“A Hindu's Narrative of His Own Conversion”
BIPOC Voices in the Victorian Periodical Press
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A Hindu's Narrative of His Own Conversion.
THE following interesting personal narrative was written a few months ago by one of the Native Christian teachers in the C.M.S. School at Ellore in the Telugu country, at the request of one of our missionaries, the Rev. John Cain:—
My aunt having no children, wished to adopt me in my childhood, but my father was against it. After his death my mother naturally complied with her own sister's wishes, and so I was adopted by her in my eleventh year.
As my adoptive father treated me severely at times, I loved him and that family very little, and my own dear mother and brothers more. I would avail myself of every holiday to go and see the latter, notwithstanding the former opposing it, lest I should get attached to them. At one time my mother was in the house of my brother's wife on a visit. One holiday I went to see her there, but to part with her from my great affliction. In order to be allowed to stay with her longer I contrived a plan. I knew that my mother had a vow that she would take the three of her sons to Tirumala (one of the sacred places of Vishnuvites) to serve Venkatesvara, a god of Vishnuvites, but worshiped by almost all Hindus. I pretended to be insensible, and tried to speak as if Venkatesvara was doing it through me, demanding the fulfillment of the vow immediately, and until that he would not let me go. I also tried to speak a few facts connected with the vow in order to make my people believe all my speech as if it came from their family god. Poor, ignorant people! they did believe, and trembled before me, promising to fulfil it soon. Thus I spent about two months with my mother. At times they contemplated my leaving the place before the vow was performed, vowing again to pay a little more money in Venkatesvara's box as a fine. Then I would go only as far as the outskirts of the village and fall down insensible from pretending to speak for Venkatesvara against my leaving the place, My poor brother, who always accompanied me, trembled before me. beating his cheeks as a sign of repentance for the offense done. Thus he would take me back. I would also try to vomit after every meal, to show my credulous people how I was tormented by Venkatesvara, and thus work on their sympathies, so that they should not think of sending me away from the vow was fulfilled, and to give me all sorts of good things to make up for so-called vomitings. At the end of two months my dear mother had to go away to her own village, and I did not care to stay away from her. So Venkatesvara agreed through me to let me go, and they agreed to pay a fine. This was not fulfilled for some years afterwards. Such was the trick, I regret to say, that I played upon my people.
My adopted father took a lively interest in my education, and greatly endeavoured to promote it. I read for several years in an Anglo-vernacular school established in my own village. On one of his visits the inspector of schools promised me a scholarship on his next yearly inspection, to enable me to continue my studies in a higher school. But the next year he did not come to inspect our school, as there was cholera prevalent in the village, so I was greatly disappointed. But I received information that he was in Masulipatam. So I started to pay him a visit, to remind him of his kind promise, notwithstanding strong opposition from my people to undertake such a long journey. Without any company, then, for the first time in my life, having performed a two day's journey, I arrived in Masulipatam, but found, to my great disappointment, that the inspector had left the place for Madras. However, a friend introduced me to Mr. Noble, who, having examined me at length, entered into all my difficulties, took a great interest in me, and kindly promised every liberal assistance if I read in his school; but he advised me to go back to my own village and gain my parents' permission to do so. I was very much cheered and comforted by his promise and encouragement. When I returned home and told this to my people, they greatly opposed my entering a Mission school. Thus they kept me for about two months, pretending that they would make arrangements for my entering the Government school at Rajamundry.
At last my patience was exhausted. My studies had now been hindered for six months. I did not like to delay them any longer, as there was a bright prospect before me. I informed them of my firm resolution to enter Mr. Noble's school, and told them it was their duty to give me permission to do so, and not to place more obstacles in the way of my progress. In the third month I returned to Mr. Noble, and entered his school. I found that the Bible, the Christian book, was one of the subjects taught there. I greatly disliked and despised it, without any reason, of course, because I could not have one, as I had never looked into it. Consequently I began to neglect this subject, giving all my attention to the rest of the studies. At the same time, in order to show my hatred to Christianity, I tried to live as a strict Brahmin, although before that I had cared very little about it. Early in the morning I used to bathe and repeat my morning Sandhya. This is something in Sanscrit, the meaning of which very few at all understand. Then, having put the religious marks upon my forehead, I went to school. Before each meal I was particular in saying the proper Sandhya. Then sitting down to eat, I repeated a charm in Sanscrit, the meaning of which is equally unintelligible.
In three months I found that, through the neglect of the Bible studies, I had to be degraded a class below. Then I pleaded very much with Mr. Noble that I would do better in the future. Then Mr. Noble gave me a three days' trial. From that time I commenced diligently to read the Bible, but simply to gain his good-will, and thus to rise high in my worldly career. After about six months I began to take a real interest in reading it. On Sundays I went to Mr. Noble's house, when he used to examine me in what I had read during the past week, explaining all my difficulties.
During one vacation I went to visit my parents. On my way late at night I had to sleep near a small inlet of the sea, the boat being on the other side. In that dark, solemn night the 51st Psalm came into my mind, especially that verse, "Create in me a clean heart, O God." Until that moment I had felt great fear on account of wild beasts and monkeys, for I was alone; but now I felt as if God were with me, and my fears vanished, and then I slept quietly until the morning. From that time I began to take a peculiar pleasure and interest in reading the Bible and talking about religion.
