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Inquisition of Goa: Atrocities on Hindus by Goa missionaries - II

By: V Sundaram, IAS, Retd.
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Dr. Alfredo DeMello in his "Memoirs of Goa" has given all the spine-chilling details relating to anti-pagan, anti-heathen, and anti-Hindu "Christian Compassion" during the course of Holy Inquisition in Goa from 1560 to 1812. In the Court of Inquisition in Goa, there were two Inquisitors. The first was called Inquisidormor, who was always a secular priest, whilst the second belonged to the order of the Dominicans. They had a great number of officers, who were called Deputies of the Holy Office. They were obliged to be present in the judgement of the accused, in the examinations and tortures, but were never summoned to attend the Tribunal unless they were expressly called for by the Inquisitors. Other employees called Qualifiers of the Holy Office had to examine the books, and the suspicions regarding any heresy contrary to the PURITY OF THE FAITH. The Holy Office also had a promoter, a procurator and lawyers who were assigned to the prisoners who sought them. These lawyers, far from defending their assigned prisoners, served only to denounce their most recondite sentiments giving them false illusions. There were other officers who were called "familiares do santo oficio", who were really Justice Officers of this tribunal. Persons of all conditions were anxious to be admitted to such posts; even the dukes and princes sought them, such was the esteem of the posts. Their job was to accuse the prisoner.

Inquisition of Goa: Atrocities on Hindus by missionaries in Goa - Part I
Inquisition of Goa: Atrocities on Hindus by missionaries in Goa - Part II
Inquisition of Goa: Atrocities on Hindus by missionaries in Goa - Part III

Each Hindu prisoner was given an earthen bowl with water for ablutions; another cleaner bowl with water for drinking, and a jug of earthenware to keep the water cool. He was given also a broom, in order to keep his cell clean (?); a mat to put on the bench where he was supposed to sleep; a big basin, which was changed every four days, and another basin to cover the former, and served to keep the trash after cleaning the cell. Since the prisoners were separated from one another, and only rarely were two lodged in the same cell, four guards were enough to keep a watch on 200 Hindu prisoners. Those who died in the jail were buried inside the building, and as they were going to be judged, the bodies were exhumed, and the bones were kept to be burnt on the next auto da fe. The prisoners were not given any books to read. No light excepting the daylight filtered through the slits on the wall above. It was a horrid scene and atmosphere for every Hindu prisoner. As Dr.Alfredo DeMello has put it "There was an eerie, perpetual silence, and those who complained, or even prayed to God loudly, ran the risk of being whipped by the Guards".

Seven witnesses were required to condemn a Hindu accused. But the witnesses were never brought face to face with the hapless accused. The Inquisition admitted the testimony of all kinds of people, even of those who were publicly known to be interested in the utter condemnation of the accused. Among the seven witnesses, was included the victim himself, who under torture had admitted the heresies that he had (NOT) committed! Many a time all the seven witnesses were worth nothing because they became "supposed accomplices", who were really innocent of the crime which they purportedly had committed, because the Inquisition in a fiendish manner made them really criminal, obliging them with tortures of fire, to accuse an innocent victim, in order to save his own life. The whole aim was to punish a Hindu prisoner somehow or other at any cost and to put him to cruel death.

The "artificial", "manufactured" and "unnatural" crimes criminally brought up against the Hindus were of different kinds: blasphemies, impiety, sodomy, necromancy and witchcraft. For example if any of the newly forcibly converted Hindus took part in the "superstitious assemblies" (Jewish sabbaths) or former idolatries (Hindu gods) practiced of yore, they were more than enough to cause a victim to be burnt at the stake. If the victim confessed at the last moment, and was truly sorry, he was condemned to the garrotte for capital punishment, and then burnt after his death. Otherwise he was burnt alive. This was indeed Vatican Directed Christian humanity towards Hindus at its noblest and purest in Goa!

