Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Goa Inquisition - Portuguese India 02

Roman catholic Inquisition in Goa.credit: www. shikarcives.com
Goa Inquisition.illus. 1709. credit:pb.blogspot.com

 The principle of the Inquisition was murderous ... The popes were not only murderers in the great style, but they also made murder a legal basis of the Christian Church and a condition for salvation.

                      ......   Lord Acton (1834-1902

Having been converted to Christianity long ago and still attached to some of their old Hindu customs, those natives,  who refused to give up their age-old ancient Hindu practices, were declared apostates and heretics and condemned to death and it became a matter of serious concern.  Such dreadful circumstances forced many to leave Goa in fear of facing death and torture by the fanatics and settle in the neighboring kingdoms. Among them, minority went to the Deccan and the vast majority went to Canara – now Karnataka. Majority of them preferred to settle down in Mangalore and other neighboring places. A section of Konkani Brahmin went as far as Kochi, Kerala.
Bom Jesus Cathedral Goa.Francis Xavier's body is kept here. credit: iamgoanwordpress.com
 Historian Severine Silva reasons that the fact that these Catholics who fled the Inquisition did not abandon their Christian  faith because they simply wanted to observe their traditional Hindu customs along with their  new-found Catholic practices.
In stark contrast to the Portuguese priests' earlier intense study of the Konkani language and its cultivation as a communication medium in their missionary works, particularly conversion during the previous century, under the Inquisition blindly serious steps were followed to isolate new converts from the non-Christian populations. The use of Konkani was suppressed, while the colony suffered repeated attacks from the neighboring Maratha rulers, their onslaughts aggravated the prevailing situation there. These posed a serious threat to Portuguese control of Goa, and its maintenance of trade in India. Due to the Maratha threat, Portuguese authorities began to initiate a positive program to suppress Konkani in Goa. The use of Portuguese was enforced and made compulsory, whereas Konkani was pushed to become a language of marginal peoples.

Urged by the Franciscans, the Portuguese viceroy banned the use of Konkani on 27 June 1684 and decreed that within three years, the local people in general would speak the Portuguese tongue. They were to be required to use it in all their contacts and contracts made in Portuguese territories. The penalties for violation would be imprisonment. The decree was confirmed by the king on 17 March 1687. According  to  the  Inquisitor  António  Amaral Coutinho's letter to the Portuguese monarch João V in 1731, these draconian measures did not meet with success. With the fall of the Province of the North (which included Bassein, Chaul and Salsette) to the Marathas in 1739, the Portuguese renewed their assault on Konkani. On 21 November 1745, Archbishop Lourenço de Santa Maria decreed that applicants to the priesthood had to have knowledge of and the ability to speak in Portuguese as confirmed by rigorous examinations by reverend persons. Further more, the Bamonns and Chardos were required to learn Portuguese within six months, failing which they would be denied the right to marriage. Because of the language issue, the colonial government expelled the Jesuits in 1761, as they had been for the promotion of Konkani to communicate with the native peoples. In 1812, the Archbishop decreed that children were to be prohibited from speaking Konkani in schools and in 1847, this was extended to seminaries. In 1869, Konkani was completely banned in schools.
An old book on History of the Inqusitio in Goa.credit: openlibrary.org
As a result, Goans did not develop a literature in Konkani, nor could the language unite the population, as several scripts (including Roman, Devanagari and Kannada) were used to write it.Konkani became the lingua de criados (language of the servants),while the Hindu and Catholic elites turned to Marathi and Portuguese, respectively. Since India annexed Goa in 1961, Konkani has become the cement that binds 
all  Goans across  caste,  religion and  class;  it is affectionately termed Konkani Mai (Mother Konkani). The language received full recognition in 1987, when the Indian government recognized Konkani as the official language of Goa.

Historian Alfredo de Mello describes the performers of Goan inquisition as nefarious, fiendish, lustful, corrupt religious orders which pounced on Goa for the purpose of destroying paganism (ie Hinduism) and introducing the true religion of Christ."Goa Inquisition was most merciless and cruel". Rediff. 14 September 2005. Retrieved 14 April 2009. 

  • Salomon, H. P. and Sassoon, I. S. D., in Saraiva, Antonio Jose. The Marrano Factory. The Portuguese Inquisition and Its New Christians, 1536–1765 (Brill, 2001), pp. 345–7.
  • Benton, Lauren. Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400–1900 (Cambridge, 2002), p. 122.