggle for Freedom.  Mahatma Gandhi had raised Jesus to the status of a spiritual giant, and Christianity itself to the status of a great religion as good as SanAtana Dharma.  His mindless slogan of sarva-dharma-samabhAva was proving to be an effective smokescreen for Christian missions to steal a march against Hindu religion, society, and culture.  In a letter written to C.D. Deshmukh on 22 June 1952, Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had said, �Nothing amazes me so much as the perversion of well-known words and phrases in political and other controversies today. I suppose every demagogue does it��2 He was blissfully unaware that he himself had become the most despicable demagogue in India�s hoary history when he borrowed the word �secularism� from Western political parlance and made it mean the opposite of what it had meant when it emerged during the European Enlightenment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Secularism in the modern West had symbolized a humanist and rationalist revolt against the closed creed of Christianity and stood for pluralism such as has characterized Hinduism down the ages.  But Pandit Nehru had perverted the word and turned it into a shield for protecting every closed creed prevailing in India at the dawn of independence in 1947 Islam, Christianity, Communism.  It is significant that the word �secularism� cannot be found anywhere in Pandit Nehru�s pre-independence writings and utterances of which we have a huge heap.  Nor was this word used by any one in the Constituent Assembly debates which exist in cold print.  Even in the Constitution of India it was inserted arbitrarily by Indira Gandhi during the infamous Emergency (1975-77).  It was solely due to Pandit Nehru�s dishonest demagogy that this word became not only the most fashionable but also the most profitable political term for every enemy of India�s indigenous, society and culture.  The first Prime Minister of independent India became the leader of a Muslim-Christian-Communist combine for forcing Hindus and Hinduism first on the defensive and then on a run for shelter.  Now on everything which Hindus held sacred could be questioned, ridiculed, despised and insulted.  At the same time the darkest dogmas of Islam and Christianity were not only placed beyond the pale of discussions but also invested with divinity so that anyone who asked any inconvenient questions about them invited the attention of laws which were made more and more punitive.  It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that the �architect of modern India� was no more than a combined embodiment of all imperialist ideologies which had flocked to this ancient land in the company of alien invaders Islam, Christianity, White Man�s Burden, and Communism.

 

Small wonder that the Prime Minister of India should issue the following command to Chief Ministers of all States in his circular letter dated 17 October 1952:

I have sometimes received complaints from Christian missions and missionaries both foreign and Indian, about the differential treatment accorded to them in certain States.  It is said that there is some kind of harassment also occasionally.  Some instances of this kind have come to my notice.  I hope that your Government will take particular care that there is no such discrimination, much less harassment. I know that there is a hangover still of the old prejudice against Christian missions and missionaries.  In the old days many of them except in the far south, where they were indigenous, represented the foreign power and sometimes even acted more or less as its agents. I know also that some of them in the north-east encouraged separatist and disruptive movements.  That phase is over.  If any person, foreigner or Indian, behaves in that way still certainly we should take suitable action.  But remember that Christianity is a religion of large numbers of people in India and that it came to the south of India nearly 2000 years ago.  It is as much a part of the Indian scene. as any other religion.  Our policy of religious neutrality and protection of minorities must not be affected or sullied by discriminatory treatment or harassment.  While Christian missionaries have sometimes behaved objectionably from the political point of view, they have undoubtedly done great service to India in the social field and they continue to give that service.  In the tribal areas many of them have devoted their lives to the tribes there.  I wish that there were Indians who were willing to serve the tribal folk in this way. I know that there are some Indians now who are doing this, but I would like more of them to do so.  It must be remembered that the Christian community, by and large, is poor and is sometimes on the level of the backward or depressed classes.

 

We permit, by our Constitution, not only freedom of conscience and belief but also proselytism.  Personally I do not like proselytism and it is rather opposed to the old Indian outlook which is, in this matter, one of live and let live.  But I do not want to come in other people�s ways provided they are not objectionable in some other sense.  In particular, I would welcome any form of real social service by anyone, missionary or not.  A question arises, however, how far we should encourage foreigners to come here for purely evangelical work.  Often these foreign countries raise funds on the plea of converting the savage heathens. I do no want anyone to come here who looks upon me as a savage heathen, not that I mind being called a heathen or a pagan by anybody.  But I do not want any foreigner to come who looks down upon us or who speaks about us in their own countries in terms of contempt.  But if any foreigner wants to come here for social service, I would welcome him.3

A footnote to this letter informs us that �On October 1952, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur drew Nehru�s attention to complaints of such treatment of Christian missionaries in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh�.  Had Pandit Nehru been an Indian and a patriot, he would have referred Rajkumari Amrit Kaur to the Chief Ministers of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh before taking up the matter himself.  But being the man he was a coolie carrying the White Man�s Burden an allegation from a mouthpiece of Christian missions was sufficient for him to rush with a reprimand to the Chief Ministers of all States only a week after his ear was poisoned.  There was no complaint regarding maltreatment of Christian missions from the rest of the States, yet he felt called upon to raise a general alarm.  He not only anticipated all possible objections which he thought could be made against missions and missionary activities, he also tried his best to blunt those objections in his usual �if� and �but� way.  The worst part of it all was that he repeated the Big Lie that Christianity was 2000 years old in India as, according to him, it was brought to India by St. Thomas in the first century of the Christian era.  Even when he had told that story to his daughter in April 1932 in one of his schoolboyish essays which now pass as solid history, Christian historians had been debating for years whether a man called St. Thomas was a historical figure or a figment of theological speculation, and whether he ever came to South India.  But Pandit Nehru who fancied himself as a great historian and was hailed as such by all sorts of fools and knaves around the world, had swallowed the story as soon as he heard it and kept on spreading it.

 

The followers of Mahatma Gandhi were the first to forget what their Master had said repeatedly on the subject of proselytization, namely, that it was �the deadliest poison which ever sapped the fountain of truth�.  Some of them found berths in the new power setup, and fell in line with Pandit Nehru.  Some others who felt frustrated in the new situation for one reason or the other became fascinated by Mao-tse Tung and started seeing the Mahatma reincarnated in Red China.  Constructive workers of the Gandhian movement gave priority to economic programmes and sidelined all social and cultural problems.  A new breed of �Gandhians� became busy -floating Voluntary Agencies and looking forward to being funded by Western Foundations.  Some of these Foundations were avowedly dedicated to promoting only Christian causes.  Small wonder that the �Gandhians� became, in due course, active or passive accomplices of the Christian missions.

 

The worst crisis, however, overtook those who became known as Hindu leaders in post-independence India.  So long as the Mahatma was alive they had prospered by accusing him of promoting �Muslim and Christian causes� at the cost of �Hindu interests�.  Now that he was no more, they did not really know what to do.  Some of them continued to live in the past, deriving satisfaction from cursing the Mahatma for misleading the country for all time to come.  Others revised their attitude towards him, but they did so more out of convenience than conviction.  Sarva-dharma-samabhAva acquired a new meaning for them also.  Criticism of Christian dogmas became a �negative� approach.  The �positive� approach, they started saying, should match the Christian missionary effort in the fields of education, medicine and social services.  It did not occur to them that Hindu society being poor and bereft of a State of its own, was in no position to run the race.  The �positive� approach thus became, for all practical purposes, an excuse for not facing the problem of Christian subversion at all.

 

The bright sunshine in which Christian missions started basking can be reported best in the words of a Jesuit missionary.  �The Indian Church,� writes Plattner, �has reason to be glad that the Constitution of the country guarantees her an atmosphere of freedom and equality with other much stronger religious communities.  Under the protection of this guarantee she is able, ever since independence, not only to carry on but to increase and develop her activity as never before without serious hindrance or anxiety.�4 The number of foreign missionaries registered an unprecedented increase.  �One must admit,� continues Plattner, �that the number of missionaries who came to India soon after independence had perceptibly increased.  During the war years very few of them ever reached India.  So a kind of surplus was building in Europe with corresponding lack of personnel in India� At the same time the Communists were expelling thousands of missionaries mainly members of the American sects from China.  Some of them were then transferred to India but not all of them could adapt themselves to Indian conditions.�5

 

Far more foreboding than this forward march of the Christian missions, however, was the fact that they were able to take in their stride two serious exposures of their character and activities made during the fifties.  The first jolt they received was from the above-mentioned book by K. M. Panikkar published in 1953.  The second was the publication, in 1956, of the Niyogi Committee�s report on Christian missionary activities in Madhya Pradesh.  The powers that be the Government, the political parties, the national press, and the intellectual elite either protected the missions for one reason or the other or shied away from studying and discussing the exposures publicly for fear of being accused of �Hindu communalism�, the ultimate swearword in the armoury of Nehruvian Secularism.

 

Thus howsoever serious the flutter which these exposures caused inside missionary dovecotes, the atmosphere outside continued to be favourable for them.  Of course, �narrow minded and fanatical Hindu communalists� provided some pen-pricks off and on.  But they came to nothing in every instance.  �The question was raised in Parliament,� narrates Plattner, �as to whether the right to propagate religion was applicable only to Indian citizens or also to foreigners residing in India, for example, the missionaries.  In March 1954, the Supreme Court of India expressed its opinion that this right was a fundamental one firmly established in the Constitution and thus applied to everyone citizen and non-citizen alike who enjoyed the protection of India�s laws.  With this explanation the missionaries were expressly authorised to spread the faith, thus fulfilling the task entrusted to them by the Church.�6

 

In 1955, a Bill came before India�s Parliament �which if passed would have seriously handicapped the work of Christian missionaries�, because it �provided for a strict system of regulating conversions�.  The issue was conversions brought about by force, fraud or material inducements.  But no less a person than the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru, came to the rescue of Christian missions and persuaded the Parliament to throw out the Bill.  �I fear that this Bill,� said Pandit Nehru, �will not help very much in suppressing evil methods but might very well be the cause of great harassment to a large number of people.  We should deal with those evils on a different plane, in other ways, not in this way which may give rise to other ways of coercion.  Christianity is one of the important religions of India, established here for nearly two thousand years.  We must not do anything which gives rise to any feeling of oppression or suppression in the minds of our Christian friends and fellow-countrymen.�7

 

The signing of the defence pact between the U.S.A. and Pakistan in 1954 had, however, made the Government of India somewhat strict about granting of visas to foreign, particularly American, missionaries.  �The Catholic Bishops of India,� writes Plattner, �found it very difficult to reconcile themselves to this new turn of affairs, which they considered highly unpleasant and unjustifiable.  In March 1955 a delegation under the leadership of Cardinal Gracias of Bombay requested an interview with Prime Minister Nehru and Home Minister Pandit [Govind Ballabh] Pant, who had succeeded Dr, [Kailash Nath] Katju.�8 Pandit Nehru, according to the Secretary of the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India, was �sympathetic but pointed out that the problem was political and national, not religious�.  Pandit Pant, on the other hand, gave a practical advice which proved very helpful to Christian missions in the long run.  �He could not understand,� continues Plattner, �why the Catholic Church, which had a long and historic existence in the country, had not succeeded in training Indian priests and professors for seminaries.  The interview helped us to realise that in every sphere we have to recruit locally and train selected candidates for responsible positions.�9 The Home Minister of India, it seems, had no objection to the sale of a narcotic provided the vendors were native.  Nor did he see any danger in the spread of a network financed and controlled completely from abroad.  The lesson that the East India Company had subjugated the country by training and employing native mercenaries, had not been learnt.

 

Another Bill was introduced in the Parliament in 1960 for protecting Scheduled Castes and Tribes �from change of religion forced on them on grounds other than religious convictions�.  It was also thrown out because of resistance from the ruling Congress Party.  �It was rejected,� records Plattner, �after Mr. [B.N.] Datar declared in no uncertain terms that it was unconstitutional and that there were no mass conversions as alleged by the mover.� The Minister went much further.  �They were carrying on,� he said, �Christ�s mission by placing themselves at the service of mankind and such work was one of their greatest contributions to the world.� He credited Christian missionaries with �the uplift of a large number of downtrodden people through their schools and social work.�10

 

�This attitude of Nehru and his government,� concluded Plattner, �has inspired the Christians with confidence in the Indian Constitution.�11 Nehru had �remained true to his British upbringing.�12 Small wonder that the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India became quite optimistic about the future.  �With the Indian Hierarchy well established,� it proclaimed in September 1960, �and the recruitment of the clergy fairly assured, it may be said that the Church in India has reached its maturity and has achieved the first part of its missionary programme.  The time seems to have come to face squarely the Church�s next and more formidable duty: the conversion of the masses of India.�13

 



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Guru

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IV

 

 

There were good grounds for this optimism.  Conversions to Christianity were on the increase as was soon indicated by the Census of 1971. �In India as a whole,� wrote a Christian historian, F.S. Downs, �the Christian population increased by 64.9% between 1951 and 1971.  This may be compared with a general population increase of 51.7% during the same period.  In North East India the Christian population increased by 171.1% during the same period, compared with a general population growth in that region of 116.5%. Even these figures do not give the full picture because in 1971, 74.7% of the total North East India population was in Assam where the growth of the Christian community is the lowest.  In the 1961-71 decade alone the growth of the Christian community in states and territories other than Assam was as follows: 
 

State
Percentage Growth of Christians
Percentage Growth of General Population
Nagaland
76.29%
39.88%
Meghalaya
75.43%
31.55%
Manipur
83.66%
37.33%
Tripura
56.52%
36.28%

 

 

In the 1951-1971 period, the Christian growth in Nagaland was 251.6%, and in Tripura 298.6%� According to the Census of 1901 Christians in the North East constituted 1.23% of the whole, by 1951 the proportion was 7.8% and in 1971, 12.5%. North East India now had 39.8% of the non-southern Christian population.�14

 

Downs has not given figures for Mizoram, the Lushai Hills District of Assam, which was raised to the status of a State in 1987.  The Christian population in this area had risen from 0.05% of the total population in 1901 to 80.31 % in 1951 due to the efforts of Protestant missions.  In 1971, Christianity came to claim 86.09%. As against the general growth rate of 34.69% between 1951 and 1961 and 24.69 percent between 1961 and 1971, the growth rate of Christian population had been 46% and 25% for the two decades respectively.15

 

A major part of this rich harvest in this region had been reaped by the Catholic Church.  �Without question,� continued Downs, �the most important postwar development has been the rapid expansion of the Roman Catholic Church.  At the beginning of the war there were but 50,000 Catholics in the region; in 1977 there were 369,681.  In part this was due to an extraordinary expenditure of resources both in terms of money and missionary personnel, including personnel brought in from other parts of India.  But it was due also to the removal after independence of the restrictions the British had placed upon Catholic missions.�16

 

This spate of conversions could be traced directly to the expansion of Catholic education.  �The growth of Catholic educational programme in the North East,� noted the historian, �was certainly phenomenal.  While in 1935 they were operating 299 primary schools, 9 middle and high schools, and 2 colleges, by 1951 the numbers had increased to 591, 65 and 2 respectively.  By 1977 there were 744 primary schools, 63 middle and high schools (a slight decrease) and 4 colleges� Altogether there were 811 educational institutions with 79, 891 students.�17

 

The North East region reflected the expansion of Catholic education in the country as a whole.  �The dawn of independence,� wrote the Catholic educationist, T. A. Mathias, in 1971, �is a landmark in the development of Christian educational work in this country.  Since 1947 there has been a fantastic expansion in the number of Christian institutions, chiefly among the Roman Catholics.  Colleges have gone up from 42 to 114 and secondary schools from 500 to 1,200.  The Catholic Directory, 1969, gives fairly accurate statistics for Catholic educational work.  There are now 6000 elementary schools, 1200 secondary schools, 114 colleges, and 80 specialised institutions.�18

 

The Catholic Directory of India 1984, reported a still more phenomenal growth.  The number of kindergarten (elementary schools) in 1981 had reached 2,550, the number of primary schools 6,183 and the number of secondary schools 2,986.  The Directory does not give the number of colleges and specialized institutions, though it tells us that 1,141,787 students were studying in Catholic colleges and 35,519 in institutes for other studies.

 

The Catholic educational network, however, represents only a part of the Catholic apparatus, though it is the most important from the missionary point of view.  It alienates Hindu young men and women from their ancestral culture or at least neutralises them against missionary inroads if it does not incline them positively towards the promotion of Christianity.  Schools at the lower levels and in rural and tribal areas win converts directly by forgoing tuition fees, providing free textbooks and stationery etc., housing students freely in hostels, and giving free meals to day scholars.  Colleges provide many recruits to the higher echelons in government services besides executives in business houses.  Most of them look quite favourably at the �humanitarian services which Hindus have neglected�.  Big sums flow into the coffers of the Catholic missions from bribes given by neo-rich Hindu parents looking forward to their children speaking English in the �proper accent�.  Convent educated girls are in great demand in the Hindu marriage market.

 

By 1995 this educational network had become powerful enough to be used as a political weapon as well.  The New Delhi edition of the Indian Express flashed on 22 November 1995 the following report datelined New Delhi.  Nov. 21, 1995: �More than 10,000 Christian schools and 240 Christian colleges in different parts of the country remained closed today in support of the demand for extension of Scheduled Caste benefits to Dalit Christians.  The decisions to keep these institutions closed was taken by the National Coordination Committee for Scheduled Caste Christians and the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI).� In October-November 1997, these institutions were again used as a political weapon in order to pressurize the Government of Bihar for release of a Jesuit priest who was arrested by the police for sodomizing a tribal boy in a school in Dumka where the Jesuit happened to be a teacher.

 

The other part of the apparatus comprises what are known as medical, social, and humanitarian service agencies.  In 1984 the Catholic missions maintained 615 hospitals, 1529 dispensaries, 221 leprosaria, 309 homes for the aged and the handicapped, 1,233 orphanages and 1,271 centres for training people in various crafts and skills.  That is also where work of conversion is carried on openly.  These services are free or very cheap for those who show readiness to embrace �the only true faith�.  For others, they are quite expensive, particularly the hospitals furnished with imported equipment of the latest kind.

 

This apparatus was spread in 1984 over 17,288 mission stations and manned by 49,956 religious women, 4,993 religious priests and 2,801 religious men other than priests.  The missionary personnel was grouped in 167 congregations of sisters, 39 congregations of priests and 19 congregations of brothers.  The sisters functioned from more than 4000 houses maintained in different parts of the country by a personnel of more than 56,000.  Corresponding figures for priests came to more than 700 houses and a personnel of nearly 14,000, and for brothers it was nearly 200 houses with a personnel of more than 2,000.  Besides, there were 14 secular institutes with nearly 30 houses and a personnel of nearly 400.  A majority of these congregations had their headquarters abroad 97 of sisters, 25 of priests, 8 of brothers.  Though they recruited their personnel for the most part from India, their control was completely in the hands of establishments abroad.  As many as 26,541 catechists were in the field for netting new birds and making them cram the Catholic creed.

 

There was a corresponding expansion of what is called the Catholic Hierarchy which the Pope had taken over, partly from the Portuguese, in 1886.  The Hierarchy had grown apace till 1947 when it had 10 Archdioceses and 35 Dioceses.  By 1984, a period of only 37 years, the number of Archdioceses had almost doubled to 19 and that of Dioceses more than trebled to 110.  A record increase of 18 Dioceses in a single year took place in 1977-78 when the Janata Party was in power.  Six of these were created in the sensitive areas of Madhya Pradesh where the State Government had stalled expansion of the Hierarchy after the Niyogi Committee Report on Christian missions had laid bare the missionary mischief in 1956.  The Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1977, it may be noted, was dominated by the erstwhile Jana Sangh component of the Janata Party.19

 

The Hierarchy presided over 5,159 parishes and quasiparishes grouped in 110 ecclesiastical territories and manned by 7,058 diocesan priests.  The Directory gives the Latin names of Bulls and Decrees proclaimed by the Pope while creating new Dioceses and Archdioceses and appointing Bishops and Archbishops on advice from his Nuncio in New Delhi.  Neither the government of India nor any State Government has ever been consulted in the matter.  In 1974, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had started negotiations for a Pre-Notification Treaty with the Vatican but the Pope had stalled them on one excuse or the other.  The Janata Party dropped even the negotiations when it came to power in 1977.  The Pope was thus free to continue carving out a State within the State.

 

In addition, the Catholic apparatus controlled some 150 printing presses and more than 200 periodicals in English and Indian languages.  Around 350 seminaries of all sorts were busy training missionaries, priests and other specialised functionaries for its missions.  The number of students in these seminaries was 2,125 in 1984.  In the same year, 3,528 persons turned out by these seminaries were candidates for religious priesthood.20

 

The Catholic Dictionary of India, 1994, provides �data computed from the information sent in by Dioceses, from the Statistical Year Book of the Church 1987 and from CRI Directory 1990�.  The number of kindergarten and nursery schools had risen to 7,319, that of primary schools to 7,319 and of secondary schools to 3,765.  This time the number of colleges is given as 240 with 213,392 students.  The number of technical and training schools (i.e. specialized institutions) is not given but the number of students is noted as 1,514.  Some educational institutions had hostels and boarding houses attached to them with 1,765 inmates.

 

The medical and social welfare agencies in 1994 comprised 704 hospitals, 1,792 dispensaries and health centres, 1085 orphanages, 228 creches, 111 leprosaria, 102 rehabilitation centres and 455 homes for the aged, destitutes and handicapped.

 

The number of mission stations had gone up to 17,467 manned by 6,451 religious priests, 1,584 religious brothers, and 62,283 sisters.  The number of religious men other than priests is not given, nor of the catechists in the field.  This religious personnel was grouped in 43 congregations of priests, 17 of brothers and 190 of sisters.  At another place (p. 1147) the Directory for 1994 provides another table of �Religious of India Today�.  According to this table there were 45 congregations of priests with 108 major superiors, 12,787 priests, 1,117 novices and 4,984 candidates; 16 congregations of brothers with 30 major superiors, 1,652 brothers, 221 novices and 543 candidates; and 202 congregations of sisters, with 378 major superiors, 67,375 sisters, 4,849 novices and 8,783 candidates.  Besides, there were 44 cloistered congregations with 711 inmates, 60 novices and 82 candidates spread over 11 regional and 101 local units.  The actual number of religious congregations listed in detail in this Directory, however, is 56 for priests, 19 for brothers, 224 for sisters, and 6 for cloistered sisters.  It seems that �India Today� refers to some year earlier than 1994.  The number of houses from which these congregations function and the personnel which maintains them is not given, nor the number of secular institutes with their houses and personnel.

 

And as in 1984, in 1994 also most of the religious congregations had their headquarters abroad.  Of the 56 congregations of priests, 30 had their headquarters in Italy, 3 in France, and 1 each in England and Switzerland.  Of the rest, 10 represented foreign congregations with only provinces and delegates in India.  In the case of sisters, 61 congregations had their headquarters in Italy, 19 in France, 11 in Germany, 6 in Spain, 5 in Switzerland, 4 in Belgium, 2 each in England and the USA, and 1 each in Austria, Holland, Ireland, Pakistan, Portugal and Sri Lanka.  Of the rest, 21 represented foreign congregations with provincials and delegates, and 2 were mixed, that is, foreign congregations in collaboration with Indian ones.  Of the 6 congregations of cloistered sisters, 4 had their headquarters abroad Germany, Italy, England and France.  Coming to brothers, 7 congregations had their headquarters in Italy and 1 each in England and Ireland.

 

Of course, some religious congregations had their headquarters in India 11 in the case of priests, 86 in the case of sisters, and 10 in the case of brothers.  But that was only the form.  In substance these congregations also derived their inspiration from prototypes abroad, or were patterned after them.  In any case, most of these �Indian� congregations, like the others, were named after Christian saints who had nothing to do with India and most of whom were criminals or crusaders against infidels, which category has always included Hindus.21 Or they, like their foreign-based companions, flaunted pompous or pretentious names derived from Christian Theology Blessed Sacrament, Mary Immaculate, Immaculate Heart, Passion of Jesus Christ, Immaculate Conception, Holy Cross, Holy Spirit, Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Catholic Apostolate, Most Holy Redeemer, Precious Blood, Divine Word, Most Holy Trinity, Assumption, Most Holy Saviour, Charity of Jesus and Mary, Providence of Gap, Divine Providence, Our Lady of Fatima, Good Shepherd, Christ the King, Our Lady of Graces and Compassion, Holy Family, Blessed Virgin, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Mary Mediatrix, Incarnation, Our Lady of the Missions, Divine Master, Queen of Apostolates, Mother of Sorrows, Maria Auxilium, Redemption, Divine Saviour, Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration, etc.  The whole of this quaint jargon is alien to India not only in language but also in spirit.

 

The most significant point about this part of the apparatus is the marked increase in the number of religious sisters.  Their number had grown from 45,286 to 46,168 in 1977, 48,466 in 1978, 49,657 in 1979 and 50,936 in 1980.  But as per the 1994 Directory the number stood at 62,283 (p.  LX) or 67,375 (p. 1147).  The number of Religious Priests, on the other hand had grown from 4,655 in 1976, 4,638 in 1977, 4,695 in 1979, 4,943 in 1981 to 6,451 (p. LX) or 12,787 (p. 1147) in 1994.  The explanation for expansion of religious sisters is provided by a document �Trends and Issues in Evangelization in India� published by the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India in 1994.  It proclaims that �Women Religious will play more decisive role in the missions�22 We can foresee an accelerating increasing in the number of sisters in the years to come.

 

It may be pointed out that notwithstanding the pompous words �evangelization� and �mission� used, the reality regarding these religious sisters has been and remains quite ugly.  An overwhelming majority of them are girls either raised in Catholic orphanages or bought for a pittance from poor families and brainwashed to believe that they have become �brides of Jesus Christ� by taking �holy orders�.  They are crowded into convents or cloistered, made to live a life of deprivation, and used as slave labour in the hospitals and social welfare institutions of the missions.  The late lamented Mother Teresa had presided for long over a network of these female slaves the Sister of Charity.  The network continues and may grow unless it attracts the attention of some champions of human rights.  These unfortunate girls are also exported to Europe and the USA where females are no more coming forward to fill the convents.  There are some other uses to which these �brides of Jesus Christ� are put quite frequently.  We refer the readers interested to documented studies on the subject.23

 

The Catholic Hierarchy according to the 1994 Directory had 2 Cardinals, 19 Archdioceses, 1.26 Dioceses, and 6,277 parishes and quasiparishes, manned by 8,621 diocesan priests and 4,419 scholastics in clerical orders.  It had 7 theological institutes, and 560 major and minor seminaries employing 6,310 seminarians.  Besides, the Catholic Church owns 169 printing presses and 238 newspapers and periodicals in English and Indian languages.  There are quite a few bookshops in different cities selling literature churned out by Catholic scribes in India and abroad.

 

This whole apparatus in India is presided over by the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India (CBCI) housed in a huge mansion in New Delhi and staffed by specialists from various fields.  The CBCI has 5 standing committees, and 11 commissions for social communication; ecumenism and dialogue; justice, development and peace; education and culture, schedule castes/tribes and backward classes; clergy and religious; laity; youth; labour; health; and doctrine.  Two special commissions look after evangelization and inter-ritual matters.  Each commission is assisted by a number of organisations and bodies drawn from the commission�s specialized fields.  Its commands are carried out by 12 regional councils, 20 national organisations and 13 major associations.

 

And this leviathan is controlled by the Pope in Rome through his Nuncio in New Delhi.  For all practical purposes, it is a State within the State.  The tyrannies that take place within this prison-house are never mentioned in the Indian media, not to speak of being investigated.

 

We have not been able to obtain and analyse corresponding data regarding the expansion of the Protestant missions and churches.  They stopped publishing consolidated figures quite some time ago.  It can, however, be safely assumed that there has been a considerable expansion of the Protestant apparatus as well, though it might not have been as phenomenal as the Catholic.  Missions from or financed by the U.S.A. and West Germany, we are told, have become particularly prosperous and are active over wider fields.

 

The cost of maintaining and expanding this huge missionary apparatus, Catholic and Protestant, should be considerable though it is kept a closely guarded secret by the missions and churches in India.  The budgets for maintaining missions and church hierarchies are never made public.  Not even a hint is available in Christian publications regarding how much money is received and from where.  The Christian community in India is too poor to maintain this colossal and expensive edifice, not to speak of financing its widespread and multifarious operations.  The logical conclusion that the apparatus is financed almost entirely from abroad, is confirmed by the budgets published by controllers of missions in Europe and America.  A publication house in New Delhi has reprinted in 1996 A History of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists Foreign Missions, To the End of 1904.  Operating in Khasia and Jaintia Hills (present-day Meghalaya), this mission spent £ 2,188 between May 1841 and December 1904 (p. 308).  Figures of foreign remittances to Christian organisations are also made known by the Government of India from time to time.  �One billion dollars,� says a recent and reliable report, �that is how much American Protestant Christian organisations spent last year [19881 trying to gain conversions from other religions, and the Catholic Church spent an equal amount.  According to official Indian government reports US dollars 165 millions is sent to Christian missions in India each year.�24 This represents a staggering increase on the amount of foreign remittances noted by the Niyogi Committee for the period from January 1950 to June 1954.25

 

Thus it can be maintained no longer that the Portuguese and British imperialists alone were responsible for the expansion of Christianity in India.  The native Indian rulers have proved far more helpful to the Christian missions.  They have provided constitutional protection to Christian propaganda.  They have made it possible for the missions to enter into areas from where the British had kept them out.  What is most important, in the years since independence Christianity has come to acquire a prestige which it had enjoyed never before in this country.

 

It cannot be said that the country has not faced problems created by Christian missions.  Converts to Christianity in the North East and Central India have constantly. evinced separatist and secessionist tendencies.  The Government of India has recognised the mischief potential of Christian missions by expelling from the country several well known missionaries who were found fomenting political unrest and promoting violence.  But the larger lesson that Christian missions in general mean no good and much mischief to the country and its culture, has yet to be learnt.

 

Even before independence, some Christian missionaries had ganged up with the Muslim League and floated the scheme of a sovereign Christian State composed of tribal areas in the North East and Central India.  The two enclaves were to be linked together by a corridor passing through Bengal and Bihar.  The Nizam of Hyderabad was expected to provide another corridor towards Christian populations in the Madras Presidency (now Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu) and the princely states of Travancore and Cochin (now Kerala).  It was hoped that, in due course, these Christian populations would gravitate towards the sovereign Christian State and provide access to the Christian world outside via the Coromandal and Malabar coasts.  The movement for an independent Travancore had drawn enthusiastic support from the local Christians.  Cochin was expected to follow suit.

 

After independence, the hand of Christian missions has been manifest in violent secessionist uprisings in Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura.  Christian missions in these areas have not been loathe to join hands with the Communists who have pursued the same aim in cooperation with Red China.  It has cost India vast sums of money for meeting the menace militarily.  Thousands of lives have been lost.  And the fires lighted by the Christian missionaries are still burning or smouldering under the surface in spite of concessions made in the shape of several Christian majority States.

 

Meanwhile, the Christian sponsored agitation for a separate State of Jharkhand has been gaining strength.  �A secret report of Intelligence Bureau,� according to the Indian Express of January 13, 1989, �has claimed that some voluntary organisations who received foreign contributions had been �covertly� helping the Jharkhand movement for a separate state comprising 21 districts of Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa.  The organisations named by the report are: The Willian Carey Study and Research Centre (WCSRC), the Christian Institution for Study of Religion and Science (CISRC), the Liberal Association for the Movement of People (LAMP), the Gana Unnayan Parishad (GUP), and the Indian People�s Welfare Society (IPWS).  The Forum for the Concerned Rural Journalists (FCRJ) with its registered office at Jhargram, was also said to be a recipient of subsidy from WCSRC and CISRC.�

 

Some of the foreign organisations from which finances flow to these �voluntary organizations� in India have also been named.  �According to the report GUP, WCSRC etc., had been getting foreign contributions from several foreign agencies including �EZE, ECCO and AGKED (West Germany), NAVIB Foundation (Netherlands).  Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), World Council of Churches (Geneva) and Bread for the World�.�

 

The �voluntary organisations� know how to get around the laws of the land for serving their subterranean purposes.  �These organisations, the report said, had their own techniques for circumventing Government regulations.  The organisations receiving foreign contributions registered themselves with the Central Government, maintained an account of foreign contributions and kept records about the purpose and manner of utilisation of funds.  But, while the annual returns of these organisations to the Reserve Bank of India showed that the money was spent on cultural, economic, educational, religious and social programmes, in reality, the report claimed, much less amount than that claimed in the returns was actually spent on the programmes, with the rest being either �misappropriated� or �clandestinely donated to designing organisations and elements to further their ulterior objectives�.�

 

They also play hide and seek with the law enforcement agencies of the Government.  �They operate in cooperation with many other voluntary organisations.  If one particular organisation comes to adverse notice it floats some other cover, and front organisations maintain close liason with organisations which have not come under the cloud.  GUP and IPWS had thus been floated by the WCRSC and LAMP� WCSRC had been reportedly giving monetary help to the Jharkhand Coordination Committee, a common front with 49 cultural and political groups and mass organisations formed to give a new pitch to the Jharkhand movement� The organisation, the report said, encouraged �struggles of working people, women, tribals, dalits, oppressed and children� of the Jharkhand region �inciting� the organisations for a separate Jharkhand state.�

 

Such a report in a leading national daily called for some comments from leaders of the nation, if not questions in Parliament.  But it was not even noticed, least of all by those who pass as Hindu leaders, not to speak of politicians who swear by Secularism.  The only response it elicited was some letters of protest from the functionaries of Christian organisations.  In the letters-to-the-editor column of the daily they denounced the report as concocted.  The editor maintained that the report emanated from reliable and responsible quarters.  That was the end of the matter.  The Christian missions in India had not a worry in the world except that caused by their own theological quibbles. 
 

