(Sadhu Sundar Singh, known as the Holy Man of India and the Apostle of Christ from India, had lived and died for Christ during the early 20th century (1889-1929). Sundar Singh was raised a devout Sikh, and consecrated from his youth to become a Hindu Sadhu (hermit). However, his spiritual longings were not fulfilled until emotional and spiritual turmoil drove him to urgently ask the true living God to reveal Himself fully, lest he take his own life in the hope of finding peace in the next life. Barely hours, before he intended to take his own life, the young Sundar Singh had a dramatic vision of Jesus Christ. Immediately the emptiness and despair that had filled his heart was lifted, and his search for inner peace was over. The outcome was strikingly similar to that described in Acts 9:3-5 of the Bible's New Testament. Thereafter, the born again Sadhu became a living witness of the eternal security, peace and comfort he had freely received. Despite opposition and rejection at home, he soon knew that he had to share his faith throughout the towns and villages of India, and beyond into the dangerous mountain regions of Tibet. As Sundar Singh moved through his twenties his ministry widened greatly, and long before he was thirty years old his name and picture were familiar all over the Christian world. What better way than to put on the robes of a Sadhu, and to take to the road with no guarantee of food or shelter, but with a passionate desire to live as his Master had done before him?)
The Acts of Apostles continued in the life and ministry of Sadhu Sundar Singh. As we meditate on his life and ministry, the Holy Spirit reveals what is deficient in our life and ministry. The following are certain outstanding snippets from his biography.
[i]taken from http://www.gloryofhiscross.org/apostle7.htm [/i]
[b]Poisoned to death but survived[/b]
To the Sikh in the Punjab State of India, long hair was the chief of the signs of their religion. A Sikh with his hair shorn was a Sikh no longer. Sundar Singh cut his hair. The shock of horror with which Sher Singh, the father of Sundar Singh, saw what his son had done was followed by an exhibition of anger such as Sundar had never witnessed before. His father was furious, and without hesitation ordered him out of the home, telling him he was no longer a member of the family. As an outcaste, he had no right in the courtyard. He must get out and get out quickly.
Sundar knew there was nothing for it but to obey. He did so immediately. With nothing but the clothes, he was wearing and clutching his New Testament, he went through the gate of the courtyard, not knowing where he would go or what he would do. No home would be open to him. There was no one to whom he could turn. He had no community.
He walked across to a tree, and sat down under it, shivering slightly.
Never before had been been in such a situation, without food, without shelter, without adequate clothing. He thought of the warmth of the family home, of the group gathered around the food tray, of the pile of bedding in his room all so familiar, all within a few hundred yards of where he was now huddled yet all irrevocably cut off from him.
Although outwardly he was in distress, inwardly he was experiencing such a deep fellowship with his Master that he often referred to it as his first night in heaven. Therefore, the hours of the night passed in blissful contentment. But as dawn broke, the practical aspect of his situation had to be faced. He could not remain there forever, under a tree in the village. Where should he go, and should he do?
The nearest place where he could hope to find a refuge was Rupar, a large village about 30 miles away, where he knew there was a Presbyterian Mission center. He decided that he would go and explain his position to the pastor there. Therefore, he set off on the journey but not before, he had a final contact with one member of the family. His sister-in-law, unsmiling put some food under a verandah, the place where outcasts were allowed to eat, and indicated it was for him.
It was very humiliating, and Sundar felt it keenly. He picked up the food from the verandah. Only his hunger, an uncertainty about where his next meal would come from, drove him to this step. Sundar took the food, and set off for Rupar.
Several hours later, he arrived at the home of the Presbyterian pastor there, the Rev.P.C.Uppal, who received the young boy immediately with the utmost kindness. Uppal himself had been driven from his Hindu home when he asserted his faith in Christ, and knew the hazards faced by those who dared to do so from a similar background.
When, shortly after his arrival, Sundar began to have violent spasms of pain, the pastor suspected what had happened. So did Sundar. The food he had been given was poisoned. Within a short time, Sundar was bleeding from nose and mouth and Uppal sent an urgent message to the dispenser in the local hospital, while Mrs.Uppal did what she could to make Sundar comfortable. But when the dispenser arrived and saw Sundar, and heard his story, he refused to treat him.
He is going to die, he told the Uppals. This is a very bad case of poisoning and he cannot recover
The next morning, the dispenser arrived as promised, and to his amazement, he saw Sundar lying on the verandah, weak but free from pain, and even able to smile at him. Then he learned what had happened.
During the night Sundar had become convinced that it was not, Gods will for him to die, but that he should live to tell others about Christ. Gathering what strength he could muster, he had prayed that he might be healed. After seeing this miracle, the dispenser asked Sundar for a copy of the New Testament which he had looked at. It was a turning point in his life, though neither he nor Sundar realized it at that time.
