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Jesus in India

(Did Jesus ever visit India?)

Jeswin Rebello


Religion is all about the Truth. Truth is God. It is my strong belief that anything that does not conform to the truth when it comes to God should be exposed and given the boot. If you are one of those who have blind beliefs in your religion and its ways, whatever they are, then this article is not for you. This article is for those for are in the search of the true God and his ways. All information given in this article is true to the best of my knowledge.

Introduction In the same league as the Lost City of Atlantis, The City of Gold El-Dorado, the Illuminati Conspiracy and Mayan prophecies of the end of the world -- all great fodder for speculative fiction, Stories that won't die -- comes another great story - the story that Jesus traveled to India and Tibet to study Buddhism. Variations of this theory have popped up from time to time since the late 19th century when someone proposed this theory for the first time. The Story Jesus began his ministry at around age 30. The last time we hear about him in the Bible was when he was 12 years old. Some have speculated that during these 18 years called the unaccounted period, Jesus went to India or China since nothing of that time period is recorded in the Bible. The theory that Jesus travelled to India during the unaccounted period of his life is of very recent origin. It started around the end of the nineteenth century. The claim that Jesus spent his missing years in India originated with Nicholas Notovitch's book The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ written in 1894. Notovitch, a Russian journalist, claimed he had found documents in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery which described Jesus' life. In these scrolls Jesus was known as St Issa. At the age of 12, he left Jerusalem for India where he studied the Vedas. He was welcomed by the outcasts for his wisdom and miracles but the Brahmin priests grew jealous and drove St Issa away. He journeyed to Kashmir and Tibet. In Tibet he mastered the Buddhist Scriptures and then returned to Palestine to preach. Notovitch asserted that in 1887, while at the secluded Hemis monastery in Ladakh, he was shown a manuscript which discussed the unknown life of Jesus, or Issa, as he was supposedly called in the East. This Issa text, translated for Notovitch from Tibetan by a lama (Buddhist monk), alleged that during his lost years Jesus was educated by yogis in India, Nepal and the Himalaya Mountains. Stating that he felt the manuscript to be true and genuine, Notovitch maintained its contents were written immediately after the Resurrection, while the manuscript itself purportedly dated from the third century of the Common Era. Notovitch related that the two manuscripts he was shown at Himis were compiled from diverse copies written in the Tibetan tongue, translated from rolls belonging to the Lassa library and brought from India, Nepal, and Maghada 200 years after Christ. When Notovitch returned to Europe there was much debate as to the authenticity of the manuscript he claimed to have studied. He was accused of being an impostor who never visited the places he described.

A century later, intrigued by Notovitchs account of Jesus traveling to the East, German writer Holger Kersten produced two books Jesus Lived in India and The Jesus Conspiracy. She narrated popular legends and stories which tell of Jesus visiting Ladakh and the Kashmir valley, as well as Varanasi city. In her book, Jesus Lived in India, Kersten tells the story of the early years of Jesus Christ in India. The lad arrives in a region of the Sindh (along the river Indus) in the company of merchants. He settled among the Aryans with the intention of perfecting himself and learning from the laws of the great Buddha. He travelled extensively through the land of the five rivers (Punjab), stayed briefly with the Jains before proceeding to Jagannath, Kersten says in his book. In his book, In Search of the Loving God, Mark Mason writes, Finally, there is a confirmation of the accuracy of the Hemis Scriptures about Issa from another part of India al-together, and from a Hindu rather than a Buddhist source. It will be recalled that these scriptures said Issa spent six years in Jagannath (now Puri) and other holy cities of the Hindus, before going to live for a further six years in the Himalayas. Sri Daya Mata, president of Self-Realization Fellowship, went to India in 1959, and in an interview with one of India's great spiritual leaders, His Holiness Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha, the Shankaracharya of Puri, she mentioned that she had been told that Jesus "spent some of his life in India, in association with her illumined sages. His Holiness replied, 'That is true. I have studied ancient records in the Puri Jagannath Temple archives confirming those facts. He was known as "Isha," and during part of his time in India he stayed in the Jagannath Temple. When he returned to his part of the world, he expounded the teachings that are known today as Christianity' In 1952, another Russian, Nicholas Roerich, a philosopher, visited Hemis and recorded the legend. According to Roerich, Jesus passed his time in several ancient cities of India such as Benares or Varanasi.' Everyone loved him because Issa dwelt in peace with the Vaishyas and Shudras whom he instructed and helped, Roerich said in his account. Christs teachings in the ancient holy cities of Jagannath (Puri), Benares (in Uttar Pradesh) and Rajagriha (in Bihar) earned him the wrath of the Brahmins, forcing him to flee to the Himalayas after six years. Jesus spent another six years studying Buddhism in the Himalayas. According to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Jesus died in Kashmir at the age of one hundred and twenty years. According to Ahmad, Jesus was known as Yuz Asaf and that he survived his crucifixion and traveled to India with his wife, where he lived, had children, died and is buried at the Roza Bal shrine in Srinagar. Ghulam Ahmads views differ considerably from those of Notovitch, Kersten and other writers who hold that Jesus travelled to India pre-crucifixion and returned to Palestine after having imbibed Buddhist teachings. As opposed to this, Ghulam Ahmad argues that Jesus came to India only after the crucifixion and it was not he who borrowed Buddhas teachings but the Buddhists who copied his teachings. 4

