Thursday, March 22, 2007

Unitarianism in the Khasi Hills of India

I have been studying about Muslims in India and the religious diversity as well as the religious conflicts. I would be remiss if I did not share information about the 9,000 Unitarians in India that I share my faith tradition with. I hope to one day visit them and learn more about them in their natural setting. I have met a couple who came to the United States to study.

History In A Nutshell
Written by Administrator
Monday, 12 April 2004
Unlike other Christian denominations Unitarianism was
not brought to the Khasi Hills by the Missionaries
from the West, but it was started by a youthful Khasi
whose name is Hajaom Kisor Singh Lyngdoh Nongbri.
Unitarianism in Khasi Jaintia Hills and Karbi Anglong
District in Assam, like any of its sisters in faith in
different parts of the World is a unique religion with
an equally unique beginning. The late eighteenth and
early nineteenth century khasi-jaintia society
witnesses an emergent of giants and stalwarts of khasi
intellectuals and the doyen of Khasi literature in the
like of Babu Soso Tham, Pahep R.S. Berry, Nissor Singh
and his brother u Babu Hajom Kissor Singh, the list is
however by no mean exhausted. The mentioned
personalities were great littérateurs and of these
H.K. Singh was not only poet par excellence but he is
also religious reformer in his own right. Born to a
Khasi family whose father was an employee of the
mighty British Empire, the Singhs along with few of
their contemporary were perhaps few lucky educated
khasis. It is said that in those days one can count on
one’s hand the numbers of educated khasis and
H.K.Singh was able to complete his Entrance
examination(equivalent to class 10). H.K. Singh though
born a Khasi was converted to Calvinist faith along
with the whole family while he was studying at a
school in Nongsawlia Sohra. He being an educated and
an ardent quest for spiritual truth was well
acquainted with the traditional animist religion and
read his Bible thoroughly. He read the sacred text
from cover to cover and found that the Bible has only
reinforced his belief in one God, which in fact is a
belief not alien to the Khasis. His studies of the
Bible particularly the Gospels convinced him that
Jesus himself; a true Jews to the last worshiped one
God, which he called Abba. At the same time H.K. Singh
though he discovered that even the Bible and Jesus
teaches about the existence of one true God which is
similar to the belief followed by the Khasi, he
however is reluctant to go back to the Niamtynrai/Seng
Khasi (traditional animist religion) fold for other
theological intricacies.
H.K.Singh was struggling with the new truth that he
had discovered, he was in search of faith or religion,
which worship one true God as well free human from the
bondage of other super natural deities and at long
last his search led him to his goal. By divine
providence he met one Brahmo from (member of Brahmo
Samaj) from Kolkata on a visit to Shillong who
introduced him to Rev. C.H.A. Dahl a Unitarian
Missionary of the American Unitarian stationed at
Kokata (Calcutta). Singh’s contact with Dahl was like
the proverbial ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and
the correspondence between the two has indeed greatly
influenced Singh. The communication between H.K.Singh
and C.H.A. Dahl came to an end only in the demised of
the later, which had shocked Singh and ironically the
tragedy happens only two months before Unitarianism in
this Hills saw the light of the day. H.K. Singh
inspite of all odds went ahead with his plan and
started “Ka Niam Mane Wei Blei” Unitarianism in the
Khasi Jaintia and Karbi Anglong on the 18th of
September 1887.

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