In most of the democratic countries, right to practice religion is given under its constitution or the legislative body or the apex court. There are many religions followed by different people in the world. Christianity is practiced by the maximum number of people which is around 2.1 billion.1
India is a secular and democratic country. That means that it gives its citizens right to practice religion. The government of India conducted a census that revealed that there were 24 million Christians living in India.2 India till date does not have a uniform civil code and therefore the origin and sources of Christian law become important as to determine and form an different act for Christians in accordance with their personal laws. They also become important as in common law countries, customs are considered a major part in the formation of laws.
Christianity developed out of Judaism in the 1st century C.E. It is founded on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and those who follow him are called “Christians.”3 Christianity originated in the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born circa 4 B.C.E. in Roman-occupied Palestine, a Jewish province of the Roman Empire.
The first century of the Common Era was a time of political instability, insurgency, and suffering. Poverty, taxation, famine, and epidemics of disease had made life intolerable for many. When Jesus of Nazareth gave sermons based on his teachings then many of these people believed him, mostly due to the conditions and their surrounding environment.
Sources of Christianity are many. The much accepted version is that Christianity relied on the Sacred Oral Tradition of what Jesus had said and done, as reported by his Apostles and Disciples. Apostles who had witnessed Jesus’s teachings travelled around the Mediterranean basin, where they established churches and began oral traditions in various places, such as Jerusalem, Antioch, Caesarea, and Ephesus, all cities with sizable Jewish populations. These oral traditions were later written down as gospels.4 The Bible was compiled later by great wise men on the basis of the New Testament and also is an important source of Christianity.
There are claims by many historians that Apostle Thomas5 had visited India but the main concept of Christianity originated during the colonial British period in which many missionaries propagated the religion of Christianity to the poor and the downtrodden. This research paper will therefore focus on origin of Christianity, sources and application of Christian law in India.
Religious change, social conflict and legal competition: the emergence of Christian personal law in colonial India by Nandini Chaterjee published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. In this book the author talks about the development of Christian personal law in colonial India. The author states that you though Christianity existed long before the British took control of India, there were no legislation’s or concept of established personal laws for that matter and as India was a diverse country, a uniform civil code would have been really tough to establish and would be deemed unjust by some communities therefore the British established the concept of personal laws in personal matters such as Marriage, property succession, children and inheritance. The author also argues that the laws present today regulating Christian personal life have been made on the basis of the colonial laws which were developed by the British though there are some improvements made by the Indian legislature.
” In trying to discover who the Indian Christians were, and what laws ought to apply to them, British judges had perforce to reflect on who the ‘British’ were, whilst also dealing with conflicting collective claims made by Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, and Christians themselves about their own identity and religious rights.”
This is a line from the abstract from this book which highlights the dilemma and the legal requirements of a British judge trying to determine the legal validity of claims made by Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis and the laws that governed them.
Law for Christians in Contemporary India by Sarasu Esther Thomas is a book which touches almost all aspects of Christian personal law. It can be treated as a textbook on Indian Christian Law and touches all aspects including adoption, divorce death, inheritance, wills, marriage, same sex relationships, guardianship, maintenance and the author also talks about Dalit Christians and also conversion to Christianity.
· To determine the origin and source of Christian law in India
· To learn about the origin of Christianity in India.
· To learn about the different legislation developed in the interest of Christian personal law in India.
· To learn about the application of Christian personal law in India.
· Did Christian personal law originated in colonial India?
· Is the application of Christian personal law successful in India or is it facing problems due to loopholes in legislation?
The researcher assumes that there is a need for better phrased Christian personal law in India as the current legislation is filled with loopholes. Also the researcher believes that Christian personal law originated in the colonial British era in India.
2.3 Christianity in India
3. Colonial Period in India
3.1 Origin of Christian personal laws
3.2 Application of Christian personal laws
4. Independent India
4.1 Development of Christian personal laws
4.2 Legislations passed on Christian laws
4.3 Current day application of Christian personal laws
1 Dr Stephen Juan 6 Oct 2006 at 11:07 tweet_btn(), What are the most widely practiced religions of the world? The Register® – Biting the hand that feeds IT, https://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/10/06/the_odd_body_religion/ (last visited Jan 24, 2018)
2 Orgi, Religion Census of India: Religion, http://censusindia.gov.in/Census_And_You/religion.aspx (last visited Jan 24, 2018).
3Christianity Origins, Christianity History, Christianity Beliefs, Patheos, http://www.patheos.com/library/christianity (last visited Jan 24, 2018).
4 Bible, (2018), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible#Development (last visited Jan 25, 2018).
5Robert Eric Frykenberg, Christianity in India, http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-87/christianity-in-india.html (last visited Jan 24, 2018).