in towns and villages along the Malabar Coast from Kanya Kumari as far north as Mangalore. Converts from both respectable caste and lowest-caste communities were also concentrated most densely in southernmost Tamil-speaking districts. Communities also came into being in Telugu-speaking districts along the Coromandel Coast, as well as in interior districts of the Deccan. Tribal Christians were concentrated in hill ranges dividing one region from another, especially surrounding the Brahmaputra in Assam and the Irrawaddy in Burma. In the north and west, over the vast Indo-Gangetic plains, as well as in the wilds of central India and the Deccan, along coastal plains of the Konkan from Gujarat almost down to Goa, as well as the uplands behind them, converts also came mainly from the lowest castes and forest peoples.
Christian movements seem to have been most successful when least connected to empire. Movements of conversion occurred not because of, but despite, imperial expansion, in places removed from imperial control. Movements of Christian expansion also tend not to have been led by foreign missionaries, and least of all by missionaries from the established churches of England and Scotland,14 whose greatest achievements lay in building institutions of higher learning benefiting the Hindu elites of Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and other modern cities. Nonconformist and non-British missionaries (from America, Europe or Australia) provided more encouragement and infrastructures for new Christian communities from lower social strata. Again, within the contexts of'formal', as distinct from ' informal', empire, depending on how such terms are defined, movements with the most spectacular results occurred in principalities not yet directly under Indo-British rule: in Thanjavur and Tirunelveli before they came under direct rule, in Travancore, and in tribal areas of the north-east. Conversely, modern Hinduism and revivalist forms of Hindutva can be understood as consequences of the Raj and of British missions within territories of the Raj. Hypotheses such as these need further investigation, looking at the anomalies and contradictions of relations between Christians and the Indian empire. Thus, ironically, Christian movements sometimes fared far better in areas beyond or outside of direct imperial rule: in the domains, for example, of the Velama Nayakas of Madurai, Marava Tevars of Ramnad, Setupatis of Sivaganga, Kallar Tondaimans of Pudukot-tai, Maratha Rajas of Thanjavur, or the Nayar Raja Vermas of Travancore in the south; and in the tribal domains of the Nagas, Khasis and Garos of the north-east, as well as Kachins, Shans and Karens of Burma.
14 Tirunelveli diocese may appear to be an exception; but thefirst movements there resulted from the efforts of the very' Tanjore Christians' whom Schwartz and other Tranquebar missionaries had trained.
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