The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sadhu Sundar Singh
The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet
This is the story of the great indian saint who travelled all around the world in his saffron sanyasi dress with no shoes. He acquired the name Apostle of the bleeding feet early in the period of his ministry. He saw the vision of Jesus which was the starting point of his faith in Christ. Sunder never kept any diary and as such it is difficult to arrange all his experiences and incidents in any proper chronological order. So some of the incidents reported may have conflicting sequences or dates. There are lot of incidents described scattered all over the authors who reported about Sadhu Sudar Singh and not all are presented here
One particular aspect of the life of Sadhu was his on going visions and practically a dual life both in physical and spiritual worlds. He had experienced these vision almost every three days where he lived alongside other saints and sinners there along with angels. His theology and even life itself was based on these on going experiences.
He was a close friend of men like Mahatma Gandhi, Ravindra Nath Tagore, C.F.Adrews, S.K.Rudra and Stokes. My father met him when he came to the Maramon Convention as a speaker. He was always received with great admiration wherever he went. He is respected in the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church. Since he was a member of the Anglican Church, the Church of England celebrates his life with a commemoration on the 19 June.
He is an example of a disciple of Christ as seen in the early disciples who saw and lived with Jesus in the Physical plane. His was an example of cultural embedding of the message of Christ in the Indian context.
1889;– Born at Rampur, Punjab
Over a century ago on 3 September 1889, Sundar Singh was born in a rich family of Sardar Sher Singh of the village of Rampur Kataania, Ludhiana in Patiala State (Punjab) in northern India. His immediate family were “Amritdhari Sikhs” [Sikhs who wears immortality - a form of ritual of the Sikhs. See Chapter II]. His father, Sardar Sher Singh was wealthy and looked up to as the Chief of the village with his Sardar rank. [Several princely states in British India have been ruled by a prince styled Sardar. For example, the Prince of Lahore used the title Sardar. Sardars of these princely states hold a primogeniture hereditary title, similar to British hereditary peers.] Sunder Singh's father, Sirdar Sher Singh, was a Sikh by caste and descent, and one of the most prominent and opulent landholders of the Patiala State, owning a large estate in the country-town of Rampur (near Doraha) in Ludhiana (Punjab state) in northern India . He was the Lord of the Manor.
Sundar’s two elder brothers, unlike other young men of their sikh martial clan, stayed at home, managing and taking care of the family estate; while the rest of the male members of the wider family pursued the military profession (a sikh calling), some of them holding positions of considerable prominence and distinction in the various Sikh states of the Punjab
Daily worship of the One Supreme God was carried on in the household. But then this God is known only in terms of what he is (a Spirit with characteristics) but without a form following essentially the Upanishadic teachings of Hinduism. Being a Spirit, IT cannot be known except through ITS creation. In the hot summers in the plains the family would go to Simla, the cooler air of the foothills of the Himalayas, and stayed there all winter.(Parker, 1920, p.14). His mother, a deeply religious woman, nurtured him in the traditions of the Sikhs. Sundar often spoke of his mother with much love and respect because of the good foundation she laid for his life to come. Sundar was closely attached to his mother, who instilled in him a keen desire to know the truth and gave him the desire to be a sadhu - one totally dedicated to the service of God. Little did anyone know what God was about to do with this keenly intelligent and disciplined young man who was raised in the luxury.
This is a picture which I found on the internet supposed to represent the Sirdar Sher Singh family
Sundar was the youngest of 3 brothers and also had an older sister, and cousins living together in their traditional extended Sikh family. His mother was deeply religious. Sundar and his sister inherited their mother's deep devotion, with long hours of daily prayer together.
According to Sundar it was his mother who first encouraged him to become a sadhu. She once told him, "Do not be selfish and materialistic like your brothers, but seek for your peace of mind and hold steadily onto your faith. Be a sadhu." A Sadhu is an Indian who devotes his entire life to his religion and forsakes all the worldly pleasures. Sundar’s mother took a special interest in raising her youngest son in accordance with Hinduism. .
“Although my family was Sikh, we had great reverence for the Hindu scriptures.
My mother was a living example of the love of God and a devoted follower of Hindu teachings. Every day she awoke before dawn, prepared herself with the cold water of the ritual bath, and read either from the Bhagavad Gita or from one of the other sacred writings. Her pure life and her complete devotion influenced me more strongly than it did the other family members. From the time of my earliest memories, she impressed upon me one rule above all others: when I woke from sleep, my first duty was to pray to God for spiritual nourishment and blessings. Only then could I break the night’s fast. Sometimes I objected to this rule and insisted on having breakfast first, but my mother would never relent. Usually with coaxing, but when necessary with force, she impressed this rule deep onto my soul: Seek God first and only then turn to other things.
At that time, I was too young to recognize the true value of this education, and I resisted her. Later, however, I came to appreciate her example. Whenever I think back now on her loving guidance, I cannot thank God enough for her. For she planted in me, and tended in my early life, a profound love and fear of God. She carried a great light within her, and her heart was the best spiritual training anyone could have: “You must not be careless and worldly,” she would say. “Seek peace of soul, and love God always. Someday you must give yourself fully to the search, you must follow the way of the sadhu.” (Wisdom of the Sadhu)
His mother hired the services of a Hindu Pundit along with an old “Sikh Guru” to instruct Sundar in their respective religious scriptures. . Sundar himself says that “I often used to read the Hindu scriptures till midnight.” Over and above these specialized teachers, Sundar's mother would take him to sit at the feet of a sanyasi, who lived deep in the rainforest nearby as rishi.
As a member of the Sikh family, Sundar was taught about Hinduism and went along with his parents to Hindu temples..Therefore by the age of seven he had already memorized Bhagawad Gita a 700-verse Hindu scripture by heart in Sanskrit. By age sixteen, he had read Granth sahib (the sikh scripture), Koran (The Islamic scripture), and at least fifty-two of the Upanishads The ascetic holy man, who lived in the jungle introduced him to the yoga practices. His Guru saw his fierce approach to religion and said to his father "Your son will become either a fool or a great man. "
As he was ready for school, his mother enrolled him in the mission school where Bible teaching was part of the curriculum without any exemption. During the first few years of his student life Sunder was too young to take much notice of this Christian teaching, but gradually as he reached the stage when boys begin to grow inquisitive about things, the Christian teaching imparted in the school, day after day without remission, sounded like flagrant heresy in his young Hindu based Sikh ears. Sunder was a staunch Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and a fanatic, and so it was beyond his patience to go on hearing a foreign religion preached daily in open defiance of his very own. Very soon this offended his dignity and compelled him to leave the mission school and join a Government school three miles away.
So everyday he has to walk 6 miles to go 3miles and come3 miles and took at least two hours both ways together. But he soon realized that a daily walk of this distance under the scorching sun of an eastern summer was too strenuous an exercise and left him no time to do any home work or rest. Hedged round with these difficulties he realized that there was only one course open for him, that of reverting to his old school, which with their bitter torment of Christianity had forced him to leave. But there was no other way open. Hence after a few weeks of sojourn in this Government School Sunder had to return to his old Christian one.
Sundar describes: “ I was sent, for my secular education, to a small primary school that had been opened by the American Presbyterian Mission in our village at Rampur. At that time I had so many prejudices about Christianity that I refused to read the Bible in the daily Bible lessons. My teacher insisted that I should attend ; but I was so opposed to this that the next year I left that school and went to a Government school at Sanewal three miles away, and there I studied for some months. To some extent I felt that the teaching of the Gospel on the love of God attracted me, but I still thought it was false and opposed it. So firmly was I set in my opinions, and so great was my unrest, that one day, in the presence of my father and others, I tore up a Gospel and burned it. “
Eventually his mother enrolled him to Ewing Christian High School, Ludhiana, to learn English. Started by the Presbyterian Church in 1834, the oldest boys’ school in greater Punjab during the pre-Independence era. In this school Sundar was studying the New Testament in Urdu.
His first response to the learning of Bible was, “Why should I study it? We are Sikhs and our sacred book is Grant Sahib.” Apart from that he was told by the elders of his community that the Christian Bible has some secret magic power that it will make the readers to become Christians. The more he heard of the New Testament, the more he resented it to the extent that he left the school within an year. More than that, when he saw missionaries in public he abused them and ordered his father's servants to do the same. He finally burned a New Testament in public to express his outrage.
According to Sundar, “The teaching of the Gospel on the love of God attracted me, but I still thought it was false.” He also confess “Even then, I felt the Divine attractiveness and wonderful power of the Bible.”
He was particularly attracted to two of the proclamations of Jesus:
l Matthew 11:28-29 Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.…
l John 3:16 -17 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
He even organized a group of students as “The Enemies of Christianity." and repeatedly performed burning of portions of bible in the open.”
So strong were his feelings against this western religion that on one oceasion, when the shadow of a Christian missionary fell across him, he spent a whole hour in washing away the pollution.
After his conversion, Sundar Singh saw that his fanatical opposition to Christianity in fact was a disguised secret attraction to which he was trying to turn his back upon. But his his father disapproved of his Bible burning as much as his obsession with Indian religions and wondered if his son was losing his sanity.
it was also a disguised fight against British colonialism as the
Independence Movement was on fire all over India, especially among the
youth of the land.
Sunder had by now reached the top of his School, and had naturally become more thoughtful and inquisitive. With advance in years had also come to an enhanced interest in the study of his own religion. The balance of his abilities had already passed on to the side of religion, so that, with all the zest of youth and a vigorous nature he threw himself heart and soul into the study of the Bhagavat Gita, the Guranth Sahib, and other sacred books of the Hindus and Sikhs
Ewing Christian High School, Ludhiana was started by the Presbyterian Church in 1834
“We are neither Hindus nor Muslims” (Adi Granth,p. 1136),The Sikh faith began around 1500 CE, when Guru Nanak began teaching a faith that was quite distinct from Hinduism and Islam but combining the basic spiritual principles of both. Christianity (as we understand today) was not even known in Northern India since around 500 AD until around 1800 AD. Nanak was a Kshatriya - of the warrior caste in Hinduism. Islam arrived in the Indian subcontinent in the 7th century when the Arabs conquered Sindh and later arrived in North India in the 12th century via the Ghurids conquest and has since become a part of India's religious and cultural heritage. Nanak's acquaintance with a muslim bard by name Mardana, formed part of his formation of the new teachings. Guru Nanak and the minstrel Mardana made a series of journeys which took them through much of India, the Middle East, and parts of China. The pair traveled together for about 25 years making as many as five separate mission tours . Nine Gurus followed Nanak and developed the Sikh faith and community over the next centuries.
Guru Nanak with his minstrel Bhai Mardana
However, during Arjan's time Sikhism was seen as a threat by the state and Guru Arjan was eventually executed for his faith in 1606.
The sixth Guru, Hargobind, started to militarize the community so that they would be able to resist any oppression. The Sikhs fought a number of battles to preserve their faith. The Sikhs then lived in relative peace with the political rulers until the time of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, who used force to make his subjects accept Islam. Aurangzeb had the ninth Guru, Tegh Bahadur, arrested and executed in 1675.
After the Gurus
Banda Singh Bahadur
The foundations of the present Punjab were laid by Banda Singh Bahadur, a hermit who became a military leader and, with his fighting band of Sikhs, temporarily liberated the eastern part of the province from Mughal rule in 1709–10. Banda Singh’s defeat and execution in 1716 were followed by a prolonged struggle between the Sikhs on one side and the Mughals and Afghans on the other. By 1764–65 the Sikhs had established their dominance in the area.
Ranjit Singh (1780–1839) subsequently built up the Punjab region into a powerful Sikh kingdom and attached to it the adjacent provinces of Multan, Kashmir, and Peshawar (all of which are now fully or partially administered by Pakistan)
Defeated by the British
After Ranjit Singh died in 1839 the Sikh state crumbled, damaged by vicious internal battles for the leadership. In 1845-6 troops of the British Empire defeated the Sikh armies, and took over much Sikh territory. The Sikhs rebelled again in 1849, and were defeated by the British, this time conclusively.
The Sikhs and the British Raj
After this final battle, the Sikhs and the British discovered they had much in common and built a good relationship. The tradition began of Sikhs serving with great distinction in the British Army.
The Sikhs got on well with the British partly because they came to think of themselves less as subjects of the Raj than as partners of the British.The British helped themselves get a favourable religious spin when they took control of the Sikh religious establishment by putting their own choices in control of the Gurdwaras.
Good relations between Sikhs and British came to an end in 1919 with the Amritsar massacre. It was then the period of Indian Independence Struggle began. Am antagonism to the British was inbuilt within every Indian which evidently reflected also as an antagonism to Christianity since the church in North India was essentially the Anglican Church Mission Society Church.The Indian independence movement spanned from 1857 to 1947.
Bhagat Singh, the famous freedom fighter, has always been considered as one of the most influential revolutionaries. He went to Britain to fight for freedom and was finally executed there. I remember when I was 16 in 1950 and was organising a local branch of the Bala Jana Sakyam (Young People’s Association) I named it as Bhagat Sing Memorial. Such was the influence of Bhagat Singh which gives us the clear understanding of the status of Sikh community youngsters in the struggle for freedom.
Gurudwara - the Sikh Temple
The Guru Granth Sahib is the central religious scripture of Sikhism, regarded by Sikhs as the final, sovereign and eternal Guru following the lineage of the ten human gurus of the religion.
While the Granth acknowledges and respects the scriptures of Hinduism and Islam, it does not imply a moral reconciliation with either of these religions. It is installed in a Sikh gurdwara (temple). A Sikh typically bows or prostrates before it on entering such a temple.The Granth is revered as eternal gurbānī and the spiritual authority in Sikhism.
Sikhs believe that all human beings are equal. “We are sons and daughters of Waheguru, the Almighty”. Sikhs have to treat all peoples of the world on an equal footing. No gender, racial, social, etc discrimination is allowed. This is the message of Guru Nanak as taught by the 10 Sikh Masters during the period 1469 to 1708.
The khanda is the symbol of the Sikh faith, that attained its current form around the 1930s during the Ghadar Movement. t is an amalgam of three symbols:
· A double-edged khanda (sword) in the centre
· A chakkar (chakram- wheel)
· Two single-edged swords, or kirpan, crossed at the bottom, which sit on either side of the khanda and chakkar. They represent the dual characteristics of Miri-Piri, indicating the integration of both spiritual and temporal sovereignty together and not treating them as two separate and distinct entities
Remember God:- This part of the three pillars of Sikhism; the rememberance of God by repeating and focussing the mind on His name and His blessings.
Honest work:- To work and earn by the "sweat of the brow", to live a family way of life, and practice truthfulness and honesty in all dealings is a fundamental part of Sikhi.
Share with others:- to share ones wealth with others in the community, to give to charity, to distribute in Langar (free Kitchen) and to generally help others in the community who need help. A Sikh is expected to contribute at least 10% of their wealth/income called Dasvandh to the needy people of the world or to a worthy cause.
Amritdhari Sikhs and Sahajdhari Sikhs
Amritdhari Sikhs are individuals who have gone through the Amrit Sanskar initiation ceremony. These Sikhs belong to the Khalsa. They wear the five Ks, pay daswandh and follow the other rules of the Rahit Maryada, which is the Sikh code of conduct. Sahajdhari Sikhs (literally "slow adopter") is a person who has chosen the path of Sikhism, but has not yet become an Amritdhari (an initiated Sikh initiated into the Khalsa)
Many people who belong to the sangat are not Amritdhari Sikhs. It is not a requirement of the sangat to be a Khalsa Sikh. Anyone who is part of a Sikh family can be part of the sangat, regardless of whether they have been through the Amrit Sanskar ceremony. Sahajdhari Sikhs are individuals who believe in the Ten Gurus and worship the Guru Granth Sahib but have not been initiated into the Khalsa. These Sikhs are just as much a part of the sangat as Khalsa Sikhs.
