Abstract of applications received in Buldana district
The 16th October 1954.
The 16th October 1954
The Chairman as usual explained the purpose for which the Committee has been set up by the State Government and introduced the members.
Shri Bhatia, Chairman, Janapad Sabha: Missionary menace, like T. B., is a great disaster in our country, which will destroy it. Government should, therefore, take a step to check it. Missionaries may live in this country. Hindu religion does not hate them. But they should not enter into objectionable activities. I am not in a position to give the number of converts since 1947. There are a girl’s school and a boarding here.
Muss Janet, Head of the School: Christians here have no cause for complaint or trouble. There is no conversion here.
District Superintendent of Christian: We believe that there is only one God on earth and it is Christ. We tell people accordingly. It is His desire that we should go out and tell the shubhwarta (good news) to every one. If anybody does not do so, he is not a real Christians I speak only of Khamgaon whereas my other friends present here have been speaking in general terms because they have nothing to say against our work in Khamgaon.
Shri Brahmapure: A comparative study of religious preaching should be compulsory for anyone who preaches particular religion. God’s kingdom on earth, which the missionaries preach, means Christian Raj. But ours is not a Christian Raj. Missionaries may be using idiomatic language in their prachar, but it has adverse effect on our illiterate brothers. This is only one of the many instances. Extracts from Bible are also used for prachar. The reservation of seats for candidates of different categories in railway and other central services is the result of religious fanaticism. Christian converts have no love, affection or sincerity for India. The demand for Isaistan is a symptom of this. Culture and nationality cannot in my opinion, be different. The fundamental policy of the State should be such that such converts should not be allowed to live in our country. There are different denominations even among Christian missionaries. Missionaries from all over the world have been functioning in our country. These foreigners do not come here purely for the sake of religion. They are directly or indirectly connected with foreigners. Such people as have been obliged and converted by them are bound to have affiliation for foreign countries of these missionaries. Raj Kumari Amritkuwar visited the State and gave a certificate to these people. This should not have been done, particularly when the Commission was to come here. In Canada one of our Swamis, who had gone there for preaching Vedanta, was asked to quit that country. Even in Foreign countries, there is relation between religion and politics. In Kabul one man has become Ameer. He says that three Bs should be kept away by his successors. First B comes from Bible, second from Brandy, and the third from Banias. We do not invite anybody from foreign countries. They oblige such people as are illiterate and backward. They have obliged us too much so far. It is, therefore, time for them now to go away. If they want to remain here, they should remain as Aryas. One Kirtankar from Ahmednagar had come here. Everyone knows how he used to abuse the Hindu religion. In the past Government servants used to check missionary institutions. They may not be doing so now. A major girl from Nagpur was brought here by missionaries. When her husband and father came to take her aw Dr. Chande, Dr. Barve, Kale and myself went and called the girl. She refused to come unless her husband becomes Christian. Her husband and father put the girl in our car. Miss Maw of the Mission also tried to get into the car but the driver of the car did not allow her to enter. Miss Maw then went to local police S.-D. O. who took out warrants of kidnapping against us. The trying magistrate in his judgment asked that the girl should given in charge of, Miss Maw. This shows the favouritism of Government officers towards Christians. There is no trace of the girl since then. Government should make a law that Hindus should not be converted. Punishment should be imposed on those who break it. Forty lakh dollars are being provided to these people by American Government. The political aspect of this should be clear from this fact.
Shri Dar, Member, Hindu Mahasabha: Missionaries go to Government primary schools and children there are attracted by them because they give them sweets and there photographs, pictures of Christ are freely distributed by them in such schools.
District Superintendent: We deny this allegation.
Shri Dar: Do not go to small children to attract them. You come to us. A tailor’s wife was being taken away by some missionaries. When I intervened, I was told that they had obliged the tailor. Even a secular man like Jawaharlalji has confessed that missionaries have political motive. There is political motive behind conversion. Shri S. D. Gill, an ex-Christian missionary, has said that when a man becomes a Christian, he does not remain an Indian. There is change in his loyalties and affinities. There is extra territorial loyalty. We make no distinction between different foreigners, whether he be a Goanese or Portuguese. Even Indian Christians have supported our move for driving out foreign missionaries from this land. It has been stated in Meek Committee’s report that conversions to Christianity should be stopped in this country. When foreigners pay to preachers, we feel that they may be taking a pledge from them that so many persons must be converted. The Committee should try to get a copy of the pledge and find out the object of receiving such a huge financial aid from foreign countries.
