Master of Arts (MA)
J. Milton Yinger
Caste, India, Religion, Hindu, Church, Madurai
The actual conception of this thesis came in early 1952 as I was reading the last chapter of C. W. Ranson's book "A City in Transition". He had been discussing various moralistic forces in and out of Hinduism that were working to reform caste. His final paragraph was a quote from the Report of the Commission on Christian Higher Education in India ending with the statement: "If India is really to recover hope and energy for the service Of men and the rebuilding Of life it must reach a deeper adjustment than it has yet attained. It must believe in the reality of life and its values and of the personal relationships through which eternal values are revealed...It must, in a word, accept the faith Of the Incarnation." This statement raised a series of questions. On the one hand, was caste the kind of thing that could be done away with simply by replacing the Hindu cosmology with the "faith of the Incarnation"? Or was it something infinitely more deeply rooted that could weather a change of faith and still continue to exist almost wholly intact because it was rooted not only in religion but also in the whole social fabric Of Indian Society? From what I had seen in Bombay and from a few stray comments I had heard in Madurai, I felt the evidence indicated that conversion to Christianity was not synonymous with the abolition of caste, despite the statement expressed by Mr. Ranson. On the other hand, if caste did continue to exist within the Church, how did it affect the structure Of the Church, the economic lives· of the Church members, the marriages contracted between Christians, and the relations between Christian and their Hindu relatives? To which castes did the Church appeal, and from which castes did it draw most of its converts?
Elder, Joseph Walter, "Caste in the Churches of South India in Madurai" (1954). Honors Papers. 779.