[b]Preaching the gospel at great risk in Afghanistan[/b]
The Holy Ghost took him through Baluchistan to the borders of Afghanistan, along the famous Khyber Pass into the country itself. It was here that on a later visit, he had an experience which again threatened his life, but in which the living Presence of God turned the tide that was against him.
He had reached the town of Jalalabad and among that Muslim population his preaching about Jesus, accepted by Islam as one of the prophets, was listened to quietly enough until it became evident that he was being proclaimed as God. Immediately the mood of his listeners changed into open hostility and he was warned that if he did not get out quickly, he would be killed. Night was coming on, and made his way to the only place open to him the Serai, a place where the caravans of animals and their drivers from Central Asia lodged for the night. There was very little shelter from the bitter cold, and as it had been raining, Sadhu Sundar Singh slept very uneasily it at all. Early in the morning, he got up and was drying his robe by the fire that had been kindled, when he loved and saw at the entrance of the Serai a group of the very men who had been threatening him the night before.
It was an alarming moment. He wondered if they had come to carry out their threat to take him off and kill him. Instead, they stood there looking at him with amazement. What they had expected to see if he was alive at all, was a shuddering half-dead creature, scarcely able to stand. What they saw was a tall well-built, bearded youth obviously in good health, half-clad in his robe, which he was drying, by the fire.
Perhaps they saw more than that. Perhaps there was something about that figure which slightly awed them. At any rate, they stood and talked together, and then one of them came forward and to Sundars surprise, bowed to him. Then he admitted that they had come to kill him off if he was not already dead from exposure, but on seeing him alive and evidently, well, they had realized that Allah had preserved him. That being the case, he was urged to come back with them and tell them the message he had come to deliver.
This surprising turn of events resulted in Sundars remaining for about a week as a guest in the house of the leader of the group. To what extent he was able effectively to convey his message is uncertain since he did not speak their language, but their whole attitude towards him had changed. They recognized in him one who was preserved by the Supreme Being whom they knew as Allah. The presence of God with His servant had given him an inner power and dignity, which subdued his opponents and commanded their respect. It was to happen many times in the years that lay ahead.
[b]Sundar and S.E.Stokes, an American Missionary[/b]
In Sabathu, Simla, Sadhu Sundar Singh met a wealthy American, S.E.Stokes, who had come to India fired with the desire to live for Christ in that country. Immediately a friendship was forged between the two. Stokes was reminded of the famous St.Francis of Assisi, whose life had inspired his decision to come to India, but of whom Sundar had never heard.
Francis of Assisi was born in Italy some eight hundred years ago, Stokes told Sundar. He was born into a very wealthy family so he had plenty of money, and was a very popular young man. But when he was about 22 years old, he started thinking about God. One day he heard a preacher speak from the tenth chapter of Mathewss Gospel, where Jesus asked His disciples to go out and preach, warning people to turn from their wrongdoing and to return to God. Jesus also told them to heal those who were ill, to cast out devils and to do good. And He told them to take no money buy to eat such food as was given to them wherever they went.
Francis knew that this was what Christ was now telling him to do and he obeyed. He gave away all his money and possessions and went out preaching. But he did not only preach. He helped people in a practical way, caring for them, when they were sick, sharing his food with beggars, helping the weak. He was entirely different from the priests in the churches who did not move a finger to help anyone. He had a wonderful power over animals too, seeking them as Gods creatures just as we are. None of them, even the fiercest, ever hurt him. He founded the religious order called the Franciscans.
The resemblance of Sundars chosen manner of life to that of Francis of Assisi was obvious. As Stokes talked to him and heard of the opportunities he had, the doors that opened to him as he moved from place to place, as well as the hardships he had to suffer, and as he saw the joy this young Sikh had in serving his Master, Stokes was stirred. He decided to join Sundar and take to the Indian road as a Sadhu (hermit).
Therefore, it came about that for several months Sundar and the American traveled together, sharing the same food, enduring the same privations. Inevitably, Sundar had to take the lead for he knew the language and the customs of his own people. The marvel was that the American, coming from such an entirely different background, adapted himself so well to a manner of life that was hard even for an Indian, and that the two of them merged so harmoniously. The ardor of their spirits bound them together. And eventually it was Sundar, not Stokes, who broke down physically. He was suddenly seized with acute internal pain and very soon was feverish and shaking with ague. He struggled on until he could walk no longer and collapsed on the path.
It was the alarming situation for Stokes who bent over him trying to make him comfortable, and enquiring earnestly, How are you? He never forgot the reply he received. A faint smile came over Sundars boyish face and he uttered silently, I am very happy. How sweet it is to suffer for His sake!
