After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Introduction to Missionary Educational Activities 2. Objectives of Missionary Educational Activities 3. Basic Characteristics of the Early Missionary Enterprise 4. Activities of the Early Missionary Settlers in India 5. The Work of the Serampore Trio and Others in Bengal (1758-1813) and Other Details.


  1. Introduction to Missionary Educational Activities
  2. Objectives of Missionary Educational Activities
  3. Basic Characteristics of the Early Missionary Enterprise
  4. Activities of the Early Missionary Settlers in India
  5. The Work of the Serampore Trio and Others in Bengal (1758-1813)
  6. Hostile Attitude of the East India Company towards Missionary Enterprise (1765 – 1813)
  7. The Earlier Proselytizing and Educational Activities of the East India Company (1600 – 1813)
  8. Agitation in the British Parliament in Favour of the Missionaries

1. Introduction to Missionary Educational Activities:

Educational activities of Christian missions in India can conveniently be classified into two periods:

(a) Activities of the early missions during the period 1614 -1800 and

(b) Activities of the later missions during the per­iod 1813 – 1882.

At the early stage the East India Company favoured the ed­ucational activities of the missionaries in various ways. Proselytizing and educational activities were started by the Company within its possessions. In 1614 it recruited Indians to propagate Christianity among their country­men. Some educational measures were taken for these “native missionaries”. In 1654 “the Court of Directors” allowed missionaries to embark on their ships for the purpose of propagation of Christianity in India.

In 1698, at the time of renewal of the Charter Act, a missionary clause was inserted in it. A chaplain was allowed to go to India in every ship of 500 tons. Ministers of religion were appointed in the factories of the Company in India. Schools were set up in almost all garrisons and factories. The chaplains of the three Presidency towns collected subscriptions and set up charity schools for poor children.

The East India Company assisted these charity schools in various ways:

(1) Disbursement of maintenance grants,

(2) Provision of non-recurring grants for lands and buildings,

(3) Arrangement for lotteries for collection of funds,

(4) Occasional repair of school buildings and

(5) Acceptance of school funds as deposits.

The missionaries worked under the banner of the Company which would withdraw its support to the missions under changed political circumstances in 1757 and later in 1765 on the pretext of religious neutrality. The educational institutions founded by the missions played a significant role in the development of modem education in India.

The missionaries act­ed as pioneers of private enterprise in education in India mainly based upon public charities.

2. Objectives of Missionary Educational Activities:

The missionaries undertook educational activities as an integral part of their work in India:

(a) The first and foremost object of the missionaries was to convert people to Christianity. The early missionaries started schools in India as an important means of proselytization.

(b) They wanted to prepare the minds of the people through education so that they could properly under­stand, appreciate and perceive the subtle doctrines and principles of Chris­tianity. They actually intended to prepare the soil before sowing the seeds of Christianity,

(c) Another objective of the educational venture of the mission­aries was to procure means and open ways of access to the people for preach­ing. They wanted to establish mass contact for preaching through education. The schools became channels of communication and social intercourse-with different classes “School-houses became chapels under the control of missionaries.

(d) The missions had to conduct schools for the converted population who mostly came from the lowest rung of the Hindu society. They were generally illiterate and as such the missionaries were required to establish schools in order to teach the new converts to read and write.

(e) For this purpose they established the printing press and translated the bible in different Indian languages.

(f) They also established vocational schools in order to secure employment to the converts, to give them a decent living and a status in Society. Then they conducted these schools in order to secure employment to the converts, to give them a decent living and a status in society. Then they conducted these schools with the sole object of improving the social cultural and economic condition of the converted people.

Again neither the indigenous schools nor the Govt. schools could admit all the Indian Christian children. Hence the mission schools were inevitable. Thus mission schools were both Hence the cause and the effect of proselytization and education. Sometimes proselytization was followed by education and education was followed by proselytization. These two went hand in hand.

3. Basic Characteristics of the Early Missionary Enterprise:

1. Early missionary educational activities centred round Kuthis or factories and military garrisons situated mainly in South-Western India.

2. Schools were first established for European children and then provision was made for Eurasians, converted Indians and Anglo-Indians Finally schools were set up outside factories and garrisons for the general public.

3. The missionaries concentrated on the traditional indigenous type elementally schools because these were popular and best known to the mass­es. They, of course, made some improvements. The traditional indige­nous education was on its decline.

