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At The Master’s Feet, Preface and Introduction

Translated from the Urdu by Rev. Arthurs and Mrs. Parker. Fleming H. Revell Company. London and Edinburgh, 1922

Note by the Translators

This little book was published in Urdu in India, where also an English translation was issued.

In the preparation of this translation we have been fortunate in having the co-operation of the Sadhu himself, and in concert with him certain alterations have been made with a view to remove obscurities and give added point and clearness wherever possible. While striving to provide a careful translation, a certain freedom of expression has been made use of wherever necessary, at the same time care has been taken to preserve the true spirit and meaning of the original.

To those who, like ourselves, have had the good fortune to see the Sadhu at his work in India, the whole atmosphere of the book is familiar. In true Oriental fashion one has seen him seated on the ground in the midst of a large number of eager inquirers of both sexes and all classes. His bearing on such occasions one can never forget. His simplicity and plain common sense often lay open the very heart of a spiritual problem, and his quiet humour raises an occasional ripple of amusement, which again subsides into a feeling of reverence as the deeper significance of his answers makes itself felt.

The man himself, in his own gracious and dignified personality, makes an indelible impression on the mind. He becomes more than a charming memory; he remains as a compelling force in the lives of many who have sat with him at the Master’s feet.

This little book goes out as an emanation from a mind chastened and refined by experience and prayerful meditation, and chosen by the Lord of love and mercy to make Him known in life as well as in word.

Preface

The words of Christ—

“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” John 13:13

“Take my yoke upon you and learn of me . . . and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:29

There is nothing so perfect in the world as to be quite above objection and criticism. The very sun which gives us light and warmth is not free from spots, yet notwithstanding these defects it does not desist from its regular duty. It behooves us in like manner to carry on to the best of our ability what has been entrusted to us, and strive constantly to make our lives fruitful.

When the truths set forth in this book were revealed to me by the Master they deeply affected my life, and some of them have been used by me in my sermons and addresses in Europe, America, Africa, Australia, and Asia. At the request of many friends I have now gathered them together in this little book, and though it is possible that there are defects in setting them forth, I am sure that those who read them with prayer and an unprejudiced mind will benefit from them as I have.

It would be impossible for me to set forth these truths that have been revealed to me except in parabolic language, but by the use of parables my task has been made comparatively easy.

It is my prayer that as God by His grace and mercy has blessed me by these truths, so also they may be a blessing to every reader.

Your humble servant,

Sundar Singh

Introduction

First Vision

Once on a dark night I went alone into the forest to pray, and seating myself upon a rock I laid before God my deep necessities, and besought His help. After a short time, seeing a poor man coming towards me I thought he had come to ask me for some relief because he was hungry and cold. I said to him, “I am a poor man, and except this blanket I have nothing at all. You had better go to the village near by and ask for help there.” And lo! even whilst I was saying this he flashed forth like lightning, and, showering drops of blessing, immediately disappeared. Alas! Alas! it was now clear to me that this was my beloved Master who came not to beg from a poor creature like me, but to bless and to enrich me 2 Corinthians 8:9, and so I was left weeping and lamenting my folly and lack of insight.

Second Vision

On another day, my work being finished, I again went into the forest to pray, and seated upon that same rock began to consider for what blessings I should make petition. Whilst thus engaged it seemed to me that another came and stood near me, who, judged by his bearing and dress and manner of speech, appeared to be a revered and devoted servant of God; but his eyes glittered with craft and cunning, and as he spoke he seemed to breathe an odour of hell.

He thus addressed me, “Holy and Honoured Sir, pardon me for interrupting your prayers and breaking in on your privacy; but it is one’s duty to seek to promote the advantage of others, and therefore I have come to lay an important matter before you. Your pure and unselfish life has made a deep impression not only on me, but upon a great number of devout persons. But although in the Name of God you have sacrificed yourself body and soul for others, you have never been truly appreciated. My meaning is that being a Christian only a few thousand Christians have come under your influence, and some even of these distrust you. How much better would it be if you became a Hindu or a Mussulman, and thus become a great leader indeed? They are in search of such a spiritual head. If you accept this suggestion of mine, then three hundred and ten millions of Hindus and Mussulmans will become your followers, and render you reverent homage.”

As soon as I heard this there rushed from my lips these words, “Thou Satan! get thee hence. I knew at once that thou wert a wolf in sheep’s clothing! Thy one wish is that I should give up the cross and the narrow path that leads to life, and choose the broad road of death. My Master Himself is my lot and my portion, who Himself gave His life for me, and it behooves me to offer as a sacrifice my life and all I have to Him who is all in all to me. Get you gone therefore, for with you I have nothing to do.”

Hearing this he went off grumbling and growling in his rage. And I, in tears, thus poured out my soul to God in prayer, “My Lord God, my all in all, life of my life, and spirit of my spirit, look in mercy upon me and so fill me with Thy Holy Spirit that my heart shall have no room for love of aught but Thee. I seek from Thee no other gift but Thyself, who art the Giver of life and all its blessings. From Thee I ask not for the world or its treasures, nor yet for heaven even make request, but Thee alone do I desire and long for, and where Thou art there is Heaven. The hunger and the thirst of this heart of mine can be satisfied only with Thee who hast given it birth. O Creator mine! Thou hast created my heart for Thyself alone, and not for another, therefore this my heart can find no rest or ease save in Thee, in Thee who hast both created it and set in it this very longing for rest. Take away then from my heart all that is opposed to Thee, and enter and abide and rule for ever. Amen.”

When I rose up from this prayer I beheld a glowing Being, arrayed in light and beauty, standing before me. Though He spoke not a word, and because my eyes were suffused with tears I saw Him not too clearly, there poured from Him lightning-like rays of life-giving love with such power that they entered in and bathed my very soul. At once I knew that my dear Saviour stood before me. I rose at once from the rock where I was seated and fell at His feet. He held in His hand the key of my heart. Opening the inner chamber of my heart with His key of love, He filled it with His presence, and wherever I looked, inside or out, I saw but Him.

Then did I know that man’s heart is the very throne and citadel of God, and that when He enters there to abide, heaven begins. In these few seconds He so filled my heart, and spoke such wonderful words, that even if I wrote many books I could not tell them all. For these heavenly things can be explained only in heavenly language, and earthly tongues are not sufficient for them. Yet I will endeavour to set down a few of these heavenly things that by way of vision came to me from the Master. Upon the rock on which before I sat He seated Himself, and with myself at His feet there began between Master and disciple the conversation that now follows.