Paper Presentation on the History of Christianity in India
Topic: Explain the Contribution of Christians to the India’s National Movements.
Nationalism is not a new phenomenon among Indians. Nationalist’s feelings during the European colonial period were expressed in various ways. We see such feelings in the open even from the beginning of the Europeans’ occupation, but they were in a few places only, and their motives and aims varied. For examples: in the nineteenth century Velu Thamby in Kerala was against the British but his opposition was colored by selfish motives. The coming of the Europeans specially the British brought in renaissance in India. As a result, Indians began to imbibe a sense of pride and appreciation in their culture, language, literature, religion and country, and so it can be said that there was a cultural renaissance.
Indian nationalist movement was one of the significant political developments in the later half of the 19th century and was in full swing in the first half of the 20th century. Its beginning is usually traced back to the beginning of nationalism. For them the mutiny is the first war of independence, since that was the first outright resistance to the expansion of British rule in India.
People such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy rose up, and sit in motion social, ethical and religious reformation. Such reformers encouraged Indians, specially the youth to get involved in such reforms. The British were asked by such social reformers to give more opportunities to Indians in the Indian civil service (ICS), which can be seen as a first step towards devolution of power, tough it was not expressed so explicitly. Indians in I.C.S. meant training in administration as well as to prove that Indians could be equal to the British. In such a situation the most important National movement established namely Indian National Congress.
Indian National Congress:
A. O. Hume was one of the founder of Indian National Congress which was founded in 1885. He felt that Indians should be given more freedom, more opportunities in administration, more room, to administer themselves, and more cooperation and understanding from the British for such aspirations. He was under the opinion that if the British wished the Indian National Congress well, then it would lead to a cordial relationship, and its activities would be on the path of peace and good-will. The I.N.C. in its early stages did not ask for independence and it was not violent as it was composed of educated, moderates. It asked for Social and Economic reforms for the betterment of the lives of Indian people. It proposed more share for the Indians in the administration.
Christians in Indian National Congress:
According to G.A. Oddie “In the early years, Indian Christians enthusiastically supported the National Congress and attended its annual meetings”. At the Madras meeting or session of I.N.C. in 1887 as per the official congress report, there were 35 Christians out of a total of 607 registered delegates which was 2.5 per cent of the total attendance. This was quite impressive because Christian community in 1887 formed less than 0.79 per cent of the total population. Out of these 35, seven were Eurasians and fifteen were Indian Christians. Some of the prominent Indian Christians at the 1887 I.N.C. session were R.S.N. Subreamania, a Christian barrister and municipal councillor from Madras, Kali Charan Banerji, a prominent leader of the Bengali Christian community who was also an eminent scholar, a brilliant orator and a highly respected and influential Indian Christian in congress circles, and Madhusudan Das, a lawyer who later became a deputy magistrate on Orissa. The participation of Christians was significant in the succeeding I.N.C. sessions too. At the 1888 Allahabad session there were thirty- eight Christians out of a total of 1248 delegates, in the1889 Bombay fifty four out of 1889, at the 1890 Calcutta session 22 out of 677 and in the Nagpur session, 16 out of 812. Apart from Kali Charan Banerji who continued to play a prominent role in the I.N.C. sessions, there were two other Indian Christians Paul Pillai, a C.M.S. School teacher, land- holder and later a barrister from Madras.
Women Participation in Indian National Congress:
The second half of the nineteenth century is the growing activities of Christian missions was work for women’s. Except that the few little girls were taught in the primary schools of the early protestant missions of the previous century, little had yet been done or could be done. In those days of child marriage, female infanticides, the burning of widows, and, in north India, the Purdah system, there was little thought of the emancipation of women. The missionaries on 1854 began a policy of sending Christian ladies to teach girls in the Zenanas of Hindu families. Mrs Mullens and an Anglo- Indian lady, Miss Toogood, were prominent in this work in Calcutta. Thus began the system of Zenana schools, which was copied in other towns and became a regulate feature of this Duff judged that the time was ripe for the opening of a Christian day school started a girls in 1857. In 1859 the American Presbyterian mission started a girls’ boarding school at Dehra Dun, from which in due time came the first female matriculate of Calcutta University.
