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Roots of Orissa's 'Christian' Problem PDF Print E-mail
Topics of Interest - Ancient & Sacred
Written by Vrndavan Parker   

First Christain Missionaries Blasphemy of Lord Jagannath
Orissa's First Christain Missionaries Blasphemy of Lord Jagannath
"Bampton's "forlorn hope" to plant the banner of the Cross within the precincts of Juggernaut's temple is vengefully vented by Peggs to whom "Juggernaut, the grat, the obscene, the bloody Juggernaut, must fall; Long perhaps will be the struggle and fierce the conflict but he must fall; and the place which knows him now will know him no more forever." James Peggs, along with William Bampton was the First Christian Missionary in Orissa

"During the 19th Century Sutton's translation of books on Science helped the people of Orissa to be aware of the new knowledge till now beyond their reach. But he did not succeed in finding a place in the hearts of the natives because of his attitude towards the State-deity Lord Jagannath. Thus, Sutton and his friends dared to accuse the Lord as “an idol of wood” and Shrikshetra as the “devil’s headquarters” (Bampton), the celebrated Emporium of Idolatry (Sutton) This attitude of these missionaries made the natives to look at them with suspicion."

 

Bampton, Peggs and Sutton were the first Christian Missionaries in Orissa.I wonder why Hindus have long been suspicious of the Missionary motives?! Some may argue and say that Christains no longer subscribe to such views yet none can deny that their goal is exactly the same. When one is being robbed the method involved is unimportant.

Development of Modern Education in India: An Empirical Study of Orissa

By Bina Kumari Sarma

In 1812 Missionaries appealed to the British govt to work in Orissa. The British Govt rejected their appeal fearing that radical missionary attacks on the traditional socio-religious institutions may provide a spark for widespread political disturbances. (Must have been the VHP or Bajrang Dal enforcing their will upon the British Govt!) In 1813 with a change in British Govt policy permission was given. The First Oriya convert on record was in 1828. The first three oriya evangelists were trained in 1841 in Cuttack by Samuel Amos.

 

The first Baptist missionaries in Orissa were William Bampton  and James Pegg arriving in 1816..they considered education ‘as auxiliary to preaching’and saw education as a means for the gradual destruction of Hinduism and the spread of Christianity.  .  Writing in the Asiatic Observer one Missionary observed: “Before we can reasonably hope that the Hindus will be converted into Christ, it is necessary that they should be capable of understanding of what the missionary preaches them.” The establishment of schools was recognized by the Baptist Mission Society as one of the best means for the spread of Christianity and conversion of the people of India.

 


 To Missionary Laurie, Orissa was a land of superstitions; to Kaye, the "real character of

Hindooism was repulsive. Way back in June 1806, Rev. Claudius Buchanan had written

about the "atrocities" at Puri, This clergy had even suggested then for the establishment of a

Christian institution to undermine the impact of Jagannath.In 1813 he wrote to the court of

Directors to draw their attention to the promising prospects for evangelization and

conversion "into the pure religion of Jesus Christ". Targetting  most of the "heathens" who gather for the "annual carnival" of car-festival in 1823 a thousand copies of the Gospel, translated to

Oriya were distributed by William Bampton and James Peggs. The effort drew a blank.

Reinforced though in their ranks by Charles Lacey and Amos Sutton, they could hardly

make any inroads. Bampton's pamphlet, "Folly of the Worship of Jagannath" only brought the

initially promising but finally spiteful proposition of Sadhu Sundar Das. The

missionaries had forgotten that it is better to be irresponsibly right than responsibly wrong

Bampton's "forlorn hope" to plant the banner of the Cross within the precincts of

Juggernaut's temple is vengefully vented by Peggs to whom "Juggernaut, the grat, the

obscene, the bloody Juggernaut, must fall; Long perhaps will be the struggle and fierce the

conflict but he must fall; and the place which knows him now will know him no more for

ever."So lamented Sutton, out of typical Christian disillusionment, "your

prayers can not pierce this gloom nor your labours open an avenue sufficient to let down

a ray of heaven's light on this idolatrous province."Buchanan had described Orissa as "the

wide and extended empire of the Moloch in the heathen world." Peggs was more candid in

his admission, "Orissa presented a challenge to the missionaries since it contained the temple

of Jagannath, the Mecca of Hindustan, the Sebastapol of Hindu idolatry" (J.Peggs, A

Brief Sketch of the Rise and Progress of Cuttack, London, 1854, p-4). The strong bond

of "Mahaprasad brotherhood" among the Oriyas was deliberated upon in the British

Parliament in January, 1873. In 1817, Robert Ker, in his report, described the Oriyas as rude

and ignorant in the eyes of the British.Wilkins (Hindu Mythology) had described Jagannath-

Puri as "one of the greatest religious centres of the world." Charles Grome regarded it as

"probably the most celebrated temple in India to which resort pilgrims from all parts of the

country" (Collector of Pilgrim Tax to Board of Revenue : 11th Nov.1806, JTC Pt-I) It seems the missionaries outnumbered the converts. Stray are instances of conversion, as of 'Lokhun' Das who tore his sacred-thread to declare his conversion.