4. The missionaries considered the spoken languages of the masses (ver­naculars) as the best media for the propagation of the Gospel. Hence the missionaries themselves learnt the vernacular languages and adopted them as media of instruction.

5. The curriculum included the three R’s, some lessons on the Gospel and some elements of modern knowledge like history, geography and general science.

6. They Bible in vernaculars, wrote dictionaries and grammars in vernaculars and thereby they helped the development of modern Indian languages, specially Bengali and Tamil. The widespread use of the vernaculars prepared the ground for mass education.

7. The missionaries introduced the printing press, printed and written text -books in vernacular languages, time-table, school calendar use of teaching materials and gradation of pupils through examinations.

8 They were also pioneers in modern women education, teacher education and a simple system of vocational education.

9. They also introduced elements of western culture in our society and thus paved the way for the introduction of western education which was a remarkable contribution of the 19th century or later missionaries.

10. Teaching of English was an important subject of study.

11. The Company was sympathetic to missionary enterprise, provided fi­nancial assistance and extended benevolent protection to the missionar­ies.

4. Activities of the Early Missionary Settlers in India:

Let us now consider the activities of the early missionary settlers in In­dia.

1. The Portuguese – The Jesuit Fathers of Portugal:

Of all the earlier missions the Portuguese came first. They are pioneers in missionary enterprise in India.

Their main purposes were two:

(a) To ear­ly out lucrative trade at western sea-coast of India and

(b) To propagate Christianity.

The Indian field was favourable for these works. They visited the Court of Akbar and established “Kuthis” or factories. They adopted various devices, fair or foul, to attract the Indian people. Their commercial and educational activities started in full swing with the disembarkment of the first Portuguese voyager named Vasco Da Gama at Calicut in the year 1496.

The Portuguese were Roman Catholic missionaries and they began to propagate the creed of Roman Catholicism at the Western Coast of India But proselytization and educational enterprise went hand in hand One was complementary to the other. As a result of their efforts, a new system of edu­cation came into existence in this part of the county.

They established vari­ous types of schools mainly primary for propagating Christianity and edu­cating the Portuguese children, the Eurasians and the Indian converts in their commercial centres at Calicut, Bombay, Goa, Daman, Diu and Basin on the western belt, Ceylon and Chittagung and Hooghly in Bengal.

The Portu­guese may be regarded as the pioneers of the modern system of education in India. With their arrival in this country the Roman Catholic missionaries began to pour in and open educational institutions in different parts of the country.

These institutions can be classified into four categories:

(1) Parochial Portuguese elementary schools;

(2) Parochial Orphanages for Indian children. Christian as well as non-Christian, for rudimentary in­struction in agricultural and industrial work;

(3) Jesuit Colleges for higher studies and

(4) Seminaries for theological instruction.

Of the earliest missionaries St. Xavier and Robert De Nobilli were most remarkable. The former arrived in India in 1542. He was a very energetic and zealous missionary and left no stone unturned to propagate the Gospel His motto was “to build school in every village”. Education and proselytization went hand in hand. Before the arrival of St. Xavier the Seminary of Santa Fe was set up in 1541.

In 1575 he founded a higher educational institution at Bandra near Bombay and established a press at Cochin. De Nobilli came a little later. His headquarters were at Madura, and he carried on his activities in the South. His services in the cause of Christianity are remarkable He called himself a western Brahmin and dressed himself like Indian ascetics. The Portuguese established the first Jesuit College at Goa in India. Where three hundred students used to receive education. In the Portu­guese first started a printing press at Goa.

In 1580, more colleges were set up at Goa and other places. In 1592 St. Ens Convent was established at Calicut. It is said that a Jesuit College was established by Emperor Akbar at Agra under the influence of the Jesuit priests. The Jesuit Fathers used the vernacu­lars as the media of propaganda and of instruction.

The heyday of Portuguese enterprise declined in the 17th century. The Portuguese pirates were much responsible for it. The maritime hegemony was also challenged by the Dutch. With the decline of maritime and mercantile efforts their missionary and educational efforts also declined Even after the downfall of the Portuguese their established institutions continued to exist. Many of the noted institutions of present day India owe their exis­tence to the untiring efforts of the early Portuguese missionaries.

