Sadhu Sundar Singh

Sadhu Sundar Singh born as Sundar Singh was an Indian Christian Missionary at Rampur, Panjab State in India. After lost his mother, he took out his anger on the missionaries, persecuted Christian converts, ridiculed their faith and burned the Holy Bible. When he made a suicide attempt GOD touched him. He set out a journey as a Christian to Northward through Punjab, over the Bannihal Pass into Kashmir where he referred as "The Apostle with the bleeding feet". He went to Divinity College, Lahore to learn theology' and he returned to the Sadhu's life without completion of divinity. He travelled through North India and the Buddhist states of the Himalayas. When he was in Rasar, he had fallen into a dry well and he was rescued by members of the "Sunnyasi Mission". He made a long tour to South India, Ceylon, Burma, Malaysia, China, Japan, Britain, United States, Australia and Europe.

Sadhu Sundar Singh
Name: Sadhu Sundar Singh
Born : September 03, 1889 Rampur, Panjab in India
Reffered: The Apostle with the bleeding feet
Missionary Work : Panjab in India
Died : In 1929 at the Foothills of Himalayas

Sadhu Sundar Singh's early life

Sadhu Sundar Singh is an Indian Christian Missionary, born on September 03, 1889 at Rampur, Panjab State in India into an important landowning Sikh family. His father was Sher Singh. At his younger age, his mother took him to sit at the feet of a Sadhu, an ascetic holy man, who lived in the jungle, while also sending him to Ewing Christian High School, Ludhiana to learn English.

This is the house  in Subathu in Himachal Pradesh where Sadhu used to stay
This is the house in Subathu in Himachal Pradesh where Sadhu used to stay

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Sadhu's Vision of Christ

Sadhu Sundar Singh in full view
Sadhu Sundar Singh
In 1903, when he was fourteen years old, his mother died and plunged him into violence and despair. He took out his anger on the missionaries, persecuted Christian converts and ridiculed their faith. In final defiance of their religion, he bought a Bible and burned it page by page in his home while his friends watched. Three nights later, he took a bath before going to the railroad to commit suicide. While he was bathing, Sadhu loudly asked, "Who is the true God?" If the true God didn't show him that night, he would commit suicide. Finally, that night before the break of dawn, Singh saw a vision of Christ with His pierced hands.

Sundar Singh's Baptism

In 1904, Sundar Singh announced to his father that henceforth he would follow Christ. His father denounced him and his brother, Rajender Singh attempted to poison him. His life was saved by the help of a nearby Christian community. On his sixteenth birthday in 1905, he was publicly baptised as a Christian in the Parish Church in Simla in the Himalayan foothills and begun his life as a Sadhu. Prior to this, he had been staying at the Christian Leprosy Home at Sabathu, near Simla.

First Spiritual Tour

In October 1906, he set out on his journey as a new Christian, wearing a turban and the yellow robe of a Hindu Sadhu, an ascetic devoted to spiritual practice. Sundar Singh viewed himself as a Sadhu, albeit one within Christianity rather than Hinduism because he realized Christianity could not penetrate India unless it was in an Indian way. "I am not worthy to follow in the steps of my Lord," he said, "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."

The Apostle with the bleeding feet

After returning to his home village, where he was given an unexpectedly warm welcome, Sundar Singh travelled Northward through the Punjab, over the Bannihal Pass into Kashmir and then back through Muslim Afghanistan and into the brigand-infested North-West Frontier and Baluchistan. He was referred to as "The Apostle with the bleeding feet" by the Christian communities of the North. He suffered arrest and stoning for his beliefs and experienced mystical encounters. In 1908, he crossed the frontier of Tibet, where he was appalled by the living conditions. He was stoned as he bathed in cold water because it was believed that "holy men never washed."

In 1908, he went to Bombay, hoping to board a ship to visit Palestine but was refused a permit and he had to return to the North. On this trip he recognized a basic dilemma of the Christian mission to India. A Brahmin had collapsed in a hot, crowded railway carriage and was offered water by the Anglo-Indian stationmaster. The Brahmin could only accept it in his own drinking vessel. Sundar Singh realised that India would not readily convert to Western-style Christianity.

Entering Divinity College

Sadhu Sundar Singh in sitting
Sadhu in Sitting
In December 1909, Sundar Singh entered into Divinity College, Lahore to train for the Christian ministry. According to his biographers, he did not form close relationships with fellow students, meeting them only at meal times and designated prayer sessions. He was ostracised for being "different". Although Sundar Singh had been baptized by an Anglican priest, he was ignorant of the ecclesiastical culture and conventions of Anglicanism. After eight months in the college, Sundar Singh left in July 1910. His withdrawal was also due to stipulations laid down by Bishop Lefroy.

