Sunday, September 25, 2011

Editor, missionary Archbishop Henry Doering




A young German Jesuit, Fr Henry Doering, launched a Marathi monthly ‘Niropya’ in April 1903 from a village Kendal-Valan in Rahuri tehsil of Ahmednagar district in April 1903. This magazine presently published from Pune has recently celebrated 100 years of its existence. Significantly, this Catholic magazine is among the only three Marathi periodicals, which have survived for over a century.
Balshastri Jambhekar who launched Darpan (mirror) periodical in 1832 is credited with laying the foundation of Marathi journalism. Thereafter many periodicals were launched in Marathi. Over a period of time, a majority of these periodicals have ceased to exist.
Dnyanoday; a periodical launched by the American Marathi Mission, a Protestant congregation, in 1842 has already completed 150 years of existence and is the oldest surviving Marathi publication. It is still being published from Ahmednagar. The daily ‘Kesari’ was launched by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak and veteran social reformer Gopal Ganesh Agarkar on 4 January 1881. This 125-year-old newspaper is still published from Pune. The centurion 'Niropya’ ranks third in the list of longest surviving publications in Marathi language.
It is indeed creditable that a Marathi publication launched by a German Jesuit is among a handful of publications, which have managed to survive despite various problems faced by it. In fact, 'Niropya' too had faced the prospect of wounding up its publication during the First World War hostilities when the British government asked Bishop Doering and other German missionaries, citizens of their enemy nation to leave India. But the magazine, which could not be published for a decade, breathed a fresh lease of life soon after the German missionaries were allowed to return to India. Now the magazine has become a mouthpiece of the Marathi-speaking Christians, a majority of whom was brought to the fold of Christianity by the missionaries during the last 110 years.
The Marathi-speaking Christians - Catholics and in the recent years, Protestants too - from various parts of the country wait eagerly for this magazine that fulfils their spiritual need, besides providing information about various social and other events in their community.
Fr Doering was indeed a missionary with a vision who established this periodical at the beginning of the 20th century to cater to the semi-educated, economically backward neo-Christians in Ahmednagar district. The German Jesuits had started their evangelical activities in this district in1887. A majority of the converts to Christianity belonged to the untouchable Mahar caste, which is presently included in the Scheduled Caste category.
Henry Doering was born in Bocholt in Germany, on 13 September 1859. He was ordained a priest in 1882 and arrived at Kendal-Valan in Ahmednagar district in 1895. The twin villages Kendal and Valan, located on the banks of Pravara river, are very significant for the Marathi-speaking Catholics. This was the place where the priests belonging to the Jesuit German province, had first launched their evangelical mission in rural Maharashtra. A group of persons were baptised by the Catholic priests here in 1887. Gradually Christianity was embraced by people from neighbouring villages and districts. Today, there are a large number of Christians in Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Nashik, Beed and Pune districts. A few years ago, the Catholic community from these districts celebrated the centenary of their conversion.
The Jesuits had just launched their missionary work in Ahmednagar district when Fr. Doering arrived in Kendal-Valan. Many untouchables were getting converted to Christianity but the conversion did not bring any changes in their social and economical conditions. The Jesuits established primary schools to educate these converts as well as others. Education was considered important to improve the lot of the local community.
Fr. Doering, like other German missionaries, learnt the local Marathi language to preach Christianity to the locals. It is indeed noteworthy that after learning Marathi, these missionaries also wrote books in Marathi to impart religious education to the converts.
It seems that some missionaries had already written books in Marathi on religious education, even before the arrival of Fr Doering arrived in Kendal. The honour of being the first Marathi religious book of Catholics goes to a book entitled ‘Lahan Catechism (Small Catechism).
Although the book does not carry the author's name, according to research scholar Fr. (Dr.) Christopher Shelke, the author of the book must have been Fr. Dalling who was based in Kendal. Fr. Shelke who hails from Ahmednagar district and is now working as a professor of comparative theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome has completed research on the history of the Jesuit mission in Ahmednagar district. He had published a series of articles based on this research in Niropya monthly in late 1970s. Fr. Shelke has written that when Fr Doering settled in Kendal -Valan, he found that a Marathi religious book entitled ‘Subhaktisar’ was the most popular amongst local people.
‘Subhaktisar’ was written and published in 1895 by Fr. Francis X. Trenkamp who had come to Kendal in mid-1892 that is before Fr. Doering. Fr. Trenkamp had studied Marathi well. Instead of adopting the literary style used by the writers based in Mumbai and Pune, Fr. Trenkamp used the dialect prevalent in Ahmednagar district for writing his book. The local Catholics who had recently acquired the writing and reading skills used this book to understand the tenets of their new religion. The other Jesuit priests also used the book for saying prayers during celebration of the holy mass.
Fr. Doering had to depend on the available catechism book in Marathi to continue his evangelical activities. During those days, the missionaries traveled to long distance villages on horsebacks or tongas to preach Christianity and to help the local people in various ways. There were no religious books in Marathi, which could be used for teaching the principles and doctrines of Christianity to the converts. Therefore, Fr Doering felt the need of creating religious literature in Marathi. Due to non-availability of such literature, priests and catechists were finding it difficult to preach Christianity to children and the adults.
Fr. Doering decided to start a magazine to overcome this problem. The superiors of Society of Jesus agreed to provide financial aid for this venture. Fr Doering published the first issue of the magazine titled ‘Yeshuchya Atipavitra Hrudayacha Niropya’ (Messenger of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) in April 1903.
Since then, with an exception of a few years during the First World War, ‘Niropya’ is being published regularly till date. The Society of Jesus owns and publishes the periodical. Jesuits priests have shouldered the responsibility of editing the magazine for the past 100 years, barring a brief span when a diocesan priest edited it.
After launching ‘Niropya’, Fr Doering started improving his Marathi vocabulary for his contribution to the magazine. He learnt dialect of people from Ahmednagar district and also specific terms and concepts used in Hindu religious literature. He started using these and making the magazine more and more user- friendly for the neo-Christians.
Fr Doering was the main contributor writer of the magazine he edited. Initially ‘Niropya’ used to be printed at the ‘'Examiner’ press in Bombay. The first issue of ‘Niropya’ was of 10 pages and there were five brief articles. The articles were entitled - ‘The theme of prayer’, ‘To be an alter server’, ‘The feast of Pope Leo XIII, ‘Let thy kingdom come’, and ‘A martyr’.
The founder-editor of ‘Niropya’ stayed at Kendal, a remote village in Ahmednagar district, whereas the magazine was being published from Mumbai. Therefore, the editor had to take pains to maintain the deadline of the magazine's publication. From the available records, it appears that the fourth issue of the monthly was in a manuscript form. Although, the reason for not printing the issue is not clear, it definitely indicates that Fr. Doering was very particular about publishing the issue in time.
The periodical carried articles about developments in the Christian world and also biographies of Christian saints. Apart from this, the translation of the famous Latin classical book ‘Imitotio Christi’ (Imitation of Christ) was serially published in the magazine. Its three chapters were published in ‘Niropya’ under the title ‘Kristanuvartan’.
The small magazine reached at the doorsteps of the Catholics in Ahmednagar district every month. About 100 years ago there were few newspapers and magazines and these periodicals catered only to a select upper sections of society. Under such circumstances, ‘Niropya’ must have played an important role in the lives of its readers.
Fr. Doering was consecrated the second bishop of Pune diocese on December 8, 1907. The Pune diocese then included Pune, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Kolhapur, Solapur, Ratnagiri, Satara, Sangli and Sindhudurg revenue districts. Presently these areas come under Pune, Nashik and Sindhudurg dioceses. After his elevation as bishop, Doering’s responsibilities increased many fold, but he did not desert his brainchild, ‘Niropya’. After Doering took over as bishop in Pune, the place of Niropya's publication too was shifted to Pune.
Bishop Doering was in Rome when the First World War broke out in 1914. The British government refused permission to Bishop Doering to return to India as he, being a German, was a citizen of their enemy nation. Therefore, the pope appointed him as vicar apostolic of Hiroshima diocese in Japan on 16 June 1921. After being shunted out of India, Bishop Doering must have felt strong desire to return to this country, which he had chosen for his mission.
When the British permitted the German missionaries to return to India to resume their missionary work, Bishop Doering once again opted to return to Pune. He was once again appointed to head the Pune diocese on July 14, 1927. However he was allowed to retain ‘archbishop’ as personal title although Pune was not an archdiocese.
After returning to Pune, within six months Archbishop Doering resumed publication of ‘Niropya’ magazine with renewed enthusiasm. Fr. Shelke has described the incident as - ‘Niropya’ too was resurrected like its Lord, Jesus Christ ’.
For the past 100 years, Niropya has offered its services to its readers at a very reasonable price. The annual subscription for the magazine was Rs. 3 only in 1981. In 2007, this magazine with 36 pages and a colourful cover had an annual subscription of Rs 60 only.
Archbishop Doering’s Niropya has not only inculcated the reading habit among the Marathi-speaking Christians but has also contributed by way of producing generations of writers and poets in the community. Niropya has provided a very useful forum to budding Catholic and Protestants writers, who later earned a big name in Marathi literature. Some of the veteran littérateurs contributing articles to this magazine included Satyavan Namdeo Suryavanshi, Fr. Francis D'Britto and poet Vishwaskumar. The author of this book, who is now a fulltime journalist, got his first literary piece published for the first time in Niropya only. There are many Christian families in various districts of Maharashtra who have been the second, third of fourth generation readers of this magazine.
The Jesuits belonging to Pune, Bombay, Goa and Gujarat celebrated the 150th year of their mission and arrival of the German and Swiss provinces in West India arrival in 2004. A souvenir, titled Reise (yatra), released on the occasion carried a brief note on Niropya, and highlighted its contribution to the Marathi-speaking Christians.
The founder of Niropya Archbishop Doering has also contributed to Marathi literature in yet another great way. ‘Kristapuran’, an epic composed in Marathi by British Jesuit Fr. Thomas Stephens in the Portuguese-controlled Goa in the 17th century was brought to the notice of Marathi readers in Maharashtra by archbishop Doering. ‘Kristapuran’ was printed in Roman script since the technology for printing in Devanagari script was not developed in Goa then. For good three centuries, the existence of this epic had remained unknown to Marathi readers, as it was in Roman script and read widely only in Goa, which was, then under the Portuguese control.
Archbishop Doering studied the epic, understood the importance of the literature and published some parts based on Jesus’ biography from the epic in the form of three booklets after transcripting them into Devanagari. Thus the epic came to the notice of Marathi scholars in Maharashtra. The whole epic was later transcripted and edited by Shantaram Bandelu.
In 1949, Archbishop Doering opted for retirement due to old age. Fr Andrew D’Souza then took charge as the first Indian bishop of Pune diocese. Doering wrote his last pastoral letter in Niropya to bid adieu to the flock he had led for almost half a century. The letter is as follows: -
‘My dear children in Jesus Christ, the Lord had put you under my care for several years. But now the time has come for me to say goodbye to you. Pope Pious X had appointed me as bishop of Pune some 42 years ago as a successor to bishop Bernard Bieder-Linden (SJ).
For seven years I could work in peace for my people. When I had gone to Rome to meet the Pope, the First World War broke out and all my efforts to return to Pune went in vain and I was compelled to remain away from my beloved folk.
After the end of the war, the Pope sent me to Japan. He appointed me as Apostolic Vicar of Hiroshima city there. At last in 1927, the British government permitted me to return to Pune and since then I have been staying amongst you all.
As the Second World War broke out, new problems, new troubles started. The government had incarcerated some young priests because they were Germans. This posed several problems for the bishop to carry out his mission. During those difficult days, I derived strength and satisfaction from the confidence and love given by the faithful and priests. I will always remember their concern and help.
Therefore my dear children, this is my last homily to you. Remain steady in your faith and behave accordingly. You will have to face some new problems. Have devotion towards Sacred Heart of Jesus and immaculate heart of Mother Mary. This devotion will protect you. Pray for your new bishop and for me. I assure you that I would pray for you all everyday. May god bless you!'
-Henry Archbishop
Archbishop Doering passed away on 17 December 1951. Like his predecessor, he was interred in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Pune. Archbishop Doering who came to Maharashtra from Germany and took spiritual care of his flock for so many years now may have gone into oblivion. But Niropya founded by him continues to visit his flock every month, keeping alive memory of its founder and a great visionary missionary.

