INSIGHT XXV: 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    31-Dec-2022 11:50:31 AM   
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The interaction with the author took a different turn when the right to insist on the conversion of Harijans was referred to. It was stated that Harijans were turning to Church as they wanted to uplift themselves spiritually. And it was stated that it was the duty of the Church to show them the right path of Christianity.

Gandhi Ji had expressed his opinion about the activities in the North East region. He said he wished that if they had spiritual hunger,( Obviously ) It could be satisfied by visits to the temples however simple or crude they might be. He described missionaries as 'vendors of God ', with no special merit to distinguish them from the people they approach. Usually, material goods are promised to people.

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

Back then a missionary asked Gandhi Ji, if should he not share his Devine experience of Jesus Christ. To this Gandhi Ji asked that was it not 'super arrogance' to state that one alone possessed the key to spiritual peace. Could followers of other faith not experience it? He claimed, he experienced it through Gita. He clearly mentioned that missionaries considered other faiths as ' false or so adulterated ', he said that the missionaries ' shut their eyes to the truth that shines in other faiths '. His message to missionaries was, to be worthy of the message embedded in the Sermon on the mountain.

Gandhi Ji advised that there had to be less of theology and more truth in words and acts. The most effective way to spread the message of Christ, according to Gandhi Ji was to live the Gospels. He said he was suspicious of the missionaries who would preach instead of living the philosophy of christ. A life of service and simplicity was the best way to preach for him. He clearly stated that there always was some motive when one preached. ( The original conversation is really very intriguing. ) His opinion was that he never needed a miracle to establish the greatness of Jesus. He would say ' there are no miracles in the sense of interruption of Nature's laws.'

Though the through out the session, all the people from the religious order heard the author patiently with attention and patience, they did not agree. The author observed that all need to learn to disagree patiently.

The argument that runs through the book rests here.

The author has reproduced the original text of the paper distributed at the review of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India to help all see the situation through the eyes of the Church. He expected all to have glimpses of the condition of the Church as an organization, and how it approached the facts. Some parts are referred to wherever required.

Reading the book and writing about it always left me disturbed, it would leave me in a state of turbulence for a long time. The clear thoughts of Gandhi Ji and Swami Ji on the conversion and the activities of the Church, its role, the methods used for conversion, the language used by the Church for Hindu darshan, it's divisive theories make everyone see the situation clearly. Unfortunately,this was not the part of public discourse for a long time. Many facts remained away from public knowledge.

I hope the argument developed in the book would make a similar impression on the readers. Would soon start writing a book that many would like to read. ( Of course, these small write-ups are no substitute for reading the book, but it probably would encourage readers to read the book and know the main points of the issue.)

The suggestions are certainly welcome. I am indebted to all the readers who keep me motivated to read and write.


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,