Friday, May 4, 2012

William Carey: Social Reformer of India




Introduction:

William Carey (1761 -1834) is known as one of the great pioneers of the renaissance in Bengal, and for that matter in the whole of India.   William Carey is the person who renovated the missionary movement of Protestants. And he is called as father of modern mission. The paper deals with the life of William Carey and his contributions in transforming Indian society. Remarkably, to acknowledge his works, Indian Postal Department issued as stamp on Dr.William Carey, on January 9, 1993, who adopted India as his country and strived to serve her people.

Childhood of Carey:

William Carey was born in August 1761[1] in a village called Paulerspury in England.[2] At the time of Carey’s birth his father was a traveling weaver, who later turned school teacher and parish or church clear. His grandfather was also a school master, and thus William inherited a love for learning.  He was fond of books and liked to draw. At an early age he began a collection of birds and insects, which he placed in the Carey home, must to the disgust of his family.[3]

Carey started his life career as a gardener’s boy as he had a special interest for plants and flowers, but soon he became ill and left the job. Then his father sent him to apprentice to a shoe maker. He started at the age of fourteen and his apprenticeship lasted seven years. [4] He later became village cobbler.

His conversion:

            While William Carey worked as cobbler he used to attend the Baptist church which is located at Hackleton. One day during the church service he was convicted of his sins and he gave himself wholly to the Lord. And he took baptism in the River Nan. For three years Carey studied the Bible carefully and attended the meetings at Hackleton, and had fellowship with elders to get reassurance of his faith.[5]

Marriage and family life:

On June 10, 1781 Carey married Miss Dorothy Plackeett, sister of Mrs. Thomas Old. The bride was older than he. She was not educated but loving and good-natured.


Baptist Pastor:

            Carey, who was a member of the Anglican Church, finally decided to join the Baptists, and he presented himself as a candidate of membership. On August 10th, 1786, Carey was accepted by the Baptist church to preach and after a year Carey was ordained as a Baptist minister.[6]

Missionary Call:

While William Carey stayed in Hackleton in England, Carey had to read about the adventures of Thomas Cook and Columbus. Consequently, this made him very enthusiastic about going abroad to preach Christianity in foreign countries. [7] Although Carey led a buy life at Leicester and he was consumed with desire to take the gospel to the inhabitants of those far off shores.

Father of Modern Missions:

The first Protestants to attempt to reach distant peoples with the gospel were the Pietists. Moravian concern, however, was focused on individuals in some European colony, perishing without the knowledge of Christ. The Christian groups created by Pietists were tiny islands in the surrounding sea of “heathenism.” William Carey introduced Christians to missions on a grander scale. He thought in terms of the evangelization of whole countries, and of what happens when whole populations become Christian. He held that the foreign missionary can never make more than a small contribution to the accomplishment of the work that has to be done, and that therefore the development of the local ministry is the first and greatest of all missionary considerations. Above all, he saw that Christianity must be firmly rooted in the culture and traditions of the land in which it is planted. [8] For all these reasons and more Carey gained the title, “Father of Modern Missions.”

Formation of Baptist Missionary Society:

           In 1792 Carey published An Enquiry into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. It created an epoch. In it Carey took up the five objections that people raised against missions to “heathen” lands: their distance, their barbarism, the danger that would be incurred, the difficulties of support, and the unintelligible languages. One by one he answered these. The same obstacles had not prevented the merchants from going to distant shores. “It only requires,” he wrote, “that we should have as much love to the souls of our fellow-creatures, and fellow sinners, as they have for the profits arising from a few otter skins, and all these difficulties could be easily surmounted.” He ended his appeal with practical proposals for the preaching of the gospel throughout the world.[9]

           Carey was sure that a missionary society would eventually be formed. He carefully made detail of the plan. He gave his plan to the twelve ministers after the much discussion; In October 1792[10] the missionary society was born. They named it “The Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel amongst the Heathen” later known as the Baptist Missionary Society[11]. Andrew fuller became the first home secretary of the Society, within a year Carey and his family were on their way to India.[12]


Struggles before heading to India:

Behind all the achievements of Carey, we cannot neglect the struggles he faced in his life. As William Carey decided to go to India. He informed his wife of the decision to go to India, She resisted and rebelled.[13] However, finally, Carey, Dorothy - his wife, her sister and their five children together with Dr. and Mrs. Thomas sailed for India to spread the good news about Jesus Christ.[14]

            When the group (Carey, his wife, her sister and their five children together with Dr. and Mrs. Thomas) sought passage, the powerful East India Company refused them, for the company was not friendly to missionaries, as they proved later by the treatment of the Judsons. However, they finally booked passage on a Dutch ship, and after five months they landed in  India, on November 11, 1793.[15]

Serampore Mission:

William Carey started his mission work in Kalkatta. Later, his mission organization sent few more missionaries to get involve with his mission work in India. As Joshua Marshman, William word, William Grand and their families did not have passports from the East India Company, it made them to not to land in Calcutta. So Carey was forced to come to Serampore to join with rest of his colleagues.

Early days in India:

In the beginning of Carey’s ministry, he visited two hundred villages in the district and preached to the people. Carey’s heart was in evangelizing the natives and he took great delight in his trips to the villages where he might preach to the people who had never heard of Christ.[16] Success came slowly as converts were gained and other missionaries came to assist with the work.[17]

Serampore Trio:

Carey was convinced that missionaries and there families should live as a small community for the sake of economy, efficiency and essential fellowship. Carey’s mission compound housed six families and enjoyed a family atmosphere. Everyone lived together and shared thing in s common. Work was shared among them according t their own particular gift and abilities. Carey as the senior missionary took leadership of the work but two others. Joshua Marshman and William Ward, helped him and these three came to be known as the “Serampore Trio.”

Perils in Ministry:

In India, Carey had to undergo many tribulations both physical and mental. But till the end of his life, he was faithful in his calling in serving the people of India.

Sorrow in the family:

            While Carey was busy at the indigo plant. Their five-year-old son Peter became ill with a fever and getting worse. In spite of all their tender nursing, he died within hours and in their lonely grief found that one of the nationals wanted to take any part in the burial of the one of the ‘unorthodox dead.’[18] Carey did dig a pit to bury his son. He buried his son by his own hand. After few days, Carey was also stricken with malaria.[19]

            After some times, Dorothy began to become mentally ill due to unbearable sorrow. Dorothy never fully recovered from her mental illness and for twelve years Carey nursed her. She late died in 1807.[20]

Fire in Serampore Press:

It was 11 March 1812 when the Serampore mission faced the greatest calamity in its history. During that time William Ward was in the press. Fire burned out and reached the composing room. Oriental languages, Greek, Hebrew and English types blazed to ashes together with proofs, printed sheets and a thousand copies of the first sheets of Henry Martin’s Hindustani New Testament which had just been printed. Precious manuscripts of Scripture translation, grammar and other books, representing many months of intensive study and hard work were destroyed in the fire.[21]

Contribution of Carey in India:

In India, Carey looked on peasants, cobblers and such people as his very own. The sympathy and commiseration of William Carey for the downtrodden and oppressed sections of society could be understood from the sincerity with which he worked in India.

Theological contribution:

            William Carey played a vital role in training theological student.

Serampore seminary:

William Carey understood the major need of trained pastors to spread the gospel to the teeming millions of India. So Carey and his colleagues planed to build a Catholic college of Eastern and Western knowledge and biblical learning.  Foundation of Serampore College was laid in 1818 for the training of Indian and European youth, may be regarded as the crown of their educational activities.[22]

Father of modern mission:

            Carey is called as a father of modern mission. Carey published a booklet entitled, An enquiry into the Obligation of the Christians, explaining the need for preaching Christianity in different countries of the world and he made an appeal for starting a missionary society.[23]

Social Contribution:

            William Carey contributed remarkable things in the social life of Indians.