2. The Dutch:

During the 17th century, the Dutch were considered as the greatest naval power in the world. The Dutch East India Company was set up in 1602. They started their commercial centres in Ceylon, Indonesia and some other IS of South East Asia. But their principal commercial centre was at Chinsura in the District of Hooghly in West Bengal.

It is interesting to note that torn the very beginning they adopted a policy of non-intervention in the religious affairs of the Indians. Their policy in India was strictly commercial. They were practical businessmen. They did not bother at all with the propagation of Christianity among the Indians.

They simply looked to their commercial interests and concentrated their attention on trade. It is true, however that they established some schools for the education of the children of the Company’s servants. Later on, Indian children were permitted to receive education in these schools.

They were Protestant by faith and tried to preach the tenets of the Protestant Church among the Catholics through educational institutions. Thus the contributions of the Dutch towards education in India were not so much significant.

3. The French:

The vacuum created by the withdrawal of the Portuguese was filled in by the French Danish and other missionaries in the fields of education and culture in India. The socio-political condition in the beginning of the 18th 2SE India was absolutely favourable for effective missionary and educational Enterprise. The French established their trading company in the year 1664 in India and opened their factories at Mahe, Karikol, Pondicherry and Chandernagore.

They set up primary schools in these business centres. In their educational enterprise the French imitated the Portuguese by and large. They established an efficient secondary school at Pondicherry to impart liberal education or “Culture Generate”. French was taught in this school. In the primary schools, education was impacted by native teachers through the medium of local languages. At Chandernagore they also set up a very modern and efficient secondary school and a college where French was taught.

In every school and college there was a religious missionary who preached the religion. Schools were set up mainly for the converts. Non- Christian children also were allowed to take education in these schools. They were helped with school supplies, food and clothes. Like the Portu­guese the French were also Roman Catholic.

The French efforts were chiefly restricted to Southern India. Here they entered into political and commer­cial battle with the British who ultimately came out successful. But the ed­ucational institutions they established continue to exist till date with rich tradition of their own.

4. The Danes: The Work of the Danish Mission in Madras:

The Danes were the first Protestant Missionaries who worked in the territories of the East India Company. They had no political ambition like the French and as such the East India Company’s officials were very much friendly to them. Most of the Danish missionaries “identified themselves with the English colonies in the South, halting where they halted and ad­vancing where they advanced”. 

This means that the activities of the Danes were intimately connected with the rise of the British Empire in India. Though the political activities of the Danes were not so much important in our country, their religious and educational activities are of great significance.

In the 17th century the Danes established their factories at Tranquebar near Tanjore in Madras and at Serampore near Calcutta in Bengal. Tranquebar and Serampore were the main centres of operation of the Danish Protestant missionaries.

They secured the support of the officers of the East India Company in their missionary enterprise. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Danes were the pioneers of modern educational system in India.

The famous pioneers of the Danish Mission were two German mission­aries named Ziegenbalg and Plutschau. They started their educational ac­tivities at Tranquebar – a Danish settlement in South India in the year 1706. They learnt Tamil and set up a printing press in Tamil in 1713. In 1716 a training institution for teachers was set up by them at Tranquebar.

In 1717 they opened two charity schools in Madras for poor children – one for Por­tuguese and the other for Tamil children. Local language was the medium of instruction. Ziegenbalg translated the Bible in Tamil and a grammar in Tamil was also written by him. He also compiled a dictionary in Tamil.

Thus these missionaries greatly helped in the development of the local language. Denmark stopped pecuniary assistance to the Danish missionar­ies who were financed by the S. P. C. K. (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, established in England in 1698). Ziegenbalg died in 1719.

It was no doubt a great loss to the Danish missionaries, but his work was car­ried forward by his two competent, able followers and successors Kiernander and Schwartz. They extended his proselytizing and educational work to the entire South India including Tanjore, Madras, Trichinpolly, Cuddalore, Ramnad, Bombay etc.

“In 1742 Kiernander founded charity schools for Eu­rasians and Indians in and near Fort St. David. His work was so palpable and eminent that Lord Clive invited him to establish a charity: school in Calcutta. Accordingly he founded a few charity schools in Calcutta. Kiernader continued to work in Bengal for the rest of his life and did the same pioneering service to Bengal which Ziegenbalg did to Madras”.

