Dr. Teotonio R. de Souza, Historian
Teotonio R. de Souza, Goa to Me, New Delhi: Concept Publ. Co., 1994 (ISBN 81-7022-504-3). Foreword by Prof. C. R. Boxer. Illustrations by Mario Miranda. Pp. 174. An autobiographical introduction, 10 essays, and the bibliography of the author.
It is not by mere accident that the title of this book bears a resemblance to Emily Hahn’s China to me (N.Y., 1944). I had heard of the book and the ripples it made when it appeared. I have also been a guest of the author at her home in U.K., whenever I drop in to greet my old friend and mentor Prof. Charles Boxer and to update my knowledge about the latest in the Portuguese expansion history. When Prof. Boxer sent me the text of the Foreword, I was not decided about the title, neither had I informed him about any provisional one. I was thinking about it, when another good friend Bob Newman, an American anthropologist and a friend of India of the Peace Corps times, dropped in on his usual surprise visits and brought me a gift, which he thought I would surely appreciate. It was Emily Hahn’s China to me. It decided for me what I should call my book of collected essays, but there would be no 60 chapters, neither would it run into 424 pages, nor would it be a new book.
Goa to me brings together ten dispersed essays out of all that I published during the past two decades. The readers looking for the kind of stuff that precedes and follows the Battle of Shouson Hill in Emily Hahn’s partial autobiography may feel left somewhat in the cold. To save them from total disappointment I thought of providing a unifying backdrop for the contents, for my involvement in historical research, for my concerns underlying the choice of the themes, and for my style of formulation of the essays in the form of an autobiographical introduction. It is hoped that this feature will make it more of a lived history, rather than an abstract description of historical scenarios. My autobiographical disclosures may lack the spice of the challenging mix of the flippant and heroic romance of China to me, but it may not be devoid of some weak parallels. The dedication of this book may hide one such parallel. If Emily Hahn’s Charles “walked, and talked and drank like an Army officer”, while he was decidedly not “a straight military type”, the same has been said or kept prudently unsaid by many who have known the author of the present book. They may wonder how he has retained his affiliation to the Society of Jesus this long, crossing a quarter century, and handling responsible jobs as a solemnly professed member of the Order. That is one of the secrets of the success of the Order which knows to recognise the frailty as well as the heroic ingredients of the human nature. Perhaps I was able to display some heroism and considerable achievement in spite of my many frailties, all because of this magnanimous approach of the Order.
However, while the Order has to go on exercising its charism, an individual member may need to respond to the calls of his conscience elsewhere. Perseverance in vocation is stressed in the culture of the Orders as a important grace, because it is necessary for the survival of the Orders. But it can also become for some of its members a virtuous cover for security of undisturbed life and professional success, or for shunning the embarrassment of being accused of inconsistency of character, if not something worse. I hold in high esteem some of the Jesuits known to me and who had the courage of conviction to opt out. Such decisions have helped these individuals to accept sincerely the need for change with changed circumstances in their lives, but they have also helped often to purify those who opted to continue their commitment in the Order.
The essays selected for this book may not have found and may still not win the approval of some who wish to see Goa differently. But this is Goa to me. I hope that my autobiographical disclosures, even though partial, will enable those whose sentiments may have been hurt by my writings and research activities over the past many years to adopt a more forgiving or sympathetic attitude. But this is no plea to seek indulgence for my follies, both past and those to come. I confess that I do not consider myself a superhuman “Paulist” of 16th century Goan fame, and much less an angel incarnate. However, I could claim in all sincerity that I have relentlessly sought to understand the bends and twists of life, both personal and of the community at various levels, and sought to make a positive contribution to it. Obviously, my own life has been the point of departure for these efforts, and as such, it has coloured and shaped the process. There has been much in it, as one would say, to write home about, but it has not been without a share of tragedy (in the original Greek sense of the term). No borrowed wisdom seems to suffice to discern how far one is letting things happen to oneself, rather than directing the course of events that make one’s life. That is where the tragedy and the implied nemesis come in. In spite of having lived for over quarter of a century in the Society of Jesus with its dominant western and rational culture, the oriental in me cannot help sharing with oriental Jesus the tendency to believe in the hour that has come or has not come.
