Prior to 7th century Common Era (C.E) Christianity confined to coastal towns of the western coast only. Then its presence was nominal and solitary. The threat posed by the religion of Islam to other creeds in the Persian region since the 7th century CE onwards turned as a serious challenge to Christians of the respective regions. The Christian persecution caused the influx of Christian refugees to this land and it supplemented to the Christian strength of Kerala. In the opinion of Dr Burnell, the earliest Christian settlements of India are of Persians. (William Logan, Malabar Manuel, p 215). Even after the Persian Christian migration, the Christian population remained here as a marginal group or jati in this tiny region until the European occupation of this land. Several travellers’ accounts and British documents refer to the emaciated conditions of the native Christianity. G. T. Mackenzie observes, Christians prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, do not form the part of Travancore aristocracy. Pope Nicolas IV sent Monte Corvino, a missionary to convert India and China and he wrote to the pope in 1306 that “There are very few Christians and Jews (in India) and they are of little weight”. (G. T. Mackenzie, Christianity in Travancore, Govt. Press, Trivandrum, 1901, p 8). It is noteworthy to listen to the comments of Cosmos Indicopleustus that the “Christians are not masters but slaves” of this land at the time of his visit. (N. K. Jose, Adima Christavar, p 127). Only after the indiscriminate conversion of native jatis from 16th century CE onwards by the European Christian missionary bands resulted in the enhancement of the Christian population in Kerala to the present height. (C. M. Agur, Church History of Travancore, Kottayam, 1902, pp 7-9).
Along with Portuguese, mercantilist enterprises of the western coastal belt of Kerala interacted with Christianity. The forcible conversion was the style of the padres of the days. As a result, Goa became an exclusive Catholic region in the 16th century itself. But after the liberation of Goa, the Christians lost majority over this region. It was because of the migration from other regions to Goa.
Missionary urge for Christianization of India was fermented in England long before the 1813 Charter Act (This act legitimized missionary activities in India). In 1793 William Carey, by profession, a cobbler, with formal education, reached Bengal, at Serampore, with missionary spirit without proper permission from the Company. Originally he was a cobbler by profession and turned out to be a Baptist missionary and became instrumental to the general missionary spirit that prevailed over England during this period. Thus he laid the foundations of English education and Bengali prose tradition. It was in 1818 he started Serampore College cum University (it is the second oldest college in India). The paradox of the affair is that he remained as the principal of the college from 1818 to 1832 without any academic credentials. Serampore College was granted the status of a university in 1829, making it India’s first institution to have the status of a university. A number of non-Catholic theological colleges and seminaries all over India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are affiliated to the Senate of Serampore University. The birth of the University was popularly known among the missionaries as ‘Serampore Movement’.
This ‘movement’ was the commencement of Indian vernacular prose tradition that was a necessary condition meant for the popularization of the Bible to the Hindu race in their mother tongues. All intellectual movements in the subsequent period of Bengal were considerably influenced by the western ideas and Serampore model. The process of evangelization of Bengal was not extinguished with William Carey but it poured inspiration to several others like David Hare, Ward, Marshman, etc. Moreover, it became a viral experience to the missionaries of the other parts of India.
Church in India from the colonial era onwards adopted third rate stratagem of spreading derogatory and misleading facts on Hindu Gods like Tirupathi Balaji, Guruvyoorappan, Sabarimala Dharma Shasta, etc and clairvoyants like Mata Amruthandamai, Sree Satyasai, Sree Sree Ravisankar, Mata Vaishno Devi, etc for marketing the tenets of Jesus in India. Another insulting step that pursued from the missionary interest in India was the recasting of the traditional Hindu symbols to suit the Church’s purpose of conversion. Hence some section of missionaries from the days of Robert De‘ Nobili are striving to prove that Jesus’ arrival was prophesied in Vedas and thereby Hindus should convert to Christianity. As mentioned earlier, he attempted to place Christianity within the Vedic tradition which would appeal to the upper jatis (elites). By following the same path of the Christian propagandists Jihadist Islam is also trying hard to plant their Allah and Muhammad into Vedas.
From the closing decades of the 19th century, the colonial political interest in the North-East, particularly in the Seven Sister States, amongst the Khasis, Mizos and Naga tribes, acquired momentum through Christian missionary clan. Before the patriotism of the tribes, British military might failed miserably. Thus they found quinine for quenching their patriotic fever. Hence the mission of conversion achieved what the military might failed to attain. Let us see the observation of F Hrangkhuma: “Many were converted due to power encounter – exorcism and healing, their fear of going to hell, and a desire to go to heaven, and many similar factors”. (F. Harangkhuma, Christ Among the Tribal, Bangalore, 2007, p 26).