Child marriage:

            No social problem, if it is rooted in the moral or religious soil of a culture, can be easily eradicated legally. Carey understood this, and therefore did not agitate against child marriage as such. Instead, he sought to undercut its immoral roots through the teaching of the Bible, and its social roots through female education.[24]

Infanticide:

            As per the request of Lord Wellesley, Carey took a survey on infanticide and wrote a report on “murders committed under the pretence of religion.” Following the report Wellesley passed a Regulation in 1802 prohibiting infanticide.[25]

Female education:

            Carey and Mrs. Marshman started schools for Indian boys and girls. The success of this school resulted in the establishment of the Calcutta Baptist Female School Society in 1819, and an additional school for girls in Calcutta. Free school for the low castes and the outcasts were always a chief feature of Carey’s work, and these were started within a twenty mile radius of Serampore where almost 8,000 children attended.[26]


Abolition of Sati:

Carey pioneered selfless work against certain social practices such as infanticide and sati. Along with his colleagues, John Marshman and Ward, Carey had been unremitting in his endeavor to draw the attention of the government to the practice of sati. Support received in the person of Raja Ram Mohan Roy brightened the prospects for the abolition of sati. Carey with the help of the learned pundits connected with the Governor-General's College in Calcutta collected from the Hindu sacred books the passages upon which this custom was believed to have been raised. These investigations showed him that sati was a rite simply encouraged as a virtue and not enjoined as a duty. The vernacular newspapers pioneered by the Serampore missionaries were used to enlighten the minds of the Indians. At length, their continuous fight against this practice paved the way for the abolition of suttee.[27] Carey and his team continued their struggle and their English monthly, Friend of India, provided a forum for discussion on this issue. Finally on 4 December 1829, Lord Willeam Bentinck made an order declaring sati both illegal and criminal.

Printing press:

The source of Carey’s greatest victories came from the printing press. He found native paper to be of poor quality. So with the help of others he improved it, making it somewhat insert-proof, which was a great blessing to book publishing. With the help of God Carey imported a huge steam engine for the mission’s paper mill. The printing establishments, now grown to a large business, burned to the ground.[28]

Translation achievement:

Carey's strength lies in envisioning the need and to go after fulfilling that need. He recognized the fact that India is populated by different linguistic groups and that each of these groups needs to be given the translation of the Bible in their own tongue. He also realized that the Indian vernaculars were yet to be fully developed as vehicles of learning. The Protestant missionary assumptions demanded that the Bible be made available in the vernacular.[29]

Bible translation:

Carey was at heart a Bible translator. Carey used large number of pundits in different languages for translation the work of God into all the principle languages of India. His original plan was to get the Bible printed in Bengali and Hindustani before he died.[30] For the mission family of Serampore, February 7, 1801 dawned as the most satisfying day of all of Serampore missionaries because finally, the last sheet of the Bengali New Testament was printed.[31] The Bible began to be translated in different Indian languages. Carey and his assistants translated the Bible, in whole or part into more than thirty five languages, which opened the word of God to India’s millions.[32]

Literary Activities:

Carey wrote a Bengal Grammar Book and book entitled ‘Colloquies’ which gives a living picture of the manners and notions of the people of Bengal.[33] He translated Indian classics into English, and publishing grammars and dictionaries, unlocking the rich treasures of the various languages and dialects.[34] And he also published magazines in Bengali and English.

Progress in Gospel work:

Carey went out to the villages for and near to preach the gospel. For most of the journeys, he had to tramp or ride slowly on horse-back, there being no proper roads to reach the villages. By the beginning of 1795, Carey was able to preach in Bengali thought the listeners could not easily follow him.[35] Carey and his associates used to get to the villages to preach the gospel. Preaching sermons to the Indians in their mother tongue was on e of the principle of Carey’s missionary programme. They found that Muslims were more hostile to gospel, the Hindus were generally eager to listen to there arguments but showed no eagerness to renounce there religion.[36] Kirshna Pal was the first person, who accepted Christ. Carey baptized a Kyasi (high caste) Hindu Pitambar singh. And slowly people joined in the folk of Christ.[37]

Death of Carey:

As the end came, he was busy revising for the last time his Bengali Bible, working his garden, being wheeled into it after has no longer able to walk. Many visitors came to see him, and on June 9, 1834, at the age of seventy two, he peacefully slept way and went to be with his Lord.[38]

Conclusion:

            William Carey, though he started his life as cobbler, he achieved lots of things for God. He fully committed himself to the task which he was called for. Moreover, he saw Himself as social reformer in eliminating evilness of Indian society.And his life is great model for the contemporary missionaries. His methods have brought out new insights to modern mission. An undereducated, underfunded and underestimated, William Carey with his friends started over 100 Christian schools for over 8000 Indian children of all castes and he launched the first Christian college in Asia – Serampore, which continues to this day as one of the big university. Carey finally succeeded in translating the Bible into 6languages and New Testaments and Gospels into 29 languages.