References: -
1. ‘Khristi Sahitya Aani Niropya ‘(Series of articles on the Jesuit mission in Ahmednagar district) Writer – Fr. Christopher Shelke, Niropya monthly, August 1978, Editor – Fr. Prabhudhar (S.J.), Rosary Church, Ajra, District Kolhapur, - 416 505.
2. ‘Khristi Marathi Vangmay -Fr Stephens te 1960 Akher’ (Marathi Christian literature - Since Fr Thomas Stephens to 1960 A D) Author - Dr. Gangadhar Narayan Morje, Publisher- Ahmednagar College, Ahmednagar, and Snehasadan, Shanivar Peth, Pune, 411 030, Distributors - Vidarbha Marathwada Book Company, 1334, Shukrawar Peth, Pune -2 (1984).
3. 'Marathi Khristi Niyatkalike, 1800 te 1950’, (Marathi Christian periodicals- From 1800 to 1950)), Author Bhaskar Jadhav, Publishers - Vijaya Punekar, Maharashtra Khristi Sahitya Parishad, Pune (1981)
4. A note by the publisher, Ramdas Bhatkal, of ‘Kristapuran’ (Marathi) edited by Fr. Caridrad Drago (S.J.), Publishers - Ramdas Bhatkal, Popular Prakashan, 35 C, Pt. Madan Malaviya Marg, Tardeo, Mumbai 411 034, First Shreyas edition (1996-97)
5. Archbishop Doering's last letter to his flock, Niropya monthly September 1949

Bitter test of first newspaper assignment

Bitter test of first newspaper assignment
Sakal Times
Bitter test of a first byline
Camil parkhe
My first newspaper reporting assignment and my byline carried along with it has left behind a bitter test in my mouth to this date. I have destroyed the not even A newspaper editor had promised me a job and when I visited the newspaper office that morning, I was asked to rush to a school and to file a story. The nature of the assignment indeed baffled me. A school teacher had assaulted a fifth standard school with a ruler and a leader of a students union had approached the newspaper editor to publish a news item. When I wondered what was wrong with a teacher punishing an errant student, the editor said that corporal punishment was against law and we must highlight this incident.
Along with the students union leader, I rushed to Ribandar, a couple of km from Panaji, where the school was located. The teacher couple who had founded the small school were surprised when I, along with a photographer and the student leader, approached them to seek their version of the assault.  The husband who was his early sixties was too shocked to react to see newspaper persons arriving at doorsteps to give a bad publicity for his reputed school. His wife who was in an aggressive mood saw nothing wrong in punishing the child who, she said, was at that time attending her classes, having fully forgotten that she had been punished the previous day. When I briefed the newspaper editor about the visit, he excitedly said that there was a good 'copy' for publication. The next day the story written by me and heavily edited by the editor was published with my byline. The same day, the editor told me that I had been hired as a reporter with one day retrospective effect. The joy of getting a first job had no bounds. But I had a nagging feeling that I had committed some of kinds of injustice to the school's dedicated founders.
In my journalism career, I have had some proud moments and some not so proud moments. Some of the incidents have gone blur in memory with the passage of time and it is only when I wipe off the dust from the file of my old newspaper cuttings that faint memories of these incidents are revived. After a few years, I destroyed the clipping of my first byline but I have not managed to wipe out that incident from my memory.


Panch Haud Church tea party stirs storm in Pune

Panch Haud Church tea party stirs storm in city
CAMIL PARKHE
Sakal Times
Sunday, August 08, 2010 AT 08:01 PM (IST)
Tags: Panch Haud Church, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahadeo Govind Ranade
Lokmanya Tilak and some other prominent Puneites had to pay a hefty price for attending a tea party hosted at the city's Panch Haud Church, which is celebrating 125th anniversary of its foundation on Saturday.
'Pune Vaibhav', a Marathi periodical, had published names of 50 persons who had allegedly attended a lecture and subsequent tea party at the Church of Holy Name in Panch Haud in October 1890, sparking a major storm in Pune's puritan social circle.
Some of those present at the tea party did not drink tea for fear of being defiled. Nonetheless they were held guilty of entering a church. Tilak and Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade, a front ranking leader of the social reformers, were among those who had drank tea at the function.
Consumption of tea and biscuits at the church was then considered akin to renouncing Hinduism and therefore the fundamentalist leaders had demanded social and religious boycott of all those who dined with Christians.
It is said that it was Gopalrao Joshi, maverick husband of Dr Anandibai Joshi, the first Indian woman to secure a doctor's degree abroad, had arranged the sting operation of a lecture and subsequent tea party at the church.
'Pune Vaibhav' however had also published names of some people who had not attended the tea party. These people filed a defamation case against the periodical's editor. A court held the editor guilty of defamation and imposed on him a fine of Rs 200.
The matter however did not end there. Some persons approached the Shankaracharya to punish those who had drank tea at the church. Two representatives of the Shankaracharya then arrived in Pune and conducted hearing in the case at the Sanglikar Wada near Shaniwarwada.
Tilak, an authority on Hindu scripture, defended himself against the charge and argued that he had obtained a certificate of doing Prayachitt (penance) in Kashi. That did not satisfy the fundamentalists and Tilak had to face the threat of social boycott on him and his family members.
Narhar Raghunath Phatak, who has written Tilak's biography, has said that the veteran political leader had even feared that he may not get a Brahmin priest for a religious function during the social boycott period.
The row over the tea party in the church continued for over two years and met a silent death only in December 1892.

Nehru the gardener was my inspiration

Sakal Times
Sunday,  June 27, 2010
Nehru the gardener was my inspiration
CAMIL PARKHE
Thursday, June 24, 2010 AT 12:00 AM (IST)
Tags: Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Gardening
When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was jailed in Ahmednagar Fort during the Quit India movement, he utilised the prison term to pen his magnum opus ‘Discovery of India’ and to create a rose garden at the historic fort of Chand Bibi. Nehru had no idea as to how long the British rulers would keep him in that prison. But that did not deter him from growing a rose garden there - an act that has inspired me immensely in the past few years.
As a student in Goa, I had developed a garden on an open space near the staircase leading to our hostel. But at that time, I had not known about Nehru’s experiments in the garden.
After marriage, I moved from Deccan Gymkhana to Chinchwad. The large open area in front of our building beckoned me whenever I stood in balcony of our third floor flat. One July morning, I started cleaning the area near our housing society’s water tank. The place had vegetation tall enough to hide buffaloes which roamed there. Next week, I bought a pickaxe and other gardening equipments.
It was then that my wife asked me what I was upto. She could not imagine me cleaning up that dirty place and planning a garden there, especially when the land was not even ours. It was then that Pandit Nehru came to my rescue. “Nehru, a towering leader of his time, made a rose garden even in a prison. So what’s wrong if I develop a garden near our society’s building?” I asked her.
The Nehru example did the trick. Thereafter my wife has never objected to my gardening. Working in a garden which was not even ours was not easy. I was aware of several pairs of eyes watching me scornfully from nearby flats as I cleaned weeds, watered the plants and drove away buffaloes. It was the image of Nehru working in the prison that helped me to carry on. Soon, I developed a garden on that land with many flower plants and some tall trees.
Recently, we shifted to a new building nearby in the same colony. Here, too, the large open space near the building beckoned me. This time, there was no hesitation on my part. I have been developing a garden on this no man’s land, nurturing the saplings with my head held high - thanks to Pandit Nehru !
Posted by zaroka at 1:57 AM  
Labels: Chinchwad, Gardening Ahmednagar, Pandit Nehru

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pandita Ramabai – Pioneer of women’s liberation