Christian women too had taken part in the I.N.C. sessions, and it was reported that they made their presence felt at the 1889 Bombay session of the I.N.C., and that there were ‘ no less than ten lady delegates’, three of whom were Pandita Ramabai, well known Christian social reformer, Ms. Trimbuck and Ms. Nikambe noted Christian educationalists.
Christian’s Participation: Reasons and Decline:
There were some missionaries like T.E Slater, C. F. Andrews and E. Greaves were outspoken in urging Indian Christians to participate in politics and join the congress. Inspite of this, the participation of Christians in the I.N.C. sessions declined slowly from 1892 onwards. There were many reasons for the decline. The evangelicals emphasized other- worldliness which encouraged Christians to be aloof from mundane things such as politics. But the main reason cannot be said worldliness as it was present even before. The main reason can be said as fear of the majority of Hindus, and the fear of losing favour from the government in terms of securing employment in government service. It was said as Indian Christians were obtaining employment in government service in increasing numbers. In 1908, Joseph. J. Ghose writing on Indian Christian and National movement may be detrimental to the Christian community.” In which he states that “we do not know in what way it will be of any advantage to Indian Christians if they join the Non- Christians in political agitation.” His intention of saying this was that wherever the non Christians are in power the poor Indian Christians labour under a great disadvantage and have to suffer humiliation, indignities and even persecution.
I.N.C. in its early decades was moderate and so the British did not consider it as a threat to their administration. But with the emergence of Bal Gangadhar Thilak, and Aurobindo Ghosh, the I.N.C. took a revolutionary character. Added to that was the partition of Bengal in 1905, which made the I.N.C. hostile to the British Raj, when British official and their establishment were attacked by congress men, and some officials were even murdered. This led to a vehement attack of the I.N.C. by the British both in India and in U.K. So from the beginning of the twentieth century there was apprehension and fear in the minds of the Indian Christian and European missionaries. As a result, they began to leave the I.N.C. and their attendance at the I.N.C. sessions dwindled.
There was handful of Indian Christians such as K.T. Paul who advocated a different and more positive approach. K.T. Paul view the only solution to his community’s problem was not withdrawal or aloofness, but active participation in the I.N.C. and the national struggle. His voice was like a voice in the wilderness. The Indian Christians retreated more into isolation.
National Christian Council of India (N.C.C.I):
The National Missionary Council of India (N.M.C) which came into being in 1914 and which changed its name into national Christian council of India (N.C.C.) in 1923 was not of help to the Indian Christians on this matter. It was not of help to the Indian Christians on this matter. It was not able to take a definite stand on the nation’s struggle for political freedom which according to Kaj Baago was because of his missionary domination and influence in the N.C.C. He further says, “Prayer for peace was the repeated answer of the N.C.C. Review to the pressing political problems, a and one cannot hold back the remark that the frequent calls to prayer that issued from the NCC in years seem to have been just about the only contribution the council found possible to give to the nations struggle for the freedom. The attitude of the NMC/NCC may be due to the fresh policy of the British Government.
All India Conference and Indian Christians:
AICIC the first conference was held in 1914. The leaders and influential Indian protestant Christian leaders of the pre- independence period were committed nationalists. Yet the resolutions of the ABCIC were more often reserved. The 1920 meeting of the AICIC left it to the Indian Christians to decide on joining the I.N.C. The 1921 AICIC meeting reiterated its opposition to the non- cooperation movements. It also illustrate the fact that for Indian Christians the National movement has ecclesiastical as well as political implications and so it felt that the Indian church like the Indian nation should be liberated from foreign rule. But we note a change in the tone of AICIC from the late 1920s. It certainly was on the side of the National movement in the 1930s.
During the quit- India movement days, the participation of students was high. Quite a number of Christian students either got imprisoned or were taken to task. In 1930 the collector of Madurai asked the American Madurai mission to take action against some of the Indian pastors under their employ who were very much proving to be nationalists. We do not have their names, and we do not know whether the mission obliged or not. But it is another example to a change in attitude among the Indian Christians, when, even the ordained clergy supported the National movement. Indian Christians played the role of reconcilers when there arose communal clashes between Hindus and Muslims, by which they showed their concern for the well- being of the country and for communal harmony.