But even more important service was rendered by Schwartz in Madras. He is regardedas the pioneer of education in the Province of Madras.

“He founded a school for European and Eurasian boys at Trichinpoly and an English charity school at Tanjore. For these works he received financial help from Hyder Ali. He translated the Bible into Telegu and compiled a Tamil diction­ary. He started three schools at Tanjore, Ramnad and Shivganga in 1785 with the object of teaching English to Indian children”.

Mr. John Sullivan the Company’s Resident at Tanjore, had keen interest in this venture and provided financial assistance to Schwartz in his enterprise to teach Eng­lish to Indian children as he thought that it would help the Company in its dealings with the local people. ‘These were the earliest schools for teaching the English language to Indians”. This is noteworthy in the history of English education in India.

5. The Work of the Serampore Trio and Others in Bengal (1758-1813):

The Danish missionaries in the South were very much fortunate as they were able to secure protection and financial assistance from the East India Company. But the missionaries who worked in Bengal were far less fortunate as they were deprived of such protection and help by the Company. However they received generous help from the Dutch Settlements at Serampore and Chinsura.

In 1720, Rv. Bellamy set up a school in Calcutta. A school was a so set up by the “Society for the Promotion of Indians” in 1731. We have already referred that Kiernander, a pioneer missionary in Bengal, set up a few char­ity schools in Bengal. This was followed by Dr. William Carey, a represen­tative of the Baptist Missionary Society.

Carey lifted his area of activi­ties due to some difficulties from Calcutta to Modanbati in Malda in 1793.

Here he established a school in the same year. In the following year (1794) Carey translated the New Testament in Bengali. In these activities he was greatly assisted by Mr. Udny who helped him to purchase a wooden printing press. Preparation of Bengali type by Charles Wilkins in 1778 also greatly helped him.

He came to Serampore near Calcutta for missionary work in 1799. In 1800 Ward and J. Marshman arrived in Calcutta and finally settled at Serampore, and joined hands with Carey. Thus the famous Se­rampore Trio came into existence.

This was an excellent combination for mis­sionary work because Dr. Carey was a great propagandist, Ward was a printer and Marshman was a school teacher. Carey was no doubt a jealous preacher. But in spite of this fact he was more an educationist than a mis­sionary, Carey was a linguist of the first order. He knew as many as 31 lan­guages.

He translated and printed the Bible in several languages in 1801. In 1803 the Baptist Mission published a pamphlet in Persian in which it ap­pealed the Muslim and Hindu (Addresses to Hindus and Mahamadans) community to renounce their religion and embrace Christianity. This en­raged the British authority in Calcutta who took stern measures against the Mission for the sake of communal harmony.

The Baptist Mission for the first time set up a modern Bengali press. In this respect the names of Charles Wilkins and Panchanon Karmakar can specially be mentioned. The Baptist Mission took the lead in the development of Bengali language. Raja Rammohan Roy, the noted reformer, helped them greatly in this regard. Carey wrote a grammar in Bengali language. He compiled a dictionary.

The Baptist Mission set up a library and a paper mill. The library is a treasure- house of both eastern and western learning till date. The Mission translated the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and managed to print these in Benga­li.

The “Samachar Darpan”, the first Bengali journal, was published by the Baptist Mission in 1818. Several other Bengali journals of the time were also published by the Mission. Dr. Carey had genuine interest in science ed­ucation. He was a botanist. He acted as the Superintendent of the Botanical garden at Sibpore for some time.

He also maintained a science laboratory, though miniature in form for experiments in life science. He was the Head of the Bengali Department at Fort William College. He was also a teacher of Sanskrit there. The Baptist Mission conducted several schools at Calcut­ta, Serampore and its neighbouring areas for boys and girls. They set up 115 elementary schools and a teacher-training institution for elementary teachers.

In 1818 the Serampore College was established which maintained its autonomous character for many years. This was the first English missionary College in India. This is a noted educational institution for western and eastern learning.

It still now offers the degree of Doctorate in Divinity. In 1810 Josua Marshman set up the Calcutta Benevolent Institution for native converts. His worthy wife, Hena Marshman, set up a Girls- School at Serampore.

The Baptists established schools in different parts of Bengal such as Dinajpore (1794), Jessore, Chittagung. Marshman also opened a boarding school at Serampore. In this way the Baptist Mission at Serampore contributed immensely to the development of education and thereby to the cause of cultural resurgence in Bengal.

