Charles Freer Andrews first came to India in 1904 and even in his lifetime he was being turned into a saint, a fate similar to that of his greatest friend, Gandhi. This book gets behind that obfuscation. Others have studied the story of his later development but this is the first closely researched account of the period between 1904 and 1914, which traces Andrews' transformation into a significant player in modern Indian history.
Arriving as a young missionary to teach at St. Stephen's College Delhi, at the high noon of the Empire, Andrews underwent a profound transformation. His Christianity was challenged and changed in the process, as he entered into deep relationships with Gandhi and Tagore and other Hindu Muslim friends and committed himself to Indian freedom. In all this, we see the emergence of what Gandhi called 'the pattern of the ideal missionary', in an intercultural context between Raj and Swaraj.
Daniel O' Connor is an Anglican priest-teacher, now retired in Scotland. He became interested in C. F. Andrews while working at St. Stephen's College, Delhi. His other books include two on another rebel-missionary, Verrier Elwin. He has also written on mission and inter-faith relations, and, most recently, an account of his own family's time in Delhi, Interesting Time in India.
Charles Freer Andrews, probably the closest friend of the 'Father of the Nation,' and himself later known as Deenabandhu, friend of the poor, arrived in India from England almost exactly a century ago. That makes this a good moment to tell this story of the opening decade of his thirty-six years here. It was a supremely important and decisive period in his life. During that ten-year period, after starting as a conventional young missionary, he changed his mind, and came to embrace without reserve the cause of Indian freedom. The story here is of how this came about, and of the experiences and the friendships which enabled it to happen. A vast amount has ensued in India in the intervening century since then, but it is striking how many of the insights and perceptions of this remarkable figure at that time have a continuing resonance. I hope that the attention I pay here to his unusual personality, his profound thought and his courageous action, in his critical first decade in India, will help to illuminate the journey in which the nation continues to be engaged.
An earlier edition of this study appeared in an expensive European version, and I was disappointed that the cost made it almost unavailable in India. This new edition remedies that, and I am delighted that it thus becomes much more easily accessible in the country where the subject commands the greatest interest. We have taken the opportunity to give it a new title, a phrase from a speech by Naoroji at the 1906 meeting of the Congress, and a phrase that Andrews seized upon in his usual perceptive way.
Not much new material on our subject has appeared since the earlier edition, and certainly nothing on the crucial 1904-14 period, except in one small but highly significant instance. At my prompting, my very good friend R. S. Sugirtharajah, pioneer of post-colonial biblical hermeneutics, turned his attention to the Indian Church Commentaries, of which Andrews was the General Editor. The resulting piece, 'Imperial Critical Commentaries' in his Asian Biblical Hermeneutics and Postcolonialism: Contesting the Interpretations (Maryknoll 1998) is a long overdue beginning at reinterpretation, and is an invitation to further explorations in the nicely complex and ambiguous text which A Clear Star represents. At the same time, and underlining the complexity and the ambiguity, and recent vigorous public debate on how as a nation to deal with a richly pluralistic inheritance, has given an added cogency out during those years when the modern nation was in the making.
This might be the place to make a remark about the sequel to the story old here. We leave off as Andrews left St Stephen's College and the Cambridge Mission to Delhi to make his new home at Santiniketan, and to immerse himself more fully in the nationalist project, deepening his association and friendship with Gandhi and Tagore. This radical move threw him into spiritual and psychological turmoil and it was something like a further ten years before he recovered his equilibrium and his faith. That later story has been well told by Benarsidas Chaturvedi and Marjorie Sykes, and by Hugh Tinker.
This study was originally a doctoral thesis for a Scottish theological faculty, and was initially published in a series devoted to 'the intercultural history of Christianity.' That would not in itself guarantee a wide readership in India. However, Andrews' faith and his developing religious ideas were so integral to who he was and what he did that it would seriously distort the story to ignore them. In dealing with his involvement with the many public figures with whom he interacted, nationalists and viceroys, religious and political leaders, and above all, Gandhi and Tagore, and his deep immersion in the life of India and its modern history, his personal religious identity was a vital, determinative factor.
The earlier edition was in a series of which the chief editor was Professor Walter Hollenweger, and he was most encouraging about this new, Indian edition. The earlier version carried a long list of acknowledgements and thanks to the many people who had assisted in my researches. I must now add my thanks to Professor Narayani Gupta for her energetic and generous help in getting this project up and running, and to Aloke Roy Choudhury of DC Publishers for his decision to publish A Clear Star, and for his wise guidance throughout the publishing process. The Dedication remains as in the earlier edition, and the gratitude there expressed, for the best of reasons.
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