In 1945 when a suggestion was made to form a league of minorities, with a view to safeguard the political interest of minorities, it was rejected by Christian leaders; they rejected the suggestion of a separate electorate for the Christians. The general view is not to fight for its own advantage but to dedicate itself for the common good.
Christian’s Contribution to the India’s National Movement:
During this period there were some missionaries here and there in India such as C.F. Andrews, Jack C. Winslow who extended their support to the cause of the National movement. The Christian ashrams which were started in the 1920s were symbols of identification with the national aspirations. The Ashramites use Khadi dress, followed simplicity in every aspect of life and supported prohibition programmes. In 1920-25 British missionaries signed a statement to express their protest against the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh tragedy and the consequent attitude of the government. Such expression of support became a problem to the government. So the government use memoranda, especially the ‘undertaking’ to deal with the missionary support for the National movement. The 1922 revised form of undertaking records that “ I hereby undertake to give all due obedience and respect to the lawfully constituted government, and while carefully abstaining from participating in political affairs, it is my desire and purpose that my influence, in so far as it may be properly exerted in loyal cooperation with the government; and in particular, if engaged in educational work, I undertake to do all in my power to promote good- will and understanding between the people and the government of the country, and to make those under my care law- abiding and good citizens”. British government use this undertaking and forced the missionaries to control Indian Christians employed under them.
On the other hand, there were Indian Christians who took part in the non- cooperation movement started in 1920. Though we do not have a clear-cut data to show the extent of Indian Christian participation, there was a number of Indian Christian who was sympathetic towards the National movement. There were Indian Christians such as Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, S.M. George Joseph, J.C. Kumarappa and H.C. Mookerjee who were member of the I.N.C and were actively involved in the National movements. There were others who did not join the I.N.C. but nevertheless were nationalists such as S.K. Dutta, V.S. Azariah, Sushil K. Rudra, K.T. Paul B.Railia Ram, V. Chakkari etc. 
Other missionaries, the one who contributed much to the National movement were no other than C. F. Andrews. He was very close with the leaders of their I.N.C. especially M.K. Gandhi he saw the providence of God in Indian national awakening and actively supported the National struggle. “By his writings and speeches he tried to awaken the Indian Christians to their responsibility in the National movement. He also challenged the youth to work for the national cause saying, “love your country with the love of Christ”.
The impacts of National movement on Christianity are many. It gave the Indian leaders a certain amount of self confidence and they began to voice their demand for freedom to manage their own affairs. Christians in India support the I.N.C. first but later it decline due to fear of Hindus and British government etc. But involving in national movements of Christians and support by some missionaries encourage them to think for nation, which was a good thing.
In our today’s context, we as believers should be involved in political affairs and should have a proper knowledge or roots (history) of the National movements. Though it is a debatable question whether Christians should or not but on one side we can say that it good as Christians as been the minority involved in all affairs of the nations. There is democracy in our country like India. It may be helpful us to spread the gospel in a way according to the constitution of India and may help us to use all the freedom for it as per the law.
Firth, Cyril Bruce. An Introduction of INDIAN CHRISTIAN HISTORY. MADRAS: DIOCESAN PRESS, 1983.
Jeyakumar, Arthur. D. History of Christianity in India. Madurai: T.T.S. Press, 2007.
 D. Arthur Jeyakumar, History of Christianity in India (Madurai: T.T.S. Press, 2007); 91.
 Old Notes.
 D. Arthur Jeyakumar, History of Christianity in India (Madurai: T.T.S. Press, 2007); 91.
 Ibid 92.
 Ibid 93.
 Cyril Bruce Firth, An Introduction of INDIAN CHRISTIAN HISTORY (MADRAS: DIOCESAN PRESS, 1983); 192.
 D. Arthur Jeyakumar, History of Christianity in India (Madurai: T.T.S. Press, 2007); 94.
 Ibid; 95.
 Bruce Firth, An Introduction of INDIAN CHRISTIAN HISTORY (MADRAS: DIOCESAN PRESS, 1983); 192.
 D. Arthur Jeyakumar, History of Christianity in India (Madurai: T.T.S. Press, 2007); 96.
 Bruce Firth, An Introduction of INDIAN CHRISTIAN HISTORY (MADRAS: DIOCESAN PRESS, 1983); 235.
