Hinduism Orientalists and Missionaries
by
Will Sweetman
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 September 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0243

Introduction

The best accounts of Hindu religious beliefs and practices to reach Europe before 1800 came overwhelmingly from the pens of missionaries. There are several reasons why this was so. Their missionary task obviously motivated them to attempt to understand Hindu religion even if they ultimately rejected it as a false religion. Beyond this, missionaries were more likely than other Europeans, such as travelers or colonial officials, to spend the bulk of their lives, often several decades, in India. They were more likely to be well-educated, to learn Indian languages, and, especially, to read Indian literature. Although many remained in European coastal enclaves, in the early period they were also much more likely than other Europeans to spend extended periods beyond the colonial frontier, living and working in the hinterland. They were also usually required to give an account of their activities to their superiors in Europe. Their letters and reports are also more likely than those produced by independent travelers (although not colonial officials) to have survived by being preserved in European archives. Although missionary scholarship has continued into the 20th century and even beyond, it was gradually eclipsed by colonial and later professional scholarship from the end of the 18th century. The emphasis here will be on works emerging from the earlier period. Scholarship on missionaries has, until quite recently, been very largely the domain of historians of mission, many of whom were missionaries themselves. This has begun to change as the value of missionary accounts have been more widely recognized, and there has been a welcome shift from the often frankly hagiographic character of earlier secondary scholarship.

General Overviews

Although it was one of the first in the field, the judgments in Halbfass’s account of the missionary contributions to the much broader cross-cultural engagement between India and Europe remain among the most acute and useful, undoubtedly because they were grounded in an extensive reading of the missionary sources themselves (Halbfass 1988). It is likewise the close attention to the primary sources which marks out Oddie 2006 and Xavier and Županov 2015 as the best surveys of, respectively, Protestant and Catholic accounts of Hinduism. Like Xavier and Županov, App 2010 shows that the earliest missionary sources, particularly those not written in or translated into English, have very often been unduly neglected. This work also shows that the scope of missions—and in many cases the careers of individual missionaries—were transregional, understanding Buddhism, for example, not only in its Indian context but also throughout Asia. Perhaps the foremost contemporary authority on the intellectual significance of the early modern European presence in India is Sanjay Subrahmanyam. He combines immense knowledge of archival sources with command of an array of languages, European and Asian. Subrahmanyam 2017 is a worthy successor to Halbfass’s pioneering work, and takes account of much that has been learned in the intervening decades.

  • App, Urs. The Birth of Orientalism. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.9783/9780812200058Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    App argues that “the role of colonialism . . . in the birth of Orientalism dwindles to insignificance compared to the role of religion.” Although he also discusses the early study of Buddhism at length, App highlights the significant contribution of early missionaries such as Roberto Nobili, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, and Gaston-Laurent Cœurdoux to the emerging European understanding of the relationship between Hinduism and Buddhism.

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  • Halbfass, Wilhelm. India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988.

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    Revised and enlarged translation of a work first published in German in 1981. The book offers an overview of India in the history of European self-understanding from Antiquity to the 19th century, and of the Indian response to European presence thereafter. The third chapter (pp. 36–53) offers precise thumbnail sketches of some of the most significant missionary authors on Hinduism.

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  • Oddie, Geoffrey A. Imagined Hinduism: British Protestant Missionary Constructions of Hinduism, 1793–1900. New Delhi: SAGE, 2006.

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    Oddie traces the emergence among Protestant missionaries in the 19th century of a “dominant paradigm” which regards Hinduism as a system established by and for Brahmins. He argues that even if missionaries were overtaken as scholars by professional Indologists in the course of the 19th century, through their widely circulated works—especially periodicals—missionaries were nevertheless more important in shaping perceptions of Hinduism among the wider European public.

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  • Subrahmanyam, Sanjay. Europe’s India: Words, Peoples, Empires, 1500–1800. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017.

    DOI: 10.4159/9780674977532Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Offers something of a summary statement of the major themes of Subrahmanyam’s work on the European understanding of India and the impact of India on European thought. Missionary sources are cited throughout, but most often in the chapter “The Question of ‘Indian Religion’” (pp. 103–143).

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  • Xavier, Ângela Barreto, and Iñes G. Županov. Catholic Orientalism: Portuguese Empire, Indian Knowledge (16th-18th Centuries). New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015.

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    Delineates a Catholic “information order”—nourished to a large extent by missionaries, but also others—which flourished in the first centuries of Portuguese presence in South Asia and was later both appropriated and disparaged by later, particularly British, Orientalists. Two chapters (“Religion and Civility in ‘Brahmanism’: Jesuit Experiments” pp. 115–157 and “Franciscan Orientalism” pp. 158–201) deal at length with missionary writing on Hinduism.

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Catholic Missions in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

Until the 18th century, Christian missionaries in India were all Catholic and mostly Portuguese. Those who engaged most deeply with Hinduism in this period were often Jesuits. This section of the bibliography is divided into three parts. The first covers editions of texts written by Catholic missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries, almost all of which were not published until the 19th or 20th century. The second deals with secondary scholarship on these and other still-unpublished texts. Until recently, much of this scholarship was written by members of the same missionary orders. The final section focuses on the rites debate—a dispute at first between Jesuits, later between Jesuits and others (notably Capuchins). This debate, over the adaptation of aspects of Christian and Hindu—mostly Brahmanical—lifestyles, was a major stimulus to the study of Hindu texts as the different parties sought textual warrant for their claims.