RAMABAI SARASWATI – Pioneer of women’s liberation
In 1881, a 21-year-old woman arrived in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and astonished the intellectuals and social reformers there by her brilliance and knowledge of Sanskrit. The scholars of Kolkata felicitated her and conferred upon her the title 'Saraswati'. Surprisingly, nobody in Maharashtra (which was then part of the erstwhile Bombay State) had ever heard of this young woman till then. Ramabai Dongre came to Maharashtra with her newly acquired aura in faraway Calcutta. She chose Pune and later Kedgaon, about 20 kilometres from Pune, for her social and religious mission. The aura and fame stuck throughout the rest of her life.
As a social worker, she refused to follow the beaten track and decided to trudge her own path. She became a social worker at a time when women did not even have identity as individuals. But this woman showed the courage to swim against the tide, all by herself. There was no support from a male member of the family. The learned lady faced many a storm after her conversion to Christianity.
The life of Pandita Ramabai is an epic of unending struggle marked by the refusal to part with her values amidst adverse and often harsh circumstances.
Pandita Ramabai Saraswati was born in the village Gangamul near Mangalore in modern-day Karnataka on 23 April 1858. Her father Anantshastri (Anantapadmanabh) Parmeshwar Dongre was a Sanskrit scholar. Anantshastri was from a Chitpawan Brahmin family and had taught Sanskrit to his wife, Laxmibai.
When Ramabai was merely six months old, Anantshastri left on a pilgrimage along with his wife, son, and two daughters. Fifteen years later, the family reached the Madras province. A severe famine in the area claimed the lives of both Anantshastri and his wife. Ramabai, her elder brother, Shrinivas, and elder sister, Krishnabai, were orphaned. This was the beginning of life's struggle for Ramabai.
After their parents' demise, the young siblings continued with their pilgrimage. A few months later, Ramabai's elder sister Krishnabai died. Shrinivas Shastri and Ramabai had mastered Sanskrit and theology under the guidance of their father. They continued the journey, giving discourses on mythology and delivering lectures in Sanskrit. There was no one to offer them shelter or look after them. After moving about for three to four years and covering thousands of miles on foot, Shrinivas Shastri and Ramabai reached Kolkata in 1878. Here they came across many people who valued their knowledge. Scholars from the Brahmo Samaj and Calcutta University treated these bright youngsters.
Shrinivas Shastri and Ramabai's knowledge of Sanskrit amazed the social reformers of Kolkata. In those days women had no right to education and therefore Ramabai's mastery over Sanskrit was definitely a matter of much awe. Ramabai was conferred upon the title 'Saraswati' at a meeting of scholars in Calcutta University. Since then, people across India started recognising the young Ramabai Dongre as 'Pandita Ramabai Saraswati'.
In July 1878, the following news about Ramabai was published in a Mumbai daily: -
'A Maharashtrian lady named Ramabai has come to Kolkata recently. During her stay there, she has astonished the learned people there. She speaks in Sanskrit and composes Sanskrit poetry on the spot. She is 22-years-old and unmarried. Though a Maharashtrian, she comes from the State of Karnataka.'
This news created a sensation in Maharashtra. In Pune and Mumbai, several questions about Ramabai were asked. 'Although a woman, how did she learn Sanskrit? How can she be unmarried when she is already 22 years old? Though a Maharashtrian, how come people here do not know anything about her?' 
Ramabai was introduced to Maharashtra in this manner. She was to stir the social life of Maharashtra in the days to come. Her felicitation in Kolkata followed by the debate in Maharashtra was just a prelude to her stormy life.
But before that Ramabai and her brother went to Silhet in Assam and to Dhaka in Bengal. While in Dhaka, Shrinivas Shastri took ill and died on May 8, 1880. After the loss of her parents, Ramabai at least had an elder brother for support. Now he too was gone. Suddenly for the young, unmarried woman, her native land was left far behind and there was nobody to fall back upon in this world.
When Shrinivas Shastri was alive, he and Ramabai had got introduced to a Bengali person named Bipin Biharidas Medhavi. After Shrinivas Shastri's demise, Bipin Bihari proposed to Ramabai and they tied the nuptial knot at the registrar's office in Bankipur on June 13, 1880. Their registered marriage, devoid of any religious rituals, generated a heated debate in the traditional society. After the marriage, Bipin Bihari Das practiced law in Silhet. Ramabai was blessed with a daughter on April 16, 1881, and the baby was named Manorama.                                                             
Ramabai did not enjoy marital bliss for long. On February 4, 1882, merely 19 months after their marriage, Bipin Bihari Das died following a brief illness. Within a short span of time, Ramabai had suffered the loss of her parents, elder sister, elder brother and now, the misfortune of losing her husband. Ramabai along with the infant Manorama moved to Maharashtra.
Even before her arrival in Maharashtra , people in this region had heard of the scholar woman. After reaching Pune, Ramabai developed a very close association with Ramabai Ranade, wife of Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade. Ramabai Ranade gave emotional support to Pandita Ramabai when the society in Pune turned hostile towards her. It was Ramabai Ranade and veteran Marathi novelist Hari Narayan Apte who took the initiative in organising public meetings of Pandita Ramabai in Pune. She started creating social awareness in society, especially enlightening the women folk. Her work gained tremendous support from the social reformers of Pune. With Pandita Ramabai's initiative the 'Mahila Arya Samaj' was established in Pune, Ahmednagar, Solapur and Mumbai.
Pandita Ramabai holds a very unique place amongst the social reformers who worked for social awakening of the society in Maharashtra towards the end of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. Those days, a majority of social workers were men. The very few women who were active in the social field enjoyed support of male members in their families. Therefore, they could face the adverse criticism for stepping out of their homes to do social work. Pandita Ramabai had come alone from another region and except for her infant daughter, she did not have anyone in her family for support. The hardships and criticism heaped upon Mahatma Jotiba Phule and his wife, Savitribai, is sufficient indicator of what an uphill task it was to work for upliftment of women in those days. Ramabai had suffered a lot of grief in her personal life.  Nonetheless, she chose the difficult path of social awakening. 
During the same period, the British government appointed the first Indian Education Commission under the chairmanship of an educationist Sir W. W. Hunter. Pandita Ramabai's deposition before the Commission regarding the education of Indian women is well publicised. In her testimony, she suggested that due to the prevailing social system in India the country badly required women doctors, and therefore facilities for education in medicine for women was very necessary. The members of the Hunter Commission cross-examined Ramabai. Ramabai did not know English then, so she gave her testimony in Marathi. Sir Hunter himself was highly impressed by Ramabai's testimony. He got the English version of Ramabai's testimony printed and even lectured on Ramabai's social work after he returned to England. Thus, Ramabai's fame reached England even before she could go there.
Soon thereafter, Ramabai left for England for higher education. Her daughter Manorama also accompanied her. While in England in Wantage city, Ramabai, along with her daughter, embraced Christianity. They were baptised on September 29, 1883. A new era had begun in her life. The fear expressed by a section of Maharashtrian leaders that Ramabai would embrace Christianity after going to England had come true. The conversion caused a great turmoil in Maharashtra.
Ramabai stayed in England for three years i.e. till 1886, and completed her studies. During the same time, Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi from Maharashtra had gone to America for medical education. Anandibai was the first Indian woman to go to America for medical education and Pandita Ramabai was the second Maharashtrian woman to go to England for higher education. Annapurna alias Ana Tarkhadkar, daughter of Dr. Atmaram Pandurang Tarkhadkar, social activist and also a leader of Prarthana Samaj, was the first Maharashtrian woman to go to England for higher education. Anandibai Joshi and Pandita Ramabai had never ever met before. But Pandita Ramabai, along with her daughter, sailed from England to America to attend Anandibai's convocation ceremony.
After Anandibai's convocation ceremony, Ramabai stayed in America for two and a half years. During her stay there, she gave lectures in different parts of America . She visited various women's institutes and studied the education system in America. Through her lectures, she created awareness in the American society about the condition of Indian women, especially of child-widows. This awareness led to the establishment of an institution called 'Ramabai Association' to help Pandita Ramabai in her social work. The institution gave an assurance of financial support for her work among women in India.
The main aim of the Ramabai Association was to run a school for the high caste child-widows in India. One of the objectives of the Association's constitution was to have secular school education. Leading social lights like Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar and Mahadeo Govind Ranade were in the advisory committee of the Ramabai Association. Both of them were recipients of the title 'Rao Bahadur' conferred by the British government upon eminent Indians.
On returning to India , on behalf of 'Ramabai Association', Pandita Ramabai established an institution named 'Sharda Sadan' in Mumbai on 11 March 1889 . Child-widow Godubai was the first student of the Sadan. She later became well known as Anandibai alias Baya Karve after her remarriage with veteran social worker Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve, the founder of the first women's university in India, Shrimati Nathibai Damodar Thakarasi University  (SNDT).
Baya Karve has described days at Sharda Sadan in her autobiography titled 'Maze Puran' (My Story). Like Godubai, many other child-widows got shelter and education in Sharda Sadan.
One and a half years later in November 1880, Ramabai shifted the Sharda Sadan from Mumbai to the camp area of Pune. Since Ramabai Association was not a missionary institution, one of its regulations was to conduct functioning of Sharda Sadan as a secular institute. The Association's advisory committee insisted that although Ramabai herself was Christian, she should not interfere in religious matters of child-widow inmates at the Sadan.
But the fact that the lady who was running Sharda Sadan was a Christian and doing so in the service of Jesus Christ could not be denied. It was natural for very young girls to get influenced by Ramabai's intellect, life style and her overall personality. Hence it was often being alleged that Pandita Ramabai was carrying out her missionary work 'discreetly' and 'compelling' helpless girls to embrace Christianity.
On the occasion of the marriage of Sharda Sadan's first student, Godubai, to Dhondo Keshav Karve, Pandita Ramabai hosted a grand feast in Sharda Sadan. Maharshi Karve wrote about the ceremony in his autobiography titled ' Atmavrutta',  " Ramabai was very pleased to see her first student settle down. Other girl students also were very happy that one of their friends was getting an opportunity to experience marital bliss and that at last the door to future well being for widows had started opening. "
Baya Karve also wrote in her autobiography 'Maze Puran', -  "Ramabai gave me ornaments and clothes and also clothes for her son-in-law, Karve.'' This son-in-law of Ramabai made a great contribution to the field of education and women's emancipation in the country. He lived long enough to see the fruits of his pioneering social work. India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru felicitated Maharshi Karve when he turned 100 years old.. Karve respectfully mentioned Pandita Ramabai along with a select few personalities like Dr. Bhandarkar, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale in his speech.