How sweet it is to suffer for His sake! That was the keynote of Sundars life. Stokes looked at his young companion and realized that he was physically incapable of moving. Something must be done to get him to a place where he could rest and be nursed back to health. Learning that there was a European living not far away, Stokes went to him and asked for his help. History does not relate the first reactions of the man when confronted by a white-skinned Sadhu in a saffron robe who spoke in fluent English with an American accent! But he acceded to the request for help and had Sundar brought to his home. With rest, good food and suitable medication, the young Sikh recovered quickly and before long he and Stokes were back on the road. But their brief stay in the home of that European led to his accepting Christ.
Returning to Sabathu, they found there was a need for help in the hospital for leprosy patients and worked there for a while until, hearing that plague had broken out on the plains, they went down to the plague camp to serve like Francis of Assisi before them by nursing the sick and dying.
It was their last period of working together, for although they kept in touch for some time, and usually spent a short period each summer taking crippled boys to a camp in the hills, their paths separated. Stokes went to America and to England, recruiting young men to join a brotherhood to work rather on Franciscan lines in India. And Sundar, responding to the urge that he had been aware of, turned his steps at last towards the land that lay behind that great gray mass on the northern horizon Tibet.
Sundar and the guardian angels of God
Sundar believed in angels. However skeptical or cautious his friends from the West might be, affected as they were by the higher criticism of that period, he had not the slightest doubt about either the existence of these spiritual beings or of their having come to his aid in times of danger. On his return from some of his journeys in the Himalayas, he quite naturally related experiences of deliverances, which he attributed to angels who appeared in the form of men.
On one occasion, having being directed along a forest path that eventually led to a river, he saw that it was too wide and swift flowing for him to cross. Night was already falling, and with the sound of wild beasts in his ears, he wondered how he would fare, and whether the end of his life had come. To face death alone in that isolated spot was no easier for him than for anyone else, and his eyes were filling with tears when, looking across the river he saw a man warming himself by a fire.
Dont worry, I am coming to help you, the man called out, and stepping down into the water, he came across fearlessly and said to Sundar, Sit on my shoulders, and dont be afraid. Perched on the mans back, Sundar found himself carried through the river and up the bank, Thinking to himself, He must live near here, and so be used to crossing. I must tell him the Good News about Jesus
On arrival at the other bank, Sundar slipped off his rescuers back, glanced around to get his bearings, then turned round to speak to him but the man had disappeared. Neither was there any trace of the fire.
[b]Another help from the angel[/b]
One day it was the evening when having tried to preach in a place called Kanyan all the day, only to be interrupted again and again by men who were bitterly opposed to him, he made his way out to a desert place, dropped down hungry and miserable under a tree and fell asleep. About midnight, he was awakened by a touch, and a voice told him to get up and eat. There beside him were two men holding out food to eat and water to drink. Thinking they must be villagers who had taken pity on him, he took the refreshment gratefully and when he was satisfied looked up to speak to the men but they had disappeared.
The most remarkable instance of angelic succor and deliverance that he related happened when he had reached a town in Tibet called Rasa. Here he was arrested for having entered the country to preach a foreign religion. He was brought before the head Lama who passed sentence on him a sentence that amounted to death. But the Tibetan religion forbidding them to take life, they had conceived two ways of leaving a culprit to die without actually killing him. One way was to sew him up in wet yak skins, then leaving him in the sun, which caused the yak skins to shrink, crushing him. The other was to cast him into a dry well, cover over the top and leave him there. In either case, there was no taking of life by human hands, since the forces that caused the yak skins to shrink or the body in the well to die through hunger and thirst were not under their control, so they were innocent.
The method chosen in Sundars case was to cast him into the well. He was hustled there, the iron cover unlocked and removed, and he was pushed over the edge, down into a pit so foul that his very soul recoiled. The bottom of it was covered with dead mens bones and rotting flesh and the stench was almost overwhelming. Then what little light had penetrated was shut out as the cover of the well was replaced and he was left in darkness.
It was for worse than anything he had ever experienced before. No one had accompanied him on this trip; he was in a country where he was unknown, and he realized that humanly speaking his situation was hopeless. There was no possibility of help from any human source, and this time the inner joy he had known in times of persecution was missing.
My God, my God
. why have you forsaken me?. The words of Jesus on the Cross came to mind but without the comfort of conscious fellowship. Why, oh why had God brought him to this place of horror and left him there?