Three kinds of torture were practiced against the Hindus and other non-Christians: 1) the rope or the pulley 2) water and 3) fire. The torture by rope consisted of the arms being tied backwards and then raised by a pulley, leaving the victim hanging for some time, and then let the victim drop down to half a foot above the floor, then raised again. These continued up and down movements dislocated the joints and made the prisoner emit horrible cries of pain. This torture went on for an hour. The torture by water was as follows: the victim was made to lie across an iron bar, and was forced to imbibe water without stopping. The iron bar broke the vertebrae and caused horrible pains, whereas the water treatment provoked vomits and asphyxia. The torture by fire was definitely the worst: the victim was hung above a fire, which burnt the soles of the feet, and the jailers rubbed bacon and other combustible materials on the burning feet. The feet were burnt until the victim confessed. These last two tortures lasted for about an hour, and sometimes more. Holy catholic priests watched this scene with studious Christian thoroughness, consideration and compassion!

Maanoj Rakhit in his brilliant monograph titled "Christianity In a Different Light" has sharply stated: "The name of St.Xavier happens to be well respected in our country. Like many others I had believed he must be a Saint as his name starts with that word, and there are so many educational institutions dedicated to his name all over the country where our Hindu children receive their education. We therefore need to know more about such a great person and his character a little better than we do today, for these schools never tell us the truth".

I have gathered the following details relating to St. Francis Xavier. St. Francis Xavier landed in Goa on 6 May 1542, with a resolve of "uprooting paganism" from the soil of India and planting Christianity in its place. And so all plans of persecution and oppression of the Hindus came along with him. All religious policies and procedures of forcible and fraudulent conversions and demolitions of the Hindu Temples and idols were undertaken under his guidance and missionary zeal. Thus it was St.Francis Xavier who laid the foundation for the "compassionate" (barbarous!) for an organized system of Holy Inquisition against the Hindus in Goa.

St.Francis Xavier was a pioneer of anti-Brahmanism, which was adopted later as a major plan in the missionary propaganda during British Rule as evident below. Lord Minto, the Governor General of India from 1807 to 1812, sent some propaganda material used by the English missionaries in India to British Parliament and in particular referred to one Christian Tract about which he said "the remainder of this Tract seems to aim principally at a general massacre and extermination of the Brahmins".

We can see what was St. Francis Xavier"s first priority in India through his own words "I want to free the poor Hindus from the stranglehold of the Brahmins and destroy the places where evil spirits are worshipped. The Brahmins are the most perverse people in the world.... They never tell the truth, but think of nothing but how to tell subtle lies and to receive the simple and ignorant people... They are as perverse and wicked a set as can anywhere be found, and to whom applies the Psalm, which says: "From an unholy race, and wicked and crafty men, deliver me, Lord". The poor people do exactly what the Brahmins tell them.... If there were no Brahmins in the area, all Hindus would accept conversion to our faith".

St. Francis Xavier wrote a letter to the Society of Jesus in which he said, "Following the Baptisms, the new Christians return to their homes and come back with their wives and families to be in their turn also prepared for Baptism. After all have been baptised, I order that everywhere the temples of the false Gods be pulled down and idols broken. I KNOW NOT HOW TO DESCRIBE IN WORDS THE JOY THAT I FEEL BEFORE THE SPECTACLE OF PULLING DOWN AND DESTROYING THE IDOLS BY THE VERY PEOPLE WHO FORMERLY WORSHIPPED THEM". St. Francis Xavier did this in Quilon after the Hindu Raja of Quilon had given him a munificently large grant of land and other resources to build Churches in his territory. After taking this grant, St. Xavier converted Hindus into Christianity. After doing that he said that he was in a state of ecstatic joy! The same kind of savage joy was expressed by another equally savage temple destroyer Mughal Emperor called Aurangazeb who ruled from 1658 to 1707. So much for terrorist Christianity and terrorist Islam! So much for peace-loving and compassionate Christianity and Islam! So much for Christian Brotherhood and Islamic Brotherhood!

No wonder the great German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche [1844 -1900], not belonging to the VHP or RSS or Sangh Pariwar(!) paid this legitimate tribute to ever-compassionate Christianity: "I call Christianity the one great curse of enormous and innermost perversion, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are venomous, too underhand, too underground and too petty-I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind". I am sure the Pope in Rome will take immediate action to ex-communicate Nietzsche, posthumously, for his above Paganish and Heathenish indiscretion, taking the ever-obliging Sonia-directed Pro-Catholic UPA Government into private confidence! Our Prime Minister has prepared the ground for this drama by his recent statement on the mass Hindu Rebellion in Orissa.