Editions of Texts and Collections of Documents

Among Catholic missionaries, Jesuits took the lead in the study of Hinduism. Their accounts appeared both in dedicated treatises, such as Fenicio 1933 and those contained in Caland 1915 and Caland 1923, and in more general treatments of India like Gonçalves 1955. As well as being responsible for the best primary sources on Hinduism in this period, Jesuits also took the lead in the 19th and 20th centuries in the production of editions of letters and texts from the early period (as well as histories of the period; see Secondary Studies). This was in part because of the controversies surrounding the Jesuit order and its missionary method. The most significant of these was the debate over accommodation—the toleration of certain aspects of high-caste lifestyle on the part of missionaries and their converts—in the Madurai mission founded by Roberto Nobili. Nobili 1972, edited by a 20th-century Indian Jesuit, was produced in response to the criticisms of his fellow Jesuit, Gonçalo Fernandes, collected in Fernandes 1973. The Society of Jesus was suppressed in the later 18th century. When its missions in India were re-established in the mid-19th century, following the restoration of the Society, many Jesuit missionaries saw it as a part of their mission to record the early history of their work in India. Bertrand 1847–1854 assembles many primary sources—albeit sometimes abbreviated—which have their origin in the debate over accommodation in the Madurai mission in the 17th century. The magnum opus of another Jesuit historian, Wicki 1948–1988, is an indispensable, meticulous edition in eighteen large volumes of virtually every extant Jesuit letter from India in the 16th century.

  • Bertrand, Joseph. La mission du Maduré d’après les documents inédits. 4 vols. Paris: Poussièlegue-Rusand, 1847–1854.

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    The restoration of the Society provoked a debate over Jesuit influence in French society, including attacks on their missions. Bertrand’s work defended the Jesuit missions. The first volume, an overview of India and Jesuit missions, includes three chapters on Indian “manners” and religions (pp. 67–169) which may be seen as a summary of the Jesuit understanding of Hinduism which had emerged in the first three centuries of their mission.

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  • Caland, Willem. Drie oude Portugeesche verhandelingen over het Hindoeıs̈me, toegelicht en vertaald door W. Caland en A.A. Fokker. Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen te Amsterdam Afdeeling Letterkunde, Nieuwe Reeks 16. Amsterdam: Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, 1915.

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    Dutch translations of three early texts in Portuguese. The first two were published in Portuguese in 1812 (the first also in partial English translation in 1906–1908) and translated into Dutch by Fokker with annotations by Caland. The third was reprinted with some corrections from an 18th-century Dutch translation but is in origin a Portuguese text by João de Brito.

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  • Caland, Willem. Twee oude Fransche verhandelingen over het hindoeıs̈me. Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen te Amsterdam Afdeeling Letterkunde, Nieuwe Reeks 23/3. Amsterdam: Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen, 1923.

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    Editions of two early French texts on Hinduism. The first (“Relation des erreurs qui se trouvent dans la religion des gentils Malabars de la coste de Coromandel dans l’Inde”) is an adaptation of Brito’s “Breve Notícia” produced by the French Jesuit Jean Venant Bouchet before 1698. The second (“La Gentilité du Bengala”) is somewhat later.

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  • Fenicio, Jacobo. The Livro da seita dos Indios orientais (Brit. mus. MS. Sloane 1820) of Father Jacobo Fenicio, S.J. Edited by Jarl Charpentier. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksells, 1933.

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    Fenicio, another Portuguese Jesuit, worked in Kerala, and his account of local religious traditions includes extracts from a now-lost Malayalam text. Charpentier’s edition is incomplete, omitting most of Fenicio’s arguments against Hindu belief and practice. The work was plagiarized by both Portuguese and Dutch authors in the later 17th century.

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  • Fernandes, Gonçalo. Tratado do Pe. Gonçalo Fernandes Trancoso sobre o Hinduıśmo (Madure 1616). Edited by Josef Wicki. Lisbon, Portugal: Centro de Estudos Históricos Ultramarinos, 1973.

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    A Portuguese Jesuit who worked among Dalits in the Madurai mission, Fernandes’s treatise was produced as evidence in his attack on the Brahmanical lifestyle of Nobili and his converts. It consists of extracts from Sanskrit texts, translated by a Brahmin Christian, Śivadharma or Bonifacio, into Tamil and thence into Portuguese. Despite Wicki’s title, it is concerned primarily with the Brahmanical rites which were at the heart of the controversy.

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  • Gonçalves, Diogo. História do Malavar (Hs. Goa 58 des Arch. Rom S.I.). Edited by Josef Wicki. Missionswissenschaftliche Abhandlungen und Texte 20. Münster, Germany: Aschendorff, 1955.

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    A handbook produced around 1615 for missionaries, which may have circulated in manuscript. An outline of the Indians’ “superstitions and sects” in the second book of the História is followed by an extended refutation of their customs and forms of worship in Books 3 and 4. Gonçalves also describes the wealth of some temples along the southwestern coast and encourages the Portuguese to sack them.

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  • Nobili, Roberto. Roberto de Nobili on Indian Customs/Informatio de quibusdam moribus nationis indicae (1613). Edited by S. Rajamanickam. Palayamkottai, India: De Nobili Research Institute, 1972.

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    A detailed defense of Nobili’s strategy of adapting Christianity to elements of Brahmanical lifestyle. Challenged to substantiate the claims he made his first Apologia (1610), Nobili gives here dozens of citations from Hindu texts in both Sanskrit and Tamil. Rajamanickam’s edition gives both the Latin text and an English translation.

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  • Wicki, Joseph, ed. Documenta Indica. 18 vols. Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 1948–1988.

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    Massive, copiously annotated edition of the Jesuit letters and documents sent from India in the 16th century. Where multiple versions exist, these are identified and variant readings listed. Editions and prior scholarly discussions of the letters are also noted. The letters are mostly in Portuguese and Latin, some in Spanish and Italian. The introductions, summaries, and apparatus are in Latin in the first thirteen volumes, and in English thereafter.

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Secondary Studies

Jesuit scholars have also been responsible for many historical studies of the early period of the missions. Much attention has been focused on the lives of Jesuit pioneers, notably Francis Xavier and Roberto Nobili, in Schurhammer 1973–1980 and Rajamanickam 1972. Arokiasamy 1986 and Falcao 2003 are both works produced by Indian Christian scholars wrestling with the same issues of translation which their subjects faced. More recently, studies by non-Jesuit scholars have appeared. Among the best of them is Loureiro 1997, which covers the same period as Wicki 1955 but differs significantly from the latter’s Jesuit perspective. Rubiés 2001 recovers and analyzes a Jesuit source emerging from the Chandragiri mission, which has barely been studied. Young 1989 and Henn 2014 both bring a great depth of knowledge of the Indian religious context to shed light on two different contexts in which Jesuits encountered Hinduism in the earliest years of their missions. Young 1989 discusses an encounter and debate between the Jesuit pioneer Xavier and the Brahmins in an important temple in the far south of India, while Henn 2014 looks at the Jesuits in Goa, where Portuguese power enabled the destruction of temples and the banning of overt Hindu practice.