Tribes were the usual targeted society of the Christian missions in the colonial and post-colonial India. Social, economic, strategic and political reasons were operated behind their conversion agenda. Furthermore, the mainstream Hindu society kept a distance from the tribes mainly because of the reasons that their food habits, rituals and habitation were very different. This discordant note of Hindu society turned as blessing-in-disguise to missionaries. Thus the tribes became the bedrock of Indian Christianity. The total tribal population of India is about ten percent of the Indian populace. But these tribes constitute 25 percent of the Indian Christians. (Ibid, p 15).
Serampore was the epicenter of the colonial endeavour of Christianization of India in modern times. The first church in the tribal land was constructed in 1846. It was in Nongsawlia of Meghalaya. The missionaries penetrated to the heart land of Indian tribal population through the Bengal province (Assam) of British India. In 1813, immediately after the passage of Charter Act, Serampore Missionaries established their mission fields in the tribal region of Syhlet, in 1829 at Guwahati and Cherapunji in 1832. Thus Khasi tribe fell in the trap of missionaries. (Ibid, pp 15&16). Thus Khasis became instrumental to the conversion of Ao tribe of Nagaland. It was the humble beginning of the Christianization of North-East. From Nagaland, they moved to Tripura in the 20th century. During the dawn of independence, 90 percent of Mizos were converted by missionaries. Missionaries moved to Tripura along with Mizos of Mizoram. First Mizo tribes of Tripura were evangelized. Subsequently, they initiated the task of evangelization other tribes such as Darlong, Halam groups, etc.
Evangelization of Arunachal Pradesh was started in the 19th century itself. The Colonial government banned missionary activities in this strategic border region. After the independence, the Government of India also continued the same colonial policy in Arunachal Pradesh. Now the situation is totally changed. The last census (2001) is pointing that missionaries carved out 19 percent from this strategic place. “Several Christian groups from Mizoram and Nagaland have been evangelizing the Arunachalis, and substantial numbers of churches have been planted among the Adi, Nishi, Adi-galong, Apatani and other tribes within the last three decades”. (Ibid, p 20). The Bhopal Diocese of Church of North India (CNI) runs with mainly of the converts from the Bhil Tribes. Bhils resistance against the East India Company is a well-attested episode in the history of our national movement. A patriot could not forget their revolts against the Company in 1817-19, 1825, 1831 and 1846.
It is interesting to examine the demographic evolution of North-East. Ao, Sema, Angami are the main tribes of Nagaland. In 1872 Rev. E.W. Clark, an American Baptist Missionary, reached the hills accompanied by an Assamese Christian who had learned the Ao language and through whom he began preaching in Ao villages. In the Ao’s language, the word God in the Bible was translated by using the Ao concept of tsungrem or spirit. But the early response of the tribal land was not positive. In 1881 Naga population was 94,380 and after a decadal hard work, they got only three Naga souls. Thus the strategy of Quinine tablets (medicine for malaria) and Bible together systematically operated in the North-East in the next century. In the World War I Nagas were recruited to the Labour Corps and sent to France. Their return to homeland after War helped the missionaries’ task much easier than before. (Puthavail. T. Philip, The Growth of Baptist Churches in Nagaland, 2nd edn., Christian Literature Centre, Guwahati, 1983, pp. 78, 92, 110). The alarming growth of Christianity in the North-East is very clear from the census reports of India. (Census of India, 1881, Assam, 22, 38: 1891, Assam, 16: 1901, 4/2:1, 9: 1911, 3/2:2,14: 1921, 3/1:26, 61: 1931, 3/1:200: 1941, 9:2, 23, 10:8: 1951, 12/2A:2, 107: 1961, 23/2A:154: Statistical Handbook of Nagaland, 1973, pp. 44–46: Census of India, 1981, national volume, pp 151–56).
Encouraged by Clark’s success, the American Baptist Mission Board sent out three more missionaries during the final decades of the century. The Impur Mission corresponded to a more systematic and simplified effort to renovate Naga culture. The Kohima Mission was established in 1878 by C. D. King in the heart of the Angami country. Until in 1954, when the Government of India expeled all foreign missionaries from India, these two stations remained as the centre of American missionary operation in the North-East. If this is the population clock’s movement what will be the final data of today? Wait and see.
Another noticeable aspect of the mass conversion is that when population equilibrium began to favour the Abrahamic religions the national character and patriotism of the converts in the second and subsequent generations automatically got subjected to deterioration. Our history says so. The lessons from Kashmir to Nagaland, all teach us the same lessons. In all the states of India, the Hindu population is alarmingly declining. Now the growth of Muslim and Christian population is at a distressing speed. What happened to the demographic graph of our country in half a century? Census reports from 1951 to 2001 show alarming demographic imbalances in certain pockets of India. (Jitendra Bajaj, Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai, Kesari Weekly, Kozhikode, 27 March 2005).
