Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Christian historian, Dr. T. R. de Souza
At least from 1540 onwards, and in the island of Goa before that year, all the Hindu idols had been annihilated or had disappeared, all the temples had been destroyed and their sites and building material was in most cases utilized to erect new Christian Churches and chapels. Various viceregal and Church council decrees banished the Hindu priests from the Portuguese territories; the public practices of Hindu rites including marriage rites, were banned; the state took upon itself the task of bringing up Hindu orphan children; the Hindus were denied certain employments, while the Christians were preferred; it was ensured that the Hindus would not harass those who became Christians, and on the contrary, the Hindus were obliged to assemble periodically in Churches to listen to preaching or to the refutation of their religion."
"A particularly grave abuse was practiced in Goa in the form of 'mass baptism' and what went before it. The practice was begun by the Jesuits and was alter initiated by the Franciscans also. The Jesuits staged an annual mass baptism on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25), and in order to secure as many neophytes as possible, a few days before the ceremony the Jesuits would go through the streets of the Hindu quarter in pairs, accompanied by their Negro slaves, whom they would urge to seize the Hindus. When the blacks caught up a fugitive, they would smear his lips with a piece of beef, making him an 'untouchable' among his people [beef ia taboo for Hindus exactly as pork is to a Muslim]. Conversion to Christianity was then his only option."
The Goan inquisition is regarded by all contemporary portrayals as the most violent inquisition ever executed by the Portuguese Catholic Church. It lasted from 1560 to 1812. The inquisition was set as a tribunal, headed by a judge, sent to Goa from Portugal and was assisted by two judicial henchmen. The judge was answerable to no one except to Lisbon and handed down punishments as he saw fit. The Inquisition Laws filled 230 pages and the palace where the Inquisition was conducted was known as the Big House and the Inquisition proceedings were always conducted behind closed shutters and closed doors. The screams of agony of the culprits (men, women, and children) could be heard in the streets, in the stillness of the night, as they were brutally interrogated, flogged, and slowly dismembered in front of their relatives. Eyelids were sliced off and extremities were amputated carefully, a person could remain conscious even though the only thing that remained was his torso and and head.
Diago de Boarda, a priest and his advisor Vicar General, Miguel Vazz had made a 41 point plan for torturing Hindus. Under this plan Viceroy Antano de Noronha issued in 1566, an order applicable to the entire area under Portuguese rule: "I hereby order that in any area owned by my master, the king, nobody should construct a Hindu temple and such temples already constructed should not be repaired without my permission. If this order is transgressed, such temples shall be, destroyed and the goods in them shall be used to meet expenses of holy deeds, as punishment of such
In 1567 the campaign of destroying temples in Bardez met with success. At the end of it 300 Hindu temples were destroyed. Enacting laws, prohibition was laid from December 4, 1567 on rituals of Hindu marriages, sacred thread wearing and cremation. All the persons above 15 years of age were compelled to listen to Christian preaching, failing which they were punished.
A religious fatva was issued on the basis of the findings of Goa Inquiry Commission. It stated,"...Hereby we declare the decision that the conventions mentioned in the preamble of the fatva as stated below are permanently declared as useless, and therefore prohibited".
Prohibitions Regarding Marriages
-The instruments for Hindu songs shall not be played. -While giving dowry the relatives of the bride and groom must not be invited.
-At the time of marriage, betel leaf packages (pan) must not be distributed either publicly or in private to the persons present.
-Flowers, or fried puris, betel nuts and leaves must not be sent to the heads of the houses of the bride or groom.
-Gotraj ceremony of family God must not be performed.-On the day prior to a wedding, rice must not be husked, spices must not be pounded, grains must not be ground and other recipes for marriage feast must not be cooked.
-Pandals and festoons must not be used.
-Pithi should not be applied.
-The bride must not be accorded ceremonial welcome. The bride and groom must not -be made to sit under pandal to convey blessings and best wishes to them.
Prohibitions Regarding Fasts, Post-death Rituals
-The poor must not be fed or ceremonial meals must not be served for the peace of the souls of the dead.
-There should be no fasting on ekadashi day.
-Fasting can be done according to the Christian principles.
-No rituals should be performed on the twelfth day after death, on moonless and full moon dates.
-No fasting should be done during lunar eclipse.
-Hindu men should not wear dhoti either in public or in their houses. Women should not wear cholis.
-They should not plant Tulsi in their houses, compounds, gardens or any other place.
-Following the law of 1567, orphans were kidnapped for converting them to Christianity.
On September 22, 1570 an order was issued that:
-The Hindus embracing Christianity will be exempted from land taxes for a period of 15 years.