  • Arokiasamy, Soosai. Dharma, Hindu and Christian, according to Roberto de Nobili: Analysis of Its Meaning and Its Use in Hinduism and Christianity. Documenta Missionalia 19. Rome: Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana, 1986.

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    Study of Nobili’s understanding of the concept of dharma in Hinduism, and his use of it in presenting Christianity to Indians. Argues that Nobili “anticipates, though imperfectly, many of the points concerning the relation between Christianity and non-Christian religions which find a better development and a more perfect expression in the documents of the Second Vatican Council” (p. 19).

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  • Falcao, Nelson. Kristapurāṇa: A Christian-Hindu Encounter. A Study of Inculturation in the Kristapurāṇa of Thomas Stephens, S.J. (1549–1619). Anand, India: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 2003.

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    Falcao is a Salesian priest who in 2009 translated Stephens’s Kristapurāṇa. This earlier study of the text, based on his doctoral dissertation, identifies the Hindu texts known to Stephens, mostly Marathi sant literature. Falcao examines Stephens’s selective use of terms drawn from this literature to present Christian doctrine, and argues against the unfounded claim that Stephens directly lifted passages from Hindu texts.

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  • Henn, Alexander. Hindu-Catholic Encounters in Goa: Religion, Colonialism, and Modernity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014.

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    Study of early Catholic encounters with Hinduism in Goa informed by Henn’s own ethnographic work in the same region (for a comparable approach to later Jesuit sources on Hinduism from Tamil Nadu, see Mosse 2012).

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  • Loureiro, Rui Manuel. “O descobrimento da civilização indiana nas cartas jesuıt́as [século XVI].” In Entre dos mundos: Fronteras culturales y agentes mediadores. Edited by Berta Ares Queija and Serge Gruzinski, 299–327. Seville, Spain: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos, 1997.

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    One of a small number of studies, with Wicki 1955, of the earlier Jesuit engagements with India. Loureiro 1997 offers a thematic summary of the contents of the letters edited in Wicki 1948–1988 under the following headings: languages, caste system, religious specialists, habits and customs, temples and beliefs.

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  • Mosse, David. The Saint in the Banyan Tree: Christianity and Caste Society in India. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1525/9780520953970Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    An ethnography of contemporary South Indian Catholicism but deeply informed by the history of the missions—especially the Jesuit missions—which shaped it as it emerged in an overwhelmingly Hindu society. Particular attention is paid to missionary and Indian Christians’ negotiations with caste.

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  • Rajamanickam, S. The First Oriental Scholar. Tirunelveli, India: De Nobili Research Institute, 1972.

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    Focuses on Nobili’s engagement with Hindu texts, and makes an attempt to identify which of the many works attributed to Nobili are indeed his.

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  • Rubiés, Joan-Pau. “The Jesuit Discovery of Hinduism: Antonio Rubino’s Account of the History and Religion of Vijayanagara (1608).” Archiv für Religionsgeschichte 3 (2001): 210–256.

    DOI: 10.1515/9783110234190.210Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Rubino was an Italian Jesuit whose forty years as a missionary in Asia ended with his martyrdom in Japan. Rubiés provides an annotated edition of his account of the kingdom of Vijayanagara, which includes descriptions of the major temples with details of their revenues and the rituals carried out in them by Brahmins and others. Rubiés analyzes Rubino’s text alongside other contemporary missionary accounts by Fenicio, Nobili, and others.

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  • Schurhammer, Georg. Francis Xavier: His Life, His Times. Rome: Jesuit Historical Institute, 1973–1980.

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    In addition to being a biography of Xavier, the two volumes covering his years in India provide a comprehensive view of the establishment of the Portuguese colonies in India and their religious institutions. First published in German (1955), subsequently translated into English and Spanish (1992).

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  • Wicki, Josef. “Die ältere katholische Mission in der Begegnung mit Indien.” Saeculum 6.4 (1955): 345–367.

    DOI: 10.7788/saeculum.1955.6.jg.345Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The first part of the article provides brief summaries of most early Jesuit works (with the notable and inexplicable exception of Nobili). The remainder deals with other aspects of the missionary enterprise—relations with the Thomas Christians, the Portuguese state, and the Goa Inquisition.

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  • Young, Richard Fox. “Francis Xavier in the Perspective of the Śaivite Brahmins of Tiruchendur Temple.” In Hindu-Christian Dialogue: Perspectives and Encounters. Edited by Harold G. Coward, 64–79. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1989.

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    A careful attempt to reconstruct Xavier’s encounter with Brahmins on the basis of his description of it and what is known from other sources about the Ādiśaiva Brahmins likely to have been his interlocutors. Young suggests that, despite Xavier’s limited Tamil, what he reports of the Brahmins has a ring of authenticity. Drawing on Aruḷnanti’s Śivañāna Cittiyār, he tries to make sense of the questions the Brahmins put to Xavier.

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The Rites Debate

A significant stimulus to missionary writing on Hinduism was the fierce debate provoked by Roberto Nobili’s experiments in adapting Christianity to aspects of the lifestyle of the higher castes. He allowed converts to retain what he argued were signs of rank, rather than religious affiliation (pūṇūl, tilakam, kuṭumi), to continue ceremonial bathing, to avoid the use of saliva during baptism, and to use the tāli (a necklace) rather than a ring as a sign of marriage. Nobili himself wore a saffron robe, took a Brahmin cook, and avoided contact with the Christian Paravas under the care of his fellow Jesuit, Gonçalo Fernandes. Nobili’s final treatise in defense of his approach is edited and translated in Nobili 1971. Nobili’s method, and Fernandes’s objections (Humbert 1967) to it, are analyzed in Županov 1999. Recent works Aranha 2010 and Trento 2018 shift the focus to the Indian agents—Nobili’s Brahmin converts—examining their role in Christianizing rituals and in providing textual warrant both for and against accommodation.

