The 20th January 1955.
The Committee paid a visit to the Danielson High School and a hostel. It was gathered during the course of conversation at the High School that the total number of students in the school was 585, of whom 125 were Christians. There are 21 teachers, out of whom four are Hindus. Average total expenditure of the school per year is Rs. 33,000. Rs. 9,613 is received from the Church, Rs. 6,883 from Government grant and Rs. 5,683 by way of subsidy for compensatory cost of living allowance. Gospel is taught in the Bible class, which is conducted in the school. It is not compulsory but majority of non-Christi-an students attend it. Roll is not called in the class. Fifteen per cent of the students regularly keep away from this class. There are 18 Harijan and 13 aboriginal students who are free. Out of 124 Christians, 20 and out of 415 non-Christians, 37 students are free.
A meeting was held in Rest House, Chhindwara, where the Chairman explained as usual the object of the Committee and the purpose of the meeting. Mr. Raman who was present on behalf of the Swedish Mission said that there was no reason for complaint against the behaviour of non-Christians and Government officers towards Christians.
Shri Soni, ex-Public Prosecutor, Chhindwara, had brought certain books with him and read out stanzas Nos. 18 and 20 in which Hindu Gods and Deities were decried. He said, “I have received the book at Seja, on 14th January 1955. It was distributed there. One Christian, Jiwandas, carpenter, expired at Seja when I was present at the village. Dayali Lodhi has become a patel of that village with great difficulty. Christians have complained against his appointment. There is a friction among Christians and non-Christians in Seja, because a devil’s idol has been taken away by Christians and the non-Christians have been boycotted. The population (of both Christians and non-Christians) is almost equal and the best cultivable land is in the hands of the Swedish Mission.”
Shri Verma, Pleader, Chhindwara: “There was a camp of missionaries at Bijori, where Mr. Raman made a very good speech. In November 1954 there was a conference, where, about eight resolutions were passed. They are riot known to the public. Primary mission schools are run in Chandameta, Bijori, Sukri, etc. The preachers are paid, free education and medical aid are used as means of allurement. Missionaries also run an orphanage. In his speech, Shri Raman said that Nehru, Government is against Christians. They would, however, not mind it. I will give the cuttings of these speeches.”
Shri Raman: “This is false. I had published a rejoinder to the news items.”
Shri Choudhari: “I have got some cases in law courts, the nature of which is that, when there is a quarrel between husband and wife among Gonds, the wife goes to the Mission compound for water, etc., and then she is taken away to some other places. I will give the name of such persons who have been deprived of their wives in this manner. The result is that, when there is a quarrel in a Gond family, a threat is given by the female concerned that she would go to the Mission. Kidnapped wives are married to other persons. In Berghat, one such man is married to a Christian woman. He has children and wife. He is a Gosawi Malgujar. There have been many cases of conversion in Balapur and Seoni of late. My request is that their marriage registers should be seen by the Committee. You can get facts from this register. In Seja, seven children were brought and converted and we had filed a suit but the District Magistrate, being a European, did not proceed with it.”
Shri Raman: “The man in question was converted by his father and therefore their case failed.”
Shri Choudhari: “Three orphans in Seja are being brought up by the Mission. I will give you certain names where people approached me for help but I could not do much for them. We consider foreign aid to Missionaries as the most dangerous thing for our country. It may be termed as cruel, if helpless people are forced to be converted by rendering them food and clothes.”
Shri Shamlal, Chhindwara: “My wife was not keeping well. She was invited by the Catholics. She recovered and then she was taken to Nagpur. When I got my pay I called back my wife but she said that the nuns (Amma lok) say that she should remain there only. A notice was sent by me and she was asked to come here. But the children were sent saying that my small daughter was ill and she would be sent after 15 days. My wife had taken two children with her. My daughter has not yet been sent. Her name is Sushilabai and her age is five years. I have reported the matter to police. No enquiry was made by the police and, therefore, I made an application to the District Superintendent of Police, Nagpur and Chhindwara and also sent one to the Minister at Nagpur. Roman Catholics used to go to my house and meet my wife in bazar. My wife stayed in the Catholic Church for about two years. This is a case of last year. I am a Kalar by caste, my wife’s name Lilabai. I am Chowkidar in Municipal Office. I was ill for about a month. After 15 days of my illness my wife went to Nagpur.”
