Baba Padmanji: Vernacular Christianity in Colonial India 0367503905, 9780367503901

This book is a critical biography of Baba Padmanji (1831-1906), a firebrand native Christian missionary, ideologue, and

273 99 2MB

English Pages 116 [147] Year 2020

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Table of contents :
Cover
Endorsement Page
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
Author’s note
Preface
Acknowledgements
Introduction
Chapter 1 Autobiography and hagiography
Chapter 2 Engaging the avant-garde
Chapter 3 The Christian vernacular genre
Chapter 4 Yamunaparyatan
Chapter 5 Concluding remarks
References
Index
Recommend Papers

Baba Padmanji: Vernacular Christianity in Colonial India
 0367503905, 9780367503901

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

“This balanced and critical biography of a Marathi-Christian activist, preacher, thinker, and writer makes a splendid contribution to our understanding of Christianity in India. By an accomplished historical anthropologist, its Indo-centric perspectives are fresh, fascinating, and altogether compelling. The result is a remarkable display of cultural hybridity.” Robert Eric Frykenberg, Professor Emeritus of History & South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA. “…a persuasive study of Baba Padmanji, a remarkable Maharashtrian convert to Christianity in the era of high colonialism. Dandekar brilliantly showcases Padmanji’s legacy as an educationalist, reformer, novelist, feminist and modern Indian… [his] vernacularization of Protestantism… and quest for Christian faith…is a beftting critique of Western scholarship on the Enlightenment.” Padma Anagol, Reader in Modern Indian History and Director, Centre for Asian Studies, Cardiff Wales, UK. “Dandekar continues her astute and timely study of the intersection of literature, religion, and Christian conversion in nineteenth-century India through this new biography and intellectual history of Baba Padmanji and the ‘vernacular missionary feld’. She eloquently shows how bhakti or devotionalism was harnessed to express a modern Indian Christian conviction that asserted Christianity was the only real means toward radical social progress” Christian Novetzke, Professor of International Studies and Comparative Religion, University of Washington, USA. “This captivating biography of Baba Padmanji integrates the study of religious conversion, cultural politics, and book printing in Maharasthra.  Dandekar brings to light a vernacular Christian tradition that has been ignored or suppressed in missionary and nationalist discourse.  At a time when minorities in India are vilifed as members of “foreign” religions, this book makes a timely intervention.” Chandra Mallampalli, Fletcher Jones Foundation Chair of Social Sciences, Westmont College, USA. “Dandekar’s critical reading of Baba Padmanji’s prolifc Marathi writings offers an excellent intervention in current scholarship on nineteenth-century Christian literature in Indian languages. Her study brings to life the intellectual contributions of this controversial and polemic fgure by juxtaposing Marathi literary history and social reform debates with Christian conversion and feminism, a task seldom undertaken. Particularly valuable is her attention to various genres of Padmanji’s ouvre to investigate his shaping of a Protestant vernacular discourse in response to various interlocutors.” Hephzibah Israel, Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies, School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, University of Edinburgh, UK.

BABA PADMANJI

This book is a critical biography of Baba Padmanji (1831–1906), a frebrand native Christian missionary, ideologue, and litterateur from 19th-century Bombay Presidency. Though Padmanji was well known and a very infuential fgure among Christian converts, his contributions have received inadequate attention from the perspective of “social reform”—an intellectual domain dominated by offshoots of the Brahmo Samaj movement, like the Prarthana Samaj in Bombay. This book constitutes an in-depth analysis of Padmanji’s relationships with questions of reform, education, modernity, feminism, and religion, which had wide-ranging repercussions on the intellectual horizon of 19th-century India. It presents Padmanji’s integrated writing persona and identity as a revolutionary pathfnder of his times who amalgamated and blended vernacular ideas of Christianity, together with early feminism, modernity, and incipient nationalism. Drawing on a variety of primary and secondary sources, this unique book will be of great interest for area studies scholars (especially Maharashtra) and to researchers of modern India, engaged with the history of colonialism and missions, religion, global Christianity, South Asian intellectual history, and literature. Deepra Dandekar is a historian of gender and religion, having written her PhD on childbirth rituals in Maharashtra, published in 2017. Writing on religious minorities, migration, and the intellectual history of 19th- and 20th-century India, she retains special interest in the history of Christianity and the importance of narratives for history writing. Her previous book, The Subhedar’s Son: A Narrative of Brahmin-Christian Conversion from Nineteenth-century Maharashtra, was published in 2019, and she presently works as a researcher at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, Germany, on an independent research grant on Muslims in modern Maharashtra.

PATHFINDERS Series Editor: Dilip M. Menon

Professor of History and Mellon Chair in Indian Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

This series explores the intellectual history of South Asia through the lives and ideas of signifcant individuals within a historical context. These “pathfnders” are seen to represent a break with existing traditions, canons and inherited histories. In fact, even the idea of South Asia with its constituent regions and linguistic and religious divisions may be thrown into crisis as we explore the idea of territory as generated by thought. It is not cartographic limits that determine thinking but the imagining of elective affnities across space, time and borders. These thinkers are necessarily cosmopolitan and engage with a miscegenation of ideas that recasts existing notions of schools of thinking, of the archive for a history of ideas and indeed of the very notion of national and regional limits to intellectual activity. The books in this series try to think beyond the limited frameworks of colonialism and nationalism for the modern period and more generally of histories of societies that are told through the prism of the state, its institutions and ideologies. These slim volumes written by leading scholars are intended for the intelligent layperson and expert alike, and written in an accessible, lively and authoritative prose. Through telling the lives of celebrated names and lesser-known ones in context, this series expands the repertoire of ideas and individuals that have shaped the history and culture of South Asia.

Also in the Series RAJA SERFOJI II: SCIENCE, MEDICINE AND ENLIGHTENMENT IN TANJORE Savithri Preetha Nair VIDYASAGAR: THE LIFE AND AFTER-LIFE OF AN EMINENT INDIAN Brian A. Hatcher SHYAMJI KRISHNAVARMA: SANSKRIT, SOCIOLOGY AND ANTI-IMPERIALISM Harald Fischer-Tiné BABA PADMANJI: VERNACULAR CHRISTIANITY IN COLONIAL INDIA Deepra Dandekar

BABA PADMANJI Vernacular Christianity in Colonial India

Deepra Dandekar

First published 2021 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 Deepra Dandekar The right of Deepra Dandekar to be identifed as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identifcation and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Dandekar, Deepra, author. Title: Baba Padmanji: vernacular Christianity in colonial India/Deepra Dandekar. Description: New York: Routledge, 2021. | Includes bibliographical references and index. | Summary: “This book is a critical biography of Baba Padmanji (1831-1906), a frebrand native Christian missionary, ideologue, and litterateur from 19th-century Bombay Presidency. Though Padmanji was well-known, and a very infuential fgure among Christian converts, his contributions have received inadequate attention from the perspective of ‘social reform’ - an intellectual domain dominated by offshoots of the Brahmo Samaj movement, like the Prarthana Samaj in Bombay. This book constitutes an in-depth analysis of Padmanji’s relationships with questions of reform, education, modernity, feminism, and religion, that had wide-ranging repercussions on the intellectual horizon of 19th-century India. It presents Padmanji’s integrated writing persona and identity as a revolutionary pathfnder of his times who amalgamated and blended vernacular ideas of Christianity together with early feminism, modernity, and incipient nationalism. Drawing on a variety of primary and secondary sources, this unique book will be of great interest for area studies scholars (especially Maharashtra), and to researchers of modern India, engaged with the history of colonialism and missions, religion, global Christianity, South Asian intellectual history, and literature”– Provided by publisher. Identifers: LCCN 2020039846 (print) | LCCN 2020039847 (ebook) | ISBN 9780367479671 (hardback) | ISBN 9781003049760 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Padmanji, Baba, 1831-1906. | Christian converts from Hinduism–India–Biography. | Authors, Marathi–19th century–Biography. | Christianity–India. Classifcation: LCC BV3269.P24 D36 2021 (print) | LCC BV3269.P24 (ebook) | DDC 284/.2092 [B]–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020039846 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020039847 ISBN: 978-0-367-47967-1 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-50390-1 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-04976-0 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by Deanta Global Publishing Services, Chennai, India

CONTENTS

viii ix xiii xv

Author’s note Preface Acknowledgements Introduction 1

Autobiography and hagiography

2

Engaging the avant-garde

22

3

The Christian vernacular genre

55

4

Yamunaparyatan

73

5

Concluding remarks

100

References Index

105 113

vii

1

AUTHOR’S NOTE

Names of most of Padmanji’s oft-referred books are abbreviated and I have provided a list of these abbreviations in the reference section. Further abbreviations used in the text include CMS (Church Mission Society), LMS (London Missionary Society), and SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel). I have also retained the old names of cities mentioned in Padmanji’s writings and other colonial-era publications, namely Bombay and Poona instead of Mumbai and Pune. All translated passages in this book, unless otherwise mentioned, are mine, and I do not use diacritical marks for vernacular words. Also, the spellings of vernacular words deviate from academic spellings, making them more recognisable in terms of their current-day English usage. For example, instead of using Caritra for biography, I use Charitra.

viii

PREFACE

I became fascinated with Baba Padmanji in 2016 at the time I was translating Rev. Dinkar Shankar Sawarkar’s The Subhedar’s Son (1895), exploring the historical context of Christian conversion in 19th-century Bombay Presidency. Not only was Padmanji Sawarkar’s mentor, he also played a pioneering role in the social and literary context of Bombay, exerting tremendous intellectual infuence on the native Christian community and educated youth of Bombay. Though the sheer number and volume of Padmanji’s texts made imagining an independent project on Padmanji seem initially insurmountable, I tentatively began collecting archival materials on him, a painstaking, time-consuming, and often expensive process that required multiple archival journeys. Although Padmanji was well known as the frst vernacular novelist in India, and a frebrand Christian reformer and litterateur besides, I did not want to relegate him to the past, reducing his vernacular revolution to the noncontroversial endeavour of celebrating Marathi literary heritage. Reading his books more than a century later, Padmanji’s writings still possessed enough power to provoke his readers, producing his contribution to the question of Christianity, vitally relevant in the largely Hindu-dominated context of postcolonial Maharashtra. I fnally received an opportunity in 2019 to transform my ruminations about Padmanji into an idea for a manuscript that gained traction in the wake of social-media debates around the death of American Christian missionary and adventuretraveller John Allen Chau in November 2018. To provide some background: Chau, at the age of 26, made a foray that was simultaneously startling and dangerous, to the North Sentinel Island located in the Andaman Archipelago of the Indian Ocean. The inhabitants of North Sentinel Island, known as the Sentinelese, have hitherto largely (and violently) resisted all attempts at being contacted. Chau, who had allegedly travelled there to convert the Sentinelese to Christianity, was killed by a group of the same people he had come to convert. Chau’s death sparked outrage. However, this outrage was not against those who had killed him but against Chau himself. Chau was accused of Western

ix

PREFACE

missionary arrogance and Christian supremacy, and many denounced him as a dim-witted, religion-crazed adventurer, whose careless exposure of the Sentinelese to diseases against which they lacked immunity constituted an act of premediated violence. Though I agreed with many of these observations and criticisms, I could not help but notice the ferocity of the anti-Chau outrage. It almost sounded like Chau had tried to garner false sympathy by engineering his own death at the hands of the Sentinelese, for which he deserved no consideration. Any effort to understand his missionary overtures on human terms, contextualised by his Chinese origins, his migration background in the United States, his love for adventure-sports, and his perhaps idealistic and naive devotion to Christian evangelism, became impossible in the face of this postcolonial outrage against missionaries. As the diatribe was also anxious and urgent, ensuring that no lurking space for sympathy be left uncovered, I could not help but ponder the greater history of anger against Christian missionaries that was being invoked here. Chau, having mysteriously donned the mantel of 19th-century missionaries, was now being considered a civilisational threat to the Global South in a macabre but selective postcolonial re-enactment of the past. Though Christian missionaries were certainly part of the colonisation in South Asia that took place through a combination of military, political, economic, and cultural means, Chau, who had personally little to do with this history, became conveniently and selectively appended to it. He thereby emerged discursively as a turncoat enabler of Western hegemony that introduced systemic disequilibria into the Global South, couched in terms of “the natives’ best interests”. The diatribe against him further became imbued with the moral high ground of “preserving” the pristine Sentinelese by shielding them from polluting infuences and treating them as a near-extinct biological species requiring of isolation and protection.1 Confronting this intense anger made it impossible to highlight how such views devalued Sentinelese agency in not ascribing to South Asia’s postcolonial wound about missionaries. The Sentinelese did not care about our histories, religions, and bodies, and they were not fghting our war. But a potent imagery, quickly evolving around the Sentinelese among postcolonial (mostly elite) South Asians, who saw them (the Sentinelese) as innocent, pure, and wild, unveiled an astonishingly aspirational, autobiographical fantasy. Accordingly, the Sentinelese were now considered to be exactly like South Asians, in an imagined pristine past of indigenous homogeneity, before the British arrived, to rob them of cultural, religious, and civilisational purity. And all of this in the context of the Andamans, where, paradoxically, missionaries historically “had a negligible profle” (Sen 2010: 10). As evident from this last statement, the colonial administration was not necessarily universally conjoined with missions in 19th- and 20th-century South Asia.2 Neither were missionaries universally opposed by all “natives”. Moreover, x

PREFACE

the outrage against Chau produced an imagination of “native religion” itself, that was monolithic and an almost material asset.3 By considering religion a possession, emblematic of the native’s subversive colonised body, Chau’s murder came to be defned as a decolonising instrument.4 There was also, of course, the somewhat separate discussion on Western educational capital that was acquired by upper-caste Hindus in missionary institutions that added to their pre-existing advantages, that was being conveniently ignored here.5 Though English education provided by missionary institutions was hardly bereft of religious interest, this education was also considered secular (cf. Cummins and Lee 2019), providing natives professional opportunities and social emancipation. The postcolonial re-enactment of rage against missionaries such as Chau was, therefore, a distorted replication of Macaulay-ism itself that confated Western education with religious and caste privilege as well as administrative elitism. The stark, almost ecological binary between the “primitive” noble savage Sentinelese and the crafty Western missionary Chau, thus, generated a theatrical replay of India’s nationalist struggle, where it was convenient for Brahminical elites to accord native religion and body with mystical, ethereal inalienability. But if “native religion” or Hinduism constituted a national asset, then what about Christian convert leaders like Padmanji and their pioneering interventions? How could historians make sense of the enduring, residual “trace” of his Hindu identity prior to conversion, that constituted a strong identifying marker of converts within Western missionary discourse?6 After all, Padmanji was well known for his Marathi autobiography, translated into English and other languages, that had large portions dedicated to descriptions of his Hindu home, family, relationships, religiosity, and caste, before conversion. So, in which camp did native missionary leaders like Padmanji ft? Was he on the European side for having converted? Or on the “native” side for being born a Hindu? Or was he a missionary “betrayer” like Chau? And if indeed, he was a “betrayer” for having converted to the “other side”, then how could historians write a complete intellectual history of 19th-century India and the social reform agenda of inaugurating modernity—a history riddled with stories of “betrayal”? I must make clear here that I do not foster any romantic ideas about missionaries, especially in the context of colonialism or subsequent market-based neo-colonialisms. I accept that Christianity and the mission have often been imbricated within racist and genocidal histories of conquest and exploitation. However, to highlight Christian missionary endeavours only as part of postcolonial re-enactment, without interrogating the diversity of European and native missionary contributions to converts and non-converts alike, means to write a selective intellectual history of the “native”, predicated on simplistic binaries between victim and aggressor. The example of the Chau debacle here is only to highlight the historical importance of missionaries, and especially native missionaries like Padmanji, whose xi

PREFACE

contribution harbingered a diverse history of a vibrant native missionary feld, that produced Christianity as a vernacular, indigenous religion in 19th-century Bombay Presidency. While postcolonial binaries can hardly be reversed or demolished, the history of native Christianity and native Christian leaders and missionaries, that is often and all too easily effaced or undermined, can be extricated from this binary and its confusing inconvenience, and explored as an important resistance to postcolonial Hindu nationalism.

Notes 1 Cf. Sen (2017) for the settler-colonialist origins of the idea of “protection of aboriginal tribes” (2017: 946) in the Andamans, and Sen (2010) more generally on the colonial production of “savagery” on the islands. 2 Cf. Dandekar (2018a) for an exploration of the various battles surrounding pilgrimage tax between missionaries and colonial administrators. Also, cf. Viswanath 2014 more generally for tensions between missionaries and the colonial administration. 3 Cf. Chatterjee (1993) on middle-class elites and their emphasis on refashioning the Indian nation as a spiritual entity solely in their possession as part of anticolonial nationalism; also cf. Menon 2002: 1663 for the far more disruptive and liberating potentials of “religion” in 19th-century India in which he addresses “the use of religion as a mode of self-fashioning, social understanding and public critique by Indian intellectuals”. 4 Cf. Roberts (2012) for a brilliant theoretical outline of how the conversion of non-Western persons to Christianity is often perceived as the colonisation of their “consciousness” that supposedly divests them of an eternal and mystical embodiment of their national and social selves. Also, cf. Sahoo (2018) on the modern history of anti-Christian violence in India, and Froerer (2007). 5 O’ Hanlon (1985: 193–219) traces Jyotirao Phule’s arguments on Western education, especially Western secular education that consolidated Brahminical and upper-caste privilege. 6 Cf. Dandekar (2019a: 9) for how converts from Hinduism were identifed in terms of caste within 19th-century missions, in order to evaluate the “sacrifce” entailed in their conversion.

xii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I owe thanks to many people and institutions for this book. I am grateful to Dilip Menon for encouraging me, and Robert E. Frykenberg for frst suggesting that I write a book on Padmanji, with Padmanji’s contributions constituting an unresearched subject in the intellectual history of vernacular Christianity in Maharashtra. I also thank Hephzibah Israel and Milind Wakankar for taking an active interest in my research on Marathi Christian vernacular literature, and the history of native missionaries. Terenjit Sevea helped me gain access to exhaustively researched Marathi biographies of Padmanji from the UPenn library, and I am additionally grateful to the Asia and Africa collections of the British Library for making their large collection of Padmanji’s essays and books available to me. A big thank you to Ophira Gamliel and her colleagues from the University of Glasgow, who provided me valuable intellectual insight, sharing my enthusiasm about the Bombay Scottish Mission. And thanks to my anonymous reviewers at Routledge for ratifying a rather impassioned book proposal and manuscript. I am furthermore grateful to the Basel University Library (Switzerland) for allowing me to freely use Baba Padmanji’s image for the cover of this book, taken from his autobiography published in 1892 in Madras (shelf mark: Thl Cv 583:10). My mother was my constant encouragement, and as goes without saying, and Torsten was my constant companion and reviewer while writing this manuscript, completed in anxious CoVid-19 lockdown times.

xiii

 

Figure 1 The Rev. Baba Padmanji, from his autobiography published in 1892 (Madras).

xiv

INTRODUCTION

This book analyses Baba Padmanji Mulay’s (1831–1906) pioneering Christian reform that constituted a signifcant intervention in the social and intellectual history of the 19th-century Bombay Presidency. Padmanji was a convert, a native Christian leader, and a doyen of Marathi Christian vernacular texts that, I argue, became established as an independent vernacular genre under his literary leadership. Originally a Hindu from the twashta kasar caste hailing from Belgaum,1 Padmanji belonged to an affuent clan of metalsmiths, silversmiths, and jewellers, well-connected within the wider Bombay Presidency. His education in the context of the febrile intellectual climate of reform in Bombay during the 1850s, in addition to his close affnity with the Free Church Institution of the Bombay Scottish mission, induced Padmanji to convert to Christianity in 1854. Though Padmanji became celebrated as an extraordinarily charismatic missionary leader, his image in scholarship has remained somewhat contradictory and misunderstood. His polarising views on Christianity as constituting the only paradigm of radical modern progress oftentimes elicited an equally intense, ferocious response. Padmanji became famous for his intellectual contributions that are cited by many historians of Marathi literature as pioneering contributions (cf. Deshpande and Rajadhyaksha 1988; Naregal 2001). Authoring more than a hundred essays, tracts, books, and edited translations, apart from countless lengthy letters and opinion entries in the Christian newsletter Dnyanodaya on matters of education, reform, and conversion, Padmanji’s texts are replete with invective and retain the power of lashing out at his readers across time. While his literary prowess leaves a strong impact on readers even today, it is simultaneously diffcult to extricate Padmanji from his complex, vitriolic textual persona. Ordained as pastor at the Free Church of Poona in 1867, Padmanji subsequently retired from this position in 1872 due to theological disagreements and dedicated all his time thereafter to the writing, editing, and the translation of Marathi Christian books. Assuming the prestigious post of chief editor for the Bombay Tract and Book Society (which he held until

xv

INTRODUCTION

1888), its small translation department, and the Bible Society, he continued with his extensive writing projects, in addition to running his own Victoria Printing Press in Bombay that published Christian texts. Padmanji is often credited for making one of the earliest consolidated Marathi translations of the New Testament in 1877, after William Carey’s (1761–1834) frst translations from Serampore, followed by the American Mission (Naregal 2001: 162–163). He is also credited for writing the frst Indian vernacular novel in 1857 and one of the frst Christian autobiographies about conversion in Maharashtra in 1887. Padmanji was also one of the frst few Indians to be awarded a government pension in 1902. Padmanji’s personal life was, however, somewhat turbulent. Having undergone a divorce in 1857 from his frst Hindu wife, who left him under family duress because he converted, he subsequently married a Christian convert lady, Serabai, in 1860. After she passed away in 1872, Padmanji married twice more, frst a certain Hannabai and subsequently another lady called Mannabai.2 Padmanji, at the end of his life, suffering from failing eyesight, remained nevertheless active in his writing tasks. He passed away in August 1906 and was buried at the Sewri Christian Cemetery in Bombay, survived by his many children and grandchildren. Though Padmanji’s conversion was considered paradigmatic in its time, his case was nevertheless unique. While Padmanji’s family accepted his conversion, with his father even funding some of his later publications, he was also warmly welcomed at the Bombay Scottish Mission. His writings gained enormous traction among native Christians, social reformers, the Western-educated youth of Bombay Presidency, and Europeans missionaries, one of whom, Rev. Murray Mitchell, even edited the English translation of Padmanji’s Marathi autobiography in 1890. In contrast, other converts were not so lucky, often facing social and family reprisal, violent criticism, attack, ostracism, and poverty, only to have their conviction doubted by European missionaries, their writings vetted for blasphemy, and their private lives left open to evaluation.3 On the other hand, Padmanji battled Hindu detractors and their dire prognosis of conversion ruining Indian families and society fercely, showcasing his acceptance in his own family and his own socio-literary success after conversion as the normative experience of native Christian conversion. Padmanji is often described as a social reformer. However, his Christian interventions signifcantly differed from Hindu social reformers of his time, since he considered Christianity to constitute the only redemption from social evils generated by Hindu “heathenism”. Beginning his career with intellectual debate groups like the Paramhans Mandali, a secret reformist society, in Bombay in 1850, Padmanji’s radicalism soon took him towards Christianity and conversion, while others from the Mandali regrouped under the banner of Prarthana Samaj in 1867. While Prarthana reformers followed a hybrid variety of theistic, deistic, and Unitarian religion, trailblazed by xvi

INTRODUCTION

the Brahmo Samaj, Padmanji disagreed sharply with this brand of reform, since its religiosity was neither Christian nor Hindu, but allowed its members to socially identify with any religion of their choice, without believing in either its scripture or theology. While the Brahmo-Prarthana Samaj variety of reform sought to appropriate Christianity within its folds, being refected in its close ties with Unitarianism-espousing Christians like Keshub Chandra Sen (1838–1884) and Pandita Ramabai (1858–1922) who had close ties with Unitarian, theist, and deist reformers,4 Padmanji did not consider Hinduism a religion at all, further considering Unitarian Christians who compromised with Hindu reform to be inauthentic Christians. Instead, he advocated a radical stand of eradicating all “heathenism” completely, redefning Hinduism as superstition and Christianity as the only form of true progress and modernity. Though Padmanji’s Christian interventionism constituted a challenge to Hindus, threatening them from the margins of the reformist agenda, an interest in refning “pre-existing” identities was not entirely absent from Padmanji’s agenda either. The vernacular literary identity as well as the gender and family identities were, after all, “preexisting” identities within Marathi society that Padmanji remained equally invested in, as he sought to transform these pre-existing identities, taking them towards radical and universal Christianisation. As evident, Padmanji’s Christian interventionism inhabited an uneasy and tense relationship with Hindu social reform and the various legacies of the Brahmo movement within and outside Bengal, which Padmanji refuted by promoting Christianity as the only modern identity that rendered reform unnecessary. Needless to say, Padmanji came to be perceived as a traitor not just by Hindus but also by a Christianised variety of reformed Hinduism within the “modern” circles of 19th-century Bombay. Padmanji was intensely critical of utilitarian conversion that considered the Gospel a social doctrine, resulting in the emancipatory conversion of lower-caste individuals and women to escape Brahminical, patriarchal oppression—a rescue stand Ramabai was well-known for taking.5 Therefore, the question of lower-caste Christian consciousness was also conspicuously absent from Padmanji’s writings, with him approaching the question of caste in a unique way that sought to disaggregate non-Brahmins from ritual notions of Brahminical purity. By criticising non-Brahmins for unnecessarily emulating Brahminical rituals, Padmanji sought to create a new centre and direction to non-Brahmin religiosity, rediverting non-Brahmins from Hinduism to Christianity. This aim of rediverting non-Brahmins was an interesting and unique demographic model, specifc to Padmanji’s Christian interventions to Hindu reform, that instead of considering Hindus a consolidated group and treating lower-caste conversion separately, sought to destabilise Hinduism itself, by tilting non-Brahmin proto-converts against Brahmins. Padmanji’s battleground with Hindu social reform was clear: missionaryled Western educational institutions had produced a reformed and educated xvii

INTRODUCTION

tribe of young professionals, who had remained ambivalently Hindu or become Unitarians and theists, or worse, utilitarian Christians, opportunistically allying with reformed Hindus and European missionaries. Henceforth, there ensued a tussle between Padmanji’s radical ideas and these parties, resulting in the diversifcation and transformation of the European Protestant mission’s “foreign” and “English” nature. Inaugurating a vibrant phase of intensifed vernacular engagement with Christianisation that foregrounded native conversion experiences, Padmanji championed vernacular Christian literature as a process that was central to the nativising of Christianity as a Marathi religion. Battling “reformist religion”, he exhorted the reformed to convert to Christianity as the only available variety of true modern progress possible, and at the same time, allying with reformers on questions of women’s reform, Padmanji hoped to attract an increasing number of educated youth to Christianity. Padmanji’s most important and lasting contribution lay in the vernacular diversifcation of the European Protestant Mission by establishing an emergent social feld in Maharashtra that I refer to as the vernacular mission feld. This feld was imbricated with various micro processes that foregrounded converts and their powerful authorial voice, resulting in its emulation and translation that, in turn, created a habitus of adulation and bhakti for its leaders. Saintly and centrally divested from material benefts, vernacular convert piety focused on Protestant conviction as an identity and cultural capital acquired from education, that was repeatedly broadcast and embodied in an intellectual array of hagiographical, biographical, and autobiographical Christian writings, and the active publishing of conversion experiences.

The Christian vernacular mission feld and genre Padmanji’s intervention of a “vernacular mission feld” transformed both the European mission and the Brahmo-Prarthana social reform circles, by developing native Christianity as a social third space between emergent social groups of Hindus (reformed and conservative) and missionaries, a literary third space between writings about religion that had hitherto been either Indian or European, a linguistic third space of the vernacular between Arabo-Persian and Sanskrit, and an emotional third space that demarcated the literary emergence of the convert’s fctionalised autobiographical voice within Christian texts. The vernacular mission feld brought the experience of native Protestant conversion to the forefront, with converts as a social group producing a generation of infuential, avant-garde intellectuals and church leaders, celebrated for their contributions, and legitimised by leaders of other coterminous felds. Padmanji was emulated among subsequent generations of native Christian leaders, and these subsequent generations gained in prominence and legitimacy through their emulation of him, xviii

INTRODUCTION

producing the two features of legitimacy and emulation as the cornerstones of the vernacular mission feld: the emulation of a certain style of interaction within the mission feld predicated on a habitus of bhakti for native convert leaders and the celebration of the legitimacy accrued from this bhakti and the social belonging it provided new converts, on their way ahead to their own leadership of the mission. In making sense of Padmanji’s endeavours, I apply Bourdieu’s theory of the social feld as an analytical concept that explains Padmanji’s emergence as an avant-garde leader of one of the semi-autonomous spaces yielded by colonial modernity, that developed in close communication with other pioneers in homologous positions of power.6 Defned by interdependent, liminal relationships, the vernacular mission feld and its central concern of native Christianity were quintessentially represented by its intellectual products: Christian vernacular publications and the evolution of an independent genre that combined different literary styles. Under Padmanji’s tutelage, Marathi Christian literature encompassed a variety of writing that combined fction, poetry, biography-autobiography, didactics, and polemics, framed by the emotions of Protestant conviction. The embroiled nature of the vernacular mission feld, where writing, preaching, and teaching formed an internal continuum, carried out by the same missionaries working in different capacities, allowed converts to rise to leadership positions within educational institutions, churches, orphanages, boarding houses, printing presses, and at vernacular tract and book offces. A separate Marathi Christian social, intellectual, and literary sphere came into being, defned by the contribution of many convert ideologues like Narayan Sheshadri, Vishnu Narayan Karmarkar, Raghunath Ganpatrao Navalkar, Narayan Waman Tilak, Haripant Khisty, Dinkar Shankar Sawarkar, Appaji Bapuji Yardi, and Nehemiah Goreh,7 among others. Conviction constituted an important cultural capital of this emerging mission feld. Proving the presence of this conviction, however, often presented converts with a conundrum, since European missionaries, largely fnding it diffcult to evaluate conviction, considered conversion utilitarian even as they elicited it.8 In contrast to European missionaries, who constantly tested conviction, converts espousing conviction increasingly allied with other native missionary leaders, who could stand witness for them. Infuential native Christians like Padmanji often ratifed the conviction of junior converts, including them within his entourage and thereby consolidating the vernacular mission feld. The importance of witnessing and recommendation transformed the process of evaluating conviction, a primal Protestant anxiety, into an organising force that centre-staged powerful native Christian leaders like Padmanji and the bhakti they received from converts, who sought his support, while emulating and hero-worshipping him as an ideal native Christian. Padmanji’s leadership, surrounded by a circle of adulators, produced the vernacular mission as a distinct social xix

INTRODUCTION

feld, powerfully foregrounding conviction, leadership qualities, and educational accomplishment as its central features, legitimised through emulation. Padmanji was, therefore, also greatly feared as a Christian, missionary leader, and patriarch, who not just ratifed and supported native converts but retained the power to lash out at “recalcitrant” converts by out-casting them as inadequate Christians, whom he henceforth publicly attacked as fake. The following three sections describe the intricacies and emergence of the vernacular mission feld in 19th-century Bombay Presidency, and Padmanji as its leader, through themes that explore the increasing eminence of the native Christian authorial voice, its emulation within hagiographical biographies of the mission feld, and the personally directed, intellectual expression of convert piety that hinged on writing vernacular missionary tracts. Emergence of competitive, native authorial power Protestant writings in India in general can be dated to a period much earlier than native Christian writings, mostly encompassing evangelical tracts (and their translations) by Europeans seeking to narratively create the ideal fgure of the convert as a docile servant of the British household. Disinterested in reform and the agency afforded by Christianisation and conversion, and primarily invested in creating the Christian subject, early Anglo-Indian evangelical texts are best represented by Mary Martha Sherwood’s (1775–1851) writings that were intensely popular and translated into various vernaculars including Marathi.9 This popularity allowed Sherwood to further author prestigious Anglo-Indian adaptations of important missionary texts, like an Indian version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in 1818, supervised, of course, by male missionaries (Malhotra 2018a; 2018b).10 Apart from translations of authors such as Sherwood, many early 19th-century vernacular evangelical texts in Marathi were anonymously published, a practice that served the larger purpose of highlighting the divine nature of the Christian subject material (cf. Dandekar 2018a).11 This early evangelical trend was in stark contrast to native Christian texts authored by convert leaders like Padmanji, who wrote about Christianity and the agency of conversion from a personal, interventionist, polemical perspective, with an aim to reform society and the agenda of social reform itself, by ridding society of Hinduism–heathenism. The emergence of native Christian writers like Padmanji initiated the emergence of an authorial identity that was as marketable as the texts it authored. Padmanji’s authorship, for instance, was very prominent in his books, oftentimes cited alongside as the author of several other books on the title page of his publications, in a bid to not just market his books but also market his authorial power. Only in debates where his identity was already known did he sign off as ba.pa. (B.P), while resorting to pen names xx

INTRODUCTION

at other places when targeting his detractors. But Padmanji’s authorial eminence also initiated a fresh wave of authorial anonymity that fourished in the shadow of his power, representing his growing entourage of adulators, and bhakta emulators. One of Padmanji’s earliest biographies published anonymously in 1891 constitutes a good example of this reverential bhakti. Published by the Alibagh Mission Series, and written in perfect English, An Earnest Student was authored by “a native missionary”, who closely followed details contained in Padmanji’s autobiography, Arunodaya. Predictably, An Earnest Student was also selective, transforming Padmanji’s autobiography into a congratulatory and obsequious hagiography, often comparing Padmanji with other convert leaders from outside the Presidency (1891: 5–6). For example, the anonymous author begins by describing two other native missionaries, who were once members of the Paramhans Mandali but had later joined Prarthana Samaj. These two complained bitterly about the slow spread of Christianity in Bombay, advocating “coercion” and the offering of “earthly enticements” to heathens, in order to hasten the speed of their conversion. Fully cognisant of the schisms between the Paramhans Mandali, the Prarthana Samaj, Keshub Chandra Sen, and Padmanji, the anonymous hagiographer criticised the false utilitarian perspective of this Prarthana Samaj variety of Christianity, in a sycophantic effort to please Padmanji. He further taunted Keshub Chandra Sen by writing that despite possessing an erudite, contemplative, and faithful mind, Babu Keshub Chandra Sen had failed in his Protestant evangelical pursuits: “But the tyranny of the mundane, under the form of nationality, diverted his mind and he sank into an inconsistent, hypochondriac mystic, half a worldling and half a spiritual zealot” (1891: 6). An Earnest Student extolled Padmanji’s leadership as the true energetic face of native Protestant leadership in India, often invoking Padmanji’s family affuence, education, and his Scottish missionary connections, without realising the exclusionary nature of this discursive leadership model. In his urgency to identify Padmanji as superior to Prarthana-infuenced Christians, Padmanji’s anonymous hagiographer, perhaps unintentionally, also outlined the social biases inherent to the native Christian leadership model: those who did not convert despite education were sinful, while those who converted outside Western education were utilitarianists. At the end of the biography, the anonymous author exhorted scholars to translate Padmanji’s autobiography Arunodaya (henceforth, AD) into English, apparently feigning ignorance of a much-publicised English translation of AD that had recently been published in 1890, a year before An Earnest Student. Given the date and celebrity status of this frst English translation, it was unlikely that the anonymous author of An Earnest Student was unaware of its existence. This likely feigned ignorance was probably a refection of the existing competition between vernacular authors and missionary translators of the xxi

INTRODUCTION

time, “devotees” of Padmanji vying for his attention, indicative of the competitive nature of bhakti in the vernacular mission feld. The frst English translation of AD in 1890, titled Once Hindu Now Christian, was prepared by yet another anonymous native missionary, but vetted by none other than Padmanji himself. Padmanji even mentioned this translation in the preface of his second edition of AD in 1908, expressing regret for its delay due to the time-consuming nature of vetting.12 Rev. J. Murray Mitchell, a Scottish Missionary in Bombay (and Padmanji’s mentor and friend), who edited the translation, wrote a lengthy preface to it, stating that he expected the translation to elicit substantial international interest, since Padmanji was well known. Mitchell outlined his own task as limited to language corrections, asserting that the book “contain(s) native sentiments from beginning to end” (p. ix). In Mitchell’s estimation, Padmanji’s autobiography fulflled a dire need among the speedily modernising and educated Indian youth of Bombay, who clamoured for educational and vernacular reading materials on Christianity. Indeed, the emergence of a vigorous writing and printing atmosphere in Bombay Presidency, as Padma Anagol observes (2005: 50), was facilitated through the establishment of many Christian printing houses like the Bombay Tract and Book Society, the American Marathi Mission Press at Ahmednagar, and Baba Padmanji’s own Victoria Printing Press in Bombay. The English translation of Padmanji’s autobiography came to be reprinted as swiftly as it had been prepared. The frst Indian reprint of AD’s translation appeared in Madras in 1892, though with a changed title (Baba Padmanji: An Autobiography), and was subsequently reprinted on numerous occasions, making it easily accessible for non-Marathi Indian Christians. The history of Padmanji’s autobiography that was swiftly followed by an English translation running into several reprints demonstrated the open adulation Padmanji elicited in the vernacular mission feld. Padmanji’s growing authorial power, nevertheless, fostered an underbelly of mushrooming writers and emulators, who remained competitive, their authorial anonymity imbued with a fresh meaning of bhakti for the ideal convert, and the powerful native Christian leader of the vernacular mission feld. Though mostly ignored by writers interested in Hindu social reform, and a variety of Christianity (Unitarianism) patronised by the Brahmo-Prarthana reform circle, Padmanji’s life and contribution was a topic that many early Christian writers in Maharashtra were prolifc about. Emulation and bhakti The hagiographic form of biography writing was not uncommon among 19th- and 20th-century native Christians, and Padmanji’s self-assured writings shaped a new wave of avant-garde leadership in the Bombay region that emulated him. Written by other, second-generation native xxii

INTRODUCTION

Christians, hagiographic biographies constituted a mechanism that enabled leadership of the feld, producing biographers, even if anonymous, as infuential second-generation church and mission leaders.13 Associating second-generation Christian authors with frst-generation avant-garde converts that extended the bhakti of esteemed converts to their family, and professional networks, produced an overall genealogical corpus of community “heritage” for subsequent generations of writers and emulators to draw inspiration from.14 Vernacular church leadership, concomitantly produced as elite or associated with elites, reproduced exclusive clan and leadership genealogies that desisted from including lower-caste conversion biographies into the corpus, emulating and fltering instead the paradigmatic experience of conversion through Padmanji’s autobiography and other elite conversion autobiographies.15 As the few surviving Christian witnesses of frst-generation converts were sparse and often fragmented, Padmanji’s autobiography offered a blueprint of what conversion may have “felt” like, his autobiography and the autobiographies of other native Christian leaders establishing a public archive of conversion experiences for next-generation Christian readers.16 This trend is exemplifed by Rev. D.S. Sawarkar, an ardent emulator of Padmanji, who structured the fctionalised conversion biography of his father, Shankar Balwant, on Padmanji’s conversion. Sawarkar won a prize for this beautifully crafted fctionalised biography from the Bombay Tract and Book Society in 1895, also printing it at Padmanji’s Victoria Printing Press in Bombay (Dandekar 2019a). Christian vernacular literature and conversion hagiographies were, thus, focused on the question of genealogy and heritage, typifed by the intergenerational links between conversion narratives that borrowed freely from pre-existing biographies, hagiographies, autobiographies, and Christian witnesses, potently reproducing the bhakti of the vernacular mission feld—a way of becoming a part of the Marathi Christian community. Padmanji’s celebratory biographies and adulatory hagiographies had an infuential, if adverse, effect on later scholarly attempts at engaging with his Christian interventionist perspective. While his biographies discussed Padmanji’s conversion in detail, these discussions were somewhat disconnected from Padmanji’s polemical ambivalences.17 Hagiographers, unless anonymous, studiedly avoided dangerous waters that necessitated discussing Padmanji’s battles. The hagiographic form of biography writing was, therefore, largely ill-equipped to narrate the complicated intricacies of radical Christian reform that constituted a separate and independent social lens of the convert’s power and agency. Padmanji himself hinted at the evolution of this separate Christian lens in AD, associating it with Protestant conviction. Once conversion was heartfelt, converts were free to disengage from the oxymoronic agenda of Hindu reform, relegating it to a useful frst stage linked with the acquiring of Western education. While converts arrived at xxiii

INTRODUCTION

Protestant conviction only after engaging with Western education and its inherent social reform agenda, Padmanji considered Hindu reform to only constitute a stepping stone to Christianity, not to be misrecognised as the destination. Hence, according to Padmanji, Christian reform could not be shared by non-Christians. An intellectual Christian piety Padmanji took himself very seriously, prolifcally writing his emotions and thoughts in an integrated form. Predictably, therefore, many of Padmanji’s literary pieces cannot be described as “masterpieces” in the traditional sense, as they often had to wait till the next edition for corrections. Padmanji’s texts were neither too meticulously planned nor fawlessly executed, but, instead, refected a powerfully articulated intellectual, argumentative approach, destabilising the existing religious identity of Marathi social reform as “Hindu”. At the same time, his texts constituted a pioneering contribution within the historical context of their literary production. Padmanji wrote and published about a hundred emotionally urgent texts in prolifc haste, all in a writing career that spanned approximately 50 years. His writings, which overfowed with rage and sarcasm, sardonically expressed and shaped what it meant to be modern in 19th-century Bombay. Rippling with intellectual energy, confdence, masculine force, and privilege, modernity in Padmanji’s case was not simply a matter of progressive ideas “contained” within texts but writing the modern “self” itself, integrating thinking, writing, and publishing in one continuum. Padmanji’s overwhelming emphasis on Marathi was an important aspect of the emerging vernacular mission feld.18 Though Padmanji wrote excellent English, all his Christian reform tracts were primarily composed in Marathi, written in a spontaneous, fercely critical, and acerbic vein. This created a separate third space and identity for Marathi Christianity in the public domain, produced at the confuence of macro and micro—the macro of global “modern” discourses and the micro of Christian conversion experiences. Padmanji’s diverse writings can, therefore, be best understood through Robert K. Merton’s middle-range theory.19 Merton advances a position that advocates for distancing social phenomena from the extreme binaries of ideology or (macro-)theory and (micro-)empiricisms, instead emphasising a unifed understanding of social relationships that links the macro with the micro, which has the potential of generating its own empiricism and scholarly tradition. Extending this logic to Padmanji’s Marathi Christian texts, it becomes possible to locate these on a “middle-range” spectrum of personal conversion experiences, the wider feld of native Christians, Scottish missionary history in 19th-century Bombay, the vernacular in colonial modernity, and global developments in theology, and literary aesthetics. Padmanji’s Christian interventionist writings, embedded xxiv

INTRODUCTION

in his personal, religious, and sociolinguistic identity, were thus located at the liminal interstices of a convert’s standpoint position vis-à-vis wider discourses of Christianity and Hindu reform, producing an embattled frontier of native leadership and Christian identity, harbingering a religious turn to the social reform agenda.20 Padmanji’s leadership-based Christian piety was intellectual but very impassioned, as evidenced in the preface of his annotated Marathi translation of the New Testament (1877: 2–5) in which he described the Marathi Bible as beyond man-made—not written, translated, or composed by him and the other members of the Bible Society but fashioned by Almighty God himself. Ascribing the New Testament to the authorship of Jesus Christ, Padmanji wrote of how it expressed complex matters in simple language in a way that was pure enough to penetrate any receptive heart. Admonishing and warning his readers not to approach the text with fear and hatred, Padmanji addressed himself to God, demonstrating the immense capacity for tender faith and love. For example, in one of his journal entries, titled My Requests to God dated to 23rd February 1902 (Anubhavasangraha 1904: 40–41), Padmanji writes: My God! My heavenly father, reveal your grand deeds and appear to me in my heart, lighting up my mind’s darkness. Oh God! Give me your soul, give me darshan (divine vision) of my Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest of redeemers, known for his supreme sacrifce, whose love flls my heart. God, you have been kind and gracious to me, an undeserving person immersed in the morass of sin and error. You have sent me your dearest son, who has lovingly saved me. And I follow his path of light, of life and heaven. The ways of the world are darkened with death and hellish sin. Oh, my grand redeemer, you fll my life with strength to walk in your path, even as I grow old and feeble, I remain staunch in my everlasting faith. Over the years, many old and dear friends have departed. And though they have gone, you have never left my side. You have never abandoned me, and you are my real friend. You have forever been the elder brother by my side, caring deeply for my every need with a love that is pure and unshakable. While I am constantly flled with impurities and tempted by worldliness and by Satan, it is you who gives me the strength to fght. It is your mercy that lights the way ahead and provides my soul with food and water and courage. Oh Jesus, my dearest Lord, my dearest friend, my king, my God, you are good to me, my dependable and powerful refuge. I know that you will walk with me and guide me in this path to the very end. The vernacular Christian mission was, ultimately, a short-lived social and intellectual intervention. Indian independence and the predominance xxv

INTRODUCTION

of Hindu nationalism in Maharashtra struck a mortal blow to the sociality of the mission, to Christian literature, and to the legacy of Padmanji’s leadership, recreating old ideological schisms between missionaries and the “native religion”, symbolic of the postcolonial, re-enacted victory of natives against evil colonialists: the quintessential ten-headed Ravana. The interstitial window of vernacular Christianity that evolved as a third space between conservative and reformed Hindus, and European colonial and missionary presence, became occluded and fattened. This fattening, where natives were ubiquitously portrayed as the righteous victims of missionaries, selectively forgot the contributions of native Christian leaders like Padmanji. Therefore, though Vidyasagar was celebrated for the Widows’ Remarriage Act in 1856, the travesty of the frst remarried widows of Bengal still being child marriages is oftentimes ignored. On the other hand, Padmanji’s repeated reiterations, advocating the abolition of child marriage, female infanticide, and widowhood practices (1854, 1857), while endorsing women’s education (1852) and women’s right to choose their own husbands as intellectual companions (1857), as the very frst examples of Christian feminism, are overlooked. Again, while Josephine Butler from England is celebrated as the frst Christian feminist, extolled for giving women from lower echelons of society an independent voice, her engagement with Pandita Ramabai conveniently produces the latter as the frst Christian feminist of Bombay Presidency, ignoring that Padmanji’s Yamunaparyatan (YP) was equally based on the independent voices of widows collected from all over Maharashtra. Padmanji’s side-lining is also due to his being considered an outsider to the infuential and elite clique of Brahmo-Prarthana Samaj social reformers and Christian feminists allying with Unitarianism a generation later.21 This served to overwrite many of Padmanji’s original, pioneering contributions, fragmenting Padmanji’s identity and politics, sometimes as a missionary, sometimes as a social reformer, or as the frst Marathi writer of realistic novels. This fragmentation, I argue, has led to the epistemic collapse of Padmanji’s contributions and the intellectual contributions of the Christian vernacular mission. This book attempts to resurrect the contributions of this “third space” feld, presenting readers with a vibrant history of Marathi Christianity in 19th-century Bombay Presidency, by analysing Padmanji’s literary contributions as an indicator of its ideological and intellectual infuence. This book is divided into fve chapters, with the following chapter (Chapter One) drawing on Padmanji’s best-known autobiographical texts to explore how his self-fashioning was predicated on baptism that generated a “trace”, marking all his subsequent writings as autobiographically inspired. While Chapter Two describes Padmanji’s polemical engagements, demonstrating the liminal nature of the vernacular mission, Chapter Three explores his most infuential contribution to the vernacular mission feld—an xxvi

INTRODUCTION

independent and evolving Christian vernacular genre. Chapter Three analyses the development of this genre through three key texts authored by Padmanji on women’s education, feminism, morality, and piety. This is followed by Chapter Four, the penultimate chapter of this book, that discusses Padmanji’s novel Yamunaparyatan on widow remarriage, as the pinnacle of his imitable writing style. Since Yamunaparyatan is also considered the frst vernacular novel, Chapter Four discusses it within a larger analysis of women’s reform and emergent vernacular literary genres, contextualised in the 19th-century history of colonial modernity.