  • Aranha, Paolo. “Sacramenti o saṃskārāḥ? L’illusione dell’accommodatio nella controversia dei riti malabarici.” Cristianesimo nella Storia 31 (2010): 621–646.

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    Reviews the historiography of the Malabar rites debate and provides a significant new reading of the episode by emphasizing Indian agency. For Aranha, the adaptations defended by Nobili were not his innovations but rather the result of Indian neophytes taking possession of the religion he announced to them and reshaping it according to their own needs, above all to preserve the hierarchical structure of their society.

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  • Humbert, J. “Hindu Ceremonial of 1616, by Fr. Gonçalo Fernandes.” Boletín de la Asociación Española de Orientalistas 3 (1967): 121–132.

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    A transcription and annotated translation of the introduction and first two chapters of Fernandes’s 1616 manuscript, now in the Jesuit archives in Rome (Goan. 59 fol. 2–6). The whole text is transcribed in Fernandes 1973 (cited under Editions of Texts and Collections of Documents).

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  • Nobili, Roberto. Roberto de Nobili on Adaptation/Narratio fundamentorum quibus Madurensis Missionis institutum caeptum est, et hucusque consistit (1619). Edited by S. Rajamanickam. Latin text translated by J. Pujo Palayamkottai, India: De Nobili Research Institute, 1971.

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    Nobili’s final statement of the principles on which he based his practice of adaptation or accommodation. The second part, giving twelve reasons why the pūṇūl and kuṭumi are signs of rank rather than religious affiliation together with shorter discussions of bathing and tilaka, draws on Nobili’s observations of contemporary Hindu practice without the detailed textual evidence found in his 1613 treatise (Nobili 1972, cited under Editions of Texts and Collections of Documents).

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  • Trento, Margherita. “Śivadharma or Bonifacio? Behind the Scenes of the Madurai Mission Controversy (1608–1619).” In The Rites Controversies in the Early Modern World. Edited by Ines G. Županov and Pierre-Antoine Fabre, 91–120. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2018.

    DOI: 10.1163/9789004366299_006Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A study of Śivadharma, a Telugu Brahmin (b. 1584) who took the name Bonifacio at his conversion, and his role as informant to both Nobili and Fernandes. It was Śivadharma who taught Nobili Sanskrit and guided him through Brahmanical literature. He also mediated a more indirect access to the same literature for Fernandes, translating Sanskrit texts into colloquial Tamil, which Fernandes and an assistant translated into Portuguese.

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  • Županov, Iñes G. Disputed Mission: Jesuit Experiments and Brahmanical Knowledge in Seventeenth-Century India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    The first detailed account of the debate between Nobili and Fernandes by a non-Jesuit scholar. Županov seeks to move beyond celebratory or hagiographic accounts, suggesting that their very different backgrounds influenced the positions they took. Nobili’s aristocratic rank enabled him to identify as a Roman Brahmin, while Fernandes, an older man who had first come to India as a soldier, relied on direct experience and emphasized differences.

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Early Protestant Sources

Protestant mission did not begin in India until the 18th century, but the Dutch and English East India Companies did appoint chaplains to their factories. Several of these wrote accounts of Indian religion. Henry Lord spent five years as chaplain to the English East India Company in Surat in the 1620s. His was the first book in English to be devoted to a description of Indian religion (see Sweetman 1999). His Dutch contemporary Abraham Roger spent a decade as chaplain in Pulicat (Pazhaverkadu), a former Portuguese outpost in northern Tamil Nadu taken by the Dutch in 1609. Roger 1915 was informed by a Tamil Brahmin, Padmanabhan, and provides a longer and more detailed account of Tamil Hinduism. Philippus Baldaeus was another minister who worked for the Dutch East India Company in several of its Asian factories from 1655 to 1666. Although it contains little that is original, Baldaeus 1917 has at least the merit of making available material which otherwise remained unpublished until the 20th century.

  • Baldaeus, Philippus. Afgoderye der Oost-Indische Heydenen door Philippus Baldaeus. Edited by Albert Johannes de Jong. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1917.

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    Idolatry of the East Indian Heathens was the third volume of Baldaeus’s 1672 work on Asia. He acknowledged using many published works, both Catholic and Protestant, but much of the most detailed new information was borrowed without acknowledgment from Fenicio’s Livro da seita dos Indios orientais (Fenicio 1933, cited under Editions of Texts and Collections of Documents) and an illustrated manuscript entitled Daśavātāra (1657), by a Dutch merchant, Philip Angel, and his Gujarati collaborator (a Brahmin named Kieka).

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  • Roger, Abraham. De Open-Deure tot het Verborgen Heydendom. Edited by Willem Caland. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1915.

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    Roger’s work, posthumously published in Dutch in 1651, was translated into German (1663) and French (1670) and versions of it also appeared in the English translations of three other texts which relied on or extracted from Roger’s text. A detailed account of Brahmanical rituals, Roger’s was the most important and influential 17th-century European work on Hinduism, a key source for Diderot’s article on the “Philosophie des Malabares” in the Encyclopédie.

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  • Sweetman, Will. Mapping Hinduism: “Hinduism” and the Study of Indian Religions, 1600–1776. Halle, Germany: Verlag der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle, 2003.

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    Study of the idea of Hinduism in 17th- and 18th-century European sources. Includes chapters on Lord, Roger, and Ziegenbalg, and argues that the idea of Hinduism as a single, pan-Indian religion distinct from Buddhism and Jainism is established by the second decade of the 18th century.

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  • Sweetman, Will, ed. Henry Lord: A Discovery of the Banian Religion and The Religion of the Persees: A Critical Edition of Two Early English Works on Indian Religions. Lampeter, UK: Mellen, 1999.

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    The first part of Lord’s 1630 work describes the religious beliefs and practices of the Hindu merchants of Surat. While “Banian” is used by Lord to refer to all Indians who are not Muslims or Parsis, “those that are most properly called Banians” (p. 81) are Hindu and Jain merchants (vāṇiā). The former were most likely followers of the puṣṭimārga taught by Vallabhacarya (b. 1479–d. 1531).

