by Wesley Kawato
The State of Karnataka is leading the way for India, as it marches into the 21st century and beyond. That state which is composed of 61,500,000 people has been the center of India’s aircraft industry for some time and is now the home of India’s computer industry. Often, next door to such high technology firms are farmlands that have changed little in over a thousand years. So Karnataka is a mixture of old and new. The state has become a regional power house, and in this article we’ll examine how this came about.
Karnataka’s Long History
Until recently Karnataka was called Mysore. Mysore is located in southern India on the Arabian Sea coast. This state was originally settled by Dravidians (southern Indian ethnic groups), who were among the original inhabitants of India. Some time before 300 B.C. Mysore was invaded by Indo-Aryan people groups who came from the north. These newcomers were part of the same migration that brought the Persians to what is now Iran. The original Dravidian inhabitants were either absorbed by the Indo-Aryans, or driven out.
Around this time the Roman Empire was flourishing in Europe, and shortly after the Indo-Aryan invasion of India, the Mauryan Empire unified Mysore. The first rulers of this empire were Hindus. The Mauryan Empire collapsed around 300 A.D., and other petty states rose and fell in this region. All of these nations used early forms of the Kannada language as the language of administration. Kannada is now the language of Karnataka.
Around 1200 A.D. Muslim invaders established a foothold in Mysore and took over one small kingdom after another. Disunity made this expansion possible.
By 1300 A.D. the Hindus of Mysore unified to form the Vijayanagara Empire. The first king, Harihara I, stopped the expansion of the Muslim kingdoms. This was the first instance of religious conflict in the region that would become Karnataka. Today Muslims make up 12 percent of the state’s population, and the tension continues.
After 1400 A.D. the Mughal Empire attacked the Vijayanagara Empire and caused it to collapse. The Kingdom of Mysore was one of the nations that formed after Vijayanagara fractured into several nations.
Several hundred years later, Mysore’s princely local leaders (called maharajas) swore allegiance to the newly arrived British invaders. Those who welcomed the British were kept in power; those who opposed the British were deposed, and their lands were placed under direct British rule.
British colonial rule ended in 1947 when India became independent. The maharajas of Mysore swore allegiance to the new government of India, and they were allowed to remain in power. At that time India was a mixture of princely states ruled by local kings and states ruled by governors. In 1950 all princely states were converted into states. At that time the maharaja of Mysore became a state governor. In 1973 the State of Mysore was renamed the State of Karnataka.
This month we are focusing our prayers on the people groups that hold some form of power in Karnataka today, be it economic, political, religious, or cultural. We may have cheated a bit by including the devadasi temple prostitutes (day 4), but some Indians are in awe of them in the same way they are in awe of Bollywood movie actresses. Though most Muslim communities hold little economic power in Karnataka, the Beary Muslims (day 8) are an exception. Although they are not part of the Hindu majority, the Jains, Parsees (day 9), and Lingayats (day 10) all have economic power. There are many different Brahmin communities in Karnataka, all of whom wield religious and cultural power since they have the highest social status in Hinduism. We will devote 13 days to praying for different Brahmin groups since they remain highly unreached, and it is uncertain if Brahmin groups interact with one another. The Rajput (day 14) and Jat (day 15) communities often have economic and political power, so we are praying for these Hindu groups too.
Today Hinduism is the dominant religion of Karnataka. Hindus make up 83 percent of the state’s population, and Muslims make up 12 percent. There are also a small number of Jains living in Karnataka. Christians make up less than two percent of the state’s population. The British allowed Christian missionaries to operate in Karnataka during the time they ruled India. Today the only place in Karnataka where there is a strong Christian presence is Bangalore, the state’s largest city. Christians make up eight percent of Bangalore’s population.
The Hindus of Karnataka are divided politically. Some are moderates who favor religious tolerance. Others are radicals, who favor the “reconversion” of all Christians and Muslims to the Hindu faith, which they view as the correct or original religion of all who live there. Persecution could become a problem in Karnataka if the radicals aren’t kept in check.
by Keith Carey
Dear Praying Friends,
Amy Carmichael, the missionary whom we will feature on the first three daily entries of this GPD, was famous for her daring actions, especially her attempts to rescue girls from a life of temple prostitution in India. Yet in this biography, the thing that most caught my attention was that as a small girl, Amy would invite the Lord to “come sit with me.” A small girl was asking the One who created 300 sextillion stars to just be with her! She understood the goodness and loving-kindness of her Heavenly Daddy, and she craved His presence. How the nations need to learn from this small child!
Contrast that with the people groups that we will pray for this month. Would any Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, or Zoroastrian want to spend time with the spirit beings they worship except to get something from them? No, but the loving Heavenly Father we worship is entirely different than all others!
That is one of the reasons why we pray each day for these people groups that don’t have a Heavenly Father to sit with them and hear their prayers. When we pray for them, we are hoping that they will have the privilege of walking with the Lord as a child walks with their daddy. May His kingdom come to the hearts of the nations!