Notes 1 The twashta kasars, or tambat, as they are often referred to, are an artisanal caste of coppersmiths hailing from the coastal regions of erstwhile Bombay Presidency, who despite being non-Brahmins, nevertheless use Brahmin gotra names, and retain some Brahminical ritual rights. 2 Keshav Sitaram Karhadkar (1979: 331) provides readers with a detailed family tree of Padmanji, also providing descriptions of Padmanji’s books and facsimiles of his letters whenever possible, along with reminiscences that he collected from Padmanji’s surviving family in Mumbai. There is some confusion about Padmanji’s personal life. While the family tree shows that Padmanji married four times, Padmanji’s obituary written by Narayan Waman Tilak (Arunodaya 1908: 249) claims that Padmanji’s third (and fnal) wife passed away in 1890. 3 Cf. Daji Pandurang’s case of defection to the SPG (Dandekar 2019a: 8, fn. 9), and Godaji’s excommunication (Dandekar 2019a: 48, fn. 8). 4 Cf. O’Hanlon (1985: 96–102) for independent social developments in Bombay in the 1850s, when intellectual groups such as the Paramhans Mandali were already discussing the merits and demerits of atheism. 5 Padmanji wrote of utilitarian conversion in a pejorative way, denigrating it as a form of materially invested piety, a mechanism through which he downplayed his own material gains resulting from conversion. My use of the term “utilitarian conversion” here, as a non-Christian historian, does not seek to internalise Padmanji’s position as evaluative truth. Instead, I seek only to outline historical developments in theological positions among native Christians of 19th-century Maharashtra that drew internal intellectual boundaries within the convert community. As Robert E. Frykenberg demonstrates in Ramabai’s case (2016), utilitarian conversion was no less authentic, especially as Ramabai herself went on to have multiple conversion experiences throughout her life. 6 I have primarily drawn on Hilgers’ and Mangez’s brilliantly edited volume (2015) that provides a comprehensive outline of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social feld, its practice and habitus, which Bourdieu developed in a number of his publications. 7 Cf. Young (2013) for an in-depth analysis of the “intellectualist” model of religious conversion, using Nehemiah Gore’s conversion as a case study. 8 Cf. Viswanathan (1998: xiv–xv) for faith as a poorly explored analytical category within scholarship. Expressions of faith often compel scholars to translate it as “something else” that is materially and situationally oriented. 9 Cf. Caroline Farrar’s (1835) Marathi translation of Mrs. Sherwood’s The Ayah and Lady (1816) of stories based on the Ten Commandments, about a European missionary lady’s Christianisation of her maidservant. Interestingly, Farrar’s title

xxvii

INTRODUCTION

10

11

12 13

14

15

16 17 18

19

Chamatkarikgoshti (“Miraculous Tales”) was also used for the Marathi translation of Arabian Nights. Originally written in 1649 by John Bunyan, the Pilgrim’s Progress has a vibrant history of translation. Becoming vastly popular in the missionary context of the Global South during the 19th century, its myriad translations, as demonstrated by Hofmyer (2004) in Africa alone, transformed the book into a catalyst, affecting its relationship with English society. There are many interesting examples of anonymity, like Tukaram Nathuji’s book on Christian homilies (1877) from the Satara mission. Nathuji is mentioned in a small announcement for winning the frst prize in a tract writing competition organised in 1873 by the American Mission. But there is no mention of him as the author of the book on the frontispiece. Other examples of anonymous Christian vernacular tracts include stockpile publications about pilgrimage (1877a), general Christian piety and polemics (1877c), Christian scriptures (1850), and subjects such as transmigration (1877b). Padmanji (1908: 14–15) describes the popularity of his autobiography in the preface of its second edition, stating that it had already been translated into various Indian languages. The best example of biographical writing as a mechanism of leadership in the vernacular mission feld is presented by Appaji Bapuji Yardi from the Nasik CMS, who after writing a biography of Rev. Haripant Khisty (1883), an avantgarde convert from the American Mission in Ahmednagar, became infuential enough to organise old CMS adherents into a new vernacular church in Pune (Sawarkar 1967). Cf. Sawarkar (1933) for his literary emulation of Padmanji’s autobiographical journal, Anubhavasangraha. Sawarkar writes a small, humorous account of Poona’s church history and politics, accompanied by descriptions of the daily life of converts. Rev. Navalkar, too, became well known for writing a beautifully crafted English biography of Rev. Narayan Sheshadri (1893). Cf. Dandekar (2018b) for more details on Rev. Sheshadri. Cf. Aloysius (1997) on the relation between upper-caste Christianity and Hindu nationalism. The earliest consolidated Marathi autobiography of lowercaste conversion to Christianity that I encountered was published in 1950 by Aghamkar (2005). That the convert’s autobiographical writings formed an archive of experiences is an idea originally developed by Israel (2018). Even academic treatments of Padmanji’s life and conversion, like Kotani’s essay (1999), veer towards such segregations, while nevertheless taking a refreshing life-story approach. Vernacular Christianity in 19th-century Maharashtra, frst initiated by European missionaries in simple missionary tracts, soon emerging into a burgeoning independent movement that sought to foreground converts and transform Christianity into a native religion, did not, fortunately, undergo the same challenges that Robert Frykenberg (2020) identifes for Tamil Christian Churches and the purifcation drive they were subjected to by European missionaries. Though converts faced discrimination, evident from references to establishments like “Villages of Refuge” (ibid. 269), of which there were many in Bombay Presidency like “Sharanpur” (translated as Village of Refuge) in Nasik, frebrand convert fgures like Padmanji continued to hold their own as leaders of the vernacular mission feld in Maharashtra. Cf. Merton (1968). Also, for my understanding of middle-range theory, I have drawn on Hedström and Udehn (2009).

xxviii

INTRODUCTION

20 Of all the publications on Padmanji, this embattled nature of Padmanji’s writings between leadership and Christianity is best captured by Karhadkar (1979) in Baba Padmanji: Kal va Kartutva (Baba Padmanji: Life and Achievements), an important contribution that meticulously discusses the question of Marathi Khristi vangmay (or Marathi Christian literature). Though Karhadkar’s book faces the usual pressures entailed in writing the biography of a powerful fgure like Padmanji, who is neglected and yet canonical, added to by the fact that Padmanji’s family also supported Karhadkar’s research, his analytical approach remains refreshingly critical, pushing the boundaries of the hagiographic style that is inadequate in framing Padmanji’s intellectual contributions. 21 In his extensive research on Pandita Ramabai, Frykenberg (2016) identifes multiple, successive “conversion” experiences in Ramabai’s life that included a personal encounter with Jesus Christ followed by a charismatic encounter with the “Holy Spirit” and Pentecostalism. Though this might well be the case, this manuscript outlining Padmanji’s perception of Ramabai as part of a social circle that consisted mostly of Hindu reformers and Unitarian Christians of the Prarthana Samaj identifed Ramabai as a follower of Unitarianism itself. To draw Ramabai’s association with Unitarianism or Unitarianism—espousing friends and associates—is, hence, in no way my internalisation of Padmanji’s pejorative approach to her, but merely a description of how theological lines drawn within the convert community produced the bhakti of avant-garde leaders of the vernacular mission feld as competitive—changing the sociality of converts and their relationship with non-Christians (mostly Hindus), Europeans and missionaries.

xxix

1 AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Padmanji staged himself as a powerfully devout militant but saintly native Christian leader by interweaving endorsements of other missionaries in his autobiography, thereby showcasing himself at the helm of the vernacular mission feld as an infuential “game changing” agent. Padmanji’s self-fashioned image emerges in particular from his autobiography Arunodaya or AD (second edition 1908, “Sunrise”), and from his published memoirs that he calls Spiritual Experiences, Anubhavasangraha or AS (1904, “A Collection of Experiences”), subsequently translated and paraphrased in English. A particularly important aspect of Padmanji’s autobiographical style is the manner in which he splits his recounted Hindu past from his “present” writing Christian self. While Israel (2018) analyses this as symptomatic of the general convert autobiographical style encountered in 19th-century India, this chapter proposes additional layers to Israel’s analysis, identifying this autobiographical “split”, as refecting the “trace” of truncated Hinduism implicit in Padmanji’s conversion. The phantom presence of Padmanji’s truncated Hindu past in his autobiographical texts transformed these into a compulsive recounting of the haunting spectre of his “difference” from Hinduism after conversion. And this haunting spectre lay at the very heart of Padmanji’s self-justifcatory ideological battles with Hindu reformers and those he considered recalcitrant converts, who he felt had not adequately truncated themselves from their Hindu past. “Trace” is a Lacanian concept extensively developed by Derrida, and in this chapter, I draw on Kleinberg’s notion of hauntology that discusses Derrida’s deconstruction of the historian’s “ontological realism” (2017: 1–12) arising out of a confation between history-writing and truth. This confation between a meaningful truth and the production of discursive situational reality is exactly the “split” that Israel refers to when describing Padmanji’s autobiographical writings: all his life events before the split/ his conversion are narratively justifed and written from the perspective of an already achieved, discursive (missionary) identity of a convert and

1

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

native Christian leader emerging from that split. Extending Kleinberg’s warnings about the fragmentation between discursive history-writing and truth to Padmanji’s life-writing about his own truncated Hindu past, it becomes clear that Padmanji’s Christian writing “self” constantly battled this truncated Hindu “difference” that was always lurking close at hand like a haunting spectre. His autobiographical narratives describing conversion, hence, produced Hinduism as a “stigma” (in the original Greek meaning of “mark”), born from truncation, that celebrated the holy wound constituted by an emerging Christian identity. This stigma further assisted Padmanji in identifying other “true” converts, accompanied by their own stigma, as members of a separate social collective signifed by the vernacular mission feld. Padmanji’s nostalgic, self-depreciating autobiographical writing about his own “heathenism” thus suffered from the narrative burden of justifying his acquisition of “stigma”, born out of an educated and passionate introspection that allowed him to identify his past as “heathen” and truncate it. This narrative burden transformed his autobiography into a teleological hagiography that recounted the antecedents of his conversion from the postevent perspective. A beautiful example of this is provided by his quote of John Newton in the title page of AD: “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, and I am not what I hope to be, but by the grace of God I am not what I once was”. This chapter discusses Padmanji’s autobiographic self-image as masculine and privileged, making Padmanji’s conversion more than just a story of how he acquired “stigmata”. Padmanji’s autobiography is also a story of how these stigmata became celebrated due to his affuence and privilege—a saga of ceaseless educational success, exotic travels, and scintillating social relationships with equals and mentors. Padmanji continued intensifying this privilege by framing his conversion journey as a righteous spiritual marker of holy, celebrated, and saintly status, furthermore describing his post-conversion life as blessed and devoid of complicated suffering. While Padmanji sought to disprove Hindu claims that convert suffered dire consequences by extolling conversion as the pinnacle of spiritual arrival, his disavowal of convert suffering was also theological, rendering any suffering after and conversion as un-Christian and dishonourable, something that brought Christianity a bad name.

Framing a holy life: Padmanji’s life-story between autobiography and hagiography As already mentioned, Padmanji left behind not only an autobiography (AD)—one of the frst autobiographies written in Marathi—but also a volume of memoirs and anecdotes (AS). Framing these in terms of a teleological hagiography, a self-authored mahatmya, Padmanji further bolstered his autobiographies by publishing other documents, such as endorsements, 2

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

letters, and eulogies, appended to the main text of his autobiography, in various prefaces and appendices. Though Padmanji specifcally mentions these additional documents as part of his personal collection (1908: 6), the second edition of his autobiography (AD) contains some additional prefaces supplied by his followers who guarded his inheritance. Padmanji requested his readers not to view his autobiography as a means of self-aggrandisement but to view it as an example of native Christian emergence, wherein memories of specifc transformative life events needed to be understood from the perspective of post-conversion enlightenment: “Now I must turn to my main aim of writing this book, and that is to describe the mercy that God has shown me, a poor sinner, a mercy that my readers should experience and praise” (1908: 9). Padmanji identifed this remembering, understanding-anew, and writing of conversion as an important Christian practice, documenting the mistakes and pitfalls of a convert’s life with a view to guide converts and encourage non-Christians towards conversion. Padmanji’s writing, hence, constituted a distillation process, wherein past life events were selected to demonstrate the nature of God’s love, mercy, and guidance. Writing a Christian autobiography, in this sense, constituted a hermeneutic of piety that Padmanji claimed helped him renew his faith. Padmanji claiming to remember only those events that were important to his Christian conversion in AD, while forgetting other “unimportant” memories, hence also acted as a disclaimer. Since Christianity was not a “given” for converts but a state of redemption that was deliberately realised and achieved through spiritual labour, this state also required regular refreshing, renewing, and revisiting, so as to avert the peril of slipping back into “heathenism”. In Israel’s terms (2018), autobiographies like Padmanji’s were subject to a “palimpsest effect” through the repeated recounting of conversion through translation and republication, that incorporated letters, announcements, reviews, and endorsements by other witnesses (cf. De Certeau 1984: 199–203). Such palimpsests served the purpose of presenting convert autobiographers as leaders and representatives of a larger group of inarticulate convert bhaktas or emulators, presenting them with a model they could follow. The convert autobiography (and Padmanji’s autobiography) thus came to serve as a scrapbook that confated its subject (convert) with its object (conversion), placing the complex self of the writer at the centre of a eulogising social network that simultaneously projected him into the past and future. While the beginning pages of AD contain reviews of Padmanji’s autobiography by European and American missionaries who praised him for his fortitude and his exemplary conversion, calling for further similar exemplary publications from India (1908: 11–13), the author’s preface has Padmanji thanking his uncle for safely preserving his old documents in a large wooden chest, that he drew from while writing AD. He described how reading these carefully preserved old letters, papers, newspaper reports, 3

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

and public announcements helped him “refresh old memories”; and he also thanked his associates, colleagues, and friends for sending him essays that reminded him of his forgotten contributions to the Hindu reformist intellectual feld (1908: 5–10). That these collected paratexts did not remain static but continued to grow with every new edition is demonstrated by a lengthy hagiography appended to the posthumously published second edition of AD in 1908. This hagiography, which doubles as an obituary, was composed by none other than the Rev. Narayan Waman Tilak (1908: 233–252), another frebrand native Christian leader, who gained eminence in the early 20th century as a noteworthy Christian poet.1 Tilak hailed Padmanji as a mahatma, a “great soul”, the very spirit of Christian piety and intellectual leadership, considering “autobiography” to be too inadequate a description for AD. Instead, Tilak hails AD to literally constitute the new Christian devotional “sunrise” that would infuse and enthuse many future generations of Marathi Christians with the spirit of convert piety. In Tilak’s estimation, Padmanji’s autobiography disproved, in particular, those detractors who alleged that Christian conversion constituted a defection from family and nation. Instead, AD, Tilak claimed, demonstrated the perfect match between Christianity, the nationalist cause, and familial love, as Padmanji’s own concern for his family, Indian society, and especially downtrodden women became renewed through Christianity. In summarising Padmanji’s life-story, Tilak focused especially on the period after Padmanji’s conversion in 1854, describing Padmanji’s ordination as a priest at the Free Church of Poona in 1867 as an epiphany that brought Padmanji a full circle from his conversion, in revealing the true spiritual meaning and goal of his Christian life. Central to this framing of Padmanji’s conversion and piety is the description of his fear, pain, and confusion during conversion. These emotions come alive in letters Padmanji received from his mentors, published alongside the main text of AD (1908: 211–226). Letters from the Rev. Taylor of Belgaum and the Rev. Narayan Sheshadri of Bombay dated to August 1854 (1908: 219–223) encourage Padmanji to abandon his old false self and fearlessly embrace a new Christian beginning. Sheshadri, taking further note of Padmanji’s diffculties arising from his tender, emotional nature, reminds the latter of the strength that fourishes within weakness, asking him to remember the fears assailing Martin Luther in the night before appearing at the “Diet of Worms”. Quoting Chalmers,2 Sheshadri writes (1908: 221–222): Chalmers used to say in all matter of conscience we must not give in so much as a hair’s breadth. Is not this a noble sentiment? He acted on this principle and showed its strength to his astonished [sic]—at the memorable Disruption of 1843. I trust you will be able to achieve similar deeds of Christian heroism and prove yourself greater than Alexander, Caesar or Bonaparte. 4

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

As any reader of AD was already assured of Padmanji having indeed overcome his fears and obstacles, the publication of these letters served as not too veiled a suggestion that Padmanji indeed surpassed the conquerors of old, proving to be no less than a reformer of the Marathi church, a veritable Indian Luther. Letters addressing Padmanji’s fears on the eve of his conversion highlight a concern that would have struck a sympathetic note in any convert heart of the time: anxieties of alienation, and of possibly losing kith and kin. In the letter quoted above, Sheshadri assures Padmanji that the Rev. Nesbit would accommodate and include Padmanji in his home and family after conversion, urging Padmanji to abandon all the “natural affections” of family ties, home, community, and ancestry in Belgaum, to “overcome the tears and lamentations of those near and dear”, and to instead walk towards the Free Church. Similarly, in a poignant note written from Poona in February 1954, the Rev. Mitchell expressed worries about the emotional pressure Padmanji’s father exerted on him (1908: 216; emphasis in original): The only question I cannot answer, is this: Why should poor Baba be tossed by this ferce tempest so long? Why is he not amongst us as a brother, rejoicing in his Redeemer, […] you are compelled to wait till your father come. May the Lord bring him speedily! May He give you courage, fdelity, patience! May He soften your father’s heart and direct his will. This is further added to by a letter by the Rev. John Wilson in August 1854 exhorting Padmanji to not await his father’s return and convert anyways: “It will be well for you, we think, to go to Mr. Taylor, even before your father returns, and to have baptism consummated before you are subject to renewed trials connected with him” (1908: 217). While Padmanji’s fortitude in overcoming obstacles was highlighted in such paratextual materials, such as an extract from a report by the London mission (1908: 226–229) that printed Padmanji’s defence against accusations of abandoning family and the Indian identity and becoming polluted, it also brought the welcome Padmanji received by missionaries to the forefront. Two verses extracted from a poem written by the Rev. John Wilson, the head of the Bombay Scottish Mission, for Padmanji at the time of his conversion highlight the missionary celebration of Padmanji’s sacrifce (1908: 218): For him thou hast rejected all, thy gods and idols vain; but having him thou hast enough, for thy eternal gain. He is thy Father, Brother, Friend, thy Prophet, Priest, and King; thy Lamb, Redeemer and Lord, whose praise ’tis joy to sing.

5

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

These paratexts provide readers with a realistic picture of Padmanji’s suffering at the time of conversion, compared to his own recounting of it later, which is teleological and glorifed. Given that most native Christians, and even European missionaries, left homes, family, and society, often painfully, to serve the mission, these letters provide readers with a guide to “properly” emotionally relating to conversion, especially when contrasted with accusations of converts treating their families cruelly. Though Padmanji’s conversion was doubtless cruel for his family, social and family conficts were often central to conversion. Religious conversion was, besides, greatly taboo in 19th-century Hindu society, especially since it was radically critical of Hinduism. Just because those who discriminated against converts were themselves hurt in the process, converts could not be held responsible for engineering this hurt or provoking anti-convert persecution. Propagating such simplistic axioms about conversion that universally accused missionaries of cruelty ran the danger of reproducing Hindu-nationalist biases, something Padmanji was himself battling in the form of Hindu ostracism and discrimination. The contrastive depiction of Padmanji’s journey towards conversion from a post-event perspective is a marked feature of his autobiography, which is also demonstrated by the other framing materials published alongside AD. A letter written by the Rev. Navalkar in 1887 from Poona (1908: 223–226) serves as an interesting example. This letter was one of the many informative essays Padmanji received from older associates and colleagues that reminded him of erstwhile contributions made to intellectual reform groups in Bombay, like the Paramhans Mandali. Navalkar, a convert himself and a student of the Robert Money institution, was associated with Padmanji prior to their conversion, both of them being members of the Paramhans Mandali in Bombay, in 1850. The Paramhans Mandali was a secret discussion group consisting of Hindu reformers and intellectuals established by a certain Ramchandra Balkrishna, who worked as a peon at the offce of the Commissioner of Customs. He was supported by Atmaram Pandurang (later, president of the Bombay Prarthana Samaj) and Dadoba Pandurang, a Marathi teacher and Sanskrit scholar who recruited members for the Paramhans Mandali but never attended its meetings.3 The Mandali proceedings, primarily held in Marathi, advocated widow remarriage, religious freedom, and the abolition of caste. Members had to be sworn to secrecy, by passing an initiation ritual that entailed eating bread bought from a Portuguese bakery, sharing it with other members of the Mandali, thereafter dashing water held in their cupped hands to the foor, symbolically demonstrating their abdication of customary superstitions and caste rules. Padmanji apparently suffered intensely from breaking caste rules, feeling afraid to look other upper-caste persons in the eye thereafter, lest they telepathically detect his wrongdoings. Members of the Paramhans Mandali argued about religion and conceded that every member could either follow 6

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

their own religion or follow a chosen religion agreeable to all. Navalkar reminded Padmanji of the dispute that arose on the matter, when a certain Moroba Vinoba endorsed Christianity as a superior religion, amidst the wide scorn directed at him from other members.4 Some members who were bitterly opposed to Christianity accused converts of dividing families and betraying their motherland, and eager to convince other members of the Bible’s absurdities, several members, among them a judge, a customs offcer, and two teachers, maligned Christianity. The Mandali, however, soon disbanded after their secret was leaked, its upper-caste members being seized upon by their families for breaking caste rules, with those having Christian sympathies separately regrouping as the Satya Shodhak Mandali to pray, discuss Christianity and the Bible. A schism developed between Padmanji’s Christian faction and the reformed Hindu faction of Bombay, with the brothers Atmaram and Dadoba Pandurang later becoming instrumental in establishing the Prarthana Samaj that was, paradoxically, infuenced by the Brahmo Christian Unitarian frameworks advocated by Keshub Chandra Sen. Despite this bitterness, Dadoba Pandurang and Padmanji continued their alliance on issues of women’s reform and letters (like Navalkar’s) written almost 40 years after the event of Paramhans Mandali’s disbanding nostalgically highlight the follies and victories of the proto-convert’s journey and existence, refecting the mutual solidarity and camaraderie existing between native Christian leaders. The paratextual materials published in AD served yet another purpose. They presented Padmanji’s (and the native Christian convert’s) public emergence and the transformation of the European mission feld into a vernacular mission, as an uncontested and resistance-free process encouraged by European missionaries. Padmanji was keen to demonstrate, especially to his Hindu detractors, that true Christians fostered no battles among themselves and that native Christians faced no retribution from Europeans for “usurping” or transforming the mission. He was at pains to demonstrate that native converts and vernacular Christianity was encouraged and, in fact, celebrated by Scottish missionaries—a response to the Hindu derision of converts that prognosed their humiliating defeat and return to Hinduism after being spurned by European missionaries who only pretended to be pious. While the inclusion of eulogies in the prefaces and appendices of AD was part of a process that forced Hindu reformers to make way for infuential native Christians as a new social, interventionist group in Bombay, this move diffused any latent criticism of European hegemony within the mission as well. This emergence of the vernacular mission and native convert infuence was instead projected as a transcultural Christian moment of mutual sympathy between Europeans and natives who unitedly celebrated the rise of Christianity in India. Since the native conversion, indeed a hallmark of non-Hindu “sainthood”, became the primary mechanism of destabilising and neutralising European and Hindu opposition in Bombay, this variety 7

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

of convert piety was deliberately divested from material aspirations and the convert’s ambitions to beneft and succeed in “worldly” pursuits. Native converts exuded the bhakti habitus of this vernacular mission, thereafter ascribing their material benefts and worldly successes to God. And this pious sainthood became organised and institutionalised in a strong network of socio-marital bonds, held together by Marathi churches, native Christian leaders, educational institutions, and genealogies of patronage.

The wound of the truncated past, proudly displayed As is already clear from discussions about paratextual materials published alongside Padmanji’s main autobiography, AD is characterised by a stark narrative contrast between Padmanji’s pre- and post-conversion life. This contrast, that Israel (2018) diagnoses as a common characteristic of 19thcentury convert autobiographies, requires in-depth analysis in Padmanji’s case. Padmanji’s pre-conversion Hindu life, truncated and split from his Christian existence, continued to provide meaning to his Christian identity, constituting a “haunting” “trace” that Padmanji proudly displayed as the holy “stigma” of his Protestant conviction. And the repeated recounting and commemoration of this “stigmata” produced his Christian identity as pure and exalted. Padmanji’s personal experiences To explore this repeated recounting of this haunting truncated past that left a trace, Padmanji writes of his Hindu childhood and youth with nostalgia. Belonging to an affuent Hindu family, and the twashta kasar caste of traditional braziers, Padmanji grew up in Belgaum in the southern parts of Bombay Presidency. While his grandfather had been a wealthy jeweller, his father, Padmanji Manakji, was also a prominent member of their artisanal caste collective in Bombay, enjoying extensive trading networks with Surat and other parts of the Bombay region. Professionally, besides, Padmanji Manakji additionally worked as an engineer and offcer in the government’s public works department, charged with touring various regions within Bombay Presidency for the inspection of government infrastructure and facilities. Padmanji’s large and wealthy family lived in a mansion in Belgaum, and though they were affuent and lived in close proximity with Brahmins, they were not treated as equals. Padmanji’s Brahmin neighbours maintained a physical and social distance from him and his family, though Padmanji’s family made them lavish donations. The family used English pseudonyms like “water beans”, “red vegetables” and “Shiva biscuits” for fsh, meat, and prawns, to avoid offending the vegetarian sensibilities of their Brahmin neighbours (AD: chapter 1). Some Brahmins even accused Padmanji’s father of breaking caste rules by travelling as part of his duties to Aden, which was 8

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

a part of Bombay Presidency in the 19th century. Padmanji’s father had to provide these Brahmins documentary evidence of having avoided sharing drinking water with the Arabs (AD: chapter 6). Despite these tensions with Brahmin neighbours, Padmanji describes his family as staunchly Hindu and “superstitious”, even engaging in anti-witchcraft rituals at home. He was himself a devout Hindu child and young adult, deeply attached to Hindu rituals, gods, and their legends, while expressing an active interest in the Puranas and various astrological texts. At the same time, despite being staunch Hindus, his family respected Muslims and visited local Suf shrines (dargahs) regularly, celebrating Moharram, and various other processions and fairs.5 Padmanji was fond of religious festivals like the Ganesh festival, Holi, and Diwali (AD: chapter 1), and he grew up in a manner that was unremarkable and ordinary for most upper-caste Hindu boys of his time, from well-to-do families. Padmanji was married in 1849, approximately at the age of 18, in Bombay in a traditional ceremony (writing later of how ashamed he was about “dancing girls” being invited to entertain guests at his wedding) to a 9- or 10-year-old girl from an equally affuent family of his own caste. Despite the traditionality of the wedding, Padmanji writes admiringly of his father for consulting him before fxing the wedding, something extraordinary for conservative Hindu families at the time. He also stressed, with glee, that astrologers who had ratifed the wedding failed to predict a separation between him and his wife, that later came about in 1857, as a result of Padmanji’s conversion in 1854. Padmanji’s marriage year of 1849 proved somewhat of a watershed in his life—a time when he also joined the Free Church Institution and the Paramhans Mandali in Bombay. However, becoming introduced to Christianity, his life was flled with so much turbulence, anxiety, and ambiguity, in the period immediately afterwards (between 1851 and 1854), that it took a toll over his health, causing him to fall frequently ill. AD contains many passages about Padmanji’s heartrending ruminations and his gradual, searing truncation from Hinduism and his Hindu family, resulting in tearful recriminations and confrontations with his mother that exacerbated his fears, doubts, and painful restlessness. Neither did Padmanji have the strength to oppose his family, nor could he, any longer, tolerate the Hindu rituals that he had begun to consider immoral and repulsive. Yet he was deeply attached to his family and parents and found himself unable to muster up enough courage to step away, despite his heartfelt love for the Bible and his terrible guilt and repentance of sins. Tugged and constantly struggling between present desires and future hopes, Padmanji felt additionally terrifed by the guilt of his weakness (AD: chapter 13). His family suffered as well, being constantly questioned by caste members and relatives from Bombay and Belgaum, who either complained about the change in Padmanji’s demeanour or tried to argue with him. Padmanji writes that though his father was principally not 9

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

opposed to Christianity, he wanted his son to follow Christianity secretly and internally, strongly opposing and growing perplexed and distressed at Padmanji’s desire for open baptism. Padmanji even considered running away to Madras or Calcutta to be baptised in peace, when his father once threatened to commit suicide if he were to openly convert (AD: chapter 14). Padmanji was deeply grateful to other native Christians from Belgaum for encouraging him in this diffcult time (AD: chapter 16). While Padmanji’s conversion subsequently forced a divorce with his wife in 1857, the actual event that precipitated Padmanji’s baptism in September 1854 at the mission chapel in Belgaum was also obliquely connected with her. A grand puberty ritual celebration had been organised for his wife, in which he was supposed to participate. And Padmanji, feeling cornered by his mother, who insisted that he take an interest in the ritual, escaped to the mission chapel and request the Rev. Taylor for shelter, despite his mother’s tearful entreaties that he return for the ritual (AD: chapter 16). Padmanji describes the day of August 1854, when he left home for the mission chapel saying goodbye to his mother and casting a last glance at his wife and siblings (AD: chapter 17), as a poignant and painful internal moment. When he did not return that night, Padmanji’s mother began to panic, especially as the gates of the fort, with the chapel and the Rev. Taylor’s home inside it, had shut for the evening. The next morning, Padmanji’s mother arrived with his siblings, entreating him to return. Padmanji recounts this frst meeting with his mother as the most painful, wherein he was unable to control his own tears. They returned everyday thereafter, requesting him to return, and on the fourth day, when he still refused, his mother packed his clothes and sent these to the chapel, along with some money and a message from his wife that she would join him in Bombay. Padmanji’s father was away on tour at this time, and on returning he came to know of Padmanji’s escape to the chapel. He immediately brought Padmanji home, forbidding the family from badgering him any further about either the ritual or Christianity. The Rev. Taylor, too, postponed the baptism date, awaiting instructions from Padmanji’s missionary mentors in Bombay. Padmanji began visiting the Rev. Taylor every day and his family grew sanguine that if not obstructed or cornered, he would fnally return to Hinduism. Padmanji writes about the crowds that milled around him and followed his carriage every day to the mission chapel and back home, making him feel like a strange creature from another sphere (AD: chapter 17). The day of the baptism was fnally fxed, and Padmanji’s father was apprised of it. Padmanji was surprised that his father even offered to attend the ceremony, asking whether the rite required any fee payment. But then, on the morning of the baptism, after Padmanji had left early for the chapel to meditate and pray, Padmanji’s father sent him a note asking him to return and postpone the baptism. Padmanji refused, and after exchanging a few such notes that left him feeling agitated and miserable, Padmanji was fnally 10

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

baptised on September 3, 1854, by the Rev. Taylor and the Rev. Beynon at the mission chapel in Belgaum. Despite the heavy monsoon downpour, Padmanji’s baptism was witnessed by a large crowd that had gathered at the chapel, constituting a fnal moment of defeat for his parents, who had secretly hoped for his last-minute return.6 Even after conversion, Padmanji made a point of visiting home every day and was happy to note that he was welcomed there, though he was received and entertained in a separate room. His wife continued to communicate with him and even drank a glass of water once that he had touched, breaking caste rules inadvertently. Padmanji tried to convince his wife to join him at the mission house. And though Padmanji’s father agreed that she should join him, he was reluctant to openly hand her over to the mission. Hence, he advised the couple to escape secretly to the mission after he had left home on his next tour. Unfortunately for the couple, on hearing of Padmanji’s conversion, his father-in-law, accompanied by another son-in-law, rushed post haste to Belgaum, foiling the couple’s plans to escape to the mission. Padmanji could henceforth not visit home due to his father-in-law’s presence, as he was very religious, and only found an opportunity to speak with his wife late at nights from outside a window. Though he tried his best to convince her to join him, she refused and kept repeating that she would meet him in Bombay. This pained both Padmanji and his father, who also entreated her father to allow her to join Padmanji. But his father-in-law remained adamant and berated Padmanji for converting, supported energetically in this by the other son-in-law who accompanied him. Soon they returned to Bombay, taking Padmanji’s wife with them, and according to Padmanji, this other son-in-law continued to poison his wife’s and her father’s minds against him. After returning to Bombay, Padmanji continued to try and gain access to his wife for the next three or four years, wanting to discover the real state of her mind, since people had told him that she was still positively inclined towards him. However, every time he tried to meet her, he was thwarted by her father, who even refused to answer Padmanji’s letters. Finally, Padmanji decided to arrange a court meeting that would allow him half an hour to persuade his wife to join him. But as soon as a Habeas Corpus was served to his father-in-law, the latter began convincing Padmanji’s wife to reject him in court. More often than not, religion for women was decided by men, family networks, and marital relationships.7 Buckling under her father’s pressure, Padmanji’s wife indeed did as she was told and rejected Padmanji, resulting in a divorce suit in 1857 that cost Padmanji Rs. 200.8 Padmanji wrote bitterly about losing his divorce suit, which was triumphantly made out to be a social punishment for his conversion. Though the sum of Rs. 200 extracted from him was recovered later through the sales of YP, a novel about the sufferings of Hindu widows, Padmanji perceptively wrote that his wife’s fate would henceforth also be that of a widow. In a letter to his father, Padmanji noted: “It is not just that I am unhappy about my wife 11

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

leaving me. I am also unhappy for her. I feel bad that she will now spend the rest of her days like an ignorant widow” (AD: 174). In 1861 or 1862, approximately fve years after his divorce, after Padmanji had already married the Christian lady Serabai, his frst Hindu wife returned, insisting that he now take her back, since most of her opposing family members had died. While her sudden capitulation demonstrated the degree to which Hindus were opposed to converts, Padmanji’s hands were now tied. He, along with the Rev. Navalkar and the Rev. Dhanjibhai Nauroji, explained the impossibility of two marriages for a Christian man in a long interview with his frst wife, in which Padmanji offered to accommodate her with a Christian family, paying for her upkeep, education, and even remarriage. But she refused and tragically passed away a few years later (AD: chapter 18). To understand Padmanji’s account, it is helpful to refer to Israel’s (2018) analysis of the convert’s layered autobiographical voice in conversion narratives. Defning the convert’s pre-conversion life as a public archive contained within his autobiographical narrative, Israel discusses how the “I” of Padmanji’s past became a public repository of axiomatic experiences that allowed readers to participate and even “borrow” from it, especially as Padmanji’s conversion had distanced him from his written Hindu “self”. But in how far Padmanji intended his autobiography to constitute such an archive, of course, remains an open question, especially since the preface and last chapter of AD vigorously aims at opposing the Hindu criticism of conversion. Milind Wakankar (2019) highlights Padmanji’s archival streak, evident from the latter’s collection of documents, and referring to this preoccupation as an obsession with mazkur, a term in Marathi that is derived from the Arabic “mention”, Wakankar elucidates how Padmanji’s autobiography was the product of a repository that hinted at the future of conversion before it had taken place: “required that the original sequence of events seemed always … to partake of an afterglow of the redemptive” (Wakankar 2019: 487). This mediated collection of mazkur with later interests held in mind has been a problem inherent to the colonial archive in any case, involving the production of a selective and teleological corpus that harnessed the past in the “higher” interest of the present—the “archival turn” as Arondekar puts it (2005). The question of Padmanji’s intended audience, at least in the case of AD, is therefore, particularly interesting due to its changing and fuctuating nature. While Padmanji specifcally clarifes that his autobiography was meant for converts or those interested in Christianity, an aim other native Christians emulating and borrowing from his texts indeed fulflled, his aggressive diatribe against Hindus and Hinduism simultaneously complicated this aim. Did Padmanji mean his Hindu detractors to also read his autobiography to feel ashamed of their bigotry despite their espousal of reform, or did he primarily intend to acquaint other native Christians with methods of successfully arguing with Hindu opposition? Also, was Padmanji hoping to 12

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

demonstrate to European missionaries, some of whom, like Mitchell, read and translated from Marathi, that erstwhile heathens could now assume missionary tasks that were hitherto performed by Europeans? This fuctuation in Padmanji’s intended audience demonstrates how proximally located he was with all these three social groups that became extensions of his body from the moment of his conversion. His baptism merged the truncated Hindu self with the emerging Christian self, and the European missionary mediation of this cleaving and merger that produced a haunting trace of the truncated Hindu past, henceforth dominating Padmanji’s writings. This truncated Hindu self also became a discursive historical repository (separated from questions of “truth”) for other converts to tap into or seek succour in, helping them to make meaning out of their own truncation experiences. While the accommodation of European presence and mediation through communion was also entrenched in caste, about how a Hindu body that ritually “ate” outside its boundaries breached itself to convert “out” of a religious community, communion also theologically lay at the centrefold of baptism, allowing converts the rites of passage to convert “in” to a new religious identity and community. Thus, it was not as if Padmanji was alone in the ritual moment of baptism. The Revs. Taylor and Beynon, who believed as intensely in the ritual power of the baptism as Padmanji, created a sovereign moment between converting “out” and converting “in” that produced Padmanji’s new Christian body and identity. Eating “out” of caste that had also been central to Paramhans Mandali did not, on the other hand, involve imbibing or converting “in” to a new religious identity that also invoked ritual ingesting. In the absence of a new ritual of eating “in”, the old ritual of eating “out” was rendered meaningless and incomplete, easily reversed by Hindu upper-caste families of Mandali members, who cracked down on the secret society and disbanded it. Israel (2018) points, very interestingly, to convert autobiographies possessing a tendency to submit their life stories (for example, chapter 15 of AD) in a meticulously organised form that demonstrated their individual capacities to engage with modernity. What becomes clear from Padmanji’s autobiography as an organised, “modern” text is the binary between Protestantism and chaotic heathenism, presented as a state of pain, confusion—an interrupted and uncertain path towards salvation. But this noisy confusion is also transitive, with the third space of evolving conviction, clarity, and baptism replacing it—an opaque and powerful ritual resulting in “stigma” that separated the confused proto-convert from his heathen past. While the rational, Christian author of AD is unmarked, the chaotic “written” heathen is overwhelmingly marked as a sacrifcial object, to be cut down in the moment of baptism. And the manner in which the third space of baptism appends itself to the convert’s rationally organised self is evident from the retention of that haunting trace of the chaotic truncated past 13

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

that becomes transformed into a public, intellectual archive of conversion emotions and memories. Though Padmanji’s Hindu “I” appears blundering and childish, wandering in confusion, desire, and distress, it remains cognizant of its Christian writing self, while journeying towards baptism. The sacrifcial Hindu “I” with its basal love for the heathen family was thus a dangerous animal in Padmanji’s AD that threatened to undo its writer by escaping and “relapsing” into Hinduism. Truncating the Hindu “I” was, therefore, an almost foregone conclusion right from the beginning of AD, making it more than just an autobiography. AD in this sense also doubled as a Christian witness that publicly bared the self’s own painful annihilation, death, and rebirth, making this process of gaining stigmata socially meaningful by writing it as an archive of vernacular Protestant identity shared as heritage within a collective and a community. The moment of baptism, thus, almost assumed a surgical, confrontational character, a frontier of chaos and rationalism, with the moment of truncation and bridging placed in between, becoming simultaneously real and symbolic, present, and absent. Yet, paradoxically, the reality of this baptism was also banal and anti-climactic, an opaque and powerful, ritually transformative moment that “staged” the convert from the moment his conversion became imminent. The crowds that followed Padmanji’s carriage between home and the mission chapel every day responded to the formation of this very theatre or stage, where crowds beheld Padmanji’s conversion as if an open-air surgical theatre, despite the rain on the morning of Padmanji’s baptism. Padmanji’s life at the moment of his baptism symbolically acquired a funnel-like shape with his past and future converging upon its centre, represented by the bridge-rupture of baptism, embodied by the communionproviding European missionary body that acted as its truncating–mediating agent. We might imagine Padmanji being suspended at the moment of his baptism outside both order and chaos, and in a ritual moment, a rite of passage, anaesthetised by its banality.9 Padmanji’s baptised body became the frst site of post-surgical transformation, framing the native Christian self within new rules of caste, untouchability, and social interaction that excluded it from family but included it within the mission (Israel 2018). Padmanji thereafter waged a lifelong battle against Hindu “superstitions” and notions that denigrated conversion as “polluting” that he had allegedly incurred through the baptismal intervention of European mediation (Once Hindu Now Christian, 1890: 150). While perhaps exaggerating his post-conversion bliss, Padmanji replaced the alleged impurity of conversion with the holy stigma of truncation from Hinduism, careful to never exhibit any suffering connected with this truncation, disallowing his Hindu detractors any triumph. Instead, he described his reunion with his father and family in the post-conversion period as positive, recounting how his father made him a large gift of a hundred rupees at his second Christian wedding and even offered to care for his frst Hindu wife after she returned. 14

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

Also, his sisters and their families visited him often, and Padmanji pointedly referred to his continuing interactions with Hindu friends in the years to come. He wrote deliberately of his painful divorce suit in monetary terms, taking care to superimpose a moment of legal and personal defeat with the victory of Christian leadership, literary success, and remarriage (laced with “pity” for his frst wife), in addition to celebrating his vibrant alliance with Scottish missionaries. Though Wakankar (2018; 2019) describes the missionary semantics of humility as an important social and literary intervention of 19th-century Marathi reform, humility is not quite what Padmanji demonstrated in his writings. Instead, as already described, Padmanji’s texts were suffused with rage and contempt for those, like Hindus or Brahmo/ Prarthana-infuenced Christians, who did not share his stigmata. It is therefore not simply Padmanji’s narrative “I” that was split in his autobiography. This obvious narrative split mirrored the split that defned his baptismal moment. And in continuing to exhibit the “stigma” of conversion compulsively, all of Padmanji’s texts became autobiographically inspired thereafter, representing the external manifestation of his baptism.