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The Eighteenth Century

The 18th century saw the establishment of Protestant mission, the suppression of the Society of Jesus and expansion of other Catholic missions, and the first significant extension of European control of Indian territory since the conquest of Goa.

Catholic Missions

At the end of the 17th century, French Jesuits established a new mission in the Telugu and northern Tamil region, following the model of Nobili in adapting Christianity to high-caste lifestyles. This mission produced much of the most important Jesuit scholarship on Hinduism in the 18th century. Gaston-Laurent Cœurdoux, a French Jesuit who spent forty-seven years in the mission, wrote a work on Hindu practices. Murr 1987 identified this work as the basis for Jean-Antoine Dubois’s well-known text Dubois 1906 (cited under Nineteenth Century). The mission’s practice reignited the rites debate, this time in the context of rivalry between Jesuits and other Catholic missions, notably the Capuchins. Dharampal 1982 is an edition of an unpublished work on Hindu practices by a Capuchin missionary intended to undermine the Jesuit defense of their strategy. Several studies exist of other individual Jesuits who wrote on Hinduism in this period. Clooney 2005 is a study of several important letters by another French Jesuit, Jean-Venant Bouchet. Ebeling and Trento 2018 sifts history from hagiography in the life of one of the Jesuits still famous in 21st-century India, Costanzo Gioseffo Beschi. Missionaries of other orders also produced significant works. Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo 1791 is an important examination, still largely unstudied, both of Hinduism and of other missionary scholarship by a Carmelite. Lorenzen 2006 uses the Italian Capuchin Marco della Tomba as a means of investigating wider questions regarding the achievement of missionary scholars.

  • Clooney, Francis X. Fr. Bouchet’s India: An 18th Century Jesuit’s Encounter with Hinduism. Chennai: Satya Nilayam, 2005.

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    One of the few places where Jesuit reports of Hinduism were published was in the Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, a periodical which appeared irregularly between 1702 and 1776. Clooney’s short book is a study of letters by one of the more prolific and important of the Jesuit authors. They include important accounts of possession and reincarnation, written in part to rebut the use made of Jesuit materials by freethinkers and philosophes.

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  • Dharampal, Gita. La religion des Malabars: Tessier de Quéralay et la contribution des missionnaires européens à la naissance de l’indianisme. Neue Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft. Supplementa 29. Immensee, Switzerland: Nouvelle Revue de Science Missionnaire, 1982.

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    Tessier de Quéralay, procurator of the Mission Etrangères de Paris in Pondichéry (1699–1720), wrote La Religion des Malabars (1709) to undermine the Jesuits’ case for accommodating aspects of Brahmanical lifestyle in their converts by demonstrating that they were intimately related to a system of idolatry and superstition entirely inimical to Christianity. Dharampal’s study includes an extended summary of Tessier’s text, which is extant in at least ten manuscript copies.

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  • Ebeling, Sascha, and Margherita Trento. “From Jesuit Missionary to Tamil Pulavar: Costanzo Gioseffo Beschi SJ (1680–1747), the ‘Great Heroic Sage.’” In L’Inde et l’Italie: Rencontres intellectuelles, politiques et artistiques. Edited by Tiziana Leucci, Claude Markovits, and Marie Fourcade, 53–89. Collection Puruṣārtha 35. Paris: Éditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 2018.

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    Beschi, known for his Tēmpāvaṇi (Tamil epic poem on the life of Joseph) and his grammars of literary and colloquial Tamil, wrote no extended account of Hinduism. However, his works reveal deep familiarity with standard works of Tamil literature such as Kampaṉ’s Irāmāvatāram. This article establishes what is known of Beschi’s early life, examines his literary technique, and explains how he came to be revered as a Tamil pulavar.

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  • Lorenzen, David N. “Marco Della Tomba and the Brahmin from Banaras: Missionaries, Orientalists, and Indian Scholars.” Journal of Asian Studies 65.1 (2006): 115–143.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0021911806000088Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Why were missionaries, despite their knowledge of Indian languages, “largely unable to initiate the tradition of what we today would call the modern study of Indian history and culture” (p. 118) between 1500 and 1775, when East India Company scholar-administrators made such rapid progress after 1775? Lorenzen argues that the difference arose both from greater financial resources (enabling them to pay Indian scholars) and their more open and Enlightenment-influenced worldview.

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  • Murr, Sylvia, ed. L’Inde philosophique entre Bousset et Voltaire. Vol. I. Mœurs et coutumes des Indiens (1777); Vol. II. L’indologie du Père Cœurdoux. Paris: École Française d’Extrême Orient, 1987.

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    Cœurdoux’s Mœurs et coutumes des Indiens may be seen as both a summary of Jesuit scholarship on Hinduism prior to the suppression of their Society, and a continuation of the Jesuit defense of their missionary strategy even after the pope ruled against it in 1744. Murr’s edition is based on a manuscript edited by a French artillery officer Nicolas-Jacques Desvaulx (b. 1745–d. 1823). Another version was published as Dubois 1906 (cited under Nineteenth Century).

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  • Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo [Filip Vezdin]. Systema Brahmanicum liturgicum, mythologicum, civile, ex monumentis indicis musei Borgiani Velitris dissertationibus historico-criticis illustravit Fr. Paulinus a S. Bartholomaeo, Carmelita discalceatus. Rome: A. Fulgonius, 1791.

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    Carmelite missionary who, after returning to Europe in 1789, published Indological works from his own collections and those of Stefano Borgia, cardinal and prefect of the Propaganda Fide. Systema Brahmanicum is full of references—often caustically critical—to other missionary manuscripts on Hinduism available to Paulinus in Rome. A German translation appeared in 1797. No comprehensive study of Paulinus’s works exists, but see the comments in Xavier and Županov 2015 (cited under General Overviews).

