Victor Premasagar

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Victor Premasagar
Church Church of South India
See Medak
In office 1983–1992
Predecessor B. G. Prasada Rao
Successor B. P. Sugandhar
Consecration 1983
Personal details
Born (1927-10-14)14 October 1927
Medak, Andhra Pradesh
Died 1 December 2005(2005-12-01) (aged 78)
St. Joseph's General Hospital, Guntur
Previous post General Secretary of the Church of South India

Victor Premasagar (Medak, 1927 – Guntur, 2005) was the fourth successor of Frank Whittaker as Bishop in Medak. He was an Indian churchman and Old Testament scholar. He also became Moderator of the Church of South India.[1]

Early years[edit]

Premasagar was born in Medak and was raised a Christian in what is now the Church of South India. In addition to the ancient Indian epics, his boyhood was filled with stories from the Bible. In the foreword to Promise in the Ancestral Narratives, his doctoral dissertation, Premasagar made mention of the Biblical stories that his mother told during his childhood and the promise they held. He completed his schooling from Wesley School in Secunderabad. It was around this time that he to study divinity.

He completed his college studies from the century-old Andhra-Christian College (under Andhra University), Guntur. His contemporaries there included N.T. Rama Rao[2] (a film actor and later Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh) among others. Premasagar was involved in athletics. Football and tennis being his favourite sport.[7]

Seminary studies[edit]

Victor went to the United Theological College in Bangalore and took his Bachelor of Divinity. While at UTC, Bangalore, his classmates included Rev. Dr. E. C. John (another Old Testament scholar and later the Principal of the United Theological College), Rev. Dr. Sam Amirtham (a renowned figure in the World Council of Churches), Rev. N. D. Anandarao Samuel (Bishop-in-Krishna Godavari and Moderator of the Church of South India in the 1970s), Rev. Dr. C. D. Jathanna (another Old Testament scholar who later was the Principal of Karnataka Theological College as well as Bishop-in-Karnataka Central of the Church of South India) among others.


After graduation, the Church of South India first posted him to a rural congregation.

Post-graduate studies and lecturership[edit]

In due course of time, he was sent to Cambridge University where he continued to study the Old Testament and was awarded the Cambridge tripos.

After returning from Cambridge, he undertook teaching the Old Testament in the Andhra Christian Theological College (ACTC) in the river town of Rajahmundry.

Doctoral studies and return[edit]

Later, the Board of Governors of ACTC accorded him study leave which Rev. Premasagar used to go to St. Andrews University, Scotland for further studies of the Old Testament. He studied in St Mary's College and was awarded a PhD. Afterwards, he returned to ACTC to continue his teaching and later became its first Indian Principal.

Together with his wife Mrs. Daisy, they saw to the needs of the students, the staff, and to the faculty. Mrs. Daisy's nursing skills gained in England were put to use. On invitation from Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, in the United States of America, he took sabbatical from ACTC to teach there for a year. On his return, the Board of Governors was pleased to extend the term of Principalship by two more terms. Rev. Dr. K. David, a New Testament scholar succeeded Dr. Premasagar at ACTC.


While continuing to serve at ACTC, he was elected as the General Secretary of the Synod of the CSI based in Chennai. Later, he was elected as the Bishop-in-Medak, Asia's largest Anglican bishopric. It was at this time that indigenous methods were devised and put into practice for raising funds from the local congregations for supporting Church programmes which was met with widespread success.


During the 21st synod ( 13–18 January) 1988 of the CSI held in American College, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, he was elected[3] as the Moderator of the Church of South India. He was instrumental in bringing rapid development of the Church – congregation-wise as well as in its social action.

As for the educational institutions in the diocese of Medak, schools were made to adapt to modern trends to face the changing pattern. St. George's Grammar School, Wesley College and other educational institutions were modernised during Premasagar's tenure.

In the year 1983, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom came to Hyderabad. On 20 November 1983, the Queen celebrated her 36th wedding anniversary in the Holy Trinity Church in Bolarum, Secunderabad.[4] The Church service was officiated by Bishop Premasagar and his ministerial colleagues Rev. B. Prabhakar Rao and Rev. B. P. Sugandhar, the present Bishop-in-Medak and the Moderator of the CSI.

Lambeth Conference[edit]

The Bishops of the Church of South India are invited to the decennial Lambeth Conference held at the Lambeth Palace, the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London. Rev. Premasagar attended the eleventh and twelfth conferences in 1978 and 1988 respectively.

