Kartar Singh

9 12 2009

versin # 1

Kartar Singh, you have disgraced the Sikh religion and your family.  Forget this nonsense.  Forget about your ‘Jesus Christ’ and return to the religion of your forefathers, or you are no longer my son!

Father, I love you and mother and I deeply appreciated all you have done for me.  It pains me to hurt you, but I cannot give up my faith in Jesus Christ.  He is my Lord.  He is my Saviour.  I will serve Him until the day of my death.

Such was the dramatic episode which took peace when it became known to the family of Kartar Singh that their son had become a follower of Jesus.

Little is known about Kartar Singh’s youth, but it is quite certain that he was born in the late 19th century and was martyred in the early years of the present century.  He was a Sikh, son of a rich landlord in the state of Patiala (now known as Punjab).  Since he was the only son and all the hopes of the family were centered upon him, he was brought up in luxury and was given the best education possible.

Early in his youth Kartar began to have an insatiable thirst for spiritual truth.  He heard about Christianity and began to understand and believe its claims, until finally an unshakable conviction of its truth gripped him.  He realized that only Christ could satisfy the longing of his heart, and took the step of openly confessing Him.

Kartar’s father did everything he could to pressure Kartar into renouncing his new faith, but he could not succeed. Even the beautiful girl who was to have become his wife could not influence him.  This was perhaps the severest of his temptations at this point, but though he loved her, he declared that his first love and loyalty was to Christ.

This was too much for Kartar’s father who in a fit of anger disowned him as a son before all the family members, ordering him to remove his clothes and leave the house immediately.  It was a cold night in December, but Kartar had to obey.  Removing his clothes and laying them at his father’s feet, he said, “Father, the righteousness of Jesus Christ has covered all my nakedness and sin.” Naked and rejected, he left the house and went out into the cold night.

In order to earn enough money to but food and clothes he took up the work of a coolie, doing jobs his father’s servants would have despised.  Very soon, however, Kartar adopted the yellow robe of a sadhu and began preaching among the towns and villages of Punjab State.  After some time he felt the call of God to Tibet, which for centuries had been closed to the gospel.

In Tibet, Kartar Singh met with disdain and opposition.  He was often bodily thrown out of villages.  In spite of such treatment Kartar loved the people and his heart yearned that they might come to know the love of the Heavenly Father.

Eventually he was brought before the Lama of Tsingham and charged with unlawfully entering the country and preaching a foreign religion.  The death sentence was pronounced upon him.  Tibet’s manner of execution was that infamous method of sewing up the condemned person in a wet yak (Tibetan ox) skin.  As the sun shone upon this skin the hide gradually shrank and tightened about his body, causing his bones to crack.  A cruel, mocking crowd stood by to witness and laugh at his misery.  On the ground at his side lay the New Testament which had been his only comfort through all his temptations and trials.

This slow torture continued for three long days, but the peace and joy of the Lord flooded the soul of Kartar Singh as he lay in physical agony.  Waiting for death, Kartar sang songs of praise and prayed for the salvation of his enemies.  Finally, on the third day as death drew near, he asked that his right hand might be set free.  Probably form curiosity rather than mercy, his request was granted.  With his free hand Kartar wrote on the fly-leaf of his New Testament,

“I pray that my love for Him may not be less than that of the Hindu woman who burns along with the corpse of her dead husband.  When for the dead husband, who she may not hope to meet again, she does so much, how much more should I do for a living Lord who is moreover the Lord of life?”

Shortly afterwards Kartar Singh died in the yak skin.

But this is not the end of the story, for “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”  Among the crowd that witnessed the death of this brave follower of Christ was the chief secretary of the Lama of Tsingham.  He picked up the New Testament in which Kartar had written his last message.  Carried it home, and started reading it.

The witness of Kartar Singh and his triumphant spirit at death had prepared his heart well for the message of the Word of God.  As he thoughtfully read the New Testament he began to realize his sins and saw that for him there was forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  After a few days he too stood before the Lama and boldly declared his faith in Christ as saviour.

The witness of his secretary infuriated the Lama.   Quickly the court was called into session and the same type of death penalty was pronounced upon the new convert.  To add to his misery, his executioners thrust red-hot skewers into his body.  Than, impatient for his death, they took him out of the yak skin and drove sharp bamboo splinters under the nails of his fingers and toes, tied a rope around his battered body, and dragged him through the streets of the town, finally throwing him on the dump heap outside town, where they left him for dead.  

After several hours the cool night air revived the unconscious man. Slowly his strength returned and he was able to crawl away to safety.  When he had recovered from his many wounds he again appeared on the streets of the town, to the utter amazement of everyone.  The Lama was now afraid to lay hands on him, so he was allowed to carry on a normal life in their midst and even to give public testimony to the saving power of Jesus Christ.

On one of his several trips into Tibet Sadhu Sundar Singh happened to visit this town and heard the amazing story of Kartar Singh and the secretary of Tsingham from the secretary’s own lips.

