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Activities of Christian Missions in the Eastern States and proselytism in the Udaipur State by the Jesuit Mission



Copy of letter No. F. 751-JMS-35, dated the 20th April 1936, from Lt.-Col. A. S. Meek, Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States, Ranchi, to the Political Secretary to the Government of India in the Foreign and Political Department, New Delhi.

SUBJECT.-Christian Missions in the Eastern States : Proselytism in the Udaipur State by the Jesuit Mission

I have the honour to make a report to the Government of India on a difference of opinion which has arisen between myself and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi in respect of the activities of the Jesuit fathers in the Udaipur State, which is at present under my guardianship during minority, as are the States of Jashpur and Gangpur which figure prominently in the report.  The matter has an immediate bearing on one State but it involves a question of general policy, which may have far-reaching effect in the States of this Agency. I will begin my report by describing the incidents leading up to this difference of opinion and showing in detail the action taken by myself.

2. At a later stage in this letter will be given a general account of missionary activity in this part of India with particular reference to the movement in the Jashpur State, and I will show that missionary activity in the Eastern States has been chiefly directed to such of them as are near the Ranchi district, where Christianity has made great headway.  According to the census report of 1931 the total number of Christians in the States of this Agency was 126,532, and of these 48,700 were in the Jashpur State, 61,171 in the Gangpur State, 3,000 in Bonai and 1,400 in Bamra.  In the Raigarh State, the borders of which march with those of Gangpur and Udaipur, there were 143 Christians.  There were only 29 Christians in the Surguja State, where the Maharaja has shown a determination not to permit the entry of mission agents from Jashpur and not to allow the conversion of his subjects.  There were no Christians in the Udaipur State.  The ruling family of that State has a very close connection with that of Surguja, and the present minor Chief is a son of the Maharaja of Surguja who was adopted by the late Raja of Udaipur.  It may be taken for granted that the minor Raja will pursue the policy of his father when he comes to the gadi in so far as missionary activity is concerned.  The Udaipur State is bounded by Surguja on the north and west, by Raigarh on the south, and by Jashpur on the cast.  The portion of it, which is bounded by the Jashpur State is small, and forms a re-entrant running into the Jashpur State.  There is a mission station called Tapkara in charge of a Jesuit father in Jashpur State close to this portion of the Udaipur State.  In the month of August 1935 the Bishop of Ranchi came to see my predecessor, Mr. Evans, and made request that arrangements should be made in the Udaipur State for the Roman Catholic fathers to pay occasional visits to the Christian communities there.  It was not his wish to erect any buildings in the Udaipur State such as would constitute a regular settlement.  This led Mr. Evans to make enquiry as to how many Christians there were in the State and the Superintendent reported that there were six families said to be Christians, but that they did not make open profession of Christianity.  Shortly afterwards the Superintendent made a report that about a hundred people had gone to Tapkara for leans of money and to be converted to Christianity.  The Bishop came to see Mr. Evans again in September 1935 and asked for permission to erect Kachcha buildings for schools and chapels in the Udaipur State, and in doing so he said he would undertake that Christians in the State would be loyal and obedient subjects of the Ruler.  Mr. Evans informed the Bishop that he was not prepared to take any action on this matter and that he must leave it for me to decide on my return from leave.  The Bishop had also desired Mr. Evans to induce the Raja of Raigarh to allow missionary enterprise in that State and Mr. Evans told him that that was entirely a matter for the Chief himself.

3. I met the Bishop at the end of January 1936.  He asked for my good offices in connection with missionary activities in Raigarh and I gave him the same answer as Mr. Evans had given him. I had previously been in the Raigarh State and the Chief had informed me that he had the strongest objection to the conversion of his people to Christianity and enquired whether I had any objection to his introducing a law to regulate proselytism: I told him that I had no objection and that he was competent to introduce the law he proposed, a copy of which I append to this report (pp. 17-18).  Going on to discuss the question of affairs in Udaipur the Bishop informed me that from the beginning of June 1935 there had been a spontaneous mass movement amongst the Uraons of that State towards conversion to Christianity, that some 6,000 persons had offered themselves for instruction with a view to baptism, and that these people had crossed the Udaipur State border and gone to the mission station in Jashpur to announce their, decision.  The Bishop said that prior to June 1935 he had no thought of making converts in Udaipur and he described this influx of people as having been actuated by a knowledge of the benefits to be received from education in mission schools and from social relationship with the Christian population of Jashpur and the Ranchi district, as also of the general benefit to be obtained from membership of the Christian religion.  I said to the Bishop that I had heard talk of the inducement to Uraons and other aborigines to become Christians through the advancement of loans on their accepting Christianity.  He replied that the Mission advanced loans to Christians in need of money and that the knowledge of this fact might certainly be one of the inducements for such people to embrace Christianity, but the giving of loans was merely an incident in the Mission�s relations with its people and was not a means of enticing people into the fold.  Questioned as to the exact procedure in conversion the Bishop stated that the would-be convert came to a Mission station with a request that he should be received.  Thereafter an enquiry was made, and if it was found that the applicant was a suitable candidate he was accepted and his name was recorded.  The man�s top-knot of hair was then cut off by his own friends, that being the custom among the Indian Christians.  The candidate�s name having been inscribed he was then given instruction in the Christian religion and after a period of from three to nine months he was baptized.  In the Udaipur State, the Bishop said, teachers had been at work but no priest had gone there and he did not intend to send one without my permission.  I explained that my position in respect of the Mission in States under minority administration had nothing to do with my own personal feelings and that my duty was to serve the interest of the Ruling House and to see that nothing was done during minority which would embarrass the Chief when he came to the gadi.  The Bishop declared that he fully understood this but that no Chief could deny the right of any subject to change his religion when that subject of his own free will desired to do so, and he maintained that in Udaipur the large body of people who wished to become Christians had the right to demand the services of the Mission priests.  He laid stress on the fact that when a similar case had arisen in the Gangpur State in 1903 the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal had authorised the entry of missionaries into that State for the purpose of ministration.  I pointed out to the Bishop that if his request were allowed a great part of the population of the Udaipur State might have become Christians by the time the Raja came to the gadi and I observed that the Raja was the son of the Maharaja of Surguja whose emphatic views on the subject of conversion he knew full well.  I explained that I could not accept his request without referring the whole matter to the Government of India.  I had previously warned both the Political Agent and the Superintendent to ensure that the missionaries did not establish themselves in the State in such a way as would make it difficult to expel them, and on the 8th of February the Bishop called and represented to me that the Superintendent was taking action to prevent his catechists working in the State.  He desired me to give orders to the Superintendent to allow full freedom to the Mission catechists, on the undertaking that no priest would be sent into the State until the orders of the Government of India had been received. I told him that it was my desire that he should issue an order to his catechists that they should leave the State for the present pending the receipt of the Government of India�s instructions.  The Bishop replied that he could not agree to that action which would amount to an admission that the Mission, had done something wrong. I showed him that if he felt that he could not take this action it would be necessary for me to order the expulsion of the catechists and that I was very loath to take that step.  He said that the matter was one he must discuss with his fellow prelates and that he would let me have his reply in due course. I had in the meantime instructed the Political Agent to go to Udaipur and make a personal enquiry into the whole matter.  Colonel Murphy went immediately to Udaipur and visited 15 of the villages in the re-entrant to which I have referred, his visit being without any previous intimation.  He found that the statement that the movement of the people in the Udaipur State towards Christianity was entirely spontaneous and actuated by a knowledge of the benefits to be received was entirely incorrect.  The people concerned had no knowledge whatever regarding such benefits and had been actuated by one idea, and one idea only, that being the receipt of money from the Mission on loan.  He found that the people had no complaint regarding rent assessments or undue harassment by State officials, and I have to state here that there has been a regular settlement in the State.  There was, the Political Agent found, a certain measure of economic hardship, common to many of the States at present owing to the failure of rains last October and the poverty of the ensuing winter crop.  He found that information had been disseminated throughout this area of the State that loans were to be readily obtained at the Mission station at Tapkara on a note of hand without security, all that was required of payees being that they should have their top-knot cut off.  Some of the people who had received loans were minors, while some were casual labourers, and it was evident that the number of persons who had taken loans and had had their top-knots cut off was much less than had been represented to me by the Bishop, it appearing that when one member of a family had taken a loan all the members of that family were shows as would-be converts.  The rate of interest taken was 10 per cent, and in a large number of cases examined one year�s interest had been deducted in advance.  Christian schools had been started by catechists who had invaded the State from Jashpur and in one instance a Mission teacher had stopped the boys of the hamlet from going to the State school.  People questioned made it plain that their only purpose in going to the Mission station had been to get money and all said that without this payment of money none would have sought to become Christian.  In one case a preacher had settled down in a village and announced that he would not leave it until he had made recovery of the loan-money advanced.  Colonel Murphy ascertained that in 1929 a Christian preacher from the Tapkara station had come into the State and had been expelled by the State authorities.  The same man had been largely responsible for engineering the new movement and was even then in the State.  On the 28th February, I received a letter from the Bishop that he had discussed the whole matter with his staff.  He maintained that the action of the Mission in the State was entirely bona fide.  I quote these words from his letter: �The taking of loans is not a motive of conversion, but it is in the eyes of the Aborigines a sign of adherence and a pledge of earnestness and sincerity.� He said that catechists had been sent into Udaipur for the sole purpose of meeting the earnest wishes of the new converts for religious instruction, and he stated that it was impossible for him to order that they should leave. On the 1st of March the Bishop again wrote to me saying that as I had expressed the wish that the giving of loans to Udaipur subjects should be discontinued he had passed orders to that effect.  He also wrote that he had to repeat his decision that he could not order the withdrawal of Mission agents from the State but that he had issued instructions that if I issued warrants for their expulsion these orders were to be peacefully obeyed. I thereupon instructed the Political Agent to issue orders requiring all the Mission agents to remove themselves from the State forthwith and this order was carried out, the.  Bishop intimating his protest at my action.  Thereafter I received a communication from Colonel Murphy that on receipt of a report that the catechists expelled from the State had taken with them a number of children to keep in the school at Tapkara for instruction he was proceeding to Tapkara to enquire into the matter.

