Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review: Wisdom of the Sadhu

I was offered a chance to review the book "Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh". I was intrigued by the idea when I found that Sundar Singh was a Christian in India. I've mostly tired of books by western Christians (at least, those that are specifically evangelical), but I was interested in how the eastern mind thought and taught Christianity. Lest we forget, Christianity came from the middle east, and I think we do it a disservice trying to couch it in terms related to our 21st century American existence.

Wisdom of the Sadhu is a collection of the works of Sundar Singh, not arranged in any particular order of creation or publication. Some of them are his actual writings on subjects, some are recollections of parables and conversations he had with seekers and students.

Unlike the stories and parables western pastors and evangelists share, these are not contrived. You could consider them "Rabbinical". Jesus was a Rabbi, after all.

In the west, our dialogs are often question -> answer. In an eastern mindset, it's sometimes question -> clarifying question. Sometimes when a question is asked, it's best to respond with another question to help the questioner clarify his or her thoughts.

Sundar Singh grew up as a Sikh. He studied hard in search of peace. His village was very tolerant of other beliefs. His father even sent him to a Christian school. He didn't like it though, and threw stones at Christian missionaries and tore up and burned their Bibles. His father didn't like that. Eventually, he became a Christian and was run out of his home because of it. He then lived the life of a sadhu, an Indian holy man. It was apparently a beggar-like existence.

Of the whole book, on passage that stood out to me most was a discussion of living in the world without immersing ourselves in the world. Many 21st Century American Evangelical Churchians struggle with this. We do all kinds of crazy stuff like not watching TV to avoid being "corrupted" by the world.

Part of Singh's response was "The creatures of the sea live their entire lives in salt water. Yet, when we taste their flesh, we find that it is not salty. It is the same with us. If we maintain an active prayer life, if we turn constantly to the source of life, we remain free from the world's corrupting influences."

I think it would do all western Christians good to study the work of our brothers from other parts of the world and other points in time. Wisdom of the Sadhu is an accessible way to start.

You can buy it here:

Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh
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