Footnotes:

1Sita Ram Goel, Defence of Hindu Society, Third revised edition, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1994.

2Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru., Second Series, Volume 18, New Delhi, 1996, p. 661.

3Ibid., Volume 19, New Delhi, 1996, pp. 733-34.  See also Volume 21, pp. 365-66.

4Felix Alfred Planner, The Catholic Church in India: Yesterday and Today, Allahabad, 1964, p. 6. Emphasis added.

5Ibid., p. 10.

6Ibid., pp. 6-7.

7Quoted in Ibid., p. 7. Emphasis added.  There is no record that Pandit Nehru ever gave any thought to the �different plane� or �other ways� of dealing with �those evils�.  It remained his life-long privilege �to talk vaguely and generally about things in general,� as he himself had said.  His patent way of showing disapproval was to talk of a �different plane� and �other ways�.  Those who understood his language took the hint and fell in line.  It �nay also be noted that he again repeats the story of Christianity being 2000 year old in India.

8Christians were unhappy with Dr. Katju because in April 1953 he had made a statement in Parliament that �for a long time he had been in possession of information about questionable proselytising activities of missionaries in Central India� (Ibid., p. 10).

9Ibid., p. 12.

10Ibid., pp. 7-8.

11Ibid., p. 8.

12Ibid., p. 9.

13Ibid., p. 134.  Emphasis added.

14F.S. Downs, Christianity in North East India: Historical Perspectives, Gauhati, 1983, pp. 3-4.

15C.L. Himinga, The Life and Witness of the Churches in Mizoram, Serkwan. 1987, p. 9.

16F.S. Downs, op. cit., pp. 151-52.  Emphasis added.

17Ibid., p. 154.

18Quoted in Ibid., P. 153.

19I tried to find out from various bigwigs of the then Janata Party including the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai, the reason for this sudden spurt.  I drew a blank.  No one was even aware that this had happened.  The Catholic Church alone knows and can reveal the secret.

20For full details, See Sita Run Goel, Papacy: Its Doctrine and History, New Delhi, 1986.  It is a Voice of India publication.

21In order to understand the character of Christian saints, one has to study the Processes which were compiled in order to qualify them for canonization.

22Arun Shourie, Missionaries in India, New Delhi, 1994, Annexure 1, p. 251.

23Voice of India has recently (1997) reprinted one of these studies, Women, Church and State by Matilda Joslyn Gage, first published in the USA in 1893.

24The Big Business of Evangelisation�, Hinduism Today, February 1989. As always, this article too is based on wide-ranging research.

25See Volume I, p. 96 of the Niyogi Committee Report reprinted in Section II.



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TWO

RIFT IN THE LUTE

 

The Christian missionary orchestra in India after independence has continued to rise from one crescendo to another with the applause of the Nehruvian establishment manned by a brood of self-alienated Hindus spawned by missionary-macaulayite education.  The only rift in the lute has been K.M. Panikkar�s Asia and Western Dominance published in 1953, the Report of the Christian Missionary Activities Committee Madhya Pradesh published in 1956, Om Prakash Tyagi�s Bill on Freedom of Religion introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1978, Arun Shourie�s Missionaries in India published in 1994 and the Maharashtra Freedom of Religion Bill introduced in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly by Mangal Prabhat Lodha, M.L.A. on 20 December 1996.  We shall summarise in this chapter what these rifts revealed, and the reactions to them not only from the Christian missionaries but also from the �secular� establishment.

K. M. PANIKKAR

 

Panikkar�s study was primarily aimed at providing a survey of Western imperialism in Asia from CE 1498 to 1945.  Christian missions came into the picture simply because he found them arrayed always and everywhere alongside Western gunboats, diplomatic pressures, extraterritorial rights and plain gangsterism.  Contemporary records consulted by him could not but cut to size the inflated images of Christian heroes such as Francis Xavier and Matteo Ricci.  They were found to be not much more than minions employed by European kings and princes scheming to carve out empires in the East.  Their methods of trying to convert kings and commoners in Asia, said Panikkar, were force or fraud or conspiracy and morally questionable in every instance.  Finding that �missionary activities� which became so prominent a feature of European relations with Asia were connected with Western political supremacy in Asia and synchronised with it�1 he concluded: �It may indeed be said that the most serious, persistent and planned effort of European nations in the nineteenth century was their missionary activities in India and China, where a large-scale attempt was made to effect a mental and spiritual conquest at supplementing the political authority already enjoyed by Europe.  Though the results were disappointing in the extreme from the missionary point of new, this assault on the spiritual foundations of Asian countries has had far-reaching consequences in the religious and social reorganization of the people��2

 

What hurt the Christian missionaries most, however, was Panikkar�s observation that �the doctrine of the monopoly of truth and revelation� is alien to the Hindu and Buddhist mind� and that �to them the claim of any sect that it alone represented the truth and other shall be condemned has always seemed unreasonable�.3 He had knocked the bottom out of the missionary enterprise.  No monopoly of truth and revelation, no missions.  It was as simple as that.

 

Most people in the targeted countries do not know that the first missionaries sent out by the Pope Innocent IV after the Council of Lyons in 1245 CE were spies commissioned to gather information about the strength and resources of the Mongols who had swept over West Asia and were posing a serious threat to Christendom in Europe.  The second mission was that of John de Monte Carvino commissioned by the Pope to visit the court of Kublai Khan at Peking for the, same purpose.  He started to smuggle Christianity in China surreptitiously by buying slaves and baptizing them and building a few churches.  The Pope in Rome felt great joy that the �only true faith� was spreading in China.  But within a few years of Carvino�s death in 1328 the entire edifice built by him collapsed and not a trace of it was left except in his letters to the Pope.4

 

The Christian missionary enterprise in earnest started with the dogged efforts of Don Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), the third son of the King John I of Portugal.  Henry was a militant Christian fired with a bitter hatred for infidels.  He was obsessed with the idea of reaching and converting India, and believed that he had received a command from God for this purpose.  He had at his disposal the immense wealth of the Order of Christ of which he was the Grand Master.5 In 1458 Pope Nicholas V issued a Bull granting to the King of Portugal �the right, total and absolute, to invade, conquer, and subject all the countries which are under rule of the enemies of Christ, Saracens or Pagans�� On March 13, 1456 this first Bull was confirmed by a second one by Pope Calixtus III.  Finally, Pope Alexander VI confirmed the Treaty of Tordesilhas signed on June 9, 1494 in terms of which he divided the world, east and west, between Portugal and Spain to conquer and convert.6 The kings of Portugal fitted and sent several naval expeditions to India, and King Dom Manoel �assumed for himself the title of �The Lord of the Navigation, Conquest and Commerce of Ethiopia, Persia and India�.�7 The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) though founded by a Spaniard, Ignatius Loyola, �found a staunch supporter and champion in the Portuguese monarch�.  Henceforward Portugal became the base of the missionary enterprise in Asia.  It is noteworthy that some of the great figures in the history of Christian missionary activities in the East came to adopt Portugal as their second country �with the revival of religious zeal within the Catholic church following the Protestant movement... Francis Xavier, a Spaniard, came out as the Portuguese King�s Inspector of Missions.  Father Vagliano, an Italian recruited in Lisbon forty-two missionaries of whom only six were Portuguese.  To Ricci, another Italian, who completed his education at Coimbra and Goa, Portugal was the spiritual home.�8 Small wonder that �with the Portuguese christianization was a state enterprise� and that the Portuguese kings �paid for the entire ecclesiastical establishment in the East�.9

 

The great merit of Panikkar�s book is that it provides a history of missionary activities in every country of South and South-East Asia as well as in the Far East India, China, Japan, Annam, Cambodia, Cochin-China, Laos, Sian (Thailand), Burma, and Indonesia.  We shall take up missionary doings in these countries and the support they received from various Western powers.

India

 

Christian missionaries had accompanied every Portuguese naval expedition to India after Vasco da Gama reached Calicut in Malabar in 1498.  In 1534, Goa which had been occupied by the Portuguese in 1509 �was made a bishopric with authority extending over the entire Far East�.  Rooting out of Hinduism was a special task assigned to every Portuguese viceroy.  �Hindu temples in Goa were destroyed and their property distributed to religious orders (like the Franciscans) in 1540.� With the arrival of Francis Xavier in Goa in 1542 and the establishment of the College of St. Paul by him, Goa became the centre for training missionaries to be sent out to other countries in Asia. �For the next hundred years entry of missionaries into the Far East was permitted only through Goa.� Under advice from Francis Xavier, the king of Portugal established the Inquisition in Goa.10 �Intolerance of things Indian became henceforth the characteristic of feature of missionary zeal in India.  Any compromise with Hindu life or religion was avoided e.g. the eating of beef was held to be necessary as it would put the converts altogether out of the pale of Hinduism.� But Portuguese power decayed in the second half of the seventeenth century and Portugal�s interest in missionary work declined even in South India.  �The establishment of the Inquisition in Goa (1561) and the auto da fé (first instance 1563) revolted the conscience of both Hindus and Muslims alike.�11 Even in Goa, the majority of population continued to be non-Christian.  Thus the �attempt of the Portuguese, secular and missionary,� to carry the heathen fort by assault� has failed.12

 

It was now the turn of the Protestant missions to evangelize India by all means short of physical force.  Small Protestant missions had been established in some coastal areas of South India from 1660 onwards.  But the big boost came with the foundation of the Church Missionary Society by the Anglican Church in 1799 and �other sects followed in their wake�.  The Baptist Mission was established at Serampore near Calcutta by William Carey in 1803.  �A violent propaganda campaign was launched by Carey and his associates against Hinduism in Bengal which seemed to them to be in a state of dissolution.  But Hindu orthodoxy reacted vigorously and Lord Minto felt obliged to prohibit such propaganda in Calcutta.� He had in mind the Vellore Mutiny which had outraged the religious sentiments of the sepoys.13

 

Christian missions achieved some small success in Bengal after India was thrown open to missionaries at large in 1813.  But once again, Hindu response in the shape of reform movements was strong, and the missionaries received another severe jolt.  More significant gains were made by the missions in Travancore where the Raja was threatened with deposition when he tried to prevent the conversion of some depressed classes.  �The action opened the eyes of other ruling princes and there were a number of important states where no missionary activity of any kind, including schools, was permitted upto 1947.�14

 

The British Government of India had pretended to be indifferent to Christian missions, particularly after the Revolt of 1857.  But it helped the missions indirectly.  �Legislature protected the right of converts to their share in Hindu joint families, and High Court decisions enabled converts to blackmail their wives to follow them into the fold of their new religion.  The Government also encouraged the missionaries to work among the backward tribes.�15 Another design which the British evolved to promote Christianization of India was T.B. Macaulay�s educational system introduced in 1835.  �It was the devout hope of Macaulay� and of many others, that the diffusion of new learning among the higher classes would see the dissolution of Hinduism and the widespread acceptance of Christianity.  The missionaries were of the same view, and they entered the education field with enthusiasm, providing schools and colleges in many parts of India where education in the Christian Bible was compulsory for Hindu students.  The middle classes accepted Western education with avidity and willingly studied Christian scriptures, but neither the dissolution of Hindu society so hopefully predicted nor the conversion of the intellectuals so devoutly hoped for showed any sign of materialization.  On the other hand, Hinduism assimilated the new learning, and the effects were soon visible all over India in a revival of a universalistic religion based on the Vedanta.�16 The Grand Design on which �they had spent so much money and energy had failed�.17 The rise of Indian nationalism also had an adverse effect on missionary fortunes.  The great leaders of the national movement such as Lokmanya Tilak, Sri Aurobindo and Lala Lajpat Rai were champions of resurgent Hinduism.  �The Christian leaders in India themselves began to feel that too obvious a separation from their countrymen could not benefit them.  Christianity began to show interest in Indian culture�18

Japan

 

Francis Xavier�s vision was not confined to India.  He was eying the whole of South East Asia and the Far East, China and Japan in particular.  He had sailed to Malacca in Malaya in 1545 and then to Amboyna in Indonesia.  While he was in Malacca again on his way back from Amboyna, he met a Japanese named Anjiro who was a fugitive from justice of his own country.  �Anjiro gave him glowing accounts of the readiness of the people of Japan to receive the message of Christ.� Xavier trained this Japanese criminal at the College of St. Paul in Goa and then set sail for Japan with him in 1549.  He was encouraged by a provincial feudal lord but opposed by the Buddhist priests.  He travelled to the Capital of Japan, Miyako, in the hope of converting the Emperor of Japan.  But the Emperor refused to see him and he returned disheartened to Goa in 1551. �The opposition of Buddhist monks had dashed his hopes and ignorant as he was of Eastern religions, to him the Buddha was a demon under whose influence the Japanese people were living in monstrous sin.  But he did not give up hope.  He wrote to Ignatius Loyola to send more workers for Japan.�19

 

Limited Christian missionary work continued in Japan mainly in the western part of the Island.  Japan at that time was divided into a number of principalities.  �The feudal rulers of that part of Japan were anxious at that time to attract Portuguese vessels to the harbours mainly with the object of strengthening themselves against other feudal Lords.  They realized instinctively the close connection between the foreign powers across the seas and the missionaries who had come to preach the new religion.�20 It was at this time that the great Japanese leader Oda Nobunaga started his career of conquest to unite Japan.  He was being opposed by the powerful Buddhist monasteries.  �The Jesuits saw a chance of interesting him in their mission to the disadvantage of the Buddhist church.  Nobunaga encouraged them and in 1568 he invited the Catholic missionaries to Kyoto and even gave them land on which to build a church.  Under his powerful protection the mission made unexpected progress.�21

 

Hideyoshi who succeeded Nobunaga was also favourably inclined towards the missionaries.  �But he was a keen-eyed observer.  He noticed that the Portuguese had landed artillery to protect the area in which Christians lived.  On a visit to a Portuguese vessel to see Father Coelho, he observed that the ship, though small, was heavily armed.  He was also aware of the interest that the western daimyos were manifesting in the arms and equipment of the Portuguese and of their attempts to strengthen themselves by friendship with foreigners.  Hideyoshi acted with firmness and in 1587 the activities of the missionaries were prohibited throughout the length and breadth of Japan.� By now the Spaniards had conquered the Philippines and were negotiating a commercial treaty with Japan.  �The commander of a Spanish galleon which was driven ashore spoke of Spanish power and recounted to the local daimyo who had salvaged the vessel and claimed the cargo the glories and prowess of the Conquistadores in a boastful manner.  Hideyoshi�s suspicious mind, already aware of Portuguese action in the East, ordered the arrest of all Spaniards in the country and had them crucified in Nagasaki as spies.�22

 

The Japanese had collected considerable intelligence about the doings of the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Spaniards and the British in the islands of the Pacific.  They had also realized that the converts in Japan sympathised with and looked for support to the foreigners.  So they put down with a strong hand efforts to convert more Japanese to a creed which was heaping abuse on the gods of Japan.� The local Christian community continued to exist as a minor and obscure sect subject to intermittent persecution mainly because of its affiliations with foreigners.  However, in 1614 Iyeasu, the Tokugawa Shogun, made it clear that Christian teachings were no longer to be tolerated and an edict banning the religion was issued that year.�23 At the same time, the Japanese sent a special spy to the southern regions to report on the activities of the Europeans there.  Information about a Spanish plan to invade Japan reached them in 1622.  Then came the Christian rebellion in Japan in 1637.  �It took a considerable army and a costly campaign to put down the revolt which was said to have received support from the Portuguese.  The reaction of the Shogunate was sharp and decisive the firm policy of eliminating the converts was put into effect and a few years later the country was closed to the Westerners.�24

 

Japan remained closed to Christian missions till 1889 when the policy was revised under the Meiji Restoration.  The Japanese remained suspicious about Christian missionaries but as the new Constitution included a clause about complete religious toleration.  The doors were opened to foreign missions.  By that time, however, both Shintoism and Buddhism had revived in Japan and Christianity continued to be looked down upon by the mainstream Japanese as an evil sect.  �Finally the educational system in Japan was under national control and Christian teachings were suspected to be in conflict with the tradition of state dominance enjoined by Shintoism.�25

China

 

It was in China that Christian missions achieved their greatest success as well as met their greatest failure.  Backed by the gangsterism of European powers, particularly Britain and France, the mission�s spread their tentacles far and wide shattered the political, social and cultural fabric of China, and prepared the way for Communist take-over after the Second World War.

 

There were a large number of Chinese in Malacca when the Portuguese captured this place in 1511. It was from these Chinese that the Portuguese heard of the vast riches of China.  They started sending commercial embassies to China.  But the real purpose of these embassies was to spy and gather intelligence; they were planning invasion and conquest.  A Portuguese embassy under Thomas Pires was sent to Peking and the Chinese Emperor showed readiness to receive it.  But Simon d�Antrade who had accompanied Pires landed a party of Portuguese on the Chinese land and started building a fort.  �The Chinese fleet attacked him and he was driven out.  When news of Simon d�Artrade�s piracies reached Peking, the Chinese Government naturally refused to receive the ambassador who was sent back to Canton where he died in prison in 1523.�26 Francis Xavier had also cast covetous eyes on China after his return from Japan.  �He set out for China.  But waiting for a ship on a little island off the Kwantung coast the indomitable old man died (1552).�27

 

On the other hand, unofficial trade between the Portuguese and some Chinese on the coastal areas was proving profitable to both parties.  A Portuguese ship helped a Chinese admiral who was chasing pirates, and the Portuguese had given rich presents to the local governor of Chuang Chao and Ningpo.  So the viceroy allowed the Portuguese to establish a trading post on the small deserted promontory of Macao in 1557.28 In 1565 the Jesuits built a residence in Macao and Christian missionaries started arriving.  By now the missionaries had evolved a new policy.  They tried to be of special service to high Chinese officials and use their patronage for propagating Christianity.  Matteo Ricci reached Macao in 1582 and travelled to the Chinese Capital at Peking in 1595 He gained the favour of the Court by presenting chiming clocks, other scientific toys and by showing his skill in mathematics.  At that time a conflict had arisen in China between Buddhism and Confucianism.  Seeing that the Court was inclined towards Confucianism, he sided with this creed.  �He quoted from the Confucian texts in support of the Christian doctrines and tried to show that Confucian doctrines did not conflict with Christianity.�29

 

The Jesuits who followed Ricci served the Ming Emperors as astrologers and gun manufacturers, which activities brought them patronage but in no way promoted-Christianity.  Adam Schall who had succeeded Ricci in 1630 �was nominated Vice-President of the Imperial Sacrifice, the Superintendent of the imperial Stud and High Honourable Bearer of the Imperial Banquet strange posts for a Christian priest to hold.�30 The mission at Peking was closed after the Ming dynasty was overthrown by the Manchus and Schall was jailed.  He died in 1666.  But another Jesuit, Ferdinand Verbiest, succeeded in winning the favour of the Manchu King, Kang Hsi who needed the Jesuit�s skill for manufacturing cannon for suppressing a rebellion.  The new king permitted the missionaries to preach their religion.  Verbiest appealed to the king of France to send missionaries to China from the newly established (1664) Congregation de Missions Estrangers in Paris, and six French priests left for the Far East in 1685.  One of these French fathers, Gerbillion was �a brilliant linguist who rendered brilliant service to the Chinese Government during the Sino-Russian border disputes which led to the Treaty of Nertchinsk (1689).  As a reward for his ability and tact an �Edict of Tolerance� was issued by the Emperor (1692) which declared that the doctrines taught by the Europeans in charge of Astronomy and the Tribunal of Mathematics, �are not evil� and permitted people �to go to the churches freely to worship God�.�31

 

But the Jesuits had gone too far in compromising the Christian doctrines and rites.  They were practising astrology for the Chinese Court.  �The head of the Jesuit mission as the Honourable Bearer of Dishes at the Imperial Banquet, or as the President of the Rites was not likely to find favour either in Rome or in Paris, and this was the problem that was raised at the Vatican itself, by the Dominicans,�32The Pope sent to China the Vicar General who gave a decision against the Jesuits.  The Jesuits appealed to the Chinese Emperor for declaring that the Chinese rites were not in conflict with the Christian practices.  The Emperor confirmed the Jesuit position, which was resented by the Pope.  He sent a Legate for further enquiry.  The Legate prohibited the Jesuit practices.  The Emperor sent the Legate to jail where he died in 1710. On the other hand, a Papal Bull was issued against missionaries in China practising any Chinese rites.  �In 1724, the preaching of the Christian religion was officially suppressed and the foreign missionaries, except those employed at the Court, were deported to Canton.  Thus came to an end the grandiose scheme of the Jesuits in China.�33

 

Christian missions entered China in a big way with the arrival of Britain, France and the U.S.A. on the scene in the second quarter of the nineteenth century.  Opium trade which was forced on China by the British East India Company led to the opium wars, defeat of China, and acquisition of extraterritorial rights by the various Western powers.  Christian missions gained the right to operate not only in the extra-territorial enclaves but all over China.  They also shared the indemnities exacted from China in the aftermath of various wars.  All sorts of questionable characters became converts to Christianity and sought the protection of imperialist powers.  �Christianity in China was involved with the Taiping rebellion� Protected by foreign authority these converts looked down upon the Chinese and took up an aggressive attitude towards them�� The Christian missionaries created mischief everywhere but were protected by the consuls of foreign powers.34

 

�But there was not a single province or area during all this time where the common man, as well as the mandarin, did not make it clear that the missionary was an unwelcome intruder� Not a single year passed without violent manifestations in some town or other against missionary activity.  The Boxer rebellion could only be understood against this background.  It was the missionary and the �secondary devil�, the native convert, who were the special objects of the Boxer�s fury.  Indeed the Chinese Christians had to pay dearly for being �secondary devils� suspected to be supporters of foreign aggressors.�35

 

One particular incident in the history of Christianity in China deserves special notice.  The French had built a cathedral on the site of a Chinese temple in Tientsin.  An orphanage was also established by Catholic nuns.  �These sisters arranged for the payment of a sum for every child brought to the orphanage, that is, in plain words established a kind of purchase system, encouraging the less scrupulous Chinese middlemen to kidnap children� Naturally, the Chinese public was greatly agitated by the procedure.�36 The matter was represented to the Imperial Commissioner who took it up with the French consul.  The consul resisted enquiry by a committee of the Chinese and fired at the mob which had collected outside the orphanage.  The consul was murdered and the Cathedral as well as the orphanage was destroyed.  The French threatened war and were supported by the British, the Americans, the Russians and the Italians.  The situation was saved by the Franco-Prussian war in Europe in which the French were defeated.37

 

The Boxer war gave an opportunity to the Christian missions to acquire monopoly over education in China.  The Treaty that followed �provided for the suspension of official examinations for five years in towns where foreigners had been molested - a device meant to give a chance to the missionary educated young men and Christians to be employed in service��38 In the next ten years the missionaries established a monopoly over education in China.  Missionary education in turn created spiritual chaos.  Instead of a Chinese renaissance based on Confucianism or Buddhism what followed was a basically antireligious movement - the Chinese New Tide which paved the way for �penetration of revolutionary ideas of Marxism�.  The leader of the New Tide, Chen.  Tu-hsiu, became in due course the founder of the original Communist Party of China.39

 

Christian hopes in China revived when Sun Yat-sen, a Christian, emerged as the leader of the Chinese Republic after the overthrow of the Manchus in 1911. �But he showed that he was more interested in the greatness and welfare of China than in the promotion of Christianity.  The disappointment which Sun Yat-sen felt at the attitude of the Christian powers of the West and the influence which the October Revolution in Russia exercised on him led him away further and further from the missionaries to whom he had at one time looked for support.  Moreover, the rising tide of nationalism, against unequal treaties and against imperialism, was unfavourable to Christianity The Anti-Christian Federation founded in Shanghai in 1922 asserted that Christianity was an ally of capitalism and imperialism and thus an instrument for oppression of weaker nations.�40

 

Seventy years of sustained missionary effort for Christianizing China had inflicted great damage on Chinese society and culture.  The missionaries had also helped the Western powers in destroying the political system of China.  �Anarchical conditions in China were expected to be favourable to missionary hopes.  Anarchical conditions did come about in Chinese society, but the beneficiaries were others.�41

Indo-China

 

Christian missionary intrusion in Indo-China started with the activities of Alexander de Rhodes, a Jesuits who started work among Japanese Christian refugees (1662-27).  But his success was not significant.  His appeal to the Pope for support bore no fruit.  The newly established Mission Estrangers in France (1659), however, provided help.  �Some businessmen in Rouen had established a society for the double purpose of trade and religion.  It was in their ship that Bishop Lambert, selected by Father Alexander de Rhodes for the mission, reached Tongking in the guise of a merchant (1662).  The Trinh monarchs of Tongking however showed no desire to welcome missionary activity� The Dutch soon succeeded in destroying the French factory at Tongking, and the local people remained indifferent to the new religion.  So there was nothing to report for nearly a century.� It was only in 1765 that Pigneau de Behaine of the Mission Estrangers arrived in Cochin China.  The Nguen King of Hue was in exile at this time.  Behaine fitted out an expedition and restored him to his throne.  But Behaine died soon after (1779).  Meanwhile, the Revolution had broken out in France and the mission could expect no help from the mother country.  By the time of the Bourbon restoration in France �the new Emperor of Annam, Minh Mang, had become very hostile to Christian activity.  In 1848 Emperor Tu-Doc declared the religion of Jesus to be a �perverse religion� and ordered ministers of this religion to be thrown into the sea.�42

 

Tu-Duc�s hostility to Christianity provided an excuse to Napoleon III of France.  He decided to use force.  In a communique published on 14 November 1858, he announced that �ruthless persecutions of our missionaries have brought our warships on more than one than occasion to the coast of the Annamite Kingdom�.  The Spaniards in the Philippines came out in support of the French expedition, �the commander-in-chief emphasizing the necessity �to avenge the insults to our sacred religion and our pious missionaries�.�43

 

The struggle between Tu-Duc and the French continued for fifteen years.  The Annamite King appealed to China for help and the French suffered a defeat.  But the relief was temporary.  In the end Tu-Duc had to come to terms with France.  He signed a treaty in 1874 ceding Cochin China to France and opening the Red River to French commerce.  �This treaty� brought into existence the political structure of Indo-China with its separate areas of Cochin China, the Empire of Annam, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Principality of Laos.�44

The cultural resistance offered by Buddhism and Confucianism in Cambodia, Laos and Annam proved to be weak and not very widespread.  The missionaries had a field day.  The social system showed signs of breakdown everywhere.  Nor was there a strong national movement in this region till after the First World War.  �When that movement started, the Russian Revolution had already become a major factor in Eastern Asia, and therefore from the beginning the new nationalism of Indo-China had a Marxist bias, which later developed into Communist leadership.�45

Slam (Thailand)

 

Siam was able to resist Western pressures for unequal treaties till 1855 when the changed position in China and the British annexation of a part of Burma persuaded her to negotiate with Britain.  �Sir John Bowring, who negotiated the treaty of 1855, was able to secure the principle of extra-territoriality for British subjects, permission to build churches and exemption of all duty for import of opium.�46 France also found pretexts for using strong arm methods and acquired some sort of extraterritorial rights for all her Asian subjects by a treaty signed in 1893.  But rivalry between France and Britain enabled Siam to maintain her independence as a buffer state.  The greatest factor which came to the rescue of Siam, however, was a succession of strong and able kings who introduced reforms and revived native culture.47 Missionary activity had but little impact on the people in Siam due to the strength and vitality of the Buddhist Church.  �The monarch of Siam assumed the title of the Defender of the Buddhist Faith in imitation of the British King�s title.  The conservative but generally enlightened policy followed by the monarchy during the critical period between 1870 and 1920 had the effect of getting Siam through the transition without violent tumult and a disorganization of society, so that in the period following the First [World] War she was enabled to recover her natural independence in full by the gradual abolition, through negotiations, of the rights of extraterritoriality which the foreign nations possessed.�48

Burma

 

Burma after its annexation by the British remained a part of India till 1937 so that the rise of Indian nationalism had a strong impact on Burmese nationalism.  Though Buddhism had ceased to be the state religion of Burma after its annexation, its influence amongst the people was not seriously affected.  Nationalist leaders in Burma had to profess to be devout Buddhists to gain popular support.  �An instance of this was the case of Dr. Ba Maw, who was baptized as a Christian in his childhood; when he had become a prominent national figure, he declared that he had returned to the mother (Buddhist) church.�49  Missionary activity in Burma was able to affect neither its social structure nor its religion except among the Karens, the backward tribals.  �There was thus considerable missionary sympathy for Karen separatism - a movement which was at one stage a major threat to the cause of Burmese independence.�50

Missionary Response to Panikkar

 

The message that Panikkar had tried to convey to Asians in general and to his own countrymen in particular was that the history of Christianity surveyed by him was a running commentary on the imperialist character of the Christian doctrine.  But the Brown Sahibs who had taken over from the British - the politicians and the intellectual�s elite in India - failed to grasp his message and ignored his monumental study altogether.  On the other hand, the missionaries were up in arms against him.  �To prove his point,� they said, �Panikkar picks and chooses historical facts and then deals with them one-sidedly.� But none of them came out with facts which could redeem or even counterbalance those. presented by Panikkar.  Efforts to explain them away or put another interpretation on them, also remained a poor exercise.  Fr. Jerome D�Souza had jibed, �A very fine narrative Mr. Panikkar, but you must not call it history.�51 But he or his missionary colleagues never bothered to tell what was that history which Panikkar had not taken into account.  Subsequent Christian writings show that the missionaries have never been able to stop smarting from the hurt caused by Panikkar�s book.  They have also learnt a lesson, namely, that the Christian doctrine has to be salvaged from the history it had created.  By now there is a plethora of Christian literature which bemoans the �colonial handicap� which has stood in the way of Jesus scoring over Rama and Krishna and the Buddha.  And there has been a determined and sustained effort to present to the Indian people what Stanley Jones has named as the �disentangled Christ�.

 



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THE NIYOGI COMMITTEE

 

The appointment of the Committee was announced on April 16, 1954 by a press note of the Government of Madhya Pradesh which said, �Representations have been made to Government from time to time that Christian Missionaries either forcibly or through fraud and temptations of monetary and other gain convert illiterate aboriginals and other backward people thereby offending the feelings of non-Christians.  It has further been represented that Missions are utilised directly or indirectly for purposes of extra-religious objectives.  The Christian Missionaries have repudiated these allegations and have asserted on the other hand that their activities are confined solely to religious propaganda and towards social, medical and educational work.  The Missionaries have further alleged that they are being harassed by non-Christian people and local officials.  As agitation has been growing on either side, the State Government consider it desirable in the public interest to have a thorough inquiry made into the whole question through an impartial Committee.�52

 

The Government of Madhya Pradesh had to take notice of the agitation worked up by Christian missionaries.  It had already led to violence in the adjoining States merged with Orissa.  The missionaries had become too powerful in Madhya Pradesh to be ignored any longer.  �It must be noticed,� recorded the Committee, �that about 30 different Missions are working in Madhya Pradesh with varying number of centres in each district.  Almost the entire Madhya Pradesh is covered by Missionary activities and there is hardly any district where a Mission of one denomination or the other is not operating in some form or the other.  More than half the people of Madhya Pradesh (57.4 percent) consist of members of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes and it is amongst these that Missionary activities are mostly confined.�53

 

The Committee had seven members including the Chairman, Dr. Bhawani Shankar Niyogi, retired Chief Justice of the Nagpur High Court.  Mr. K.C. George, a professor in the Commerce College at Wardha, represented the Christian community.  It started by studying the material in government files.  As a result it was led to enlarge its terms of reference to include political and extra-religious activities also.  �The material gathered in the initial stages of the enquiry revealed to the Committee that its significance far transcended the bounds of any one country or region in the world and that it was calculated to have worldwide repercussions.  That compelled the Committee to view the subject as an integral part of a larger picture on the broad canvas of world history.  The Committee had to consult a number of published books, pamphlets and periodicals for determining the nature and form of their recommendations.�54

 

The terms of reference enabled the Committee to evolve a Questionnaire which was sent to such individuals and organisations as could help in the investigation.  It received 385 replies to the Questionnaire, 55 from Christians and 330 from non-Christians.  Besides, the Committee toured 14 districts in which it visited 77 centres, contacted 11,360 persons, and received 375 written statements.  Hospitals, schools, churches, leper homes, hostels, etc., maintained by various missions were among the Christian institutions visited by the Committee.  The persons interviewed came from 700 villages.