I shall try to be less abstract: My Goa to me began unfolding itself in a Goan village in the late forties. It was a village with the unsavoury privilege of being qualified for a kind of wisdom that did not fit in the accepted categories of normality. But because of that the inhabitants of Moirá have gained a privileged niche in the local folklore. No one would be surprised if they heard of a Moidekar manuring the foundations of his Church to see it grow, or to see him opening another hole at the bottom of a canoe to let out the water seeping in, and so on and so forth. Someone, who pretends to be too wise and demanding, is also condemned by the traditional Goan folk wisdom to belong to the company of the wise fools of Moirá. This is quite picturesquely expressed in the local proverb — Ragar fugar zali, xekim Moiddea kazar zali — conveying the fate of a girl who tried to be extra choosy, and ended up marrying a Moidekar! The only redeeming feature about the village inhabitants was that they produced a very special and much wanted variety of bananas! However, a sympathetic observer wishing to go beyond the stereotypes could discover a village of hard-working people, and with a marked ability to occupy respectable public positions while pursuing routine agricultural and other activities that required a manner of dress and attire that jarred sharply with the white collar mentality of the middle classes. To a Moidekar it was a routine change from his kashty (loin cloth) to the office suit and vice-versa.
My grandfather, ganvkar of the fifth vangad of the village, was at least a 10th generation Catholic descendant of Shantappa Kamat, who became Diogo de Souza after his conversion to Christianity early in the seventeenth century. Joaquim Rosário de Souza, who had no formal education, neither did he see the need of any for his children, was quite conversant with Portuguese administrative jargon. No interested village ganvkar felt confident to proceed with the periodic auctioning of the paddy fields if “Lam Jaku” ( Tall Joaquim) or “Jaku Tiu” (Uncle Joaquim), as my grandfather was respectfully or affectionately called, was not available to check the correctness of the field measurements. It might take a modern expert a bit longer today to calculate as fast as he did without any aid of paper and pen or calculators. Thirty years after the death of the octogenarian, his more or less illustrious descendants are still better known in the village as children or grandchildren of Lam Jaku! He never drank liquor in excess, but he had the choicest vocabulary of bad words in Konkani and Konkanized Portuguese (though never in public ) against those who belonged to the “pants-wearing” class, or calção-kar as he termed it! He wore them also, along with a Nehru-cut black judi. But that was because the Portuguese law required it for those entering the capital or a provincial town. Lam Jaku would get rid of these sartorial requisites as soon as he had finished his job in the town and crossed the town limits to return home. It was from him that I learned my first lessons of Goan history. Besides, as a child till five or six years of age, I would only sleep in the lap of my grandma. Her folk tales were a great attraction. But I do not remember having heard a complete story ever! After the exhaustion of day’s pranks it was too difficult to keep awake that long.
My grandfather had Rosário as his second name, and my grandma was Maria Rosária Pinto. From them both, who were also my godparents, I inherited my second name, but more importantly they had sown in me a love for my culture. Close to the ground and the fields, my grandmother assisted me in identifying and naming in my mother-tongue at least nine different types of ants! It may sound ridiculous, but I have never ceased giving the Goan ants a special place in my understanding of Goan culture. All the more so, because I have not been able as yet to find so many entomological designations for those ants in Portuguese language or in English. An umlo, a domlo, a katt-mui, a ganed’di mui, a danvteri mui, a chabkuri mui, valloi and pott-valloi, and the nests of un’na were an integral part of my Goa to me, even though they troubled me often as a child with down to earth occupations.
