This is a biography of Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah (1874-1945), bishop of the Anglican Church in India from 1912 until his death in 1945. His life sheds new light on the challenges and opportunities faced by religious minorities throughout the world today. As a Christian leader in a non-Christian culture, he negotiated complex cultural, social, political, and economic pressure with exceptional skill and diplomacy. As the first Indian bishop of an Anglican diocese, and as modern India's most successful leader of depressed class and non-Brahmin conversion movements to Christianity, Azariah was equally at home with the untouchables of rural India and the unreachables of the British Empire. From this platform Azariah inevitably came into contact - and, ironically, also into conflict - with the dominating presence of Mahatma Gandhi.
Susan Billington Harper here reconstructs major events and issues of Azariah's public life, including a previously unstudied controversy with Gandhi over the issue of conversion and relgious freedom in the 1930s. Based on hitherto untapped primary sources, including diocesan records and vernacular oral histories expressed in both stories and songs, this fascinating volume not only provides the first critical study of Bishop Azariah's life but also offers important - at times challenging - insights for those interested in modern India and the place of Christianity within it.
'The … portrait of Bishop Azariah does full justice to a charismatic personality who must always remain among the greatest of Indian Christians.' - Church Times