Sunday, 24 January 2010

Ambedkar and De Nobili, De Britto, and Beschi

Ambedkar mentions Robert de Nobili, John de Britto, Joseph Beschi, and others in "The Condition of the Convert," Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, ed. Vasant Moon (Bombay: Education Department, Govt. of Maharashtra, 1989) 5:456-460. He gives a long quotation from J.N. Ogilvie, "Apostles of India." He is critical of the methods used by these Jesuits to accommodate Christianity to Hinduism, especially to the caste system.
[T]he Christian Missionaries althought they have been eager to convert persons to Christianity have never put up a determined fight to uproot paganism from the Convert. Indeed they have tolerated it.
The retention by the Converts to Christianity of Paganism is primarily the legacy of the Jesuit Missions which were the earliest to enter the field in modern times. The attitude of the Catholic mission towards paganism has come down from the outlook and the ways and means adopted by the Madura Mission.... (456)
There follows the long, 3 page quotation from Ogilvie.

Ambedkar acknowledges that European customs and ways were disliked by the Hindus and Muslims alike, and this constituted a great obstacle. Still:

But it was quite shameful and sinful for these Jesuit Missionaries in their zeal for conversion to have gone to the length they did namely, not to mind what the convert thought and did and how he lived so long as he was ready to be baptized, acknowledge Jesus as his saviour and call himself a Christian. (460)

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