The feature film The Unknown Stories of the Messiah ignited considerable controversy when it was released in India by claiming Jesus journeyed to the East after the crucifixion, studied Hinduism and Buddhism, and was buried in a tomb in Kashmir. Many New Age Gurus have claimed that Jesus went to India as a child to learn from Hindu gurus. They allege that Jesus later went to Israel and performed miracles learned from these gurus, and taught doctrines He derived from them. So what is the Truth? Did Jesus go to India and Tibet? Was he taught by Hindu and Buddhist sages? There are many who are convinced that between the ages of 12-29, Jesus travelled to these places. These sorts of claims are presented in the film The Lost Years of Jesus. They are also made in Shirley Maclaine's Out on a Limb, Janet Bock's The Jesus Mystery, Elizabeth Clare Prophet's The Lost Years of Jesus and Holger Kirsten's Jesus Lived in India. Edgar Cayce the sleeping prophet and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh also claimed that Jesus went to India. What is the Truth? According to the Bible, Jesus in his adulthood never travelled further than 50 miles from his home. Yet legends would have us believe that he travelled to America, to France, To Great Britain, to Persia, to Greece, to Egypt, to Kashmir, to Orissa and finally to Tibet and then back again to Israel. The Bible says nothing about Jesus' life from the age of 12 until he was 30. Therefore, the theory goes, he must have spent that time in India studying Buddhism. What else? Let us check what the evidence says about Jesus journeying to India and Tibet. The Mystery of the Missing Scrolls The claim that Jesus spent his missing years in India originated with Nicholas Notovitch's The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ in 1894. Notovitch, claimed he had found documents in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery which described Jesus' life. So where are these scrolls? In which Tibetan Buddhist monastery? There are stories (with variations) that a mysterious document is being kept in some Tibetan monastery that proves Jesus studied there. However, the document never seems to see the light of day. The plain fact is that these scrolls dont exist. Janet Bock in her book The Jesus Mystery concedes: Of course, the truth about the missing years in Jesus' life cannot be historically proven and therefore will always be subjective for each individual who explores it, which is the way it should be. We have no need to prove anything about this story (page 5). Since she admits there is no historical evidence to support these claims it seems presumptuous of her and others to attribute to Jesus things he neither said nor did. However this does not stop her from inventing her own theory out of thin air in order to 5