Bible Society of India[edit]

Premasagar was a translator for the Bible Society of India (BSI) in its Telugu Bible Common Language Translation Programme since the 1970s. He headed the Translations Committee of the Bible Society of India Andhra Pradesh Auxiliary till the 1990s and then was followed by Rev. G. Babu Rao, his colleague while at ACTC. Premasagar was also the President of the Bible Society of India headquartered in Bangalore for a long period.


After retirement from the bishopric, Rev. Ryder Devapriyam, Bishop-in-Nandyal and a former colleague of Rev. Premasagar while at ACTC, succeeded him as the Moderator while Rev. B. P. Sugandhar, Presbyter-in-charge of Church of St John the Baptist, Secunderabad became the Bishop-in-Medak.

Post-retirement, Premasagar spent about a year at the Presbyterian Church of Wales as an invitee[5] On his return to India, Premasagar taught part-time at ACTC. He was later invited by Dr. K. Rajaratnam,[6] Director of Gurukul Lutheran Theological College, Chennai to teach and guide doctoral students and was Professor Emeritus of Old Testament.

In 2000, Premasagar accepted an to become Principal of Bethel Bible College, Guntur,[citation needed] where he taught until his death at St. Joseph's Hospital, Guntur on 1 December 2005.[7]

Works and legacy[edit]

He wrote several articles in scholarly journals and in other popular Church magazines. He also wrote:

  • He emptied Himself – Bible Studies on Jesus Christ Frees and Unites', The Christian Literature Society, Chennai, 1976[8]
  • Promise in the Ancestral Narratives: A theme of the early Hebrew traditions, The Christian Literature Society, Chennai, 2000[9]
  • Interpretive Diary of a Bishop – Indian Experience in Translation and Interpretation of some Biblical passages, The Christian Literature Society, Chennai, 2002[10]

Some essays were written in his honour (festschrift) commemorating his shastipoorthi (completion of sixty years) and brought into a book entitled:

  • The Church on the move – Edited by H.S. Wilson,[11] The Christian Literature Society, Chennai, 2002[12]
Educational offices
Preceded by
Saral K. Chatterjee
President Senate of Serampore College
Succeeded by
C. D. Jathanna
Academic offices
Preceded by
W. D. Coleman and W. P. Peery
Principal of Andhra Christian Theological College
Succeeded by
Komaravalli David
Preceded by
W. D. Coleman
Professor of Old Testament
Succeeded by
G. Babu Rao
Other offices
Preceded by
D. L. Gopalaratnam
General Secretary of the Synod of Church of South India
Succeeded by
M. Azaraiah[15]
Religious titles
Preceded by
B. G. Prasada Rao[15]
Bishop in Medak
Succeeded by
B. P. Sugandhar[15]
Preceded by
Sundar Clarke[15]
Deputy Moderator
Church of South India

Succeeded by
D. Pothirajulu[15]
Preceded by
I. Jesudason[15]
Church of South India

Succeeded by
Bird Ryder Devapriam[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Former bishop passes away, The Hindu, 12 December 2005
  2. ^ It is interesting to note that after a year of Dr. Premasagar's consecration as the Bishop in Medak, his college-mate, Sri N.T.R. became a Chief Minister. Soon, a visit to the Cathedral in Medak was arranged followed by a public meeting in the Church compound – photo study from the Bishop's archives.
  3. ^ CSI Church.NET [1] Sad News
  4. ^ The Holy Trinity Church [2] Queen's Visit
  5. ^ The Presbyterian Church of Wales
  6. ^ Gurukul Lutheran Theological College [3] Director's page
  7. ^ The Hindu [4] 12 December 2005
  8. ^ Merging Currents [5] Books on Christianity in India, Hinduism and Indian culture and history. Retrieved 23 April 2006.
  9. ^ Merging Currents [6] Books on Christianity in India, Hinduism and Indian culture and history. Retrieved 23 April 2006.
  10. ^ Merging Currents [7] Books on Christianity in India, Hinduism and Indian culture and history. Retrieved 23 April 2006.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Merging Currents [8] Books on Christianity in India, Hinduism and Indian culture and history. Retrieved 23 April 2006.
  13. ^ Presidents of the Senate
  14. ^ H. S. Wilson (Edited), The Church on the Move, Essays in honour of Victor Premasagar, Christian Literature Society, Madras, 1988, [9]
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h K. M. George, Church of South India: life in union, 1947–1997, Jointly published by Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and Christava Sahitya Samithi, Tiruvalla, 1999. [10]