Replies submitted by Rev. Canon, R. A. Kurian, Nagpur
Name of Missionary: Rev. Canon R. A. Kurian.
Name of Mission: The Gondwana Mission (Nagpur Diocese).
Address: Cathedral House, Nagpur-1, Madhya Pradesh.
1. I am sorry I do not have the figures of the total number of Christians and non-Christians in the District of Mandla, nor the numbers as divided as in Question 1. But the number of Christians belonging to the Church of India is approximately 600. This number has been static for many years.
3. The generation of converts has mostly passed away, leaving more than 500 of the remaining Christians (I speak only for my Church) as �Born Christians�.
4. About 6 (Six). We do not ask questions about their caste.
5. If the desire for conversion is genuine, the party is admitted for teaching the truths of Christianity. This period may extend from six months to two years, at the end of which period, if the party is found to be sincere and knows the truths of religion according to the capacity of the party, recommendation is made to the Bishop for Baptism. If the Bishop permits, and if the party publicly confesses the Faith which he has in Jesus Christ as his Saviour and his resolve to follow Him till death, he is baptized.
Conversion is an individual affair, though there may be many converting themselves at the same time.
When the head of the family changes his faith, usually he comes with the family. If any individual member is unwilling to be baptized he or she, of course, is not baptized, as baptism follows promises of faithfulness to Christ on the part of converts.
6. The Gondwana Mission is one of the Christian organisations in the Mandla district. Our work may result in conversions. We proclaim the Gospel of Christ to individuals or to groups as occasions arise.
7. Such men or women are recruited as Pracharaks as have a good knowledge of the Truths of Christianity and an ability to place them before Christians or non-Christians. It is also essential that they should be men who have had a living personal experience of the Faith, men who know that Jesus Christ has saved them from sin and death, and are anxious to share their experience with their fellowmen.
Local men are preferred, but in the absence of that men from other districts are welcome.
Their emoluments are very often less than that of Railway porters and office peons, it may be claimed that they would earn more in other departments if they chose to work there.
Monetary rewards are impossible. A true Pracharak does not look for rewards in this world. He looks forward to hear the great �Well done� from his Master, Jesus Christ. A Pracharak who wins a person for Christ and asks for reward will prove that he is not the man for the kind of work he has undertaken to do.
8. (a) No.
(b) More staunch non-Christians get help in Mission hospitals than possible converts.
(c) to (g) Converts or their children may get help as the �born Christians� and their children when they are in trouble or need. But these are by no means advanced as baits. A convert often stands to lose. Millions have given up their homes, nay their very lives for the sake of Christ Who Himself is their Supreme Reward.
(h) Extolling Christianity: Extolling Christ rather.
Foreign culture: I do not see the connection between Christianity and foreign culture. Neither I nor my Pracharaks know more about foreign culture than my non-Christian fellow countrymen.
(i) Extolling Jesus Christ: Yes, certainly.
Decrying non-Christian deities: No. Pracharaks are told not to do this, because this will turn into enemies the very persons whom they are out to win for Christ.
(j) The love of God revealed in the Death of Jesus Christ is the primary message. The Bible does speak of eternal damnation to those who willfully reject Jesus Christ, whether they are Christians or non-Christians. But we want non-Christians to accept Jesus for the sake of His love and not for fear of damnation. This applies to �born Christians� also.
(k) Political advantages are included among those the convert must be prepared to give up. �My kingdom is not of this world� said Jesus Christ. The Christian missionary is not after political power. If every Indian is to become a Christian except two, I shall be quite happy to see one of them as the President and the other the Prime Minister of India. I want men to know Christ, that is all.
(l) Rather the opposite.
(m) A Christian missionary will not think of such a thing.
9. Literate: One.
There are several under both these heads, who accept the Truths of Christianity, but are not prepared to take the final step.
10. We have to ensure this in every case, according to the understanding capacity of the catechumen. Christianity is a religion not only of the intellectual but of the illiterate also.