Anekar Vakil, Hindu Sabha: I have presented an application on behalf of the local Hindu Sabha. We have acquired swaraj to preserve out religion and culture. Religion and politics cannot be divorced. The Second World War was fought by Hitler to extend his culture. I wish that the Committee’s report should be ideal for the whole world. Foreign aid should come to the Government of India instead of direct to the missionaries here. They can utilise it to the best advantage. They say that we should become Christians. Our religion teaches us to make others Arya. If we work with their zeal, what will be the position. Will there be no clashes in the future? So far as Buldana district affairs are concerned, Chikhli mission has purchased 125 acres of black soil. Missionaries activities are very secret. From census reports it may be seen that between 1941 and 1951 Christian population in this district has increased. I have made basic suggestions in my application.
Shri Dongre Vakil, President, Bar Association: Missionaries object to our preaching in their localities, but they preach in our localities.
District Superintendent: These people have several times preached near our compound.
Shri Narayan Mapari: In one of the Kirtans of Mr. Carner’s brother he abused Hindu religion. I, therefore, requested Mr. Carrier to allow me to speak a few words after his Kirtan. In the course of his Kirtan he said that Hindu Gods are of stones, and stones are in latrines, buildings and temples.
Mr. Carner: This is false. This was a private programme. I did not like to allow him to speak in our private programme.
Shri Narayan Mapari: Christian schools and hospitals are run merely with the object of proselytization. My wife was formerly a Christian. She has been converted to Hinduism now. When her sister was in Christian custody at Pendra Road, I went with my wife to her and she (aged 11 to 12 in 1950, May) desired to come back with us but the Christians refused to send her. Shri Dehankar and Gopalprasad, Pleaders from Bilaspur gave me an application, which I gave to Police. They made enquiries, aid said that there is no girl of the name. This is the fate of children in mission orphanages. Till now there is no trace of my sister-in-law. One Harijan from Chikhli had come here to take away his sister and he requested my help. But he did not turn up again. It appears that the missionaries have sent him away after bribing.
Shri Supaji: I do not know any cases of conversion, or of allurement. Missionaries oblige people. Reads out his speech, which was written for him by some one and supports the missionaries, speaking highly of services rendered by them).
School Headmistress: I have been in the school since the last two years only. There is no mission activity in the school and no books have been given to the children during school hours. We visited the primary school here once as requested by the District Inspectress of Schools. We also allow teachers from other schools in our school for some time. If you think that we have done any harm to you, we are prepared to make necessary changes in our working. Our school is always visited by the District Inspectress and she did not find anything against us so far.
The 16th October 1954.
The Chairman introduced the members of the Committee and explained its object.
Shri L. Deshmukh, Landlord: We feel there is some behind the religious activities of missionaries. There is no in this conversion. Missionaries stand surety for thieves at convert them. Such things have taken place in British regime. I cannot say if there are any cases after independence, but I heard that there are some.
Shri S. L. Mannote, Christian Palak: I spread the message of Christ. I spread religion. I have been doing this since 1939. I preach the Christ of the Bible. There is no objection to my doing so, except by a couple of persons sitting here. I have never said that people should change their religion. But I wish that there should be a change of heart. I try for that and shall be doing so. Regarding the allegation that we preach to the sufferers, we say that on the alleged occasion loud-speakers were used and the life of Jesus Christ was explained for two hours, which could be heard in the whole town. Therefore it cannot be said that we approach the illiterates only. About taking advantage of economic distress, I do not think that those who made this allegation, will be able to point out a single instance of this. Dr. Spiker used to come here formerly. Now Dr. Vikar Comes. Females from respectable families of this place come to mission hospital. I give a beat of drum that all needy should come there. When they come, naturally there they talk to us on different things. Christ has said that the sufferers should be helped. I am talking about conversion of heart. In the conversation in the hospital. I tell them how Jesus Christ cures the patients and their souls. He is the greatest physician in the world. Regarding providing employment, since missionaries have no political influence, it may well understood what they may be doing to provide employment. About abuse of Gods, I have been preaching in this taluq and in Maharashtra, but I have preached Christ of the Bible and nothing besides that. I have never uttered a sentence against Hindu religion. I have told people about the saving power of Jesus Christ. I take particular care to see that no words are en against any other religion. There is an allegation that land has been given for Christian temple instead of giving it for school. In this connection I have to say that I am a citizen of India. When we requested the D. C. for land, we stated therein that when Muslims and Hindus have several mosques and temples, why should we not have a single church. Even if a man is baptised, it does not mean that he is a true Christian. There must be purity of heart. There was a camp in Wadgaon in 1939. People come from distant places for camp and take part in bhajans etc. About criminal offences and surety by missionaries under section 110 or 107, this was an old practice before independence. (The Chairman said that the Committee is not concerned with that. About the allegation that the Christian religion does not allow two wives…… the speaker went on to say further, but the chairman informed him that this is not important from the point of view of the Committee).
