Saga of proselytisation in Orissa : Past , Present and Future

published on May 16, 2009

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By Debasis
Tripathy in Bhubaneswar




At last the balidan
of swami Laxmananda Saraswati, the venerable saint who emerged as the
nemesis of proselytisation, compelled the state government to confess the
reality, may be in late. The patriotic blood of Swamijee has dragged  the truth out, that “ Conversion to
Christianity is the root cause of all problems in Kandhamal” , what the state
government has submitted before the Supreme Court. It is an official
declaration of the government admitting the allegations of uncontrolled and
unlawful proselytisation, mushrooming growth of which is continuing since 1720
AD, even under the nose of the administration. Anti conversion laws have taken
compulsory retirements in order to appease the evangelical vote bank of the
sate whose number is ever increasing. The govt. has admitted that 24,000 Hindus
have been converted to Christianity in Kandhamal within few years, which is
openly denied by the evangelists. They do not want to loose their minority
identity in spite of possessing an army of proselytisers in many parts of the
state including Kandhamal. A series of church sponsored atrocities and
conversion in the name of service and religious purity, made by the so-called
god men in white gowns, has disrupted peace and composure in the state a great
deal , which is being officially admitted today by the state government.


 

The crusade of proselytisation first started in
Orissa in the year 1720 AD , with a well chalked out plan to make this holy
land of Lord Jagannath , a part of the evangelical empire by destroying
Orissa’s deep rooted enriched culture and heritage. The church people left no
stone unturned to make their unholy mission successful. The first school of
proselytisation in Orissa was opened at Athgarh in Cuttack district , where a Hindu Sadhu namely
Sundar Das was tortured by pastors and he was forced to accept Christianity .
Sadhu bluntly refused to become converted for which he was sent to jail at the
age of 110 years, basing on false allegations manufactured by the evangelists.
How ever his two pupils namely Gangadhar Sarangi and Ramachandra Jachak were
converted to Christianity through allurement that if they would become
Christian, their writings would be published in the Church printing press. This
was the first conversion in Orissa in the month of October 1827. Sadhu Sundar
Das was a preacher of Bhakti Cult who was working as a  soldier in the army of the then king of
Athgarh during his youth. Latter he left army and started studying Sanskrit and
scriptures , became a Sanyasi. The Church people first targeted him and did
every effort to mould him towards Christianity. Two missionaries namely Bampton
and Pegus came to him in the year 1822 and persuaded him to become Christian
but Sundar Das was not ready to discard Hinduism. Sadhu Sunder Das also started
his Sudhi programme and returned back his followers who were baptised by
pastors. Hence he became sole target by the Church and breathed his last on 16th
April 1838, in a very miserable condition. Though Sadhu Sunder Das was not
directly killed by the Church, but he was compelled to die being imprisoned for
false allegations made by the church people. The same thing was repeated,but in
a different manner in 2008 ,in which Swami Laxmananada was murdered by the
evangelists.


 



Christian Press in
Proselytisation-




 



The evangelists  as a part of their tarnished ploy for
proselytisation, started printing press in Orissa in order to attract people.
As there was no such printing press , people thronged in to their press to get
their literary works published. Taking its advantage, the church started
publishing different blasphemous literatures defaming Hindu deities like Lord
Jagannatah in a most uncivilised manner. 
In 1838, Orissa Mission Press was established in Cuttack and two books were published in Oriya
language namely “ Sat O Asat Jagannath”(
True or False Jagannath) and “ Gundicha
Yatra ra Mahaschrya Phal” 
( The
surprising result of  Car Festival ).
These books openly outraged Lord Jagannath and reprimand the deity and his
devotees in a worst possible manner. Two more 
publications namely “ Kutrabar Patra” and “Gayan Runa” were published
from the said printing press in 1759 and in 1849 respectively by pastor C.
Leysy as their editor. Both these publications worked as the  manifesto of proselytisation through which a
good number of educated people were baptised . Apart from this, the church
people in the name of spreading western education in the state harvested a good
crop of converted Hindus through their mission schools. Convent schools were
opened in different parts of the state. The famous Sunday School was started at
Cuttack in 1822
and other 27 such schools were established in the coastal belt of Orissa during
1897 and the total student strength of these schools were 1248, all most all
were baptised. In 1823 , four English medium schools were opened at Cuttack along with a
boarding school. This boarding school which latter turned into an orphanage,
was a workshop of proselytisation and all the children were converted to
Christianity . Latter , in 1881 CuttackStewartSchool
and in 1882 MissionSchool, were 
established at Cuttack
to fuel the fire of proselytisation.


