The Legacy of William Carey

by Vishal and Ruth Mangalwadi

William Carey founded the Serampore Mission near Calcutta, India, in 1800. Parts of this biography were prepared to commemorate that event. The work of Carey has paled over the years, but his imprint on the life and culture of India can never be erased.

The life of William Carey is one of sweetness and bitterness. When he announced his intention to go to India in the late 1700s, his wife stated that she had no intention of taking her five children to a country that so lacked in English culture and conveniences. She finally relented, but Carey's life was one of misery and turmoil because of his wife's ill health and the death of his five-year old son.

Despite difficulties and the opposition of the British government (which then ruled India), Carey was able to see evil practices eliminated and the plight of women alleviated to some degree. As a result of Carey's leadership, the British government finally outlawed sati, the custom of burning the surviving wife on her dead husband's funeral pyre.

Carey's contributions range from encouragement of female education, striving to eliminate the caste system (especially for the untouchables) and medical and humane treatment of lepers.

The authors also cite Carey's firm belief in divine creation. If the world came into existence through blind chance, then chaos and disorganization are the norm. On the other hand, if humanity and the universe were the result of divine creation, then that creation implied a Creator who was concerned with His creation. The land, the environment, and humanity were to be treated with dignity and care.

In the final pages, the authors express their belief that modern India is lapsing into its pre-Carey culture. This culture dehumanizes society and brute force will eventually resurface.