I am an ordained priest. My pay is just sufficient to meet my bare necessities. I get Rs. 100 per mensem. Luther Mannote is my name. I have converted about 8 to 10 people so far. I may have baptised some people. (In a roundabout manner avoids to give out the caste of the people converted). I get my pay from local church. 1/10th of it is expected to be contributed. The church of the Nazerene has a central fund. Shri Sadasheo Dongardive is its treasurer. Missionaries do not force me to preach. I do not preach for money. It is because of the love of Christ. I am not the only preacher. In my religion every one is expected to preach. Otherwise he is not a true Christian. There are about seven pracharaks in this taluq. Their pay comes mainly from central fund and partly from mission. There is a congregation of 20 persons here.
Shri P. N. Kale, Pleader, President, Taluq Congress Committee: People go to the bazar for purchases and listen to their prachar. Missionaries should not think that they go to listen to their prachar.
Shri B. G. Deshpande: Missionaries do not preach Christianity but they misguide the people, when they say that Christ is the greatest of all apostles. This is nothing but repetition of Angul.
Pandit Awasthi: Why missionaries are active in India only? Why do they not go to other countries? In India there is a change of culture by conversion. An Englishman praises Thames like anything. Similarly an Indian Christian praises the Thames. He does not speak highly about the Ganges. We say that Christians are ours and they should remain ours.
Shri M. I. Deshmukh, Pleader: The mission property in Mehkar is worth about a lakh of rupees. This is purchased with the money received from foreign countries. Even doors and other things of mission bungalow have come from abroad. Why did they not employ local carpenters and others for these things and give them employment? We have not been able to build such a building as their mission bungalow for our Bhatji, even though we have been living here since long.
Shri K. T. Sangle, member A. I. C. C.: In our Ved-Puran there are instances of walls moving and buffaloes reading Ved. Then why not read that and why read Christ. When the hearts of missionaries are not changed, why should they think of changing the hearts of others. That is false. They come to India but they do not want to mix with people here. It is their money that mixes with the people and not their hearts. I do not remember that Christians ever preached Mahatmaji’s doctrine. I am of Kakri Sampradaya and sing Bhajans. Our object is to bring about change of heart of persons like Luther. In the famine of 1939, August-September, missionaries used to stand on the road and obstruct people from going to gitti camps. They used to say “why do you go to gitti work? Jesus will give you money. Embrace our religion. Take money and join our religion. Why do you do gitti work?” Their British support disappeared after independence. Once Hindu Gods and Krishna were abused by missionaries. I asked some questions to the preacher but he was not able to reply.
Shri M. L. Deshmukh, Vakil: YMCA, Nagpur’s collection is after independence. Prof. Dharamraj was accompanied by Government revenue officers from Mehkar. We do not get admission to YMCA. Our taluq contributed Rs. 15,000 for the purpose. Why Government officers should help when there are no Government instructions on the subject? I am not criticisms any particular revenue or other officer, but my point is that even now Government officers patronise Christians but they are not inclined to patronise local organisations.
Shri Luther: We get converts from towns as well as villages.
Shri Kale: In 1951 a woman aged 50 or so was converted to Christianity in Bhadegaon village.
Shri T. S. Saoji: I know a case of hospital conversion, where a man getting Rs. 45 had become Christian to receive cheaper and careful medical help.