4. On the 9th of April the Bishop of Ranchi paid me another visit and endeavoured to secure a modification of my views.  After this visit I received the Political Agent�s report on his local inspection at Tapkara and he informed me that Father Gallagher had in his charge at that place 120 children, boys and girls, who had been brought over from the Udaipur State and kept in hostels at Tapkara for the purpose of education and instruction in religion.  The Father alleged that these children had been brought away by the Mission agents before the orders of expulsion from the Udaipur State had been issued and he claimed that the children had been brought at the desire of their parents.  A further report on this subject is awaited, but in the meantime I have considered it necessary to write to the Bishop of Ranchi requiring him to issue orders for the removal of the children from the Jashpur State.  I have called his attention to the principle that I had stated in conversation, that I could not permit any action to be taken in the Jashpur State during minority which would be considered by any neighbouring State to be detrimental to its interests. I have drawn his attention to the fact that when the Mission in the year 1932 sought to have improved house accommodation His Excellency the Governor of the Central Provinces refused to entertain its request and stated that it was against the accepted policy of Government to grant to Missions in States under management facilities of a nature which ,would change essentially the status quo or commit the minor Chief, when he came of age, to a new policy. I have shown him that His Excellency had further laid it down that the Mission should not introduce any new activity into the State in time of minority, and I have made it plain that the Mission has been interfering with the Udaipur State and its people and taking action which represents a new activity. I have pointed out to him that when the Fathers were permitted to enter the State they did so on the understanding that they would go there for the supervision of the catechists and for work amongst the people of Jashpur and not with a view to using that territory as a base for operations in neighbouring States. I have warned the Bishop that the children should be returned to their homes in Udaipur and that if they are removed from Jashpur and not returned-to their homes the Mission will take this action on its own responsibility.  I have intimated that, if the children have not been removed within 14 days from the date of issue of my letter, the State authorities will take action to ensure that my orders are carried out.  I have stated that I assume that the Bishop will satisfy himself of the correctness of the position of the Mission with regard to sections 361 and 362 of the Indian Penal Code which define the offences of kidnapping and abduction.  I had previously expressed to the Bishop my wish that he should transfer from Tapkara the Anglo-Indian priest in charge of that station, Father Gallagher, and in our conversation on the 9th April the Bishop had shown his inability to take that action.  I have now required that Father Gallagher should be removed from the State and not permitted to return to it.  This priest went to the State in the year 1925 and has never been persona grata with the State administration.  In the year 1930 he erected buildings at Tapkara for hostel purposes without obtaining permission from the State and I have reason to believe that it is in those buildings the Udaipur children are now living.  In the year 1933 this priest interfered in the administrative affairs of the State and threatened one of the State patwaris with the result that my predecessor, Mr. Gibson, conveyed orders to the Superintendent that he should administer a warning to him.  It is this priest who has been responsible for the activity of the Mission in the Udaipur State.  I must explain to the Government of India that I considered the advisability of deferring action in this matter of the removal of the children and of Father Gallagher from the Jashpur State pending reference to the Government of India but that looking to the length of time that must elapse before receipt of orders from the Government of India and to the subtlety of the Jesuits in establishing their position I have thought it essential to deal with the matter at once on my own responsibility.

5. To enable the Government of India fully to appreciate the incidents I have related in connection with missionary work in the Udaipur State, I will give some account of the rise of Christian Missions in this part of India and of the spread of their activities generally in the Eastern States.

6. In 1845 the German Lutheran Mission was established in Ranchi.  Prior to their coming-I quote from the Final Report on the Survey and Settlement Operations in the District of Ranchi, 1909-10-there had been deep seated agrarian discontent amongst the aboriginal population in the Chhota-Nagpur area.  British courts of justice were established in 1834 and though they were useful in checking the most glaring abuses they did not remove the causes of discontent.  By the year 1857 the missionaries had a considerable following and the Christians were becoming a powerful and organised society whose members, backed by the moral and financial support of the missionaries, were able to assert their rights successfully in the courts.  An impression gained ground that the best means of successfully shaking off the oppression of the landlord was by becoming Christian.  This resulted in the persecution of the Christians during the absence of the executive authorities after the Mutiny, but when the executive authorities returned the Christians were to some extent compensated for their losses and it came to be believed that they as a class were specially favoured by Government.  The result was that by 1859 there had been a great accession to strength of the ranks of nominal Christians.  The Chhota-Nagpur Tenures Act was passed in 1869 and the position of raiyats became one of contract and was greatly improved; and the influence of the European missionaries continually extended, and they became not only the spiritual head of the village communities but their advisers and guides in all temporal matters, supplanting the zamindar and the official in their power with the- people in large tracts of country.  In further settlement operations it was found that the people of the khas villages of the Maharaja of Chhota-Nagpur, who were content with their tenancies, had not become Christians.  The system of beth-begar or forced labour continued to be prevalent in the Chhota-Nagpur country and there was constant trouble on this account.  About 1886 the Jesuits began Mission work in Ranchi on a large scale and they with the other missionaries took an active interest in the temporal affairs of their people.  Within three or four years 40,000 converts joined the Roman Catholic Mission and the influence of the Christian population reacted on their non-Christian brethern disturbing their relations with their Landlords.  A Commutation Act was passed in 1897 whereby tenants could secure under the orders of Government freedom from praedial services in return for cash payment.  It was found however that little recourse was had to the provisions of this act for the reason that the system of praedial services was popular when fairly worked, and that the raiyats who were on bad terms with their landlords became nominal Christians and refused to perform any service whatsoever under the protection of the Mission organisations, while those who were on good terms with their landlords had no objection to working off a portion of their rent liabilities in the shape of labour.

7. The first direct evidence I have come across in the matter of missionary activity in the Eastern States is obtained in letter No. 13087 of 7th November 1904 from the Chief Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces, to the Secretary to the Government of India in the Foreign Department.  That letter shows that in the year 1893, Mr. Fraser (afterwards Sir Andrew Fraser), who was at that time Commissioner of Chhattisgarh, gave authority, without reference to the Local Government, for the acquisition of land for Mission purposes in the Baster State at a time when the State was under Government management.  In the following year a similar application, for the acquisition of land in the Kawardha State was received, and the matter being referred to the Local Government, it was laid down that alienation of land for Mission purposes in a State under the administration of Government should be refused on the principle that the fiduciary position of Government required that it should not take action which might be liable to misconstruction and of which the result might be distasteful to the Chief on his attaining majority.  In letter No. 4689 I. B. of 31st December 1904; the Government of India indicated their approval of this statement of policy.

8. About the year 1900 the German Lutheran Mission opened two stations in the Gangpur State without she permission of the Ruler and without reference to the Local Government.  The Chief made protest, but the political authorities decided that as the missionaries were actually settled in the State they should be allowed to remain there.  One of these missionaries thereafter openly preached disobedience to the Chief�s orders in the matter of begar, the demand for which was moderate, and the missionaries generally made promises to the raiyats that they would secure their freedom from various petty demands of the Darbar, a principle of insubordination being set up and fanned amongst the aboriginal people, who were of the same class as those belonging to the Missions in Chhota-Nagpur.  The result of this was that one missionary was removed from the State under the orders of the Commissioner of Chhota-Nagpur who acted at that time as Political Officer; but the teaching had taken root and for some years the Christian converts set themselves steadily to oppose the Chief, so that when a European Diwan was appointed to the State in 1903 he found it difficult to get any of the usual services performed for himself.  He found that some of the people refused to make payment of part of their rents which were paid in kind.  The Christians were quite out of hand, but he dealt firmly with the position, and later on took up settlement operations. He formed the opinion that the majority of people who joined the Missions did so out of motives of policy and in the expectation of so me advantage to be obtained and not for any spiritual benefit expected.