The minimum understanding required is: God created the universe. God created man in His image, i.e. to share His love, purity, glory, and immortality. Man sinned and fell short of all these. God had to deal with the situation without sacrificing His eternal righteousness or His eternal love. Man had to be punished and saved at the same time. God became man in Jesus Christ and paid the price of man�s sin on the Cross, and saved Him from eternal damnation. God�s justice and His love met on the Cross of Christ. It man believes in his heart that because Jesus Christ has given His own life in the place of his, and leads a life worthy of this great sacrifice, he is a Christian, i.e. one belonging to Christ. The Resurrection of Christ is surety for man�s eternal life with Him in heaven, if he leads a life dedicated to Him, with the help of God�s Holy Spirit.
11. If there be any change at all, it will be that an Indian will be a better Indian. A Christian has to be loyal to his country and Government, even though he may be persecuted for his Faith. The New Testament was written when there was persecution unto death against the Christians. Foreign missionaries also work to make people Christians, and not to make them English or American, in their loyalty. There are more non-Christians than Christians, who are western in their ways of outlook and life. Economic position and not religion is the factor which underlies this.
12. (a), (e) and (f) are possible places. (g) Certainly. (h) and (d) rather unusual. In colleges it may be possible where a Christian student witnesses to his non-Christian brother about the love of God in Jesus Christ. The staff are not there for it. The staff of a Christian school may participate in preaching in places (a), (e) and (f). It is a matter of occasion: Two passengers in the train or bus may be talking about religion in a friendly way.
13. Sometimes hearers do resent. Sometimes preachers are beaten or stones thrown at them. But they must be prepared to suffer for the One who has given His life for them.
14. I do not see the force of the word �such� before �language�. If it means offensive to the hearers, he deserves the possible consequences, whether foreign or native.
15. Pracharaks are often respected in the locality. They may be local people or men from other districts.
They are called �fishers of men� by Christ. They have to be always ready to seize opportunities to speak about Christ. It is not only the work of paid Pracharaks, but that of every Christian who has realised the saving power of Christ.
16. Dealt with under seven above.
17. A proper Pracharak is given good knowledge of the Bible, and something of Comparative Religion. They are not sent to foreign countries for training. It is unnecessary.
18. Normally a Pracharak may be expected to visit villages within a radius of five miles from his residence. He may report to a missionary, but this is unusual unless the missionary also works as a pastor or priest who is usually responsible for Pracharaks. It will be a matter for joy to the Church if a Pracharak is able to win some for Christ. But it is impossible to assess success or failure from the number of converts, as there are many who accept the Message without even the Pracharak knowing about it.
19. The Bible and portions of the Bible are the basic books to be distributed. There are other tracts, and I shall gladly send some or arrange to. We want more and more people to read them.
20. Propagation is better word than propaganda. We cannot preach Him Who said �I am the Truth� by any method which cannot be acceptable to Him. Magic lanterns, films, loud speakers, etc., are used.
21. It is very unchristian to refuse help at critical stages either to school children or to patients. One who is keen on wining souls for Christ will show his love to them and give them active help in times of emergencies, but not with the only motive of pressing for conversion.
22. Fairs used to be held in the Mandla district many years ago. One Christian used to come to the other, for common meals, and revival meetings. We cannot afford fairs on large-scale under our present circumstances.
23. Indian missionaries and Pracharaks have a right to make references to the Central or State Governments in India, subject to law and order. Foreign missionaries have no right to make adverse remarks about an Indian Government, in political matters.
24. In the Mandla district, there are some non-Christian agencies engaged in the work of re-conversion. They are Van Vasi Seva Mandal and the Arya Samajists. I don�t think that they have met with any great success. I don�t have any detailed knowledge of their methods. The policy of offering educational concessions only to non-Christian members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes is in itself an inducement by a Government supposed to be secular.
