Influencing Culture – Publishing, Freedom of the Press, Indigenous Literature

Indian Stamp honouring missionary William Carey

What would Carey do?
In our imaginary Quiz, where Indian students are asked the question ‘Who was William Carey?’ several answers have been given which prove Carey’s missionary interest was to benefit the peoples of India.

But there are still numerous students with their hands in the air waiting to give their answers:

Printing and Publishing
‘Dr. William Carey is the father of print technology in India.’ says one. He brought to India the modern science of printing and publishing and then taught and developed it. He built what was then the largest printing press in India. Most printers had to buy their fonts from his Mission Press at Serampore.’

A Free Press
‘William Carey,’ says another, was a Christian missionary who established the first newspaper ever printed in any oriental language because Carey believed that ‘Above all forms of truth and faith, Christianity seeks free discussion.’

‘His English language journal, Friend of India, was the force that gave birth to the Social Reform Movement in India in the first half of the nineteenth century.’

Translation and Promotion of Indigenous Literature
‘Carey was the first man to translate and publish great Indian religious classics such as the Ramayana, and philosophical treaties such as Samkhya into English,’ says a student of Literature.

‘Carey transformed Bengali…into the foremost literary language of India. He wrote gospel ballads in Bengali to bring the Hindu love of musical recitations to the service of his Lord. He also wrote the first Sanskrit dictionary for scholars.’

(All quotes from Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey and the Regeneration of India, Good Books, Mussourie, India, p 2-4)

The picture we are compiling of the 19th Century missionary William Carey is not one of a blundering, insensitive cad who could care less about local culture but wants to stupefy the ‘natives’ into compliance with the colonial agenda.

Sent to Serve

Rather, we are seeing a deeply inspiring portrait of a man sent to serve; a man eager to understand the philosophical presuppositions of those he seeks to benefit.

This is no culture destroyer but someone seeking to strengthen a people, and bring them knowledge already gained elsewhere, enabling them to both believe the gospel and build a fairer and stronger society. And if you’re tempted to think, ‘Ah! It’s obvious that you, a Westerner, would say that!’ then please keep in mind that I am drawing heavily upon the expertise and research of Indologist, and Indian expert Vishal Mangalwadi.

For the next post in this series click here

To see the first part of the William Carey story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

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