The 21st January 1955.
Shri Malviyaji explained the activities of the Committee and introduced the members.
One Durgaprasad Mishra of Amarwara stated that Hindu idols were thrown away by Missionaries. The property of one Sadua Ghungad, who was a minor, was sold out for Rs. 5. It consisted of land yielding one and half khandis grain Ghungad stated that it was six acres and it went in arrears of land revenue outstanding against him. It is matter of about 12 years.
Shri Durgaprasad: Christian literature is distributed free. People are asked to pray Christ and say “Masih Mera Pran Bachaiya”.
Mangalsingh, Harijan’s son was shown allurement of free education and he was sent to Chhindwara. He was educated there and married to a Christian girl. His mother lives in a house, which has been given to him by the Mission and says ‘Salam’ instead of ‘Ram Ram’.
Shri Shamacharan Soni read out some portions from the book entitled “Manohar Bhajan”. This book was given to me by one villager. One Goddess of Kherapati was removed in the year 1947.
Mrs. Parson: When people used to come to us for rations I bad taken a house on hire for storing foodgrains.
Shri Shamacharan Soni: I used to have Ramayan recitation here. Mrs. Parson one day forbade us to recite Ramayana and we stopped it.
Mrs. Parson: That day I did not know what they were reciting. But when I learnt the next-day that the people were reciting Ramayan, I apologised to them. About four to five persons were reading it. I was living close by and it was at about 11 p.m., when I asked them to stop it.
Shri Soni: Missionaries take the patel’s help for giving foodgrains on loan. They charge interest and also take bigar from the cultivators.
Shri Prabhucharandas: I am a Christian. My age is 55. Several people did riot return the foodgrains taken by them on loan from Missionaries. Missionaries did not issue notices when there was great trouble two years back, the missionaries stopped distributing foodgrains. But the local people approached them and requested to distribute “galla”. I was a Mukadam. The missionaries used to charge Sawai (1½ times) for the foodgrains advanced by them. People did not return the foodgrains and consequently our stock went low. We sought the advice of our President. He informed us that 10 khandis should be given for the village after taking into consideration the land under cultivation. I used to get labour charges for the days I worked on mission field. About 25 persons were given grain for sowing. Missionaries were not the 16 anna Malgujars of the village. Now I am a cultivator. Formerly I was Mukadam in the Malgujari regime.
Shri Raman: The Church is here since about 50 years past. One Gond girl about five years of age, who was an orphan, was brought to the mission and she is there.
Shri Prabhucharan: An application was made by the people that Dayalu Lodhi should not be made a patel and, therefore, I was made a patel.
The 21st January 1955.
Shri Khemchand Jain of Amarwara, Shopkeeper: Miss Mary Roothquest, a Missionary from Amarwara, visits houses when the male members are out and distributes medicines. She also gives allurements that the ladies will get good service. She has not so far converted anybody. She is a European lady.
Shri Raman: She is born here. Her father had built a Church and a mission bungalow here. She is not a convert. She knows no medicine. She is a brilliant student of ‘Vocational Guidance’. She attended the last conference at Delhi and had also been to Germany.
One Mehra (weaver caste) boy was brought to Chhindwara with the allurement of free education and now he is a Christian. He is a teacher at Matkuli. His name and the whereabouts of his parents are not known. He is from Seja.
Shri Sunderlal Tiwari of Amarwara Missionaries are doing useful work by rendering help to the poor and needy, e.g., by opening poor homes and try providing employment. If Government does is. Missionaries will have to go automatically.
The 22nd January 1955.
The Chairman introduced the members and explained the object of the Committee’s visit.
Shri Robertson: “We have no other centres in India except Seoni. We have two orphanages-one for boys and the other for girls, one hospital and a dispensary. We have a Women’s hospital. We have our Mission at Lakhnadon and Jabalpur. There is Roman Catholic Mission at Ghansor. No other Christian body is working here. We teach Bible in the school. I am not in charge of the school, but I think it is after regular school hours.
