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

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.

NewsBharati    05-Nov-2022 10:18:16 AM   
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Repeatedly Max Muller described Hinduism as dead. He would hold anything other than Hinduism in high esteem. He always viewed Brahmo-Samaj and its philosophy as the result of work by missionaries.

Thus the academicians like Max Muller repeatedly supported the work of missionaries.

He proposed that the missionaries should devote some time to scientific work beside their work. He expected young generation to devote some time to work as assistant missionaries, after 10 years they may return home or devote their lives to missionary work.
INSIGHT ix Gandhi and Swami's views on Christian missionaries 

He was a scholar of repute, but his prediction of the death of Hinduism was not correct, observes the author.

Max Muller at the same time stated that every Christian was duty-bound to contribute to winning the 'Holy War'.

Somewhat similar is the case of Monier-Williams. He was a professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford. ( This position, which may be called Boden chair, was created to study Sanskrit to assist the conversion of people. ) He was not in favour of dismissing the natives as uncivilized, thought that portraying the Indian character in dark was wrong. This harmed the interest of British. He believed that the territory was entrusted to England that it may be 'elevated, enlightened, Christiansed'.
Also Read:  INSIGHT XV: Reality of Christian missionaries through the lens of Arun Shourie's book

For him taking pride in the traditions and religion by Indians was the greatest obstacle. He thinks the false sense of Indians of the supreme being is the root cause. The inclusive nature of Hinduism too is one of the great obstacles.

He urged the British to study the original Sanskrit texts carefully. He knew the comprehensive, receptive aspect of Hindu philosophy. He wanted to consolidate and strengthen Indian nationality to denationalize them. He thought that the social institutions of India need to be refined and elevated according to higher pattern of western thought. The task was to cut every root and fiber of errors to 'engraft the essential doctrines of Christianity '.

He suggested to focus on principles of true morality, scientific truth is to be taught in government schools, this might cause voluntary acceptance of Christian truth.

Obviously he believed that Christianity was the only true religion. Even Buddhism,he described had lost the zeal and could not meet the needs of the people. Hinduism, ( he purposely uses the word brahminism) he strongly states, must die, 'the fortress must be encircled, undermined, and finally stormed by the soldiers of Cross, the victory of Christianity must be signal and complete '. This is the line of thinking of an academician who knows and appreciates our civilization. His books still are treated to be the source of information.

Monier-Williams was criticized for having spent considerable time preparing the classic Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Obviously, he was hurt by the unkind remarks from his colleagues and others. He referred to the objective set by colonel Boden as to 'enable his countrymen to proceed in the conversion of natives of India' ( by promoting the translation of scriptures). The dictionary was supposed to help to translate Christian scriptures into Sanskrit but his final goal was well intended. He clearly mentioned all the points in the preface of the dictionary. ( Published in 1899, by Oxford )

Does the author raise a question had this been the position of a Hindu scholar, had our secularists not viewed it with suspicion or distrust? How would have the secularists reacted to this case?

The author points out the fact that there are a number of theories or notions that have the origin in the seeds sown by these scholars. He gives the example of the theories of Aryans and Dravids, India not being a nation, and many more that still cloud our thought process when the evidence doesn't support such theories at all. This was done with the aim of making people skeptical of their own culture and setting people against each other.

And now making all aware of the reality is termed communalism.

If a Hindu scholar maintains the same objective, he would be denounced and all would refuse to read his writing. Of course the responsibility now lies with our scholars to correct it by presenting the facts.

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,