(Last Updated on : 06/01/2009)
The Christians had played a great role in the development of Literature, Art and Architecture in South India. The Missionary schools and the new forms of buildings and architecture and art on the Western lines are few of the examples on this line. Here is a glimpse of the contribution of Christians in various fields in South India is given below:
In the field of literature, the Christians contributed a lot by establishing many Missionary schools in many parts of South India. Missionary scholars like Robert De Nobili, Joseph Constantius Beschi, Barthalomeo Ziegenbalg, G.U. Pope, Robert Caldwell, Winslow and Philipp Fabricius were interested in studying on complicated themes such as the philological analysis of the Dravidian dialects, Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, Tamil Bhakti, etc. Beschi brought out many improvements in the grammar of Tonnul Vilakkam. He also published 'Grammatica Latino Tamulica', which was a Grammar of High Tamil. It acted as an introduction of Tamil grammar for the Westerners. He also composed the well known Christian epic, Tembavani (Unfading Garland), which was sung in honour of St. Joseph.
Another Grammar book named 'A Comparative Grammar for the Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages' was published in 1856 by Robert Caldwell. G U Pope became famous by writing three critical editions of the Tamil literature namely Tirukkural, Nalatiyar, and Tirtt-vachakam. The missionaries' scholarship in Tamilology influenced deeply the first Christian Tamil poet, H.A. Krishna Pillai and novelist, Mayavaram Vedanayakam Pillai. The two significant didactical Tamil poems Necthi Vcnpa and Kondrei Ventan were also translated into German by Ziegenbalg. He also published 'Grammatica Tamulica' in 1715, which later used as a guidebook by the missionaries like Ruckert, Fabricius, Rhenius, and Graul.
Hermann Guntert (1814-1893), who worked for the Basel Mission in Tellichery, brought out a Malctyalatn Grammar in 1851. His Malayalam-English Dictionary was published after his death in 1872. He made huge contribution in Malayalam literature. The hymns written by him are the original contributions to the Christian literature in Malayalam. The New Testament was also translated into Malayalam by him.
The Christian missionaries came out with new forms and structures of building in South India. They brought Western styled art and architecture. The churches are the good example of the contribution of the Christians in South India. The churches and schools of the Italian Jesuits introduced a new taste for attractive buildings. The South Indian first saw typical bells, belfries, and baptismal fonts of the churches. The Church of Milagres at Mangalore, and St. Joseph's Church and seminary at Jeppoo are one of those magnificent churches.
The chapel at the Women's Christian College in Madras was designed by Reginald Dann in 1923, which shows the Christianity influence here. The villages of South India also come under the affect of the Christians. Savarirayan Jesudasan and Ernest Forrester Paton who were connected with the Vellore Christian Medical College went to work amongst the villages and they established an ashram named the 'Christu Kula Ashram'. During the period of 1928 to 1932, they built the chapel at Tirupattur. Fr.Monchanin later constructed the Shamivanam Ashram Chapel in the Indian Style, in Kulithalai, near Trichy. He mainly built the 'Garbha griha' and later Bede Griffiths finished the task by adding the vimana executed by the local craftsmen.
The Hindu model churches were also made by Fr. James Tombeur like the Nallaya-puram Church at Melpalai. The Anjali Ashram Chapel under Chamundi Hill, Mysore, designed by Fr. Amalorpavadoss and Dornakal Cathedral Church of South India are other pioneering examples in South India. Some other architectural developments in South Indian by the Christians include St. Mary's Votive Church in Kilpauk, Madras, which is an example of mixture of styles. A cathedral was also built for the Syro-Malankara Church at Tiruvalla by Laurie Baker.
The Indian art heritage of 20 the century got enriched by the significant contribution of the Christian painters like Angelo da Fonseca, Angela Trindade, Sister Genevieve, Sister Claire, Alfred Thomas, Frank Wesley, Jyoti Sahi, Lucy De Souza and Solomon Raj.
Thus, the Christians brought a revolution in the Literature, Art and Architecture in South India.