25. The relations between Christians and non-Christians in the Mandla district has not deteriorated in any way since 1947. On the other hand, it has grown more and more cordial and friendly.
26. Christian in Mandla have not boycotted non-Christians, nor the non-Christians, the Christians. Religion which stands between a man and his fellowmen cannot be religion meant by God for his children.
27. Christians are not office-bearers in any political or quasi-political parties in Mandla. As their non-Christian brethren, Christians have every right to choose the parties to which they belong, as long as they keep themselves away from such parties which deny the existence of God or His supremacy, or parties whose policy is destructive and obstructionist. At the moment, we encourage our people to give all their support to the Congress party because that party has a leader in Pandit Nehru who has shown himself to have risen above narrowness and fanaticism, and treats members of all religions alike.
28. Indian Christians do not and will not receive instructions from any foreigner, missionary or non-missionary, in the matter of politics.
29. If any missionary takes part in political activities adverse to India, he should be asked to return to his own country. There should be no general condemnation of foreign missionaries.
30. On the whole, we have found Government servants quite impartial. Christians have lost many cases against non-Christians in the days of British Government and also after the advent of freedom, Christians do receive justice at the hands of non-Christian officers. In the Mandla district, we cannot complain of any harassment to Christians by non-Christian officers. Here and there, one gets cases occasionally, of narrow bigotedness, but on the whole I have nothing but gratitude, for the non-Christian officers.
31. Christians, in Mandla, have not joined any political organisations as such, but at the moment, as I have said above, they support the Congress party in elections.
32. Conversions to Christianity has certainly brought about betterment in the standard of cleanliness and literacy, but their economic standard is not above that of a non-Christian scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.
33. There is certainly an improvement in the moral level of converts to Christianity, but living in the midst of society from which they are separated only in religion, they do succumb to the pressure of the kind of life which they see around them.
34. I cannot think of missionaries destroying or desecrating non-Christian places of worship or burial grounds. The Bible condemns acts of sacrilege. If however, the whole village becomes Christian, they themselves will either destroy or abandon their temples.
35. It does not follow.
36. Christians do always welcome and co-operate with National reconstruction efforts. If anybody is brought into being in order to counteract Christians� influence in Society, it is not fair to expect Christian Missions to extend their co-operation there. No other body has done so much towards the uplift of the Harijans and other down-trodden people of India as Christian Missions.
37. This question does not arise in view of the fact that thousands of drums of milk powder and millions of dollars and pounds have poured into India, through the influence of Christian Missions not only in times of National calamities but in normal times as well.
38. Christian missionaries never take any land except by sanction of proper authorities.
39. The missionaries have done more to identify themselves with the Indian people especially the depressed classes of society than the Indians themselves. We cannot deny that a poor Indian sweeper feels more at home with the foreign missionary who treats the sweeper as a fellowman, than with such Indians, who treat the sweeper as an untouchable.
40. Converts to Christianity in the Central India do seem to form a distinct cultural group, but in southern India they belong to the same caste groups, which they jealously preserve, in matters of marriage. They don�t adopt any attitude of indifference or hostility to Indian traditions and culture, except that they give up such traditions and culture, which are definitely opposed to the teachings of Christianity. The ordinary Christian knows very little of foreign culture. Foreign culture as such is not taught to them.
41. Before becoming a Christian, one has to give up his ancestral religion, whatever it was; he cannot continue his old practices, such as worship of Gram Devtas, but there is no objection to his copying old ancestral customs in ancient marriage rites, provided there is no compromise on religious grounds.
42. The activities of Christian missionaries, cannot be detrimental to the nation. The christian missionary is not here to convert the Indian into American or Swedish but to put before him the claims of Christ. Christianity is riot a religion belonging to any particular country or countries. In Christianity, one believes in one God and one Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is Lord of the whole Universe. The Christian cannot believe that there is a separate God only for India. If there is a God at all, he is only one, for the whole Universe.
