Did Jesus Visit India?
From Ch. 4 of In Search of the Loving God
by Mark Mason
. . .
The manuscripts read to Notovitch were from two volumes of Tibetan
writings. He was told that the Pali manuscripts they were translated
from were in Lhasa in Tibet. Notovitch published these scriptures,
amidst considerable controversy, in his book The Unknown Life
of Jesus Christ, and there has been an enduring interest in
Although most of the details of these Issa Scriptures square with
what we know about Jesus from the Bible, one very significant
difference stands out: all four Gospels blame the Jews for Jesus'
death, whereas the Issa Scriptures clearly put the full blame
at the feet of the Roman governor, Pilate, and actually credit
the Jewish authorities with going out of their way to try to save
Jesus. The significance of this lies in the fact that in recent
years a number of Jewish and other scholars have been arguing
the same contention. They have pointed out that the Gospels were
gentile documents, written after the fall of Jerusalem in order
to spread the teachings of Jesus amongst citizens of the Roman
Empire, and that it is quite possible the blame for Jesus' death
was shifted to the Jews so as not to offend the Roman citizens
they were trying to convert. This ties in, it must be said,
with the lack of historical reliability of the Gospels (which
was demonstrated in the previous chapter). Whether or not this
is the case, though, what is certainly known is that the blaming
of the Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus was a direct cause of
the huge tide of anti-Semitism which inundated Europe for nearly
two-thousand years. Considering this, it is not surprising modern
Jewish scholars should question whether or not the Jews really
were to blame for Jesus' death. In the light of this, it is interesting
that this independent account of events, supposedly preserved
in the storerooms of Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayas since
the first or second century, should so unequivocally support the
interpretation of these scholars that the Jews were not to blame
for the crucifixion.
Notovitch's work was dismissed by many, and declared to be fraudulent
by no less an authority than the great orientalist Max Muller.
Nevertheless, over the years, the existence of the manuscripts
about Issa, and the authenticity of Notovitch's work, have been
confirmed by quite a few people.
Well before Notovitch went to Hemis, a Mrs. Harvey wrote of the
existence of the scripts on Issa in The Adventures of a Lady
in Tartary, China and Kashmir. Then, after Notovitch,
came a number of other confirmations.
Swami Abhedananda, a leading figure in the Ramakrishna Society,
was known and respected throughout the world. He read Notovich's
book while in America, and some years later (in 1922) finally
had the opportunity to travel to Hemis to find out for himself
whether Notovitch's story was true. He explained Notovitch's claims
to the lamas, who confirmed they were true. Then he was shown
a manuscript, which he was told was a translation into Tibetan
of an original which was in a monastery at Marbour near Lhasa.
With the aid of one of the lamas, Abhedananda made his own translations,
which closely agree with those of Notovitch. Abhedananda published
his translations of the Issa Scriptures in Kashmir O Tibbate
(In Kashmir and Tibet).
The famous and widely respected expatriate Russian artist and
intellectual, Nicholas Roerich, visited the Hemis monastery (in
1925), and published his account of the Issa manuscripts in his
books Heart of Asia and Altai-Himalaya. Again they
confirm Notovitch's story and add some extra details. Like Notovitch
and Swami Abhedananda before him, Roerich made his own translation
of parts of the Issa manuscripts. Where these three translations
overlap, they agree quite well.
In the summer of 1939 Madame Caspairi, a Swiss musician, went
on a pilgrimage to India organized by a renowned religious leader
Mrs Clarence Gasque. Mrs Gasque was known internationally as the
head of the World Fellowship of Faith, and she and her
party were most cordially received everywhere they went throughout
the pilgrimage. In one case, an Indian maharajah literally rolled
out a red carpet to greet them. At Hemis, although they arrived
just after the annual performance of a mystery play was over,
the lamas performed it a second time in their honour. What happened
next was extraordinary:
A few days after the performance, when seated alone on the
roof of the monastery, Mrs Gasque and Madame Caspari were
approached by the librarian of the convent and two other monks.
They were carrying three manuscripts in ornate coverings, one of
which the librarian ceremoniously unwrapped. He then presented
Mrs. Gasque the parchment leaves and with great reverence said,
"These books say your Jesus was here."
While we have no reason not to take the monks at their
word, unfortunately we do not know what the books said. They
were written in Tibetan and neither of the two women asked for
a translation. However, Madame Caspari did take a picture of
the lama proudly displaying the book.
In 1951, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas traveled
to Hemis. In his Beyond the High Himalayas, he observed
that there were many legends in the area concerning the monastery
at Hemis, and that one of them related to Jesus. Some people believed
Jesus visited Hemis, coming at the age of 14 and leaving at the
age of 28, traveling under the name Issa. The legend described
Issa's stay there in some detail.
There are two other people who have stumbled upon this legend,
even though they had never previously heard of Jesus being in
India. Dr Robert S. Ravicz, professor of anthropology at California
State University, visited Hemis (in 1975), and while there was
told by a friend, an eminent Ladakhi physician, that it was said
there were documents at the monastery which stated that Jesus
had been to Hemis. In the late 1970's Edward F. Noack was
staying at Hemis when a lama at the monastery told him that a
manuscript relating the story of Jesus' pilgrimage to Ladakh was
locked in the storeroom."
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'". . .
From: In Search of the Loving God by Mark Mason - Copyright © 1997.
To find out about options for purchasing this book (384 pp.), including buying an autographed copy directly from the author, visit my Bookstore Page
Next excerpt: Did Jesus Survive the Crucifixion?
Chapter Summaries Top of Page