Hours passed how many he had no means of knowing. His arm had been wrenched as he was cast into the well, but the physical pain was as nothing compared with the anguish of his soul. In relating the story ears later, he said he was in that well for two days and nights, and on the third night, he heard a sound above. The cover of the well was being removed and then a rope was let down and a voice told him to take hold of it. Summoning what strength remained in him, he slipped the noose under his arms and was slowly drawn up, to sink on the ground, conscious, only that he was gulping in fresh air at last. Weak as he was from hunger and thirst, his body craved air more than anything was. As he breathed it in, he felt himself strangely revived and the pain in his wrenched arm had gone. But he was alone. There was no sign of his rescuer.
The following day, back in the village, news reached the head Lama that the Sadhu who had been thrown down the well was out again preaching. Again, Sundar was brought before him. How had he escaped, the head Lama demanded, but all Sundar could tell him was what had happened, and that he had seen no one. Furiously the Lama
Asserted that someone must have stolen the key to the well and ordered that a search be made for it. No one was more taken aback than he was when it was eventually found on his own girdle.
This was very alarming. Some superior power was evidently at work, and the head Lama did not like it. It was something he could not combat. He gave no further order for Sadhu to be arrested, but told him to leave the district immediately. Sundar felt he had no option but to comply and left.
[b]Great sufferings in Nepal[/b]
By the end of May 1914, he was on the border of Nepal. It was not easy to enter that Hindu kingdom without a passport and for a Christian it was impossible to obtain one. Border guards twice turned Sundar away before he managed to get in. Once inside he was encouraged by the reception he received at the villages he passed through. He confined himself mainly to reading aloud from the Nepali New Testament, for although he understood the language he could not speak it fluently, and found conversation difficult. But the villages were in very mountainous territory, and as he wrote later,
. The roads are awful. Ascents, descents, and the crossing of streams tire one. The 7th June will always be in my memory the fatigue of the journey, the extreme hunger and thirst, the heavy showers of rain, the long ascent. A terrible blast of wind threw me into a cave. O praised is the Lord! Though I fell from such a height, I did not get hurt at all
then the different stages of the crucifixion of Jesus came before me in a vision.
First, he was awake in the garden of Gethsemane all night. Secondly, he was hungry and thirsty. Thirdly, due to the lashes and the crown of thorns he was bleeding. Fourthly, beside all these troubles, He had to lift up the cross Himself. For these reasons He fell down when He was climbing Golgotha. O dear Lord, my cross is nothing before Thine
But his own sufferings were not yet over in Nepal. The next day he reached Ilam, a garrison town, and found the bazaar full of people. He took up his stand in front of the post office and started to preach, the New Testament in his hand. Quite a large crowd gathered, and when he offered Gospel to any who could read there were those who came forward to receive them. At this point, there was an interruption. An official arrived and angrily demanded to know who had given him permission to enter Nepal and preach a foreign religion.
Sundar replied that he had come at the command of the Officer of all officers, the King of all kings the Creator. Why? snapped the official. Christ has called all nations to receive eternal life, and Nepal must hear this good news, too. The official did not want to discuss the matter. He was all for putting Sundar in jail for six months, the prescribed penalty for illegal entry, immediately. However, another official pointed out that if this preacher were put in jail, he might persuade some of the other prisoners to become Christians. Therefore, it was decided that different form of punishment should be inflicted.
They seized me and threw me into prison. They took off my clothes and fastened my hands and feet in a block of wood, and bringing many leeches, left them near me
. For two or three hours I felt my sufferings very much indeed, but afterwards my Lord by His holy presence turned my prison into a paradise
When I was singing, full of joy, many people came to the door to listen, and I began to preach. Then they released me
They probably thought he was mad.
To such an extent had the leeches sucked my blood that on the following day I suffered dizziness as I walked. Then, he added, Glory be to God that He honored me by letting me suffer for His Name.
He was a strong man. He walked the thirty miles back to Darjeeling within two days, and wrote to the Rev.Redman in Simla telling of the conversation with the Nepali officer, but not mentioning his brief imprisonment. He did not want to inform his friends about this. Nor did he want the incident to reach the ears of those in the Government who might start enquiries as to why a British subject had received such treatment.
Perhaps there was another reason of which he himself was only dimly aware the instinctive shutting of the door of memory on a particularly traumatic experience until over-strung emotions had been silenced. At any rate, when he arrived at the home of his friend Tharachin, who saw the leech marks on his back and applied iodine to them, Sundar gave no explanation of how he got them, and a few days later, the two of them set out for the little country of Sikkim.
[b]Miracle in the harvest[/b]
Sundar moved through the towns and villages of North India, going annually to help in a holiday camp for disabled boys, occasionally staying for brief periods in a hill station or in hostels in Delhi and Simla, but always returning to what he knew to be his calling. Clad only in his saffron robe with a blanket over his shoulder, he went quietly on his way, spending the early hours of each day in solitary meditation and prayer, walking mile after mile across the plains, stopping to preach wherever he thought he saw an opportunity.
