Seminar: Dr Neeta M. Khandpekar, ‘Christian Missionaries in Western India (Maharashtra)’

Missionaries in western India (Maharashtra) used a variety of methods to impart education in the 19th and 20th centuries, including direct preaching of the Gospel at Central Station, combined Christian and general education, public lecturing and private classes, assisting in translation, Missionary itinerancies, pastoral care of converts and training converts for the ministry. Many of these were very effective in bringing social mobility and change to western Maharashtra. The education and medical work of the missionaries went hand in hand. In fact they represented the two faces of the same coin. The pioneering work was carried out at Wanless Hospital & Baisinger Memorial Library (Miraj), St. Luke’s Hospital (Vengurla), Jnan Deepa Vidyapeeth (JDV, Pune), Ahmednagar College and prominent institutions in Mumbai. Dr William Wanless rightly said “Hospital is powerful educative force not only in the levelling of the caste barriers but in the spread of common knowledge concerning Western medicine and surgery”. The pioneer behind St. Luke’s Hospital was surgeon Dr RHH Goheen from the American Presbyterian Mission of Western India. It is commonly said the “St.Lukes Hospital is for Konkan what Dr. Wanless hospital is for Deccan”. Fr. Schlegel was a librarian in body and soul at JDV. Ahmednagar College has preserved the issues of Missionary Herald (the oldest periodical of America) right from the year 1837 along with many issues of Dyanodaya newspaper which was started in 1842. The present work also draws extensively from contemporary newspapers from across Maharashtra and original documents held by the Presbyterian Historical Society (Philadelphia, USA).

Dr. Neeta M. Khandpekar ( is the India Council for Cultural Relations Visiting Chair in Indian Studies at VUW in 2018. Her research interests include maritime history and Christian missionary history. She is the author of Konkan Coast – A Socio Economic Study (16th & 17th Centuries) (2003) and The Christian Missionaries in Coastal Maharashtra: Encapsuling their Historical, Social, Educational and Literary Endeavors (2015).

 Venue:            Old Kirk 406 (F L Wood Seminar Room)

Date:               Friday, 24 August 2018

Time:              12:10pm to 1:30pm

For more information: Contact Dr Adrian Muckle (; 04 463 6773).