43. There are only two missions working in the Mandla district. One is the Prefecture Apostolic of Jabalpur, which is Roman Catholic. I have no idea of the exact date from which they started work but they definitely came after the Church Missionary Society started the work. The Church Missionary Society withdrew in 1939 and since then the Gondwana Mission under the Diocese of Nagpur is working there, which belongs to the Church of India. A German Mission came in 1842, consisting of six members. Four of the six died during their first Monsoon in India and the remaining died within a few years due to depleted health. The CMS came into the field in the year 1860 and did extremely good work. The Mandla district as a whole is quite fruitless from the point of view of missionary work.
44. As far as our Mission work is concerned, the CMS missionaries withdrew in 1939 owing to war conditions. In 1951, an English couple came as agricultural missionaries, but they also had to leave within less than a year because of ill health.
45. We have a Church, and Mission compound with two bungalows and out-houses occupied by Christian people. One of the bungalows and a school building have been let out on rent to the government and the Mandla Municipality, respectively. We have also quarters for workers and fields and a primary school at Patpara. The same is true of Deori and Marpha. At Ratanpur, we have a small church building, with some land adjoining it. We have no liabilities except the care of the souls of the few Christians there.
46. All our missionaries are Indian.
47. All missionaries are graduates. They would have earned more in the shape of money if they had chosen the work outside the Missions.
48. None of our missionaries have bad foreign training.
49. It does not arise, but the National Christian Council has told missionary Societies in the West that missionaries who come to India must be willing to work under Indian heads, except due to specialised nature of work, a foreign missionary may have to act as head of the Mission or department.
50. Our Missions are under the Bishop of Nagpur who is an Indian, and who in turn comes under the Metropolitan of the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, who also is an Indian. There is no higher authority and no foreign society over us.
51. Our Mission is financed by the Nagpur Diocese which pays the missionary. We also get some local income through rents and income from other property. When the CMS withdrew, they gave the mission a grant which has been diminishing year after year, and in a couple of years, the diminishing grants will be no more. We have regular budgets and statements of accounts. We are attaching the Annual Statement of Accounts since 1947.
52. Our accounts are audited every year. Our auditors are Messrs. K. K. Mankeshwar & Co., Auditors, Nagpur. Our auditor is a Hindu as well as out accountant, which fact never occurred to us before reading the question 52 in the questionnaire.
53. This will be known from the financial statements.
54. Christian Missions have spent fabulous amount of money on educational, medical and social uplift-work. Such amounts are spent for the purposes, for which they are meant. Non-Christians work in Christian institutions as professors, teachers and accountants, etc., as paid workers.
55. Please refer to No. 19.
56. Regular reports are not published by our Mission-about the achievements of the Mission. Our achievements are not worth publishing.
Religious propagation (not propaganda).
(b) Primary Schools and rural dispensary.
Results: Children are made literate and patients are helped to recover.
58. The Church panchayats are constituted to try cases of immortality, irregularity in marriage rules, apostasy, fights, etc. The Parish priest presides over these panchayats, which are composed of five or six men and/or women who are communicant members of the Church. Punishments are awarded according to the seriousness of the crime and ranging from warning to ex-communication. Only the Bishop has the authority to ex-communicate a person from the Church.
59. Our Mission works in Mandla, Nainpur, Ratanpur, Deori. Marpha and in a few other places, where there are scattered Christian people. There has not been a conscious concentration on areas populated by the scheduled castes and tribes, but Christian love has always tended to take the missionary to these people, who are treated as out-castes and untouchable by their fellow countrymen and fellow religionists.
60. Means of communication are very poor in the Mandla district. It has taken me 26 hours to travel from Mandla to Marpha; a distance of 60 miles. In the rainy weather, I have walked for miles together in knee-deep mud to visit my people at Deori. It also takes a walk through slush for a mile to Ratanpur. Nainpur is connected to Mandla by rail and bus. I have done a good deal of walking by night and day to visit my scattered flock in outlying villages. The missionary does not mind travel-difficulties for the sake of Christ, who was crucified for him.