Even before the arrival of St. Francis Xavier in Goa in 1542, two Portuguese Governors called Minguet Vaz and Diago Borba, inaugurated the State-sponsored movement for the demolition of the Hindu temples and other vestiges of Hindu religion. Most of the temples of Goa, Divar, Chorada and Jua region were destroyed in 1540. In 1541 a policy of "Regour of Mercy" was announced as the main plank of anti-Hindu policy to be followed by the government in Goa. In this year, after the demolition of temples, various leaders of the Hindu community were terrorised into submission and made to agree of, "Their free volition that the income of the lands belonging to the ancient Hindu temples which had been destroyed might be applied to the upkeep of Christian Churches and Christian Missionaries.... It was also resolved that the income should, in future, be applied towards and donated to the Chapels built in this island and also to defray the expenses of the confraternity of the converts to the faith. As a result of this declared "Anti-Hindu and Hindu Extermination Policy", the St. Paul"s College was established and maintained out of the income of the Hindu temples which had been destroyed".

After the arrival of St. Francis Xavier in 1542, the movement for temple demolition in Goa was further accelerated, as he was an instigator and a role model for the demolition of the Hindu temples. From then on, the Jesuits did their worst under his cruel leadership, using every form of bribery, threat and torture against the Hindus to effect a conversion! He noticed that though some Hindus, baptised earlier through force and fraud, were still secretly worshipping these "evil spirits". Enraged by this "paganish and heathenish barbarism", St. Francis Xavier reacted strongly with Christian compassion and understanding marked by unsurpassed nobility. According to the "History of Christianity in India", his reaction was: "When the boys informed him that some had made an idol, he went with them and had it broken into a thousand pieces. If in spite of all his Divine advice someone persisted in making idols, he would have them punished by the Patingatis (Heads of Parava Village) are banished to another village. One day when he heard that idols had been worshipped in the house of a Christian, he ordered the hut to be burnt down as a warning to others (Source-Silva Rego Vol.I Page 158)".

Regarding St.Francis Xavier"s way of "violent evangelism", Hector has written: "In the matter of conversion, Xavier held exceedingly crude ideas. His great aim was to get hold of the younger portion of the population... Xavier is said to have baptised seven hundred thousand natives, whom he left as ignorant as he found them. His motto seems to have been quantity and not quality".

P.B.Cunha, a Goan freedom fighter and eminent writer has been very critical of Xavier"s method of evangelism. To quote his words: "That Saint (Xavier) came as a missionary with the patronage and protection of the Portuguese King and used his power of proselytisation to further the Portuguese Imperial designs".

In order to promote conversions and create an atmosphere of mental terror, St. Francis Xavier and his missionaries saw to it that the Hindus were tortured by all possible means, particularly where the evidence against the accused (foisted cases for Inquisition and Conversion through fraud, force and inducement!) was incomplete, defective or conflicting. I have presented above the pictures/photographs of the tools, implements and other appliances carefully designed by St. Francis Xavier and his missionaries for the human and humane conversion of the Hindus of Goa through organized torture, fully backed by the might of the Portuguese State in the 16th century. We can see that there were specially designed sharp instruments with spikes for cutting the ears of Hindus, for breaking their legs and shin, for disembowelling them over the rack, for breaking their jaws, for tearing their tongues and finally there was a specially designed Christian equipment (designed with Christian compassion of rigorous mercy!) for tearing apart the female breasts! I acknowledge my debt to Shri Maanoj Rakhit, a great Hindutva scholar from Bombay for helping me with the above rare photographs of the implements and tools of Christian torture in Goa during the days of the Holy Inquisition!
Very unfortunately thousands of Hindus who were tortured and killed by St. Francis Xavier and his missionaries have not left behind contemporary records relating to their sufferings, trials and tribulations. One of the most authentic records relating to the Holy Inquisition in Goa was left behind by a French Jewish Doctor called Dellon. About him, the savant Ferdinand Denis wrote: "Many voyagers painted with great energy the torments which the inquisition of Goa inflicted on its prisoners, but the most minute report, without contradiction and the most moderate in all respects was that of a French doctor called Dellon, who wrote a special treatise on this tribunal, of which he was one of the victims".

