Aaron C. (1698 - d.)

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Birthplace: Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, India
Death: (Date and location unknown)
Managed by: Dev Khare
Last Updated:
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About Aaron C.

The Satthianadhans and the Clarkes, Bishop Sundar Clarke traces, descend from the first Indian to be ordained a Protestant pastor. C. Arumugam, born in 1698 in Cuddalore, was baptised in 1718 by Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg in Tranquebar and christened S. Aaron. The next year he became a catechist and on December 28, 1733, was ordained a pastor. Aaron had four daughters and one of them married G. Devasahayam Pillai. Their daughter married John Devasahayam who was ordained in 1896 the first Indian Anglican priest. The Devasahayams' daughter married William Thomas Satthianadhan, whom many felt should have become the first Indian Anglican Bishop. But those were still British times, and so Rev. Satthianadhan established a different precedent.

Aaron, born in a Saivite family in Cuddalore in 1698, was named Arumugam by his father, Chokkanatha Pillai, a well-to-do merchant who failed. When the Tranquebar Lutheran Mission - the first Protestant mission in India - established a school in front of his house, Arumugam was on his way to becoming Aaron. He was one of the first students of the school and learnt from Tamil books printed in Tranquebar - the first educational texts printed in the country.

In 1718, he went to Tranquebar to be baptised by Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg, who had pioneered Protestant missionary activity in India, and on 28-12-1733 was ordained a minister at the New Jerusalem Church there. A German newspaper report described the Rev. Aaron as "the first coloured Protestant pastor in the whole world".

The erudite Rev. Sundar Clarke, the Church of South India's Bishop of Madras in the 1980s, has descended from one of the daughters of the Rev. Aaron. Her son, John Devasahayam, was the first South Indian to be ordained into the Anglican Church. Since that Ordination on November 2, 1830, there have been six successive generations of the Devasahayam family who have served the Anglican Church as pastors. Yet, when their ancestor the Rev. Aaron was trying to persuade the Tranquebar Mission to ordain more Indian members of the church as priests in the early 18th Century, it was a suggestion discouraged by one of those whose writings are to be recalled this afternoon.

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Aaron C.'s Timeline

1698
1698
Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, India
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