Even in the face of numerous odds and financial difficulties they dedicated their lives for proselytization and educational activities.

6. Hostile Attitude of the East India Company towards Missionary Enterprise (1765 – 1813):

Missionary enterprise between 1765 -1813 was very show because of hos­tile and unsympathetic attitude of the Company towards missionary efforts for proselytization and education. The active co-operation of the Company was followed by breach of friendship.

The attitude of the Company was changed because of changed political and administrative situation in the country. A new turn came after the battle of plassey in 1757. The company became very cautious and sensitive as regards the religious sentiments of Hindus and the Muslims. It did not like to wound both the Hindus and the Muslims.

It wanted to placate these two communities in the interest of Brit­ish political gains. In 1765 the company became a political power as it ac­quired the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The Company became con­scious of the added administrative responsibilities. It intended to follow a positive and definite administrative policy.

A policy of religious neutrality was followed by the Company. With the object of winning over the Hindus and the Muslims the Company placed a check upon the missionaries. It posed itself as the champion and preserver of Hindu and Muslim Culture and traditions. “The Company never surrendered its political and commercial in­terests to religious and educational interest of the Missions”.

In 1783 the Company ordered that no ship should carry a clergyman without valid li­cense. In 1793, unlicensed missionaries were expelled from the Company s territories. By about 1800 the Company became a strong opponent to Proselytization and educational activities of the Missions. The adoption of the Oriental policy in 1781 deprived the Mission schools of the financial sup­port of the Company.

The Directors of the Company declared unequivocally through their despatch of Sep., 1808, that their policy was strictly that of religious neutrality. It became difficult for the missionaries to work freely. They somehow maintained and continued their work till 1813.

But soon they would start agitation in favour of their proselytization and educational ac­tivities in India. That is a part of the whole missionary story in India.

7. The Earlier Proselytizing and Educational Activities of the East India Company (1600 – 1813):

This can conveniently be divided into two phases:

(a) 1600 -17651 and

(b) 1765 -1813.

We would first deal with the first phase, i.e., 1600 – 1765. The East India Company was chiefly a trading concern. Its main object was to earn dividend through trade. With this end in view the Company was esta­blished on 31st Dec. 1600. Even at this early stage the Company was en­gaged in fostering some proselytizing and educational activities within its possessions.

This was mainly due to two reasons:

(a) The spiritual welfare of the Company’s servants and

(b) The propagation of the Gospel (Christiani­ty) among the people of India.

To fulfill these ends the Company took some positive steps. In 1614 steps were taken “for the recruitment of Indians for the propagation of the Gospel among their countrymen”. Some educational measures were taken for these “native missionaries”. An Indian youth, Peter by name, was sent to England for missionary training at Company s cost.

In 1636 the department of Arabic was established at the University of Oxford- with a view to giving special training to missionaries for work in India. In the year 1659 the Court of Directors decided to spread Christianity among the people of India and allowed missionaries to embark on their ships.

In 1698 at the time of renewal of the Charter Act in the Parliament a mission­ary clause was inserted in it, and the Company was directed to maintain “ministers of religion” in their factories in India and to take a chaplain in every ship of 500 tons or more.

It was also directed that the Company should establish and maintain schools in all its garrisons and factories for the edu­cation of the Company’s soldiers and their Indian wives. With these prosel­ytizing activities the Company’s educational activities began. But no real educational responsibility was taken before 1813.

The missionary clause of the Charter Act of 1698 is very much signifi­cant. The Company took steps not only for education of the Indian people but also for education of the Anglo-Indian and European children in its posses­sions. According to the Charter of 1698, three chaplains were appointed in three Presidency towns – Madras, Calcutta and Bombay.

This led to the es­tablishment of free charity schools in these towns. Before the Act was passed a secondary school was established in Madras in 1673. After the Act St. Mary’s Charity School was established in Madras City (1715) by Rev. W. Stevenson at the patronage of the Madras Government. This was fol­lowed by the establishment of a charity school in Bombay by Rev. Richard Cobbe (1719).

A charity school was founded in Calcutta by Captain Bellamy in between 1720 – 1731. In 1731 a charity school was started by the Society for the Promotion of Indians in Calcutta. These charity schools were mainly supported by subscriptions and donations collected by the chaplains and the Company’s officials.

