Europeans in India
Arrival of Non-Indian religions into India
information on India - Religions in India
About 2.5% of Indias population
are Christians. Christianity arrived in India almost
about the same period as it arrived in Europe, meaning
about 2000 years ago. Christianity originates in Israel.
The first Christians were Jews and in the beginning
Christianity was seen as a Jewish cult. Most of the
Apostles of Christians acted in Europe to convert the
Europeans to Christianity. But one of the Apostles, St.
Judas Thomas, arrived in India and converted Indians to
Christianity. St. Thomas was a carpenter and a disciple
of Jesus. He was brought to India by a merchant to build
a temple. St. Thomas arrived in Kerala, in south India
in 52 AD. He succeeded in converting local Indians to
Christianity. His converts were called Syrian Christians. One assumption says that some of the Syrian Christians were actually Jews converted by St. Judas Thomas to Christianity. The disciples of Jesus at first intended to convince the Jews to adopt the philosophy of Jesus as new Judaism.
Later on other Christian saints arrived to India as
missioners. But most of the Indian were converted to
Christianity by the missionaries who arrived in India
with the European powers from 15th century.
The European powers arrived in
India for commercial reasons, especially spices. But they
also started converting local Indians to Christianity.
Five European countries sent their representatives to
India, Great Britain; France; Denmark; Netherlands and
Portugal. Of the five European powers the Portuguese were
most enthusiast to baptize Indians. The Portuguese were
the first European power to arrive in India. Their first
ship, under the leadership of Vasco DaGama, arrived in
south India in 1498 after it had circled the whole
continent of Africa. The Portuguese inspired by the Popes
order to baptize people around the world not only fought
wars against the local Indian rulers, but they even tried
to enforced their Roman Catholic prayers on Syrian
After many wars the Portuguese
were defeated by local rulers and they had only one big
pocket of control in India, Goa. The Portuguese not only
fought the Indian rulers, but they also fought against
other European powers in India especially Dutch and
English. Many Portuguese churches in Kerala were turned
into English and Dutch churches after they were captured
by these powers.
The English missionaries started
acting in India at a much later period. The British,
unlike the Portuguese, didnt allow the missionaries
to enter their territory in the beginning. The British
arrived in India in 1600 and they allowed the
missionaries to enter their territory only from 1813. The
British allowed different churches to establish
missionaries in their territory. The missionaries didnt
only spread Christianity, but they also did humanitarian
deeds giving the needy basic necessities of life like
food, clothes and shelter. The missionaries also built
schools in India and many of them even today have
Christian or European originated name. The British church
missionaries succeeded less than the Portuguese in
converting Indians to Christianity, but unlike the
Portuguese who tried to enforce Christianity, these
Protestant converts were voluntary. The Portuguese were
also aware of the Indian custom according to which the
wife followed her husbands faith and therefore
married their men to Indian women.
There are about 30 million
Christians in India. The major centers of Christianity in
India are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Manipur and Mizoram.
There is also a big community of Christians in Mumbai.
The main division of Christians in India is like in the
Christian world, Protestants and Catholic. There are also
different denomination among them, Syrian Church,
Armenian Church, Anglican Church and others. Most of the
India Christians were converted by the Portuguese. There
is also an Anglo-Indian community in India.
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