I. The Beginning of Christianity in India – The Tradition of St. Thomas and Bartholomew The Christian church in arose out of the events described in the central portion of the Apostle’s Creed – the birth, passion and resurrection of our lord Jesus Christ. These happen in the small country of Palestine in the first century, an its spread outwards from Palestine through the work of his apostles, their helpers and successors, who planted the church in country after country during a wonderful short time through Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece, Antioch, Alexandria and Rome itself.
It continued to spread after the death of apostles to ever province of the Empire, by the fearful times of persecution, until in the fourth century the emperors themselves become Christian and made Christianity the established religion of the Empire. There are two views among scholars about the origin of Christianity in India. According to one, the foundation of Christianity in Indian, the first is laid by St.
Thomas and St. Bartholomew. The other view would ascribe the arrival of Christianity in India to the enterprise of merchants, and missionaries of the East-Syrian or Persian Church. Now, firstly ewe ill trace back the first view, the tradition of St. Thomas and Bartholomew, did they really carry, the Gospel into India or not by using different accounts of individual and groups. Now let us discuss about St. Thomas firstly. The Tradition of St. Thomas
(i) Western Tradition: According to tradition, the Christianity was brought in the first century by one of the twelve apostles, St.
Thomas. This has been the constant tradition of the Syrian Christian of Malabar and widely believed in the West also. However, unfortunately we have no contemporary records to confirm the matter beyond doubt. Consequently there is much uncertainty about the actual history of St. Thomas, and it is necessary to inquire that why they believe that he came to India and founded the church here. According to the Syrian Christian tradition, St. Thomas landed a t Cranganore, in around 52 AD. Hi first preached to the Jews colony, settled there, and then among the local. He founded 7 Churches – (Maliankara, Palayur, Parur, Gokamangalam, Niranam, Chayal and Quilon) in four of which places Syrian Churches still exist. He has ordained Presbyters from four Brahmin families for the Churches. Then, he went up to China by preachingthe gospel. Finally he returned to Mylapore (Madras). Here, his preaching aroused hostility of Brahmins, and he was speared to death about 72 AD by the Brahmins. His burial place become pilgrim center even for non-Christian and he was referred to as holy man. (ii) Ecclesiastical Record: According to the apocrypha book “Acts of Thomas” it is saying that after the ascension of our Lord Jesus, the apostles were gather together in Jerusalem and divided the region of the world and each one of them might go to the region which fell to his lots. According to the lot, India fell to Judas Thomas, but he did not wish to go. But Jesus appeared and encouraged him in his dream, to go to India. Then the merchant appeared who has been sent by the king called Gundphorus for seeking a carpenter to build a palace. Jesus points out Thomas and sells him to that merchant 36 ozs of silver.
With him Thomas arrived India. Thomas promised to build the Palace during six months and the king gave him a large sum of money. But instead of building Thomas spent the money on the poor. At last the king came no palace is to be seen and he inquired Thomas, and he replied him the palace was built for him in heaven. On hearing this, the king was angry and sent both Thomas and the merchant into prison. Meanwhile, the king’s brother, Gad, was ill and died. Being taken by Angels to heaven and he was shown the palace by Thomas for the king, his brother. As permission has been given, Gad goes back to life and asks to by the palace from his brother. As a result, Thomas was release from Prison and both Gad and Gundaphorus received baptism and Eucharist, and Thomas continued his preaching making many converts in that kingdom with miracles. On the request of the neighbouring king Misdeus, to heal the officer’s wife and daughter who are possessed with evils, Thomas went to the next kingdom and healed them. His preaching resulted in the conversion of the noble women including the king’s own wife. They declared their intention to abandon marriage. The king was become angry by this event and ordered his soldiers to kill Thomas. After sometime, one of king Misdeus’s children possessed with a devil. Believing Thomas bones would cure the child, opened the tomb of Thomas in hope, but the tomb was found empty because one of the brethren had stolen him away and taken him to Mesopotamia. This is a brief account of “Act of Thomas”. Though it was legendary, it is quite possible that it has nucleus of historical facts, which Thomas came to India.) (iii) Local Record: Therefore, several historians and scholars believed that
Thomas must have come to North India and deny his visiting to South India because they found and discovered the numerous gold coins in Punjab and Afganistan since 1834, bearing the name Gundaphorus in Greek on one side and Pali on the other side, date to be a round AD 46. In that period Gundphorus was the king oh North India among Parthians. When the Portuguese arrived on 16th they said received from the oral tradition about the coming of Thomas to India from the Syrian Christian, and they put it in written. Then the Portuguese dug the tomb of Thomas in Mylapore they found some relics.
This is the first form of material which we have in a written form. Scholars’ opinions: According to the early church fathers outside India, we also have little information about the coming of Thomas to India. (a) According to Darotheus Bishop of Tyre (AD 254-313). Thomas was died at Kalamina, after preaching the gospel to Parthian. (b) According to John Chrysostom (AD 347-407), the Eastern Church treasured and honored not only the tomb of Peter in Rome but also St. Thomas’ tomb in India. St. Gregory of Nazianzus also insisted about Thomas’ Journey to India. (c) Rufirus (AD 341) said that the bone of Thomas was bringing back from India to Edessa. Ephrem of Suria also agrees this. (d) Jerome (AD 340-420) says, “Jesus dwelt in every place; with Thomas in India, with Peter at Tame, with Paul at Illyricum, with Titus in Crete, Andrew in Achaia and each of apostles in their respective places. Origen and Eusebius also said Thomas went to India and preached the good news to Parthians. The ‘Disdascalia Apostolmia’ (teaching of Apostles), which is written in AD 250, says Thomas established and ministered or sustained the church in India. Therefore the church fathers agreed with the Syrian tradition that ‘Thomas came to India and faund the Syria Church’ in generally. However, such the Syrian Christian writers E.M.Philip and K.N. Daniel, seriously denied of the apostle visited to North but defend the southern apostolate of St. Thomas. From the above discussion we may conclude that it was quite possible that Thomas had come to South Indian and preached the gospel. The Tradition of Bartholomew
It is impossible to present the history of the Church in India up to the 16th century as a connected history is lacking sufficient material. After ninety two years from the death of Apostle Thomas, India and Malabar without priests, having only believing women and men. The possibility of a glimpse
at the early Indian Church is suggested by a passage of Eusebius and of St. Jerome. According to Eusebius, Pantaenus is said to have gone among the Indians, he found the gospel according to Matthew which had left by Bartholomew after preaching the gospel, among them. St. Jerome repeated this events that Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria sent Pantenus to India for the request of legates of that nation, and in India, he found that Bartholomew one of the twelve Apostles, had preached the advent of Lord Jesus according to the gospel of Matthew, and one his return to Alexandria he brought this with him written in Hebrew character. Some modern writers such as Race, Philip, J.N.Ogilvie, have accepted this, but the majority are not convinced that the land of the Indians which Pantaenus visited was not our India, but South Arabia. Nevertheless Fr. Heras and Fr. A.C. Perumalil has accepted the mission of Pantaenus to India as historical and with it the earlier mission of St. Bartholomew.
On the basis of certain seventh and 8th century writing, which is said that St. Bartholomew went to ‘India felix’? He regards this apostle as founder of a Christian community at Kalay, near Bombay, since the Latin word felix has the same meaning as Sanskrit Kalyana. When, however, certain 4th and 5th century writers say that ‘India’ first received Christianity in the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine I (313-337) through Edesius and Frumentius, it is universally agreed that Abssinia is meant. For my conclusion, it is difficult to believe or not regarding the coming of Thomas and Bartholomew to India because there are many opinions in both side. Anyhow, the history can also be changed if some discovered more reliable document for others. Before that is happened it will be good enough to truth that both of them were come into India and brought the gospel to enlighten the nation according to their master will, most possibility in North India. Roberth De Nobili Method of Accommodation
1. Biographical Sketch of Robert De Nobili: Robert De Nobili, Italian Jesuit missionary, who was born from the noble family, and a relative of Pope Marcellus II and the nephew of Cardinal Bellagmine. He was born at Tuscany, Rome in 1577. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1597 at Novitiate in Naples. He arrived in India in 1605 according to his will. He stayed Goa and Cochin for some time, the Parava Christian learning Tamil. He arrived Madurai, which is the capital of Nayak kings according to his posting place in 1606,
to establish an island mission center. At that time, in the eyes of the Hindus Christianity was tended to be low caste people and the religion of the ‘Parangis’, the term used to denote especially the Portuguese, but also any kind of European, it suggested meat eating, wine drinking, loose-living, arrogant persons, whose manners were so far removed from Indian. Therefore, De Nobile determined to Indianize himself as Christian Sanyasi and living a life of a true Brahmin later, there were some people who disliked his method of ministry, firstly the Hindu suspected his being of Brahmin, and then his fellow or colleague Fernandez, who did not agree with De Nobili method of ministry, and others Jesuit missionaries. So, they accused as converter into Hinduism and heresy.
Finally the pope acquitted him in 1623, his fame as a missionary declined. Nevertheless, he continued to follow his own method till the end of his life, and he died at Mylapore in February 16, 1656. 2. His Methods: (a) Indian way of Life: Robert De Nobili knew that it is needed to be identified himself as Brahmin in order to bring them to Jesus. So, he learnt their way of life by refraining from mixing with low castes, who are beisng regarded as polluted and even from his fellow Portuguese and Parava Christians. He left the old mission hause and built himself a mud house in the Brahmin village of Madhurai. He employed a Brahmin cook and hardly came outfrom his house during day time. He also gave up meat, egg, fish, and wine and restricted himself to one meal per day consisting of rice and mild and vegetable only. He identified himself both a kshatriya (the Raja caste and of being) by birth and a Brahmin by Proffession, and an ascetic teacher (a Sannyasi – guru) and the teacher of the true religion (the Satya Veda), which alone could assure men and women the hope of eternal salvation. He discarded the black cassock and the leader shoes which the majority of the people associated with the paranghis, rather he put on the Saffron dress, wore the sacred thread of the twice born across his shoulders, anointed hi forehead with the sandal paste and put on high wooden sandals on his feet. He revealed his identity of his not being a Portuguese (Paranghis) for hi knew that the Indian had a great contempt for them who did not wash (or) bathe frequently but eat beef, drank liquor and communicated freely with the most despised castes. Rather hi made known them his noble Italian birth too. Hi took bath twice daily as the Indian especially Brahmin practice. (b) Method of Instruction: Nobili studied the religious philosophy of the
Hindus. He was very well versed with various Hindu scriptures and followed the method applied by the Hindu Guru. Whenever people approach him, he would come out only after he made sure that the visitor was a high caste. He recited to them with correct tones and pronunciations from Hindu scriptures of many authors and he also composed many verses. De Nobili underscores the more important changes of that he had effected in liturgy and in the catechism… such as; ‘Holy Spirit’ from Vanangalil means ‘air’ into ‘Moksha’ which signified glory or place of glory. He expressed the name used for ‘God’ rather than ‘Tambiran’ meaning Lord without a lord, but ‘Sivan’ meaning the one who causes benevolence and good, or ‘Sarrensuren’ meaning, master of all things or having power over all things expressed the right meaning, he adopted it for his own use. Likewise hi transform the ‘Eucharist’ was ‘mixei’ changed the word to ‘pugei’ to be avoid from the understanding with ‘Misei’ means moustache. In those days the tradition says that one of the Vedas was lost. By saying that this Veda still existed and this was the Sattia Veda (True Veda). He also taught that even if a person receives baptism, it does not affect his/her caste and the baptism meant only for the salvation of Soul.
He presented to them that there is only one true God, creator and Sovereign master of the whole universe. Nobile built for Christian according to the Indian architectural style. He celebrated the liturgy with greater solemnity then the one held in the church of Fernandez, in order to be interested of the Hindus and attracted them to Christ. He also allowed the caste converts to continue to be faithful to their caste obligations like wearing the sacred thread, putting the sandal paste on the forehead, retaining the tuft of hair called the ‘Kudumi’, having daily baths as well as celebrating local festivals alongside their Hindu brethren. De Nobili called himself Aiyer, the master of the house, because he had built a chapel for himself in order to separate himself and his neophytes from others who were considered Paranghis means the impure race. Therefore he preferred to called themselves as profession of a Religion other than Christianity. (c) As a Guru: After some years of teaching from under his own roof made of straw and mode, Nobili came out like a true Guru having a team of disciples and went around the villages teaching the new laws. He travelled on foot and brings with no sort of spare clothes any other else except carrying water gourd in his left hand and bamboo strick with sever
knots in his right. In Indian eyes, he thus becomes what he claimed to be an ascetic, Guru. He decided to become an Indian Gurus in order to save the Indians and to adopt the Brahmin mode of life to carry on missionary work. He acknowledges that with God’s help he had been able to learn three languages – Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Hindus. The knowledge of these languages had enabled him to engage in rather lengthy discussions with the people of the land on theological and religious matter.
He is more expert regarding the knowledge of Hindu teaching then their gurus. He adopted them and supplements the weak point of Hinduism with Christianity. His first convert a high caste Hindu prayed for baptism and Nobili baptized him and gave a name ‘Albert’. Even, ‘Pandit’ who taught Nobili Hindu scripture also gets baptism in 1609. At the same year 63 people of high caste got baptism. De Nobili did not realized caste system as religious issue rather it is traditional and cultural practice with the same in Europe. So, he freely gave them to continue their caste practice. (d)As a Writer: Nobile wrote many books in Tamil, Sanskrit, and Telugu in an Indian way. His writing shows that he not only preached and instructed Christian teachings by word of mouth, but also left books. This was another of his method of presenting Christianity to the Indian in their own way of understanding religion. He also wrote the Gnonopodesam (spiritual instruction) in order that his Satya Vedan be more easily understood by his disciples in Tamil. In this work, he changed many of the word used by Fernandez, substituting them with more appropriate Tamil word and phrases. 3. Evaluation and Conclusion: Robert De Nobile method of Evangelization seems to be good to attract high caste Hindus. His indigenization and adaption method is remarkable for the missionary including church pastor because some missionary tried to Mizonized and westernized of the people of the mission field, and they could not change themselves even their habits act. So they looked stranger for their members and could not understand the missionaries’ manner and their message. For these, contextualization is very importance in ministry in order to persuade them forward God. On the other hands, his attitude to the low caste people was terribly extreme and was contrast with Christian teaching to love one’s neighbors. His presentation of Christianity was not inclusive but exclusive for the Brahmin and other high caste people only. Like him, many preachers, evangelists, including
pastors approached to the noble families, rich person giving them respect and sometime neglect the poors. God hates such manner since the O.T. period till nowadays. But in the life of Nobili, we do not mean that he neglect the poor and low caste rather he has special purpose and focus for the higher castes according to God’s will. His endurance of simple living and vegetarian life is highly regarded because some of the servants of God are now compromising with materials, luxurious, entertainments, etc. At the same time his separateness from his missionary colleagues was not commendable, like him, some ministers also tried to be separated from other. They speak their goodness and other weakness; it is bad smell for others. As a whole, Robert De Nobili missionary method was an indigenous one and was to be appreciated. 3. FRANCIS XAVIER METHOD OF EVANGELISM (1506-1552)
1. Biographical Sketch of Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier was a Spaniard, belonging to a noble family of Navarre, in 1506. As a young man of 19, he went to the university and stayed there 11 years till he attained the age of 30 in Paris. Soon after he finished his studied he joined the spiritual exercise group there, and became a close associated with Ignatius and other four friends. They met together at the chapel in Paris in 1534, and vowed themselves into brotherhood. They pledged themselves to live in celibacy and poverty and decided to be missionary and prepared to preach the gospel anywhere in the world. They work in the hospitals of the city tending the sick however dirty they are. After this brotherhood became a society under the Catholic Church named, “the society of Jesus” the Pope recognized the society in 1540. The king of Portugal requested the Pope to send one of these members to India as a missionary. Francis Xavier was chosen to go to India.