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Protestant Missions

The first Protestant mission in India was established by German Lutherans commissioned by the Danish king in Tranquebar, a Danish enclave in Thanjavur. Their work, including their engagements with Hinduism, was until recently studied almost exclusively by historians of mission. Hudson 2000 was one of the first studies of the mission and its relationship to Hinduism, including to caste structures, by a scholar of Hinduism. Jeyaraj 2005 provides a translation of one of the primary works on Hinduism by the founder of the mission, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg. Gross, et al. 2006 is a large work published on the tercentenary of the foundation of the mission which includes several chapters dealing with Hinduism. Jürgens 2004 and Liebau, et al. 2010 examine the mission’s contribution to networks for the production and circulation of knowledge between India and Europe. Jeyaraj and Young 2013 is an English translation and study of letters, first published in German in the 18th century, in which Tamil Hindus answer a series of questions put to them by the missionaries.

  • Gross, Andreas, Y. Vincent Kumaradoss, and Heike Liebau, eds. Halle and the Beginning of Protestant Christianity in India. 3 vols. Halle, Germany: Verlag der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle, 2006.

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    Produced to mark the tercentenary of the Danish-English-Halle mission established at Tranquebar in 1706, with over sixty chapters addressing all aspects of the mission’s foundation, history, and legacy. Part 6, “Mission and Hinduism” (in Vol. 2, pp. 881–1017), deals explicitly with Hinduism but many other chapters also contain relevant material from leading scholars.

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  • Hudson, D. Dennis. Protestant Origins in India: Tamil Evangelical Christians, 1706–1835. Richmond, UK: Curzon, 2000.

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    The best single-volume study of the Tranquebar mission by a scholar whose principal specialism is Hinduism. Hudson’s work is notable particularly for its sensitive attention to the question of status hierarchy in the early years of the mission and among Tamil Protestants in Tanjore in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

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  • Jeyaraj, Daniel, ed. and trans. Genealogy of the South Indian Deities: An English Translation of Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg’s Original German Manuscript with a Textual Analysis and Glossary. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005.

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    Based on Jeyaraj’s 2003 edition of Ziegenbalg’s important Genealogie der malabarischen Götter (1713). The identification of many of the Tamil deities, texts, and other elements of ritual and mythology is helpful, but the decision to give these terms in their Sanskrit form wherever one is available alters the impression of the work, as does the decision to translate “Heidenthum” (“heathenism”) as “South Indian society.”

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  • Jeyaraj, Daniel, and Richard Fox Young, eds. and trans. Hindu-Christian Epistolary Self-Disclosures: “Malabarian Correspondence” between German Pietist Missionaries and South Indian Hindus (1712–1714). Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 2013.

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    New translation of ninety-nine Tamil letters first published in German and English translation in the early 18th century. Although the originals are no longer extant, the letters nevertheless represent a rare Hindu perspective on the missionary encounter, albeit in response to questions set by the missionaries. The translators adhere to what they call a principle of functional equivalence so that, for example, they translate “Gesetz” as “Vētam” rather than “law.”

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  • Jürgens, Hanco. “German Indology avant la lettre: The Experiences of the Halle Missionaries in Southern India, 1750–1810.” In Sanskrit and Orientalism: Indology and Comparative Linguistics in Germany, 1750–1958. Edited by Doug McGetchin, Peter Park, and Damodar SarDesai, 43–84. New Delhi: Manohar, 2004.

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    The best survey of the Tranquebar mission’s engagement with Indian society and religion throughout the whole of the 18th century, examining also their connections with contemporary scholars in Europe.

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  • Liebau, Heike, Andreas Nehring, and Brigitte Klosterberg, eds. Mission und Forschung: Translokale Wissensproduktion zwischen Indien und Europa im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert. Hallesche Forschungen. Halle, Germany: Verlag der Franckeschen Stiftungen, 2010.

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    Emerging from a conference marking the tercentenary of the mission, the focus of the essays in this volume is on the contributions of missionaries and their Tamil interlocutors to the development of science and scholarship in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The final section (“Gesellschaft, Religion, Sprache”) contains three essays on particular missionaries (Ziegenbalg, Benjamin Schultze, Robert Caldwell) and others dealing with caste and missionary responses to Śaiva Siddhānta.

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The Nineteenth Century

Contrary to what is often stated, throughout the 18th century the East India Company not only tolerated missions in territories under its control, but even directly funded missions—and individual missionaries. The Abbé Dubois, for example, was paid by the Company to attend to the needs of Indian Christians in Mysore following the Company’s defeat of Tipu Sultan in 1799. Nevertheless, it is true that the formal requirement—inserted in its charter in 1813—that the Company promote the “religious and moral improvement” of Indians made possible huge growth in the number of missions, in particular Protestant missions. It was in part due to concerns about the effect of missions—in the wake of the Vellore mutiny in 1806—that the Company paid for Dubois 1906, in the hope that it would help them better understand how to avoid offending the “religious sentiments” of its Hindu subjects. Many Protestant missionaries contributed to European scholarship on Hinduism. Trautmann 2009 examines the tension between missionaries and secular scholars through the attempts to prevent the election of Horace Hayman Wilson as first Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford by promoting the cause of a former Company chaplain, William Hodge Mill. Vaithees 2015 examines the contribution of missionaries to the emergence of the Dravidian movement. Schröder 2009 and Numark 2011 focus on different (mostly Anglophone) Protestant missionaries, in different parts of India, and how their works contributed to the categorization of Indian religions. Nehring 2003 is a comprehensive study of the German Leipzig missionaries, who saw themselves as the inheritors and true successors of the Tranquebar mission. Viswanath 2014 examines the impact of missionary discourse on caste on the colonial state’s policies.

  • Dubois, Jean-Antoine. Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies. 3d ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906.

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    Probably the most widely circulated, cited, and celebrated missionary text on Hinduism. The third edition, with a laudatory preface by Friedrich Max Müller, went through at least ten printings by 1959. Although definitively shown by Murr 1987 (cited under Catholic Missions) to be based on Cœurdoux’s manuscript Mœurs et coutumes des Indiens, the work is still often treated as Dubois’s own. No detailed study of the changes made in the several versions published by Dubois exists.

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  • Nehring, Andreas. Orientalismus und Mission: Die Repräsentation der tamilischen Gesellschaft und Religion durch Leipziger Missionare 1840–1940. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 2003.