Conversion and privilege A fundamental element of Padmanji’s thoughts about conversion, “heathenism”, and Protestant conviction lay in his social privilege. Padmanji belonged to a well-to-do family, receiving educational opportunities far beyond an average Indian, and certainly beyond those available to rural, lower-caste converts. This enabled him to access a different range of opportunities that shaped his own post-conversion social and familial interaction with Hindus. In his privilege, Padmanji was an atypical convert, but precisely because of this, could he also contend with European missionary dominance and Hindu discourses on reform, to foreground vernacular, native convert piety as an independent intervention. Privilege thus formed yet another element in the ambivalent relationships Padmanji negotiated in his quest for an Indianled Christian reform movement. Padmanji’s educational experiences Travelling was an early element of Padmanji’s privilege that made a profound impression on him. He describes his frst visit to Bombay in 1839 in terms of the astonishing and the marvellous, whether in its milling crowds or its splendid temples like Bhuleshwar and Mumbadevi, where live tortoises were worshipped or simply the magnitude of his twashta kasar casteclan network (AD: chapter 5). Padmanji’s next visit to Bombay in 1847, when he joined the Elphinstone Institution, was somewhat longer but cut short. He married in 1849 (AD: chapter 6) and subsequently joined his family in Aden since his father was posted there.10 The period in Aden was 15

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

both exciting and alienating for Padmanji who was perhaps impressionable and homesick. Describing the strangeness of various religious communities he encountered there, Padmanji wrote about Bene Israel Jews, who sang the psalms of David in Marathi, and resident Hindus, who treated Somali Muslim labourers as untouchables.11 Aden Hindus also worshipped a crack in the face of a nearby mountain, calling it a shrine of the goddess Hinglaj, additionally having two crows that they had brought with them from Bombay, who were given Hindu ritual offerings to eat. But since these crows had no trees to perch, they few around disconsolately in search of shade (AD: chapter 7). Padmanji, as a young teenager plunged into homesickness in Aden, becoming susceptible to episodes of spirit possession (AD: 61–62): At this time, I too, became possessed by a spirit; not a Hindu deity, but one from among the Mohammedan spirits, which they call khavis. And this [khavis] used to shout: “I am from Belgaum and I must return to my village. This boy (I) must return to Belgaum”. And till he kept coming, he forbade me to eat a certain variety of meat curry called sagoti.12 At frst, when he came, he was very threatening and violent. But gradually he grew calmer and my family members worshipped him, asking him many questions, while treating me with great respect every time. But since he wanted to go home, my parents decided to send me back to Belgaum and I travelled home on a steamboat in 1849, where I stayed briefy with my uncle in Belgaum. … I don’t know whether all this was because of my Hindu beliefs or because I was mentally ill, or because it was indeed an evil spirit, but the possession abruptly stopped after I converted to Christianity. While becoming possessed in Aden made Padmanji part of a widespread phenomenon among Aden’s marginal lower classes (cf. Reese 2018; AD: chapter 5), it is telling that his family did not call in the services of one of the exorcists of African background operating in the city—rather, they sent Padmanji home! That the spirit who possessed Padmanji, though Muslim, was also not a local jinn, but an Indian, from Belgaum no less, marked his possession as different from the cases that afficted Aden’s marginalised communities. Education was another privilege Padmanji enjoyed, and indeed, this was perhaps the most important privilege that served his post-conversion identity as a literary leader. Padmanji humorously describes his initial beginnings at the government vernacular school in Belgaum as an abysmal episode of heathen falsehoods and cruel punishments (AD: chapter 2). The geography teacher, for example, considered the country Austria to be primarily inhabited by women since the name Austria rhymed with the Marathi word for women (striya). Padmanji was thereafter sent to an English school 16

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

run by London Missionary Society (LMS) missionaries the Revs. Taylor and Beynon in Belgaum in 1843, where he frst became acquainted with books like the Pilgrim’s Progress and the Bible. However, he remained a devout Hindu and felt angry with the missionary critique of Hinduism (AD: chapter 3). After studying at Elphinstone College and returning home from Aden, Padmanji felt restless in Belgaum and did not want to join the LMS again. So he returned to Bombay in the same year, in 1849, and joined the Free Church Institution. There he met the Rev. Narayan Sheshadri for the frst time and was hesitant to study under him at frst, disliking Sheshadri for being a Christian convert. But as Sheshadri was a good and kind teacher, ever concerned with the moral improvement of his students, Padmanji’s dislike for him gradually dissolved (AD: chapter 8). It was his education at the Free Church Institution that, Padmanji claimed, forced him to ponder upon and repent his own immorality and heathen practices. He gradually grew ashamed of his sinfulness (AD: chapter 9) and was overcome by a change of heart, especially after he was promoted to the upper divisions taught by stalwart missionaries like the Revs. Wilson, Nesbit, and Mitchell (AD: chapter 10). Padmanji, at this time, became a member of various intellectual reformist discussion groups in Bombay, like the Paramhans Mandali and Dnyanprakash Mandali, reading intellectual newsletters and Christian journals like Dnyanodaya and Prabhakar. Padmanji writes that while Dnyanodaya convinced him of Christianity, Prabhakar destroyed his false reverence for Brahmins, and the newsletter Dnyanprakash saved him from atheism (AD: chapter 10). Padmanji engaged increasingly with Christianity at this time, reading the psalms of David with joy. But the period between 1851 and 1854 was also a period of doubt, in which he grew distanced from Hinduism and yet was not completely convinced that he wanted to convert. Padmanji’s conduct changed at this time, and he completely stopped all Hindu practices, feeling ashamed and alarmed at his own past. He enjoyed congregating with the Christian group the Rev. Sheshadri organised, called “Native Missionary Association”, where Marathi converts recited beautiful and poetic prayers (AD: chapter 13). Padmanji began reading Christian scriptures and attending church services regularly, writing frequently to his father about his inner turmoil at this time. And though his father tried to withdraw him from the Free Church Institution, this strategy failed, as Padmanji’s interest in Christianity only strengthened, consolidating his resolve to convert in 1854 (AD: chapter 14). Padmanji’s intensely emotional relationship with his father was extraordinarily intimate, from the standard of middle-class Marathi joint families of the time. Not only did Padmanji write ceaselessly to his father, confding in him of his innermost thoughts about religion, but he also dedicated many of his early writings to his father, among them A Comparison of Hinduism and Christianity published in 1854, written in a short span of 17

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

two months, and Atamarampanta ani mrityu shipayi yancha samvad (trnsl. Conversations between Atmarampanta and the Angel of Death), based on his conversations with his father about Christianity and conversion, composed in a fctionalised dialogue format. Though this latter book is currently unavailable, such intimacy between father and son, characterised by the Revs. Mitchell and Wilson, as his father’s undue infuence over him, was exceptional. Padmanji’s father also consulted him about his marriage, giving him the freedom to make his own independent life decisions, conversion being the chief amongst them. He continued to fund Padmanji’s education, publications, and upkeep in Bombay, interacting warmly and affectionately with his son, even after Padmanji went against his wishes. This personal relationship between father and son constituted Padmanji’s most signifcant privilege, perhaps even more important than his alliance with Scottish missionaries. The last chapter of AD (AD: chapter 21) is of considerable interest since Padmanji outlined the aim of his autobiography here. Expressing the entire tenor of the book, this last chapter, which could as well have served as its introduction, is more than just a concluding note. Chiefy aimed at his Hindu detractors, it seeks closure on social debates about the consequences of conversion, with Padmanji claiming that his life-story, written not just to allay common curiosity, actually seeks to disprove Hindu allegations against converts for being disloyal to family, society, and nation. Padmanji rhetorically asks why some people harbour strange thoughts about converts becoming estranged from their families, and answering this question himself, he extends some theories about Hindus and their encounter with conversion. According to him, though Hindu relatives feel initially angry with converts, this anger gradually thaws and dissipates. In their own way, Hindus console themselves, considering conversion to be the convert’s fate. While some Hindus do not even consider conversion to be particularly wrong, conversion becomes metaphoric of asceticism for them, as they interpret conversion as a move that pushes converts into renouncing material benefts. Padmanji identifed his father as one among this latter group, as he, despite Padmanji’s conversion, continued to regard him with deep affection and respect as a variety of ascetic. In this sense, Padmanji reversed his description of conversion as a journey from nothingness to true religion by projecting it onto his father, who considered conversion to constitute an abdication of Hinduism (religion) towards asceticism and nothingness. And here, Padmanji created his father as the loving “other” to himself—a hard beginning to trade-offs that allowed Hindu relatives their divergent beliefs in exchange of accepting converts and conversion within the family. Padmanji writes of visiting his father and family in Belgaum twice after converting, and though he was asked to stay separately during these visits, he describes how proud his father was of him, funding his publishing 18

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

projects, and praising him to relatives and associates. Padmanji also selfportrayed himself as a dutiful son, helping his father to sort through professional diffculties. Though Padmanji’s uncle was initially angry too, he “thawed” with time, lovingly arranging a grand celebration in honour of Padmanji’s Christian wedding, apart from preserving, as already mentioned, all Padmanji’s papers in a wooden chest. Padmanji reiterates that a change in religion, after an initial period of anger, does not lead to any serious upheaval or repercussions for converts, concluding by making explicit his aims of dispelling Hindu accusations against converts of abandoning their families, society, and patriotic values. Without doubt, Padmanji was a very privileged man from an affuent, liberal, educated, and well-connected family background, located at the heart of a traditional business and professional community in Bombay and Belgaum. He never experienced fnancial dearth, instead travelling, studying, reading, meeting, and interacting with whomever he pleased. His wishes were highly regarded by his family, and even his conversion did not separate him from them, their social networks, and wealth. He was a pampered child, and his family afforded him an expensive journey between Aden and Belgaum only to allay his homesickness expressed perhaps in the metaphor of the possessing Konkani khavis. He remained a man of considerable material means till his very end and was at the helm of various publishing houses and tract societies. In a considerably powerful social position, Padmanji was free to support or attack whomever he pleased without fearing consequences. In fact, he was so privileged, never having entertained rejection before, that the shock of his divorce transformed his anger with his father-in-law into a life battle against all Hindus. Padmanji’s entitlements transformed the semantics of his Christian piety. Diverging from the expected language of evangelical, missionary piety and humility, Padmanji’s semantics of Christianity was expressed in terms of outrage and polemical contempt for Hindus, despite having faced comparatively little social ostracism compared to other converts. Even his frst wife returned later, blaming her family for their divorce. Padmanji’s privilege added to his experience of baptism and transformed his public persona into that of an aggressive and self-righteous crusader cum saintly celebrity—an establisher of native Christian piety and bhakti, central to the vernacular mission feld. But what was perhaps devastating in this heated battle between entitled converts and their detractors was the disenfranchisement of other converts, who suffered at missionary hands as well as within their erstwhile Hindu families. This was vastly different from Padmanji’s life journey. In fact, Padmanji’s life is the farthest possible away from any paradigmatic experience of conversion in 19th-century Bombay, especially for converts who were not affuent or as highly educated. And yet, so enormous was Padmanji’s power, charisma, persona, and literary leadership that his autobiography became paradigmatic, emulated by other converts despite the 19

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

internal differences in their conversion story. Padmanji’s uniquely privileged journey also served its emulators in important ways, allowing them to portray the conversion of their own ancestors in an equally glorious light. While Padmanji exaggerated his conversion bliss to narratively retaliate against Hindu detractors, its bhakti-full emulation consolidated the native Christian discursive opposition against Hindus, producing this opposition as collective and shared by all converts, who congregated under its protective umbrella in order to resist Hindu bullying. But Padmanji did not lie about or conceal his affuence and privilege either. Nor did his privilege make him any less ardent as a native Christian. It does not help to devalue his pain and confusion at the time of conversion, evident from the letters included in AD, or the relentless vitriol he poured upon Hindus as meaningless aggression either. If anything, Padmanji’s privilege only disproved that conversion was always and necessarily the “weapons of the weak”, which may have been the case for many lower-caste, female converts in colonial India (cf. Taneti 2013: 1–24). For Padmanji, an affuent, upper-caste, masculine convert with smouldering anger against Brahminical superiority, Christianity was an instrument of power, a weapon to be ferociously wielded against all and any opposition. It was in the context that Padmanji conceptualised conversion as powerfully aggressive but saintly instrument, devoid of utilitarian benefts, wielded collectively by those who bore the stigmata of Christian emergence, against the evils of Hindu heathenism. Padmanji’s texts acted like mirrors, refecting partial facets of his own palimpsest self, autobiographically linking a range of audiences, organised around his baptismal moment—Hindus, native Christians, and European missionaries.

Notes 1 Tilak (1861–1919) was responsible for composing beautiful, socially engaged Christian bhakti poetry in the traditional abhanga format that integrated Christianity with the idea of Marathi vernacular literature and poetry in the early 20th century (Winslow 1923). This transformation owed much to 19thcentury educational reforms that introduced the reading of vernacular texts within school curricula (Deshpande 2006). Also, cf. Benei (2008) for a history of education policies in Maharashtra. 2 The Rev. James Chalmers (1841–1901), a Scottish missionary, frst allied to the Glasgow City Mission and later to the London Missionary Society, was active in Rarotonga and New Guinea. 3 This is an interesting observation in the light of Padmanji’s later alliance with Dadoba Pandurang on questions of widow remarriage (demonstrated in YP), despite initial bitterness and schism with Paramhans Mandali over Christianity and, later, Prarthana Samaj. Padmanji found it important to exonerate Dadoba Pandurang to justify their alliance. 4 Moroba Vinoba also converted to Christianity at a later date (cf. Farquhar 1915: 75). Padmanji refers to a certain Moroji in AD (1908: 111), as a Brahmin youth from the Free Church Institution who had harboured a strong and secret desire

20

AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND HAGIOGRAPHY

5

6 7 8

9 10 11 12

to convert acquired from Christian texts, but who unfortunately died as a result of falling from a horse before he could convert. Cf. Dube (2018) for a discussion on village fairs and artisanal pleasures that Brahmins denigrated. While drawing a contrast between Brahmins and Padmanji, who saw no difference between Ganpati fairs and Muharram in his autobiographical writings, Dube claims that his non-Brahmin caste background made him more tolerant. But Padmanji was not tolerant of non-Christians in the least! Since he was autobiographically describing his truncated Hindu childhood and past, his Protestant writing self was certainly denigrating all non-Christian celebrations, whether Hindu fairs or Muharram, as heathen. A message from his parents at the time of his conversion said (Karhadkar 1979: 321): tu prakashat gelas pun amchya gharat andhar padla (you went into the light, but our home was plunged in darkness)! Cf. Dandekar (2019a: 19, 39–60) and for discussions about the abduction and conversion of wives from infuential families. Though privileged men like Padmanji converted out of ideological reasons, the conversion of women was yet another matter. Mostly forced into domestic and marital subservience and denied education or any means of independence, women were forced to follow their families in religious decisions. While Pandita Ramabai’s conversion is frequently lauded by missionaries, it must be remembered that though independent and educated, and in the absence of family or social pressure in England, Ramabai converted in a state of great depression and despondency too, as the suicide of Anandibai Bhagat, her companion in England shattered her. Referring to Ramabai’s visit to Max Müller in Oxford, Kosambi writes (2000: 14): “He found Ramabai in a state of ‘nervous prostration’ because Anandibai Bhagat had been so frightened by the possibility of forced conversion that she had tried to save Ramabai by attempting to strangle her one night and fnally killed herself”. Kosambi describes how the poor Anandibai Bhagat was nevertheless unable to escape the spectre of forced baptism (2000: 9): “Anandibai Bhagat committed suicide by swallowing poison, but was baptised on her deathbed ostensibly to respect her own earlier wish to convert to Christianity”. Cf. Arnold van Gennep (1960) for the earliest research on “rites of passage” that are associated with initiation rituals. In Yemen today, the port of Aden on the Southern tip of the Persian Gulf was administered in the 19th century as part of the Bombay Presidency. Muslims from the Horn of Africa, known as akhdam and jabarti, generally formed a sort of untouchable sweeper class in 19th-century Aden, even among Muslims (Reese 2018: 112–114) Sagoti is a meat delicacy cooked in the Malvani style, indicating in this context that the Muslim soul possessing Padmanji ethnic belonged to the Konkan region of southern Maharashtra.

21

2 ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

One constant in Padmanji’s writings was his almost obsessive engagement with a wide variety of social actors of the 19th-century Bombay Presidency: Hindu reformers and educated Hindu traditionalists, converts, and European missionaries. While this engagement accorded him tremendous legitimacy within the wider social feld of reform, it brought the vernacular mission into eminence through a combination of strategies that attracted converts espousing true Protestant conviction. This engagement, often polemic, also simultaneously defended the mission from Hindus and the Brahmo-Prarthana Samaj–style social reformers, by excluding them. Participating in this feld transformed Padmanji’s semantics of Christianity into an overarching but ambivalent language of criticism that was mixed with affnity, drawing selectively on the language of Hindu reformers, while also denouncing them, while simultaneously emulating European missionaries and patronising converts. It was this wider landscape of contestation, affnity, and debate that framed the development of Padmanji’s Marathi Christian writing style as a middle-range phenomena, emerging between many circulating intellectual ideas. The importance of controversy and polemics is vital for comprehending colonial period encounters between missionary Christianity and other Indian religions, and this has been long recognised in scholarship (cf. e.g. Bate 2010; Copley 1997; Jones 1992; Menon 2015; Young 1981; Young and Jebanesan 1995).1 While missionary polemics exposed Indian beliefs and practices to derision and acerbic criticism, in turn not only engendering, often, similarly scornful counter-polemics and aggressive culture of public debate, but also, as Mitch Numark (2006) argues, it encouraged Indians to understand their traditions through the category of “religion”, on which such debates were founded. Padmanji’s vigorous participation in interreligious debates and polemics, therefore, also has to be understood as located within this polemically charged argumentative atmosphere. Since “All thinking happens within the miscegenated space of experience, debate, and imaginations of affnity” (Menon 2015: 82), Padmanji was no exception to boundary-making relationships based on religion in the colonial period. Yet 22

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

his interventions ft only uneasily into this scenario of religious controversy that is typically outlined by historians of the 19th-century as the emergence of two clearly demarcated adversarial camps. While European missionaries stand on one side of the battle—representatives of a “muscular Christianity” in an Empire increasingly characterised by “missionary nationalism” (van der Veer 2001: 58, 85)—facing them are Hindu and Muslim apologists, bravely countering missionary propaganda by reformulating their own traditions in the light of the missionary critique. The latter group simultaneously turns its arsenal of religious diatribe on Christianity itself. In this adversarial scenario, there is little epistemic room for Indian converts to express and frame their position vis-à-vis either camp. If converts are considered at all, it is commonly in terms of an imputed identity crisis, caused by the contradictory experiences of Christian universalism and colonial racism (e.g. Copley 1997: 180–188). At times, scholarly approaches have indeed tended to pathologise converts as individuals drawn to conversion “as much from loneliness … as from conviction” (Walsh quoted in Copley 1997: 186). By focusing exclusively on the experience of racism in Christian contexts, such binary approaches that pitted missionaries against indigenous apologism downplayed both experiences of violence that converts may have experienced within their “own” culture and the universalist message of Christianity, thereby tacitly accepting the identifcation of “Indian” with “Hindu” advocated by Hindu nationalists. As Padmanji’s polemical engagements demonstrate, the claim that converts abandoned and betrayed their family, culture, and country was a strong attempt at delegitimising converts to speak as “Indians” or “Marathi”, where Padmanji, to a certain extent, used missionary polemics against Hindus as a way of staking his Indian and Marathi identity as a staunch Protestant and Christian convert. But this does not mean that Padmanji was a European missionary, though he strategically aligned with his Scottish missionary mentors against Hindus, to claim an Indian and Marathi identity. For Padmanji, the conversion was no more a challenge to cultural identities than seeking Western-style education and employment with the colonial government, which were enthusiastically pursued by Hindu reformers as well. There is, therefore, no reason to assume that converts suffered more of an identity crisis than any other member of the Westernising elites in colonial India. In Bordieuan terms, Padmanji, as a native convert, was an avant-garde actor in the wider feld of mid-19th-century reform. Such actors, according to Bourdieu’s model, often allied with or sought recognition from actors in homologous positions of power from other felds (cf. Hilgers and Mangez 2015: 13–15), and at the same time, also sought to challenge entrenched actors—in Padmanji’s case, elite social reformers and Unitarianismespousing Christians like Keshub Chandra Sen and Pandita Ramabai, who allied with Unitarian and theistic social reformers to dominate the reform 23

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

feld in Maharashtra. Against their models of accommodative reform, Padmanji articulated a notion that did not merely serve the utilitarian end of correcting excess but aimed at a fundamental overhaul of the individual’s self through non-utilitarian conversion to Christianity. In divorcing conversion from extraneous aims, Padmanji occupied a position similar to the idea of “art for art’s sake” or “knowledge for knowledge’s sake” that Bourdieu associated with avant-garde actors (Hilgers and Mangez 2015: 9). Padmanji’s engaged writings can be understood as a zone or arena of negotiation, contestation, and circulation (cf. Merton 1968) that carved out a separate space for native Christian converts, his arguments formulated from the interstices between different subject positions encountered in 19thcentury Bombay. Analytically discussing Padmanji’s polemical tracts is specifcally aimed at demonstrating the “presence” of the vernacular mission feld. Though not a separate bureaucratic entity (like the Mukti Mission), but an intensifed diversifcation of existing missions like the Scottish Mission, the vernacular mission was not an abstract concept. Instead, it was a well-recognised entity among not just missionaries and converts but 19th-century intellectuals of the Bombay Presidency in general, who treated Christian converts as a separate social group. Neither was this “really present” vernacular feld a product of diffusion from European missionaries, or a passive arena of confuence and enrichment linked with the benefts of colonial institutions. The vernacular mission feld was a deliberate and active, emergent social niche, specifcally created for and by native converts through relationships, and institutions, by merging churches, schools, Christian families, intellectual circles, and printing presses that gave precedence to native Christian leadership, the conversion experience, and the production of vernacular missionary texts. In fact, the palimpsest nature of Padmanji’s published autobiography, to which he appended various other documents written by missionaries, was not just a symptom of his self-staging as a militant heroic saint, as discussed in the last chapter, but also his staging of the “presence” of the vernacular mission feld as a social feld of networks among missionaries with an integrated religious identity, which Padmanji played an enormous role in leading. Access to the feld was fercely defended by Padmanji, who played a foundational role in its inception. Though some of his polemical tracts and engagements discussed below are openly aggressive, presenting these is not meant as an accusation. Instead, these demonstrate the nature of Padmanji’s gatekeeping of the Christian vernacular feld and genre, emphasising its non-passivity, and the emergence of an independent social group of native converts and native Christian intellectual leaders. Padmanji battled Hindus incessantly for suggesting similarities between Hinduism and Christianity, or for using the Christian style popularised by him for Hindu bhakti themes that undermined the exclusivity of conversion by blurring boundaries between Hinduism and Christianity. While Padmanji 24

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

allied with social reformers on questions of women’s reform, especially evident in his book Yamunaparyatan (or YP), he continued to negotiate these religious precepts from a decidedly Protestant position, also criticising “deists” and social reformers for undermining conversion. Padmanji scrutinised and patronised not just converts from Hinduism like Ramabai but also converts from other religious communities, like Bene Israel Jews, remaining vigilant and critical of their engagement with Protestantism.2 The one arena of interaction where Padmanji felt safe and did not engage in protracted polemics was the Scottish missionary circle of Bombay, where he studied, taught, and preached. Since this context provided him with legitimacy and leadership, and the freedom to diversify its European–English and foreign profle, he was at pains to demonstrate his affnity with Scottish missionaries, despite other challenges posed by colonialism and racism.

Contradicting comparisons: Modernity as native Christian endeavour Padmanji employed an aggressively argumentative philological method of disproving religious claims, drawing boundaries between Christian converts and the idea of conversion, on the one hand, and Hindus displaying an affnity with Christianity and Christian interventionist styles of argumentation, on the other. In his engagement with Hinduism and modern Hindu writers, Padmanji was belligerent in his defence of conversion and its boundaries, engaging theologically with religious texts, a method he encountered among European authors and educationists who helped him to hone his research and writing skills. In this feld, Padmanji felt empowered both by his familiarity with Hindu discourse, as well as by the generally less exalted social position of his opponents, compared to infuential reform groups like the Brahmo Samaj. Any argument that sought to appropriate “modern interventionist” argumentation for the sake of traditional Hindu themes, without a clear agenda of “religious overhaul” or an acknowledged social shift towards Christianity and conversion, drew Padmanji’s ire. A particularly instructive example of this is the small pamphlet A Comparison of Krishna and Christ (KC). Though the exact date of the original publication is unknown, it was written not too long after Padmanji converted to Christianity in 1854. While he is identifed on the title page of KC as the author of A Comparison of Hinduism and Christianity, which according to Padmanji’s own testimony, was written in the two months following his conversion and is dedicated to his father (cf. Mitchell 1897: 148), this and the fact that KC followed a similarly comparative plan (if not actually an extract from this earlier book) suggests that the tract dates from roughly the same period.3 Though the context for publishing a comparison between Krishna and Christ is not specifcally mentioned in the booklet, it is likely that the tract was inspired, at least partly, from frequent such 25

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

comparisons made by European authors since the second half of the 18th century. That some people drew a connection between Padmanji’s KC and general theories surrounding the parallels between Krishna and Christ is suggested by the copy of the 1867 reprint of KC held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. This copy contains a newspaper cutting of a Times of India article (“Krishna and Christ”, April 15, 1869: 2), wherein an unidentifed author (Padmanji himself), criticised Western scholars for their attempts at linking the veneration of Krishna with Christianity.4 The specifc occasion that prompted this reaction was the publication of Albrecht Weber’s studies on the festival of Janmashtami dated to the preceding year. Much of the information quoted in the Times of India article seems to have been derived from Weber’s research (cf. Weber 1868). The fact that this article was preserved alongside Padmanji’s tract demonstrates that readers already connected KC to this debate concerning the parallels drawn between Krishna and Christ. I argue that Padmanji was responding to the prevalence of such ideas among Bombay’s Hindus and theistically oriented social reformers of the mid-19th century, who attempted to blur boundaries between Hinduism and Christianity in ways that questioned the validity of conversion, and by extension, Padmanji’s leadership. The comparative aim of KC is immediately apparent from its layout. Divided into nine brief chapters, each page of the book is divided by a central line with details of Krishna and Christ provided on either side, followed by some concluding statements at the end of each segment. The nine chapters make a comparative theological description of the reasons for the incarnation of Krishna and Christ (1867: 1–4), their life stories (1867: 4–7), childhoods (1867: 7–13), achievements in adulthood (1867: 14–26), miracles (1867: 26–30), the events before (1867: 30–36) and after deaths (1867: 36–39), and their philosophy and legacy for mankind (1867: 40–45), that included their names signifying divinity (1867: 45–50). It would not be an exaggeration to say that Padmanji sought to dismantle any divinity ascribed to Krishna, denying that Krishna was ever born to redeem mankind. Reincarnated due to a past life curse, he returned to earth only to fulfl trivial, licentious, and gruesome tasks that included dallying with Radha, defeating upstarts like Kamsa, engaging in endless conspiracies, and waging relentless war (1867: 3). In Padmanji’s opinion, Krishna, born out of the sin of sexual intercourse, was not even close to the purity of Christ. And though Mary remained humble despite the miracle of her virgin motherhood, Devaki, despite her sexual sin, accepted adulation as a goddess (1867: 7). To the missionary Padmanji, Krishna’s “youthful” licentious activities were even more reprehensible, in case he were to be considered divine, since his “play” was impure, immoral, and corrupt (1867: 11), giving his followers the licence to further engage in equally licentious activities (1867: 13). According to Padmanji, Krishna was a violent schemer, whose life was spent in warfare, bloodshed, and intrigues. He was, moreover, unforgiving, and 26

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

heartless with his enemies, lustful of money, power, and women. A master of trickery, Krishna cheated and lied his way into victories, never upholding righteousness but justifying his greed. He advocated ploys and the telling of lies like a debased human being (1867: 24–25), and his so-called miracles were aimed at destroying others, causing them delusions. Miracles, in Padmanji’s opinion, did not prove the divinity of Krishna, since, among Hindus, even demons performed miracles (1867: 28). In a short digression to textual scholarship, Padmanji pointed out that there were no contemporaneous sources about Krishna and the stories written about him were imaginary, penned a thousand years later by devotees (1867: 30). Leave alone atoning for sins, Krishna did not even help others. Instead he exterminated his family, other innocent people, and their clans (1867: 34). His death did not bring people relief; instead, it drained Arjun of all power and initiated the dark kaliyuga (1867: 39). For Padmanji, Krishna provided a contorted philosophy, asking his devotees to consider their occupations divine and to worship trees and stones, since he was primitive and had no idea of a heavenly father (1867: 43). He gave his devotees no message of hope in their grief, instead adding to their grief by preaching that there was no eternal love between people and that individual souls wandered into rebirth remembering nothing of their past (1867: 44–45). Padmanji concluded that there was no question of Krishna ever being divine or ever being resurrected. He was human, a devious man who never repented (1867: 49), with his name bringing his followers no redemption (1867: 48). While most of Padmanji’s tract was standard missionary invective against Hindu mythology and deities, on occasion, it is clear that however convinced Padmanji was, he experienced a hidden threat from Hindu apologists, who could learn the tools of missionary diatribe and utilise it in defence of their own position. Thus, not only was Padmanji responding to coterminous discourses that blurred boundaries between Christ and Hindu deities like Krishna, but he also pre-empted the increasing popularity of such discourses, especially when propagated by theists and Hindus, to claim that Christianity had borrowed from ancient Sanskrit texts on Krishna. While the exact and specifc context of Padmanji’s KC remains occluded, it is evident that Padmanji wrote the text in response to the increasingly “modern” style of Hindu apologetics, exercising incisive and agential opposition to their theological attempts at expressing the sharedness of Hinduism and Christianity. The threat of the “modern” Hindu who wrote and argued just like a Christian author becomes plainly apparent in Padmanji’s reaction to an otherwise innocuous and even playfully crafted book, namely Dhondo Balkrishna Sahasrabuddhe’s Shri Eknath Maharaj Yanche Charitra (1883), a biography of the 16th-century Marathi poet and saint Eknath.5 Sahasrabuddhe’s book is the frst “modern”-style biography of Eknath, a fact not lost on Sahasrabuddhe himself, who claimed in his introduction to 27

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

write a new kind of imaginative hagiography for a Hindu saint (1883: 1–2; cf. Keune 2011: 213–223). Not only did Sahasrabuddhe employ the new “Christian” vernacular style employed by Padmanji to extol a Hindu saint, but he was also awarded a prize for this hagiography from the Dakshina Prize Committee.6 Not unsurprisingly, Padmanji took up cudgels against Sahasrabuddhe and trashed the latter’s work in an extensive review originally published in the journal Satyawadi shortly after the publication of Sahasrabuddhe’s book. This review was apparently so important for Padmanji that he had it reprinted through the Bombay Tract and Book Society as an independent tract in 1891 as A Review of the “Life” of the Saint Eknath, or Eknathcharitrapariksha (EP) in Marathi. To add insult to injury, this tract was printed at the same printing press as Sahasrabuddhe’s original book (Nirnaysagar Press)! In his scathing review, Padmanji not just mocked Sahasrabuddhe’s progressive writing style for a historical subject but also trivialised the original sources Sahasrabuddhe used, deriding their scientifc validity, while peppering his text with personal, sarcastic jibes. Sahasrabuddhe’s book is divided into two parts, preceded by an introduction. As mentioned, Sahasrabuddhe was conscious that his book, being the frst writing endeavour of its type, not only used a new imaginative and engaged style but also furnished additional information that would be absent from traditional hagiographies in three appendices that included selected abhanga (religious songs) composed by Eknath, a family tree of the saint, and a documentation of funding that the Eknath establishment in Paithan received. Tellingly, Padmanji’s review text also contained an appended abhanga in praise of Jesus Christ to match Sahasrabuddhe’s appendix (EP: 32). The frst part of Sahasrabuddhe’s book is divided into ten chapters describing Eknath’s life-story, his achievements, miracles, and philosophy. In the second part, Sahasrabuddhe reviews Eknath’s literary compositions and describes some of the sites encountered in Eknath’s hagiography, reminiscent of 19th-century biblical archaeology that laid claim to the universal truth of Christ’s miracles by identifying places and cities where these miracles took place.7 Finally, Sahasrabuddhe provides a detailed account of Eknath’s spiritual beliefs and philosophy. Shri Eknath Maharaj Yanche Charitra is a beautifully crafted book, written in simple and emotive language, that brings Eknath to life for his readers. However, Sahasrabuddhe’s biography of Eknath is also rather reminiscent of a Protestant journey, in addition to using the same style pioneered by Padmanji for Christian literature that combined emotional fctional accounts with pietistic didactics and an experience of enchantment, entrenched within mundane, everyday life. In contrast to earlier hagiographies, Eknath’s sainthood is not a foregone conclusion in Sahasrabuddhe’s text. Rather, Sahasrabuddhe seems to have modelled his account of Eknath’s life on the paradigmatic journey of a convert, narrated in a number of existing Christian vernacular books of the time, Padmanji’s included. 28

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

Despite his latent spiritual traits, Eknath was a normal child adored by his grandparents, with his life turning into a journey of realisation and awakening, as the story proceeds. A heavenly voice from Shiva guided Eknath to his guru, Janardan Swami, in Daulatabad. Excited about discovering a teacher, Eknath departed from Daulatabad in haste without intimating his grandparents in advance, for fear of being obstructed, leading to terrible suffering, worry, and poverty for his old grandparents. Eknath met Janardan Swami, a devotee of Dattatrey with Suf leanings, who was killedar (“commander of the fort”) at the Muslim court of Daulatabad, and began learning and labouring with Janardan Swami, staying at his house. On reaching spiritual maturity and wisdom like the proto-Protestant convert studying at a missionary school, Janardan Swami deemed it ft to take Eknath to a secluded cave in a jungle on top of the mountain. There, Eknath had his frst encounter with Dattatrey, dressed as a Suf, who offered him bread crumbled in the milk of an accompanying she-dog as prasad. Given the general sense of a journey towards spiritual awakening and realisation in Sahasrabuddhe’s text, this well-known episode from Eknath’s biography takes on all the trappings of baptism, even if of a rather frightful variety. Padmanji’s irritation at the use of the modern “Christian” style for Hindu bhakti is palpable from his review. He expressed disappointment with Sahasrabuddhe, whom he was perhaps acquainted with, for falling into the trap of writing superstitious folklore as historical fact, despite his Western education. More so, he criticised Sahasrabuddhe for basing his book on hearsay and uncorroborated information that was misquoted, if quoted at all, from enlisted secondary sources. Instead of what should have been a historically validated narrative, Sahasrabuddhe had written a colourful and entertaining story that would rivet readers but, Padmanji felt, insult their intelligence by denying them the expected scientifc approach. In a curious inversion, Padmanji railed at the genre itself for using narratives reminiscent of “modern rational religion” to recount the story of an old-fashioned saint. While Padmanji himself pioneered the mixture of entertaining fction, pious didactics, and factual narration that characterised Sahasrabuddhe’s text, the application of this style to a subject that Padmanji considered “irrational” and “superstitious” went not only against Padmanji’s religious convictions but also against his textual politics. What Padmanji decried most in Sahasrabuddhe’s book was not so much his use of the “modern” to defend the “miraculous”, but what Padmanji perceived Sahasrabuddhe’s insuffciently scientifc attitude displayed towards sources, that Padmanji alleged were weak and threadbare, written 200 years after Eknath’s time, and simply embellished by Sahasrabuddhe to sound like the truth. The two main sources used by Sahasrabuddhe, Mahipati’s Bhaktivijay (1762) and Bhaktalilamrit (1774), were highly suspect in Padmanji’s estimation, since not only were they written two centuries after Eknath’s life by the same author, but there were glaring inconsistencies 29

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

between Mahipati’s own texts about Eknath that Sahasrabuddhe had allegedly glossed over. Sahasrabuddhe, for example, provided details about the suffering of Eknath’s grandparents at his departure, in ways unsubstantiated by Mahipati, who provided alternative versions of the same story, in which Janardan Swami alleviated the suffering of Eknath’s grandparents after coming to know of Eknath’s sudden departure from home. Why, Padmanji rhetorically asks, did Sahasrabuddhe choose to tell the story of the grandparent’s abandonment by Eknath and their suffering, unless he supported the idea of Eknath’s (Hindu) sainthood being achieved through the cruel abandonment of home and family (1891: 9)?8 Punning, as he does at various points, on Sahasrabuddhe’s name (“thousand-fold intellect”), Padmanji noted that Sahasrabuddhe had apparently not spent much intellect on recounting the various episodes of Eknath’s life properly, inserting information into the text that was absent from his sources. Padmanji also picked up the encounter between Eknath, Janardan Swami, and Dattatrey (in the shape of a Muslim mystic) to levy specifc criticisms against Sahasrabuddhe’s book. While in one instance, Sahasrabuddhe had Dattatrey in the form of the mendicant Suf blessing Eknath that he would affect the “reform of popular practices” (lokriti sudharana; 1883: 38–39), Padmanji alleged that this was a glaring attempt at smuggling modern reformism into a premodern story. He sarcastically asks whether Dattatrey had indeed meant lok sudharanuk in terms of the modern meaning of “social reform”, or whether Sahasrabuddhe had conveniently used modern terminology to rephrase what was actually said by the Suf Dattatrey (EP: 11–12). Further, Dattatrey, in his Muslim mendicant form, was accompanied by a she-dog, and he gave Eknath a portion of bread from his bag, crumbled in the dog’s milk. While according to some versions, Eknath accepted this bread, in other versions, he threw it away or refused it, especially since it came from a Muslim (cf. Keune 2011). On the other hand, Eknath drank the water as prasad in which the Suf and Janardan Swami had washed their hands after eating. While Sahasrabuddhe provided a description of how the Suf was impressed by Eknath, transforming into a gentler form, Mahipati does not indicate to this at all. These inconsistencies between Mahipati’s versions and Sahasrabuddhe’s text led Padmanji to conclude that, since there were so many contradictions in Eknath’s human acts, how could the stories about his miracles be believed? Furthermore, in Padmanji’s opinion, documented miracles in Hinduism did not prove divinity or sainthood, since among Hindus, humans and demons performed miracles, too. This was possibly a jibe at Sahasrabuddhe’s challenge that, since miracles were recorded in Western records, most importantly in the lives of Christian saints, their existence in Hindu texts was no reason to disbelieve the existence of Hindu sainthood (cf. Sahasrabuddhe 1883: 77). But not all inconsistencies noted by Padmanji concerned Sahasrabuddhe’s sources. As an ambivalent supporter of social reform and a critic of 30

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

Brahmanism, Padmanji could not help but wonder about the discrepancies between Eknath’s behaviour and Hindu strictures. For example, Padmanji wonders how Sahasrabuddhe (or Janardan Swami for that matter) tolerated the various, frankly repulsive ways in which Eknath tried to please Janardan Swami, like cleaning his toilet and drinking from his spittoon (EP: 16). How could Janardan Swami accept these repulsive acts, when other Hindu gurus like Ramdas Swami forbade their students from committing such deeds, considering them repugnant? Similarly, while Eknath is described as stoic, feeling no grief at the death of his grandparents, Padmanji rhetorically wonders how Ramdas Swami could be immersed in so much grief at Shivaji’s death. Was Ramdas Swami, the master of Vedanta, not adequately stoic or Hindu enough, then? And since Hindu saints acted in such contradictory ways, how could Hinduism be considered a unifed and systematic religion at all? Besides, focusing on some miracles of Eknath that were friendly and compassionate to lower castes, Padmanji asks why Eknath, being a Brahmin, did not adhere to ritual texts like the Manusmriti, or why, if he was so concerned about eradicating social evils, did he not open an establishment for the poor, abused, widowed, and orphaned. While Sahasrabuddhe’s appendices provided details of how much wealth Eknath’s establishment accrued from devotees and supporters, Padmanji asks how all this money was spent, sarcastically wondering whether Sahasrabuddhe had lost this list of Eknath’s social services to the poor, that were said to fow like a great river, somewhere on the sandy banks of the Godavari (EP: 26). Finally dismissing the hagiography, Padmanji claims that if Eknath had indeed been the saint Sahasrabuddhe suggested he was, then the hagiography would not have required so much additional gold plating. Padmanji then provides his own estimation of Eknath. Asserting that he was human, and no divine being that should be worshipped, Padmanji suggests that Eknath and Janardan Swami were perhaps ahead of their times, mixing with Muslims and lower castes and renouncing caste discrimination despite being Brahmins, akin to social reformers in the present period. In a somewhat curious inversion, Padmanji accepted Eknath as a sort of protoreformer, even while simultaneously criticising Sahasrabuddhe for depicting Eknath in terms of 19th-century reform! But as far as the issue of a guru was concerned, while Protestant conversion did not necessitate a human guru, this role was assumed by Christ himself, as stated by Padmanji in his review of Sahasrabuddhe’s book. Padmanji reiterates that there is only one divine sadguru, Jesus Christ, infused with the Holy Spirit, the son of the only true God in heaven, who came to earth to redeem sinners and sacrifce himself, saying (EP: 31): “I too was one who used to sit at the feet of saints and holy men. But I found my sadguru 37 years ago, understanding my way to God through his mediation, the only and true path in life that is possible”. That Sahasrabuddhe, an “Assistant Master” of the Poona High School (Sahasrabuddhe 1883: frontispiece), was vulnerable to attack, was palpable 31

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

in Padmanji’s scorn that was freely poured on him. Padmanji’s review demonstrated his intense territoriality about the feld of vernacular Christian reform that resulted in him bullying Shasrabuddhe from the position of an intellectual senior, guarding the boundaries of Christian vernacular mission and genre with ferocious sincerity. Padmanji laboured ceaselessly to carve out an exclusive Christian niche in the expanse of reformist passion, while strictly gatekeeping the modern vernacular genre as representative of only Christian reform interventions and Protestant conversion. However, that this task was not always simple is exemplifed in his hesitance to openly criticise elite Brahmo and Prarthana Samaj reformers.

