Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sunday Blessings;Sadhu Sundar Singh : A Christian Ascetic Holy Man

Sundar Singh was born into a rich landowning family of Punjab on Sept 3,1889. He lived a life of comfort and ease and received his education at a Christian High School in order to learn English.His mother used to take him to a sadhu (holy man) living in a nearby jungle who taught him the holy scriptures and religious traditions. Sundar sat at the feet of the hermit, drinking in the wonders of Eastern philosophy and religion.His mother's sudden death affected the young boy deeply . Anger and disillusionment erupted in Sundar's heart. This often took the form of violence against Christians and missionaries connected with his school. He started taking great pleasure in ridiculing and persecuting Christians, especially new converts. In a blatant act of hatred, Sundar bought a Bible, tore it up, and burned it page by page as his friends watched the spectacle.Three nights later, his soul seeped in bitterness, Sundar decided to commit suicide. A fast train passed by on the railway tracks near his house at 4 o' clock every morning. He would lay on the tracks and let it pass over him; that would be the end.Contemplating his predicament, he got up to take his last bath. While bathing, he looked up to the star-speckled sky and, addressing the Unknown God, cried out, "God, if you really exist, reveal yourself to me." Then he lay down on his bed, waiting for the morning to dawn.He was suddenly awakened by a blinding light and saw a vision of Christ. who looked at him with love and compassion and showed him his nail pierced hands and feet. The dazed Sundar fell down at Christ’s feet in worship and adoration. His heart overflowing with joy and excitement, the 14-year-old lad ran to his father and told him about this vision of Jesus.The elder, staunch Sikh man chided his son, saying it was a figment of his imagination and that he should shun every thought of a foreign God. But Sundar would not budge from his faith and determined to follow Christ, whom he had seen face to face.His conservative Sikh family used various ploys to destroy his newly found faith. Unable to do so, they even tried to poison him. Sundar was finally disowned by his family and driven away from home as converting to Christianity bought great shame to the clan. He lived in a Christian community, and at the age of sixteen he was baptized in the hill town of Shimla.After that, he donned the yellow robes of a sadhu (a holy ascetic man) and set out on foot to traverse the length and breadth of India and the neighboring countries to spread the message of Christ. On his journey he would beg for food. At night, he found shelter under a tree. He had many strange and miraculous encounters with people who appeared to be angels or outlaws, and he once found that he had slept with a cobra.At first, the Christians of North India were suspicious of his liberal ways, but they soon found out that Sadhu Sundar Singh was a devoted follower of Christ. They gave him the title of "the apostle with the bleeding feet." He received a lot of public attention in the cities he visited. People wanted to elevate him, but he responded by saying ,”I am not worthy to follow in the steps of my Lord ... but, like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him, I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all men of the love of God."In his missionary journeys, he traversed the entire sub-continent, even Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Afghanistan, and Tibet. He spoke of meeting a 300-year-old Christian hermit in a cave on the snowy slopes of the Himalayas. Both men spent several weeks together in fellowship. The sadhu was not welcome in Tibet after he shared the gospel message. As on many other occasions, he was beaten, stoned, and left to die but miraculously survived. Once, he was sewn up in the dry skin of a yak and left out in the blazing sun to die of suffocation, hunger, and thirst. But at nightfall, a man who appeared to be an angel of the Lord came and rescued him and sent him on his way.Nothing is clear about his death. In April 1929, he set off into the Himalayas to visit Tibet again as well as places of Hindu pilgrimage. He was last seen in a small hill town of Kalka, after which he disappeared. He never returned. His biographers say he died on the frigid terrain of the mountains or was taken up to heaven by angels. I would like to believe the latter.Below are excepts from the Sadhu teaching from The Parables of Truth.