My father was the third child and the second son of Lam Jaku, who had seven children as did his parents. Luis Caetano was the only son who frequented the parish school on his own initiative, and he learned to read and write with books donated by his friendly companions. But with no further encouragement at home he had to discontinue his studies in order to join the other siblings in the fields. The joint efforts of the family earned them no more than Rs. 14 per week during the best of times. After reserving about Rs. 300 for paying the annual land revenue to the State, they had little left to think of anything beyond subsistence. It was through an elderly neighbour working in Hyderabad that my father found his way to the city of Nizam as a hotel boy and started on a monthly salary of Rs. 15. After six years in Hyderabad he shifted to Bombay hotels obtaining a pay rise of Rs. 70. With his earnings he helped his parents to pay at least half of the annual dues to the State, as well as to meet other extraordinary home expenses and to pay the dowries to marry his three younger sisters. As a result he had no savings when he decided in 1942 to marry a Goan girl he had never met before. But this young bride from the island village of Malar and with many educated people and high clergy in the family and among her relatives brought a new sense of discipline and literacy awareness into the family of her in-laws. To her relatively enlightened outlook, the life with the in-laws was a torture, and more so when she had to bring up her two sons without the assistance of the husband, who had succeeded in migrating to Kuwait in 1949 in search of better prospects. My elder brother Calisto was six then, and myself a toddler of two. Our only sister Milagrina (Christie) would arrive four years later when the life conditions had brightened a little with some shine of the Kuwaiti dinars. But soon would come the “economic blockade” imposed by Indian authorities and the tax imposed by the Portuguese authorities on the remittances of the emigrants. We were doubly hit and some other circumstances would make it harder at times. I remember one such instance: My mother never let us know the problems of the adults, and would always spare a Rupee each to me and to my brother on the village feast day to purchase whatever we wished in the fair. In 1955 her purse was picked in the town market on the eve of the village feast. She had nothing left to give us, and I observed her sobbing and praying before the family oratory. Next morning she had conjured two rupees for her sons. Obviously she had borrowed them from a neighbour. My brother spent his rupee in the fair as usual, but I decided to return my one rupee to my mother giving a silly reason for my action. I still remember her grateful eyes, but she said nothing. It was only some years ago before she died recently (1991) that I narrated that incident to her only to realise that she had never forgotten my act of good sense at that early age.
If I have gone into narrating the above details, it is chiefly to introduce the life conditions that prevailed in a Goan village. Mine was not an isolated lot. It was rather a representative picture of the great majority of the village people. It was truly the “idiocy of the rural life”, to borrow an expression from Karl Marx. One could count on one’s finger-tips the families in the village doing well for themselves. These were closely associated with the Portuguese administration, and some of them had even acquired a colour change. The other reason for narrating some very personal experiences is to disclose one crucial factor that shaped my future for me: A rather premature ability to observe my surroundings and to draw my conclusions. It has been a boon and a bane of my life. I could sense that something was terribly amiss with the village life. I could see that my mother could make some headway in directing our family affairs only to the extent she sought and obtained help and patronage of some of the rich families of the village. I had as a school mate a son of one of these families while doing my Portuguese primary studies. His parents patronised us the most, but it should go to their credit that they never made us feel humiliated for that. But since my colleague came from a Portuguese speaking family, I could hardly compete with him in studying a language that was entirely alien to my home culture, despite the “specialised” vocabulary of my grandfather. But even so I did fairly and comparably well. This acted as a catalyst in my decision to join the seminary after completing the primary studies at the age of 10. Why seminary ? My school mate was going there, and hence my continued desire to gain at least some equality with him. I also believed very innocently then that the priests in the seminary would do more justice to me. There was another important reason and that is intimately bound up with my Goa to me: The only other educational alternatives after primary studies, were the private English high school in the village and the Portuguese Lyceum in the capital city of Panjim. The first alternative was viable and my brother opted for it. But I was aware of the additional economic burden on my parents had I too done the same. The second alternative was ruled out for a village boy of my means. If one knows the medieval means of public transport in Goa of those days, even with some money one was discouraged from frequenting Panjim every day; and the privilege of finding residential quarters in the capital was not for the lesser mortals. Hence, the seminary was the only hope for the ambitious of the low middle class. The studies were subsidised with scholarships. Many flocked to the seminary from all corners of Goa, and many abandoned it with equal hurry or at different stages. But my personal background advised a calculated perseverance. I was only ten years old when I joined, and I feared to return to the rural idiocy. Hence I persevered, completed the minor seminary studies, and donned the soutane to enter the major seminary. By then the liberation of Goa had taken place, and it also had a deep impact on my personal surroundings and life. I could see the heretofore ruling families of our village visibly collapsing into social insignificance. A new sense of self dignity was felt by the rural folk and they could see this translated in the new political scenario that began to unfold itself. Educational facilities became more widely available, and there was a sudden spurt of development as never seen before. I could see the impact of this change also reflected in the attitude of the priests in the seminary. Some of them too saw no future for their pretensions and for providing preferential treatment to some students coming from certain prominent families, specially those with influential tio-padres (uncle priests). In this process I experienced suddenly a greater appreciation of my intellectual capabilities, and from a mediocre scorer I had become urso do curso (luminary of the class) as my late and distinguished teacher of Portuguese literature, Rev. Filinto Cristo Dias, expressed in public once. There had to be a break of the entire system to bring about such a change of attitudes and opportunities. And I was confirmed in my assessment of the situation even as a child. But that did not make me less of a victim of that system. Even after the system had vanished, and fresh wind was blowing, the scars would remain and also some internal wounds to be healed.
