Francis Xavier – Saint or the Ruthless? The story of the bloodiest inqusition staged in Goa.

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The Holocaust in Europe is well known to many, as the Portuguese Holocaust in India has not been widely discussed.

Portuguese Goa, the Victim of Christianity

The Portuguese occupation of Goa began with the return of Vasco da Gama to Portugal after finding his way to India through the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. Returning to Portugal in 1510, Gamma told the Portuguese royal family about the undiscovered route to India, which allowed the Portuguese to colonize the west coast of India, especially Goa. Pope Nicholas V soon issued an edict giving Portugal the monopoly power to impose Christianity on the inhabitants of the newly discovered territories (mainly India), as well as a monopoly on trade for the Roman Catholic Empire in Asia. Soon, the Portuguese sent troops to capture part of Goa and establish a colony in the coastal city. In 1541, idolatry was banned in the Portuguese colony of Goa, and more than 350 temples were destroyed by Portuguese troops. Goa had officially declared that it was forbidden for people to believe in any religion other than Roman Catholicism.

In 1542, King John III of Portugal sent the infamous Francis Xavier and Martin Alfonso to Goa to begin the process of converting the Goan people to Roman Catholicism. Upon arrival in Goa, the new Christians in Goa were provoked by the fact that they secretly practiced their former religions (Judaism, Hinduism or Islam) and upheld their values ​​and traditions.

The agitated Francis Xavier wrote a letter to King John III of Portugal on May 16, 1546, imposing an inquiry in an attempt to ‘discipline’ the inhabitants of Goa and convert them to Catholicism. Roman Catholics forbade conversion to Hinduism, Judaism, or Islam, and banned the sale of books in Konkani, Marathi, Sanskrit, and Arabic. The use of Konkani was banned in the colony of Goa.

The trial particularly affected new Christians in Europe from the Jewish community who had fled to India during the Spanish trial in an attempt to escape the persecution of Christianity and to live among the Jewish community in India. They came in search of a decent life in which they could openly practice Judaism without pretending to be a Christian.

Hindus were forbidden to hold a public office, to claim their father’s property, or to testify in court. When a Hindu child was considered an orphan by the colonialists, the child was ‘captured’ by the Society of Jesus (founded by the less holy Francis Xavier) and forced to change his religion. There was clear discrimination in social life, where Hindus were forced to sign public documents only after Christians, and could not become clerks in village offices. The law was enacted in 1567.

Those convicted of practicing another religion were subjected to heinous punishments, including public flogging, ‘racking’, burning on a stake, and bloodthirsty missionaries smashing their nails and eyes. In some cases, entire villages were burned down with women and children taken as slaves. Large chakras were used for persecution, and those convicted of following Hinduism or Judaism were tied to a wheel and spun.

Those convicted of following Hinduism or Judaism were tied to a wheel and spun

The Inquisition Office questioned even locals suspected of privately following former religions. During the 214 years (1560-1774), 16,172 natives were questioned and often persecuted for practicing a religion other than Roman Catholicism. The Inquisition’s office should question whether the mere rumor that a private Hebrew man was reciting a prayer was enough for the missionaries to drag the native into the office.

Those convicted of practicing another religion were subjected to heinous punishments, including public flogging, ‘racking’, burning on a stake, and bloodthirsty missionaries smashing their nails and eyes. In some cases, entire villages were burned down with women and children taken as slaves. Large chakras were used for persecution, and those convicted of following Hinduism or Judaism were tied to a wheel and spun; the condition of innocent Hindus or Jews had been pathetic.

More than 4,000 non-Christians received such sentences during the trial. Inspired by Muslim invaders, the missionaries levied an extra tax on the Hindu population similar to the Jasiya tax imposed by the Muslim rulers befoehand.

By Shanavas S Oskar

References :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goa_Inquisition
Xenddi tax https://www.academia.edu/2435660/Xenddi_Tax_A_phase_in_the_history_of_Luso_Hindu_relations_in_Goa_1704_1841_?fbclid=IwAR3OteAX4bFaxXuec-OosrXSYEK68LbxcTxrueKNwqECFFhIQ7BEBrm004o

Children of Saraswati: History of the Christians of Mangalore, Lord Alan Machado, I.J.A. Publications, 1999, page 121)

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