Duelling deists: Placing conversion over reform If ever there existed an intellectual challenge to Padmanji’s project of reforming Indian society through Protestantism, this lay in diverse Hindu reform movements that advocated reforming Hindu society from within. Padmanji himself had found his way into Christianity through discussions on Hindu reform, engaging in some youthful rebellion against the strictures of Hindu society by attending the secret meetings of the Paramhans Mandali during his student days in Bombay. While Hindu reformers supported many of the transformations advocated by Padmanji, forming a cadre of avant-garde leadership within Hindu society, they also provided him with the model of modern Indian leadership that he could replicate in the context of the vernacular mission feld. Indeed, Padmanji drew on many of their ideas for his advocacy treatises on women’s issues penned in the 1850s. At the same time, Hindu reformism undermined the validity of Padmanji’s own decision to convert to Christianity, for if Indian society could simply be reformed from within, then why convert? Moreover, the readiness of certain strands of Hindu reform to acknowledge Christianity and even embrace aspects of it, as was the case with the Brahmo Samaj and Unitarian Christians leading the Prarthana Samaj, threatened to erase the very boundary between Christian “religion” and Hindu “heathenism” that was central to Padmanji’s notion of Christian reform. While Padmanji did not and could not openly attack upper-caste, affuent, Western-educated members of the Brahmo and Prarthana Samaj, like Keshub Chandra Sen, Eshwar Chandra Vidyasagar, or Dadoba Pandurang, his polemics against “new” converts like Pandita Ramabai, who sympathised openly with these movements, demonstrated his hostility to the ideological infuence exerted by Hindu reform, and his almost xenophobic protection of the vernacular mission feld’s boundary. Rather than taking up cudgels in ad hominem attacks on specifc reformist leaders, Padmanji turned to theology to combat trends that threatened to dissolve boundaries between Protestant Christianity and Hinduism (whether reformed or conservative), and thus, in Padmanji’s estimation, 32

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

between truth and untruth. This is nowhere demonstrated more clearly than in a Marathi treatise published in 1858 entitled Nihshastravadpariksha or Examination of the Claims of Deism. Nihshastravadpariksha or NP, roughly the “doctrine of the non-existence of scripture”, was a Marathi term that Padmanji had himself coined for deists. His defnition of the term was broad, covering a grey zone between theists and atheists that associated disbelief in holy scripture and a personal God with the disbelief in God himself.9 Against such beliefs, Padmanji instead argued for the unifed nature of Christianity and the Christian scriptures, addressing an entire gamut of reformed, Western-educated Hindus in the 164 pages of his book. NP is divided into 16 chapters, organised as letters written by a fctional Christian friend to a deist, who was recently appointed at a senior bureaucratic position. These 16 letters are preceded by a nine-page introduction (1858: xv–xxiii) in which Padmanji described the global emergence of a new group of reformed, Western-educated, and enlightened Hindu, Muslims, and Zoroastrians, who did not believe in traditional religion. Specifcally, Padmanji alleged, many reformed Hindus no longer believed in various deities, rituals, scriptures, and philosophies that constituted traditional Hinduism. Despite their rejection of traditional forms of religiosity, an espoused modernity that enabled such individuals to spread across government offces and educational institutions in positions of authority, Padmanji complained that they as yet refrained from rationally explaining and defending their ideas about life, death, afterlife, the relationship between man and God, morality, and scripture. This failure to explain and defend their beliefs indicated to Padmanji that many deists were in fact atheists. While Padmanji claimed to respect deism and natural religion, which was legitimised by the Bible, he asserted that natural religion could not answer all the spiritual needs of humans, or their questions about God’s divine attributes. Therefore, he hoped that many deists would prove open to discussing religion with Christians and be convinced by Christian arguments— hence, his decision to write this book. Apart from the frst letter (1858: 1–4), in which the unnamed Christian author congratulates the deist friend on his new appointment and emphasises the need to thank God for it, the other 15 letters of NP each address a peculiar failing of the deist philosophy that can be divided topically into four sections. While the frst section (letters one to four) argues against the deist notion of God, letters four to ten, forming the second section, employ cross-cultural, historical comparisons to refute deist tenets. The third section, letters 11 and 14, describes how philosophers of yore found it impossible to defend deism, and the last segment of two letters reiterates the importance of Christianity, accusing deists of secretly harbouring atheist proclivities. Specifcally, the second (1858: 5–16) and third letters (1858: 17–20) lament the erroneous deist imagination of God, wherein Padmanji accuses deists of lacking any conception and knowledge about God, his presence, 33

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

his unifed (or multiple) nature, his mercy, goodness, and justice. Deists, he writes, feel that the question of justice can only be answered after their death, and regarding goodness, they are unsure, since based on an observation of nature, God would almost seem cruel at times. The fourth letter (1858: 21–27) explains how this confusion about the nature and attributes of God leads to misconceptions about God having both good and bad attributes, leading some deists to imagine the presence of two Gods representing good and evil. Such ideas were misguided and sinful in Padmanji’s estimation since they raised the power of evil to the power of God. An inability to believe in the purity of the one heavenly God, who had a plan for his children in his compassionate thoughtfulness, mercy, and justice, thus led humans to feelings of loneliness and abandonment in the world. This demonstrated, in Padmanji’s estimation, the need for scriptures, without the help of which God could not directly communicate with humans, who, failing to understand the aim of life, wasted their time in worldly pursuits. While letters four to ten in the second section engage in cross-cultural and cross-historical comparisons aimed at refuting deist arguments, the letters fve (1858: 28–39) and six (1858: 40–48) contain a historical overview of what ancient communities (Hindus, Egyptians, Chinese, Mexican) believed about God, the state of human existence, the origin of the world, and divine scriptures. Letters seven (1858: 49–57) and eight (1858: 58–66) interrogate the biblical myth of the deluge, describing its various historical witnesses among Greeks, Peruvians, and other ancient communities, with Padmanji seeking to refute deist interpretations of the deluge being a natural, ecological phenomenon by arguing that ritual commonalities about animal sacrifce and the vanquishing of the snake (Satan) could be traced through deluge-accounts across many geographical regions. In letters nine and ten, Padmanji discusses scholarly views on atheism, deism, theism, and morality (1858: 67–77), as well as primitive religion and animism (1858: 78–84). Section three represented a shift in argument, away from cross-cultural, historical comparisons as the basis for undermining deist claims, to a more philosophically grounded refutation, with the eleventh letter constituting an exposition of how philosophers who frst held deist beliefs, like Hobbes, Hume, and Newport, later changing their opinions when nearing the end of their lives (1858: 85–100). Letters 12 and 13 continue in a similar vein, describing the weakness of reason and intellect as tools incapable of governing human morality and behaviour. Padmanji provided various examples from the philosophical writings of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics to prove the greatly limited nature of reason as an intellectual faculty (1858: 101–110), that possessed no capacity for mercy and forgiveness, and instead only believed in enforcing the rule of law and punishment. In Padmanji’s opinion, only God had the true power of forgiving repentant sinners (1858: 111–119). Letter 14, as a summary of this third section, clinches Padmanji’s argument, by identifying the absence of any religious institutions among 34

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

deists like churches, to constitute the fnal proof that it was an incomplete religious philosophy, if a philosophy at all (1858: 120–125). In the fnal two letters of the last section, Padmanji turns from the refutation of deism to an endorsement of Christianity. In letter 15, he reiterates that Christianity is the only true religion, since it expounds the true nature of God, and his attributes of unbiased justice, mercy, compassion, purity, and unity, and his holy scriptures that tell human beings of his divine plans for them. Padmanji here describes the pure nature of primitive man, who even after he fell from purity by sinning, was redeemed by God, who sent his son, Jesus Christ, to salvage sinners (1858: 126–142). In the last concluding letter 16, Padmanji describes how deists lived under the constant threat and terror of being condemned, especially since they knew in their hearts that God was real but arrived at this belief after frst experiencing hell. Fusing deists, theists, and atheists together, Padmanji in his last letter exhorts all social reformers to renew themselves to their pure and natural state by repenting their sins, abdicating hypocrisy, and becoming the children of God (1858: 143–164). This specifc demand that deists abdicate their sins and reject atheism was of particular importance to an Indian convert like Padmanji, since Hindu apologist intellectuals had begun using deist and atheist arguments propagated by European deists and atheists, such as Hume, against Christianity (Menon 2015: 71, 76). Harshly condemning deist reformers for secretly harbouring atheist views, Padmanji writes (1858: 154–55): You are currently corrupted and divorced from God. And though you pronounce belief in him, in reality you have no relationship with him. Not only are you distanced from him, but he is your enemy and you are also his enemy. You dislike his purity and do not wish to fulfl his pure commands. He is not your friend in any way. You are not his loving child, but an angry child. […] You never loved God. You never considered him your heavenly father, nor did concern for his rank and dignity enter your heart. You never wanted to praise him and pray to him, and neither did you want others to do the same. You do not spend even an iota of the energy that you spend in extolling your friends and human benefactors to extol God, nor do you speak about his qualities to your family, dear friends, or the public at large. Thereby, you have transgressed against God in any manner conceivable. While debates contained in NP reveal the range of religious issues that Christian converts and missionaries as well as Hindu social reformers were contemplating in the 19th century, the last parts of the book, especially Padmanji’s last letter, puts the earlier air of friendly subjectivity that invited deists to an open-ended discussion about religion somewhat into 35

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

perspective. By the time NP ended, Padmanji resembles a biblical prophet from the Old Testament himself, condemning deists of immorality and sin in threatening tones. Padmanji’s careful terminology of limiting himself to deism collapsed in the last two letters of NP, as he includes atheists within the deist fold. Padmanji thunders (1858: 147–148): Even if they know idol worship to be wrong, and know that worshipping cows, bullocks, snakes, rats, dogs, or crows is sinful, they do not tell those engaging in such practices to stop. Though they know that going on pilgrimage and revering Brahmins is false, they do not organize discourses or write books that can enlighten those who believe in such superstitions. Instead, like cowards, they emulate these heinous practices in their outwardly behaviour, falsely claiming to mentally hold different opinions. They do not pray, introspect on their spiritual state, repent their sins, or consider following a pure moral life. In fact, many of them do not believe in praying at all. And even those who advocate praying, hardly ever pray. Chasing worldly pleasures and pursuits instead, they mostly forget God and do not want to be ever reminded of him. Many think that God does not require us to pray, and that praying is a useless activity, making the enjoyment of life more important, since who knows what happens after death! They think it more advisable to eat, drink and make merry, before their life breath merges with the atmosphere, and their body that is just a machine stops working. Who knows about the soul and afterlife! Padmanji seemed to have been convinced that social reformers were, in reality, secretly atheists. The threat contained in deist arguments of a common natural religion, or even a theist sublimation of religious ideas propounded by groups such as the Brahmo Samaj, lay less in the blurring of boundaries between Hindu and Christian ideas as such—as Padmanji did not even consider Hinduism to constitute “religion” on the same level as Christianity—than in their undermining of “conversion” through this blurring, that undermined his leadership of the vernacular mission feld.

Displacing the social reformer In her research on Jyotirao Phule (1827–1890), Rosalind O’Hanlon (1985: 96–102) describes missionaries and Padmanji as an almost-companion to Phule’s reformist endeavours, providing a robust theoretical framework of Padmanji’s interventionist role, and the general role of missionary rhetoric in Phule’s anti-caste movement. As O’Hanlon outlines, Padmanji’s radical Christian politics and vernacular writings emerged, as was the case with 36

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

many other converts, from a disappointment with Hinduism, a religion that he considered disconnected from faith. O’Hanlon, in fact, is one of the few scholars who have recognized the importance of Christianity and conversion as a foundational lens of 19th-century reformist activism in Maharashtra. But her position has been largely ignored within scholarship on Padmanji, with exception to recent contributions focusing on the nexus between Padmanji’s Christian activism and Phule’s reformism. Wakankar (2018; 2019), exploring the importance of missionary semantics of humility that Phule successfully utilised in his anti-caste rhetoric, convincingly argued that Phule’s insertion of missionary humility in his activism addresses a critical lacuna created by Hindu-Brahminical reformist and atheist apologism. It is true that Padmanji did not consider Hinduism to either elicit or require faith, his disappointment with Hindus characterised by the paradoxical tension between faith and identity. Many progressive social reformers veering towards atheism continued to socially identify as Hindu, even while denouncing conversion, with faith being apparently inconsequential to their religious identifcation. Conversion was, in this sense, a movement towards religion and faith itself, since reformed Hinduism would only re-generate the social evils inherent to faithlessness, constituting an eyewash for progress as well (AD: chapter 21), especially since atheism was an accepted facet of some Hindu theological debates.10 Though Padmanji was a contemporary of Phule’s, and condemned Hinduism just as Phule did, their perspectives on Hinduism were vitally different. Phule concentrated his attack on Hindu-Brahminical hegemony and the resulting exploitation of lower castes, while providing Ambedkar with valuable antecedents for his conversion to Neo-Buddhism in 1956, approximately a century after Padmanji’s conversion.11 With Phule and Ambedkar agitating against caste oppression, Ambedkar’s rejection of Hinduism for its massively exploitative, all-pervasive caste system (cf. Ambedkar 2014) would have been considered utilitarian by Padmanji, unless Ambedkar had converted only after becoming primarily convinced of Buddhism. Padmanji did not reject Hinduism for its social oppression; he rejected Hinduism because it was, in his opinion, not a religion at all, only a nothingness that left behind a corrosive residue of social evils in its wake.12 Padmanji converted with the conviction that Christianity constituted the only true religion, and, hence, the only true means to human progress and salvation. Progress, in this sense, was an inherent by-product of true religion for Padmanji, in contrast to strategically choosing to convert in order to escape or oppose Hindu depravities. The latter, Padmanji felt, was like putting the cart before the horse. Though there are similarities between Padmanji, Phule, and later Ambedkar, with all of them belonging to a century of overlapping reformist intellectual concerns and agitation in 19th- and 20thcentury Maharashtra, there are also substantial differences between them, based on their respective arguments about Hinduism. Abdicating Hinduism 37

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

constituted a powerful standpoint position for Padmanji, and he repeatedly endorsed others to disengage with its “heathen” nothingness (AD: 227): There is no such thing as my religion and your religion. There is but one religion established by God. All others are no religion at all. They are merely human inventions; they did not exist in the beginning and their existence now does not prove that they are true. It is therefore the duty of every man to examine the religion in which he was born, and to embrace that which he fnds to be the truth. He does not renounce his own religion, on the contrary he abandons that which was not his own and embraces that which should properly have been his own, and which he as a rational and moral being ought to possess. On the other hand, many native Christian leaders repeatedly emphasised the importance of subverting Hindu oppression against women and lower castes, through mechanisms that involved conversion. And while this emancipatory model was powerfully argued by Pandita Ramabai, highlighted by scholars like Meera Kosambi (2000) and Uma Chakravarti (1998), Padmanji remained critical of this utilitarian approach. Christianity for Padmanji was an identity born out of conviction that could not be instrumentalised. Neither could conversion be based on material interests or emancipatory beneft schemes, since these could all too easily be abandoned once Christianity became an inconvenient identity. Though Padmanji feared that utilitarian predispositions would expose native Christians to European and Hindu accusations of opportunism, the emancipatory model enjoyed considerable traction within the Bombay Presidency, with Anagol (2005) pointing to existing alliances between Indian Christians and the frst wave Christian feminists in Britain in the period before the First World War. Taneti’s research (2013) on Telugu Dalit Protestant missionary women in colonial India, similarly, highlights emancipatory Protestant leadership opportunities available to Telugu Dalit women after conversion. The role of “faith” and “beneft” in the conversion debate is subject to conundrums within theological and historical scholarship. While the “benefts” of conversion are evident from historical records (and Padmanji “beneftted”, too), evidence of individual “faith” evades the archive. While education, the ability to articulate, argue, and battle towards conversion acted as tick boxes for Protestants in the 19th century, these became external prerequisites and yardsticks for outwardly measuring “conviction”, a cultural capital of the vernacular mission feld. Silent and inarticulate faith, on the other hand, remained unverifed, not generating any archival record. Indeed, quite apart from Padmanji’s own dislike for utilitarian conversion, the discursive connection between “faith” and the convert’s material

38

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

benefts, even though the presence of beneft did not negate faith, became a hallmark of the vernacular mission feld. This artifcial measuring rod, in a defensive proclamation of native conviction, instead produced archival conundrums in the understanding of native Protestantism and its history in Maharashtra. While the intensity of silent faith was impossible to ascertain through documents, this silence, easily mistaken as utilitarianism, was also a misunderstanding perpetuated by the mission feld itself. Second-generation native church leaders, for instance, hardly wrote hagiographic biographies for lower-caste, rural, or female converts, who had not ticked the appropriate boxes of education and argumentation that confrmed and evidenced their conviction. Unless women converts were wives and daughters of infuential Christian leaders themselves, not much was known about their Christian journey, with the pain many of these wives underwent at forceful conversion becoming paradoxically glossed over.13 It is therefore diffcult to develop the analytical category of “faith” based on archival records that primarily documented benefts or the self-narration of faith as a form of cultural capital, making it important to note the existence of this archival conundrum itself, wherein the diffculty to ascertain faith became discursively transformed into its absence. This concern of native conviction in the vernacular mission feld also formed the basis of mutual alliances, competitions, or hostilities among converts within 19th-century Bombay Presidency. Antagonisms were rife among pioneering native church leaders, its presence underlining the competitive role of avant-garde converts in producing the larger intellectual climate of the feld, with native Christians attacking or allying with one another in a struggle to represent it. Followers and devotees of particular leaders became segregated into entourages that “out-cast” dissenters, and Padmanji, at the helm of the mission feld, enjoyed an overlapping entourage of devotees that almost covered the entire mission feld of 19th-century Bombay. He was, moreover, intensely territorial about the vernacular mission feld, assuming the foremost position in “out-casting” dissenters, as can be seen from Ramabai’s case. Ramabai was a learned and celebrated Brahmin convert, who successfully established her own mission for Hindu widows outside the control of Padmanji’s mission feld, independently raising funds from Europe and America. She also became infuential as a Christian feminist writer and translator of the Bible without acceding to Padmanji’s leadership and pioneering literary activism in the feld, dedicated to these very activities before her arrival on the scene. Neither was she a product of the educational– intellectual climate of the established missionary institutions of Bombay Presidency. Furthermore, she converted in England outside the pressures of society and family, an event that disallowed Padmanji and other native

39

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

Christian leaders of Bombay from accessing any articulation of her Christian conviction at the time of her baptism. Her independence, symbolised by her rejection of Padmanji’s sphere of infuence, angered him tremendously. The last straw was her espousal of a utilitarian conversion model that rescued widows from Brahminical patriarchy by converting them, drawing especially on resources afforded by rival Brahmo and Prarthana reformists. This caused a direct confrontation between Ramabai and Padmanji, who took it upon himself to evaluate and criticise her Christian conviction publicly. The dispute was largely carried out through letters published in Dnyanodaya, an important Marathi Christian journal of Bombay Presidency, patronised by Padmanji.14 Padmanji signed his scathing letters criticising Ramabai, whom he sarcastically referred to as Pandita Sanskritabai, with pennames like Khristadas (“servant of Christ”) or Laksha (“attention” or “intention”).15 These letters reveal a range of accusations against Ramabai, the most basic of which was that Ramabai was a recalcitrant Christian, who had refused to break from Brahminical Hinduism and Hindu reformers to consolidate her social benefts, apart from unnecessarily faunting her Sanskrit. According to Padmanji, Ramabai shunned native Christians and showed disinterest in publishing in Christian publications like Dnyanodaya, instead keeping to Subodh Patrika patronised by Hindu reformers. She prepared her own Marathi translation of the Bible that was perceived as a direct challenge and rejection of Padmanji’s own Marathi translation of the New Testament completed in 1877, and according to him, she often misquoted from the Bible in her public speeches. Similarly, Ramabai invited Hindus to send their daughters to Sharada Sadan, an educational institution she had established for widows and destitute women in the Bombay Presidency, which was later rechristened Mukti Mission after the institution shifted to Kedgaon, a rural outpost outside Poona.16 Padmanji interpreted Ramabai’s failure to make a clear break with the heritage connected to her Hindu past and identify unconditionally with the local native Christian community as sinister. He labelled many of her ideas about Christianity as deliberate trickery (pakhand), especially since she rejected fundamental biblical concepts, like immaculate conception, resurrection, or the damnation of non-Christians. Indeed, Padmanji drew up whole lists of Ramabai’s “heretic” ideas, demanding that she proffer a public explanation of herself to the Christian community. In particular, Ramabai’s alleged affnity with reformers espousing Unitarianism that resulted in her being categorised as a Unitarian herself (ekeshvarimat; Karhadkar 1979: 241–242) drew Padmanji’s ire, even more so as it underlined Ramabai’s connections with Brahmo theists and Prarthana reformers (Kosambi 2000).17 Indeed, in a meeting at a temple in Solapur organised by Swarnakumari Devi (1855–1932), sister of Rabindranath Tagore (1861– 1941) and the then-presiding Sessions judge of Solapur, Satyendranath

40

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

Tagore (1842–1923), Ramabai chose to quote a Sanskrit passage from the Puranas instead of quoting from the Bible. An enraged Padmanji lamented: “It is tragic that after spending so many years in England and America, Ramabai has brought with her such a squeezed-out residue of religion. Panditabai has thrown away nectar and collected drain water, discarded the philosophers stone and put an ordinary stone into her bag” (translated in Kosambi 2016: 185; original in Karhadkar 1979: 241). When Ramabai defended her actions, Padmanji became angrier, likening Ramabai’s religious compromises to a gradually spreading, self-revealing patch of ringworm infestation. He further quoted the Marathi proverb, “The dilapidated state of the veranda reveals the devastation of the home inside”, to describe her lack of conviction (Ibid: 240). The matter took an increasingly personal turn, when Padmanji complained that Ramabai had treated him and other native Christians arrogantly, demonstrating her lack of Christian principles and etiquette. And in Padmanji’s opinion, Ramabai’s Christianity was a prop that bolstered her celebrity status. This must have indeed been a trying time for Ramabai, who was simultaneously attacked by conservative Hindu nationalist lawyers and writers like Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856–1920), necessitating her to shift the Sharada Sadan and its women inmates amidst the additional fear of plague in Poona in 1896, to the outskirts of Kedgaon. Ultimately, even other native Christians became uncomfortable with Padmanji’s tirades. Devdutta Tilak, the then editor of Dnyanodaya, wrote on April 8, 1889, that Padmanji’s vitriol against Ramabai almost amounted to hounding (trans. Karhadkar 1979: 243). When the Rev. Sadoba Misal from the American mission in Ahmednagar objected to Padmanji’s harangues in an open letter to Dnyanodaya (ibid: 243), in which he requested Padmanji to meet Ramabai to solve their differences, the blowtorch of Padmanji’s ire turned to Misal (ibid: 244–245; 377–379). Padmanji answered that since Ramabai had not personally harmed him, it was the whole native Christian community she was answerable to. By roundly criticising Misal by using the derogatory saying gharapeksha dhekun mothi (a bedbug pretending to be larger than the house it infests), he refused to interact personally with Ramabai, Padmanji turned his anger against her into a larger issue of Christian conviction. By 1904, however, all this had changed. In a journal entry dated to August 28, Padmanji congratulated Ramabai affectionately for altering her views on Christianity, in accordance with the sentiments and convictions of the native Christian community. While this may have been a covert way of underlining what Padmanji considered his victory against Ramabai, Karhadkar suggests otherwise, locating the reason for Padmanji’s abating anger in Ramambai’s interest in buying several copies of Padmanji’s autobiographical journal Anubhavasangraha. Greatly mollifed, Padmanji wrote effusively (Karhadkar 1979: 245):

41

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

I am very satisfed with my meeting with her and I really liked the way she spoke. It is true that God’s grace and soul has fnally come to reside with her, and I realized that she now walks in his divine path. God knows, how hard I have prayed for her over the past years. Pentecost’s Christian advice has flled the heart of this, my Christian sister, with enlightenment and I am grateful to God for this miracle. Padmanji subsequently upheld Ramabai as an exemplary Christian philanthropist and missionary in the second volume of his Anubhavasangraha, writing (1904: 5): Pandita Ramabai, the Indian Christian philanthropist of worldwide fame, has promised to purchase 40 copies of the work, and may perhaps take more when it sees the light of the day. Will missionary establishments and other Christian institutions follow her example and extend the usefulness of the work? Padmanji’s vitriol against Ramabai has prompted some scholars to portray him as an overly aggressive and generally problematic fgure, the prime example being Kosambi (2016: 98, 184–186). In doing so, Kosambi forms an important exception to the general trend towards the hagiographic among Padmanji’s biographers. However, in many ways, her ferce criticism turns out to be merely the mirror image of the hagiographic form, with little value accorded to the complexities of Padmanji’s life, writings, and thought. Kosambi paints Padmanji in a starkly negative light (p. 98), particularly singling out his ill-treatment of his mother and frst Hindu wife, an illiterate girl of nine. Though Padmanji’s wife was indeed 9 or 10 years old when they married in 1849, he converted to Christianity only in 1854, by which time she was about 15 years old. Thereafter, after she was removed to Bombay by her father, Padmanji tried to gain access to her for three or four years to know her mind. She fnally refused to return to him in court in 1857, their marriage ending in divorce, when she must already have been 18 or 19 years old. In fact, if anything, the tragic story of his divorce demonstrates how even a reasonably privileged convert like Padmanji faced ostracism for converting. While Padmanji’s side of the story does not detract from the pathos of his frst wife’s situation or the general condition of women in 19th-century Bombay, Kosambi has utilised the archive to deliberately create an image of Padmanji as cold and cruel, something that ftted well with her description of his confrontation with Ramabai. Kosambi also selectively neglected to report the reconciliation between Padmanji and Ramabai, though she does write of a cautious reconciliation between Ramabai and the larger Indian Christian community in Bombay (1992: WS61–WS71). 42

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

Though Padmanji’s distress, turmoil, and vitriol against Ramabai were real, it is unhelpful to present him as a convenient contrast to her, as a bigoted conservative man opposing a liberal feminist woman. Not only are these stereotypes, but they erase Padmanji’s real concerns in Ramabai’s case: Christians suffered so much stigma, evident from Padmanji’s own divorce, that Ramabai must have appeared frivolous to him, in her privileged conversion in England and her advantageous interaction with Brahmo and Prarthana reformers. For someone like Padmanji, who had dedicated the Christian vernacular genre to communicating a radical Christian message that rejected Hindu social reform, Ramabai’s adoption of non-confrontational position and close alliance with Hindus must have propelled him to diagnose her conviction as utilitarian and insincere. Yet as mentioned, faith has not been seriously treated as an analytical variable in historical scholarship on native conversion, except from identifying Christianity as a separate force that evolved in tandem with local and regional bhakti traditions (Jones 2017). Ramabai, arriving a generation after Padmanji, was in a different situation from him, that enabled her to combine feminist reform and liberal values with Christianity in a manner that was unavailable to an earlier generation of converts. If anything, the acrimonious relationship between Padmanji and Ramabai demonstrated the ever-transforming nature of the Christian vernacular mission feld that continued changing even as its leaders, like Padmanji, grew old. This transformation, once set into motion by Padmanji himself, did not stop with him, thereby enabling a new generation of Christian leaders to replace him, and his grip over the mission, once inherited from European missionaries, slipped. While his turmoil about Ramabai’s conviction was mollifed by her demonstration of loyalty and recognition of his leadership, this recognition meant more to Padmanji than just the winning of an ego battle. Ramabai’s adherence and recognition of Padmanji also created intimacy between them as bygone leaders of the vernacular mission feld. Indeed, Ramabai’s recognition of Padmanji also refected a recognition that the speedily transforming vernacular mission would soon leave her behind as well, making way for the next generation of pioneers, indicated by the advance of American missionary Minnie Abrams at Ramabai’s Mukti Mission, who inaugurated its Pentecostal “revival” in 1907 (Suarsana 2014). The mission feld was so dynamic that it continued to humble its avant-garde leaders by disallowing them a permanent position within it, just as it gradually side-lined European missionaries, who had originally established the frst Protestant missions of the Bombay region.

The indispensable Indian: Negotiating conversion in the mission Padmanji’s polemics repeatedly emphasised the centrality of conversion to his idea of social reform, indicating that social reform would remain 43

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

a stillbirth if unaccompanied by Christianity. In this context, his vitriolic polemics against reform without conversion was more than just a drawing of boundaries. For reform to be meaningful, it required more than a modernisation of style or a reinterpretation of divinity. Meaningful reform for Padmanji meant conversion, and conversion alone. Describing his happiness in AS (1904: 17–18) at his nephew Nanabhai Vadke’s conversion to Christianity (Vadke had earlier converted to Islam), Padmanji actually expressed the desire to witness universal Christian awakening among all Indians (1904: 21). At the same time, he remained strictly vigilant, often criticising converts for their unchristian ways and recalcitrance. This produced ambivalence in Padmanji’s engagement with Indian Christians that was not extended to his interaction with European missionaries, who alone among the people he interacted with did not require either reform or conversion. Padmanji’s relationship with Scottish missionaries was, therefore, uncomplicated, with no apparent distrust between the two parties. In fact, Padmanji gained tremendously from his association with Scottish missionaries, and as an ordained pastor of the Free Church since 1867 was an anomaly among the Indian Christians of his time. Padmanji’s affnity with Europeans coupled with his stridently missionary polemical style is probably the most diffcult aspect of his postcolonial legacy. Though there is long-standing historiographical debate over the precise nature of the relationship between imperialism and Christian proselytising, the mutual imbrication of Empire and mission in British India can hardly be questioned (cf. e.g. Porter 2004; van der Veer 2001; Wilson 2003). Though British presence in India was not the only context, it was a prime enabler for Padmanji’s own conversion in 1854, as the baptising European missionary became a pivotal agent of the truncation from his Hindu heathen past and his almost rebirth-like emergence into a new native Christian identity. He freely expressed his loyalties to the British crown in his journal, for example in an entry in June 1902 (1904: 43–44) that expressed commiseration for “our” King Edward’s illness. As Sukanya Banerjee notes (2010: 27–28), such demonstrations of loyalty were closely imbricated with the claiming of rights by Indians as subjects of the king, and citizens of the British Empire. The question that often arises in the context of conversion within presentday scholarship surrounds exactly the same interrogation of such colonialist sympathies among native Christians like Padmanji. Apart from being selectively pejorative, such questions also ignore that most Hindu social reformers were educated in the same Westernised missionary institutions. They occupied similar government positions (like Padmanji’s father) and excelling in professions that entailed travelling or living abroad, accrued the same British patronage and benefts as Christian converts. Padmanji’s highlighting of conversion over reform draws attention to the fact that both Christian conversion and Hindu reform emerged from the same location, and in relation to the same issues of colonial modernity in Indian society. 44

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

The postcolonial identifcation of converts as “colonialist stooges” or “brown sahibs” is, therefore, primarily the result of latent hostility to postcolonial religious minorities.18 Something similar may be said regarding Padmanji’s loyalties to the Free Church of Scotland and Scottish missionaries as well—loyalty enabled Padmanji, as a native convert, to wield an infuence within the Free Church of Bombay that was denied to converts in other missions. There are instances when Padmanji seemed to fawn over Scottish missionaries, and though the exact nature of this performance remains unclear, it provided a powerful impression of Christian unity that legitimised conversion. And yet, these were performances, since differences between native and European Christians did not disappear just because Padmanji wished them to. Infuential native converts had to contend with European resistance in many overt or subtle ways. Though Padmanji’s own writings are silent about this struggle between Europeans and converts, such struggles are clearly evidenced within archival records.19 Understandably, criticising European missionaries had its problems,20 since it bolstered the Hindu criticism of Christians, making it possible for Hindus to misconstrue the convert’s criticism as his latent desire of returning to Hinduism, thereby undermining conversion. Also, as earlier discussed, the two camps that developed as a result of polemical engagements between European missionaries and Hindu apologists placed native convert leaders like Padmanji into an asymmetrical, awkward situation, as he was impelled to imbibe missionary invective against Hindu apologists to dismantle reifcations between categories like Indian or Marathi, and Hindu. Struggling to locate himself within the third emerging space between these camps, Padmanji as a staunch Protestant Christian convert used European missionary invective to claim an Indian, Marathi and vernacular missionary identity for Christian converts. Despite the centrality of conversion for Padmanji, native conversion, as already discussed, also produced some fundamental complications regarding conviction from a Protestant perspective. Though missionaries openly elicited conversion, they also distrusted converts, since a “change in heart” was theologically diffcult to ascertain. Since dismissing native conversion would admit to the futility of European missionising, it was easier to doubt the degree to which a true Protestant change of heart had taken place among converts. This potentially threatening issue kept many native Christians like Padmanji, who wanted to centre-stage native conversion, close to European missionary validation and dependant on their support and patronage. Padmanji’s immense relief at being ordained may in itself have resulted from the degree to which his ordination validated his own conversion, and his witnessing of the conviction of other converts. How sceptical the European missionary establishment was of the genuineness of native conversion, even among Free Church missionaries, emerges from the diaries of Margret Wilson, posthumously published in 1841 by her husband, the Scottish 45

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

Missionary Rev. John Wilson, who was one of Padmanji’s mentors. Mrs. Wilson clarifed that the purpose underlying her establishment of mission orphanages and schools in Bombay in the 1830s was to Christianise orphan girls and teach them household tasks specifc to the requirements of the European household. These institutions would then act as conduits, placing educated, Christianised girls within European households and missions as ayahs and maidservants (1841: 295).21 Horribly lonely and marooned in a sea of “heathenism”, with unintelligible foreign languages and customs, it was the presence of convert domestic household help that, Mrs. Wilson wrote, soothed her in vulnerable moments of illness, distress, and isolation (1841: 274). Christianised natives were, therefore, typically not intended to become frebrand infuential missionaries from affuent educated families, who had an advantage over European missionaries in theological, linguistic, and experiential terms in their debates about native conversion and vernacular Christianity with Hindus. Rather, they were meant to help and serve European missionaries, exemplifying the latter’s success in India, providing them with comfort, support, and labour. It became doubly important for Padmanji and other native Christian leaders to keep receiving European patronage and support so that Indian converts would not be subjected to the charge of inauthentic conversion. The fipside of this endeavour was presented by Padmanji’s obsessive vigilance of convert demeanour, that ensured the public recognition of converts as genuine, just like a patriarch who ensured his children behaved well in public. However, this did not mean that Padmanji expected converts to remain subservient to European missionaries but that he expected them to genuinely take charge of the native church and its religious activities. While describing the inauguration of the United Free Church for native Christians in Poona in January 1896, for example, Padmanji roundly criticised attending converts (1904: 11), noting disappointedly that they sat passively in one corner near the pulpit “like lumps of jaggery” (gulachya dhepipramane), while the inauguration rituals were carried out by Europeans. The thrust of Padmanji’s publicly demonstrated affnity with European missionaries thus sought to emphasise the “naturalness” of the native vernacular mission as a legitimate native Protestant development, and he was keen that converts responded to this challenge of native Protestantism by performing naturalness. This natural and interconnected Christian-ness or Marathi-ness of the native convert was hence a special 19th- and early-20th-century window that developed as an epistemic third space, where missionary discourse became central to the Marathi, vernacular, identity. One of Padmanji’s most important engagements was to inscribe himself within the missionary scholarly domain as a scholar of religion as well as of vernacular grammar and literature, and as a commentator and translator of missionary tracts on Hinduism. While signifcant contributions were made in this direction by his, A Sanskrit-Marathi Dictionary: For the Use of Schools 46

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

& Families (1891), it encouraged students interested in Sanskrit texts to acquaint themselves with Marathi, that had books by Padmanji and others addressing the subject of Hinduism, albeit critically. Padmanji also became renowned for his, A Compendium of Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary (1863), an abridged, cheaper version of James T. Molesworth’s, A Dictionary, Marathi and English (second ed. 1857), that he affectionately dedicated to his Scottish missionary friend, the Rev. Mitchell. In its preface Padmanji outlines the aims of the abridged compendium as a not too bulky, affordable, and easy-to-carry volume for native and European missionaries and educated professionals in their daily pursuits.22 According to Padmanji, the compendium would prove useful for native teachers helping Europeans to learn the Marathi language, assist Europeans in learning Marathi themselves, while also proving useful for natives in their educational enterprises.23 Thanking his father for funding its publication, Padmanji humbly drew attention to his own achievements, as a native Christian who had not been born with the privileges of European Indologists and missionaries but had, despite his diffculties, compiled such an extensive dictionary (1863: v): During the preparation of this work, which was begun in 1860, it has been the lot of the Editor to live in the midst of a noisy neighbourhood, and he has required to devote his attention to numerous pressing duties, and earn his livelihood by the labour of his pen. And now his heart overfows with gratitude to the great Disposer of all things, when he sees his labours in connection with this Compendium brought to a happy issue. Therefore, while inscribing himself within the missionary domain of interest, in the feld of vernacular language, grammar and literature, Padmanji predictably went a step further, demonstrating the avant-garde nature of his leadership. Attempting to connect Hindus (with their bent towards Sanskrit) with converts and missionaries who used the vernacular idiom, he tried to reverse-link those who had only studied the vernacular to Sanskrit, enabling them to make a closer perusal of Sanskrit texts through his dictionary, thereby dismantling Brahminical hegemony. On the other hand, similarly, he tried to connect native Christians to European missionaries, encouraging the former to enhance their education in Western missionary institutions, something he hoped would Christianise them. Finally, in his lexicographic and philological endeavours, Padmanji also laid the groundwork for the development of an “imagined community” grounded in the Marathi language, comparable to similar developments in European countries of the 19th century (cf. Anderson 2006: 67–82). While no full-blown Marathi nationalism really emerged from these efforts, Padmanji’s efforts contributed to the development of an articulate Marathi identity in the 20th century. 47

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

European missionaries by the mid-19th century had already produced an array of writings on religion in India that reinvented Hinduism for British readers and a generation of reformed, educated Indians (Pennington 2005). While these scholarly treatises attempted to conceptualize Hinduism in a systematic manner, they were not entirely academic, since a negative comparison to Christianity remained a hallmark of such tracts. The Bombay Scottish missionaries Rev. John Wilson and Rev. Mitchell were no exceptions to this trend. Though their books usually began with declarations of fair intent, they ended predictably with negative comparisons between Hinduism and Christianity, often replying directly to polemical interventions made by Hindu antagonists (cf. Wilson 1832). By the end of the 19th century, when Padmanji had already established himself at a powerful editorial position at the Bombay Tract and Book Society, he was in an ideal position to transcend direct participation in polemics, replacing this by tasks that replicated and translated missionary scholarship in the Marathi public sphere. As a former Hindu, Padmanji not only claimed a specially privileged position in evaluating Hinduism but was also able to translate scholarly missionary discourse in a manner unavailable to most European writers. This placed him at a crucial intersection of writing and power in the mission, for which he was endorsed by missionaries like Mitchell (Mitchell 1897: 6). In many ways, this was the fnal act of “nativizing” the Protestant mission, and as an anonymous review of the English translation of Padmanji’s autobiography published in The National Observer, possibly written by Mitchell, noted in 1890 (“A Christian Pundit”, December 27, 1890: 151–152): Baba Padmanji’s fnal function and use in the world is to act as a Christian pundit: a capacity in which he has done good service, as a list of his tracts and pamphlets and an enumeration of literary services amply show. In this respect his work has been so admirable that you wonder why his Christian godfathers have not found for him a better name than Mr. Padmanji. Why not call him in true Marathi fashion “the Baba Sahib”? Few men of the clever Marathi race have better earned the distinction. Padmanji made good use of his position as editor of the Bible Society and the Bombay Tract and Book Society not only to establish himself as an authority and an indispensable mission-worker but also to further his own project of nativising Christianity as an indigenous religion. In his Hindu Dharmache Swaroop, Padmanji rather ingenuously included a section on Christianity directly after a section on the Bhagavad Gita, demonstrating the inclusivity of Christian texts in the history of Indian religious traditions and scriptures (1913: 304–313). This was different from the European missionary-led juxtaposition approach between Hinduism and Christianity that sought to demonstrate the superiority of Christianity, and this was 48

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

also different from the Indological approach that excluded Islam and Christianity from their summaries of Indian religion. Padmanji’s insertion of Christianity into a larger genealogy of religion and religious scriptures in India, focusing on God’s merciful nature, accompanied by details about the Bible and Marathi hymns or abhanga of Jesus Christ, divested Christianity from the category of European and English religion for Marathi readers, transforming Christianity into an Indian, Marathi religion. How strategic the claim of translating European missionary texts could be is demonstrated by another of Padmanji’s works in this vein, entitled Vaidik Hindudharma (VH) or Vedic Hinduism (1892). Padmanji identifed VH to be a Marathi translation of an English book but failed to identify this English book, even as he separately noted that he had made substantial changes to the original text. This is important, since VH reveals yet another one of Padmanji’s polemical battles with Hindu reformers, this time bringing the Arya Samaj into the ambit of his ire. Karhadkar (1979: 216) claims that VH was a translation of a book written by Sir Monier-Williams of the same title. However, Monier-Williams did not write a book of that title, though he did write a book called Hinduism (1877). VH, on the other hand, is an intensely polemical text, reiterating how ancient Sanskrit sources were misinterpreted by contemporary Hindus, wherein Padmanji dedicates a long segment specially to a scathing criticism of Dayanand Sarasvati’s vision, his treatise Satyarthaprakash, and the Arya Samaj movement in general (1892: 113–129). Padmanji’s vicious personal criticism of Sarasvati in VH defnitely does not seem to be part of the claimed original here, especially since published Indological texts did not usually contain personal diatribes. Padmanji writes (1892: 115–116): Dayanand selectively adopted whatever he wanted from the Vedas and brushed off all the rest, by making his own imaginary interpretations of it. He condemned all those who disagreed with him: grammarians, commentators, theologists and philosophers who had been writing Hindu treatises for 2500 years before him, masquerading as the only supreme interpreter of the Vedas. He would usually be accompanied by a large group of friends at debates, and this group was instructed to laugh loudly at any criticism or objection made about Dayanand’s interpretations. Once, after he did this on the frst day of a debate with Pandits in Kashi, they brought along an even larger group the next day, and this group routed Dayanand by laughing at his every uttered word, giving him a taste of his own medicine. In contrast to Padmanji, Monier-Williams appreciated the Arya Samaj and Sarasvati’s contribution to reinterpreting the Vedas from a theistic perspective saying (1877: 150): 49

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

We must acknowledge with thankfulness the good these theistical societies are doing, by their uncompromising opposition to idolatry, fanaticism, superstition and caste. They are the present protestants of India. This last passage about theistic Protestants must have hurt Padmanji, if indeed VH was based on Monier-Williams’ book. That European missionaries celebrated and hailed non-Christian theists as Protestants, while Padmanji had dedicated his entire lifework and energy to propagating Protestant Christianity by pointing out the shortcomings of any form of Hinduism, must have been a diffcult pill to swallow. It is highly doubtful, therefore, that Padmanji’s VH is a translation of Monier-Williams’ Hinduism, especially since Monier-Williams’ chapter plan is entirely different from Padmanji’s. While Monier-Williams follows the well-trodden Indological path of chronologically analysing Hinduism from the Vedic hymns to modern sects and practices, Padmanji’s emphasis in VH is on the import of Vedic texts in modern times. It is, therefore, possible that no European “original” of VH ever existed. This poses interesting questions: why did Padmanji not attack Sarasvati and the Arya Samaj directly? Why did he feel the need to conceal his polemics under the ruse of translating a scholarly missionary text, especially since he had shown no such compunctions about criticising Hindus before? This question is diffcult to answer, but the reason for this may have to do with the authority that the act of translation conferred on his tract as supposedly scholarly opinion, in much the same way that missionaries like Wilson and Mitchell emphasised their openness and fairness even in clearly polemic tracts. Padmanji was a prolifc writer, who published many emotionally intense texts from the position of an extremely committed Protestant convert, and who was centrally invested in drawing defensive boundaries around Christian exclusivity. He relentlessly criticised those attempting to dilute Christian ideas or pose threatening questions about the validity of conversion, and this convert position of writing was strongly differentiated from the general European Christian position on India that was not always as defensive. While Indologists like Monier-Williams hardly became less Christian by appreciating Hinduism, in contrast, the convert position required constant battle and justifcation. Padmanji’s engagement with social reformers was ambivalent, an interstitial location that was perhaps painful, for he worked tirelessly to maintain the legitimacy of the vernacular mission feld and his leadership of it—the vernacular genre pioneered by him, and its use to represent conversion and the Christian interventionist message. At the same time, these engagements with other leaders in a homologous position of power legitimised Padmanji’s leadership in the progressive feld of 19thcentury Bombay Presidency.