The five Ks
Amritdhari Sikhs must follow the rules of the Rahit Maryada.
Rahit Maryada, which is the Sikh code of conduct. These include:
· They must wear the five Ks, which are the kesh, the kanga, the kara, the kachera and the kirpan. In addition to not cutting their hair, they must always keep it clean and some wear a turban.
· They must pay daswandh.
· They must not eat meat that has been ritually slaughtered (such as halal meat). However, most Amritdhari Sikhs are vegetarian.
· They must not drink alcohol or gamble.
· They must not arrange marriages for their children for financial gain.
Amrit Ceremony of initiation, or Amrit Sanskar, become baptised Sikhs, take new names, and wear the 5 Ks. The Amrit Ceremony is the initiation rite introduced by Guru Gobind Singh when he founded the Khalsa in 1699
However, many Sahajdahri Sikhs often wear some or all of the five Ks too.
Rules of the ceremony include
· Being conducted in any quiet and convenient place. In addition to the Guru Granth Sahib, the presence of six Sikhs is necessary: one granthi ("narrator"), who reads from the holy text, and five others, representing the original five beloved disciples (pyare), to administer the ceremony.
· Taking a bath and washing of the hair prior to the ceremony is mandatory by those who are receiving the initiation and those who are administering.
Panj pyare leading a procession
l Any Sikh who is mentally and physically sound (male or female) may administer the rites of initiation if they have received the rites and continue to adhere to the Sikh rehni ("way of life") and wear the Sikh articles of faith (i.e. the Five Ks).
· There is no minimum age requirement, though a person who is considering to be Amritdhari should not be of a very young age. Rather, they should have attained a plausible degree of discretion.
· The person to become Amritdhari must wear the five holy symbols (the Five Ks):
· He/she must not have on his/her person any jewellery, distinctive marks, or tokens associated with any other faith. He/she must not have his/her head bare or be wearing a cap. The head must be covered with a cloth. He/she must not be wearing any ornaments piercing through any part of the body. The persons to be Amritdhari must stand respectfully with hands folded facing the Guru Granth Sahib.
· Anyone seeking re-initiation after having resiled from their previous vows may be assigned a penance by the five administering initiation before being re-admitted.
· During the ceremony, one of the five pyare stands and explains the rules and obligations of the Khalsa Panth.
· Those receiving initiation have to give their assent as to whether they are willing to abide by the rules and obligations.
· After their assent, one of the five pyare utters a prayer for the commencement of the preparation of the Amrit and a randomly selected passage (hukam, a "word of God") is taken from Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
The person being initiated must chant "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh" ("Almighty Lord, the pure; Almighty Lord, the victorious"). The salutation is repeated and the holy water is sprinkled on their eyes and hair, five times. The remainder of the nectar is shared by all receiving the initiation, all drinking from the same bowl.
After this, all those taking part in the ceremony recite the Mool Mantra and they are inducted into the Khalsa.
Initiates, by turn, assume the bir posture, cupping right hand, over left.
· One pyara dips a hand into the bowl and pours Amrit into the cupped hands of an initiate saying, "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh," (Khalsa is of the wondrous, dark dispelling light, as is victory). The initiate drinks the nectar, and answers in like manner. The process is repeated five times.
· One pyara sprinkles the Amrit nectar into the initiate’s eyes, saying, "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh." The initiate answers in like manner. The process is repeated five times.
· One pyara bares the top portion of the initiates head, and wets the initiate’s hair with a handful of Amrit saying, "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh". The initiate answers in like manner. The process is repeated five times.
· The panj pyare each place one hand atop the head of the initiate and in one voice, reverberate "Waheguru", the Sikh name for God, thus imparting Gurmanter, or the mantra of the Guru, to the initiate who recites "Waheguru" with them.
all initiates have been initiated, everyone stands up. The panj pyare
pass around the bowl of Amrit nectar. One of them holds it to the lips
of each initiate. Everyone drinks by turns until it is
The practice of the "Sikh way of life" (Sikhi) has been laid out by the Gurus in a simple, well defined and practical manner.
The Gurus emphasise that a Sikh should lead a disciplined and focused life engaged in
l Naam Simran - awareness and meditation on God's name,
l Kirat Karni - living a life engaged in honest work and
l Wand kay Shako, sharing ones wealth with the community.
This translates into a pure way of living; focussed and unfettered mind, honest living, love of fellow humans and through them service to God, the primal power. This way of life is said to have been stripped of complications, myths, jargon, rituals and exploitation of man by man in the name of religion.
In Sikhism, no benefit is gained by where or to which family a person is born – We all have to undertake our own "good actions" (Karmas) in this life. This is done by joining in Simran (meditation and contemplation) and in Sewa (selfless service for the community). Only then can one progress spiritually. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib asks the Sikh to "Practice truth, contentment and kindness; this is the most excellent way of life. One who is so blessed by the Formless Lord God renounces selfishness, and becomes the dust of all. (3)" ( [SGGS] page 51 )
The Basics of Sikhi
The Sikh who has mastered the basic requirements must undertake the following observances in their daily life:
§ A. Disciplined Living,
§ B. Personal Regulations and
§ C. Community Involvement
Sikh's primary belief is in only one supreme God – This sole God is the
same for all the peoples of the Universe. Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh
Guru highlights this point by saying in the Sikh holy text called the
Guru Granth Sahib,
"There is only the One Supreme Lord God; there is no other at all" (SGGS p 45);
this belief is the foundation of the Sikh faith.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scripture begins with the word:
The word is pronounced "Ek Oaṅkar" and is comprised to two parts.
The first part is simply: "ek" - This is simply the digit "1" in Gurmukhi signifying the singularity of the Creator. Together the word means: "There is only one Creator God"
The sound OHM is the “word of God” which is derived from Christianity when Saivism separated as a separate Hindu religion by around 400 AD. Ohm is written in tamil placed on a formless form gives the shape of Ganapathy - the elephant face.
The opening verse of the Guru Granth Sahib, known as the Mool Mantra signifies this:
Transliteration: Ik ŝaṅkĝr sat nĝm karatĝ purakh nirabha'u niravair akĝl mūrat ajūnī saibhaṝ gur prasĝd.
English: One Universal Creator God. The Name Is Truth. Creative Being Personified. No Fear. No Hatred. Image Of The Undying, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent. By Guru's Grace.
"Chant, and meditate on the One God, who permeates and pervades the many beings of the whole Universe. God created it, and God spreads through it everywhere. Everywhere I look, I see God. The Perfect Lord is perfectly pervading and permeating the water, the land and the sky; there is no place without Him." (SGGS 782)
Next, God is considered gender neutral in Sikhism.
So when a Sikh refers to "God", this God can be referred to as masculine or feminine. So God can be called ‘He’ or ‘She’.
Guru Arjan reinforces this concept by saying:
"You are my Father and You are my Mother.....You are my Protector everywhere...." (SGGS p 103).
This one God is the same God of all the religions of the world - the Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc – of all the peoples of the world; everyone in this world belongs to that same one God!
Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru explains:
"All living beings are Yours - You are the Giver of all souls" (SGGS p 10).
Below are quotations from Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) which reinforce the summaries outlined above:
a). There is One God: (from SGGS page 45:)
There is only the One Supreme Lord God;there is no other.
Soul and body are all Yours; whatever pleases You, shall happen.
Through the Perfect Guru, one becomes perfect; O Nanak, meditate on the True One..4-9-79.
b). God the creator. (from SGGS page 1036:)
"He formed the planets, solar systems and nether regions, and brought what was hidden to manifestation
When He so willed, He created the world.
Without any supporting power, He sustained the universe."
OHM is the “Word”, the “Amen” which means Let it be so. It is the word of God that expresses his thought and creates.
Gender and race equality are the bedrock of Sikhi. If you cannot accepts other humans as equals, you are a failed Sikh! Accept and treat all other people as equals and then you can become a follower of Guru Nanak.
Equality and brotherhood of mankind is a fundamental requirement of Sikhi. Since about 1499, the Sikh Gurus have emphasised the concept of the equality of mankind in the sacred verses found in the Sikh holy scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak says in Japji Sahib (the first composition in the holy Granth): "Accept all humans as your equals, and let them be your only sect" (Japji 28), and Guru Gobind Singh tell the world: “recognise all of mankind as a single caste of humanity".
ਇਸੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਪੰਚ ਚੋਰ ਵਸਹਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਮੋਹੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥
Is ḏėhī anḏar pancẖ cẖor vaseh kām kroḏẖ lobẖ moh ahaŉkārā.
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਲੂਟਹਿ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਨਹੀ ਬੂਝਹਿ ਕੋਇ ਨ ਸੁਣੈ ਪੂਕਾਰਾ ॥
ਅੰਧਾ ਜਗਤੁ ਅੰਧੁ ਵਰਤਾਰਾ ਬਾਝੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਬਾਰਾ ॥੨॥
Why did Sundar Singh family follow Hindu practices and worship and Studies of Hinduism and Islam?
Some people find it difficult to understand how the Sunder Singh family even though Sikhi had been involved in the studies and worship forms of Hinduism. The following quotes are given to show that this was common practice among the sikhis
“It has been usual to regard the Sikhs as essentially Hindu...
yet in religious faith and worldly aspiration, they are wholly different from other Indians,
and they are bound together by an objective unknown elsewhere.”
Joseph D. Cunningham
Hinduism and Sikhism have numerous differences but also share some philosophical concepts such as Karma, Dharma, Mukti, Maya and Saṃsāra.
Guru Nanak criticized bad rituals and practices and told to see God from within themselves instead of belief in idols and other imaginary images. He may be considered as a reformer within Hinduism rather than a prophet of a new religion. He was the voice of one who stood against idol woship and also against the oppression of the Islam.
Gurus adopted the names like Rama and Krishna derived from Indian
mythology for God as these were current among the Indian people and had
become synonymous with God in common speech. Thus, Rama, the name of
hero-prince in Ramayana, had become the most popular term for God. In
Guru Granth Sahib, Ram-Nam means
literally God’s name and implies devotion, prayer, meditation. Rama is
used to designate God by Guru Nanak in Japuji.”
G.S. Talib, Teachings of Guru Nanak Dev (edited by Taran Singh), Punjabi University, Patiala 1977, P.27
“Guru Nanak never accepted and respected the authenticity of the Vedas as is done by the Vedic people. He did not believe the Vedas to be ‘revealed books’ nor did he believe the Vedic dogmas taught the whole truth." Prof. Sher Singh MSC - Guru Nanak The Saviour of the world (1469-1538), Published 1935
Yes indeed Vedas are totally different from Vedanta which literally means the end of the Vedas which form the backbone of all modern Hinduism. While Vedas are worship of the elements, Vedanta are philosophy and theology and worship of God as a person who is said to have been incarnated in human form.
Thus for all practical purposes Sikhism for families was unification of various religious thoughts from all over the world. So it is not surprising in the early and middle periods of British occupation we see the Sikhi still involved in Hindu practices and theology. Sundar writes about this situation as follows: “I was born in a family that was commonly considered Sikh, but in which the teaching of Hinduism was considered most essential.” It was a communal family where the wider family were living in close proximity and were considered as one family living together where some of them were Hindus and some Sikh. In fact it was a practice where the first born son in Hindu families were brought up as Sikh and as protector of the rest of the family.
'Not only does the Adi Granth reproduce hundreds of passages from the older scriptures, but like the rest of the Sant literature it also follows the lead of the Upanishads and the Gita and the Yoga Vasishtha in all doctrinal points. Its theology and cosmology, its God-view and world-view, its conception of deity and man and his salvation, its ethics, philosophy and praxis and Yoga-all derive from that source. It believes in Brahma-vada, in Advaita, in So-ham, in Maya, in Karma, in rebirth, in Mukti and Nirvana, in the Middle Path (in its yogic sense)'.Ram Swarup: 'Hindu Roots of Sikhism', quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. New Delhi: Voice of India. Ch. 8
Historically, Sikhs were seen as the protectors of Hindus, among others, and were even considered by some right-wing Hindu political organizations like the RSS as the "sword arm" of Hinduism. This status as protectors of Hindus was strong enough that Punjabi Hindus would raise their eldest son as a Sikh. In their tradition the first born of the Hindu family was brought up as a Sikhi .
DNA tests and surveys done on Sikhs state that sixty three percent of the ancestors of Sikhs are Hindus and the rest Jains, Buddhists and Muslims. Some groups view Sikhism as a tradition within Hinduism along with other Dharmic faiths, even though the Sikh faith is a distinct religion. Marriages between Sikhs and Hindus, particularly among Khatris, are frequent. Dogra states that there has always been inter-marriage between the Khatri Hindu and the Sikh Khatri communities. William Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi state that for Khatri Sikhs, intermarriage between Hindus and Sikhs of same community was preferable than other communities. .
You will notice that it was the mother of Sadhu Sunder Singh who led him through the Hindu based religious growth. Her name is not given nor is known. It is most probable that she was from a Hindu family. This will explain emphasis on the studies of Hindu scriptures of Vedas, Vedantas and Yoga given to Sundar during his early life.
For more - see: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Hinduism_and_Sikhism
Night after night when the world was asleep poor Sunder sat up striving to cheer his soul ‘ wandering in want and cheerless discomfort,’ Once and again would he recite passages from the Gita and the Granth to lull his restless soul . He would commence his endless search ” through the ponderous volumes of the Hindu scriptures. But it was all in vain, for they brought no comfort to his soul.
At last all resources having failed Sunder turned his attention towards Christianity to see if that religion could do anything to comfort his heart. Buying himself a copy of the Injil (New Testament) he started reading it in a cursory way, but very soon the cursory reading developed into a careful study and the careful study into a passionate devotion. Sunder had now fully to accept Jesus as his MuktiDaatha (Giver of Salvation) and was resting on him.
His father also found him silent at home and assumed that he had finally come to take his religion of Sikhism as the way to mukthi. However soon his confidence and assumptions were shattered when his friends in school told him that “Sunder Singh has fallen a victim to the wiles of the crafty Christian master ; for now he sits absolutely quiet in the class. Instead of joining in making fun of the Bible teacher he appears grievously offended when we scoff and ridicule the name of Isa Masih." This information, if true, was unquestionably very startling to the father.
When asked Sundar was afraid to own the fact that Jesus probably was the Mukthi Daatha.
But when he was only fourteen years old, his mother died suddenly.
Sunder was very close to his mother who initiated his future Sadhu status and the ardent desire to learn the Truth and to find God.
in his life a minister once suggested, ''It would add very much to your
effectiveness if you would take a course in a theological college."
“I have been," replied the Sadhu, "to the best theological college in the world."
"Is that so?" rejoined the minister, surprised.
"My mother's bosom," said the Sadhu, "is the best theological college in the world."
His connection was so deep that once when he was talking to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he said: "If I do not see my mother in heaven, I shall ask God to send me to hell so that I may be with her."
On the death of his mother, young Sundar grew increasingly despairing and aggressive. Convinced that what Jesus had taught was completely wrong, he tore the Bible apart and burned it. He even threw stones at preachers and encouraged others to do likewise. His hatred of the local missionaries and Christians culminated in the public burning of a Bible which he tore apart page by page and threw into the flames. Still, however hard he tried, he couldn't find the peace he had been seeking for in his own religion. He reached a point in his life where committing suicide seemed to be only solution. This will bring probably are incarnation to a better life depending on his current desires for truth and probably will bring peace into his coming life.
