Mission and Tamil Society: Social and Religious Change in South India (1840-1900)

Article excerpt

Mission and Tamil Society: Social and Religious Change in South India (1840-1900).

By Henriette Bugge. Richmond, England: Curzon Press, 1994. Pp. 223. Paperback $38. Henriette Bugge is a Swedish historian at the University of Copenhagen. In this volume she presents a multifaceted case study on the interdependency of two Western missions (the Societe des Missions Etrangeres de Paris [MEP] and the Danish Missionary Society [DMS]) and of Tamil culture in the present South Arcot (Tamil Nadu, India) from 1840 to 1900.

In this period the Western missions and Indian Christians changed their opinions of each other. There were similarities between the Western colonial administration and the local rural government in influencing religious practices, land ownership, cultivation, the method of collecting taxes, and enforcing "law and order." While the colonial powers could draw some of the Indian elites to their sway, the large rural population remained mostly untouched. With the changing Western attitude toward the nature of Hinduism, the view of Western missionaries changed positively: Indians were now considered as able persons who could lead their church, yet the Western missionaries did not consider their Indian coworkers as their equals. …


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