Shri Singh, Headmaster: Bible teaching in the High School is between 4 and 4-30 p.m. In the Middle School it is from 1-10 p.m. to 2 p.m. School hours are from 10-30 a.m. to 4-30 p.m. The Bible periods fall within the school hours.
Shri Robertson: We act according to the Education Manual. This is allowed in the Education Manual. One of the forms for admission to the school is for seeking permission to attend religious instruction classes. We admit students even if they do not attend Bible classes. For the last six years only 2-3 guardians have objected to this. The number of students in our school is slightly more than 550. Out of them, 37 are Christains and the rest non-Christians. We will send you a copy of the application form.
Shri Narayandas, M.L.A., took objection to the teaching of Bible. His son has been given admission and he does not attend Bible class. Same is the case with the girl’s primary school. Religious instruction is imparted in the primary school also. Now they have admitted some boys to the primary school. They have a form for admission as for the High School. We get Government grants. The total number of students is about 200. About 40 of these are Christians. In the primary school, all Staff is Christian. In the High School, 8 out of 20 are Christians. We have a boarding house for High School and there are 30 boarders. All of them are non-Christians. There is an assembly of students at 8 O’clock every day. The boys select their own prayers.
In 1954 the Independence Day fell on Sunday. The primary school did not have any celebration but the High School had flag hoisting and so on. No Christian teacher could take part in the celebration because it was Sunday. The fourth commandment prohibits us to observe Sundays for purposes, other than prayers. There was elocution competition on the Tilak Jayanti day.
Mr. Robertson: Orphans are taken from out of children given up. Mostly they are very young when they are taken. One of the Missionary ladies looks after them. Our expenditure is Rs. 25 per month per child. The whole expenditure is met by Mission. We have 16 children. Ours is Scottish Presbyterian Mission different from the Seoni Mission. The children are mostly of non-Christian parents. They are brought up in Christian ways. We baptise all infants. They are baptised when they are admitted. My predecessor was not a baptist and, therefore, he did not baptise. No parents have asked back their children. The children are generally banded over for their care by their fathers when the mother dies away.
We have preachers in the hospital, we have Bible women working and reading when the patients are called by the Doctors. Pay of preachers is Rs. 40 per mensem and some allowance. They are trained here and some are sent for training to Jhansi and Allahabad. They go about the villages. They are not making very many converts these days. We have a baptism register. Some of the preachers are Mehras (weavers). About 10 people have been converted since 1947. We do not encourage them to accept anything like service, etc., though it may be natural for them to expect some help from us. We have no money-lending business. About five miles from Ghansor there are Roman Catholics. It is a village named Balpur. We have discourse about religion with several people. They are very friendly to us. We have no complaints against Government Officers.
Shri Narayandas, M.L.A.: There is some feeling against the Christians because of the non-observance of Independence Day celebrations, which fell on Sunday. Government instructions should be clear on the point. The general standard of the masses is responsible for the missionary activities, if responsibility has to be fixed.
Shri Awasthi, Sub-Divisional Officer: Remarked that the form seeking permission to attend religious classes is not very clear because the word “teaching” is there and not “Christian” or “religious teaching”.
In the course of conversation it was mentioned that a misunderstanding prevails in the minds of people that unless they give their consent to send their wards to religious education classes, they would not be admitted to the school. With a view to remove this misunderstanding it was suggested by the persons present that the form seeking consent of guardians to religious education classes may be given after the boy was admitted to the school, Shri Robertson and Shri Singh explained that there was difficulty in giving the two forms separately but seemed to agree to the suggestion hesitatingly.
The 22nd January 1955.
In the meeting held at Balaghat Circuit House, the Chairman, as usual, explained the object of the Committee’s visit. In the course of conversation, it was told by the local pastor present that the American Methodist Mission was working in Southern Asia. It is the same Mission as the Committee met in Khandwa. It has centres at Khandwa, Narsimhapur, Jabalpur, Balaghat, Jagdalpur and Sironcha. The head of this Mission is Bishop S. K. Mani with headquarters at Hyderabad. Their Conference this year is at Jabalpur. Next year, it will be at Baihar. There is only a church at Balaghat. Moving about among Christian people and visiting them is the pastor's work in the area. They have not been working among the non-Christians.