50

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

It is hard to draw a single conclusion about Padmanji, from the range of polemical texts and engagements presented in this chapter. As mentioned earlier, Padmanji’s polemical texts do more than present readers with his aggressive nature. Instead, they apprehend readers about the presence of the vernacular mission feld as a “real” emergent social domain for native Christians, represented by the Christian vernacular genre that was ferociously defended, emerging “in a conjuncture of urgency”, in which “the shades of debates past … attend on every word that is written” (Menon 2015: 83). While there were many ambivalences between the simultaneously emerging social reform feld and the vernacular mission feld, contextualised in the same colonial modernity of 19th-century Bombay, the vernacular mission feld required intensive boundary making to avoid blurring differences between Hinduism and Christianity that undermined conversion and Padmanji’s leadership of native converts. This blurring of boundaries was moreover dangerous for native converts, harbingering the potential of an existence crisis that effaced the Marathi and Indian identity of converts, turning them into “lesser” European missionaries, stooges, and servants, on the one hand, while perpetuating racial discrimination against them from the Indian–Hindu side that considered them lesser Indians. Social reformers, on the other hand, feeling relatively secure with their religion and caste identity, and their advance in Western education acquired from elite institutions in India and abroad, did not experience the same urgency to draw boundaries that defended or protected the social reform feld from missionaries or converts. In fact, the argument about Ramabai’s alliance with Unitarian beliefs and theists represented this very misunderstanding. Padmanji’s response to Ramabai, disconnected as it was from her personal journey, served as a weapon for his detractors, who used it to deride Padmanji as an aggressive crusader, writing virulent polemical texts against Hindus and everyone else, who did not share his opinion. While this criticism contributed to the larger discourse of fanaticism and bigotry among religious minorities, who were defensively protecting their boundaries, the elitist conservatism of the reformed Hindu mainstream, in contrast, lay concealed behind such accusations. For example, in contrast to the “aggressive” Padmanji, Hindu apologists such as Morobhatta Dandekar or Vishnubawa Brahmachari have been transformed in public memory as stalwart “revivalists” of Marathi culture (cf. Conlon 1992). The seemingly expansive nature of reformists, open and liberal about religion as a social doctrine, ready to share boundaries with Christians and other religious minorities, was vitally part of the politics of liberal social reform in 19th-century Bombay Presidency, with Padmanji alone becoming exposed as an “aggressive” and boundary-drawing crusader.

51

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

Notes 1 Cf. Menon 2015: 70 for a description of Richard Young’s studies on debates between Missionaries and Hindus and Buddhists in India and Ceylon to “have been signifcant in pointing to the militant drawing of lines and the generation of an indigenous apologetics”. 2 Not only did Jewish converts represent the ideal of a cohesive Judeo-Christian Biblical community, the Jewish acceptance of Christianity supported the Christian understanding of the Old Testament and the idea of Christianity as “fulflment” of Judaism (cf. Numark 2012: 1805). Scottish missionaries played a dynamic role in educational and missionary activities among the Bene Israel in Maharashtra, resulting in the Hebraisation of the community in the 19th century. Though Numark claims that the relationship between Padmanji’s generation and the Bene Israel was more contentious than in the earlier generation (2012: 1796), Padmanji took an active interest in supporting Bene Israel converts. For example, he presented the Marathi-speaking Jewish and Christian communities of Bombay Presidency with a translation of The Watchman’s Voice (Paharekaryachi Vani in Marathi, in 1878), originally written in English (1867) by a certain Rabbi Cohen, a Christian convert (“Conversion of a Jewish Scribe”, The Scattered Nation: Past Present and Future, Vol. 3, April 1, 1868: 112). Unsurprisingly, this caused controversy, visiting Rabbi Cohen with swift theological retribution, best represented by Hermann Adler (1839–1911), then rabbi at the Bayswater Synagogue in London (1869), who mounted a scathing attack on “Christological dogma” as repugnant falsehood that distorted Jewish scriptures, translated into Marathi. 3 It was defnitely in existence by 1863, when it is mentioned as “lately issued” in The Times of India (September 21, 1863: 2), though this may refer to a reprint. The reprint available to me was published in 1867. 4 Padmanji provides a defence of this article that he accepts to have himself written in 1861, criticising the comparison between Krishna birth celebrations and Christmas. A facsimile of Padmanji’s clarifcation letter is provided by Karhadkar in his book (1979: 380–381). 5 Eknath (ca. 1533–1599) was a scholar, saint, and devotee of Krishna from Paithan and a student of Janardan Swami, a saint from Daulatabad associated both with the Dutta Sampraday and Sufsm. 6 Cf. Adachi’s detailed research (2001) on the Dakshin Prize and its transformation from a Brahminical due of the Peshwa court to a cash fellowship award for outstanding scholars and writers after the 1850s. 7 Some decades after this debate, the Rev. D.S. Sawarkar, a Christian author strongly infuenced by Padmanji, indeed published a Marathi overview of biblical archaeology with the Bombay Tract and Book Society. Though this book is no longer extant, it came too late to have made an impact on Sahasrabuddhe (cf. Sawarkar 1967: 80). 8 This is obviously Padmanji’s response to Hindu accusations about converts abandoning their families, pointing to how it was Hindu saints who cruelly abandoned their families. 9 As Numark (2011: 475) points out, the notion of “scripture” lay at the heart of the idea of “religion” propounded by Scottish missionaries such as John Wilson in Bombay. 10 Dandekar (2019a: 154–163) for Christian intellectual discussions on atheism within Hinduism in 19th-century Bombay.

52

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

11 Cf. Fitzgerald (1997) on the relationship between egalitarianism and ritual power among Buddhists in Maharashtra. 12 I have used Baring (2019) Kleinberg’s (2017) research to understand ways in which Derrida used the concepts of trace and hauntology. 13 Cf. Ashok D. Tilak’s edition (1989) of his mother Lakshmibai Tilak’s (Narayan Waman Tilak’s wife) memoirs of conversion. Also, cf. Krupabai Satthianadhan’s novelisation of her mother’s story of conversion (1894, 1895). 14 The debate is discussed in detail by Karhadkar (1979: 238–245), who quotes extensively from letters in Dnyanodaya and provides facsimiles of the same in his book (pp. 365–376). Kosambi (2016: 184–186) provides an abridged version of the debates contained in Karhadkar’s account, in English. 15 Kosambi agrees with Karhadkar that Khristadas was indeed Padmanji’s pseudonym but speculates somewhat unconvincingly that Laksha must have been a “former Brahmin” (2016: 186), since he was familiar with details of Brahminical rituals. 16 Frykenberg (2016: 5–6) adds detail to the story of the discrimination Ramabai faced from the Hindu elite of Pune, when the Advisory Board of India in August 1893 withdrew their support of Sharada Sadan and denounced Ramabai for having converted to Christianity, accusing her of departing from a neutrality that failed to prevent conversion among the girls of Sharada Sadan (p. 6): “Guardians and parents withdrew their daughters. The Sharada Sadan was boycotted. Never again would Ramabai enjoy support of the Hindu public; her career upon the all-India stage ended”. Even as the Mukti Mission was established in 1898 in Kedgaon with fnancial support pouring in from abroad, it added Kripa Sadan, Prita Sadan, Sadanand Sadan, and Bartan Sadan to its Kedgaon campus. Meanwhile a new Hindu Sharada Sadan (also known as Anath Balikashram) was opened by D.K. Karve, whose wife was once Ramabai’s protégé. 17 Also, cf. Midgley (2016) for the connections between Ramabai, Unitarianism and the Brahmo Samaj. 18 The denouncement of Christians as traitors by Hindus is critiqued by Chakravarti (1998: 371–401), who defends Pandita Ramabai’s conversion to Christianity as a radical feminist movement towards women’s emancipation, unrelated to any kind of anti-national betrayal. 19 Cf. For example, Appaji Bapuji Yardi, ordained CMS native pastor in Nasik bitterly complained about European missionary C.F. Schwartz to the CMS secretary in a letter dated February 22, 1878 (Bombay), when Schwartz disallowed Yardi from giving communion to a native congregation, “Pardon me to express that unless the Native Christians of India get their own livelihood independent of European aid & support themselves, their pastors & churches, Christianity will never be increased in India and their light will never draw heathen [sic] towards them” (CMS/C: O12/03). 20 Though Pandita Ramabai has often been extolled for her Christian nationalism, when she defended herself and the Sharada Sadan/ Mukti Mission against objections raised by the Sisters of Wantage (Kosambi 2000), it is important to note that the Sisters of Wantage did not hold positions of power at missionary educational institutions in India, at the helm of governing committees and boards that decided native emoluments and salaries. 21 And in an undiluted example of racism, Mrs. Wilson remarks, appreciatively referring to the young child of an Ayah, Anna, who accompanied her mother to the European missionary household, to play with the little Babas and Missy Babys as (1841: 301): “Their Ayah, or nurse, has a little girl whose name is Anna,

53

ENGAGING THE AVANT-GARDE

and whose childlike smiles and gestures found a way to their little hearts, notwithstanding the blackness of her countenance.” 22 Karhadkar (1979: 319) provides details about the main Christian journals Padmanji edited during his lifetime: Satyadeepika (part 1 and 2), Prabhodaya, Ubhayadeepika, Satyavadi, Kutumbamitra, and Ekpradarshak Patrika, among others. 23 Padmanji published an ancillary two-volume Marathi thesaurus called Shabdaratnavali in 1860, in accompaniment to his Molesworth compendium, provided in complete by Karhadkar in an appendix (1979).

54

3 THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

Central to Padmanji’s interaction with reformers and religious leaders was his pioneering use of print (Naregal 2001: 189 n. 116). While his engagements and publications explored in the last chapter are polemic, this chapter discusses what is probably Padmanji’s most important contribution to Marathi letters—the specifc development of a peculiar genre that I refer to as the Christian vernacular genre. This genre is characterised by a combination of fction, dialogues, didactics, and polemics, all of which are merged to make a powerful intervention in the social and religious debates of the second half of the 19th century. In its combination of different narrative strategies, this genre prefgures similar trends in early Indian novels, demonstrating the embeddedness of 19th-century Indian fction in the wider textual culture of their authors and the freedom of expression that accompanied the dissolution of strict requirements of form (Menon 1997: 302). Encompassing the most lasting of Padmanji’s contributions to Marathi literature, this literary development is central to his efforts of instituting Christian reform and advocating the equality of men and women before God. Padmanji’s Christian reform interventions, de-necessitating additional interpretative battles with Sanskrit texts, projected Christianity as the perfect panacea—if followed properly, it had the power to resolve all social problems arising from heathenism. In this chapter, I undertake an exploration of how this Christian vernacular genre developed, based on three key texts written by Padmanji, exemplifying its characteristics. The two most important factors that need to be kept in mind are: not only do these three texts describe the social reform agenda popular in Padmanji’s time, but they also suggest how the Christian intervention perspective constituted an ideal way of practicably achieving reform. Secondly, these texts demonstrate a gradual development in Padmanji’s Christian reform ideas (and the Christian genre), based on his engagement with social reform that he considered an intermediary stage to the realisation of his native Christian identity. Therefore, while some of these texts do not exactly exemplify the Christian vernacular genre already in “full bloom”, since this would

55

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

suggest a teleological approach that staged an independent genre specifc to Padmanji’s conversion before the culmination and fructifcation of his native Christian identity, my analysis instead utilises Padmanji’s biographical journey as the basis for his literary evolution. For example, the frst text by Padmanji analysed here, Strividyabhyasnibandha (SN), was a prize-winning essay, written in 1851, three years before Padmanji conversion in 1854, making it a proto-Christian text from Padmanji’s perspective. The other texts, Vyabhicharnishedhak Bodh (VB) and Yamunaparyatan (YP), published in 1854 and 1857, respectively, demonstrate the strongly emerging Christian selfhood of the Westerneducated reformer, who not just called for gender, marital, and family reforms from the perspective of eradicating social evils but challenged the existence of these evils within Hinduism from a moral perspective, claiming that Hinduism could not be considered a religion if its practices generated so much violence. Therefore, while SN commemorated Padmanji’s increasing Christianisation (from 1850 onwards) produced through his engagement with the Free Church Institution in Bombay, VB marked the year of Padmanji’s conversion in 1854, while YP marked the year of his divorce in 1857 that took place as a result of his conversion. The last text discussed in this chapter, Naranayak (NN), published in 1879, represents the apogee of Padmanji’s Christian vernacular genre, fusing the convert’s emotional, social, and moral life into a third space that consisted of an independently emerging, internal voice of Protestant conviction. This voice rejected rebellion, strategic, outwardly behaviour, and passive acquiescence—refecting, instead, the emergence of a self-regulatory inner eye that interpreted a convert’s experience of the world, decided his emotional response and informed his decisions, and actions. While NN (1879) is not directly linked with Padmanji’s conversion, it has an important autobiographical aspect, written in a timeframe that closely followed the death of his father in 1874.1 NN can almost be considered Padmanji’s ode to his father, written on behalf of the many sons seeking Christian closure and resolution on their deeply loving but conficted family relationships, demonstrated by the true nature of Christian homecoming. The question of “pioneering” also requires refnement here, since Padmanji’s ideas were not generated in social and intellectual vacuum. Instead, as stated multiple times in his autobiography (AD), Padmanji was greatly infuenced by his missionary education, and mentors, along with the intellectual groups he engaged with, which I have already framed through Merton’s middle-range theory (1968) as that of an emerging zone of circulating ideas. As part of this educational journey, Padmanji was powerfully impelled towards Christian reform by native Christian avant-garde writers and reformers from an earlier generation, whom he emulated, just like his own bhaktas later emulated him. In Padmanji’s specifc case, the writing of the Rev. Krishna Mohan Banerjea (1813–1885) wielded a formidable infuence 56

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

over his Christian interventionist perspective.2 An early native Christian pioneer, and an infuential leader of the Bengal Christian Association and Young Bengal movement, Banerjea wrote multiple authoritative Christian reform texts in both English and the vernacular. Converted by none other than missionary stalwart Alexander Duff (1806–1878) himself, Banerjea also posed a commanding fgure as Christian missionary, litterateur, and reformer, responsible for the conversion of an entire generation of Bengali intellectuals after him like Gyanendra Mohan Tagore (who also married Banerjea’s daughter) and Michael Madhusudan Dutt. While Padmanji perhaps aspired to become another Banerjea for the Bombay region (an aspiration, one might argue he achieved), the strong infuence of Banerjea’s work over Padmanji’s Christian vernacular texts is palpable, especially Banerjea’s prize-winning essay on native women’s education in 1841 (second edition 1848), that covered exactly the same issues that Padmanji discussed in his key Marathi Christian texts, written in the 1850s. While this emulation does not make Padmanji any less of a pioneer, for having been educated in Western missionary discourse that afforded him contemporary reading materials on the native Christian intervention to Hindu reform, Padmanji pioneered a specifc literary style and genre that he adopted in his vernacular texts, that communicated a unique Christian message to the Marathi educated public. Padmanji, thus, reformulated many prevalent ideas about conversion and Christian reform already expounded by stalwarts, combining its polemics, and didactics with reallife, fctional episodes, anecdotes, and autobiographical experiences. This created a new medium of communication about Christian piety and morality that was personal and spoke directly with readers, addressing their concealed objections by using fctional protagonists to voice these concealed concerns, compared to Banerjea’s more standard polemic style. Moreover, while Banerjea’s treatise on native female education is one long, continuous text, exploring its various interconnected issues that were also independent social problems, Padmanji developed the same idea in different books, using his unique genre that gradually developed in intensity, with the publication of every key text. Also, Padmanji was more mindful of not sounding utilitarian in his Christian interventionist perspective. Therefore, though Padmanji did not openly endorse Banerjea’s public claims (1848: 115) about the impossibility of women’s education without frst converting them, he only hinted at this, by strongly recommending conversion that would accord women happiness, equality, and dignity. Also, Padmanji’s agreement with Banerjea’s endorsement of British rule (1848: 121–121) that blamed not only Hindus but also Muslims for traditionally secluding women in zenanas (1848: 27) was tacit but never explicit. Aware of the discrepancies between Bengal and Bombay, Padmanji described and justifed his personal alliance and appeasement of Scottish missionaries, with no specifc mention of Muslims. 57

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

Many ideas uniquely presented by Padmanji in his Christian vernacular style, in SN, VB, and YP, were, therefore, already discussed within the missionary and Christian reform circles of his time. For instance, Banerjea’s book on the impossibility of native female education without conversion discusses and advocates the eradication of many interconnected social evils like: the immorality of child marriage (1848: 25), women’s torture through Sati and widowhood practices (1848: 30–32), women’s terrible domestic agony and drudgery at being subservient to husbands and household politics (1848: 35), besides the utter waste of their intellectual prowess due to superstitions (1848: 41–42), and the false pride of being Kulin (landed gentry) that he referred to derogatorily as “Kulinism” (1848: 45). Banerjea heavily endorsed the importance of strongly independent educated women in the public sphere (1848: 14, 35, 73), widow remarriage (1848: 32), and the gradual evolution of a group of native Christian women teachers who could educate and Christianise other women (1848: 95). Though these very subjects were discussed and strongly advocated by Padmanji too, he was not as cynical as Banerjea about the impossibility of women’s education without conversion. Though Padmanji was no less adamant about the exclusivity of conversion, and no less ferociously territorial of those already Christian, and the “misuse” of the Christian vernacular genre for Hindu bhakti themes, he never went further than recommending conversion. Perhaps apprehensive of sounding like a supporter of utilitarian conversion, Padmanji’s protagonists in SN, VB, YP, and NN did not always convert. Though Naranayak in his youth is depicted as playing with clay idols and toys, dressing them up and feeding them, reminiscent of the Hindu rituals of idol worship, his parents were already properly “religious” in Padmanji’s view. Naranayak, therefore, does not specially convert but only returns to true religion after realising and repenting his follies, subject to inner awakening. With the exception of YP, where Yamuna’s conversion and remarriage after widowhood is described in a small paragraph of the last chapter, conversion for Padmanji remained an open choice based on conviction, and not on benefts. Padamanji began writing far before his conversion, constructing his texts as a mirror to not only his evolving style and genre but also his own Protestant journey of consolidating a native Christian identity. Hence, it is only in YP in 1857 and in NN in 1879 that Padmanji presents his readers with a well-rounded manifestation of his native Christian literary self, his vernacular style in “full bloom”. Paradoxically, despite SN, VB, and YP being arranged in an intense and tight genealogical, autobiographical formation refecting Padmanji’s conversion, these texts have primarily been read as social reform texts, a reading that failed to consider its literary context—the Christian intervention discourse promulgated by stalwarts like Banerjea, missionary educational institutions, and Christian publishing houses. 58

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

Women’s education and eradicating immorality This section describes the two genealogically interlinked texts—SN, on the importance of women’s education, and VB, on the eradication of immorality—that can be considered the precursors of NN discussed in the next section, and to YP discussed in the next chapter. Strividyabhyasnibandha (an essay on the education of women) SN is a 59-page essay that won the frst prize from the Bombay Tract and Book Society in 1851 as the best essay on women’s reform that was published a year later in 1852. Its structure exemplifes Padmanji’s usual style of combining different kinds of formats, styles, and literary genres, consisting mainly of two dialogue sections (sambhashan) entitled “Clarifying Doubts” (shankanivaran, pp. 5–35) and the “Merits of Women’s Education” (strividyabhyasapasun labh, pp. 35–53), followed by a speech addressed “to the educated, discriminating, and respectable gentlemen of Maharashtra” (Maharashtra deshatil sudnya vicharavanta va sambhavit gruhasthansi bhashan, pp. 54–59). In the short introduction preceding these sections (pp. 3–4), Padmanji clearly states the aim of his tract: of exposing Hindu misconceptions (samjuti), according to which women’s education was considered sinful, further disallowing them interaction with men outside the family, the world outside home, and to express their independent opinions. Padmanji considered these misconceptions archaic and heathen examples of Hindu beliefs, harmful to the development of a modern reformed society, especially as such beliefs denigrated women and reduced them to the lowly status of domestic servants. Not only was the essay, SN, to be read as an entertaining text by reformed and educated men, but Padmanji reiterated that though providing entertainment was indeed one of its aims, the essay was also meant to be motivating, encouraging young reformers to convince a conservative, older generation of Hindu men about the merits of women’s education. And Padmanji specifcally mentions his writing style in this context, claiming that he used a dialogue format between two fctional protagonists to enhance the entertainment value of his educative essay (1852: 4). In the frst conversation, the protagonist, a young reformer and student at a mission school in Bombay (undoubtedly Padmanji’s own alter ego), visits an old acquaintance in Poona, who is a monied, elderly, conservative Hindu, expressing dislike of the reformist agenda and further, refusing to educate his daughter Bhagirathi. In response, the young reformer begins to convince his acquaintance about the merits of educating Bhagirathi, though Bhagirathi herself puts up initial resistance by saying that other women would laugh at her if she read books. But instead of convincing Bhagirathi, Padmanji (the young reformer protagonist) acquiesces with the same 59

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

principles of patriarchal dominance that he seeks to demolish, by convincing Bhagirathi’s father about the merits of women’s education. Patriarchy, then, was another intermediary stage, a stepping stone, like Hindu reform, for Padmanji, where the demolition of patriarchy and the eradication of social evils could not be mistaken as the destination of a journey towards Christianisation, after accomplishing which men and women no longer needed to be convinced of the merits of women’s education, like Vinayak and Yamuna in YP. Refecting on the battle of social reform that sought to demolish patriarchy with and for patriarchs towards the larger, more universal goal of reforming society, Padmanji (the young reformer) addresses various debates that surround the prevalent but concealed social anxiety about women’s education. For example, the elderly conservative man in SN expresses fear about how women’s education would soon change the parameters of the feminine gender, divesting educated women from pliant marital relationships and domestic roles. Educated women, he feared, would become masculine, domineering, and argumentative, wasting their time in reading, while neglecting their domestic duties, husbands, and children. They would break rules, argue with elders at home, and become arrogant and inattentive, besides growing lascivious due to their access to sexual literature (kokashastra). The reformer heatedly argues against these misconceptions, asserting that education and the light of knowledge would, instead, provide women dignity and equality as human beings. Instead of reading immoral texts, women would read religious texts, becoming engaged with their domestic duties after understanding its import. Furthermore, recognising their true responsibility as wives, mothers, and family members, women would become transformed into equal social members and citizens of a reformed society. The reformed youth challenges the distrust of educated women as harmful, contending that it is not knowledge per se but its use that was good or bad for men and women. Educated women, being more discerning than men, would instead become advisors and confdants to their husbands, in contrast to misconceptions about women’s allegedly low character that only resulted from their condition of being kept deliberately ignorant, an argument prescribed by Hindu texts to ensure their subservience. Padmanji compares the sanguineness of uneducated women with brainless animals who did not know any different, further likening them to the blind, who are never introduced to light and, therefore, did not know its happiness and were instead afraid of it. If such enforced disabilities were removed, women would be set free of social disadvantages, making families and society a safer place for them. Emphasising the equality of women and strongly negating the view that wives were their husbands’ servants, the reformer underlines women’s intellectual and moral capabilities, recommending that archaic Hindu texts be henceforth ignored in the higher, righteous cause of reform, a power every generation possessed, to correct mistakes made in the past. 60

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

In the second conversation, the reformer asserts that education would help women reconceptualise their gendered tasks and roles, infusing these with fresh and dedicated insight. Soon, educated women would help other girls learn, fostering a positive attitude towards learning at home by devising educative games that helped children lose their fear of schooling. A reading mind was not only curious about reform, religion, and science; it was also proud about its own intelligence, at being able to understand modern ideas. The myriad social evils of domestic violence, and the neglect of women in Hindu society and family, could therefore never be reformed without women’s education. Given rightful responsibility and dignity, educated women would become adept household managers, controlling needless extravagance and wasteful expenditure. The presence of educated women would also build a trustful family environment that peacefully resolved its problems productively and independently. Further, educated women would keep up with educated men, becoming their intellectual partners, which would help them become soulmates through the sharing and discussion of learning. Finally, women’s education would bring them religious development, and in contrast to following prescribed rituals, women would read and understand religious texts themselves, without requiring any mediation from religious leaders, who usually peddled superstitions, in addition to cheating, duping, and sexually exploiting uneducated women. Education, the reformer concludes, would therefore result in women’s freedom, their safety, as well as the reform and safety of family and society. The reformer’s conservative acquaintance at the end of these two dialogues accepts the former’s arguments in favour of women’s education and even acquiesces to sending Bhagirathi along with the reformer to school in Bombay! SN, thereafter, concludes with a speech made by the conservative acquaintance at a gathering on the merits of women’s education, inspired by his conversation with the reformer, where he identifes the family as the fundamental unit of society, explaining how the well-being of the family would be jeopardised if one of its limbs were diseased, or its members (women in this case) remained intellectually impaired. While SN is a quintessential social reform text about women’s education, it is simultaneously a tract that is deeply infuenced by Banerjea’s book on Christianisation and female education. Also, while SN places a lot of responsibility on women, expecting much out of them in exchange for education, even renewing their gendered and domestic roles, this was quite common for early feminist tracts about women’s education in India. Bengali reformists in favour of women’s education did, similarly, outline the benefts of educating women by claiming that education would contribute to family well-being and foster conscious conformity to familial gender roles (cf. Borthwick 1984: 60–68). However, these ideas advocating women’s independence, happiness, and dignity within home and marriage was early for Maharashtra in 1851, especially in the direct way Padmanji communicated 61

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

this message in terms of an everyday “conversation” between friends. He went a step further than the reform argument though, writing beautifully about the happiness, dignity, satisfaction, pride, and internal recognition that education would provide women as intelligent beings (1852: 38): Women blinded by ignorance since birth would receive the same great happiness (mahananda) after receiving the two eyes of knowledge and wisdom bestowed them, that a blind person receives when his vision is restored. The light of education shed into their minds will reveal to them all the precious jewels that God has kept there, specially reserved for them. There is, however, the problematic question of women’s agency, or Bhagirathi’s agency in making her own decision about education—suddenly parcelled off against her will to an unknown institution where she would henceforth live away from friends and family, in Bombay, an unknown city different from the surroundings she was accustomed to, accompanied by an unknown man, who refused to accept her disinterest in his passionate mission to alleviate her “suffering”. It must be remembered that Padmanji, like other reformists of his time, was still not thinking of women’s individual power but only of transforming the power of women as an emerging social group in 19th-century Marathi society, notwithstanding the disagreement of individual women. Bhagirathi was as much a pawn in this transformation as she was for conservatives, who dictated and prescribed her seclusion, disallowing her education. In 1851, a time when Padmanji had not yet converted, and was himself undergoing a personal phase of turmoil as discussed earlier (between 1851 and 1854), he did not advocate conversion in SN, limiting himself to resisting Hinduism and advocating education to gain religious insight and transform the blind following of prescriptive rituals. He remained vigilant of utilitarian conversion, mindful of not advancing conversion as a means for women (or any vulnerable section) to acquire educational benefts, instead advocating education as the only way towards achieving inner resolution. Padmanji’s SN was, thus, a text about the social role of women’s education, rather than an individual story about education, conviction, and conversion that was as yet to develop in his own life. This specifc personal step can be clearly viewed in YP, where Yamuna makes the additional individual decision to convert, quite apart from reform and widow remarriage. Though Padmanji’s was as yet, not a missionary in 1851 and 1852, SN cannot be completely divested from Padmanji’s interest in Christianisation either. Emulating Christian reformers, a generation before him, Padmanji in SN, was as yet fantasising about eradicating archaic Hinduism, and introducing girls like Bhagirathi, even if in fction, and against their own will, to an education that would result in the rejection of Hinduism. 62

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

Vyabhicharnishedhak Bodh (Evils of Licentiousness) VB (literally “Understanding the Eradication of Licentiousness”), published in the year of Padmanji’s conversion in 1854, translated as Evils of Licentiousness by Padmanji) is, in contrast to SN, a strong Christian Protestant text replete with masculine anxiety and an overwhelming concern about Hindu sexual immorality. In this 91-page book seeking to expose the hypocrisy of Hindu society, preceded by a “reformist” introduction, Padmanji invites reformers to join him in the collective endeavour of cutting down the evil tree of immorality with an axe, imbued by a reformist blade. VB has a clear Christian agenda that reminds its readers to walk carefully in God’s prescribed moral path, laid down in the Christian scriptures, and Padmanji claims that though he was frst interested in writing about the cultural practice of “dancing girls”, invited to celebrate family functions like marriage and childbirth in Hindu families, he soon realised that it was deeply embroiled with other licentious practices like prostitution, alcoholism, and gambling. VB, an edited compilation of Padmanji’s previous essays extracted from journals like Dhumketu, is combined with newer, additional essays, organised into two sections, further divided into fve chapters each, that are followed by an appendix and subscription list. The frst section (1854: 1–44) explicates the moral hypocrisy of licentiousness among Hindus, pointing to how especially widows and exploited women are blamed for immorality, while licentious men go scot-free. Moreover, dancing girls and prostitutes are highly esteemed among Hindus, who respectfully invite them home and pay them hefty sums for gracing family occasions. Padmanji discusses how immorality causes the destruction of marriage and family, leading to crimes, listing how licentiousness was traditionally criminalised in the various nations and communities of the world: ancient Hebrews and Arabs, ancient Rome, Greece, Athens, Poland, Spain, Portugal, and England, among others. He laments Hindu licentiousness, a proclivity, in his opinion, born from the licentiousness of Hindu Gods and the high prevalence of prostitution in every city, pilgrimage, and cantonment town of India. Padmanji condemns prostitutes for the special way in which they inveigle and seduce men, passing them venereal diseases. Blinded by their charm, men break their religious and moral commandments as well as their sacred promises made to spouses, and waste money on building special dwellings where dancing girls and prostitutes are invited and housed, where entertainment programs are also organised. Finally, chasing prostitutes, men lose money, health, family, internal peace, and their virility, becoming old and falling prey to various diseases and addictions. Padmanji provides historical anecdotes about the downfall of empires wrought by immorality, through stories about Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Henry the VIII, and the debaucheries of Emperor Jehangir and the Muslim nobility of Hyderabad.3 63

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

He especially denounces the practice of tamasha in Southern Maharashtra that encourages building social networks with entire groups that deal with immoral trade, involving dancers, musicians, pimps, and prostitutes. Tamasha, moreover, masqueraded openly as cultural practice, art, and even religious practice among some communities, with Padmanji noting how it was considered increasingly fashionable among the new rich to build entertainment parlours inside their homes, where tamasha was performed. While this lowered the moral tenor of family and marriage, encouraging wives and women of the household to become lascivious, it additionally forced wives, careworn by family duties, to now act as seductresses to save their marriages from the clutches of prostitutes. Excited by the cultural permissibility of lasciviousness among Hindus, men sexually exploited defenceless, poor orphan girls and widows, with those complaining of having no money to help the poor, ignoring the plight of women to instead spend extravagantly on prostitutes. Padmanji outlines how addicted and distracted young men (like Naranayak) abandon domestic and family duties, education, and work and migrate to cities full of brothels and entertainment parlours, where they not only waste their money but also their education on immoral literature, gambling and card-playing dens and taverns. Padmanji provides the names of some entertainment parlours as examples, like “amusing room”, “pleasure room”, “golden night”, and even “progressing societies room”, where the reformed and educated youth of Bombay drink, gamble, and watch cabarets. In the second section of VB (1854: 44–91), Padmanji suggests various reforms that the government of Bombay could institute against Hindu licentious practices, like sanctioning widow remarriage, outlawing child marriage,4 and abolishing the cultural practice of inviting dancing girls. Padmanji urged the reformed educated youth of Bombay and India to follow Christian moral values, calling for the ostracism and criminalisation of immoral Hindus by targeting especially Brahmin men, exposing, and publicly shaming them for their immorality, further asking the government to fre offcers from duty, if found patronising dancing girls and prostitutes. Padmanji exhorted the government to obstruct “gurus” and religious leaders, who sexually exploited women by pretending to be holy, further appealing to the patriotic duty of Brahmins, asking them to desist from hypocrisy and refuse ritual clients whom they knew to be immoral. He further advocated brothels to be treated as sites of crime, kept under strict government regulation, and regularly raided by the police. He requested journalists to expose sex scandals in society, and advocated for the banning of licentious reading materials, with printing presses brought under strict government surveillance. Shops selling alcohol, along with drinking and gambling dens, had to also be banned, with doctors and physicians mandatorily required to report patients of venereal disease to the government. Quoting stories of the destruction caused by licentiousness from letters provided in the appendix, 64

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

Padmanji agreed with the injunctions of Bombay’s business community against immoral speech, recommending the re-channelling of the money wasted on prostitutes and entertainment into economy. While SN and VB are primarily ideological texts, presented as conversations, historical anecdotes, and letters, the manner in which the emphasis on social reform shifted to radical Protestantism in VB demonstrates an important stage in the development of the Christian vernacular genre. Though the Christian outlook is limited in SN that focuses more on Hindu archaic misconceptions, VB is sharply radical in its Protestant approach to Hindu licentiousness, strongly highlighting the importance of Christian morality, and saturated with masculine anxieties about the licentiousness of archaic Hindu misconceptions. Some of the more resonant Protestant themes about morality discussed in VB are, yet again, strongly picked up in NN and YP, with these two latter texts representing the mature stage of Padmanji’s Christian, Protestant writing style. Questions of women’s agency vis-à-vis their approach and interaction with men, public institutions, and entertainment outside of marriage posits a huge challenge to Padmanji’s ideas on feminism, since women’s agency was not unlimited for him. But this was a problem inherent to Protestant, Christian feminism itself, that expounded compassion, and an anti-patriarchal approach in order to reimpose a system of protectionist morality for women. Padmanji as a Christian feminist could not jump his own Protestant shadow—something non-Christian and utilitarian Christian reformists like Pandita Ramabai were more open to. Padmanji’s contribution to Christian feminism in Maharashtra has also been inadequately highlighted within scholarship dedicated to exploring the history of early feminism in Western India. Neither Anagol (2005) nor Chakravarti (1998) highlights Padmanji’s contributions to Christian feminist advocacy in general, though Anagol mentions Padmanji’s concern for widows being in the vein of other missionaries of his time (2005: 24). While Naregal (2001) refers to Padmanji’s writings, as contributions made to early literature and not feminism, Kosambi (2008: 38), more appropriately, highlights Padmanji’s contributions to women’s education as more of a Christian venture but without contextualising it within a genealogy of other Christian reform texts. Before turning to YP, arguably Padmanji’s best-known and most important literary work and Christian feminist treatise, it is instructive to frst consider NN as an example of how Padmanji’s writing style functioned, by creating the third space of an emotional and moral voice among proto converts.

