- Sundar Singh, Sadhu
- (1889-1929)Indian Christian missionary and theologianSundar Singh was born in the Rampur, Punjab, on September 3, 1889, to a Sikh mother, but as a youth he read widely in the literature of other faiths as well. He learned yoga and in his teens made the vows of a sanyassin (the renounced life) and began wandering through india as a sadhu, or holy man.He interrupted his wandering life to attend college in Calcutta. A British colleague introduced Sundar Singh to the Bible and Christianity, but he cared for neither and became openly hostile after his graduation. However, after burning a Bible before his father, he had a transforming vision of Jesus Christ while praying in his bedroom. on his 16th birthday, in 1905, he was baptized at St. Thomas Anglican Church in Simla; however, rather than joining the congregation he decided to continue his role as a sadhu and wear the saffron robe of one living on the charity of others. Over his father's condemnation, he became a wandering, celibate Christian evangelist. His only possession was a New Testament. He was convinced that he could best introduce Christianity to his fellow countrymen as a sanyassin.For a few months, Sundar Singh studied at the St. John School of Theology in Lahore, but then resumed his travels across the Punjab and into Afghanistan. Those who knew him dubbed him the "apostle of the bleeding feet." In 1914, while preaching in Nepal, he was arrested and thrown into a well to die for spreading another religion.He escaped and when recaptured was expelled from the country.Sundar Singh traveled throughout India and Sri Lanka. Between 1918-19 he visited Malaysia, Japan,China, western Europe, Australia, and Israel (1920-22). His travels made him famous, at least among Western Christians. He won many friends by his effort to live a Christlike life. He continued traveling through the 1920s. Then in 1929 he set off for Tibet and was never seen again.Sundar Singh provided a new pattern for the Indian appropriation of Christianity, one appreciated by Indians who had rejected European Christian forms. He opened Christians to the rich heritage of the Indian religions, providing a new way for the church to indigenize. Through personal meetings, correspondence, and books he influenced a number of prominent Christian leaders, from British writer C. S. Lewis to Indian bishop Aiyadurai Jesudasen Appasamy. Among Sudar Singh's books on Christian spirituality and living are: At the Master's Feet (1922), Reality and Religion (1923), Search After Reality (1924), Spiritual Life (1925), Spiritual World (1926), Real Life (1927), With and Without Christ (1928), and Life in Abundance (1980).Further reading:■ C. F Andrews, Sadhu Sundar Singh: A Personal Memoir (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1934)■ A. J. Appasamy, Sundar Singh: A Biography (London: Lutterworth Press 1958)■ Sadhu Sundar Singh, The Complete Works of Sundar Singh (Madras, India: Christian Literature Society, 1986)■ ----,Visions of Sadhu Sundar Singh of India (G. Dahle, 1926; reprint, Minneapolis, Minn.: Osterhus, n.d.)■ B. H. Streeter and A. J. Appasamy, The Message of Sadhu Sundar Singh: A Study in Mysticism on Practical Religion (New York: Macmillan, 1921).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.