This alarming growth of Abrahamic religions in India is not confined with a few states. Proselytism through coercion, allurement and other despicable means is unpretentiously going on in India under sanctifying of vote-bank politics and allied minority appeasement. The Census of India does not reflect the real Christian population. It is because of the reason that SCs conversion to non-Indian religion results in the packing down off their SC status and hence sheds all related privileges falls under the statutory concessions. Thus their conversion is a masqueraded transaction. Therefore the periodic Census of India is not at all an indicator to the Indian Christian population. On the other hand STs even after their conversion can retain their Tribe status. Thus Sachar Committee (2006) in its report highlights that the 9 percent of the Christians are hailing from SCs and 32.8 percent from STs.
Several patriots with firm determination posed resistance to the missionary enterprises of North-East. Among the most celebrated one is Rani Gaidinliu. She was born on 26th January 1915 in Lungkao village, Tamenglong district, of Manipur. She started the fight against the British in 1932. The British identified her as the “the terror of northeast”. She underwent imprisonment from 1934 to 1948. She was honoured by the Government of India. In 1972 she was conferred the Freedom Fighter Tamraptra Award, Padma Bhushan in 1982, in 1983 the Vivekananda Seva Samman and in 1996 Birsa Munda Award (posthumous). Nagas were one of the patriotic tribes of India. From 1848 to 1900 they vigorously continued their resistance against British domination. (R. C. Agarwal, History of Freedom Movement, New Delhi, 1986, p39). The British used missionaries and quinine to curb the intensity of their nationalism. Hence the history of Christianity in North-East set in motion.
The Christian encounter is much differed from that of the Islam. Islam used the sword to annihilate Hindus. But the church used education for the attainment of the same goal. In Macaulay’s own opinion, “to create a class of persons who would be Indians in blood and colour but English in taste, in opinion, in morals and in intellect”. During the British period “much of the educational field was in the hands of Christian missionaries whose ultimate aim obviously was not to strengthen the Hindu race but to convert their pupils to a superior religion, Christianity”. (Peter Van Der Veer, Imperial Encounters, religion and modernity in India and Britain, Delhi, 2001, p 98). The native attempt to neutralize missionary effect resulted in the establishment of indigenously managed schools. But they also followed the colonial curriculum and shared the protestant views of education lavishly. It is easy to make a Hindu a non-committed Hindu through this schooling. All the missionary enterprises through ages moved in this direction. Educational vision of the missionaries in pagan lands not only confined to the modernization of its social fabric but to “get acquainted with the person of Jesus Christ and His Gospel” by the youths outside the Christian faith. (“Education is an integral part of our mission to proclaim the Good News to every creature”. C.M.I Vision of Education, A policy statement published by Carmelite of Mary Immaculate, (for private circulation), Cochin, 1991, pp 1, 6). In short, the obsessive eyes of the missionaries were always in search of the weaker aspects of the targeted society and people. This is an observable fact that operated from the first century to the present day with some morphological difference only.
Several states in India at the time of its independence had no Christian population. By taking advantage of the weakness of the administration the missionaries carved out a sizable population out of the Hindu social fabric. Application of coercion, allurement and other stealthy methods of missionaries is not at all a secret. “Some became Christian because it seemed to provide much better socio-economic condition than any other religions”. (F. Harangkhuma, op cit, p 26). The result is that in all the states, except Goa and Punjab, the proportion of Hindus is declining. In Mizoram and Manipur the Hindu population, according to 2001 census declined by 9.21 and 5.91 percent respectively [i.e. negative growth rate].The state of Kerala is the main supplier of missionaries [male and female] all over India. Kerala now functions as the hatchery of anti-national enterprises. The particular socio-political situation of Kerala is favouring ethnical cleansing.
Behind the riots of Orissa, one could not deny the high-handedness of Christian priests and nuns from Kerala. They distorted the basic issues relating to the assassination of Swami Lakshmananda. On August 23rd, 2008 Swami Lakshmananda was assassinated by Christian-Naxals nexus in Kandhamal in Orissa. Police filed the charge sheet on 30th January 2009 before the Baliguda magistrate. All the seven accused were Christians. One among them was a priest. His name is Rev. Vijayakumar Sana Seth. As in Kerala, the Church in Orissa is trying to impoverish its tribes by evicting them from their ancestral lands through ulterior means. The Church is deliberately following Goebbels strategy of suppressing the truth by highlighting untruth. Outside India even in Christian dominated countries also the Church is facing several threats. The prime reason behind the attack over missionaries is the absence of transparency in their financial transactions. An Irish missionary priest, Fr. Rufs Halley was killed by four masked gunmen in Southern Philippines. The priest was supposed to be kidnapped, but he resisted and was shot. (The New Indian Express, Kochi, 30th August 2001, p 13). In Islamic countries, missionaries are subjecting to ordeals. Ten Christians have been arrested in Saudi Arabia for throwing a party, which included a talk about Christianity. (The New Indian Express, Kochi, dtd. 31st August 2001, p 15). All these are not a matter of debate amongst the Church as well as our print and visual media. But a minor breach from a Hindu is now news of capital importance to the world over is the outcome of the ongoing conspiracy against a splendid civilization.