 D. Arthur Jeyakumar, History of Christianity in India (Madurai: T.T.S. Press, 2007); 97.
 Ibid; 99.
 Old Notes.
 Bruce Firth, An Introduction of INDIAN CHRISTIAN HISTORY (MADRAS: DIOCESAN PRESS, 1983); 235.
DAMIEL THANBYRAJAH NILES
1. Family Heritage: D.T. Nile’s family heritage played a very important role in shaping the personality of DTN.
Great Grand father / Nathaniel Niles
Grand Father/ Daniel Poor Niles
Grand Mother / Mrs. Daniel
Father/ Wesley Duraippah Niles
1.1 Great Grand Father / Nathaniel Niles: NN was a Ceylon Tamilian descendant of South India. His original name was V. Kathiresar. At the age of 15 he lost his father and he came to the American Missionary, Dr. Winslow at Jaffna for education and employment. He was admitted in the school and was baptized on 22nd April, 1821 and named as Nathaniel Niles. NN was the first convert of the AN’s in Jaffna and after the seminary training he became a preacher and tutor at Batticotta Seminary. He was a head master for the Uduvil Girl’s school, and also the Native evangelical society’s first chairman. After retiring from the school, he took the employment in the Weslyen Methodist Mission as an evangelist among the caste Hindus. So, he was a preacher, educationalist and an Evangelist.
1.2 Grand Father /Daniel Poor Niles: DPN after schooling trained in the Batticotta Seminary of the AN’s but he joined in the Wesleyen mission in 1861 and was ordained in 1875.
In 1881 he edited the Wesleyan Hymnal and also started evangelical campaigns (all day conventions). In 1885 he organized a home Missionary Society and also became the minister of St. Peter’s Church, Jaffna. In the same year he was made as the principal of the Jaffna Central College.
1.3 Father/ Wesley D. Niles: WDN was a Lawyer by profession and he was the district judge. At the same time he was in active leader of the Methodist Church. In 1935 he became the member of the Lay Trustee of the Methodist Church. In 1938 he wrote number of Tamil Hymns and the Methodist hymnal was printed. WDN had the vision of the Church of Christ, In Ceylon and he associated with the Jaffna Christian Union from 1938 onwards. He strongly supported ‘Indigenisation’ and became the founder of the Christian ‘Seva Ashram’ in 1939. He was also involved in the political development of Ceylon Between 1920 and 1930.(one of the Indigenous leader).
1.4 Grand Mother /Mrs Daniel (DPN): DTN was brought up in his grandmother’s houses as his mother died at the age of one. So, in the early life of DTN his grandmother played a great role. She laid foundation for a life of devotion and co0mmitment. In his ministry she even helped with his sermon preparation.
1.5 D.T. Niles: DTN was born on 4th may, 1908 at Tellipallai, Jaffna, Ceylon. He was brought up in his grandparents’ house but his grandfather died at his eight years age. So his family heritage played great role in influencing him. At the same time he was influenced by the Ecclesiastical set ups.
2. Ecclesiastical Influences: His education in the Christian college, Jaffna Central College was decisive factor. There he was involved in the ‘Student Voluntary Movement’ and ‘Student Christian Movement’. He was also a member of the ‘Student Foreign Missionary Society of Jaffna’. The Tamil students formed it and they were sending Tamil Missionaries to the Tamilians in South India. He also used to on the Evangelistic Missions. So, the Jaffna Christian Community his involvement made profound inference on DTN.
3. Theological Training: He was a science graduate and worked as a teacher in the mission school in 1928, but he did his Seminary training/ B.D. in UTC, Bangalore. There again he was influenced by the motifs, motifs, ecumenism and Indigenization.
4. SCM’s Influence: Since she was in a High school, he was SCM member and he was active in organizing ‘the Inter- Collegiate Christian Fellowship’. He attended the SCM conferences at Madras in 1924 & 28, Allahabad in 1933 and Rangoon in 1937. He also made as the Ceylon Secretary of the SCM.
5. Positions he held:
1953- 1959/ St. Peter’s Church, Jaffna – Minister.
1954 – 1964/ Chairman of the Methodist Church – North area.