Christianity and family Naranayak the Son of Jagatshet: A Story Based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son with Notes and Anecdotes, or NN, is a text published in 1879, wherein 65

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

Padmanji sought to counter Hindu accusations against native Christians for abandoning their families after conversion. A tenderly written book emphasising how conversion constitutes the only means of true homecoming through an analogy of the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son, NN reveals the hypocrisy of non-Christians, who, though doubting native Christians attachment and loyalty to family, never submit to accusations of disloyalty or immorality themselves, when travelling or living abroad.5 NN is an emotionally moving Christian bhakti prose of 91 pages (divided into 12 chapters) that depicts a sentimental story of a son’s true Christian realisation of parental love after having failed dismally in his ventures abroad. Typical of Padmanji’s Christian vernacular style, NN combines fction, autobiographical refections, and didactic portions to communicate an empathetic message, and Padmanji makes special mention of the English books from which he borrowed, also providing biblical quotes below every chapter heading to demonstrate the applicability of the story to the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son.6 NN begins with a description of Jagatshet and his family. Jagatshet, an affuent and devout man lives happily with his family in Vishwaspur (literally, “city of faith”), following a religious and pious way of life (chapter one, “The Father’s House—a man had two sons”, 1879: 1–4). He and his wife adore their sons, Janojinayak and Naranayak, who are treated fairly and equally, and provided every possible comfort. While the elder son, Janojinayak, is dutiful, he is also arrogant, wanting to be the only rightful recipient of his father’s bounty and, hence, jealous of his younger brother. The younger brother Naranayak is emotional, artistic, and whimsical. Though mostly cheerful, he spends all his spare time in childish pursuits, dressing up and playing with clay idols. Padmanji adds a didactic section at this juncture about the ideal nature of a Christian household and the importance of Christian upbringing that protects children without pampering them, while also disallowing them to grow cynical. However, with time, as Naranayak comes of age, he feels restless at home (chapter two, “Division of Property—out of the two, the younger said to his father, give me my share”, 1879: 4–9). Irritated with his father and stifed in general by his parents’ religiosity, Naranayak frequently neglects to pray. This spreads disunity in Jagatshet’s family, like the disturbance in God’s Garden of Eden, as Naranayak irreligiousness leads him astray. He begins reading cheap, entertaining (vilasi) novels, and vulgar tamasha poetry, and dreams of becoming independent, going abroad, and starting his own life in a place far away from his parents. When his friend, Kumantri (literally “ill-advisor”) advises him to demand a share of his father’s property, Naranayak does so, struggling with guilt and shame, while burdened with the feeling of being controlled by his father at the same time. A long didactic section follows here, with Padmanji explaining the true nature of wealth that can only be enjoyed by following God. On the other hand, utilised outside God’s wishes, these same talents constitute rebellion against God. 66

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

Armed with his share, Naranayak prepares to go abroad (chapter three, “Leaving Home—and after a few days the younger son collected his share and went abroad”, 1879: 9–15), and in a long conversation with his mother tells her to stop treating him like a child (this chapter is almost entirely in dialogue format). Even as she weeps, he tells her that he hates their control (literally, that he is tired of drinking water from another’s cupped hands), and leaves home in a grand carriage, dressed in fnery, bragging about his riches to a servant accompanying him, named Palputya (literally, “coward”). Not once does he ask for his parents or God’s blessings, and Padmanji angrily condemns Naranayak as ungrateful, cruel, disobedient, disloyal, and godless for doing so. This is followed by a didactic section on how most people erroneously imagine the world to be a fancy place, regretting this later as they come to a sad end. Afraid that his parents would follow him, Naranayak reaches Vilaspur (literally, “city of enjoyment”) through backstreets, sending Palputya home. Palputya, on returning to Vishwaspur (chapter four, “Wastage—and there he squandered all his money away”, 1879: 15–25), tells Naranayak’s parents of all that has transpired, and this makes Naranayak’s parents feel heartbroken. Though Naranayak’s father consoles himself by praying, his mother dies of sadness. Naranayak, blinded with glamour, grandeur, and the glitter of Vilaspur and its brothels and houses of entertainment, soon makes many false friends, who are primarily attracted to his wealth. He builds a huge palatial mansion with a large turret, calling it Rustom Mahal, and so grand is Rustom Mahal that people from neighbouring towns come to Vilaspur just in order to see it. Opulently decorated with chandeliers, expensive carpets, brocaded upholstery, gold, and silver-plated crockery, Naranayak’s kitchen overfows with exotic and expensive foods, fruits, and alcoholic drinks. He gambles all day, enjoying dances, dramas, and entertainment programs, hosting sports events and wrestling matches. He makes lavish gifts to prostitutes and draws a great deal of attention to himself in Vilaspur through his antics, forgetting his home and parents entirely. Padmanji adds another didactic section here, explaining why people go abroad and how they should behave once they are there. He does not discount the importance of travel, since if travel stopped, neither missionaries nor reform would ever reach India. Therefore, he instructs people travelling abroad to ask God’s blessings frst, and to never give up praying and reading their religious scriptures. Once abroad, travellers must frequent prayer halls, making friends with the devout, inviting them home or visiting them. They should not distance themselves from family and their parents back home, writing home often and fnancially helping their family. Money must be saved at all costs, and life must be lived frugally. Though wanton expenditure on expensive clothes, jewellery, or a lavish lifestyle should be shunned, donations must be made to the poor. Soon, Naranayak undergoes enormous losses in business (chapter fve, “A Big Drought—and after he had spent all his money, there was a big 67

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

drought and he began fnding it diffcult to make his ends meet”, 1879: 25–29). He has spent so much on prostitutes and a lavish lifestyle by then that he has no savings. His excesses have ruined his health and his earlier friends have stopped recognising him. Naranayak is forced to sell Rustom Mahal and his possessions, becoming friendless and destitute. Staying in one corner of the local mosque, he often gazes upon Rustom Mahal at a distance, weeping heartbrokenly. Padmanji rhetorically comments that though there is relative peace in being robbed and persecuted for a righteous cause, there is no peace in the double sin of losing one’s money to an immoral cause. However, Naranayak still refuses to learn his lesson and considers taking up a job (chapter six, “The Pigsty—and then he worked as a servant and his mastered ordered him to tend his pigs, 1879: 29–44). Coming to a mansion with many servants, he asks for work. The master of the mansion (a “Madrasi”) instead asks Naranayak to tend his pigs, initiating a life of tremendous hardship for Naranayak. Once, while tending pigs, Naranayak falls asleep and dreams of being back in Rustom Mahal, entertained by servants, friends, and dancing girls. Awaking and fnding himself among pigs, Naranayak begins weeping, setting the stage for yet another didactic intervention. According to Padmanji, there are two varieties of atheists. The frst are internal atheists, whom he likens to tuberculosis patients: they look unhealthily shiny on the outside but are eaten away by disease inside. The second are like patients of herpes, whose disease and religious bankruptcy are evident from the outside. While the frst variety go to hell, the second variety fght and suffer alone, humiliated and dying in foreign lands, in gutters, in hospitals, in brothels, in prisons, or in accidents. Padmanji recounts many personal anecdotes to demonstrate how atheists come to a sad end, advising his readers to remain humble and religious, and steer clear of sin and atheism.7 Naranayak, now resting hungry and thirsty on a cold stone foor and on a torn blanket surrounded by pigs, gradually begins to remember his father, like a man coming out of an alcoholic haze (chapter seven, “A Good Decision—then he came to his senses and regretted leaving his father’s home. Feeling guilty for abandoning his father, he thinks of returning and requesting his father to accept him as a servant”, 1879: 45–56). He regrets leaving his father’s home and feels angry with his false friends for abandoning him, only to realise that he too abandoned his father. Naranayak has another dream then, in which he returns to his father’s house and is lovingly welcomed there. Waking up, he frmly resolves to return home, and for the frst time prays to God for forgiveness. Padmanji exhorts all lost and embittered souls, who have become apathetic and cynical, to return home to their families as well as to God, repenting their sins and asking for forgiveness. He notes that though immorality often destroys people, it is up to God to save their souls. Naranayak leaves for home at dawn; chased by the dogs of Vilaspur and choosing a lonely and diffcult path, he commences his journey 68

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

(chapter eight, “The Way Home—and then he got up and went to his father”, 1879: 56–63). By now, he has forgotten his humiliation and even considers his defeat in Vilaspur justifed, only feeling extremely repentant and anguished, and urgently desiring to apologise to his father. Begging on his way in villages, where he has once squandered away money, Naranayak makes his way home. Meanwhile, Jagatshet has not lost all hope of his son, waiting every day for Naranayak’s return. Naranayak’s room is always kept ready, and Jagatshet has replaced all the vulgar books Naranayak once read with religious books. Naranayak arrives in Vishwaspur early one morning at sunrise to fnd the birds twittering welcomingly in the branches above, whereas in Vilaspur, he was bid farewell by barking, chasing dogs. Slowly making way through Vishwaspur, Naranayak beholds the peace and serenity of his father’s farmlands, wondering why he had once felt restless here. Penitent and repenting, speaking to himself with an inner spiritual voice that advises and interrogates all his thoughts henceforth, Naranayak makes his way home. Padmanji exhorts all his readers at this point to develop a similar inner spiritual voice that has the power to lead them on a righteous path. Early one morning, Jagatshet sees a man coming towards the gate (chapter nine, “The Embrace—his father saw him coming from afar and overjoyed, rushed to him, embraced, and kissed him”, 1879: 63–67). The boy who had once left in a chariot, dressed in splendour, was now a ragged beggar leaning on a stick. Jagatshet’s heart overfowed with love as he ran to greet Naranayak, with the urgency of a cow running to her calf. Padmanji provides a few anecdotes and examples here from Scotland and from Indian legends describing the reunion between families, comparing this love to God’s love for his children. As Naranayak’s father lovingly welcomes him, all Naranayak’s apprehensions about his father’s anger dissipate (chapter ten, “Repentance—the son said to his father, I have sinned against you and against God, and have no right to be called your son”, 1879: 68–73). Naranayak starts weeping, his heart full of repentance, and even before he is able to apologise, his father summons his servants to take Naranayak inside. Padmanji meditates here about the diffculties of repentance, as a pain that does not ever go away, even after forgiveness. Many who are unable to face it prefer dying alone instead. The waters of purifcation scald the sinner, but only true repentance can make its pain bearable. The news of the master’s errant son returning soon spreads like wildfre in Vishwaspur (chapter eleven, “The Grand Robe—the father shouted to his servants ordering them to robe his son in a splendid gown, put shoes on his feet and a ring on his fnger”, 1879: 73–78). Bringing him inside the house, Jagatshet’s servants tend to Naranayak, cutting his tangled hair and beard, and pairing his overgrown nails. They anoint his eyes, perfume his ears, tend to his wounds, massage his limbs with sweet smelling herbs, oil his hair, and bathe him with hot water. His dirty rags are thrown away, and Jagatshet 69

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

presents his son with splendid snow-white garments, especially reserved for him. He puts a diamond ring on his son’s fnger, a necklace around his neck, and shoes on his feet, a mark of respect to indicate that Naranayak is still his heir. While some onlookers wonder at Naranayak’s good luck, others marvel at Jagatshet’s love. The father’s love, Padmanji says, is that rain that does not simply water ponds, streams, and rivers, but flls them to the brim (chapter twelve, “The Celebration—the father called to his servants to slaughter the fattened calf, for the son whom he had thought dead had returned to life, for the son who was lost has returned”, 1879: 78–91). Jagatshet organises a grand feast in celebration of the return of Naranayak, who is fed in a gold plate and blessed.8 Padmanji provides examples of many converts here, who feel reborn after repenting their sins, also describing his own conversion to Christianity that released him from sinful burdens. Naranayak, after celebrations, does not become sanguine, returning to his old indolent ways either. Inspired by his father’s love and forgiveness, he dutifully looks after his father’s business and henceforth works hard for him. Padmanji exhorts all converts to extend the gladness of their conversion to their work, serving their father God by tending to his mission and adhering to his commandments. In its fusion of Christian parable, fctional narrative, moral exhortations, and conversion allegory, NN provides a mature example of Padmanji’s Christian literary genre. Though the fusion of different literary strategies is the most visible characteristic of this genre, perhaps more important is the way in which the genre blurs boundaries between the voices of the author, the narrator, and other central characters. The fusion between the recounter and the recounted here constitutes a “third space”, a feature that develops gradually with the emergence of the genre as a whole. Therefore, while Padmanji’s identity as the reformer protagonist of SN is separately marked from that of his conservative acquaintance, whom he convinces about women’s and Bhagirathi’s education, this identity gradually fades, becoming increasingly unmarked in texts like VB, YP, and NN. This fading is linked to a process that paradoxically consolidates Padmanji’s power as the opaque owner of its all-powerful, almost-divine presence in his texts that reveal the “truth” to his readers. This powerful, authorial voice constitutes the third space of a Protestant watchman, that speaks to Naranayak from the moment of his return to Vishwaspur, becoming intermediate to the recounting process, and the recounted anecdotes, mediating its emotional response among readers in a way that Christianises them. Located at the opaque centrefold of a truncated Hindu self, Padmanji’s unmarked voice almost leaps out at his readers from within the palimpsest he creates, with the power of an unknown but divine Christian presence, interceding with his readers on behalf of the myriad faceless, recounted persons of his texts. Here, Padmanji is both the authorial voice exhorting readers and Naranayak the convert, who returns both to his heavenly father and to his human father after awakening to Protestant realisation. 70

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

While the personal authorial style of NN highlights Padmanji’s fctionalised autobiography that is concealed within the text, this demonstrates the importance of Christian autobiographies that contribute to the writing of vernacular missionary texts. In this fusion of voices between divine and mundane, Padmanji provides room, or a model, for Christian converts to co-inscribe their own stories of conversion and family relationships, mediated by the palimpsest, layered nature of their fctional protagonists, in missionary terms—allowing for the fctionalised framing of their autobiographical journeys through Christian biblical themes like the Prodigal Son. NN repeats the injunctions in VB against migrating abroad or to big cities for the wanton revelries it offers young people. In fact, VB and NN are particularly powerful exemplifcations of the growing social importance of respectability among the middle classes (Anagol 2005: 122–130) that, within Christian vernacular literature, is combined with the emergence of an internal moral voice, acting as a third space between the fctional protagonist and the world. NN can be considered one of the pinnacles of Padmanji’s Christian vernacular style, additionally constituting an almost radical text from a pietistic perspective that showcased the internal, emotional development of bhakti as a journey and epiphany, rather than extolling the “given” nature of a protagonist’s piety—a journey of feelings. However, NN is a little-known text, compared to Padmanji’s grand narrative, YP (1857), that returns to the social reform conundrums presented in SN. Since Padmanji had already converted by the time he wrote YP, the difference in approach in YP compared to SN is palpable, with Padmanji not only seeking to convince Hindus about the violations of widowhood, themes already encountered in VB, but this time additionally arguing that educated women like Yamuna, or even Shivram’s mother, would be naturally attracted to Christianity and conversion after suffering so much ill-treatment and torture as Hindu widows. Padmanji, therefore, subtly threatened conservative Hindus through this additional twist of the potential conversion of the many Yamunas around them, if they did not reform and mend their ways. On the other hand, he exhorted the many educated men and women who read YP to introspect, not only about remarriage but also about that additional step of conversion taken by Yamuna, evaluating its applicability to their personal lives. But nowhere did Padmanji, it must be noted, ever advocate the wholesale conversion of all widows or destitute women in YP, something he is falsely accused of doing, for he did not support utilitarian conversion. Before turning to a closer examination of YP as Padmanji’s magnum opus, it is important to remember that Padmanji’s key texts discussed in this chapter demonstrate a gradational progression of the Christian vernacular genre. Thus, though the agenda of YP was not “different” from Christian interventionist treatises like Banerjea’s, or even Hindu reform treatises like Vidyasagar’s, Padmanji’s style and language constituted a pioneering 71

THE CHRISTIAN VERNACULAR GENRE

vernacular intervention that transformed women’s reform or widow remarriage into a literary encounter that could be internally felt. Padmanji’s writings that transformed the written word into an emotional experience, thus, provided his readers a window into how the uneducated woman’s entrapped helplessness “felt” like, or how the widow’s sexual frustration, torture, and exploitation was experienced. This writing revolutionised the conversion decision as almost natural—something that no longer required additional explanation, and was dealt with in YP, in a small paragraph of the last chapter.

Notes 1 Padmanji was heartbroken at his father’s death, writing of his last minutes spent with his father as (1890: 149): “He allowed me to pray while he was passing away, and he showed by outward signs that he departed in faith”. Also cf. Neill (1985: 349) for details of the same. 2 Though Padmanji never specifcally referred to Banerjea’s infuence, perceiving Banerjea’s infuence has been part of my argument about emergent native Christian missionary textual culture in India, its development divorced from the earlier Anglo-Indian evangelical style. 3 Padmanji was aware that the institution of dancing girls was part of earlier courtly cultures, emulated by elites, as in the case of his own marriage. 4 The logic here being that when mature and educated men and women are unable to choose their marital partners and are married to spouses arranged by their families in childhood, they feel dissatisfed with each other as adults, thereafter seeking their bed pleasures outside marriage. 5 Hinting broadly here at reformers from affuent, upper-caste, Western-educated, and Kulin families, who frequently travelled and worked abroad. 6 I have translated the titles directly from the Marathi book, without additionally crosschecking the Bible. 7 In this context, Padmanji reveals that he based Naranayak’s story on the life of William Beckford (1709–1770) and Lady Hamilton, who lived a lavish life of wasteful arrogance and debauchery. Similarly, descriptions of Rustom Mahal are based on Beckford’s Tower at Bath. 8 While it is obvious that Padmanji wanted to write NN for Hindus, the audience that knew the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son also included Christians, rendering the nature of Padmanji’s audience ambivalent. NN remains critical of Hindu religious beliefs, with Padmanji correcting Hindus about their superstitions, providing them details of beef eating among Hindus, thereby justifying Jagatshet’s killing of a fattened calf in honour of Naranayak’s return, and connecting Christians to ancient Hinduism! (1879: 80): Jagatshet was a traditional man. He had retained many ancient and traditional, Vedic meat-eating practices prevalent among Aryans, who considered meat to be “food ft for Gods” (devanna). Ancient Aryans would kill a calf in honour of an esteemed guest, whom they referred to as goghna. And since there can be no more esteemed a guest, than a son, Jagatshet had a calf killed to honour the return of his son.

72

4 YAMUNAPARYATAN

The frst Marathi novel Yamunaparyatan or YP published in 1857 is Padmanji’s best known and arguably the most important Christian vernacular intervention in the social and cultural debates of late-19th-century Bombay. A treatise on the suffering and sexual exploitation of widows, it epitomises Padmanji’s Christian feminist interventions that advocated the eradication of widowhood practices and endorsed widow remarriage, bolstering the 1856 Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act. YP can be considered a culmination of Padmanji’s earlier tracts SN and VB, discussed in the previous chapter, representing a fullblown example of the Christian vernacular genre. YP is also central to discussions about the frst Marathi novel, or even the frst Indian vernacular novel, though Padmanji himself never described YP as a navhel (“novel”) or used terms like upanyas or kadambari for it, instead referring to it as a grantha (book or volume), the same word he used for VB and later for NN. Genre has played a fundamental role for the manner that scholarship has engaged with Padmanji’s literary works in general and YP in particular, especially as debates about whether YP qualifes as a “novel”, or even as “the frst Indian novel”, goes beyond academic nit-picking or vernacular assertions of literary priority. The idea of the novel is fundamentally bound with discussions about the frst expressions and experiences of “modernity”. Benedict Anderson famously accorded the novel, together with the newspaper, a fundamental role in enabling the imagination of national communities (Anderson 2006: 24–32). Closely connected to the question of the novel is the development of ideas concerning “fction” and “realism”, or the truth-status of invented narratives. In the Indian context, these debates have been thoroughly bound up with yet another question, namely whether the novel, like “modernity” itself, should be understood wholly as a “foreign import” or whether it emerged far more harmoniously out of precolonial forms of Indian narrative brought into conversation with the English novel as the latest arrival in a long succession of narrative genres (Mukherjee 1994: 3–18). The novel’s imbrication with questions of modernity and cultural 73

YAMUNAPARYATAN

authenticity uncannily refects the similarly contested status of Christianity in the Indian context. Paradoxically, scholars seem to have found it diffcult to square Padmanji’s Christianity with his politics of narration: though the novel has come to represent a legitimate marker of Indian modernity in postcolonial times, Christianity’s status as the colonisers’ religion has imbued it with far greater ambiguity and suspicion. A more recent trend of scholarship has therefore turned to the early Indian novel less as a local instance of a global paradigm, but has rather attended to the imaginations and negotiations enabled by these novels (cf. e.g. Ebeling 2010; Menon 1997; 2004). More than Padmanji’s earlier, primarily didactic tracts SN and VB, the more fully developed narrative frame in YP allowed Padmanji to attend to the question of how to imagine a meaningful, reformed social life in the face of oppressive social realities, cultural mores, and the presence of a noisy but often toothless Hindu reformism. In imagining the encounter with oppressive tradition and ways of living that could overcome social realities, Christianity played an important role, not because Padmanji advocated Christianity as a means to ameliorate the position of women—this would have revolted against Padmanji’s suspicions about utilitarian conversion—but because Christianity, in Dilip Menon’s terms, “proved good to think with” (2002: 1666). In many ways, as I will argue, YP was not simply a contribution to wider social debates but allowed Padmanji to engage in a kind of “fctional autobiography” by imagining his own ideals of community and conjugality. While this has not saved YP from being targeted as yet another Christian missionary attack on Hindu tradition with the aim to instigate conversion, the Christian vernacular genre of the fctional autobiography inaugurates a realm of realistic writing that transcends the aim of entertainment (mentioned by Padmanji in his preface to SN) to instead demarcate another domain of literary and imaginary enterprise that foregrounds Christian piety and redemption as Marathi, native, and Indian. Though YP was a great success, it drew sharp criticism and disapproval from literary critics and Hindu readers as expected, who accused it of masquerading as a Hindu reform text. Karhadkar documents (1979: 51–80) how Padmanji’s critics celebrated later novels, like Lakshmanshastri Halbe’s Muktamala in 1861 as the frst “real” Marathi novel, criticising the Christian feminism of YP as false-sounding and vulgar for its descriptions of widowhood and sexuality. Sogani (2002: 34) in her book on widowhood also describes YP as a pioneering treatise on the suffering of widows that did not go down well with Hindus due to its allegedly Christian nature.1 Especially since Yamuna converted in the end of the story, Hindu readers accused YP of concealing its real, radical missionary agenda, using the subterfuge of widowhood reform. This was especially due to Dadoba Pandurang’s Sanskrit essay and its Marathi translation at the beginning of YP’s main story, that highlighted the confusion surrounding widow remarriage rules in 74

YAMUNAPARYATAN

the vedas, smritis, and puranas. While Pandurang was a well-known Hindu social reformer and scholar, his Sanskrit essay and ideas seemed infuenced by Eshwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s refutation of widowhood practices expounded in Marriage of Hindu Widows published in English in 1856. While Pandurang reiterates Vidyasagar’s conclusions almost exactly, this overlap (like between Padmanji’s and Banerjea’s Christian interventionist ideas described in the previous chapter) demonstrates the increasing consensus among social reformers and native Christians of the time, who were well aware of the commonalities in their arguments, with Padmanji adding the extra layer of Christianisation to it. Not only were the main protagonists of YP, Yamuna and Vinayak, already predisposed to the development of an inner Protestant voice due to their missionary education, but this voice inhabited a third space within and between them, centrally producing their marital intimacy as reformed and educated equals. Yamuna, and her companion, Shivram’s mother, convert to Christianity at the end of book, after being ill-treated as widows—an almost foregone conclusion given that they underwent torture as widows like the many other widows in the book, and given that Yamuna already considered Hinduism to be superstitious and cruel. Therefore, through Pandurang’s Hindu reform essay in Sanskrit formed the intermediary stage or the penultimate “stepping stone” of Christianisation, the ultimate goal of YP lay in imbibing a Protestant approach that Padmanji communicated in his inimitable vernacular style. Karhadkar (1979: 77–78) highlights details of the criticism and also the adulation YP received, describing how critics either ignored YP entirely, excluding it from their summaries of modern Marathi literature, or else accused Padmanji of fabricating its various anecdotal episodes. Others claimed that Padmanji wrote YP only to raise funds for his divorce, an accusation Karhadkar refutes, based on micro-differences between the timeline of both events. Though some readers found Padmanji’s language unaffected and intimate, typical of the Belgaum-Konkani style, others found Padmanji’s language pedestrian, vulgar, and full of mistakes. Christian newsletters like Dnyanodaya overfowed with congratulatory reviews, on the other hand, extolling YP for its sensitive depiction of widows, a treatise of poetic justice written in simple language that touched the heart, making it more than just a palimpsest of assorted experiences. Padmanji’s victory against critics was posthumously confrmed, when the fourth edition of YP was included within the curriculum of Bombay University in 1937. YP was tremendously popular, evidenced by its substantial subscription list, containing the names of many infuential social reformers from Maharashtra (cf. Karhadkar 1979: 54). After generating substantial debate, YP went into second edition in 1882, 25 years later. Though Padmanji did not change YP’s text this time, he extended its appendices to include additional essays on widow tonsuring and the exploitation of widows at pilgrimage centres. Highlighting the transformative nature of YP, Karhadkar 75

YAMUNAPARYATAN

(1979: 79) attributes the rise in widow remarriages in Maharashtra to the book’s success, arguing that the gap of 25 years between the frst and second edition marked a signifcant phase in the rise of widow-remarriage numbers in the Bombay region. The third edition in 1890 took a slightly altered position, with Padmanji clarifying that he was not advocating compulsory remarriage for all widows, many of whom did not want to remarry. Instead, he was advocating the availability of marital choices for young widows, a step that would ideally provide them legitimacy and acceptance as wives and mothers. Primarily opposed to practices of child marriage because it had a greater chance of resulting in early widowhood and subsequent immorality and sexual exploitation, Padmanji claimed that his main concern lay in creating realistic opportunities for women.

Narrative style Literary scholars have spent much energy debating whether YP can be considered a “novel”. While this debate necessarily involves global arguments about what constitutes “novels” in the frst place, Meenakshi Mukherjee (1994: 3–18) identifes the modern vernacular novel as a separate, specifcally Westernised entity, distinguished from precolonial Indian genres such as the purana and kadambari (1994: 5): “the narrative structure is often circular—i.e. either there is a larger story that contains a smaller one which in turn contains another and so on, or a number of shorter tales are strung together in the larger thread of the central narrative”. Mukherjee here identifes YP as a kadambari, or a pre-novel, interstitial narrative genre. Though the kadambari was already popularised by Banabhatta’s Sanskrit Kadambari in the 7th century as a long-prose text with dialogues, the concept of kadambari as “fctional narrative in prose” frst came to be included in the 1829 Marathi dictionary compiled under the sponsorship of Montstuart Elphinstone (Mukherjee 1994: 12). While some scholars of modern literature accord Padmanji primacy as the frst vernacular novelist of India (e.g. Nemade 2002), Mukherjee criticises Padmanji as opinionated and not modern enough, accusing YP of lacking in aesthetics and descriptive passages—a documentary text without literary embellishments that reduced its protagonists, Yamuna and Vinayak, to mere puppets without the freedom to disagree with their author. These accusations are puzzling, leading one to wonder whether Mukherjee read YP at all, a text replete with many lively descriptions. Mukherjee’s evaluations reveal a problematic bias, largely predicated on valorising 19th-century styles of English novel-writing, specifc notions of aesthetics, and the expression of Christian piety entailed therein, when demanding that vernacular novels constitute its exact replica (1994: 19–37). In her hurry to accord fctional protagonists power, she disempowers authors from expressing their subjective locations, mediated by fctional 76

YAMUNAPARYATAN

protagonists. Besides, Mukherjee renders obsolete many vital social differences integral to the production and consumption of YP: the difference between coloniser and colonised, the difference between English and Marathi literary styles in the colonial period, the difference between convert and non-convert Christian subject positions in colonial Maharashtra, and the difference between Christianity as a mainstream religion in England compared to missions in colonial India. Though Mukherjee does grudgingly accede to Padmanji’s interest in social reform, she believes that his interest in social reform replaced his interest in Christianity and, in so writing, obliterates the elemental driving force of Padmanji’s Christian reform intervention. Mukherjee fails to take the 19th-century mission history of Bombay Presidency into consideration, that formulated the context for the emergent vernacular mission feld, wherein Padmanji’s writing acted as a catalysing literary mechanism or device of social transformation. While applying abstract analytical perspectives disables the historical analysis of literary pieces in any case, it is more so for Mukherjee, whose only analytical variable for evaluating vernacular modernity lies in comparing Indian texts with their Western counterpart. She fails to compare Padmanji’s novels with postcolonial Marathi literature here, that developed out of this early phase of modern realistic writing (Nemade 2002). Indeed, if one were to apply Mukherjee’s standards of vernacular modernity to postcolonial Marathi literature, much of it, like Dalit literature, would be rendered equally opinionated and un-modern.2 The problem with Mukherjee’s classifcation is the superiority she accords the “true” novel against its lesser competitors, and this tussle to ft emerging vernacular literary genres in India into the frame of the novel that is always “something else”, “Western”, and “beyond reach” becomes a frustrating and valueless exercise, especially as it obfuscates the contribution of the Christian genre to modern vernacular literature.3 Padmanji’s authorial viewpoint did not lack diversity. Though his texts are polemical and didactically oriented, his fctionalised protagonists often express their emotions through dialogues containing multiple and sometimes conficting subject positions, such as the pre-Protestant phase in Naranayak’s life that is recounted with as much empathy as the phase following his failure in Vilaspur. However, there is one regard where it becomes partially possible to concede to Mukherjee’s criticism: in terms of individuality, Padmanji like many postcolonial writers after him, judges and evaluates his fctional protagonists from a moral perspective, remaining profoundly invested in communicating a Christian message. Heroes and villains in Padmanji’s stories are always starkly different and inhabit binaries, like Kumantri in NN who leads Naranayak astray. Padmanji’s heroes, on the other hand, are mostly always Christianised (but not always converted), mission-educated guides and companions of heathens, like Daulat or Vinayak in YP or himself, his opaque, powerful voice counselling and guiding heathens about their failing moral compass. But there is also always 77

YAMUNAPARYATAN

the third space of the emerging “subject” in Padmanji’s stories like Yamuna or Naranayak, who are emotional and impressionable, ambivalent and pliant, given to learning and transformation as Christianised proto-converts and converts. There is something almost “nubile” about this third-space subject fgure of the proto-convert, ready to be impressed, educated, and converted, soon to fall in love with his new and reborn identity, developing an inner voice and repenting his sins, subject to experiences of turmoil and Protestant awakening. Ebeling’s research (2010: 205–245) on S. Vedanayagum Pillai’s longprose written in Tamil at the end of the 19th century is more helpful, persuasively reiterating the necessity of relinquishing anachronistic yardsticks like the Western novel for evaluating early vernacular prose in India. Instead, he suggests early vernacular prose to be viewed as an interstitial socio-literary device that “emerged as sites of dialogues between tradition and modernity, reality and imagination, written and spoken word, and Tamil and English” (2010: 206). This made the early Tamil and vernacular novel a “multivocal” text that was not simply “imported” or could not be simplistically considered a “response to western impact”. Extending Ebeling’s discussion to YP, the idea of redefning the vernacular prose narrative as an interactive genre that represented and infuenced local debates, is combined in this case with the emergence of Christian writing. This Christian vernacular genre saw authors like Padmanji write many multivocal texts that combined fction with real-life anecdotes, poems, songs, dialogues, descriptions, didactics, and polemics, that merged into a unifed texture and format. This emerging Christian literary texture and format demonstrated a strong engagement with regional vernaculars, an interest originally initiated by European missionaries. Native Christians like Padmanji promoted the vernacular as an ideal medium, a perfect third space that refected the inner Protestant voice, outside the binaries of sacred (Arabic/ Sanskrit) or courtly (Persian) literary languages, to conduct public debates on religion and modernity for everybody, including women. While using everyday language for religious debates in public has a long history of bhakti poetry and literature in Maharashtra (Novetzke 2016), the Christian vernacular genre introduced everyday vernacular prose to missionary tract writing and already prevalent bhakti traditions, combining this with the creation of an unmarked space that allowed native convert writers to insert their autobiographical voices within fctional-didactic-polemical literary enterprises. It is clear that Christian literature deeply infuenced the evolution of regional postcolonial vernacular literature in Madras (Bate 2010) and Bombay. Nemade (2002: 194–195; cf. Sanap 2005: 71), for instance, celebrates YP as being more than just a book. Describing YP as constituting an independent “realistic turn” or trend in the writing of modern vernacular literature in Maharashtra far before its times, he identifes this trend to have re-emerged and become popular only after independence, in the post-1960 78

YAMUNAPARYATAN

period, when differing standpoint positions were narratively described in a realistic way to create diversity and inclusivity within the emerging Marathi vernacular identity.4

The story The story of YP describes a newly married couple Vinayak and Yamuna and their journey through many regions of Maharashtra. Though Vinayak and Yamuna are Brahmins, they are already Christianised, or “internally” convinced of Christianity, but as yet un-baptised. YP begins with Vinayak and Yamuna’s marriage. Marriage and the frst encounters with widowhood At frst, Yamuna’s mother-in-law shows fondness for her, until she realises that Yamuna is educated and ascribes to Christian moral values.5 Her liking thereafter soon dwindles, and she ensures that Yamuna fnds no time to read or study. Yamuna’s father-in-law, Ganeshrao, on the other hand, is sympathetic, and Yamuna’s husband Vinayak is deeply affectionate and proud of Yamuna as an educated, ideal life partner.6 When Yamuna’s expensive wedding leads her father into penury,7 he goes to Baroda to work, leaving Yamuna behind, who is described as a delicate, gentle, spiritual, and sensitive girl, given easily to hurt and fright (1857: 1–7, Marriage). Yamuna’s frst widowhood experience concerns the suicide of the widow Godu, who is her friend from the neighbouring house. Godu’s widowhood (frst chapter, “Khandu the Barber”; 1857: 8–14) is recounted through a letter written by Godu’s husband’s uncle announcing Godu’s husband’s death in Bombay—a letter that further blames Godu’s late husband and brother for being incorrigible reformists. The uncle advises the family to forthwith tonsure Godu, before her brother can intervene, and in the ensuing family drama, Godu’s sisters-in-law blame her for the immorality that incurs her husband’s death.8 They invite the local barber, Khandu, to tonsure her, but Godu is nowhere to be found on the day of the tonsuring ritual, with her drowned body being later discovered in a well. The shock of Godu’s suicide terrifes Yamuna about her own possible future. Thereafter, unwilling to be separated from her husband, Yamuna joins him on a business trip to Nagpur, where on their way at a Brahmin home,9 she meets Venu, a young widow living a pathetic and impoverished life. Venu’s story (1857: 15–28), recounted in a dialogic form, reveals the tragic life of young, unhappy Brahmin widows, worked to the bone. Venu is ill-treated worse than a servant and animal, not receiving enough food or clothes to wear. She is not even allowed her own bedding, and no one is ever kind to her. Her wealth and possessions are taken away and she is helpless, often blamed for her husband’s death, left feeling half-dead herself. Yamuna, feeling sorry for 79

YAMUNAPARYATAN

Venu, tells her about Jesus Christ and asks her to pray hard to him, confding in Venu that she herself believes in Jesus Christ as her saviour, while only pretending to lead an outwardly Hindu life (second chapter, “Venu”). At Nagpur, Vinayak makes friends with Daulat, a boy from the Maratha community, who is also a reformed student of the local missionary school. On narrowly escaping being bitten by a snake one evening, the two frightened men ponder the terrible fate of their widowed wives, if they had indeed died. Daulat confdes in Vinayak about the rampant sexual immorality and crime that widowhood practices in the Maratha caste entail, sometimes driving families to murder their daughters. Since no one reports these misdemeanours to the government, Daulat wishes the police to investigate these crimes that are concealed behind the grandeur of rich mansions, and Vinayak agrees with Daulat, comparing these crimes to the barbarism of Roman Catholic inquisitions!10 Daulat thereafter recounts the story of his uncle’s widowed daughter (1857: 32–35), who, unable to bear the travails and grief of widowhood despite her father taking good care of her, falls to immoral ways. Even as her father employs a priest to read to her from religious texts—something he hopes would generate spiritual calm by defecting her grief, the presence of this priest instead ignites within her the desire to remarry, as he begins reading erotic stories of Krishna and Radha to her. Meanwhile, a wandering mendicant–preacher becomes popular with womenfolk in the village, and contrary to advice, Daulat’s uncle sends his daughter to seek his blessings. This mendicant, obviously a licentious cheat, organises a night-time ritual, which Daulat’s uncle, being a simpleton, allows his daughter to attend. Soon after, the girl runs away with the mendicant–preacher, additionally stealing a large sum of money from home. This causes a scandal for Daulat’s uncle, driving a wedge in the local Maratha community that results in his ostracism (third chapter, “Priestly Acts”). Daulat recounts two other instances of licentiousness and crime (1857: 37–39) among upper-caste widows of Bombay, with one killing a servant boy for knowing about her immorality, pregnancy, and incestuous relationship, and the other, of a young widow from the Shenoy community11 who begins living as the mistress of a married man. Shivram’s mother in Pandharpur Soon Vinayak and Yamuna move to Pandharpur, where they take up lodgings with a Brahmin widow and her 11-year-old son, Shivram, who begs and pilfers outside Vithoba’s temple. Shivram’s mother maintains a shrine of the Goddess Rakhmabai (Vithoba’s wife) at home, where Brahmin ladies sometimes visit. Soon, Vinayak and Yamuna encounter an unknown lady dressed in fnery roaming around the house late in the evenings and early mornings. When Yamuna asks Shivram’s mother about this mysterious lady, she claims that it is the goddess Rakhmabai herself, who goes to meet Vithoba 80

YAMUNAPARYATAN

every evening. Finding all this suspicious, Vinayak decides to investigate. Locking the front door attached to the temple, he waits at the backdoor, pouncing upon the mysterious lady as she tries to enter early one morning. The lady turns out to be none other than Shivram’s mother in disguise, wearing a wig! Her story about how widows in general, and she in particular, are exploited lasts for the next fve chapters of YP (fourth chapter, “The Wig”; ffth chapter, “Clanswoman’s Lies”; sixth chapter, “Trickery”; seventh chapter, “The Reformed”; and eighth chapter, “Release”). Shivram’s mother recounts that she once belonged to an affuent Brahmin family from Satara. After widowhood at a young age and terrifed of tonsuring and the other tortures of widowhood, an acquaintance (kulambini, a peasant woman) inveigles her into running away from home. The kulambini additionally loots Shivram’s mother of her jewellery and sells her off to a brothel after drugging her (1857: 48–53). Gradually, pacifed and comforted by the evidently Muslim brothel keeper (who speaks Dakkhni), Shivram’s mother takes up “work” over time, till one day the brothel keeper passes away (1857: 54–56). Soon, Shivram’s mother runs away to Kashi with a Brahmin music teacher working in the same brothel, who introduces her as his wife to everyone in Kashi, including his family. They live there as a married couple, and soon Shivram is born. But after the sudden demise of this “husband”, Shivram’s mother is tonsured and tortured as a widow. After a few months, unable to bear it, she runs away to Poona. In Poona, she rents rooms in Belbagh (a Vishnu and Ram temple complex in central Pune), meeting another priest there, who earns by “healing” clients. This priest seduces Shivram’s mother and involves her in his daily Tantric rituals and seances, dressing her up as goddess Kali with the help of a wig. They subsist on the ritual offerings of alcohol and meat brought to “Kali” by her devotees. But soon, frightened by a large Brahmin-sabha (conference) organised in Belbagh to condemn two widowed girls, one from the Shenoy caste who is impregnated by the family cook and the other an upper-caste girl with an affair with a stable boy, Shivram’s mother runs away a third time, this time to Pandharpur, only to be promptly robbed of her belongings.12 Here, working as a cook for an old Brahmin man, she meets his nephew, a widower and priest at the Vithoba temple, who helps with Shivram’s sacred-thread ceremony and promises to get him married in future, in exchange of sexual favours (1857: 57–60). Shivram’s mother agrees and secretly starts meeting him regularly in a room adjacent to the temple, where she goes every night, dressed up and disguised in a wig. Vinayak is shocked to hear that most priests in pilgrimage towns like Pandharpur, Nasik, and Kashi sexually exploit widows, who subsist on the payment they receive from immoral activities and secret prostitution. Shivram’s mother expresses great anger against Brahmin reformists, because of their empty promises and their quickness to pass moral judgement on women, which exonerates upper-caste men of ruthlessly exploiting 81

YAMUNAPARYATAN

widows. She specially denounces Lokahitavadi13 for his empty speeches about the sorrows of widows. “Their words are only worth the paper and ink they write on!”, she claims, rhetorically asking: “Where is this Lokahitavadi today, I ask you … why is he hiding now like a woman?” (1857: 63–64). Vinayak and Yamuna decide to rescue Shivram and his mother, accepting them as part of their household, and Vinayak promises to educate Shivram and make him independent frst, before getting him married (1857: 65–68). Vinayak and Yamuna lament the immorality of Brahmin men, who oppose widow remarriage because they atavistically enjoy the exploitation of widows. But again, not all widows want to remarry, Padmanji notes. Some widows strongly resist the widow remarriage act, considering it to be a colonial imposition. For example, Yamuna encounters a widow from Bijapur (ninth chapter, “The Brahmin Woman”), who recounts a sad story of being cheated out of property by her family after the death of her husband. She begs Yamuna for food, despite being abused by Vinayak and Yamuna’s servants as a hypocrite—moralistic about untouchability, on the one hand, and sexually immoral, on the other. When Yamuna suggests that she get remarried after the law is passed, the widow recoils, calling widow remarriage a lower-caste practice foisted upon Brahmins by missionaries and the East India Company after banning Sati, which had earlier averted the sexual exploitation of widows (pp. 73–82). She even quotes sections from the Dasbodh in support of the Brahminical duty of begging that confers merit on all those donating to Brahmins.14 The conference at Satara Vinayak and Yamuna travel to Satara, where they stay with Jagannath, Vinayak’s friend and classmate from Bombay. Jagannath, who belongs to the goldsmith (Sonar) caste, is newly appointed as head-clerk at the Commissioner offce in Satara. But he is also a hypocrite, corrupted by his father. Jagannath likes attending dances, entertainment shows, and banquets with infuential people, whiling away his time strolling in gardens, playing chess, and betting on horses, while engaging only superfcially with the reform agenda to gain support from missionary school masters who recommend him. He is against widow remarriage, writing about it, only in terms of women’s sadness at losing their husbands (1857: 84–88). The next three chapters of YP describe Vinayak’s arguments with Jagannath and other Hindu Brahmins gathered in Jagannath’s house to celebrate the birth of his son (tenth chapter, “The Conference”; 11th chapter, “The Lady and Arjun”; and 12th chapter, “The Decision”). The invited Brahmins praise Jagannath and criticise reformists and missionaries for increasingly blaming and undermining Brahmins. They quote Sanskrit passages eulogising the birth of a male heir, auspicious compared to a daughter, who is weak and low by nature, and the source of sorrows. 82

YAMUNAPARYATAN

Jagannath agrees, expressing irritation with reformist preoccupations about women’s education and widow remarriage, claiming that the damage done to Hinduism by British missionaries was worse than the Muslims of yore. But Vinayak interjects, emphasising the equality between men and women. He blames Hindu Brahmins for the downfall of women, as they frst demean women by denying them education and thereafter demean them further as uneducated.15 Jagannath responds to this by denying the importance of widow remarriage, citing the example of Englishwomen, many of whom do not marry. Claiming that a very small number of widows face any real exploitation, he complains that too much noise is made about a few young widows, who initially feel shy about shaving their heads. However, they soon get used to it, even directing and instructing barbers to shave their heads properly thereafter. Besides, they enjoy freedom from marital duties and are mostly well cared for and respected in families, given the task of training young girls of marriageable age in the house. Vinayak argues back heatedly, asking Jagannath if he also supports female infanticide because their numbers are low, or whether unmarried Englishwomen also go hungry, are regularly humiliated, impoverished, sexually exploited, deliberately disfgured, insulted as inauspicious, or made to slave like animals. Openly expressing his support for the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, Vinayak asserts that this support is not due to any missionary infuence but because he personally witnessed the widespread torture of widows during his journeys (1857: 89–97). Vinayak then reads from a letter sent by a friend from Belgaum (1857: 99–105), who provides concrete examples (with specifc family names) of strictly imposed Brahminical widowhood rules leading to increasing immorality and the exploitation of widows. For example, when a widow aborted a baby in the ffth month of her pregnancy, out of an illicit relationship with her younger brother’s tutor, the embryo that she tried to dispose of was soon discovered. She was arrested for foeticide and after serving her allocated prison sentence never returned home. The letter recounts at least 50 other cases of tonsured widows from Belgaum, who escaped home, grew back their hair, and began working as prostitutes in cantonment areas. Though the Brahmins present, listening to the letter, point to the absence of Hindu rituals for widow remarriage, Vinayak interjects that new rituals can easily be introduced, like they are, when allowing Brahmins to undertake earlier-prohibited sea voyages, allowing them to postpone the age of their marriages, or change their professions. Similarly, archaic widowhood rules could also be relaxed, with loopholes in religious–legal texts explored to facilitate remarriage (1857: 106–111). Yamuna, too, expresses agreement with her husband about widow remarriage, criticising Jagannath for pretending to be a Brahmin, when he is only a Sonar, adding that many goldsmiths falsely pretended to be extra-Brahminical by copying Brahmin rituals (1857: 112–113). 83

YAMUNAPARYATAN

Vinayak’s death Soon Vinayak and Yamuna leave for Nasik (13th chapter, “Death”), but their bullock cart unfortunately meets with an accident in Tuljapur. Though Vinayak is critically injured, Yamuna remains stoic in the face of heartbreak. Vinayak confdes his regrets in Yamuna, of not having accepted baptism, and having wasted his time in useless worldly pursuits. Yamuna, agreeing that they have both sinned against God, prays to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, reading from the Bible to comfort Vinayak. Vinayak is worried that Yamuna will be tortured, and he asks her to convert to Christianity and remarry after his death. After Vinayak passes away, as expected, Yamuna is overcome with diffculties (14th chapter, “The Clouds Come”) as her mother-in-law expresses hatred for her and blames her for Vinayak’s death (1857: 111–124). She further schemes with the family priest Morobhatta to tonsure her,16 and they agree to humiliate Yamuna by disfguring her, so that she never entertains the thought of reform, other men, or remarriage (1857: 125–129; 135–141). Morobhatta explains the tonsuring rituals to Yamuna, quoting passages from the Gurucharitra that describe the duties of widowhood (15th chapter, “Provocation”).17 Meanwhile, Shivram brings Yamuna a letter written by an old friend of Vinayak’s called Dajiba, who has converted to Christianity. Dajiba condoles with Yamuna, asking her to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, assuring her of his support in case she needs any help, since he too lives in Nasik with his wife and children. Yamuna’s heart flls with joy and she praises God for this message, softly singing a small, beautifully composed Marathi hymn (1857: 130–133).18 The 16th and penultimate chapter (“The Test”) describes Yamuna’s refusal to submit to the tonsuring ritual, at which Yamuna’s mother-in-law starves and beats her, and then turns her, Shivram, and his mother out of the house. At this, the resourceful Shivram remembers Dajiba’s letter and pleads with his mother and sister (he calls Yamuna sister) to take refuge with Dajiba. Yamuna accepts her destiny and goes with Shivram and his mother to Dajiba’s house, where the three are warmly received by him and his family.19 News of Yamuna living with a Christian family soon spreads like wildfre through Nasik,20 and Ganeshrao, who has temporarily left home after feeling greatly disturbed by the scheming between Morobhatta and his wife to tonsure Yamuna, now visits Yamuna. After listening to her story, Ganeshrao bestows her with his affectionate blessings and wishes her all the best for her future.21 Shivram and his mother meanwhile take instruction in Christianity, fnding succour in dedicating their lives to God, and in the last chapter, titled “Shivram”, Yamuna converts too, subsequently remarrying an educated and enlightened man (1857: 142–148).22 The rest of the chapter mostly consists of a letter by Shivram (1857: 150–161), in which he recounts his childhood surrounded by sins that has strengthened his resolve towards the urgency of women’s reform. 84

YAMUNAPARYATAN

Having put his heart into education, he wants to ensure that others do not suffer the fate of his mother, and decides to organise funding and donation for a shelter home for destitute women.