Poor diet, though rich in carbohydrates (rice in the morning, rice in the evening, rice at every meal and also in between meals), was greatly responsible for the weak body formation and little resistance to diseases. Problems connected with hygiene were part of the idiocy of rural life. Medical facilities were primitive, and my brother and myself had to be taken to Bombay via Majali and Karwar to undergo operations for tonsilitis. Actually, it was only recommended for my brother, but to save a possible repetition of costs with another trip, my tonsils were taken away as well. That was in 1959. It is very likely that the nature took its revenge, and a couple of years later I was struck by streptococci. Without immediate diagnosis and treatment for the rheumatic fever in the seminary boarding, I was left somewhat handicapped for life. The heart murmur had set in, and its one visible effect was my inability to keep up with my mad interest in playing football. Till then my life in the seminary had been great fun: No time or interest for Latin or other studies, but I had all the time for planning football tournaments. By four o’clock in the afternoon I would start enlisting team mates and pumping football! I had no sympathy for those colleagues who showed no interest in joining my team or at least the opponent team. There was always a sizable number of such colleagues who preferred to do garden work or just go for walks. But the damage to my mitral heart valve turned the tables on me: I joined the company of the evening walkers. However, one positive result of it all was that it dawned on me that I would have to study better to compensate. My performance improved dramatically from then onwards. The changed socio-political scenario described earlier had enhanced the change within me.
I have mentioned two factors that brought about my enlightenment. I cannot ignore yet another that lay dormant and to which I had till then refused to pay heed: It was my mother. I have already referred to her background and her concerns. She was also a very pious lady, who was determined to bring up her children in traditional religious ways. Praying the rosary was a daily evening ritual before we could get our meal. The monotonous ritual usually put me to sleep, and it was my mother’s problem afterwards to wake me up sufficiently to find my mouth to eat. But even before the recitation of the rosary, we had yet another item on the daily routine. Our outdoor games had to end at the ringing of the Church bell for Angelus around sunset, and then my mother would sit with me and my brother to make us repeat some of the formulas of the catechism. This too we did with great reluctance. And at the end of that session she would admonish us about various current issues at home or about our behaviour outdoors. One refrain was never absent: “Unless you study, you will be fit only to drive bullock cart”! I never liked to hear that compliment, and I had even developed the habit of irritating her by blocking my ears with my fingers. But she persisted with the routine despite her many other occupations till I joined the seminary. As a result of my resistance her admonitions sank deeper into me, and they remained in my subconscious till the ground was ripe for them to show positive result. What had convinced me more than her instructions were the sincerity of her concern for her children, and the burden and worries she endured bravely without our father to assist her physically during all those difficult years. As a good “third world mother” she died prematurely of sheer exhaustion. Aided by these memories, my respect for her never allowed me to add to her sufferings while she lived, even when I knew that I had to take certain life decisions which I considered overdue. Even a suggestion of it once threw her into fits: She had raised the public image of the family with so much care and pains. How could I let her down? That is what her reaction implied. My father would always stand by her, even when she was wrong. But left to himself, he let us do what we deemed right. He is no less pious and traditional, but his wider exposure to the world beyond Goa made him more liberal and less hypertense. He has crossed 80 and is blessed to continue possessing the earth!