1955- 1961 /Principal, Jaffna Christian College.
1964-1968/ Chairman of the Northern Area.
1968 – 1970 / President of the Methodist Church, Ceylon.
6. Contributions: DTN was eloquent preacher, Evangelist author, Hymn Writer, Educationalist, and Administrator. (St. Peter’s Minister – Principal/JCC and Methodist Church leader/ Area Secretary and President) But his main concern was Ecumenism like Bishop Azariah.
Ecumenical Conference Attended
a. :World Conference of Christian Youth – Amsterdam 1939 & 1947.
b. World Missionary conference of the International Missionary council – Tambram, Madras, 1938.
c. WSCF, Genera Committee – Sophia, Bulgaria, 1935.
d. International Student conference on Missions, Basel 1935.
7. Positions he held as an Ecumenist:
7.1 SCM// Ceylon Secretary
7.2 YMCA/ Evangelism Secretary of the World Alliance.
7.3 NCC/ Srilanka Secretary : 1941 -1945.
7.4 Colombo YMCA/ Bible Study Institution – Director
7.5 WCC/ Chairman of the Youth Department; 1946 – 1952.
7.6 WCC/ Education Department – Executive Secretary; 1953- 1959.
7.7 WSCF/ Chairman – 1953-1960
7.8 East Asia Conference// General Secretary – 1957 – 1968.
7.9 WCC / Member of the Presidium: 1969 – 1970
K. T. Paul (1876-1931)
Life: K. T. Paul was born on 24 March 1876 in a Tamil Christian family at Salem, in South India. His father was a government official in Salem. Kanakarayan Tiruselvam Paul to quote the full name of K. T. Paul was another prominent Indian Christian leader. Just like V. S. Azariah he was very widely known. After having a brilliant academic career in M.C.C. Paul Studied law and entered government employment, he becomes the head master of Arcot Mission School in Pungannur, and latter tutor in M.C.C. he was greatly influenced by William Miller (Principal of M.C.C.)
IN YMCA: He had excellent training ground. His most prominent carrier was his association with YMCA and SCM. He became the first Indian General Secretary of the YMCA in 1913. During his tenure as general secretary of YMCA, he had worked a lot towards the reconstruction of rural India, through his swift, precise, and tireless in organization.
NCCI: He was also the first Indian General Secretary of N.C.C.I. when its constitution was revised in 1924 he did the level best to unite the Christian voice.
NMS: he was also the figure in the founding of National Missionary Society (NMS) in 1905 and became its general Secretary in 1913.
He was also prominent churchman. He read a paper in the Calcutta Missionary conference on Indian Leadership, as a prominent figure in the S.I.U.C. He arranged the Lyrical form of worship in S.I.U.C. his love for Tamil is highly appreciable.
He took active part in the union discussion of Church of South India. When the question of episcope can he said episcopacy is monarchical type and said let us have some democratic setup which is indigenous. He was also hesitant about organic union and preferred some sort of pan protestant plan for the whole of India. However for the betterment of the church be changed his attitude and made it possible for the S.I. U. C. to accept the constitutional episcopacy.
W.C.C: He was also an international ecumenical leader. He was associated with the continuation committee of world missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910. He accompanied John R Mott, through India and played an important role in the formation of National Missionary council of India. He also attended the life and work movement and faith and order movement. He represented the N.C.C.I. of India, in 1928 international missionary council, held at Jerusalem.
World wide work: He was instrumental in opening a Indian students Hostel in London. He also travelled to Jerusalem, Europe and U.S.A. when he carried the Christian message with him to multitudes. In all these tours Paul. D. Devanadan was his secretary and he exercised a considerable influence on Devanandan.
Political Participation: It is his political carrier made him very prominent more than any other. He was a close friend of Gandhi and a latter of National Movement. He was also associated with the leading nationalists in 1920-1930’s. When Gandhi started the Satyagraha movement and Non-co-operation movement, his activity participated. He arranged the meeting between Gandhi and Lord Irwin and asked Irwin to take imitative to end the first of Gandhi. Earlier when Christians began to exclude themselves from politics. He advised them not to do so and encouraged them to identify themselves with the mainstream of Indian national struggle. He represented Indian Christian Community in the London Round Table conference of 1930. Then he set up a better example in politics. He passed away in 11th April 1931 at the age of 55. He was the first Christian statesman of India and produced a theology of the church and the church’s mission in the context of the developing Nationalism of a religiously pluralistic society.