fan her theological vanities that Jesus was directly influenced by Eastern spiritual/religious thought and indeed may even have traveled into South Asia. She then couples this with a conspiracy theory of how early church fathers worked to erase this history for their own political/theological ends. In 1895 J.A. Douglas, a professor at Government College in Agra, India retraced Notovitch's steps to Tibet. He interviewed the Head Abbot at the Monastery where Notovitch claimed the scrolls were. Douglas obtained an affidavit from the Abbot denouncing Notovitch's story as a lie. Douglas established there were no scrolls about St Issa or Jesus. He published his findings in the popular monthly journal The Nineteenth Century. Later on, Notovitch's work was studied by many and dismissed as a forgery. It was declared to be fraudulent by no less an authority than the great orientalist Max Muller. The bottom line here is that there is no ancient manuscript talking of the travels of Jesus in any Buddhist Monastery in Tibet. It is a clear cut lie that started with Nicholas Notovitch and has propagated ever since. Source of Funds When we read that Jesus travelled to India for his education, the most important thought that should come into the minds of the discerning reader is this: what was the means for Jesus to go to India and Tibet? What was the occupation of his Father? Was his Father a rich Arab Oil Sheik to finance his education? Or was he a wealthy trader? How did Joseph who was a poor carpenter finance his education? Jesus borrowed everything. He was born in a borrowed stable, he borrowed a coin to pay his taxes, after death he was put in a borrowed tomb and here are people trying to prove that Jesus travelled to India to study when his family was in doubt where their next meal was coming from! Means of Travel Nazareth is well over 4000 kms from Kashmir. Puri is well over 3000 kms from the Indus valley. Tibet is over 5000 kms from Israel. The journey to Tibet from Israel during those times was one of the most treacherous journeys and was inhabited by bandits and wild animals. How did Jesus make this Journey? Did he use a flying carpet? Hold on a minute. Puri is over 2000 kms south of Tibet and to come down south, you have to cross the Himalayas where they are at their highest. Further the writers mention that Jesus criss-crossed the Indus region many times. How did he do it? A flying carpet might not be enough; he would require a jet-plane to move from place to place.

Jewish treatment of the Gentiles The Jews on account of their covenant with God through Abraham considered themselves as superior people. The Jewish brotherhood was very strong and unknown Jewish travelers were accommodated inside their houses without a second thought. However Non-Jews were considered as gentiles, second class citizens. The treatment as meted out by the Jews to the Samaritans (who were basically Jews inter married with Gentiles) as described in the Bible speaks out for itself. In the Indian context the Jews were like Brahmins and Gentiles were like Dalits, the untouchables. Now do you really think that a devout Jew would send his son to study among the Gentiles and that too Gentile religions? Preposterous!!! Buddhism in Tibet Another great evidence that Jesus never travelled to India comes from our history books. According to Notovitch, Jesus mastered Buddhism whilst living in Tibet. The big problem with this is the fact that Buddhism did not reach Tibet until the 7th century AD. The first Buddhist monastery in Tibet, was built in the late 8th century. If Jesus had wanted to travel to study Buddhism, he had to go no further than northern Afghanistan, which was part of the kingdom of Gandhara and a center of Buddhist civilization during the time of the life of Christ. Buddhist author Christmas Humphreys states in his book Buddhism (Penguin 1962): Before the seventh century the sole religion of Tibet was the Bon (Bon is the indigenous religion of Tibet - a system of shamanistic and animistic practices. It was only in the 10th century that Bon was suppressed and Buddhism became the official religion of Tibet). Sometime in the fifth century AD a number of Buddhist books were brought into Tibet from India, but they seem to have been ignored, and it was not until the reign of King Srongstsen Gampo in the middle of the seventh century, that Buddhism became a force in Tibet (pp. 190, 191). In The Elements of Buddhism John Snelling himself a committed Buddhist, notes: We can trace two principal transmissions of Buddhism to Tibet: an initial one begun during the seventh century CE and a second one starting around the year 1000. (pp. 3334) So the evidence shows that Jesus could hardly have been a student of Buddhism in Tibet in the first century AD.

The Teachings of Jesus Jesus teachings are unique. He incorporates many aspects of Judaism into his teachings and takes them a step further. He fulfills prophecy from past centuries. In Jesus thoughts and ideas, there is no inkling of Eastern spirituality. He does not speak of past lives, God as pantheistic or other Eastern ideas. Surely many have attempted to put words in Jesus' mouth that would imply he did speak about these things, but such theories are very new, appearing nowhere in historical Christianity or in the Bible. If Jesus really did go to India or China, he must have been rather ashamed of his trips, since he does not speak of them at any time in the Bible. Jesus parables all involve people of Jewish, Samaritan, Egyptian, and other heritages who would have come into contact with Jesus where he lived. Further Jesus only quotes Jewish sources, including the Jewish Bible. He does not quote any books from the East. What is particularly interesting is that the teachings of Jesus hardly bear any resemblance to Hindu or Buddhist teachings. In John chapter 4, Jesus declares that "all salvation comes from the Jews" (John 4:22). It does not come from Buddha or the eastern Gurus, but from the Jewish prophets and from Jesus himself. Did Jesus really learn Buddhism? The teachings of Jesus and Buddha are not the same. Buddha denied the existence of a creator; Jesus claimed to be this creator. Buddha explicitly denied the Universe had a beginning, Jesus claimed to have created this Universe. A good book to read on this topic is The Lotus and the Cross : Jesus talks with Buddha by Ravi Zacharias. Yes, there are some similarities between Jesus and Buddha, especially with respect to compassion. But that is where the similarities end. The Claims of Jesus Jesus claims are unique. What did Jesus say about himself? He claimed to be God in human flesh and rested the proof of his credentials on the fact that he would be put to death and rise again from the dead. The Gospels painstakingly present the evidence that Jesus was executed and then rose from the dead. Jesus taught that he alone was the Way, the Truth and the Life. He did not say that God could be reached by following any other religious path. Jesus also made it plain that He alone was God and that we are not. This is the exact opposite of eastern philosophies which preach that man is God in essence; and only needs the self-realization to realize that. The reliability of the New Testament Biblical and secular historical accounts all agree that Jesus lived his entire life in the Middle East. The Gospels are not biographies like they are nowadays. Historical notes 8

