Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Goa Inquisition, Portuguese India 01


Goa inquisition, India. 3.bp.blogspot.com
In the 15th century, the Portuguese explored the sea route to India and Pope Nicholas V enacted the Romanus Pontifex granting the patronage of the propagation of the Christian faith in Asia to the Portuguese with trade privileges.

Credit: flipcart.com
 After Vasco da Gama arrived in India in 1498, the Portuguese trade with India became prosperous and fairly well established. Four decades later, Catholics Church in Portugal sent Missionaries of the newly founded Society of Jesus to Goa, India to specifically spread Christianity among the natives and the Portuguese colonial government supported the mission wholeheartedly with incentives for baptized Christians such as rice donations for the poor, good positions in the Portuguese colonies for the middle class and military support for local rulers. Following a new faith, as they were, new Indian converts had more interest in donations and  incentives than in Gospel, still practicing their old religion. The purity of Christian belief being in threat, the evangelists were very much concerned about their future missionary works. At this juncture St. Francis Xavier's  stepped in and  upon  his request (in a 1545 letter to John III of Portugal), an Inquisition was introduced in Goa. It lasted from 1516 to 1812.
Spanish Inquisition. imagearcde.com
...The Portuguese colonial government introduced (1567) anti-Hindu  laws to encourage conversions to Christianity, 

...Ban(1625) Christians from keeping Hindus in their employ and make the public worship of Hindus unlawful. 

...In 1567 they  destroyed temples in Bardez  and as a whole at the end of it more than 300 Hindu temples were destroyed. 

...Hindus were forced to go to churches to listen to preaching and attend services and shun places of worship of their religion. ''Guaranteed '' protection" to new converts was introduced. A new wave of baptisms of  native Hindus began, compelled by social coercion into conversion.

...The Inquisition introduced by Fr. Francis Xavier, supposedly a human evangelist, became the moat treacherous preacher in history, using religion as ruse to change the entire cultural fabric of the Hindu society that represented  one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Fr. Francis' work to carry out religious conversion under torture and death threats did not give good results, on the contrary it produced only adverse effects and impacted negatively on the entire society.

...The Hindu and also the Muslim rulers in the neighboring region became angry and frustrated.  

... Even numerous God-fearing Portuguese evangelists did not like the autocratic behavior of a preacher who got the bad name for the entire Christian community.

...To avoid  being either coerced or cajoled by  way of incentives, the Hindus began migrating to other parts of the subcontinent including to Muslim territory to avoid persecution. These deeply religious people wanted to start their lives afresh with dignity and freedom of religion in an unknown place.


(in)humane saint Francis Xavier -Instrumental in inroducing inquisition in Goa, conversion of Paravars. 19C painting credit: en wikipedia.org
...People in the Portuguese colony were supposed to follow the Inquisition laws without fail.Those who defied the laws, if sentenced in trial, were forced to work in ship galleys and gunpowder factories for many years. Those accused of  "religious heresies" were the prime targets of death penalty.
Goa Inquisition - the image showing what real  Sanbenito ( yellow garment bearing a red cross, worn by penitent heretics in the Inquisition) would have looked like. image source:unknown

According to Indo-Portuguese historian Teotonio R.. de Souza,  grave abuses beyond descriptions were practiced shamelessly by the Portuguese in Goa. The Portuguese Inquisitors in Goa were in fact the most treacherous and violent of them all. More than 20,000 people were brought under trial by this Inquisition.The inquisition was set as a tribunal, headed by a special judge, sent to Goa from Portugal. The judge was answerable only to the General Counsel of the Lisbon Inquisition and handed down punishments as per the Standing Rules that governed that institution. The Inquisition proceedings were unfortunately secretive and it was impossible to know what was happening behind the curtain.  Inquisition was  stopped in 1812 due to British intervention.

If JesusChrist were alive, definitely he would have shed tears for the Indian natives who had been living peacefully before the advent of  the Portuguese in Goa. What the foreign rulers did was just opposite of Christ's teachings and his gospel of love and compassion.

Ref:  
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goa_Inquisition









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