While working for Sharda Sadan, Pandita Ramabai was also active in the Indian National Congress. Due to her efforts, women representatives were included in the Congress. Ramabai was present as a women's delegate at the Indian National Congress session held in Mumbai in 1889. Ramabai was among the only two women members who were present at the Social Conference that took place after the Congress session. A detailed report of Ramabai's speech then, was published in the issue of The Times of India, dated December 30, 1889.
An epidemic of plague played havoc in Maharashtra in 1897.  At that time, Pandita Ramabai raised her voice against miseries of common people due to the stringent checks carried out by the British officers in people's residences. She wrote a letter in this connection in the English weekly, 'Guardian'. While answering the question in this context in the Parliament, Lord George Hamilton read out Ramabai's letter.
When a session of the Indian National Congress was held in Pune for the first time in 1895, some of the leaders, who had gathered there from all over India, visited Ramabai's Sharda Sadan. By then, 12 girls from the Sadan who had got impressed by Ramabai's work had already got converted to Christianity. The conversion raised a great storm in Maharashtra. In the social conference that followed the Congress session, K. Natarajan, editor of  'Indian Social Reform' tabled a resolution that protested against the practice of shaving the heads of widows and called for making the widows self-reliant. Natarajan said in his speech, "Ramabai has led the way by putting in effort for education of widows. I cannot stop praising her work that is going on successfully in this city. I have no sympathy for the people who are criticising Ramabai for a few conversions to Christianity. I do not believe in stereotyped religious tenets. Welfare of our brothers and sisters, to my mind, is the supreme religion. Giving food to a hungry person is a highly religious act and a donation of superior quality. Whatever be the differences of opinion we may have about religion, we are so deeply in debt of Pandita Ramabai and her friends and her associates in America that we will never ever be able to pay it back. ''
Caste discrimination was not acceptable to Ramabai. But the high caste girls in Sharda Sadan had to follow very strict puritanical rules of the Ramabai Association. Had they not followed such rules, many high caste people would never have sent their child-widow daughters and sisters for education to the Sadan. Baya Karve has described her initial days in Sharda Sadan in the following words, "for six months I had to cook my own food because a Brahmin woman cook was not available then. Some times I had to cook even for Govindrao and Kashibai Kanitkar, Hari Narayan Apte and others when they visited the Sadan.' 
Ramabai was of the opinion that even if the girls were child-widows and neglected by society, they should live in comfort at the Sadan. People who used to keep an eye on the happenings in Sharda Sadan used to lament that, " Ramabai bathes the girl inmates in milk and ghee." Once there was even a debate in Pune's Marathi   newspapers  Kesari and Sudharak over the food eaten by child-widows in Sharda Sadan. Baya Karve wrote in this context- "The advisory committee of Ramabai Association was of the opinion that it was not proper for widows from the   castes to live in luxury. But Ramabai never shared this view. She would remember her own past days and say, 'I opened this school to bring these students out of their hardships. I have decided to keep them in comfort. Their comforts would not be cut down."
Krishnabai Gadre, another famous inmate of Ramabai's Sharda Sadan, has also written about her days in the Sadan - 'what a beautiful bungalow it was, and what a garden full of lovely flowers! We were allowed to move about freely as per our wish. We would sit in the drawing hall also. We would sit on beautiful couch and chairs and chat, go to garden, braid garlands of flowers like Jai, Jasmine, Mogra, Chameli, Bakuli and Madhumalti and adorn our hair. Ramabai gave us information about flowers, birds and trees and also taught us to observe them through binoculars. What pampering used to be there! Which child-widow would refuse to come and spend her time in such a splendid atmosphere? Sometimes Ramabai would take us to the terrace in the dawn and teach us about constellation etc. with great interest.''
One frequent allegation leveled against Ramabai was that she lured girls from Sharda Sadan to convert to Christianity. Some people got so scared due to the allegations that they withdrew their daughters from the Sadan. Nonetheless, the number of orphan girls, abandoned child-widows who took refuge in the institute did not reduce. Ramabai bravely faced the allegations and continued her work for rehabilitation of widows.
In those days, girls were married off on turning five or six years of age. Many a times these tender aged girls used to be married off to elderly men. Therefore misfortune would strike some girls even before experiencing marital bliss and they would become child-widows. These child-widows had to live an extremely neglected life. People of their own family and the society would neglect them. A Parsi social reformer Bairamji Malbari raised his voice against the ill treatment meted out to child-widows. The effect of the movement was that the British government passed the Marriage of Consent Bill in India. According to this Bill, physical relations maintained by a husband with his wife less than 12 years of age was to be an offence. The Bill would have helped to reduce the hardships faced by women. Pandita Ramabai therefore took the initiative to mobilise support for the Bill.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the Marriage of Consent Bill kicked off a controversy in Maharashtra, especially in Pune. Right from the beginning, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak had opposed introduction of social reforms by the foreign British government. In addition to that, opposition to the Bill was also expected from orthodox sections of the society. Because of this Bill, a great conflict arose between social reformers like Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Dr. Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar, Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade and the orthodox people who opposed the proposed law. Pandita Ramabai who was striving for the welfare of women started organising women to support the Bill.  The rival groups in Pune indulged in a lot of mudslinging against each other during the row over the Marriage of Consent Bill. Of course, social reformers like Agarkar, Ramabai, and Dr. Bhandarkar were in minority and had to pay a heavy price.
A meeting held in Mumbai to muster support for the Bill was conducted by Pandita Ramabai and was presided over by social worker Cornelia Sorabji. Thereafter on behalf of Arya Mahila Samaj, Pandita Ramabai and Kashibai Kanitkar organised a meeting in Pune. 'Sudharak', edited by social reformer Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, said that in the meeting barring the exception of five to six women, all women signed the resolution supporting the Bill.
N. C. Kelkar, editor of Marathi daily Kesari, in his biography of Lokmanya Tilak has mentioned the conversation at this meeting. This throws light on the distinctive strong character of Pandita Ramabai. Kelkar wrote, ''At the meeting, Kashibai Kanitkar justified the Bill, but some other lady stood up and asked,' Would you like, if as per the provisions of the Bill, a legal suit is filed against your son-in-law?' Kashibai was a staunch Hindu. She was not able to answer this. Ramabai also was a born Hindu but her ideology had changed after her conversion to Christianity. When Kashibai was left speechless, Ramabai replied, 'It's much better! Son-in-law is not above daughter'. This straightforward answer was in keeping with her nature. And this nature was not formed after her religious conversion. ''
Notwithstanding the uproar raised against the Consent of Marriage Bill, the Bill was finally passed and the law came into existence. These days most girls do not get married before they are 20. But some 100 years ago, Ramabai had to struggle and face adverse criticism to ban marriages of girls below 12 years of age.
In 1897, there was a severe famine in central India . Ramabai gave shelter to hundreds of girls who had been reduced to skeletons due to hunger. Had Ramabai not rushed to help those girls, they would have probably died due to hunger.
Ramabai Association in America had agreed to financially support Ramabai's work for Indian women for 10 years. Once that period got over in 1898, Ramabai once again went to America and dissolved the Association. Thereafter, with the help of a newly formed  'American Ramabai Association', Ramabai started work of the Mukti Sadan at Kedgaon near Pune. Ramabai spent the rest of her life in Kedgaon.
Ramabai opened various centres in Kedgaon for underprivileged women. Her family and relatives desert a woman if she goes astray or becomes victim of an untoward incident. Pandita Ramabai opened 'Krupa Sadan' for rehabilitation of such deserted women. She also started 'Preeti Sadan' for the old, disabled and destitute women.
The credit of opening the first school for the blind in India goes to Manorama, Pandita Ramabai's daughter. This school was also located in Kedgaon. By teaching blind women to read and to write Braille script, Pandita Ramabai and Manorama, in a way, offered them vision. The blind women were taught to knit sweaters, make cane chairs and weave baskets. Thus, the blind women were made financially self-reliant.
Soon after settling in Kedgaon in 1905, Ramabai took up the task of translating the Bible into Marathi. She continued with this mission till the last day of her life. She took 18 years to translate the entire Bible. Many editions of English translations of the Bible were available during Ramabai's time. But she decided to translate the original Hebrew and Greek Bible into Marathi. This scholar woman learned Hebrew and Greek only for this purpose. 
Rama Dongre, who was born in Karnataka, knew Kannada language and from her father she learned Sanskrit. After coming to Maharashtra, she mastered Marathi. Later, she also learned English and lectured in England and America. After crossing 40, she started learning Hebrew and Greek for translating the holy Bible.
Pandita Ramabai is the only woman in the world to translate the holy Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek languages. While shouldering the responsibility of nearly 2,000 destitute girls and women in 'Mukti Sadan', Pandita Ramabai still found time for such extraordinary literary tasks! .
Manorama expired at the age of 40 on  July 24, 1921. Ramabai endured the shock of her beloved daughter's death with great courage and continued with the translation of the Bible. This had become a mission during the last days of her life. She displayed a strong desire to live till the completion of the translation work. This she fulfilled.
Ramabai's translation of the Bible was being printed at her own printing press in Kedgaon. A few months after her daughter’s death, i.e., on April 4, 1922, Pandita Ramabai read the last proof of her work and sent it to the printing press: the same night, this great scholar and social worker bid adieu to the world. 
References: -
1.  'Maharashtrachi Tejaswini Pandita Ramabai':  (Marathi) Author and publisher- Devdatta Narayan Tilak. Shanti Sadan, Agra Road, Nashik (1960)
2.  Vadhastambhache Sevak '  (Marathi)Author- Theodore Williams. Marathi translation - D. Y.  Gaikwad. Publisher- Outreach Prakashan, Indian Evangelic Mission, 7, Langford road, Bangalore, 560 025 (1991)
3.  'Bharat Ani Khrista', (Marathi)  (India and Christ) Author - Fr Hans Staffner (S. J.) Marathi translation- Dr. V. P. Bhide. Publisher- Marg Prakashan, Stephen's Niwas, 2008,Saint Vincent Marg, Pune, 411001, (1988)
4.  'Khristi Marathi Vangmay' (Fr. Stephen Te 1960 Akher):   (Marathi) Author - Dr. Gangadhar Narayan Morje, Publisher Dr. P. S. Jacob, Principal, Ahmednagar College, Ahmednagar and Fr  (Dr) Matthew Lederle (S.J.), Snehasadan, 250, Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030 (Distributor-A. J. Prabhu, Vidarbha Marathwada Book Company, 1334,Shukravar, Pune, 411 002-(1984).