Shri Carner: Replies to all points and says that false charges have been levelled against Christians. We do not want to teach people about Krististan. We tell people to cooperate with Government. When there is a war, I do not think we will to against India. We try to approximate our standard of living here with the one we are accustomed to in America. The money comes from America because we are poor. We preach that Christ is love. I did not preach anybody. I left my father and mother, my family and nay standard if living. I hive done all this sacrifice for Christ and his love. Is it not sufficient proof of my sincerity to Christ and his love? We do not want to denationalise people here. We help the Government in all its activities. I can only speak for myself. I cannot speak for all the missions in India. If some of the Christians vilify other religions, I believe it is a mistake on their part.
Chairman explained the purpose of the committee.
Dr. Ramvilas Nathmal Daga of Jansangh: Manibai village, 15 miles from Chikhli, has almost been converted. We have a man here who was converted. Now he has come back to Hinduism.
Shri Dhondu Sheoram Borkar: I was a Christian before 15 years. Later I became a Hindu. I was poor. There was no cultivation for me in the jungle and no house to live in the basti. Christian preachers approached me and said that I was very poor and if I became a Christian, they would educate my children and help me in emergencies. Taking into consideration the circumstances in which I was placed, I considered it proper to become a Christian. I remained so for about 8 to 10 years and my children were admitted to school. But after some months they demanded fees from me. I have four children. I used to get only Rs. 8 per mensem as pay and the fees of these children was Rs. 11 per mensem. I could not, therefore, pay, the fees, and my children were removed from school. All the children have thus left the school now. They are approaching me again for conversion. They request me to send my sons to school. They say they will have Krististan when their number increases. They also criticise Hindu religion. I used to receive about Rs. 5 to Rs. 10 per month for a year or so after conversion. Those who are well-to-do do not become Christians. Only poor persons are attempted to be converted. There are many such people in villages. There may be about 5,000 Christians in Chikhli taluq.
Dr. Daga: I can give many applications from those converts who have come back to the Hindu religion. In different countries different religions have patronage of the State. Similarly Hindu religion should be patronised by the State in India. Government should open a branch of the Ecclesiastical Department for Hindu religion. Lakhs of rupees are spent on various schemes by Government. Government should spend something on Ecclesiastical Department by saving some amount on their schemes.
Shri Borkar and Daga: There is no restriction on scheduled caste people for entering any temple. No inducements are given for reconversion to Hinduism.
Shri Bhatkar, M. P.: Ninety-nine per cent of the converts are from my caste, i.e., the Scheduled Castes. I run a Chokhamela hostel here. In 1924 all Scheduled Castes converts in Janephal were brought back to Hinduism. Unfortunately we have no funds to give them employment. Most of these were reconverted to Christianity by missionaries. I do not mind their propagating any religion. But they should not abuse other religions. Missionaries distribute free books. Generally there is more conversion among Mahars and Mangs. Criminals such as thieves are told that if they convert to Christianity, there will not be police watch over them. Many are converted when they are minors. There are some boys in my hostel, whose names were changed without permission in Christian hostels. Their parents are ignorant and illiterate. This is true. Names of my children were changed by missionaries without my knowledge and permission.
It is difficult to say how many of these are victims of this practice, because there is a form, which seeks permission of parents for Bible classes and attendance at prayers. Most of the parents are not educated. Therefore they sign these forms blindly. People think that admission and teaching is free in mission schools. But when students leave their schools, parents are asked to pay fees, which is impossible for them. Out of a total population of 205,000 in taluq scheduled castes are 34,000. When the question of scholarship for scheduled castes and backward classes comes up, converted students record their names as Mahars.
Shri James: Our mission school is only up to 8th class. Children passing out from it go to Government high school.
Bhatkar: Here is only one temple of devi to which everyone is allowed entrance. Other temples are not open to Harijans. Some of these are private. But almost all the temples are not open. In Amdapur there is a boarding, which is not open to all. Missionaries are spending more on their hostels than Government is doing on our hostels. Two educated Harijan girls here have no service, whereas others have got it. Harijan boys are not taken up in police service in the State.