Rachol seminary has a history of its own, and I became part of it when I lived and studied philosophy there for three years. I went there because I did not have sufficient courage to go anywhere else. My Portuguese studies of the seminary were not going to be of much acceptance in the new changed academic scenario of Goa after liberation. I would have to start English studies afresh. My best bet was to continue and keep looking out for a promising break. As dictated by my enlightenment I performed very well in my studies, but my inner tensions and worry about the future took much of the cheer out of my life. The rheumatic heart grew more rheumatic under such depression. I experienced frequent fits of giddiness. I alone knew what was causing them. I had also assessed the limited avenues for personal growth as a diocesan priest in Goa. I was desperately looking for an escape route.
Every seminary has a “spiritual director”, and Rachol seminary had a tradition of having a resident Jesuit to do that job. Originally it was a Jesuit college and from there the Jesuits fanned out to the whole of Salcete to implant Christianity. Some of them paid a heavy price for it, but not without extracting a heavy price from many natives as well. The contents of this book will go into the merits of this contentious issue. The suppression of the Society of Jesus by Marquis of Pombal was not entirely delinked from it, and my colleague Dr. Charles Borges has discussed it at length in his doctoral dissertation on the “Economics of Goa Jesuits before Suppression, 1542-1759”. But I was quite ignorant then of all the implications of the Jesuit zeal in Goan history or of European expansion in general. While in Rachol seminary I came to know two Jesuits and both impressed me by their zeal and competence. One of them was a bearded care-taker of the relics of St. Francis Xavier. He preached a retreat to the seminarians. But another Jesuit was resident as spiritual father and impressed me by his ability to master Konkani language and to contribute with words and music to the renewal of the Church liturgy in the wake of the second Vatican Council. I confided to him the reasons for my dissatisfaction, and he promptly saw in me a likely candidate for his Order. Besides, the Jesuits of Goa were just then planning to inaugurate a new Novitiate house in Belgaum. It suited my needs. I would have the desired break, and I could hope to switch on to formation in English and perhaps would make it to a college degree. My brother had by then completed his degree in Science at St. Xavier’s College in Bombay, and I did not want to be left behind only with the traditional Goan clerical formation.
I had come to the end of my studies of philosophy at Rachol. I went to inform the Rector that I was planning to discontinue my stay in the seminary to join the Jesuits. I did not get an impression that he would lose his sleep because of it, but he was polite enough to tell me that the doors would remain open if I decided to change my mind. There was no question of my changing my mind. It was not an opportunity to be missed and quick action followed. The seminarians were attending the consecration of the new Vicar Apostolic of Goa, Mgr. F.X. Rebelo, at the See Cathedral in Old Goa, and the Jesuit Provincial Superior would be present. It was arranged for me to meet him there. I had found out that he descended partly from my village. This little detail made me feel more at ease. My admission was decided on the spot. The required formalities followed, and in June of 1967 I was leaving my family with my small trunk and a violin to join the Jesuit Novitiate in Desur near Belgaum. It was the end of one big chapter in my life. I felt the loss of some of my dear colleagues with whom I had shared my life for over a decade. But I realised over time that real friends are never lost. And after 25 years even my link with Rachol seminary was revived when I was asked by the Archbishop-Patriarch to assist in the setting up of a Museum of Christian Art in the premises of the seminary. It gave me an opportunity in 1991 to prepare the first ever illustrated inventory of most of the art objects in the diocese. This inventory set the rest of the project in motion and I look forward to its success and steady growth. I see it as yet another positive consequence of the bends and twists in my life.
