The Failure of Christianity in India

M G Singh By M G Singh, 21st Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Off Beat

Christian missionaries came to India in the 16th century, but despite a concerted effort with money, the faith failed to spread in India. Perhaps it came face to face with Hinduism and Islam and could not match them

Christian faith

The British ruled India for close to 200 years. Generally it is accepted that the Battle of Plessey (1757) under Robert Clive which the British won, marks the start of British rule. By a policy of divide and rule the British became the paramount power in the sub continent.

This continued till 1947 when the British had to leave India very reluctantly. The retreat from the sub continent was brought about by Adolf Hitler who severely weakened England that it just could not hold on to its colonies. In short the victory in the Second World War was a Pyrrhic victory.

British rule and missionaries

British Rule and Missionaries
During the almost 200 years of British rule, a lot of good took place as the British laid the framework of a modern nation. This also fuelled a nationalism which went beyond caste and religious lines. Gandhi and Bose successfully channelized this nationalism as well as instituted a sense of pride in the culture of the sub continent which was dominated by a vast Hindu population and minority Muslim believers.
The British being the paramount power also allowed Christian missionaries to come to India. Their purpose was to civilize the people of the sub-continent and convert them to Christianity. A lot of impetus was given by the Pope who made unlimited funds available for the missionaries to facilitate the conversion of the Hindus and Muslims to Christianity.
The Role of the Missionaries
The missionaries spread out in the hinterland of India concentrating on tribal areas and poor Hindu and Muslim residents. These were given ample gifts and were told that these were sent by Jesus Christ and as such they should convert to Christianity.

This inducement by the church marked the hall mark of the thrust under guidance from Rome to convert as many as possible to the Christian faith. I will add that the main trust was from the Catholics from Rome and in comparison the Protestants were not that zealous in their attempt to convert Indians to Christianity.

Failure of missionaries

Despite unlimited funds and food aid, the missionaries made little headway in the sub continent. They did do some good also as they set up schools and hospitals, but the overall framework was to spread the gospel. In this they felt anything including inducements was justified. Fr the missionaries the end justified the means. But despite a vigorous thrust for 2 centuries the missionaries could barely convert 2% of the population to the Christian faith.

The reason is not far to seek as Christianity came face to face with Muslim and Hindu religion and the missionaries just could not , despite all the inducements counter the appeal of Hinduism and to a lesser extent Islam.

Reasons for failure

Reasons for Failure
One of the reasons which I think stand out now is that all the missionaries were whites and these appeared to the people as Alien. The Christian god Jesus was thus associated with white race and most people in the sub continent were averse to being ruled by whites. Another reason was that despite the concerted attack on Hindu ideals and philosophy the people felt that Christianity as a religion lacked the deep spiritualism of the Hindu faith. This was a major reason as despite preaching the gospel along with inducements, the locals never converted to Christianity. In fact there were cases of missionaries being attacked and many were killed. Many people felt that if the Church was sincere, why it was not advocating freedom from British rule.

This was a major flaw and like in America a where the church condoned and supported slavery, the church in India also never advocated an end of British rule. In fact with the protection of the state they penetrated deep into India but the result was an abysmal failure.

Last word

One other reason for the failure of Christianity is that the rulers were Protestants and they looked at the actions of the missionaries with askance. In fact most Protestants were keen to revive Indian culture and many studied Hindu philosophy, but Protestants made no concerted attempt to convert the local people to Christianity.

The failure of the Church and Catholic faith to convert Hindus and Muslims to Christianity will remain a discussion point. It will not be wrong to say that Christianity in particular the Catholic faith met its waterloo in India.
All photos from wiki free


Christianity And India, Faith, Hindu And Christian, Spread Christianity

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author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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author avatar Randhir Bechoo
22nd Oct 2015 (#)

Interesting page.

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author avatar Kingwell
23rd Oct 2015 (#)

Interesting post.It does not surprise me that Christianity did not a beak through in India. Blessings.

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author avatar M G Singh
5th Nov 2015 (#)

Thank you King well, it was the will of Lord

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
25th Oct 2015 (#)

Good post, thanks Madan. I have studied in Christian and Muslim institutions and I had seen the reality of Hindus getting sidelined in a subtle manner.

The eternal order of Hinduism - Sanatana Dharma - is tough to be ignored as I feel it is the prompt of the soul, the inner voice, that matters.

Another issue is the rigidity of rituals where if one of the couple is a Christian the other has to convert to Christianity for christening/baptism etc. This creates needless tension not only for the couple but also close family members.

I like the flexibility in Hinduism - direct connection with the Creator without intermediaries - siva

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author avatar M G Singh
5th Nov 2015 (#)

You are right Siva. Eastern religions are not rigid but pragmatic

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author avatar Devadas
31st Oct 2018 (#)

Hinduism rooting in the Sanatan Dharma is eternal. No intruder can break it because it is a way of life. We fall in love with the way. It is paradoxical that many converts to Christianity are trying to practice Hindu tenets in their new found religion. The Church is closing its eye. Eg: Carnatic music, use of sandal paste, practice of wearing the Thaali - Bindi- Sindhur- Bangles, temple like architecture and structures and so on. These symbols are more prominent in South Indian States where there has been large scale conversions in the past.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
3rd Nov 2015 (#)

Interesting post!

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