About William Carey
William Carey, whose name this university commemorates, was an extra-ordinary English missionary who contributed much than what is traditionally known as “mission” work in India. Known today as the “father of modern missions” he was a pioneer of social and educational initiatives that continue even stronger today.
Carey was educationally unqualified having left school at twelve to become a cobbler’s apprentice. But he founded the Serampore College in West Bengal, India which was the first degree-granting institution in Asia. The King of Denmark granted a royal charter in 1827 to provide education in the arts and sciences. The college also helped to train Indian ministers for the church. So respected a scholar he was that Fort William College, Calcutta invited him to be a professor. Carey initiated around 100 rural schools mainly encouraging the education of girls.
William Carey was a linguist. He become a lover of the Bengali language and also recognized the importance of Sanskrit, especially for the translation of the Bible into various Indian languages. Carey studied Sanskrit and even translated parts of the Ramayana into English. He is credited for reviving the Sanskrit and Bengali language. Rabindranath Tagore, wrote: “I must acknowledge that whatever has been done towards the revival of the Bengali language and its improvement must be attributed to Dr. Carey and his colleagues. Carey was the pioneer of the revived interest in the vernaculars.”
Carey started a printing press from where came translations of the Bible in Bengali, Sanskrit, and other major languages and dialects. In his lifetime, the press printed and distributed the Bible in whole or part in 44 languages and dialects. William Carey also had a hand in starting the Statesman, India’s first newspaper. This began with as a weekly publication “The Friend of India” continuing today as a respected national daily newspaper.
Little is written about William Carey and his contribution to Indian agriculture and horticulture. He was the founder of the Agriculture and Horticultural Society of India. Self taught through experience, he wrote about the improvement of land by encouraging a “superior mode of cultivation”, rotations of crops and the use of waste lands for cultivation. He also introduced the concept of the saving bank to assist poor farmers improve their produce.
William Carey pioneered action against the questionable social practices such as infanticide and sati-the rite of a woman burning herself on her husband’s funeral fire. Along with his colleagues, John Marshman and Ward, he joined with the Hindu reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy to bring about abortion. Carey researched Hindu scriptures and showed that sati was a rite simply encouraged as a virtue and not a duty.
William Carey leaves a rich legacy behind – an educationist, a linguist, an environmentalist, a social reformer and the list goes on. His motto was expect great things from God, Attempt great things for God.