He took the Bible and tore it to pieces and burnt it before his family in the backyard of the house. "Although I believed that I had done a very good deed by burning the Bible, I felt unhappy," he said. Within three days Sundar Singh could bear his misery no longer. Late one night in December 1903, he rose from bed and prayed that God reveal himself to him if he really existed. Otherwise -- "I planned to throw myself in front of the train which passed by our house." For seven hours Sundar Singh prayed. "O God, if there is a God, reveal thyself to me tonight." The next train was due at five o'clock in the morning. The hours passed.Three days later, It was December 18, 1904. (The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church gives the date as 18th. But others like
Cyril J. Davey, a Christian biographer for Sadhu has given the date as “December 3, 1903.”)
He got up at three in the morning, took a cold bath - the ceremonial bath of the Sikhi - and going back to his room knelt down and bowed his head in prayer asking God to reveal Himself/Herself to him. He prayed : " O God — if there be a God — show me the right way, and I will become a Sadhu ; otherwise I will kill myself." Then he said to himself : " If nothing is revealed to me, if I still can understand nothing, then I will kill myself in order to find God in the other world." He prayed and prayed without stopping ; he besought God earnestly to deliver him from this uncertainty and unrest, and to give him peace ; but there was no answer.He had already decided what he would do if there is no assurance of God, that he will commit suicide by putting his head on the railway trace of the Punjab Express Train which was due at 5.A.M. Then it happenned. It was 4:30 A.M.
1. In a book titled, The Sadhu: A Study in Mysticism and Practical Religion, published in 1922, the authors, Streeter and Appasamy, have recorded Sadhu’s own words from his speech that he delivered in one of his “Kandy addresses” in Sri Lanka:
“At 4.30 A.M. I saw something of which I had no idea at all previously. In the room where I was praying I saw a great light. I thought the place was on fire. I looked around, but could find nothing. Then the thought came to me that this might be an answer that God had sent me. Then as I prayed and looked into the light, I saw the form of the Lord Jesus Christ. It had such an appearance of glory and love.
If it had been some Hindu incarnation I would have prostrated myself before it. But it was the Lord Jesus Christ whom I had been insulting a few days before. I felt that a vision like this could not come out of my own imagination. I heard a voice saying in Hindustani, “How long will you persecute me? I have come to save you; you were praying to know the right way. Why do you not take it? … When I got up, the vision had all disappeared; but although the vision disappeared the Peace and Joy have remained with me ever since.”
2. In a booklet titled Life in Abundance published in 1980, there appeared some sermons that Sadhu had delivered earlier while in Switzerland in March 1922. On March 5th, Sadhu said:
“I want to repeat the details of my conversion; how I became Christian. Many of you don’t know that I was an enemy of Jesus Christ, I used to tear up the Gospel and burn it; I used to think “This is a false religion, our Hinduism is the only true religion;” but I was not satisfied with my religion…. One day I got up early in the morning, I took a cold water bath and began to pray …. After an hour and a half I saw something which I could not recognize.
It was December 18th when I saw Him, while I was praying in my room…. I was not prepared to believe in Him because I used to hate him. He died on the Cross; how can He save me? But on the 18th, early in the morning, when he revealed Himself to me in such a glorious way, when He spoke to me: “I died for thee, and I am the Savior of the world,” then I found my Savior, my all. I got up; He had disappeared, but there was a wonderful peace in my heart…”.
3. In With And Without Christ, Sadhu describes:
“On the third day, when I felt I could bear it no longer, I got up at three in the morning and after bathing, I prayed that if there was a God at all He would reveal Himself to me, …. I remained till about half-past four praying and waiting and expecting to see Krishna, or Buddha, or some other Avatar of the Hindu religion: they appeared not, but a light was shining in the room. I opened the door to see where it came from, but all was dark outside.
I returned inside, and the light increased in intensity and took the form of a globe of light above the ground, and in this light there appeared, not the form I expected, but the Living Christ whom I had counted as dead. To all eternity I shall never forget His glorious and loving face, nor the few words, which He spoke: “Why do you persecute me? See, I have died on the Cross for you and for the whole world.” These words were burned into my heart as by lightening, and I fell on the ground before Him….”
From another reference, I copied Jesus’ words in Hindustani: “Tu mujhe kyun satata hai? Dekh main ne tere liye apni jan salib par di.”
4. In his article God’s Lion: Wisdom of the Sadhu, Tim Comer brought to my attention to another of Sadhu’s direct quote with respect to what transpired on that early morning:
“Though at the time I had considered myself a hero for burning the Bible, my heart found no peace. Indeed, my unrest only increased, and I was miserable for the next two days. On the third day, when I could bear it no longer, I rose at 3:00 A.M. and prayed that if there was a God at all, he would reveal himself to me. Should I receive no answer by morning, I would place my head on the railroad tracks and seek the answer to my questions beyond the edge of this life. I prayed and prayed, waiting for the time to take my last walk. At about 4:30 I saw something strange. There was a glow in the room.
At first I thought there was a fire in the house, but looking through the door and windows, I could see no cause for the light. Then the thought came to me: perhaps this was an answer from God. So I returned to my accustomed place and prayed, looking into the strange light. Then I saw a figure in the light, strange but somehow familiar at once. It was neither Siva nor Krishna nor any of the other Hindu incarnations I had expected. Then I heard a voice speaking to me in Urdu:
“Sundar, how long will you mock me? I have come to save you because you have prayed to find the way of truth. Why then don’t you accept it?”
It was then I saw the marks of blood on his hands and feet and knew that it was Yesu, the one proclaimed by the Christians. In amazement I fell at his feet. I was filled with deep sorrow and remorse for my insults and my irreverence, but also with a wonderful peace. This was the joy I had been seeking. This was heaven …Then the vision was gone, though my peace and joy remained.”
4. The following is from Sadhu’s address in Kandy Ceylon:
“Preachers and Christians in general had often come to me and I used to resist them and persecute them. When I was out in any town I got people to throw stones at Christian preachers. I would tear up the Bible and burn it when I had a chance. In the presence of my father I cut up the Bible and other Christian books and put kerosene oil upon them and burnt them. I thought this was a false religion and tried all I could to destroy it. I was faithful to my own religion, but I could not get any satisfaction or peace, though I performed all the ceremonies and rites of that religion.
Passenger train on the Kalka-Shimla Railway route
So I thought of leaving it all and committing suicide. Three days after I had burnt the Bible, I woke up about three o'clock in the morning, had my usual bath, and prayed, '0 God, if there is a God, wilt thou show me the right way or I will kill myself. ' My intention was that, if I got no satisfaction, I would place my head upon the railway line when the 5 o'clock train- passed by and kill myself. If I got no satisfaction in this life, I thought I would get it in the next. I was' praying and praying but got no answer; and I prayed for half an hour longer hoping to get peace.
At 4.30 A.M. I saw something of which I had no idea at all previously. In the room where I was praying I saw a great light. I thought the place was on fire. I looked round, but could find nothing. Then the thought came to me that this might be an answer that God had sent me. Then as I prayed and looked into the light, I saw the form of the Lord Jesus Christ. It had such an appearance of glory and love. If it had been some Hindu incarnation I would have prostrated myself before it.
But it was the Lord Jesus Christ whom I had been insulting a few days before. I felt that a vision like this could not come out of my own imagination. I heard a voice saying in Hindustani, 'How long will you persecute me? I have come to save you; you were praying to know the right way. Why do you not take it ? ' The thought then came to me, 'Jesus Christ is not dead but living and it must be He Himself.' So I fell at His feet and got this wonderful Peace which I could not get anywhere else. This is the joy I was wishing to get.
This was heaven itself. When I got up, the vision had all disappeared ; but although the vision disappeared the Peace and Joy have remained with me ever since. I went off and told my father that I had become a Christian. He told me, ' Go and lie down and sleep : why, only the day before yesterday you burnt the Bible ; and you say you are a Christian now.* I said, 'Well, I have discovered now that Jesus Christ is alive and have determined to be His follower. To-day I am His disciple and I am going to serve Him.' "
Jesus was the last person Sundar was looking for. After all, Jesus was the ‘foreign god’ of the Christian teachers at his school… Amazed that his vision had taken the unexpected form of Jesus, Sundar was convinced in his heart that Jesus was the true Savior, and that He was alive. Sundar fell on his knees before Him and experienced an astonishing peacefulness which he had never felt before.
Sundar realized that Jesus indeed was the true living God, whom he had been rejecting continuously. Sundar fell on his face. The vision disappeared. He became a new creation.
Sundar Singh wrote later:
I saw was no imagination of my own. Up to that moment I hated Jesus
Christ and did not worship Him. If I were talking of Buddha I might
have imagined it, for I was in the habit of worshipping him. It was no
dream. When you have just had a cold bath you don't dream! It was
reality, the Living Christ!" (Heiler, Friedrich. The Gospel of Sadhu
Sundar Singh. First published in German in 1924, then published in
English in 1927. First Indian edition published by the Lucknow
Publishing House in Lucknow, India, 1970. Abridged English translation
by Olive Wyon.)
His immediate reaction was to confess Jesus with his mouth loud and clear
(which fulfiled the verse Rom x:9)
Full of joy, he roused his father, exclaiming :“I am a Christian"
" You are off your head, my boy," said the bewildered man ; " go away and sleep !, The day before yesterday you burnt the Bible, and now all of a sudden you say that you are a Christian ! How can you explain such behaviour ? "
Sundar replied : " Because I have seen Him.
Until now I always said, “He is simply a man who lived two thousand years ago.”
But to-day I have seen Him Himself, the living Christ, and I intend to serve Him, for I have felt His power. He has given me the peace which no one else could give. Therefore I know that He is the living Christ. I will, and I must, serve Him."
Then his father said : “ But just now you were going to kill yourself.''
The boy answered : " I have killed myself: the old Sundar is dead ; I am a new being."
But, he was a Sikh. Sikhs had endured terrible persecutions in their early history. As a consequence they were fiercely loyal to their faith and protective of each other. Thus a conversion to Christianity was blatant treachery.
Shortly after this momentous episode it became publicly known that Sunder Singh bad become a Kirani - a contemptuous word for the Christians in Punjab. Soon the rage of the whole community turned upon the small group of Christians of the village of Rampur. It was an organized ostracism.
Rahmat the Ruthless
It was not the sikhs and the Hindus alone who persecuted Sundar but also the muslims. Perhaps the most formidable amongst Sunder’s enemies was a Muslim named Rahmat, a Patwari (a petty government officer,) Rahmat never greeted the boy but with words of the most rancorous scorn, and never finished a conversation till he had pronounced half a dozen maledictions on Isa Masih and His followers.
One evening when Rahmat, was returning from his work he happened to pass by the village where he saw Sunder sitting under a tree and reading his Bible and deep in meditation. Rahmet creeped slowly behind him and snatched the Bible and and threw it far, abusing him.
A few days after this episode Sunder was one day picking his way through the village when nearing Rahmat’s house he saw a big crowd of people gathered at the door. Seeing this he turned his steps that way and sought admission into the house. All the members of the family were weeping and wailing. When inquired he was told that Rahmat has got cholera and is about to die. Sunder went in and stood over the dying man’s bed and inquired after his state. Rahmat spake, thus:
“My eyes see a vision, a whole crowd of horribly ugly and Satanic angels have come to fetch me. Woe unto me, for I am doomed! doomed to eternal misery and anguish in yonder dark pit of Hell ! Woe unto me, for there is none who can save me except One whom I see standing in the far back-ground. Highest above the cloud of dreadful angels He stands, but I am afraid, I dare not call to Him ; my race is run, my chance gone for ever and now my fate is past recalling.”
Surprised Sunder asked him whom he meant by the ‘One' who had the power to save him. The dying man replied:
“Do not ask me His Name, for you know Him well. It is the same whom you have lately accepted as your Guru . Happy are you, for you are saved, but woe unto me for I am not worthy as much as even to name His Name with my unhallowed lips.”
Saying this Rahmat collapsed into a state of unconsciousness and soon breathed his last. Sunder returned home that with ar heavy hearted, but he was also strengthened in his newfound faith.
In order to avoid complications, Sundar Singh persuaded his father to send him to a boarding School in Ludhiana which was run by the Christians, which was not too far away. The father continued to entreat him to renounce his newly found beliefs. Every ploy and ruse was employed to wean Sundar away from Christ. His father practically commanded him to get married. It was an attractive way since family life with lot of money and sex life with beautiful girls can always be depended upon to turn away the heart of a boy. This was the method that was employed. At one time His father ordered him to return home and get married and be settled in the family traditions.
Here is the letter that Sundar’s father wrote to him:
My dear Son, the light of my eyes, the comfort of my heart:
May you live long. We are all quite well here and hope the same for you..
I do not now wait to ask you what you think, but I order you to get married immediately. Can you not serve your guru, Christ in a married state ? Now, make haste and do’nt go on disappointing us. Does the Christian religion teach disobedience to parents?. I do not know when I may pass away, but I do know that if you do not get married now, you never will after my death.
You have gone mad. Just think for a moment who will take care of so much property, or do you want to blot out the family name ? If you get engaged today I will bequeath to you the whole sum of money now in the three banks, (the interest of which amounts to 3 to 4 hundred rupees a month) otherwise you will lose what I have already reserved for you.
It will be for your welfare if you take my advice and come home at once, then every thing will be properly settled.
I am also a little indisposed. If you do not listen to my advice I shall stop helping you from next month. I found out later that you gave away the Rs750 to B.. the Christian. What a fool you are! You do neither feed nor dress yourself properly, but give away what you have, to other people.....
Your loving father
Here is Sundar’s Reply:
"My dear and respected Father:
Thank you very much for your kind letter re my engagement and marriage. I am always at your service and reckon it an honour to obey you and do your will, but I regret to say that I cannot and will not get married.
You are my earthly father, but besides you I have another Father which is in Heaven who is to be obeyed and served above everyone else. My Father has called me to serve Him as a fakir, and
I must obey this call. If I get married I shall not be able to do my duty and the truth is that I have no great desire for money. As for your threats of disinheriting me. all I can say is that I was not hoping for any property or money when I became a Christian.
I regarded it a favour when at my baptism you left me alone and when after some time you again started helping me I was thankful. Now if you leave me again : I will not gainsay you. but will only thank you for what you do. You are wise and experienced and can do what you like; as for me, having once put my hand to the plough I will not look back.”
Your obedient Son,
He did return to Rampur but he made it clear to his father, that it was the unchristian lives of the 'Christian' boys at the boarding school which had greatly disappointed him and caused him to return home. But it did not cause him to reject his Lord Jesus.
His relatives courted him, "Why should you not marry one of our daughters?" A wealthy uncle, one day took him to his house, and led him to a deep cellar below the main building. He opened a large safe and showed him rolls of bank notes, gold and jewels saying, “All these shall be yours if you will remain with us." His uncle then told him of the disgrace to the family name if he became a Christian. In the ultimate sikh form of pleading, he then taking his puggaree (the head band) from his own head and laid it on Sundar's feet.
The reaction of Sundar Singh was, "All this gold cannot give me the peace which the Lord Jesus Christ has given me."
But his decision to be a Christian generated a whole process of chaos and persecution, turning everything upside down.
His father pleaded.
Adjuring him by his Sikh pride of birth,
by the honour of his family, and
by his devotion to his mother
An uncle opened a cellar full of treasures in an attempt to bribe.
A beautiful girl with huge dowry
His own brothers spread lies about him.
They even poisoned his food several times to kill him.
His former Anti-Christian gang hurled muck at him.
They reproached him as a perjurer, renegade, and deceiver
During the period another student of the School, Gurdit Singh also became a Christian. The Sikh community brought in an accusation of “attempt to convert” on a teacher of the school called Mr. Newton. He was accused before the local authority of bringing pressure to bear upon the pupils to accept Christianity. However both Sundar and Gurdit witnessed against it in the court, so that the case was dropped. In the course of the few weeks, Gurdit was poisoned to death by his own family in order to keep the honour of the family.
