Printing Press


*Ivo da Conceiçao SOUZA

The first publication was Con­clusoes (p.7); Doutrina Christã by Francis Xavier in 1557 (Fran­cisco de Sousa mentions that a tract on Doutrina Christã was composed by Francis Xavier for the benefit of children, and printed in Goa in 1557 (OrConquistado, con.1, 1, 23, p.18). Juan de Bustamante is the pioneer of the art of printing in India. In 1563, his name was changed to João Rodrigues (p.9). He died on August 23, 1588. An Indian was sent by the King of Portugal, “able printer” (Hábil Impressor); with Juan de Bustamante was João Gonsalves, Spaniard who prepared the first types of an Indian script–blacksmith specially skilled in the manufacture of clocks (Sousa, Con.1,2,33, p.81) (cf.pp.14-23, books published in the College of S.Paul). Puranna in the College of Rachol in 1616 and 1649 and in the College of St.Paul in the year 1654 (p.12): ”It appears possible that this was the same press as was operated at the College of St.Paul in the island of Goa, and that it was moved between that island and Rachol as required from time to time” (p.17). The books of Thomas Stephens and Diogo Ribeiro; in 1674, Regras da Companhia de Jesus, Rules of the Society of Jesus was the last one. A copy is available in the Pei-T’ang Library, Peking (p.23).

The first printing press was sent to Abyssinia, Africa, in 1515, but as the Government was against the missionaries it did not reach there. The press came to Goa on September 6, 1556, to St.Paul’s College, Old Goa. The Jesuit D.João Nunes Barreto, the Patriarch of Ethyopia, left Portugal, on March 30, 1556 and reached Goa on September 6, Sunday, 1556, with the Spanish Jesuit Brother, Juan Bustamante. Thus, the printing press in Old Goa was the first in Goa and in the whole of Asia.

On November 6, 1556, the first ever publication, in the form of leaflets, “Conclusoes Publicas de Logica e Philosophia, Proferidas No Colegio” (A synopsis of the Theses) in Logic and Philosophy, to be defended by two alumni of the Jesuit College of St.Paul, Old Goa, was printed. The Theses, which were earlier hand-written, were now printed and glued to the door of the church and sent to the Dominicans and the Franciscans, and dis­tributed to whoever wished to have a copy. (Cf.Joseph Wicki, SJ, Documenta Indica, vol.3, 13, 575). The defence of the Thesis (soutenance) was attended by “many monks of both monasteries (Dominicans and Franciscans), and physicians and learned men of this city and many other people and nobility (fidalgos)”. There were speeches by many outsiders. Among them, a Portuguese soldier gave a speech in Greek in praise of the Society of Jesus and satisfied the participants. It lasted till night (Letter of Brother Aires Brandao, dated November 29, 1556, to Fathers and Brothers of Portugal).

In 1557, the Spanish Joao Bustamante, together with an Indian/Goan, published the first book. Later on, he printed the “Catecismo de Doutrina Christa“, written in Konkani? by St.Francis Xavier or a professor; and then “Confessionario”, a guide for confession by D. Joao Nunes Barreto, was printed. Later, in 1561, “Compendio Espiritual da Vida Christa” of the first Archbishop, D.Gaspar de Leao Pereira (1560-1570 and 1574-1576) was printed by Joao de Quinquenio (cf.Central Library); and ”Colloquios dos simples e drogas medicinaes” by Dr.Garcia de Orta was printed in 1563 by Joao de Endem.

A Catechism in Konkani, in Roman characters, prepared or translated by Goan young people, was printed ten years before Fr.Thomas Stephens came to Goa. The same press was shifted to the College of St.Paul in the Arches or New College of St.Rock, Old Goa.

A Goan student of St.Paul’s College, perhaps the instructor of Fr.Thomas Stephens in Konkani, prepared a Konkani Grammar, “Arte“, which was never published. He also wrote a Catechism, which was published later on.

The Jesuits did not know yet the Konkani language. Only in 1561, some young people taught them Konkani through the Gramar, “Arte“. A book which was in the form of a MS. was ”Historia de Jesus Christo“, composed by St.Francis Xavier in Japan, with the help of Paulo de Santa Fe, his companion, was printed in the press of the College of St.Paul.

The same printing press of St.Paul’s in Old Goa was shifted to the Seminary of Rachol (cf.Anant Kakba Priolkar, The printing press in India.Its beginnings and early development, with a forerd by Shri Chintaman D.Deshmukh, and an historical essay on the konkani language by Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara, trans­lated from the Portuguese by Fr.Theophilus Lobo, Bombay: Tip.Marathi Samshodana Mandala, 1958, XVIII, 363 pp. [review in Archivum Historicum Societatis Jesu, Ano XXIX, Janeiro-Junho, 1959]).

The first book to be printed and published at the College of Rachol in Roman characters was Christian Purana (or Discurso sobre a Vinda de Jesus Cristo Nosso Salvador ao Mundo, “Discourse on the Coming of Jesus Christ Our Saviour to the World”) in 1616 by Thomas Stephens, the first Englishman in India, written in the literary and spoken language of Goa, in literary Marathi, in poetic form. It was sung by the people at the sound of Ghumott. Later on, it was edited twice in 1649 and 1654, but no copy of both these editions is to be found till this date. It was re-imprinted in our century by Saldanha, Mangalore (no extant copy is recorded). Christa Purana has a special place in Marathi literature. Fr.Stephens stayed in Vasai for two years where he wrote his epic poem expresing his link to Vasai. He died in Goa at the age of 70 in the year 1619, cf.The East Indian Journal, vol.24, no.7, p.2).

The last one was Regras da Companhia de Jesus (Rules of the Society of Jesus) in 1674. The printing press was there since 1616 till 1674.

It was followed by his Doutrina Christam em Lingua Bramana Canarim (1622)–a work on Christian doctrine, written by Fr.Thomas Stephens in the dialect spoken by the Brahmins of Goa, in Roman characters and in the form of a dialogue. In 1945 Dr.Mariano Saldanha photoimpressed it (fac-simile) in Lisbon as “Doutrina Crista em Lingua Concani pelo Padre Tomas Estevao”.

(Stephens was the first Englishman to arrive to India…)

The Arte da Lingoa Canarim (Grammar of Canarim language) (1640)–originally written in Roman characters by Fr. Thomas Stephens, later revised, enlarged and published in the College of Rachol in 1640 by his pupil, Fr.Diogo Ribeiro. It was meant to teach the missionaries the Konkani/Canarim language for preparing them to evangelize the villages of Salsete. There are three copies of this grammar in the School of Oriental Studies (London Library), Biblioteca Nacional (Lisbon) and in Biblioteca de Evora (city of Évora, Portugal). A second edition of this book was published by Joaquim Heliodoro da Cunha Rivara in 1867 in Goa.