61. There are government officials posted in outlying places. Some of them do very good work and understand and sympathise with the people, among whom they have to work, but the missionary does much more.
62. Missionary meetings are held now and then to prepare budgets and check statements of accounts, to make decisions of administrative nature. This will be of no interest to the public.
63. There is such a thing as principles of comitty. It is not right for one mission to encroach into the area of another. But still there are some who have no principles in this respect. They deserve to be sent back to their countries.
64. Much to our regret, we had to curtail our activities owing to financial difficulties, caused by the cessation of the CMS grants, but we are doing all that we can, to stand on our own feet.
65. We had no mass conversions in Mandla.
66. I don�t think that missionaries bother themselves with the work of the State Reorganisation Commission. The interest shown by Indian Christians in the work of the State Reorganisation Commission, cannot be different from the interests shown by their non-Christian brethren. Religion has nothing to do with boundaries or States.
67. Missions do not officially take part in Indian politics and elections, but as individuals they have leanings according to their own political consciousness. I myself have supported the Congress party in elections. There are Christian priests who always put on Khadi. A friend of mine, who is a priest, went to prison in the Nation�s struggle for freedom. A Christian has not been less patriotic than anyone else.
68. I don�t think any missionary will agree to undertake recruitment of labour for tea gardens in Assam.
69. We have at Patpara a rural dispensary.
70. In Christian Hospitals, no discrimination is made between Christians and non-Christians, or between rich or poor.
71. Medical treatment is never used as a means or inducement to conversion. When patients are treated by Doctors and Nurses in the spirit of Christian love, patients themselves see in the treatment given to them the love of Christ and some are drawn towards Him.
72. Patients are not obliged to take part in Christian prayers and other religious exercises. It is not unusual that patients are told of the love of Christ in healing the sick and comforting the bereaved in hospitals.
73. Christian religious books may be distributed to patients who can read and to those who care for them. But no one is compelled to read them. It is impossible to make a person read anything against his own will.
74. The person who is in charge of our rural Dispensary is Rev. Itty George, who makes use of Indian medicines also. Ours is more a First-aid-post than a place for treatment of serious diseases. He has joined the mission only last August.
75. The Gondwana Mission Administrative Committee is the managing body of the dispensary also. The members are the Bishop of Nagpur, the Rev. Canon R. A. Kurian, the Rev. D. R. Dilraj, the Rev. Itty George, Shri Paul Rohitas, Shri S. P. Khalko and Sister Richael John. They are all, of course, Christians.
76. We can never think of prohibiting any person following his or her own religion. Our non-Christian brethren working on the staff of the hospitals, observe their own religion without let or hinderance.
77. We use in our dispensaries such medicines as Quinine, Tincture Iodine. Boric Acid Powder and things like that. We don't keep poisonous drugs. Mandla is within six miles from Patpara and for emergencies we consult them or send our patients to them. The Hindu doctors there have been always a very great help to us.
78. Our mission runs three primary schools.
79. I have no complaint to make against Government officers showing discrimination against us. Some of them are very intimate personal friends of mine, whose sympathy and help, I can never forget.
80. The strength of our mission schools is about 55, 30, and 25 respectively. The strength is predominantly non-Christian.
81. This is impossible because our schools are only primary schools and the children are too small in age to understand the differences between religions.
82. The procedure of recording the names of students in our school registers is just the same as in any Government school. It does not profit us to show their religions in the registers as other than the ones to which they belong. It is altogether un-Christian to fake registers like that.
83. Our schools are free schools.
84. No compulsory religious instruction is given in our schools because of Government rules against such instruction, although we know that the students lose tremendously by the absence of religious instruction.
85. It is the responsibility of parents of non-Christian children to make provision for the teaching of their religion to their children. When the Government has forbidden us to give Christian teaching, there is ho point in our making provision for teaching non-Christian religions to the students.