The whole village community grew in their attempt to express their opposition to Christianity to the extent that no one would buy or sell anything to or from any Christian. Unable to bear this persecution and threats to their lives and property, most of them fled to a neighbouring place where there was a stronger and older Christian community.
The storm of persecution and bitter opposition that now broke forth, proved disastrous alike for Sunder and the handful of poor Christians resident in the village. The mission school was now
looked upon as the nursery ground of false religious teaching and as a hot-bed of rampant faithlessness and perfidy ; while the Christian masters were regarded as the secret designers of the downfall of Hinduism. The news spread—as all news does in India—and stirred up a tumult in the entire village. The whole place was soon seething with a spirit of bitter antagonism to Christianity and
every effort was made to make the life of Christians in every way.
Every single shop in the village was closed against the Christians, and every one, specially young boys and girls, were warned to beware of the Christians’ “vitiating influence.”
Out castes and untouchables as they had always been regarded, no one would now deal with the wretched Christians. This was of course past endurance and it soon compelled them to clear out
of the village and find shelter somewhere else. Besides, the little mission school, the influence of which had culminated in the revolt of a mere minor like Sunder, now became an object of terror and
hatred to the village folk One by one one people took their sons out of the dangerous Maktab (School). They would much rather have their children grow up in ignorance and in superstitious fear of their gods, than expose them to the risks of conversion to Christianity. The rapid decline in number of students soon led to the ultimate collapse of the Mission School.
Beyond that the whole community of sikhs in the village became antagonistic to the School, the mission station as a whole and even against the Christian community in the village. Many of the Christian families had to move out of the village for safety and the Mission Station was closed.
His father being a man of wealth and power, took him to the Maharaja of Punjab King Sher-Singh. The king apealed to his duty to the sikh religion and even offered a position of high honor in the government. how is it that you have turned into a coward ? " Then he offered him a post of high honour if he would remain true to the faith of his fathers. But Sundar Singh refused to be led astray.
Finally Sundar realized that his continued stay will only bring hell not only to him but also to his family and the community. He must break with his people and define his direction and witness.
He cut off the hair.
In Sikhism, kesh (sometimes kes) is the practice of allowing one's hair to grow naturally out of respect for the perfection of God's creation. The practice is one of The Five Kakaars, the outward symbols ordered by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 as a means to profess the Sikh faith. The hair is combed twice daily with a kanga, another of the five Ks, and tied into a simple knot known as a joora or rishi knot. This knot of hair is usually held in place with the kanga and covered by a turban.
The 52 commands of Guru Gobind Singh written at Hazur Sahib at Nanded in the state of Maharashtra, mention that the kesh (hair) should be revered as the form of the Satguru (eternal guru) whom they consider as the same as god. For this reason by practitioners they are kept with the utmost respect.
The whole village community grew in their attempt to express their opposition to Christianity to the extent that no one would buy or sell anything to or from any Christian. Unable to bear this persecution and threats to their lives and property, most of them fled to a neighbouring place where there was a stronger and older Christian community.
“The storm of persecution and bitter opposition that now broke forth, proved disastrous alike for Sunder and the handful of poor Christians resident in the village. The mission school was now
looked upon as the nursery ground of false religious teaching and as a hot-bed of rampant faithlessness and perfidy ; while the Christian masters were regarded as the secret designers of the downfall of Hinduism. The news spread—as all news does in India—and stirred up a tumult in the entire village. The whole place was soon seething with a spirit of bitter antagonism to Christianity and
every effort was made to make the life of Christians in every way.
Every single shop in the village was closed against the Christians, and every one, specially young boys and girls, were warned to beware of the Christians’ “vitiating influence.”
Out castes and untouchables as they had always been regarded, no one would now deal with the wretched Christians. This was of course past endurance and it soon compelled them to clear out
of the village and find shelter somewhere else. Besides, the little mission school, the influence of which had culminated in the revolt of a mere minor like Sunder, now became an object of terror and
hatred to the village folk One by one one people took their sons out of the dangerous Maktab (School). They would much rather have their children grow up in ignorance and in superstitious fear of their gods, than expose them to the risks of conversion to Christianity. The rapid decline in numbers soon led to the ultimate collapse of the heroic Mission School.
Ostracized from Family
1904:– Cast out from home
As such it was a loud statement that he was leaving his faith as a Sikhi. He was given his last festive meal with the wider family and his father then pronounced his formal Ostracization in accordance with Hindu custom: “We reject you forever… We shall forget you as if you had never been born. You will leave this house with nothing but the clothes you wear on your back without any shoes. We consider you as dead. You will not re-enter the steps back to this home” Pots were clanged as he stepped out and the doors were closed behind him.
”The face of
Sardar Sher Singh was dreadful to behold. Rage born of frustration,
desperation and shame reddened his eyes. In the presence of the entire
household, his heart heavy with grief, he led his son to the door as
darkness was falling. Already death had taken his wife and one son; now
he was to lose his beloved Sundar. But he saw no choice: the boy had
made his decision. Now he spoke the fearful curse:
“We reject you forever and cast you from among us. You shall be no more my son. We shall know you no more. For us, you are as one who was never born. I have spoken.”
The door closed behind him.
I will never forget the night I was driven out of my home. I slept outdoors under a tree, and the weather was cold. I had never experienced such a thing. I thought to myself: “Yesterday I lived in comfort. Now I am shivering, and I am hungry and thirsty. Yesterday I had everything I needed and more; today I have no shelter, no warm clothes, no food.” Outwardly the night was difficult, but I possessed a wonderful joy and peace in my heart. I was following in the footsteps of my new master – of Yesu, who had nowhere to lay his head, but was despised and rejected. In the luxuries and comforts of home I had not found peace. But the presence of the Master changed my suffering into peace, and this peace has never left me.”
From Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh
In their book “The Message of Sadhu Sundar Singh” (1819) Two of his close friends A.J.Appaswamy and J.S. Welles gives the following description by Sadhu:
''I remember the night when I was driven out of my home — the first night. When I came to know my Savior I told my father and my brother and my other relations.
At first they did not take much notice; but afterwards they thought that it was a great dishonor that I should become a Christian, and so I was driven out of my home.
The first night I had to spend, in cold weather, under a tree. I had had no such experience. I was not used to living in such a place without a shelter. I began to think : ' Yesterday and before that I used to live in the midst of luxury at my home; but now I am shivering here, and hungry and thirsty and without shelter, with no warm clothes and no food. ' I had to spend the whole night under the tree. But I remember the wonderful joy and peace in my heart, the presence of my Savior.
I held my New Testament in my hand. I remember that night as my first night in heaven. I remember the wonderful joy that made me compare that time with the time when I was living in a luxurious home. In the midst of luxuries and comfort I could not find peace in my heart. The presence of the Savior changed the suffering into peace. Ever since then I have felt the presence of the Savior. '
A man's foes shall be they of his own household."-:Matt. X . 30.
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." -Phil. i. 29
Thus did he leave his home, without carrying a bag, nor any money with a thin covering of clothing. The first night — he tells us — that he spent shivering under a tree, for it was cold. There he sat, enduring cold, with only the New Testament in his hands.
But the Sadhu says : " That was my first night in Heaven. The world could not give me such peace. Christ, the Living Lord, breathed into me a glorious peace. The cold pierced me through and through, I was a hungry outcast, but I had the sense of being enfolded in the power of the Living Christ."
" The presence of my Redeemer turned suffering into joy."
as dawn broke, he realized that he had to face the situation squarely.
He could not remain there forever, under the 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.
By the early morning he set out to the nearby village of Rupar where most of the Christians fled in terror of the persecution. The 30 mile walk must have taken at least 10 hours and that without any meals. He had scarcely reached the house of the resident Presbyterian missionary, Rev.P.C. Uppal, when the poison which was given to him in his final sweet dish by his family began to take effect. This was the common practice of Hindu tradition to kill those who leave the religion in order to keep the honor of the family. But this was not a compulsory part of the ritual. 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. Uppal and his wife called in the doctor .
Speaking in Geneva, in 1922, Sundar Singh described this incident :
“ On one occasion my relations wanted to give me poison and put it in my food, I ate it and the next day I was on the point of death. The doctor said there was no hope. I felt sure I would recover and bear witness for my Saviour. The doctor would not give me any medicine, for he was certain I was going to die, and if he gave me anything and I died, people would say that it was he who had poisoned me. When I regained consciousness I told the doctor to read St. Mark chapter 16. He began to laugh at the story of the Resurrection, as the Rationalists do today. They don't understand miracles because they have not experienced them, but those who have, find no difficulty.
”In the morning I felt quite fresh and received new life. The doctor came and when he saw me sitting in the sun he was very surprised and ashamed and went away without saying a word. So deeply impressed was he that he took a copy of the New Testament and began to study it. In this way the physician himself became a believer in Christ, and became a missionary in Burma.
“ I saw nothing of him for a long time, but some years later, when visiting Burma, I met him at a meeting.
‘ Do you recognize me ? ’ he asked.
‘ Yes, ’ I answered ; ' I last saw you when I was on my death-bed.’
He told me that my miraculous recovery had made such an impression on him that he had begun to read the Bible and was a Christian. ”
It was a turning point in his life, though neither he nor Sadhu Sundar Singh realized it at that time. It is the signs and wonders that confirms the word proclaimed by the witnesses. This doctor was Sundar Singh’s first convert. He was followed in course of time by many more.
[SUNDAR SINGH A Biography By A. J. APPASAMY, D.PhiL, D.D., D. Theol., Formerly Bishop in Coimbatore, India (CLS,London 1958)]
After a few days he moved to the Christian Boys' Boarding School at Ludhiana. Both the Presbyterian missionaries. Dr. Wherry and Dr. Fife, received him with much love and care. Having realized that Sundar escaped death, Sudar’s family tried to take him back home. His father himself came to take him back several times. But Sundar Singh stood firm on his choice.
This is how one of his friends John Chauhan, his schoolmate at Rampur, who also became a student in Ludhiana Mission school describes:
“ In 1905 my father sent me to study in the Christian Boys’ Boarding School at Ludhiana. Lo, after a few months I was suddenly called by the Headmaster (Dr. Fife) to his office. I went trembling and fearful, but there I saw Sundar Singh and I was told to take him to the class, where he also was to study.
“ I was delighted to see him. He was grown much and was stronger and bigger than me. In the short free period he told me that he had come from Rupar where he had become a Christian. But his parents and relatives had persecuted him and poisoned him that he might die . . .
His father soon discovered that Sundar Singh was staying in the school in Ludhiana and came with a large crowd of people in order to take him away by force. But the Head masters allowed only his father to see him. The others were persuaded to leave the school building immediately. I was present at this conversation and I can never forget the dreadful scene. His father begged and implored him to leave the school and not to become a Christian. But Sundar Singh said, “It is impossible. I am a Christian and always want to remain one. I love Christ.” The father then wept bitterly and also Sundar Singh, and I also wept. The father then stopped weeping and became inhuman and threatened him in many ways. But all this was of no avail. He went away without Sundar Singh but with a warning that he would come again in order to kill him. His people came again three or four limes but they were not allowed to see him. Finally our summer holidays came and I came home to Khanna. But Sunder Singh never returned to school.''
In order to relieve Sundar Singh from the pressure of his family and possible resurgence of mob attacks on him he was moved to Subathu, a medical mission station near Simla who served the leprosy patients.
There in quietness he studied the Bible and prepared himself for baptism. According to Indian law, he could not go over to Christianity until he was sixteen, so he had to wait for his birthday.
On account of the popular excitement, the Ludhiana missionaries did not consider it wise to baptize him there. Dr. Fife,therefore, who had now taken over the charge of the school, sent him with a letter of introduction to Mr. Redman, the senior missionary of the Church Missionary Society at Simla, and asked him, after careful examination of Sundar Singh, to baptize him.
Sundar Singh went to Simla in the company of several other boys of his own age, and also with a free-lance missionary, Mr. Stokes, and handed his teacher's letter of introduction to Mr. Redman. The latter writes thus of this meeting :
" I was deeply impressed by his sincerity. I examined him carefully, and asked him a great many questions about the chief facts of the Gospel. Sundar Singh replied to my entire satisfaction, and he evinced even then an extraordinary knowledge of the Life and Teaching of Christ. Then I inquired into his personal experience of Christ as his Saviour. Again I was more than satisfied. And I told him I would be very glad to baptize him on the following day, which was a Sunday. He replied that he desired to be baptized because it was the will of Christ, but that he felt so sure that the Lord had called him to witness for Him, that even if I could not see my way to baptize him, he would have to go out and preach."
1905;– Baptized in Simla; begins life as a sadhu
On Sunday the 3rd of September, 1905, on his sixteenth birthday, Sundar Singh was baptized in St. Thomas Church at Simla in the Himalayan foothills by Mr. Redman, according to the rite of the Anglican Church. The opening words of the twenty-third Psalm, which formed part of the baptismal service, were at the same time a prophecy of the life of a wandering friar upon which the Sadhu was about to enter : " The Lord is my Shepherd ; I shall not want”
Anglican Parish Church in Simla, in the Himalayan foothills
St. Thomas’s Church at Simla
by Mr. Redman
September 3, 1905,
the exact date on which he attained his sixteenth year.
In his Urdu travel diary Sundar Singh says that
he left Subathu on October 6, 1905
preached in and around
Kasauli, Solon, Dagshai and Simla.
He then went on an evangelistic tour throughout India :
In the Punjab, Sindh, the United Provinces, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras,
Anglicans attempt to hold on to the teachings of the early Church and the Reformers in their views on Holy Baptism. Article 27 (XXVII) of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion explains it this way (I’ve altered the formatting with a bulleted list):
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument,
· they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church;
· the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed,
· Faith is confirmed,
· and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.
The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
Baptism is, in the Church, accepted as the initiation into the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It is the actual instrument (or means) God uses to bring people into the Body of Christ.
Paul writes this in his letter to the Colossians 2:12:
“having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
The last recorded words of our Lord in Matthew’s Gospel were to his eleven disciples to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus had commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). The background to this command was the making and baptising of disciples that was part of Jesus’ earthly ministry, as it had been part of John’s (John 4:1-2). The combination of making disciples and the use of water baptism as a ‘seal’ or ‘mark’ of discipleship (“sikh”) is striking.
The Apostle with a bleeding feet.
In his later years Sundar Singh said that
his mother had made him a Sadhu,
but the Holy Spirit had made him a Christian.
This is Anglican Church Chapel in Subathu where Sunder used to worship.
He started with serving in the leprosy home in Subathu which was run by the Mission by Dr Marcus Carleton
Apparently he preferred his praying in the mountains of Subathu alone as was the practice of all Hindu Sadhus. He preferred it throughout his life since he had direct personal communication and encouragement from such sessions.
This is the mountain near Subathu where Sunder used go and pray
CHRISTIAN SADHU WEARING A SAFFRON ROBE ON FOOT
Sadhu (IAST: sādhu (male), sādhvī or sādhvīne (female)).
Sadhu, is a religious ascetic, mendicant or any holy person in Hinduism and Jainism who has renounced the worldly life. They are sometimes alternatively referred to as yogi, sannyasi or Bairagi.
Literally, it means one who practises a ″sadhana″ or keenly follows a path of spiritual discipline. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (In Hinduism moksha is defined as liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth to be merged with Brahman), during the fourth and final aśrama (stage of life), through meditation and contemplation of Brahman.
