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An Imperialist Hangover

The Christian mission equates the expansion of Christianity in different parts of the world with the march of the Holy Spirit. The history of Christianity helps us in understanding what the Holy Spirit really stands for-the march of European military machines, the forcible occupation of other people’s motherlands, the massacre of heathens or their conversion at the point of the sword, the exercise of political pressures by imperialist establishments, the use of money and manpower and the mass media on a large scale, and the perfection of a scholarship which excels in suppressio veri suggestio falsi (suppressing truth and spreading falsehood). Christianity was a state enterprise for all European countries, some of which became imperialist powers from the sixteenth century onwards. The record of Christianity over the last nearly two thousand years provides no evidence that it ever prevailed over paganism by the moral or ethical or spiritual superiority of its teachings.

Till less than two hundred years ago, the Christian mission used to proclaim with considerable pride how many heathens it had killed or forced into the fold, how many orphans it had collected and baptised, how many pagan temples it had demolished, how many pagan idols it had smashed, how many schools and seminaries of the infidels it had closed down, and so on. The tales of the mission’s brutalities were relished by the beneficiaries of the booty it brought home. Jesus was thanked in thousands of Churches for the bounties he had bestowed upon his beloved people. Europe, America, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and many islands in the Pacific were christianised not by pious missionaries mouthing catechisms but by armed mercenaries employed by the mission or its patron states. In any case, no missionary ever succeeded in making mass conversions in any place unless he was backed by the military or political power of this or the European imperialism.

The mission had to change its methods when it came to some countries of Asia and Africa which were not so defenceless or which had vibrant cultures of their own. India which had been invaded successively by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the French and conquered finally by the British, was such a country. The British realized very soon that their empire would be imperilled if the mission was let loose with all its fury; so they kept it on a leash and allowed it to leap forward only in tribal areas. The mission, however, continued to use violent and vituperative language against everything held sacred by the Hindus, till it received a strong rebuff from resurgent Hinduism. Meanwhile, the struggle for freedom was gathering force. The two currents combined and reached their climax in Mahatma Gandhi. The mission was thwarted for the time being. It had to rethink, which it started doing from the Tambaram conference onwards.

India has become independent. But the mission is yet to admit that it has no role to play in India, and retire. It is still suffering from an imperialist hangover. It had once confused the superiority of Western arms with the superiority of the Christian creed. The confusion continues and will not be corrected so long as the mission wields the organisational weapon it had forged when India was in bondage.

We have traced elsewhere the history of Hindu-Christian encounters in the past.1 It shows that Christianity was trounced whenever it entered into a debate with Hinduism. Christianity has survived in India not on account of any strength or merit in its arguments but because its machine continues to grind even when it loses the debate. Hindus have still to understand that game and defeat it on its own grounds.2


  1. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters by Sita Ram Goel, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1989. 

  2. The mission apparatus was partially discussed recently by Sri Ram Swarup in two review articles in The Times of India. We are reproducing them in this book, with some additions, as Appendices 2 and 3. They are a great help in understanding the working of the missionary machine, in which Catholic ashrams are only a cog. Some figures on mission finance have been given in Appendix 4.