Family Background: Father/ Velayudham – Hindu –Drawing Toddy in 1839 we came under the influence of Christianity left the house and came to missionaries at Megnanapuram. There he got baptized and a name as ‘THOMAS VEDANAYAGAM’ TV was educated by the missionaries in the mission school and after his schooling he worked for the mission. In 1869 TV was ordained and started serving at Vellalanvillai. He was married but his first wife died and he got married Ellen. For them a daughter was born and then after thirteen years a son was born, on August 17th, 1874, and named as VEDAHNAYAGAM SAMUEL AZARIAH..
AZARIAH’S childhood and mother’s influence:
As A’s father died in the childhood itself, his mother’s influence was very great on him. She taught him Bible from his childhood itself.
After his father’s death they moved to Megnanapuram and was joined in the Boarding school there. There the headmaster, Ambrose Thomas’s influence again made great impact on A. AT was his step mother’s brother.
AT had great Bible Knowledge and no one in the east had such standard Bible Knowledge. And it influenced along with the mother.
After his schooling he went to college at Tirunelveli and in the college hostel he started the ‘Christian Brotherhood Association’.
Then in 1893 he joined in the Madras Christian college for his B.A. and there he became very popular and was student leader.
After his graduation, he was offered the post secretary to the YMCA, South India and served for Thirteen years. There he worked under john R. Mott and Sherwood Eddy the travelling secretary’s for YMCA India and Cylon.
Sherwood Eddy was also a Biblical scholar and his scholarship made great impact on A but national consciousness started growing because of the difference between the Indians and westerners.
A’s association with the Western arouse a true missionary zeal and a passion for unity. In the other leaders also arouse same feeling with the experience they were having. So, the churches in India awakened to this great challenge and started working for the national leadership and national mission societies.
A was married on 29th June, 1898 with ‘ANBU MARIAMMAL’ who was the first Indian girl to take the college study in Tirunelvelli.
N.M.S. of India first General Secretary:
Some of the national leaders along with A conducted crusades throughout the schools and colleges of India, to built up a generation of Christians on fire to raise up Indian leaders for the evangelization of their own land. Many churches in India responded to this great challenge and come to decision to form a Indian missionary society. So, they met at Carey’s library, Serampore on the Christmas day of 1908 and named it as NATIONAL MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF India, and A was made as the first general secretary.
Mission at Jaffna, Ceylon, and I.M.S. of Tirunelveli:
Eddy and Azariah went to Jaffna to conduct a mission and they came across the Tamil Christian community who had a missionary society of their own, sending evangelists to work among the Tamil people in India. This became an other influence in his life and he was really impressed by it, and great burden started in his heart for his Indian people and right after he came back to triunelveli, he shared his burden with his church members. Then in February, 1903 he was able to form the ‘INDIAN MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF TIRUNELVELI’ and A was made as the secretary. They selected Dornakal, A.P. as their mission field and sent Pakkianadam as the first missionary. A used to travel around and appeal people to support the IMS, but when he was appealing at Madras, he himself dedicated to go to Dornakal as a missionary.
WSCF, Tokyo, Japan – 1907: (Vice-Chairman)
In 1907 he attended the world student Christian Federation and was made as the vice chairman.
Moving to Dornakal:
In 1909 he was ordained by Bishop Whitehead and sent him to Dornakal along with his family.
W.C.C. / Edinburg – 1910:
Dr. John Mott asked him to give an address on the problem co-operation between foreigner and native workers in India and he gave very frank-talk with the National consciousness he had.
A was consecrated as the bishop of Dornakal on 29th December 1912 at Calcutta Cathedral and was installed at Dornakal on 8th Jan 1913. At Dornakal he developed the ministry which lead to a mass movement and built the cathedral in a national pattern. He also became very active in different international conference and at the same time he made every effort personally for evangelizing villagers around Dornakal. He celebrated his 70th birthday on August, 1944 and he became sick on 28th Dec, died on 1st afternoon, 1945.