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    A study of German Lutheran missionaries’ engagement with Tamil religion from the mid-19th century. The third chapter (pp. 102–211) deals with the debate over caste, to which the Leipzig missionaries took a more flexible approach. The fourth chapter (pp. 212–241) discusses Karl Graul’s studies of Tamil literature, and the fifth (pp. 242–341) examines missionary accounts of Tamil popular religion and of Śaiva Siddhānta.

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  • Numark, Mitch. “Translating Dharma: Scottish Missionary-Orientalists and the Politics of Religious Understanding in Nineteenth-Century Bombay.” Journal of Asian Studies 70.2 (2011): 471–500.

    DOI: 10.1017/S002191181100009XSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines how three Scottish missionaries (John Wilson, John Stevenson, and John Murray Mitchell) conceived of Hinduism within a taxonomy of religions which included also other non-Christian (Muslim, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Jain, and Sikh) religions present in India and Roman Catholicism.

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  • Schröder, Ulrike. Religion, Kaste und Ritual: Christliche Mission und tamilischer Hinduismus in Südindien im 19. Jahrhundert. Halle, Germany: Verlag der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle, 2009.

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    Examines the role of Protestant missionaries—and especially the Anglican missionary-scholar Robert Caldwell (b. 1814–d. 1891)—in the formation of key categories such as religion and ritual within 19th-century colonial discourse.

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  • Trautmann, Thomas R. “The Missionary and the Orientalist.” In Ancient to Modern: Religion, Power, and Community in India. Edited by Ishita Banerjee-Dube and Saurabh Dube, 236–258. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    Examines and extends Lorenzen 2006 by considering the differences between missionaries and Orientalists after the establishment of British rule, arguing that while they are conceptually distinct as ideal types, in practice they often overlapped in the persons of devout scholar-administrators or of missionaries (such as Robert Caldwell) who produced exemplary scholarship.

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  • Vaithees, V. Ravi. Religion, Caste, and Nation in South India: Maraimalai Adigal, the Neo-Saivite Movement, and Tamil Nationalism, 1876–1950. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199451814.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines the role of Protestant missionaries—particularly Robert Caldwell and George Uglow Pope—in the emergence of the Dravidian movement in 19th-century South India and the neo-Śaivite revival.

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  • Viswanath, Rupa. The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion, and the Social in Modern India. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.7312/visw16306Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Viswanath shows how attempts to address the condition of landless laborers around the turn of the 20th century were both motivated and frustrated by a Protestant missionary discourse which spiritualized caste, making it a matter of religion in which the state’s intervention must be limited. She emphasizes the value of missionary accounts of the daily lives of Hindus, especially the poorest and those in rural areas.

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Missionary Scholarship and Hindu Texts

Missionaries lead the way in both obtaining and studying Hindu texts. Catholic missionaries sporadically collected texts from as early as the 1540s, but the first large collection which can be reconstructed in detail (in Sweetman and Ilakkuvan 2012) is an early-18th-century Protestant library. Bisschop 2016 and Sweetman 2019 demonstrate missionaries’ strong preference for vernacular literature in the early period, even though—as Colas 2012 shows—they were also the first to collect Sanskrit texts and send them to Europe. Rocher 1984 locates the author of an infamous “fake” Veda among the same group of mostly French Jesuits who were the first to obtain copies of the actual Vedas. In the course of the 19th century, missionaries were largely displaced as the leading European scholars of Hindu texts, as Sanskrit chairs were established in Europe starting at the Collège de France in 1815. But they continued to edit texts and were particularly important in the study of texts in Indian vernaculars (Graul 1854–1856). Bornet 2014 examines the impact of missionary readings of Tamil texts on processes of canonization and popularization among Hindus themselves. Sharpe 1982 shows how missionary values sometimes lead them to neglect important Hindu texts.

  • Bisschop, Peter. “India and the Making of Hinduism: The Contribution of the Purāṇas.” In Religion and Orientalism in Area Studies. Edited by Paramore Kiri, 39–50, 165–166. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

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    Argues for the importance of the Puranas as sources for early European accounts of Hinduism by missionaries (especially Fenicio and Ziegenbalg) and by early British Orientalists.

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  • Bornet, Philippe. “Missionnaires orientalistes et orientalistes tamouls: Lectures et relectures du Tiruvācakam.” In Special Issue L’orientalisme des marges. Edited by Philippe Bornet and Svetlana Gorshenina. Études de Lettres 2–3 (2014): 227–248.

    DOI: 10.4000/edl.712Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Examines the role of Protestant missionary readings of the Tiruvācakam, a 9th-century text in the Tamil Śaiva canon, in making it a focus for elite Tamil scholars around the turn of the 20th century in their efforts to displace Vedanta as “the” Indian religion in favor of a Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta conceived as a “universal” religion. Argues that the characterization of Tiruvācakam as a “mystical” work was key to this process.

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  • Colas, Gérard. “A Cultural Encounter in the Early 18th Century: The Collection of South Indian Manuscripts by the French Jesuit Fathers of the Carnatic Mission.” In Aspects of Manuscript Culture in South India. Edited by Saraju Rath, 69–80. Brill’s Indological Library. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1163/9789004223479_004Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In the 1720s, the mostly French Jesuits in the Carnatic and Bengal missions were commissioned to collect Indian manuscripts for the royal library in Paris. Colas provides an overview of the manuscripts—mostly in Telugu and Tamil—collected in the south (71 of the total of around 160 volumes in all). These included the first, almost complete, copies of the Vedas sent to Europe.

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  • Graul, Karl. Bibliotheca Tamulica; Sive, opera praecipua Tamuliensium. Bibliotheca Tamulica 1–3. Leipzig: Dorffling und Francke, 1854–1856.

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    Graul spent only four years in India (as director of the Leipzig Lutheran Mission), much of it devoted to language study. His Bibliotheca Tamulica was the first full translation of a classical Tamil text—Tirukkuṟaḷ—into a European language. The four volumes include also three Tamil works on Vedanta (Kaivaljanavanīta; Panćadaśaprakarana; Ātmabōdaprakāśika) and their commentaries, translated into German (Kaivaljanavanīta also into English).