Shri C. C. James: Instances can he quoted where many people come of their own for conversion. So far as I know, no money has been given to Borkar for conversions alleged by him. We are in somewhat the same situation as Government. Fees in our schools are low. We allow religious teaching in our schools. We are gradually increasing our fees from time to time. This year a Christian student said that if his fee was not reduced, he would turn Hindu. I told him that we are not Roman Christians and do not give fee and other concessions. In past years, several people came to me saying that they wanted to get themselves converted. But I found that they were mostly in search of some concessions or facilities. I refused to convert them. Ours is definitely an Evangelistic mission and, therefore, we are interested in change of heart. There have been no doubt cases of some Christian converts going back to Hindu religion. We are not interested in the mere name “Christian” without belief in Christ as the Saviour of the world. It is said that uneducated people come to us for conversion. But those who come to us are in misery and poverty, and are hungry of love. And, therefore, they want to see the true God. Educated people also come to us. But they do so when there is need for them. We say that Christ alone can give salvation, because we do not know any other religion or God. There need not he any suspicion about agitation for Krististan. We are very much against it. I have never heard it from any Christian. We would certainly be against anything like that. Christ did not encourage the people to live in, talk of or form separate countries. In Palestine, Christ did hot encourage a Krististan. When relations between America and India are not cordial our interest may be divided. But they cannot be so on Pakistan issue. I think people of our denomination will be loyal to the country when there is war. Christian countries on the whole were very favourable to India's independence. Before coming to India, I had an opportunity of knowing what the Christian missionaries spoke of this land and whether other independent people liked to see India independent. I never heard any missionary speaking in favour of continuance of the British power in India.
Shri Carner: I personally believe that one reason for bringing independence to India is the principle of Christ, viz., Love. That has influenced people in India very much. Christian influence might have been more in India than in other countries.
Shri John Minikrao Meshramkar: I deny the charges made by Dr. Daga of Jamgarth. In our schools holidays are given to Hindus and Muslims during heir festivals. We give national holidays. Holiday is not given for Desra. We do not give all the holidays mentioned in the Education Manual, because the students in our school are 99 per cent Christians. Hindu teachers are given sectional holidays. Christian holidays are for the whole school. Religious education is not compulsory in our school. There are 280 students in all in primary and middle schools. Out of these, 24 are non-Christians. Consent is obtained in writing from guardians or parents before giving bible training to their wards. Every year the parents give permission. Today only I have come across the first instance where the consent form is not singed by a guardian. We distributed warm clothes to Christians here because they were received for them from their American brothers. Clothes were not easily available here during the war period and, therefore, they were sent from America for their Christian brothers. Christians may have given them to others. Some Musalmans in Eklara were also given these clothes. We do not insist on American medicines only. We purchase medicines from local market (Dr. Daga’s shop). We do not take away small boys as alleged. There is only one mission hostel in Chikhli and, therefore, Christian boys from other places, in the taluq come here. We never uttered the word “Krististan”. We do not write “Harijan” for Christian people. Gaya and Namdeo Borkar’s names were not changed to Christian names as alleged earlier.
The 17th October 1954.
Chairman explained the object of the State Government in appointing the Committee and the purpose of the meeting.
Shri Ramrao Patil: When India is declared a secular State, all religions should have equal right and, therefore, the preaching by Christians should be stopped.
Shri Dongre, Secretary, Buldana District Jansangh: We have no objection if a person is converted by mental and spiritual satisfaction, i.e., conviction. But missionaries do not stop with preaching their religion. A new tendency is created among the converts. There is peaceful work in this district. Where mass conversions have taken place, there is aggressive action. For example, in Travancore, 200 Hindu temples have been destroyed. In Chikhli taluq, there are churches, schools and other means of prachar at Yeota, Malwandi, Manubai, Eklara, Kawhala, Amdapur, Undri, Mes, Antri, Develgaonmahhi, Deulgaonraja and Dhau. The mission school in Chikhli has 300 students. Of these, 5 to 6 per cent are Hindus, 5 to 6 Muslims and the rest Christians. Every day a prayer is sung in the school according to the Christian religion. In Bombay State, Gita recitation has been stopped, as ours is a secular State. Missionaries may conduct schools but politics and religion should not be allowed to interfere with the education of our young generations. Christian schools are not closed even on gazetted holidays, particularly on Hindu festival days. Diwali holidays in mission schools are hardly for three days when other schools give ten days holidays for Diwali. Hindu teacher get holidays with some difficulty, but Hindu students do not get them at all, because they have free education at Christian hands. Poor boys are attracted to their schools because they get there freeships. They are afraid of taking leave, because if the do so, the may be removed from the school. Mission schools charge Rs. 5 as fee for IXth class. In this way monetary aid is rendered to 70 families. Only such people are rendered help, in whose case there are some chances of conversion. About 50 families of students receive help. Hindu names of students are changed to Christian names in their schools without baptism. This amounts to fraud. Concrete cases of this will be given in future. Bible period is compulsory in Chikhli mission school. The reason for this is said to he that about 80 per cent of the students are Christians. Most of the boys are indirectly completed to be present at these Bible classes.