Contributions: Indigenization, national Consciousness, Founder of N.M.S. of India and I.M.S. of Tre. Mainly Prophet of the Worldwide church/ by starting the Christian Brotherhood association at Tirunelvelli Hostel. In 1910 after coming back from Edinburgh started the National Christian Council/India. Bishop A and Rev. Santiage met at Tranquebar in 1919 and discussed about the ‘south Indian united church’.
Narayan Vaman Tilak:- Contribution
Tilak major concern was indigenous ideas on Christianity
1. India’s spiritual Heritage:
Tilak strongly convinced that India’s spiritual heritage is very important for expressing Indian Christianity.
He insisted that we should read and study the older Hindu literature and devotion poetry, because they give spiritual in sight and wealth.
He also said that all the world’s saints are the ‘prophets of God’s’ and the teachings of the Hindu saints is the ‘first old testament’.
He himself personally benefited by the study of the religious and devotional ideas of Maharashtra’s saints, Namdev, Tukaram, and Jnaneshwar. He was specially influenced by the Tukaram’s Poetry. He compared Tukaram with St. Paul.
2. Christian Patriotism;
Tilak developed love for his country from his school days and kept it throughout his life. He mentioned in his ‘will’ that he loved his country more than any other.
He said that a Christian has to be a lover of his country. He wrote several poems, expressing his love for his mother land. In the poems, ‘My Mother Land’ he wrote that his love for his country influenced him to follow Christ.
He studied the Bhakti literature of Maharashtra to learn more about the Indian culture and religious heritage. He pointed that Christ himself was great patriot. Christ came to serve his country and laid foundations for building the kingdom of God. So, the true followers of Christ have to be patriots and be concerned about his country welfare. This shows that Tilak has the ‘National aspirations’.
3. Freedom of the church:
With the western influence the Indian churches have the foreign appearance. He insisted that the Indian church should have true Indian character, by introducing the Indian form of music worship, administration and financial resources.
a) So, he introduced the Indian melodies of devotional songs and wrote lyrics and bhanjans in Marathi.
b) He also introduced new ideas on prayer, adopting the spirit of Indian traditions. He found the new meaning for Christian prayers in the light of Indian spiritual heritage.
c) Tilak practised the ‘Bhakti Marga’ as the most suitable way for knowing God.
d) He also practices ‘Yoga’ and found the ecstasy of Union with Christ in the Yoga experience.
4. Christian Sanyasi:
Tilak turned to the idea of practicing ‘Christian Sanyasi’ basing on the comment made by his Brahmin friend. But the concept of Christian Sanyasi came out of another spiritual adventure of Tilak, in adopting indigenous spiritual ideas.
5. Darbar of Christ/ Christian Ashram:
In relating the Indian spiritual heritage, he found appropriate way of practicing Christ through the Ashram movement.
He started the Darbar of Christ. He was the chief-servant and his house was the centre of the Darbar. Practised the Indian style for the discipleship of Christ, Christ as the ‘GURU’.
Darbar was as association of people in whose hearts the ‘Swaraj’ was already re-established, and Christ was the founder of the swaraj.
Baptism was not practiced to form the ‘brotherhood of the baptized and the unbaptized disciples of Christ’. (Universal Brotherhood)
6. Tilak’s Poetry:
He wrote both Marathi and Sanskrit poetry, but mostly Sanskrit. He wrote on children, flowers, secular, religious and devotional.
a. ‘CHRISTAYAN’: LIKE Ramayan, he wrote the life of Christ. But died without completing. Wrote 11 chap.
b. ‘ABHANG-ANJALI’: Collection of his Abhangs.
Devotional songs basing on the Christian themes, associated with the songs of Tukaram.
c. Religious Hymns and songs in Marathi/ Marathi hymn book.
Tilak Christian Experience
When it was having the spiritual unrest, he met a European in the train and he gave him a N.T. and said that Tilak will become Christian before the end of two years.
It started reading the N.T. and found interested ‘the sermon on the mount. Through his personal study he realised that Christ was great teacher whom India and he realised that Christ was great teacher whom India and he needed, and the ‘LIVING Guru’. He boldly accepted Christ and was baptized on 10th feb. 1895 by Rev. Justin Abbott at Bombay, exactly two years as told by the European.