Similar charity schools were founded in different parts of Madras and Calcutta by the Danish Missions who received both patron­age and protection by the Company, and of which we have already men­tioned.

In 1787, a Female Orphan Asylum was opened in Madras by Lady Campbell, the wife of the Madras Governor. In the same year, a Male Asy­lum was also established in Madras by Dr. Andrew Bell. Dr. Bell experi­mented with his famous Monitorial System for the first time in this institu­tion.

The East India Company assisted these charity schools in various ways:

(a) It sanctioned recurring grants for their maintenance.

(b) It sanc­tioned occasional capital grants for constructing and repairing of school buildings and purchasing of lands for school-sites,

(c) It permitted lotteries for collection of funds,

(d) The Company’s officials were allowed to collect funds and offer voluntary services,

(e) It also used to accept school funds as deposits for which interest was paid at higher rate.

Thus the Company act­ed as the banker of the charity schools. It used the deposits also for its own business purpose. The charity schools were mainly intended for the poor children and orphans. Their main object was to teach the three R’s. Along with it, education was imparted in Christian doctrines also. Initially Portu­guese was used as the medium of instruction.

But in course of time it was giv­en up and English was adopted as the medium of instruction. Let us now con­sider the 2nd phase (1765 – 1813) of the educational efforts of the East India Company.

The company became a political pow­er in 1765. In that year Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was granted to the Company. This resulted in the change of attitude of the Company with regard to the missionaries and its future educational policy. In respect of re­ligion the Company followed a policy of complete religious neutrality.

As regards education the company:

(a) Shifted from European and Anglo-Indian children to Indian children,

(b) It emphasised higher learning through the media of classical languages in Madrashas and Tols.

(c) It patronised the learned Pandits and Maulavis by giving pecuniary grants to them and

(d) by endowing educational institutions for higher religious studies. The Company decided to maintain these traditions,

(e) Moreover, the company wanted to educate the sons of aristocratic Indians for lucrative jobs under the Govern­ment. Thus the Company intended to create a pro-English educated gentry with the object of consolidating its rule in India. So the Company felt the need of establishing some centres of higher learning for the Hindus and the Muslims.

Of these institutions the names of the Calcutta Madrasah, the Banaras Sanskrit College the Fort William College and the Fort St. George College can especially be mentioned. These entirely differed from the charity schools which were encouraged earlier by the Company.

The Calcutta Madrasah was founded by Warren Hastings, who was out and out a classicist, in the year 1781 with the object to “qualify the sons of Mahammedan gentlemen for responsible and lucrative offices in the state and to produce competent officers for Courts of Justice……… “. The Madrasah soon became a reputed institution attracting students from different parts of India. Lands yielding Rs. 29,000 were assigned to its support by the Govern­ment. Later Rs. 30,000 was granted annually from the State treasury for its maintenance.

It was first placed under Muslim management but later a Euro­pean Secretary was appointed for its efficient administration. The Govern­ment awarded scholarships to the students. Philosophy, principles of Quran, Law, Geometry, Arithmetic, Logic, Grammar were taught in this Madrasah. The medium of instruction was Arabic and the period of instruc­tion was seven years.

Another Oriental institution known as the Royal Asiatic Society came into existence in 1784 due to the untiring zeal of Sir William Jones. It is a noted institution of Asiatic culture till date. In the year 1791, the Benares Sanskrit College was founded by Jonathan Duncan for the sons of influential Hindus. Yearly a grant of Rs. 20,000 was sanctioned for its maintenance.

Its management was first placed under the care of Hindu Pandits but on grounds of mismanagement a European superintendent was ap­pointed to conduct the institution. The aims of this institution were identical with those of Calcutta Madrasah.

It prepared Hindus for lucrative services in the Govt., particularly in the Revenue and Judicial Departments. Muslim Maulavis and Hindu Pandits were indispensable for the interpretation and education of Muslim and Hindu Law respectively. Sanskrit was the medium of instruction in th6 Benares Sanskrit College. The curriculum of the college included theology, medicine, music, grammar, law, literature of Hindus etc.

The Fort William College was founded by Lord Wellesley in 1800 for the education of the young civil servants of the Company in oriental learn­ing. Here Hindu and Muslim Laws, Indian History, Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit were taught. Bengali language received tremendous encouragement in this college. Numerous text books were published in laws and languages of India.