His prolonged presence was not always welcome. Seeing some men reaping in a field one day, he went to them and started preaching. They listened rather indifferently for a time and then began to swear at him. They did not want to hear about a strange religion, they told him. They had work to do. Then one of them picked up a stone and threw it at him so hard and so accurately that it cut his face. Sundar dabbed the bleeding spot and wisely said no more, but for some reason did not move away.
A short time later the man who had thrown the stone developed such a splitting headache that he had to stop work. One scythe idle at harvest time was a serious matter as Sundar knew, and without a word, he went forward, picked up the scythe and started to wield it. This made a good impression on the men, especially as he went on working until they all stopped. At their invitation, he went back to the village with them to have something to eat. It was not until after he had gone that they took stock of what had been reaped that day, and to their amazement found it was a greater yield than they had ever had before. Their surprise turned to awe. It was because they had had the holy man reaping with them. A holy man! But they had rejected his message. They tried to find him then but he had gone. The incident was reported in a North Indian newspaper by one of the reapers to wanted to hear the Sadhus message now and urged him to return to them.
[b]Cheated but punished by God[/b]
On another journey, in the Himalayan foothills, Sadhu Sundar Singh was met by a man who appeared to be in great distress and asked him for money. His friend, he said, had died suddenly on the road he pointed to a figure on the ground covered with a piece of cloth and he had no money to bury him. Sundar only had to coins and his blanket, but he gave all to the man and went on his way. A short time later, the man came running after him sobbing. His friend was dead, he gasped.
Sundar naturally was mystified. Yes, so you told me, he said.
But he is really dead, the man blurted out and then went on to admit that the whole thing had been a hoax. He and his companion had been preying on passers-by in this way for years, taking turns to feign dead and so extract money from unsuspecting travelers. Now they had led to a holy man! They had taken his money and his blanked and this was judgment on them. His companion was already dead, the distraught man said, and now what disaster would happen to the living man? The man was overcome with his sense of guilt.
Sundar, of course, had the answer, telling him that there is no sin that cannot be forgiven, for Gods Son, on the Cross, had already borne the punishment due to the sinner. The mans heart was ready to receive what was to him astounding news, and the outcome was that after spending some time with Sundar, he went to a mission station of which Sundar told him, was duly baptized and became a church member.
[b]Fast unto death[/b]
There was when times he was tempted to give up the life of a Sadhu, marry and settle down like other men. Could he not live a sincere Christian life in a normal way, and still devote himself to preaching? Others did so. Yet even deeper than his natural instinct was the fervent desire to know his Master better, and follow him all the way. He remembered how Jesus, at the very commencement of his ministry, went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days and forty nights. The thought remained in his mind, and he felt that he, too, should fast for that period.
He knew where he could go to do it south of Dehra Dun was a forest in which was an area so thickly overgrown that only the bamboo cutters penetrated it. There, for from human habitations, he could be alone with God, asking for blessing on what he had already done, an empowering for future service, and seeking to live on a higher plain in the spiritual life.
Traveling by train towards Dehra Dun, he met a Roman Catholic doctor, to whom he confided his intention. The doctor tried to dissuade him from attempting such a fast. It would kill him, he said. Sundar remained firm in his resolve, so the doctor asked for the names and addresses of some of his friends, so that if anything happened, he could let them know. To this Sundar acceded.
Then he went on, towards the forest. He took with him his New Testament and forty stones. The doctor had told him the likely consequences of going without food and drink for a prolonged period, and he had decided that the best way of keeping track of time would be to throw away one stone each day. Therefore, he started on his vigil deep in the forest alone.
The first days were physically hard. Hunger brought on a burning pain in his stomach which became quite acute, but it eased off after a time, and he merely became increasingly weak so weak, in fact, that he stopped putting aside a stone each day. He could not even turn himself.
At one stage, he sensed rather than saw, a lion or some other wild beast, and heard a roar, but could not tell how near it was. However, with the dimming of physical sensibilities, there came an increasing awareness of the spiritual world, of the presence of God. The deep joy and inner peace he had known since his turning to Christ were increased he had no desire to end his fast. Then there was granted to him, as weakness and exhaustion took their toll of his body, a fresh vision of Christ.
It was different from the appearance on that never-to-be-forgotten night when he had seen with his own eyes the risen Lord Jesus. This time it was the Man on the Throne in his glory that was revealed to him, His face radiant, the wounds in His hands and feet clearly visible, but somehow beautified. It was inexpressible. Yet, with it came to Sundar the conviction that there was still work for him to do, and that he would be preserved alive to do it. Then he lapsed into unconsciousness.
