In the holiest city of Hindus, the missionaries were actively engaged in the business of religious conversion by promising they would provide modern education and by luring jobs.
In such a situation, a foreign lady coming from a staunch Christian family, with her strong will power alone, not only did she curb the religious conversion activities of these missionaries, but she also laid the foundation of modern India.
Her great deeds earned her the status of a Hindu goddess, which is a rather rare occurrence in the history of India.
Almost everyone in India is familiar with Annie Besant.
In almost all the metropolitan cities of India, major roads and places have been named after her.
In the holy city of Hindus, Varanasi, Annie Besant has the status of a Hindu goddess.
Her personality has been described in a few lines mentioned below, written in a magazine published by the Hindu Vidyalaya established by her in Varanasi.
Famous for her eloquence, despite being a foreigner, a goddess named Besant, who was a devotee of Hindu religion, established a Hindu school in Varanasi in 1898 for enhancing the knowledge of Hindu children.
She dedicated her school, which she had developed with immense love for 15 years, to Mahamana Malviyaji in 1914.
Born: 1 October 1847
Death: 20 September 1933
Popular known as: Amma
Born in London, Annie Besant has an important place in the history of Indian independence movement. Annie Besant first arrived in India in 1893 AD, however she was deeply influenced by Hinduism even before coming to India, she had written many articles on Hinduism and she was being counted among the best speakers on Hinduism.
Annie Besant’s contribution to India’s independence
Annie Besant made Varanasi, the cultural capital of India, her workplace.
In Banaras, Annie Besant laid the foundation of the Hindu School with the help of Malviyaji, Bhagwan Das, and Shiv Prasad Gupta, the fierce nationalists of that time.
Annie Besant raised her voice against caste discrimination, child marriage, while she was known as a strong supporter of widow remarriage and women’s education.
She established a Hindu Girls’ School in 1904 near the Hindu School in Varanasi.
Please visit the blog post below to know more about Annie Besant’s stay in Varanasi during that period -: https://nithinks.com/2023/07/30/dalmia-bhavan-a-timeless-journey-through-history/
Annie Besant founded and promoted the Swaraj Sangh in 1916. On this act of Annie Besant, she was imprisoned by the British government. Annie Besant was elected as the first woman president of the Congress in Kolkata in 1917.
Annie Besant’s greatest work was the development of consciousness in India in a literary form.
“India was not ruled for its benefit, but rather for the benefit of its conquerors”
Besant created public awareness in India by writing a large number of books, essays etc.
Descriptions of many learned women are found in ancient India, however these had disappeared under Islamic rule, because of Annie Besant, the public saw a glimpse of ancient Hindu women’s scholarship after centuries, this is probably the reason why she is known as Amma among the people of India.
In the modern era, Hindu religion was trapped in vicious circle , on one hand, social evils like superstitions, religious evils, untouchability were weakening the Hindu religion, on the other hand, to make the matters worse, Britishers were running Christian missionaries to defame the Hindu religion.
In such a situation, Annie Besant’s contribution in introducing the world to Hinduism in its true form is highly commendable.
Even in Varanasi, the holiest city of Hindus, the game of religious conversion of missionaries was continuing unabated. In those days, there were three types of schools in Varanasi.
@ Sanskrit schools
@ British government aided school
Madrassas were the bastions of fanatic education, their entire focus was only on making fanatic Muslims. During the Muslim rule, these madrassas provided full support in maintaining the Muslim rule; even during the British period, these madrassas were lost in the daydream of establishing an Islamic state.
They had nothing to do with modern education and the students here were ineligible for any type of modern jobs like railways, courts, irrigation departments.
The Sanskrit schools of Varanasi were limited to introducing students only to religious knowledge and basic mathematics, hence the students here did not have the qualifications for modern jobs.
CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY SCHOOL
In addition to modern education in their syllabus, these schools gave compulsory education of English language and Bible, in some schools the medium of instruction was also English. Many of these schools were run by the Church, the students studying in these were eligible for modern jobs like lawyer, teacher, railway. They could easily get jobs in the Postal Department but this also drove them away from Hindu culture, civilization and history.
These schools were dedicated to British interests.
They had nothing to do with the welfare of India, but due to the greed for good lifestyle and jobs, their craze among the middle class was increasing day by day.
In such a disappointing environment, Annie Besant laid the foundation of a school based on the values of Hindu culture.
In this school, along with modern education, complete knowledge of Hindu culture was given to the children, due to which the students studying there were not only completely suitable for modern jobs but were also aware of Hindu culture and were proud of their culture.
In the coming times, this school also played a major role in the country’s freedom struggle.
Thus we find that Annie Besant played an important role in the renaissance of Hindu culture, freedom movement, development of political consciousness in India.
During this period, the famous American scholar Mark Twain, who visited Varanasi, also described the Christianization efforts of the holiest city of Hindus.
The full credit for blunting such efforts of missionaries goes to Annie Besant.
Till the very last days of her life, Annie Besant remained dedicated to the welfare of India, being a foreigner by birth, her life will surely be truly inspirational for all Indians.