 

�In all these places,� recorded the Committee, �there was unanimity as regards the excellent service rendered by the Missionaries in the fields of education and medical relief.  But on the other hand there was a general complaint from the non-Christian side that the schools and hospitals were being used as means of securing converts.  There was no disparagement of Christianity or of Jesus Christ, and no objection to the preaching of Christianity and even to conversions to Christianity.  The objection was to the illegitimate methods alleged to be adopted by the Missionaries for this purpose, such as offering allurements of free education and other facilities to children attending their schools, adding some Christian names to their original Indian names, marriages with Christian girls, money-lending, distributing Christian literature in hospitals and offering prayers in the wards of indoor patients.  Reference was also made to the practice of the Roman Catholic priests or preachers visiting newborn babies to give �ashish� (blessings) in the name of Jesus, taking sides in litigation or domestic quarrels, kidnapping of minor children and abduction of women and recruitment of labour for plantations in Assam or Andaman as a means of propagating the Christian faith among the ignorant and illiterate people.  There was a general tendency to suspect some ulterior political or extra-religious motive, in the influx of foreign money for evangelistic work in its varied forms.  The concentration of Missionary enterprise on the hill tribes in remote and inaccessible parts of the forest areas and their mass conversion with the aid of foreign money were interpreted as intended to prepare the ground for a separate independent State on the fines of Pakistan.�55

 

To start with, Christian missions put up a show of co-operation with the Committee.  But they realized very soon that the Committee was well-informed and meant business.  �The authorities and members of the Roman Catholic Church cooperated with the Committee in their exploratory tours in Raigarh, Surguja, Bilaspur, Raipur and Nimar districts.  Shri G. X. Francis, President of the Catholic Regional Council, and Shri P. Lobo, Advocate, High Court, Nagpur, associated themselves with the Committee.  But subsequently the Catholic Church withdrew its co-operation, not only filing statement of protest, but also moving the High Court for a Mandamus Petition (Miscellaneous Petition No. 263 of 1955).�56

 

The Petition was dismissed by the High Court on April 12, 1956, �holding that it was within the competence of the State Government to appoint a fact-finding Committee to collect information and that there had been no infringement of any fundamental rights of the petitioner.� At the same time the High Court made some adverse remarks about certain questions in the Questionnaire.  The Committee considered the remarks and �informed the petitioner and the public that none of the questions represented either the views of the Committee or any individual member thereof and our anxiety to have information on various points was due to our desire to find out to what extent, if any, could any activity be considered to infringe the limits of public order, morality and health imposed by the Constitution.�57

 

The Report of the Committee, published in July 1956, presented the �history of Christian missions with special reference to the old Madhya Pradesh and Merged States.�58 Coming to the agitation for Jharkhand, it gave the background.  �The separatist tendency,� it said, �that has gripped the mind of the aboriginals under the influence of the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Missions is entirely due to the consistent policy pursued by the British Government and the Missionaries.  The final segregation of the aborigines in the Census of 1931 from the main body of the Hindus considered along with the recommendations of the Simon Commission which were incorporated in the Government of India Act, 1935 apparently set the stage for the demand of a separate State of Jharkhand on the lines of Pakistan.�59

 

The subsequent formation of the Adiwasi Mahasabha and the Jharkhand Party followed in stages as the separatist forces gathered strength.  �This attempt of the Adiwasis,� observed the Report, �initiated by the Christian section thereof is a feature which is common to the developments in Burma, Assam and Indo-China among the Karens, Nagas and Amboynes.  This is attributed to the spirit of religious nationalism awakened among the converted Christians as among the followers of other religions.  But the idea of change of religion as bringing about change of nationality appears to have originated in the Missionary circles� Thus while the Census officer isolates certain sections of the people from the main bodies, the Missionaries by converting them give them a separate nationality so that they may demand a separate State for themselves.�60

 

Next, the Report considered �Christian postwar world policy,�61 and quoted from several Christian sources.  The aim of this policy in India was threefold: �(1) to resist the progress of national unity� (2) to emphasise the difference in the attitude towards the principle of coexistence between India and America� (3) to take advantage of the freedom accorded by the Constitution of India to the propagation of religion, and to create a Christian party in the Indian democracy on lines of the Muslim League ultimately to make out a claim for a separate State, or at least to create a �militant minority�.�62

 

The newly adopted Constitution of India, according to the Committee, had encouraged the controllers of Christian missions in Europe Ad America to concentrate on India.  �Although Europe itself,� observed the Report, �required �re-Evangelisation and re-Christianisation� because of the spread of the Gospel of Communism according to Marx, the W.C.C.63 and I.M.C.64 turned their attention to India and other colonial countries.  They were encouraged by the promulgation of our Constitution which set up a secular State with liberty to propagate any religion in the country.  They noted that the Churches in India were growing steadily in number partly by natural increase, partly from evangelisation and that the mass or community movements to Christianity did not die out though slowed down, but that the spiritual life of the congregation was low and that the Indian Church lacked economic maturity.  Though India has the most highly organised National Christian Council it had to be largely paid for from abroad.  Even the institutional activities of Missions, viz., schools, colleges and hospitals were dependent upon foreign support.  Even the ordinary congregational life and pastoral duty still required some form of foreign aid.�65

 

The Report surveyed the state of religious liberty in various countries in the past and at present.  It cited High Court judgements in India to the effect that religious liberty is �not an absolute protection to be interpreted and applied independently of other provisions of the Constitution.�66 Then it turned to �missionary activities in Madhya Pradesh since independence as disclosed by oral and documentary evidence.�67 This was the most substantial as well as the most revealing part of the Report.  It laid bare what the Christian Missions had been doing not only in Madhya Pradesh but all over India in the name of exercising religious liberty.

 

There was a detailed account of �how this programme of mass proselytisation was inspired and financed by foreigners�68 and how the paid pracharaks of various missions had canned out in the rural and tribal areas.  The pracharaks were particularly noticeable in the erstwhile Native States which had kept missionary operations under control before their merger in Madhya Pradesh.  �It is thus indisputably clear,� recorded the Report, �that financial assistance from abroad had been extended in far more liberal manner than even before the Constitution of India was promulgated, and that it is mainly with this help that Mission organisations are carrying on proselytisation amongst backward tribes, especially in areas freshly opened.�69

 

This greatly extended scale of missionary operations was dressed up ideologically in a new theological concept.  �It may be recalled,� commented the Report, �that the expression �Partnership in Obedience� came into vogue at the meeting of the Committee of the International Missionary Council held at Whitby in 1947 (page 94, World Christian Handbook, 1952) and it has a bearing on the expression �need of particular churches to be rooted in the soil and yet supranational in their witness and obedience� (page 29, ibid.). These particular churches are in the old Mission fields �which are touched by new nationalisms independent in temper and organisation and yet needing help from other churches� (page 29, ibid.). The expression �Partnership in Obedience� was being interpreted variously and it was after discussion at a meeting of the Lutheran World Federation Executive and also of the Executive of the World Council of Churches held at Geneva in 1951, that it came to be interpreted as implying full and unreserved co-operation between the old and the younger churches in the effort of extending the Kingdom of God.�70 In plain language, the pompous proclamation meant that missions and churches in Europe and America which provided the finance would continue to plan, direct and control missionary activities in India.

 

The Report quoted Christian sources to show the extent to which Christianity in India was dependent on foreign finance.  Rolland Allan had written in his book, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, published in 1949, that �it is money, money everywhere, all the time, everything depends on money.� In another book, Missionary Methods: St. Paul�s or Our�s, published by the same author in 1953, he had felt �sad to sit and watch a stream of Christian visitors calling upon a Missionary and to observe that in nearly every case the cause which brings them is money.� Christianity in the Indian Crucible by Dr. E. Asirvatham had been published in 1955.  �One chief reason,� he had observed, �why Indian Christians in general still welcome foreign Missionaries is economy; it is an open secret that the Indian Church is not yet out of the swaddling clothes, so far as its economic support is concerned.  To give an extreme illustration only Rs. 6,000 of the total income of Rs. 1,12,500 of the National Christian Council of India� is from Indian sources and the rest comes from the Mission Boards abroad.�71 It was curious that Christianity was presented as a two-thousand years old banyan tree when it came to its right to spread its tentacles, and as a tender seedling when it came to its capacity for growing up on its own.

 

The Report provided details of how much had been contributed by which Western country to the total of Rs. 29.27 crores received by Christian missions in India from January 1950 to June 1954: 
 

Country
Amount in Rs.
U.S.A.
20,68,63,000
U.K.
4,83,89,000
Canada
1,67,56,000
Sweden
64,41,000
Denmark
33,91,000
Norway
27,97,000
Rest of Sterling Area
25,29,000
Switzerland
15,77,000
Aid from non-Sterling Area
14,72,000
Germany
11,72,000
France
7,61,000
Belgium
6,47,000
  
 
2,90,27,00072

 

The Report revealed that the bulk of this foreign money received ostensibly for maintaining �educational and medical institutions� was spent on proselytization.  �It has been contended,� said the Report, �that most of the amount is utilised for creating a class of professional proselytisers, both foreign as well as Indian.  We have not been able to get the figures of the salaries which the foreign Missionaries receive for their service in India.  Only Rev. Hartman (Amravati No. 1) was pleased to declare that his salary was 63 dollars per month paid from Rome, plus free quarters and vehicle allowance.  One can have some idea of the scale of salaries of American Missionaries from the fact that in the American Evangelical and Reformed Church there are 28 Missionaries on the India roll and under the head of Missionary salaries and appurtenances the figure comes to 90,072,23 dollars (American Evangelistic and Reformed Church Blue Book, 1955, pages 56,60).  They are supplied with well-furnished bungalows, and they command resources in vehicles and other things.�73 At the same time it noted a great disparity between the scales of salaries and allowances paid to foreign missionaries on the one hand and to their native mercenaries on the other.

 

There were 480 foreign missionaries working in Madhya Pradesh at that time.  Out of them as many as 236 were Americans.  The Report gave a count of foreign missionaries, Americans and others, stationed in the 22 districts of the then Madhya Pradesh.  �Besides those,� it added, �included in the number given by the National Christian Council in the Christian Handbook of India 1954-55, it appears from the statement of Rev. R.C. Das that there is a large number of unattached evangelists.  Rev. Das�s statement receives support from the remark made in the Compiler�s introduction to the Christian Hand-Book of India 1954-55 that the increased personnel has occurred in the smaller Missions most of which do not yet have any organised Churches.�74

 

The methods of proselytisation had remained the same as in days of old.  The Report gave concrete instances of how mission schools were used to influence the minds of young people.  Harijan and �Adivasi� students came in for special attention.  They were �given free boarding, lodging and books� provided they attended Christian prayers.  Bible classes were made compulsory by treating as absent for the whole day those students who failed to be present in those classes.  School celebrations were used for showing the victory of the cross over all other symbols.  Hospitals were used for putting pressure on poor class patients to embrace Christianity.  The richest harvest, however, was reaped in mission orphanages which collected orphans during famines and other natural calamities such as floods and earthquakes.  �No wonder,� observed the Report, �that the largest number of converts are from such backward classes living in areas where due to various causes only Mission schools and hospitals exist.  Most conversions have been doubtless insincere admittedly brought about in expectation of social service benefits and other material considerations.�75

 

Another device employed for proselytisation was money-lending.  Roman Catholic missions had specialised in this field.  Poor people often approached the local missionary for loans which were written off if the debtor became a convert; otherwise he had to repay it with interest which were often found difficult.  Protestant missionaries and others cited before the Committee instances of how this method worked.  One of the conditions forgetting a loan, for instance, was that the recipient agreed to chop off the topknot (choti), the symbol of his being a Hindu.  �Some of the people,� the Report noted, �who had received loans were minors and casual labourers.  It also appeared that when one member of a family had taken a loan, all the other members of that family were entered in the book as potential converts.  The rate of interest charged was 10 per cent and in a large number of cases examined, one year�s interest was deducted in advance.  On being questioned, the people without any hesitation, said that their only purpose in going to the Mission had been to get money; and all said that without the lure of money none would have sought to become Christian.�76 Some other allurements such as the �promise of gift of salt, plough, bullocks and even milk powder received from abroad� were used to the same effect.77

 

There were several other ways of attracting converts.  For instance, the new converts were employed as pracharaks on salaries ranging from Rs. 40/- to Rs. 100/- per month.  This by itself proved an attractive proposition to those who were not in a position or qualified to earn even Rs. 20/-.  Christians working in various government departments were exhorted and expected to participate in the game.  Those who did not help were cursed in missionary publications.  Christians placed in higher positions and missionaries who became influential members of the Janapad Sabhas put pressure on junior officers for influencing people in favour of Christianity.

 

The Report also noted �various methods of propagating Christianity.�78 Missionary publications �attacked idol worship in rather offensive terms.� Dramas in which idol worship was ridiculed were performed in schools and elsewhere.  Songs to the same effect were composed and sung.  Rama was �described as a God who destroyed Ravan and was contrasted with Jesus who died for the wicked.� Methods evolved for conveying Christianity in Hindu cultural forms were also in evidence.  Some of them were plainly dishonest, as for instance, �the expression occurring in Tulsidas�s Ramayan, viz.  �Gidapujan� was interpreted to the people as �Girjaghar� i.e., a Church.�79 But, on the whole, preference was given to vicious attacks on Hinduism, which was held up as a false religion.  �Such virulent and sinister attacks on Hinduism,� observed the Report, �are in no way a departure from the manner which characterised the Christian preaching in the past, which Gandhiji referred to, particularly Bishop Heber�s famous hymn, �where every prospect pleases and only man is vile�.�80 

 

The Report contained a section on Mass Conversions brought about by material inducements.  �If conversion is an individual act,� it noted, �one would expect deep thought and study of the particular religion one wanted to embrace.  But what we have found is groups of illiterate Adivasis, with families and children getting their topknots cut and being shown as Christians.  Most of them do not know even the rudiments of the new religion... The Government has supplied us with a list of persons recently converted in the Surguja district after the promulgation of the Constitution.  A perusal thereof will show that about 4000 Uraons were converted in two years.  Persons of varying ages from 60 years to 1 year are shown as converts and the list includes women and children also.  We have met many Uraons in the course of our tours and we were struck very much by their total absence of religious feeling.�81

 

The Committee had �reliable information that Mission organisations possess upto-date records of Baptisms.�82 But they refused to produce these records.  �It would not be unsafe,� concluded the Report, �to presume that the reluctance on the part of the Roman Catholic Mission organisations to produce such evidence was in no small measure due to the fear of the Truth being out� As a rule, groups have been converted, and we find �individual conversion� has been an exception rather than the rule.  We have come across cases of individual conversions only of persons who are village leaders and they have invariably been followed by �Mass conversions� of the entire village soon after.  We have not found it possible to accept the contention that the immediate material prosperity of these converted leaders bore no causal relation to their conversions.�83

 

The Report expressed the view that conversions led directly to denationalisation.  Greetings such as �Ram Ram� and �Jai Hind� were substituted with �Jai Yeshu�.  �The idea of the unique Lordship of Christ,� recorded the Report, �is propagated in rural areas by the exhibition of the film �King of Kings�, which we had the pleasure of witnessing at Buldana.  The supremacy of the Christian flag over the National flag of India was also depicted in the drama which was staged in a school at Jabaipur.�84 The missionary paper, Nishkalanka, had written, �Why does India desire that Portugal which has been exercising sovereignty for 400 years over Goa should surrender it?  The fact is that a large majority of residents of Goa are quite contented with their present condition.  Only a handful of Goans resident in Goa and in India are shouting for the merger of Goa with India.  This attitude is not justified and those who are following this course are giving unrighteous lead to India.�85 The missions thus sided with Western imperialism and pooh-poohed India�s aspiration to reclaim national territory under foreign occupation.

 

Finally, the Report found no substance in the Christian complaint that the Government of Madhya Pradesh was following a policy of discrimination against Christians.  �The Government of Madhya Pradesh,� it said, �have throughout followed a policy of absolute neutrality and non-interference in matters concerning religion and allegations of discrimination against Christians and harassment of them by Government officials have not been established.  Such allegations have been part of the old established policy of the Missions to overawe local authority and to carry on propaganda in foreign countries.�86

 

The Report was quite clear in its larger perceptions.  �Evangelisation in India,� it said, �appears to be part of the uniform world policy to revive Christendom for re-establishing Western supremacy and is not prompted by spiritual motives.  The objective is to disrupt the solidarity of the non-Christian societies, and the mass conversion of a considerable section of Adivasis with this ulterior motive is fraught with danger to the security of the State.�87 The Christian missions were making a deliberate and determined �attempt to alienate Indian Christian Community from their nation.�88 The Community was most likely to become a victim of foreign manipulations in times of crisis.89 The history of the Christian missions provided ample proof that religion had been used for political purposes.90 Evangelization was not a religious philosophy but a force for politicisation.91 The Church in India was not independent but accountable to those who paid for its upkeep.  The concept of �Partnership in Obedience� which covered the flow of foreign finances to the Church was of a piece with the strategy of Subsidiary Alliances which the East India Company had employed earlier for furthering and consolidating its conquests.92And conversions were nothing but politics by other means.93

 

The recommendations made by the Report followed logically from these perceptions.  It recommended that (1) those missionaries whose primary object is proselytisation should be asked to withdraw and the large influx of foreign missionaries should be checked; (2) the use of medical and other professional services as a direct means of making conversions should be prohibited by law; (3) attempts to convert by force or fraud or material inducements, or by taking advantage of a person�s inexperience or confidence or spiritual weakness or thoughtlessness, or by penetrating into the religious conscience of persons for the purpose of consciously altering their faith, should be absolutely prohibited; (4) the Constitution of India should be amended in order to rule out propagation by foreigners and conversions by force, fraud and other illicit means; (5) legislative measures should be enacted for controlling conversion by illegal means; (6) rules relating to registration of doctors, nurses and other personnel employed in hospitals should be suitably amended to provide a condition against evangelistic activities during professional service; and (7) circulation of literature meant for religious propaganda without approval of the State Government should be prohibited.94

 



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Storm in Missionary Circles

 

The Report which was accompanied by two volumes of documentation raised a storm in missionary circles in India and abroad.  The missions were in no position to dispute the facts presented or contest the conclusions arrived at by the Enquiry Committee.  All they could do was to raise the spectre of �Hindu communalism� and warn against the �danger of Hindu Raj�.  It was said that �members of Hindu Mahasabha had begun to wield considerable influence� in the Government of Madhya Pradesh and that �their aim was to make one Hindu state out of India.�95

 

The fact of missions in India seeking financial and other aids from missions abroad was equated with the Government of India seeking �foreign technical knowledge and the assistance of friends from many European and American countries in the development of the nation-building activities.� The replacement of foreign missionaries was found impossible as the Government of India had �found impossible to replace foreign personnel with Indian personnel.�96 It was promised that �in the not distant future the coming of missionaries from abroad into India will be matched by the going out of Indian missionaries from this country.�97 The logic was quite in keeping with the way the Church in India had come to look at itself.

 

If this self-image of the Church as a State within the State looked pretentious to some people, it could be accounted for only by their tendency towards totalitarianism.  �There is a striking contrast,� wrote a leading theologian, M. M. Thomas, �between the democratic idea of the State and the totalitarian idea of the State which is both implicit and explicit in the Recommendations of the Niyogi Report� The philosophy of State underlying the Report and advocated by it is unashamedly totalitarian.  It therefore is a matter of vital concern to every one in this country whether Christian or non-Christian who believes in democracy.�98 The test of a state being democratic was that it recognised and honoured �supranational loyalties�.  In support of his proposition Dr. Thomas quoted Mahatma Gandhi who had �recognized truth and non-violence as realities demanding loyalty above the nation,� and President Soekarno of Indonesia who had �stated that Nationalism should be limited by Humanism�.99 Thus servility to foreign financiers and controllers of missions in India became transformed into loyalty to universal moral values!  �In deploring this,� concluded Dr. Thomas, �and characterising supranationalism as �extraterritoriality�, the Niyogi Report has shown the kinship of its ideology with totalitarian Facism.�100

 

The missions also tried to rally support from some persons of public standing in India.  Dr. Hare Krishna Mahtab, then Governor of Bombay, obliged them readily.  �We should not think,� he said, �of closing our doors to anyone.  If we think in terms of exclusiveness, we shall not make any progress.�101 But they found a hard nut in C. Rajagopalachari.  �It seems,� he wrote to a foreign missionary, �you expect from me an expression of my views on the specific question: What type of missionary workers are wanted in India, rather than on the question whether any missionary workers should come at all to India? I shall respectfully speak my opinion on the latter point. I feel it is not really possible on the ground of logic or on the evidence of miracles to hold that amongst the religions known as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, anyone is nearer the truth than any other.  You will permit me to object to the exclusive claims for Truth made on behalf of any one of these faiths.  If this my first point is granted, the only justification for missionary work is proselytism.  But is it good on the whole for men and women to change from one religion to another? I think it is not desirable to make any effort at proselytism.  I feel that such efforts undermine the present faith of the people, which is good enough for promoting right conduct in them and to deter them from sin. They tend to destroy family and social harmony, which is not a good thing to do.�102

 

Rajagopalachari was repeating the views expressed very often and very forcefully by Mahatma Gandhi.  But the men who ran the Government in New Delhi could not afford to defend the Father of the Nation.  They had to defend their Secularism and Democracy which had come under shadow in the powerful Christian press in India and abroad.  They found the recommendations of the Niyogi Report �in discordance with the fundamental rights of the Constitution� and �the Report was shelved.�103

 

The Government of India�s stand vis-a-vis the Report became clear within two months after its publication.  In September 1956, �a question was raised in the Parliament about an alleged increase in the anti-Indian activities on the part of foreign Christian missionaries.� The Minister of State for Home Affairs, B: N. Datar, came promptly to their defence.  �There is no factual basis,� he said, �for the assumption made in the question, according to the information available with the Government of India.� At the same time he affirmed that �no steps would be taken to check the work of foreign missionaries.�104

OM PRAKASH TYAGI�S BILL

 

Om Prakash Tyagi was a Janata Party Member of Lok Sabha elected after the Emergency (1975-77) in 1977.  On 2 December 1978, he introduced in the Lok Sabha Bill No. 178 of 1978 under the title THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION BILL, 1978 �to provide for prohibition on conversion from one religion to another by use of force, or inducement or by fraudulent means and for matters incidental there to�.  The Draft of the bill was dated �New Delhi, The 21st November, 1978�.

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS in the Bill stated as follows:

One of the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution is the right to profess, practice and propagate religion of one�s choice.

 

Conversion from one religion to another, done by free consent and will, cannot be questioned.  But State protection is required where it is sought to be obtained by threat, undue influence, allurement or wrongful inducement.  The importance of providing this protection to persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is all the more necessary and cannot be ignored.  The policy of the State should be directed to achieve this aim.

The Bill had 8 sections of which the first two dealt with definitions.  The other relevant sections were as under:

3. No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religious faith to another by the use of force or by inducement or by deceit or by any fraudulent means nor shall any person abet any such conversion.

 

4. Any person contravening the provision in section 3 shall without prejudice to any civil liability, be punishable with imprisonment of either description which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to three thousand rupees or both:

Provided that in case the offence is committed in respect of a minor, woman or a person belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, the punishment shall be imprisonment to the extent of two years and a fine up to five thousand rupees. 

5. An offence under this Act shall be cognisable and shall not be investigated by an officer below the rank of an Inspector of Police.

 

8. The Central Government may make rules for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act.

The Bill followed the pattern of Bills passed by the Congress Governments of Orissa (1967), Madhya Pradesh (1968) and Arunachal Pradesh (1977) following the recommendations of the Niyogi and Rege Committees to the effect that activities of foreign Christian missionaries in these States had to be restrained.  Christian organizations had challenged in the Supreme Court the Orissa and Madhya Pradesh Acts as unconstitutional.  But the Supreme Court had dismissed their appeal in 1977.  Now the same organizations were up in arms once again.105

 

The first shot was fired by Mother Teresa in a letter she wrote to Prime Minister Morarji Desai on 25 March 1979.  The text of the letter is not available to us.  But its substance comes out in the reply which Desai wrote to her on 21 April 1979.  She appears to have protested against the Bill as a hurdle in the way of charitable and philanthropic activities of the Christian missions.  She seems to have pointed out at the same time that the Roman Catholics were always engaged in praying, fasts and celebration of sacrifices made in the interests of peace, communal amity and religious freedom.  Desai wrote back, �If charity and philanthropy is not connected with any ulterior motive, they are beneficial.  But charity and conversions cannot go together.  Religion prospers only when charity and philanthropy are undertaken without any motive.  The Bill you have mentioned does not affect adversely the propagation of religion.  In fact, the Bill is an attempt to see that the poor and illiterate may enjoy religious freedom without any fear.  We have to be particularly vigilant about the Scheduled Tribes whose protection is not only guaranteed by the laws of the land but is also enshrined in the Constitution.  It is our duty to preserve every aspect of their way of life along with their religion and ways of worship.  No group belonging to any creed should interfere with their religion and rituals.  Other organizations are also engaged in the philanthropic work which you claim.  But that work can be helpful only when it is done without any ulterior motive.  It is my opinion that you should revise your attitude to O.P. Tyagi�s Bill in the light of what I have stated.�106

 

Meanwhile, Morarji Desai had met 36 delegations in Pune on 31 March 1979 and received their memoranda in connection with the Bill.  He explicitly rejected the plea of the Christian delegation that the Bill which provided for prohibition of conversions by force should be withdrawn.  He told Father Valerian D�Souza who was leading the Christian delegation that he saw nothing objectionable in the Bill.  At the same time he gave the assurance that he would study the Bill thoroughly and try to remove the misgivings felt by its opponents.

 

Another delegation which met him was from the Masur Ashram and the Patit Pavan.  They demanded that the Bill be passed.  Desai assured them that they (his Government) are in favour of the Bill and no one should have the apprehension that the Government would bend before any tactics of pressure.  Kaka Joshi of Masur Ashram congratulated the Prime Minister for the courage he had shown in the matter of conversions.  Joshi said that he was the first Prime Minister to adopt that attitude.107

 

Leading newspapers wrote editorials and published articles in support of the Bill.  Two retired High Court Judges issued statements to the same effect.  N. Krishnaswamy, former judge of the Madras High court, declared on 13 April 1979 that �This Bill is timely and Christians are only exposing themselves by opposing it�.  Shiv Nath Katju, former judge of the Allahabad High court, said on 29 April 1979: �The Bill should be passed immediately.  In days to come it will prove beneficial to all minority groups including the Christians.�108

 

Various Hindu organizations also passed resolutions endorsing the Bill.  The Hyderabad session of the Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha held on 13 April 1979 appealed to all Sanatana Dharma Sabhas and organizations of Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists to hold meetings in support of the Bill and congratulate Prime Minister Morarji Desai for the firmness shown by him.  The four Shankaracharyas held a joint meeting at Sringeri and passed a resolution in support of the Bill.  Dr. Girdharilal Goswami, President of the Sanatana Dharma Maha Sammelan, issued a statement on 7 May 1979 saying that the Bill was in keeping with the secular policy as well as the Constitution of India, and that it will prove very helpful in stopping the large-scale conversion of Hindus by foreigners who were using material inducements as well as force for this purpose.109

 

Tyagi himself issued a statement in Hyderabad on 15 April 1979 stating that the Bill did not prevent anyone from propagating one�s religion nor came in the way of anyone changing one�s religion out of conviction.  If any group opposed such a just measure, he said, it only showed that it was guilty of committing offences specified in the Bill.  The only aim of the Bill, he added, was to protect the large number of socially and educationally poor people in such backward areas as the foreign missionaries had chosen for effecting conversions with the help of money and materials brought from abroad.  He cited the instance of 31,000 bales of cloth which had been imported by missionaries for distribution among the poor people in Madras but which had been sold surreptitiously and the proceeds utilized for other purposes.  The matter was under investigation, he said.110

 

The Hindu of Madras dated 29 April 1979 published a detailed report of a Press Conference which Tyagi had held in New Delhi on 27 April 1979.  After repeating the points he had made in his statement of 15 April 1979, he said that conversions by force naturally created tension between religious groups, and that such conversions had to be stopped in order to maintain- communal amity and national unity.  He added that it was only after religious tensions were brought to the notice of the Governments in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh that these Governments had felt obliged to enact Acts guaranteeing freedom of religion.  The Supreme Court, he said had judged these Acts as consistent with the Constitution.  His statement was followed by a question and answer session.  In answer to the first question he said that he was prepared to accept any amendment to the Bill provided it did not violate its spirit.  The Prime Minister Morarji Desai was in agreement with the intention of the Bill because he was opposed to conversions.  The second question was whether he would welcome a national debate on the subject.  Tyagi said he would welcome such a debate because he knew that all patriotic and intelligent people were in favour of the Bill, and that only those groups were opposed to it who were against national interests as well as their own long-term interests.  His observation in answer to a third question was that foreign missionaries who were entrenched in backward areas and among backward people were bent upon exploiting the poverty of our people and that the Government could exercise no control on the flow of foreign funds nor supervise use of those funds.  He added that ostensibly these funds were meant for opening schools but were actually used for some other purposes.  The fourth question demanded evidence about the misuse of foreign funds and materials.  Tyagi cited the Niyogi and Rege Committees� reports in this context.  The fifth question asked was why Christians were opposed to the Bill.  Tyagi�s answer was that he knew it for definite that there was a foreign hand at the back of this opposition and that conversions were politically motivated.  The spectre of Hindu Rashtra, he added, had been raised in order to frighten the minorities.  He assured the minorities that there was no ground for their misgivings so far as propagation of religion and genuine conversions were concerned.  The sixth question was regarding the need for concrete steps to remove the fear of the minorities.  Tyagi cited the Acts in Orissa and Madhya Pradesh and wanted to know instances of their being misused.  The fear felt by the minorities had no legs to stand upon.  The seventh and the last question was whether the Bill would not harm the Janata Party by causing division in its ranks.  Tyagi dismissed the question by saying that only power hungry and opportunist elements were talking about the harmful effect of the Bill on the Janata Party, and that the Bill should not be dropped due to fear of a temporary controversy if it was fundamentally a right step in the interest of the nation.111

 

It was, however, true that the Janata Party at this time was riven with sharp controversies, though not on account of Tyagi�s Bill.  It was also true that the Socialist group within the Janata Party led by George Femandez was demanding that the Bill be withdrawn.  The Communist Party of India could not miss the opportunity and raised the matter in the Lok Sabha.  The CPI Member, Bhupesh Gupta, alleged on the floor of the House on 3 May 1979 that there was widespread resentment against the Bill among various communities and that it had actually led to large-scale rioting in Jammu and Kashmir.  He pleaded that the Government should withdraw the Bill.  H.M. Patel, Home Minister in the Janata Party Government, clarified that Tyagi�s Bill was a Private Bill on which the Government had yet to make up its mind.  He added that the Government could not withdraw a Private Bill.  Regarding riots in Kashmir, Patel said that Tyagi�s Bill had nothing to do with them and that they had been caused by the hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan.112

 

A few months later the Janata Party split and the Morarji Government had to resign.  Tyagi�s Bill could not even be discussed in the Parliament.  It became infectious.  An opportunity for enacting an all-India legislation against conversions by force, fraudulent means and material inducements was missed.

