Missionaries, Sanskrit and Oxford University: A History

INDIA, April 26, 2018 (Swarajyamag by Manish Maheswari): For Christian missionaries, India is an unfinished project, and it is not because of lack of trying. Every conceivable means has been tried to convert the heathens into the true religion of Christ, from downright annihilation (inquisition at Goa) to sophisticated racial theories (Bishop Robert Caldwell’s Dravidian race theory) meant to strike at the very foundation of Hinduism.

During the early nineteenth century, the reigning consensus among the missionaries was if the learned Brahmins could be converted into Christianity, then the whole super-structure of Hinduism would collapse, and the rest of the population could be converted with ease. A missionary with a good command of Sanskrit would be well received by the Pandits and educated Hindus, because “if he (the missionary) can quote from Bhagavad Gita, his own religious instruction will come with greater weight.” Colonel Joseph Boden, a British military officer, gave a generous grant to establish the Sanskrit Chair at Oxford University in 1830. He was “of the opinion that a more general and critical knowledge of [Sanskrit] will be a means of enabling my Countrymen to proceed in the Conversion of the Natives of India to the Christian Religion, by disseminating a knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures (Bible) amongst them more effectually than all other means whatsoever.”

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Source: Hinduism Today