2. He further said, “My father is a paid Pastor over here. Under him there is a Pastor at Waraseoni. There is no work in the tribal area. The church here is since the last 40 years. We have no complaints against Government officers. Ten people have been converted in this area so far. These are from Baigas. Their relations were Christians since long. Fifty-three have been born and baptised as Christians. We have infant baptism. The total Christian population here is 1,143. These are Methodists. We have no idea about others, e.g., Roman Catholics. Since there is only one church here, even Roman Catholics became members of this church and call themselves Methodists but they are not so. Three American missionaries are working in this district. There is only one family looking after the hospital work. Our salary is partly met out of foreign aid. MY pay is Rs. 78 per mensem. Rs. 268 per month is received from outside the Balagbat district. This goes towards pay of preachers in the district. There are church collections pastor fund, and Sunday offerings as well. Local contributions are not very substantial. A major portion of our collections is received from abroad. They money received from abroad is not for evangelistic work only. We are connected with the National Christian Council. We are governed by our Conference that is held in separate parts in different years and we are directly under it. When there were other Missions in our country, e.g., British, etc., we used to call ourselves American Methodist Mission. Our accounts are audited by the Conference. Our headquarters are at 155th, Avenue, New York. Our Bombay address is Inter Mission Office. That is the centre in India. So far we were careless about our church organisations. Now, we are organising and after that it may be possible to see whether we are in a position to manage our affairs. But the foreigners come here with the motive of service and sacrifice. Foreigners go out and preach in local language, if it becomes necessary.”
“There is not much activity here. It is in Baihar tract among Adiwasis. It is here that the missionaries do not work themselves. They have their agents among non-Christians who carry out conversions. They indirectly show allurement. In this area, only one or two cases of conversion were reported. Their activities have no political significance. There is Government-aided primary school managed by missionaries. There is a Christian prayer at the beginning of school hours. It is not compulsory. The percentage of non-Christian students in the school is very small. There are two non-Christian students in a total of 60. In the middle there are 85 and in primary 103. Due to lack of funds, our activities have decreased during recent years.”
The 23rd January 1955.
Shri Malviyaji explained the object of the meeting and introduced the members.
Shri Marble: There is no such thing as the American Methodist Mission in India because the American property has already been transferred to Indian hands. One of the objects of the Mission Board in America is to make missionaries available to India and to collect funds for work here.
It is managed by the Finance Committee of the Anglo-American Fund. We do not control the funds. Methodist Church is composed of three annual conferences. One of these is in Madhya Pradesh. In it, we have the highest Parish as the Bishop. He has his Cabinet made up of the District Superintendents and certain church authorities. There are the finance committee, the budget committee, audit committee, etc.
I came to India in 1944. There is a realization that the evangelistic work in India must be in Indian hands. In 1944, Rs. 75,000 came for Madhya Pradesh from our Mission Board. Fifty per cent of it went to Mission schools. Most of the other 50 per cent goes in meeting salaries of preachers, pastors, etc. Very little money is spent on propaganda. I do not like the term, “propaganda” but you have used it. Occasionally, we go out in a group to a bazar and sell our scriptures. Our Mission has been here for 60 years now. In my memory I know conversion of only two youngsters. Our mission is “Go, ye therefore, in all the world preaching”. Regarding foreign aid, I wrote 1,200 letters for help to my foreign friends I have never received any sort of disappointment from our patrons, let us not hide the fact that every Christian wants to preach his religion. About 250 Christians in Ukwa are Oriyas. There are many of them in Orissa also. Oriya Christians sometimes come to Ukwa. About 40 persons have been converted within the last ten Years. Some of these have gone back to Orissa. Some relatives of Christians follow them and get themselves converted to Christianity. Several persons come to me for conversion but I tell them not to become Christian unless they master the principles of Bible. We have not made any conversion here. Till 1951, I was doing work in the school. Since then I have become District Superintendent. Before that there was one Indian, Chasiram. There may be about five converts since 1951.