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  • Rocher, Ludo. Ezourvedam: A French Veda of the Eighteenth Century. University of Pennsylvania Studies on South Asia 1. Philadelphia: J. Benjamins, 1984.

    DOI: 10.1075/upssa.1Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In 1778, a text purporting to be a French translation of the Yajur Veda was published in Geneva. It was quickly identified as a missionary work, but not before it had served as a source for Voltaire’s account of ancient Indian monotheism. Rover provides the text, together with a survey of its interpretation and the debate over its authorship.

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  • Sharpe, Eric J. “Protestant Missionaries and the Study of the Bhagavad Gītā.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 6.4 (1982): 155–159.

    DOI: 10.1177/239693938200600404Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Argues that Protestant missionary neglect of the Bhagavad Gita, even as it became a genuinely popular text in the later 19th century, is due largely to a failure to separate the Krishna of the Gita from the Krishna whose erotic exploits recounted in the Puranas had long been the focus of severe critique by missionaries.

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  • Sweetman, Will. “The Absent Vedas.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 139.4 (2019): 781–803.

    DOI: 10.7817/jameroriesoci.139.4.0781Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A survey of European accounts of the Vedas, from the first—a brief description by a Franciscan missionary in the 1580s—to the first in-depth studies by H. T. Colebrooke in 1805. Argues that despite the reputation of the Vedas as the oldest and most authoritative Hindu text, most missionaries preferred to study the vernacular texts, which were of the greatest practical significance for daily Hindu religious life.

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  • Sweetman, Will, and R. Ilakkuvan. Bibliotheca Malabarica: Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg’s Tamil Library. Collection Indologie 119. Pondicherry, India: Institut Français de Pondichéry, 2012.

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    Study of the earliest and one of the most significant Protestant collections of Indian manuscripts—the roughly 150 Tamil manuscripts collected and catalogued by Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg in the first two decades of the 18th century. Identifies the works and editions (where these exist) and argues that among the likely sources of his collections were the libraries of the Śaiva monasteries close to the mission’s base in Tranquebar.

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Missionaries and “Hinduism”

In the wake of Edward Said’s work on Orientalism, a great deal of attention has been paid to the construction of ideas of religious identity. One of the first to identify missionaries as key to this process was Stietencron 2005 (first published in German in 1988). Although the idea was often repeated—notably in King 1999, which is very widely cited—more detailed examinations of the claim have challenged the idea that the conceptual unity of Hinduism was imposed from without. Lorenzen 1999 was among the first to suggest that missionaries were not only shaped by their own preconceptions but also guided by indigenous Indian conceptions (both Hindu and Muslim) of religious identities. Gelders and Balagangadhara 2011 and Rubiés 2014 also examine materials from the earliest modern missionary engagements. While the authors of Gelders and Balagangadhara 2011 highlight the centrality of Brahmins and Brahmanical ideas in missionary constructions, their very static account is challenged by works like Rubiés 2014 which are alive to the more dynamic nature of the encounter and the wider shifts in European thinking during the process of European colonial expansion in Asia and the Americas. Pennington 2005 offers a similarly nuanced account of these processes in 19th-century Bengal.

  • Gelders, Raf, and S. N. Balagangadhara. “Rethinking Orientalism: Colonialism and the Study of Indian Traditions.” History of Religions 51.2 (2011): 101–128.

    DOI: 10.1086/660928Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Argues that it was the earliest modern Christian missionaries who brought Brahmanical forms to the center in the European construction of Hinduism where, for them, it remains: “the vision of the Brahmins as it emerges in [the work of Francis Xavier] has not been altered to this day” (p. 112).

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  • King, Richard. Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and “The Mystic East.” London: Routledge, 1999.

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    Chapter 5, “The Modern Myth of Hinduism,” includes the claim that “the key to the West’s initial postulation of the unity of ‘Hinduism’ derives from the Judaeo-Christian presuppositions of the Orientalists and missionaries” (p. 105), but only the works of East India Company scholars are discussed.

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  • Lorenzen, David N. “Who Invented Hinduism?” Comparative Studies in Society and History 41.4 (1999): 630–659.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0010417599003084Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Lorenzen was one of the first to bring evidence from missionary works prior to 1800 to bear on the debate over the invention of Hinduism. Although this article assembles other, earlier evidence for a coherent premodern Hindu identity, he shows how Italian Franciscans distinguished what came to be called Hinduism from other religions in a way similar to both later British Orientalists and much earlier indigenous Indian sources.

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  • Pennington, Brian K. Was Hinduism Invented? Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction of Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

    DOI: 10.1093/0195166558.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Chapter 3, “Scarcely Less Bloody than Lascivious,” addresses the question of the alleged invention of Hinduism by examining the process by which Baptists and Anglicans in Bengal, in particular the missionary William Ward and the chaplain Claudius Buchanan, discerned a conceptual and ritual core within the diversity of Hindu belief and practice.

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  • Rubiés, Joan-Pau. “Reassessing ‘the Discovery of Hinduism’: Jesuit Discourse on Gentile Idolatry and the European Republic of Letters.” In Intercultural Encounter and the Jesuit Mission in South Asia. Edited by Anand Amaladass and Iñes G. Županov, 113–155. Bangalore, India: Asian Trading Corporation, 2014.

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    Rubiés responds to works like Gelders and Balagangadhara 2011 to argue that while European accounts of Hinduism were dependent on an earlier discourse on Gentile idolatry, the idea of Hinduism emerged as part of the much wider transformation of European attitudes to religion during the Enlightenment. For Rubiés, the process was interactive throughout and involved not only Christian missionaries but also Hindus and Indian Muslims.

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  • Stietencron, Heinrich von. “The Preconditions of Western Research on Hinduism and Their Consequences.” In Hindu Myth, Hindu History: Religion, Art, and Politics. By Heinrich von Stietencron, 195–226. Delhi: Permanent Black, 2005.

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    This chapter, first published in German in 1988, was one of the first to argue that missionaries, who “grasped all of bookless heathendom as one religion . . . decisively molded the approach religious science [Religionswissenschaft, i.e., religious studies] later took towards Hinduism” (p. 199, 203).

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