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Missionary CalculusAmericans in the Making of Sunday Schools in Victorian India$
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Anilkumar Belvadi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190052423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190052423.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 July 2021

The Creators of Sunday Schools

The Creators of Sunday Schools

(p.79) 3 The Creators of Sunday Schools
Missionary Calculus

Anilkumar Belvadi

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 situates American missionaries in the colonial Indian context. When they arrived in India (legally after 1833), annual missionary salaries, as early as in the 1840s, were in the range of $700 to $1,000, or thirty-five times average Indian earnings. They wrote of their large personal household establishments, which included spacious villas, retinues of several categories of servants, and transportation by way of palanquins or horses. Further, they socialized with British officers and their families. The chapter shows that missionaries were a part of the powerful ruling colonial elite, their caritative commitments and message of Christian humility notwithstanding. They reconciled these contradictions by offering their listeners the rationale that Christianity led to prosperity and a higher state of civilization. They observed the simultaneous existence of agricultural productivity and peasant poverty, and were unable to provide for themselves an explanation for the starkness of the contrast. As the evidence shows, missionaries attributed to the material depredations of the Indians their moral failures rather than the rapacious logic of colonial rule. This causal analysis provided missionaries with the justification for extending their evangelical message to a broader program of civilizational reform. Every element of their interaction with the poverty-stricken population around them began to be seen as an opportunity for moral and spiritual correction. Missionaries began to look upon themselves as builders and transformers of society rather than as mere carriers of a personal, religious message. The chapter ends with an American missionary’s reflections on finding systematic ways of educating Indians on the need for civilizational change.

Keywords:   missionary, lifestyle, colonial, elite, famine, civilizational reform

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