ARUN SHOURIE

 

The Catholic Bishops� Conference of India (CBCI), the highest body of the Catholic Church in India, was celebrating its 50th anniversary in January 1994.  Arun Shourie, the noted scholar-journalist, was invited by the CBCI to give �Hindu assessment of the work of Christian missionaries� in a meeting held at the Ishvani Kendra Seminary at Pune on 5 January 1994.  Many Archbishops, Bishops, senior clergy and Christian scholars from all over India were present.  The meeting lasted for more than two hours.  His lecture was followed by a question and answer session.  Everyone present seemed to be pleased and Arun Shourie was invited to write a paper on his talk so that it could be included in a volume containing the proceedings of anniversary celebration.  He finished the paper pretty soon and sent it to the Secretary of the CBCI.

 

The CBCI had, however, used the occasion to review the work of the Catholic Church in India.  The discussions were guided by two documents prepared in advance - �Trends and Issues in Evangelization of India Based on the CBCI Survey Reports� and �Paths in India Today: Our Common Search [submitted by] CBCI Commission for Proclamation and Communication Working Group�.  Arun Shourie had received two sets of these documents - one which came to him in New Delhi along with the invitation for his lecture and another when he reached the venue of the meeting at Pune.

 

As he studied these documents, Arun Shourie felt that the paper he had sent to the CBCI had not done full justice to the subject.  So he delved deeper into the theology of Christianity and its history in India and studied a lot of primary material - the writings and speeches of important British administrators like T.B. Macaulay, Charles Trevelyan and Richard Temple; works of outstanding scholar-missionaries such as Max Muller and Monier-Williams; evidence tendered by leading Christian missionaries in 1853 before a Select Committee of the British Parliament regarding prospects of Christianity in India and the responsibility of the Christian ruling power in that context; report of the Simon Commission published in 1930; reports of the Rege and Niyogi Committees regarding missionary activities in Madhya Bharat and Madhya Pradesh published in 1956, etc.  At the same time he acquired an adequate knowledge of Hindu response to the missionary assault from the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi and the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda.  He also discovered that the earlier Hindu response had not only been silenced but actually reversed in the post-independence India so that India�s intellectual elite had started speaking the missionary language vis-à-vis Hinduism with a vengeance in the name of Secularism.  The result of this painstaking research was a whole book - Missionaries in India: Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas - published from New Delhi in 1994.

 

The starting point of Shourie�s review of Christianity was his grasp of the hoary Indian traditions which the Christian missionaries had chosen to calumniate and erase so that their own creed could be imposed on the people of this country.  �The traditions of India,� he wrote, �were rich as can be.  They had attained insights of the first water� And they were inclusive.  A person devoted to a tree was not traduced as an �animist�, a person devoted to a bull or an elephant, or a lion or a snake or even the lowly mouse was not laughed away.  The objects of his devotion were received with reverence - they became parts of a pantheon... Nor was this artifice.  The inclusiveness flowed from deep conviction, from what had been experienced at the deepest� But no one could impede reform by an appeal to �fundamentals�, for these, fundamentals made the individual�s own experience the ultimate referent.  That everything should reform and transform, the tradition regarded as natural.  Differences were harmonised through discourse��113

 

�But all this,� he continued, �the missionaries traduced.  The inclusiveness they condemned as a sinister stratagem to swallow up other religions.  The efflorescence of different speculations they condemned as cacophony.  The openness and tentativeness they condemned as intellectual flabbiness.  The inner directed search they condemned as morbid self-denial.  The offering of many ways they condemned as unsettled mush.  The many gods they condemned as chaos.  What had become the norm for Islam was made the norm for Christianity: freedom of speech meant the freedom to discover its glories� Asymmetry was the principle as in the case of Islam; conversion was held to be and acted upon as something that was an essential principle of Christianity; but when a person like Swami Shraddhananda argued in favour of taking back into the Hindu fold the converts who wanted to return, they were condemned as persons who were inventing a practice for which there was no warrant in Hinduism.�114

 

Why do the missionaries speak as they do?  Why do they fail to understand the richness of Indian traditions and appreciate its various dimensions?  Shourie answers the question after reproducing a dialogue between Mahatma Gandhi and Professor Krzenski, a Professor of Philosophy from Poland, who maintained that Christianity was the only true religion.  �For the position that Krzenski was articulating,� observes Shourie, �is the standard position, it is the ineluctable position that every adherent of a revelatory, millenniast religion must take.  The premises of such religions - of Christianity, of Islam, of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism - are that there is One Truth, that it has been revealed to One Man� that it has been enshrined by him or on his behalf in One Book� that the text is very difficult to grasp and therefore one must submit to and be guided by One (external, overarching) Agency... Now, as the Millennium shall come only when, but immediately when all accept the Revelation, it is the duty of the Agency� to see that everyone sees The Light.  If, even after The Light has been shown to a person he refuses to subscribe to it, he must be put out of harm�s way.  For in that circumstance the man is not only harming himself, he is coming in the way of the Mandate of God, of Allah�s Will, or as in Marxism, History... What must be done also follow inevitably from those premises: the Church must convert, Lenin and Mao must export the Revolution, Khomeini must export the Revelation.  These are inescapable responsibilities.�115

 

Coming to Christianity, Shourie continues, �Conversions have therefore been going on for 2000 years� An incredibly vast organization has been built up and incredibly huge resources are expanded to save souls.  It costs �145 billion dollars to operate global Christianity�, records a book on evangelization.  The Church commands four million full time Christian workers, it runs 13000 major libraries, it published 22000 periodicals, it publishes four billion tracts a year, it operates 1800 Christian Radio and TV stations.  It runs 1500 universities, and 930 research centres.  It has a quarter of a million foreign missionaries, and over four hundred institutions to train them.  And these are figures from a book published in 1989 - since then there has been the surge in Eastern Europe and Russia.�116

 

India has been a major target for Christian missions since the Portuguese pirates reached its shores.  Shourie quotes from the Mission Handbook: North American Ministries Overseas published in 1986.  �Today,� it says, �the most fruitful ministries are carried by more than 100,000 pastors, evangelists and preachers.  Full time Indian missionaries from organized societies increased from 420 in 1973 to 2941 societies in 1983.  These missionaries have seen remarkable growth in northern India in places such as Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Sikkim.  In Western India, Christian workers estimate that two new worship groups are formed every week through indigenous missionary effort.  The Indian Evangelist Team has set a goal of 2,000 new churches by the year 2000.  In Tamil Nadu, the Indian Church Growth Mission hopes to plant 1,000 churches in unreached villages.�117

 

The missions have stopped at nothing in what one of their own theologians describes as the �game of numbers�.  Shourie continues, �There are volumes upon volumes that document the way the Church has spread by violence - in North and South America.  The sudden jumps in the number of adherents during famines and other privations, testify to the use to which such times were put��118He mentions a chapter, �Spiritual Advantages of Famine and Cholera�, in a Catholic publication, India and Its Missions, brought out in 1823.  The chapter carries a report from the Archbishop of Pondicherry to his superiors in Europe.  This high dignitary of the Catholic Church exults, �The famine has wrought miracles.  The catechumenates are filling, baptismal water flows in streams, and starving little tots fly in masses to heaven� A hospital is a readymade congregation.  There is no need to go into the highways and hedges and �compel them to come in�.  They send each other.�119

 

The best part of Shourie�s study, however, dwells - and dwells at length on the �Division of Labour� between British administrators and Christian missionaries, and between the two of them and the Indologists.  These three groups might have differed among themselves about the means and methods to be employed.  �But in fact none of the three groups had any difference over the ultimate objectives - the conversion of the heathens to Christianity; and the extension and perpetuation of British rule� All eventually came to agree on the following:

1. India is a den of ignorance, iniquity and falsehood;

2. The principal cause of this state of affairs in Hinduism;

3. Hinduism is kept going by the Brahmins;

 

4. As the people are in such suffering and also because Jesus in his parting words has bound us to do so, it is a duty to deliver them to Christianity;

 

5. For this it is that �the walls of the mighty fortress of Brahminism� are to be �encircled, undermined and finally stormed by the soldiers of the Cross�;

 

6. To do so the most effective weapon will of course be the enlargement, consolidation and indefinite prolongation of British rule;

 

7. For the Government to exert directly to spread Christianity will ignite resentment among the natives, so, it should maintain a position of neutrality;

 

8. Its contribution will none the less be decisive; to take just the Government schools, their emphasis on the English language itself will open students to Christianity, their imparting modern notions of science and geography will by itself undermine and eventually finish Hinduism - for it is not a religion that can stand a �moment�s scrutiny�� Hindu notions of time, space, geography, history� are bound to be not just shown up but utterly destroyed with the first wafts of western learning;

 

9. The work of the missionaries will in turn help in the consolidation and perpetuation of British rule; not just the converts but all those who have been weaned on western learning and values will seek the perpetuation of that rule for their own interest;

 

10. The work of the scholars - of missionary scholars and scholar-missionaries will expose the roots of Brahminism and thereby uproot everything that has flowed from it.

 

11. In the natural course, the missionaries will be focussing particularly on the outcastes and the tribals.  Hindu society - such as it is - will be rent asunder;

 

12. The work of the scholars will have a similar effect... it will widen the earth-faults in Hinduism and thus prepare the way for Christianity; it will convert the fissures between the people into earth-faults and thus perpetuate British rule.

�Having been brought up on books which made British conquest of India to have been an accident, if not something which the Indians dragged the unwilling British to accomplish, I myself would have been inclined to view a listing of this kind as an ex post construction, as reading design into events which happened spontaneously and quite independently of one another.  One look at the writings of the principal scholars, of the chief administrators and most of all at the writings and memoranda of missionaries and missionary societies is enough to dispel that presupposition.�120

 

Shourie devotes several chapters to verbatism citations of strategies suggested by some leading administrators, missionaries and scholars.  He concludes, �In a word, the work of the Church was not done by the missionaries alone, the religiously �neutral� administrators did a good bit of it.  Correspondingly, the work of the Empire was not done by administrators alone, the missionaries did a good bit of it.  And that contribution was acknowledged by ruler after ruler.� He quotes Lord Palmerston, Lord Halifax, Lord Reay and Sir Macworth Young about the missionaries being �an additional source of strength to the Empire�.121

 

In a chapter, �Creating -Vacuums, filling them�, which carries more citations from the same sources, Shourie observes, �Several things strike one as one reads the writings and speeches of those days.  First of course there is the candour: political power is what induced it - there was no reason to be circumlocutory, there was no fear that any one of consequence would take offence as no one else was of much consequence.  The second thing is that in spite of the incessant frequency and explicitness with which all concerned spelled out their objectives and stratagems, these are no where in our collective consciousness.�122

 

That leads him to raising a very pertinent question: �I hope the reader will not just read through the examples but will also ask why it is that such material is not placed before our students.  After all it is not difficult to come by, and, as the reader will agree after going through it, it has the most direct bearing on our denationalization.  Yet, even though he may have considerable interest in our current problems, even though he may have been following closely the public discourse on such problems, in all probability the reader would not have come across the material.  Why is this so?�123

His answer to the question is as follows:

In large part no doubt because of the thoroughness with which the colonial design came to be carried out.  Macaulay�s design to create �a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect�.  Sir Charles� reading his prognosis, written in 1838: �Familiarly acquainted with us by means of our literature, the Indian youth almost ceases to regard us as foreigners.  They speak of our great men as we do. Educated in the same way, interested in the same objects, engaged in the same pursuits with ourselves, they become more English than Hindus��

 

But there is an even more potent cause for the near total erasure of such material from our public discourse and our instruction.  And that is the form of �secularism� which we have practised these forty-five years: a �secularism� in which double-standards have been the norm, one in which everything that may remove the dross by which our national identity has been covered has become anathema.124

The last section of Shourie�s book is mostly an analysis of the two CBCI documents which show that though adjustments in language and methods have been made after India became independent, missionary goals remain the same.  The questions that were put to him at the end of his lecture at Pune remind us of the questions which Mahatma Gandhi had faced and answered.  The questions were the same because the mind which had asked them has remained unchanged.  But spokesman after spokesman on behalf of Christianity assured Shourie that the Church had changed and its old record should not be held against it.  Shourie laid down five tests in this context:

First, we will know the Church has truly changed when it undertakes and disseminates an honest accounting of the calumnies it heaped on India and Hinduism�

 

The second thing to look for would be the extent to which the Church acquaints Christians in India as well as the groups it is aiming at with the results of scholarly work on two central claims of the Church - that the Bible is the revealed word of God, that it is wholly free from error, and that the Church, in particular the Pope in infallible�

 

Similarly, developments in various sciences have caused a sea-shift in what is sustainable and what is not in regard to creation, evolution, the division between man and other forms of life, between mind and matter.  The third bit of litmus would therefore be what is the extent to which the Church in India is disseminating information amongst its flock and its target groups about the consequence these developments have for its basic premises?

 

The fourth bit of litmus would be the extent to which the Church overcomes its present tremulous anxieties regarding dialogue and the opening up to other faiths.  And that would happen only when what is today just a grudging acknowledgement that salvation is possible through other faiths becomes an acceptance, when the current condescension and grudging admission� give way to a wholehearted acceptance of the fact that reality is indeed multilayered, that there are many ways of perceiving it, that each must assess for himself by an inner-directed search which is liable to be the most effective for him or her at that time�

 

Finally, of course there is the question of conversions.  In view of the fact, now proclaimed by the Church, that salvation is possible in each religion, what is the ground for converting people to Christianity, particularly by the sorts of means which we saw are in use in the North-East to this day?  The litmus test of the new ecumenism would therefore be the extent to which the Church brings its traditional zeal for saving souls through conversion in line with this new acknowledgement.125

 



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Missionary Response

 

Fr. Augustine Kanjamala, Secretary of the CBCI, who had invited Shourie for the lecture at Pune and who had been amiability itself before Shourie�s indictment appeared in print, now came out in his true colours.  He was in the forefront of a campaign which was launched by the Catholic scribes in various newspapers, especially in publications of the Catholic Church.  Shourie was attacked personally and distorted accounts of his book were flashed.  As the campaign against Shourie snowballed, Prajna Bharati, an intellectual forum with headquarters in Hyderabad, invited several senior churchmen to discuss Missionaries in India with Shourie on a public platform.  All of them declined the invitation on one plea or the other except Kanjamala who accepted to appear on the platform provided he was given the opportunity to present a critique of Shourie�s book to start with.  Shourie agreed and an interesting debate took place on 4 September 1994.

 

Arun Shourie took care of all points raised by Kanjamala, and emphasized that the change in missionary language and theological blah blah was not due to any change in missionary mentality and objectives but had been induced by the collapse of Christianity in its traditional homelands in the West.126

MANGAL PRABHAT LODHA�S BILL

 

A BJP Member of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, introduced Bill No. XLII of 1996 in the Nagpur session of the Assembly on 20 December 1996.  It was titled �A Bill to provide for prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by the use of force or allurement or by fraudulent means and for matters incidental thereto.� Drafted on 29 October 1996 the Bill says as follows in its STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS:

Conversion in its very essence involves an act of undermining one�s faith.  The process becomes all the more objectionable when it is brought about by taking recourse to methods like allurement, force, fraud and exploitation of one�s poverty.  Conversion or attempt to conversion in the above manner, besides creating various maladjustments in social life, also give rise to problems of law and order and also indirectly impinge on the freedom of religion.  It is, therefore, expedient to provide for measures for checking such activities.

The Bill seeks to achieve the above objectives.

Clauses 1 and 2 of the Bill are devoted to definitions of various terms used in the Bill.  The operative clauses are 3 to 6 which read as under:

3. No person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise, any person from one religious faith to another by the use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means nor shall any person abet any such conversion.

 

4. Any person contravening the provisions contained in section 3 shall without prejudice to any civil liability be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both: 
  

Provided that, in case the offence is committed in respect of a minor, a woman or a person belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes the punishment shall be imprisonment to the extent of two years and fine up to ten thousand rupees.

 

5. (1) Whoever converts any person from one religious faith to another either by performing himself the ceremony for such conversion as a religious priest or by taking part directly or indirectly in such ceremony shall, within such period, after the ceremony as may be prescribed send an intimation to the District Magistrate of the district in which the ceremony has taken place of the facts of such conversion in the prescribed form.

 

(2) If any person fails without sufficient reasons to comply with the provisions contained in sub-section (1) he shall be punishable, with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both.

 

6. An offence under this Act shall be cognizable and shall be investigated by an officer not below the rank of an Inspector of police.

Introducing the Bill in the Assembly as a Freedom of Religion Bill, Lodha said, �It is a matter of pride to introduce this Bill in the Assembly session at Nagpur which is the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.  Such a Bill was passed in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh in the wake of the Niyogi Committee�s Report, and later on the Supreme Court had also approved it.  Religious conversion is brought about at first and, in due course, a change of nationality takes place.  At the time of independence there were nearly 250 Christian families in Nagaland.  Today, in the same Nagaland 85 per cent families have become Christian, and missionaries are demanding that the State be declared a Christian State� Only yesterday the newspapers in Bombay published the news that Christian missionaries have fixed a target of one lakh conversions in Maharashtra.  Conversions are continuing by means of force, allurements, and use of foreign funds.  Not to speak of tribal areas and remote villages, conversions are going on in prominent areas of Bombay city itself.  Christian missionaries deem it their duty to convert Hindus to Christianity.  The Constitution recognizes everyone�s right to practice one�s religion, but assault on another religion is neither a legal nor a moral right� I appeal to the Honourable Chief Minister to get this Bill passed��

 

But Lodha, it seems, had counted without the power of the Catholic Church.  In early January 1997 Cardinal Simon Pimenta, Bishop Thomas Dabre and Fr. Denis Pereira, Secretary Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) met the Chief Minister, Manohar Joshi, who assured the Catholic community not to be anxious about the introduction of the anti-conversion Bill by a BJP MLA since this Bill was a Private Bill.  The Bill was never beard of again in the Maharashtra Assembly although leading newspapers in Maharashtra had come out in its support.

 

The finishing touch to the controversy wag given by L.K. Advani, President of the BJP.  In a press interview in Chennai on 4 May 1997 he declared that his party �did not believe in use of legislation� to stop conversions. 
 

Footnotes:

1K.M. Panikkar, Asia and Western Dominance, London (1953), Seventh Impression, 1967, p. 15.

2Ibid., p. 314.

3Ibid., p. 297.

4Ibid., pp. 279-80.

5Ibid., p. 25.

6Ibid., p. 27.

7Ibid., p. 34.

8Ibid., p. 45.

9Ibid., p. 280.

10Ibid., p. 280.

11Ibid., p. 28 1.

12Ibid., p. 283.

13Ibid., p. 290.

14Ibid., pp. 290-91.

15Ibid., p. 291.

16Ibid., p. 242.

17Ibid., p. 249.

18Ibid., p. 295.

19Ibid., p. 282.

20Ibid., p. 288.

21Ibid., p. 289.

22Ibid., p. 242.

23Ibid., pp. 67 and 289.

24Ibid., pp. 66-67.

25Ibid., p. 293.

26Ibid., pp. 56-57.

27Ibid., pp. 282-83.

28Ibid., p. 58.

29Ibid., P. 283.

30Ibid., p. 286.

31Ibid., pp. 286-87.

32Ibid., p. 287.

33Ibid., pp. 287-88.

34Ibid., pp. 291-92.

35Ibid., pp. 292-93.

36Ibid., p. 13 8.

37Ibid., pp. 138-39.

38Ibid., p. 149.

39Ibid., pp. 150-51, 254, 259, 267.

40Ibid., p. 296.

41Ibid., pp. 296-97.

42Ibid., p. 294.

43Ibid., p. 163.

44Ibid., p. 164.

45Ibid., pp. 273-74.

46Ibid., p. 171. Emphasis in source..

47Ibid., pp. 172-73.

48Ibid., pp. 272-73.

49Ibid., p. 27 1.

50Ibid., pp. 294-95.

51Felix Alfred Planner, The Catholic Church in India: Yesterday and Today, Allahabad, 1964, p. 14.

52Report of the Christian Missionaries Enquiry Committee Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur, 1956, Volume I, Appendix II.

53Ibid., Part I, p. 23.

54Ibid., p. 4.

55Ibid., p. 13.

56Ibid., p. 4.

57Ibid.

58Ibid.  Part 11, Chapter R.

59Ibid., p. 49.

60Ibid., pp. 50-51.

61Ibid., Part H, Chapter RI.

62Ibid. pp. 59-60.

63World Christian Council.

64International Missionary Council.

65Ibid., p. 54. Emphasis in source.

66Ibid., p. 94.

67Ibid., Part III, pp. 95-129.

68Ibid., p. 99.

69Ibid., p. 102.

70Ibid., p. 100.

71Ibid., p. 102.

72Ibid., p. 96.

73Ibid., p. 103.

74Ibid., p. 105.

75Ibid., p. 113.

76Ibid., p. 115.

77Ibid., p. 116.

78Ibid., pp. 118-122.

79Ibid., p. 119.

80Ibid., p. 121.

81Ibid., pp. 122-123.

82Ibid., p. 123.

83Ibid., pp. 123-124.

84Ibid., P. 125.

85Ibid., P. 126.

86Ibid., Part IV, p. 132.

87Ibid.

88Ibid., p. 144.

89Ibid., pp. 145-148.

90Ibid., pp. 148-149.

91Ibid., p. 149.

92Ibid., pp. 149-150.

93Ibid., pp. 151-152.

94Ibid., pp. 163-64.

95Felix Alfred Planner, op. cit., p. 10.

96The National Christian Council Review, October 1956, p. 403.

97Ibid. p. 405.

98Ibid., P. 395.

99Ibid., pp. 395-96.

100Ibid., pp. 396-97

101Ibid., p. 397.

102Ibid., December 1956, p. 490.

103Felix Alfred Plattner, op. cit., p. 11.

104Ibid., p. 7.

105What follows is taken from a Hindu booklet, Dharma SvAtantrya Vidheyaka KyoN?, written and published by Raghunath Prasad Pathak, Delhi.  The publication carries no date but seems to have been published after May of 1979.  I have translated from Hindi.

106Ibid., p. 42.

107Ibid., p. 41.

108Ibid., p. 33.

109Ibid., pp. 24-25.

110Ibid., pp. 3-5.

111Ibid., pp. 5-10.

112Ibid., pp. 42-43.

113Arun Shourie, Missionaries in India, New Delhi, 1994, pp. 41-42.

114Ibid., p. 43.

115Ibid., pp. 12-13.

116Ibid., pp. 13-14.  Emphasis in source..

117Ibid., pp. 14-15.

118Ibid., p. 15.

119Ibid., p. 16.  �Compel them to come in� is with reference to the Gospel of St. Luke 14.23 which has been used by Christian missions as a divine command to use all means including force for getting converts.

120Ibid., pp. 58-60.  I have numbered the 12 points while Shourie has marked them by squares; I have also left out some passages from some of the points which Shourie has elaborated at greater length.

121Ibid., p. 109.

122Ibid., p. 161.

123Ibid., p. x.

124Ibid., pp. x-xi.

125Ibid., pp. 229-30.

126Full details of the missionary response to Arun Shourie�s book and the debate that followed can be read in Arun Shourie and His Christian Critic, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1995 and History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (AD 304 to 1996), Voice of India, New Delhi, 1996, pp. 465-82.



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 No. 993

CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES ENQUIRY COMMITTEE,  
MADHYA PRADESH

FROM

Dr. M. B. Niyogi, M.A., LL.M., LL.D. (Hon.), Kt., C.I.E.,  
Chairman, Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur,


To

Shri K. B. L. Seth, I.C.S., 
Chief Secretary to Government, Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur.


Nagpur, 18th April, 1956.

SIR,

 

I forward herewith the report of the Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee appointed by the Government of Madhya Pradesh, by Resolution No. 318-716-V-Con., dated the 14th April, 1954, to enquire into the activities of the Christian Missionaries in Madhya Pradesh, and other matters.

 

2. The particulars of the process of the enquiry are fully set forth in the opening part of the Report.  The Committee are presenting their report containing their conclusions on facts as contemplated in the Terms of Reference, as also their Recommendations.  The Committee are unanimous as to their recommendations on the question.

 

3. There has been, indeed, a delay which may appear inordinate in the preparation of the Report, but this was unavoidable for the reasons that the members could not devote their full time to the task on account of their usual preoccupations with their professional work and that considerable time was taken up with the visits of the Committee to some of the most interior and almost inaccessible rural areas inhabited mostly by Tribals who form the chief target of Missionary activity.  To study the question from the historical point of view many books had to be referred to and as some of the books were not readily available they had to be obtained from the open market.

 

4. At the concluding stages of its labours judgment was delivered by the Nagpur High Court in the petition filed by Shri G. X. Francis under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.  In discussing the petition their Lordships considered the powers of State Governments in appointing such Committees, the extent to which such Committees can enquire into facts, the extent of religious liberty guaranteed in our Constitution and the extent to which State Governments car, restrict or regulate the activities of religious bodies.  Independently of this judgment the Committee had come to almost the same conclusions, and the suggestions made therein fully considered by them.  It may be stated that throughout their deliberations the Committee were guided solely by the necessity to maintain intact the solidarity and security of the country, to prevent disruption of society and culture, and to emphasise the essential secular character of the Constitution.  If they have drawn attention to certain disruptive tendencies inherent in, or incidental to, the exercise of certain liberties in matters of religion, they have done so not with a view to curtailing individual rights and freedom, but to the exercise thereof in a manner consistent with public order, morality and health.  After all, the goodwill of the majority community in any country is the greatest and the safest guarantee for the fulfilment of Constitutional obligations, even more than law courts or executive authorities. The Committee have noted with great satisfaction that amongst a large section of Christian people there is a realization of this basic factor. The Committee hope that their recommendations will lead to further searching of the heart. They have touched upon some highly controversial matters and would, therefore, request Government to elicit public opinion before taking any action.

 

5. I take this opportunity to tendering for myself and on behalf of the Committee, heart-felt thanks to all those, including the Missionaries, who gave to the Committee the benefit of their knowledge of facts, and their views, by personally appearing before the Committee or by sending their memoranda in response to the Questionnaire issued to them.  The public spirit, which prompted them to accord their ready and willing co-operation, merits high appreciation.  Acknowledgment of indebtedness is also due to those in the Committee�s office, who rendered valuable assistance in various ways, as also to the Member-Secretary of the Committee, who rendered considerable help to the Chairman in drafting the report and last but not the least to those who assisted in the enquiry in the role of amicus curiæ.

Yours faithfully,

M.B. NIYOGI.

 
  


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 REPORT OF THE CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES ENQUIRY COMMITTEE, MADHYA PRADESH

------------------------------

VOLUME I

PART I

CHAPRER I. - INTRODUCTION

 

The Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee was appointed by a Resolution of the Government of Madhya Pradesh No. 318-716-V-Con., dated the 14th of April, 1954 (Appendix I).

 

2. It was represented to Government from time to time that the conversion of illiterate aboriginals and other backward people was effected by the Christian Missionaries either forcibly or through fraud or temptations of monetary gain, and the Government were informed that the feelings of non-Christians were being offended by conversions brought about by such methods.  The Christian Missionaries repudiated before Government these allegations and charged local officials and non-Christians of harassment and as the State Government found that an agitation was growing on either side, it considered it desirable in. the public interest to have a thorough enquiry made into the whole question.  This Committee was, therefore, appointed, with Dr. M. Bhawani Shankar Niyogi, M.A., LL.M., LL.D., Ex-Chairman, Public, Service Commission, Madhya Pradesh, and retired Chief Justice, High Court of judicature at Nagpur, as Chairman, and Shri Ghanshyam Singh Gupta, B.Sc., LL.B., Ex-Speaker, Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly, Durg, Shri Seth Govind Das, M. P., Jabalpur, Shri Kirtimant Rao, B.A. M.L.A., Ahiri, Tahsil Sironcha, District Chanda, Shri S. K. George, M.A., B.D., Professor, Commerce College, Wardha, and Shri B. P. Pathak, M.A., LL.B., Secretary to Government, Madhya Pradesh, Public Health Department, as members.  Seth Govind Das resigned membership on 8th May, 1954 due to his preoccupation with other work and was substituted by Shri Ratanlal Malviya, B.A., LL.B., M. P., Manendragarh, (vide Resolution No. 419-860-V-Con., dated 8th May, 1954).  On his appointment to the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet, Shri Kirtimant Rao also resigned and was succeeded by Shri Bhanupratapsingh Giri Raj Singh Deo, M.P., of Komakhan, Tahsil Mahasamund, District Raipur, (vide Resolution No. 18-279-XXX-MR, dated 4th January, 1955).

 

3. The Committee was entrusted with the task of making a thorough enquiry into the whole question and to make recommendations on a review thereof from historical and other points of view.

 

4. The Committee was authorised to frame its own procedure for conducting the enquiry and to appreciate the circumstances in which the Government considered it necessary to appoint this Committee, access to certain files of Government was permitted. On going through all the relevant material, the Committee thought it necessary and desirable to meet representative members of the contestant parties at various important centres in the State and to ascertain the specific points in the controversy.  The Committee undertook a tour of the following 14 districts :- 
  
 

(1) Raigarh.(8) Akola.
(2) Surguja.(9) Buldana.
(3) Raipur.(10) Mandla.
(4) Bilaspur.(11) Jabalpur.
(5) Amravati.(12) Betul.
(6) Nimar.(13) Chhindwara.
(7) Yeotmal.(14) Balaghat.

 

Seventy-seven centres were visited and an approximate number of 11,360 people were contacted. 375 written statements were received and the Committee took down notes at each centre.  To gain firsthand knowledge of the working of the various Mission institutions, the Committee visited institutions like hospitals, schools, churches, leper homes, hostels, etc., maintained by the various Missions operating in Madhya Pradesh and also had an opportunity of contacting local people amongst whom activities of the Missions were carried on and also the areas in which the various Missions were functioning.  A copy of the tour programme is appended (Vol. II).  The persons whom we interviewed came from about 700 villages and the statements of a large number of spokesmen from amongst them were recorded.

 

5. On the vital matter of religion, which is ordinarily surcharged with emotion, occasionally there was a flare-up of vehemence but such occasions were extremely rare, as ample precaution was taken at the outset of the proceedings to explain the object of the enquiry as being to clear up doubts and disputes that may exist and to promote goodwill, friendliness and peace among the various sections of the people.  The exploratory work of the Committee accordingly proceeded very smoothly and helpfully, except for two minor incidents, at Takhatpur in Bilaspur district and Jabalpur.  At Takhatpur Shri Ottalwar, Advocate, who was the only spokesman addressing the Committee on behalf of a large concourse of rural people, made some critical remarks of a political nature on the admission made by Rev. Maqbul Musih that he had received Rs. 38,000 from America for the Abundant Life Movement carried on by him in the rural areas with a view to stave off the danger of Communism.  No protest was made by Rev. Masih, but only by the representative of the Catholic Association, Mr. Francis. At Jabalpur, an Arya Samajist referred to some passages in the Bible which he thought inculcated immorality, while he was speaking about religious education.  As the Christians present resented the reference the Committee asked the speaker to drop it and he obeyed.