Even purely literary works were produced. Such learned and distinguished teachers as Dr. Carey, Gilchrist, Colebrooke, Mrityunjoy Tarkalankar, Pan­dit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar were appointed to carry on teaching work. The Calcutta Sanskrit College was established later in 1824.

The establishment of these oriental institutions clearly indicates the beginning of the Oriental School of Educational Policy. “The advocates of this school of thought believed that the Company must not lend any support to missionary enterprise and proselytization”. It also advocated that the Company should not make any hasty attempt to teach western knowledge to the Indian.

people and encourage classical learning in Sanskrit and Arabic on traditional lines. The policy of the Oriental School of thought was more po­litical than educational. This policy was adopted on grounds of religious neutrality or political expediency to conciliate the Indian people, both Hin­dus and Muslims.

“The Orientalist views were readily accepted by the Court of Directors. The principal object of the educational policy of the Company during the period 1765-1813 was to encourage traditional oriental learning in Sanskrit and Arabic and the bulk of the educational expenditure was in­curred on the maintenance of the Calcutta Madrasah and the Banaras Sanskrit College”.

The Oriental School of Thought laid emphasis on higher education, and not on primary or secondary education. Emphasis was also laid on education of the higher classes of the Hindus and the Muslims, and not the lower classes. It also emphasised on the encouragement of Hindu and Muslim classical learning through the media of classical languages in­stead of western knowledge through English.

Let us now turn our attention to the reaction of the missionaries to the changed and hostile attitude of the Company after 1765. Prior to 1765 the attitude of the Company was favoura­ble to missionary work. But this attitude began to change as soon as the Com­pany assumed political authority in India.

The Company became conscious of its political responsibility in changed situation and decided to maintain a policy of strict religious neutrality on ground of political expediency and to sever all connection with missionary enterprise including proselytization and education.

“By about 1800, the East India Company became a staunch opponent of all attempts of proselytization and tried to keep the missionar­ies out of its territories”.

Again because of the Oriental policy followed by the Company in education since 1787, the mission schools lost the sympathy and financial support of the Company.

8. Agitation in the British Parliament in Favour of the Missionaries:

The Missionaries did not like these changes, criticised the new policies of the Company and tried to revive the old tradition through agitation which started both in and outside the British Parliament. In the British Parliament a demand was voiced since the beginning of the 19th century to shoulder the responsibility of education by the Government itself.

But the British Government was reluctant to take that responsibility. As regards In­dia, the Company was not at all prepared to undertake the responsibility of education. But ultimately as a result of the agitation raised by Edmund Burke, Wilberforce and Charles Grant in the British Parliament and efforts of Lord Minto in India, the Company had to shoulder this significant respon­sibility of Indian education.

In India, the missionaries were powerless to fight against the anti- missionary attitude and Orientalist policy of education of the Company. So they began an intensive agitation in England with the object of persuading Parliament to give the necessary freedom and assistance to missionaries through legislation.

The leader of the agitation was Charles Grant who is known as the “father of modern education in India”. In the year 1792, Grant published his famous pamphlet entitled “Observation on the State of Socie­ty among the Asiatic subjects of Great Britain”.

In this pamphlet Grant ob­served in his own way on the character, education and intellectual condition of the Indian people. He wrote: “The true cure of darkness is the Introduc­tion of light. The Hindoos err, because they are ignorant. In Bengal, a man of real veracity and integrity is a rarity; one conscientious in the whole of his conduct, it is to be feared, is an unknown character………..Patriotism is ab­solutely unknown in Hindoostan”.

Grant held that there are two main causes of the miserable condition of the Indian people:

(a) Ignorance and

(b) Want of proper religion.

So Grant suggested that only the spread of Western edu­cation and Christian doctrine could improve the moral standard of the Indi­an people. He recommended that western light and knowledge including arts, literature and philosophy should be communicated to the Indian peo­ple. He held that English language should be adopted as the medium of in­struction. Grant further held that spread of western knowledge and Chris­tian religion would change the entire thought sphere of the Indian people.

He hoped that western science would bring about industrial and agricultural development, and ultimately economic progress. Thus “external prosperity and social peace” will be ushered in among the people. Nearly all the rec­ommendations of Grant were accepted later on. The Charter Act of 1813 bears clearly the stamp of Grant upon it.