Still the story does not end.  Upon returning to India, Sadhu Sundar Singh sought out the father of Kartar Singh and told him of his son’s heroic death.  As Sundar spoke of the great love of Christ manifested by Kartar at the time of his martyrdom, the old man listened with a softened heart.  Finally he said to Sundar Singh, “I too believe in Him!”

Source: http://horebchurch.com/KARTAR-SINGH.doc accessed from this link on: November 27th 2009.

Version # 2

Knowing Christ

Kartar Singh was a contemporary of Sadhu Sundar Singh was a Sikh and the son of rich Zamindar (Land owner). All the hopes of the family were centered in this boy, for there were no other sons to carry on the name. Like Sadhu Sundar Singh he was brought up in the midst of luxury, and preparations for his future were made by giving him the best education possible. Nothing was forgotten that could make his training complete for the fulfillment of his father’s ambitions for the boy. However, in spite of an utter neglect of religion in this education, there grew up in his mind a desire after spiritual things, which his secular training could not satisfy. He heard of Christianity, and little by little, got to know and understand its claims, until a deep conviction of its truth laid hold of him. The more he studied it the more he felt it supplied the cravings of his own soul, until at last he saw but one path – and that the strait and narrow one before him.

Tempted but not yielde

Kartar now took the irrevocable step of declaring himself a Christian, a fact that filled the hearts of his people with dismay. Many attempts of various kinds were made to win him from persisting in this determination, but finding him not to be tempted by ordinary means, his father sent to him the beautiful girl who was his chosen wife. This poor girl came before him in all her tender promise of life, and with tears besought him to desist from taking a step that would mean such terrible loss to her. Looking upon her misery his heart was touched, yet even in this last temptation God gave him strength, and with much tenderness he put the sweet Hindu child from him, declaring that the one heart he had to give already belonged to Christ his Savior. The broken-hearted girl returned to her future father-in-law’s house to tell how useless had been her protests, since Kartar had said all his love had been given to another.

Persecuted but not yielded

Not long afterwards, Kartar was driven forth homeless from his father’s house. To enable him to buy food and sufficient clothes, he then took up the work of a laborer, and undiscouraged by his hard lot, this tenderly reared boy bent his back to tasks which his own father’s servants would have despised. Very soon, however, Kartar began his mission to the people of his own country, and went preaching among the towns and villages of Patiala, where he trod the thorny and difficult path that was to prepare him for the harder future awaiting him. After preaching in many places in the Punjab, Kartar turned his steps towards the mountains that lay between him and the darkest Tibet, and after some weeks of weary journeying over rough country, he found himself in the land of his choice.

Preached amidst persecution

The Buddhism of Tibet has no place for Christ, whose very name arouses the deepest feelings of hatred and opposition. No record remains that Kartar met with much personal kindness or that his message was accepted, but no thought of going back seemed to have occurred to his mind. These people were without Christ and had need of Him, and as Christ had given His life, so Kartar was prepared to sacrifice his life also, that at least his witness should be borne and his love testified to before his persecutors. Although the sight of his youth and the fervor of his message touched hearts, there was little courage to take his part, and it was only after his death, the fruit of his labors and testimony became known. Kartar saw, as our Savior did before him, that the thorny path could only end in one way. In spite of numerous efforts to drive him out of the country, he continued his preaching in many places for some time, but eventually he was hauled before the Lama of Tsingham and charged with unlawfully entering the country with intent to teach a foreign religion. The end he had looked forward to had come, and with undaunted courage, he faced the inevitable, trusting to God to give him the necessary grace to witness to his faith to the end. On the way to the judgment seat, he delivered his last message, urging on the crowd the necessity of seeking salvation through Jesus Christ, and one at least of all who heard his words remembered them and through them found the Savior.


Arrived at the place of execution Kartar was stripped of all his clothes and was sewn up in a wet yak skin, which was then put out in the sun. A cruel mocking crowd stood about to witness his tortures, and as the skin, shrunk and tightened round him, they laughed to hear the bones cracking in the slow process of death. By his side on the ground lay the New Testament that had been his one and only comfort through the hard days that had followed his confession of his Master. Unheeded it lay until on the third day, when Kartar knew the end of was drawing on, he asked that his right hand might be set free for a moment. This was done, probably more from curiosity than mercy. Collecting all his strength, Kartar wrote his last message on the flyleaf of his Testament. It was written in Urdu, which was translated into English as follows:

         From God I life besought, not once but a hundred thousand times,

        That to what Friend again is oft I might return it.

        That love for Him, Khasrawa, shall not be less than hers – the faithful Hindu wife,

        Who on the burning pyre draws to her heart the loved one,

        And lays her life beside him.

        The life he gave to me was what I gave to Him:

        True is that though I did it all, yet all I could not do.

 No cry of anguish escaped the brave lips, but as evening came on, Kartar gave thanks aloud to God for comfort in death, and quietly passed away with the words, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”

Source: http://www.mayimhayim.org/Academic%20Stuff/Kartar%20Singh.htm; accessed from this link on: 27th November 2009



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