The Pope ordained him the same year. He left Lisbon in 1541, April. When he left Lisbon, there were about seven hundred people on his ship, and for the impossibility of keeping enough food and fresh, which led to much sickness and death. So, he spent a great part of voyage, laboring sacrificially among them, not refusing even sweeper’s work, ministering for the living, preparing the dying for death and burying the death. In 1542, May 6th he landed at Goa. Because of the journey ministering service, he was already reputed as a saint and his named was already on the lips of everybody. While in Goa, he started visiting thesick in the hospitals and the prisoners in the goals and gathering together children and started introducing Christian faith to children and others by attracting them together by ring a bell in the streets and calling them out loud in front of the Church. After about five months he left Goa and went to work the Parava Converts. He covered about thirty villages of the Parava Christians as a pastor. Two European and Goan priests joined him and the busy work of touring, catechizing, visiting the sick, dealing with offenders and helping the needy went on. In 1545, he left India for Indonesia and work there about two and half years. He returned to India again, while he was in Malacca he had met a Japanese gentleman, who had told him much about his native land and suggested there would be a good response to the Christian message. Therefore, he set out for Japan in April 1549, and came back again to India in 1552. On his journey from Japan, a merchant friend told him how the emperor of China had forbidden foreigner to enter his country on pain of death or life imprisonment. So, he eagered to go to China attempting to convert the emperor himself. Unfortunately, he died on 22nd December 1552, while waiting for a secret entry into China, in a hut build for him by the sailor. His body was temporary burial on the island, but was taken to Malacca and was buried in the Church there by the Portuguese. 2. His Method of Evangelism
Francis Xavier humbled himself for the sake of Christ and his service. He came to India as a Nuncio for Asia. His missionary methods showed his humility. Let us briefly discuss hi methods of Evangelism during his ten years mission activities in Asia. He is said to have baptized over ten thousand people and to have founded no fewer than forty five Christian settlements, such rapid ‘mass movement’ work gave little opportunity for teaching, and it is to be feared that the majority of his converts had little conception of the implication of Christian faith. Francis Xavier was a man of attractive personality and zealous devotion to the cause for which he had given his life. If missionary success is to be judged by numbers, he was certainly most successful, though judged by our standards much of his work was a shallow nature. But his enthusiasm and zeal will always be an example. (1) Pastoral Visits: Already on his way from Lisbon to Goa, Francis Xavier was known for his pastoral visit to sicks persons, who were histravelling companions in a fleet.
He not only paid visit them, but also served for them whatever way the persons needed help. During his brief five months stayed in Goa he paid a visited the sicks and the prisoners their places. By visiting those who were in need Xavier could build rapport with individual and instruct people to Christian faith effectively. (2) Direct Evangelism: By ringing a bell in the streets and calling out loud voice their children nearby Churches, he instructed to Christian faith. When people assembled together, he taught them the gospel of Christ. This was his common method of evangelization from Goa and also among the Paravas and Mukavars. (3) Through Interpreters: Francis Xavier could never spare his time to learn systematically the languages of the people among whom he worked. He depended mainly on interpreters who know both the languages of the people and of Spanish or Portuguese. (4) Jumping Over to Places: During his short period of mission word in Asia, which was only ten years from 1542-1552, he work in India for three years, another two and 6 months in Indonesia, and another almost three years 1549-1552 in Japan. His main center was India and he spent about a year for travelling from one place to another. Evaluation and Conclusion
Francis Xavier’s missionary activities were a highly positive one in terms of the number of conversion and of the numerical strength of baptism he administered. But it is not encouraging to depend on interpreters for a full time missionary till the last days of his missionary works. He would be more effective to the minds of the people if he could communicate with the language of the people. The first point of weakness in the methods applied by Francis Xavier was his independence on interpreters in communication the people. Another weak point of Xavier’s method was his frequent shifting from place to place at a short period of barely, 3 years cost him much fruits of his hard labour. However, it should be remembered that Francis Xavier caused a number of Indians for conversion into Christianity. His personal humility and his sincere labour could not be determined. His method of direct preaching might not be as effective among the Brahmins as that of De Nobile. 4. THE SYNOD OF DIAMPER
The synod of Diaper is probably the most famous episode in India Church
history for the extraordinary and their effect. A Roman Catholic historian call 1599, “a fateful date and one of the darkest in the history of the relations between Latins and Oreintals. The Synod was began on 20th of June 1599, attended by 133 priests, 20 deacons and sub-deacon 660 lay representatives, in all 813 persons on the Syrian side. With Menezes were Portuguese clergy and the captain and officials from the Portuguese of Cochin, an armed escort also in attendance. Since eleven days before the Synod was due to begin, Menezes brought with him the draft which he and Fr. Roz had prepared, containing page upon page of decrees to be submitted to the Synod. They covered all the main heads of Roman doctrine and Sacramental teaching, about all the difference between Syrian and Western practice and many details of administration, he called together the small committee of Syrian, to whom he read and explained his draft first, before the Synod was held, which all points mentioned in the agreement with George. After the celebration of Mass, Menezes explained the reason for calling the Synod that was because Pope Clement VIII had entrusted the government of the Malabar Church to him. At the second session, on the second day, the main business began.
Menezes, kneeling robed at the altar and holding a cross on the gospel book, made his name and in the name of all a solemn profession of faith according to the form published by Pope Pius IV. After Menezes had risen, the Syrian Clergy and Laity were required to make the same profession. At first they denied because they were Christians already, they did not think they should be asked profess the faith afresh, but Menezes replied that it was the duty of all Christians to make profession of their faith when required by authority to do so. So, the Syrians were also kneeling as the required. But the objectors were not all satisfied and held meeting. However, as soon as Menezes knew their claimed, he promised in the name of the king of Portugal to give them the benefit of his government’s protection in all matter concerning their religion if they took this oath and submitted to Portuguese bishop. From the third session began the reading of the degree definite doctrine and laying down changes in practice that were to be observed in the Malabar Church. They include: (1) Clear renunciation of Nestorianism and a statement of Catholic faith strongly Western in tone, (2) Clear renunciation of the Patriach of Babylon and insistence on the duty of obedience to the Pope instead, (3) A fair full
explanation of the seven Roman Sacraments and detailed provisions concerning their use and manner of celebration, (4) Arrangements for administration, (5) Miscellaneous provisions concerning life and manners, e.g. Relation with non-Christians, superstitious practices, etc., and the Synod came to an end on June 26th. In those momentous seven days the Syrian Church in India accepted, under pressure but without serious resistance, the rule of the Portuguese hierarchy and the doctrine and many of customs of the Western Church and abandons many of their traditional customs.
The general result was that they found themselves not only subject to the Pope, but cut off from their mother Church to be conformed to the Roman Catholicism of Europe under the control of Portuguese bishops. After the Synod Menezes resumed his visitation of the Syrian churches spending four and half months among them. During this visitation arrangement were made to bring the decrees of Diamper into force. In each place some of the decrees were read out and explained. According to the decrees the married clergy were ordered to separated from their wives or else give up their ministry, and the books of the Syrians were called in to be examined and purged, or if adjudged too far gone in heresy burnt, the removal of Nestorian Saints, the replacement of the Patriach’s name by the Pope’s and the addition of the Roman ceremonies regarding Eucharist etc., were introduced and forced to be practiced. Menezes had revised his early opinion that the use of Syriac in the Malabar Church ought to be suppressed and Latine introduced instead. Menezes visit there has earned him an evil fame because he causes most of written evidence of the Syrian Church in India before the sixteenth century was burnt. He was recalled to Portugal in 1609, and so he passed out of Indian Church History. In Malabar, the work of reforming the Syrian Church according to the decrees of Diamper went on, not without difficulty under Jesuit bishops. The first of them was Francis Roz (1601-1624), second archbishop was Stephen de Brito (1620-1637), and the third archbishop was Francis Garzia. George took full advantage of the power until his death 1634 upon them. In 1652, a foreign Syrian bishop arrived in India, who was commonly called Ahatalla, because of asking letter to the Nestorian Patriarch and to the Patriarch of the Eastern Churches to replace Jesuits as a bishop by Dominicans. He was seemed to have sent by Patriarch of Babylon (Nestorian or Chaldean?) in response to appeals from India. But he was not destined to exercise office in India, for he fellinto the hands of the Portugal and bind him at Mylapore. When he met with two deacons from Malabar who had gone on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Thomas, he made himself known to them with entrusted with a letter to the Malabar Church announcing his arrival, and says that he is authorized by ‘the lord Pope’ and calls upon the Syrians to send two priests and forty men to conduct him to Malabar. When the two deacons returned to Malabar with the letter, their news caused a stir. But the arch-deacon’s party called a conference and declared Ahatalla to be a mere imposter, and refused to come and conveyed by sea to Goa. On the way, the ship stopped at Cochin, and hearing of his presence there, a large crowd of Syrian went there to demand his release. But the Portuguese shut the gates of the fort and manned the walls until the ship had sailed again for Goa. In the excitement a rumour started that he had been thrown overboard and drowned. What actually happened was that he reached Goa was tried by the inquisition found quality of heresy and shipped off to Europe. Meanwhile the rumour spread rapidly arouse into revolt among the Syrians. Gathering in a large crowd outside the Church of Mattancheri (Cochin), they swore an oath on the stone crosses there, called Coonen (i.e. crooked) cross, that they would no longer be subject to the Jesuit archbishop. As all could not reach the cross, ropes were tied to it and the people held the ropes and so took the oath.
This famous event took place on the 3th of January 1653. Thus, 45 years after the Synod of Diamper the majority of the Syrians rebelled against the Portuguese hierarchy whose rule they had accepted. It was Jesuits who were the chief object of the Syrian’s warth and all along found the regime imposed at Diamper appeared again than the rest. Later in the year, in May 1653, the revolted Syrians held a council at Alengad to make arrangement for the future. According to the authority of Ahatalla’s letter they chose the archdeacon Thomas, who was become Mar Thomas as their bishop. Nevertheless, with the help of Syrians who had already returned to the Roman fold more than forty-four Churches were brought back in 1657. In 1663, eighty-four churches had returned a gained and only thirty two remained unreconciled: so that within ten years of the revolt more than half the dissidents were back again in the Roman fold. Thus, although the majority of the Syrian who revolted in 1653 went back to the Roman obedience, a minority persisted as a Jacobite Church; and the division so created has remained ever since. Those
who did not share in the revolt, or having revolted, afterward returned, became known as Palayankar, the Old Party or Romo-Syrians. They enjoy having their own hierarchy and liturgy with the alterations made by the Synod of Diamper. They are still the largest group among the Syrians of Malabars. Those who remained separate after the revolt at Coonen cross, and later received Jacobite bishops, become known as Puthenkur, the new party. They also still remain to the present day but not as a united party. Conclusion
When we looked back above all, we can clearly see that the political involment within the Church as well as racism and hierarchical problem. All these are still being among the Church nowadays. Some try to get the higher position, some try to hold the tradition which they are practice in their local church and trying to be successed their idea and view point alone, making propaganda before the meeting. Which make division and rumour among the Church? They don’t know the reality and purples of the church which our Lord established with his blood. They do not even listen the voice of the Holy Spirit and will of God in the meeting. For these causes we frequently face with many difficulties and tensions in the church immediately or soon or later. So, we have to take care of these things remembering the past event at the Synod of Diamper. Evaluation of Synod of Diamper
The Synod of Diamper can be examined from 3 different angles: 1)Legal: From legal point of view as Thalias points out the Synod of Diamper cannot be considered as valid peace of Church resolution for the following reasons:- a) The Synod falls within the category of diosias Synod. Menezes who alone exercise legistrate power in it was no in reality the Bishop of the Churches of Thomas Christian nor did the Pope grant him the necessary authorization to conduct such Synod. Thus, the Synod of Diamper was not conducted by a proper authority. Hence the Synod was not valid. b) The meeting of the Synod and the proceeding of the Synod do not seem to have been done as in Synod at all as a whole. The great majority of the priest who participated in it were ordained by the Menezes himself. Within the space of 3 or 4 months and in groups of 30 or 50 just for the sake of winning for himself for a party in the Synod and Menezes had no right authority to give ordination in Kerala. c) Moreover no single decree was discussed in the Synod. The decrees were
read in Portuguese which the Syrian Christian did not understand and toward the end of the Synod they were compelled to translate in Malayalam the content of which they passed. But they were given no opportunity to read; rather they were force to sign. d) Above all there was no idea of voting for the Synod only when Menezes sat that everything is in favour of him he taught in that line in afflicted the name of Synod. Thus the proceeding of the Synod was legally invalid.
e) Further Menezes took the liberty of adding more canons and regulation after the Synod was over and it inserted them into the text. It was this revised text that reason many historian regarded the Synod of Diamper as legally invalid.
2) However from the documentary point of review the Synod is a very important one despite the legal invalidity of the Synod, the Synod of Diamper has furnish as with a document which throw much length on the situation of Thomas Christian during the Protestant movement. Especially from the Synod of Diamper we know about it orthodox in nature.
3) Historically speaking the Synod is most significance as Pope making event in the side of Thomas Christian. It gave a definite form and set up to the tendency of latinization that prevail in the Church. In cut off the age of long generation the Thomas Christian has foster with that of the Chaldean Church. THE GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY IN NORTH-EAST INDIA
There are at present seven states in North East India that were formerly covered be Assam-Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Of these, density of population in Assam, Manipur, and Tripura are much higher than in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. The North Eastern region has the second highest Christian numbers, next only to the southern part of India. The largest Christian denominations in this region are the Baptists and the Presbyterians. It is everybody’s wonder that Christianity made a rapid success in terms of numerical increment in the region. Though the region is not a large one, varieties of ethnic races are living together in this region. The Mizos,Nagas, Khasis and
Arunachalis are Mongoloid stock whereas the Assamese, Triputis and Meiteis are different from them. Among such various ethnic groups entered different Missions. These people lived independently from any other parts of the country before the Treaty of Yandaboo was signed in 1826. Even after that date many Mizos, Nagas and Arunachalis did not mixed with any of the outside world. In the middle of the 19th century came Christian missions to their lands when their very identities were being shaken by the British military superiority. Their traditional religions had already prepared them to believe the existence of life after death. In the case of the Mizos the social value system of tlawmngaihna is much present in Christian teachings. The very self-emptiness of Christ and His self-sacrifice for the salvation of all is exactly what may be termed for them as tlawmngai par excellence. Culturally, religiously and socially the Christian message is very attractive to their identity. For this and many other reasons Christianity found a good soil to take birth in North-East in India.
The Catholic missionaries made the earliest known Christian contacts with North East India in the 17th and 18th centuries. They paid visits to a small Christian community who setrled in the lower plains of Assam. The small Christians communities settled in Cachar plains and they were the descendants of the Portunguese armies. This insignificant minority community seemed to make no remarkable attempt to evangelise their neighbours and their own accounts could not be traced any more. 1. How it begins: Missionary works in this part of the country were started in the 19th century only. The Serampore Mission first employed Atmaram Sarma to translate the Bible into Assamese in 1811. Then in 1813 they sent K.C. Pal, their first convert, to small locality of Pandua, a village under Cherrapunji. Pal baptized seven persons there within his short stay of barely eight months, ‘under the protection of military.’ Those first groups of converts were “four sepoys, two natives of Khasis, and one of Assam.” The first two Khasis to receive baptism this year were U Duwan and U Anna. But these two seemed not to remain active Christian. The Serampore mission then started a school in Gauhati in 1829 and baptized six persons in 1836. They sent a missionary in 1832 to Cherrapunji, but they closed this centre again in 1837. Thus the first lasting mission station in North East India was the American Baptist Mission. 2. American Baptist Mission: The American Baptist Mission to Burma
(present day Myanmar) started to work in the upper Assam at Sadya in 1836. Their primary intension by setting up a station here was to find a way to China and to Shan. But they established themselves in the Brahmaputra valley from 1841. By 1843 they set up mission stations in Gauhati, Nowgong and Sibsagar. From these stations they worked among the Assamese for twenty years, but they made only a small number of converts. In 1861 they had three churches but only 54 total members. There were two missionary families, two mission schools and only six pupils. They also started to work among the Garos from 1860’s. Largely due to the evangelistic zeal of the first two Garo converts. Ramkhe and Omed, Christian population among the Garos rose to 10,000in 1900.
They also extended their mission stations to the Nagas from 1870s. Their main centres in Nagaland were Molung, Kohima and Wokha. But numerical growth of Christian’s among the Nagas was very slow. Except among the Ao Nagas. By 1900 there were only 382 communicant members, most of them being Aos. The numerical growth of Christianity among the Nagas started only in the twentieth century. Another area of success the American Baptist Mission made in the area was among the workers in tea gardens. 3. Welsh Presbyterian Mission: This mission was formerly called the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Mission, and only in the middle of the 1930s they got the name “Presbyterian”. This mission started work in the North East in 1841 and among the Khasis.
Their first missionary the Rev. Thomas Jones arrived Cherrapunji with his family on 22 June 1841. He started reducing Khasi language into writing by following the Roman script. His first translation in the Bible, St Matthew, was published in 1846. They opened mission schools at Cherra, Mawsmai and Mawmluh. U Amor and U Rujon, their first converts received baptism in 1846. By 1849 there were 21 Christians and they opened more schools in 1850 in various places. By 1866 there were 10 churches, 65 schools, 307 Christians. Before the end of 19th century there were 189 churches, five Presbyteries and more than 15,000 Christians. The same mission started entering into the present of Mizoram. Formerly called Lushai Hills from 1897 onwards and stayed there till 1968. They had a rapid increase rate in Mizoram. 4. Other Missions: The first missionary to enter Manipur was William Pettigrew, a Baptist missionary.
He entered Imphal,capital of Manipur on February 6,1894. The Meiteis being adamant to Christianity, he turned towards the Tangkhul Nagas from 1895 and settled at Ukhrul. He first came to this country as sent by Arthington Mission, but became a Baptist missionary after his arrival to India. While in Ukhrul he got financial aids from the American Baptist Mission. There were 28 Christians among the Tangkhuls in 1911. In southern part of Manipur missionary work was started by Watkin Roberts in 1`910. Three Mizo Christians namely Vanzika, Taitea and Savawma assisted him. Their centre was Senvawn. Watkin Roberts founded the North East India General Mission (N.E.I.G.M) and was fairly successful. Gradually the gospel made progress among the tribal people of Manipur. The Kukis and the Nagas in eastern and northwestern Manipur were mainly Baptist whereas in the south and southwestern parts were under the N.E.I.G.M. They were now separated into various Christian denominations. But since the early days only a very few among the Meities, the native people of Manipur, embrace Christianity.
The Church of England also established a mission station at Tezpur in 1848. They concentrated on labours in tea gardens. By the early twentieth century there were only around 500 Christians with Anglican connections.
The Lutheran Santhal Mission in Bengal started a mission after 1870s at Goalpara. They were working among the Boros. The Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Mission also laid hands on tea planters, but they could not make impressive umber of convert among the workers.
The London Baptist Missionary Society entered southern part of Mizoram from 1903, having Serkawn as its mission station. This was area where the Welsh Presbyterians first received promising conversions at a rapid rate. They therefore automatically became Baptists when the BMS started working in their area. And at the southeastern tip of Mizoram the Lakher Pioneer Mission worked from 19076 with Serkawn as its station. In faith and order the Church in this area followed Baptist tradition, but they called themselves as an Independent Church of Maraland, now renamed Evangelical Church of Maraland.
The Roman Catholic also revitalized their mission work in Assam from the middle of the nineteenth century. They set up station sin Gauhati, Shilong and Jainti Hills. They worked among the Assamese, the Khasis and among the workers in tea gardens. Their mission was greatly wakened by the first Great War. But they got momentum from 1921 onwards and extended their fields up to the Garos. They established new stations in various places in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Their numerical growth was also remarkable. There were approximately 5,000 members in 1922; 50,000 in the early 1940 and 2,60,325 in 1972. The main factor for the rapid increase was their schools and colleges. After the Second World War, especially after Indian Independence carious other mission such as New Zealand Baptist Mission, Australian Baptist Mission and the Baptist Mid-Mission entered the region Similarly various denominations have also come into existence. Those denominations and Missions settled within areas where other missions had already started work. Their main activities could be seen as “Sheep Steeling” rather than “evangelising”. This rather created disunity within Christian fold rather than unity and strength, However, Christianity made a steady growth in North East India and at present it had taken a deep root in the cultures o the tribal people and thus firmly established herself in the area.
THE COONEN CROSS: –
Archdeacon Thomas showed his negative attitude towards Roman Catholicism, and tried to renew the old relationship between the Syrian Church in India and the Church of Mesopotamia. He event sent letters to the Patriarch requesting him to sent a bishop for India. The Church of the East then sent Bishop Ahatalla, and arrived in India in 1652. But the Portuguese authorities tried to check his being pastor among the Church in India and so detained him at Mylapore.
Somehow, the Syrian Christians came to learn his being in detention at Mylapore and gathered together demanding his release. The Portuguese refused the demand of the people and they sent him to Goa and thence to Europe. There spread among the Syrian Christians the news that the bishop was drowned. At this, a smoldering fire of discontent at the beginning rapidly
grew into a bigger flame. The infuriated Syrian now broke into revolt and assembled together at Mattanchery to take an oath by touching the cross at the alter. But since, they were so many, there was not enough space for everybody to touch the cross. They tied a long rope to the cross and so that all the people could hold the rope. While holding to the rope, they took an oath saying that they will never be subjected to the archbishop. This event took place on 3rd January, 1653. Since the cross was bent, this incident came to be known in history as the “Coonen Cross Incident”. It was an epoch making event in the history of the Syrian Church that could be counted as the beginning of the downfall of the Portuguese influence in India. It marked the emancipation of the Syrian Christians from the yoke of the Portuguese. However, since the Coonen Cross incident, the Syrian Church of India experienced a division that could not be healed BARTHOLOMEW ZIEGENBALG:
King Frederick IV was one of the first to conceive the idea of sending Protestant Missionaries to India. As he could not find an able man, he applied to his friends in Germany, and two young theological students B. Ziegenbalg and H. Pluetschau agreed to go. They were the products of a revival movement called Pietism. They arrived Tranquebar on the 9th of July 1706. At first, they met trouble regarding the advised of their coming and of the place to settle. When Ziegenbalg began his work, he set himself to learn Portuguese and Tamil; Portuguese, because it was the common language then used in the European trading stations of South India, and Tamil, because it was the language of the people. At this time, missionaries used to ‘adopt’ orphan children by purchasing them from their guardians, and baptized them. Then, a Portuguese and Tamil schools were opened. The children were brought up as Christians and were taught German. As soon as Ziegenbalg was able, he entered into religious discussions with Hindus in Tamil, and began to preach to them, and he even did not lack an audience. Then a little congregation was formed and as early as Aug 1707, a small mission Church was built outside the fort. The first Tamil converts were baptized. As his progress was much rapid, he should concentrate more on the Tamil work. He began by translating Luther’s short catechism in Tamil for use in catechizing the children, followed by sermons, tracts and schoolbooks. Within two years of his arrival, he began to translate the N.T
in the Indian language, and published in 1712. Besides this and other Tamil works, he found time to compile a Tamil-German dictionary also. At the same time, there were difficulties to content with by Ziegenbalg. The most incident took place in Nov, 1708, when Hassius, the commander, enraged at a letter written by Ziegenbalg in the course of his efforts to obtain justice for a certain widow, which had him arrested and kept in solitary confinement in the fort for four month. For the rest of his life, Ziegenbalg remained an assiduous writer. When he died in 1719, there were 356 Protestant Christians at Tranquebar and a Lutheran Church had been born in South India. ALEXIS DE MENEZES:
Alexis de Menezes arrived Goa in 1595 as a new archbishop. He was a man of great ability whom Pope Clement VIII sent to India primarily to enquire the case of Mar Abraham. He had little sympathy for the eastern form of Christianity and had little knowledge about them. Therefore his first determination was to make sure that no successor for Mar Abraham should arrive India from Mesopotamia. However, Menezes was determined to bring the Latinization process to be fulfilled within a short time. He arrived at Cochin on 26th January 1599. He sent a message to arch deacon George to come and see him. George did meet him and unwillingly agreed the bishop to visit Vaipicotta and other places thereafter. Menezes, on visiting the Church at Vaipicotta preached that the Roman Catholic Church as the only true door whereas the Patriarchs were thieves, who entered through the back door.
During his stay at Vaipicotta, he found out that the people prayed for the Patriarch regarding him as the universal Pastor. Menezes was much annoyed at this and thus prepared a note for the Patriarch to be excommunicated. He asked archdeacon George to sign on it to which George signed unwillingly. By seeing this, the disappoint Syrian Christians showed their discontent with George. But George explained to them that he did not really mean for what he did and pacified with the people saying that this would not do any harm. The people’s anger fell on the archbishop Menezes and they showed their hostility and opposition to him. Menezes’ followers were also convinced that they should not proceed further to the Syrian areas, but Menezes was adamant to their advice. Archdeacon George also showed his annoyance to Menezes and of his dealings with the Syrian Church. Finally, they agreed to convene a
synod to settle those matters. Menezes made visits to different Syrian Churches, ordaining many Syrians for priesthood and administering baptism and the Eucharist as against the agreement made with George. Church and general Menezes met with much opposition, but still successful in his programmes. Archbishop Menezes was no match for George and he noticed that his opponent was gaining ground, so he finally surrendered. Apart from general demands towards catholic line, Menezes made particular demands such as George should accept Menezes as his bishop; he also should submit Syriac books for examination and to purge the errors or to be burnt. George could not resist but to succumb and signed the agreement at Vaipicotta. Apart from these, further arrangements are yet to be made at the synod. THE COPPER PLATE:
There are various copper plates issued by Kings as a token of granting certain special privileges to Christians. Among them, historians know two sets. One is the Thomas Cana Plates and the other one is Quilon Plates. The inscriptions on those plates are written in different languages and have different statements. They are just like trophies having with them, the grants of certain special privileges to the owners’ community. Those privileges include the right to wear golden flowers on their heads at the wedding, usually the rights enjoyed only by heirs of Kings and many other such privileges. The Quilon Plates: The Quilon Copper Plates contain grants and privileges, given by Ayyan Atikal, governor of Venad, to the so-called Tarisa Church of Quilon, which was build by one Maruvan Sabrisho. The first sets of plates were issued in the fifth regnal year of Stanu Ravi. The plates contain details of grants to the Tarisa Church, to the Jews and to the Maningramman. The plates also stipulated further that when market commodities were inspected for fixing the custom duty, and when other official work like estimating the prize etc, were undertaken, the Church were to be associated with all such activities. The plates finally state in clear terms the relationship between Maruvan Sabrisho, the Church of Tarisa, the Anchuvanam Corporation and the Maningramman Corporation. Thomas Cana Plates: Thomas Cana Plates, otherwise known as Mar Jacob’s plates, have been traced back to Thomas of Cana, who is supposed to have obtained them from the then ruler of Malabar. Damieo de Goes was the first Portuguese account
on this plate.
The plates were of fine metal, each of them, one and a half palms long, and of the breadth of four fingers, written on both sides and bound together at the top with thick wire. When the bishop was about to die, Mar Jacob sought the help of Pero Sequeira to redeem the plates, telling him that it would give him peace to his soul and promising to repay the money, if God spared him; and if he died, his Christians of Cranganore would pay the sum. The plates were redeemed and brought before the bishop who was greatly consoled by this. So, what is important in this is not the interpretation itself of these plates, but the significance, which the traditions of the Thomas Christians attached to these plates. The Christians knew from oral traditions and from their very ways of living that they had received from the local kings at different times, grants of privileges, perquisites or land. The Copper Plates were a firm guarantee for safeguarding these grants and for the vindication of their rights whenever any inroads were made into them by anyone. These copper plates do not directly link with the Apostle Thomas, but they told us that Christians were well established and highly regarded in India at a very early date. PORTUGUESE CHRISTIANS & ST.THOMAS CHRISTIANS (Syrian):
When the two parties (Portuguese and St Thomas Christians) come to know more and more about each other, their cordial relationship began to be affected. To be more precise, their friendly relationship lasted about twenty tears only. The Portuguese, on their part, thought of Roman Catholic faith as the only true Church and considered themselves as the proper representatives of that Church. But, the Thomas Christians were looked after and nurtured for centuries by the Church of the East from Mesopotamia. The Portuguese tried to convert the Thomas Christians into Roman Catholic faith. Some points of their main differences are as follows: Ecclesiastical Allegiance:The Portuguese were Roman Catholics and accordingly attached to the Pope of Rome, where as St Thomas Christians gave their allegiance to the Patriarch of the Church of the east. Even after 1553, when John Sulaka was consecrated Patriarch after compromising with the Pope, those who follow him still retain the practices of the Church of the East in Church order and practices. Though the Portuguese did not object at first, but they did it later on. Sacrament of Confirmation: Being Romans, the Portuguese have seven
Sacraments, viz. Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Ordination, Penance, Marriage and Unction. The Portuguese alleged that the Thomas Christians did not have the sacrament of confirmation. The traditional practice in the Church of the east as a whole was like that of the early period. The priest administered confirmation by anointing the person with chrism, blessed earlier by the Bishop immediately after the sacrament of baptism. Therefore, there was no separate service or separate rite of Episcopal confirmation. Another point of slightly difference in sacramental practice of the Thomas Christians was that they performed Unction for the recovery of the sick, whereas the Portuguese used on the dying. Holy Communion or the Eucharist: The Thomas Christians method of Eucharist service was that of the ‘intinction’. They dipped the bread into the Wine and served the two together with a spoon to the communicants. But the Roman Portuguese practice was that the priest who administered the Eucharist received both the Breads and the Wine separately, but served only the Bread to the partaker. Though the theological concepts of both the practices, when explained, had no much difference and claimed that the elements represent the whole Christ, yet without explanation, the practices look quite different.
Question on Celibacy: The Parochial priest of the Thomas Church were married, whereas in the Portuguese Churches, all priests were celibates. With regard to this matter, the Indian Christians were not different from any other Eastern Churches, where parish priests were not required to celibate. But in the Roman Portuguese Christians, all the priests were also celibate. Doctrine of Purgatory: The Portuguese as Romans believed in the existence of purgatory by which they say that the souls of the faithful who passed away were in a certain place (purgatory) suffering from purification by fire. But the Thomas Christians, being the Eastern Church do not believe in purgatory. Veneration of Images: The Thomas Christians do not observed any kind of venerating images of anyone, whereas, the Portuguese venerated the images of our Lord, of the Virgin Mary, and of the images of the saints. Inside their cathedrals and in normal Church buildings, they displayed a number of such images. But for the Thomas Christians, this practice was resented. As a whole, the Indian Christians were still loyal to the practices of the Church of the east, while the Portuguese insisted them to follow the Roman method of worship and practices. THE MOGHUL MISSION:
Akbar, the greatest of all the Mughal emperors occupied the throne in 1556 and reigned for half a century till 1605. Perhaps for political motives, Akbar invited teachers of various Muslim sects, Jains, Hindus, Parsees, Jews, Sikhs and Christians to his court and studied the teachings of those religions. And he was the one who initiated for the establishment of a Christian mission to the Mughal Court. Christian priests started functioning at the court of the Mughal Emperors from 1579 till the reign of Aurangzeb (1658-1707). A brief summary of the Christian mission to the Mughal Court is given below: 1) During the reign of Akbar (1556-1605): Christian priests entered for the first into the court of the Mughal emperors during the time of Akbar the Great. It was Akbar himself who initiated for this to happen by inviting Fr. Gil Eanes Pereira, a missionary to the West Bengal in 1579. Fr. Pereira advised him to find Jesuit priests from Goa. Akbar did follow his advice and sought for two learned Jesuit priests. The authorities in Goa sent Rudolph Acquaviva, Antony Monserrate and Francis Henriques. Their main task was to debate with the Mullahs on religious matters in the presence of the Emperor.
The Emperor and his minister Abu’-l-fazl seemed to be very positive towards Christian teachings. But Akbar claimed to have had problems on the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation. In short, Akbar did not convert and he had a great respect to Christianity and its teachings, but only in the same manner, he showed respect to other religions. Knowing this situation, the mission was withdrawn in 1583, even though Akbar was not ready to part with them. The second mission went again to Akbar in 1591 on his persistent request. But this mission, after learning that Akbar was not intending to become a Christian, again ended abruptly in the same year. The third mission was again sent to Akbar on his request in May 1595. This were-Fr. Jerome Xavier, Fr. Immanuel Pinheiro and Bro. Benedict de Goes. This group met with some success by making converts among the ordinary people, but not the Emperor. The Emperor seemed to have a certain level of sympathy for them, but was not converted and died in 1605. 2) During the reign of Jehangir (1605-1627): Jehangir showed more respect and sympathy to the Christian faith. He even ordered the three sons of his deceased brother Danial to be instructed in Christian way and thereafter to get baptism. When his own courtiers complaint about his ordering of his brother’s sons,
Jehangir responded asking what would happen if he himself converted. In 1613, a war broke out between Jehangir and the Portuguese and the Christians of the Mughal Empire suffered persecution. But the war ended abruptly in 1615 and good relations were restored again. Another Christian king, James I of England sent an ambassador to Jehangir in 1615 with a chaplain, but the chaplain did not try to evangelize and both the parties, in spite of their opposing interests in politic, maintain cordial relationship at least in the surface level. There came in the court of Jehangir, two Franciscans in 1623. But due to their open accusation of Muhammad as a false prophet in public, they only aroused the anger of the Muslims. So they had no fruit to harvest there and thus left within a few days. 3) During Shah Jehan (1627-1658): Shah Jehan was an Orthodox Muslim and during his time, the Jesuits did not fared well in his empire. Within five years of his reign, the conduct of the Portuguese in Bengal aroused his anger and captured their station at Hoogly.
In Agra also, the soldiers searched the houses of the Jesuits and confiscated Church bells and other Christian pictures. Besides, towards the end of his reign, there came one Bishop named Mathew de Castro at Agra in 1651. This man had serious clashed with the Jesuits wherever he went. He went to Agra, Lahore and even in Delhi accusing the Jesuits as spies for the Portuguese, who stood on the way of recruitment of Dutch gunners for Mughal army. The Jesuit father also met imprisonment twice during the reign of Shah Jehan. Towards the end of his reign, Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of the emperor had a great love for the Christians. But how far the Christian teaching influenced him could not be learnt. 4) During the reign of Aurangzeb (1658-1707): Aurangzeb was much more staunch in Islam than his father Shah Jehan. Christians could not expect anything better from him than from his father. But to their surprised in the early years of his reign, he ordered all the confiscated properties of the Church to be returned. But after some years have passed, he re-imposed Jazia tax on all the non-Muslim citizens in 1670. Poor Christians who could not give were tortured and whipped. Comments/Conclusion: Though the Jesuit missionaries were given some place in the court of the Mughals from 1581 onward, they met with a limited success. Though they made some converts during the last days of Akbar, and an influence of some extent to Jehangir and the eldest son of Shah Jehan and of Aurangzeb, the small Church they established could not make much
improvement towards numerical growth. However, the gospel of Jesus Christ was presented to them, whether they accept or not was another thing. Besides, Fr. Jerome Xavier had left a number of Christian literatures in Persian language. And they also had some influence on their paintings and art also. But in general, the Christian mission to the Mughal court was not a successful one in terms of numerical strength of conversions they had made. THE TRANQUEBAR MISSION:
The first Protestant missionaries to India were sent not by the Mission Board, but by King Frederick IV of Denmark, a Lutheran in 1709. Since he found no one in Denmark to be sent to India as missionaries, he sought from Germany and found in the persons of Bartholomew Ziegenbalg and Henry Pluetschau. Both the men were products of pietistic revivals and also of University of Halle. Though bring pietists, a Lutheran Bishop ordained them with much hesitation and so were sent to India as ‘Royal Missionaries’. The King himself borne their expenditure and though being Germans by birth and Lutherans by denomination, they were sent by a king of Denmark.
They set their feet at Tranquebar on the 9th of July 1706. Even as they arrived India, they were awaited by hostilities and had to spent three days in the ship before they could find any boat to take them ashore. They tried to enter the Danish Fort at Tranquebar by showing their papers addressed to the Danish commandant there. They were made to wait at the entrance of the fort from 10:00 AM till 4:00 PM. When finally Commander J.C. Hassius and his team appeared, they simply let them in, but left them again in the market place without showing any place for shelter. Finally, a junior officer let them in to the house of his wife’s parents and after some days, they found a house to settle themselves in the Portuguese quarter. The two Germans on ‘royal mission’ started to learn Portuguese and Tamil, Portuguese was the most common language in use in Europe trading stations of South India at that time, and Tamil was the language of the people with whom they set their minds to work with. At the same time, they also ministered with the German soldiers in the Danish East India Company’s troops and they entered into some kind of service under the Company. Somehow, they managed to impress the Commandant to issue an order for them, two hours leave everyday for instructions of Christian teachings. They finally started giving Christian
instructions to five persons in Nov 1706. After these catechumens were examined, they were given baptism in May 1707 in the Danish Church at Tranquebar. Not long after this, they started an orphanage by purchasing orphans from their guardians and they adopted them as their own children. They taught German to these orphans, baptized and brought up as Christian children. They also started a Portuguese school and a Tamil school. Ziegenbalg soon engaged himself in religious discussion with Hindus in Tamil and even preached to them. In those days, a European who could speak in Tamil having interest in Hindu religious beliefs for discussions was very scarce. For this reason, he drew attentions and many Hindu from around the area came over to him for religious discussions.
After a short stay of barely a year, the two hard working ‘royal missionaries’ could form some sort of a congregation in August 1707, and built a mission Church outside the Danish fort at Tranquebar. And the following month, i.e. September 1707, the first groups of Tamil convert, nine in number, received baptism from their hands. The first two missionaries at Tranquebar applied five methods, which were later followed by other Protestant missionaries. They were: 1) The Church and formal education were carried together hand in hand. The idea was that Christians must be educated so that hey may read the Bible. Schools were needed to be opened for educating Christians. 2) If Christians are to read the Bible, then they need the Bible written in their own language. So the Bible must be translated into Tamil. 3) Gospel must be communicated and presented to the people in their own context. T must be relevant for the society. So, not only the people but also the context needed to be addressed. 4) The focus should be made clear to bring individual conversion. 5) At the earliest possible, an Indian Church must be established with Indian leaders at the administration. The first two Protestant missionaries thus worked for the establishment of an Indian Protestant Church, independent of foreign control. With this aim in view, the Tranquebar mission grew steadily. Responsibility of translation work rested on Ziegenbalg, whereas Pluetschau looked after education. New Testament in Tamil was published in 1714. Translation of the Old Testament was not completed during Ziegenbalg’s lifetime. When Ziegenbalg died in 1719, there were 350 protestant Christians at Tranquebar and a Lutheran Church had been born in South India. The next famous Tranquebar missionary, later the
S.P.C.K missionary, was Christian Friedrich Schwartz (1726-1798). C.F. Schwartz was born in Brandenburg in 1726, and was educated at the Halle University. He arrived Tranquebar in 1751 and worked there for ten years. By this time, Tranquebar Mission had spread out and opened Mission stations at Madras, Cuddalore, Negapetam and Trichinopoly. After ten years at Tranquebar, C.F. Schwartz moved to Trichinopoly and remained there for 16 years. Then he went over to Tanjore in 1772 and remained there till his death (1798). He made a name in Tanjore and won respect and confidence of the people and also of the king. He also played important role in politics, especially representing the natives against the British. During his missionary service, the Tranquebar Mission had as many as 20,000 Indian Christian Community. FRANCIS XAVIER:
Francis Xavier was a Spaniard born in 1506 from a noble family of Navarre. After he finished his studies, he joined the faculty in the University of Paris and become a close associate of another Spaniard named Ignatius Loyola. With four other friends, the two formed a new brotherhood at Paris in 1534, which later became a society within the Catholic Church under the name ‘the Society of Jesus’. By the request of the Pope, Xavier and Loyola left Lisbon in April 1541 and landed at Goa on 6th May, 1542. While in Goa, Xavier started visiting the sick in the hospitals and the prisoners in the goals. He also started introducing Christian faith to children and others by attracting them together by ringing a bell in the streets and calling them out loud in the streets. After about five months, he left Goa and went south to give pastoral care to the Parava converts. He covered about 30 villages of the Parava Christians as a pastor. After about three years evangelistic work in India, he moved to Indonesia in January 1545 and worked there for about another three years.
He returned to India in 1548 and again set out for Japan in April 1549, and came back to India in 1552. Again, in May the same year, he moved to China, attempting to convert the Emperor. He died on 22nd December, 1552 while waiting for a secret entry into China. Francis Xavier established not less than 45- Christian settlements and had baptized over 10,000 persons. His Methods:F. Xavier truly humbled himself for the sake of Christ and his service. He came to India as Apostolic Nuncio for Asia and also was made Provincial of the Society of Jesus in India and the
East. He had such noble designations and was a responsible servant of God. Yet, his missionary methods showed his humility. The followings were his methods of evangelization: 1) Pastoral Visits: Already on his way from Lisbon to Goa, he was known for his pastoral visits to sick persons, who were his traveling companions in a fleet. He not only paid visit the sick, but also served them whatever ways the person or persons needed help. During his stay in Goa, he visited the sick and the prisoners in their places of detention. By visiting those who were in need, he could build rapport with individuals and effectively instruct people to Christian faith. 2) Direct Evangelism: While in Goa, he roamed about the streets and brought with him a bell to attract attention of the people. By doing this and calling out loud in the streets, he encouraged people to send their children and ‘Aiyahs’ to nearby churches for instructions to Christian faith. When people assembled together, he taught them the gospel of Christ.
This was his common method of evangelization from Goa and also among the Paravas and Mukkavars, the Tamil speaking outcaste groups in the present Tamil Nadu. 3) Through Interpreters: F. Xavier, in contrast with the method applied by Robert de Nobili, could never spared his time to learn systematically the languages of the people among whom he worked. He might have picked up certain words through personal contacts, but he depended mainly on interpreters, who knew both the language of the people and of Spanish or Portuguese. 4) Jumping over to Places: F. Xavier, being Apostolic Nuncio for India and East India, could never stick on to a particular place for more than three years. Rather, he traveled and shifted from place to place. During his short period of mission work in Asia, which was only ten years from 1542-1552, he worked in India for three years, another three years in Indonesia, and another almost three years in Japan. His main center was India and he spent about a year for traveling from one place to another. Evaluation and Conclusion: As a whole, the missionary activities were a highly positive one, and he was no doubt, a successful missionary in terms of the number of conversion and of the numerical strength of baptism he administered. But it is not encouraging to depend on interpreters for a full time missionary. He would be more effective to the minds of the people if he could communicate with the language of the people. So, the first point of weakness in his method was his independence on interpreters in communicating the people. The second
point of weakness was his frequent shifting. He could have been an agent for the much deeper transformation of the Indian society, at least among the Paravas, if he stayed among them much longer than he had been. His shifting from place to place at a short period of barely three years cost him much fruits of his hard labour. His missionary work, carried out under the banner of the Portuguese national flag has its negative effect also. The Indian gave the intruding Portuguese a name ‘Parangis’ with a derogatory sense. In that context, Xavier’s role as a missionary under the Portuguese power could be imagined as having limited influence in the minds of the people. F. Xavier also proposed to the king of Portugal to establish an inquisition in India, a kind of Police force, working for the Roman Catholic Church. Though during his own time, the inquisition had not been formed, it was established at Goa in 1560 and continued till 1812. From the light of today’s contact, it is difficult to appreciate such form of forceful Christianisation.
ROBERT DE NOBILI:
Robert de Nobili was born at Tuscany, Rome in September 1577. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1597 at Novitiate in Naples and left for India in 1603 from Portugal and arrived India in 1605. He was posted to inland city of Madurai in 1606, and Albert Laerzio accompanied him. Robert de Nobili worked there and started an indigenous form of Christianity for the Indians with the permission of Fr. Albert Laerzio. His method was a new one for the Indians and attracted many Brahmins and other high caste Hindus into Christianity. However, being identified as a Christian Sannyasi and living a life of a true Brahmin, his fellow Catholic missionaries accused him of as converted into Hinduism. When his case was brought to the notice of the Pope, a meeting was summoned at Goa in 1619. From there on, though finally the Pope acquitted him, his fame as a missionary decline. Nevertheless, he continued to follow his own method till the end of his life and he died at Mylapore in 1656. His Methods:Nobili started investigating the reason why Fr. Goncalo failed to make converts. He easily found out that the Indians had a great contempt for the ‘Paranghis’, who did not wash or bath frequently, but eat beef, drank liquor and communicated freely with the most despised castes. They regarded Goncalo as polluted and thought that anyone who got baptism would go straightaway lose nobility because of his being
close associated with the low castes. a) Indian Way of Life: Thereby learning this, Nobili revealed his identity of his not being a Portuguese. He revealed his noble Italian birth and so claimed himself both a Kshatriya by birth and a Brahmin by profession. Fully aware of the Indian caste society, he refrains from mixing with low castes. He built himself a mud house in the Brahmin quarter of the town. He employed a Brahmin cook and hardly come out of his house during daytime. He also gave up meat, egg, fish and wine, which the Brahmins usually do not eat. Rather, he restricted himself to one meal per day, consisting of rice, milk and vegetables only. He even stopped wearing the black cassock. In stead, he wore the dress of an Indian sannyasi. He underwent all such hardships to identify himself acceptable for the Indians. b) Method of Instruction: Nobili, having identified himself as a Christian sannyasi, studied the religious philosophy of the Hindus. He was very well versed with various Hindu scriptures and followed the method applied by the Hindu Gurus.
He stayed in his mud house in a complete solitude and whenever people approach him, he would come out only after he made sure that the visitor was a high caste. Even then, he maintained an extreme reservation. He recited to them with correct tones and pronunciation from Hindu scriptures of many authors and he also composed many verses. Nobili say that he had come to preach the Sattia Veda (True Veda). All those who wanted to be saved had to accept it. He also taught that if a person receives baptism, it does not affect his/her caste and the baptism meant only for salvation of the soul. He presented to them that there is only one true God, creator and sovereign master of the whole universe. c) As a Guru: After some years of teaching, Nobili acted as a Guru, having a team of disciples and went around the villages, teaching the new ‘laws’. He traveled on foot and bring with him nothing sort of spare clothes or any other else. By doing this, he attracted many followers in the villages he visited. His first convert was a high caste and came to Nobili to listen to him for four or five hours a day. And finally, he prayed for baptism and Nobili baptized him. He was followed by another high caste and Nobili was regarded as the most successful missionary to the high caste Hindus. d) As a Writer: Nobili learned Tamil, Sanskrit and Telegu. He wrote many books in those languages and presented Christianity in an Indian way. His Gnanopadesam was a catechetical book on religious teachings for the
converts that contains 26 sermons. His edifying works were the Divya Madrigai (Divine Model) and Gnano Sancheevi (Spiritual Medicine). His writings showed that Nobili not only preached and instruct Christian teachings by words of mouth, but also left books. This was another of his method of presenting Christianity to the Indians in their own way of understanding religion. Evaluation and Conclusion: Nobili’s method of evangelization seems to be good to attract high caste Hindus. But he agrees with the Hindu societal caste system that is contrary to the teachings of Christ that all men and women are equal before God.
Though his ‘self emptying’, by way of becoming a Christian sannyasi was highly remarkable to his credit, his attitude to the low caste people was not in agreement with Christian teaching to love one’s neighbour. In short, his presentation of Christianity was not inclusive, but rather exclusive for the Brahmins and other high caste people only. His endurance of simple living and vegetarian life is highly regarded, yet his separateness from his missionary colleagues was not commendable. These problems were heaping up and brought before the Pope. He was summoned to Goa in 1619 for a discussion and an examination of his theology. Though he was finally acquitted, yet his fame as a Christian sannyasi was not unblemished. As a whole, Robert de Nobili’s missionary method was an indigenised one and was to be appreciated. But it would have been better if he went further to undo the rigid caste distinction in the Indian society. CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY (C.M.S):
‘Mission of Help’ to the Malabar Church and its outcome
On the later part of the 18th Malabar suffered the prayer of war. Some 10000 Syrian Christians are said to have perished in the invasion of Tipu Sultan in 1789. Many churches were destroyed including the Cathedral Church of Angamali. In N. Kerela, the Christians were handed on trees round their churches. The following year was witness the establishment of British power in this part of India. Cochin was taken from the Dutch in 1795.
Tipu was defeated in 1799, and in the following year, a British Resident was appointed to Travancore and Cochin. The British connection had an immediate effect in the History of the Syrian Church. This was so because the first two residents namely, Col. McCauley and Col. Munro were protestant Christian
with strong conviction and they were interest in the affairs of the church especially in those of the Jacobite Church. Possibly it was in the suggestion of Col. McCauley that the Madras govt. sent its senior chaplain Richard Kerr in 1806 to investigate the state of the Syrian church. He reported the Jacobites to be about 170 to 18000 with positive remarks of their social and religious life. Further he remarked, ‘to unite them to the church of England would be a most notable work, Claudius Bucharan made an extended tour and stay among them a longer period. He founded about 55 Jacobite churches, but he expressed a low opinion about their life. He also expressed hope ‘ that they might one day be united with the church of England’. In one of his conversations with Mr. Dionysios at first expressed doubt about this effect, later he gave in; and expressed his approval to the notion of mutually agreed connection with the Church of England. He did this after assurance given by Bucharan that the Church of England would not harm out promote its welfare.
Bucharan reports on his tour aroused much interest. In the report Bucharan urged the CMS to take stops in this matter. Now, when Col. Munro became the resident and also the Dewan of Travancore in1810, he used his authority to redressed their political grievances. He also personally helped them in many other ways. The Syrians were naturally happy with him. But, Munro was not content with his role as a patron of the Jacobites in political and material things only. So, he planned for a reformation of their religious life. For this purpose, he invited the CMS to sent out missionaries to work in the Syrian Church and to teach in the Seminary, and thus influence the rising generation of the clergy. Munro hoped that they would be able to bring about a revival and reformation of the Church. The CMS accepted his suggestion. Thus, the Anglican Missions of Help to the Syrian church were begun in 1816 by sending of Thomas Norton. Munro did not reveal this plan before hand to the Metran Mar Di dionysios II. Therefore, when it was suggested that Norton should live at the Seminary at Kottayam, the Metran became alarmed and refused permission. Then, a compromise was made that Norton should stay in Allepey and visit Kottayam occasionally. THE SYNOD OF DIAMPER AND ITS CONSEQUENCE:
The Synod of Diamper is the most important in the history of Indian Church. It is regarded so because the decision in the Synod was beyond what is usual, and also it has a far-reaching effect. The council et on 20th June 1599. The study about the synod is an interesting to know. 1. The choosing of the place of the Synod.
Diamper was somewhat a strong hold place of Portuguese.
2. Members of the Synod.
(a)From the Syrian side about 133 Priest, 20 deacons and sub-deacons. 660 lay representatives and thus a total of about 813 members were participated from the Syrian side. Most of the priest was the one who were newly ordained by Menezes.
(b)From the Portuguese side, Menezes and a small number of Portuguese clergy, then Portuguese chaplain and Portuguese officials of Cochin, and armed military men of Portuguese, were the members who attended the synod.
3. Preparation of the draft to be presented in the Synod for passing: Menezes and Fr. Roz were already at Diamper many days before the council started; the draft contains all the points of the Roman Catholic doctrines and sacred mental teachings.
4. Nature of the announcement made by the Arch Bishop Menezes: He announce that he is the metropolitan of the Malabar Churches and it was his duty to find a bishop for them, he ask announce that no member would be allowed to leave the place without permission; all the members had to sign the decision taken in the Synod. It is clear that Menezes was exercising some kinds of force on the people.
5. Extraordinary Nature of the Synod Session:
First Menezes knelt down and made a profession of faith,. It was a pure Catholic confession of faith; this faith condemned heresies mainly Nestorianism, it repudiated (refuse to accept) the Patriarch of Babylon. The Faith contained a promised to accept no bishop, but one sent by the pope only; after Menezes finished he demanded the Syrian clergy and layman to
make the same profession of faith upon this. There were some protested. Menezes told that all the Syrian Christians were bound to make profession of this faith when required by authority, all the Syrian Christians representative had to obey the Menezes. They were not much resistance for the Malabar Christians though the decisions were not explicitly against their will. None of them opposed because the Portuguese captain were standing at the door with a rifle. Most of the people did not understand what was going on. It established the Roman doctrine. Syrian books were given for destruction and sacrament were reformed. Latin man was introduced, and attendance in the mass was made compulsory. The whole Malabar Church came under the influence of the Roman Catholic. Pope Clement VIII issued the circular praising the good works done by Menezes but later Cardinal Tessarant repudiated and said ‘1599 was a faithful day and also it was a darkened time in the history of the Church.’ Father Thaliath, said that “Arch Bishop, Menezes had no right in the church for the Synod because the administration of the Church was not in favour of him, the Synod was illegal and the council was attended /represented only by the majority of his Priest ordained by him, he had no right to ordained any people because at that time/stage the Malabar Church was not need of many priests.”
In 1601, Fr. Roz became the bishop of the Angamali; about the council we get more information from Roz himself. He said, Menezes did not read the decision in the Synod; he wanted only the signature of the participants. In 1603, Fr. Roz wrote to the Jesuits’ General in Rome; stating that the pope should not accept the decision in the Synod, the decisions were not included in the Canon. He wanted to know the right way, he explain that it was not a Synod at all, one of the irregularities was that Menezes added some more in the canon offer the Synod was over.
The Synod at Diamper was a turning point in the relationship between the Malabar Christians and the Roman Catholic, Acts and Decrees of the council are important. From this, we have a brief of the faith of the Malabar Christians before the coming of the Portuguese or the Roman Catholic in Malabar.
Lames Hobbs says that, the Malabar Christians believed in the justification by faith, they believed in inimity, they were very much attached to the Syrian Patriarch, transubstantiation was not practice by the Malabar Church and they did not intercedes with the saints they never heard of purgatory, no Mass, no confession or oracles were conducted in the Church. They were not only of the literacy of the priests they use wine and bread in the communion and use leaven bread.
1) During this eight days confrontation, it is clear that Syrian Christian had to give way under pressure of a most right-handed and unscrupulous proceeding. But it is also true that they did not offer serious resistance. 2) They became now under the rule of Portuguese hierarchy and the doctrine understanding of many custom of the western Churches. 3) The Syrians Christian repudiated the patriarch of Babylon and agreed to abandon many of their traditional customs. 4) Subjects to the pope, cut off from their Mother church and confirmed to Roman Catholism- and became part of the western Church organization.
After the Synod of Diamper, another service confrontation took place when Francis Roz became the Bishop of Angawali. He was a competent man with long experience, knew Syriac, Malayalam and quite familiar with the affairs of the Malabar Syrians. As he began to take charge of the affairs of Malabar-liturgical, administration etc. a clash with the archdeacon George ensued because, it was a new thing in Malabar to have a Bishop who could govern. George said that his power was taken away, and at the same time opposition grew up and Roz reacted vigorously and ex-communicated him but were unconcealed.
CONCLUSION: The Portuguese never bother to understand the S.T. Thomas Christians. The immediate result was division in the St. Thomas Christian Church. People moral was lost, because the people in the eyes of the laws opposed the synod. And the confrontation brought division among the members of the Roman Catholic Church. Propaganda was started in Rome in1662 and became into conflicts with the Patriarch. Later they became into an
argument. As regard, Menezes, we cannot blame Him so much because of his background. Europe had the reformation and counter as catholic reformation in which – (i) They decided in the council of Trent to renew the church and reclaimed the West Christians (ii) The Society of Jesus was formed. So, Menezes did as a child of the time.
CONTRIBUTION OF SERAMPORE MISSION:
Historians collectively called William Carey, Joshua Marshman and William Ward as ‘The Serampore Trio’. William Carey arrived Calcutta to be a missionary in 1793. In the mean time, the Baptist Missionary Society also sent a team of missionaries from England to India. Among them were Joshua Marshman, William Ward, John Brunsdon, William Grant and their family. The so-called ‘Serampore Trio’, thus began to be formed on January 10, 1800, when the Serampore Mission was established under the leadership of William Carey. The main objective of the Serampore mission was to spread the Gospel in the Indian Sub-continent. They distributed responsibilities among them: Carey was in charge of Agriculture, Finance, Medical, Translation and overall supervision of all activities; Marshman and his wife Hannah were given Education whereas, Ward, Brunsdon and Felix jointly took up printing works. By March in the same tear, they organized a Church in which Carey became the Pastor and Marshman and Fountain were deacons. They also started to hold regular preaching, boarding school, printing, language learning and translation works. Towards the Indian Society:
Social practices of the Indians during the days, the Serampore mission was at its beginning, were unthinkable. When a girl is to be given for marriage, she has to bring with her some treasures in the form of cash or in kind. This practice is known as the Dowry System. Therefore, to avoid such expenditures, parents superstitiously throw their infant girl children out into rivers. This practice was called Female Infanticide. Another social evil that was very common was of Sati. When a person died, leaving behind a wife, his young wife would also be burnt alive at the funeral pyre of her husband. William Carey and his friends saw such practice and many others as evil and they thought that a missionary’s task is to do away with such social problems. a) Female Infanticide: Right from 1794, William Carey
encountered with several social events in India. He saw a practice of Female Infanticide at Sundarban to which he was very shocked. This kind of practice and other instances touched Carey’s heart and could not restrain himself not to fight against it.
When he was engaged as Bengali teacher at Fort William College, he tried to persuade government authorities to do away with this evil practice. Lord Wellesley, the Governor-General deputed Carey himself to inquire into the sacrifices of the children to the Ganges at Sagar Island. He worked very hard for this and collected the number of children victimized by this practice during a certain period within a peculiar area. His statistics impressed the Governor General and thus finally won Lord Wellesley, who issued a notice against the practice of Female Infanticide. Though, at first, the prohibition order may not work as effective to the Indians as expected, it brought into light that it was an evil practice. Finally, the practice came to be stopped. b) Sati: Another social evil the Serampore Mission was fighting against was that of the Sati. Ever since the day Carey saw this practice being carried out, his mind could never ceased to protest against it. With the help of the Newspaper, the Serampore Mission ‘The Friend of India’, the Serampore missionaries described to the public that the practice of Sati as ‘a powerful and convincing statement of the real facts and circumstances of the case.’ In this paper, they continue to report to their readers the actual number victims of this practice. This eventually brought about protests against the practice both in England and India, and gradually grew from strength to strength. This protest was doubled by the influential voices of the newly emerging Indian leader, Ram Mohan Roy. Finally, Lord William Bentinck issued prohibition order in 1829. This was indeed a great relief for the Indian women from the clutches of their social practice. c) Literature: The Serampore Mission also served a great deal towards the promotion of Indian literature, especially in Bengali. They took initiative in publishing Newspapers in Bengali, Sanskrit and also in English. Not only this, W. Carey wrote a Bengali grammar and was published in 1801. In the same year, he also wrote and published a book, entitled Kathopakathan. He also encouraged his colleagues to write Bengali books and consequently Ram Ram Basu wrote Pratapadiya. Golaknath Sharma translated Hitopadesh from Sanskrit to Bengali. Carey’s contribution in Bengali and literature is, therefore very significant. Many of them
attributed honors to Carey for his works. Another of his published work in Bengali was Itihasamala and this became a notable achievement of Carey. The Newspaper and periodicals, the Serampore Mission published were Digdarshin and Samachar Darpan. These papers became so successful that the Calcutta School Book Society even purchased thousand copies of the first number of Digdarshin. And during the year 1821, they purchased as many as 61,250 copies of it. They also published an English paper, The Friend of India from 1818, which had become very successful in itself and for creating public awareness to certain issues for educating the public in general. Considering all these contributions made by Serampore Mission, the Indian society owed a great debt to the Mission. ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSION TO BENGAL
Akbar’s victory over Daud Karrani in the Battle of Tukaroi in 1575 marked the beginning of the Mughal rule over Bengal. Though at first, the Mughal rule was not consolidated, gradually their influence grew and it was under the Mughal that the first Christian Missionaries entered Bengal. Pedro Tavares, a Portuguese captain received from Akbar permission to build a town at Hooghly. Accordingly, Akbar granted the permission with full religious liberty for propagation of Christianity and even to the extent of making converts. Following this permission, Tavares established a town at Hooghly in 1579 or 1580. Within a few years, this town grew to be the greatest trade center in Bengal supplanting Satgaon. And in the course of time, the Portuguese of Hooghly became practically independent of the Mughals so long as they paid tributes to the emperor.
The first Christian preacher to enter Bengal were Vicars who used to accompany the Portuguese ships that sailed to the ports of Bengal and Pegu who used to baptized people. But they were not regular missionaries who work in a particular center. At the request of the Bishop of Cochin, two Jesuit fathers went to Bengal in 1576 on a temporary basis. Gil Eanes Pereira followed them after a few years and he was mentioned in 1578 as vicar of Satgaon. In 1598 and 1599, another Jesuit priests went to Bengal intending to work as permanent missionaries. They started school and a hospital at Hooghly. But they did not remain at Hooghly permanently because they were also invited to open such Christian services at various places in Bengal.
From Hooghly, they went to Chandecan where the Prince welcomes them most cordially. He gave them permission to preach and even to baptize anyone among his citizens who wished to become Christian. The first Jesuit Church in Bengal was built at Chandecan and it was opened on 1st January 1600. From Chandecan, the Jesuit priests proceeded to Sripur and to Bakla and thence to Arakan at Chittagong and Dianga. While the pioneering Jesuit fathers opened up mission fields in these places, other Jesuit priests came over to continue their works and thus mission works were started prosperously. But the relationship between the Portuguese and the King of Arakan turned hostile from 1602 and it lasted till 1615. Due to the hostile political situation, the Jesuit fathers who had been warmly welcomed all over the areas were arrested and put into prison and other Christians were also ill – treated.
The same thing happened in Sripur and also in Chandecan. Due to this reason, the surviving Jesuits left Bengal and some of them returned to Cochin while some others went over to Pegu. In 1616, six Jesuits entered again into Bengal – one at Sripur, one at Dacca and the remaining four at Hooghly and Pipli. The Jesuits erected Churches in such various places. But at the time when they were trying to expand their missionary activities in Hooghly, the Augustinians resisted them and imposed certain restrictions on their work. Here it may be noted that Alexis de Menezes, Archbishop of Goa, was an Augustinian. During these days, the Jesuit residence of Hooghly was used as a “college” of some sort where reading and writing were taught with a bit of Latin. With Alexis de Menezes as administrator of the Roman Catholics in India at that time, the vicar general for Bengal could not be expected from other than the Augustinian. The Augustinians arrived Bengal in 1599, a short time after the Jesuits landed there. Their first settlement was at Hooghly, a place where the first two Augustinian priests landed in 1599. Another six priests soon followed these two priests and as time went more and more, Augustinians entered the field. They erected the monastery at Hooghly and dedicated to St Nicholas of Tolentino to which was attached the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. Not long after they established themselves at various places like Hijli, Banja, Pipli, Tamluk and Dacca and extended their activities up to Chittagong. By 1629, they were looking after 12 Churches in Bengal and Orissa. It may be noted here that wherever the Augustinians established a Church, the Jesuits were also having at least
one. Besides the Jesuits and the Augustinians, the Dominicans also entered Bengal but only for a short time. In 1601, two Dominicans entered Dianga, near Chittagong, at the request of the Portuguese residents of that place. The Portuguese built a Church and a small residence for them. By 1602, they claimed to have at least 500 communicant members there. But when the war broke out between the Portuguese and the Arakans, their chapels and their lodgings were destroyed. When the two parties arrived at certain reconciliation, they were still requested by the King of Arakan to stay back. But their superior in Goa ordered them to leave the place. When the Dominicans and the Jesuits left, two Franciscans visited Chittagong in 1605, but due to the precariousness of the peace between the Portuguese and the King of Arakan, these two Franciscans also left Chittagong very soon. Though there were some diocesan priests working as curates at a few settled places like Hooghly, the Roman Catholic Mission to Bengal during the Portuguese period was not a stable one.
RELIGIOUS REVIVAL IN THE WEST AND THE BIRTH
OF THE PROTESTANT MISSIONARY SOCIETY
Protestant Churches were founded in 16th centuries but they started missionary activities much later. Though John Calvin send four priests and other lay people to Brazil in 1555, the reformers generally gave no heed to mission works. For them, the theme “Go into all the world..” (Mk 16:15) was only for the immediate followers of Jesus. However, there were stray attempts to evangelise some parts of the world, but with no sound financial supports. The great awakening happened among Protestants only after evangelical revivals that took place in England and USA in the 18th century. Let us discuss the events that led to the formation of various Protestant Missionary Societies. 1. Pietistic Movement: The forerunner of the modern missionary movement was the pietistic movement in Germany under the leadership of a Lutheran Pastor, Phillip Jacob Spenner (1635-1705). Feeling the need of moral reformation and purity of life in the midst of denominational feuds among the Protestants, the Pietists stressed the need of spiritual revival of an individual. August Hermann Frankle (1663-1727), a revivalist founded the University of Halle, which later became famous for its missionary zeal. This University produced many Pastors and Missionaries
and thus became the first center of inspiration towards mission work. King Frederick IV of Denmark sought for missionaries to be sent to Tranquebar, which was answered by this University. This University provided him with two young men and thus the so-called Danish-Halle Mission came to exist. The first two missionaries of this mission to India – Bartholomew Ziegenbalg and Henry Plutschau – reached Tranquebar on 9th July, 1706 and they were the first Protestant Missionaries to India. 2. Imperialism: The French Revolution in 1789 and especially after Napoleonic Wars that ended in1815, Europeans set their minds on inventions and discoveries thereby enhancing the spirit of imperialism more than ever before. They improved their materials and imported raw materials from their colonies. All such colonialists were Christians and Christianity therefore went along with imperialism. When the spirit of imperialism flourished among European countries, a great religious revival happened among them in the 18th century and this paved the ways for the formation of various missionary societies in Europe. 3. Evangelical Revival: Following the pietistic movement, a great revival happened in England from 1738 onward. John Wesley (1703-1791) and George Whitefield (1714- 1770) were the most influential speakers in the revival movement. This revival stressed on ‘born again’ spirituality, personal devotion and commitment to God, purity of one’s life and on the Christian responsibility to society at large. It brought popular awareness to the need of mission and evangelism, especially the need to send missionaries to colonies where the people were ‘heathens’. Similarly, Wales, Germany, Switzerland, France and Norway also experienced revival during the 18th and 19th centuries. The revival in England reached New England in the USA, especially among the Dutch Reformed and the Presbyterians. Since, this revival happened in many places, when it was about to cool down in one place, it started happening in another and that again revived the former.
The most obvious result of this revival movement was a new impetus in mission works and the consequence was the formation of various missionary societies. It has been said that all the missionary societies formed during the 18th and 19th centuries were the by-product of revivals. 4. Missionary Societies of the 18th & 19th Centuries: The revivalists have much concern for the world and felt need to liberate from the clutches of ‘Satan’ with the Gospel of Christ. The consequence was the formations of various
missionary societies. Much credit goes to William Carey (1761-1834) of England, a cobbler and then a Pastor. He often proclaimed the need to form a Missionary Society. At one time when he said this at the Baptist Pastors’ Conference, Dr. John C. Ryland told him to sit quiet saying that if God wanted to convert the heathens, He will do it without their support. But largely due to Carey’s pressure, the Baptist Missionary Society, the first missionary society ever, was founded in October 1792 and Carey himself was the first missionary this Society sent abroad. Following this, several other Missionary Societies were being formed and towards the end of the 19th century, almost all the Christian countries and all the Protestant denominations sent missionaries to foreign countries. It is to be noted here that missionary societies were initiated not by any Church, but by group of enthusiasts. The following are the popularly known Missionary Societies:
1)The Baptist Missionary Society-1792.
2)The London Missionary Society-1795
3)Scottish and Glasgow Missionary Society-1796
4)The Netherlands Missionary Society-1797
5)Church Missionary Society (England)-1799
6)The British and Foreign Bible Society-1804
7)American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions-1810
8)American Baptist Union-1814
9)Bassel Mission (Switzerland)-1815
10)American Bible Society-1816
After these Societies, several other societies were also formed in Denmark (1821), France (1822), Germany (1824), Sweden (1935) and Norway (1842). Thus, several Missionary Societies were formed as a result of the religious revival in the West. Though John Wesley and George Whitefield were leaders of the revivals, William Carey was the father and pioneer of the modern Missionary movement. He was not only the founding architect; he was also the first missionary in the modern Protestant missionary activities.
FORMATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA
The Church of North India (CNI) had its beginning as the United Church of North India (UNCI) which was formed in the year 1924. Union negotiations and the actual union began with the Presbyterians and the Congregational Churches. It was a union of eleven Missions and the area it covered ranges from Bengal and Assam in the East. Gujarat in the West and Punjab in the North. This union followed the constitution system of the Presbyterians. At about the same time, the Federation of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (FELCI) was also founded. But this was a ‘federation’ of various autonomous bodies and not an organic union. In 1929, a series of consultations with a view towards Church Union started in North India, possibly taking an example from the union negotiations in the south. The two Church organizations, the UCNI and the FELCI, discussed union issues and the Round Table Conference of the two prepared a ‘Basis of Negotiations’ that was published in 1939. The council worked separately and thus issued an union plan in 1940. Consequently, five different Church bodies formed a Negotiation Committee in 1951. Those five Church bodies were: 1) The United Church in North India (UCNI).
2) The Anglican Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. 3) The Methodist Church in South Asia (Methodist Episcopal Church in India) 4) The British and Australian Methodist Church, and
5) The Council of Baptist Churches in North India.
Later in 1957, the Church of Brethren and the Disciple of Christ joined the Negotiation Committee. This committee stretched over a period from 1929 to 1970. The Negotiation Committee revised the Union plan and published it in 1954. The fourth and final edition of the Basis was published in 1965. Basing on this final edition of the Union Plan, the Church of North India was thus inaugurated on November 29, 1970. The inauguration service of the CNI was held at the All Saints Cathedral at Nagpur. The Methodist Church in Southern Asia, though once accepted the union plan in January 1970, resolved in August the same year not to enter into the union after all. The Assembly of the Presbyterian Churches in North East India (now renamed Presbyterian Church of India) did joined the union but later withdrew itself from the
CNI. However, those Churches that enter into the union ceased to exist as separate ecclesiastical bodies so that the CNI became their sole and true successor in all respects. It must be acknowledged that the Church of North India plan of union owed much to the Church of South India in borrowing union scheme. It is true that the CSI set an example for the CNI. The CNI later formed dioceses according to languages, regions and area-wise and it has as many as 26 dioceses in 1995. NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN INDIA
Background Context: The general context that triggered consciousness for the need to form the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), as well as many other National Christian Councils, was the growing feeling of the urgency for world evangelizations. The watchword of the Student Volunteer Movement ‘The Evangelization of the World in this Generation’ at the beginning of the twentieth century grasped the minds of the missionaries and mission workers, irrespective of denominational differences. The same was true to the missionaries working in India as well as the native Christians. This feeling was enhanced by the particular Indian context, the context of the so – called Mass Movements that dominated the history of Christianity in India from 1870s. Mass Movements brought missionaries of different denominations and different societies into closer relationship and co-operation. Another notable factor was John R. Mott’s visit to India. Mott visited India five times and his first two visits (1896-1897 and 1901-1902) stirred general enthusiasm among Christian students. This enthusiasm resulted for the formation of the two student movements in India – Student Christian Movement and Student Volunteer Movement. It must also be taken note of the decennial national missionary conferences that were held from 1872 onwards. Kaj Baago regarded the fourth All India Missionary Conference (NMC) held in Madras in 1902 as the first real official ecumenical meeting in India. The previous NMC dealt mainly with missions and comity with no delegates representing any Church. But the 1902 Conference created the Board of Arbitration to “see to it that ‘unoccupied’ areas were evangelized”. The primary motive of this Board was to start a united action in Evangelization. When the Edinburgh 1910 formed the Continuation Committee and made J.R. Mott its Chairman, the Committee requested Mott to visit mission fields. He came to India for the third time in 1912 and organized a series of provincial
missionary councils in India, Ceylon, Pakistan and Burma.
The concluding Conference was held in Calcutta to which delegates from all over the country attended the meeting during 18 – 21 December, 1912. This meeting became the first National Missionary Conference that replaced the previously All India Missionary Conferences. This conference decided to formed Provincial Missionary Councils and the National Missionary Council by those Provincial Councils. When all the processes of forming the provincial councils and a draft constitution of the National Missionary Council took place in 1913, the first National Missionary Council meeting was held during 4-5 February 1914 in Calcutta. Twenty Eight (28) members attended the meeting while 36 were expected. At this, the National Missionary Council (NMC) took its birth with a view to unite Christian efforts for the evangelization of India. The NMC:The NMC was mainly occupied with mission work, that is evangelization of the Indians. Members were predominantly missionaries who represent Missionary Societies and Boards. The national conference in 1912 drafted a statement on Comity and this was finally adopted in 1916. Another united effort that the NMC undertook was what was known as ‘The Evangelistic Forward Movement’. This was a movement started by the Madras Provincial Council and was taken up by the NMC in 1916. Another work that the NMC carried from 1918 was to look after the German Mission properties, the Basel Mission and the Gossner Missions. Due to the first Great War, the German missionaries could not resume their work in India for a long time. The NMC was the only suitable body to take care of their mission works. Since the NMC automatically acted to represent the Churches in India, it is felt needed to turn the Missionary Council into a Council of Christian Churches. This was supported by the proposal of J.H. Oldham, who attended the Ranchi Conference of the NMCI in January1923. His proposal was to re-organize the NMCI so as to absorb more representation from the Indian Churches as well as missionary bodies, and also to appoint full time officers. The conference unanimously resolved accordingly and agreed that a provision by which at least half of the members shall be Indians was arranged. Following the decision of the Ranchi Conference, the 9th Meeting of the NMCI the following week at Ranchi agreed to change the name National Missionary Conference of India (NMCI) into National Christian Council of India (NCCI) after necessary constitutional changes were made. The name NMCI was thus changed into NCCI
in 1923. Thus we can say that the NCCI was formed in 1923 by the NMCI in its last meeting at Ranchi. Constitutional Development of the NCCI:The NCCI adopted the Constitution of the NMCI with some changes and the final transformation of the NMCI into NCCI took place only in 1924, when the first NCCI meeting (10th for the NMCI) was held at Waltair during November 5-11, 1924. The Executive Committee of the NMCI that met soon after the Conference at Ranchi in 1923 already passed a resolution about constitutional changes under resolution II: Constitutional Changes, No. 2 by resolving “that the constitution and Bye-laws, as amended and accepted clause by the Council, be now accepted as the Constitution and Bye-laws of the Council”. ‘The Council’ here meant the new Council. Article I of the Constitution declared that the name of the Council should be the National Christian Council of India, Burma and Ceylon. Though there were attempts to change its name into the National Council of Churches in India as early as in 1956, the change took place only in1975. Article II speaks of the Basis of the Council as being ‘established on the basis that the only body entitled to determine the policy of the Churches and Missions are the Churches and Missions themselves’ and also makes sure that ‘questions on doctrine and ecclesiastical polity’ are outside the jurisdiction of the Council. Article III deals about the objects of the Council.
The Constitution as adopted in 1923 from the NMCI provided five-fold objectives: 1. To stimulate thinking and investigation on missionary questions, to enlist in the solution of those questions the best knowledge and experience to e found in India and other countries and to make the result available for all Churches and Missions in India. 2. To help to co-ordinate the activities of the Provincial Councils and to assist them to co-operate with each other where such co-operation is desirable. 3. Through common consultation to help to form Christian public opinion and bring it to bear on the moral and social problems of the day. 4. To be in communication with the Inter Missionary Council regarding such matters as call for consideration or action from the point of view of the Indian Mission field as a whole. 5. To make provision for the convening of a National Christian Conference when such is in the opinion of the Council desirable. Amendments that affected this Article were those of the 1936 and 1946. 1936 added two clauses in this article. The most important change is a clause that reads:
The object of the Council shall be to take all possible steps to give effect to the principle that in the Christian enterprise, the Church is central and permanent. Constitutional Amendment in 1946 also added some more objectives. The most obvious changed was on the first clause as follows: The object of the Council shall be to stimulate thinking and investigation on questions relating to the Church and the Christian enterprise to enlist the solutions of those questions the best knowledge and experience to be found in India and other countries and to make the results available for all concerned. Here, the term “Mission” and “Missionary” were deleted. This marked the real shift of the missionary nature of the Council into the Church’s nature. Earlier in the 1920s and 1930s, the term ‘Church’ was cautiously avoided due to the attitude of the Indian nationalists. Committees of the NCCI: The NCCI usually carried out its work through study teams and sub-committees. At its inception as NMCI in 1914, the Council created the following committees: (1) Committee on Co-operation and Unity,
(2) Survey and Occupation,
(3) The Indian Church and Indian Leadership,
(4) Mass Movements,
(7) Medical Mission,
(8) Women’s Work,
(9) Training of Missionaries, and
(10) European and Anglo-Indian Community.
However, the main and final goal of all these committee can be summarized as searches for furtherance of evangelization. As time went by, some of them became irrelevant and new contexts brought new committees. In the early 1920s, there arise questions on the nature of the Church and on conversion. The council in 1924, fully aware of criticisms, declared its readiness to co-operate with other religious communities on the basis of ‘love and truth’ and agreed to use no material inducement for making converts. The council affirmed that: ‘The Christian motive in the work of evangelism is the overmastering sense of the love of God, having as its objective the bringing
of men and women into the fellowship of the society of Jesus Christ to which they have equal rights with ourselves. The core point of discussion in this was about membership in the Church and the question of baptism. The question was ‘are these essentials for salvation?’ The discussion surprisingly led the NCCI to give importance to social service. Major Activities: One of the major tasks of the NCCI in its early period was Rural Education. In its conference at Moga, Punjab, the council decided to make drastic changes in the syllabus along the line of ‘Basic Education’. According to the Report of 1928, the NCC established a number of village schools and several vocational middle schools in all parts of India. After 1930s, it gave emphasis on village industries to uplift rural areas. And in 1925, the Medical Missionary Association was taken over by the NCCI as one of its committees and changed its name into the Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI). The Council’s contribution towards health-care and medical education and institutions through this committee were enormous. The NCC later set up new committees like Relief Programme, Study team on Higher Education, Mass Movements, Christian Home Movement, Youth Council, Economic Life of the Church, Adult Literacy, Theological Education in India, Audio-Visual Department, Welfare of the handicapped, and it also established the Christian Institution for the Study of Religion and Society (CISRS). Later, shifts of emphasis was seen in 1979, when the Delhi Quadrennial Assembly affirms that ‘the Church in India has no other choice but to become fully engaged in the struggles of the oppressed and the downtrodden.
The Church has a prophetic task to fulfil where there is injustice and human suffering, the ultimate goal being the establishment of a just society based on the love of God as revealed through Jesus Christ.’ Conclusion: Though Christianity had come to India in the first century of our era, the missionaries initiated the spirit of ecumenism in the early 20th century. It was not because the Indians did not feel needed or were incapable to do it. Rather it was because the missionaries were in a position to take initiatives. The missionaries held key posts in the NCCI as Presidents and Secretaries for quite a long time from its inception. The first Indian Christian to become President of the NCCI was V.S. Azariah, the Bishop of Dornakal (1928-1945). Two missionaries – William Paton and J.Z. Hodge made countless contributions to NCCI while they served as secretaries of the
Council. The NCCI has contributed to the Indian political developments from pre-independent period and also in the making of the Constitution. It serves Indian Christians in particular by standing on their behalf in times of need and stress. It also serves the Indian as a whole by giving education and other social services in many fields. The first headquarters of the Council was Calcutta where it started out as the National Missionary Council. It was shifted to Poona and then to Nagpur in 1930 where it still resided today. Although being all India Council of Churches, there are some denominations that do not have connections with it. As a whole, even among the individuals who had connection through their Church affiliation, the NCCI is still unpopular. The reason, being its nature as a ‘Council’ that does not have any authority over its member Churches and organizations.
THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF CNI
Introduction:Christianity was brought to India by the modern Missionary movement in the form of a number of foreign missions from Europe and America. Among them, whatever disputes and disagreements might arise between the various societies and orders or between the new missions and the old, and it was possible therefore to work out one ecclesiastical system for the whole country. But among the non-Romans, the missions were so many independent organizations. Not only so, but even among Christians of one denominational type, there were separate communities belonging to missions from different countries. From 1855, when representatives of six Missions and three European Churches in Bengal met in Calcutta, Conferences of Missionaries working in particular provinces were held, and later, a series of decennial conferences for the whole of India was begun at Allahabad in 1872. Several steps were taken and in the process, there was a local union of Presbyterians in South India. In 1904, this body joined with several Presbyterian Missions in North India to form a Presbyterian church of India. However, this was a scattered organization. Initial Success: In 1905, there was somewhat a loose federation of the Congregationalists of the London Mission and the American Madura Mission in Tamil Nadu. Then, in 1908, the South Indian United Church was formed. The unity among the Churches in North India could be achieved only after twenty-three years since the inauguration of Church of South India. A parallel movement in North India led to the
formation of the United Church in Northern India in1924, again a union of Presbyterians and Congregationalists. Eleven Missions were represented in it, and its areas stretched from Bengal and Assam to Gujarat and the Punjab. Twelve Presbyterian Churches and Congregational Churches of ABCEM initiated the process. The constitution was Presbyterian. Each local congregation had its session; there were twenty-five Church councils, representing groups of congregations over particular areas, and seven Synods representing the Church councils or a linguistic area, and a General Assembly. There was a detailed confession of Faith, in which the principal Confessions of the protestant Reformation were commended and the doctrinal beliefs of the UCNI were set forth in detail in twelve articles. Formation: Another series of consultation with a view to Church union began in North India in 1929. Two organizations, the Round Table Conference and the Joint Council, working on different lines and representing partly the same and partly the different Churches, made the preliminary explorations. In this year conversation began between UCNI, Baptists, Anglicans and Methodists.
After many round table conferences, some common grounds for unification were found by 1930. Eventually, it was on a ‘Basis of Negotiation’ prepared by the Round Table Conference, first made public in 1939 and revised and developed in the following years that a plan of Church Union was drawn up. A negotiating committee was constituted in 1951 by the Church bodies concerned, which then were the United Church of Northern India, the (Anglican) Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, the Methodist Church in Southern Asia, the (British and Australian) Methodist Church and the Council of the Baptist Churches in Northern India. Two other bodies, the Church of the Brethren and the Disciples of Christ, joined in the negotiation from 1957. It was only in 1965 that the final draft of unification was adopted. The plan reached its fourth and final edition in 1965, and on that basis, the Church of North India was inaugurated in 1970. In November 1970, the Church of North India was inaugurated with a unification service ministry at Nagpur. The rejoicing on that occasion was mingled with regret, because the Methodist Church in Southern Asia, which had announced its acceptance of the Plan in January that year, had decided in August not to join. They still have a separate Church, which has nothing to do with Church of North India. Development: There was little attempt to go beyond the first two points of the Lambeth
Quadrilateral (four points defined by the Lambeth conference of Anglican Bishops in 1888; 1) The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as containing all things necessary for salvation and, 2) The Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed) in elaboration of doctrine. On the other hand, theological statements made in other connections tended to be more precise than those in the South Indian Scheme. There was also the same acceptance of the historical episcopate, in a constitutional form, de facto, and refusal to bind the Church to any particular theological interpretation of it beyond the definition ‘by historic is meant the episcopate which is in historic continuity with that of the early Church’.
The special features of the plan appeared in its procedure for unifying the ministry and its provisions concerning Baptism and Church membership, a subject on which one of the parties to the union – the Baptists – held special views. In the early years of the consultations on Church union in the North, all the parties were living in one country, the undivided India that then was. Long before the negotiation ended, its division into India and Pakistan had taken place, and some of the uniting Churches found themselves with a membership partly in India, partly in Pakistan. Common consultation was not abandoned, though, as the years passed, political developments made joint attendance at meetings more and more difficult. The plan of Church union that was being worked out remained one and the same; but it was recognised that there would have to be two Churches, in communion with each other but separately organized. Consequently, there were two inaugurations in 1970, that of the CNI in Nagpur on November 29th and that of the Church of Pakistan at Lahore on November 1st. On both occasions, the procedure and form of service were the same. Both Churches were founded on the same basic constitution, the plan of Church Union in North India and Pakistan. Each is in communion with the other, but each is an autonomous Church. Work:The Church in India must make its witness in a context of many faiths. It is a minority Church, which still enjoys the freedom of worship and witness. Christianity in India was for centuries associated with colonial domination, though in actually fact Christianity in India dates back to the time when one of the Christ’s disciples, Thomas, is said to have arrived in India, bringing the good news to the sub-continent. One of the primary concerns of the Church is to bring about unity among Churches. A joined council of the Church of North India,the Church, the Church of South India and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church is working towards conciliar union. In 1981, they moved a step further in their ecumenical endeavours in expressing their “Organic Oneness”.
Major programmes of the CNI include Church lives, expression and witness of faith, development, education, medical and health care, relief and social care for the orphaned, widowed, aged and disabled. All these programmes are meant for the community at large. The motto of the CNI is “Unity, Witness, Service”. Conclusion: The Church in India throughout its history has usually been dependent on the Churches of the West, and had little opportunity to play a conspicuous part in general Church history; but in this matter of Church union in the twentieth century, it has played a leading role and made a notable contribution to the Christian world. But, on the other hand, there are problem also. The main one is ‘to find ways of integrating the different traditions in our Church. Proposals for association between the Churches other than organic union were made from time to time. But, for the reasons we noted, full union was seen to be the desired goal. None of the existing Churches were regarded as the norm for the United Churches. There are some defects in the plan also. The root of this Church has reached to the Northeast also, but there also, it is facing the same problem. The other difficulty is related to the work of the union and its meaning at the local level. It is necessary to strengthen links between congregations to make this Church strong. The approach to union taken in the North India may be basically right, but the attempt to involve the local Churches fully in the work of union was only partially successful. To be real, it has to do much to make itself a stronger Church. MAJOR ISSUES IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY IN INDIA
FROM FIRST TO TWENTIETH CENTURIES
INTRODUCTION:It is not an exaggeration if one say “Christianity of various denominations have been influencing the culture and life of the Indian people”. The role-played by it in socio-political, educational and cultural milieu especially of the low castes and tribes of Indian sub-continent led to the cultural transformations, which eventually resulted in mass conversions to Christianity. This paper tends to discuss the cause and effects conversion movements that occurred among the tribal peoples of India
to make an assessment of the whole events. The discussion mainly focuses on the tribal of Chota Nagpur (which comes under the central tribal belt of India) and of Northeast India. Since the subject matter is vast in scope, this paper cannot accommodate all the details thereby accepts limitedness. This paper stresses more on people’s perspective, which until recent years, was neglected. I. BACKGROUND:
Intentionally, it was to the high caste people that some Christian missionaries up to the 19th century turned with the aim of proselitation. Apostle Thomas, who is aid to have brought Christianity in India in AD 52,first preached the Gospel to Brahmins according to the traditional belief. “Padroado” policy of Portuguese could not influence the upper class people for some of the reasons. The indifference towards caste system and ablution which was promiscuity to the Hindus, the embracing of low castes in large numbers to Christianity etc became a stumbling block for the high caste Hindus, who felt it was ignominious to accept Christianity. The subsequent compromising approach of Robert de Nobili also had found it difficult to attract the high caste Hindus to the Christian fold. But missionaries had realized that untouchables and tribals, the low communities of the Indian population had provided a unique field of high opportunity for conversion activities. The tribal people of Assam, Bihar and other parts of central India in large scale was ready to accept Christianity who felt it as an emancipatory religion. A.General Characteristics of Tribals:
Tribals regard themselves that they are the oldest inhabitants of Indian peninsula hence the name Adivasis. They tend to live aloof from other people hence they prefer forests and hill tracts, no contact even with other tribe. Marriage is only with intra-tribals. In a country in which the greed is so strong and the exploitation of the weaker section is so rampant, this disunity of tribals provided favourable condition to be exploited. From the early period, they had to defend against the intruders and when the intruders were strong and powerful, these peasants had to submit. When they faced severe ruthless treatment, they moved to different places where they could live in freedom. The tribals in India have three bitterest grievances: 1) loss of the land. 2) loss of the forest, and 3) loss of their own culture and freedom. The non-tribals were waiting for the opportunity to snatch the
lands from tribals by legal or illegal means. They were exploited by taking advantageous of their unconcern for the future and lack of cunningness. They have to give way to the developmental works and to build dams etc by loosing their traditional lands. “During the first three Five Years Plan, more than 50,000 scheduled tribe families were uprooted in Chota Nagpur alone to make land available for the construction of public sector and industrial projects”. This led to a total change in the life of the tribals. They were alienated and had to work under slavery of landowners, (sometimes in their own land after being grabbed) and economically downtrodden. Government officials also exploited them as much as landowners and moneylenders. Some tribals developed a strong aversion towards the Hindus who oppressed them and deprived them from their livelihood.
The groaning tribals feel attracted by the egalitarian nature of the Christian religion. Therefore, in Chota Nagpur and in Northeast India, especially in Mizoram and Nagaland, lakhs of people accepted Christianity. The reality is that, before Christianity came, they already started to agitate against oppressive structures. Christianity provided full support and strength in their effort. B. A Brief description about the Land and people of Chotanagpur: The original Chotanagpur constitutes by 18 districts of South Bihar, 3 districts of west Bengal-Bankura, Mednapore and Purilia, 4 districts of Orissa – Mayurbanj, Keojhar, Sundergarh and Sambalpur, and 2 districts of eastern Madhya Pradesh – Raigarh and Surguja districts. The Mohammedan invaders named this hilly area as Jharkhand (The Forestland). A movement had been going on claiming the separate state of Jharkhand within Indian Union for more than 50 years, which has not fulfilled yet. At present, only 18 districts of South Bihar are included in the political map, which formed the “Jharkhand Area Autonomous Council” and therefore the struggle still continues. Out of 30 million of total population of original Jharkhand, 20 million are Adivasis (tribal). Adivasis include Mundas, Ho, Santals, Kharias, Oraons, Maltos, Korwas, Birjors, Bediyas, Gonds etc. They were illiterate and did not have a script of their own. Tribals generally had an integral worldview. For example, land is not only economic factor, but it is their basis of identity. Anyone taking their land is a threat to their identity. For them, religion, land and spirituality are intertwined with one another. Mundas, who said to have migrated to this region about 6th century BC considered as
the oldest inhabitants of Jharkhand. Mundas are the strongly opposing tribes against plain intruders. The greatest hero of the Mundas as well as the other tribes of Jharkhand was Birsa Munda (1874-1900), who led liberation movement against the oppressions, exploiters and suppression from 1895-1900. The Oraons were also immigrant who came after the Mundas. Their village head is called Mahto. They worshipped “Dharme” as the supreme, above all spirits, benevolent and malevolent. They offer sacrifices to good spirits for helping bad spirits to ward off calamities. Therefore sacrifices became part of every day life. The particular leader of Oraons was Jatra Oraon (1890-1920), who led the Tana Bhagar movement. Kharias is another tribe who moved into Jharkhand after Oraons. They call their Supreme Being as Maha Ishwar or Sakhi (Gosaya, seeing deity). But none of the above tribes are idol worshippers. These three tribes joined in the resistance movement against oppressions and even the British Government.
Chotanagpur had a confederacy kind of rule by a Raja, who ruled over the Mundas and the Oraons. An important incident took place with Raja in 1616, which had its bearings down through the centuries. Raja had to pay tributary to Mughal Emperor. When he failed to pay, he was imprisoned in 1616 and kept there till 1628. This tributary practices started in 1585 when the Raja of Chotanagpur made a tributary to the Mughal Emperor (Akbar) at Delhi. During his imprisonment, he met many wealth Hindu kings, which influenced him. In trying to imitate the Hindu kings he brought many Brahmin Warriors and various other Hindus. Raja and his descendants engaged in inter-marriage with plain people, which prepared the way for many to Chotanagpur. Service rendered by these immigrants should be paid but when the ruler could not pay, permission was given to collect from the villagers. These exploiters later became Zamindars and Jagirdars, who considered themselves as the rightful authority to collect the taxes and get forced wage less labor (beth – Begar). Thus the aboriginal who were the owners of the land (Khunkattidars) became aliens and debtors. The land was grabbed from Adivasis by illegal methods. This in details was the situation when British took over in 1765. Some were migrated to other places and or remaining as the landless laborers. When the aboriginals resisted, Raja brought foreign soldiers to bring them into submission. They also received the jagirs for
their services. II.THE POLICY OF BRITISH WITH TRIBALS:
The tribals witnessed a tremendous and drastic change of the whole situation with the arrival of British, who took over in 1765. The independent tribals were now going to see a totally new form of administration. Yet things were going to become worse. British also joined the Zamindars to exploit them. Things became worse when a youth became ruler in Chotanagpur. He was fond of buying new articles and cloth. When he could not pay in cash, they were given village lease. These lease holders (thikadars) also like Jagirdars extracted the aboriginal. The ownership was taken away and the rent was enhanced and used illegal means to attain their goal in 19th century. New police system and judiciary were established in 1834, which also sided with landlords in their efforts to grab the land. The local Raja was given administration of police and the tribals completely left at their mercy and many tribals were replaced by alien Hindus. The timid peasants were no way but to submit and their land was confiscated by zamindars or jagirdars. The British never took sympathy with aboriginal and land alienation and social suppression continued under British rule. Though they went to court, they had no influence and stood little chance of success, more over the advises always were looking for a chance to extract money from them. They had to do all kinds of menial works without remuneration. Tribals were beasts for them. Nevertheless, some tribals like Mundas, Hos, Oraons and Santals began to protest and rebel against the exploitative system. The Kol Vidroh took place in 1832-34, Santal Kul (insurresction) in 1855-56, the Sardar Larai from1859-95, and Birsa Andolan from 1895-1900. Even after the coming of the British, the socio-economic condition became bad to worse. We may ask British were indifferent? Their primary interest was trade and for the protection of the trade. They used military force. In Chotanagpur, they did not interfere with internal administration till 1834. Another point is that British could not understand their language and was unaware about the real situation. There were no official records for the aboriginal but the landlords did have. III.GENERAL INTRODUCTION OF MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES IN TRIBAL AREAS:
In Assam, the first tribal group that encountered with missionary movement is
Khasi by Krishna Chandra Paul as evangelist, who converted two Khasis in 1812-1813. But after 1841, stable work started by Welsh Calvinist Presbyterian Mission. Other notable mission work among the tribals of Assam and Nagaland was by American Baptist Missionary Society. In tribal Bihar, especially Chotanagpur, four Lutheran missionaries started the missionary work in 1845 (E. Schatz, A. Brant, E. Barsh and Theodore Janke), who were sent by one Father J.E. Gossner of Berlin. Another major tribe, Santals came into contact with Christian missionaries after 1955. However, the missionary work first started among Santhals in 1862 by Rev. E.L. Puxley and Rev. W.T. Stores of Church Missionary Society. With the advent of Father Constant Lievens to Chotanagpur, there began the organized attempt to Roman Catholic missionaries in the year 1885, though earlier to that, there were few missionaries. From Chotanagpur Christianity spread out in the adjacent tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. The initial work that missionaries undertook in most of these areas was to fight against the socio-economic plights of these poor who were exploited by high caste Hindus, money lenders, landlords or even by officials and traders, and also to make these poor people aware of their social rights by showing them how to resist social discrimination. When these came to Chotanagpur, the tribal population was groaning under the clutches of the landlords and the moneylenders, businessmen or pretty police officials, who were taking advantages of the illiterate position of the people, exploited them in various ways. So, the tribals were utterly dejected and tired of the existing state of the affairs and all they wanted was some type of leaders who could protect them, fight for their cause and lead them away from their miseries. So great were their miseries that they were ready to follow anyone and do anything that would obtain relief. These people spontaneously were obliged to accept the faith, which the missionaries were simultaneously preaching. This led to mass movements in India during 19th century. According to estimation, about 50% of the Roman Catholic and about 80% of the Protestants are the product of mass movements. Generally, Roman Catholics have a tolerant attitude towards caste system and favorable towards group conversion, whereas Protestants were intolerant towards caste system and put much emphasis on the values of individualism and equality, and also on programmes of social uplift for their converts and looked for
individual decisions. The result was paradoxical that more mass movements gravitated towards Protestantism than to Catholicism, whose tolerance of caste system made conversion less possible, which might be the cause. Nevertheless, it is more antithetical that Protestants, whose attitude is against caste system, are subject to polarization on the basis of caste, which eventually entails in separate Churches for separate communities demanding Pastors from some community, and independent administration in the same denomination.