Realism, modern inspiration, and emulation There are obvious ambivalences in the way Padmanji tries to reconcile early feminism with Christian convert piety, with Christianity playing an important role in helping Yamuna ameliorate her earlier fear of widowhood. Her Christianisation creates an emotional space of an internal Protestant voice within her, which gave her the strength to negotiate widowhood. Apart from enunciating a social reform agenda in general, YP focuses specifcally on the 1856 Hindu Widow Remarriage Act, initiated by Vidyasagar, and may be viewed as a socio-legal treatise in defence of the act. Padmanji’s primary intervention in YP lay in strengthening the case of reform and Christianisation by marginalising the opposing position, couched as the Brahminical concern about caste purity. For example, Vinayak, Daulat, and Yamuna attribute the widespread prevalence of widowhood practices among non-Brahmins (like the Shenoy, Maratha, or Sonar castes) to misguided Brahminical practices. Highlighting how widowhood practices are specifcally Brahmin—something that would soon be brought under legal sanction (just as the widow from Bijapur had complained it had), Padmanji deliberately disaggregates other upper castes like Shenoy, Maratha, and Sonar from Brahmins and Brahminical practices. With nonBrahmins increasingly giving up false Brahmin practices, Padmanji hoped that Brahmins would soon be reduced to a religious minority and could henceforth be pressured by the new law into allowing widow remarriage. Padmanji therefore hoped that a greater number of women, free from false Brahminism, would soon turn to Western education and reform, marrying/ remarrying educated men to bring about a demographic shift in society that increased the scope of Christianisation and conversion. This demographic politics, with the help of which Padmanji sought to utilise Brahmin conficts about caste purity to the beneft of Christianisation and modernity, has hitherto escaped adequate exploration.23 In this sense, Padmanji’s ideas align across confessional boundaries with concerns expressed by non-Brahmin Hindu reformers who were increasingly challenging Brahmin hegemony on religious and social matters (cf. Menon 2015: 77–82). YP also describes women in caste terms. While depicting Brahmin widows as angry, unhappy victims of Brahminism, Padmanji depicts immorality to be the special repository of non-Brahmin widows, falsely trapped within the imposition of Brahmin practices. While this makes YP appear a somewhat biased text, marking non-Brahmin female sexuality and Brahmin masculinity as uncontrolled and rapacious, this specifc narrative practice of exaggerating excess, producing revulsion about the subject of exaggeration, 85

YAMUNAPARYATAN

can be compared to other traditional narrative strategies.24 Though it is impossible to ascertain whether Padmanji was consciously using this narrative strategy, since he repeatedly claims the anecdotes contained in YP to be “true”, his aims of positing widowhood practices as repulsive and immoral is also an openly declared aim in YP. It is important to remember here that Padmanji was responding to accusations of fabrication, when claiming the anecdotes contained in YP to be true, and not referring to his own narrative style. The introductory section of YP is interesting for the way Padmanji imagines his audience (1857: 7–12). Padmanji imagines a time-traveller from the past, visiting Bombay Presidency in the present times of 1856, wishing to take a picture of the future woman back with him.25 This picture, Padmanji claimed, would be fragmented and strange. While the woman’s face would be beautiful and fair, her body would be diseased, patchy, and discoloured. While she would be bedecked in jewellery and fnery, her clothes would be torn and in rags, her necklace of jewels interspersed with cracked cowrie shells.26 Her beautiful gold anklets would be accompanied by iron chains. While she would be affuent, having enough to procure good quality food, she would eat this food only after it rotted, or never eat it at all, falling ill from hunger. Such, Padmanji diagnosed, was the paradoxical condition of the modern Indian woman, whose reform was discussed by everyone, but whose condition did not make any progress, with reformists lacking enough courage to educate women and marry widows. The aimed audience of YP was therefore not limited to Hindu Brahmins but also included the reformed and educated youth of Bombay, whose ideas, according to Padmanji, had spread like salt in seawater, but lacked the frm action required to scientifcally extract this salt. Without action, Padmanji claimed, these reformed thoughts would remain as empty as unusable seawater. He writes that he would consider YP a success, even if one man felt motivated enough to marry a widow after reading it. YP openly criticises infuential social reformers like Gopal Hari Deshmukh (Lokahitavadi) for not acting on their frebrand texts on child marriage, dowry, and polygamy published in newsletters like Prabhakar. On the other hand, Padmanji himself allied with reformists like Dadoba Pandurang, Vidyasagar, and even the legacy of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, evident from instances in YP where widow tonsuring is demonstrated as an extension of Sati. Not only does Yamuna encounter the Brahmin widow from Bijapur who blames the immorality and exploitation of widows on the Company’s abolition of Sati (1857: 73–82), but Vinayak’s family priest Morobhatta also links widow tonsuring to Sati, identifying the widow’s hair as bonds that obstruct her husband’s soul from fnding release. Morobhatta, in fact, elucidates the entire widowhood ritual in YP (1857: 128), recommending Yamuna’s family to take her to the riverside on her husband’s death anniversary dressed as a bride, before worshipping her like a goddess 86

YAMUNAPARYATAN

by anointing her forehead with vermillion and flling her lap with gifts. Then, after a barber tonsures her (remunerated for it with money equalling the price of her bridal clothes) as directed by the offciating priest, her bangles and hair are to be burned along with a small effgy of her husband made from dough at the cremation ground. She would then perform her own shraddha (death rituals), and after a brief period of mourning, live the life of a renunciate. While Sati was abolished in 1829 after litigations against it initiated by Christian evangelist William Carey and Ram Mohan Roy, Padmanji demonstrated the value of widow remarriage and Vidyasagar’s legal interventions, by revealing how Sati was still being subversively observed, couched in widowhood tonsuring rituals. Padmanji did, therefore, partially associate with social reformers in a selective, oblique, and ambivalent way, while criticising those who openly supported social reformers, or were social reformers themselves. It was almost as if Padmanji wanted to reform social reformists, rather than conservative Hindus. Professing that the anecdotes contained in YP were true, in terms of being based on factual accounts, Padmanji asks all those who doubted that widows were tortured to undertake their own independent research on the subject. He furthermore declared (p.10 and p.12) the real-life incidents of YP as neither exaggerated nor downplayed, but only written in a fctional form. Neither was every incident, he writes, from a single family, town, or any one specifc point of time. Rather, these anecdotes represented the torture of widows in the wider Bombay region at a time when the 1856 Widows’ Remarriage Act was being intensely debated. More than anything, the multiple anecdotes of YP sought to create a larger representative expanse that transformed the experience of widowhood into a larger “social truth”, bigger than Yamuna’s story. Padmanji projected uniformity in his recounted experiences of widowhood across the internal diversity of Maharashtra, thereby presenting his readers with a perceptible step in the direction of realism within fctional writing. Padmanji thanked his many colleagues and associates from different parts of the country for sending him essays and letters, concerning experiences and information about widowhood, and Karhadkar (1979: 56) takes Padmanji’s claims literally, diagnosing the reason for YP’s palimpsest format to lie in the nature of its real-life anecdotes—sometimes written in the third person, sometimes as conversations and at other times as letters. Karhadkar also defends Padmanji’s critical use of bhakti texts like Dasbodh and Gurucharitra not as evidence of anti-Hindu diatribe but as part of the details contained within his researched anecdotes about religious sources cited for everyday decision-making in Hindu families. Like other early Indian novelists, Padmanji exhibited a marked tendency towards ethnographic realism, by including different Marathi dialects, or details about the customs of different castes based on the information he gleaned from a variety of sources. The coexistence of markedly different modes of narration—letters, speeches, dialogues, reports—within the pages 87

YAMUNAPARYATAN

of YP only heightens this realism, allowing Padmanji to draw together different aspects of his existence as a writer and public intellectual. Central to this ethnographic realism was the idea of the “wanderings” or paryatan: as Yamuna moves through the space that constitutes Maharashtra as the domain of the Marathi language, she encounters Marathi life in all its diversity. Yet at the same time, this diversity only serves to highlight the fact that Marathi widows everywhere share the same lamentable lot. Her encounter with the diversity of widowhood experiences in Maharashtra ominously prefgures that Yamuna is destined to meet the same fate. By suffering the fate of a widow, Yamuna comes to embody “real” Marathi-ness, and by escaping her fate in conversion, she provides a blueprint for a new image of Marathi society.27 Yamuna’s journeys thus allow Padmanji to map the vernacular domain that was central to his vision of a Marathi community unifed in Christianity as a positive inversion to the suffering that united Maharashtrians in the present. Padmanji’s narrative device of travelling to enable encounters with the real and to demarcate the domain of the reimagined self stands at the beginning of a long trajectory in Indian literature and political discourse in which journeys serve as encounters with reality that enable a renewed appreciation of the self (cf. Menon 1997: 307–312). In many ways, this trajectory culminated in Gandhi’s travels in search of the “real” India in 1915–1916 on the advice of Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866–1915) and Nehru’s Discovery of India (1946).28 Fiction and realism are thus two sides of the same coin in YP. Fiction is made real and therefore true precisely because it is real—it is based on real events, which are only rearranged and re-narrated in order to present a fuller and more convincing picture of reality. In his politics of fction, Padmanji differs from some of the early Malayalam authors discussed by Menon. For instance, Menon describes how for upper-caste Malayalam authors, fction enabled an escape from the tediousness of the “real” acts of gods and heroes imbibed through traditional storytelling since childhood. From this perspective, Padmanji was closer to a lower-caste author like Potheri Kunhambu, for whom the question of whether “reality could be represented” was of far lesser interest than “the fact that reality needed to be represented” (Menon 1997: 298; emphasis in original). Fiction allowed Padmanji to escape the traditional boundaries of religious truth claims, and to reveal the “real” consequences underlying Hindu religiosity, making fction more truthful than the religious texts liberally quoted in YP, such as the Dasbodh or Gurucharita. Given the “modernity” of YP, scholars have searched for possible literary models that Padmanji could have drawn upon for inspiration. Both Mukherjee (1994: 21) and Karhadkar (1979: 55) contend that Padmanji drew inspiration from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Harikeshav Somvanshi Kshatripathare’s Marathi translation of it (Yatrikakraman 1841).29 Karhadkar explains this as a matter of availability, arguing that Yatrikakraman was the only other Christian Marathi novel available at this 88

YAMUNAPARYATAN

time, added to by the fact that Padmanji used the metaphor of “journey” in YP, similar to Pilgrim’s Progress. This assumption feels unsubstantiated for several reasons. Yatrikakraman is a literal translation of the Pilgrim’s Progress, containing none of YP’s fair. Neither was Kshatripathare a convert who wanted to further the cause of Christianisation through translation.30 Padmanji was a voracious reader and prolifc writer, besides being well-conversant with many English missionary, Christian, evangelical texts as well as the Bible, that he frequently referenced. While Padmanji could well have been inspired by Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress or by Kshatripathare’s translation it, or Sherwood’s Anglo-Indian rendition of it in 1818, he could have drawn equal inspiration from any other popular book or religious text of that time, that described the physical-spiritual journey of a married couple—even the Ramayana. Also, the Pilgrim’s Progress is not just a story of a journey; it is also an experience that takes place in a dream, and there is no trace of any dream sequence in Vinayak and Yamuna’s story. It is important, while pondering the similarities between YP and Yatrikakraman, to take note of Bernard Bate’s research on missionary language (2010: 101–115) and how it changed the very idiom of communication within modern vernacular literature: “The ability to universalize texts so that everyone could understand them—to produce vernacular texts written in the language of everyday use—was asserted as ethically superior to the Indian forms of texts which, in the missionaries’ view, were ethically unconscionable, for only a qualifed few could understand them and comprehend their meaning or, in fact, were even licensed to hear them” (p. 111). Contextualised within the overarching subject of an everyday missionary language imbibed within vernacular reform texts (Wakankar 2018; 2019), there is no harm in accepting that Padmanji was inspired by many prevalent Christian works such as the Pilgrim’s Progress, the Bible, Banerjea’s texts, or any other English and Marathi missionary publications, Vidayasagar, or even some other reform texts for that matter. After all, Padmanji inserted a long Sanskrit essay about widow remarriage and its Marathi translation by Dadoba Pandurang, a Hindu reformer and scholar, as a preface to the main body of YP. Discussions about who Padmanji borrowed from, or was inspired by, for writing YP therefore remains conjectural, since Padmanji does not mention any other source, like in the case of NN, something he also criticises Western-educated Hindu writers like Sahasrabuddhe for, when pointing to their inadequate analysis of sources and references (Padmanji 1891).

Reform and fctional autobiography Padmanji seemed apprehensive that readers would take YP lightly, as an entertaining book on the sexuality of widows, written moreover in an everyday vernacular that some Hindu scholars considered pedestrian. He 89

YAMUNAPARYATAN

may have therefore included Dadoba Pandurang’s Sanskrit essay entitled Vidhavashrumarjanam in the beginning of the book, accompanied by a Marathi translation, to underline the gravitas of YP. While Dadoba Pandurang’s essay could be interpreted as a narrative instrument that sought to include Hindu Brahmins within the ambit of YP’s readership, Karhadkar (1979: 53) muses whether the Sanskrit essay was included only to undermine Hindu reform as the ultimate solution—a deliberate measure to stage the applicability of Christianity as a more meaningful option for widows. This ascribes a subversive angle to YP, in keeping with Padmanji’s belief that social reform was only an intermediary stage or stepping stone to Christianisation. It must, however, also be kept in mind that Padmanji disliked utilitarian conversion and would not endorse the idea of widows converting to Christianity in order to escape the torture of Hinduism, especially when Dadoba Pandurang’s essay (as well as Vidyasagar’s) outlined the enforced ascetism and torture of widows to be baseless according to Hindu texts. In fact, such an essay provided readers of YP with the possibility of introspecting on Christianity and conversion more independently, since they no longer needed to escape Hinduism. In YP’s epilogue, Padmanji provides a detailed description of the reformist struggle to legalise widow remarriage. Writing respectfully about Vidyasagar, Padmanji describes the latter as an esteemed principal of Calcutta’s Sanskrit College, explaining how the social movement for the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act began with Vidyasagar writing two small books in 1855 (in English, in 1856) on the permissibility of widow remarriage according to Hindu texts. This encouraged many reformed men to marry widows. So that this spurt in widow remarriages would not come under any legal sanction by his opposers, Vidyasagar applied to the legislative council to pass the Widows’ Remarriage Act, which was successfully passed in 1856 (1857: 166–168). Padmanji further provides a description of the frst two widow remarriages in Bengal, allegedly with an aim to motivate the reformed youth of Bombay to marry widows. Carried out in complete accordance with Hindu rituals, Padmanji describes these weddings as attended by hundreds of Brahmin and other upper-caste guests. In both cases, however, the brides were still children. While the bride in the frst remarriage was a 10-year-old Brahmin widow from Palashdanga, Burdwan district, who was widowed at the age of 6 after being married at the age of 4, the second bride from a Kulin Kayastha background was 12 years old at her remarriage, widowed three months after her frst marriage at the age of 9. Despite Padmanji’s appreciation of Vidyasagar, the detailed description of these widowed girls and their ages in YP’s epilogue is again subversive, demonstrating the incomplete nature of Hindu reform that nevertheless continued with child marriages. In fact, Padmanji’s aim (strongly endorsed by Banerjea before him) of facilitating widow remarriage, was chiefy imbricated with the abolition of child marriage, decrying 90

YAMUNAPARYATAN

that brides were spiritually and educationally unequal to their husbands, leading to their exploitation. Since Vidyasagar’s reforms did not address this issue of exploitation, this Padmanji obliquely suggests, renders his reform and Hindu reform in general, incomplete from a Christian interventionist perspective. Despite being based on real incidents, it is important to note that all the voices contained in YP are ultimately Padmanji’s own voice: Vinayak, Yamuna, Shivram, Shivram’s mother, Daulat, Dajiba, Ganeshrao, and Venu, while their detractors voice the arguments that most Hindu conservatives, and Padmanji’s opponents held: the resisting widow, Jagannath and his father, Vinayak’s parents, the Brahmins of Satara, and Morobhatta. As part of the overarching Christian vernacular genre, YP is therefore also a fctional autobiography that provides primacy not only to widowhood experiences but to Padmanji’s own emotional investment in these experiences of love, loneliness, grief, humiliation, and sexual desire that function as a third mediating space, through which he controls himself and his readers, creating a bond between them. The ambivalence between women’s truths, Christian authors, readers, and Padmanji’s emotional mediation of it through the fctionalised format, therefore, results in the production of a palimpsest, composed of multiple experiences that are simultaneously archival, fctional, and autobiographical. Padmanji’s collective telling of widows produced as prototypes of his own imagined world transforms women’s experiences of widowhood into a larger, unifed social truth, mediated by his own worldview. Therefore, Yamuna’s journey towards Protestant conviction, if anything, is highly reminiscent of Padmanji’s own conversion journey. Yamuna does not convert to become educated or remarry, and neither dose Shivram’s mother have anything personal to gain from conversion. Conversion in YP is the result of Protestant awakening and introspection, and not the cause of education and remarriage. While Vinayak proxied for Padmanji’s frst wife by exiting the plot, and Dajiba proxied for the Rev. Sheshadri by acting as Yamuna’s saviour and mentor; Vinayak also acted at other times as Padmanji’s mouthpiece, like at the conference with Brahmins in Satara, reminding readers of the young reformer in SN. Even as Vinayak’s fgure is an ambivalent mixture of both Padmanji and his frst wife, Yamuna enacts yet another side to Padmanji’s autography—one that was impressionable and interested in learning and transforming himself and the world. As mentioned, the protagonist Ganeshrao also bore great resemblance to Padmanji’s father, and the humble paragraph about Yamuna’s remarriage to a worthy, educated man is reminiscent of Padmanji’s own steadfast, Christian marriage with Serabai, that did not disintegrate in the face of his frst wife’s re-entry into his lifestory. Karhadkar (1979: 69), like many of Padmanji’s hagiographic biographers, appreciates Padmanji for highlighting women’s voices in YP. There 91

YAMUNAPARYATAN

are, however, some diffculties with this argument. One important factor underlying the nature of YP’s anecdotes is an absence of empathy, making these anecdotes sound fantastic and theatrical at times. Non-empathy admittedly typifed many early writings on women and sexuality, especially those written by men. Lucy Bland’s research (1995: 5–23) on the feminist journal The Freewoman published in 1911 from England, for example, points to the extraordinarily strong response this journal received as a result of its rather explicit discussion on female sexuality. The journal allegedly nauseated many of its women readers so much that it provoked them to tear it into small pieces. The problem was not that the journal discussed sex (something feminists were already doing) but that these discussions were of a sexually explicit and voyeuristic nature. It was even alleged by the journal’s detractors that half its articles were written by men masquerading as women. The absence of empathy while discussing sex, it was claimed, stemmed from the difference with which men approached the topic of female sexuality compared to Victorian women. The problems inherent to YP are similar, with some of Padmanji’s critics describing the book as grotesque or vulgar (Karhadkar 1979: 77–78). Padmanji’s rather explicit language in recounting the pain, loneliness, or sexual frustration of widows within a context that systemically disallowed women from articulating these experiences and emotions shocked YP’s readers. While in everyday life, the widow’s language pointedly avoided the social and family disruption that any subversive articulation of pain caused, this submissive language appended the widow’s body and her lowly but simultaneously saintly status to the patriarchal clan, allowing her to seek refuge in its traditional status quo. It was left to Padmanji to jettison this compensatory widowhood language of transcendental, saintly suffering to instead graphically describe the caked blood smeared on a widow’s leg, which indicated to her sexual desire and her crime of aborting a fve-monthold foetus (1857: 101). It was this mediating and harsh Protestant authorial non-empathy that shock-forced even reformed men to confront the horrors of widowhood in their own homes and families. In addition to his shocking language, Padmanji continued to consider women’s sexuality appropriate only in the context of marriage. While Padmanji condemned immoral women, who could not be considered victims if they resisted marriage or remarriage, his lack of empathy demonstrated the basic weakness of soldering women’s sexual morality to education, reform, and conversion, when all the while remaining opposed to utilitarian conversion and, on the other hand, signifcantly limiting the individual agency of educated women, forcing them to conform to marriage and Protestant ideas of sexual morality. The important role of marital bliss between a Christianised couple in YP from a fctionalised autobiographical perspective raises the question of how closely the troubles surrounding Padmanji’s divorce impacted his writing

92

YAMUNAPARYATAN

of YP. Though Karhadkar (1979: 51–52) separates Padamnji’s divorce in 1857 from the writing of YP, defending him against critics who alluded to Padmanji having written YP for money, the degree to which Padmanji picturises Christian married life as idyllic seems diffcult to disconnect from his own losses in the marital sphere at the time he was researching and writing YP. After all, every book possesses an ecology, which in YP’s case is characterised by an overt framework of the 1856 Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act. But this ecology also contains a private underbelly of personal relationships in this case, Padmanji’s disintegrating marriage. Though the depiction of marital intimacy between Yamuna and Vinayak is tepid and stilted, this is perhaps rooted in Padmanji’s own yearning for unexperienced marital bliss. For example, Vinayak presents Yamuna a jasmine fower from the garden, describing for her its perfect petals that refected the beauty of God’s earthly deeds (p. 8). At other times, the couple enjoys watching a sunrise together, admiring its various colours and praising God for the earth’s natural beauties. Vinayak draws Yamuna’s attention to the twittering of birds, and they both ponder the innocence of animals, which suffer neither superstition nor atheism. Yamuna expresses sadness for child widows lamenting their relegation from God’s blessings of happiness (1857: 69–72). Padmanji is candid about a wife seeking romantic intimacy with her husband in an ideal Christian relationship of equality (1857: 12), with the couple often conversing closely on matters of religion and articulating their love for each other openly. For example, while recouping from illness in Pandharpur, Yamuna expresses gratitude to God for giving her a husband like Vinayak with whom she enjoys moments of such loving tenderness, a divine blessing despite her sinful and undeserving nature. Vinayak, too, thanks God for healing Yamuna, saying that it is not necessarily bad to fall ill, since sending illness is God’s own way of trimming and pruning his plants for a healthier future! Vinayak and Yamuna agree that they are lucky to understand the true nature of God, in contrast to the superstitious who worship stones (1857: 41–43). It is almost as if Padmanji was tempting reformed men through his text to engage in enlightened conjugal relationships with loving, educated, adult, and equal partners, especially describing a picnic outing, where Vinayak and Yamuna eat a wholesome, sumptuous, and simply cooked meal in each other’s company, flling their hearts with joy at a beautifully decorated rural homestead (1857: 81–84). Through this writing of a non-sexual but romantic and mutual equal marital intimacy between Vinayak and Yamuna, YP made an important contribution to women’s emancipation that was unknown in other reformist texts of the time, translating the idea of Christian feminism into the imagination of a personally lived, intimate, romantic relationship between modern, reformed, and Christianised spouses.

93

YAMUNAPARYATAN

Christian patriarchy and Christian feminism Anagol (2005: 25–30) traces the development of Christian feminism in Maharashtra as a trend that interpreted the Gospel as a social doctrine, pioneered by Pandita Ramabai, who was infuenced in this regard by the Sisters of Wantage and by the frebrand Anglican Christian feminist, Josephine Butler (1828–1906). Not considering prostitutes “fallen” but only unlucky, Ramabai rescued and rehabilitated them, strongly holding that women be treated as equals in every regard, epitomised by her own fgure in the public domain. It is important to note, however, that the seeds of Ramabai’s Christian feminism in the Bombay region were already sown by Padmanji in SN, VB, YP, and in many other texts. While SN and VB centrally negotiated the empowerment of women through education and the criminalisation of licentious men exploiting widows and orphans, YP, as a text embroiled in the socio-legal battles of the 1856 Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, combined this axiom with the abolition of child marriage and the inauguration of Christian conjugality. In this sense, Padmanji was the pioneer of Christian feminist principles in Maharashtra, his interventions far predating Ramabai’s establishment of the Mukti Mission and Kripa Sadan in 1898 that constituted the very “action” Padmanji was exhorting his reformed and educated readers of YP to initiate. Padmanji’s contributions, often stereotyped as “missionary”, have been overshadowed by the scholarship on Ramabai, even though she encapsulated Christian feminism differently. This has led to the dismissal of Padmanji’s contributions, helped in this regard by Kosambi, the ardentmost among Ramabai’s modern biographers.31 While Padmanji advocated women’s education and the rescue and rehabilitation of widows at a grassroots level, accomplished within the domestic household, Ramabai took an institutional approach that removed women from the structures of familial and marital life entirely. Though Padmanji’s Christian interventions powerfully advocated middle-class respectability and the inclusion of women within its ambit as equals, it was not as if Padmanji ignored the structural diffculties of morality for exploited widows either, when rehabilitating them within families and remarriages. While Padmanji condemned public women, who refused rescue and rehabilitation, with such women coming increasingly under colonial regulation through the Cantonments Act of 1864, it was also not as if Christian feminism could be completely exercised outside Protestant morality. The respectability movement, sharply deviating from earlier court cultures that considered public women artists, did hold reformed education and the domestic, marital absorption of women within the household at its very core in a manner suggestive of Christianisation (Anagol 2005: 122–130). Therefore, though Padmanji’s Christian interventions separated victimised women waiting to be rescued from a deliberately licentious life, his ideas about 94

YAMUNAPARYATAN

women’s respectability that painted a negative image of public women became embroiled with allegations of misogyny and orientalist patriarchy. But at the same time, rescuing and rehabilitating women within homes and churches was, after all, at the very core of the Christian reform intervention. Therefore, it is not as though Ramabai’s feminism was different; it was made special by her Christianity that was different—passionately infuenced by the structures of Hindu and Brahmo social reform, and Unitarian theistdeist views espoused by the Prarthana Samaj, and the axiom of utilitarian conversion aimed at rescuing women, at least until the time Mukti Mission underwent “revival” after coming in touch with the Pentecostal evangelism spearheaded by Minnie Abrams. Ramabai, through her own presence and her institutional approach to women’s rehabilitation, represented the new social respectability of single, upper-caste, elite, and educated women working in public, who disregarded family and marriage. While widow remarriage within the patriarchal clan had been more diffcult to achieve and slower to accomplish in Padmanji’s and Vidyasagar’s generation, the institutional movement was quicker, witnessing more success. While Ramabai’s public axiom of women’s equality gained social traction, Padmanji’s pioneering contributions that disaggregated the status and death of Brahmin men, husbands, and fathers from their daughters, wives, and widows was inadequately highlighted as a precursor to Ramabai’s interventions. For example, though Vinayak and Yamuna often expressed horror about widowhood, Padmanji does not allow Yamuna to mourn Vinayak for too long after his death, as Jagannath the Sonar would have doubtless deemed ft. Despite her love for Vinayak, Yamuna remarried, making an independent, educated decision about her future religious life, and marital, conjugal relationships. Padmanji’s divergence from Ramabai’s Christian feminism lay in their difference of opinion about the importance of family and marriage, institutions that were central to Protestant Christianity, and institutions that Padmanji had fought hard to reform and Christianise, in the Bombay region prior to Ramabai’s arrival on the scene. By the time Ramabai was rescuing girls and widows, widow remarriage had become legal. On the other hand, Ramabai’s dismissal of the reformed family espoused by Padmanji revealed fssures within the respectability movement itself, pointing to the continued victimisation of widowed women within families. This divergence between Padmanji and Ramabai is crucial for producing the narrow difference between Christian patriarchy and Christian feminism in 19th-century Bombay that developed in a relatively short span of time. This narrow space enabled not only the mutual sharing of two distinct but also similar varieties of Christian values about women, family, and marriage, but it also allowed Christian patriarchs and Christian feminists to strategically adopt each other’s concerns. This ambivalence generated further non-empathy for women’s desires of wanting to study, marry, convert, or indeed, refuse and resist 95

YAMUNAPARYATAN

it all, which suddenly became politically interpreted as part of a battle for or against Hindu patriarchy. While Padmanji’s Christian feminism/patriarchy concealed within itself a demographic twist, an interest of broadening the numerical base of the Christianised reformed household that would in turn broaden the social niche of converts, Ramabai’s Christian feminism/patriarchy dismantled the marriage and family institution, irrespective of women’s desire for it, creating instead a counterbalancing missionary instrument that had herself as its leader, at least until Minnie Abrams arrived—a scenario that witnessed Ramabai’s reconciliation with Padmanji. Padmanji’s Christian feminism was, thus, complicated by Protestant masculine anxiety about the sexuality of public women, dancers, prostitutes, and entertainers that is evident from discussions in both VB and NN. This allowed him to confate Hinduism and “heathenism” with patriarchy, Brahminical dominance, masculine violence, and licentiousness as one large evil conglomerate that endangered female morality, education, and reform. This was a common 19th-century missionary proclivity, demonstrated by Nandini Bhattacharya’s research (1996: 277–292), when underlining how dangerous the heathen women’s sexuality was considered by Europeans. Confations between Padmanji’s Christian feminism, masculine anxieties, and missionary–orientalist anxieties about the public woman’s sexuality produced him as an ambivalent and intermediate fgure: a Christian-feminist-cum-protectionist-patriarch, an ideologue situated on a transitional spectrum that discursively divided Christians from heathens, men from women, husbands from wives, respectable women from public immoral women, and families from public institutions. And this tension of protectionist Christian feminism was not just a problem for Padmanji alone; it continued to constitute a salient and identifying feature of many Christian/ Christianised patriarchs of the modern world. Thus, YP is a complex product, a socio-legal treatise written in defence of the 1856 Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, a fctional autobiography, and a researched compendium and palimpsest of widowhood experiences collated by Padmanji. At the same time, it is a powerful and early example of Christian feminism that graphically describes the emotional and sexual lives of widows, while retaining a variety of masculine anxiety that produces equality between men and women as contingent on marriage. Finally, YP quintessentially represents the emerging Christian vernacular mission feld and genre of 19th-century Bombay, presenting readers with early vernacular trends in realistic writing. Though Nemade’s conceptualisation of YP as a pioneering forerunner of postcolonial vernacular literary realism is rewarding, this view has its own defcits, in that it somewhat relegates Padmanji to the hoary prehistory of modern vernacular realism. Here, Padmanji’s deployment as the ancestor of modern postcolonial Marathi literature only serves to highlight the modern postcolonial itself, without evaluating what Padmanji meant for 96

YAMUNAPARYATAN

scholars, reformers, feminists, and literary critics of his time. This instrumentalises him without placing his political and religious thoughts and his creative-intellectual works in any independent position of power and focus. Though the postcolonial in Maharashtra constitutes a worthy literary interest, the hailing of Padmanji as an ancestor also reduces him to a past that is equally unknown, like a garlanded photograph of an unrecognisable grandfather hanging on the literary wall. After the obligatory garlanding ritual is over, he and his contributions can thereafter be ignored and even forgotten, allowing his descendants, who garland him unthinkingly, to return to their “real” postcolonial preoccupations and interests at hand.

Notes 1 Sogani (2002: 43) provides a detailed description of YP as one of the frst vernacular texts on widowhood, identifying new social trends of the mid-19th century that privileged the organisation of reception centres or ashrams for destitute women, within the Hindu household. While these trends may have well been new among Hindus, such reception centres were already in existence in the form of missionary orphanages and Christian homes for the destitute since the early 1830s in the Bombay Presidency. Private households of missionaries often functioned as orphanages and schools, which may have provided a model for the later day social trends Sogani identifes. 2 Nemade (2002: 207) explicitly connects Dalit literature with the “Yamunaparyatan Trend” in Marathi literature. 3 Though Mukherjee considers the English novel as a given, superior genre, recent research demonstrates how the English novel itself increased in eminence, infuenced by the Raj, from a status that was not considered too high (Malhotra 2012). 4 Cf. Nerlekar (2016) for the classic period of postcolonial modern Marathi literature after the 1960s, demonstrated by Arun Kolhatkar’s poetry. 5 Women did not study due to the protection they received from other women in the family for remaining uneducated, reminiscent of Bhagirathi in SN who was afraid of other women laughing at her for reading books. 6 Padmanji provides additional information here about missionary schools feeding and clothing their students as incentives for attending schools. 7 Padmanji refers here to needless Hindu ostentations at occasions such as weddings. 8 Widows are traditionally blamed at their husbands’ death because it is their supposed immorality that is said to incur this death (Chakravarti 1995). 9 Reminiscent of his arguments about women’s education in SN, Padmanji describes how Yamuna befriends other women in the Brahmin household, encouraging them towards education by showing them pictures and diagrams of newly invented machines, and telling them about scientifc discoveries in simple language (1857: 15)! 10 Reminiscent of Padmanji’s demands in VB that call for the police investigation of licentious upper-caste men. 11 Shenvi, or Gaud Saraswat Brahmins from coastal Karnataka and Goa. 12 Here, referring to the widespread prevalence of crimes in pilgrimage towns, as Shivram himself learns to steal and lie at a young age. 13 Pen-name of Gopal Hari Deshmukh (1823–1892), a social reformer, who among other things campaigned for widow remarriage (cf. Naregal 2001: 83 fn. 50;

97

YAMUNAPARYATAN

14 15 16 17 18

Singh 2016: 117–124). Bhattacharya (1999: 170) notes several instances where Deshmukh failed to live up to his own reformist standards. The Dasbodh is a Marathi bhakti text from the 17th century composed by Samartha Ramdas. Some of these debates are strongly reminiscent of the dialogue in SN between the young reformer and his conservative Brahmin acquaintance. Reminiscent of the Rev. Wilson’s (Padmanji’s mentor) most ardent Brahmin detractor, Morobhatta Dandekar in response to whom Wilson wrote An Exposure of the Hindu Religion: In Reply to Mora Bhatta Dandekara in 1832. Gurucharitra is a hagiography of the bhakti saint Shri Narasimha Saraswati (1378–1459) of the Dattatrey tradition written in the 15th–16th century by Shri Saraswati Gangadhar. Since Padmanji does not provide any specifc references to a composer or hymnal, I assume the song was composed by him (1857: 133): I will sing to the love of my God, sing his name in joy and sorrow, he who gives me refuge to gladden my heart! Oh, devotees come together fearlessly, grateful and blessed in your heart! He arrives to redeem you when you call, the divine watchman of bhaktas, removing fear from hearts beloved to God!

19 Erroneously identifying Padmanji as a Brahmin, Sogani also makes some interpretative mistakes in the translation of YP, describing Yamuna to have married the “Christian priest who rescued her from her own community” (2002: 43). 20 The outcry and public response to conversion is not lost on Padmanji since he suffered it too (AD and AS). Though he does not dwell on it, the issue of public response crops up in all Padmanji’s fctional texts, whether in the public speech made by the elderly conservative acquaintance of SN, the outcry at Naranayak’s return home in NN, or the outcry at Yamuna having taken refuge with Christians in YP. 21 Reminiscent of Padmanji’s father’s accepting response to his conversion. Padmanji specifcally mentions Yamuna’s father-in-law Ganeshrao’s benevolence in a footnote (1857: 148) that describes “his gentle behaviour to have emanated from his naturally affectionate nature and parental love”. 22 Yamuna’s conversion and remarriage is described in a small paragraph (1857: 149): “The pain of widowhood lessened over time, as the peace of religion pervaded Yamuna’s heart, and a few years later God sent her an educated and religious partner who shared in her joys and sorrows. With him by her side, she continued to serve God, help humanity and society cheerfully, till the end of her days”. 23 Chakravarti (1998: 48–52) provides a detailed analysis of the court battles between Brahmins and Sonars that broke out in 1822, resulting in the codifcation of the Panchayat Law in 1827, the background to which was constituted by Brahmin resistance to Sonars insinuating caste equality by mimicking Brahmin, especially widowhood rituals. 24 Cf. Ryan’s (1998) discussion of the 9th-century Tamil Jain poem Civakacintamani. 25 It is interesting that Padmanji mentions the idea of time travel here, a notion popularised by the latest in English fction, like Mercier’s Rip Van Winkle in 1819, or A Christmas Carol by Dickens in 1843.

98

YAMUNAPARYATAN

26 Necklaces of “cowrie” shells are usually worn by devadasis in Maharashtra, who are dedicated to the service of Hindu deities and temples, and often abused as prostitutes. 27 In this regard, YP certainly participating in “imagining” a Marathi or a vernacularly unifed community, even if this community was not projected as a “national” one; cf. Anderson 2006. 28 I must thank Dilip Menon for suggesting this parallel. 29 This opinion is echoed by Sogani (2002: 34), who not just considers YP as modelled on the Pilgrim’s Progress, but also on Dr. Johnson’s Rasselas. This is a curious contention, and since Sogani provides no specifc reference for it, such contentions, apart from indicating the presence of a larger intellectual domain of circulating ideas, can be best described as hearsay that became solidifed over time as “truth”. 30 For more information on Kshatripathare, cf. fn. 51 of Naregal (2001: 165). 31 Frykenberg (2016: 7) provides details of how the Kripa Sadan came into existence after Ramabai began rescuing girls and orphans from the 1896 famine that raged in Central India: “Returning with sixty female famine victims, she returned to pick up more. Her bullock carts, slowly jolting along day and night, steadily picked up stray girls in jungles and villages, where they were prey to both animal and human predators”. Already abandoned by the Hindu Chitpavan Brahmin elites of Bombay Presidency and Hindu leaders like Vivekanand, who denounced her, Ramabai soon established her own institutional strength as a missionary feminist and leader, with theological and fnancial support from outside India.