Two bamboo cutters stumbling through the forest had come upon his weak and emaciated body, and seeing he was a Sadhu, and still breathing, had carried him to some people who put him on the train to Dehra Dun. Here, providentially, two or three Christians from the village of Ann field saw him, and although he was so transformed in appearance that they did not recognize him, they knew who he was by the name in his New Testament. Placing him gently on their bullock cart, they conveyed him to the home of their pastor. Here, for over a week, he was given only liquids until he was strong enough to digest a little food.
He recovered slowly, though steadily, but he had a very hazy appreciation of time, and the duration of the fast.
[b]Hazards in journey and Vision of Christ[/b]
The 7th June 1914 was a memorable day for Sundar as he was on the borders of Nepal. The roads in the mountainous territory were awful. It was a day, which bristled with the fatigue of the journey, the extreme hunger and thirst, the heavy showers of rain, the long ascent. A terrible blast of wind threw him into la cave.
Though he fell from such a height, he did not get hurt at all. Then the different stages of the crucifixion of Jesus came before him in a vision.
First, Christ was awake in the garden of Gethsemane all night.
Secondly, Jesus was hungry and thirsty.
Thirdly, due to the lashes and the crow of thorns, He was bleeding.
Fourthly, besides all these troubles, he had to lift up the Cross Himself. For these reasons, He fell down when He was climbing Golgotha
Sundar said, O dear Lord, my cross is nothing before Thine
When the leeches sucked his blood, Sundar praised God!
Sadhus sufferings in Nepal were indescribable. One day he reached Ilam, a garrison town, and found the bazaar full of people. He stood in front of the post office and started to preach with the New Testament in his hand. Quite a large crowd gathered, and when he offered Gospels to any who could read, there were those who came forward to receive them. Now, there was an interruption. An official arrived and angrily demanded to know who had given him permission to enter Nepal and preach a foreign religion.
Sundar replied that he had come at the command of the Officer of all officers, the King of kings the Creator. Why snapped the official. Christ has called all the nations to receive eternal life and Nepal must hear this good news too, said Sundar.
The official did not want to discuss the matter. He was all for putting Sundar in jail for 6 months, the prescribed penalty for illegal entry. However, another official pointed out that if this preacher were put in jail, he might persuade some of the other prisoners to become Christians. Therefore, it was decided that a different form of punishment should be inflicted.
They seized him and threw him into the prison. They removed his clothes and fastened his hands and feet in a block of wood. Many leeches were brought and left near Sundar. For two or three hours, he felt his sufferings very much indeed, but afterwards, the Lord by His holy presence turned his prison into a paradise.
Sadhu started singing, full of joy when many people came to the door to listen. He began to preach the gospel to them. Then he was finally released, thinking that probably he was mad because nobody could sing in the midst of such a suffering.
[b]A life lived for others![/b]
Sadhu had kept a black velvet scarf on which were stitched in scarlet the words, Christ came to save sinners. He was wearing it for three years. He bestowed this upon an interpreter who translated his messages from Hindi. This give became a most treasured possession for the interpreter.
He spent several days in Kolhapur, Maharasthra State, India, and among the many invitations he received was one to listen to the boarders in a girls hostel singing Christian lyrics, in the open air for three nights. It was quite cold, and he sat there, Sundar wrapped himself round in a cotton shawl he always carried with him. The girls noticed this, and the following night, presented him with a warm and expensive shawl. They had clubbed their monies together for buying it and he accepted it gratefully and graciously, wrapping it round himself immediately. He appeared with the shawl the following night, too, for the final occasion. However, as he and his interpreter were on their way home, they saw an old man in tatters, trying to warm him by a fire. Sadhu Sundar Singh stopped, looked at him, and then wrapped the shawl around the old man. He needs it more than I do was the only explanation Sadhu gave.
Sadhu did not keep things for himself, and refused gifts of money. All he would accept was the train ticket to his next destination. On One occasion, when a gift of Rs.25/- was handed to him as he boarded the train. He politely handed it back, saying he did not need it. But his friends determined to give it to him, and threw the packet into his carriage as the train was starting.
Sadhu Sundar Singh did not keep it for long. At one of the train stops, a beggar, shivering in his tattered clothes, came along the station platform and stood with a skinny hand held out at the carriage door. Sundar looked at the man for a short while, lifted the packet of money and put it into his hands, to his great amazement.
Sadhu strongly objected to collections of money being taken to defray his expenses at any of the meetings he attended.
[b]Sadhu in the western countries[/b]
When he made his first visit to the West in 1920 (England, America and Australia), many minds of a completely different type from his own were turned to the contemplation and discussion of the man, his experiences, methods of thought and work, and the probable influence of his unique personality and teaching in east and west.