In 1911, he handed over his preacher's license and returned to the Sadhu's life. Stories from those years are astonishing and sometimes incredible. Indeed there were those, who insisted that they were mystical rather than real happenings. That first year, 1912, he returned with an extraordinary account of finding a three-hundred-year old Christian hermit in a mountain cave-the Maharishi of Kailas, with whom he spent some weeks in deep fellowship.

Throwing Sundar Singh in a dry well

In 1912, he travelled through North India and the Buddhist states of the Himalayas, when in Rasar, he had been thrown in a dry well full of bones and rotting flesh and left to die. He claims, however, that three days later a rope was thrown to him and he was rescued. As Singh has been represented by some biographers as a suffering preacher, it is worth recalling that the three days spent down the well bears resemblances to the gospel narratives concerning the death and three days of burial for the Christ before his resurrection from the dead. At these and at other times Sundar Singh was said to have been rescued by members of the "Sunnyasi Mission" secret disciples of Jesus wearing their Hindu markings, whom he claimed to have found all over India.

Sunnyasi Mission

The secret Sunnyasi Mission is reputed to have numbered around 24,000 members across India. The origins of this brotherhood were reputed to be linked to one of the Magi at Christ's nativity and then the second century AD disciples of the apostle Thomas circulating in India. Nothing was heard of this evangelistic fellowship until after William Carey began his missionary work in Serampore. The Maharishi of Kailas experienced ecstatic visions about the secret fellowship that he retold to Sundar Singh and Singh himself built his spiritual life around visions.

Sundar Singh's foreign voyage

During his twenties, his ministry extended greatly and long before. He was thirty; his name and picture were familiar all over the Christian world. He described a struggle with Satan to retain his humility but he was, in fact, always human, approachable and humble, with a sense of fun and a love of nature. This, with his "illustrations" from ordinary life, gave his addresses great impact. Many people said, "He not only looks like Jesus, he talks like Jesus must have talked." Yet all his talks and his personal speech sprang out of profound early morning meditation, especially on the gospels. In 1918 he made a long tour of South India and Ceylon and the following year he was invited to Burma, Malaya, China, and Japan.

For a long time, Sundar Singh had wanted to visit Britain and the opportunity came when his father, Sher Singh came to tell him that he too had become a Christian and wished to give him the money for his fare to Britain. He travelled twice to Britain, the United States and Australia in 1920 and to Europe in 1922. He was welcomed by Christians of many traditions and his words searched the hearts of people who now faced the aftershock of World War I and who seemed to evidence a shallow attitude to life.

Sundar Singh was shocked by what he saw as the materialism, emptiness, and irreligion he found everywhere, contrasting it with Asia's awareness of God, no matter how limited that might be. Once back in India he continued his ministry, though it was clear that he was getting more physically frail. In 1923 Sundar Singh made the last of his visits to Tibet and came back exhausted. His preaching days were obviously over and in the next years in his friends in the Simla hills. He gave himself to meditation, fellowship and writing some of the things in 1925 to 1927, he had lived to preach. In 1927, he returned from Tibet due to illness.

This is the mountain in Subathu where Sadhu used to pray
This is the mountain in Subathu where Sadhu used to pray

Mystery of Sundar Singh's Death

In 1929, Sundar Singh determined to make one last journey to Tibet, against all his friends' advice. He was last seen on the 18th of April 1929 setting off on this journey. In April he reached Kalka, a small town below Simla, a prematurely aged figure in his yellow robe among pilgrims and holy men who were beginning their own trek to one of Hinduism's holy places some miles away. Where he went after that he was unknown. Whether he died of exhaustion or reached the mountains remains a mystery. Some said that Sadhu was murdered and his body thrown into the river; another account says he was caught up into heaven with the angels. He is believed to have died in the foothills of the Himalayas in 1929.

His memory remains

In the early 1940's Rajender Singh, who was brother of Sundar Singh, was searched out by Bishop, Dr.Augustine Peters, a native missionary of South India, who personally led him to Christ and baptized him in Punjab. This is the same Rajender Singh who had poisoned the young Sundar Singh because of Sundar Singh's conversion to Christianity. God used Sundar Singh wonderfully with so many miracles and souls that he won to Christ. But more than his memory remains and he has continued to be one of the most treasured and formative figures in the development and story of Christ's church in India.

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