Monday, September 19, 2011

William carey, social reformer and linguist


Contribution of Christian Missionaries in India

Rev William Carey

Author : Camil Parkhe


Published by Gujarat Sahitya Prakash


William Carey, social reformer and linguist
Reverend William Carey is known as the father of printing technology in India. This Baptist missionary is credited with printing the first books in several regional languages of India. He is also one of the first social reformers in India to protest against the social evil of Sati , the custom of forcing a widow to end her life by jumping into the burning funeral pyre of her deceased husband. Carey, along with veteran social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy, made efforts to legally ban Sati. 
Carey is also credited with starting the first newspaper in an Indian regional language. ‘Samachar Darpan’ was the first newspaper in an Indian language. Carey and his missionary colleague, Dr Joshua Marshman, first published it in Bengali from Serampore on May 31, 1818. Earlier, Carey made significant contribution in the fields of botany and agriculture during the latter part of the 18th century and in the beginning of the 19th century.
William Carey was born in England on August 17, 1767. His father was a weaver. While he was a student, Carey worked with his uncle as a gardener till he turned 14. This developed into a lifelong passion for botany and agriculture. Later, to earn a living, he worked as a shoemaker till he was 28. Due to this background, some officers of the East India Company used to look down upon him even after Carey was ordained as a priest of the Baptist Mission. He had studied Greek, Hebrew and Latin. This study encouraged him to learn various languages and thus he became a linguist.
Carey left England on June 13, 1793 with the intention of preaching the gospel in India. He arrived in Kolkata five months later, on November 11, 1793. The East India Company had established its political control over most of the Indian territory by then.
Even though the officers of the East India Company were Christians, unlike the Portuguese, they skillfully avoided mixing up political governance and missionary work. The British had come to India as traders and later had managed to capture political power in the country. They had absolutely no intention of converting the local populace to Christianity. On the contrary, they were afraid that any intervention in the religious affairs of the local people might boom-rang and pulverise their political power. Therefore, they had banned the work of Christian missionaries in the area under their political control.
Carey realised that it was not possible to openly undertake any missionary work in India due to this British policy. He was forced to take up a job in the Indigo Factory at Madanavati. He worked in the Indigo factory for six years.
Carey had married Dorothy Placket before he reached India.  They had four children, all born in India. Four priests of the Baptist Mission arriving in India from England later joined Carey. Since missionary work was prohibited in the area under British regime, Carey and his colleagues established a mission at Serampur, which was under Dutch control, in 1800. The Dutch had not banned missionary activities in the area, which was under their political control.

While at Madanavati, Carey learnt Bengali and Sanskrit languages. He was to later try to translate Sanskrit grammar and dictionary into English. Having established a Baptist Mission at Serampur, Carey now took upon himself the task of publishing the Bible in Sanskrit and Bengali languages.
He established a printing press at Serampur. Since printing technology was not yet developed in the country, he started producing the types in Bengali, Devanagari, Farsi (Persian), and Arabic scripts at this press. The first books in various Indian languages were printed in Carey’s printing press. Carey thus earned the honour of becoming the first printer and publisher of the first books in a variety of Indian languages.
In 1801, the New Testament in Bengali was printed at the Serampur press. In 1804, Rev. Carey started translating and publishing Bible, in other major Indian languages like Hindustani, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi and Tamil.
Two hundreds years before Carey, the Portuguese had introduced printing technology in Goa which was under their control. Kristapuran, an epic in Marathi compiled by a British Jesuit, Fr Thomas Stephens, was printed in 1614. However, in the absence of a printing technology for Devanagari script, Fr Stephens had to print his Marathi epic in Roman script.
During this time, Carey had also started studying Marathi. He had never stepped into Maharashtra where Marathi is spoken. Therefore, he had no exposure to Marathi language. He sought help of some Marathi experts for translation.
In 1805, Carey published a Marathi version of the Gospel according to St Mathew, entitled, ‘Sant Mathewche Shubhavartaman.’  It was the first book in Marathi printed in the Devanagari script. Carey published the second edition of this book in 1807. This time, the Marathi book was printed in Modi, a script now on the verge of extinction.
By 1811, the New Testament was translated into Marathi and printed at the Serampur Press. During the same period, Carey had started work on translating the New Testament in Konkani as well. 'Sant Mathewche Shubhavartaman’, the Gospel according to St Mathew, was published in 1815 in Konkani language.
Research scholar S. M. Pinge in his Marathi book ‘Europeanancha Marathicha Abhyas Va Seva’  ( The study of Marathi language by the Europeans and their contribution to this language), says, ''Although Carey’s Bible-related books in Konkani and Marathi were written for apostolic work and for educating people about Christianity, it is beyond any doubt that it gave tremendous boost to linguistic studies.'' He further says, "Despite so many problems in translation, Carey learnt the local languages and translated Bible in these languages. His service in development of Marathi language and literature needs to be appreciated.”
It appears that Rev. William Carey’s stay was restricted to Bengal only. He never visited western or southern parts of India like Maharashtra and Karnataka. He never had the opportunity to witness languages like Marathi, Konkani and Kannada in practice, as spoken by the people in their respective areas. Despite staying away from these territories, Carey contributed a great deal to the literature of these languages and must be complimented. Many people at that time criticised Carey's language and composition used in Konkani, Marathi and other languages. These critics also included some American and Scottish missionaries who had studied Marathi.
In 1801, Fort William College was established in Kolkata. A Marathi language course was introduced in the college in 1804 and Carey was appointed as the professor of Marathi language. Apart from Carey, some other Marathi pundits also used to teach Marathi in the same college. The teaching of Marathi at college level thus began for the first time in Bengal province, far away from Maharashtra. Rev. Carey thus can be rightly called as one of the first professors of Marathi language.
While teaching in Fort William College, Rev Carey, with the help of other Marathi pundits, authored several Marathi books. In 1805, Carey along with Pundit Vaijanath Shastri authored the grammar of Marathi language and published it. In 1810, Carey prepared ‘A dictionary of Marathi language’, the first dictionary in this language, with the help of Pundit Vaijanath Shastri and published it in Modi script.  This was the first ever dictionary in Marathi. This Marathi - English dictionary contains about 10,000 words and has 652 pages.
Carey’s printing press at Serampur had become an important centre of printing technology in the India of those times. There was a foundry for casting types required for printing purpose. Many people took these types to various parts of the country and started their own printing presses there.
During the period of 1805 to 1832, Carey’s printing press printed about 12,000 volumes in 40 Indian languages. At no other place in the country was this printing facility available at that time. This underlines the importance of Carey’s pioneering work.

Pinge while appreciating contribution of Rev. Carey has said, "Carey learnt Marathi and apart from several other Marathi volumes, published prose volumes of Bible in Marathi. He also motivated Marathi experts to write books.'' Pinge further added, "Carey published Marathi books at a time when no literature was being produced in this language. Besides, he published these books in Bengal where Marathi was not even spoken. This single fact has made Carey immortal in Marathi literature."