9. The missionaries entered Jashpur apparently at about the same time as they did the Gangpur State, and that they did not do so upon the willing invitation of the Chief revealed in a letter of 10th June 1923 from the Roman.  Catholic Archbishop of Calcutta to the Political Agent, at Raipur in which occurs the following sentence: �In Gangpur [which is in many respects similar to Jashpur and where we started establishing, Christianities (sic) about the same time as in Jashpur], the Raja-under pressure of the Government of Bengal, within whose jurisdiction Gangpur then was-gave me a perpetual lease at the usual rent, of an extensive plot of tent ire land at Kesramal in 1907; and since then, the Chief-quite willingly this time-has granted me leases of two more plots one at Hamirpur and one at Gaibira.  In Jashpur so far we have had only verbal grants.� The Archbishop desired the Political Agent to give him a set of perpetual leases, action in which he failed.

10. The first mention on the Agency record of the work of the missionaries in Jashpur is contained in a memorandum made by the Commissioner of Chhattisgarh in 1903 on the subject of a conversation he had had with the Diwan of Jashpur. I extract this passage : �I understand from Mr. Mears (the Diwan) that European Missionaries have had hitherto no footing in this State.  The recognised custom is that no European is to be allowed to go into any Feudatory State without the permission of the Commissioner having been first obtained.  The Raja should see that this is duly observed.  With regard to tenants who allege themselves to be Christians and refuse to render beth-begar, since such services are part and parcel of the rent due from such tenants, the refusal amounts to a refusal to pay the rent due.  Any such instance occurring should be treated as a case and the party concerned called on to show cause why he should not be ejected from his land.� The Commissioner sent a copy of his note to the Raja.  This Chief was afterwards deposed with the approval of the Government of India for maladministration (letter No. 1021-883-P, dated the 26th June 1923, from the Government of India to the Government of the Central Provinces) and it being my purpose to show that that deposition was the direct result of Mission activities in the State I feel that I must trouble the Government of India with a fully detailed narrative of subsequent affairs.

11. In the year 1906 the German Lutheran Mission made application to the Political Agent stating that people of Jashpur desired to become Christians and that the Raja had no wish that they should become Christians ; and the Mission requested that the Political Agent should issue a licence for the entry of Indian preachers into the State.  The Political Agent sent reply that he could not issue any such licence but he said that he had reason to know that the Raja had no prejudice against Christianity and that he would address him on the subject.  At the same time he advised the Mission to be careful not to flout local prejudice and he expressed the opinion that it would be preferable that the Mission authorities should arrange that aborigines of the State who wished to change their religion should go over for that purpose to the Ranchi district.  The Political Agent wrote a letter to the Raja that he should observe complete impartiality in matters relating to religion and that he should not prevent the entry of Mission preachers into the State.  In the same year the Archbishop of Calcutta wrote to the Political Agent complaining of the treatment accorded to Christians in Jashpur.  The Political Agent in reply wrote to the Archbishop that the Chief was �a most benign and gentle Ruler� and he warned the Archbishop that those people in British India who stirred up agitation against the system of beth-begar in the States knew nothing whatever of the meaning of the system as applied there and that the system was not a harsh one as they imagined.  On the same day the Political Agent wrote to the Raja and administered to him a peremptory warning with regard to the complaints made in the matter of the treatment of Christians.  This brought a reply from the Chief that he did not want any Christians in his State as he felt that their presence was a danger to him and to his administration.  The following year serious friction occurred and the Political Agent, Mr. Laurie, brought about an agreement for the future conduct of Mission work at a conference held by himself and attended by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Calcutta and some Jesuit Priests and representatives of the German Lutheran Evangelical Mission.  The Raja was prevailed upon to agree to terms of a modus vivendi but friction continued and a few months later the Raja sent in a memorial of protest.  His case was that �conversion to Christianity was synonymous with subversion of old custom and existing rights and obligations�  He stated that the catechists induced catechumens to rebel against his authority, and refuse to render services due from them as rent-free holders of certain lands.  He demanded that he should be permitted to vindicate bib authority and enforce his traditional rights.  The Political Agent was anxious to support the Missions and while admitting that catechists did ignore the Ruler he held that the latter must abide by the agreement to which he bad subscribed and advised that he should abolish the system of beth-begar and assess all tenants to full rent.  The matter was examined by a new Political Agent, Mr. Brett the following year and he reported that he had made special enquiries in the Jashpur State and had found that some 30,000 people were claimed by the Roman Catholics and some 15,000 by the Lutheran Mission as enquirers after Christianity.  All these people were of the Uraon tribe of aborigines.  Almost all-of them had signified abandonment of their old beliefs by having their top-knots of hair cut off, a ceremony performed in the presence of a European father or pastor, and very few of them had actually been baptized.  None of the European missionaries at that time resided in the State, but they were posted at- various places beyond and close to the border and they carried on their work in the State by means of catechists who were converted Uraons belonging to neighbouring British territory.  These catechists were distributed throughout the villages, the residents of which had submitted to the top-knot-cutting ceremony, and their duty was to instruct enquiries in the elements of Christianity and to gain over new converts.  Referring to the complaint of the Raja that the catechists interfered in secular matters and instigated people to refuse to tender compulsory forced labour, the Political Agent showed that this labour was an incident of the State tenure common to all the States and expressed the opinion that in this respect the people had no legitimate cause of complaint and that the Chief was a considerate and indeed a generous Ruler.