 


 
 


 




Revolution Against
Church-  













It is a part
of the known history that the Vanvasis of Orissa have been badly affected by
the illegal conversion, their socio-cultural and religious lives have been
contaminated by the church people. Kandhamal is the best example what the
church has done there and how it has been spreading hatred among native
vanvasis and how the same is being protested by the culture-loving tribals. The
church people created panic in the tribal areas of the state through
proselytisation, poor people were searching way how to get rid of the same ,
again spreading of blasphemous imputations against their deities made them
furious . A revolution broke out against Christians 1815 in the tribal areas ,
famous as “ Ghumusar Revolution” and continued up to 1857. The book namely “
Administration of East India Company” authored by Mr. T.W.Kaye is the clinching
evidence of this revolution. At page 595 & 596 , the author writes “  Missionary
activities of Christian Padris all over the estate alarmed the people about the
impending danger to their religion and civilisation and subsequently they took
to arms to defend their faith and culture from being imperilled by the rising
tide of Christianity in the region.”
 The revolution first started by Kamal Loachan
Dora Bisoi, backed by the king Sreekar Bhanja and Dhanajaya Bhanja . In 1837,
Dora Bisoi was captured by the British people and was sent to Ooty jail where
he died in 1846. ( ref. letter of captain Macpherson to Mills dtd.27.12.1846.
B.R.A. Vol. 1846 ) . The then princely states were also helping the
revolutionaries to drive the missionaries out of the state in order to save the
Hindu religion and Jagannath cult form destruction and to combat
proselytisation. However , Dora Bisoi ignited the first flame of revolution
against the evangelists in Khurda, Banapur, Puri areas and the same became
successful and took the momentum as the famous Paika Revolution of Khurda of
1817. The second phase of revolution against Christians started by Chakara
Bisoi, Nabaghan Kanhar, Bira Kanhar and others in the year 1846 and continued
up to 1866. [ ref. Letter of Samuels to secretary to govt. dtd. 1.2.1856,
B.R.A. Vol. 1855-57 ]. This revolution spreaded like wild fire against the
Christians far and wide. Chakara Bisoi and his revolutionary friends led the
revolution from Athagarh to Paralakhemundi, from Angul to Ghumusar, from
Patanagarh to Nayagarh, from Boudh to Russelkonda mostly against the
socio-cultural and religious exploitation and conversion by Christian pastors. In
Kandhamal, the Kandha vanvasis killed 13 proselytisers including British
officials at a place namely Udaygiri , which was their spontaneous reaction
against the Christians.


 

While this revolution against the Christians was in
its full swing and was approaching towards its finality, the unfortunate
calamity devastated Orissa , ill-famous as the Famine of 1866. About 10 lakhs
people died out of starvation and the Christians did not miss the golden
opportunity to catch fish from that troubled water. They started  food stalls where the hungry Hindu people
were being provided food in exchange of their religion. These stalls were
working as the open canters of proselytisation. Three evangelists namely
William Brooks, William Billey and John Bookley were in charge of this mass
conversion drive and many Hindus were converted to Christianity being compelled
by the situation. [ ref. Letter of Mr. Derby to Thomas cook dtd.7.11.1888]. This
historic famine broke the back bone of the poor people of Orissa and their
revolution against the church sponsored atrocities was cool down.


 


 
Table
Showing Christian Population in Cuttack- Bhubaneswar

Source- www.catholic-hierarchy.org


Year


Catholics


Total Population


Percent Catholic


Diocesan Priests


Religious Priests


Total Priests


Catholics Per Priest


Permanent Deacons


Male Religious


Female Religious


Parishes


Source


 

1950

12,500

4,900,000

.3%

3

21

24

520


 

21

42

6

ap1951

1969

46,862

7,620,000

.6%

32

40

72

650


 

55

77

22

ap1971


 

1980

24,277

7,387,000

.3%

29

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