As Christianity came out of the east, it is natural that many earnest Christians in western countries should look again to the East for that new stream of divine life, whose flow should bring a true revival of religion to those myriads upon the Great Wart has cast its black mantle of forgetfulness of God.
The Church of the West, blessed with an early vision of the Savior of the world, has yet to mourn its inability to meet entirely the needs of those for whom He died. The simple gospel, passing through the minds of men throughout the ages, has taken on the color of those minds, and has thus become less potent for its great task; for not in ceremonial appealing to the senses nor yet in mighty organizations is the new birth found. The accretions of the centuries sanctioned by time can offer only a semblance of the life, which is in Christ Jesus, and no other life can satisfy. The cry is Show me a man like Christ. A Swedish Archbishop pointed to Sundar Singh and said: The gospel has not undergone any change in him
In the history of religion Sundar is the first to show the world how the gospel of Jesus Christ is reflected in unchanged purity in an Indian soul
Christianity is imperishable, said another writer, and out of the east it will come again. The Sadhu is perhaps the first of the new apostles to rekindle the fire on dying altars.
Archbishop Soderblom, in speaking of Canon Streeters book The Sadhu, said: As far as I know there is no other instance in the history of religion of an original and charming saintly character, already surrounded with the glamour of miraculous faith, during his life-time being the object of methodical examination by a scientific investigator an examination as scholarly in its sound criticism as in its sympathy for its object.
From his experience in the West, the Sadhu certainly realized the truth of Sir Philip Gibbs words:
I do not believe with Anatole France that Europe is dying yet. I think there will be great agonies to go through unless there is a complete change of heart, a tremendous spiritual revival among the peoples of Europe.
On March 9, 1920, the Sadhu met and talked for an hour with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the following day he spoke at the Church House, Westminster, to some seven hundred clergy of the Church of England, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and six bishops, probably the first occasion when Churchmen of all shades of opinion met together to well one to whom sect is nothing but Christ is all in all.
The Church Times of March 12 gave an excellent account of this remarkable gathering:
The atmosphere is instinct with expectancy. Slightly before the time announced there enters the strange figure of Sadhu Sundar Singh. He is as a man from another world. His sermon went to the heart of things. To men was given the inestimable privilege of witnessing to Jesus Christ. The angels could reveal truth, could make plain hidden mysteries: but they could not witness; man alone out of his own experience of Gods love and mercy could do that. So the angel spoke to Cornelius, but sinful Peter witnesses. The writer added, Nothing I can say here can convey the impression I could wish that of a man apart, renouncing great possessions, exulting in the saving grace of his Master and speaking with the utmost simplicity. His complete freedom from any self-consciousness made even the Bishops gaiters seem a bit ridiculous.
[b]Sadhu in America[/b]
Dr.Jowett and others introduced the Sadhu to the American people. Curiously enough, when it was known that he was going to America, there were good people who feared the result. Sincerely believing that his mission to the States would be more likely to arouse curiosity than accomplish any great spiritual purpose, a number of devout persons met together for prayer in New York, to ask for Gods overruling providence in the matter.
There was no time for suitable arrangements to be made before the Sadhus arrival. The Pond Lyceum Bureau offered to arrange a full programme covering the USA, and ventured the opinion that as a business proposition it would be an even greater success than the one they had carried through for Rabindranath Tagore. They published preliminary announcements, but when the Sadhu realized that this was a business arrangement, he declined to have anything to do with it. The National Bible Institute then made necessary arrangements, covering a couple of months, after which the Sadhu was due to leave for Australia.
On May 30, 1920, the Sadhu was at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. Then followed engagements in Hartford, Baltimore, Pittston, Princeton University, Brank Presbyterian Church, New York; the Marble Collegiate Church, Brooklyn; Philadelphia, Boston, and other cities. On June 25, he went to the Silver Bay Students Conference, and spent four days addressing 800 students and their leaders. Early in July, he was in Chicago, and passed onto Iowa, Kansas and other places, finally arriving at San Francisco, where his journey and work in America ended. Some friends there were moved to give money for the support of consecrated young men to the Sadhu, who had laid themselves on Gods altar to become martyrs for Christ by carrying the Gospel message to Tibet.
At Lake George, the following incident took place. In the front row at a certain meeting sat a small child of three and a half years. All through his address, this wee mite scarcely took her eyes from the Sadhus face. When he sat down, the audience was almost electrified to hear the question asked in a clear childish treble, Is he Jesus?
A writer in the New York Evening News said:
This tall strong young man has come from India to tell the world of Christianity again. He has an entirely ageless look of both youth and age in one; joy, energy, wisdom
. He has a high glad way about him. He is said to look like the pictures of Christ, and he does; but there is a greater vitality and joy about him than is ever represented in the pictures of Christ. Perhaps the pictures are wrong.