After a short stay with my parents I returned to Masulipatam a few days before the close of the vacation in order to perfect my vacation studies. Mr. Noble treated me most affectionately in every way, so that I always looked upon him more as a parent than as a master. I always looked forward with intense delight to his Sunday instruction. When- ever he talked to me on religious subjects, and about my own heart, his words were so pointed that I felt as if he were looking into my heart. His prayerful demeanour, his most affectionate but serious warnings with regard to my spiritual welfare left very solemn impressions on my mind. After a time I began to feel the love of Jesus Christ so much when Mr. Noble spoke about it one Sunday that I shed tears and my heart melted. Then he asked me what I thought about Christianity? I said I believed it was true, yet wanted to know what Hinduism really was. Whenever opportunity offered itself I talked to the Hindu pundits or learned men on the subject. They invariably pointed out self-righteousness as the means of salvation. But I knew so much of my sinful state that I asked them how any righteousness such as to please God could come out of such an evil heart. Then they reproached me with being a Christian, without giving any satisfactory answer.
While I was in this state my parents came to know, through some friends, that I was about to become Christian. Then I received peremptory orders from them to leave the school, in order to accompany them on a pilgrimage to perform some family vows. This I was obliged to refuse, as I could not leave my studies. To add to their suspicions, I failed, notwithstanding Mr. Noble's advice, to pay them a visit during the next vacation, because I wished to improve my studies. Soon after the school was reopened I received a letter from my brother, telling me to leave the school instantly or else they would come and fetch me away by force. I told Mr. Noble this, and he said I must go. My parting with him was very affecting. He took me to his room, and knelt down for the first time to pray with me. He prayed so earnestly that I then learned what prayer really was. I was almost persuaded to be baptized then and there, but somehow I could not express my desire to Mr. Noble. With tears in my eyes I bade him good-bye.
After I returned home my parents wished to divert my thoughts from the subject of religion in every possible way, but I continued talking about the insufficiency of Hinduism and the all-sufficency of Christianity. I attempted to go to Cuttack to get a Government situation, but my parents being unwilling to send me such a distance managed to get me a teacher's post through a deputy-inspector of schools. There I continued about a year. I used to read the Bible, and speak of it to the boys under my instruction. One night I received a message that one of my relatives, who read with me in Mr. Noble's school, had died in Madras. We had both lived in the same lodging in Masulipatam, and had both been convinced of the truth of Christianity. On one occasion I asked him whether it was not our plain duty to act up to our convictions and confess the Lord Jesus Christ openly by baptism. He agreed with me, but said he could not give up his rich and beautiful wife, who was about ten years of age at the time. He said he would rather wait for her. A short time afterwards we were separated, and he went to Madras to continue his studies, where, after six months, he died of cholera. The news of his death quite alarmed me. I thought that one who loved his wife more than his Saviour was taken away in the midst of his hopes. I felt it to be a call for me to follow the Lord immediately before it was too late.
Then I tried my best to go to Masulipatam, my people trying their best to keep me back. At last, however, I got there, and endeavoured to get some situation, my wish being to have my parents to live with me, and, being the head of the house, I thought I should still be able to live with them, and so have greater influence over them than if I went to live with the missionaries at the first. Mr. Noble advised me to enter the school again, which I thought would be greatly objected to by my people, and therefore I got a teacher's post in Mr. Sharkey's school. Then I sent for my parents to join me, but they hesitated very much in doing so, because I was in a school where there were several pariahs or low caste people. Then I could wait no longer, and therefore revealed my wish to Mr. Noble. In so doing I said I wished to be baptized. Then Mr. Noble said, "Wishing to get fruit from a certain tree is not enjoying it; so wishing to be baptized is not accepting Christ as one's own Saviour." Thus instructed on this all-important subject, after a few days, when the morning address the prayer were over in Mr. Sharkey's school, I felt that I ought to confess Christ at once. Then, as usual, my wife and all my other relatives, and everything dear to me in this world, came into my thoughts, tempting me to put off the subject still longer. However, I had the grace given me at the time to realise more fully the transient state of this life, thinking about my departed friend. So, while in my class that morning, I wrote and reavealed my wish to Mr. Sharkey, who sent the note on to Mr. Noble. He agreed to receive me, and sent for me to his house. The same day I wrote a letter to my parents, who, being far away, could not arrive for twenty days. Meanwhile a near relative of mine, who was employed in the collector's office, came to see me, and tried to persuade me to go back, but without success. Then my parents, with several of my relatives, entreated me with tears to go back to Hinduism, and attempted to carry me off secretly; but the Lord gave me grace to withstand all that trial. Then came the great cyclone of Masulipatam, after which I was baptized.
Thus did God bring me to the knowledge of His truth, leading me in a way I knew not. Truly His ways are mysterious and past finding out! How thankful I ought to be to my Heavenly Father for the great privi- lege He has allowed me, unworthy as I am, to be a preacher of the un- searchable riches of Christ among my fellow-countrymen. May He enable me to continue unto the end in this glorious work, using me as a humble instrument in His hand for the conversion of some of my fellow- sinners and for His own glory!
Digital Publication Details
Title: “A Hindu's Narrative of His Own Conversion”
Creator(s): Anonymous; [John Cain]; A.S.
Publication date: (1874) 2022
Digital publishers: One More Voice, COVE
Critical encoding: Kenneth C. Crowell, Cassie Fletcher, Adrian S. Wisnicki
One More Voice identifier: liv_026036
Cite (Chicago Author-Date): Anonymous, [John Cain], and A.S. (1874) 2022. “A Hindu’s Narrative of His Own Conversion.” Edited by Kenneth C. Crowell and Cassie Fletcher. In “BIPOC Voices,” One More Voice, solidarity edition; Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education (COVE). https://onemorevoice.org/html/bipoc-voices/digital-editions-amd/liv_026036_HTML.html.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
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