Sadhu Sundar Singh

Proud I am to be a Mauritian bashing in the “bouillon de cultures”. At an early start of my working career, I was blessed to have been able to visit India in the years of Mrs. Indira Gandhi Prime minister ship, the late 1960’s. The Air India B707 aircraft linked Bombay Santa Cruz airport to Plaisance in 1967 and there I was promoting travel from our Indian ocean islands, South Africa region to India. For years, I made a score of trips to India, accompanying travel writers and travel agents to show them the tourist, religious and cultural facets of this huge continent country. I would like to share with you today the life of a great Christian Sadhu.

One hundred and seventeen years ago on September 1889, Sundar Singh was born to Sher Singh of Rampur, Punjab in northern India. His mother, a deeply religious woman, nurtured him in the noble 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. Little did anyone know what God was about to do with this keenly intelligent and disciplined young man.

He was raised in the luxury of his family’s wealth. As a Sikh, Sundar was taught about Hinduism and came along with his parents to Hindu and Sikh temples. By the age of seven he had already memorized Bhagavadgita, the intricate Hindu dialogue containing spiritual life lessons. At sixteen, not only had he mastered the Vedas, the ancient sacred books of Hinduism, but he had also read Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam. He then got acquainted with some sadhus who taught him Yoga. A sadhu is a Hindu who devotes his entire life to his religion and forsakes all the worldly pleasures. Sundar remained single and jobless. He traveled all over India wearing a yellow robe without any food and without having any permanent residence. He lived only on the charity of others.

The life of Sadhu Sundar Singh was most remarkable in its Christ-likeness. Being born amidst the depths of Indian culture and religion, and into a Sikh family, during the early part of his life Sundar’s mother would take him week by week to sit at the feet of a sadhu, an ascetic holy man, who lived some distance away in the rainforest. 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.” However, he never achieved peacefulness in his meditations. Owing to his mother’s connections with some women from a British mission in Rajpur, Sundar was able to enter the school run by the missionaries. It was there that Sundar was first exposed to the Bible. He wasn’t interested in the Bible at that time. Instead, he ardently buried himself in Hinduism and yogic practices.

Later on Sadhu Sundar Singh met with Christ and his teachings. His life mission changed.

Being unwilling to denounce his Master in the face of his family’s rejection, Sundar took the saffron robes of the sadhu and began a life of spreading the simple message of love and peace and rebirth through Jesus. He carried no money or other possessions, only a New Testament.

“I am not worthy to follow in the steps of my Lord,” he said, “but like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all people of the love of God.”

He traveled India and Tibet, as well as the rest of the world, with the message that the modern interpretation of Jesus was sadly watered down. Sundar visited Tibet every summer. In 1929, he visited that country again and was never seen since. Sundar manifested into his life the verse written in Mark 8:35 which says, “For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for Me and for the Gospel will save it.”


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