I may have given an impression that my every move was a calculated move and purely utilitarian. It was never exactly so. Noble ideals, including even dreams of dying a martyr, have not been absent at some stages of my training in the two seminaries. But I began to understand slowly that these were not truly expressions of a healthy sublimation, neither my drive to achieve name and fame was a way of seeking a healthy compensation. There was a yawning gap left in the emotional growth by a forced long jump from childhood into adulthood, or from the womb to the tomb, to quote a counsellor friend who described this problem of child vocations to celibate priesthood. I can still recall the weekly exhortations of the spiritual father in the minor seminary harping on the need to control immoral thoughts, and to avoid looking at provocative nude or seminude pictures and the like. Such exhortations were all the more intense on the eve of mid-term and summer vacations. I do not recall having had any anxiety about sex before I joined the seminary. The seminary formation succeeded in implanting and nurturing obsessions that left me struggling during years and years that followed to rectify the damage done and to regain a positive approach to sexuality and to relationship with women. Only my happy experiences of childhood contributed to minimise the damage. Fortunately the seminaries today are more aware of these problems and recruit persons who have grown through normal adolescence in normal life situations. If some seminaries still do not do this, they are likely to perpetuate the evils of celibacy, instead of promoting it as the noblest expression of commitment to serve others beyond one’s choice.
I could breathe more freely in every possible way in the new surroundings and style of life in the Jesuit Novitiate. The Novitiate programme provided the calm that my nerves badly required. Most of my companions were comparatively younger than me in age, in academic formation, as well as in experiences of religious training. Hence, I was not required to go through the usual stages of the Jesuit training, such as Juniorate or Regency. I was asked to enroll myself in the Pontifical Athenaeum in Poona soon after the first two years of Novitiate to revise my studies of philosophy and to obtain a Licentiate degree in one year. It was a tall order for someone whose seminary training in philosophical studies was largely restricted to memorising definitions in Latin. Under the cover of badly understood Latin there was only a heap of philosophical ignorance and pretensions. I was qualified with accessit in these! At the Athenaeum it was different. I could appreciate the value of philosophical training, and I performed too well even for my own expectations. Even before I knew it, the Dean of the Faculty had approached my Provincial Superior to seek his permission to spare me for the teaching staff. Though such an invitation would be eagerly accepted by many, it held no attraction for me.
I had set my heart on graduating myself in History at the University. I needed to have the training that would qualify me to find satisfactory answers to what I had grown to understand as historical questions that had affected my life in Goa to me. I conveyed to the Superiors my disinterest in teaching philosophy, and I was granted permission to enroll for M.A. in History at the University of Poona on condition that I would at least consider teaching Church History. I had learned to cross a bridge when I came to it. So I agreed to consider the suggestion. The University of Poona was very considerate in those days to grant equivalence to the Licentiate degree of the Athenaeum, and I was allowed to join. It was for me the beginning of the realisation of a dream, specially against the background of no educational training in English. In the seminary we were taught English as a second language, and it was only in the Jesuit Novitiate that I had mastered the written and spoken English.
I concluded yet another phase of studies with flying colours, scoring the highest marks that year in the Faculty of Arts and being eligible for some prizes of the University as well as a Junior Research Fellowship of the University Grants Commission if I wished to start research leading to Ph.D. The Department of History regarded that as a credit also to itself, and the Head of the Department showed keen interest in my future studies. One major block was to obtain a clearence of my Superiors. It was not a common practice in those days to allow a Jesuit at this stage to pursue doctoral studies. However, the insistence of the University professor who offered to guide my research finally prevailed, but only after he had personally discussed the matter with my Superiors. This intervention of Prof. A. R. Kulkarni set me quite decisively on the road to my achievements in my career as a historian. He has ever since remained my guru, and accompanied me with a paternal concern.
I had shifted my base to Goa in 1972 to utilise the documentation available in the Goa State Archives and other public libraries. I had at last the opportunity to clarify for myself the historical legacy that had affected and shaped my life in so many ways. The first essay selected for inclusion in this book is also the longest one. It had to be so, because it represents the hard core of my research contribution to Goa’s history. It was a gratifying experience to see that my Medieval Goa (1979) was received internationally with very positive reviews. The first English edition is sold out and the book is still in demand and its Portuguese version is due to be out. What happened much before that in a quiet way was more important. That was in 1973, while I was at a Jesuit High School residence in Goa. A new Provincial Superior, Fr. Romuald de Souza, a Columbia trained clinical psychologist, whom I had never met before he came to discuss my progress and life plans. He had done his home-work and knew about my reluctance to be on the teaching staff of the Pontifical Athenaeum. To my great surprise he considered it as a very hopeful sign! He explained to me his plans to raise the level of the Jesuit educational involvement in Goa. If I would cooperate, he would create facilities for an historical research institute in Goa. I could not think of anything better. It just fitted into my scheme of things. The seed of the Xavier Centre of Historical Research was thus sown, and the germination process started.