 

6. In all the places visited by the Committee there was unanimity as regards the excellent service rendered by the Missionaries, in the fields of education and medical relief.  But on the other hand there was a general complaint from the non-Christian side that the schools and hospitals were being used as means of securing converts. There was no disparagement of Christianity or of Jesus Christ, and no objection to the preaching of Christianity and even to conversions to Christianity. The objection was to the illegitimate methods alleged to be adopted by the Missionaries for this purpose, such as offering allurement�s of free education and other facilities to children attending their schools, adding some Christian names to their original Indian names, marriages with Christian girls, money-lending, Distributing Christian literature in hospitals and offering prayers in the wages of in-door patients.  Reference was also made to the practice of the Roman Catholic priests or preachers visiting new-born babies to give �ashish� (blessings) in the name of Jesus, taking sides in litigation or domestic quarrels, kidnapping of minor children and abduction of women and recruitment of labour for plantations in Assam or Andaman as a means of propagating the Christian faith among the ignorant and illiterate people.  There was a. general tendency to suspect some ulterior political or extra-religious motive, in the influx of foreign money for evangelistic work in its varied forms.  The concentration of Missionary enterprise on the hill tribes in remote and inaccessible parts of the forest areas and their mass conversion with the aid of foreign money were interpreted as intended to prepare the ground for a separate� independent State on the lines of Pakistan.  In the Raigarh and Surguja districts, the Christians complained against the petty Government officials, but there were practically none in other districts including Berar.  At the meetings held in Surguja, Raigarh and Bilaspur districts there were present prominent Christian representatives, like Rev. Lakra of Ranchi, Rev. Kujur (Lutheran Mission), Rev. Gurbachansingh (American Evengelical Mission), Rev. Masih (Disciples of Christ), Shri Minz (General Secretary the Catholic Sabha).  Shri Minz complained against the sinister activities of Boko Sardar, of Shri Deshpande.  Advocate, of Baijnath Mishra and of the Tribal Welfare Department.  Shri Jagdish Tirkey, Secretary of the Adiwasi Jharkhand Party, claimed that Jharkhand was necessary to preserve the unity of the Uraons. He and Rev. Kujur repudiated the imputation against the Missionaries that they instigated the movement for an independent State. There was no specific complaints against officials or non-Christians besides the above. But there was a general complaint above the non-recognition of Mission schools. Rev. Nath of Khandwa complimented the Missionaries for elevating the Ballahis from their down-trodden condition in the Hindu society.  In the Betul district meeting, Rev. E. Raman and many American Missionaries had no complaints to make against the Government officers or members of the public.

 

7. On the basis of the allegations made orally and in writing a large number of people including Christians, supplemented by information derived from official sources and published literature bearing on the subject-matter of the enquiry it was thought necessary to make a thorough and searching probe into the problem. Accordingly, an elaborate questionnaire came to be issued so as to afford full opportunity to the parties concerned to assist the Committee in every way possible.

 

8. It may be noted that the Committee was not appointed under any enactment such as the Commission of Enquiry Act IX of 1952 but only under the inherent powers of the grate Government.  The Committee consequently functioned on a purely voluntary basis.  It had neither the power to compel any one to attend before it, nor to make any statement, oral or written, nor to administer an oath.  The Committee thus had no coercive power in any shape or form.  No one was bound to answer all or any question contained in the Questionnaire or to answer it in a prescribed manner.  The enquiry was riot judicial, in the sense that it was calculated to have an operative effect.  As the Committee interpreted the Terms of Reference, it appeared to it that the object of the enquiry was to ascertain the facts from the people directly at first-hand, unlike a judicial enquiry which proceeds on the material brought before it by an investigating authority.  The attitude of the Government, as well as that of the party in power, was perfectly neutral.

 

9. The scope of the enquiry was considerably enlarged by reason of the broad Terms of Reference relating to �Political and extra-religious objectives.� and �a thorough review of the question from the historical and other points of view�. At first sight the subject of the enquiry presented itself as a purely local one but that turned out to be more apparent than real. The material gathered in the initial stages of the enquiry revealed to the Committee that its significance far transcended the bounds of any one country or region in the world and that it was calculated to have world- wide repercussions. That compelled the Committee to view the subject as an integral part of a larger picture on the broad canvas of world history. The Committee had to consult a number of published books, pamphlets and periodicals for deter- mining the nature and form of their recommendations.

 

10. On the true construction of the Terms of Reference the Committee found that the subject in hand should be divided under specified beads, viz., Conversions, Social Relations. Hospitals and Schools with a separate head for Remedies.  The questions set out under each of these heads are indeed exploratory and searching, but in no way unconnected with the issues involved in the enquiry.

 

11. The response to the Questionnaire was encouraging, indicating as it did, the co-operation of the public as well as of the Protestant Missionary Bodies operating in the various districts of the State. 385 replies to the questionnaire were received in the office of the Committee out of which 55 were from Christian individuals or organisations and 330 from non-Christians.  The authorities and members of the Roman Catholic Church co-operated with the Committee in their exploratory tours in Raigarh, Surguja, Bilaspur, Raipur and Nimar districts. Shri G. X. Francis, President of the Catholic Regional Council, and Shri P. Lobo, Advocate, High Court, Nagpur, associated themselves with the Committee.  But subsequently the Catholic Church withdrew its co-operation, not only ling a statement of protest, but also moving the High Court for a Mandamus Petition (Miscellaneous Petition No. 263.of 1955).

 

Their Lordships dismissed the petition on 12th April, 1956, holding that it was within the competence of the State Government to appoint a fact-finding Committee to collect information and that there had been no-infringement of any of the fundamental rights of the petitioner.  The Committee have gone through the Lengthy judgment of the Hon�ble High Court very carefully and have given respectful consideration to the views expressed therein.  We may however like to state that some of the remarks concerning a few questions in our Questionnaire proceed from an apparent lack of full knowledge of the nature of the allegations made before us which formed the basis of those questions.  We had repeatedly informed the petitioner and the public that none of the questions represented either the views of the Committee or any individual member thereof and our anxiety to have information on various points was due to our desire to find out to what extent, if any, could any activity be considered to infringe the limits of public order, morality aria health imposed by the Constitution.  As will be clear from the body of this report, we have confined ourselves entirely to the spirit and letter of our Constitution. 
 

 



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CHAPTER II. - CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO THE APPOINTMENT OF THE COMMITTEE

 

In another part we pro se to give the history of Christian Missions in old Madhya Pradesh and also in the Merged States.  In this Chapter it is intended to detail the circumstances which led the Government to appoint this Fact-finding Committee.  Our source of information has been the various files made available to us by Government.  As the immediate cause which ultimately led to our appointment was the activities of some Mission organizations in the recently Merged States of Raigarh, Udaipur, Jashpur and Surguja, it will be useful to describe the principal or toot causes of whatever trouble was reported in the integrated States soon after their merger on 1st January, 1948.  Even in the old Madhya Pradesh the Government, was not unfamiliar with the problem of Missionary activities amongst aboriginals, because many of our districts contained a large number of Adiwasi population and Government had been carrying out, welfare measures for them for a good length of time.  It is reported that about 18 per cent of the total population of Madhya Pradesh prior to Integration consisted of aboriginals and that the Integration of the States added nearly 28 lakhs to the population of Madhya Pradesh, out of whom about 53 per cent were aboriginals.  According to official reports the integration of Chhattisgarh States was carried out smoothly and was hailed with joy by all sections of the community including the aboriginals.  When the then Premier toured the Integrated States, attempts were made by Christian and other Uraons of Jashpur State to create-some trouble, but it never presented a formidable problem.

 

2. The chief cause of unrest could be located against the following background :-

 

(a) Oppression and misgovernment which existed prior to Integration: In other parts of this Report a detailed reference to the various forms of oppression practised on the Adiwasis by the Malguzars, the Zamindars and the ex-Rulers will be found.

 

(b) The expectations of the people of the Integrated States of immediate improvement in their moral and material conditions as a result of Integration were pitched so high that almost inevitably they were bound to be disappointed to some extent.  Improvement of conditions in a specially backward area has necessarily to be a gradual process, which was not recognized.

 

(c) Almost from the very beginning interested parties, including Christian Missionaries, began to intermeddle and create dissatisfaction by exploiting the situation.  These interested parties were firstly the Rajas and their supporters and hirelings and also politicians of the neighbouring States, who wished to secure integration of some of the former States in their area despite history, geography and economy.  An end was put to the activities of such persons by the decision of the Union Ministry of States in May 1948, but according to Government reports the activities of Missionaries continued further though surreptitiously.

 

(d) The reports which the Government of Madhya Pradesh had obtained from the former States in respect of the activities of Missionaries show that their role in the past had not been healthy, their methods not savoury.  Two or three times there were rebellions in the States and even the Political Department, which was in the hands of the European Christians, was compelled to put restrictions on the entry of Missionaries and their movement in the former States.  Details of the Acts passed by the former States of Surguja, Udaipur and Raigarh regulating conversion and restricting the movement, etc., of Missionaries will be found elsewhere in this Report. On the integration of the States, Missionaries became afraid of losing their influence. So they started an agitation, playing on the religious feelings of the primitive Christian converts, representing the Madhya Pradesh Government as consisting of infidels and so on. Some of the articles published in Missionary papers, such as �Nishkalank� �Adiwasi� and �Jharkhand� were hardly distinguishable from the writings in Muslim papers advocating Pakistan, before, before the 15th of August 1947.  The Missionaries launched a special attack on the opening of schools by Madhya Pradesh Government under the Backward Area Welfare Scheme.  The then Commissioner of Chhattisgarh Division, contacted the Father Superior of the Roman Catholics at Jashpurnagar in February 1948 and explained to him the secular nature the Indian Union and the freedom of religion and worship which every citizen enjoyed in it.  He pointed out that there was no hindrance to Missionaries carrying on their religious activity in a lawful manner, but if the leaders of the Missions mixed up religion with politics and appealed to the religions fanaticism of the easily gullible Adiwasis they could not naturally claim the sanctity and consideration which attaches to religious organisations.  He further explained that having once suffered grievously from the communalistic policies of some persons, India could not afford to have another such movement in its very heart.  The Catholic Father Superior gave the Commissioner an undertaking that the Mission would confine itself only to religion and not dabble in politics at all.  The following letter written by Father Vermiere of the Jashpur Roman Catholic Mission may be quoted in extenso, to show the attitude of the Missionaries including foreigners, at the time of the Integration of the States :-

�We need help very much as we are so deep in debt and have to face worse times with a new Government so much against the Christians.

 

�Rev. Father Rector has probably acquainted you with what I wrote some time ago.  Things have riot much improved, although aye are rather on good terms with the local authorities.  Even so it is no more is before.  As more than one of the new or old officials points out, the men sent this side are too inferior, and cannot compare with, for instance, the late Dean.  Next those employed do riot seem to have half the powers necessary.  Things have continually to be referred higher tip, (which means most of the time no answer to the letters) and petitions, are delayed for five or six months.  What I say is the common complaint all over Jashpur from officials no less thin from the common people.  Moreover it seems to be a common complaint all over the Province, that this is the way.

 

�We should, e.g., settle about the transition from Patna syllabus to that of Nagpur.  But the new Inspectors have still to come.  They are always coming, but never arrive.  The best and probably the most sympathetic, to whom I wrote a personal letter, and is practically for us the head, would come in April, they in May; lately he informed me that he would come this month.  July is over and there is no trace of him.  They have been wasting the month of May and part of June on Adult Education, good in itself but much of a farce as it was conducted.  Hindu propaganda with open attempts to draw the Christians into the Hindu fold, occupied a large part of the programme.  In the end the Christians refused to go, on account of that propaganda and the Education came to an end.  Meanwhile the Inspectors have no time for any other work than that.

 

�The Bishop wishes me to discuss with them the question of our attempted High School at Ginabahar, but cannot do this with such fellows who come as makeshifts, till they can get away.

 

�You may have read lately in the Herald some-very spirited answers purported to come from Jashpur Christian students, against the vile slander by one who came with a large retinue to spy our Institutions at Gholeng and Ginabahar.  He dares call himself a member of the much esteemed Servants of India Society.  He and his colleague have nearly wrecked the nascent Mission of the Norbertine Fathers in Mandla, District Jubbulpore. They were sent here by the Prime Minister, but if they hope to ruin this Mission, they are very much mistaken.  Our Catholics are too advanced to he taken in. or frightened by such slanderers.  Protest meetings against their vile report continue to be held, chiefly to wreck their treacherous machinations.  As one of the two, is a sort of Minister for the uplift of the backward people, he has a considerable Government budget to dispose of.  Their aim is more to prevent us front converting, than to care for the uplift of those they used to keep them in bondage.  Just now they are starting 40 new schools for these backward Adibasis.  The third I hear of, is in a village where we possess a school since 30 years.  But knowing that many pagan children come to our schools and that we had sent a petition for a building to enlarge that school, they surreptitiously try and draw aw the pagan children from us.  But we are ready for them. Today my men are gone there to attend a big panchayat to draw tip a protest, and get all the pagans to refuse withdrawing their children from us. I am giving you all this for the sake of those in the community interested in Jashpur affairs.�

In a subsequent visit to the then Premier at Nagpur, Father Vermiere was confronted with this letter and lie then gave an undertaking in writing that he would have no objection to schools being established by Government in the States.

 

3. Let us turn our attention to the activities of the Missionaries in the Merged States of Surguja and Udaipur during the months following their Integration.  It has already been mentioned that the former Rulers of these States had consistently stopped the infiltration of Missionaries in their territories and with the full knowledge and consent of the then Political Department Anti conversion Acts were passed.  In spite of these Acts individual Missionaries, specially Rev. Stanislus Tigga, a Roman Catholic Priest with his headquarters in Ranchi, kept on visiting these areas surreptitiously and carried on propaganda in the garb of religion.  The strip of land comprising Surguja, Korea, Jashpur, Udaipur, Changbhakar and some other small.  States of Orissa is surrounded by Bihar and Orissa States and is inhabited by a very large percentage of aboriginals.  The tract is full of forests and mineral resources.  Foreign Missionaries from Belgium and Germany had established themselves in Bihar and Orissa and also in Jashpur in 1834 and had succeeded in converting a very large number of people to Christianity.  In order to consolidate and enhance their prestige, and possibly to afford scope for alien interests in this tract, the Missionaries were reported to be carrying on propaganda for the isolation of the Aboriginals from other sections of the community and the movement of Jharkhand was thus started.  This movement was approved by the Aboriginals, local Christians and Muslims and the Missionaries sought to keep it under their influence by excluding all the nationalists elements from this movement.  The demand for Adiwasisthan was accentuated along with the one for Pakistan in 1938.  The Muslim League is reported to have donated Rs. one lakh for propaganda work.  With the advent of political independence in India, the agitation for Adiwasisthan was intensified, with a view to forming a sort of corridor joining East Bengal with Hyderabad, which could be used for a pincer movement against India in the event of a war between India and Pakistan.  The Christian community, supported by the Missionaries of the Ranchi district, organised themselves into a �Raiyat Warg�, ostensibly to do social work, but in reality to propagate the Adiwasi movement.  To counteract the isolationist doctrine of this organization of Christians, the non-Christians formed a Praja Mandal.  Although there was a tussle between these two organizations which continued till the integration of the States with Madhya Pradesh, they joined bands on learning that Surguja and Jashpur States were being merged with Madhya Pradesh and started a pro-Bihar agitation.  At the prospect of the integration of the States with Madhya Pradesh Mr. Jaipal Singh, member of the Constituent Assembly and President of the All-India Adiwasi Association, who is also commonly described as the father of the Jharkhand movement, protested in November 1947 against the merger of Surguja and Jashpur with Madhya Pradesh and accused the Bihar Government with failure to serve the people by not insisting on the integration of those States with Bihar.  After having seen the then Premier of Bihar at Ranchi, Shri Jaipal Singh convened a conference of All-India Adiwasi Maha Sabha, on 14th January of 1948.  This pro-Bihar agitation, which was originally started at the instance of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Missionaries of Ranchi in Bihar district, soon obtained the support of other Christians, non-Christians, aboriginals and members of the Bihar Congress party and it was also reported that the then Hon�ble Premier of Bihar and the Hon�ble Revenue Minister had sympathy with this cause.  Accordingly a party consisting of some Bihar Congressmen, Rev. Lakra, the head of the Lutheran Mission and a Jamidar visited Surguja in the second week of January 1948 to mobilise public opinion in favour of the integration of those States with Bihar. Two members of this party, however, informed the District Superintendent of Police, Surguja, that they were not fully agreeable to the views of the remaining members and further brought to the District Superintendent of Police�s notice that there was a conspiracy between Pakistan and some American and German Missionaries to instigate the aboriginals to take possession of their own land, commonly known as Jharkhand.  In Kharsaon and Sarikela States of Orissa there was violence necessitating the use of force to suppress it.  At the All-India Adiwasis� conference on 14th January, of 1948, called by Mr. Jaipal Singh, speeches after speeches were made narrating the disadvantages and worries associated with the merger of the States with Madhya Pradesh and the benefits accruing from their amalgamation with Bihar.  Two Christians and a non-Christian were appointed propagandists to carry on pro-Bihar agitation.  The Praja Mandal which consisted mostly of non-Christians and which was lacking in funds refused to support the pro-Bihar propaganda and in a meeting held at Bargaon (Jashpur) on 20th January, 1948 it was unanimously resolved to agree to the integration of Surguja and Jashpur with Madhya Pradesh.

 

4. The activities of the Missionaries in the Jashpur area from January 1948 to the, end of May when the Union Ministry of States decided finally the question of merger of Surguja and Jashpur with Madhya Pradesh may be narrated.  According to official reports these activities, though ostensibly carried on by Indian Christians, were in fact sponsored by Missionaries to secure a-strong foothold in the hitherto forbidden territories of Udaipur and Surguja.

 

January 1948.-The agitation for the inclusion of Jashpur, Udaipur, Surguja and Changbhakar States in the Bihar Province was continued and prominent persons of Ranchi visited Jashpur. Rev. J. Lakra, the head of German Lutheran Mission, carried on propaganda for a separate Jharkhand Province, which would be administered by Christians, who predominated in the area concerned.  Three meetings of Christians were held in the Jashpur State for the purpose of carrying on this propaganda.

 

February 1948.- Three more meetings were held in Jashpur sub-division in connection with the Christian agitation in favour of amalgamation with Bihar.  Speakers pointed out that inclusion in the Central Provinces would mean economic and social retardation and the evaporation of their dream of Jharkhand.  At a meeting at Ichkelah (Jashpur) on 13th February it was announced that an Adiwasi fund for defending the interests of Adiwasis had been started. Rev. J. Lakra was suspected of dissuading Christians from participating in Mahatma Gandhi�s Ashes Immersion Ceremony observed at Jashpur on 12th February.  Julias Tigga, Secretary Adiwasi Sabha, Ranchi, visited Jashpur and Ambikapur about the 14th of February and was warned by the District Magistrate, Surguja, for indulging in objectionable activities.  On 21st February 1948, Bowfus Lakra, a parliamentary Secretary of Bihar and Joseph Tigga, Pleader of Ranchi, addressed a small meeting at the prominent Roman Catholic Mission Centre of Ginabahar in which, although opposition to the formation of Jharkhand was voiced, it was stated that people should be allowed to decide whether they should be associated with Madhya Pradesh or Bihar.  These intense political activities of the Christians under the leadership of foreign Missionaries created a sense of apprehension and consequently the non-Christian organization called the Praja Mandal mobilized their resources to counteract this movement.  A few meetings were called and addressed by this party on or about the 23rd of February.  Rev. J. Lakra called a session of the All-India Adiwasi Maha Sabha at Ranchi on the 26th of February and delegates from Orissa, Chhattisgarh States and Bihar attended it. Mr. Jaipal Singh, who was elected President of the Maha Sabha criticized the Bihar Government for splitting the tribal people and emphasised that the salvation of the Adiwasis lay in the creation of a separate province including the States of Chhattisgarh.  He proposed to raise and send 1,000 volunteers for propaganda purposes.

 

March 1948.-A meeting was organised by the Lutheran Christians at Bargaon in Jashpur to further the propaganda of merger with Bihar.  There was propaganda on the border villages of Surguja district by Christian Missionaries of Palamau and Ranchi.

 

5. It was during this time that the then Premier of Madhya Pradesh undertook a tour of those areas and it was reported that a good deal of misapprehension regarding Government�s policy, etc., was removed and that open and extensive activities of the Missionaries through Indian Christian Fathers and Preachers were subdued, and Police officials reported that thenceforth the agitation was carried on in a surreptitious, manners In October 1948 a Gaonthia of Surguja was detained under the Public Safety Act for objectionable Activities and a search of his house revealed him in possession of letters which showed that he was an active worker of the Jharkhand movement, on behalf of the Missionaries and that the agitation was still being carried on for the creation of a separate Adiwasi Province.  The Gaonthia was ultimately released on his giving a written undertaking that he would not take part in any subversive activities.

 

6. In the neighbouring State of Udaipur activities were mostly confined to Rev. S. Tigga.  The laws which were in force in the former Merged States were continued on integration and consequently the Anti-conversion Act had also been continued.  The Anti-conversion Act of Udaipur had been promulgated on 9th July 1946-nearly an year and a half after the, Ruler of the State was installed in December 1944.  But to put a check on the unfair activities of the Roman Catholic Priests the then Political Agent had passed an order on 28th February 1941 [D.O. No. G-59-CR/37 (III)] permitting the entry of Roman Catholic Priests only on the following conditions:-

(1) Priests could be allowed to enter the State when called to the bed-side of a dying or dangerously ill person.  The Priest concerned must in such cases personally give information of his visits at the Police Station nearest to the route by which he travelled.

 

(2) Priests may be permitted to enter the State once every quarter to celebrate Mass at some village near the border.  Previous permission for this should be obtained from the Superintendent of the State on each occasion.  The Priests should not tour in the State but their parishioners should come to them at the place which was selected for the celebration of Mass.

 

(3) A Priest should not stay more than 48 hours in the State on any occasion unless unavoidably delayed by circumstances over which he has no control, provided firstly that in such a case he informed in writing the Officer-in-charge of a Police Station nearest to his route when leaving the State, giving particulars of the obstacle which caused the delay and secondly that no visit was extended to more than 96 hours without previous sanction of the Superintendent of the State.  Priests should not do any religious propaganda or proselytization while in the State.

 

(4) Only Ordained Priests and not lay Preachers from outside should be allowed to enter the State.

7. After Integration Rev. S. Tigga, a Roman Catholic Missionary thwarted these restrictions add visited the State several times up to the month of May 1948.  He was warned against doing so by the Sub-Divisional Officer, but he did not pay any attention to it.  Ultimately the Sub-Divisional Officer ordered his prosecution under section 188, Indian Penal Code for disobeying those restrictions and Rev. Tigga was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 20.  Although he was in possession of the requisite amount he refused to pay the fine and had to be imprisoned for four days in consequence to suffer imprisonment which had been ordered in default of the payment of the fine.  This sudden �invasion� of areas in Udaipur State by Roman Catholic Missionaries created a sharp reaction in the mind of the local people and they represented to the Government as well as the district authorities against encouraging the Missionaries to establish their centres in the Udaipur State and thereby to prevent mass conversions of Uraons.  Government apprehended an imminent danger of breach of the peace and disturbance of public tranquility and it also felt that Communist bodies functioning in areas outside Madhya Pradesh on the immediate borders of Surguja, Udaipur and Jashpur States might take advantage of the situation and create trouble, similar to the one which was then raging in the neighbouring States. Accordingly an order, under section 144, Criminal Procedure Code was passed restricting the entry of Christian Missionaries in the Udaipur Sub-Division except for purposes of religious work.  The order was on the lines of the restrictions mentioned in paragraph 6 above and remained in force for nearly a year from 27th January 1949.  It is reported that about 20 to 25 persons were arrested for defiance of this-order.  Throughout the year 1949 the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi and some Roman Catholic leaders of Nagpur made repeated efforts to seek the permission of the State Government to establish centres in the Udaipur Sub-Division.  The restrictions which were imposed in the former State Regime were still in force and Government had information with them to show that Christian Missionaries in the Udaipur State were indulging in political activities of an objectionable kind, really reminiscent of the two nation theory which had awful consequences in the history of India.  Considering that such dangerous activities could not be tolerated by any responsible Government, they were not prepared to remove the restrictions, altogether.  In view of the political bias with which Christian Missionaries had carried on proselytism during the last half a century in the merged territories and in view of their active support of the dangerous Jharkhand movement.  Government considered it necessary to put down the activities which led to fissiparous tendencies.  In a conference held by the Hon�ble the Premier on 29th March, 1949 with three Roman Catholic leaders (Major Bernard, M.L.A., Shri G. X. Francis and Major A. F. W da Costa) the policy of the State Government was fully and carefully explained and it was pointed out that India being a secular State, there was perfect freedom of thought and religion, but difficulties cropped up only when religious organisations mixed this up with politics.  At this conference it was pointed out by the Government spokesman that several non-Christians had represented to Government about the activities of the Missionaries in the Integrated States, in particular about religious instruction being imparted in their schools.  This had become necessary because ever since the opening of schools by the Tribal Welfare Department, Roman Catholic Missionaries had carried on persistent propaganda against such schools and had represented this to the State Government also.  Although Father Vermeire had intimated that he had no objection to Government starting schools in Jashpur side by side with the Mission schools, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi kept on representing that this should not be done.  It was, therefore, pointed out at the conference that the duty of Government being to provide non-sectarian educational instruction for the people, no legitimate objection could be taken against it.  On the question of restrictions imposed on the entry of-Christian Priests in Udaipur State, the official point of view was pointed out and it was explained how the situation had developed on account of the mingling of religion with politics.  The leaders present were told that the policy of Government towards matters of religion was one of allowing complete freedom of conscience and worship to all and there was not the slightest intention to have a different policy in Udaipur or other States.  The gentlemen present were requested to remove any misconception from the minds of the people and to tell them that Government would not interfere in their peaceful religious pursuit so long as they did not mix up politics with religion.  Major da Costa on behalf of the Catholics assured Government of the loyalty of Catholics and informed that Catholics had no connection whatsoever with the Jharkhand movement.  The three leaders present assured the Premier of their unflinching loyalty to Government and of their determination to co-operate and help Government in every possible manner and they requested that the question of allowing reliable Christian Priests to reside in Udaipur might be favourably considered by Government after making due enquiries about their bonafides and Government promised to examine the suggestion.  Shri Francis informed the Premier that he would take an early opportunity of visiting Udaipur and Jashpur to tell the people of the policy of Government and to remove all misconceptions.  In accordance with this promise Shri Francis undertook a tour of the newly integrated States of Udaipur and Jashpur between 20th and 25th April, 1949.  It appears that the representations made by Shri Francis and other Roman Catholic leaders of Nagpur to the Government of Madhya Pradesh were at the instance of the Roman Catholic Mission working in the Jashpur area.  After the conference of these leaders with the Premier on 29th March, 1949 details were apparently reported to the then Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi, who on 18th April, 1949 came to Nagpur and gave a written pledge on his behalf as well as on behalf of his Priests, undertaking to give all due obedience and respect to the lawfully constituted Government of India, and the lawfully constituted Government of Madhya Pradesh and also stated that while carefully abstaining from participating in political affairs it was his desire and purpose that his influence in so far as may be possible in such matters shall be so exerted in loyal co-operation-with Government.  In view of this undertaking Rt. Rev. O�Sevrin, Bishop of Ranchi, requested Government to allow without further delay his Priests to reside in Udaipur without whose presence the Catholics were effectively prevented from practising their religion in a normal way. As regards the apprehension that the Priests might meddle in politics the Bishop assured the Government that as far as his Priests were concerned they would not do so and that they had not done so in the past.  He stated that although soon after Integration he was approached more than once by Bihar Congressmen and other supporters of the Jharkhand movement to lend his support to the movement towards amalgamation with Bihar he had refused to co-operate.  On account of this he had incurred the hostility, not only of the Lutherans in Jashpur, but of Catholics in Ranchi.  In this letter the Bishop stated, �If we, Catholic Priests, had chosen to urge them on in the direction of joining the Jharkhand movement the situation in Jashpur and Udaipur would have been much worse than it is now, considering at very close to one-fourth of the population of Jashpur is Catholic�. This is a significant admission of the control exercised by Roman Catholic Priests in matters outside religion and of the existence of a state of political agitation in the newly merged States of Jashpur, Udaipur and Surguja, soon after Integration.  Along with his request to allow Catholic Priests to reside in Udaipur State, the Bishop levelled charges against petty local officials and also non-officials.  It was also stated that patent discrimination which was officially adopted by the Central Provinces Government against Christian aboriginals in denying them scholarships and other concessions was much resented by the Catholics.  The following are some of the reported grievances of Catholics in Jashpur voiced by the Bishop of Ranchi:-

(1) There have been several cases of Catholic candidates for Government posts being asked as a condition for employment to give Christianity and become Hindus.  Although the letter admitted that this allegation was made on what is �being whispered about�, the Government was asked to remedy the situation.

 

(2) The Catholics are not enrolled as Home Guards and are not given other posts.

 

(3) Many Catholics at the request of Congress leaders at Raigarh had collected a fair sum of money for Gandhi Memorial Fund.  They were severely rebuked by some officials.

 

(4) The attitude of some leaders of the Backward Area Welfare Sabha was against the Roman Catholics.

 

(5) The whole policy of the Adiwasi Sudhar Sabha was one of sheer waste of money and conducive to breach of peace.

 

(6) Government schools should not be opened where Roman Catholic schools already exist.

8. In his report of the tour undertaken in April, 1949 Shri G. X. Francis voiced almost the same grievances which had already been put forward by the Bishop of Ranchi in his communication dated 18th April, 1949.

 

9. Enquiries were ordered by Government into the allegations made by the Bishop of Ranchi and Shri Francis and it was reported by the authorities that in spite of the denial by the Bishop of the part played by the Jashpur Roman Catholics in the Jharkhand political movement definite evidence existed to prove that the Roman Catholic Mission authorities at Ranchi had made common cause with other elements and were taking active part in this movement.  The vehement opposition of the Roman Catholic Bishop to the Backward Areas Welfare Scheme was explained by the blow given to the proselytising activities of the Roman Catholics through their schools by the Backward Areas Welfare Scheme.  Government however could not take an immediate decision to permit the Priests to reside in Udaipur because of the strong feelings of a considerable section of the people there against such action and therefore it was considered desirable to await the Constitution which was then being drafted by the Constituent Assembly.

 

10. The efforts of the Christian Association of which Shri G. X. Francis is the Chairman and of the Bishop of Ranchi to secure cancellation of the orders in respect of the residence of the Priests in Udaipur State continued unabated till the promulgation of the Constitution in January, 1950.  Besides, written individual representations of Shri Francis and other Catholic leaders, the demand was raised in some of the All-India conferences of this body.  On the other hand, non-Christian bodies kept on representing to Government against relaxing the ban.

 

 



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 11. The promulgation of the Constitution was soon followed by the entry into Surguja and Udaipur of the Belgian Jesuits, the Lutherans and some other Missions, who had hitherto worked from the Ranchi district.  Strong action was taken by these Mission authorities to spread Christianity amongst Uraons.  Having firmly and perpetually installed themselves in the State of Jashpur against the will of the then Rulers and owing to official pressure brought upon the Rulers by the foreign administration, it was used as a base of operation for further expansion into Udaipur and Surguja territories. The Priests had either commenced their operations by sending Christians into the country who concealed the fact that they were Christians and took service as field labourers or lived with relations.  When in course of time a sufficient number of such people had taken up their residence in the area the Preachers went into the country and appointed assistants from amongst the Christians who had gone to live there and a mass movement of conversion to Christianity ensued.  Reports started pouring in upon the Government that these Pracharaks and other paid servants were mere pawns in the hands of the Priests, they acted as Vakils for the people in all matters and interfered continually in all temporal affairs.  The Catholic, Lutheran and Swedish Churches soon established centres all along the Surguja-Bihar border.  In 1950, branches were opened at Ambikapur and Sitapur in the Surguja district.  The authorities reported to Government that the method adopted by Christian Missionaries was as follows:-

After preliminary investigation by a responsible (usually foreign) member of a Mission they would establish themselves in a small village and try to gain the confidence of the village people.  They would gradually start advising the village folk in their local problems and very often make out applications and complaints to be presented to the authorities.  They would personally follow the matter in courts and thus gain the confidence of the party.  Selected Uraon boys would be sent out with the help of scholarships to the Missionary headquarters in Jashpur or Bihar for training in handicrafts or for higher education.  Meanwhile earlier converts from Bihar would be brought down to the Centres to move amongst the village folk to propagate the benefits of conversion.  Local intelligent villagers (in many cases Muslims) would then be selected and appointed as Pracharaks on a pay of about Rs. 50 per month.  These paid Pracharaks would move in the country-side doing propaganda, paving the way for the Missionaries to tackle responsible individuals in near about villages.  Meanwhile recent converts at the Centre would receive social attention, new clothes, personal advice on agriculture, free chemical manures and attention at home to make the houses look distinct from others in the village.  They would open schools wherein only prospective converts would be admitted.  Free medicine would he distributed on bazar days, prospective converts being treated free while others were charged.  They would make arrangements to distribute paddy and other seeds free to certain selected families.  In some cases cash grants were also reported to have been given.  Loans were advanced and the borrower was told directly or indirectly that if he became a convert he need not repay the money.  Thus, by the system of preferential treatment and with temporary physical benefits displayed before them an atmosphere in favour of conversion was being created.  In some cases reports of coercive methods being used were also received.

