1850s: Christianity and the Associated Movements

Christian Missionaries who first came to Chotanagpur in 1845 and started their evangelical activities, promised to take up the cause of the Tribals against their Zamindars, Thekadars and Katkindars. In wooing the aboriginals the Missionaries promised “Kingdom of Heaven on Earth” in Chotanagpur if they joined them.
The advent of Christianity in Chotanagpur goes back to 19th Century when 4 Lutheran Missionaries (Protestants) sent by one father J.E. Gossner of Berlin reached Ranchi on the 2nd November 1845 but they had to wait for more than 4 years without any success; finally in 1850, 4 Oraon families were converted.
Another door was opened for the Missionaries when 2 Mundas were baptized in 1851. The Roman Catholic Missionaries were comparatively last comers to this field and the first organized attempt towards proselytization and mass conversion began not earlier than the advent of Father Canstant Lievens in Chotanagpur in 1885.
The Santhals of the Santhal Parganas district were known to the Missionaries after the year 1855 when they had made a most audacious rebellion called Hul against their exploiters. Rev. E.L. Puxley and Rev. W.T. Storrs started the earliest missionary work among the tribals of Santhal Pargansa in the year 1862.
The aboriginals had shown their might in different rebellions, but they resulted in their killing and passing of stringent rules for them. Therefore, they were attracted by the temporal prospect that the Church afforded and they ultimately chose to change their faith so that they might not become prey to the rapacious Zamindars. The leadership which decided in favour of conversion to regain their lost right was again contemplative and wanted to take advantage of the situation Adaptability of the leadership at the time of this movement was wonderful be cause in normal circumstances the proposal to change faith would have led to instantaneous killing of the proposer. But the leadership could not help when they were groaning under the iron heels of the Zamindars and their henchmen.

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