Chatterjee in 2013
|Home town||London, England|
Aroup Chatterjee (born 23 June 1958) is a British Indian author and physician. He was born in Calcutta, and moved to the United Kingdom in 1985. He is the author of the book Mother Teresa: The Untold Story (originally published as Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict), a work which challenges the widespread regard of Mother Teresa as a symbol of philanthropy and selflessness.
Chatterjee's criticism inspired the documentary Hell's Angel that was shown on Channel 4, a British television channel. The documentary was written by a well-known critic of Mother Teresa, Christopher Hitchens, who co-produced it with journalist and filmmaker Tariq Ali. Chatterjee and Hitchens were the two Devil's advocates, or hostile witnesses to Catholic Church procedures for the beatification of Mother Teresa in 2003.
Life and career
Chatterjee was born in 1958 and raised in the district of Calcutta, India, moving to the United Kingdom in 1985. In the 1970s and 1980s while studying at Calcutta Medical College he worked part-time for a left-wing political party campaigning against poverty and later worked at a hospital where he regularly treated patients from the oldest and poorest districts of the city as well as refugees from the civil war with what is now Bangladesh. Later while living in the UK he became concerned by the increasingly common portrayal of the widespread destitution and disease in his native Calcutta which stemmed from press reporting of the work of Mother Teresa. At that point he describes his attitude to Mother Teresa as "If anything, I was positively inclined towards her" although he says he never saw any of her nuns in the slums. However it was this image at odds with his own experience as a doctor in Calcutta that caused him to look more closely at her work and reputation.
|“||I was mystified and perturbed. So I wanted to look into it ... still I thought she was a superb lady who was not faultless, but somehow, this image of Calcutta had permeated the world imagery. I thought it was probably a kind of offshoot or a corollary of her image and it was not her doing.||”|
From the 1990s onwards he began to uncover what he calls a "cult of suffering" which Mother Teresa and her followers in the Missionaries of Charity were running back in Calcutta supported by her friend Pope John Paul II. In February 1993 Chatterjee sent a proposal for a short documentary to Vanya Del Borgo, associate producer of Bandung Productions which was owned by Tariq Ali. The proposal was passed to a Channel 4 commissioner who approved it, and Del Borgo with Chatterjee's proposal began work, approaching journalist and author Christopher Hitchens to write and present it. The documentary became the 1994 film Hell's Angel. Chatterjee found the documentary "too sensationalist" and Hitchens went on to write his book The Missionary Position. Chatterjee spent the next year travelling and interviewing people who had worked closely with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity and began to campaign against the conditions in Nirmal Hriday, also known as the Kalighat Home for the Dying in Calcutta. In particular he heard stories of lack of basic hygiene, the absence of any pain medication and the frequent reuse of hypodermic needles. Chatterjee then began work on a book, eventually released by Meteor Books in 2002 under the original title Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict. Chatterjee says in addition to the hours of interviews, "I started in pre Internet days and I spent months in libraries in London. I also travelled the world researching it. I followed slum dwellers, beggars, destitute children with a video camera. I interviewed hundreds of people. I stood with video camera outside Teresa's home for hours."
Following the publication of his book Chatterjee continued to speak out against what he calls the "bogus and fantastic figure" of Mother Teresa, acting as Devil's advocate in the process of her sainthood. He continues to work as a physician in London where he lives with his Irish wife, who was raised as a Roman Catholic, and their three children.
Mother Teresa: The Untold Story
In December 2002 independent publisher Meteor Books, owned by Bhagbat Chakraborty, published Chatterjee's book under the title Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict. In 2016 the same book was reissued under a new title, Mother Teresa: The Untold Story by Fingerprint! publishers after being taken up by literary agent Kanishka Gupta. The book covers her life and her rise to fame following the documentary Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge, the Calcutta home for the dying and the practices of running it, the non-consensual death bed baptisms of Hindus and Muslims, the pathetic hygienic practices in the homes run by her, her very limited connections with Kolkata and the masses and the vast amount of financial donations given to the charity but not spent at Nirmal Hriday. He covers her Nobel Peace Prize and the speech in which she claimed to have saved tens of thousands of destitute people; Chatterjee estimates in his book the real number was 700. He also writes about the celebrities and the powerful people who had audiences with her, and the controversies surrounding the money she accepted from dictators such as Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier, convicted fraudster Charles Keating and disgraced publisher Robert Maxwell. The book looks at the worldwide reach of the Missionaries of Charity and examines the available evidence for her financial accounts along with her personal crusade against abortion and contraception. He blames the West, especially the United States of America, for creating her benevolent image as a savior in the backdrops of a ravaged sub continent. The final chapters address her death, funeral and beatification and Chatterjee's own involvement as an official devil's advocate or hostile witness and the transcripts of the proceedings. Chatterjee sums up his view of Mother Teresa's life's work as:
|“||Principally, she was a ... medieval ideologue – who taught that abortion had to be banned at any cost. And any means could serve to achieve that end. That was her.||”|
The self-published book has been praised for the content but has been criticized for its editorial errors. Times Higher Education praised the book as necessary and well-documented, which could have been improved with editing. The Irish Times praised the content and advocated for its wide dissemination in light of its seriousness but noted Chatterjee's personal agenda to have undermines the credibility. It criticized the book for suffering from glaring errors of syntax, missing words, repetitions et al and for his often contradictory assertions.A review by Tim Challies praised the extensive documentation in the book consisting of multitude of examples; though noting the shoddy organizing, as a result of being self-published. The Socialist Review favorably received it as "a valuable contribution to unmasking the real Teresa".