99

5 CONCLUDING REMARKS

Padmanji was undoubtedly a pioneer of vernacular Christianity and Christian feminism in Maharashtra. An avant-garde, intellectual, and a prolifc author, who trailblazed Marathi writings on the subject of religion and women’s reform from a Christian perspective, Padmanji’s interventions produced a new social feld in the Bordieuan sense, established and defended by leaders like himself. This feld provided native converts with a specially recognised social niche as intellectuals, producing protagonists and agents from the feld as wielders of considerable infuence as writers, reformers, and ideologues. Characterised by educational institutions, printing presses, churches, socio-marital relationships, and a vibrant missionary network, the vernacular mission feld constituted a signifcant development in the history of Christianity in Maharashtra that transformed it from a European missionary, colonial, and English enterprise, into a native and vernacular religion. Under Padmanji’s tutelage, Christianity became indigenised, allowing converts to inscribe their own experiences of conversion within translated and reframed vernacular Christian literature. This trailblazing social development was mirrored in the emergence of the Christian vernacular literary genre that evolved out of a combination of pre-existing literary styles, formats, and compositions. Amalgamating poetry, fction, autobiography, polemics, and didactics, this genre specifc to historical developments in 19th-century Bombay Presidency, narrativised, along with conversion and Protestant conviction, diverse experiences of social victimisation, like widowhood, according status, and prestige to these experiences as ontological “truth”. Using narratives of truth as primary “data”, Padmanji built advocacy treatises from an ethical, theoretical perspective that established a theological framework of Marathi Christian textuality, representing the social niche of native converts and leaders within the public domain as repositories of an alternative variety of knowledge. This framework, especially for effecting feminist interventions, constituted an outstanding contribution to the social reform feld of 19th-century Bombay Presidency, transforming the modernity of the reform agenda into a righteous, ethical, and religious cause. 100

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Needless to say, the feld of social reform was rife with intense internal competition and rivalry. While the involvement of Keshub Chandra Sen with the Prarthana Samaj produced Marathi Christianity as an offshoot of the Bengali Brahmo reform movement; that Christian feminism already existed, in Bengal, in the writings of Banerjea or, in Maharashtra, independent of the Brahmos, has hitherto been either overlooked or even denigrated by scholars like Mukherjee and Kosambi. This disservice has unfortunately produced considerable scholarly gap in the history of feminism in Maharashtra. Padmanji’s relegation and misrecognition by detractors created a discursive vacuum around him, though he did receive enormous bhakti from his adulators and hagiographers at the same time. As he fastened and tightened his boundaries ever-increasingly, becoming intolerant of detractors and seeking to agglutinate the Marathi Christian identity and community ever more strongly, the impetus of this struggle somewhat disintegrated by the 1900s, with the nationalist concern of “India” taking precedence over Maharashtra. By the beginning of the 1900s, Ramabai herself had already abandoned the Marathi identity of Mukti Mission, going global by endorsing Hindi as its language (Vondey 2013: 91).1 Admittedly, Padmanji is, or was, not easy to like. There was no scope of ever reaching any compromise with him, and no way for non-Christians to engage with his ideas, without frst converting to Christianity. Padmanji drew sharp and aggressive boundaries, producing conversion as a compulsory hallmark of every reformed individual. This boundary making was extended to the Christian vernacular genre that Padmanji defended and guarded to exclusively represent conversion and Christianisation. This doubtless made him appear territorial, and even bullying. Due to his tremendous infuence moreover, there was no way of escaping or avoiding his presence in debates about religion and modernity in Maharashtra. Though Padmanji restrained himself from openly attacking the more elite and educated among social reformers, he could not resist being bitterly enraged with them at times, evident from the last chapter of his book on deism or from his critique of Dayanand Sarasvati. At the same time, Padmanji also tried to transcend his diffculties with social reformers, sharing and allying with them as far as possible on matters of feminism, evidenced in SN, VB, and YP—a selective alliance that gives the impression of his wanting to refne social reformers, not through the Prarthana variety of utilitarian Christianity but through the Christian conviction of reform being morally righteous, advocated by God. The criticism of utilitarianism and tokenism, thus, became a central aspect of the Padmanji discourse. Padmanji reproached various brands of reformists for their insincerity about true transformation, exemplifed in the criticism of Jagannath in YP. While Jagannath is criticised for treating reform as a superfcial agenda, only conforming to it outwardly to consolidate upper-caste Hindu heritage enhanced by colonialism, conversion, in contrast, assumes power as the hermeneutic of sincere commitment to progress. 101

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Native convert leaders like Padmanji refused to incorporate Christian ethics into the pre-existing Hindu mould, rejecting the subterfuge of reform that kept this original Hindu mould intact.2 Consequently, he remained ambivalent about Hindu reform groups like the Brahmo or Prarthana Samaj, whose interventions he considered inadequate, allying only selectively with Hindu reformers like Dadoba Pandurang whom he considered sincere, or allying with convinced Christians interested in reform. In conformity with his approach to reform as an inadequate and, hence, an intermediary steppingstone to conviction and conversion, the apex of realising reform through Christianity was therefore fundamental to all Padmanji’s texts that sought to convert those like Vinayak, Yamuna, or even Daulat, who were already reformed. Padmanji wrote from the subject position of a convert, an opaque interiority of stigma resulting from a journey of truncation with Hinduism, the Hindu body, and the Hindu family. Conversion, in any case, is a diffcult topic to discuss, due to its “non-topicality” in experiential terms counterbalanced against its “super-topicality” in discursive, missionary terms. To understand this distinction, it may be helpful to consider a similar example, namely the term “migrant” as an analogy. If one were to consider the static value of the discursive term “migrant” as used by those charged with the administration of “migration”, with its well-documented, bureaucratic trappings, this discursive meaning presents sharp variance with individual stories of journeys, identities, and origins—the stories of those who actually “migrate”. But in order to be recognised as “migrants”, travellers typically submit their individual experiences of personal journeys to static values attached to the super-topicality of bureaucratic discourse. While this submission modifes and alters individual stories of migrants, it also accords their “migration narratives” with discursive legitimacy, by ascribing to the “super-topicality” of offcial discourse (cf. Dandekar 2019b). Something similar can be said about conversion. While the analogy here should not be mistaken as a literal equation between converts and migrants, despite the obvious metaphor of journey that is central to both, this analogy only draws attention to the discursive, missionary production of the static value of “conversion”. Therefore, though individual journeys of conviction were subject to different origins, emotions, and experiences, becoming non-topical simply because of this difference, their submission to the super-topicality of missionary discourse, promulgated by native Christian leaders like Padmanji, altered their conversion narratives, producing these as teleological by ascribing to missionary discourse, which provided converts with institutional and social legitimacy within the niche community of other converts. The best example of this is Padmanji himself, who, as a powerful native missionary leader and literary doyen, was uncommonly privileged for the patronage he received from his family, his social network, and from his Scottish missionary mentors. However, since the community identity 102

CONCLUDING REMARKS

of Marathi converts was discursively defned by the seemingly static, discursive endpoint, where Padmanji’s autobiography assumed paradigmatic status as ideally prescribed conversion, Padmanji’s story became counterbalanced against other diverse, individual conversion journeys that were perhaps dissimilar. While Padmanji’s biographies and autobiographies came to discursively control “conversion”, converts emulating and submitting their conversion journeys to the Padmanji paradigm became legitimised as esteemed and ideal converts themselves. While motivating pilgrim–migrants in this case to reach their common destination, despite individual variance in their journeys, this control encouraged new converts to rewrite their journeys from a teleological perspective of already having reached the destination defned by Padmanji. While on the one hand, the Christian vernacular genre was vibrant, replete with a variety of emerging experiential ontologies based on individual experiences, on the other hand, despite this vibrancy, conversion narratives and the hagiographic biographies based on them all also sounded vaguely similar, due to their unidirectionality to an already strictly prescribed and controlled endpoint.3 This was, of course, the primary reason why convert biographies used Padmanji’s autobiography as an archive, so that bhaktas could gain legitimacy by submitting to the missionary discourse of Protestant conviction by emulating a paradigmatic conversion journey. Conversion, hence, constituted a static but interstitial and opaque point of transformation between the proto-convert’s pre-conversion religious, cultural, and gendered subjectivity to the Christian redemption of the same, based on a teleological retelling of a selectively distilled past, through stories already shared within the community. Though Padmanji was deeply infuenced by Western education, Scottish missionary mentors, and the Free Church Institution, he was completely self-made as a Christian feminist and social interventionist, interested in effecting a transfer of power and learning from the European Protestant mission to native converts, who were writing and preaching in the vernacular like himself. Signifcantly ahead of his times and a pioneer of vernacular Christianity, Padmanji, however, despite his huge following, also remained socially isolated. While scholarly approaches have tended to overstress the role of Bengali social reform movements in the development of feminism in India, this tendency has effaced Padmanji’s revolution, relegating it to the narrow category of the “Christian” that downplayed its contribution to the wider history of feminism in India. While appreciation from an important literary critic like Balchandra Nemade went a long way in reinstating Padmanji as a trailblazer of modern Marathi literature, bringing YP and Padmanji’s autobiography, AD, to the attention of a larger Marathi audience, scholarly disinterest and discomfort with Padmanji’s Christianity remained pervasive. This discomfort pushes those who want to integrate Padmanji into the canon of Marathi literary history to ignore Padmanji’s Christianity and to 103

CONCLUDING REMARKS

turn him into a symbol of proto-modernity that became manifest and reactivated only after 1960, with the formation of Maharashtra. On the other hand, scholars of feminism in Maharashtra usually stop with Savitribai Phule and then jump directly to Ramabai, which allows them to descale from the Christian aspect of reform (despite Ramabai’s conversion), instead focusing on questions of caste and female empowerment. Such scholarly trends have remained unable to decode and integrate questions of Christian piety, and a literary revolution that sought to describe what the suffering of Hindu Brahminical oppression “felt” like through fctionalised autobiography, within research on 19th-century social reform. This inability fnally refects a religious bias that is unable to transcend a watered-down version of utilitarian Christianity and appreciate contributions made by an entrenched set of native Protestant values that informed 19th-century reform and modernity. Padmanji’s contribution to his own context, as an intellectual, activist, and literary genius who nativised Christianity as a Marathi religion, thereby creating an entire social feld of native converts and an entire genre, therefore remains largely unexplored. A book like the present one only scratches the surface of this alternative history of religious modernity—of Christian ideologues and intellectuals seeking to reform reformers through Protestant vernacular discourse.

Notes 1 Understandably, Ramabai grew disinterested in the Marathi or vernacular mission that foregrounded the avant-garde native convert leader in relation to European missionaries and the public image of Christianity as an English religion, her focus shifting to her charges—the inmates of Mukti Mission consisting of orphans rescued from the famines of Central India and Gujarat. As the linguistic demography of Mukti changed, so did its language. The importance of the vernacular Marathi mission feld inaugurated by Padmanji a generation earlier, therefore, disintegrated by the beginning of the 1900s, with the focus on religion shifting to a utilitarian perspective, social service, and the rescue of women. 2 In this regard, Padmanji’s perspective is similar to Phule’s criticism of Western education among upper castes that became an instrument of intensifying caste privilege (cf. O’Hanlon 1985). 3 This is reminiscent of Sahasrabuddhe’s biography of Eknath (1883), composed to sound like a conversion narrative in a context where Eknath’s sainthood was already established within Hinduism, though strongly debated by Padmanji and the Protestant discourse.

104

REFERENCES

Primary Sources A) Archives CMS/C – Church Missionary Society, Western India Mission, Original Papers [incoming] 1820– 1880, (CMS/B/OMS/C I3).

B) Newspapers and Journals The National Observer The Scattered Nation: Past Present and Future Times of India

C) Works Authored by Baba Padmanji (with Abbreviations wherever relevant) Padmanji, B., ed. 1877. Annotated New Testament in Marathi: Nava Kararavar Tika, Volume 2. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. Padmanji, B. 1852. Female Education, A Prize Essay: Strividyabhyasnibandha. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. — (Abbreviated SN) Padmanji, B. 1854. The Evils of Licentiousness: Vyabhicharnishedhak Bodh. Bombay: American Mission Press. — (Abbreviated VB) Padmanji, B. 1857. Wanderings of Yamunabai or Narratives of Hindu Widow Life in India: Yamunaparyatan athva Hindusthanatil Vidhvanchya Sthitiche Nirupan. Bombay: Thomas Graham. — (Abbreviated YP) Padmanji, B. 1858. Examination of the Claims of Deism: Nishastravadpariksha. Bombay Tract and Book Society. — (Abbreviated NP) Padmanji, B. 1863. A Compendium of Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary. Bombay: Education Society’s Press. Padmanji, B. 1867. A Comparison of Krishna and Christ: Krishna ani Khrista yanchi Tulana. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. — (Abbreviated KC) Padmanji, B. 1878. Paharekaryachi Vani: The Watchman’s Voice. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society.

105

REFERENCES

Padmanji, B. 1890. Once Hindu Now Christian: The Early Life of Baba Padmanji, An Autobiography. Ed. J.M. Mitchell. London: Nisbet. Padmanji, B. 1890. Shabdaratnavali. Bombay: Thomas Graham. Padmanji, B. 1891. A Review of the “Life” of the Saint Eknath: Eknathcharitra Pariksha. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. — (Abbreviated EP) Padmanji, B. 1891. Sanskrit-Marathi Kosh: A Sanskrit-Marathi Dictionary for the Use of Schools and Families. Bombay: Nirnaysagar Press. Padmanji, B. 1892. Vaidik Hindudharma: Vedic Hinduism. Bombay: Education Society’s Press. — (Abbreviated VH) Padmanji, B. 1897. Naranayak, the Son of Jagatshet: A Story Based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son: Jagatshetachaputra Naranayak yache Charitra. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. — (Abbreviated NN) Padmanji, B. 1904. Anubhavasangraha: Spiritual Experiences: Volume 2 (1894– 1904). Bombay: Tatva Vivechaka Press. — (Abbreviated AS) Padmanji, B. 1908. Arunodaya [Sunrise]. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. — (Abbreviated AD) Padmanji, B. 1913. A Manual of Hinduism, Part 1: Hindudharmache Swaroop, bhag 1. Bombay: Karnataka Press.

D) Other Primary Sources – Marathi Aghamkar, Y.T. 2005. Kudachya Jhopaditun Svargiya Mahalakade: Atmacharitra… Jase Ghadle Tase Lihile! [Journey from Hutment to a Heavenly Palace: Autobiography…Written exactly as it took place!]. Pune: Continental Prakashan. Anonymous. 1850. Hindulokans Kalavinyasathi Kadhleli Khristi Darmacha Satyatechi Pramane: Evidences of Christianity Briefy Stated. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. Anonymous. 1877a. Alandichi Yatra: The Pilgrimage to Alandi. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. Anonymous. 1877b. Anekjanmanirnay: On Transmigration. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. Anonymous. 1877c. Kharya Dharmachi Chinhe: Marks of the True Religion. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. Farrar, C. 1835. Chamatkarikgoshti: The Ayah and Lady, Modifed and Translated by Mrs. Farrar of the Church Mission Nasik. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. Nathuji, T. 1877. Kutumbacha Mitra: The Family Friend. Bombay: AngloVernacular Press. Sahasrabuddhe, D.B. 1883. Shri Eknath Maharaj Yanche Charitra [Biography of Shri Eknath Maharaj]. Bombay: Nirnaysagar Press. Sawarkar, D.S. 1895. The Subhedar’s Son: Subhedaracha Putra. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society. Sawarkar, D.S. 1933. 50 Varshatil Kahi Junya-Navya Goshti [Some Old and New Reminiscences of the Last 50 Years]. Poona: Aryabhushan Press. Sawarkar, D.S. 1967. Ayushyachi Kahani: Rev. Dinkar Shankar Sawarkar Hyanche Atmacharitra [Life Story: The Autobiography of Rev. Dinkar Shankar Sawarkar]. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society.

106

REFERENCES

Somvanshikshatripathare, H. 1841. Yatrikakraman: Ihlokapasun Parlokas: He Svapnachya Rupakanekathilease [Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to that Which is to Come: Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream]. Mumbai: Ganpat Krishnaji Press. Ṭilak, L. 1989. Sampurna Smritichitre [Complete Memoirs]. Ed. Ashok Devadatta Ṭshok. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan.

E) Other Primary Sources – English Adler, H. 1869. A Course of Sermons on the Biblical Passages Adduced by Christian Theologians in Support of the Dogmas of their Faith. London: Trübner and Co. Ambedkar, B.R. 2014. Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical Edition. Ed. S. Anand. New Delhi: Navayana. Anonymous. 1891. An Earnest Student. Bombay: Family Printing Press. Banerjea, K.M. 1848. A Prize Essay on Native Female Education. Calcutta: R.C. Lepage and Co. British Library. Bunyan, J. 1859. Pilgrim’s Progress, From This World to That Which is to Come, Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream. Philadelphia: J.W. Bradley. Farquhar, J.N. 1915. Modern Religious Movements in India. New York: The Macmillan Company. Mitchell, J.M. 1897. Hinduism Past and Present. London: The Religious Tract Society. Molesworth, J.T. 1857. A Dictionary, Marathi and English. 2d ed. Bombay: Printed for Government at the Bombay Education Society’s Press. Monier-Williams, M. 1877. Hinduism. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Navalkar, G.R. 1893. The Rev. Narayan Sheshadri, D.D., Late of Jalna, Nizam’s Dominions. Bombay: Family Printing Press. Ramabai Sarasvati, P. 1901. The High-Caste Hindu Woman. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company. Satthianadhan, K. 1894. Kamala: A Story of Hindu Life. Madras: Srinivasa, Varadachari & Co. Satthianadhan, K. 1895. Saguna: A Story of Native Christian Life. Madras: Srinivasa, Varadachari & Co. Sherwood, M.M. 1818. The Indian Pilgrim; or, the Progress of the Pilgrim Nazareenee, (Formerly Called Goonah Purist, or the Slave of Sin,) from the City of the Wrath of God to the City of Mount Zion: Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream. Wellington, Salop: F. Houlston and Son. Sherwood, M.M. 1822. The Ayah and Lady: An Indian Story. Boston: Samuel T. Armstrong and Crocker & Brewster; New York: John P. Haven. Vidyasagar, E.C. 1856. Marriage of Hindu Widows. Calcutta: The Sanskrit Press. Weber, A. 1868. Über die Krishnajanmâshtamî (Krishna’s Geburtsfest). Berlin: Buchdruckerei der Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaften. Wilson, J. 1832. An Exposure of the Hindu Religion in Reply to Mora Bhatta Dandekara. Bombay: American Mission Press. Wilson, J. 1841. Memoir of Mrs. Margaret Wilson of the Scottish Mission Bombay. Edinburgh: William Whyte and Co.

107

REFERENCES

Yardi, A.B. 1883. A Short Memoir of the Late Rev. Hari Ramchandra Khisti, Pastor of the First Church of the American Mission at Ahmadnagar. Bombay: Bombay Tract and Book Society.

Secondary Literature Adachi, K. 2001. “Dakshina Rules of Bombay Presidency (1836–1851): Its Constitution and Principles”. Journal of the Japanese Association for South Asian Studies 13: 24–51. Aloysius, G. 1997. Nationalism without a Nation in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Anagol, P. 2005. The Emergence of Feminism in India, 1850–1920. Aldershot: Ashgate. Anderson, B. 2006. Imagined Communities. London and New York: Verso Books. Arondekar, A. 2005. “Without a Trace: Sexuality and the Colonial Archive”. Journal of the History of Sexuality 14(1/2): 10–27. Banerjee, S. 2010. Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire. Durham: Duke University Press. Baring, E. 2019. “Levinas and Derrida”, in The Oxford Handbook of Levinas, ed. M.L. Morgan. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 135–153. Bate, B. 2010. “The Ethics of Textuality: The Protestant Sermon and the Tamil Public Sphere”, in Ethical Life in South Asia, eds. A. Pandian and D. Ali. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 101–115. Benei, V. 2008. Schooling Passions: Nation, History, and Language in Contemporary Western India. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Bhattacharya, N. 1996. “Behind the Veil: The Many Masks of Subaltern Sexuality”. Women’s Studies International Forum 19(3): 277–292. Bhattacharya, P. 1999. “An Overview of the Reformist Movement in Maharashtra with Special Reference to Lokahitvadi and Gopal G. Agarkar”, in Writers, Editors and Reformers: Social and Political Transformations of Maharashtra, 1830–1930, ed. N.K. Wagle. New Delhi: Manohar, pp. 166–172. Bland, L. 1995. “Heterosexuality, Feminism and The Freewoman Journal in Early Twentieth-century England”. Women’s History Review 4(1): 5–23. Borthwick, M. 1984. The Changing Role of Women in Bengal, 1849–1905. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chakravarti, U. 1995. “Gender, Caste and Labour: Ideological and Material Structure of Widowhood”. Economic and Political Weekly 30(36): 2248–2256. Chakravarti, U. 1998. Rewriting History: The Life and Times of Pandita Ramabai. New Delhi: Zubaan Books. Chatterjee, P. 1993. The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Conlon, F.F. 1992. “The Polemic Process in Nineteenth-Century Maharashtra: Vishnubawa Brahmachari and Hindu Revival”, in Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages, ed. K.W. Jones. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 5–26. Copley, A. 1997. Religions in Confict: Ideology, Cultural Contact and Conversion in Late-Colonial India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

108

REFERENCES

Cummins, S. and Lee, L. 2019. “Missionaries: False Reverence, Irreverence, and the Rethinking of Christian Mission in China and India”, in Encounters with Emotions: Negotiating Cultural Differences since Early Modernity, eds. B. Gammerl, P. Nielson and M. Pernau. New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 37–60. Dandekar, D. 2018a. “Pilgrimage, Authority and Subversion: Anonymous Marathi Christian Didactic Literature in Nineteenth-Century India”. Zeitschrift für Indologie und Südasienstudien 35: 39–60. Dandekar, D. 2018b. “Translation and the Christian Conversion of Women in Colonial India: Rev. Sheshadri and Bala Sundarabai Thakur”. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 41(2): 366–383. Dandekar, D. 2019a. The Subhedar’s Son: A Narrative of Brahmin-Christian Conversion from Nineteenth-Century India. New York: Oxford University Press. Dandekar, D. 2019b. “Zeba Rizvi’s Memory-Emotions of Partition: Silence and Secularism-Pyar”. Contemporary South Asia 27(3): 392–406. De Certeau, M. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press. Deshpande, K. and Rajadhyaksha, M.V. 1988. A History of Marathi Literature. New Delhi: Sahitya Academy. Deshpande, P. 2006. Creative Pasts: Historical Memory and Identity in Western India, 1700–1960. Ranikhet: Permanent Black. Dube, P. 2018. “Rethinking melas as Subaltern Spaces: Pardhan Blacksmiths and Some Aspects of ‘Caste-Passing’ in Fairs, 1872–1931”. Social History 43(2): 186–210. Ebeling, S. 2010. Colonizing the Realm of Words: The Transformation of Tamil Literature in Nineteenth-Century South India. Albany: State University of New York Press. Fitzgerald, T. 1997. “Ambedkar Buddhism in Maharashtra”. Contributions to Indian Sociology 31(2): 225–251. Froerer, P. 2007. Religious Division and Social Confict: The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in Rural India. New Delhi: Social Science Press. Frykenberg, R.E. 2016. “The Legacy of Pandita Ramabai: Mahatma of Mukti”. International Bulletin of Mission Research 40(1): 60–70. Frykenberg, R.E. 2020. “‘The Lutheran Aggression Controversy’: Caste and Class Confict of Christians in 19th Century South India”, in Ecumenism and Independency in World Christianity: Historical Studies in Honour of Brian Stanley, eds. E. Chow and E. Wild-Wood. Leiden: Brill, pp. 262–282. Hedström, P. and Udehn, L. 2009. “Analytical Sociology and Theories of the Middle Range”, in The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology, eds. P. Hedström and P. Bearman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 25–47. Hilgers, M. and E. Mangez. 2015. “Introduction to Pierre Bourdieu’s Theory of Social Fields”, in Bourdieu’s Theory of Social Fields: Concepts and Applications, eds. M. Hilgers and E. Mangez. London: Routledge, pp. 1–36. Hofmyer, I. 2004. The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of the Pilgrim’s Progress. Johannesburg: Wits University Press. Israel, H. 2018. “Conversion, Memory and Writing: Remembering and Reforming the Self”. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 41(2): 400–417. Jones, A. 2017. Missionary Christianity and Local Religion: American Evangelicalism in North India, 1836–1870. Waco: Baylor University Press.

109

REFERENCES

Jones, K.W., ed. 1992. Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages. Albany: State University of New York Press. Karhadkar, K.C. 1979. Baba Padmanji: Kal va Kartutva [Baba Padmanji: Life and Achievements]. Mumbai: Maharashtra Rajya Sahitya Sanskriti Mandal. Keune, J.M. 2011. “Eknath Remembered and Reformed: Bhakti, Brahmans, and Untouchables in Marathi Historiography”. New York: Columbia University, unpublished PhD-thesis. Kleinberg, E. 2017. Haunting History: For a Deconstructive Approach to the Past. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Kosambi, M. 1992. “Indian Response to Christianity, Church and Colonialism”. Economic and Political Weekly 27(43/44): WS 61–71. Kosambi, M., ed. 2000. Pandita Ramabai through Her Own Words: Selected Works. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Kosambi, M., ed. 2008. Feminist Vision or ‘Treason against Men’? Kashibai Kanitkar and the Engendering of Marathi Literature. Ranikhet: Permanent Black. Kosambi, M. 2016. Pandita Ramabai: Life and Landmark Writings. London: Routledge. Kotani, H. 1999. “The Passage from Hinduism to Christianity: The Case of Baba Padmanji”, in Writers, Editors and Reformers: Social and Political Transformations of Maharashtra, 1830–1930, ed. N.K. Wagle. New Delhi: Manohar, pp. 173–180. Malhotra, A. 2012. Making British Indian Fictions, 1772–1823. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Malhotra, A. 2018a. “Attempting to Transform the Mental Landscape of the Indian ‘Heathen’ in Mary Sherwood’s The Indian Pilgrim (1818)”. Literature and Theology 32(3): 270–289. Malhotra, A. 2018b. “The Pedagogical Function of Mary Sherwood's The History of Little Henry and his Bearer in ‘Heathen Lands’”. The Journal of Religious History, Literature and Culture 4(1): 58–78. Menon, D. 1997. “Caste and Colonial Modernity: Reading Saraswativijayam”. Studies in History 13(2): 291–312. Menon, D. 2002. “Religion and Colonial Modernity: Rethinking Belief and Identity”. Economic & Political History 37(17): 1662–1667. Menon, D. 2004. “A Place Elsewhere: Lower-caste Malayalam Novels of the Nineteenth Century”, in India’s Literary History: Essays on the Nineteenth Century, eds. S. Blackburn and V. Dalmia. New Delhi: Permanent Black. Menon, D. 2015. “Writing History in Colonial Times: Polemic and the Recovery of Self in Late Nineteenth-Century South India”. History and Theory, Theme Issue 53: 64–83. Merton, R.K. 1968. Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free Press. Midgley, C. 2016. “Indian Feminist Pandita Ramabai and Transnational Liberal Religious Networks in the Nineteenth-Century World”, in Women in Transnational History: Connecting the Local and the Global, eds. C. Midgley, A. Twells and J. Carlier. London: Routledge, pp. 13–32. Mukherjee, M. 1994. Realism and Reality: The Novel and Society in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Naregal, V. 2001. Language Politics, Elites, and the Public Sphere. New Delhi: Permanent Black.

110

REFERENCES

Nehru, J. 1946. The Discovery of India. Calcutta: The Signet Press. Neill, S. 1985. A History of Christianity in India, 1707–1858. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nemade, B. 2002. “The Marathi Novel 1950–75”, in Indian Literary Criticism: Theory and Interpretation, ed. G.N. Devy. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, pp. 192–219. Nerlekar, A. 2016. Bombay Modern: Arun Kolatkar and Bilingual Literary Culture. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Novetzke, C.L. 2016. The Quotidian Revolution: Vernacularization, Religion, and the Premodern Public Sphere in India. New York: Columbia University Press. Numark, M. 2006. “Translating Religion: British Missionaries and the Politics of Religious Knowledge in Colonial India and Bombay”. Los Angeles: University of California, unpublished PhD-thesis. Numark, M. 2011. “Translating Dharma: Scottish Missionary-Orientalists and the Politics of Religious Understanding in Nineteenth-Century Bombay”. Journal of Asian Studies 70(2): 471–500. Numark, M. 2012. “Hebrew School in Nineteenth-Century Bombay: Protestant Missionaries, Cochin Jews, and the Hebraization of India’s Bene Israel Community”. Modern Asian Studies 46(6): 1764–1808. O’Hanlon, R. 1985. Caste, Confict, and Ideology: Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest in Nineteenth-Century Western India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pennington, B.K. 2005. Was Hinduism Invented?: Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion. New York: Oxford University Press. Porter, A. 2004. Religion versus Empire? British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1914. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. Reese, S.S. 2018. Imperial Muslims: Islam, Community and Authority in the Indian Ocean, 1839–1937. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Roberts, N. 2012. “Is Conversion a ‘Colonization of Consciousness’?”. Anthropological Theory 12(3): 271–294. Ryan, J. 1998. “Erotic Excess and Sexual Danger in the Civakacintamani”, in Open Boundaries: Jain Communities and Cultures in Indian History, ed. J.E. Cort. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 67–83. Sahoo, S. 2018. Pentecostalism and the Politics of Conversion in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sanap, K. 2005. Bhalchandra Nemade Yanchi Samiksha [Bhalchandra Nemade’s Literary Criticism]. Aurangabad: Saket Prakashan. Sen, S. 2010. Savagery and Colonialism in the Indian Ocean: Power, Pleasure and the Andaman Islanders. London: Routledge. Sen, U. 2017. “Developing Terra Nullius: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Indigeneity in the Andaman Islands”. Comparative Studies in Society and History 59(4): 944–973. Singh, H. 2016. Rise of Reason: Intellectual History of 19th-Century Maharashtra. London: Routledge. Sogani, R. 2002. The Hindu Widow in Indian Literature. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Suarsana, Y. 2014. “Inventing Pentecostalism: Pandita Ramabai and the Mukti Revival from a Post-colonial Perspective”. Pentecostudies: An Interdisciplinary

111

REFERENCES

Journal for Research on the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements 13(2): 173–196. Taneti, J.E. (2013) Caste, Gender, and Christianity in Colonial India: Telugu Women in Mission. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Van der Veer, P. 2001. Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Van Gennep, A. 1960. The Rites of Passage. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. Viswanath, R. 2014. The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion, and the Social in Modern India. New York: Columbia University Press. Viswanathan, G. 1998. Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Vondey, W. 2013. Pentecostalism: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Bloomsbury. Wakankar, M. 2018. “The Crisis in Religion: Christianity and Conversion in the Marathi Nineteenth Century”. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 41(2): 468–482. Wakankar, M. 2019. “The Incipience of the Future: Language and the Work of Humility in 19th-Century Western India”. Religion 49(3): 481–500. Wilson, K. 2003. The Island Race: Englishness, Empire and Gender in the Eighteenth Century. Abington, UK: Routledge. Winslow, J.C. 1923. Narayan Vaman Tilak: The Christian Poet of Maharashtra. Calcutta: Association Press. Young, R.F. 1981. Resistant Hinduism: Sanskrit Sources on Anti-Christian Apologetics in Early Nineteenth-century India. Vienna: de Nobili Research Library. Young, R.F. 2013. “Loss and Gain: An ‘Intellectualist’ Conversion and Its SocioCognitive Calculus in the Hindu-Christian Life of Nehemiah Goreh”, in Asia in the Making of Christianity: Conversion, Agency, and Indigeneity, 1600s to the Present, eds. R.F. Young and J.A. Seitz. Leiden: Brill, pp. 213–239. Young, R.F. and Jebansem, S. 1995. The Bible Trembled: The Hindu-Christian Controversies of Nineteenth-Century Ceylon. Vienna: de Nobili Research Library.

112

INDEX

Ambedkar, B.R. 37 Anagol, P. xxii, 38, 65, 71, 94 archive xxiii, xxviiin16, 12, 14, 38, 42, 103 Arondekar, A. 12 atheism/atheist xxviin4, 17, 33–37, 52n10, 68, 93 autobiography xi, xiii, xiv, xvi, xix, xxi–xxiii, xxviiin12, xxviiin15, 1–4, 6, 8, 12–15, 18–19, 24, 48, 56, 71, 74, 89, 91, 96, 100, 103, 104; as fctional 74, 89, 91, 96 Banerjea, Rev. K.M. 56–58, 90, 101 Belgaum xv, 4–5, 8–11, 16–19, 75, 83; Belgaum Mission Chapel 10, 11, 14 Bene Israel Jews 16, 25, 52n2 Beynon, Rev. 11, 13, 17 Bhakti xviii, xix, xxi, xxii, xxiii, xxixn21, 8, 19, 20n1, 24, 29, 43, 58, 66, 71, 78, 87, 98n14, 98n17, 101 biography viii, xi, xiii, xix, xxi, xxii, xxiii, xxviiin13, xxviiin14, xxviiin15, xxixn20, 27, 28, 29, 104n3; hagiography xviii, xx, xxi–xxiii, xxix, 2, 4, 28, 31, 39, 42, 91, 98n17, 103 Bombay Presidency ix, xii–xx, xxii, xxvi–xxviiin1, 18, 8, 9, 21, 22, 24, 38–40, 50, 51, 52n2, 77, 86, 97n1, 99n31, 100; Aden as part of 8, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21n10, 21n11 Borthwick M. 62 Bourdieu, P. xix, xxviin6, 23, 24; habitus xviii, xxviin6, 8 Brahmo Samaj xvii, 25, 32, 36, 53n17; as an approach to reform xxii, xxvi, 7, 15, 22, 40, 43, 95, 101, 102 Butler, J. xxvi, 94

Carey, Rev. W. xvi, 87 caste xi, xiin6, xv, xvii, 6–9, 11, 13–14, 21n5, 31, 36–37, 50–51, 80–82, 85, 98n23, 104, 104n2; Brahmanical xi, xiin5, xvii, xxvii, 20, 37, 40, 47, 52n6, 53n15, 82, 83, 85, 96, 104; Brahmin/non-Brahmin xvii, xxviin1, 8–9, 20n4, 21n5, 31, 39, 53n15, 64, 79–83, 85–86, 90, 95, 97n9, 98n15, 98n16, 98n19, 98n23, 99n31; Maratha 80, 85; Shenoy 80, 81, 85, 97n11; Sonar 82, 83, 85, 95, 98n23; Twashta Kasar xv, xxviin1, 8, 15 child marriage xxvi, 58, 64, 72n4, 76, 86, 90, 94 Christian feminism xxvi, 65, 74, 93–96, 100–101; versus Christian patriarchy 94, 95; respectability movement as part of 71, 94, 95 Christianisation: xvii–xviii, xx, xxvii, 46, 47, 56, 58, 60–62, 70, 75, 77, 79, 85, 89, 90, 92–96, 101; evangelical x, xx, xxi, 19, 72, 87, 89, 95; Protestant voice 75, 78, 85 Christian reform ix, xv, xxiii, xxiv, 15, 32, 55–58, 62, 65, 77, 95 Christian vernacular literature xxiii, 71; as genre xxvii–xviii, 43, 51, 55–56, 58, 65, 71, 73–74, 78, 91, 101, 103; as texts xv, 57 colonialism xi, 25, 101; racism in xvi, 23, 25, 53n21 conjugal/conjugality 74, 93–95 conversion ix, xi, xiin4, xiin6, xv–xxi, xxiii–xxiv, xxviin5, xxviin7, xxviiin15, xxviiin17, xxixn21, 1–16, 18–20, 21n6, 21n7, 21n8, 23–26, 31–32, 36–40, 43–46, 50–51, 52n2, 53n13,

113

INDEX

53n16, 53n18, 56–58, 62–63, 66, 70–72, 74, 85, 88, 90–92, 95, 98n20, 98n21, 98n22, 100–104, 104n3; Christian witness as archive of xxiii converts xi, xiin6, xvi–xx, xxiii, xxviiin14, xxviiin18, xxixn21, 1–3, 6–8, 12–13, 15, 17–20, 22–25, 32, 35, 37, 39, 43–47, 51, 52n2, 52n8, 65, 70–71, 78, 84, 96, 100–104; native Christians ix, xii, xv–xvi, xviii–xxi, xxiii, xxvi, 1–4, 7–8, 14, 19–20, 24–25, 38, 40–41, 44, 46–47, 55–58, 72n2, 102 Dandekar, Morobhatta 51, 98n16 Duff, Rev. A. 57 Ebeling, S. 74 Eknath 27–31, 52n5, 104n3 Free Church xv, 4–5, 44–45, 46; Elphinstone Institution 15, 17; Free Church Institution xv, 9, 17, 20n4, 56, 103; Robert Money Institution 6 Frykenberg, R.E. xxviin5, xxviiin18, xxixn21, 53n16, 99n31 hauntology 1, 53n13; haunting 1, 2, 8, 13 Hinduism xi, xiin6, xvii, xx, 1–2, 6–7, 9–10, 12, 14, 17–18, 24–27, 30–33, 36–37, 40, 45–51, 52n10, 56, 62, 72n8, 75, 83, 90, 96, 102, 104n3; as heathenism/heathen xvi–xvii, xx, 2–3, 13–17, 20, 21n5, 32, 38, 44, 46, 53n19, 55, 59, 96; spirit possession in 16, 34; as superstition/ superstitious 6, 9, 14, 29, 36, 58, 61, 72n8, 75, 93 Hinglaj 16 Historiography 44 immorality 17, 36, 58–59, 63–64, 66, 68, 76, 79–80, 82–83, 85–86, 97n8; dancing girls 9, 63–64, 68, 72n3; entertainment/entertainment parlours 63, 64, 65, 67, 82; licentious/ licentiousness 26, 63, 64, 65, 80, 94, 96, 97n10; tamasha 64, 66 Israel, H. xxviiin16, 1, 8, 12–14 Karhadkar, K.S. xxviin2, xxixn20, 21n6, 40, 41, 49, 52n4, 53n14,

53n15, 54n22, 54n23, 74–75, 87–88, 90–93 Kosambi, M. 21n8, 38, 40–42, 53n14, 53n15, 53n20, 65, 94, 101 Lokahitawadi 82, 86; Deshmukh, G.H. 86, 97n13 Maharashtra ix, xiii, xvi, xviii, xxii, xxvi, xxviin5, xxviiin18, 20n2, 24, 37, 39, 52n2, 53n11, 59, 62, 64, 65, 75, 76, 78, 79, 87, 88, 94, 97, 99n26, 100, 101, 104 Marathi as language and text ix, xi, xiii–xx, xxii–xxvi, xxviin9, xxviiin15, xxixn20, 2, 6, 12, 13, 16, 20n1, 22, 28, 33, 40, 41, 47, 49, 52n2, 52n7, 54n23, 55, 57, 72n6, 73–77, 84, 87–90, 96, 97n2, 97n4, 98n14, 100–103, 104n1; as community identity xvii, xviii, xxii, xxiii, xxiv, 4, 5, 8, 15, 17, 23, 27, 45–49, 51, 57, 62, 74, 79, 88, 99n27, 101, 103, 104 Marathi literature xv, 55, 75, 77, 96, 97n2, 97n4, 103; anonymous authors xxi–xxiii, 48; anonymous Christian tracts xx, xxviiin11; authorial voice and power xviii, xx, xxi–xxii, 70–71, 77, 92; effect of printing press on xvi, xxii–xxiii, 28; the frst novel xvi–xxvii, 11, 73–74, 76–78, 88, 97n3 Menon, D. xiin3, 22, 35, 51, 52n1, 55, 74, 85, 88, 99n28 middle range theory xxiv, xxviiin19, 22, 56 Minnie Abrams 43, 95, 96 Missionary, Christian ix, xi, xx, 57, 72, 74 Mitchell, Rev. M.M. xvi, xxii Mukherjee, M. 73, 76–77, 88, 97n3, 101 Mukti Mission 24, 40, 43, 53n16, 53n20, 94, 95, 101, 104n1; Sharada Sadan 40, 41, 53n16, 53n20 Navalkar, Rev. R.G. xix, xxviiin14, 6, 7, 12 Nemade, B. 76–78, 96, 97n2, 103 Nesbit, Rev. 5, 17 Novetzke, C.L. 78 Numark, M. 22, 52nn2, 9

114

INDEX

Tilak, B.G. 41 Tilak, Rev. N.V. xix, xxviin2, 4, 20n1, 53n13 trace xi, xxvi, 1, 8, 13, 53n12; stigmata/ stigma as 2, 8, 13–15, 20, 43, 102

O’Hanlon, R. xiin5, xxviin4, 36, 37, 104n2 ostracism xvi, 6, 19, 42, 64, 80 out-casting xx, 39 Pandita Ramabai xvii, xxvi, xxviin5, xxixn21, 21n8, 23, 25, 32, 38–43, 51, 53n16, 53n17, 53n18, 53n20, 65, 94, 95, 99n31, 101, 104, 104n1 Pandurang, D. 6, 7, 20n3, 32, 74, 86, 89, 90, 102 Paramhans Mandali xvi, xxi, xxviin4, 6, 7, 9, 13, 17, 20n3, 32 Phule, J. xiin5, 36, 37 Phule, S. 104 Pilgrim’s Progress xx, xxviiin10, 17, 88, 89, 99n29; in Marathi as Yatrikakraman 88, 89, 99n30 Prarthana Samaj xvi, xvii, xxi, xxvi, xxix, 6, 7, 20, 22, 32, 95, 101, 102

unitarianism/unitarian xvi, xvii, xxii, xvi, xxixn21, 7, 23, 32, 40, 51, 53n17, 95 utilitarianism/utilitarian conversion/ utilitarian Christians xvii–xviii, xix, xxi, xxviin5, 20, 24, 37–40, 43, 57–58, 62, 65, 71, 74, 90, 92, 95, 101, 104

reformer ix, xi, xv–xviii, xx, xxii–xxv, xxvii, 5–7, 12, 15, 22–25, 30–32, 36, 43, 44, 51, 55–65, 67, 70–72, 74, 75, 77, 82–87, 89–92, 95–98, 100–104 Roy, Raja Ram Mohan 86, 87 Sati 58, 82, 86, 87 Sawarkar, Rev. D.S. ix, xix, xxiii, xxviiin13, xxviiin14, 52n7 Sen, K.C. xvii, xxi, 7, 23, 32, 101 Sherwood, M.M. xx, xxvii, 89 Sheshadri, Rev. N. xix, xxviiin14, 4, 17 Taylor, Rev. 4, 5, 10, 11, 13, 17 theism/theists/theistic xvi, xviii, 23, 26–27, 33–35, 40, 49–51; deism/ deistic/deists xvi, 25, 32–36, 101 third space xviii, xxiv, xxvi, 13, 46, 56, 65, 70–71, 75, 78

vernacular mission feld xviii–xx, xxii–xxiv, xxvi, xxviiin13, xxviiin18, xxixn21, 1, 2, 7, 19, 24, 32, 36, 38, 39, 43, 50, 51, 77, 96, 100, 104n1 Vidyasagar, E.C. xxvi, 32, 71, 75, 85–87, 90, 91, 95 Wakankar, M. xiii, 12, 15, 37, 89 widowhood: tonsure 75, 79, 81, 83–84, 86–87; widow xxvi, 11–12, 75, 79, 80–83, 85–86, 88, 90–91; widow remarriage xxvii, 6, 20n3, 58, 62, 64, 72–74, 76, 82–83, 85, 87, 89–90, 95, 97n13; widow remarriage Act 82, 85; widowhood practices and rituals xxvi, 58, 71, 73–76, 79, 80–81, 83–88, 91–92, 95–96, 97n1, 98nn22, 23, 100 Wilson, M. 46, 53n21 Wilson, Rev. J. 5, 46, 48, 52n9 women’s education xxvi–xxvii, 57–62, 65, 83, 94, 97n9 women’s emancipation 53n18, 93 Yardi, Rev. A.B. xix, 53n19

115