12. Mr. Brett stated that the Chief maintained that he had accepted the agreement of 1907 under pressure from the Political Agent and that he would not be satisfied until all foreign preachers had been expelled from his territory.  The Political Agent expressed his own opinion that it was a matter for regret that the missionaries had ever been allowed to extend their propaganda to this State, but that matters having advanced so far it was not possible to give the Chief permission to take the action he desired. The Central Provinces Government passed orders in September 1908.  They held that the Raja could not be given general permission to forbid all missionaries and preachers from entering the State.  The Political Agent was ordered to advise the Raja that it was inconsistent with the principles of liberty recognised in British India that the missionaries should be prevented from building houses in his State.  Any resistance by Christians to the lawful demands of the State should be dealt with according to law.  At the same time the Political Agent was instructed to warn missionary societies that they must not expect any support from Government against the Raja if their preachers encouraged his subjects to resist his lawful demands.  It was to be explained to the societies that it was their duty properly to supervise their preachers, and that if they were found to be stirring up dissatisfaction with the Chief�s authority the Political Agent would be justified in excluding them as a class from the State.  If the preachers faithfully abstained from any action of this kind and confined themselves to religious preaching the Chief would not molest them.  Thereafter there was continual complaint on the part of the missionaries against the conduct of the administration and continual complaint by the Ruling Chief in respect of the missionaries and their activities.  A serious state of affairs having developed the Political Agent, Mr. Blakesley, made a thorough enquiry in Jashpur and. submitted a full report to the Local Government in 1913.  He found that the movement towards Christianity in the Jashpur State was in no sense a religious one: it was one actuated in lesser measure by the expectation of social benefits to be obtained, Christians being able to get their children married by missionaries in the adjoining districts of British India without incurring heavy expenditure, but the real governing causes were political and agrarian.  It was the, belief of Christian converts that by becoming Christians they would secure freedom from compulsory service, the commutation of cesses into cash rental and the settlement of their land revenue such as had been secured in the Chhota-Nagpur division.  He found that the missionaries bad advanced loans to many of their converts and that the missionaries had a considerable hold on them by means of these loans.  He found that the catechists interfered on every possible occasion in the temporal affairs of the Christian converts, whom they called �their raiyats�.  These catechists carried complaint to the missionaries, wrote petitions for the converts, accompanied them to the courts, worked out cases for them, and generally acted as unrecognised vakils, the State authorities having on control over them at all.  The Political Agent was of opinion that the Ruler had no antipathy whatever to Christianity as such.  The Ruler was a Hindu, and the aborigines were animists, and the Chief, he thought had no more interest in the aboriginal faith than he had in Christianity.  His distrust and dislike of missionary propaganda, especially that of the Jesuits, arose solely out of the agrarian and political agitation and the subversion of his authority which he foresaw, and against which he sought in vain the protection of the political authorities.  Mr. Blakesley showed that, under the guise of religious proselytism, political propaganda had been spread throughout the State.  The Roman Catholic priests alleged that they had no concern with the temporal affairs of the State, but this was abundantly disproved, and the Archbishop had himself been continually referring to the Political Agent in respect of temporal matters.  He expressed the opinion that the Ruler�s authority bad been seriously undermined, a result which, he observed, the Chief had himself expected from the spread of mission activity in his State.  Re pointed out that his predecessor had in 1906 assured the Chief that he would be responsible that his authority in his State would not be weakened by people becoming converted to Christianity, a promise that had not been maintained.  He showed that the Raja had acted under political pressure in allowing extension of missionary activity in his State.  He recommended that the Chief should be permitted to exclude Jesuit missionaries and their catechists from the State.  He did not recommend that his action should be taken in respect of the Lutherans who, he said, were less inclined to interfere in temporal affairs.  If this proposal were not accepted, he advised that no missionary or catechist should be permitted to enter or reside in the State except with the permission of the Chief.

13. Mr. Blakesley�s report was submitted by the Commissioner of Chhattisgarh to the Local Government.  The Commissioner was Mr. Laurie who had been Political Agent in 1907 and it was this officer who had, according to the Raja, brought pressure to bear upon him in that year in accepting the agreement with regard to the conduct of mission work.  Mr. Blakesley had stated in his report that Mr. Laurie had favoured the missions as against the Ruler and there was a definite cleavage between the two officers.  The Local Government passed their orders in the matter in June 1913.  It accepted the Political Agent's conclusions as to the actual state of affairs in Jashpur, but declined to accept his recommendations.  The Chief Commissioner was then Sir Benjamin Robertson and he found it impossible to take any action other than that indicated by Sir Reginald Cradock in his orders of 1908.  This decision was soon followed by the entry into the State of the Belgian Jesuits who had hitherto worked from the Ranchi District and since that time they have been in residence there.  Sir Benjamin Robertson left it on record that the Raja of Jashpur was a very well disposed and kind Ruler, He made a note of an interview he had had with the Archbishop of Calcutta and wrote that he had had to disabuse the Archbishop of his idea that the State was British territory.  The Archbishop he said, had intimated to him that the preachers employed in the State were as a class not all that they should be.  Sir Benjamin indicated his own personal feeling of repugnance to giving support to the missionaries against such an excellent old man as the Ruling Chief.  Another interesting admission of the Archbishop of Calcutta is recorded by Mr. Napier, who was acting for a time as Commissioner of Chhattisgarh in 1912.  The Archbishop said to Mr. Napier that, putting aside all cant, he did not suppose that the majority of the aboriginal Christians in the States had much feeling either way in the matter of religion but that they saw how the Uraons over the border in British districts had prospered in material welfare and they embraced Christianity in the hope that such material benefit would result to themselves.  That being so, the Archbishop said, he could not understand the hostile attitude of the Raja who must also gain from the material prosperity of the people.  The Archbishop told Mr. Napier that when trouble had occurred in Gangpur Sir Andrew Fraser, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, had intervened, and had secured an arrangement whereby priests were settled in Gangpur State to supervise the preachers.  He desired that that action should be taken also in Jashpur.  Mr. Napier told the Archbishop then that what the Raja of Jashpur was afraid of was that the missionaries �would raise up a power within his power and would undermine his authority�.  I will set down here also the gist of a note made by Mr. Napier that the Anglican Bishop of Nagpur, who had worked by the side of the Jesuit Mission, had told him that they had no real hope of Christianising adult men and women but that they did hope to be able to instil the doctrine into the minds of children.  This accounts for the recent action of the Jesuits in removing children from the Udaipur State to the Catholic station at Tapkara in Jashpur.