Sādhus often wear simple clothing, such as saffron-coloured clothing in Hinduism, white or nothing in Jainism, symbolising their sannyāsa (renunciation of worldly possessions).
The term sadhu (Sanskrit: साधु) appears in Rigveda and Atharvaveda where it means "straight, right, leading straight to goal", according to Monier Monier-Williams.
In the Brahmanas layer of Vedic literature, the term connotes someone who is "well disposed, kind, willing, effective or efficient, peaceful, secure, good, virtuous, honourable, righteous, noble" depending on the context.
In the Hindu Epics, the term implies someone who is a "saint, sage, seer, holy man, virtuous, chaste, honest or right".
The Sanskrit terms sādhu ("good man") and sādhvī ("good woman") refer to renouncers who have chosen to live lives apart from or on the edges of society to focus on their own spiritual practices.
The words come from the root sādh, which means "reach one's goal", "make straight", or "gain power over". The same root is used in the word sādhanā, which means "spiritual practice". It literally means one who practises a ″sadhana″ or a path of spiritual discipline.
Sudar Singh as he entered into the service of his Lord - Jesus - Sunder decided to be a Sadhu for him.
In deciding as a Christian to don the habit and take up the way of life of a Hindu “ holy man”. Sundar was putting into practice a theological teaching of the cultural anthropology.
When God wanted to explain his final teachings to the humans, he has go beyond the Prophets.
This was indeed the meaning of incarnation. Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This was the only way God could convey his divine thoughts to humans. The 'incarnation' is the inculturation of God into human culture.
When Jesus was going back to his home, Jesus commissions and sends the disciples to be his successors. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). This is followed by a special outpouring of the Spirit and an empowering for service. “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” (John 20:22–23).
A missionary is a translator of the word of God that Jesus gave us into the language of the culture - talk in their language. But the language of the culture is more that their spoken language. The minimum expertise is the language of the receiving culture. (They must speak in new tongues - that is minimum to let the hearer can absorb) That is only the visible top of the floating ice. But there is much more to it. It is in everything - in what you eat, how you walk. When you walk in you can say from what culture he is coming from.
“Culture denotes”, says Clifford Geertz, “a historically transmitted pattern of meanings, embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions, expressed in symbolic forms by means of which human beings communicate, perpetuate and develop their knowledge about and attitude towards life” (Gnanapragasam 1988: 172). Enculturation is the process by which an individual becomes inserted into his own culture, is a life-long process.
Unfortunately the Bible portrays only the embedding of the Gospel into Greco-Roman Culture because it is only the few who worked around these areas spoke Greek in which the Bible is written. But the method is clear - embed the message into the culture you are going into. That is exactly what Sunder Singh did. And the power of God followed him to the end.
Sudar Singh’s case a clear example of the embedding of the Gospel within the Indian Hindu culture. His dress code was only a shadow of it.
the Greco-Roman culture became the culture of Christianity, especially after the conversion of Constantine. Even though India always had Christian heritage. Only after the Gnostic intervention of Manichaen (who became a younger son of Siva and Parvati - Manikandan) the seperation of the Church from it became necessary. We thus see Saivism with almost the same theology and principle (Minus the historical Jesus) eve today. Thus we should be able to see the cultural identity of early church to some extent at least in Modern Hinduism. It was this the Sikh Gurus trying to gather together. It was into this Sundar was able to step in very beautifully.
After many generations the new missionaries from Europe and America had to relearn the methods. A few attempts can be seen especially within the Ashram Movements. But that is another long story.
This is the type of life that was asked of every missionary. If Sadhu Sunder Singh was successful it was because he remained strictly within the instructions of Jesus. He was fully immersed in the mission. A sadhu, a sannyasi, or a fakir owns nothing on earth but the saffron robe which is the mark of his *' profession." He devotes himself entirely to the particular type of the religious life he has adopted, which varies with the individual and may consist predominantly either in ascetic practices, in solitary meditation and mystic trance, or, more rarely, in preaching. The instruction clearly indicates that some will not accept it and he is instructed to turn back, shaking even the dust out of his feet. We see these in the life of Sunder.
Give the Amirth in Indian Cup
Sadhu Sunder Singh explain this Cultural Anthropology lesson as follows:
''Once when I was traveling in Rajputana," there was a Brahman of high caste hurrying to the station. Overcome by the great heat, he fell down on the platform. The Anglo-Indian station-master was anxious to help him. He brought him some water in a white cup, but he would not take the water. He was so thirsty, but he said:
I cannot drink that water. I would prefer to die.'
'We are not asking you to eat this cup,' they said to him. “
I will not break my caste, ' he said, ' I am willing to die. ' But when water was brought to him in his own brass vessel, he drank it eagerly. When it was brought to him in his own way he did not object.
It is the same with the Water of Life. Indians do need the Water of Life, but not in the European cup. ' '
Robert de Nobili was the pioneer of indigenization in India came to India in 1605. As a Jesuit priest, he was influenced by the adaptation efforts of his confrere Matteo Ricci in China. Helearned Sanskrit, Tamil and Hindu scriptures, especially Vedas and Vedanta. He was also in contact with the St. Thomas Christians‟ way of life. He opened a mission in Madurai;adopted the life style of a Brahmin Sanyasi with appropriate Indian religious dress. De Nobili was convinced of the idea of presenting Christ in Indian soil in Indian way.
While, a missionary begins to convey the Christian message in a new context, he/she has to begin with translation of Christian message into local cultural form.
Because, certain language, words, colours and animals have diametrically opposite meanings indifferent cultures.
For example, in China the colour of joy is black; in the West it is white.
The penitential colour for the devotees of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala in Kerala is black, for the Europeans it is violet.
The dragon for the Westerners is a symbol of evil but in china it signifies heavenly protection.15 So, indigenization of gospel is very much needed to present Christian message in most appropriate way.
If the message is not presented in its cultural context, it can even be misunderstood.
Sundar decided to become a Sadhu (the ultimate wish of his mother) but in Christianity, so that he could dedicate himself totally to the Lord. As a Sadhu, he wore an yellow robe, lived on the charity of others, abandoned all possession and maintained celibacy.
In October 1906, he set out walking a road, wearing a yellow robe and turban. The yellow robe designated the "uniform" of a Hindu sadhu, traditionally an ascetic devoted to the gods, who either begged his way along the roads or sat, silent, remote, and often filthy, meditating in the jungle or some lonely place. The young Sundar Singh had also chosen the sadhu's way, as a Christian.
“I am not worthy to follow in the steps of my Lord," he is recorded as saying, "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.”(religion.wikia.org)
He at once put his vocation to the test by going back to his home village, Rampur, where he received an unexpectedly warm welcome. This encouraged him to take the next step. He decided to visit his father to reconcile with him. But his father refused to see him initially. But as Sunder remained, he came out and let him in.
: ‘”Very well, you can stay here to-night ; but you must get out early in the morning, don't show me your face again.”
But he was treated as an outcaste making him sit at a distance. He gave him food and brought water pouring it into his hands from a vessel high enough to avoid pollution. Sunder thanked his father and left home into the nearby field and spent his night under a tree and then left the village
The sixteen year old Sadhu set out northward through the Punjab, over the Bannihal Pass into Kashmir, then back through Muslim Afghanistan, and finally into the brigand-infested North-West Frontier and Baluchistan. His thin, yellow robe gave him little protection against the snows, and his feet became torn from the rough tracks.
Here are a few incidences that had happened during his first sadhu tour as given in “A Lover of The Cross” by Alfred Zahir, the Sub Warden of the St.John’s Christian Hostel in Agra written in 1917
Sunder’s first tour
A night with a serpent.
Touring through several places one evening he came to a place called Doli Walla. After the day’s long march Sunder was quite weary and exhausted. Entering the village he called at several houses and shops asking shelter for the night but on discovering that he was a Christian Sanyasi every one refused to help him in any way. It was a cold night and the rain was falling heavily. Besides, he was too wet and tired to stand any more knocking about in the dingy streets, hence arriving at an old dilapidated house he made straight for the door and went inside.
The house consisted of a couple of rooms one above the other though with its tumble-down walls, shattered windows, doors off their hinges, and the roof falling in, it could hardly be called a house and much less promise any comfort or shelter to a weary wayfarer. However this was the best that Sunder could get and so he thanked God for giving him the same. Going inside he singled out the cleanest possible spot and spreading his only blanket on the damp, smelly floor Sunder lay himself down to rest for the night.
Weary and fatigued as he was, he soon fell asleep and slept soundly till the next day. In the morning when he woke from his sound sleep he saw a black cobra lying coiled up on the blanket under his very arm. Sander’s heart quailed within him and “shook like the pennon of a lance ” on seeing this ghastly sight. Flinging his blanket away on one side he rushed out of the door for all he was worth.
Perspiration stood in large drops on his brows as he stood panting outside the door looking wistfully at the snake. But. presently he began to feel greatly mortified at his distrust of God’s providence, Who had kept him safe through the night. Entering the house he shook the snake off the blanket and quietly strolled out of the room. Strange to say the cobra instead of turning upon Sunder to attack him, quietly crawled into a corner of the room and seemed quite unmindful of the interference. Sunder felt greatly ashamed of his disbelief in the Divine Providence and went away from that place strengthened in faith and feeling safe in His keeping.
A wonderful teacher.
Touring in the Punjab Sunder was once on his way to Meerut. The day was hot and the sun shone bright overhead, Sunder, not very much used to walking long distances on the plains soon became tired and footsore, so in order to take a little rest he sat down on a heap of concrete by the road-side. Presently he saw a simple poor looking man with a sheep following him coming along the road. Reaching the heap of concrete whereon Sunder was sitting, the man also sat down on the opposite end and began to fondle and embrace his lamb in a very affectionate way. Taking him for an ordinary traveller Sunder at first did not take much notice of him, but when he saw him love his lamb so affectionately he could not help going to the man and asking him what made him love his little lamb so very fondly. To this the man replied “The sheep is a wonderful animal, for it teaches us humility, meekness and obedience. It will always follow its master, it recognises his voice and has a great affection for him.” Sunder was rather amazed at hearing a rough boorish looking man speak such words of wisdom and admonition and so as the man got up and started on his way Sunder also quietly followed him at a distance.
Trying to overtake him Sunder hurried his pace, but he was surprised to notice that however fast he walked he came no nearer to the man who walked at an unvaried pace. Arriving at a little thicket by the road-side the man and the sheep both hid themselves behind it. Sunder who was not very far away soon arrived at the spot and saw that neither the man nor the sheep were anywhere to be found, neither under the bush nor for miles around. “1 am at a loss to tell,” says Sunder, “where this man disappeared, but I am fully persuaded that he was some angel of God, who had been sent for my instruction, for the words he spoke went home to my heart, and I learnt such a lesson on humility and meekness as I shall never forget all my life.”
God ruleth the hearts.
Touring through a number of villages and towns in the Punjab Sundar entered Afghanistan, the home of the plethoric Pathan, that burly, red-faced race of men with whom treachery is a point of honour and cold-blooded cruelty a habit. One day as he entered the historical town of Jallallabad, some Pathans took him for a spy and plotted to murder him, Now here is a wondeful instance of the way in which God works, and saves aud protects his chosen servants, who leave themselves entirely in His hands. Sunder knew nothing of the plot that had been hatched against him and was carelessly sitting in an inn when one of the inhabitants of the village came and told him that his life was in danger and that he had better leave the place before evening. At first Sander hesitated to believe what the Pathan said, but then feeling inwardly persuaded that it was God’s will that he should leave the place he did so and travelled across to another one in the near vicinity.
Arriving here Sunder could get no proper place for shelter and so he spent the night in a dingy old sarai full of bugs and mosquitoes. The next morning when he got up and sat drying his clothes
against the fire he saw a mob of Pathans coming towards him. “Now” thought he “my time has come and these people will never let me go alive.” But wonderful was the way in which God changed their hearts.
As the mob arrived at the house, one of them came forward, fell at Sunder’s feet and said “Please forgive our rudeness for we had come witli the intention of murdering you, but now we understand
that you are a chosen one of Allah. We had expected to find you either frozen to death or caught with some serious disease, but here you are hale and hearty as though you had not suffered any trouble.”
After the man had finished speaking the whole crowd came and sat round him and shortly afterwards escorted him to their village.
Here they offered Sunder the best of their hospitality, and entertained him better than they do their own mullahs (priests) and what was more, listened to his preaching of the Gospel with great
interest and reverence.
On his departure from their midst they all looked very sad and presented him with a new turban and a kurta as a token of their true love and reverence for him “The week that I spent with
these Pathans,” says Sunder, “I have always looked upon as one of the happiest and most useful times of my life, and I feel confident that the seed sown there will one day bear much fruit, and that
the time will soon come when many of these people will openly confess His Name.
“His first journey covered the Punjab, Kashmir, Baluchistan and Afghanistan. He ended up with a short rest at a village named Kotgarh, in the Himalayas, some 6000 feet above sea level and 55 miles from Simla. This village has ever since been a kind of headquarters or, at least, a point of beginning and ending for his preaching tours.’
Welcome to Kotgarh
CMS Church and the mission compound in Kotagarh
a few months, the small Christian communities of the north began to
refer him as "the apostle with the bleeding feet."
From the villages in the Simla hills, he faced the long line of the snow-clad Himalayas, and the rosy peak of Nanga Parbat (Nanga Hills).
Beyond them lay Tibet, a Buddhist land that missionaries had long failed to penetrate with the gospel. Sundar had felt called to Tibet, and in 1908, at the age of nineteen, he crossed its frontiers for the first time. He encountered poverty and unsanitary conditions far worse than his native home. Sundar went back to Sabathu determined to return the next year.
He had a great desire: To visit Palestine and re-live some of the experiences in Jesus's life. In 1908, he went to Bombay, hoping to board a convenient ship, but failing to receive a permit from the government, he returned to the north.
Nanga hills from the plains
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 Sadhu Sundar Singh 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 moved 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 Sadhu Sundar Singh’s 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 Sadhu Sundar Singh’s 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.
In Sabathu, Simla, Sadhu Sadhu Sundar Singh Singh met a wealthy American,Samuel Evans Stokes, who had come to India fired with the desire to live for Christ in that country.
Here is what the diary of Sunder says: “ From Kashtawar by way of Jammu I travelled in the direction of Kotgarh and Simla, and here I met Mr. Stokes. He asked me to stay with him for a time, " and, ' said he, ‘ if it is the will of God, I myself desire to serve along with you in the Sadhu style, because for India that is the best method of service.' In due course Mr.Stokes distributed all his property and possessions to the poor and adopted the life of a Sadhu.
“ We went to a village named Jhangi, where for the night we had not only no place to sleep, but not a single morsel did we get to eat, but about midnight some person gave us a loaf of maize bread and lodged us in a filthy cowshed, in which was cow dung. All night, pestered by bugs and feeling the cold, we did not sleep at all . . . We remembered that the King and Creator of the two worlds, Himself leaving His glory, had for our sake condescended to be born in the Manger of Bethlehem, and we passed the night in prayer. Rising in the morning we proceeded towards Simla and then on to Subathu, where we stayed about a month. Here we were engaged in the hospital for lepers, washing their wounds and preaching the Gospel to them, and several of them became Christians. After this we went to Lahore for the purpose of working amongst those stricken with smallpox : and from there Mr. Stokes went to America.”
Mr. Stokes on his return from America established in 1910, under the auspices of the Anglican Church, the “Brotherhood of the Imitation of Christ”. He and the Rev. F. J. Western of the Cambridge Mission to Delhi (later the Bishop in Tinnevelly) were the only persons who joined the Brotherhood. Sundar Singh did not become a member of the Brotherhood, as he felt called to work on his own without associating himself with any organized religious community. The brotherhood was inaugurated in a solemn service in Lahore Cathedral, when two of the ﬁve took the vow. Sundar did not take the oath since his soul craved for freedom and individuality.