Parables of Truth
- When a man is in a state of sin, he has no sense of sin. A man dives into the water. On his head are mounds of water, but he does not feel their weight at all. However, on coming out of the water, if he lifts a vessel of water, he thoroughly understands how heavy the water is. In the same way, when a man is sunk in sin he has no sense of sin, but once he is delivered, he is conscious of the least sin.- It may take a long time to know about a flower, but it doesn't take long to smell its sweet fragrance. It doesn't take long to enjoy Him. I know Him -- that is enough for me. People have been quenching their thirst with water, not knowing that it is hydrogen and oxygen. So it is with the water of life. If salvation is for a few, then it is not universal, and if it is not universal, it is not true.- “How can I believe there is life hereafter? -- Heaven and Hell?” I was asked by a professor.“But,” said I, “we find the proof in ourselves.”“Can you give a proof about the future life?” he asked.“Certainly. Eggs at first contain only liquid matter. Then, a young bird is gradually formed. Supposing the mother-bird tells the young one, ‘You will come out of this shell. You will see mountains, hills, clouds, fields and also your mother.’ What if the chicken says, ‘No, you are telling a lie. What proof do I have?’‘Why, those wings, those eyes have been given to you. You can't use them in the egg shell. You can't see anything but yourself. Your eyes and wings are proof that you are being prepared for a world to come.’ When the chick came out of his shell he saw everything and his mother and he could enjoy everything.'”- So we shall come out and see our Heavenly Mother-Father. Why these desires? Longings for peace? There is no room to satisfy all human desires in this life. But we shall see our Saviour and the saints in Heaven. In this body we could not see them. But all eggs do not get hatched. They need the Mother's warmth. So too we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit to make us warm. We must receive the warmth and heat from Him in prayer."- "When I was in America a wealthy man was telling me of his experience. 'What do you think is the most precious thing in this drawing room?' he asked, 'Some say it is that beautiful picture or these precious stones. But the most precious thing in my house is that tiger skin. One day when I was hunting with my brother a tiger was shot. But he was not killed -- only wounded and still breathing. My brother fired and the tiger jumped on him and so my brother was killed but the tiger was killed too. These scars are my brother's blood. My brother gave his life for me. So this is the most precious thing in my house.'- So when we read the word of God we learn that our Brother gave His life for us. There is no precious thing in the world than this. It has the mark of our Brother's blood."- I have a stone in my hand. I hit somebody with it. The man's head is broken, and he dies. As long as the stone was in my hand, it was in my power. However, once the stone was out of my hand, it was out of my power. And it was too late. The man was dead. If I repent, that only means I won't throw any more stones in the future. But the man is already dead! In the future, we shall receive strength, but we must hold fast for the present. Otherwise, we are in danger of losing what we have.- There is a danger of losing the gifts or the blessings which we have been receiving from our Heavenly Father. If there had been no danger of losing our crown, our Lord would not have given warnings. So,” watch and pray.” Gifts, blessings, spiritual life and crown — there is a difference between having these things and receiving them again. Those who repent may obtain forgiveness if they go to our Heavenly Father, but those who postpone may find it too late."- It is an excellent plan to entertain noble and lofty thoughts in the mind at all times; for by the Law of Association one good and noble thought attracts another.- A tree grows and develops in the light and heat of the sun. There is infinite space above the tree; yet, when the tree has reached a certain height, it cannot increase any more. Why can it not increase? The force of gravity draws it down. We are spiritual beings and are to grow upwards and not downwards though things in this world draw us down.- The heat of the sun makes a tree grow, but by the heat of the same sun, another tree dries up. When a worm or an insect has entered a tree, the life of the tree is being gradually destroyed; then the heat of the sun instead of giving it strength helps the process of decay. We have life within us and are to grow through the light of the Sun of Righteousness. To what degree is it possible for us to increase? To this degree, “Be ye therefore perfect as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.'"- When governments began to mint coins, men began to make counterfeit coins. So, too, in the Spiritual life, the Evil One provides counterfeits of every virtue.- In the spiritual life, we can do much harm when we fully intend doing good just like the man in Burma who rushed to pour buckets of water on his house which had suddenly caught fire and found that in that great oil-region he was pouring kerosene oil instead. -------------------------------------------- When I was growing up, my grandma and parents told us stories about Sadhu Sundar Singh. I was in awe of his spirituality and devotion, and it has left a deep mark on my life. Two years ago, his niece held a series of meetings in my town. She is also a missionary, and it was thrilling to hear about the rich legacy the Sadhu has left behind.

After quoting from Sadhu Sundar Singh 's Parables of Truth I thought this photo of the Taj Mahal made with matchsticks is a pictorial parable. My life and work will be a phoney worthless Taj made with match sticks , no matter how beautiful and impressive it may seem if it is not built with material supplied by the Master Builder.