14. I now come to the disturbances which occurred in Jashpur in 1922 and which resulted in some loss of life and in the deposition of the Chief.  In May 1922 the Superintendent of Police at Ranchi, informed the Bihar and Orissa Government that a society had been formed by the Lutherans of Ranchi called The Unity Samaj, that its object was the improvement of the lot of aborigines generally, and that people of all creeds had joined it.  In July an Englishman, who had been in Jashpur in connection with the recruitment of coolies for the tea-gardens in Assam, reported to the Political Agent that there was a dangerous movement amongst mission preachers in the State and that secret societies had been formed.  In August 1922 the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Calcutta wrote to the Political Agent sending an account by one of his priests of the bad state of affairs then existing in Jashpur.  This priest showed that the Raja had ceased to take any interest in the affairs of his State, that the administration was bad, that Lutheran preachers were fomenting trouble that would lead to rebellion and that the Roman Catholics had no hand in the movement.  I will not go into the details of the disturbances.  Enquiry revealed that the trouble was caused by the Unity Samaj acting through the agency of the Lutheran pastors and preachers.  A state of rebellion ensued, and the Raja connived at illegal acts of repression designed to secure his secret purpose of expelling the mission agents from his State.  The Raja clearly failed in his duty at this stage and was deposed as has already been stated.  An Extra-Assistant Commissioner of the Central Provinces Government was appointed as Diwan and after the death of the Chief some years later this officer was appointed Superintendent of the State, a position which he still holds.

15. After the deposition of the Chief the Superintendent, a Muhammedan officer, took a strong hold of the administration and proceeded with settlement work.  The principle was laid down that in respect of the missions, matters were to be left as far as possible in status quo, missionaries neither being encouraged nor discouraged and they being allowed no better footing in the State than they already enjoyed. No trouble of any serious dimensions seems to have taken place till 1927 when the Superintendent made report that the Roman Catholic Mission was taking strong action in spreading Christianity through the large Khuria Zamindari, a jagir of the State, which had hitherto not entered the field of missionary activity.  The Political Agent thereupon wrote to the missionary in charge. He stated that the Zamindar had very strong objection to missionary work, holding that where missionaries went there went trouble.  The Zamindar, he stated, had made personal complaint to him in respect of the invasion of his country by preachers and Christians and of their settlement there without his permission at the instigation of the missionaries.  These people the Zamindar had said, were being taught by the preachers to flout his authority.  The Political Agent warned the missionary that if there was the slightest likelihood of trouble, he would have no hesitation in closing this ilaqa to missionary work altogether.  He pointed out that the settlement of this Zamindari was no concern of the mission and that if the Zamindar did not want Christians he would certainly not force them upon him. The Superintendent at the same time was ordered to go into the ilaqa and make a report on the conditions obtaining there, and he found that the priests had commenced their operations thereby sending Christians into the country who concealed the fact that they were Christians and took service as field labourers or lived there with relations.  When in course of time a sufficient number of such people had taken up their residence in the ilaqa three preachers went into the country and they appointed sixteen assistants from amongst the Christians who had gone to live there, and a mass movement of conversion to Christianity ensued.

16. Describing the position as it is to day in Jashpur the Superintendent gives the population of the State as 193,000, the number of Catholics 50,000 and that of Lutherans 4,000.  Christians are now to be found in practically all villages of the State and continual pressure is being exerted by the fathers to secure the conversion of the remaining part of the population.  Since the deposition of the Chief a settlement has been effected and all trouble has ceased, and this is ascribed to the influence of the missions.  They are 12 Jesuit fathers resident in and distributed throughout the State, the same number as in Gangpur.  There are 163 Indian preachers paid at rates of Rs. 4 to Rs. 6 plus a small quantity of rice from each Christian family.  The Christians have given these preachers a little land so that each holds also a small farm.  They (the preachers) are badly educated people and the Superintendent describes them as mere pawns in the hands of the priests.  They act as vakils for their people in all matters, and interfere continually in all temporal affairs.  They compound non-cognisable criminal cases and pay the composition money into the mission funds; and they at times hide criminal cases occurring in their communities.  In 1935 a preacher was convicted for attempting to suppress the offence of murder and the record of the trial shows that one of the Catholic fathers knew of the murder and connived at the concealment of the crime.  There was a case in 1928 in which preachers so persecuted certain aborigines who had renounced Christianity that one of them committed suicide.  The Superintendent shows that these people have no regard for the Ruling House, and that they have it in their hands to cause riot and rebellion.  The Superintendent has shown tact in his dealings with the European priest and gets on well with them, but he states that they have no interest in purely humanitarian work and that they have done nothing for the people on the medical side, their whole aim being to secure converts and to increase the number of Christians in the fold.  The younger generation, the Superintendent states, know little about religion but are staunch Christians, who are devoted to their priests and have no regard at all for the Chief.  The Roman Catholic Mission has established co-operative banks and through these banks they secure the added obedience and devotion of the people.  They encourage emigration to the Assam tea gardens, and on the return of the emigrants get them to deposit their savings in the banks.  The Superintendent shows that it was only when the late Chief found himself completely trapped by the missionaries that he connived at the harsh measures, which led to his deposition.  He draws attention to the fact that, as in Gangpur, the preachers first entered the State, and then the political authorities required the Chief to permit the missionaries to reside in the State in order to control the preachers.  This officer is of opinion that in course of time the Jesuits will convert all the aborigines of all the States in this part of the Agency.  If this were to occur and foreign priests were to be given full freedom of entry and residence the result might be virtually a foreign Government of the whole group.  The Superintendent considers that it will be almost impossible for the Ruler of Jashpur to administer his State without the assistance of a European Diwan or of a non-Hindu Indian who is a Government Officer.  He relates that when the Chief was deposed, his heir was obliged to leave the State and that the heir became Ruler in 1928 and died two years later, the Superintendent becoming his Diwan.  Very strong pressure was brought on the Chief by Hindus in British India to counter Jesuit activity and win over the Uraons to Hinduism.  The Chief was sympathetic and relations between him and the Diwan became strained.  Had the Chief lived serious trouble would have ensued and he also might have been deposed.