But the Brotherhood came to an end in August 1911, when Stokes decided that he could serve India best by marrying an Indian woman and living a normal family life.
Samuel Evans Stokes, An American Missionary
The Sunday Tribune - Spectrum - Books (tribuneindia.com)
Satyananda Stokes - Wikipedia
Samuel Evans Stokes arrived in Simla in 1904 at the age of 21.Raised a Quaker, Samuel was drawn to the asceticism that is exalted in Indian spirituality and began living a simple, frugal life among the villagers, becoming a sort of Christian Sanyasi. He put on the sanyasi dress and joined Sadhu Sunder Singh for some time travelling to the nearby villages. A few years later, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was visiting the Viceroy at Shimla (the summer capital of the British Raj) heard of the leper colony and was impressed. He encouraged Samuel to form an order of Franciscan Friars, an order of monk committed to living in poverty and aiding the diseased and dying. So he started the “Brotherhood of the Imitation of Christ” which only lasted two years.
Samuel Evans Stokes( 1882-1946) his wife Agnes and their first child
He published a book “The Historical Character of the Gospel” published by the Christian Literature Society for India, Madras. It was republished in London as The Gospel According to Jews and Pagans (1913). He argued for the historicity of Jesus and his crucifixion
His voluntary work with the Leprosy Mission started in Sabatoo (what was then Punjab). But the extreme weather conditions forced Samuel to take rest at Kotgarh church and recuperate. There, he explored the surrounding hills and the trail that was the old Hindustan-Tibet road. And soon he found himself in love with nature. He decided to spend rest of his life at Thanedar.Samual Evan Stokes was the person who introduced apple crop in the hills around Shimla. Simla is even today famous for its apple.
Vijay Stokes, the gandson of Samuel Stokes in Kotagarh in his apple orchard which his grandfather started.
In 1912, Samuel married a local Rajput girl, gave up his life of poverty, purchased a chunk of farmland near his wife's village and settled there. His wife, Agnes, was the daughter of a first generation Rajput Christian. When he lost his son Tara to amoebic dysentery, he joined Hinduism with his new name Satyanand.
Stokes had the rare honour of being the only American to become a member of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) of the Indian National Congress. Along with Lala Lajpat Rai, he represented Punjab. He was the only non-Indian to sign the Congress manifesto in 1921, calling upon Indians to quit government service. He was jailed for sedition and promoting hatred against the British government in 1921, becoming the only American to become a political prisoner of Great Britain in the freedom struggle. On Stokes’ arrest, Mahatma Gandhi wrote: "That he (Stokes) should feel with and like an Indian, share his sorrows and throw himself into the struggle, has proved too much for the government. To leave him free to criticise the government was intolerable, so his white skin has proved no protection for him…"
On 4 th September 1932 he and his family embraced Hinduism and changed his name to Satyanand. The writings of Maharishi Swami Dayanand, the founder of Arya Samaj had a lasting impression on Stokes. He became an Arya Samaji and built an Arya Samaj temple on his estate, known as the Paramjyotir Temple. Gnostic heresy once again took away another Christian. Satynand is a typical example of how Hinduism as we know today evolved out of the Christianity which came into existence after Apostle Thomas.
Paramjyotir Temple with no idol
He died on 14 May 1946 after an extended illness shortly before Indian independence.
“ Some weeks after I had changed my life,' writes Mr. Stokes, "an Indian Christian was moved to join me. He was a convert from the Sikhs and had been traveling about the country as a Christian sadhu (holy man) for more than a year. . . . When my work took me to the plains, he remained in charge of our interests up in the mountains and labored so faithfully and with such effect that all were astonished. His work has been far better than my own, and although he is scarcely more than a boy he has suffered hunger, cold, sickness and even imprisonment for his Master.”
Besides preaching in the villages the two worked together in the Leper Asylum at Sabathu and in a plague camp near Lahore.
Immediately as they met 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 Sadhu Sundar Singh had never heard.
“Francis of Assisi was born in Italy some eight hundred years ago”, Stokes told Sadhu Sundar Singh. “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 Mathews’s 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 God’s 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 Sadhu Sundar Singh’s 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 Sadhu Sundar Singh and take to the Indian road as a Sadhu (hermit).
A few days later the rich millionaire of America was seen tramping on foot over the hills, bare-headed, bare-footed and with only one long garment on the body and a cross round his neck. The love of God had constrained him to leave the world and follow Him. And now strengthened by His strength and upheld by His power, fearless of disease or death he accompained Sunder on a tour through the villages of the Kotgarh district. “Many were the hardships and troubles that we had to put with, in this tour, and yet,” says Sunder, “we were both very happy and cheerful, and rejoiced to think that we were suffering for Him who suffered for us on the cross.”
Therefore, it came about that for several months Sadhu Sundar Singh and the American traveled together, sharing the same food, enduring the same privations. Inevitably, Sadhu Sundar Singh 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 Sadhu Sundar Singh, not Stokes, who broke down physically. He was stricken by malaria and 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 cover him to make him comfortable, and enquiring earnestly, “How are you?” He never forgot the reply he received. A faint smile came over Sadhu Sundar Singh’s boyish face and he uttered silently, “I am very happy. How sweet it is to suffer for His sake!”
"Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Timothy 2:3)
“How sweet it is to suffer for His sake!” That was the keynote of Sadhu Sundar Singh’s 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 Sadhu Sundar Singh 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.
” Stokes wrote that “although he is scarcely more than a boy he has suffered hunger,cold, sickness, and even imprisonment for his Master," and added that “a man who suffers against his will speedily becomes a physical wreck; but if he suffers of his own free will, impelled to do so by his ideal, there is hardly any limit to his powers of endurance. This I have seen in Brother Sundar Singh.”
Mr. Stokes possessed a magic lantern which the Sadhu borrowed and used in Rampur and other places for street preaching at night, when large numbers of people gathered to see the pictures and hear the explanation. The two Sadhus passed from place to place, declaring the gospel.
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 Lahore where the plague camp was serving. From there Stokes went to America and to England, recruiting young men to join a brotherhood to work rather on Franciscan lines in India. And Sadhu Sundar Singh, 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.
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From Lahore Sndar went on to Sindh, returning through Rajputanna to North India again, and then as the hot weather drew on he made it to Tibet.
Charles Freer Andrews (12 February 1871 – 5 April 1940) was an Anglican priest and Christian missionary, educator and social reformer, and an activist for Indian Independence. He became a close friend of Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi and identified with the Indian liberation struggle. He was instrumental in convincing Gandhi to return to India from South Africa, where Gandhi had been a leading light in the Indian civil rights struggle.
C. F. Andrews was affectionately dubbed Christ's Faithful Apostle by Gandhi, based on his initials, C.F.A. For his contributions to the Indian independence movement, Gandhi and his students at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, named him Deenabandhu, or "Friend of the Poor".
The Rev. C. F. Andrews was at that time a Professor in St. Stephen's College, Delhi.* From 1907 to 1911 Andrews went to Kotgarh on the Simla Hills every year for the hot weather along with his great friend, Mr. S. K. Rudra, the Principal of the College. There they came into close and intimate contact with Sundar Singh.
Mr. Andrews describes Sundar as follows:
"His face had the look of childhood . . . in spite of the marks of pain which were also there. At first sight it was not so much his face that attracted my attention, as his marvellous eyes. They were luminous like the darkly gleaming water of some pool in the forest, which is touched by a ray of sunlight."
"There was a cave just above the village of Kotgarh. That cave became the home of Sundar Singh and Stokes, and his little band of young lads. They were indeed a very strange company. Two were children of lepers, who were themselves suspected of leprosy; another was blind and one was a cripple. Stokes had fathered and mothered them all, like a hen under his own wing. But a merrier company you would rarely meet in the world. They hardly knew what sorrow was."
“Living simply and frugally with that little band, Sundar was laying some strong foundations for rigorous labours ahead.
“ While he was in Delhi with Mr. Rudra, C. F. Andrews says:
“ Sundar Singh used to spend the greater part of his spare time with the Christian students in the Hostel. They sat up with him into the long hours of the night,…
“ The change which came in this manner was marvellous to witness.
One of the students, a cricketer and athlete, gave up assured prospects in Government service for directly Christian work.
Another made up his mind to enter the ministry of the Church for a life of sacrifice and devotion.
When one of the College sweepers who as an ‘ untouchable ’ was ill, one of those who had come most of all under the influence of the Sadhu went into the sweepers’ quarters and stayed with him and nursed him through his illness.
Such a thing had never happened in the history of the College before.
What, it may be asked, was the attraction that made such a wonderful change? Nothing that was merely second-rate could possibly have effected it. No mode of living, half in comfort, half
in self-denial, could have worked such a miracle. But Sundar Singh's life could stand the test. It was reckless in its self-spending. He had counted the cost. The Cross was not preached only, but lived — and that made all the difference.'’
Mr. Shoran Singha, Y.M.C.A. Secretary in England for some years, has written about a strange occurrence during those days.
One night," he writes, “ just before we went to bed, we noticed lights moving in the valley, and the Sadhu explained to me that men were probably in pursuit of a leopard... Long after midnight I was roused by a movement in the room. The Sadhu had risen from his bed and was moving towards the door, which opened on the wooden stairs outside the house. The creaking of the wood made it clear that he was going dowm. Knowing that the Sadhu spent hours of the night in prayer, I was not surprised at this. But when half an hour or so had passed and he had not returned, I became uneasy : llie thought of the leopard in the valley made me feel anxious. So I got out of bed, passed into the dressing-room, and looked out of the window towards the forest. A few yards from the house I saw the Sadhu sitting, looking down into the deep valley.
It was a beautiful night. The stars were shining brightly; a light wind rustled the leaves of the trees. For a few moments I watched the silent figure of the Sadhu. Then my eyes were attracted by something moving on his right. An animal was coming towards him.
As it got nearer I saw that it was a leopard. Choked with fear, I stood motionless near the window, unable even to call. Just then the Sadhu turned his face towards the animal and held out his hand.
As though it had been a dog, the leopard lay down and stretched out its head to be stroked.
It was a strange, unbelievable scene, and I can never forget it.
A short time afterwards the Sadhu returned and was soon asleep, but I lay awake wondering what gave that man such power over wild animals.”-
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."
The Tibetan Empire in 769 AD.
'They grow no rice but have black oats, red pulse, barley, and buckwheat. The principal domestic animals are the yak, pig, dog, sheep, and horse. There are flying squirrels, resembling in shape those of our own country, but as large as cats, the fur of which is used for clothes. They have abundance of gold, silver, copper, and tin. The natives generally follow their flocks to pasture and have no fixed dwelling-place. They have, however, some walled cities. The capital of the state is called the city of Lohsieh. The houses are all flat-roofed and often reach to the height of several tens of feet. The men of rank live in large felt tents, which are called fulu. The rooms in which they live are filthily dirty, and they never comb their hair nor wash. They join their hands to hold wine, and make plates of felt, and knead dough into cups, which they fill with broth and cream and eat the whole together.'- The Old Book of the Tang
'The men and horses all wear chain mail armor. Its workmanship is extremely fine. It envelops them completely, leaving openings only for the two eyes. Thus, strong bows and sharp swords cannot injure them. When they do battle, they must dismount and array themselves in ranks. When one dies, another takes his place. To the end, they are not willing to retreat. Their lances are longer and thinner than those in China. Their archery is weak but their armor is strong. The men always use swords; when they are not at war they still go about carrying swords.'— Du You, the Tongdian
CHRISTIANITY IN TIBET
Tibetan Mo Dice (tarotsmith.com)
The Mysterious kingdom of Tibet has been locked away for centuries from the rest of the world. Due to this, it has held a unique image to the world and Lhasa was known as the ‘forbidden city’ and it is a land steeped in Magic and Mystery. Astrology is a part of every common man in their daily life. Tibetan Sky burial, Tibetan opera, Prayer flags, and Singing Bowl are unique in world culture probably found only in Tibet. In the mid-1980s, Tibet’s door was finally openmed for International travellers.
Shamanistic Bön Religion was the first Native religion of the region. With the introduction of Buddhism, it became the main religion. Tibetan Buddhism has four main sects, therefore Gelugpa, Sakyapa, Kagyupa, and Nyingma. It is a far cry of syncretism between local religion and Buddhism
In the 16th Century, the Muslim trader has settled in Lhasa and set up a mosque in Lhasa. There is a considerable Muslim population here. After the mission of the Moravian Missions and of Sadhu Sundar Singh, we have a small Christian village with about 500 people in eastern Tibet.
History of Christianity in Tibet
The history of Christianity in Tibet has a long and turbulant history.
The first Christians documented to have reached Tibet were the Nestorians, of whom various remains and inscriptions have been found in Tibet. Nestorianism is the doctrine that there were two separate persons, one human and one divine, in the incarnate Christ. Jesus was fully God and fully man in his incarnation and he surrendered his Divinity during his period of incarnation until his death on the cross identifying himself with Man. It is named after Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople (AD 428–431), and was maintained by some ancient churches of the Middle East. A small Nestorian Church still exists in Iraq Early South Indian Churches were Nestorians. Thus we have the presence of Christianity documented in Tibet as early as the fifth century AD.
Timothy I, who was Patriarch of the Nestorian Church between 780 and 823, in his letters makes reference to Tibet. As one of the lands in which the Trisagion, (one of the oldest Christian prayers,) is recited.
Nestorians were also present at the imperial camp of Möngke Khan the grandson of Genghis Khan' at Shira Ordo, where they debated in 1256 with Karma Pakshi (1204/1283), Karma Pakshi, the 2nd Karmapa (1206-1283): teacher to the Mongol emperor of China and a popularly acknowledged early incarnate lama of Tibet head of the Karma Kagyu order.
Many examples of crosses carved onto rocks in Western Tibet and its neighbouring regions are found with Tibetan inscriptions.
“Man, your ally is the god called “Jesus Messiah”. He acts as Vajrapāṇi and Śrī Śākyamuni. When the gates of the seven levels of heaven have opened, you will accomplish the yoga that you will receive from the judge at the right hand of God. Because of this, do whatever you wish without shame, fear or apprehension. You will become a conqueror, and there will be no demons or obstructing spirits. Whoever casts this lot (mo), it will be very good.”
The Mo is an ancient Tibetan system of divination based on Buddhist philosophy. There is a Mo divination text, “Pelliot tibétain 351”, which includes the following surprising divination passage:
Portuguese missionaries Jesuit Father António de Andrade and Brother Manuel Marques first reached the kingdom of Gelu in western Tibet in 1624 and was welcomed by the royal family and were allowed to build a church later on.
By 1627, there were about a hundred local Christians in the Guge kingdom.
Later on, Christianity was introduced in the areas of Rudok, Ladakh and Tsang and was welcomed by the ruler of the Tsang kingdom, where Andrade and his fellows established a Jesuit outpost at Shigatse in 1626. The Portuguese Jesuit, Fr. d'Andrada, began organized mission work in Tibet which met with a measure of success, but at the end of twenty-five years it collapsed.
In 1661 another Jesuit, Johann Grueber, crossed Tibet from Sining to Lhasa (where he spent a month), before heading on to Nepal. He was followed by others who actually built a church in Lhasa. These included the Jesuit Father Ippolito Desideri, 1716–1721, who gained a deep knowledge of Tibetan culture, language and Buddhism.
There was even a church in Lhasa, which was built by Jesuit Father Ippolito Desideri,
The Capuchin monks took up the work afresh but Christian missionaries were expelled in 1745, at the insistence of the Gelugpa lamas. Two Lazarists, Hue and Gabet, tried to get a footing in Lhasa itself, but after two years they were obliged to leave.