Rev Carey laid the foundation of printing technology in India. The history of literature of several Indian languages cannot be complete without the mention of Carey’s contribution. He took immense efforts to print the first books in these vernaculars. In his endeavour, Carey did not receive any support from the political rulers. The linguists too kept on criticising him for his language. Nonetheless, Carey continued his work. Carey is the only person whose mention, however small, will appear in the history of many Indian languages.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his book, ‘The Discovery of India ’ has mentioned Rev William Carey and other missionaries of Serampur Baptist Mission, who contributed in the fields of Indian printing technology and literature. Nehru praised the missionaries for their work as follows: “The printing of books and newspapers broke the hold of classics and immediately prose literatures in the provincial languages began to develop. The early Christian missionaries, especially of the Baptist Mission of Serampur, helped in the process greatly. The first private printing presses were established by them and their efforts to translate the Bible into prose versions of Indian languages met with considerable success. There was no difficulty in dealing with the well-known and established languages, but the missionaries went further and tackled some of the minor and undeveloped languages and gave them shape and form, compiling grammar and dictionaries for them. They even laboured at the dialects of the primitive hill and forest tribes and reduced them to writing."
Rev Carey’s contribution is not confined to Indian printing field, languages and literature alone. He was indeed a versatile personality. Apart from missionary work, printing technology, language, literature, he also worked in the field of botany, education, library science and social reforms.
Even before the British could establish an agricultural institute in India, Carey had established the Agricultural Society of India in 1820. Carey was interested in botany right from his childhood. While working in India, he was granted a membership of The Linnean Society of London in 1823. The Linnean Society of London is the world's premier society for the study and dissemination of taxonomy. Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species and organising them into systems of classification. Carey was also a member of the London-based Geology Society. It is obvious that he had deep interest and had studied these subjects.
After 1820, William Carey edited and published three volumes of Flora Indica or Descriptions of Indian Plants, authored by his late friend, Dr. William Roxburgh (1751 - 1815).  These volumes are considered as excellent reference volumes for botanists even today. In recognition of the research done by Carey in botany, a plant has been named after him and it is called, ‘Careya Habetia’.
William Carey brought English daisy flower to India. He is also credited with introducing the 'Linnean system’ in gardening. At Serampur, Carey planted 427 types of saplings on a five-acre field. It was a matter of surprise as to how Carey could find time for research in so many fields.
Carey raised a very strong protest against foeticides, abortions, child sacrifices and the custom of Sati. Social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy too had waged a battle against sati. Carey raised protests against the sati custom as early as 1805-06. The British government had followed a policy not to intervene in the religious customs of Hindus. Carey was of the opinion that the Hindu religious scriptures did not advocate sati.
In order to create public opinion against the sati practice, Carey in 1803 started collecting statistics on incidents of sati. He collected details of the victims of this evil social custom. He combed an area of about 80 miles around Kolkata to find that 1,170 women had to die because of this custom. At that time, this custom was most prevalent in Bengal and Carey had witnessed widows being pushed into the funeral pyres of their husbands and burn alive. He had witnessed such an incident for the first time in 1799. He even tried to stop it. He was told by people, ‘If you cannot bear seeing this, get lost!’
Some orthodox people canvassed against Carey, stating that the custom of sati was in conformity with Hinduism. A petition was submitted to the Governor General in India, arguing that Rev Carey and Rev Sleeman were doing missionary work in India and preaching against Hinduism, specifically the custom of sati, and therefore they should be deported from India. Rev. Sleeman also was leading a movement against sati. At village Paran near Jabalpur, Rev Sleeman had guarded the pyre continuously for three days and three nights to avert the burning alive of a child-widow from the Paroha community!
To create public awareness against the evil custom of sati, Carey had asked Raja Ram Mohan Roy to contribute a column in ‘ Samachar Darpan’. The column helped create public opinion against this evil custom among the Bengali masses.
On December 4, 1929, the then Governor General Lord William Bentinck banned the age-old custom of sati  by issuing an order. The efforts of William Carey and Raja Ram Mohan Roy finally bore fruit. During those days, Carey was also working as a government translator. The day Lord Bentinck issued the proclamation, Rev William Carey did not attend church because he had to translate the order declaring sati illegal from English to Bengali. He was afraid any delay on his part might send one more widow to the funeral pyre and made available the order in the local language immediately.
This missionary served in India for 41 years and offered his services to the local people in various fields. He did not visit his motherland even once during this period. This linguist scholar and social reformer breathed his last on June 9, 1834.
The year 1993 marked the 200th anniversary of this great missionary and visionary stepping on the Indian soil. These 200 years had witnessed a phenomenal progress in the Indian printing technology, native literature, and social structure. Rev Carey had played a pioneering role in this progress. The Government of India therefore released a commemorative stamp on William Carey in 1993, acknowledging  Carey’s contribution in various fields.
In the 2000-year-old history of Christianity, missionaries have made important contributions in various fields the world over. The contribution of most of these missionaries was restricted to a few fields only. Rev William Carey however made precious contributions in several fields like literature, technology, science, social awakening, printing technology, education and so on. And his contributions made an impact that was long lasting.
References:
1.‘Europeanancha Marathicha Abhyas Wa Sewa’  (Marathi)  (The study of Marathi language by the Europeans and their contribution to this language), Authored and published by S. M. Pinge, 24B, Cantonment Aurangabad, Distributors - Venus Prakashan, Pune (1959)                                   

2.‘William Carey Ani Bharatacha Punarjanma’ ( William Carey and The Regeneration of India) , original authors:  Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi, Marathi translation by Dr. Sanjay Athawale, Publishers - G. L. S. Publishing, Udyog Bhavan, 250 D , Worli, Mumbai 400 025 (1998).
3.‘Wadhasthambhache Sewak’   (Marathi) Original Author- Theodor Williams, Marathi Translation - D Y Gaikwad, Publishers - Outrich Prakashan, Indian Evangelical  Mission, 7, Lonford Road, Bangalore 560 025 (1991)

4.‘ The Christian Community and The National Mainstream’ - By Louis D’Silva - Printed by Dr  M E Cherian. Spicer College Press, Pune -411 007.

5.‘Marathi Mudranachya Paoolkhuna’   (Marathi)  (Footprints of printing technology in Marathi), Arun A Naik, Daily Lokmat (November 28, 1999)
6.‘Kayada hounahee Na Thambalelya Sati Prathecha Bolka Itihas’ - (History of Sati custom which has continued despite a legislation banning it),  Francis D’Souza, Marathi daily ‘Loksatta’ (3 December 1999)
7.‘Fight the Sati in the mind Silence is acquiescence’ - A J  Philip  'The Indian Express’ (November, 17, 1999)

Tiff with Kiran Bedi


Tiff with Kiran Bedi
CAMIL PARKHE
Sunday, August 01, 2010 AT 06:44 PM (IST)
Tags: Kiran Bedi, Goa
I was a cub reporter in 1983 when Kiran Bedi was posted at Goa as deputy superintendent (traffic). Goa was then chosen as the venue for the Commonwealth heads of governments meeting (CHOGM) retreat. In those days, Goa had very little vehicular movement. Portuguese-built Potto Bridge was the only spot in the Union territory where a constable monitored traffic. Bedi's task was to monitor traffic during the three-day Goa visit of 39 heads of states including Margaret Thatcher, Robert Mugabe, Bob Hawke and the host -- Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Our newspaper had only three reporters -- chief reporter, a senior reporter and I. Crime was one of the many beats I handled. Bedi was among the police officers I met every evening at the police headquarters. Sometimes, she would take me along in her Gypsy for conducting rehearsals, with instructions flowing on a walkie talkie set from Panaji to Dabolim airport and to Fort Aguada beach resort, the CHOGM venue.
CHOGM being a very, very high security event, government offices were to be closed for three days to minimise people's presence on streets. One day, Bedi gave me a press note regarding traffic restrictions during the retreat. As a routine affair, I published the press note. Next day, Bedi asked me to repeat the same press note on three consecutive days. I laughed at her suggestion and told her that newspapers never publish the same press note twice. I told her the same press note can appear umpteen number of times but only as an advertisement.
Bedi pondered for a minute and said she would have a word with my editor. Despite my protests, she almost pushed me into her jeep and took me along to visit the editor. 'Ki khabar,' my editor asked her in Punjabi as we entered his cabin. I was left astonished and sulking when he, without any hesitation, agreed to repeat the press note for three days.
Later, when I protested, he said, "Come on, have a heart! It's not very often that Mrs Gandhi, Thatcher and several other presidents and premiers come for a retreat in Goa. Besides, in your journalist career, you would very rarely find an officer as charismatic as Kiran Bedi. Let's give her some concessions!”
Three decades after the incident, I believe my first editor was very right in his statement as also his judgement.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marathi, Konkani litterateur Fr. Thomas Stephens Kristapuarana,

