Christianity first came to India by way of St. Thomas. He came to Kerala, in southwestern India, and founded the first church. Ironically, Shankaracharya, a Hindu reformer and seer, was born in Kerala some five hundred years after St. Thomas. St. Thomas ended up dying in the Chennai region (then known as Madras) of the Tamils.
Most Christians in India are Catholic (over 60 percent) and a majority of them are found in the south, particularly Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamilnadu. Approximately one-third of Kerala’s population is comprised of Christians and they are involved in all aspects of society.
Contrary to popular belief, British rule had little to do with the growth of Christianity in India. The missionaries generally tended to turn public opinion, even those of the Indian Christians, against foreign rule. Bengali Christian3 in Calcutta were fairly important in their respective areas, whether it was in education, as a leader, or as an opinion-maker.
By tradition, Christianity is said to have arrived in India with Saint Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus. Christ, who spent some years in South India and possibly, died there. However, others believe that the first missionary to arrive in the country was Saint Bartholomew.
Historically, Christian missionary activity started with the advent of Saint Francis Xavier in 1544. He was followed by Portuguese missionaries at first and eventually by missionaries from other – countries like Denmark, Holland, Germany, and Great Britain.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Catholic as well as Protestant missionaries preached Christian doctrines in India and also made important contributions to social improvement and education in India.
Much of the modern influences in Indian society can be attributed to the role of Christianity in India. Christian missionaries helped in setting up schools and colleges all over India and also spread the message of faith and goodwill in the country. Christianity and its teachings influenced a number of intellectuals and thinkers in India, including Mahatma Gandhi. Today, the Christians in India number about 30 million and consist of people from every denomination of Christianity