He comes to bear testimony to the endless power; the endless joy of Christ, to tell how he turned from Hinduism to Christ and in that way found peace of mind. To Indians nothing matters but serenity and peace of mind, as perhaps nothing else matters to anyone. He feels no oddity about coming to America to tell the power of Christ, when for some many generations; people have gone from here to tell the same. Christians must tell their experience, their joy that is all
. Sects are strange unnecessary things, the Sadhu thinks. There is one God; why have so many creeds? Piece and quiet come from knowing Christ. Why cause dissension? But still! This is the world, he says, resignedly though never without joy. When all sects are one, it will be world no longer. It will be heaven then.
Mr.Frank Buchman of Hartford Theological Seminary, who had traveled for some weeks with the Sadhu wrote of him:
I agree with the newspaper reporters of America who interviewed him, Nearer the Christ than any living man we have seen. The leading papers gave him ample space. His pictures appeared in the movies, and he was able to reach influential and lay circles in the various cities. He is Spirit-taught and has almost a medium-like gift of sensing people and situations.
He brings the message of the Supernatural, which this age needs. Men simply flocked to hear him that he had scarcely time for his meals. I have just received a letter from the Headmistress of a leading preparatory school. She said there was a veil of light on every boys face as he left the Sadhus meeting. He said a true word when he predicted that America would have no spiritual leaders fifty years hence if she kept up her present pace. He has a practical message for America.
A North Indian newspaper had published the following:
Our world less, selfless and godly brother Sundar Singh has discovered the Christian hermit, the Maharishi at Kailash, who has for years been on the snowy Himalayas praying and interceding for the world
You have revealed to the world the secret of one of the members of our mission the Maharishi at Kailash.
On the summit of one of the mountains of the Kailash Range was a deserted Buddhist temple, and then rarely visited by man. A few miles from this temple dwelt the great saint known as the Majority of Kailash, in a cave some 13,000 feet above the sea level. All this region is the Olympus of India, the seat of Hindu holy myths, and it is associated in Hindu sacred books with the names of great and devout souls of all times. In one cave, the Sadhu found the skeleton of some nameless holy man who had died while meditating there.
In the summer of 1912, he traveled through these regions alone and on foot, often refreshed by the beautiful scene trough, which he passed, but more often fatigued to the last degree in his difficult and fruitless search for the holy men he hoped to meet there. He would never forget the day when, struck with snow-blindness and almost wearied to death, he staggered drearily on over snowy and stony crags, not knowing whither, he went. Suddenly he lost his balance and fell. Recovering from the fall, he awoke to one of the greatest experiences of his life, for he opened his eyes to find himself lying outside a huge cave, in the shelter of which sat the Maharishi of Kailash in deep meditation.
The sight that met his eyes was so appalling that Sundar closed them and almost fainted. Little by little, he ventured to inspect the object before him, and then discovered that he was looking at a living human being, but so old and clothed with long hair as to appear at first glance like an animal. Sundar realized that thus, unexpectedly he had succeeded in his search after a holy man, and as soon as he could command his voice, he spoke to the aged saint. Recalled from his meditation, the saint opened his eyes and, casting a piercing glance upon the Sadhu, amazed him by saying, Let us kneel and pray. Then followed a most earnest Christian prayer ending in the name of Jesus. This over, the Maharishi unrolled a ponderous copy of the Gospels in Greek and read some verses from the fifth chapter of Matthew.
Sunder heard from his own lips the account of his wonderful life. He claimed to be of very great age. The roll from which he had read, he explained, had come down to him from Francis Xavier, and the Sadhu noticed that it was all written in Greek uncials, and may therefore prove to be of value to scholars should it come into their possession. The saint said he was born in Alexandria of a Mohammedan family, and was brought up to be a zealous follower of the Prophet. At the age of thirty, he renounced the world and entered a monastery in order to give himself up entirely to religion. However, the more he read the Quran and prayed, the unhappier he became. During these days of spiritual distress, he heard of a Christian saint who had gone over from India to preach in Alexandria, and from him he heard words of life that filled his hopeless soul with joy. He now left the monastery to accompany his teacher in his missionary journeys. After some time spent thus, permission was given him to go on his own account to preach the gospel wherever God sent him. The saint then started out on an evangelistic campaign that lasted a very long time.
The Sadhu had long conversations with him about holy things, and heard many strange things from his lips. His astonishing visions as related to the Sadhu would, if written down, read like another Book of Revelation, so strange and incomprehensible are they, and the Sadhu himself warns readers and hearers of these visions that common interpretations can never disclose the meaning, since the Saint had to clothe his ideals in language that cannot be taken literally. The Sadhu had visited the Maharishi three times.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon