INSIGHT XV: Reality of Christian missionaries through the lens of Arun Shourie's book

NewsBharati    01-Nov-2022 11:00:07 AM   
Total Views |
Namaskar, the new series 'INSIGHT' is an attempt to present the central thought of a thought-provoking book. "Missionaries In India Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas", a book by Shri Arun Shourie compels readers to contemplate various points put forth.

INSIGHT ix Gandhi and Swami's views on Christian missionaries

Friedrich Max Muller wanted to translate Veda( in his words) to uproot ' all that sprung from it during the last 3000 years'. And this was viewed as God's work, with the 'mere presence of Christianity ' in India,he expected people to move to ' purer forms of worship '. ( Ref: Lectures on Missions, 1873) Vedas are the foundation of our philosophy, culture, and value system. He wanted to see all these things destroyed.

He claimed that Brahmo-Samaj owed its origin and development to European influence ', but originally it was a movement that attempted to ' bring the modern corrupt forms of worship back to purity and simplicity of the Vedas '. He strongly believed that when people will understand the Nature Of Vedas Which he thought was not A Devine Revelation but would see the truth of Christianity. He described all the religions as they have glimpses of truth, which would lead all of them to Christianity. He wrote that a ' large number of Vedic hymns are childish in the extreme ', they are ' tedious, low, commonplace. ( Ref: Chips from a German Workshop, 1858) He was ready to lay down his life for the truth of his ( Christ's) teaching.
Also Read:  INSIGHT XIV: Reality of Christian missionaries through the lens of Arun Shourie's book

He wrote to the Duke of Argyll in December 1868, soon after his appointment that, ' the second conquest ( of India) should be conquest by education '. His theory was slightly different, he suggested that the vernacular and classical languages of India should be the means of introducing western ideas. He thought it would give rise to new national literature. The religion, he thought, would take care of itself as missionaries had done more than the expectations. The ancient religion was on the verge of collapse, and, Christianity had to step in to save it. He even described Hinduism as ' dead and dying '. The role of missionaries was supposed to be to preach and baptize. They had to help all to the light. Persuading, convince and converting, was the strategy for Max Muller. He considered worship of deities like Siva, Vishnu, and many more the ' cases of a more degraded and savage character '.( Of course compared to Christianity)

Hinduism, he strongly believed, would cease to live even though it is accepted by a huge population, because, it ' ceased to produce the defenders of the faith.( He then went on describing the Hindu gods in the language one dares not to reproduce.)

He strongly urges people not to get negatively influenced by the argument that the cost of converting people overseas was huge.

He misinterpreted the process of the spread of Islam in India in his writing. ( The focus of the argument in the book is not Islam, so prefer not to deviate. )

He pleaded that the new western scholarship was the reason that made our social reformers like Ram Mohan Roy and Keshab Chandra Sen think in the right direction, which he described as one of the desired results of western influence. He felt, that history would take note of the efforts of missionaries and they would be viewed ' as examples of truly Christian life. Obviously, the facts were far from his expectations. Missionary activities, lifestyle, and the nature of the Church as an establishment offered a totally different picture. But all were convinced as they perceived things differently, bringing others into the fold of Christianity was everyone's duty.

This is well expressed by the hymn of Bishop Heber which is in a way an anthem of Christianity.( It is available in the book)

Prof. Vidya Deshpande

Professor Vidya Deshpande has had a journey of more than four decades in the field of education. Her  main expertise is in the subject of Philosophy,  and she has worked as a teacher of philosophy and logic with Nowrosjee Wadia college for 36 years. She has been associated with the Janakalyan Blood bank for last for 38 years and has also carried out the responsibility as a management committee member of Karve Stree Shikshan Sanstha for 10 years. Her special fields of interest are Philosophy of social sciences, school education, development of skills for self reliance,  and top up skills to make students profession ready,