In 1846, by Papal authority, an Apostolic Vicariate was formally established at Lhasa and the Tibet Mission was entrusted to the Missions Etrangeres. In 1847 the Chinese missionary Renou made an unsuccessful attempt. Later in 1854 t he was able to reach the Tibetan frontier and found the mission station of Bonga.
In 1856 an Apostolic Vicar, Thomine-Desmazures, was appointed, but this effort was also unsuccessful.
After a transient period of progress at the beginning of the sixties, the mission station was destroyed in 1865, the Christians were imprisoned, and all the missionaries were driven out of Tibet.
In 1877, the Protestant James Cameron from the China Inland Mission walked from Chongquig to Batang in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, and "brought the Gospel to the Tibetan people."
After that time it was only possible to work on the eastern frontier in Chinese territory. But in 1887 even these frontier stations fell a prey to the power of the lamas, and could only be recommenced in 1895.
During the 1905 Tibetan Rebellion, Tibetan Buddhist lamas attacked, tortured and killed French Catholic missionaries and killed Tibetans who converted to Catholicism.
In 1918 the Apostolic Vicariate of Tibet contained 3,744 Christians.
Recently various Protestants have been working on the eastern frontier ; in Western or Lesser Tibet the Moravian missionaries have been carrying on heroic and sacrificial service at several centres since the middle of last century. In 1925, however, in consequence of insuperable difficulties, the station of Poo on the Sutlej, near the frontier of Greater Tibet, has had to be given up.
The interior of Tibet has been closed to all missionary effort for many years, not only by order of the Tibetan, but of the British Government. The latter gave the Moravian missionaries permission to found their mission only on condition that they would limit their activity to the territory^which is under British rule. It was the effort of the Moravian Mission that got the whole Bible translated into Tibettian language.
The first portion of the Bible, the Gospel of John, in a Tibetic language was translated by Moravian Church missionaries William Heyde, Edward Pagel, and Heinrich August Jäschke, and later Dr. August Francke. It was printed in 1862 at Kyelang capital of Lahul in Kashmir. The whole New Testament was printed in 1885 in Ladakh. Another version was translated in 1903. So as not to have the problem of various dialectal differences it was translated into classical Tibetan, but this was not understood by most people. Yoseb Gergen (aka Sonam Gergen), a Tibetan Christian translated the entire Bible, complete in 1935. This version was translated into a dialect of Tibetan Gergen had accidentally stumbled across, and which was understandable by all Tibetans. It was finally published in 1948
A History of the Moravian Church’s Tibetan Bible Translations. | John Bray
All foreign Christian Missions were effectively blocked by the Lamas from entering into the areas controlled by them. It was into this strenuous situation Sadhu Sunder Singh braved into Tibet as a single person wearing the typical Sadhu dress with only Urdu and English knowledge. As an Indian Sadhu he was welcome into the country anytime.
Tibetan dress and Sadhu dress
Tibet is situated on the Qingzang (Qinghai-Tibet) Plateau. This is the highest plateau in the world with an average elevation of 4,875 m (more than 16,000 ft), and the Tibetan Plateau is also called the Roof of the World. In 1964, Tibet became an Autonomous Region of China. It is surrounded in the north and east by other provinces of China, in the south and west by Burma, India, Bhutan, and Nepal. The capital of Tibet is Lhasa.
Tibet is surrounded on three sides by vast mountain systems: the Kunlun mountains of Central Asia in the north, the Karakoram range in the west and the Himalayas in the south.
On his first journey in 1908, when he was scarcely nineteen years of age, he started alone and was unacquainted with the language spoken in Tibet.
Lamas, the Buddhist Priest were the rulers of the land. They were bitter opponents of Christians.
The title and first lines of the Ten Commandments in Tibetan and Latin as presented in Giorgi’s Alphabetum Tibetanum.
The words used for ‘God’ are rang grub dkon mchog, and the word for ‘commandment’ or ‘precept’ is bka'.
Buddhism and Tibetian Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion without God
There are only Physical Laws.
Death and life are physical realities
Basic law of life is the reincarnation where the life survives in accordance with the law of Karma.
Good deeds bring good rebirths, bad deeds bring bad rebirths
No one saves us but ourselves,
No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path,
But Buddhas clearly show the way.
The Dhammapada, 165.
The Buddha did not claim to be in any way divine, nor does Buddhism involve the idea of a personal god.
The Buddha suggested that it was fear that produced the religious impulse in humanity.
“Gripped by fear men go to the sacred mountains, sacred groves, sacred trees and shrines, but these are not a secure kind of refuge.”
The Dhammapada, 188
The way to cure this fear is not by believing in a God who will protect you, but by coming to a proper understanding and acceptance of the way things are.
In many cultures Buddhism co-exists with local gods.
Sometimes the local gods are seen as having adopted Buddhism, while in other places the local gods are regarded as manifestations of various buddhas. Often a particular local deity will be given responsibility for a particular temple or place of devotion.
These "gods" are very different from the eternal God(s) of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They are not eternal and unchanging, but are go through the process of death and rebirth, just as human beings do.
The claim of Non-theism is not completely true because the Buddhist suttas and sutras make reference to all sorts of supernatural beings who inhabit the universe, in their different dimensions of existence combining both in physical and spiritual realm; from ghosts, demi-gods, devas, and brahmās to celestial buddhas and bodhisattvas. The Buddha, himself, is often described as “a teacher of gods and men”. The ghosts, devas, and brahmās are reborn into their own realms, and the celestial buddhas reside in Pure Lands. As you might imagine, all of this leads to a very complicated cosmological space. At times these beings visited the Buddha in our world. At times he went to their realms to teach the Dharma.
Nor do Buddhists technically believe in a permanent individual soul that keeps being reborn into new bodies in the process of reincarnation. For Buddhists nothing is permanent. A person changes continuously, there is no element of a person that is permanent...
...And just as there is a causal connection between the events that make up a person's life, so there is a causal connection between each of their lives.
Lama (Tibetan: བླ་མ་,
Wylie: bla-ma; "chief" ) is a title for a teacher of the Dharma in
Tibetan Buddhism. The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru,
meaning "heavy one", endowed with qualities the student will eventually
embody. The Tibetan word "Lama" means "highest principle", and less
literally "highest mother" or "highest parent" to show close
relationship between teacher and student.
Historically, the term was used for venerated spiritual masters or heads of monasteries. Today the title can be used as an honorific title conferred on a monk
· Refrain from killing. (includes abstention from killing small animals and even insects.)
· Do not take part in any sort of stealing.
· Avoid any sexual misconduct.
· Refrain from wrong speech or lying.
· Avoid taking any intoxicants and drugs that can reduce consciousness.
We will see that Lama did give the execution order on Sunder Singh violating the first rule.
Any method where everyone can say “I did not kill him”, satisfies the law.
Evidently it represented a very corrupt Buddhism.
You can see why it was difficult to preach Christianity to Tibet. Even the language did not contain the terms basic to Christianity.
The Lama not only received the Sadhu with kindness but also provided him with food and shelter, and as the weather was bitterly cold, this hospitality was most acceptable. Moreover, the Lama called a gathering of the persons under his control to hear the Sadhu’s message, and so he preached the gospel with great thankfulness of heart.
Journeying on from this place, he was fortunate enough to arrive at a town under the rule of another Lama who was a friend of the Lama of Tashigang, and here again he was accorded a welcome and a good hearing. From this place he visited several other towns and villages, but in these he met with even greater opposition than in his earlier work. He was constantly threatened and warned to get out of the country lest some evil should befall him. However, he was not to be thus terrorized, and he continued his work amidst many difficulties.
Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple from Lhasa. World Heritage site and the highest palace in the world
In 1908 he went to Bombay, hoping to board a ship to visit Palestine but was refused a permit, and 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, although people had responded to his sadhu’s robe.
Pahalgam Valley, Kashmir
A Tibetian family
Tibetan Christian named Tharchin
Tharchin had a varied career. When the complete Tibetan Bible was printed in 1949 Tharchin and David Macdonald of the Kalimpong Church gave much help in revising and editing it. No missionary is allowed to go into Tibet, and yet this Bible has been published in the faith that God will open the doors for its entrance into Tibet. He was also the editor of the first monthly magazine in Tibet with news and articles.
Later Tharchin has been ordained as a minister in the Church of North India, and was in charge of the Tibetan Christians in and around Kalimpong on the Himalayas. He gave Sundar Singh some help in his missionary work in Tibet and in Nepal. Tharchin still holds Sundar Singh in great veneration
and says that in matters of religion Sundar Singh has greatly influenced him.
On returning from his first visit, following the advice of his friends, Sadhu enrolled himself in St.John School of Theology in Lahore.
In December 1909 Singh was promoted from the Beginners' Class to the Junior Catechists' Class began training for the Christian ministry at the Anglican college in Lahore. Under Canon Wigram and Canon Wood he studied the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, Church History, Apologetics and History of Religions. He left the seminary, having received a licence to preach in the Anglican churches of the diocese of Lahore.
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 ostracized for being "different" At one time they heard him pray for his colleagues which resulted in better treatment towards him.
Much in the college course seemed irrelevant to him such as the ‘Higher Criticism”, “Apolegetics”, detailed history of the development of doctrines etc. As the course drew to an end, the Bishop Lefroy called him and told him that if he was to get ordained and take charge of a parish, he will have to discard his Sadhu's robe and wear prescribed clerical dress; use the formal Anglican worship in the Anglican liturgical form; sing English hymns etc. Further he may not be allowed to preach outside his parish without special permission.
“Never again visit Tibet?”, he asked. That would be, to him, an unthinkable rejection of God's call.
Bishop George Alfred Lefroy (1854 – 1919)
In 1899 he became Bishop of Lahore. Translated to become Bishop of Calcutta in 1912
He was recommended for deacon's orders by the Diocesan Mission Council and was granted a licence to preach.
After eight months in the college, Sunder left his seminary in July 1910. During a quiet time of prayer, he attained the certainty that it was the Will of God that he should preach the Good News of Christ without holding the office of a priest and without the commission of any particular Church. He refused ordination as it would restrict his evangelistic areas and gave back his preacher's licence and left the college, still dressed in his yellow robe for a wider field of witnessing.
Soon after ‘leaving college his heart turned to Tibet, whither he went for the six months of hot weather, returning to Kotgarh, where he Worked in connexion with the Church Missionary Society for some time.
He continued to preach in Anglican churches, especially in the Church of St. Thomas at Simla and also continued to be a regular communicant of the Church of England.
Robin Boyd says, “Though he had little formal theological training he was steeped in the teaching of the New Testament and had an instinctive, or perhaps rather inspired, understanding of the nature of theological thinking”; and calls him the ‘most famous Indian Christian who has yet lived’. As part of his missionary journey’s he visited several places like Afghanistan, America, Australia, Britain, Burma, Tibet, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and several other European countries.
H. S. Boyd (14 May 1924 – 14 June 2018) was an Irish theologian and
missionary to India, ordained in the Irish Presbyterian Church. He also
worked with the Student Christian Movement and was a presbyter in the
Church of North India, He
was appointed to the Gujarat United School of Theology in Ahmedabad in
1961 and witnessed the formation of the Church of North India in 1970.
In 1974, after being twenty years as a missionary in India, Boyd went to Australia.
Contemporary to many Indian Christian Theologians, Sunder Singh stood outside the purview of all theological and literary development. Though technically not a theologian, all his writings and recorded sayings are expressions of real Indian theology. Robin Boyd calls him as one of the greatest of all Indian Christian Theologians. The basis of SSS’s theology is his direct experience of Jesus Christ. It is the experience of the risen Christ and constant communion with Christ.
Unlike Hindu bhaktas, Sadhu Sundar Singh does not believe in just a process of self-immersion in the Absolute but rather a continuous dialogue, a ‘practice of the presence of Christ’. The distinction between himself and the person of Christ remains clear and separate. For him, unlike the Hindu principle of absolute union with God, his concept of union was the union of two free independant personalities, rather than of absorption in the divine and ceasing to exist. According to him, “If we want to rejoice in God we must be different from Him; the tongue could taste no sweetness if there were no difference between it and that which it tastes.”
At the end of 1912 Sundar Singh was asked to go and preach the Gospel to four thousand Sikh lumbermen who had emigrated to Canada. He was ready to go. But the plan fell through because the Canadian Government refused to grant him a passport.
after, Sunder began his annual trek into Tibet as the winter snows
began to melt on the Himalayan tracks and passes were open starting
from that year.
40 day fasting as beginning of Public Service
Sometime in 1912 Sundar decided to imitate Jesus' seclusion and fasting for 40 days as the start of his public service.
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, a Franciscan, called Dr. Swift 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. He can only have been fasting for about ten or twelve days
The pastor's adopted son, Bansi, and some of the village Christians cared for him most tenderly.
Under their care he made a rapid recovery, and in March he was able to set out again on a preaching tour. He went to Simla, where his friend Mr. Redman put before him the great risks of such a dangerous experiment.
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 Annfield 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 Anglican Pastor Dharamjit.. He recovered slowly, and over a week regained his strength.
While Sundar was lying weak and ill at Annfield reports were being circulated that Sudar Singh dies in the forest. Obituaries appeared in the papers, and a memorial service was held in the church of Simla. A collection of money was made for his burial and memorial tablet. By March he was well went up to Simla and joined church service to every one’s surprise.
A 44-year-old pastor in South Africa tried to emulate Jesus Christ who fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights to prepare for His ministry as written in the gospels of Luke, Mark and Matthew.
However, Pastor Alfred Ndlovu died of malnutrition after enduring 30 days without food and water in the South African wilderness, Buzz South Africa reports.His body was reportedly found lying on the ground in the wilderness by a man passing by the area. The unidentified man alerted the police who then informed his family and congregation about what had happened.
The pastor's death came as a shock to his family, church members and the community at large."He was a very spiritual man. It's unfortunate he had to die this way. After a month we got the sad news of his death," a close relative said.
Moses, Elijah and Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days each
Three of the Bible’s most important figures each endured 40 days without food or water.
Moses, Elijah and Jesus
Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan, were ruled hy princes of their own, and were as hostile to Christianity as the lamas of Tibet were. In 1914 Sadhu Sundar Singh entered Nepal and began to preach openly when he was arrested and put in the jail. In the jail he had an open area to proclaim release and forgiveness to the inmates where they received it joyfully converting a few. As a result he was taken out in the open and taken to the public market for punishment. He was stripped of his clothes and made to sit on the bare earth with his feet and and hands in stocks. He was thus left without food or water, and made to remain thus all day and the following night. To add to his tortures a number of leeches were thrown over his naked body, and these immediately fastened upon him and began to suck his life-blood. In the next day morning they found him still alive and so with fear that there is some magic or witchcraft they let him loose. He was left in a near by forest. There the secret Sanysi mission of Christians took him and brought him back to health.
At Srinagar in Garhwal, one day as he was speaking outside the city he was warned by a hearer that he will find his end if he dared to enter the city. Taking this as a challenge he entered the city and boldly proclaimed the gospel. Some young me immediately brought the pandit of the city to counter act and defeat the Sadhu. When the pandit came he came right to the face of Sundar and put his two fingers on Sundar’s mouth and told him "I have done this to prove that we are brothers, and not enemies as you suppose, for we both believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour." Sundar stayed with him for a few days.
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.
According to one description found in the Puranas (mythological traditions of Hinduism), Mount Kailash is the center of the world, and its four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli. It is the pillar of the world, 84,000 leagues high, the center of the world mandala, and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus. The four rivers flowing from Mount Kailash flow to the four quarters of the world and divide the world into four regions
A North Indian newspaper had published the following:
Our worldless, 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.
