THE STORY OF SUNDAR SINGH
We tell the story of a young man from a proud Sikh family, belonging to the culture of India and its ancient religious traditions.
Born in 1889 at Rampur in the Punjab of N. India, Sundar Singh was the third son of wealthy noble parents. As a young child, and then a teenager, he was very much influenced by his mother to seek the peace of oneness with the Supreme Spirit.
This he did. And by the age of seven he had already learned by heart much of the Bhavagad Gita. By 16 he had read the Granth, and the Quran of the Moslems, and about fifty of the Upanishads. In this manner, reading the scriptures and meditating on them, he was following the traditional Path of Knowledge (Jnana-Marga) for achieving salvation. He even spent some time under instruction by a holy man, and ‘stayed in seclusion’ (mtshams-la sdod) in concentrated meditation. Lastly, he read the Bible – it was at the Christian school in his village – but he found its message repulsive and opposed to the traditions of his Sikh fathers. So, one day he burnt a bible in the presence of his father.
But he did not find the peace that he sought. And the thought of committing suicide on the railway line came to him.
So, three days after burning the bible, waking at 3am, he took a cold bath and prayed,
‘O God, if there is a God, please show me the right way or I will kill myself.’
The train would pass at 5am, and he was thinking that if, he got no answer, maybe he would get it in the next life.
He went on praying until 4.30, hoping for peace. Then he saw a great light. He looked around; was the room on fire? No! Had God answered? He prayed while looking into the light. It was then he saw the glorious and loving form of the Lord Jesus.
How could he prostrate himself before the One whom he had insulted? But a voice spoke in the Hindi language,
‘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?’
And the thought came to him,
‘Jesus Christ is not dead but living and it must be He Himself.’
Then falling at His feet, a wonderful Peace came, such as he had been unable to find anywhere else.
It was a Peace and Joy that remained with him all his life.
He went at once to tell his father,
‘I have become a Christian. I have discovered that Jesus Christ is alive and have determined to be His follower. Today I am his disciple and I am going to serve Him.’
And that is what he did.
Family and relatives urged him to turn back. They told him of the shame and dishonour that would come to him; and of the wealth that he would lose. But he would not turn back.
Then persecution followed. They spoke against him.
Finally, he was given some poisoned food and thrown out. Although cast out without warm clothing, and having no belongings, except his bible in his hand, he had the peace of his Saviour in his heart. That first night felt like the joy of heaven.
He went on to be baptized in 1905. And then, wearing the yellow robe of a sadhu (holy man), and carrying no money, just his blanket and a bible, he preached Jesus Christ wherever he went – in the Punjab, Kashmir, Baluchistan, Afghanistan. From 1908 he spent the summer months for about 15 years in going up into Tibet, making the plateau his main field of work. He suffered in the cold, and was beaten, even tortured, for preaching Jesus. Then in 1929 he set off for the last time, but did not return.
John’s Gospel was Sundar’s favourite book in the Bible. In it we read that Jesus promised to give His Peace to his followers:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
ངས་ཁྱེད་ཚོ་ཞི་བདེ་གནས་པར་བྱེད། ངའི་ཞི་བདེ་ཁྱེད་ཚོར་སྦྱིན། ངས་ཞི་བདེ་སྦྱིན་ཚུལ་ནི་འཇིག་རྟེན་གྱིས་ཞི་བདེ་སྟེར་ཚུལ་དང་མི་འདྲ་བས། ཁྱེད་ཚོའི་སེམས་མ་འཁྲུགས་ཤིང་མ་འཇིགས་ཤིག
Jesus also promised full understanding of the truth of his words to any person who would be willing to obey:
“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (John 7:17).
སུ་ཡང་དཀོན་མཆོག་གི་ཐུགས་དགོངས་བཞིན་དུ་སྒྲུབ་པར་ཆོད་སེམས་བཙུགས་ན། བསྟན་པ་འདི་ནི་དཀོན་མཆོག་ནས་བྱུང་ངམ། ཡང་ན་ངས་རང་ཐོག་ནས་བཤད་པ་ཡིན་ཤེས་པར་འགྱུར།
Details of Sundar’s life may be found in many books. The above information is taken from B.H.Streeter and A.J.Appasamy, The Message of Sadhu Sundar Singh, 1921 Macmillan.