About William Carey
Published on December 18, 2013
Contrary to many outsiders who attempted to impose foreign language and culture in India, William Carey prized Bengal and India, as well as the Bengali and other Indian languages, investing scholarship and finances in education and development. Carey is well-known as a Social-Reformer in Bengal for his strong opposition to the local practice of suttee (burning of widows in dead husband’s funeral pyre) and infant sacrifice.
Adoniram Judson of Malden, MA, the first missionary from North America to Burma (now Myanmar), arrived in Bengal in 1812 en route to Burma and spent a whole year with William Carey and his English missionary associates learning a lot about Christian ministry in Bengal. That experience played a key role in Judson’s life long ministry in Burma translating the Bible in Burmese, leaving 100 churches and over 8000 believers.
In fact, Carey’s voyage from Britain to India was opposed by the British East India Company, which saw his work as interfering with the Company’s business interests. Although the Company threatened the captain of the ship that was originally taking Carey from Britain, he eventually arrived in Kolkata in November of 1793. Because of the hostility of the East India Company, Carey settled in the Danish colony of Serampore, where he became known as “the father of Bengali prose.” Carey helped fuel the so-called “Serampore renaissance” and Bengal Renaissance, and is credited with the following strategic developments:
- Serampore College/Senate of Serampore College (University), which was the first college in Asia to award a degree and India’s first institution to have the status of university. The College was founded to train students of every “caste, colour or country” in the arts & sciences, and to train indigenous ministers.
- Serampore Mission Press, which printed 212,000 copies of books in 40 different languages, including the following:
- Dictionaries, Grammars, and Bible translations for Bengali, Sanskrit, Hindi, and a number of other Indian languages
- Bengali translations of the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata
- Hitopadesh: a collection of Sanskrit fables originally written in the 12th century
- Kathopakathan (‘Dialogues’): a textbook for learning Bengali, illustrating Bengali daily life, using Bengal proverbs and vernacular
- Pratapaditya Charit: a Bengali textbook
- a Bengali daily, Samachar Darpan
- an English daily, A Friend of India, later to become The Statesman
- Developed the necessary type and blocks for Indian scripts’ orthography, and became the main foundry in India for 50 years.
- More than 100 ‘monitorial’ vernacular village schools, for both boys and girls
- India’s first paper mill, in Bot Tala, West Bengal
- Founding of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of India in West Bengal
- William Carey is well-known as a Social-Reformer in Bengal for his strong opposition to the local practice of suttee (burning of widows in dead husband’s funeral pyre) and infant sacrifice, especially after study showed that these were not required in the Hindu sacred writings