An excerpt from “Clouds of Witnesses”, by Carolyn Nystrom and Mark Noll. Intervarsity Press.
“In the year 1870 in the forested interior of India, a small famly of five tattered but learned pilgrims sits cross-legged under a shade tree near a well-traveled road. The youngest, a girl of about twelve, reads from handwritten Sanskrit the ancient words of sacred Hindu texts. Occasionally, she looks up from the carefully lettered words, gazeds in to the forest and continues to recite from memory, sometimes for an hour or more. If she tires, antoher family member picks up the task – her mother or older brother or sister. Her father, grizzled with age and nearly blind, slumps against a ndarby wall and listens. Hundreds of people pass without a glace. A few stop and listen for a moment, then place small gift on the gorund: a pretty stone, a flower petal, perhaps a few precious grains of rice. Late in the day, the family picks up these offerings, their only earnings, and walks to some other sacred spot. The recivation and reading conintues there. The family has lived this way since their youngest was 6 months old.
In 1892 a small Hindu woman in her mind-thierties sits at a table in the front room of a large honeycombed building called Sharada Sadan, in Pune,India. Her door is open. She reads aloud to her eleven-year-old daughter, who sits next to her. Students, workers and children pass by outside the doorway. Some stop to listen. A few step inside for a moment. Some come back the nxt day and listen again to words read – without comment or explanation – from a Christian Bible. The child of the forest and the woman of the home are the same. Pandita Ramabai, one of India’s most influential Christians of the 20th century.”