The Telegraph praised the 2016 reprint as a brutally honest and relentlessly scathing read which gives readers an impartial point of view. A review in The Quint described it as a disconcerting book that had exhaustive details and consisted of laborious arguments though parts of it did appear to be inarticulate rants and failed to be objective.
On the path to Mother Teresa's sainthood, a process Chatterjee has described as "a superstitious, black magic ceremony", Chatterjee acted as one of two official Devil's advocates during the process of her beatification in 2003, the other being Christopher Hitchens. In order to begin the requirements of beatification, the first step on the way to sainthood, the Catholic Church was required to announce a first miracle ascribed to Mother Teresa, which it did on 1 December 2002, the alleged miraculous cure of Monica Besra of a cyst caused by tuberculosis. Chatterjee pointed out the cure was a result of medical treatment Besra received from Superintendent of the Balurghat Hospital and not the placing of metal jewellery on her body. His position was also confirmed by her doctor Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, speaking of the nine months of drugs and treatment he provided: "I've said several times that she was cured by the treatment." Initially both Besra and her husband called the miracle "a hoax," as did Prabir Ghosh from the Kolkata Humanist Association, who runs a programme raising awareness of holy men who dupe ordinary Indians into paying for supposed miracle cures. During the process, the Catholic Church allows consultation with doubters where the miracle is contested. In his book, Chatterjee details his deposition to the committee, his correspondence with the official postulator Brian Kolodiejchuk, and the transcripts of his questions and answers.
- Crawley, William (26 August 2010). "Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict?". BBC. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
- Dutta, Krishna (16 May 2003). "Saint of the gutters with friends in high places". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
- Schultz, Kai. "A Critic's Lonely Quest". New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- IANS. "Mother Teresa's sainthood deeply flawed". Times of India. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Dutta, Krishna. "Saint of the gutters with friends in high places". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Gonzales, Hemley. "Chatterjee and Hemley discuss Mother Teresa". missionariesofcharity.wordpress.com. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Mehta, Hemant. "Listen to Christopher Hitchens Eviscerate Mother Teresa's Legacy in This 1994 Documentary". Friendly Atheist. Patheos. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Kinchin, David. "Book Review: An Unquenchable Thirst". Huntington News. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Holznagel, Fritz. "Mother Teresa, the Saint of Calcutta?". Who2 Biographies. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Gillett, George. "The West's big lie about Mother Teresa". The Salon. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Bhaumik, Subir; Ganguly, Meenakshi. "Seeker of Souls". Time Magazine. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- B, Sandeep. "Is canonising Mother Teresa Vatican's strategy to gain ground in India?". Firstpost.com. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- NAW Staff. "NAW Interview with Aroup Chatterjee". New Asian Writing. Archived from the original on 10 November 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Sherwood, Harriet. "Mother Teresa to become saint amid criticism over miracles and missionaries". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Chaudary, Dr. T. Hanuman. "Review Of Aroup Chatterjee's 'Mother Teresa: The Untold Story'". Swarajya. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- AFP. "Mother Teresa's legacy under cloud as sainthood nears". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- Stone, Michael. "Mother Teresa Brags About Coerced Deathbed Conversions". Progressive Secular Humanist. Patheos. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "Mother Teresa: How Saintly Was the 'Saint of the Gutters'?". The Quint. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
- "Saint of the gutters with friends in high places". Times Higher Education (THE). 16 May 2003. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
- Cooke, Bill (2004). "Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict" (PDF). Free Inquiry. 24 (6): 54–55. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Campbell, Mícheál. "It's a sin". Socialist Review. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- Mathews Thomas, Prince. "Pointing Fingers At Mother Teresa's Heirs". Forbes. Forbes Media LLC. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "Under the microscope". The Irish Times. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
- Challies, Tim (16 August 2005). "Book Review - Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict". Tim Challies. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
- "It's a Sin". Socialist Review. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
- "The secret lives of saints". www.telegraphindia.com. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
- Crawley, William. "Will and Testament". BBC. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- Rohde, David. "Her Legacy: Acceptance And Doubts Of a Miracle". New York Times. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- Gowen, Annie. "The Vatican believes Mother Teresa cured this woman". Washington Post. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- Orr, David. "Medicine cured 'miracle' woman – not Mother Teresa, say doctors". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- Chatterjee, Aroup (2016). Mother Teresa: The Untold Story. Fingerprint!. ISBN 8175993316.