Another plate used by Christian missionaries for religions preaching is their hospital. In Chikhli mission hospital, non-Christian patients are told that prayers are offered to Christ for their recovery. They are given medicines and thereby they recover. Poor patients are misguided. They are made to believe chat Christ has recovered them. Those who have no faith in prayers are also subjected to such phenomenon. A book of Rev. Baba Padmanji was given under the pillow of a patient for his early recovery. Rev. Baba Padmanji wrote his novel in 1956 to show that Christian religion is better than Hindu religion. In this book he criticises Bhisma and others who are held in high esteem by Hindus. Hindu Gods are abused in the books, which are used as a means of prachar.
An example of aggressiveness of missionaries in Kelvad, mass meeting may be given on one of the boards exhibited in the meeting it was painted that everyone should take a vow that he would convert at least one man during the year. In Manubhai village, it was preached that theirs was not Indian nationally. Missionaries speak highly of America and try to create affinity towards it. In cinema slides, they compare poverty in India and wealthy living in America, thus lowering India in the eyes of its sons. It is preached that we should live like America.
Suggestions to improve - Mass conversions should be stopped. Conversion in bloc proves that missionaries resort to means other than conviction. Therefore, a magistrate’s certificate should be insisted upon in cases of bona fide conversion. If funds contributed by Indian Christians only were utilised for conversion propagandas, there was nothing objectionable. But it is well-known that their funds come America. Government should examine their accounts every year. There should be Government control on their funds.
Forms were distributed in Chikhli mission school only three days before the visit of the commission, and permission for attendance of students at Christian prayers was sought from their guardians.
Shri Kanade Shastri: The present political situation is such that it is not necessary for foreign missionaries to supply grain, cloth, etc., to our countrymen. Everyone should be free to propagate religion. No minor should be allowed to change his religion. There should be legal check on conversions. Whatever help is received for the poor, it should be under Government control. There need, therefore, be no mission hospitals. Government may employ American doctors. But the hospital control should be with Government and it should not be called a mission hospital. In America, no religious prayers are offered in hospitals. I was in America in a T.B. hospital. There is no restriction on anybody about prayers. I do not believe that patients cannot be cured in hospitals without prayers. Those who believe in God pray him at the time of taking medicines. Everyone should have freedom to opera hospitals. There may be class to give knowledge of other religions. But they should not be included in schools. Primary education should be entirely in Government hands. People get converted in thousands when there is famine. Before two years, when there was actuate shortage of foodgrains, about 35 persons from a near village came here and after about a week got converted. The term ‘Rice Christian’ came in vogue when people became Christian in Madras and other tracts during famine. Everyone should be free to change his religion, but every conversion should be by conviction. Rules regarding teaching religion in schools should be similar for all.
Shri Kanetkar: I am a member of the Rationalist Press Association since 25 years. A letter was received by our association from England enquiring whether its object wag achieved. This shows that the object of sending money is obviously to convert people. There is acute economic distress. So long as there is economic distress, all conversions, which take place as result of this distress should be stopped. The method of registration of converts is useful for check against converts by fraud and allurement.
Shri John Mackay: In Chikhli mission school, we give concession in school fees to orphans. Prayers are held in chapel outside school hours. We have not got Baba. Padmanji’s text book. We use Holy Bible for advising people. Those who like, read the book. Copies of it may be had from the Bombay Tract Book Society. We do not preach ‘Christian religion’. We preach Christ. We do not want to convert people. Those whose hearts are changed, come to us and say that they should be converted to Christianity. All sorts of people, educated, uneducated, assemble at our preachings. As Christians, we do believe in Him. There was time when I did not believe in Christ. But now I am convinced of Christ. Conversion is not the work of man. It is the work of God. I do not think that there can be mass conversion. Conversion is always individual. We give the same simple Gospel message to all educated or uneducated. I cannot ask anybody to change his religion. I tell my personal experience of what Christ has done for, me to everyone, even in railway train. I tell of the Gospel. We love India and that is why we come here. As far as our salaries are concerned, we can have much more in our own land. We come here to give our personal experiences and not to enjoy bookish knowledge. Our aim is to help India and there should be no misunderstanding about it.
