Commentary on the article by Adv.Uday Bhembre:
When I read the article of Adv.Uday Bhembre, I was filled with disgust,
because I admired him as a lawyer and konkanist. I know that he also admired
me when he appreciated the Year Book of Rachol Seminary on the occasion of
the Marian Year in 1987-1988, and invited me to write on SUNAPARANT. Now I
feel that he is misreading, distorting or relativizing the history of Goa.
Although Adv.Uday is quoting the facts accurately,
he is giving a very negative image of the portuguese rule in Goa.
History of Goa is too complex to be simplified with a few negative strokes.
I feel that some "freedom fighters" (like Flaviano Dias) do not know enough
history of Goa. If the
Portuguese had not come to the island of Goa, there would be "no Goa" and
much less "freedom fighters for Goa". Being a lawyer, Uday can turn black
into white and white into black. Mentioning some historical facts, while
omitting other facts of importance
can lead the readers to a negative image of the Portuguese rule, which is
being well remembered by those who were young at that time.
It is the Hindus who were welcoming the Portuguese in 1510, as he well
knows. Afonso de
Albuquerque has introduced or maintained good programmes for Goa. Conversion
movement has several phases: it was tolerant (1510-1541), then when the
Jesuits founded the College of St.Paul in 1542, conversion went full swing.
Temples were destroyed in Bardez and more in Salsete. In Verna (Mardol), the
temple of Mhalsadevi was destroyed in 1519 together with the house for the
and the widows . Diogo Rodrigues, o do Forte, destroyed 280 temples (which
were proliferating). There were general conversions in Bardez and Salsete.
When people became Catholics,
they would demolish the temples and build churches. They would also transfer
the income of their assets to the churches.
The First Provincial Synod forbade conversions by force in 1567.
**Policy of Toleration: Phase: 1510-1541: At the time of the first conquest
of Goa, Afonso de Albuquerque had
guaranteed full religious freedom to all the citizens. After the second
conquest his intention was to completely wipe out Muslims from the island.
But soon he realized the need of their services for the prosperity of the
City and therefore, freedom was restored to them. But the Hindus enjoyed
more privileges and a better status. Only a few restrictions were imposed on
the Hindus, for example, SATI (burning of widows) was forbidden. He hoped
them to become all Christians. Hindu religious and social life continued
undisturbed during the first thirty years (1510-1541).
It is thus described: Goa with its three neighbouring islands was sown with
Hindu temples. Marriages were celebrated with noisy processions. The annual
feast of the Saptanatha Temple on the Island of Divar, celebrated towards
the end of the rainy season, drew great numbers of pilgrims from near and
far, more than thirty thousand from the island of Goa alone. They bathed in
the sacred waters of the river and had prayers spoken over them by their
priests and yogis in order to be freed from all their sins (See Schurhamer,
Saint Francis Xavier, 23f; cf.Documenta Indica III, pp.407,727; IV,
**The clergy was annoyed with this policy of toleration and denounced it as
indifferentism, also the officials. In 1518 Fr.António de Louro made his
voice heard in Lisbon, and four years later the Bishop of Dume, the
Dominican Father Duarte Nunes wrote about their noisy processions and
idolatry. But the official policy was not changed for many years to come.
The "Foral" or Charter of 1526 of Afonso Mexia only confirmed it.
**Inquisition came only in 1560, much after the death of Saint Francis
It was intended for the "New Christians" (converts from Judaism, who
continued secretly to be Jews)
and the newly converts from Hinduism.
**The study of Konkani had also phases, its Golden Age and decay.
Jesuits have developed it. Press was brought to Goa in 1556. Parish schools
were growing, education (schools, colleges, Lyceum, Escola Normal, Escola
Medico-Cirurgica), health care prospered with hospitals and Medical College,
orphanages, old age homes. Village communities have been maintained (they
have been destroyed by the Government during these 50 post-liberation
years.), they have been followed by Panchayati Raj (which unfortunately has
stooped down to the maximum corruption). The Code of Portuguese Civil Law
there is so much criminality, injustice, turmoil. The Government is corrupt,
police is ailing, villages are deteriorating, agriculture is disappearing,
there are polluting industries.
Today's political leaders do not improve the image of Goa in the world. In
such state we need honest people to help Goa grow, otherwise Goa is gone...
We should be grateful to them for bringing Christianity to Goa. This is
greatest gift. They have brought a better "civilization" by starting the
process of globalisation. Caste system has been diluted. Education is badly
needed in India as well as in Goa. Scientific and technological training
without ethics will lead us nowhere...rather, only to self-destruction...