Let us make a bird’s-eye view of the turn of the said turbulence of Orissa. The major population of Kandhamal district of Orissa is the Kandha tribe. The name of the district is also derived out of this tribe’s name. Kandha tribes are generally the followers of Hinduism. They follow the general Hindu attitude towards other faiths i.e., count all other religions equal to Hinduism. Socially, economically and politically the non-tribal Panna has an upper hand, and are mostly under the Christian fold. The region is also home to Maoists activities. From 2004 to 2008 they killed 3338 in India. Hindu nationalist organizations are the natural enemies of Maoists. Many local Kandhamal terrorists belong to the Panna Christians. The major issue of Kandhamal is the forcible occupation of tribal land under the forged tribal certificates by the Pannas. Thus there is the illegal building of churches in the tribal land. Thus they engage in religious conversions and terrorist activities. This has also resulted in unrest and tensions in 1986, 1994 and 2001. Hence the much popularized Kandhamal riots of 2008. The most unfortunate event in the said riot was the alleged rape and assault of a nun belonging to the Baliguda Catholic Church. The Hindu reports that the said victim nun and the priest who were the only eye witness of the event miserably failed to identify the accused in the Test of Identification parade held at the Choudwar Jail. (The Hindu, Kochi, 1st August 2010). All these are the calculated endeavours of the Church to spread its net over Orissa’s SCs as it was successfully experimented in Nagaland in the previous century.
J.C.Kumarappa, himself a good Indian Christian as well as a good Gandhian, once observed that Western nations have four arms; the army, the navy, the air force and the Church. The first three missed their relevance in India and other parts of the world. Now their last weapon was the Church. The same missions which fought against slavery in India were the promoters of slavery in America and this contradiction of the Church still continues as a riddle. The West at any cost activates its conventional habit of exploitation in the rest of the world. Bishop Tutu (Nobel laureate for peace) of South Africa once commented, “Before these Christian Missionaries landed in Africa, the Africans had their land with them, but not the bible. Now they have their bible with them, not their land”. It is appropriate to quote Dr. S. Radhakrishnan while concluding the nature of threat level against a natural civilization, the Hindus. “The intolerance of narrow monotheism is written in letters of blood across the history of man from the time when first the tribes of Israel burst into the land of Canaan. The worshippers of the one Jealous God are egged on to aggressive wars against people of alien cults. They invoke Divine Sanction for the cruelties inflicted on the conquered. The spirit of old Israel is inherited by Christianity and Islam. Wars of Religion which are the outcome of fanaticism that prompts and justifies the extermination of aliens of different creeds are practically unknown in Hindu India”. (S. Radhakrishnan, The Hindu View of Life, 1927, Oxford University, p 55).
Before concluding let us see the demographic pattern of Christian Church. In the light of World Christian Cyclopedia’s disclosure a panoramic look into the present day Christian population distribution under various church orders in India. Roman Catholic Church (including all the rites): 17.3 million; CSI: 3.8 million; CNI: 1.25 million; Marthoma Church: 7,00,000; Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church (not entertain conversion): 1.2 million; St. Thomas Evangelical Church of India: 10,000; Syrian Orthodox Church (not promoting conversion): 12,00,000; Lutherans: 12,67,000; Methodists: 6,48,000; Baptists: 23,92,000; All the Pentecostal (Neo-Protestants began to function since 1923 has several splinter groups) Orders: 9,00,000; New Life Fellowship (founded in 1968): 4,80,000; Manna Full Gospel Church – started in 1968 – : 2,75,000; New Apostolic Church – founded in 1969 – : 14,48,209; Brethren Churches (several fractions): 8,23,456; Seventh Day Adventist Church: 10,0000; Knanaya Christians (ethnic group not accepts converts): 2,50,000; Jehovah’s Witness: 30,000. In addition to it, it is interesting to see that every year, for the convenience of effective proselytism, newer and newer Churches Orders and Missionary Bands are emerging in India. Kerala, Tamilnadu, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and North-East altogether constitute the 60 percent of Indian Christians. (The above data is collected from various church sources).