17. After this lengthy historical account of mission work in the Jashpur State, I come to the concluding portion of my letter, and make proposals for the consideration of the Government of India.  The general policy of the Government of India has been one of impartiality with regard to the practice of religion and it is now the plea of the Bishop of Ranchi that what he seeks is nothing more than the application of this principle in the States.  He maintains that no ruling Chief has any moral right to prevent any of his people from the exercise of freedom of conscience, and he holds that if any Ruler take action to deny the exercise by his subjects of full freedom of conscience the paramount power should secure it; and of course the Bishop maintains that if this thesis is to be accepted it is the duty of the Government of India in its office as guardian of a minority State to apply the same principle.  Now in many of the States of the Agency there is. missionary activity on a small scale which is looked upon without misgiving by Rulers concerned.  One such mission does excellent work in the Nandgaon State in the treatment of leprosy.  There is a small Australian Mission in the Mayurbhanj State which has a very small number of adherents and is hardly a noticeable feature.  There is a small Baptist mission in the Patna State, which has been established there for many years, and carries on work amongst Hindu outcastes.  It too has not a large number of adherents and is not a source of any anxiety to the Darbar.  I spoke to the Maharaja of Patna a few days ago on the subject of conversion, and asked him what he thought about the theory of freedom of conscience.  His reply was that it was hardly possible to apply the idea of freedom of conscience to the aborigines in so far as conversion was concerned for the reason that they had no understanding of religion as an educated man understands the term, and that it was quite impossible for them to judge as between the merits of any other faith and those of their own.  This, I venture to suggest, touches the root of the matter.  I have shown the admissions of the Jesuit Archbishop of Calcutta and of the Anglican Bishop of Ranchi that in so far as religion is concerned the change of faith has practically no meaning for adult men and women amongst aboriginal people.  It is to my mind clear from the methods adopted by the Roman Catholic Missionaries that they too know that the theory of freedom of conscience is a sham.  They know full well that, as the historical account of missionary enterprise which I have given abundantly proves, the aboriginal people of this part of India change their faith and accept Christianity in the expectation only of material benefits to be received.  True religion has nothing whatever to do with the matter.  This being so the request of the Bishop of Ranchi for freedom of action in the States cannot be accepted.  We are not concerned, I submit, with the question of benefit to be derived by that higher religious life to which it is the purpose of missionary bodies eventually to bring the people we are concerned with the matter of the interference with the people of the States by an outside body the members of which are in the present case Jesuits and foreigners.  They have maintained that there should be no interference either on the part of the Government of India through its political officers or on that of the State administration with their work, which work is essentially one of interference with the people and, as my history shows, with the administration of the State.  The Roman Catholic Missionaries are now firmly and perpetually installed in the States of Jashpur and Gangpur and I have shown that they are installed there against the will of the Rulers and owing to official pressure brought upon them.  We have seen that the late Raja of Jashpur was described by many political officers and by the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces as a just and kind ruler.  He was apparently a man of exceptional personal merit who had kept his people content.  He saw the danger that lay in store for him after the Missionaries entered his State and he endeavoured to keep them out.  They were forced upon him: he lost heart: and when the Missionaries stirred up agitation he was unable to cope with the situation and was deposed.  He was deposed as a direct result of a well-intentioned but mistaken use of the advice clause in his sanad, which required him to act according to the instructions given him by the political authorities.  It may be argued that we have in Gangpur a still greater number of Christians than they are in the Jashpur State and that there has been no rebellion there.  I would reply to that that it has been fortunate that there has been no rebellion there: the conditions in Gangpur are not in fact exactly similar to those in Jashpur and the late Ruler there had the good fortune to have been a bad ruler and to have had imposed upon him at the beginning of mission, enterprise in the State a European Diwan who was able to control the situation which had already got out of hand when he assumed charge of his office.  There has been a European officer of the Bihar and Orissa Service in Gangpur from 1903 till the present day and it cannot be maintained that the rights of the Ruler have been maintained as has been the public peace.  I have made mention of the fact that the Maharaja of Surguja is determined to keep Christianity out of his State and I understand that he adopts on his border very summary methods with any preachers who make attempt to go into his country- methods which if they were officially resorted to me I would not be able to countenance, but which have been very effective for their purpose.  Now if the Government of India are to accede to the prayer which the Bishop of Ranchi proposes to make to them against my action it will be necessary for me to apply whatever principle is to be applied in the Udaipur State to States under their own Chiefs through the advice clause.  In Surguja there has never been a revenue settlement.  The State is one of over 6,000 square miles in extent and the people are very primitive.  They have been kept content through the exclusion of outside interference and by, I understand, a very light assessment, but were Jesuit interference to be admitted in that State there is every likelihood that a rebellion might ensue, the administration holding only a very light authority throughout the territory.  In the Bastar State we have similar conditions, in an area twice the size.  There settlement operations have created a more stable agrarian position but there are large tracts of country over which the administration has hardly any hold.  Propaganda there, religious or other, would have effects which might conceivably be far beyond the power of the administration to deal with.  It is, not to be denied that, when a State such as Jashpur is situated on the borders of a British district which has become permeated with Christianity, there must be certain influence in the State created through the natural effects of contact.  These effects however will be gradual and must be left to be dealt with by the State administration in its own way, and I would urge that the Government of India should be very zealous to prevent a recurrence in any State of this Agency of the events that took place in Jashpur.  In respect of the Udaipur State and of the particular points arising from my disagreement with the Bishop of Ranchi I make request that the Government of India give me their support in the following propositions:-

(1) The Udaipur State should remain in so far as the religion, habits and customs of its population are concerned in the same general condition as it was on the death of the late Ruler, and no interference direct or indirect on the part of any missionary body should be permitted within its boundaries, the admission of catechists and priests across its borders being entirely prohibited, and all teaching designed to secure any change in the mode of religion being prohibited.

