This study of British missionary activity in the later nineteenth century India focuses attention on the missionaries' concern with social issues and involvement in agitation for social reform. With no stake in the Indian social system, the missionaries were sometimes more outspoken than the Hindu reformers in attacking social evils. They were also involved in controversies over the status of Hindu women, in campaigns against European abuse of Indian labour, in temperance campaigns, and in crusades for reform of opium system.
In the course of his analysis, the author not only raises questions about the nature and ramifications of the missionary movement itself, but also about the attitude of the educated elite and the nature of the forces opposing reforms within Indian society.
What, for instance, were the missionaries' objectives and why, if con-version with their ultimate aim, were they so concerned with these social issues? Was their social zeal exogenous in its origin or indigenous? How far were they divided among themselves and why? Again how far did they help to shape Indian views and influence Government policy? What was the relationship between Indian and missionary social reformers? And, what light do the Indian attitudes towards missionary participation in social reform throw on the forces at work within the society?
These and other questions are raised and discussed in this volume which should be of considerable interest to historians and other scholars concerned with South Asian society and with the nature and impact of Christian missions in India and elsewhere.
Geoffrey A. Oddie is an Honorary Associate in the Department of History, University of Sydney. He has taught in India as well as in Australia and was a visiting fellow at JNU, New Delhi. His most recent works include Popular Religion, Elites and Reform: Hook Swinging and its Prohibition in Colonial India, 1800-1891 (1995); Imagined Hinduism: British Protestant Missionary Constructions of Hinduism, 1793-1900 (2006), (Hindi translation 2019) and Series Editor of Hinduism in India: Modern and Contemporary Movements (2016) and Hinduism in India: The Early Period (2017).
My interest in Protestant missionaries and social protest first arose in connection with research for a doctoral thesis in the University of London entitled "The Rev. James Long and Protestant Missionary Policy in Bengal, 1840-1872" (1964). The two chapters on the indigo planting controversy in the eighteen fifties and early eighteen sixties which appeared in that study have been revised and rewritten. All the other chapters in what follow are new.
I owe a great deal to many scholars over many years, but most of all to the enthusiasm, advice and encouragement of my friend and mentor Professor Ken Ballhatchet of the School of. Oriental and African Studies London. Thanks are also due to many archivists and librarians especially to Richard Bingle and Martin Moir of the India Office Library, Rosemary Keen of the Church Missionary Society archives London and Mrs. Adiappa of the United Theological College, Bangalore. Last but not least, I wish to thank my wife for her patient endurance as well as assistance in proof-reading the final text.
The voluminous correspondence, reports and other documents in British missionary society archives, which are perhaps still not always used as much as they should be by South Asian historians, provided the main basic source material. This was supplemented not only by missionary periodical literature, statistical material and published reports of missionary conferences, but also by the manuscript records of the Bombay and Calcutta Missionary Conferences. The rediscovery of this latter material helped to fill out several gaps in research. The Bombay records provide the historian with an insight into the kind of problems which absorbed the attention of participants month by month over a period of about eighty years. There are gaps in the Calcutta collection, but this contains reports of monthly meetings from 1840 to 1861 and from 1876 well into the present century.
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