Indeed a young French Doctor by the name of Dellon, ten years after he escaped from his punishment in the galleys in Lisbon in 1677, wrote the famous book "RELATION DE L"INQUISITION DE GOA", printed in Holland in 1687. The acquisition of Dellon"s book was most difficult for more than two hundred years, because not only it was antique but prohibited. Only Mr.Cunha Rivara, in the late 19th century, on the way to serve as Secretary to the Governor in Goa, was able to get a copy from the curator of the Public Library in Lisbon, Jofo Jos, Barbosa.

From Dr.Dellon"s classic book referred to above, we get the following details relating to the Holy Inquisition in Goa. The House of Inquisition (Divine Torments!) of Hindus was a subterranean grotto, so that others might not hear the cries of the wretched. Many a time, the Hindu victims died under torture; their bodies were interred within the compound, and the bones were exhumed for the auto da fe, and burnt in public. Those Hindus who were branded as convicts, and persisted in denying the facts of which they were accused, or who were relapsed, were obliged to wear another scapulary which was called Samarra, a brown cloth, on which the portrait of the victim was painted above flames, and surrounded by demons. Below this portrait were written down the name of the condemned and the crimes. But for those who accused themselves, after the sentence was pronounced, and who were not relapsed, a different Samarra was given: in these brown vests the flames were facing downwards, which was called "fogo revolto".

After the distribution of the Sambenitos, five pointed bonnets or mitres of cardboard, all painted with demons and flames, and the word "feiticeiro" (sorcerer) were brought and placed on the heads of the persons accused of necromancy. Standing up all night, at last at 5.30 a.m. the sun rose, and the bell of the cathedral started tolling. This was the signal for the population of Goa to wake up, and come to witness the august ceremony of the auto da fe, which was considered as a triumph of the Holy Office.
By daylight, each convict was ordered to march alongside a godfather, one of the officials assigned to each victim. It was a great honour to be appointed godfather for these ceremonies. Finally, covered with shame and confusion, tired of the long march, the condemned reached the church of St. Francis, which was decked with great pomp and circumstance. The altar was covered with black cloth on which stood six silver candleholders. On both sides of the altar there were two kinds of thrones: the right side for the inquisitor and his councillors, and the left side for the viceroy and his court. The convicts and godfathers were seated on benches. Once the sermon was concluded, two officials went up to the pulpit, to read publicly the proceedings of all the guilty, and to declare the sentences upon them. Generally all the Hindu victims were either put to death in all kinds of barbarous ways.
Mr. Alfred Demersay, French commissioner in Portugal and Spain in 1862, on examining the archives of Lisbon where past processes of inquisition were kept, wrote: "Only the Inquisition has furnished 40,000 proceedings of lawsuits, which are the most precious elements to write the history of this nefarious institution, and an inexhaustible mine for the novelists and authors of melodramas. The inquisition was the greatest terror of our ancestors in Goa because of its incredible tyranny; it was an independent terrorist Republic, which did not recognise even the Viceroys as their superiors".
How immoral and barbarous were the Holy Inquisitors in Goa (who took hourly instructions from St. Francis Xavier from 1542 to 1551) in the 16th century can be seen by the oration given by Archbishop of Evora at the Cathedral Church of Lisbon in June 1897: "The Inquisition was an infamous TRIBUNAL at all places. But the infamy never reached greater depths, nor was more vile, more black, and more completely determined by mundane interests than at the TRIBUNAL OF GOA, by irony called the HOLY OFFICE. Here the Inquisitors went to the length of imprisoning in its jails women who resisted their advances, and after having satisfied their bestial instincts there, ordering that they be burnt as heretics". (Source The Hindus and the Portuguese Republic, Priolkar Page 174 - 175).

(To be Continued...)

V Sundaram, IAS, Retd.

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