“Obituary of Arokkia Nadan”

BIPOC Voices in the Victorian Periodical Press

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OUR native Missionary, the Rev. John Devasagayam, has communicated the following particulars respecting this aged catechist, who had long laboured for the spiritual good of his countrymen in the Tinevelly district—

He entered on his rest on the 15th of June 1852, aged 85 years. His heathen name was Periakannoo Nadan, and, like the rest of the heathen, he worshipped Sudalei Maden and several other idols. About twenty-five years ago, he and many other heathen came under Christian instruction. A good many of them became backsliders when a persecution arose from the heathen in consequence of their profession of Christiantity; but Arokkia Nadan remained faithful to the end. He was baptized by the late Rev. C. T. E. Rhenius, and always manifested a deep sense of his corrupt nature, and well-grounded hope of pardon and mercy through faith in Christ, the only Saviour of sinners. As he was a man of property and exemplary conduct, he was appointed a headman of the congregation. He evinced a particular desire for the conversion of the heathen. He was very active in bringing the people of both sexes to morning and evening service, and to the Sunday services in the church. His own conduct was a bright example to them. Even in extreme old age he was regular in going to the church every day, with the help of a cane. Once, in a dark and rainy night, when the wind was strong, he fell down near the church, and cried for help. I ran immediately, and asked him how he thought of coming to the church in the dark. He answered thus—"You know how much we suffered from want of rain, and how we prayed for it. The Lord has mercifully given us a little rain. Am I not bound to thank Him for it?" After the service, finding that many did not come to the church, he exclaimed, "Alas! like the nine lepers whom our Lord cured, they are ungrateful for the mercy shown to them." So he went to the houses of the people, and, rebuking them, entreated them to render praises to God, at least in their houses. On Sabbath days, after service, he used to spend the rest of the day in hearing the word of God read to him. He and his three sons, as is the case with many heathen, were not early instructed in reading; but his grandchildren of both sexes were taught in our Christian schools, and were a great comfort to him. One evening, while I was teaching the women their catechism, one of them was not able to repeat her lesson, when Arokkia Nadan addressed her in the following words—"Amma (dear child), your heart is like the ground which received the seed that fell by the way-side; but pray to God that He may teach you by His Holy Spirit." She said, "Oh, Nadan! what shall I do? The lesson does not remain in my mind." He replied, "When you pray to our Saviour, say, 'O Lord, open my heart, as you did Lydia's;' and then your understanding will be enlightened."

During his last illness, I read to him of the sufferings of our Saviour, from Matt. xxvii. He shed tears, and said, "What great love to me, the sinner, in suffering so much for me." I then left him, and went to him again in the evening, and asked him if he wished that I should read a chapter from the gospel. He answered, "I have no other desire so great and so sweet as to hear the word of God." I read to him Luke xxiii., after which he said, "My sin is the great cause of my Saviour's suffering so much."—I asked, "How?" He answered, "The Lord has shed His blood to save me, a sinner;" and repeated a verse from the hymn, "Dear Lord! why all these plagues or sufferings to Thee? Alas! they are caused by my sins: so, if I look to Jesus who suffered for me, He will pardon my sins and save me."

Another day he was visited by a number of his relatives and friends. After I had offered up a prayer, he looked around, and observed his daughter, who is still a heathen. She had been married to a heathen before Arokkia Nadan became a Christian. He addressed her in the following terms—"It grieves me exceedingly to see you a heathen, and remaining in a state in another which you cannot embrace Christ as your Saviour. Here is a Christian church in this village: come and live here, learn the word of God, trust in our Saviour for the pardon of your sins, and your soul's salvation. I have often exhorted you and your husband, but you have neglected my advice, and trust in the devil. I therefore did not come to see you. Respect my dying advice at least, and embrace the gospel. If not, your fate will be awful." Observing some of his children in tears, he said to them, "Do not weep like the heathen, who have no hope beyond the grave. My heavenly Father calls me: I desire to go gladly to the house of my Father." He then looked at me, and said, "Dear catechist, pray for me, and commend me to the Lord's will." I accordingly prayed for him. He then said, "When the Lord removes me, you must take care that our people do not weep like the ignorant heathen." I then read to him the 25th chapter of Matthew, and gave him some exhortation.

I came to him on the following day, and told him that his present sickness might end in death. He said, "I don't fear to die. I wish to 'finish my course with joy' and comfort, and go to my Saviour." I asked him to tell me the text which gave him such a comfort. He answered, "Did not our Saviour say, 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest?' These words," he added, "give me solid comfort." I then read to him the 14th chapter of St. John. He said, with a feeble voice, that he was prepared to go to his heavenly Father's house, like the wise virgins. I asked him if he knew the parable of the ten virgins. He told me that he knew it when he came to learn Vedam,* and that he was prepared to meet the Bridegroom three years ago. As he was very weak, I offered up a prayer, and came away.

On another day, when I spoke to him, he repeated to me the following verse—"O Lord, let me die by the side, or under the shelter, of Christ!" and told me that he was washed by the blood of our Saviour, and that he hoped he would obtain eternal rest. He told me further, that, when he gives up his spirit, although unable to speak, still he would commit his soul to the care of his heavenly Father. I read to him the 5th chapter of the 2d Epistle to the Corinthians. He then sighed, and prayed, "O Lord, when my 'earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved,' receive me into that 'house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!'"

One day, when suffering exceedingly, he lifted up his hand. We understood that it was a sign for prayer, and I prayed immediately. A few minutes after, he stretched out his hands, and his happy spirit took its flight to the realms of glory. In the evening his burial service was performed by me. It was attended by all his numerous family, and a great number of Christians, heathen, and Mahommedans. He was loved and respected by all around him, and was always called Peria, or great, Nadan.

* The Bible, the Christian vedam. Some of the sacred books of the heathen are called the vedas. [back]

Digital Publication Details

Title: “Obituary of Arokkia Nadan”

Creator(s): Anonymous; John Devasagayam

Publication date: (1853) 2022

Digital publishers: One More Voice, COVE

Critical encoding: Kenneth C. Crowell, Cassie Fletcher, Jocelyn Spoor, Adrian S. Wisnicki

One More Voice identifier: liv_026023

Cite (Chicago Author-Date): Anonymous, and John Devasagayam. (1853) 2022. “Obituary of Arokkia Nadan.” Edited by Kenneth C. Crowell, Cassie Fletcher, and Jocelyn Spoor. In “BIPOC Voices,” One More Voice, solidarity edition; Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education (COVE). https://onemorevoice.org/html/bipoc-voices/digital-editions-amd/liv_026023_HTML.html.

Rights: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

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