In England, in 1539, Henry VIII published the Great Bible. This was the first official Bible in English and the new freedom it gave Englishman to read the Scriptures for themselves started a revolution in religion, education, science, literature and politics.
England had one universal language with just 26 characters.
India has not one, but 18 main languages, with 96 subsidiary languages. In total there are 212 languages with 10,000 speakers or more.(1) Some languages have up to 700 characters.
Serampore was the epicentre of William Carey's heroic efforts to bring the Scriptures to all the people of India. His spirit is still very much alive at Serampore today and this web site is intended to capture some of that spirit for internet visitors, and to illustrate the Serampore Story from what survives in Calcutta and Serampore today in a surprisingly unchanged state.
1). Calcutta is today Kolkata.
2). Serampore is today Srirampur.
3). Lower Circular Road is today Acharyya Jagadish Chandra Bose Road, or AJC Bose Road for short.
4). The Old Mission Chapel is now Serampore John Nagar Baptist Church.
5). The Lal Bazaar Chapel is now Carey Baptist Church.
6). The Calcutta Mission was previously called the Calcutta Union.
7). Circular Road Baptist Chapel was previously called the Union Chapel and then Lower Circular Road Baptist Church. With the change in road name to A.J.C. Bose Road it has now reverted to its original name of Circular Road Baptist Chapel.
8). The Calcutta Mission (or Calcutta Union) was founded in 1818 by missionaries who came to be known as the 'Junior Brethren'. All had been sent originally to Serampore by the BMS. Carey visited the Mission many times (John Clark Marshman and oral tradition at the Mission) and all the 'Junior Brethren' greatly respected him as their inspiration.
9). John Mack was a graduate of Edinburgh University who then trained for the ministry at the Bristol Baptist Academy. He was recruited by William Ward, in 1821, to be the first professor at Serampore College.
10). 'John Clark Marshman, 1857.' refers to 'The Life and Times of Carey, Marshman and Ward, embracing the History of the Serampore Mission', Volumes 1 and 2, by John Clark Marshman. London. Longman, Brown, Green, Longman, Roberts, 1859. Both volumes are now Google Books.
11). If you wish to hear the kak-kak bird, with its neighbours, just click on this link. It was recorded at 3.30am, on a pocket camera, from a window at Carey House. It is in the form of a Quicktime movie (9mb, apologies for the crackles). The bird looks like a crow and woke this particular visitor at 3.30am every morning. It makes the same noise all day during the mating season.
12). This site has been created by a son whose parents and uncle devoted their working lives to the success of the Calcutta Mission.
I would like to thank Edward and Rosemary Williams of the 'Friends of Serampore' without whose friendly advice this trip would not have been possible; Dr. and Mrs. Lalchungnunga, the Principal of Serampore College, and his wife, for being such gracious and understanding hosts; the Rev. David McLellan and Suzanne Linnell of the BMS World Mission for helping to arrange my visit to Kolkata; Mr. Gosh and Anu Khan at the Mission Guest House, Kolkata, for their kind hospitality; Rev. David Rout of Circular Road Baptist Church for his warm welcome; Pastor Nehru Tete of Carey Baptist Church, Kolkata, and the Pastor of Serampore John Nagar Baptist Church, for their kind assistance.
The little camera that made it all possible.
1. Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore.