by mataji devi The British government was rather cautious in forcing any religious change upon the Indians. This policy seemed to be practical in ruling several hundred million Indians without sparking off a rebellion, or as the tea-dealer Mr.Twinning put it: “As long as we continue to govern India in the mild, tolerant spirit of Christianity, we may govern it with ease; but if ever the fatal day should arrive, when religious innovation shall set her foot in that country, indignation will spread from one end of the Hindustan to the other, and the arms of fifty millions of people will drive us from that portion of the globe, with as much ease as the sand of the desert is scattered by the wind”. Colonel Montgomery believed that Christianity had nothing to teach Hinduism, and no missionary ever made a really good Christian convert in India. He was more anxious to save the 30,000 of his country-men in India than to save the souls of the Hindus. Under the authority of Lord Cornwallis (1786-1805) a mood of laissez-faire dominated the British attitude towards the Indian and his religious practices. The Governor-general in 1793 had decreed to “preserve the laws of the Shaster and the Koran, and to protect the natives of India in the free exercise of their religion.” However, the missionaries opposed the government’s efforts to take a neutral stand towards Indian culture and worked with more zeal for the complete conversion of the natives. Missionary schools were opened and the Bible was translated into Indian languages, often with the patronage of Government officers who believed they were being “humanitarian”. On his arrival in 1810, the Governor general Marquis de Hastings wrote, “the Hindoo appears a being merely limited to mere animal functions, and even in them indifferent... with no higher intellect than a dog”. Charles Grant (1746-1823), Chairman of the East India Company, stated: “We cannot avoid recognizing in the people of Hindustan a race of men lamentably degenerate and base... governed by malevolent and licentious passions... and sunk in misery by their vices.” The prominent missionary, Alexander Duff (1806-1878) founded the Scottish Churches College, in Calcutta, which he envisioned as a “headquarters for a great campaign against Hinduism.” Duff wanted to convert the Indians by enrolling them in English-run schools and colleges, and placed emphasis on learning Christianity through the English language. Duff wrote, “While we rejoice that true literature and science are to be substituted in place of what is demonstrably false, we cannot but lament that no provision has been made for substituting the only true religion-Christianity - in place of the false religion which our literature and science will inevitably demolish… Of all the systems of false religion ever fabricated by the perverse ingenuity of fallen man, Hinduism is surely the most stupendous.” These missionaries were obliged to use the excuse of education in order to carry on their indoctrination campaigns and to train up Indian assistants to help them in their proselytizing. Duff remained unsatisfied with converting Indians belonging to low-castes, as his chosen target was the higher castes, specifically the Brahmins, in order to accelerate the demise of Hinduism. Many Englishmen patronized missionary schools such as Duff’s. Charles Trevelyan, an officer with the East India Company wrote, “The multitudes who flock to our schools ... cannot return under the dominion of the Brahmins. The spell has been forever broken. Hinduism is not a religion that will bear examination... It gives away at once before the light of European sciences.” William Carey (1761-1834), the founder of the Baptist Missionary Society, was the pioneer of the Christian missionary scholarship in oriental studies. The teaching of “Indology” in Europe was originally established with the precise purpose to preach Christianity “among the pagans”. In 1312 pope Honorius IV ordered the creation of chairs of Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldean at the Universities of Bologna, Oxford, Paris and Salamanca. In 1870 the Vatican Council condemned Hinduism in the “five anathemas against pantheism”. From 1801 onward, as Professor of Oriental Languages, Carey composed numerous grammars and dictionaries in the Marathi, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Telugu, Bengali and Bhatanta dialects. From the Serampore press he produced over 200,000 Bibles and portions in nearly 40 different languages and dialects, Carey himself undertaking most of the literary work. Carey and his colleagues experimented with what came to be known as Church Sanskrit. He wanted to train a group of “Christian Pandits”’ who would probe “these mysterious sacred nothings” and expose them as worthless. He was distressed that this “golden casket (of Sanskrit) exquisitely wrought” had remained “filled with nothing but pebbles and trash.” He was determined to fill it with “the riches beyond all price” that he saw in the doctrine of Christianity. Carey smuggled himself into India and caused so much trouble that the British government labeled him as a political danger. After confiscating a batch of Bengali pamphlets printed by Carey, the Governor general Lord Minto described them as “Scurrilous invective…Without arguments of any kind, they were filled with hell fire and still hotter fire, denounced against a whole race of men merely for believing the religion they were taught by their fathers.” Not all Indologists shared Carey’s views on Hindu Shastra. Sir William Jones (1746-1794) was the first Britisher to learn Sanskrit and study the Vedas. He was educated at Oxford University and it was here that he studied law and also began his studies in oriental languages, of which he is said to have mastered sixteen. After being appointed as judge of the Supreme Court, Jones went to Calcutta in 1783, founded the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal and translated a number of Sanskrit texts into English. He wrote: “I am in love with Gopia, charmed with Crishen (Krishna), an enthusiastic admirer of Raama and a devout adorer of Brihma (Brahma), Bishen (Vishnu), Mahisher (Maheshwara); not to mention that Judishteir, Arjen, Corno (Yudhishtira, Arjuna, Karna) and the other warriors of the M’hab’harat appear greater in my eyes than Agamemnon, Ajax and Achilles apperaed when I first read the Iliad.” The British historian James Mill (father of the philosopher John Stuart Mill) who had published his voluminous History of British India in 1818 heavily criticized Jones. Although Mill spoke no Indian languages, had never studied Sanskrit, and had never been to India, his damning indictment of Indian culture and religion had become a standard work for all Britishers who would serve in India. Mill vehemently believed that India had never had a glorious past and treated this as an historical fantasy. Mill’s History of British India was greatly influenced by the famous French missionary Abbe Dubois’s book Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, where he writes, “Hindu imagination is such that it cannot be excited except by what is monstrous and extravagant.” Horace Hayman Wilson (1786-1860) received his education in London and traveled to India in the East India Companies medical service, becoming the secretary of the Asiatic Society of Bengal from 1811 to 1833 and publishing a Sanskrit to English dictionary. He became Boden professor of Sanskrit at Oxford in 1833 and the director of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1837. He translated the Visnu Purana, Rig Veda and wrote books such as Lectures on the Religious and Philosophical Systems of the Hindus. He edited a number of translations of eastern texts and helped Mill compile his History of India, although later Wilson criticized Mill’s historiography, stating, “Mill’s view of Hindu religion is full of very serious defects, arising from inveterate prejudices and imperfect knowledge. Every text, every circumstance, that makes against the Hindu character, is most assiduously cited, and everything in its favor as carefully kept out of sight, whilst a total neglect is displayed of the history of Hindu belief.” contd..