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.[10] Notovitch published these scriptures, amidst considerable controversy, in his book The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, and there has been an enduring interest in his work.

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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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).[14]

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.[15]

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.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18] 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."[19]

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'"[20]. . .

From: In Search of the Loving God by Mark Mason - Copyright © 1997.

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