Empire and Mission

Protestant Beginnings in India and the “pious clause”

In: Social Sciences and Missions
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  • 1 Department of Theology and Religion, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

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The historiography of the entanglement of mission and empire in India has often taken the inclusion of the so-called “pious clause” in the East India Company’s 1813 charter to mark the end of a ban on missions in Company territories, and the beginning of a period of co-operation between church and company. This neglects the importance in this debate of the mission founded by German Lutherans in the Danish settlement of Tranquebar in south India in 1706. The mission received direct patronage from the Company for almost a full century before 1813, and was invoked by both sides in the debate over the pious clause. A work published anonymously in 1812, purporting to be a new translation of dialogues between the first missionaries in Tranquebar and their Hindu and Muslim interlocutors, is shown here to be a skilful and savage satire on the dialogues published by the first missionaries.

  • 5

    Penelope Carson, “An Imperial Dilemma: The Propagation of Christianity in Early Colonial India,” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 18, no. 2 (1990): 175.

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  • 10

    Jörg Fisch, “A Solitary Vindicator of the Hindus: The Life and Writings of General Charles Stuart (1757/58–1828),” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, no. 1 (1985): 53.

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  • 11

    Claudius Buchanan, Christian Researches in Asia: With Notices of the Translation of the Scriptures into Oriental Languages (Cambridge: J. Smith, 1811), 72.

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  • 12

    Ibid., 42–43.

  • 13

    Ibid., 65–66.

  • 21

    P.J. Marshall, The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 26f.

  • 22

    Daniel S. Hawley, “L’Inde de Voltaire,” Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century 120 (1974): 145–147.

  • 23

    Wilhelm Halbfass, India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 70.

  • 29

    George Dallas, Letter from a Field Officer at Madras, in the Service of the East India Company, to a Member of the Board of Control, on the Conversion of the Hindus (London: Printed for T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1813).

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  • 31

    Dallas, Letter, 12.

  • 33

    Penelope Carson, “Missionaries, Bureaucrats and the People of India, 1793–1833,” in Orientalism, Evangelicalism and the Military Cantonment in Early Nineteenth Century India: A Historiographical Overview, ed. Nancy Gardner Cassels (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991), 138–141, 155.

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  • 34

    Paul Hockings, “The Abbé Dubois, an early French ethnographer.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 11, no. 2 (1977): 330. For Dubois’s low opinion of these converts, see Letters, 74.

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  • 38

    Ibid., 329.

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