I was allowed to pay my first visit to European archives at the end of that same year. It turned out to be a more memorable visit because it coincided with the end of the Salazar era in Portugal on 25th of April 1974. It augured well for my historical concerns. It led to improvement of relations between Portugal and India, and I could more easily return to Portugal in 1977 to seek the backing of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for our plans in Goa. The planning for the institute continued at various levels, and I was personally involved at every stage of it. It was during this process that I came under strong influence of Fr. Romuald de Souza, and I grew in the understanding of Jesuit ways of planning and executing. The third person whose influence was greatly beneficial in my formation was Fr. John Correia-Afonso, a Jesuit with vast experience of administration in the Society of Jesus, as one time Provincial Superior of Bombay Jesuits, Principal of St. Xavier’s College (Bombay) more than once, and as Counsellor and Secretary to the General of the Society of Jesus in Rome. It was in his capacity as Director of the Heras Institute of Indian History and Culture (Bombay) that I had to deal with him and seek his collaboration with our plans. We had decided that he should be officially the first Director of the new Institute in Goa, while I would be an Associate Director attending to the ordinary running of the Institute in Goa. This arrangement was necessary because I had still to complete the required priestly formation in theology in Poona and get myself ordained.
While the professional planning was progressing marvellously well, my personal life was running on a different track, and the two never synchronised well despite apparent harmony. I had no choice but to silence the inner crying of my conscience in order to sustain the progress on professional front. This did not prevent me from performing very well once again at the academic level in theological formation. However, I was not convinced or enamoured of the contents of most of the Church dogmas, with the exception of the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus, and some others beliefs. Even in these cases my understanding certainly differed and differs from the official explanations. I wonder if this is a proper place to discuss the mystery of Holy Trinity, but considering my understanding of it, any place should be good for it. It seems to convey one central need of human society, namely the need to accept hierarchy of functions and yet function as a unified whole with mutual concern and love. It makes great sense to me, but I am not sure if anything I have read in treatises of theology or heard in many eloquent sermons has ever helped me to appreciate the message of this central mystery. I never saw the usefulness of raising any serious questions on these issues, knowing well the fundamentalist backlash that could affect my prospects at this stage. On this and many other scores things do not seem to have changed greatly since the days of Jesus. In spite of my just mentioned reluctance to pronounce on these matters I could not resist being drawn into the acitivities of the Ecumenical Association of the Third World Theologians, but more as a historian than as a theologian. This should suffice to clarify my stands in some of the essays in this book, as well as in several others that figure in my list of writings appended to it.
The Xavier Centre of Historical Research came officially into existence in 1977, but it ceased to be only on the paper in November 1979. It marked the realisation of my life dream. It moved from strength to strength and by 1986 the Goa University could not ignore its merits. It was granted affiliation and could enroll scholars for doctoral research under my orientation. Two of these early candidates have already qualified themselves. More achievements can be read in the published annual reports of the Institute and its research publications are widely in circulation. Despite strong initial resistance from various lay persons that sought to block the project at official and unofficial levels, the institute continued its march of progress, and in the course of time many older opponents became its best supporters. I have to confess that a change of my own personal attitudes was required to bring about such an improvement in relations. Also many historical prejudices against the Jesuits in Goa had to be allayed. This should also shed light on what may be considered by my own Jesuit colleagues and traditional Christian well-wishers of the Institute as an unwarranted and over-critical assessment of the Church history or Jesuit history. However, in adopting such stands for the sake of strategy I have at no stage chosen to sacrifice historical truth, or preferred one bias for another.