Shri Gangadhar Sawatram, Preacher: I receive Rs. 100 as pay from central fund. We have our Assembly budget and district budget. All churches contribute to central fund. And if there is a deficit, it is made good from foreign. We preach in very clear words. We do not deceive anybody. Christ’s Command is to spread his message in the universe. We do not convert a man immediately on request. But we wait for several months, and then if he is found suitable, he is given baptisma. We believe that patients can be cured by prayers without medicine. It is also our experience. Even though we believe in this, we give medicines. We do not speak about any other religion, We exhibit a picture of Christ and speak about Him only. About 15 to 20 persons have been converted in the district during the last two to three years. Our work is confined to religion and, therefore, we do not turn our attention to other things. We would have converted many people by allurement of money, if it was our main object. Each one of us is a preacher of Christ, whether he receives pay for it or not. It is his duty to give evidence of Christ. We don’t spoil (batwine) a man as alleged but by change of heart a man improves himself.
Chairman thanked the audience and the meeting concluded.
The 18th October 1954.
Shri Bapat: All the missions here are working with the primary object of spreading religion, and they say that their activities are conducive to their religion. They have a centre in the hill area. They convert illiterate, and poor persons. They have no idea of resulting national injustice. By spreading Christian religion they shift their loyalties to Christianity and those countries, which follow that religion. They start dispensaries where free medicines are given. Freeships are given m schools to such people as are likely to embrace Christianity. If missionaries want to do social work, they should not do with that motive. They should not try to convince people that Christianity is in any way superior to other religions. They say that Christianity gives salvation and Christ will absolve them of their sins. This is a misstatement. They also do kirtans and recite abhangs and try to show that all the Hindu saints were Christians though they professed to be Hindus. Hindu deities are represented in a perverse manner. Their activities are, thus, aimed at converting people. This should be stopped. Before 1947, they had Government support. Now, they have none. Therefore, they dabble in politics. They are now making propaganda to have separate State groups. No case of conversion has occurred in Malkapur taluq. We have read in papers about this in some other states. They should do humanitarian Work only and not aim at conversion. They have no hospital, school or hostel here. When foreigners desire to spend their money on charitable purposes in this country, they should be asked to donate all the funds to the Central Government, who will see that they are properly utilised according to the wishes of the donors. The motive underlying conversions is objectionable from our point of view. Help is rendered to those people only who are likely to embrace Christianity. Christian and Missionary Alliance is working here.
Shri R. T. Ingley, Secretary, Local Harijan Hostel: Missionaries were trying to convert me also, but I proved a tough job for them. Last year, it so happened, that they asked me about the Superintendent of the hostel. I do not know to what mission they belonged or whether they were authorised. Since they say that their work is humanitarian, they should have rendered help to my hostel, which was in need of help. But they did not even show me their face since then. This proves that they have motive behind help. A page from the 1936 Annual Report of the Disciples of Christ, has been enclosed with my application. Missionaries have been active in Takhatpur area, where satnamis live. If they want to provide employment on humanitarian grounds, they should give employment to the children and the whole family of non-Christians. I am talking in general. No case of conversion ever occurred in this area. This area is mainly inhabited by lewa kunbis. They are strong exponents of bhakti cult. They are very hard working and industrious. They take bonds for service for five years, ten years or for the whole life. They have no temptation to fall prey to any exploitation or to go to any other religion. They themselves are followers of Vaishnav cult. They had their saint Chokhamela. Mahar community was once upon a time a community, which had home industries and other business. 'Those who had no profession, fell victim to missionaries in the hope of getting employment. Exploitation of the poor and ignorant leads to their conversion. Casteism holds good even in Christianity. I have said this in Satara. One Suryawanshi, has written an article in which he says that Maharashtra Christian have a culture different from other Christians. This shows difference among Maharashtra Christian, Madras Christian, etc. Sabnis, Waghmare, Sontake have their origin in particular castes. They do not inter-marry even though they have converted to Christianity. Since there are political aspirations of the people in a democratic set up, population means a great deal. If many people are converted to Christianity, our numerical strength is affected and that is a direct challenge to depressed classes. The spirit of denationalization is a great danger to us. In Satara side, there is a difference between the American and Indian Christians. Ramoshis (Mang) Christians supported Dr. Samuel (an Indian) while Dr. Jones (American) was supported by Mahars. That way, the quarrel went on for years. Some people were talking highly of America and deprecated India. I have respect for principles of Christianity. Christians could not give me a good book on Christ. In this area there are no conversions and no complaints so far as I know.