“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” – William Carey






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Bibliography



Carey, Pearce. S. William Carey. London: The Wakeman Trust. 1993.

Dewanji, Malay. Willaim Carey and the Indian Renaissance. Delhi: ISPCK. 1996.

Miller, Basil. 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991.

Ponraj, Devasagayam. S. Pioneers of the gospel. Lalgarh Madhupur. Mission Educational books. 1993.

Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi. William Carey. Nivedit Good Books Distributors Private Limited. 1993.

Philip. P.P. William Carey: the man and his mission. Madras: C.L.S. 1993.




[1] S. Devasagayam Ponraj, Pioneers of the gospel, (Lalgarh Madhupur: Mission Educational books, 1993), 30.
[2] S. Pearce Carey, William Carey, (London: The Wakeman Trust, 1993), 13.
[3] Basil Miller, 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991), 6.
[4] S. Devasagayam Ponraj, Pioneers of the gospel, (Lalgarh Madhupur: Mission Educational books, 1993), 30.
[5] P.P. Philip. William Carey the man and his mission, (Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1993), 12.

[6] S. Devasagayam Ponraj, Pioneers of the gospel, (Lalgarh Madhupur: Mission Educational books, 1993), 32.

[7] Malay Dewanji, Willaim Carey and the Indian Renaissance, (Delhi: ISPCK, 1996), 29.
[11] S. Devasagayam Ponraj, Pioneers of the gospel, (Lalgarh Madhupur: Mission Educational books, 1993), 30.
[13] P.P. Philip. William Carey the man and his mission, (Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1993), 39.
[14] Basil Miller, 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991), 9.
[15] Basil Miller, 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991), 9.
[16] Basil Miller, 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991), 9.
[17] Basil Miller, 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991), 9.
[18] S. Devasagayam Ponraj, Pioneers of the gospel, (Lalgarh Madhupur: Mission Educational books, 1993), 41.
[19] Malay Dewanji, Willaim Carey and the Indian Renaissance, (Delhi: ISPCK, 1996), 29.
[20] S. Devasagayam Ponraj, Pioneers of the gospel, (Lalgarh Madhupur: Mission Educational books, 1993), 41.
[21] S. Devasagayam Ponraj, Pioneers of the gospel, (Lalgarh Madhupur: Mission Educational books, 1993), 44.
[22] P.P. Philip. William Carey the man and his mission, (Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1993), 107.

[23] Malay Dewanji, Willaim Carey and the Indian Renaissance, (Delhi: ISPCK, 1996), 5.
[24] Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey,  (Nivedit Good Books Distributors Private Limited, 1993), 22.
[25] S. Devasagayam Ponraj, Pioneers of the gospel, (Lalgarh Madhupur: Mission Educational books, 1993), 45.
[26] Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi, William Carey,  (Nivedit Good Books Distributors Private Limited, 1993), 22.
[28] Basil Miller, 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991), 11.

[30] P.P. Philip. William Carey the man and his mission, (Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1993), 77.
[31] Malay Dewanji, Willaim Carey and the Indian Renaissance, (Delhi: ISPCK, 1996), 29.
[32] Basil Miller, 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991), 10.
[33] P.P. Philip. William Carey the man and his mission, (Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1993), 74.
[34] Basil Miller, 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991), 10.
[35] P.P. Philip. William Carey the man and his mission, (Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1993), 51.

[36] Malay Dewanji, Willaim Carey and the Indian Renaissance, (Delhi: ISPCK, 1996), 21.
[37] P.P. Philip. William Carey the man and his mission, (Madras: The Christian Literature Society, 1993), 78.
[38] Basil Miller, 10 Boys who become Famous Missionaries, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991), 12.

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1 comments:

  1. Carey was the founder of agri horticultural society of india

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