Here is what Sadhu Sundar Singh himself says: “As I was going in the direction of the Lake Mansarovar on the way I saw a stone cross which was set upon a rock. Afterwords I understood from this venerable sage that when the Nestorian Christians came to preach in Tibet, they had set up that cross here. Whe I saw this banner of victory in that lonely place, my heart danced with amazing joy and I had the desire to see something more, but when I had wandered all around I was descending the hill with disappointment. Through slipping on the ice, I fell down in front of a cave and was surprised to see a venerable man seated there with closed eyes. There was no cloth upon his body, hi hair covered his body……”
Aerial photograph of the Himalayas, Ladakh
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 Qur’an 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.
The Maharishi of Kailas experienced ecstatic visions about the secret fellowship of the Secret Christian Mission that he retold to Sundar Singh.
Later Singh himself built his spiritual life around visions which he understood as the senses of the Spiritual body beyond the Physical five senses. Apparently he gave as much importance to the images as his physical senses presented.
This Maharishi of Mt. Kailash is most assuredly the oldest man on earth. The Maharishi was born in Alexandria, Egypt, into a strict Muslim family about the year 1594. He was brought up as a zealous follower of the Prophet Mohammad in the Sufi tradition. He joined a Moslem school of priests and trainees, where he studied the Koran, the Moslem's holy book, carefully. He was, however, deeply dissatisfied and felt hungry for the truth, seeing that all his efforts to find God were a failure. At the age of 30 he renounced the world and entered a Dervish monastery to become a hermit.
Sufism (Arabic: ٱلصُّوفِيَّة), also known as Tasawwuf (Arabic: ٱلتَّصَوُّف), is mysticism in Islam, "characterized ... [by particular] values, ritual practices, doctrines and institutions". It is variously defined as "Islamic mysticism", "the inward dimension of Islam" or "the phenomenon of mysticism within Islam". Sufism began very early in Islamic history and represents "the main manifestation and the most important and central crystallization of" mystical practice in Islam. Practitioners of Sufism have been referred to as "Sufis" (from صُوفِيّ, ṣūfīy).
Historically, Sufis have often belonged to different ṭuruq or "orders" – congregations formed around a grand master referred to as a wali who traces a direct chain of successive teachers back to the prophet Muhammad. These orders meet for spiritual sessions (majalis) in meeting places known as zawiyas, khanqahs or tekke. They strive for ihsan (perfection of worship), as detailed in a hadith: "Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him; if you can't see Him, surely He sees you."
Sufi meditation and worship ends up mostly into whirling dances
The Baybars El-Jashankir Khanqa is the oldest Sufi monastery in Cairo, established around 1310 by Baybars el-Jashankir. It was also the first Khanqa built as part of a royal tomb complex. Salah al-Din introduced these structures, along with madrasas, to help combat the Shi'i influence after the Fatimids where ousted.
Christian Meier reports from Cairo.
When he stood on stage and performed the dhikr, says Essam Abdou, it was as though he was flying. Then he felt the energy of his fellow band members spreading to him and together they would abandon themselves to the Sufi ritual, rhythmically uttering the name of God, faster and faster, louder and louder until they reached a state of ecstasy. All negative energy just fell away. It was like a meditation, says Abdou and immediately explains himself more precisely: no, it was even better than that. You take your voice – and your soul – to the extreme.
One day he heard that a Christian saint called Yernaus (the Arabic version of the name
Hieronymus,= Father Hieronymus Xavier), who was the nephew of the Saint Francis Xavier, had come from India to preach in Egypt.
St. Francis Xavier, ( 1506 - 1552)] was a Roman Catholic missionary belonging to the Jesuit Mission. Francis Xavier was born in the royal castle of Xavier, in the Kingdom of Navarre He was a companion of Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. India was one of them. He is said to have landed in Goa. St Thomas Christians sect, welcomed the missionaries.
Akbar’s church, former cathedral of Agra (Uttar Pradesh, India).
Hieronymus himself was converted to Christianity by Francis Xavier. After his conversion, like his uncle, Hieronymus travelled all over the world preaching the gospel. It was he who baptized Emperor Akbar (1556-1605).
The New Testament parchment from which the Maharishi read before Sadhu Sundar Singh was a gift from Yernaus who got it from his uncle Francis Xavier.
Thus Hieronimus led this struggling seeker to Christ. Those timeless words which Jesus spoke which have drawn men of all ages to Him, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28), and "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16), took fast hold of him. He acted on these words and found the glorious release, forgiveness of sins and peace which is commonly known as conversion.
For seventy ﬁve years, Maharishi travelled around the world. Having preached Christ together with his teacher, he felt a great call to the East. Most people in India can never realize what feelings of love and compassion surge from the heart of any true disciple of Jesus, who comes to this ancient country for the first time. On coming to India, one surveys the poverty and the oppression, the occult practices and superstitious fears, the hopeless, unbearable grind of the daylong and poorly-rewarded toil which people accept with stoic resignation. All this has the cumulative effect of almost crushing a person of compassion with pangs of love and longing to lift the heavy burden. Thus it was with this missionary who came all the way from Alexandria. Unable to bear the cry and sorrow of the land, he had retired to one of the caves of the Himalayas to plead and pray for the people of this subcontinent and other nations.
Nearly three centuries rolled by while this man of God continued sequestered in the solitude of those remote heights, engaged in the heaviest ministry of all-intercession. He sustained himself by the herbs and the berries of the mountain side. The medicinal quality of some of these herbs had the amazing effect of giving adequate warmth to the body even in the bitter cold of the high altitudes of the Himalayas. The Maharishi made a point of telling him that he had witnessed the Third Battle of Panipat.
This sage introduced Sundar Singh to some of his experiences while he stayed with him. Apparently Sunder stayed with Maharishi for several weeks. This fellowship was repeated three times over the years to come during the visits of Sudar to Tibet.
The Third Battle of Panipat took place on 14 January 1761 at Panipat, about 97 km (60 miles) north of Delhi, between the Maratha Empire and the invading Afghan army (of Ahmad Shah Durrani), supported by four Indian allies, the Rohillas under the command of Najib-ud-daulah, Afghans of the Doab region, and the Nawab of Awadh, Shuja-ud-Daula. The Maratha army was led by Sadashivrao Bhau who was third in authority after the Chhatrapati Shivaji (Maratha King) and the Peshwa (Maratha Prime Minister). The main Maratha army was stationed in Deccan with the Peshwa.
battle is considered one of the largest and most eventful fought in the
18th century. and it has perhaps the largest number of fatalities in a
single day reported in a classic formation battle between two armies
He is over 400 years old and has not had a public ministry in over 300 years. Three centuries ago, when he was 105 years old and thought it was his time to die, Jesus came to him and gave him a new, eternal heart and assigned him to stay on earth until the Lord's return and pray for the church on earth. Since then he lives in seclusion in a remote cave on Mt. Kailash in the Himalaya Mountains north of India.
A Christian hermit 400 years old with a global prayer ministry hidden in a Himalayan cave is the stuff of fiction until we look back 2000 years. Challenging folks buried in Mosaic law, ritual, and tradition in the Jerusalem Temple complex, Jesus said: "If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." The Apostle of the Bleeding Feet Sadhu Sundar Singh, whose holy life is beyond doubt, was roaming around the mountains in Tibet after a mission trip in search of hermits when he slid and fell before the mouth of a cave. Seated there was an ancient man who began to tell the young Sadhu everything he ever did, and more: the spiritual world, the life hereafter, hidden mysteries were unveiled by this unknown sage called "Maharishi." Even some of Sadhu's closest admirers found it hard to accept the Sadhu's witness. Perhaps a dream resulting from deep spiritual meditation?
tell you the truth, some who are standing herewill not taste death
before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. - Matthew 16:28
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" - John 11:25-26
After Sundar Singh discovered him and revealed the fact to others, the Maharishi became a person who excited much curiosity, enquiry and debate. He was already known to some in the area as the Maharishi of Khailas, which means the great sage of Khailas. Subsequently Sundar Singh found that wherever he went people would question him about the Maharishi. Quite understandably, after sometime, Sundar Singh became weary of satisfying the curiosity of people concerning the Maharishi, and told them plainly, "I have come to preach Christ, and not the Maharishi."
Sadhu Sunder Singh came back from his tour and disclosed the existence
of the Maharishi, most people did not believe him. Some accused
him of making up an incredible story to gain fame. As a result
Sadhu himself gave an advertisement in the
popular Christian newspaper Nur Afshan on January 26, 1917 inviting
anyone who would like to go with him to Kailas to meet the Maharishi.
He advised them regarding the difficult trek and to be ready to
take a long journey. It appears that four daring people were
ready to take the long journey. However as the journey began one
by one left the attempt until finally Sundar alone remained.
According to Sundar on the way up he met a Buddhist lama called
Fangche, who had come to Mount Kailash to perform a circumambulation, a
pilgrimage performed by walking and prostrating around the
circumference of Mount Kailash—a distance of fifty two kilometers.
On telling him about Maharishi he got interested and joined
Sundar to meet him. Maharishi was happy to receive them both and
he was aware of what happened to Sundars fellow travellers which
surprised Sundar. Fangche asked: “Are you not Lama Nausang, who
disappeared and whose whereabouts nobody knows?” Maharishi
replied that “Lama Nausang was a recluse in these mountain region for a
short time and He is now dead.” The Maharishi then advised the lama to
read the Bible given to him by Sadhu Sundar Singh. He extended an
invitation for the lama to visit him whenever he had any
difficulty understanding the Bible.
Some 95 percent of the population was serfs and slaves, bought, sold and abused at the whim of the three ruling classes- the lamas who controlled the monasteries, the aristocracy-descendants of kings and Tibetan nobility- and government officials.
It is said that some monasteries owned up to 6000 serfs and slaves. Records unearthed show that the current Dalai Lama himself owned 2000.
According to Gorkar Mebon, the mayor of Lhasa in the 1950s, when the death sentence was administered "it was in the form that made no person responsible for the death: by hurling the person from a precipice or sewing him in a yak skin and throwing him in a river. Lighter sentences were of amputation of a hand, both hands, a leg or both legs, the stumps being sterilized with boiling butter." ("Tibet", Winnington)
Sadhu Sundar Singh A Biography by Joshua Daniel www.akademijavjecnogproljeca.org
Knocked down by a man
An eyewitness reported his experience with Sundar, "I encountered Sundar Singh as he was walking down a mountain trail to proclaim the Gospel to us. He then sat on top of a tree, wiped the sweat off his face and sang a hymn about the love of Jesus to us. The audience was not impressed by the song. One man came forward from the audience, pulled Sundar down from the tree and knocked him to the ground. Silently, Sundar got to his feet and began praying for these hostile people. He then told us about the love of Jesus who had died to redeem all sinners. Because of that I repented and so did the attacker."
That was not the only time when Sundar won souls for the Lord by adhering to Jesus' instruction which says, "Do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too." (Matthew 5:39).
The four robbers
One day in Nepal, Sundar was ambushed by four robbers in the middle of a jungle. One of them brandished a sword. Meekly, Sundar bowed his head thinking that his life was about to end. This attitude surprised the perpetrators. Since he was penniless, they took his blanket away from him and let him go. But then, one of the robbers called him back and curiously asked his name. Sundar introduced himself, opened his Bible and started telling him the story of the rich man and Lazarus the poor. The robber said that the end of the rich man's life was unpleasant and asked what would happen to himself. Sundar then told him about the Gospel and God's forgiveness. The robber took Sundar home with him and repented.
Thuggee refers to the acts of the Thugs, who were organized gangs of professional robbers and murderers. The English word thug traces its roots to the Hindi (ṭhag), which means 'swindler' or 'deceiver'. Related words are the verb thugna ('to deceive'), from the Sanskrit (sthaga 'cunning, sly, fraudulent') and (sthagati, 'he conceals').This term, describing the murder and robbery of travellers, was popular in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent and particularly India. Thugs considered themselves to be the children of Kali, having been created from her sweat.
84 tribes were a part of the criminal clans of Indian Thugs.
Watercolour (1837) by unknown artist of three Thugs strangling a traveller; one holds his feet, another his hands and a third tightens the ligature around his neck. Created in Lucknow, based on descriptions from imprisoned Thug leaders (Dash, 2005)
As Sundar trudged along a lonely road in an area he was suddenly accosted one day by a thugee He blocked his path with an upraised sword Sudar Singh meekly put down his head and waited for the sword to fall at any moment. But, to his surprise, the man lowered his sword and his manner changed completely! He could not believe that a man who was strong and tall like Sundar Singh would so meekly submit. Having talked to him about the love of God in Christ he led Sadhu to a cave. The bandit took him into the interior of the cave. There in the nether part, Sundar Singh saw the skeletons of men who had been killed by him. The bandit exclaimed, "All these men have I killed! Will God forgive me?"
The Con Couple
On one of his journeys, Sundar encountered a pathetic sight, where a man stood mourning and grieving over the death of a companion. The story of this mourner was that he and his friend were travelling, when his companion suddenly took ill, collapsed and died. There lay the body covered by a shroud by the roadside. The narrator of this sad story went on to say that he was absolutely penniless and had no money with which to cremate or otherwise arrange for the removal of his companion's body.
Sundar Singh was moved by pity, and although he had so little and carried hardly any money, he tried to do for this man what he could by way of relieving his distress.
He had not proceeded far from the sad scene, when Sundar Singh heard even yet louder and more frantic wails. The man whom he had just tried to comfort and relieve came running to him saying, "My friend has really died!" Then it was that Sundar Singh came to realize that these were two conmen who employed this ploy to obtain alms and gifts from the travellers who passed by. After receiving help from Sundar Singh, this fellow had gone back and called on his friend to rise, but his friend made no response. It was their practice to play the dead man in turns. Once the road was clear, they would be their usual selves again! Now, though the road was clear, he could not rouse his friend who would normally spring back to 'instant health' when called.
Now to his real sorrow and distress, he found that his companion was dead. This must have come as a great shock to Sundar Singh himself. No man of God would desire the death even of a deceiver. While God Himself has no joy in the death of a sinner-Ezekiel 18:32: "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth"-yet there is a very particular retribution which is meted out to those who lie, deceive and slander men of God who are key instruments in the building of His work and Kingdom.
After two months Sunder’s companion had to return to his station. Being alone, and regardless of risking his life in the service of the Master, he entered the Tibetan territory, and went about preaching fearlessly and without any fear of death or persecution. Everywhere he went his preaching had the effect of rousing fierce enmity and hatred on the part of the Tibetans, and specially the Buddhist Priests. He often saw them clenching their fists and gnashing their teeth at him as he stood telling the people about Jesus Christ. Fortunately nobody dared to lay hands on him, so that for several days Sunder went about preaching and managed to enter Tshingham. without any trouble.
The conversion of a Budhist.
Trudging over- crags and cliffs, Sunder was one day pressing towards a certain place when suddenly he came to a cave where he saw a man sitting with closed eyes, his hair tied to the ceiling and an expression of settled boredom on his face. On being asked, the man told Sunder his whole history ; how he had spent all his life in pursuing the business of the world and following its vain pursuits ; but becoming alarmingly conscious of the fact that he had made little provision to obtain * Nirvana , he bad given up al! worldly ambitions and was now spending bis time in t Yojia.
“But,” said be “the harder I meditate, the more miserable I feel, i have become conscious of an unaccountable desire to probe the secret of real human happiness on earth, but it seems beyond my ken. Now 1 am made with musing weak and rov heart is sick with thought, for l agonize in the pangs of a fearful inward pain.”
Hearing this Sunder read him a few verses like the following “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and 1 will give you rest,” and told him something about his own Saviour.