Shri V. L. Appa, Chairman, Janpad Sabha: The world is advancing. Our secularism and political solidarity should not be disturbed. We have experience of the Muslim rule. We have to save secularism. If missionaries here have our welfare at heart, they should hand over their funds to the State in the name of Christ. They may insist on having their own personnel for execution and set up their board to see that their policy is implemented. There should therefore, be no objection to entrust Government with the funds. If this is done dissatisfaction and distress among our minds may go away. Mass conversion is a horrible thing. It should be stopped. In a family, every individual member should have full freedom to decide before conversion. In Travancore, over 350 temples were destroyed. This has appeared in news papers. There is a most pathetic crisis in the book of Laxmibai Tilak, which it is said that her husband repented and repented for having become a Christian. One Deshpande from Malkapur came to me for employment. That man was not wanted at home and was in search of a guardian. He came in contact with a missionary and got himself converted. He was married in Bodwad to a girl by Christians. He became an enthusiastic missionary. I state this to show that there is a psychological moment in the life of a man, which changes him. But this moment is temporary. There are some tricks of missionaries like “bolka dhalpa” (a speaking wooden piece). Deshpande was working as a teacher in Bodwad. His father’s name is Ramrao. His whereabouts are not known to me. I want that there should only be mental conversions. There should be a permit or a licence system for conversion. There should be no mass or family conversion. (Reads out from his application.) Conversion should be checked in all cases except where they are by conviction. Social and religious ideas go simultaneously. We may give Indian Christians full liberty, but the foreign element cannot be trusted.
Since our country has been declared secular, we have no objection to Christian missionaries doing religious propaganda but the methods of propaganda adopted by them should be strictly watched. They should not be allowed to propagate among illiterate and poverty-stricken people. Let a man have education and then let missionaries preach him. The reason for each conversion is ignorance and temptation. In my own village Rohinkhed (23 miles from this place) before 20 years missionaries came and preached principles of Christianity in a square and when Ram and Krishna were decried, I was irritated and warned that my Gods should not be abused. I threatened them and since then no missionary turned to my village. I do not know if that type of preaching goes on in other villages. Regular camps are held in villages in Chikhli twice a year.
Mr. Albert B. Shaw: We have adult baptism. “Christian” means “Christ like one”. The complaints voiced here are general, whereas the committee wanted to hear complaints about the taluq. We think of God as "three in one God the Father, God the son, and God the Holy”. We preach through Christ. If the holy spirit does not convince you, it will do no good. We present the Gospel to anybody. God has asked us to preach the Gospel to everyone. When Dr. Ambedkar had the intention of changing his religion some missions, might have come forward and given allurements, but I have not given any allurement. We have six months probation for carrying out conversion. I agree to the proposal of making a declaration before a magistrate and giving a period of probation for conversion. “Free will” means the ability of accepting or rejecting a religion. You should give a personal testimony to show that one is not under the influence of anybody. We do not baptise a person without convincing ourselves by carrying out a test for six months. In Nandura, there is a Mahar. I have watched him for six months. I have that conviction within me that a true Christian must deliver the message of Christ to all. That is why I have come here. My motive is to preach the Gospel. In this taluq there are 44 Christians. Out of them, 21 are children. We have Sunday school in the morning. There is one pastor here. We get money from America. This is all freely given. They may give more if they think that we are in need of more money. I did not make any appeal for money. I am not allowed to do it. Our mission here has no hospital. Except preaching, we have no other work. All of our Christians are loyal to India. In case of war between America and India I have no suspicion that Indian Christians of my denomination will go with India. I do not think that Indian Christians will have any affiliation for America, though their main church is in that country.
Chairman thanked those present and the meeting concluded.