'Kristapuarana', an epic written by Fr. Thomas Stephens, a British Jesuit, is included among the medieval classical literature in Marathi language. Kristapurana, incidentally, is also the first printed book in Marathi although its text was in Roman script and not in the Devanagari script. It is the most important literary work of Fr. Thomas Stephens. His name would remain forever in the history of Marathi literature because of his Kristapurana that was composed entirely in Indian traditional purana style.
In the medieval era, Fr. Stephens successfully tried to narrate various concepts from Bible, many incidences from the Old and New Testaments in simple words that could be understood by the local people who were till then not exposed to any western religion or traditions.
It is indeed a creditable that a British national who came to India in his thirties could write an epic of high literary value in native form.
Till now, Bible has been translated in different languages in the world. But Kristapurana is not a mere translation of Bible in Marathi. While reading Kristapurana, those acquainted with the Indian mythology and cultural traditions are bound to marvel at the way the author has skillfully incorporated various Hindu concepts, local sayings and proverbs in the book based on a
theme of a foreign religion! The new converts to Christianity for whom the epic was composed must have developed a sense of belonging towards Kristapurana
Thomas Stephens was born at Clyfee Pipard, Bushton of Wiltshire province in England in 1549. His father who was a merchant was also named Thomas Stephens (Stevens) and his mother's name was Jane. Stephens was elected a scholar of Winchester in 1564 and may have attended New College in Oxford. He joined the Society of Jesus on October 20, 1575 at the age of 26. He had expressed his desire to work as a missionary in India. Four years after joining the society, he was allowed to travel to India. He was studying the second year of philosophy in Rome when his superiors permitted him to join the Portuguese East India mission. He, along with 12 other young Jesuit scholastics, left Lisbon by sea on April 4, 1579. They reached Goa via the Cape of Good Hope on October 24, 1579. He had arrived in India in the ship S. Lourenco.
Stephens is widely known as the first Englishman to have set foot in India. But according to Fr George Schurhammer, there were two Englishmen who were among the persons wounded in the seize of Diu in 1546.
Soon after his arrival in India, Stephens wrote to his father in England about the Portuguese ventures in the East. These letters must have gone around his father's commercial acquaintances, which aspired them for future business prospects. It is also said that the account given by Stephens may have encouraged the British to look for business opportunities in India which ultimately led to the incorporation of the East India Company in 1599. ",1]
Thomas Stephens was born at Clyfee Pipard, Bushton of Wiltshire province in England in 1549. His father who was a merchant was also named Thomas Stephens (Stevens) and his mother's name was Jane. Stephens was elected a scholar of Winchester in 1564 and may have attended New College in Oxford. He joined the Society of Jesus on October 20, 1575 at the age of 26. He had expressed his desire to work as a missionary in India. Four years after joining the Society, he was allowed to travel to India. He was studying the second year of philosophy in Rome when his superiors permitted him to join the Portuguese East India mission. He, along with 12 other young Jesuit scholastics, left Lisbon by sea on April 4, 1579. They reached Goa via the Cape of Good Hope on October 24, 1579. He had arrived in India in the ship S. Lourenco.
Stephens is widely known as the first Englishman to have set foot in India. But according to Fr. George Schurhammer, there were two Englishmen who were among the persons wounded in the seize of Diu in 1546.
Soon after his arrival in India, Stephens wrote to his father in England about the Portuguese ventures in the East. These letters must have gone around his father's commercial acquaintances, which aspired them for future business prospects. It is also said that the account given by Stephens may have encouraged the British to look for business opportunities in India, which ultimately led to the incorporation of the East India Company in 1599.
In his letter to his father written on November 10, 1579, Stephens has described his first impressions of the people in East Portuguese India (Goa) and the nature. He has written: "The people be tawny, but not disfigured in their lips and noses, as the moors and Kaffirs of Ethiopia. They that be not of reputation, or at least the most part go naked, saving an apron of a span long as much as in breadth before them, and a lace two fingers broad before them, girded about a string, and no more. And thus they think themselves as well as we with all our trimming. Of the fruits and trees that be here I cannot now speak, for I should make another letter as long as this. For hitherto I have not seen tree here whose like I have seen in Europe, the wine excepted, which, nevertheless here is to no purpose, so that all the wines are brought out of Portugal. The drink of this country is good water, or wine of the palm tree, or a fruit called cacoas. And this shall be suffice for this time."
After arriving at Salcette in Goa, Stephens started studying the local languages and their scripts. He wrote a letter to his younger brother, Richard, on October 24, 1583, describing the specialties of the local languages. He has written: "Many are the languages of these places. Their pronunciations is not disagreeable; and their structure is allied to Greek and Latin. The phrases and constructions are of a wonderful kind. The letters in the syllables have their value, and are varied as many times as the consonants can be combined with the vowels and the mutes with the liquids."
Stephens did his missionary work by integrating himself with the lifestyle and culture of the local people. While doing so, he learnt Marathi and Konkani. He was proficient in Sanskrit, English and Portuguese languages.
Six months after his arrival in Goa, Stephens was ordained a priest. He spent 39 years in Goa and one year (1611-12) at Vasai in Thane district near Mumbai. He was rector of a Jesuit College at Rochol in Salcette region of Goa from 1590 to 1594. He worked as a priest at places like Margaon, Loutalim, Benaulim and Navelim.
The literature of Thomas Stephens includes 'Dautrina Krista Eem Lingua Brahmana- Canarin or 'Kristi Dharmasar' (a manual of Christian doctrine in Konkani, a Konkani grammar 'Arte de Lingoa Canarim' (1640) and 'Kristapurana'.
Out of these books, Dautrina Krista em lingua Brahmana-Canarin is a book on catechism. This book does not have much literary value. However, the book is important for the reference of history of language since it is the first book in Konkani. This book has been written in question-answer form. In the 17th century, the book became popular in Konkani-speaking Christian community. It was a posthumous publication; the first edition was released in 1622. One copy of this edition is in Lisbon Government Library in Portugal and the other copy is in the Vatican Library in Rome.
The credit of composing grammar in Konkani language for the first time goes to Fr. Stephens. The grammar is well known as ' 'Arte de Lingoa Canarim'. However Canarim does not mean Kannada. Konkani language was known as Canarim then. History researcher A. K. Priyolkar has explained Canarim language as the language of people living in coastal areas. It was the first grammar of an Eastern language that was written by an European. This book is handy to study Konkani language spoken in Goa in the 17th century. The grammar book was created for foreigner missionaries with the purpose of learning Konkani systematically.
The edition of this valuable grammar of Konkani literature available now was published in 1640 in Rochol College and Fr. Diego Rebeiro and other priests further contributed to it. Later many Christian missionaries followed footsteps of Fr. Stephens, went to different States of India, learnt local languages and composed grammar in those languages.
Fr. Stephens completed writing Kristapurana between 1605-1608 and the first edition of this book was printed in 1616. The second and third editions were printed in 1649 and 1654. But the epic reached to the readers mostly in handwritten copies, which made it most popular among the local Christian population.
The book was printed in Roman script, as printing technology was not developed for printing in Devanagari script. The author of the book had desired to print the Marathi book in Devanagari script only and had also made efforts in that direction. He had written to the Jesuit General, Fr. Cladius Aquaviva, in Rome, pleading to use his authority to ensure publication of the epic in Devanagari script. After all, Stephens was not the first Jesuit missionary who was seeking publication of his literary work in the script of an Indian language. Before him, the Tamil catechism of Fr. Henry Henriques was printed in Tamil types in 1578.