12. As Missionary activities spread in Surguja district local non-Christians got alarmed.  In 1952, leading citizens of the district, including the Maharaja of Surguja distributed pamphlets and addressed gatherings advising the Adivasis not to give up their religion for the sake of monetary benefits or temptations.  Members of the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh and the Arya Samaj joined hands and intensified propaganda against Missionary activities.  The services of a large number of enthusiastic workers could be secured by them and reconversions took place in some numbers.  A conference of Virat Hindu Rashtriya Sammelan was convened at Ambikapur where all non-Christian organisations were asked to present a united front against the Christians and the Jharkhand movement.  Thus, acute tension prevailed in the area and the authorities thought that the situation may result in serious trouble unless handled properly.

 

13. This tension was attributed chiefly to the objectionable methods followed by Missionaries, some of which may be narrated.  On 5th May, 1951 at about 8 p.m. in village Chando, Rev. K. C. Burdett, a foreign Missionary took out a procession with about 25 followers in a truck and moved into some villages, singing provocative songs denouncing the Hindu religion.  The matter was reported to the police and an offence was registered.  As Shri Burdett offered an unconditional written apology the case was not prosecuted. In village Salba, Police Station Baikunthpur, 16 Christian Preachers entered the house of one Charan Uraon on 7th November, 1952, threw away his utensils and threatened him with violence, because he had opposed conversion.  These persons were prosecuted and each of them was convicted.  On another occasion in the same village, recently-appointed Christian Pracharaks, as alleged, used threats and intimidation against local Uraons for which they were prosecuted under section 506, Indian Penal Code.  Reports of the use of violence and threats by a group of recently-appointed Pracharaks were received from other villages in the area and offences were registered.  Rev. J. C. Christy, head of a Mission with headquarters in Palamau district who was organising centres in the Surguja district adjoining Palamau district, was also reported to have indulged in smuggling rice to Bihar in contravention of Government orders and to have assaulted public servants who tried to check the smuggling activities.  Cases were registered against him and he was prosecuted.  In both these cases he has recently been convicted.  Another case of a village Headman was reported in which the Headman complained that when he had gone to village Amadoli near Madguri to make enquiries about new arrivals Lutia and other Christians of the village caught hold of the Headman and snatched his dress and beat him.  A report was made to the police and investigation was started.  The four Christians concerned were convicted in a court of law.  In connection with this case Rev. F. Ekka of the Catholic Ashram made a false complaint against the Head Constable who had investigated the case. Ekka�s complaint was investigated by the Sub-Divisional Officer, Police, Ramanujganj, and was found to be entirely false, presumably made to gain favour of the Uraon converts and to discourage police officers from performing their duties.

 

14. Besides these criminal offences registered and investigated numerous ordinary complaints made by villagers against the objectionable activities of Christian Missionaries were presented to the district authorities at Ambikapur.  Some of them may be enumerated here:-

 

Thirteen villagers of village Dhajji and Sukhari, Police Station Samri, complained against Patras Kerketta of the Roman Catholic Mission along with other Pracharaks who addressed a meeting in the village stating that the Congress Raj was bad because it was trouble to the Christian people; that Christians were getting a Raj in which people would get all facilities.  They asked the villagers to refrain from paying Malguzari dues to Government, cut the Government forest, assault officers who would check them and also to beat the persons who refused to join hands with them.  He asked them to unite together against Government and threatened that those who did not co-operate would be turned out of the villages when Christians cot Jhar-Khand.  Complaints against Rev. Kerketta were made to the authorities at different times by the villagers of Mandwa, Nawadikalan, Karcha, Khujuridi, Shahapur and Kandri.  It was brought to the notice of the local officials that Patras Kerketta had baptized two Uraon babies when their grandmother had taken them for getting medicine for some eye trouble.  Apprehending a breach of the peace the Sub-Divisional Officer, Ramanujganj, held a spot enquiry. According to the wishes of the villagers the babies were reconverted to Hindu religion and Patras Kerketta tendered an apology to the Additional District Magistrate.

 

15. Instances also came to the notice of the authorities to show that Missionaries deliberately put up false and frivolous complaints against Government servants, so that the activities of the Missionaries could be carried on without being brought to the notice of the higher authorities.  Enquiries were made by superior officers on all complaints made by the Missionaries and invariably most of them were found to be baseless.  A few instances may be mentioned :

 

Rev. Kerketta reported to the Sub-Divisional Officer (Police), Ramanujganj, on 20th March, 1950 against Head Constable, Devraj, of Police Station Samri, alleging that two recently converted Uraons had been beaten by the Head Constable and hand cuffed. The Sub-Divisional Officer (Police) enquired into the matter and found the allegation untrue.  On 16th October, 1951, Rev. J. C. Christy made a complaint to the District Superintendent of Police. Surguja, against the Sub-Inspector of Police, Samri, that the latter had directed four Mission workers to leave villages Sarbana and Khajuri within two days.  The District Superintendent of Police enquired into the matter and found that the only action taken by the Sub-Inspector was making enquiries about new arrivals in his area and eventually the District Superintendent of Police issued a warning to Shri Christy that he should refrain from bringing frivolous reports. On 6th November, 1932, Father L. Von Royee of Ambikapur complained against the Head Constable for having molested a Christian lady teacher.  It was enquired into by the Circle Inspector and the allegation was found false.  Father Tigga of the Roman Catholic Mission complained against the Station House Officer Sitapur, and his staff for organizing a raid on the Christian Ashram of Sitapur and for harassing the Christians.  It was found that Christians of the village were found distilling liquor in the Ashram which they thought beyond the approach of the authorities.  Eight cases were registered, eventually tried in court and ultimately ended in conviction.  Father Tigga�s complaint had been made with a view to get the cases dropped. Father L. Von Royee made numerous complaints against the Station House Officer, Rajpur, for unnecessarily harassing Christians and asking them to leave the Police Station area and these allegations were also found to be false.  Father Royee was also warned by the District Superintendent of Police, for putting up baseless and frivolous complaints.  In that village a case under section 107, Criminal Procedure Code had been registered against Christians and Gonds who were quarrelling over the possession of a field.  Father Royee made a complaint against the Sub-Inspector with a view to obtain his assistance in getting the land secured for the Christians.  On 15th December, 1952, a heavy house-breaking by roof-cutting was committed in the village Batoli of Sitapur Station House and a villager was suspected by the police.  A Roman Catholic Father took one Putu, son of Hori to the District Superintendent of Police and alleged that Putu was beaten by the Sub-Inspector, Sitapur, during investigation.  A Magisterial enquiry was held and the allegation was found false.  Putu Uraon stated in writing before the Magistrate that he was instigated by the Roman Catholic Missionary to give such a complaint against the police.

 

16. Government got enquiries made as to the number of persons reported to be converted.  It was found that whereas only four Uraons were converted in the year 1948, none in the year 1949, five in the year 1950, there were 40 conversions in the year 1951.  In 1952, the number of conversions went up to 4,003 and in 1953 the total number of persons converted was 877, and in 1954, 223.  It was noticed that conversions had been confined solely to Uraons and in numerous cases entire families bad been converted. Whereas, Mission activities were confined to only three villages prior to 1951, it was extended to 23 villages of Surguja district where large number of conversions took place.

 

17. We may refer to Rev. Christy�s case in some detail, because soon after he was detected smuggling rice to Bihar and a case was started against him, he made numerous complaints to authorities all over India, and there was intense press propaganda in foreign countries about the treatment meted out to Christians in Madhya Pradesh.  The Government of Madhya Pradesh had prohibited export of rice from the border States to the neighbouring States of Bihar ant Orissa.  This order had been issued in the year 1950 when the foodgrain position in India was riot very satisfactory.  For enforcement of this order outposts had been established throughout the border in important villages and it was the duty of the Government servants concerned to prevent smuggling.  From the very large number of cases started against persons, it appeared that smuggling was going on a large scale.  On 14th April, 1952 a servant or nominee of Rev. Christy was caught by the Naka staff carrying rice to Bihar.  A letter written by Rev. Christy dated 14th April, 1952 was found in possession of the servant.  In that letter Rev. Christy stated that he had purchased rice worth Rs. 24 for sending it to his village in Bihar district.  This letter was found inside the rice bag which was seized by the Naka staff. Rev. Christy admitted before the Magistrate having written the letter and having arranged to get rice.  His defence was that he had applied for a permit to the Deputy Commissioner, Surguja, on 5th March, 1952 and that he had been orally assured by the Extra-Assistant Commissioner in charge that the permit would be sent to Rev. Christy in due course.  Rev. Christy, therefore, pleaded that he came in possession of the rice believing that he would secure a permit.  The Magistrate found that the application given by Rev. Christy for permit bad been rejected by the Deputy Commissioner and that no assurance was ever given to Rev. Christy by any one.  He was accordingly convicted.  In another case Rev. Christy along with two others was prosecuted under section 7 of the Essential supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, read with section 2 (1) (a) of the Foodgrains Export Restriction Order, 1943, for exporting a bag of rice from this State to the adjoining State of Bihar. They were also prosecuted under section 332, Indian Penal Code, for causing injury to a public servant.  In this case too they were found guilty and convicted.  According to the prosecution this incident happened on 27th February, 1952. Rev. Christy�s defence was that the case had been falsely started because he assisted Christians in the villages in his jurisdiction in lodging complaints against the high-handedness and harassment by the Naka staff. It is apparent that Rev. Christy�s complaints were not restricted to the Naka staff only but to other authorities as well.  The National Christian Council of Nagpur asked Mr. P. Lobo, Advocate, to visit the area concerned and to look into the matter concerning the prosecutions against Rev. Christy.  The following is the substance of complaints which the National Christian Council made to the Prime Minister of India:-

�It is stated that Christian Missionaries are being harassed in Madhya Pradesh.  In view of the numerous instances of this kind, the National Christian Council, Nagpur, asked Mr. P. Lobo, Advocate, of Nagpur, to make an enquiry into this matter.  Mr. P. Lobo has made an enquiry and has submitted a report.  Mr. Lobo gives many instances of harassment by local officials and frivolous charges and often of fabricated evidence.  One particular case viz., the case of Rev. J. C. Christy and two others of village Jodhpur was pointed out as an outstanding example of harassment. They are being prosecuted on framed up charges of smuggling rice in contravention of Food Control Regulations.  According to Mr. Lobo the case of Mr. Christy is typical of several such instances of harassment by local officials.  The fact that in a very large number of cases the persons concerned have been charged with the same offence, viz., smuggling of rice, lends colour to the view that this resemblance is not without significance.�

18. The Government of Madhya Pradesh got an official enquiry made as to whether there had been any differentiation or harassment of Christian population or of Christian Missionaries and whether the allegations made by Mr. Lobo were correct.  A reference to Rev. Christy�s case was also made by Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur in her letter, dated 9th October, 1952, to she Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh, in course of which she stated that various complaints of discontent, prevailing in Madhya Pradesh against the Christian community, had come which bad rather perturbed her.  Along with this letter she enclosed letters from Rev. Christy and Shri Lobo to her and also Rev. Christy�s memorandum on the persecution of Christians in Surguja district.  After careful enquiry Government found that the complaints made by Rev. Christy directly or through Shri Lobo and the National Christian Council had no basis whatsoever, in fact.  All the allegations of discrimination and harassment were totally false.  They found that the allegations had been clearly magnified and what was being done in the ordinary process of law was given the shape of deliberate harassment so as to conceal the objectionable activities of Rev. Christy and other Missionaries in the areas concerned.  Government noticed that a considerable amount of discontent and resentment prevailed amongst the local population of the Surguja district over the antireligious and anti-national activities of Christian Missionaries engaged in efforts to gain a foothold in the Surguja district which was hitherto a closed ground for them.  Government had received representations from almost all members of the Legislative Assembly and other respectable citizens in this behalf and public opinion was being organized.  A pamphlet was issued under the signature of the Maharaja of Surguja and other leading citizens of Ambikapur town in which an appeal was made to the people to he cautious against the activities of the Missionaries.  The Maharaja of Surguja had written to Government in October, 1952 protesting against the political activities carried on by the Missionaries in the name of religion and exploitation of the rural Adivasis.

 

19. It will thus he seen that whereas on the one hand an impression was being created all over India at the instance of foreign Missionaries engaged in the Udaipur and Surguja States that the Madhya Pradesh Government was following a policy discrimination or harassment of the Christian population and Missionaries, on the other hand numerous complaints were being received of the objectionable activities of these foreign Missionaries, especially in the tribal areas and public resentment was mounting up.  Government was not clear whether the agitation was confined only to the newly-merged States or whether other areas of Madhya Pradesh where the Missions were working were also affected.  It must be noticed that about 30 different Missions are working its Madhya Pradesh with varying number of centres in each district.  Almost the entire Madhya Pradesh is covered by Missionary activities and there is hardly any district where a Mission of one denomination or the other is not operating in some form or the other.  More than half the people of Madhya Pradesh (57.4 per cent) consist of members of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Backward Classes and it is amongst these that Missionary activities are mostly confined.  The background of Missionary activities in the old Madhya Pradesh and the merged States was repeatedly brought to Government�s notice as a warning to be taken notice of and the almost similar methods adopted by the Roman Catholic and other Missions in the new areas of Surguja and Udaipur States was reported to be of great significance.  Missionaries had vehemently denied allegations of proselytism and anti-national activities and had levelled charges against local officials whenever enquiries were made by such officers.  In respect of authorities outside Madhya Pradesh these Missionaries also complained against the attitude if the Madhya Pradesh Government and vile propaganda against the Government was carried on in the foreign press.  In these circumstances, Government decided to get the matter examined thoroughly through an open and public enquiry and our Committee came to be appointed. 
 

CHAPTER III. - CASTES AND TRIBES OF MADHYA PRADESH

 

As Missionary activity in Madhya Pradesh is confined mostly to members of certain Tribes and to certain border areas, it is desirable to have an idea of some of the important Tribes, their occupations, characteristics, and social customs.  In subsequent chapters we shall deal with the Missions working amongst these Tribes and the history of their advent and progress amongst these Adivasis.

 

2. We shall first refer to the important aboriginal Tribes of Uraon, Baiga, Marias and the Gonds.  Before doing so, it may be useful to remember that the Aboriginal Tribes mostly called Adiwasis or Adimjatis claim to be the original inhabitants of India.  The Aryans, who came into the country subsequently, gradually pushed them back from the fertile lands of the Indo-Gangestic plain into forests and hilly tracts of the areas on the borders of the present States of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.  Even in these areas, exploitation of the simple-minded and illiterate aboriginals continued by the Jamindars, the businessmen and other communities.  Loans at exhorbitant rates of interest were advanced, agricultural produce was purchased at cheap rates, forced or free labour was taken and land made cultivable after years of toil, was taken back on one pretext or the other.  By this process the aboriginals were gradually pushed further and further back into the jungle areas, and practically no attempt to improve the educational, medical, mental or economic conditions of the aboriginals was ever made.  The first positive step was taken by the British Government in the 19th century after important aboriginal rebellions in the Santhal Parganas of Bengal and the Ranchi district of Bihar, and a special law was enacted forbidding sale of land by an aboriginal to a non-aboriginal and other protective measures were introduced.  With the idea of encouraging the uplift of aboriginals and possibly with the motive of encouraging their conversion to Christianity, Christian Missionaries were encouraged to open schools and hospitals in the Tribal areas and till a few years ago these Christian schools and dispensaries were the only ones in the hilly Adiwasi country in addition to a few institutions which the Government had established.  The Christian Missionaries did their work with considerable devotion and selflessness and brought about many conversions in spite of the deep-rooted Tribal tradition and Tribal customs.  One noticeable effect of this long association of Christian Missionaries with the Tribal people to the exclusion of other sections of the community has been that the aboriginals have come to look upon the Hindus as hostile to their interests and the Christian Missionaries as their friends.

 

3. How simple-minded and capable of being duped easily the Tribals are, will be apparent from some of the Tribes whose characteristics and customs we have studied in some detail.  The Uraons, according to the 1941 Census, were 1,64,731 in number.  It is a Dravadian Tribe inhabiting the Korba Zamindari of Bilaspur district, the former States of Udaipur and Jashpur in the Raigrah district and the Surguja district.  In the Korba Zamindari, in Udaipur and Jashpur, they are mostly found in the plains, whereas in the Surguja district they mostly reside in jungles and on the hills.  In the more settled areas they have taken to regular cultivation, but in the Surguja district the main occupation the Uraons still continues to be hunting and gathering of fruits, although attempts are being made by Government to make them settle down in plains and to follow modern methods of agriculture.  The Uraons have no sub-castes among them.  They have numerous Gotras after the names of plants, trees, animals and birds. etc. Marriage within the Gotra is not permissible. They use very simple dress mostly of cloth prepared by the village weaver. Their staple food is rice and dal with such meat as may be available through hunting.  In marriages and other social customs and habits they follow the conventional practices of the Hindus. Liquor plays a very important part in their festivities.  It will be interesting to note that the Roman Catholics had a greater number of converts because they did not insist on prohibiting consumption of liquor, whereas the Lutherans, who at one time advocated Prohibition, could secure a small number of converts only.

 

4. The Baigas are found in the Dindori tahsil of Mandla district.  Baihar tahsil of Balaghat district and part of Bilaspur district adjoining the Mandla district.  It is one of the most primitive Tribes of India and the Baigas are generally interested in �bewar� cultivation on the slopes of the hills or on the hill-tops.  The Baiga is a good hunter, who loves his bow and arrow.  Besides hunting, another occupation is the gathering of wild fruits.  He occasionally prepares baskets and bamboo mattings.  He is generally shy of civilized man and dresses scantily. Bodies are tattooed from head to foot and women take delight in wearing brass ornaments and necklaces of coloured beads.

 

5. The Marias are members of another primitive Tribe found in the Chanda and Bastar districts.  Hunting is their important vocation on which they occasionally spend months together.  Wild-fruit gathering is undertaken to supplement their food and also for purposes of barter for salt, iron, etc.  We were not able to pay a visit to the territories inhabited by Marias, but we were informed authoritatively that there are practically no converts to Christianity from this Tribe.

 

6. The most numerous of the aboriginal Tribes, the Gonds, reside in Sanjari-Balod and Bemetara tahsils of Durg district, Baihar tahsil of Balaghat district and throughout the Mandla, Raipur, Chhindwara, Betul, Chanda and Bilaspur districts.  They are mostly agriculturists although some are landless labourers.  Fruit gathering and collection of Tendu leaves form their sources of subsidiary income.  At one time they were Rulers of Gondwana and consequently an aristocratic section of the Gonds has arisen.  Hindu rites and customs in respect of marriages and observance of festivals are followed, Holi, Dasera, Diwali and Shivaratri are observed and they dress like other Hindus.

 

7. Whether the aboriginal Tribes are Hindus or not has been a question of great controversy.  The Missionaries have throughout claimed that they are not Hindus.  A continuous attempt has been made by these organizations to foster a sense of separateness amongst the Tribes from the rest of the Hindus.

 

8. Speaking about the separation of the aborigines from the mass of the Indian population Gandhiji remarked: �We were strangers to this sort of classification- �animists� -aborigines, etc., but we have learnt it from the English rulers�.  To the question put by Dr. Chesterman whether Gandhiji�s objection applied to areas like the Kond hills where the aboriginal races were animists, the unhesitating reply was, �yes, it does apply, because I know that in spite of being described as animists these tribes have from times immemorial been absorbed in Hinduism.  They are, like the indigenous medicine, of the soil, and their roots lie deep there� (Pages 192 and 299 Christian Missions. Navajiwan Press).

 

9. Gandhiji�s statement is amply borne out by the researches of scholars like the late M. M. Kunte who wrote a thesis on �The Vicissitudes of Indian Civilization� in 1880.  In the introduction lie says: �Budhism was a revolution caused by the energy of the aboriginal races�.  While discussing the social changes during the Acharya period he says : �intermarriages between the Aryas and the Shudras.  Kolis and other aborigines were frequent�.  �The Vijasneys sanhita� considers the growth of the mixed classes an evil and condemns it, but the mixed classes gradually acquired power and influence in the State.  At the time of the Mahabharat such great men as �Vyas� and �Vidur� were the offsprings of the connection of the Aryan with the aborigines.  Satyavati, who was the daughter of the Koli chieftain became the queen of King Shantanu.  Dhritrastra, Pandu and Vidur were the offsprings of Vyas.  At that time no stain was attached to intermarriages between the Aryas and the aborigines.  Bhima married Heedimba and Arjun married Naga girl called Ullupi.  A class of Aryas called Upakrishta was created.  Upakrishta means those who were admitted to the privilege of performing a sacrifice. (Pages 252-253 ibid).

 

10. The Nishadas were an aboriginal tribe.  They were sometimes included in the Pancha-Janah, i.e., the five-fold Aryas.  Gradually the Nishadas were incorporated. (Page 254 ibid).

 

11. As to the evolution of castes it has to be noticed that among the various ways in which they came to be formed was the absorption of the tribes into the Hindu social system as stated in the �Imperial Gazetteer of India� 1907, Volume I, page 314.  Where a tribe has insensibly been converted into a caste, it preserved its original name and customs, but modified its animistic practices more and more in the direction of orthodox Hinduism.  Numerous examples of this process are to be found all over India and it has been at work for centuries.

 

12. We may quote here the well-known verse about the mixed origin of those who are honoured as religious leaders in Hindu society: It is as follows:-

""OmVm{ ì`mñVw H¡$dË`m© : 
íd [m·`míÀ` [amea : 
ew·`m ewH$: H$UmXm»`ñVWm{by·` : 
gwVm{ ^dV².................''

(Bhavisya Mahapuran Chapter 42).  Valmiki, the author of the Epic Ramayan and Hanuman the so-called monkey God were also aborigines.

 

13. The process by which this transformation takes place is as follows: The leading men of an aboriginal tribe having somehow got on in the world and become landed proprietors manage to enroll themselves in one of the most distinguished castes.  They usually set up as Rajputs and their first step is to consult a Brahmin to discover for them a mythical ancestor of some great Rajput Community.  By the process of inter-marriages they come to be absorbed in the fullest sense of the word and are locally accepted as high class Hindus. (Imperial Gazetteer of India, Volume I, Page 312.)

 

14. It is interesting to see how the matter came to be dealt with by the Census officers.  Here we gratefully draw upon the result of the study of the Aboriginal problem by Dr. G. S. Ghurye (Cantab.), Head of the Department of Sociology, Bombay University, pp. 2-8, The Aborigines so-called and their Future.  In 1891 J.A. Baines, the Commissioner of Census considered the distinction between tribal people who were Hinduized and those that followed their tribal form of religion as futile because, �every stratum of Indian society is more or less saturated with Animistic Conceptions but little raised above those which predominate in the early state of religious development. (Census of India 1891 Report, Volume I, Part I, page 158).  In the census of 1901 Sir Herbert Risley observed that animism comprised a medley of heterogeneous and uncomfortable superstitions and that it figured in the original returns of the census under as many different designations as there are tribes professing it.  According to him Hinduism itself was animism more or less transformed by philosophy or as magic tempered by metaphysics and his final opinion was that no sharp line of demarcation could be drawn between Hinduism and Animism as the one shaded away insensibly into the other. (The People of India second edition, pages 218, 233 and 245.)

 

15. In 1911 Sir E. A. Gait, the Commissioner of the Census remarked that because a man sought the help of a Brahmin priest or made offerings at a Hindu shrine, it did riot follow that he had given up the last shreds of his inherited animistic beliefs and that owing to the gradual nature of the process of Hinduizing it was extremely difficult to say at what stage a man should be regarded as having become a Hindu (Census of India, 1911, India, Volume I, Part I, pages 129 130). Sir A. J. Baines wrote in 1912 in his Ethnography, pages 8 and 9, �one of the most interesting ethnographical questions entering into the census enquiry is that of the rate at which Brahminism is, in name at least absorbing the animistic tribal population.� In order to solve the practical difficulty which the census officers had to face he used the term �tribal animism� or �tribal religion� for the religion returned under the tribal name, by those who did not adhere to any of the wider creeds.  In the year 1921 Mr. P. C. Tallents, the Superintendent of the Census Operations in Bihar and Orissa and Mr. Sedgwick, the Superintendent of the Census in Bombay were faced with the difficulty of distinguishing a Hindu from an animist, and Mr. Sedgwick recommended in unequivocal terms that animism as a religion should be entirely abandoned and that all those hitherto classed as animists should be grouped with the Hindus (Census of India, 1921-Bihar and Orissa Report, page 125, and Bombay Report, page 67).  Mr. J. T. Marten, the Commissioner of Census arriving been impressed by their views changed the religious division of animism of the previous censuses into that of tribal religion; but he at the same time was not satisfied about that way of solving tee problem, for he remarked �If the word animism is vague in respect of what it connotes, the term �tribal religion� is not by any means definite in what it denotes.� (Census of India, 1921, India Report, Volume I, Part I, page 111.)

 

16. In 1931 Dr. J. H. Hutton, the Commissioner of Census, retained the heading �tribal religion� in the body of the report, but used that term in contradistinction to Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc., in the tables at the end of the chapter on religion.  Although he isolated the tribal people in this way, he admitted that the line between Hinduism and tribal religion was difficult to draw, and that the inclusion of the latter within the Hindu fold was easy. (Census of India, 1931, India Report, Volume I, Part I, page 397.)

 

17. Mr. W. H. Shoobert, the Superintendent of the Census of 1931 for the Central Provinces and Berar also referred to the difficulty of obtaining satisfactorily accurate returns of those who retained their tribal creeds but deliberately returned themselves as Hindus for the reason that it would elevate them in the social scale, whereas to the more simple of the tribals the term �Hindu� conveyed no connection with any religion but merely indicated a race.  He also was impressed by the fact that �there was much in the religion of each which could easily be assimilated to that of the other�.  But he thought that it would be incorrect to class the Hinduized aboriginal with the ordinary Hindu villager of the Central Provinces, for although after centuries of varying degrees or contacts each may have assimilated ideas and customs from the other, their cultures are most obviously distinct (Census of India, 1931, Central Provinces and Berar Report, Volume XII, Part I, pages 397 and 333).  It may be mentioned here that Mr. W. V. Grigson, I.C.S., agreed with Dr. V. Elwin�s opinion that the religion of the Indian aboriginal outside Assam should be regarded as the religion of the Hindu family, and that for purposes of Census, all aborigines should be classed as Hindus by religion (page 8, The Aboriginal Problem in the Central Provinces and Berar).

 

18. It is not easy to find any sound reason for isolating the tribal people from the Hindus in view of the repeated admissions made that the animistic or tribal religion was hardly distinguishable from the Hindu religion.  The mystery is solved when we come to examine the Missionary activities within these tribal areas.

 

19. Mr. Stent, who was Deputy Commissioner of Amravati sent a note to the Census Officer to say that the educated Indian officers of Government maintained that Gonds, Korkus, Bhils, Gowaris and Banjaras were Hindus, and he himself conceded that when members of these tribes settled in a Hindu village they become Hindus.  He commented on the tendency of Hinduism to absorb the religion of other people, and also pointed out that the aboriginals returned themselves as Hindus to escape from the taint of barbarism and to raise themselves in the social scale. (Census Report, Central Provinces and Berar, 1931, Volume XII, Part I, page 329.)

 

20. Viewing the problem from the point of view of caste, it would appear that the process was similar to that of religion.  In 1891 Baines arranged the castes according to their traditional occupations, viz., under the category of Agricultural and Pastoral castes lie formed a sub-heading and named it forest tribes.  That indicates that the forest dwellers were not excluded from the description of the caste.

 

21. In the next two censuses, i.e., of 1901 and 1911, Sir Herbert Risley and Sir E. A. Gait included the so-called animists in the table for castes along with others, indicating against each the number following Hinduism or Animism or some other religion. (Ghurye, page 7).

 

22. In 1921 Mr. Marten followed the same practice, only changing the heading of Animism to Tribal religion.  In 1931 Dr. Hutton substituted the term �Primitive Tribes� for �Forest Tribes� and added a special appendix on �Primitive Tribes� giving their names and numbers.

 

23. In the Census of 1941 there was a sharp departure from the previous one of 1931.  The heads were counted community-wise instead of on the basis of religion.  To elucidate the matter, a tribal who belonged to the so-called scheduled tribes was classified as such under the original community table despite his or her being a Christian fly faith.  The consequence was that to all appearances the all-India figures for Indian Christians in that year were shown as 6,040,665 which was less by 256,098 than the previous all-India figure, viz., 6,296,733 as recorded in 1931.  That, however, did not mean that Christianity failed to progress in the decade between 1931 and 1941.  The explanation of this paradox is to be found in the short note on community made by Mr. Yeats, the Census Commissioner of India (Chapter IV, page 29, Volume I, Census of India, 1941, Part I Table) where he discloses that approximately one-twentieth of the total tribal population falls within the Christians on the religions basis.  Calculating the total figure for the whole of India on the lines indicated by him, it would be found that there was actually an increase of 3,474,128 persons approximately among the Christian community during the decade 1931-41 (pages 448-449, Christian Proselytism in India by Parekh).

 

24. By reason of the Backwardness of these tribes, the Constitution of India has made special provisions for their protection.  Under Article 46 of the Constitution, the State is directed to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes, and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.  The Constitution has thus recognised that members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes belong to the weaker sections of society and has sought to protect them from all forms of exploitation.  In pursuance of these obligations, the Government of Madhya Pradesh have created a separate Tribal Welfare Department which has prepared a scheme for the uplift of aborigines.  The main features of the scheme are to look after the educational and other needs of the aborigines so as to bring them on a par with other people.  Government approved a scheme, the total estimated cost of which was Rs. 169,60 lakhs in the First Five-Year Plan. It was introduced in December 1952 and 40 centres were established each providing for the following facilities and services:-

 

(a) A primary and a residential middle school. 

(b) A midwife for child welfare and ante-natal and post-natal treatments. 

(c) A stud bull and poultry farm. 

(d) Cottage industries workshop. 

(e) Anti-malaria control measures. 

(f) Distribution of simple medicines. 

(g) Multi-purpose co-operative societies. 

(h) Arrangements for social, cultural and moral uplift activities. 

(i) A drinking-water well. 

(j) Approach roads.



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PART II

CHAPTER I. - MISSIONS IN MADHYA PRADESH AND INDIA

 

Missionary organisations are so wide-spread in this country that they seem to constitute �a State within the State�.  The Roman Catholic Church is a highly centralised organisation, Spread over all the world with power concentrated in the Pope, who, in the words of Pope Leo XIII (in the encyclical letter, dated June 20, 1894) �holds upon this earth the place of God Almighty�.  Hence he is crowned with a Triple Crown as King of Heaven and of the Earth and of the Lower Regions.

 

2. As regards the Protestants, they were divided into various national churches which sent out Missionaries as limbs of �National Imperialisms� (World Politics in Modern Civilization by Barnes. page 273).  They are numerous and on the whole the number of denominations is not decreasing but increasing (page 21, Elements of Ecumenism).  Hence in their case, centralisation was necessary to fight on two fronts, viz., religious nationalism of the country which they assail and Communism which they want to defend themselves against.  With all this effort on centralisation, the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church of the Byzantine tradition and the oriental National Churches described as the Monophysites, the Unitarian Churches of England and America have refused to enter the fellowship of World Council of Churches with its headquarters at Geneva and on the other hand it has to meet .violent and growing opposition from the International Council of Christian Churches and another fundamentalist group, viz., the World Evangelical Fellowship (pages 18 to 20, The Elements of Ecumenism).

 

3. The Evangelical arm of the World Council of Churches is the International Missionary Council.  The National Christian Council of India, which was formerly known as the National Missionary Council, came to be organised in 1914 as the result of the First World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910 and is affiliated to the International Missionary Council which has its offices in London and New York.  It is a constituent member of the International Missionary Council.  It is established on the acceptance of the principle that the Church is central in the Christian enterprise, that the local congregation is basic to its life and witness and that evangelism is its primary task.  Among its various functions are � 

 

(1) to consult the International Missionary Council regarding such matters as call for consideration or action.

 

(2) to communicate and co-operate with the National Christian Councils of other countries which are members of the International Missionary Council and with other similar bodies in matters affecting the Christian enterprise as a whole.

 

4. In India there are Regional Christian Councils in 14 places, viz., Andhra, Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Bombay, Hyderabad, Karnatak, Keral, Tamil-Nad, Mid-India, North-West India, Santhal, United Provinces and Utkal.