-Nobody shall bear Hindu names or surnames.
In 1583 Hindu temples at Esolna and Kankolim were destroyed through army action."The fathers of the Church forbade the Hindus under terrible penalties the use of their own sacred books, and prevented them from all exercise of their religion. They destroyed their temples, and so harassed and interfered with the people that they abandoned the city in large numbers, refusing to remain any longer in a place where they had no liberty, and were liable to imprisonment, torture and death if they worshipped after their own fashion the gods of their fathers." wrote Sasetti, who was in India from 1578 to 1588.
An order was issued in June 1684 eliminating Konkani language and making it compulsory to speak Portuguese language. The law provided for dealing toughly with anyone using the local language. Following that law all the symbols of non-Christian sects were destroyed and the books written in local languages were burnt.
The Archbishop living on the banks of the Ethora had said during one of his lecture series, "The post of Inquiry Commission in Goa is regarded as holy." The women who opposed the assistants of the commission were put behind the bars and were used by them to satisfy their animal instincts. Then they were burnt alive as opponents of
the established tenets of the Catholic church.
The victims of such inhuman laws of the Inquiry Commission included a French traveller named Delone. He was an eye witness to the atrocities, cruelty and reign of terror unleashed by priests. He published a book in 1687 describing the lot of helpless victims. While he was in jail he had heard the cries of tortured people beaten with instruments having sharp teeth. All these details are noted in Delone's book.
So harsh and notorious was the inquisition in Goa, that word of its brutality and horrors reached Lisbon but nothing was done to stop this notoriety and escalating barbarity and it continued for two hundred more years. No body knows the exact number of Goans subjected to these diabolical tortures, but perhaps it runs into hundreds of thousands, may be even more. The abominations of inquisitions continued until a brief respite was given in 1774 but four years later, the inquisition was introduced again and it continued un-interruptedly until 1812. At that point in time, in the year of 1812, the British put pressure on the Portuguese to put an end to the terror of Inquisition and the presence of British troops in Goa enforced the British desire. Also the Portuguese power at this time was declining and they could not fight the British. The palace of the Grand Inquisitor, the Big House, was demolished and no trace of it remains today, which might remind someone of inquisitions and the horrors inside this Big House that their great saint Francis Xavier
Dr. Trasta Breganka Kunha, a Catholic citizen of Goa writes, "Inspite of all the mutilations and concealment of history, it remains an undoubted fact that religious conversion of Goans is due to methods of force adopted by the Portuguese to establish their rule. As a result of this violence the character of our people was destroyed. The propagation of Christian sect in Goa came about not by religious preaching but through the methods of violence and pressure. If any evidence is needed for this fact, we can obtain it through law books, orders and reports of the local rulers of that time and also from the most dependable documents of the Christian sect
The result of all that is that in Goa Hindus view local catholics with deep suspicion. All that persecution for 250 years still could not obliterate Hinduism from that place, and they are still 60% of the population. Any other people would have simply been ground out
Saturday, October 4, 2008
"they believe that their gods are black. On this account the great majority of their idols are as black as black can be, and moreover are generally so rubbed over with oil as to smell detestably, and seem to be as dirty as they are ugly and horrible to look at."He writes to Rome to install inquisition in Goa immediately.
|Historian Alfredo DeMello describes the performers of Goan inquisition as |
"nefarious, fiendish, lustful, corrupt religious orders which pounced on Goa for the purpose of destroying paganism and introducing the true religion of Christ"
The Goan inquisition is regarded by all contemporary portrayals as the most violent inquisition ever executed by the Portuguese Catholic Church. It lasted from 1560 to 1812 though in Europe it ended by 1774. (briefly restarted in 1778) Given below are some of the eye-witness accounts of this genocidal Holy office:
"...The inquisition of Goa, distinguished itself on account of the greater rigors than those of the tribunals of the metropolis; thousands of victims died at the stake in flames.-Joao Felix Pereira(19th century) in Historia de Portugal, 3rd edition, page 235
"..The inquisition, this tribunal of fire, thrown on the surface of the globe for the scourge of humanity, this horrible institution, which will eternally cover with shame its authors, fixed its brutal domicile in the fertile plains of the Hindustan. On seeing the monster everyone fled and disappeared, Moguls, Arabs, Persians, Armenians, and Jews. The Indians even, more tolerant and pacific, were astounded to see the God of Christianism more cruel than that of Mohammed, deserted the territory of the Portuguese..."-Memoirs of Judges Magalhães and Lousada: (Vol 2,Annaes Marítimos e Coloniais,page 59)
"...The terrors inflicted on pregnant women made them abort....Neither the beauty or decorousness of the flower of youth, nor the old age, so worthy of compassion in a woman, exempted the weaker sex from the brutal ferocity of the supposed defenders of the religion..-Alexandre Herculano Famous writer of 19th century in his Fragment about the Inquisition..There were days when seven or eight were submitted to torture. These scenes were reserved for the inquisitors after dinner. It was a post-prandial entertainment. Many a time during those acts, the inquisitors compared notes in the appreciation of the beauty of the human form. While the unlucky damsel twisted in the intolerable pains of torture, or fainted in the intensity of the agony, one inquisitor applauded the angelic touches of her face, another the brightness of her eyes, another, the volluptuous contours of her breast, another the shape of her hands. In this conjuncture, men of blood transformed themselves into real artists !!
