“LET THERE BE INDIA: Impact of the Bible on Nation Building”
Today you can hold a book and read it in your mother tongue. You can go to a school and graduate from a university. You have grammar books and multilingual dictionaries in your language. And so many newspapers to choose from. You could not do any of that barely 150 or 200 years ago anywhere in India. How did these blessings come to us? They were given to us by Bible translators and Christian missionaries.
LET THERE BE INDIA! Impact of the Bible on Nation Building by Dr. Babu K. Verghese is based on a doctoral thesis approved by an Indian university. It’s a historic research on the pioneering contribution of Christian missions and Bible translators who made India a modern nation by transforming Indian languages, literature, linguistics, education, printing, journalism and culture.
The book provides substantial data to prove that it was the Bible that created modern India. For instance, based on his analysis of over 100 Indian languages, the author demonstrates that Bible translators developed 85 dictionaries, 116 grammar books and 45 newspapers/journals. They also modernized the scripts in most of these languages.
With names, dates and other relevant evidence, within its covers, the book details not-to-be-forgotten contribution of Bible missionaries and Christian missions towards building India. They paid with their sweat, tears, blood, and lives.
The book breaks the notion that it was British and other Western foreign invaders who introduced Christianity to India. For example, till 1813, no Christian missionary was allowed to enter the British-controlled territories in India. That is why when William Carey arrived in Calcutta in 1793, he was forbidden to land and had to go to the Danish colony of Serampore.
The book clearly distinguishes between the foreign empires which looted India and the Bible missionaries who sacrificed their lives for the prosperity of India.
In the field of literature, in most Indian languages, including Hindi, the Bible was the first prose to be published. By publishing Bible portions in vernacular as pioneers, these missionaries introduced prose to India. Also, in many Indian languages, the first novel, drama, travelogue or biography was published by these missionaries.
In the area of linguistics, details on the historical development of the science of language and translation principles are given in the book, with pioneering contribution by Bible translators.
In education, the contribution Christian missions to India is most acknowledged, from kindergarten to universities. Details from most regions of the country are given in the book. For example, the first university in India was established in Serampore in 1818 by missionaries, William Carey, William Ward and Joshua Marshman. Also in the establishment of the famous Bombay, Madras and Calcutta universities in 1857, the missionaries laid the foundation. Moreover, the first school for girls, and slaves, blind and the deaf were also missionary ventures.
In printing, the first press was established by missionaries in 1556 in Goa, followed by units in Tranquebar in 1700 and Serampore in 1800, spreading network of printing presses throughout India.
In journalism, the first vernacular newspaper was published in Bengali and Hindi by Serampore missionaries in 1818, besides an English journal, Friend of India. In most of other Indian languages also, the missionaries produced the first newspaper or journal including Arunoday in Assamese (1844), Digdarshanin Hindi, SamacharDarpanin Bengali (1818), MangalurSamachara in Kannada (1844) and Rajyasamacharamin Malayalam (1847).
With all these pioneering development efforts, the missionaries effected major socio-economic transformation in India. The book gives scores of stories of social transformation all over the country.
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