9-15Or, to put it another way, you are God's house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you'll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won't get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn't, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won't be torn out; you'll survive—but just barely.
16-17You realize, don't you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God's temple, you can be sure of that. God's temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
(1 Corinthians 3 9-16) The Message - New Testament

17 Fertilize my soul:

Sita said...

Wow, thank you for sharing this. I'm going to put this link on my FB---so inspiring. The Indians in TT revere him. Blessings to you.
Love, Sita

madison said...

I have a book and something I printed out online about him. I thought it was really intresting, expecially how he turned his back on the religion he was raised in. It does make me wonder what ever happened to him though.........

Saija said...

i had never heard of him before ... so thank you for sharing that!

and i really enjoyed the previous post about your sister, namrita ... it looks like a beautiful place where she lives ...

blessings on your week!

Robin said...

how interesting.
Amrita, you always share such information I've never heard before.
God bless your heart:)

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Yes, he was a holy man indeed who accepted the disgrace and disowning of his own family because he would not disown his faith in Jesus Christ. So are all holy men who spouse the message of the Gospel around the world. They suffer a fate of persecution and calumnies. The Lord warned His followers of such fate to those who would follow His ways of proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the world. It was indeed a very remarkable story of his extraordinary life. Thanks for sharing it with us. Thanks for the post. God bless you all always. BTW, I dedicated my latest post at Random Thoughts to you, Shiela and sis Pia.

Amrita said...

Sadhu Sundar Singh is an iconic figure in history of Christianity of India. His books are sold all over the world. I have also seen a short biographical film about him.

Dear mel, I apreicate your comment. My forefathers also had to leave theur family and inheritance when they embraced Christ.In my country one has to paya great price.

My Pastor, a Brahmin Hindu convert was driven out from his ancestral house and farm with fanfare and celebration. The whole village gathers at the gates and beat drums and chanted mantras as he was leaving . They even striped him of his clothes, and his brother in law gave him his.

Now after 17 years of separation his father and family has accepted him.They recognize the power of Christ in his life.

Thank you Mel for the link

Julia Dutta said...


I know you had at one time given me his name to read about his life. This is a wonderful story and thanks for putting it up.
Often when we are at our worst negative moment, God appears to us.
I got here from Sita's post on FB. It has been a joy to read...
Thank you :))

John Cowart said...

Hi Amrita,

Your blog postings get better and better.

I had never heard of this man before reading about him here. You always broaden my horizons.


Felisol said...

Dear Amrita,
A mighty witness about God and his power.
Also about the cost of being a true Christian.
I will recommend my friends to visit you and become a lot wiser.
From Felisol

Annie K said...

What a fascinating post Amarita. I love hearing the stories of your country and of the people there.

I had never heard of this man before and now my interest is peaked. I am going to have to read more about him. Thanks for sharing this.

I hope this finds you well. :)

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

What an exciting and inspiring story. A truly amazing man. I guess like Paul he would say none of it was his strength, only Christ's.

It is sad to hear how Christians are punished in your country. I hope that will change as India becomes more and more a power in the world.

the mother of this lot said...

What a lovely post Amrita. I enjoyed the Parables of Truth.

Deare Diary said...

Hello Amrita,
It has been a long time since I have blogged but I have missed reading yours. This was good reading and food for thought.

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

Hi Amrita,

Sure, you can take pics from my Innovative Concepts in Lifestyle post; just link the photos to me :)

Amrita said...

Dear Julia, I did a post on Sadhu Sundar Singh once, this one I wrote as a guest blogger for my blogfriend Dr Elizabeth Malou 's blog Blest Athiest

Terry said...

oh amrita..what an amazing man!
remember how saul hated the christians and set out to persecute them and even watched as men stoned stephen?
and then he was saved miraculously on the damascus road.
and when the men wanted to worship him when his name was paul and the viper could not poison him, he would not let the men worship him.
amrita,..the story about the weight of the water and about the egg and the chicken, i am going to print it out for grampa yade..

amrita one thing that bothers me about this story of this great man is the expression "heavenly mother
father" i think the trinity, "god the father", god the son" and "god the holy spirit" are all masculine.
do you think i am wrong?
the united church in canada says how do we know that god isn't female and that really bothers me.

love terry

Amrita said...

Hi Terry, you made aqn important point. We also address God as Father . Although I believe God has mother like qualities and attributes.And the Bible refers to that.I read somewhere that the new Methodist prayer book in the UK has changed its terminology to refer to God as both Father & Mother.