IV.MISSIONARY ACTIVITY IN CHOTANAGPUR : Selection of Chotanagpur – The four missionaries who came first to Chotanagpur were not instructed a particular place of work. Before they themselves select the place of work, heard about Chotanagpur and felt this place as the field of Evangelical work. Added to that, the commissioner of the Chotanagpur, Captain Hannington, who was evangelical having known about the missionaries wrote to the “British and Foreign Bible Society” Calcutta, requesting Dr. Hoeberlin in 1845 to send this missionaries to Chotanagpur. Missionaries being encouraged and confirmed of their call made up their mind and selected Chotanagpur as their mission field. The initial intension of the Father Johannes Evangelist Gossner, the founder of Gossner Mission Society, was to send them to Burma. During the short stay at Calcutta, they inclined to work in Chotanagpur. On hearing the situation had compassion on the Adivasis, the letter confirmed and they were doubly assured. Though the Lutheran missionaries, who arrived at Ranchi, Bihar on the 2nd November 1845, saw conversion only after four long years. This means it took four long years to loose the grip of their traditional beliefs. In 1850, four Oraon families converted for the first time. Two Mundas were baptized in 1851. The first tribal mission thus started came to be known as Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Mission. In 1851, they were able to lay the foundation to build a big Church at Ranchi. Zamindars, Jagirdars and other non-tribals persecuted these converts. It was so severe that three of them gave up their faith. One stood firm by name Navin Doman Pahan, who organized a congregation and school in a village. He is considered as the “Father of Faith” for the Christians in Jharkhand. The work of Lutheran church became very rapid between 1895 and 1914, when the work extended to the areas of Biru and Barway in the district of Ranchi. Apart from the spiritual advantages, the field now was going to be the recipient of temporal advantages. Schools and hospitals were
established which rendered services to both Christians and non-Christian public. The missionaries were also ready to approach court for the benefit of the converts. All these became catalyst for conversion and even in 1855, the Oraons converts raised to about 1,200. The number increased very rapidly when people realized this as a means to shake off the oppression of the Zamindars. The Zamindars, who felt that this would be a threat to their despotism, were looking for an opportunity to get away these missionaries. According to their expectation, the missionaries were asked to leave at the occasion of Mutiny 1857. Missionaries had to leave Ranchi, leaving the responsibilities to Navin Doman. But after sometime, things became normal. After the subsidy of Mutiny, two educated and well-trained missionaries, Dr. Alfred Notrott and Father Ferdinand Hahn arrived here as the second batch of missionaries. Notrott learnt Mundari language and translated the whole Bible in Mundari in 1895. Fr. Hahn learnt Kudux, the language of the Oraons and wrote grammar and many literatures. In Chotanagpur, the exploitative oppression done to the aboriginal by the Zamindars (landlords) contributed a favourable atmosphere for the missionary activities, which finally resulted in mass conversion. Because of the constitutional problems, which occurred in 1868, F. Batesh joined with SPG Mission at Ranchi along with about 5,000 to 6,000 converts. SPG Mission established schools and seminaries. Gossner Missionaries occupied the whole of Chotanagpur in 1873. And in the year 1874, the Theological College of the Lutheran Mission was founded. The numerical growth of Gossner Mission increased as group and even village-by-village came to the mission. By 1895, there were about 40,000 Lutheran Christians in Jharkhand. In 1919, this mission received the name “Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church”. Though it had undergone through many crises, it grew in membership and in strength. The total Lutheran Christians in Jharkhand was around 4,00,000 as in 1998. It is running many schools, colleges and hospitals. Roman Catholic Mission: The first Roman Catholic missionary who started the work was Father Stockman, who arrived in 1869, and stationed at Chaibasa. Stein, who arrived on November 8, 1873, followed him and he baptized 29 persons from about seven Munda families. These were the first Catholics of Chotanagpur and the first mission station was founded at Kochang in 1875 in the old district of Lohardaga. Apart from him, several others came in different periods. But the notable missionary started only
when Fr. Lievens arrived at Chotanagpur in 1885. He learned local language and composed hymns. Moved by the situation of the people, he wanted to liberate them from the clutches of the landlords, so that they may live peacefully without fear. He realized that lip service would be a waste of time and energy. Because of his philanthropic work, hundred of people and even the whole village were baptized. By 1887, there were 10,000 Catholics. The growth was so much that in six months, he achieved a vast mission. He undertook defence of the interest of the converts in the courts and won them. It established his reputation. Missionaries asked the natives only to render services only to the Zamindars, whichever were sanctioned by custom and to resist the exorbitant demands of the Zamindars, which resulted in continuous conflict between missionaries and the Zamindars. Father Lievens tried to protect his followers in all the possible ways, by exercising his influence. In some occasions, villagers came to him with a request to accept and help them. In the year 1889, the number of converts raised to 50,000. He left Ranchi in 1892, and after this, the Roman Catholic Mission in Chotanagpur declined. However, several schools, dispensaries, charitable institutions were opened later on and in the year 1903, for the training of the tribal priests ‘Apostolic Schools’ of the Catholic Mission was established. In 1916, seminary for philosophy and theology was also established. Ranchi mission centre was converted to Diocese in 1934, which in 1955 developed into Arch Diocese. A native Oraon was appointed as archbishop. The Roman Catholic population at this period in Chotanagpur was roughly 4,50,000. Why Christianity had grown so rapidly? What are the factors, which contributed the acceleration of mass conversion? No doubt, exploitation of the aboriginal demands of wage less labour and various other oppressive systems and the missionaries attack on these evils and prompt contribution to humanitarian works for a better life etc can be found among the answers. We can identify a deeper theoretical aspect. Adivasis hold a world-view that God, the nature, the land, and everything intertwined, which are coming closer to missionaries’ teaching, which also pushed them to accept Christianity. V.MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES IN NORTHEAST:
A.Location and general features of Northeast:
Northeast India can be located as the portion, which lies to the north, and
the east of Bangladesh. It consists of seven states: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Majority of the population is Mongolian race. Regarding the origin of different groups, scholars do not have a congruous opinion. It is also uncertain that how many languages they speak. Each tribe live in isolation and each tribe have distinct history. Hence, culture and social structure also differ. More complicated was that each village was autonomous unit, conflicting with neighboring villages of the same tribe. Language of the same tribe is unintelligible, who lives in another village. Concerning their religious beliefs and practices, there was no uniformity. Traditional beliefs were of the primal type and they observed taboos and offered sacrifices for both malevolent and benevolent spirits. B.The Arrival of the British and its impact on Northeast:
The Ahom Kingdom was the dominant powers during the entrance of the British. It ruled in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam. Apart from Ahom, there were other smaller kingdoms in the Brahmaputra valley and also in other parts especially in Cachar, Tripura and Manipur. Regarding the succession of the Ahom kingdom, there arose a dispute, which led to the intervention and occupation of the Burmese in Manipur and Assam. Before establishing British rule in Northeast India, East India Company and Kingdom of Burma had to confront with war known as ‘First Anglo-Burmese War’, which resulted in the treaty of Yandabo on 24th February 1826. The defeated Burmese who just before conquered and ruled over Assam and Manipur were required to withdraw. After this, British administration could make gradual extension, which brought widespread changes. Now, practically, segregated area came under the centralized rule of British Government for the first time. From Assam, the British administration gradually extended and within one hundred years, it covered the whole region. The historical isolation of Northeast came to an end. The changes that occurred in the hill area were more radical, which became a serious threat to the traditional way of life. Head hunting was the traditional practice in the cultures of Nagas, Kukis, Mizos and Garos. British put a stop to this.
The troubled tribals’ initial reaction was violent resistance which on
several occasions ended up in major conflicts such as the Anglo-Khasi war of 1829-33, the Jaintia Resistance of 1860-62, the Khanoma uprising of 1878, the Kuki Rebellion of 1919-20, and the Heraka cult rebellion ten years after that. But when they realized the danger of the dominance and absorption of Hindu Community than that of British, the tribes accommodated themselves to the British rule. Why they revolted against British in the beginning? Because the new systems which British brought became a threat to their identity and possessions. British introduced economy and private ownership of the land. Land becomes commodity than the integral part of the community. So the British power destroyed the traditional economy. Commonness changed to individuality and competition. After independence various tribal groups, under Christian leadership agitated for special recognition in the form of separatist movement. Naga Insurgency which began in the mid 1950s and the Mizo Insurgency which began in the 1960s are the best example. The central government finally granted statehood. Therefore, the large province Assam came to be divided into several small states. First state inaugurated was Nagaland in 1963, Meghalaya in 1971. Likewise Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were made separate states. C. British and Christian Missions
Though British had a neutral policy towards Christian missions, many high officials of the British government supported the Christian missions. At the same time missionaries’ primary concern was the propagation of the gospel, and they did not consider themselves as the agents of colonial power. What is clearer is that each party had their own purpose and also found the other useful. Two noted high officials who encouraged Christian missions were David Scott and Francis Jenkins, who dominated British administration in Assam between 1826 and 1861 and who introduced and perfected the concept of “Specialized government.” During Jenkins period as the commissioner of the first two permanent Protestant mission began their work in Assam, the American Baptist mission and the Welsh Presbyterian mission. At the instance of his request American Baptist working in Burma, sent two missionary families to Sadiya in upper Assam, Nathan and Eliza Brown who arrived in 1836. D. Missionary activities in Northeast.
Catholics was the earliest known contact in the North east who started work in the 17th century in the Mughal period in the present Goalpara district of Assam. But the Roman Catholics were less interested to spread in the northeast at thet time. Its significant work started in the second half of the 19th century and Kirk Bourry and Ff. Jacopo Broy were the notable missionaries. The former two were killed in what is today Arunachal Pradesh. The work proper Northeast started in 1889, by the creation of the Prefecture Apostolic of Assam, Burma and Manipur. E. Serampore Mission
Baptist of Serampore and their mission marks the earliest 19th century activities in the Northeast stationed at Cherrapunji in the Khasi Hills and Guwahati in Brahmaputra valley. Their work started in Assam. They published New Testament in Assamese and the entire Bible in 1933. The first convert was Krishna Chandra Pal, one of the Khasis who converted in 1813. Within 8 months, Mission produced New Testament in Manipuri. The significant work in the Northeast started when a school was opened at Guwahati in 1829. But after the death of last Serampore trio in 1838, the work was discontinued. The significant work, which resulted in the formation of stable Christian communities, started by American Baptist from Burma. As discussed earlier its two missionary families arrived in 1836. It was because of this mission that there came into existence the first indigenous Christian’s community; schools and hospitals were established. Morris justified this medical work on the grounds as that, as a means of destroying the superstitious beliefs of the Khasis in the power of the demons the medical mission stands eminent. It established three churches in 1845 in Guwahati (lower Assam), Nowgong (central Assam) and Sibsagar (lower Assam). These churches undertook the activities for the next 20 years.
However after 1841 stable work started by welsh Calvinistic Presbyterian Mission which first stationed at Cherrapunji. For the first 30 years it had to endure difficulties but in 1870 Khasis began to become Christians. 514 Khasi Christians in 1875 became 15,885 in 1900. American Baptists turned to the Garos, the second major tribe of Meghalaya during 1860s. It grew rapidly because tribes themselves initiated the subsequent works and by 1900 the total Garo Christian were 10,000. Nagaland was another field of the mission,
but slower growth. Anglican society started working from 1862, mainly among tea garden labourers in upper Assam. The work was not much fruitful.
Except Tripura, where work was not allowed till 1930, and Arunachal Pradesh, where work did not really began until post independence, Christianity got a foothold in Northeast by the end of 19th century. But ta the dawn of 20th century Christianity began to spread throughout the region. Among the tribal some tribes began entirely Christian. Mizoram is the place where Christianity grew most rapidly at the beginning of the century. Between 1904 nad1929 the increase in the membership in Mizoram was 32 to 16,817. This is because of revival movements. After the First World War the church in many hills areas began to grow more rapidly because revival led to rapid growth in Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, etc. The forceful recruitment of Kukis in Manipur for the Labor Corps (war service) led to revolt. On account of its failure large number of Kukis rejected the help given by Christian but once they were defeated they came to Christianity in large number. It took two years to suppress the rebellion, with more than 500-armed men. A similar revolt in Nagaland also led many to become Christians ten years later. The church grew more rapidly. A church became double between 1908 and 1915. In Mizoram the Christian population had raised from 59,123 in 1931 to 177,575 in 1951. Likewise significant growth took [place in other regions. American Baptist alone help the Christianity grew from about 48,000 in 918 to nearly 2,50,000 in 1941. The most important development in the post independence was the rapid expansion of Roman Catholic Church. It carried out its mission work by establishing a number of institutions both educational and philanthropic. Schools played an important role for the entry and spread of Christianity. A significant feature of this period was the involvement of Protestant missionaries. Estimates shows that in 1990 Protestant made up about 73% of the total Christian population. Natural of human made calamities became one of the major reasons for the tribals to accept Christianity in large scale. Large numbers of Khasis and Jaintias joined Christianity related to an earthquake that happened in 1897. Due to famine people were willing to become Christian. For example, in Mizoram the growth marked from 2,461 in 1911 to 27,720 in1921. More numbers were added on ther occasion of a famine that occurred in 1911-12. The failure of
political rebellion also became another reason of large scale conversion. Before the failure of Jaintias Resistance of 1862-63 not many were willing to become Christians. Similarly Kuki defeat in Kuki rebellion of 1917-19 and the failure of the Zeliangrong movement led by Jadonang in the early 1930s had similar effect. This revolt was suppressed when its leaders were arrested in 1931. Tribals found that missionaries help them to maintain their identity, Christianity provided new skills to hill people, so that the political and econoimical power would not pass under outsiders. Apart from this and more important contribution that Christianity made, to adjust with the traumatic change was in humanitarian service, literature education and new life style taught by the missionaries. Emphasis on the hygienic life also influenced the tribals. New developments in the Christian mission occurred in the post second world war period which impact on Christianity. The important feature was the arrival sectarian mission groups like the Australian Baptist Mission, the general Conference Baptist Mission, Seventh Day Adventists along with several Pentecostal groups. Another feature was the post war development of Roman Catholic Church, through 50,000 Catholics at the beginning of the war has grown into 2,60,325 in 1972. It extended its work throughout the region and many dioceses were formed. A new diocese of Dibrugarh formed in 1952, in 1964 plains diocese, Tejpur was formed, and in 1969, Dioceses of Silchar was formed. Their educational policy was the key and it entered into Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. VI. EVALUATION OF MISSIONARY METHODS
Whether the methods employed by the missionaries were justifiable or not? What was their interior motto behind their missionary activities? It is a point of controversy and of attack on the Christian missionaries in general. Why one need to convert into another religion? Why did it take about four years to get Oraon family to be converted for the first time? Once conversion started why there were speedy and mass conversions? Answers to above questions to be found out before we come to a sudden answer to the question of their motto?