In November 1880 the Reverend Charles Thompson arrived at Kherwara, Rajasthan, India, to establish the first Anglican mission to the Bhils, a primitive tribe, by going amongst them as a healer. This book sets out the history of the interaction between the missionaries and the Bhils, a history of missionary medicine, and how certain Bhils forged their own relationship with modernity. During the 1870s, the Church Missionary Society declared its intention to open more missions 'among the non-Aryan hill-people', and the Bishop of Lahore wanted more missions to work amongst the 'aboriginal' Bhils. A great famine that began in 1899 brought radical changes in the mission to the Bhils. After the famine, many of the Bhagats, a local sect, became convinced that the sinless deity was the God of Christians, and they decided to convert en masse to Christianity. The missionaries working amongst the Bhils believed that Satan was in their midst, who was constantly enticing their hard-won converts to relinquish their new faith and revert to their 'heathen' ways. It was argued that 'heathen' beliefs and culture could be attacked only if female missionaries were required to work with native women. Mission work had always been hampered by a lack of funds, and at one time, the hospital at Lusadiya had to dissuade many would-be inpatients from coming for treatment due to lack of beds. The book also deals with the work of the mission in the post-colonial India, which laid more stress to healing than evangelism.
Bhils have disciplined themselves to become good Christians, but it was Christianity on their own terms. This chapter examines their society, their history and their healing practices. C. S. Thompson had come to work amongst the Bhils in 1880 in accordance with a new strategy that the Church Missionary Society (CMS) was adopting at that time in India. The chapter also examines how the Bhils were made to fit into an evolutionary schema. In his report, Thomas Hendley claimed that in general 'The Bhils are a healthy race.' In making this claim, he appears to have been guided more by certain notions current at that time about the 'healthy primitive' than by any reality on the ground. Hendley observed that the Bhils believed that some people, mainly women, had the ability to cause sickness, misfortune or death.
During the 1870s, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) declared its intention to open more missions 'among the non-Aryan hill-people', who it was feared were coming under Hindu influence. The Bishop of Lahore felt that more missions were needed to work amongst the 'aboriginal' Bhils. A new mission to the Gonds of central India had been opened and efforts had been made from time to time to reach the Bhils, particularly in Khandesh, where the society had a base at Malegaon. In the Bhil areas, the thakors established themselves as the patrons of particular Bhil pals, providing support for them when they raided pals that were under the protection of a different thakor. The leader of the Bhil Bhagats, Surmaldas, lived in the village of Lusadiya. This lay within the small estate of the Thakor of Karchha, a Rajput who was a tributary of Idar State.
fellow-worker in Hildebrand;
the austerities of Benedict, the intolerance of Dominic, will find their counterpart at
Geneva and in Massachusetts; the missionary zeal of the Arian Ulfilas, of the Jesuit
Xavier, and of the Protestant Schwarz will be seen to flow from the same source.67
One did not have to be an out-and-out liberal to view Catholic figures in a
favourable light. Stephen was one example of this; but it was no coincidence that in
1862 another second-generation Claphamite, the General Secretary of the ChurchMissionarySociety Henry Venn (1796
Ibid., p. 17.
23 John Scott, The Duty and Advantage of Remembering Deceased Ministers (London: Seeley,
Jackson, and Halliday, 1858), pp. 5, 23, 27.
24 Ibid., p. 15.
25 Ibid., p. 17.
26 Thomas Scott, Duty, p. 23.
27 Bob Tennant identifies early examples of this trope of living martyrdom in ChurchMissionarySociety anniversary sermons in Corporate Holiness: Pulpit Preaching and the Church
of England Missionary Societies, 1760–1870 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013),
pp. 132–4. Contra Tennant, however, this rhetoric was not merely about psychological
. Among them were Hastings from
St James’s, Kingston from St Catherine’s, Halahan from St Nicholas’s,
Burroughs, rector from St Luke’s.130 The Very Revd the Dean of
St Patrick’s became the first Vice President of the DPOS, and Revds
Halahan, Burroughs and Kingston became DPOS committee members.
Revd Arthur Thomas Burroughs was curate of St James’s parish
in the 1820s and a committee member of the Hibernian ChurchMissionarySociety.131 He also sought support for the parochial school
The Protestant Orphan Society, 1828–1940
of Saint Nicholas Without, a charitable
Bible, not an American Arabic Bible, and for a while they thought they had found the man to make one. This was the Anglican W. H. T. Gairdner (1873–1928), of the ChurchMissionarySociety in Egypt, who admitted that he thought of the Van Dyck Bible as ‘incomprehensible or inelegant’ in parts.
Even today, historians of Protestantism recognise Gairdner as a chronicler of the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910, which propelled the Protestant ecumenical movement and anticipated the World Council of
missionaries than other organizations that raised the money first, since
their workers were responsible for their own support.82
Entry into the missionary profession was not easy. Only 186 of
the Ladies’ Committee of the LMS’s 400 female applicants between
1875 and 1900 actually went out as missionaries, and by the 1890s the
ChurchMissionarySociety was rejecting 70 percent of candidates.83 The
Committee wanted to recruit ‘the comparatively young between the ages
of twenty-one and twenty-eight, full of health and vigour, … and … ladies
of some education
Missionary Society (1792) led the way, being followed by the London Missionary Society (1795), ChurchMissionarySociety (1799), American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1810) and, linked to these, the Basel Evangelische Missionsgesellschaft (1815).
One result was a change in the centre of gravity. Whereas in the eighteenth century globetrotting Danish or German Lutherans trained at the Halle Frankesche Stiftungen were employed even by Anglican societies to fill manpower shortages, by the mid