|Rev. John Anderson,founder,Madras Christian College, Chennai www.thehindu.com|
Christian missionaries who came to India under the British rule mainly for the purpose of spreading the ''Gospel of Christ'' - that is the good news of His coming to provide forgiveness of sins for all who will believe in him. The mankind does not have to feel guilty of sin and condemned to spend eternity in a place of torment. Rather in placing our sin on Christ, God ensured that all who will believe in the name of Jesus will be forgiven (Acts 10:43).
Though some missionaries stuck mainly to their religious works, there were many who had paid more attention to imparting quality education in India and establishing good educational institutions than to their missionary works. Such missionaries, who dedicated themselves to the cause of better quality education in India, won the heart of local rulers and also the natives. So, wherever they went, the Hindu rulers, in particular, provided them with lands for building schools and colleges, besides churches.
|Madras War Cemetery,MakeMyTrip|
One such Scottish missionary, who made a lasting contribution to the Indian society by way of offering better education to the natives was, John Anderson (1805–1855), founder of the mission of the Free Church of Scotland at Madras, India. Son of a Scottish farmer, he was born in Galloway, in the parish of Kirkpatrick-Durham and had his higher education at University of Edinburgh, specializing in Latin and Theology. He came to Madras in 1836, having been ordained a minister of the Church of Scotland in the same year. When he arrived in India, East India company was ruling many provinces as a proxy government for the British Crown.
|The MCC campus in 1937.www.thehindu.com|
Upon his arrival here, he realized the quality of education was not good enough for the natives and the need of the hour was good schools and colleges. The kind of missionary work to which Anderson dedicated himself, was education. He wanted to give the benighted and unenlightened natives the benefit of sound education backed up by the blessings of the gospel of Christ. Anderson never 'looked forward to numerous conversions as the immediate result of mission work,' however, he did involve in conversion work on a small scale.
Rev. Lawrie and Rev. Bowie started a school in the vicinity of St. Andrew's Kirk, Egmore in 1835. Rev. John Anderson on their request, moved the school, the first institution called ''The General Assembly's School,'' and began conducting classes in a rented house on the east side of Armenian Street in Georgetown, Madras. Named after the supreme governing body of the Church of Scotland, the school started functioning with the headmaster and 59 boys from St. Andrew's School. Later it came to be called 'The Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School' located in Chetpet, Chennai. This first school established by Anderson in mid 1830's later became one of the best institutions in India, known for higher standard of education called the ''Madras Christian College'', Tambaram, a suburb of chennai and the campus covers roughly 375-acre (1.52 km2) of land. The credit for the subsequent growth goes to William Miller (13 January 1838 – July 1923) a Scottish educationist and Free Church of Scotland missionary to Madras. However, M C C Higher Secondary School became a separate entity when the college moved to a new location.
|Madras Christian College. Postal stamp. .indiapicks.com|
Above image: The institution of Madras Christian College started with the arrival into the country in 1837 of the young missionary, John Anderson. He set up a school,
Rev. John Anderson, with help from his friends later opened several mission schools in Madras and in the neighboring districts. For unknown reasons in 1843, there was disruption in the activities of church of Scotland, so he and other Scottish missionaries joined the Free Church, and continued their work with respect to that church. Anderson married a Swiss lady one Margaret Locher, who arrived in Madras in 1847 to take up missionary work. In a conservative Indian society, where the women were relegated to the backyard, Rev. Anderson was one of a few missionaries who turned their attention to female education, not withstanding the hurdles prevailing in those olden days such as prevalence of early marriage, restrictions on the movement of girls and risking conversion to Christianity. Slowly and surely Anderson allayed their fear and the impediments were gradually overcome in some measure over a period of time. Mrs. Anderson was instrumental in starting the first girls' boarding home of the mission. Before his last leg of his active and purposeful life, there were seven hundred Hindu and Muslim girls, the majority of the former belonging to families of higher caste, were enrolled in the schools of the mission. In deed, it was a great achievement, thus Rev. Anderson, his wife and his colleagues instilled confidence in the native girls so that they could prove themselves as roll models to the next generation of girls in their participation in nation building and eradication of illiteracy.
In all his work, his wife Mrs. Locher gave him her full support and was of great help to him. He died in March, 1855 at Madras at the age of 50. The Anderson tomb is in the War cemetery on Tana Street, Chennai (Madras).
Numerous alumni of the Madras Christian college, took up prominent positions in various fields, including national movements, politics and government offices. Prominent among them were Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Philosopher, Statesman and former President of India and Sir. Seshayya Sastri KCSI, former Dewan of Travancore Princely state and later of Pudukotta Princely state. Incidentally it was Rev. Mr. Anderson, who helped Mr. Sastri complete his early school education by giving him moral and financial help as he came from a poor family. Till his death Sir. Seshayya Sastri, a dynamic administrator, was grateful to Rev. Anderson for his magnanimity and true Christian spirit of love and care, transcending religion, race and color.