There are three types of missionaries in India-
(1) Roman Catholics;
There are five churches, schools, hospitals and a small dispensary at Balaghar, Ukwa, Baihar, Khuripar and Palera. There is a primary, middle and a nursery school also. All Janapada schools are now under the Tribal Welfare Department. Since the Tribal Welfare Department has opened schools, we think, it may not be necessary for us to have our schools. Now, our school and boarding are taking the shape of a boarding school. Our school has recognition for three years. We have shortly to get permanent recognition. There should be a hostel to meet the needs of Christian students. In our schools, there is a prayer at 10-30 a.m. There are also moral education classes. So far, as I know, moral education is compulsory in our schools. We teach Bible in that class; so also, we teach about Geeta, Mahatma Gandhi, etc. Christian teachers do not get employment in Tribal Welfare Department schools. There are 86 students in that school with one Hindu and nine Christian teachers. There is no change in the aid received by mission school from Government as a result of opening of Government schools in the area. There are 103 students in primary. Total expenditure of the school is Rs. 11,000. Out of this, Rs. 6,000 is the mission contribution. We give Government scale of pay to our teachers. We ask the students before admission as to how much their parents can afford to pay. Some of the students pay one rupee per month, whereas some pay, even Rs. 10 per mensem as their fees. The students here pay fees generally at about Rs. 4 to Rs. 5 per month as the maximum. There are two Hindu boys. Of these, one pays Rs. 10 and the other Rs. 5 per month. We have three to four acres of agricultural cultivation, orchards and a Goshala.
Shri Harisingh, M.L.A.: We want hospitals in the interior. Mission Pracharaks visit villages. Before 15 to 20 days, there was a quarrel in Baihar with one Padri and one Thakur. There was no marpit but an exchange of hot words. The Padri bad come from Mungeli. His name is Gangaprasad Tiwari. He attacked Hindu religion in his conversation. He was here for about four days.
Padri Victor Peter of Baihar. - Gangaprasad lives in my mother-in-laws village. I was present at Mungeli when the Committee visited that place. I had formally invited him here. Shri Gangaprasad came here on that invitation.
Shri N. C. Bedi. - Pradhan, Gram Panchayat: When Mr. William was here. I used to preach. I have come here since about 20 years.
Shri Chhedilal, vice-President, Janpad Sabha - Missionaries kidnap non-christian girls. There is no effect of prachar on ignorant people. One of the kidnapped girls is Shri Benjamin Bihari’s wife by name Sukarti Pankin of Gadhi. She was married. One Lalit Christian had kidnapped her. This is a matter of this year.
Mr. Marble interrupted to say that Lalit has been excommunicated by Christians because he lived with Sukarti without marriage.
In the course of conversation Shri Marble informed that America has an I-3 programme. According to it, young graduates were sent to India from America for a period of three years. The idea was to enable them to acquaint themselves with the Indian church and Indian brotherhood.
The 23rd January 1955
Shri Malviyaji explained the purpose of the Committee and introduced the members.
The local non-Christian present informed the Committee that Christian missionaries help local Gonds if they get converted to Christianity. They see that a Gond woman is shown allurement to leave her husband and when her husband agrees to get himself converted he is helped by the missionaries in giving back his wife to him. Thadda Gond’ wife Manka had left her husband. When he got himself converted, his wife was given back to him. There is Do dispensary at Gadhi. It is very necessary to have a dispensary at Gadhi and also in Birsa. Gonds are in majority in this area. Baigas do not allow Christian converts to come back to their original fold.
Shri Harisingh, M. L. A. - There is a Gond Committee for Baihar tahsil and its head is Shri Mangru Wickey. The Gond Committee for Baihar tahsil is called Adiwasi Sabha.
Raisi Gond was shown allurement (its nature is not known) by Nandlal, Padri. On this allurement he was to be converted, but his caste-fellows persuaded him not to do so. Mr. Marble had brought cinema slides to show to the villagers.