Introduction / History
For thousands of years in Hindu society, "sudra" or "shudra" was a reference to those of the servant caste. These people have always held the lowest status. Among these communities are the Namassej, or Namasudra people. The vast majority live in West Bengal and other places where Hinduism is dominant, but some live in Bhutan, where Tibetan Buddhism erases caste distinctions.
Where are they located?
They are found all over West Bengal, northeast Indian states and to some extent all over India. But very few are found in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and many in Bangladesh. A few are found in Bhutan, one of India's neighbors to the north.
What are their lives like?
Their cultural life is very much like an average Bengali. They are hard-working, very lively, enthusiastic, and conscious of their own identity. They were also very honest, but after the division of India their economic condition has great deterioration. The number of people with higher education has been low. They are engaged in all kinds of professions, but those living in villages are engaged in agriculture. A very small number of their population is doing government and private jobs.
What are their beliefs?
The Namasudras practice folk Hinduism, venerating their ancestors and family gods. They once had a spiritual reformation when one religious leader tried to bring egalitarianism and justice to Hinduism. His son and other descendants took charge of his unfinished work, but it did not go far.
Less than half a percent follow Jesus, despite some promising developments in the early to mid 20th century. These Bengali-speakers do have a full Bible translation in their language. They also have audio versions of the Scriptures, as well as the JESUS Film, tracts, Christian radio programs and more.
What are their needs?
Their basic need is for economic restoration and socio-political rehabilitation. A large section of this community is living below poverty line, lacking all kinds of infrastructural facilities. They need economic boosting, jobs, better accommodations and better social acceptance.
Pray that God will reveal to the Namasudras how much the true and living God loves them.
Pray that soon they will be discipled in the ways of the one with the "true name" who gave his life to save sinners and provide abundant life.
Text source: Keith Carey