were kept differently than they are now. Nowadays we might pick up a magazine or book which contains a biographical entry on someone, say Joseph Stalin. We would read about his childhood, his best friends, things he liked to do in school, his favorite instrument, etc. People are interested in these everyday facts. But in the days of Jesus, people were more concerned about pertinent facts about a person's life. The Gospel writers wrote the most important and enduring aspects of Christ's life. They were concerned with his role as Savior of the World, not of his hair color or who was his best friend during childhood. All the information in the Bible is important. It is not like a novel where the author sometimes inserts little stories or unnecessary details to make it more readable or enjoyable. The Gospels and the rest of the Bible serve a purpose. The primary source of information on the life and teachings of Jesus is found in the four Gospels. Here one can apply basic historical tests concerning the authenticity and accuracy of the documents. In contrast to Notovitch's forgery, there are more than 5000 Greek manuscripts available for the four Gospels which can be compared to ascertain if the texts have been faithfully copied and recopied down the centuries. On this point, Sir Frederick Kenyon of the British Museum concludes: The interval, then, between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established (The Bible and Archaeology, pp. 288-289). Another important fact is that the Gospels were written either by eyewitnesses to the events (Matthew, John) or by people who interviewed the eyewitnesses (Mark, Luke). J.A.T. Robinson in Re-dating the New Testament argued that all the New Testament books were in circulation before 90 AD that is within 60 years of the events. The Gospels can also be tested by external evidences, such as the writings of non-Christians (Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius and Pliny the Younger) and from archaeological findings. In all these respects the Gospels pass the critical tests for historical reliability. Other Evidence from the Gospels Though the Gospels do not directly address Jesus' childhood, there are convincing indirect evidences that He remained in Palestine. Luke 2:52 summarizes Jesus' life from age 12: "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." Jesus was known in His community as a carpenter (Mark 6:3) and a carpenter's son (Matthew 13:55). It was customary among the Jews for fathers to teach their sons their trade. Joseph would have taught Jesus the trade of carpentry as Jesus matured in the Palestine area. That carpentry played a role in His life is clear because some of His 9

parables and teachings drew upon that experience. For example, He told of building a house on rock as opposed to sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Luke 4:16 is a key text to refute the idea that Jesus went to India. At the beginning of His three-year ministry, Jesus "came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read." Jesus was brought up in Nazareth, not India, and His custom was to visit the synagogue, not eastern temples or pagodas. After Jesus finished reading on this occasion, "all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, 'Is this not Joseph's son?'" (Luke 4:22). Those in the synagogue recognized Jesus as a local resident. It is also noteworthy that Jesus displayed a strong knowledge of the old Testament Scriptures. Jesus clearly distinguished the creation from the Creator, unlike Eastern religions, and taught the need for redemption, not enlightenment. Why not Moses? How much does the Bible mention about the early life of Moses? We hear of Moses being saved when he was a Baby and then presto he is a full grown man killing an Egyptian man to save a Hebrew slave (See Exodus Chapter 2). The storylines of Jesus and Moses as given in the Bible follow a similar pattern. Just like Jesus not much is mentioned about the childhood of Moses in the Bible. Why is it? This is because the Bible is not a biography. It is a spiritual history and narrates only spiritual history about how certain people obeyed Gods word while others did not. The Bible does not put any stress on physical life history. It deals only with the story of salvation. Now just because the childhood story of Moses is not mentioned in the Bible, are we to assume that Moses too visited India in his childhood? or did he visit China to learn about the Chinese folk religions? An Important point to remember here is that Moses was brought up by Gentiles and Moses adopted mother, the daughter of the Pharaoh, had the financial means to send her adopted son to far off nations for higher studies. However this was not the case with Jesus, the penniless preacher and son of the carpenter. Conclusion So did Jesus visit India and Tibet? From a Christian perspective, the answer is no. From a historical perspective, it's not impossible, but there's no evidence to support the claim. Biblical and historical accounts all agree that he lived his entire life in the Middle East. There are sources which claim that Jesus visited India, Tibet, Greece, France, Britain and even the Americas. However there is not a shred of credible evidence that Jesus ever 10