Source

 

July - 2003

Orissa Review

Lord Jagannath and the Bicker of the British

During the 19th Century Sutton's translation of books on Science helped the people of Orissa to be aware of the new knowledge till now beyond their reach. But he did not succeed in finding a place in

the hearts of the natives because of his attitude towards the State-deity Lord

Jagannath. Thus, Sutton and his friends dared to accuse the Lord as “an idol of

wood” and Shrikshetra as the “devil’s headquarters” (Bampton), the celebrated

Emporium of Idolatry (Sutton) This attitude of these missionaries made the

natives to look at them with suspicion. Amos-Sutton – Narrative of the rise and progress of mission at Orissa – Introduction – Pp 06-08, 56-67.

18.

(a) These are the few examples how Sutton and Lacey saw Jagannath– “the idols have

been replaced on the cars to return. I can not refrain from noticing the gestures lascivious

songs which were again employed to animate the draggers and the spread an infernal

enthusiasm through out the gazing assemble…. The following day a poor wretched

himself under Juggernaut’s car and was crushed to death. (Sutton narratives (1830) in :

Indian’s cries to British humanity by pegs.

(b) Though the concourse of the Pilgrims was small than formerly, the horrors of idolatry

were no less apparent. One miserable pilgrim immolated himself under the wheels of

Jaggernaut’s car. His brains were dashed out and he immediately died. Account of Lacey

(1977), in History of the General Bapist Mission Pp 179, and in History of Jagannath

Temple in the Nineteenth century - Prabhat Mukherjee, (1977), Firma KLM (pvt) Limited,

Calcutta - Pp 299 - 300.

(c) William Laurie, who had a tour to the then Orissa in 1846 described – Orissa may be

compared to a huge Caldron, which been boiling for many hundreds of years, into which

ignorance, stupidity and bigotry have cast so many poisonous ingredients that it is difficult

to say that when the contents will become purified and good….it’s early history is perhaps

more wrapped in obscurity than that of any provinces. Ignorance, oppression and

superstition garnished with the deceitful trappings of romance, either by, or through the

means of self-interested potentates, have for many ages, gilded the misery which has

13

been endeaoured by its poor deluded inhabitance – William F.B.Laurie (1846) - Orissa,

the garden of superstition and idolatry, including an account of British connection with the

temple of Jagannath – London, Johnston and Haunter, 26 – Paternoster Row : and its

princes street, Edinburgh. 1846 Pp 05, 06.

(d) Sutton who Stayed in Orissa nearly 28 years has observed – The whole tendency of

the Hindu Idolatry is to encourage duplicity and licentiousness. The wonder is that the

people of India, generally, are not far more deprived than they are, still as a matter of

fact. The writer is disposed to believe that there is in Orissa considerably more of

conjugal fidelity, of sterling home virtues and domestic happiness, compelled with

more general respectability of character, than has been ascribed to Hindus generally.

Orissa and its Evangelisation (1850), Derby England, Pp 54

William F.B. Laurie, a missionary in his chapter Puri and the Temple of Jagannath,

in his book, "Orissa, the Garden of Superstition and Idolatry" has jeered at people's faith in

Lord Jagannath and the display of their religious sentiments during the Car Festival. His fidelity

to Christianity and abhorrence of non-Christian faith prompted him to make the following

comments : "The entire scene of the Rath Jatra savours, to an incredible extent of the ludicrous, the

barbarous and the awful. The eager expectation, the unceasing din of a great multitude, the acclamations of "victory to Jagannath !" which rend the car when the images are brought forth in an erect posture ...

There you may picture to yourself Christianity shuddering; there, morality weeping ... Prof. P.Mukherjee in his article, 'Car Festival under the East India Company' has given quite

an apt comment : "The Christian missionaries used to visit Puri during the Car Festival to vilify Jagannath and to persuade the pilgrims in distress to embark christianity. Their accounts are naturally biased."

The book Was Hinduism Invented? By Brian K. Pennington reveals the intense prejudice and bias of early Christian missionaries in Orissa. In Buchanan’s Christian Researches in Asia, He says, “We know we are approaching Juggernaut by the human bones which we have seen for some days strewn by the way.” O there is no Pity in Juggernaut! No mercy, no tenderness of heart in Moloch’s Kingdom!” the characteristics of Moloch’s worship is obscenity and blood!”

 

 
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