Andrews, C. F.

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ANDREWS, C. F. (1871–1940), religious leader and social reformer, one of Mahatma Gandhi's closest followers Charles Freer ("Charlie") Andrews was born in 1871 at Newcastle upon Tweed, U.K. In 1893 he graduated from Pembroke College, Cambridge, and in 1897 was ordained into the ministry of the Church of England. Subsequently he was both lecturer and chaplain of Pembroke College and then, in 1903, was appointed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) as a member of the Cambridge Brotherhood in Delhi. In March 1904, Andrews arrived in India to take up a teaching assignment at St. Stephen's College. Andrews and the Indian educator Gopal Krishna Gokhale became friends, and it was Gokhale who first acquainted Andrews with the wrongs of the system of indentured labor and the sufferings of Indians in South Africa. Andrews decided to go to South Africa at the end of 1913 to assist Mahatma M. K. Gandhi in his nonviolent resistance movement, or satyagraha. Upon his arrival in Durban he was met by Gandhi, whereupon Andrews bent down and touched his feet. Of the occasion, Andrews later wrote, "Our hearts met from the first moment we saw one another, and they have remained united by the strongest ties of love ever since."

Another of Andrews's friends was Rabindranath Tagore. Andrews was attracted to Tagore's deep concern for social reform, and eventually Andrews made Tagore's experimental school, Shantiniketan, the "abode of Peace," near Calcutta (Kolkata), his own headquarters. Though Andrews never departed from the Church of England, he did resign from the Brotherhood of the Cambridge Mission. In his own spiritual pilgrimage Andrews was convinced that the cause of Christ was the cause of exploited laborers, rejected outcasts, and those who struggle for work and bread.

After leaving South Africa in July 1914, Andrews traveled to many countries, including Fiji, Japan, Kenya, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), mostly on behalf of Indian laborers. In the 1920s, he became closely involved with the affairs of the All India Trade Union Congress, of which he became president in 1925. In the early 1930s, Andrews assisted Gandhi in preparations for the Round Table Conference in London. But it was Andrews's idea of a minister of reconciliation, first promulgated from Cambridge in 1935, that was unique. Andrews himself was widely acknowledged as a minister of reconciliation wherever he went. Many across the religious spectrum were influenced by Andrews. When he died in Calcutta, on 4 April 1940, his friend Mahatma Gandhi had traveled across India to be at his side.

C. F. Andrews was the author of numerous works, including three books on Mahatma Gandhi. His writings include The Oppression of the Poor (1921); The Indian Problem (1922); The Rise and Growth of Congress in India (1938); and The True India: A Plea for Understanding (1939).

Graham Houghton

See alsoChristian Impact on India, History of ; Gandhi, Mahatma M. K.


Andrews, C. F. The True India: A Plea for Understanding. London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1939.

Eddy, Sherwood. Pathfinders of the World Missionary Crusade. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1945.

Hoyland, John S. C. F. Andrews: Minister of Reconciliation. London: Allenson, 1940.

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Andrews, C. F.

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