Christians in South Indian Villages, 1959-2009
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More About This Title Christians in South Indian Villages, 1959-2009


A discerning study of a slice of modern Indian Christianity and Christian-Hindu encounter

This book revisits South Indian Christian communities that were studied in 1959 and written about in Village Christians and Hindu Culture (1968). In 1959 the future of these village congregations was uncertain. Would they grow through conversions or slowly dissolve into the larger Hindu society around them?

John Carman and Chilkuri Vasantha Rao’s carefully gathered research fifty years later reveals both the decline of many older congregations and the surprising emergence of new Pentecostal and Baptist churches that emphasize the healing power of Christ. Significantly, the new congregations largely cut across caste lines, including both high castes and outcastes (Dalits).

Carman and Vasantha Rao pay particular attention to the social, political, and religious environment of these Indian village Christians, including their adaptation of indigenous Hindu practices into their Christian faith and observances.


John B. Carman, former director of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University, is professor emeritus of comparative religion at Harvard Divinity School. His previous works include The Theology of Ramanuja: An Essay in Interreligious Understanding.

Chilkuri Vasantha Rao is principal of Andhra Christian Theological College, Hyderabad, India.


Sathianathan Clarke
— author of Dalits and Christianity
"John B. Carman and Chilkuri Vasantha Rao here offer a vivid, thick, weighty, careful, and insightful analysis of on-the-ground Christianity in rural South India without ignoring the changing, passionate, and creative macro-dynamics that fuel Christianity as a global religion. . . . This must-read book brings to light and life the understudied workings of lived local religion in all its complexity, vitality, and fecundity."

Paul D. Wiebe
— author of The Colors of the Mennonites in Andhra Pradesh
"In this book Carman and Vasantha Rao show what has happened to Christians in Telangana over the last fifty years. . . . It leaves us not only with generalizations about what is happening but also with rich and colorful insights into the everyday lives of the villagers themselves. Powerful."

Susan Billington Harper
— author of In the Shadow of the Mahatma
"A compelling portrait of how an evolving village Christianity continues to meet yearnings for divine protection and blessing in rural South India. Carman, Vasantha Rao, and their team of student assistants have collected useful data concerning continuity and change in village Christian (and Hindu) beliefs and practices over the past half century."

Journal of the Asia Adventist Seminary
"I highly recommend Christians in South Indian Villages to every reader interested in learning more about Indian Christian history. The book will elucidate the life, rituals, beliefs, and challenges of Christians in South Indian villages particularly in the Wadiaram pastorate in the Telangana state."

Chronicle of Higher Education
"Examines the decline of some older Christian communities in rural south India . . . along with the rise of new Pentecostal and Baptist congregations."

Mission Today
"Throws much light on small groups of Telangana Christians struggling to maintain their faith amidst numerous trials, attractions and competing interests."