visited such places. If you attempt to track down such claims and see what the primary source for the information is, you will find that this is either idle speculation or some sort of local fable which only goes back a few generations, with no foundation in fact. To summarize on the evidence, there is absolutely NO evidence, biblical or otherwise which supports the claim that Jesus visited India. The fact is that common sense says that Jesus, a poor person, whose father probably died while he was a teen or perhaps in his twenties, did not have the opportunity or finance to travel to India. Despite claims to the contrary, travel from the Western Mediterranean to the subcontinent of India was rare or non-existent at the time. The very small number who might have traveled to distant lands surely were hardy merchants. However this has not stopped people from bringing forward books, documentaries and films on the supposed visit of Jesus to various places. The reasons are always the same to attain fame and wealth. Actually most of these stories are spread by Godman, Tourist Operators and people who want to get their two minutes of fame or make a quick buck. The claim that Jesus went to India and Tibet and taught new age dogmas is a spiritual deception. The bottom line is that Jesus is the greatest religious figure of all times and certain Godman and new age Gurus want to show that Jesus preached the same thing that they are teaching today. They want to make themselves popular to the people particularly the rich westerners who are disillusioned with life and are prepared to spend any amount of money to get some meaning in their life. Jesus during his lifetime never moved out of Palestine (modern day Palestine and Israel). The only other country he ever set foot is Egypt and that too when he was a baby. This is the final Truth. It is little wonder that Modern scholarship has totally rejected any travels by Jesus to India, Tibet or surrounding areas as without historical basis. Other Fables on Jesus Christ There are various other legends about Jesus. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ by Levi H. Dowling, was published in 1908. It claims to be the true story of the life of Jesus, including "the 'lost' eighteen years silent in the New Testament. It follows Jesus in his travels across Greece, India, Tibet, Persia, Assyria, Egypt and other parts of North Africa. The Urantia Book claims to be a revelation of the life of Jesus. It offers a detailed account of his childhood, adolescence and early adulthood and provides a comprehensive narrative of later events as recorded in the Gospels. According to the Urantia Book, Jesus never visited India; instead, beginning in his 28th year he travelled with a wealthy merchant from India and the merchant's son. Jesus was invited, on a number of occasions, to visit India by the wealthy Indian merchant, but Jesus declined, citing responsibilities relating to his family in Palestine. 11

There are other legends which detail that Jesus visited France and Britain as a young man. The legend that Jesus Christ came to Britain was popularized in a poem written by William Blake in the early 19th Century called Jerusalem and made famous as a hymn 100 years later. According to an unnamed Scottish academician, Jesus Christ could have come to Britain to further his education. Another version of this legend goes that Joseph of Arimathea was a merchant and the uncle of Jesus and was involved in travelling to Britain frequently. On one of these voyages he took his nephew Jesus with him. According to the Book of Mormon, which are supposed revelations to their prophet Joseph Smith, Jesus visited the American natives after his resurrection. It is interesting to note however, that several tribes in Mexico have a legend that a white skinned God came to them from across the Atlantic Ocean. Some Scholars have interpreted it to mean Jesus. Further Reading 1. Did Jesus Go to India? Philip Johnson, 1992 2. Shooting for the Stars, Ross Clifford and Philip Johnson, Albtross Books, 1993. 3. Revealing the New Age Jesus, Douglas Groothuis, IVP, 1990. 4. The Counterfeit Christ of the New Age Movement, Ron Rhodes, Baker Books, 1990. Contact Address If you have something to say about this article, mail me at