Christ in India

In my active professional days when I used to travel very often, I remember seeing some books about the years Christ spent in India on the bookshops of airports. I never took it seriously. I considered them as a book that claims Taj Mahal as Hindu Temple. Many years ago, one of acquaintances talked of the discovery of US by Buddhists in ancient times. It is difficult to ascertain the truth and historicity, but it is interesting reading.

It was interesting to read that very soon a $20 million film, The Aquarius Gospel, will trace Christ’s “lost years” between the ages of 14-30, on which the Bible is silent. It will show he spent some of that time in Kashmir, was deeply influenced by Buddhist and Hindu teachings.

Outlook has a feature by Raghu Karnad on this that also provides some references to the books of some authors on the subject:

In 1887, a Russian historian, Nicolai Notovitch, returned from Ladakh and claimed that after falling from his horse and breaking his leg, he had been laid up in the Hemis monastery near Leh. While there, from conversation with the monks, he learned that they revered a prophet named Issa, an incarnation of the Buddha, who was born in far-off Israel and arrived in ‘the Sind’ in his 14th year. The deeds of Issa were recorded in lengthy documents, some of which were stored in Hemis and which Notovitch was allowed to view after much pleading. They further described how Issa went to Orissa to study the Vedas, but angered the Brahmins by trying to teach the Sudras. Notovitch claimed he wrote down as much as he was able to from the Hemis documents, which he later published as The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ.

Levi Dowling published ‘Aquarian Gospel’ on which the film is going to be based, in 1908. Another book, ‘Jesus Lived in India’ by German scholar Holger Kersten became a bestseller in India.

Fida Hassnain may be the most dedicated scholar and defender of the story of Jesus in Kashmir. As the former director of the State Archives, Archaeology Research and Museums in the J&K government, he has personally examined a number of documents-in Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Pali and Persian-which he says point to the presence of Jesus in Kashmir. The most important piece of evidence, to him is the Bhavishya Mahapurana, one of the 18 Hindu Puranas. “It provides information that Jesus met the King of Kashmir,” Hassnain says. “He gives his name as Isa-Masih, he says ‘I am known as the Son of God, born of a Virgin’, and he also says he has suffered, meaning, on the cross. The manuscript was in the possession of Maharaja Partap Singh of Kashmir, who later gave it to the Bhandarkar Research Institute, Pune.”

Hassnain’s version of events is much more controversial than the one the filmmakers are using: he proposes that Jesus did not die on the cross, but recovered from the Crucifixion and returned to Kashmir to resume his preaching. The Ahmadiyya community of Muslims believes the same version of events, which is one of the reasons they are treated as heretics by mainstream Muslims. Like the Ahmadiyya communtiy, Hassnain believes the body of Jesus was interred at the Rozabal Shrine in Srinagar under the name of Yuzu Assef.

I don’t know if Christ traveled to India. But by the time of Christ, Arabs and even Europeans knew India. As it happens with young smart people such as those who migrated to US from Europe or the migrants from India who established their colonies in South East Asia, Christ might have come to India. After all, Guru Nanak had also traveled to Arab countries and visited the Islamic shrines.

Globalization thus started in ancient time itself.

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