I do, however, owe an open apology to our former Portuguese colonizers. My early writings were too harsh on them and I tended to attribute to them more evils than those for which they may have been responsible. My feelings of hostility directed against the present-day descendants of the colonizers were certainly misplaced. However, I wish that they will understand it as my over-reaction to my own past and not entirely to theirs. In the process of two decades of research and closer personal contacts with the Portuguese helped me to realise that there were our well-wishers among them, while many enemies of our people came also from within. This continues to be the reality till date. Some of my writings, including a couple of essays in this book, illustrate this point. Positively, we owe it to the Portuguese to have exposed us to the wider world much earlier than many other people of our country and subcontinent. This does not apply only to the Christians of Goa, though these are at times mistakenly and maliciously regarded by some communally-biased political interests as the chief beneficiaries and even collaborators of the former colonial masters. Many of my writings, starting with Medieval Goa have thoroughly proved the contrary had often been true.
I would be failing in my duty if I did not record here my gratitude to many friends who have effectively backed and even suffered in many ways to enable me to make the positive contribution I could make to my people and to the world of knowledge at large. I can mention among these Fr. Josef Übelmesser, S.J. (Germany) and Fr. Kilian Hönle and friends from Süssen (Germany), as well as Rev. Dr. Bacelar e Oliveira, S.J. and Dr. José Blanco (Portugal). Closer at home some have already been mentioned earlier in these pages. I still need to mention a former provincial superior, Fr. Leslie Almeida, S.J. who stood by me most patiently when I had already come to a road block in life ten years ago. Whether the time was gained or lost is more for the others to judge, but I have seen its many benefits. Fr. Charles Borges, S.J. has been a supportive colleague at work and a friend since 1981 through many difficult times and situations. Fr. Cajetan Coelho, S.J. and Fr. Délio Mendonça, S.J. are two junior colleagues whose serious involvement in historical research has relieved greatly my worries about the future of the Institute. I cherish more their most sypathetic sharing of my problems and willingness to help out within their possibilities. There have been a few other persons who sustained me emotionally and otherwise at various stages of my life. I know that they do not wish to be named here, but I can never forget their concern and their contribution to my personal growth. To one of them this book is dedicated, as an acknowledgement of my past failures and shortcomings, and a promise to rectify them. It is for this very reason that Goa to me has a special significance at this juncture. I wish to present this book also as my homage to Goa and to the new Goa Province of the Society of Jesus, both of which I have loved and served with all my heart and mind, and to the point of forgetting my soul, even if this should appear questionable to some in certain contexts. But I should leave it to history to clarify. Despite its shortcomings, it is a better judge of our actions and intentions, achievements and failures. I do believe in historical objectivity. It is a sum total of the subjective reconstructions of individual historians. I shall leave the readers with Goa to me, my insider’s viewpoints and contribution to an eventual objective history of my land and my people. If one needs to know the historian for understanding what he writes, I hope I have come to the assistance of the reader in this respect. Village communities and their Lam Jaku, western missionaries with the State backing and their white colonial superiority vis-à-vis the milagristas of Fr. Joseph Vaz and their native approach, the Panjim-based Mhamai sarkar vis-à-vis Calcutta-Macau-Bombay based opium dealer Rogerio de Faria who yearned for his native pátria, the Ranes of Goan folklore, and a Church that was reduced to a willing or helpless handmaid of the colonial masters, are an assorted presentation for understanding the complex texture of the history and culture of Goa as it has evolved till our own days.
Postscript: Prof. Dr. Teotonio R. de Souza opted out of the Society of Jesus and was granted dispensation by the Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacrementorum of the Vatican (Proc. No.15/95/S) on 1 August 1995. He has sinced married Elvira A. Correia, a Mozambique-born Goan from Moirá. Teotonio R. de Souza is presently Head of the Department of History at the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias in Lisbon. Teotonio de Souza has been a Member of the Portuguese Academy of History since 1983, and continues actively interested in Goan history and culture.
His present address and contacts:
R. Manuel Martins da Hora, 4, Lt-17, 7º Esq
1750-172 Lisboa — Portugal
Mobile: 91 761 82 08
An updated list of writings: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/1503/teo_publ.html