 

5. The foreign personnel in India now numbers 4,877, an excess of 500 on the returns for 1951.  The increased personnel has occurred in the smaller Missions, most of which do not yet have any organised churches associated with them. (Compiler�s Introduction, Christian Hand-Book, of India 1954-SS).

 

6. In Madhya Pradesh, there are Indian personnel 251 and foreign 402 (page 210 ibid).

 

7. The institutions which are conducted by the Protestant Missions can be divided under five heads as follows:-

(i) Economic, 
(ii) Educational, 
(iii) Evangelistic, 
(iv) Medical, 
(v) Philanthropic and General.

Under (i) Economic, fall the following.-

(a) agricultural settlements, 
(b) co-operative societies, 
(c) printing presses, 
(d) literature distributing centres, 
(e) miscellaneous industries.

Under (ii) Educational-

(a) colleges, 
(b) high schools, 
(c) middle schools, 
(d) teachers� training institutions, 
(e) industrial schools, 
(f) schools for Missionaries� children.

Under (iii) Evangelistic-

(a) theological colleges and seminaries, 
(b) pastoral and evangelistic workers training institutions, 
(c) Bible correspondence course, 
(d) Christian Ashrams.

Under (iv) Medical-

(a) hospitals, 
(b) dispensaries, 
(c) leprosy institutions, 
(d) tuberculosis sanatorium; and

Under (v) Philanthropic and General-

(a) homes for the blind and deaf, etc. 
(b) homes for women, 
(c) homes for converts, 
(d) orphanages, 
(e) social and welfare organisations, 
(h) Missionary homes of rest, 
(g) Christian retreat and study centres.

A statement giving particulars about Protestant Christian Missions operating in Madhya Pradesh and the institutions conducted by the several Missions is to be found in Appendix 3. 
 

CHAPTER II. � HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO OLD MADHYA PRADESH AND THE MERGED STATES

 

The present aims and objects of Missionary activity in some parts of Madhya Pradesh can best be understood against the background of history.  The advent of Christianity in India is shrouded in myth and tradition.  Tradition assigns the origin of the most ancient Christian community in India, called the Syrian Christians to the preaching of St. Thomas, the Apostle.

 

2. The spread of the Christianity in India may be considered under four definite periods, viz.

(1) The Syrian Period. 
(2) The Roman Catholic Period under Portuguese domination. 
(3) The Protestant Period under British domination. 
(4) The Modern Period.

The Syrian Period

 

3. Long, before Christ there had been commerce between Europe and India not only by caravans. which took the land route through Persia, but also by ships down the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf.  In fact, the foreign trade of India is as old as her history.  Relics found in Sumeria and Egypt point to a traffic between these countries and India as far back as 3000 B.C. Commerce between India and Babylon by the Persian Gulf flourished from 700 to 480 B. C. Rome in her halcyon days depended upon India for spices and perfumes as well as silks, brocades, muslins and cloth of gold.  The Parthian wars were fought by Rome largely to keep open the trade route to India.  Even in later times Europe looked upon the Hindus as experts in every line of manufacture, woodwork, ivory-work, metal-work, bleaching, dying, tanning, soap-making, glass blowing, gun powder, fire works, cement, etc. (Page 479, Story of Civilization by Durant).

 

4. St. Thomas Christians (or followers of the Church of the East) in small numbers began to visit Malbar frequently for trade purposes, and some of them settled there.  During the Decian and Diocletian persecutions many Christians living in the Eastern Province of the Roman Empire fled to Persia and joined the Church in that Country.  Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople (A.D. 428-431) who denied the hypostatic union and maintained the existence of the two distinct natures in Christ, was condemned and deposed for �heresy� at the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. His followers, the Nestorians, were persecuted with such vigour that they were forced to leave the Empire and by the time of Justinian (A.D. 527) it was difficult to find a church within the whole Roman Empire hat shared the views of Nestorians.  The exiled, Nestorians joined the Church in Persia.

 

5. Between the Fifth and the Ninth centuries Nestorian expansion was phenomenal.  The Nestorian traders brought to Malabar several colonies of Christians from Persian lands during this period.  These colonists had their own priests and deacons and a bishop from Persia.  As the years rolled on these early colonies adapted themselves to the ways of the Hindus and learnt to maintain their racial purity.  Even to this day the Syrian Christians claim that their community has remained unadulterated by proselytism.

Advent of European Christianity

 

6. The first Latin Christian Missionary who is known to have visited India was John de Monte Corvino, afterwards Archbishop of Cambale in Cathay.  Sent out by Pope Nicholas IV as a Missionary to China, he on his way to China halted in India about the year 1291.  He remained in the country for thirteen months, and baptised in different places about one hundred people.  The next Latin Missionary of whom we find mention is a French Dominican Friar named Jordanus.  About the year 1323 or earlier with other Friars, both Dominican and Franciscan, he found his way to the Bombay coast where it is said his companions were put to death by Muslims.  This was the period when Christianity was unable to stand against the overwhelming forces of Islam.

 

7. By the close of the Thirteenth century these European, Missionaries were able to create a chain of Christian colonies on the Western coast of India, between Thana (Bombay) and Quilon (Travancore).  Stimulated by the fear of Muslims, particularly Mongols, Rome, got reconciled to many things which it did not like, and a Christian unity was established.  In the early years of the Fourteenth century a complete Persian hierarchy was created with a Metropolitan whose scat was at a town south of the Caspian sea and whose jurisdiction extended over Persia, India, Ethiopia and Central Asia.

The Roman Catholic period under the Portuguese Dominion

 

8. The Missionary work of Western Christendom began with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1498.  This should be considered the beginning of the aggressive Missionary Era of the Catholic Church in India.  In 1498 Vasco da Gama anchored off Calicut, but on that occasion he had no, intercourse with Christians.  When he visited India a second time in 1502, he was surprised to find a Christian community on the western coast of India.  These Christians welcomed him and applied to him for assistance against their Muslim neighbours.  Large numbers of monks were sent to India with the Portuguese fleets, and Goa soon became the centre of a vigorous missionary enterprise.  By now the Portuguese strategy of establishing the Protectorate of the King of Portugal over the Christians of the Malabar coast had become successful. 
  

9. Although in the sphere of trade and commerce the Portuguese on the West coast made very substantial progress, no great success was at first achieved in their missionary endeavours.  The King of Portugal, dissatisfied with the small progress made, applied to Ignatius Loyola to send the entire Jesuit Order to India.  The motto of Portuguese adventure in India was �the service of God and our own advantage�, and King Manuel was determined to use all available resources to achieve this object.  Loyola could not grant the request; but in 1541 Francis Xavier, the greatest of all Jesuits, was sent to the East, and the day of his arrival may well be called the birthday of Roman Catholic Missions in India.  He only spent about four and a half years in the country, but in that brief space of time he is said to have baptised about 60,000 people, nearly all from the fisherman castes, living on the South-West and South-East coasts of India.  They poured en masse into the Church.

 

10. This mass movement work of the Jesuits was in fact an appeal to material interests.  The Fishermen of the South-East coast were constantly raided by pirates.  One of their fellow countrymen, living in Goa who had become Christian, persuaded them to apply for help to the Portuguese Viceroy.  So a deputation was sent to Goa, and the Viceroy agreed to deliver them from their enemies on condition that the whole caste became Christian and subjects of the King of Portugal.  The bargain wag ratified by the baptism of all the delegates then and there.  A fleet was sent, the pirates were dispersed, and the whole caste was baptised in a few weeks.

 

11. The impatient Xavier, still dissatisfied with the result of his labour wrote to the King of Portugal that the only hope of increasing the number of Christians was by the use of the secular power of the State.  As a result of this note, the King issued orders that in Goa and other Portuguese settlements, �all idols shall be sought out and destroyed, and severe penalties shall be laid upon all such as shall dare to make an idol or shall shelter or hide a Brahmin�. (Page 54 History of Missions Richter).  He also ordered that special privileges should be granted to Christians in order that the natives may be inclined to submit themselves to the yoke of Christianity. (P. 54-ibid).

 

12. In 1514 Pope Leo X granted to the Kings of Portugal the right of patronage over Churches and of nomination to all the Benefices which they would establish.  In 1534 all trading stations from Bombay to Nagapatnam where the Portuguese flag was floating, soon became Catholic centres with resident Chaplains.  Along the coast Franciscans had baptised some 20,000 Paravas (Fishermen) even before Xavier landed in India.  Goa, the capital of Portuguese India, was made an Episcopal See.  Now successive waves of invasions of India by Catholic Missionaries from the West were started; besides the Jesuits in (1542) the Dominicans (in 1548), the Augustinians (in 1572) also arrived in India with the active support of the Portuguese Kings.  By the middle of 1577 a Christian centre was formed in Bengal by bands of Portuguese adventurers and an Augustinian Father and their slaves.  Thus the Portuguese continued their work of �winning Indians for Christ their Lord� with the mighty sword in one hand and the crucifix in the other.

Catholic expansion

 

13. In 1872 the Augustinians distributed their missionaries in Basein, Bengal and other parts.  The Jesuits had been making determined efforts to reform the Syrian Church in accordance with Roman ideas and to bring it into subjection to the Pope.  In 1594 a Jesuit Mission started from Goa to the court of Akbar the Mughal and they got his permission to establish Christian centres in Agra, Delhi and Lahore. The Catholic writers say that in 1600, after a century of Mission work the Church had gathered about 2,70,000 converts in India.

 

14. A new departure was made at the beginning of the seventeenth century by another great Jesuit Missionary.  He was an Italian of noble birth, of great intellectual ability and devotion.  He came to Madura, capital of a Hindu Kingdom, outside the jurisdiction of the Portuguese Viceroy.  His name was Robert De Nobili.  He saw that the policy of Xavier and other Catholic Fathers who were making mass conversions of lower castes by using the secular power of the State was disastrous.  He clearly saw that unless the Higher classes were won for Christ the Church was not going to drive her roots into the soil of India.  So he at once threw over the policy of Xavier and struck out a line of his own.

 

15. Nobili appeared in Madura clad in the saffron robes of a Sadhu with sandal paste on his forehead and the sacred thread on his body from which hung a cross and took his abode in the Brahmin quarters.  He thus attracted a large number of people.  He gave out that he was a Brahmin from Rome.  He showed documentary evidence to prove that he belonged to a clan of the parent stock that had migrated from ancient Aryavart and assured the members of the high castes that by becoming a Christian one did not renounce one�s caste, nobility or usage. (Pages 65-70 Christians and Christianity in India and Pakistan).  He learnt Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit, and took up the Brahman style of living.  He wrote in Sanskrit a Christian Sandhyavandanam for Brahmin converts.  He declared that he was bringing a message which had been taught in India by Indian ascetics of yore and that he was only restoring to Hindus one of their lost sacred books, namely the 5th Veda, called Yeshurveda.  It passed for a genuine work until the Protestant Missionaries exposed the fraud about the year 1840. (History of Missions, Richter, Page 57).  In five years, from 1607 to 1611, he baptised 87 Brahmins.  These conversions, then so marvellous, drew upon De Nobili the eyes of friend and foe alike.  A big controversy raged among the Roman Catholic missionaries the world over for a considerable length of time.  Much of the opposition could be explained by wounded pride on the Portuguese side.  In 1623 Pope Gregory XV gave a bull in favour of De Nobili, declaring thus: We allow the present and future converts to wear the (Brahmin) thread and the tuft of hair as distinctive marks of race, social rank and office, to use sandal wood as ornament and to take ablutions as a matter of hygiene.  This Brahman Sanyasi of the �Roman Gotra�, Father De Nobili, worked for 40 years and died at the ripe age of 89 in 1656.  It is said that he had converted about a lakh of persons but they all melted away after his death.

By 1700 India had 6,00,000 of Catholics.

 

16. The Catholic expansion continued.  The French Jesuits, who had their headquarters in Pondicherry from 1700, passed it on to the Paris Foreign Mission Society in 1776.  At Calcutta a Catholic chapel was erected in 1700.  The Italian Capuchins penetrated into Tibet in 1713.  Thus, a network of Roman Catholic Missions was spread all over India, from Tibet to Cape Comorin and from Punjab to Assam.  Within two hundred years after the Portuguese landed in India, it is claimed the Catholic Church had 9,58,000 adherents in India (Catholic Directory, 1950).

 



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The Protestant period

 

17. The Missionary work of the Protestant Church began in India in 1706.  Soon after the Dutch, the Danes entered India and established a number of factories on the eastern and western coasts of India.  In 1706, German Lutherans, sent by King Frederick IV of Denmark, reached Tranquebar as Missionaries to the Danish Possession in India.  Their work at first was mainly confined to the Danish and English settlements.  Later they did a lot of preaching, teaching and Bible translation.  Ziegenbalg, Grundler, Schwartaz and others under the patronage of the King of Denmark were the pioneers of the Protestant Mission in India.  The Danish Missionary Society in association with German Missions opened the era of Protestant Missionary enterprise in India.  The Bible was translated into Tamil by them.  They laid the foundations of the Church in the districts of Tinnevelly, Trichinopoly, Tanjore and Madras.

Anglican Missions

 

18. The Danes had scarcely commenced assuming political power when they were superseded by the British.  The first English Mission established in India was that of the Baptists in Bengal.  By the Charter of 1690 the East India Company was charged to see �All chaplains in the East India Service shall learn the language of the country in order that they may be better able to instruct the Gentoos, heathen servants and slaves of the Company and of its agents into Protestant religion� (page 102, Richter: history of Missions in India).  The S. P. C. K. appointed the Rev. Clarke Keirnander�s mission in Calcutta in 1789, but he left that position in 1791 and became a chaplain in the East India Company�s service. William Carey landed in Calcutta in November 1793, and established his headquarters at the Danish settlement at Serampore, a few miles north of Calcutta.  In 1801, Lord Wellesley made him Master and Professor of Bengali, Marathi and Sanskrit, at the newly established college in Calcutta for training candidates for Government services.  Thus, Carey�s activities were extended to Calcutta.  The Serampore trio, viz., Carey, Marshman and Ward were carrying on a vigorous crusade, pouring coarse and scurrilous invectives against both Hinduism and Islam.  When a Mission tract in w Hazrat Mohammed was called an imposter had been brought to his notice, Lord Minto wrote to the Chairman of the East India Company in 1807 to say how the publications of the Serampore Press had the effect not to convert but to alienate the adherents of Hinduism and Islam.  He said �pray read especially the miserable stuff addressed to the Hindus in which�� without proof or argument of any kind pages are filled with hell fire denounced against the whole race of men, etc��.� (Parekh Christian Proselytism in India, page 126).

 

19. The Church of England prevailed upon the East India Company to appoint chaplains, and ardent evangelistic like Henry Martyn were brought to India.  The S. P. C. K. made financial grants to the German Missionaries in South India.  In 1813, there was held in the Parliament the famous debate on the subject of sending out Missionaries to India.  Mr. Charles Marsh, a retired Barrister from Madras, opposed the measure in a vehement speech which ended with the preroration: �What will have been gained to ourselves by giving them Calvinism and fermented liquors; and whether predestination and gin would be a compensation to the natives of India for the changes which will overwhelm their habits, morals and religion� (page 36, Volume II, Life and Times of Carey, Marshman, Ward by J. C. Marshman, 1859).  In 1814, the C. M. S. sent two clergymen to South India, and in 1816 two others to Bengal as regular Missionaries.  In 1820 the Bishop�s College in Calcutta was established �for instructing native and other Christian youth in the doctrine of the Church�. - With the arrival of Alexander Duff, the Scottish Missionary, 1830, a fresh epoch began in the history of the Protestant Missions.

 

20. Duff was confronted with the same position in Bengal that faced De Nobili at Madura two centuries earlier.  The situation which the Missionaries had to face in the middle of the last century is well described by Captain Cunningham in the History of the Sikhs (1849) in these words: �They cannot promise aught which their hearers were not sure of before��the Pandit and the Mullah can each oppose dialectics to dialectics, morality to morality, and revelation to revelation.  Our zealous preachers may create sects among themselves, they may persevere in their laudable resolution of bringing up the orphans of heathen parents��but it seems hopeless that they should ever Christianise the Indian and Mahomedan worlds� (pages 19-20).  The Indian Christians drawn nearly entirely from the lower castes were looked down upon and despised.  It seemed impossible that they could be the evangelists of India.  Dr. Duff, therefore, conceived the plan of converting the Brahmans by means of English education saturated with Christian teaching and with the help of the English providing them with Government jobs.  Dr. Duff�s example was followed by other Missionaries, and high schools and colleges were founded during the next fifty years in all parts of India with lavish aid from Government.  The Government despatch of 1854 provided that the education imparted in the Government institutions should be exclusively secular.  Canon Mozley, discussing the prospects of Christianity in the fifties of the last century, warmly supported the neutral attitude of the Government and argued that their �so-called Godless education left the Indian mind purged desiring to be filled.  Several witnesses before the Parliamentary Committee of 1853 affirmed that Government schools were doing pioneer work for Christianity� (Mayhew: Christianity and Government of India : page 177).  The underlying policy of the Educational Despatch was apparently that the Missionary institutions should impart the knowledge of Christian religion directly while the Government institutions were to do the same indirectly.  With this object the Mission institutions came to receive grants as much as five times of all private institutions put together and they got control of almost all the secondary schools (ibid page 170).  In the shaping of Government policy on education, there was a tendency to identify the interest of Government and Christian Mission�� the Missions definitely included the education of all kinds and grades among their instruments for the evangelisation of India (ibid page 160).

 

21. With the increase of political power of the British in India, the Protestant Missionaries with the active support of the British Residents in the Native States established churches and Mission centres all over India.  When the Indian War of Independence (called the Mutiny) broke out there were about 90 Missionary societies at work in India, in addition to the Missions of the Church of Rome, and their workers ordained and unordained, numbered over 2,600.

 

22. Two years after the Mutiny, Lord Palmerstone, Prime Minister, could say in public : �It is not only our duty but in our own interest to promote the diffusion of Christianity as far as possible throughout the length and breadth of India� (page 194: ibid).  The Secretary of State Lord Halifax appended the statement to it : viz., �Every additional Christian is an additional bond of union with this country arid an additional source of strength to the Empire� (page 194: ibid; and page 29: Missionary Principles and Practice by Speers).  In 1876, there was a chorus of official praise when Lord Reay (Bombay) introducing to the Prince of Wales a Deputation of Indian Christians said, referring to the Missionaries, �They were doing for India more than all those civilians, soldiers, judges and governors whom Your Highness has met�.  Sir Charles Eliot (Bengal) described their work as �an unrecognised and unofficial branch of the great movement that alone justifies British rule in India�.  Sir Macworth Young (Punjab) described them as �the most potent force in India� (page 194: Christianity and Government of India by Mayhew).  During the first half of the nineteenth century there were a few converts from distinguished and talented families in India.  But in the latter half or that century there arose powerful movements of Arya Samaj, Brahma Samaj and Theosophy.  Great spiritual personalities like Dayanand, Ramkrishna and Vivekanana, Madam Blavatsky, Col. Olcott appeared on the scene.  This religious upheaval made all the attempts of the Missionaries among the intelligent classes wholly abortive.  In the eyes of the missionaries, Madam Blavatsky was an �arant cheat�; Col. Olcott �a credulous man�; Dr. Beasant �a famous defender of materialism�� who could not be named in the same breath with honest students such as MaxMuller and Deusson who after profound research have arrived at a favourable judgment upon Hinduism� ; �Vivekanand was known for many years to be under the influence of the most adventurous Sanyasi� ; Ramkrishna Paramhansa whom Maxmuller raised to unmerited repute by the publication of his biography�.  Swami (Vivekananda) frequented American hotels, ate food prepared by white man, a shoodra appearing as the apostle of Hinduism (Richter : pages 382, 384, 385 and 387).

 



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23. The growth of the Protestant Church during the period of British Raj in India was due mainly to the great patronage and support the Church was getting from the Government of India.  Instances of Land grants and financial aid to build Churches, missionary centres, hospitals, educational institutions etc., are numerous.  All Cathedrals entrusted to the Bishoprics under the Ecclesiastical establishments were built from State funds.  Not only in cities and towns and in military stations in British India, but in almost every Indian State we can find big Churches and Missionary buildings erected almost entirely with Government aid.  To protect the Christian converts and their inheritance in British India, Act XXI of 1850 was passed, as the then prevailing customary law stood as an impediment to conversion of Hindus to other religions.  All the concessions given to missions in about 350 major Anglican centres need not he mentioned in detail in our Report.

 

24. In the Residency area of every State there stand to this day huge churches and other mission buildings for the construction of which lands and nearly all funds were contributed by the Ruler or Chief of that State at the instance of the English Residents or Political Agents.  This kind of patronage from a non-Christian country for evangelism within its territory is unique in the history of nations.

 

25. The progress of Christianity up to the end of the first decade of this century was described by Sir Bamfylds Fuller (who like Sir Andrew Fraser had been a C. P. Officer before he went to Bengal as Governor) in these words: Christianity has been offered to classes that have remained outside the pale of Hinduism, hill tribes and the lower strata of the cooly population��� Among the higher and better educated classes evangelism has been less successful��� It is surprising that Christianity has not spread more rapidly.  For a century it has not only been preached in the streets but has been taught in numerous schools and colleges; it has behind it the presage of the ruling race; and yet probably there are less than 2½, million native Christians in India, if we deduct those who owe their conversion to Nestorian Missions or to the Portuguese (pages 210, 364 Empire of India, 1913).

 

26. The number of Missionary Societies considerably increased about the middle of last century and they used to hold conferences in various centres in India viz.  Calcutta in 1855, Benaras in 1857, Ootacamund in 1858, Lahore in 1862, Allahabad in 1872 and Bangalore in 1879.  During that period there was a tendency on the part of all the Missions to focus their activity particularly on the aborigines.  They achieved unexpectedly great success among the Kols as in 1851 the number was only 31 it rose in 1861 to 2,400, in 1871 to 20,727 and in 1881 to the large figure of 44,024.  In view of this success with the Kols the Missionaries pressed their work among other tribes as they realised that there was a movement on the part of the aborigines to raise themselves in the social level by adopting Hindu manners and customs, which would be taken advantage of to gather them into the Christian Church and thus �save them from the rapid onward march of Hinduism�. (Richter: History of Christian Mission pages 214-215).

 

27. For the purpose of understanding the vigorous and highly intensified Missionary activity concentrated in Surguja district after the merger of the States in 1947, it is necessary to cast a glance at the origin of Missionary enterprise at Ranchi, which can be gathered from the History of Chhota Nagpur.  As far back as 1845 the Deputy Commissioner Mr. Hanington invited four German Missionaries from Calcutta and their work began with some orphan children who had been handed over to them during famine.  The number of converts to Christianity began to swell and the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Mission began to extend its activities around Ranchi.  The Gossner Mission operates in the territory formerly comprised in Jashpur, Surguja, Udaipur and Raigarh States. It has still its headquarters at Ranchi.  Later on in 1885 they were joined by the Roman Catholic Mission.

 

28. Before 1948 the diocese of Ranchi included the territory which consisted of eight feudatory states, seven in the diocese of Ranchi and one in the diocese of Nagpur.  Mission work was strictly forbidden in all those States.  In 1907 however a great movement of conversion took place in Jashpur State, but for nine years the Missionaries could not even erect a shed to live in.  By and by five Mission stations were erected.  Another movement of conversions took place in 1935 in Udaipur State.  Till 1941 no priest or catechist was allowed to enter she State.  From 1941 to 1949 the priest was allowed to go from outside the State to visit persons dangerously ill and four times a year to say mass.  But he was prohibited from staying more than 48 hours in the State.  With the integration and merger of the States in 1948 and the promulgation of the Constitution in 1950 full freedom was conceded to the Missionary activities.  The diocese of Raigarh and Ambikapur was erected on the 13th of December, 1951 by being cut off from the diocese now Arch-Diocese of Ranchi.  The diocese still forms part of the Ranchi Mission (1954 Catholic Directory page 264).

 

29. The work of these Missions was much facilitated by the economic and social problems which arose as a result of the permanent settlement made by Lord Cornwallis in 1793.  As stated b E. De Meulder S. J. the Christian Mission could provide the aborigines with schools, colleges, hostels, hospitals and co-operatives of various sorts, but they could not give them lands, �for these belonged to the foreign sponsored permanent settlement of Rajahs and Jamindars or to the �Laissez faire�, �liberal�, zamindari regime inaugurated by Lord Cornwallis whose fatal signature meant the death of the ancient village republics� (page 1 Tribal India Speaks by E. De Meulder S. J.). Up to that time the custom was to regard the aboriginal as owner of the land in the forest, which he reclaimed it and the Zamindars were only farmers of revenue.  The cultivators had to render certain feudal services in return for the lands which they held.

 

30. In fact most of the Zamindars and Rajahs were tax collectors, never owners of the land, in the previous regimes, but after the permanent Settlement they claimed ownership in about the same way that the ancestors of British Landlordism had done at the time of the Reformation in England. (Page 63 Tribal India Speaks).  The disputes between them and the Zamindars arose when the number of the aborigines embraced Christianity.  In introducing the Bhuinhari Bill in the Bengal Council on November 16, 1868 Mr. M. H. Dampier, I.C.S. quoted the following remarks of Col. Dalton:

��the Kols who embraced Christianity imbibed more independent notions, and in several instances successfully asserted their rights.  From this the belief unfortunately spread through the district that when the Kols go to the Court as Christians they are more uniformly successful than those who have not changed their religion.  It was stated in the report on the Census of India 1911 Volume V., page 220: �Another attraction is the hope of obtaining assistance from the missionaries in their difficulties and protection against the coercion of the landlords��� it must not be imagined that the Christian Missionaries held out such offers as inducement to the aboriginals to enroll themselves in the Christian ranks but the knowledge that the Missionaries do not regard their duties as confined to cure souls but also see to the welfare of their flock and the agrarian legislation which is the Magna Charta of the aboriginal was largely due to the influence of the Missionaries�. (Legend of the Kols by S. Haldar pages 8-9).

In the Settlement Report of 1901-10 Mr. John Reid remarked that the aboriginal converts were backed by the moral support and some times by the financial support of the European Missionaries (page 16 ibid).

 

31. As said by Lord Northbrook in his preface to Chhota Nagpur by Bradley Birt, the aboriginal tribes of India afforded a promising field for the Missions; and accordingly, the Belgian Jesuit Mission entered the field in 1885 and has since then been collecting a large following.  The Catholic Jesuit Missionaries also tried to exploit the agrarian grievances of the aboriginals and as is evident from the Commissioner�s report to Government in 1890 wherein he stated that Mr. Renny, the Deputy Commissioner of Ranchi �condemns the action of the Jesuit priests in very strong language, charging them with encouraging the discontent and laying at their doors the responsibility for disturbances which might have led to serious consequences� (page 18: Legend of the Kols).  It is well-known that in 1895 there was an uprising of aboriginals led by a German Mission convert by name Birsa who styled himself as the brother of Jesus, and it had to be suppressed with military aid.

 

32. There was a similar rebellion in 1910 in the Bastar State which was attributed to the activity of a Missionary by name Mr. Ward.  In the report, dated the 12th July 1910, the officer in charge of the expeditionary force in Bastar State stated that Mr. Ward was the most dangerous man in the State.  Mr. Ward was transferred to some place outside Bastar, but even from there be wrote secret letters to the Christians in Bastar instigating them to agitate for his retransfer to Bastar and in a search of the houses of certain Christians �treasonable and seditious correspondence was found�.  Mr. J. May, Diwan of the State, wrote to the Mission authorities at Raipur to say that on enquiry he was satisfied that he and the Christians were instrumental in causing great deal of disloyalty and discontent.  Mr. Ward subsequently was sent back to America.

 

33. In 1936-37, there was an unauthorised attempt made by the Jesuit Missionaries to enter into the Udaipur State for Missionary enterprise.  It was found on enquiry by the Agent to the Governor-General that they used their station at Tapkara outside Udaipur State which was a forbidden area for proselytising the subjects of Udaipur, by making loans to people to attract converts and opening Mission schools in Udaipur State without permission and the abstraction of 120 boys and girls from Udaipur for education in the Mission centre at Tapkara, and the Government of India warned the Jesuit Mission that any further development of Missionary enterprise in the Udaipur State should be avoided.  The Mission was also asked to maintain a register showing in the case of each new convert, his name, his father�s name and other particulars including any kind of material benefit given to the converts at the time of their conversion (Col. Meek�s Report).

 

34. In 1948, Rev. Lakra, the head of the Lutheran Mission at Ranchi, attended the Conference of the World Council of Churches held at Amsterdam.  Mr. Dulles from America was also present there.  As a result of the money received from the United Lutheran Church in America amounting to 8,000 dollars and Rs. 90,000 in 1953 there were conversions in the Surguja district on a mass scale (Gharbandhu, November 1952, page 13, and Gharbandhu, November 1953, pages 15 and 16).  The Mission also obtained from America Rs. 67,500 to make good the deficit in its expenditure (Gharbandhu, December 1953, pages 4 to 7).  It is clear that in the keen competition that arose between the various Missions it was found necessary to advance Rs. 30 to some of the converts as an inducement to change their religion. (Gharbandhu, December 1952, pages 2 to 5).  In 1954, the Lutheran National Missionary Society requested for a grant of a large amount for engaging the services of the Uraon personnel needed for mass conversion work and through the good offices of Dr. F. A. Schiotz, Chairman of the Luther an World Federation Commission of World Missions, and Dr. C. W. Oberdorfer, the Federation President of India, they secured a grant of 1,500 dollars on the basis of �Partnership in Obedience�. (The National Missionary Intelligencer, April 1954, page 5).  There was practically an invasion in the Surguja State of Missionary enterprise backed by substantial finance and personnel with the result that there were more than 5,000 conversions.

 

35. At this stage it may be necessary to see how the Missionaries penetrated into the Eastern States of Madhya Pradesh. In 1893, Sir Andrew Fraser who was then Commissioner of Chhattisgarh gave authority without reference to the local Government for acquisition of land for Mission purposes in the Bastar State when it was under the Government management.  The developments which occurred thereon have already been stated above.

 

36. In 1894 an application made by the Missionaries for the acquisitions of land in the Kawardha State was rejected by the Local Government on the principal that when a State is under the administration of the Government the alienation of land for Mission purposes should be refused in view of the fiduciary position of the Government.  Towards the beginning of the 10th century the German Lutheran Mission opened two stations in the Gangpur State without the permission of the Ruler and without reference to the Local Government.  Inspite of the Chief�s protest the political authority did not take any action and one of the Missionaries openly preached disobedience to the Chief�s orders in the matter of begar, although rendering of such services was due from the rent-free holders only.  The Missionaries generally made promises to the ryots that they would secure their freedom from various petty demands from the Darbar.  As this introduced the principle of insubordination one Missionary was removed from the State under the orders of the Commissioner of Chhota Nagpur who acted then as Political Officer.  Later a European Diwan found that the Christians were getting quite out of hand and he dealt firmly with the position.  He formed the opinion that the majority of the people who joined the Missions did so in the expectation of some material advantage and not for any spiritual benefit.

 

37. About the same time the Roman Catholic Mission also entered Jashpur.  How the rulers of the State were treated by the Government is clear from the letter dated 10th June 1923 from the Roman Catholic Arch Bishop of Calcutta to the Political Agent at Raipur, in which occurs the following sentence:-

�In Gangpur the Rajah-under pressure of the Government of Bengal, within whose Jurisdiction Gangpur then was -gave me a perpetual lease at the usual rent, of an extensive plot of Taur land at Kesaramal in 1907; and since then the Chief quite willingly this time has granted me leases of two more plots, one at Hamirpur and one at Gaibera.  In Jashpur so far we have had only verbal grants.�

The Arch Bishop desired the Political Agent to give him a set of perpetual leases but he was disappointed.  The circumstances in which the Rajah of Jashpur came to be deposed are highly significant, to show the influence which the Missionaries exercised on the Government of the day.  In 1906 the German Lutheran Mission applied for the issue of a license to permit entry of Indian preachers into this State.  The Rajah was reluctant to grant the permission for the entry of the preachers but was prevailed upon by the Political Agent, Mr. Laurie to withdraw his opposition.  Mr. Brett the new Political Agent found that about 30,000 people and 15,000 were claimed, respectively, by the Roman Catholics and the Lutheran Mission as enquirers and they were all of the Uraon tribe.  He reported to Government that the Chief had accepted the agreement mentioned above under pressure from the Political Agent, but the Central Provinces Government held that the Chief could not be given general permission to forbid all Missionaries and preachers from entering the State.  But at the same time it warned the Missionary Societies that they could not expect any support from Government against the Chief if their preachers encourage the subjects to resist his lawful demands.  But on account of continuous conflict between the Chief and the Missionaries the Political Agent, Mr. Blakesley made a thorough enquiry and submitted a full report to the Local Government in 1913.  He pointed out that the movement towards Christianity in the Jashpur State was in no sense a religious one, and that the Missionaries had acquired a considerable hold on the people by means of loans.  He also showed that under the guise of religious proselytism political propaganda had been spread throughout the State.  His recommendation was that the Chief should be permitted to exclude the Jesuit Missionaries and their catechists but the Government declined to accept his recommendations.  Mr. Blakesley�s statement as to the nature of the religious proselytism was later amply borne out by an admission made by the Arch Bishop of Calcutta to Mr. Napier, the Commissioner of Chhattisgarh in 1912.  The Arch Bishop said to Mr. Napier, that putting aside all cant he did not suppose that the majority of the aboriginal Christians in the State had much feeling either way in the matter of religion and that they embraced Christianity in the hope that material benefit would result to themselves.  The trouble arose in 1922 in Jashpur when a Society by name �the Unity Samaj� came to be formed by the Lutherans of Ranchi, and there was a report of a dangerous movement amongst Missions� preachers in the State.  The Roman Catholic Arch Bishop of Calcutta, wrote to the Political Agent sending an account by one of his priests that Lutheran preachers had been fomenting trouble that would lead to a rebellion which in fact did ensue and resulted in the deposition of the Rajah of Jashpur.

 

It was to avoid such trouble that the Conversion Act 1936 came to be enacted by the Raigarh Darbar.

 

38. Let us now turn to the steps taken by Government to afford protection to the aborigines.  The Government of India Act of 1870 conferred upon the Governor-General in Council the power to approve and sanction laws and regulations made by local Government for the administration of certain special areas to which previously the Secretary of State in Council had applied the Act.  In 1874 the Indian Legislature passed the scheduled Districts Act XIV of 1874 whereby the Local Government was empowered to declare in respect of the tracts specified in the Act what enactments were or were not in force therein.  It was in pursuance of this that the Central Provinces Government passed the Land Alienation Act in 1916.  The Government of India Act of 1919 under section 52-A (2) empowered the Governor-General in Council to declare the territories occupied by the aborigines to be a backward tract.  The Statutory Commission of 1928 grouped the backward tracts into two large categories one as wholly excluded areas and the other as partially excluded areas.  It was found that the aboriginal people such as the Gonds had taken part in political movements, viz., non-co-operation movement of 1920-21, the Nagpur Flag Satyagarh of 1923 and the Forest Satyagraha of 1930. (Page 49 the Aboriginal Problem in the Balaghat District).  In the annual report intended for submission to the British Parliament the aspect of forest Satyagraha, was particularly stressed to show that the violation of the Forest Laws enabled the agitators to achieve a substantial measure of success in fostering unrest among the tribes. (India in 1930-31 page 554).  When the proposals of the Statutory Commission came up before the Parliament Col. Wedgwood said that he had received �An infinity of letters from India�, urging that the tribes should be allowed to be looked after by the Indians but in his opinion the educated Indians wanted �to get them in as cheap labour�. Adverting to the African parallel he expressed his conviction that the best hope for backward tribes everywhere lay in the Christian Missionaries. (Ghurye-The Aborigines page 134).  It is well known that a list was finally prepared and embodied in the Government of India (excluded and partially excluded areas) Order 1936 in accordance with sections 91 and 92 of the Government of India Act of 1935.  The distinction between the two was that the Governor was required to exercise his functions in regard to the excluded areas in his own discretion and in regard to the partially excluded areas he was to seek the advice of the Ministers.

 

39. As a result of the Statutory exclusion of these tribes they had been treated as if they were the close preserve for Missionary enterprise.  Reviewing the problem as a whole the real inroad on tribal solidarity was made by the introduction of the British rule which destroyed the authority of the tribal elders, and their traditional panchayat systems.  Even Dr. Hutton who contributed Chapter XII to O�Malley�s Modern India and the West stated that the establishment of the British Rule in India, far from being of immediate benefit to the primitive tribes did most of them much more harm than good. (Page 173 Ghurye the Aborigines).  The Forest Conservancy Laws, the excise Policy and laws, tyranny of petty officers, forced labour and rapacious money-lender have all contributed to the disruption of the tribal solidarity, and that has given an opportunity for the enterprise of the Missionaries.

 

40. Dr. Elwin wrote in 1944 bringing into prominence the evil effects of excluding the tribal areas from the general administration of the country and pointing out that in practice all it appeared to have achieved had been to give encouragement to proselytising Missions for exploitation of these people so remote from the scrutiny of public opinion.  Speaking about the Mandla district he says:

�In Mandla the situation has grown serious for here the Fathers of the Apostolic prefecture Jabalpur are proselytising on an unprecedented scale and on the method that would have been considered disgraceful in the middle ages.�

Further he says:

 

�The Missionaries usurp many of the functions of Government officials, try to interfere in the work of the courts and business of the local officials and give the Gonds the impression that they are the real Sirkar and the Fathers finally have an extensive money-lending business and this is one of the most effective means of bringing aboriginals under their control and forcing them into the Church.�

41. Reviewing the whole question in the light of its history one is driven to the conclusion that they established a State within the State.



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Guru

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 JHARKHAND

 

42. The separatist tendency that has gripped the mind of the aboriginals under the influence of the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Missions is entirely due to the consistent policy pursued by the British Government and the Missionaries.  The final segregation of the aborigines in the Census of 1931 from the main body of the Hindus considered along with the recommendations of the Simon Commission which were incorporated in the Government of India Act, 1935, apparently set the stage for the demand of a separate State of Jharkhand on the lines of Pakistan. The stages by which it culminated in the demand for Jharkhand will be- clear from what follows.

 

43. In 1941, Shri M. D. Tigga wrote and published a book entitled Chhota Nagpur Ker Putri (the daughter of Chhota Nagpur). It was printed in the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Press, Ranchi.  At page 19 of that book it is found:

""AmoXdmgr _ZH{$ amÁ`Z¡oVH$ Am¡a AmoW©H$ [VZH{$ X{IH{$ 1898 H{$ gmb _| EH$ g^m IS>m ^{bH$ CH$a ewê$ Zm_ N>m{Q>m ZmJ[wa o¼íMZ Agm{og`{eZ ah{. ]T>V{ ]T>V{ 1915 gmb _| D$ g^m Hw$N> _O]yV ^B© J{bI, Am¡a D$H$a Zm_ N>m{Q>m ZmJ[wa CÝZVr g_mO aIb J{bm. A§V_m A^r Am{h{ g^m 1938 gmb _| AmoXdmgr _hmg^m H{$ H{$am Zm_ g{ Mmby ah{.''
(English translation.)

�Looking to the political and economic backwardness of the Adivasis, a Sabha was formed in the year 1898.  Its original name was Chhota Nagpur Christian Association.  As it grew, it became somewhat strong in 1915 and its name became Chhota Nagpur Unnati Samaj.  The same Sabha since 1938 is called Adivasi Mahasabha.�

44. In the Survey and Settlement Report, Ranchi, 1927-35, there is a reference to political movement started by one Tana Bhagat and this Unnati Samaj about the year 1915.  The Tana Bhagat movement was in its origin purely religious and confined mainly to the Uraons aimed at substituting Hinduized religious doctrines for the old animistic beliefs of the people.  The Unnati Samaj was a movement organised by Lutheran Christians amongst the Mundas directed towards the moral and social improvement of people.  These two movements were originally separate and nonpolitical but about the year 1921-22 under the influence of the non-co-operation movement they merged into one and developed an attitude which was antagonistic to landlord and distrustful of Government.  As the movement gathered force, the Police in 1922 had to take strong action against Tana Bhagat when Tana Bhagat�s Panchayat attempted to fine a raiyat.  Thereafter there was the first session of the Adiwasi Sabha Conference on 22nd January 1939 at Ranchi, which was presided over by Shri Jaipalsingh, M. P. (page 33 Adiwasi Mahasabha Visheshank March 1935r).  In the presidential address he said as follows:-

�The Adiwasis are all now one in their struggle for freedom from the tyranny of mere numbers.  We offer a united front, an amazing fact in the annals of the aborigines. All the Missionary institutions working here are with us, another remarkable achievement.  Even the Bengalis are crying for separation, the Europeans and Anglo-Indians are openly showing us their sympathy.� (p. 34, ibid).

He proceeded further to say, �On no account must our educational facilities be reduced, but on the contrary the grants to the Missionary Societies should be augmented.  The Missionaries are devoting their lives to our uplift and education����� we must ask the Governor to utilize section 80 so that he may����� include in the schedule such additional amount, if any, not exceeding the amount of the rejected demand������ (p. 36, ibid).

 

The resolution which was adopted by the Conference was as follows: -

�It is essential that these aboriginal districts forming as they do compact area most intimately bound together as between themselves by racial, linguistic, cultural, historical and agrarian bonds should be constituted into a separate administrative unit, for the sake of furthering the racial, economic, educational, cultural and political interest of the backward people of this area (whose distinctive unity and whose right to separation from Bihar has in a way been admitted and recognised by the Simon Commission and the framers of the Government of India Act, 1935), by constituting these tracts into so-called excluded area and that His Excellency the Governor of Bihar, the Viceroy and Governor-General of India and the Rt. Hon. the Secretary of State for India be implored to convey to His Majesty�s Government (with recommendations) the earnest desire of the Adiwasi Sabha to constitute Chhota Nagpur and Santhal Parganas����� into a separate Governor�s romance at the earliest possible date and in a case before the federation of India is instituted.� (p. 42, ibid).

45. The Adiwasi Mahasabha was superseded by the Jharkhand Party as announced by Jaipalsingh at the annual session of the Sabha of 1950 at Jamshedpur with the membership being open to non-adiwasi as well. (Abua Jharkhand Jaipalsingh Visheshank, 16 January 1955, p. 15.)

 

46. There was a controversy in the newspapers between Shri Jaipalsingh and Professor Hayward his Secretary as regards the person who had received the amount of Rs. 50,000 from the Muslim League. (Jharkhand News, dated Ranchi, the 6th March 1949.)

 

47. This attempt of the Adiwasis initiated by the Christian section thereof is a feature which is common to the developments in Burma, Assam and Indo-China among the Karens, Nagas and Amboynes.  This is attributed to the spirit of religions nationalism awakened among the converted Christians as among the followers of other religions.  But the idea of change of religion as bringing about change of nationality appears to have originated in the Missionary circles, as one gathers from the following passage regarding the Karens of Burma:-

�Before the coming of the Missionaries the Karens were a subordinate Hill Tribe, animist by faith.  The Missionaries gave them education and through the translation of the Bible a written language.  This remarkable achievement, the giving of a nationality to a people, has resulted in one embarrassment.  Missionaries are held responsible for slowing up the Burmanization of the Karens����� Karens have to-day a strong national society which sent a delegation to London to plead for a Karen nation.�. (Page 138 Rethinking Missions, 1932.)

48. (Thus while the Census officer isolates certain sections of the people from the main bodies, the Missionaries by converting them give them a separate nationality so that they may demand a separate State for themselves.)

 

49. The attitude of the Catholics was professedly against the agitation for Jharkhand or any separatist movement.  Rameshwar Prasad Sharma (Jashpur 21) stated that they were secretly helping the movement.  His statement derives strong support from the issue of Nishkalank (the official organ of the Catholics) of October 1947.  On the front page of it, there is the picture of Madonna with the child and facing her is the map of Chhota-Nagpur.  At page 148, there is given the explanation of the picture in these words:- 

""am§Mr Y_©àm§V H$] N>m{Q>m ZmJ[wa H$s amZr, _mVm _ar`m H{$ hmW _| A[©U oH$`m Om`Jm? 
"h{ N>m{Q>m ZmJ[wa H$s amZr, 
V{ar àmW©Zm H{$ Ûmam V{a{ [wÌ, IrñV Z{ g_mam{h g{ h_ma{ X{e _| àd{e oH$`m h¡ Am¡a Cg{ oZdmg-ñWmZ ]Zm`m h¡.' 
"_hm [wZamJ_Z H$s H§w$dmar, 
Bgr KS>r, O] BVZ{ PyR>{ Z]r N>m{Q>m ZmJ[wa H$m{ ha b{Z{ H$s M{îQ>m H$a ah{ h¢, A[Z{ amÁ` _| g_mam{h g{ àd{e H$a Am¡a A[Z{ [mg Am¡a A[Z{ [wÌ H{$ [mg g§dgmam|, bwWaZm|, A§JobH$Zm| Am¡a g] Xygam| H$m{ ]wbm' ''
(English translation)

 

When will the Ranchi Holy Land be dedicated to the Mother Maria?

 

�Oh, the Queen of Chhota Nagpur, by your grace Christ-king entered this land with splendour and established his residence here.  Oh, thou Virgin of the Resurrection, at this moment, when false prophets are trying to appropriate Chhota Nagpur, enter thy kingdom with triumph and invite the Hindus (unconverted) Lutherans, Anglicans and others to be with you and your son.� 
 

CHAPTER III.-CHRISTIAN POST-WAR WORLD POLICY

 

The intensified activity of the Christian Missions in India is an integral part of the post-war Christian world policy and as such it must be viewed in the light of the world situation in order to grasp its full significance in India.

 

2. It is significant that the first and second world wars were mainly fought between Christian countries.  They were not wars amongst followers of different religions.  It was felt that the establishment and maintenance of peace was no more a political issue than a religious one.  During the first World War as a whole the Churches actively upheld the claims of their respective nations.  They were used as foci of propaganda for the aims and purposes of each nation.  Towards the end of the second World War it came to be thought that there was a direct threat to the survival of Christianity itself. (Social Problems, Appleton Century Co. New York, page 351).

 

3. As stated in the World Christian Hand Book 1952, pages 34 and 35, European civilization until recently was considered to be Christian but a great change came over European life and great apprehensions regarding the Christian substance of society were felt.  European churches were, therefore, concerned about the recovery of the Gospel, the renewal of Christian faith, the revival of the Church and the re-Evangelization and re-Christianisation of European life.  Many a European Churchman spoke of Europe as Mission field.  The common life of the average Englishman seemed to be little influenced by the Christian faith (P. 38.)

 

4. In 1941 during the World War II the �Commission of the Churches on International Friendship and Social Responsibility� was set up in Britain.  In 1942 the Commission issued a document on Christian Church and world order viewed from Christian point of view such as common moral purpose, international political framework, economic justice, disarmament and the rights of the minority and colonial people. Similarly in U. S. A. the Federal Council of Churches (which had been created in 1908) appointed in 1941, a special Commission on a just and Durable Peace under the chairmanship of Mr. John Foster Dulles.  In July 1943 that Commission convened a Round Table Conference which issued a Christian message on �World-Order� in which the political propositions previously formulated by the United States Commission as the 6 pillars of peace were unanimously welcomed and in the section addressed to the Church the Round Table stressed the opportunity for evangelism on a worldwide basis.

 

5. In the closing period of the war Church discussions of world order were increasingly directed to consideration of proposals for a new international organisation to meet the urgent needs of the post-war world.  The formulation of the Dumbarton Oak�s proposals in 1944 gave great impetus to such discussions.

 

6. The U. S. Commission on a just and Uurable Peace convened in Cleveland, Ohio, in January 1945 set up a National Study Conference which made nine recommendations for improvement of Dumbarton Oak�s proposals.  These recommendations received wide support among the American Churches and were given careful consideration in Government circles.  Similarly, British Council of Churches formulated in 1945 its recommendations for submission to the British Government.  These representations were among the creative influences brought to bear on the SanFrancisco Conference of the United Nations held in April--June, 1945.  The religious spokesman at the above conference has been credited with the decision to include within the Charter provision for a Commission on Human Rights.

 

7. At another meeting of the Commission on a Just and Durable Peace held in November 1945, it laid stress on the development of Christian unity amongst various Churches on a worldwide basis with a view to bring more effective influence to bear on international affairs.  The Commission announced:

�Now with war ended, world-wide organisation of the Christian Church can be developed so as to co-ordinate, as to substance and timing, the Christian effort (for world-order) in many lands��� The Christian forces of the world, though still a minority, must on that very account quickly become a well organised and militant minority.� (World Christian Hand-Book, 1952, p. 57.)

8. In August, 1946 an International Conference of Church leaders was convened by the Commission on a Just and Durable Peace at the instance of the Interim Committee of the International Missionary Council.  The Conference issued a draft charter for a Permanent joint agency of the International Missionary Council and World Council of Churches to be called �The Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.� The Director of that Commission.  Dr. O. Frederick Nolde, kept in close touch with the Commission on Human Rights (of the U. N. O.) and the outcome was the declaration on religious liberty adopted by the World Council of Churches and the International Missionary Council.

 

9. The first full meeting of the committee of I. M. C. was held at Whitby in 1947.  It set out its primary duty to be �the active encouragement of an expectant evangelism�, and dwelt in particular on the crucial necessity of full freedom of religion, which includes both liberty of worship and the right to educate and persuade.  It discussed two papers, viz., �Christian Witness in a Revolutionary World� and �Partners in Obedience� (P. 94, W.C.H.B. 1952).  In the following year the I. M. C. met again at Oegstgeest in Netherland.  It reported on the close Liaison maintained with the World Dominion Press and considered an important paper on the subject of �Communist policy and the Missionary Movement�.  It resolved to extend and continue the �Orphaned Mission Fund� for another five years. (In the decade 1939-1949 a total of 83,00,000 dollars had been contributed to the Lutheran World Federation.) It also decided to fix for the L M. C. fund (1951-2,00,000 dollar; 1952-1,55,000 dollars ; 1953-1,75,000 dollars.  The Missionary Society of Germany, Finland and others were the beneficiaries of this fund). (P. 95 ibid.)

 

10. Although Europe itself required �re-Evangelisation and re-Christianisation� because of the spread of the Gospel of Communism according to Marx, the W. C. C. and I. M. C. turned their attention to India and other colonial countries. They were encouraged by the promulgation of our Constitution which set up a secular State with liberty to propagate any religion in the country.  They noted that the Churches in India were growing steadily in number partly by natural increase, partly from evangelisation and that the mass or community movements to Christianity did not die out though slowed down, but that the spiritual life of the congregation was low and that the Indian Church lacked economic maturity.  Though India has the most highly organised National Christian Council it had to be largely paid for from abroad.  Even the institutional activities of Missions, viz., schools, colleges and hospitals were dependant upon foreign support.  Even the ordinary congregational life and pastoral duty still required some form of foreign aid. (P. 13.).

 

11. Now for all the ills of the world of today infested by the demon of Communism Christianity professes to offer the mantra of not �Christ the hope of the Church� but �Christ the hope of the world�, particularly the hope of Asia.  This is in line-with the thought of Sir Andrew Fraser, viz., in the elevating and civilizing power of Christianity the �hope of India� lies���� she ought to receive of our best (P. 275, Among Rajahs and Ryots, Revised Edition, 1912).  Accordingly evangelism in India came to be accelerated when the Constitutional provision of religions freedom opened the gates to the missionaries.  It was, therefore, decided to send evangelistic teams to such areas with all the resources for mass evangelism through the press, films, radio, etc., �to realise the Church as the instrument in God�s hand; to face the problem of Communism and Secularism ; to raise a prophetic voice against social, economic and racial in justice.� (P. 27., The Missionary Obligation of the Church Wilingen, 1952.)

 

12. The new evangelistic movement sprang up for the purpose of subjugating the new secular utopias, viz., Stalinism and Scientific Humanism and also to counter �the Utopian expectations of the non-Christian religions�. (Pp. 27-28, Elements of Ecumenism.)

 

13. It is interesting to notice that out of the four main sub-divisions of the Christians, viz., the Western Protestants or Occidental Churches, the Roman Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox of the Byzantine Tradition and the Oriental National Churches usually described as the Monophysites, only one takes an active and responsible part in the ecumenical work and that is the Western Protestant Churches and consequently only that section impresses its own outlook on all its activities (p. 38-39, Elements of Ecumenism). This section of the Churches is led by America.

 

14. The strength of the American personnel of the foreign Missions has increased by 500 since 1951.  The invasion of the Missionary teams was in the Surguja district which had been closed to the Missions before the integration in 1947 with Madhya Pradesh.  In August, 1948 its Assembly of the World Council of Churches met at Amsterdam at which Mr. John Foster Dulles read a paper on Christian responsibility in our divided world, Rev. J. Lakra of the Gossner Evangelical Mission of Ranchi also attended that meeting.  In the report of that meeting the decision was summed up in one sentence, viz., �God has given to His people in Jesus Christ a unity which is His creation and not our achievement.�

 

15. In 1949 the Eastern Asia Christian Conference came to be held under the joint auspices of the I. M. C. and the W. C. C. at Bangkok in 1949.  Its report on �The Church in Social and Political Life� declared �the Gospel proclaims that God�s sovereignty includes all realms of life.  Christ sitting at the right hand of God reigns, and the Church owes it to the world to remind it constantly that it lives under His Judgment and grace.  It is not the challenge of any ideology but the knowledge of the love of God in Christ for man, that is, the basis of the Church�s social and political concern. In East Asia, the majority of people, both in the rural and urban areas, live in conditions of abject poverty and under oppressive systems that cramp their personality; and it is the will of God that the Church should witness to His redeeming love through an active concern for human freedom and justice� (p. 114, The Christian Prospect in Eastern Asia, New York 1950-quoted at page 90 of Christianity and the Asian Revolution).  The social task of the Church was stated to be to claim the whole world for Him who is King and lord of all. (P. 90, ibid.)

 

16. In the report of the Ecumenical Study Conference for East Asia held under the auspices of the Study Department W. C. C. at Lucknow, India, in 1052, it was declared that Christians must be pre-pared to recognise that the changes in the structure of society can be effected mainly through political action and that, therefore, they must be prepared to accept the necessity of political action as a means of promoting social justice. (p. 31, Christ the Hope of Asia, Madras, 1953, quoted a; page 91, ibid.).

 

17. As the work of the United Nations was regarded as of major concern to the Church Commission on International Affairs (in view of the �fragile fabric of peace� being tinder the threat of being torn as under by the cold war produced by Soviet tension) the various Christian Churches of the world came to emphasise that the Church of Christ was �World-wide�, �subra-national� and �Supra-racial�, and that it involved a deeper understanding of the Missionary obligation of the Church, viz., evangelism and a closer link between the Mission of the Church at home and overseas (P. 28, World Christian Hand Book 1952).  Realising this call from God the Church membership in North America began to rise steadily and with the increased givings for Church support American Churches assumed the leadership in Overseas Missions.  As it was found that in the old Mission fields there were now Churches touched by the new nationalisms independent in temper and organisation and yet needing help from other Churches, it was emphasised that there should be a new understanding of the nature of the Church, its unity and call of God to special vocations and the need of particular Churches to be rooted in the soil and yet supra-national in their witness and obedience (P. 29, ibid). In the vigorous campaign of proselytization which began in India the evangelistic activity had to consider the prospects among the Hindu upper and middle classes and the lower classes including the forest tribes.  As regards the upper and middle classes it is admitted that Christianity has made no serious impact on Hindu learning or the upper aria middle classes.  But in view of the capacity of Hindu culture for absorbing other elements it is thought necessary to transmit the Christian faith at its points of need as early as possible �in view of the possibility of Communist infiltration from within and pressure from without�. (P. 14 ibid 1952.)

 

18. The activity accordingly turned to the underprivileged classes whose way to life abundant is blocked by poverty.  These people would be incapable of receiving the Christian message in their ignorance and degradation until they are freed from the bondage and degradation in which they are kept by their heathen overlords (P. 126, Missions in Rural India, Tambaram Report, p. 19, Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, p. 112).  The Evangelist, therefore, came forward with financial help for raising their standard of life and gathering them into the Church.

 

19. As regards non-Christian religions, viz.. Hinduism, Budhism and Confucianism, they are gaining new lease of life and are challenging Christianity by denying its uniqueness by putting forward the dogma that all religions lead to the same goal. (Pages 213 and 215, 135, 136, Christianity and Asian Revolution).

 

20. Accordingly, it is the duty of the Universal Church to execute the King�s Commission for exterminating these religions.  In the words of A. G. Hogg, the Christian Church without being false to its origin cannot help being aggressive.  It cannot be otherwise because �it is a people conscious of a transcendental Mission�� It is the little flock to which it is the heavenly Father�s royal pleasure to give that Kingdom�� it holds its King�s Commission to make disciples of all the matrons.� It is further claimed that evangelism that is the proclamation of good news with a view to conversion is not a peculiar activity of a new Christians but the whole world of the fact that God in Christ has entered history to save.  The missionary obligation of the Church is in short this �we must simply take Christ at His word.  He told us to go and preach and baptise.  Every disciple a Missionary and no way out.� (Christian Home No. 30, of 1954, page 9).

 

21. Alexander McLeish speaking at the Fellowship of Inter-national Missionary Society Conference held in June, 1948 said, �recently our Indian Christian leaders have seen the vision of evangelising India and have issued a call to evangelise systematically in the next 10 years the 600,000 villages of India. The material resources are, there, but better still the spiritual resources are more than adequate to the completion of the evangelistic task.  Thus, Whitby strikes the two notes needed as we face the Problem of India today, viz., the planned evangelism of India�s teeming villages and the fullest co-operation of Church and Mission which would be involved in the carrying of the task to a successful issue�.1 This is in accordance wish. what was recommended in the report of the Missions in rural India in 1930, p. 126 and the idea of the conquest of the world by Christianity. (P. 35 Rethinking Missions).  Pamphlets like �The World Conquest soon by God�s Kingdom� are issued by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, New York, U. S. A., and the Television Broadcasts in America call upon the American Democracy to send �Invasion Teams� of Missionaries into all the nations of the world and begin to turn the needy millions into the Kingdom of God-as the greatest Mission crusade in Church history.  It came to be emphasised that the Church of Christ was �World Wide�, �Supra-national� and �Supra-racial�.  It was essentially one.  This preaching had political implications of its own.  The Christians in a State owed double allegiance, on the one hand they owed their loyalty to Christ and on the other, to the State.  Ordinarily, there might be no clash, but in case there was a conflict of loyalties between Christ and State, the true Christian had necessarily to choose obedience to Christ.  Allegiance to the State is a political and a national duty.  Allegiance to the Church is a religious and spiritual duty.  The two have distinct fields no doubt.  And normally no conflict is to be observed between the two.  And if political divisions of the world were never to be influenced by religions there can never be any conflict between the two allegiance.  But that is a big if.  There are even in the present-day world many States based on religion.  And our own country has been split on the basis of religion.  Such being the case, conflict between loyalty to the State and loyalty to the Church cannot be ruled out.  In India, there is an intensive evangelistic drive through press, film, radio, in the rural areas.

 

22. This evangelistic activity is professedly directed against Communism.  The world powers are at present divided into two groups, the Anglo-American Block and the Soviet Block.  The former have the backing of the Christian Missionaries.  India is pursuing a policy of its own by non-alignment with any of the above two blocks.  Both the Communists and the Christian Missionaries have their eyes on India.  The very existence of non-Christian religions in India, Burma and Islamic countries is regarded as a challenge to the uniqueness of Christianity (P. 213, Christianity and Asian Revolution).

 

23. The idea as stated by Fraser in his book �Among Indian Rajahs and Ryots� is that to meet the intellectual awakening and the revival of national spirit India should receive Christianity as its only hope. 2Toynbee in his Reith lectures 1952 stated that the West had invaded the world, particularly Asia which adopted Technology and Nationalism but not Christianity, and he suggested that nationalism Would be dangerous unless it was balanced by Christianity. 3In the Missionary circles it was found that there was even among Indian Christians a strong tide of national feeling opposed to foreign domination which is explained as being only a part of the universal national feeling which has been so marked a feature of recent years. (Page 31, Spontaneous Expansion of the Church).

 

24. To overcome this tide of nationalism the conversion of the people to Christianity apparently offered itself as an effective instrument.  As stated by Count Keyserling, Christianity was originally a religion of the proletariat.  It was in opposition to the favoured classes from the beginning.  Wherever, it turns it carries the seeds of disruption. (P. 56, Travel Diary of Philosopher).  Hence the appeal by the Missionary bodies to the hungry and under-privileged areas of world (P. 126, Mission in Rural India; Tambaram Report, P. 19; Missionary Obligation of the Church, P. 35 and Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, P., 112).  That it is in this form that the masses are approached by the preachers is clear from the statement of Arch Bishop of Ambikapur, Rev. Nath of Khandwa and letter of Rev. Youngblutt.

 

25. As described by Toynbee in the Reith lectures 1952 a creed also is a tool though of a psychological nature.  In the conflict between Communism and Democracy combined with the Church, America is taking the lead as indicated by Wendell Wilkie in his �One World�.  In view of the radical shift since 1945 in the International balance of power which has affected every country in Asia, American Democracy (United States) finds itself devoid of any Asian territory.  She has partly compensated for this by establishing military bases on the Pacific fringe of Asia from Japan to the Phillipines and by forming military alliances with several countries. (P. 22, Christianity and Asian Revoluation).  In Asia the issues of nationalism and colonialism have become inextricably involved in conflict between the West and the Communist powers. (P. 23, ibid).  The drive for proselytization in India is an attempt to acquire an additional base which of course would be psychological. People converted to Christianity would he mostly from the outcastes or the aboriginals who can be primed with hatred against their countrymen, if for no other reason than the fact that the latter are �idolators� and that the former belong to the Kingdom of God.

 

26. In the Census Report of 1891, Volume XI, Part I, page 79, there is a reference to the opinion of Mr. Baines recorded in the Bombay Census Report of 1881 to the effect that the success of Christian Missions would he more marked among the lower classes than among the rest for two reasons; one, the greater receptivity of a member of the lower classes and, two, emotional appeals which neither his intelligence nor his education disposes him to enlarge.  As observed by Crozier, the fact is that the Christian Missionaries indoctrinate into the minds of the people they convert the idea that �the essence of religion lies in the attitude of the heart and emotions and that it is not a matter of intellectual belief at all but a matter of faith, a thing not to be argued about or proven but to be accepted in trust and lowly obedience.  Thus, religion brings about a change of heart or conversion� (page 227, Civilization and Progress) that places the converts entirely under the domination of the Missionaries and wipes out his individuality.  The failure of the Missionary appeal to the intelligentsia is entirely due to the absence of any intellectual and rational argument put forward in support of the dogma propounded by them as was observed as far back as 1807 by Lord Minto. (Vide Supra, p. 39.)

 

27. We can, thus, safely conclude that the aim of accelerating the process of proselytization is the following:-

(1) to resist the progress of national unity in the colonial countries after their independence.  That can be gathered, as pointed out in the New Statesman and Nation, dated November 26th, 1955, from the �rival� Russian policy of strengthening the nationalism of these countries.

 

(2) To emphasise the difference in the attitude towards the principle of coexistence between India and America.  India desires peaceful co-existence whereas the policy of the World Council of Churches as expressed in the report of its �Commission on Christian social action� is to regard co-existence as amounting to mere appeasement which it does not favour in view of the �divisions existing particularly between the totalitarian powers and �Free Nations� with diverse economic and political systems.  The World Council of Churches recommend that the correct policy should be that of �Peaceful competition� with a sincere commitment to growing co-operation�. (1955 Blue Book Annual Report of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, page 114).  Light is thrown on this idea of �Peaceful competition� in an article which describes the present contest as �competitive coexistence� (New York Times, November 1, 1954 quoted at p. 4, in Pamphlet �World Conquest Soon� by God�s kingdom). On the other hand Mr. Kaganovitch, made it clear in his speech on the anniversary of the Russian revolution that coexistence meant that the struggle between Communism and Democracy was to be waged by competition. (the New Statesman and Nation, November 26, 1955).

 

(3) To take advantage of the freedom accorded by the Constitution of India to the propagation of religion, and to create a Christian party in the Indian democracy on the lines of the Muslim League ultimately to make out a claim for a separate State, or at least to create �militant minority�

In short the situation seems to be that the Papacy representing the Catholic Church and the American Democracy are united in their frantic drive for gathering proselytes to Christianity to combat Communism: the former to extend its religions empire and the latter to obtain world leadership. 
 

Footnotes:

 

1Pamphlet.

2Page 275, 3rd Edition (1912).

3Pages 67, 68, 70 and 95.



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