(2) It follows from the above proposition that the acceptance by State subjects of loans of money emanating from mission sources should be prohibited.

(3) The removal from the State of State subjects or their children for the purpose of religious teaching or for conversion should be prohibited.  This prohibition will not, prevent any State subject having the State of his own free will and making his permanent residence elsewhere.

(4) Missionaries residing or working in a State should not be at liberty to use their stations in that State as a base for religious propaganda or for any work connected with the mission in a neighbouring State and no mission station should be established in any State within five miles of the border of a neighbouring State.

(5) The Darbar of every State has the right to expel from the State any person Indian or European, whose presence is likely to injure the interests of the people or Ruler, and missionaries are not exempt from the operation of this principle.  It follows that a Darbar has power to exclude missionaries and mission activity altogether and to legislate for the control of such activity and of proselytism, to prohibit the entry or residence of foreign ministers of religion or their agents, or of any class of such persons, to require that ministration to Indian Christians shall be conducted by ministers of religion who are subjects of any State or of British India, to limit the number of all such persons aforementioned and to license them, and to take action to secure that religious teaching shall be based on the principle of loyalty to the Ruling House.

18. The acceptance by the Government of India of the propositions stated in my last paragraph and the signification of their approval to the action I have taken with the Bishop of Ranchi will meet the present needs of the Udaipur State.  There remains for consideration the question of steps to be taken in the Gangpur and Jashpur States during the remainder of the period of Agency management to secure the position of the Ruler when he comes to the gadi.  There can be no question as to the truth of the proposition that the Political Authorities required the Darbar in each case to admit the missionaries, forced the Darbar to submit to the extension of proselytism, and created a position which, if not now modified will make it impossible in all probability for the Ruler on accession to administer his country in his own way. I represent then that action must now be taken so to modify the existing state of affairs as to make it possible for the Ruler to administer his country.  The missions have in each case a large Christian following.  There can be no thought of securing its reduction and eventual extinction and on the contrary the probability is that Christianity will extend.  Whatever arrangements therefore are to be made should provide for the full satisfaction of the religious needs of the Christian community subject to the maintenance of the public peace and the welfare of the State.  This must form the subject of further special enquiry and consideration, which I will defer pending receipt of the instructions of the Government of India on the other matters brought to their notice in this report.


VINDICATED BY TIME - The Niyogi Committee Report On Christian Missionary Activities

Sita Ram Goel
The Sunshine of �Secularism�
Rift in the Lute
Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Madhya Pradesh
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Tour Programmes of the Committee
District Raigarh
District Surguja
District Raipur
District Bilaspur
District Amravati
District Nimar
District Yeotmal
District Akola
District Buldana
District Mandla
District Jabalpur
District Chhindwara
Replies submitted by Shri J. Lakra
Replies to Questionnaire concerning the area covered by Jashpur, Khuria and Udaipur of the Raigarh district
Replies submitted by the Catholic Sabha of the Raigarh district Replies
Replies submitted by Shri Gurubachan Sing, Raipur
Replies submitted by Chairman and Secretary of the General Conference, Mennonite Mission in India, Saraipali, Raipur district
Replies submitted by Rev. Canon, R. A. Kurian, Nagpur
Replies submitted by Rev. E. Raman, President, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madhya Pradesh, Gopalganj, Sagar
Replies submitted by Miss M. L. Merry, Khirkia R. S., Hoshangabad district, Madhya Pradesh
Replies submitted by Shri L. E. Hartman, Amravati Camp, Berar, Mission Bungalow, Amravati Camp, Berar
Replies submitted by Umri Mission Hospital, Umri, via Yeotmal, Madhya Pradesh
Replies submitted by Shri F. B. Lucas, President, Independent Christian Association, Yeotmal
Replies submitted by Shri R. W. Scott, Secretary, National Christian Council
Replies submitted by Dr. E. Asirvatham, Nagpur
Replies submitted by Shri P. S. Shekdar, Khamgaon, district Buldana
Replies submitted by Shri Sohanlal Aggarwal, Secretary, Vedic Sanskriti Raksha Samiti.
Replies submitted by Shri T. Y. Dehankar, President, Bar Association, and six others of Bilaspur
Replies submitted by Shri M.N. Ghatate, Nagpur Sangh Chalak.
Replies submitted by Shri R. K. Deshpande, Pleader, Jashpurnagar
Correspondence of Roman Catholics with the Committee, the state government and the Central Government
Extracts from Catholic Dharma ka Pracharak and other pamphlets showing the methods of propaganda
Short History of Chhattisgarh Evangelical Mission
Camp: Raipur (22-7-1955)
Camp Bilaspur (25-7-1955)
Raigarh (28-7-1955)
Jashpur (22-11-1955)
Jabalpur (8-8-1955)
Sagar (11-8-1955)
Mandla (15-8-55)
Khandwa (17-8-55)
Yeotmal (10-8-55)
Camp Amravati (13-8-1955)
Washim (16-8-1955)
Buldana 18-8-1955
Malkapur (20-8-1955)
Nagpur (20-9-1955)
Camp Ambikapur (19-11-1955)
Activities of Christian Missions in the Eastern States and proselytism in the Udaipur State by the Jesuit Mission