Protestant Christianity was established as a religion of India when in 1706 missionaries from the the German Evangelical Church sponsored by the King of Denmark landed at the Danish factory in Tamil-speaking Tranquebar. An indigenous congregation soon developed, with worship and catechising in Tamil and Portuguese. This book explores the manner in which people of various castes and of various religions responded to the Lutheran mission and congregation. It investigates the manner in which Tamils themselves understood the Evangelical religion as they spread it beyond Tranquebar. It then turns to the early career of Vedanayagam Sastri (1774-1864). He responded vigorously to efforts by 'new missionaries' to change the language, liturgy, and social custom that had guided Tamil Protestants for over a century. His actions and writings reveal an indigenous form of faith, and a 'theology of pluralism', that countered the Reformed and Enlightenment ideas about Christian life that the 'new missionaries' expressed and sought to enforce. Reflections on the intellectual impact of colonial Europe on those early Protestant Christians of India conclude the study.
Table of Contents
1. Beginnings 2. Spreading the Word 3. Pietism in Malabarian Lives 5. ‘Pagans’, 6. ‘Pagan’ Thought in Tranquebar and Tanjore 7. Patterns in Development 8. Vedanayagam Pillai, the Sastri (1774-1864) 9. ‘New Missionaries’ and the Tanjore Congregation, 10. Final Thoughts
D. Dennis Hudson
'An important study in the phenomenon of conversion and church community formation, and it enables us to understand more clearly what becoming a Christian meant in colonial India.' - Hindu-Christian Studies