Mechanism of Inquisition as recorded by Dellon a French Roman Catholic - 'a very mild account of inquisition':
- The cells:
a fetid cell, provided with a hole for relieving himself. But it overflowed, and there were faeces all over, an abominable smell, practically no light, save for slits on the wall, well above the reach of one's hands.
- No honour even in death:
Those who died in the jail were buried inside the building, and as they were going to be judged, the bodies were exhumed, and the bones were kept to be burnt on the next auto da fé.
- Condemning the accused:
Seven witnesses were required to condemn a person. But the witnesses were never brought face to face with the hapless accused. The inquisition admitted the testimony of all kinds of people, even of those who were interested in the utter condemnation of the accused. Among the seven witnesses, was included the victim himself, who under torture had admitted the heresies that he had (not) committed.
Three kinds of torture were practiced: 1) the rope or the pulley, 2) water and 3) fire. The torture by rope consisted of the arms being tied backwards and then raised by a pulley, leaving the victim hanging for some time, and then let the victim drop down to half a foot above the floor, then raised again. These continued up-and-down movement dislocated the joints and made the prisoner emit horrible cries of pain. This torture went on for an hour.
The torture by water was as follows: the victim was made to lie across an iron bar, and was forced to imbibe water without stopping. The iron bar broke the vertebrae and caused horrible pains, whereas the water treatment provoked vomits and asphyxia. Thetorture by fire was definitely the worst: the victim was hung above a fire, which warmed the soles of the feet, and the jailers rubbed bacon and other combustible materials on the feet. The feet were burned until the victim confessed. These last two tortures lasted for about an hour, and sometimes more.The house of torments was a subterranean grotto, so that other might not hear the cries of the wretched. Many a time, the victims died under torture; their bodies were interred within the compound, and the bones were exhumed for the auto da fe, and burnt in public.
- Showing them mercy by burning at stake:
By daylight, each convict was ordered to march alongside a godfather, one of the officials assigned to each victim. It was a great honor to be appointed godfather for these ceremonies. The procession was led through the long streets of the city,so that the multitudes could watch the ugly pageant. Finally, covered with shame and confusion, tired of the long march, the condemned reached the church of St. Francis, which was decked with great pomp and circumstance. The altar was covered with black cloth on which stood six silver candleholders. On both sides of the altar there were two kinds of thrones: the right side for the inquisitor and his councilors, and the left side for the viceroy and his court. The convicts and godfathers were seated on benches.Next, four man-sized statues were brought, accompanied by four men who carried boxes full of bones of the victims who had died by tortures: these statues, wearing the Samarra and representing the dead victims would be tried too. Once the sermon was concluded, two officials went up to the pulpit to read publicly the proceedings of all the guilty, and to declare the sentences upon them.The condemned to be burnt at the stake were delivered to the secular arm, to which the Inquisition begged to use clemency and mercy with these wretched, and to impose the death penalty without effusion of blood - by burning them at stake!
Remarks of a historian:
The words Auto da fé reverberated throughout Goa, reminiscent of the furies of Hell, which concept, incidentally does not exist in the Hindu pantheon. On April 1st 1650 for instance, four people were burnt to death, the next auto da fé was on December 14, 1653, when 18 were put to the flames, accused of the crime of heresy. And from the 8th April 1666 until the end of 1679 - during which period Dellon was tried - there were eight autos da fé, in which 1208 victims were sentenced. In November 22, 1711 another auto da fé took place involving 41 persons. Another milestone was on December 20, 1736, when the Inquisition burnt an entire family of Raaim, Salcete, destroying their house, putting salt on their land, and placing a stone padrao, which still existed in the place (at least in 1866)-Alfredo De Mello ('Memoirs of Goa' Chapter 21