In a letter written in Portuguese to his superiors in Rome in 1608, Fr. Stephens had said: "I have desired to see in this Province some books printed in the language and the script of the place, as there are in Malabar, with great profit for those communities. My desire, however, has never been realised and this for two reasons: Firstly, it seems impossible to make so many moulds - there would be over 600, because the characters are syllables and not letters like ours in Europe. Secondly, because this holy curiosity cannot be accomplished without the permission and good will of the Provincial, and they have so many other things to see to, that they make no time to care for this, and much less to take it to heart. The first difficulty has its remedy, for the moulds can be reduced to 200; the second one will be removed if Y. P. will deign to write to Fr Provincial about this, strongly recommending him to do that which he may find to be for the greater glory of God and for the edification and benefit of the Christian community."
Had Stephens succeeded in his efforts, it would have been the first Marathi book printed in its own script, Devanagari. Thereafter, it took good 200 years for printing the first Marathi book in Devanagari script.
The Portuguese had conquered Goa in 1510. St. Francis Xavier arrived in Goa as Papal Nuncio (the papal representative) in 1542. The arrival of the missionaries in Goa led to the conversion of local Hindus to Christianity. The western missionaries were not very proficient in local Konkani and Marathi languages. A religious conference held in Goa in 1605 decided to impart religious education in Marathi. A rule was also made then that the European missionaries should learn Marathi within six months for imparting religious education in that language.
The converts to Christianity had little knowledge about their new religion. The educated among them missed reading Hindu scriptures in Marathi. The converts to Christianity were forbidden to read Hindu scripture. However they converts had no access to the Portuguese classical literature, as they did not know the language. The converts needed a literature, not as catechism doctrine but which could be used for religious celebrations and to fill hours of leisure, like they had in Hindu puranas, kirtans and bhajans.
In the initial chapter of Kristapurana, Stephens has explained what prompted him to write the epic. At the end of the catechism class, a Brahmin convert approached him and said that catechism was good but the new converts needed also something entertaining for their hours of leisure; otherwise they would waste their time with idle talk, even with gambling. They wanted a Christian literature in their own language, in story form, as they had it earlier in Hindu puranas. This was a challenge to Stephens, who was a foreigner, had no knowledge of the Indian philosophy, traditions and culture. But he took the challenge and succeeded in his mission much to the astonishment of even present day scholars.
Veteran theologian and indologist Fr. (Dr.) Josef Neuner (S. J.), in a preface to 'Kristapurana: A Christian-Hindu encounter' has said: "Stephens faced the challenge. He had to start from a scratch: learning the language, which was spoken by the higher level of population of Salcette. He studied not only the grammar but made himself familiar with the religious literature with its rich symbolism. He was also aware that he had to write for people of various levels, and therefore avoid antiquated or too difficult expressions, find the style that was understood by the people and appealed to them. It was an enormous task for a man who had come as a foreigner to a totally new culture."
Fr. Neuner further wrote: "In a spirit of deep faith and apostolic commitment, Stephens presented Jesus Christ in the form of India's religious literature, as purana, in a manner which initiated his readers into the depth of the Christian faith while feeling fully at home with the traditions of their national culture."
The importance of this epic is not restricted to being a religious book or literature of medieval history alone. Due to the use of language, proverbs, basis of local culture and traditions, while explaining concepts of Christianity the book has become a great treasure of Marathi classical literature.
In the preface to the first Devanagari edition of Kristapurana, published in 1956, its editor Shantaram Bandelu has written, "Fr. Stephens was not only an excellent missionary but also a great poet which can be realised while reading his great epic."
Fr. Stephens indigenised Kristapurana so that the people for whom he wrote should easily understand Christianity - a religion originated in Asia but brought to India by western people. Because of the inculturation, local people did not face any difficulty in understanding Christianity. For example, the Christian concepts like heaven, Satan; hell could not have been understood by local people. Fr. Stephens therefore used most commonly known concepts like Vaikunth, Devchar, Yamapuri and thus helped the new converts to identify with their new religion easily. He also used the most familiar titles like Swami, Tarak, Anand Nidhi, Parameshwar, Jagatguru, Moksharaj, Gosavi to refer to Jesus Christ.
While reading the epic, one marvels at Stephens' in-depth study of the spirituality of Hindu religion. Without thorough knowledge of this religion, it would not have been possible for him to use words like tribhuvan, hoam, amrut, shadripu and yadnya in the Christian purana.
In keeping with the Indian style of Puranas, the Kristapurana too begins with a salutation to the creator 'Om Namo Vishwabharita,' and continues with 10,000 couplets in the same indigenous style.
As per the traditional purana style, the entire first chapter of Kristapurana has been devoted to naman (prayer), praise of saints and seeking help of God for completion of the book and tete a tete with readers.
Veteran Marathi research scholar S. G. Tulpule has said: "Fr Stephens has succeeded in the difficult task of presenting Christ in such an oriental garb as appeals to the Hindu mind without abandoning the principles of the Christian religion. Kristapurana is like a sanctuary in the centre of which is the image of Christ while the structure and decoration that surrounds it are in genuine Hindu styleThe author has made two parts of Kristapurana - namely Pahile (first) Purana and Dusare (second) Purana. The first part deals with the Old Testament and the second part deals with the life of Jesus Christ as described in the New Testament. The Kristapurana edited by Shantaram Bandelu has 10,962 ovis (couplets) while Kristapurana from William Mersdon's collection available at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London has 10,641 couplets.
Veteran Marathi research scholar S. G. Tulpule has said: "Fr. Stephens has succeeded in the difficult task of presenting Christ in such an oriental garb as appeals to the Hindu mind without abandoning the principles of the Christianity."
Many scholars have been amazed by the proficiency attained by a foreigner like Stephens over Marathi language. Some of them have even expressed that it was impossible for an Englishman to compose such an epic and have argued that Fr. Stephens may not have been the author of this literary masterpiece and that a local convert must have composed the epic. Fr. Caridade Drago, the editor of the Shreyas 1996 edition of Kristapurana, has conclusively proved that the literary work was indeed of Fr. Stephens only.
During the controversial inquisition period in Goa, the religious authorities had imposed censorship with stringent rules. The texts of every literature used to be thoroughly checked and the objectionable matter were destroyed immediately. Publishing any matter without the prior permission by the inquisition committee was not allowed. Thus, Kristapurana too was printed only after securing prior permission of the inquisition committee. Besides, Stephens had also obtained permission of his Jesuit superiors for publishing the book.
Fr. Stephens had presented the translation of his book Kristapurana in Portuguese for its scrutiny by the inquisition committee. The confirmation by the inquisition committee about similarity between the Marathi Kristapurana and the translated Portuguese version, so also the permission by this committee was published in the first three editions of Kristapurana. The letter of consent clearly mentioned the author as a Jesuit priest.
Many English proverbs, idioms and phrases were translated into Marathi in Kristapurana. For example - proverb 'Rome was not built in a day' was translated as 'Eke divashi Rome nagari ubhavili nahi' in Marathi. The phrase 'warm love' was translated as Unhu Moho. The use of such translated English proverbs by local scholars was not possible then. Thus, Fr. Drago has emphasised that Fr. Stephens himself was the author of Kristapurana beyond any doubt.
Fr. Stephens published three editions of his book in 1616, 1649 and 1654. Today not a single copy of these three editions is available.
Francis Lavore, the viceroy of Goa, announced a decree in 1648 to banish local Goan languages within three years, to be replaced by Portuguese for all official functioning. Accordingly, all Marathi books were confiscated. Consequently Kristapurana of Stephens also went into the oblivion. In those days Kirtan and Nirupan (discourse) of Kristapurana used to be held in Goan churches. Due to the Portuguese government's policy, this practice was also banned. The diktat of the Portuguese viceroy hunted the growth of Marathi and Konkani literature and also development of Christian literature in these local languages.
Luckily for Kristapurana and Marathi language, recital of Kristapurana continued in Christian community outside Goa at places like Mangalore and this literary treasure was preserved for the future generations. Many handwritten copies of Kristapurana were also made and circulated. This helped Joseph Saldhana to publish the fourth edition of Kristapurana in Mangalore in 1907.
Of course, all the four editions of Kristapurana were in Roman script. Therefore, Marathi scholars did not pay any attention to this great literary work. Thus, Kristapurana remained completely ignored in Marathi literary world for several years. Archbishop Henry Doering of Pune diocese transcripted some parts on life of Jesus Christ from Kristapurana in Devanagari script and published them in the early 20th century. Doering printed three booklets of the parts of Kristapurana in Devanagari script. But the entire Kristapurana could be published in Devanagari script only in 1956. Prasad Publications of veteran Marathi writer Y. G. Joshi published this Devanagari edition that was edited by Shantaram Bandelu, a teacher from Ahmednagar College.
This valuable heritage of Marathi literature, though written in early 17th century, was published in Marathi language's Devanagari script three centuries later.
The credit of printing the Devanagari edition of this original Marathi scripture and also attracting attention of Marathi scholars to this literary treasure goes to Fr. Hans Staffner. This Jesuit priest played an important role in publishing the first Devanagari edition of Kristapurana. While this edition was being printed, it was learnt that a handwritten Devanagari copy of Kristapurana was available at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. It was suspected that this copy could have been one of the copies of the epic, which escaped confiscation of Marathi books after the decree issued by the viceroy of Goa. During his visit to London, Fr. Staffner managed to secure a microfilm of that rare Devanagari copy of Kristapurana and prepared two copies from it. One of these handwritten copies has been preserved at Dr. Mukund Jaykar Library of Pune University and the other copy is with Snehasadan Pune, an institute of the Society of Jesus.
Three doctoral researches have been completed on this classical Marathi epic. The first research was conducted in Italian by Benedetta Quadra in Rome in 1943 and the second doctoral research was conducted by S. G. Malshe in Marathi in Mumbai in 1961. Fr. Nelson Falcao (SDB) completed the third doctoral research on Kristapurana in English at Pune University and published it in 2003.
Fr. Stephens received a great honour during his lifetime due to this literary work. Superiors of the Society of Jesus also took note of his literary contribution.
An obituary report written soon after Fr. Stephens' death has described the missionary's contribution in evangelisation in Goa. The tribute to the missionary said: "Fr. Stephens acquired complete mastery of the Canarim language (Konkani); he also composed a grammar in this language; this grammar proved such a success that whilst till then we had no one who could hear confessions of the people. He had the joy of seeing his grammar produce not only confessors, but even numerous preachers and writers."
The report further states: "All this did not satisfy his zeal and thus in addition to these labours he applied himself to the study of the Indostani language, the language of the upper classes. His progress therein was such that at the suggestion of his superiors he had printed in this language a volume dealing with the main truths of our faith: the creation, the fall and the more important prophesies regarding the coming of the redeemers. This work is so delightful that not only do the Christians derive much profit from it, but also even the non-Christians speak of it with pride. On Sundays and feast-days this book, or Puranas as it is called, is being read in the churches with as much profit as it gets applause."
This poet-priest passed away at the age of 70 at the Jesuit priests' residence at the famous Bom Jesu Basilica in Old Goa. The remains of St. Francis Xavier have been preserved at this basilica. Fr. Stephens needs no memorial. His epic Kristapurana itself is his eternal memorial in Marathi literature.
References: -
1. 'Kristapurana' - by Fr. Thomas Stephens, Editor - Fr. Caridade Drago, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai (1996).
2. 'Kristapurana' - Editor - Shantaram Bandelu, Prasad Prakashan, Pune (1956)
3. Kristapurana: A Christian-Hindu Encounter- A study of inculturation in the Kristapuarana of Thomas Stephens, S. J. (1549-1619) – Fr. Nelson Falcao (SDB), Snehasadan Studies, Snehasadan Institute for the Study of Religion, 250, Shaniwar Peth, Pune- 411 030, and Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, P. B. 70, Anand, Gujarat, 388 001

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jan Sansad Vs sansad



 
Jan sansad vs sansad

Politicians should understand people's aspirations for a clean social life

Sakal Times September 9,  2011
Camil Parkhe 

The civil society's campaign for a stronger lokpal bill has challenged the supremacy of the elected representatives for the first time. Never before the elected representatives at the constitutionally highest house of Parliament were set an agenda for discussion. Members of both houses of Parliament belonging to all political parties may all have seethed in anger when they were given a deadline by civil society leaders to debate and approve a given draft of bill, that too by foregoing their Saturday holiday. The ruling and opposition parties had no alternative but to bite the bait as all of them had realised to their horror that the civil society leaders indeed had the people's mandate, although none of them has ever won an election.
The speeches of some leaders during the day-long debate in Parliament on August 27 revealed their frustration over being dictated terms by the people gathered on the streets of New Delhi and the cities and towns across the country. The speeches by Kiran Bedi and actor Om Puri, which lampooned the elected representatives angered the MPs most. Bedi and Puri might have gone overboard while addressing the protesters but no one can deny the fact most agitators on the streets shared the opinion voiced by the two.
The country has a rich tradition of studious parliamentarians with clean image like Jawaharlal Nehru, Ram Manohar Lohia, Madhu Limaye, Atal Behari Vajpayee and George Fernandes, whose long speeches in the house had held elected representatives spellbound. Nowadays not many politicians enjoy such a stature. The frustration of the masses over the poor image of their elected representatives was palpable when people marched on streets, donning the "Mai Hu Anna" caps.
This is not the first time people have come on the streets spontaneously to press their demands. There have been popular stirs for formation of linguistic states, construction of Ram mandir at Ayodhya and according important status to local languages. But most of these were led by political parties, in most cases by opposition parties. The elected representatives like MPs or state legislators were not at the receiving end of the agitations.
In contrast, there was not a single politician or a political party involved in the protests against corruption. It may seem that the stir for a stronger lokpal bill is directed against the ruling Congress at the Centre. But that is not exactly the case. The BJP and other political parties might have been too happy to see the ruling UPA being cornered and the government machinery coming to a standstill when social reformer Anna Hazare was on an indefinite fast for 12 days. But neither the BJP nor other political parties was in a mood to accept Anna's jan lokpal bill. None of the political parties was happy to see the campaign against corruption gaining such a huge popular support. They feared the protesters would soon come knocking at their doors. As Anna's team kept politicians of all hues at bay, all political parties avoided being part of the stir. Thus it why for the first time that daggers were drawn between elected representatives and the people who had elected them.
Anna Hazare has been saying that the jan sansad or the people's parliament is supreme to Parliament and at the lowest level, the gram sabha is supreme to the gram panchayat. In theory, no one should have any qualms in accepting this. But how can this be translated into reality? How can we know the people's mind on a particular issue? Elections are rarely contested on specific issues. Often, emotive issues sway the poll verdict one way or the other. A referendum may be a way to know the people's mind and Parliament cannot have any option but to honour the referendum result. But holding a referendum will nor be easy. And it will involve a lot of expenses. In post-independent India, the country has conducted referendum only once. A referendum was conducted in Goa, Daman and Diu in 1967 to seek people's opinion on whether the territory, then freed from Portuguese bondage, should be merged into neighbouring Maharashtra or retain its independent identity. The people had then decided to keep the territory's distinct identity with an impressive margin.
The provision of the right to recall will permit the electorate to keep the elected representatives in check and prove the maxim that ultimately people are supreme. Hazare has been pressing for this electoral reform for long. The demand must be considered seriously. A time frame of a couple of years after the election will have to be fixed before seeking the recall. Or, else there could be a continuous chain of recalling the elected representatives.
India is a vibrant parliamentary democracy. The popular agitation on the lokpal bill has clearly shown that a large percentage of the electorate, specially the younger generation, does not trust politicians. This spells danger for democracy. The elected representatives should understand this and work out a tangible solution to realise people's aspirations about a clean social and political life. Only this approach will avoid frequent confrontations with the civil society.