86. Moral instruction such as don�t steal, don�t use bad words, don�t fight, respect your father and mother, be of help and service to others, is given. We have no regular printed syllabus for moral instruction.
87. There are no non-Christians on the staff of our schools. If we had, we would not think of bringing any pressure to bear on them. The whole business of conversion is wrongly conceived by the opponents of Missions. It is impossible for one person to convert another person, as long as each person is in control of his own heart, even if he is put behind prison bars. It is for each person to decide whether he will stick on to the religion to which he belongs or adopt another religion. This has been wisely provided for in the Constitution of India. Anything done either to convert a man against his will or to prevent a man who wants to change his religion, from doing so is an outrage on man's moral freedom.
88. Such holidays as approved by Government and observed by people in the locality are given in our schools.
89. Days of National importance are certainly celebrated in our schools. We never forget that we are Indians and we celebrate our national festivals just as enthusiastically as our non-Christian brethren.
90. Our minds don't work on these lines. If we waste our time in bringing into contempt non-Christian religions and deities, we shall have no time left for exalting Christ in the eyes of the world.
91. We have no hostels in the district,
92. Attendance at religious exercises are not compulsory for inmates of boarding houses, if they or their parents have objection to it. Conversion to Christianity is possible in such institutions where the inmates are above 18 years of age.
93. The activities of Christian Missions in India have had a very wholesome effect on our country.
94. It all depends on what is meant by the word �culture�. If the word �culture� is meant to include religion also, which confusion is often made, then change of religions necessarily implies change of �culture�. If �culture� is confined to its limits, outside religion, then there need be no change of �culture�. For instance, a Hindu becoming a Christian, need not give up his taste for Indian music and Indian architecture, and Indian made clothes.
95. Religious teaching should be allowed in schools, subject to the condition that a child is not forced to attend religious instruction of a particular religion, if he or his parents, have objection to it. Also, a school run by an agency belonging to one particular religion, should not be forced by Government to provide for the teaching of other religions in their institutions.
96. Faith and treatment go hand in hand, in the treatment of patients. A Christian doctor cannot think of using his knife on a patient, before invoking the wisdom and help, of Christ, who to him, is source of all help and healing, even though he cannot force the non-Christian patient to pray to Christ. Christ is as far from accepting an unwilling prayer as a patient may be from offering it. Prayer to Christ is impossible without accepting him as God. The whole business of �missionary propaganda�, in hospitals, has been vastly exaggerated, simply because the non-Christian brethren do not understand the way in which a Christian missionary's mind works.
97. The state being secular, it is not right to interfere with the methods of propagation of any particular faith as long as such propagation, does not infringe on the peace and tranquility and morality of the land. Instead of telling Christians (every christian is a missionary) not to propagate their religion, it will be more reasonable for supporters of other religions to place before the public the claims of their religions, in a peaceful and orderly manner. The important point is that there should be no excitements over this business. If man thinks that he supports his God instead of vice versa, he will be only testifying to the weakness of his own religion; and Government wanting to support one particular religion, will have the same effect, namely, of declaring to the world, that without support, that religion cannot look after itself.
98. I certainly think that the different religions in the land can co-exist peacefully, and cooperate in realizing a just order of society, if the right of the individual, either to hold on to his faith or to give it up in favour of some other religion, is held sacrosanct. When the right of an individual is undermined, society loses its own foundation. Our country has produced a person like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who has shown to us that one can rise above the differences caused by religious affinities, in the service of the country. There are innumerable occasions, when Indians belonging to various religions can work together. Though they cannot see eye to eye in matters of religion, there is nothing to prevent them from standing shoulder to shoulder in the service of mother India.
the moment, I am at Nagpur and my address is Cathedral House, Nagpur.
And if I am required to appear before the Committee, I shall be glad to
obey, if sufficient notice is given to me.