However his “observations” are not without criticisms. It is said that Grant’s observation is an exaggerated statement. It is a half truth and not full truth. It is unpleasant, discourteous and fallacious. It is not at all convincing that mass conversion to Christiani­ty may regenerate Indian Society. This may be treated as a mere conjecture.

Spread of English education may not also help proselytization. Grant’s view was not true that no political dangers could follow from English education or proselytization. The subsequent developments disprove this contention of Grant. In spite of these criticisms Grant’s proposals and recommendations contain the germs of future educational developments in India.

These had far-reaching educational impact. After all, his motives were sincere and honourable. His main purpose was to awaken moral sense among the Indians through the spread of western education. As early as in 1792, Grant foresaw the future developments in Indian education.

He suggested the adoption of English as the medium of education as well as the language of the Govern­ment, a decision which was ultimately taken by Lord William Bentinck in 1835. Macaulay also advocated the adoption of English as the medium of in­struction in subsequent years. It is because of these practical and prophetic suggestions that Grant is regarded as the father of modern education in In­dia.

He paved the way for the introduction of English education in India and the educational clauses of the Charter Act of 1813.

At the time of the renewal of the Company’s Charter in 1793, Wilber-force, another staunch missionary and philanthropist, vehemently attacked the educational policy of the Company in the Parliament. He moved a reso­lution in the Parliament by which be demanded free access of teachers and missionaries to India who would impart useful western knowledge for the moral and material improvement of the inhabitants in India.

This would en­sure better and mutual understanding of the ruler and the ruled. (The same was pleaded by Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Grant earlier). He further pleaded for insertion of a clause in the charter in support of missionary activities in In­dia.

The Court of Directors opposed the resolution violently and stick to the policy of religious neutrality on ground of political expediency; they were dead against missionary activities and were not eager to educate Indians on political and financial grounds.

They raised the analogy of American Colo­nies. They further urged that “the Hindus had as good a system of faith and morals as most people and that it would be madness to attempt their conver­sion or to give them any more learning “. Consequently the proposal of Wilberforce was negative by the British Parliament.

This defeat gave a set-back to missionary enterprise in India. Because of “this active hostil­ity of the Company” the missionaries out of anger began to criticize the dif­ferent policies of the Company including its political and commercial under­takings.

Thus “the relations between the missionaries and the Company became very much strained after 1793. Between the period 1793 and 1813, the Company did not ordinarily issue a permit to any missionary to work within its territories, expelled several missionaries as soon as they became active and tried to convert people”.

While the missionaries were agitating in England for the expansion of western learning in India, the Company’s officials were agitating in India for bolder steps for the expansion of eastern learning (oriental culture) in In­dia. Thus the objectives of the missionaries and their supporters were just opposite to those of the Company’s senior officials who constituted mostly of the Orientalists.

They demanded for larger funds and vigorous steps to re­vive and improve the classical learning in India. Lord Minto was the Governor-General of India for the period 1806 – 1813. He was a staunch admirer of Oriental Literature and learning. He wrote a Minute on 6th March, 1811, to the Court of Director; He observed; “It is a common remark that science and literature are in a progressive state of decay among the natives of India ………….. The number of the learned is not only diminished, but the learned circle appears to be considerably contracted. The abstract sciences are aban­doned, polite literature neglected, and no branch of learning cultivated. ………. The immediate consequence of this state of things is the disuse, and even actual loss, of many valuable books; and it is to be apprehended that, unless Government interfere with a fostering hand, the revival of letters may shortly become hopeless for a want of books, or of persons capable of ex­plaining them”.

Thus Lord Minto urged in his Minute that the Company should give all possible encouragement to the study and preservation of the oriental learning of the Hindus and the Muslims. “He further submitted pro­posals for reforming the Calcutta Madrasah and the Banaras Sanskrit Col­lege”.

He also suggested for the establishment of two more Sanskrit Colleges and some new Madrasahs (Bhagalpur, Gaunpur and other places) with the object of preserving a high standard of Hindu and Is­lamic culture.

Thus the officials of the Company proceeded exactly in the opposite direction and a violent controversy arose between the friends and supporters of the Missions (mostly young officials) and the Company’s senior officials (the Orientalists) on the other.