Ward encouraged converts to retain their Indian dress, diet, and even their Hindu names. On the issue of caste, however, the Serampore missionaries were adamant that all those who sought baptism had to renounce caste utterly. Thus, they rejected the south Indian Lutheran compromise. This Serampore approach to caste became the standard approach to caste for the later Protestant missions in India, in contrast with the same movement's rejection, on the whole, of the Serampore enthusiasm for Indian dress, diet and the retention of Indian names by converts.
The most important impact of the Serampore mission on the encounter of Protestant Christianity with Hinduism was made by Ward's two books, An Account of the writings, religion, and manners of the Hindoos published in 1811 and Farewell letters to a few friends in Britain and America on returning to Bengal, published in 1823. These books were to be reprinted many times and set the overall tone for the Protestant encounter with Hinduism. Ward's descriptions of Hindu practices and beliefs in the Bengal of his day were not inaccurate, but he had no knowledge ofHinduism elsewhere in India, where Hinduism varied considerably from what he described in Bengal. Further, he had little or no knowledge of Hindu philosophy. What was of fundamental importance was that Ward found nothing at all of any value in any aspect of Hinduism. This was in stark contrast with his Christian predecessors, Catholic and Lutheran, who had been able to find at least a 'trail of grains of gold in the sand of the riverbed' as one put it. Responding to those who perceived some good in Hinduism, Ward asked, how should a people be moral, whose gods are monsters ofvice; whose priests are their ringleaders in crimes, whose scriptures encourage pride, impurity, falsehood, revenge, and murder; whose worship is connected with indescribable abominations, and whose heaven is a brothel?14
It is important, however, to note that a powerful reaction against the largely favourable attitude of Jones and Robertson towards Indians, India and Hinduism appeared also at this time among what might be termed secular writers. The two most important of these writers, Charles Grant and James Mill, wrote specifically to refute the positive perceptions of Hindus and Hinduism displayed in the writing of Jones and Robertson. It has often been pointed out that Grant was a fervent evangelical Christian, but what is important about his writing on India is that it is part of reaction against Hinduism that stems as much from Enlightenment ideas about 'progress' as from evangelical Protestantism. Mill's and Grant's attitudes towards Hinduism were representative of a new approach towards cultures and religions outside Europe, which assessed
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