Jesus Lived in India: the Lost Years ~ Vikram Zutshi

Via elephant journal
on Apr 18, 2012
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Jesus on the cross
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Billions of people the world over are familiar with Jesus the Icon and Jesus the Prophet, but few know anything about Jesus the Man.

Even the Gospels of the New Testament have only a few fleeting and vague references to him as a flesh and blood being. There is almost no account of his life before the age of thirty. So, who was this Jesus, and why is a major part of his life missing from any source?

Notable historians and well regarded personalities like Nicholas Roerich, Holger Kersten, Edward T. Martin and Dr. Fida Hassnain, among others, have uncovered evidence of a major spiritual personality who originated in ancient Israel, crossed Central Asia through Persia, Turkey, Afghanistan and made his home in the north Indian Himalayas. Recently the Dalai Lama himself acknowledged the existence of the alternate Jesus narrative.

The claim is that Kashmir was the destination of the ‘Lost Tribes of Israel’ as well as the place where Jesus spent his youth and possibly the destination of his last journey. A contention that explains strong remnants of the Hebrew diaspora—culture, rituals and language—found at various points along the old Silk Road.

Among the fascinating notions that have emerged from the extensive spadework is that of a Biblical ‘Promised Land’ that existed far outside the traditional boundaries of Israel and the Middle East.

The Nicholas Notovich Incident:

Nicholas Notovich, an aristocratic Russian, born in the Crimea in 1858, is an integral part of any studies about the phenomenon of Jesus in the East. He was an erudite and respected author and political scientist who began his career as an expert in Russian affairs before his great trip eastwards.

In the 1870s, he set out on an exploratory trip of the grand orient, and after traveling through Afghanistan, the Punjab and Lahore, eventually found himself in Kashmir. On the way from Kargil to Leh, Ladakh, he went up to a Buddhist monastery where he befriended a Lama and had extensive conversations on religion with him. To his utter shock, the monk professed to have an intimate knowledge of the Christian God Jesus. They referred to him as ‘Issa’ and claimed he had lived among them for several years.

These accounts had been preserved through the ages in a number of monasteries across Ladakh and Tibet. His interest now highly piqued, Notovich decided to investigate the claim for himself and made his way to the monastery at Hemis, in Ladakh.

The aging and yellowed scriptures that were presented to him had detailed accounts of Issa’s travels from Israel with a group of traders at the age of fourteen, across Central Asia to India where he traveled through the country, fought the Brahminical orthodoxy of the time, studied under various spiritual sects and finally adopted the non-discriminating teachings of Buddha.

He was said to have lived in the region until his late twenties and then made his way back to the land of his birth, Israel, which at the time was beset by corruption and moral decay. There he became known as a spiritual master and clashed with the entrenched status quo of the time.

Notovich now felt that he had come across the most powerful discovery in two thousand years; written manuscripts giving stunning details of the lost years of Jesus, between the ages of twelve and thirty, that are not mentioned in the Bible and showing that Jesus had been tutored by Buddhists.

Intriguing possibilities:

After the Notovich incident, several more accounts of the same theory from diverse sources were documented. An intriguing hypothesis about the hidden Jesus has emerged.

Jesus followed the ancient Silk Road to the East with a group of traders and explorers in search of the fabled Promised Land where the ‘Lost Tribes’ presumably went.

He spent his adolescence and early adulthood in northern India, under the tutelage of Buddhist monks, adopting their tenets and becoming a spiritual master.

He then returned to the land of his birth, Israel, and eventually became an influential figure with a substantial cult following, which angered the entrenched orthodoxy of the times and won him many enemies.

He survived the Crucifixion, was taken off the cross the very same day, tended to by Joseph of Arimathea, among others, and was smuggled out of the area by the Essenes, a secret spiritual cult of the times, which he belonged to.

He returned to the ‘Promised Land’, which has been identified as the vale of Kashmir in the Himalayas and lived to a ripe old age.

He is buried in Rozabal, Kashmir, in the town of Srinagar where his distinctly Hebraic cenotaph is worshipped to this day.

Striking Evidence:

According to written and oral traditions, after death Yuz Asaf was entombed in Khanyari, the old section of Srinagar. On the floor next to an ancient grave at Rozabal, Professor Fida Hassnain discovered a crucifix and a rosary that had been embedded since antiquity. In addition, he found two footprints carved into the stone with the marking of a crucifixion scar etched into each print.

In Eastern Pakistan, next to Kashmir can be found the tomb of Mary on a hilltop just outside a small town called Murree or Mari. The grave is called Mai Mari da Asthan, which means “the final resting place of Mother Mary.” Her tomb faces east-west, as in Jewish custom, rather than north-south as in Islamic custom.

The Hindu holy manuscript, Bhavishya Maha Purana, contains some ten verses indicating that Jesus was in India/Kashmir during the reign of King Shalivahan, which has been placed within 39 to 50 C.E. and that he had become known as Yuz Asaf and Issa Masih (Jesus the Messiah)

The history of the Kashmiri people is shrouded in mystery as is the history of other people in that region. Most Kashmir researchers are of the opinion that many inhabitants of Kashmir are descendants of the Lost Tribes who were exiled in 722 BCE. They wandered along the Silk Road into the countries of the East, Persia and Afghanistan, until they reached the Kashmir valley and settled there.

Others say the wanderings began approximately three hundred years later. The wanderers settled in Kashmir, and kept their traditions, until they were forced to convert to Islam when the spread of Islam reached the valley. The priest Kitro in his book, the ‘General History of the Mughal Empire’, said that the Kashmiri people are the descendants of the Israelites.

The traveling Arab historian El Bironi in the 12th century wrote, “In the past, permission to enter Kashmir was given only to Jews.”

The priest Montserrat said in the 15th century, in the time of Vasco da Gama, “all the inhabitants of this area who have been living here since ancient times can trace their ancestry, according to their race and customs, to the ancient Israelites. Their features, their general physical appearance, their clothing, their ways of conducting business, all show that they are similar to the ancient Israelites.”

Not Just a Coincidence:

All across the old Silk Road (Turkey, Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir) can be found vestiges of Hebrew language, culture, tribal customs, rituals, names of places, tribes, foods that clearly originated in ancient Israel. The name Israel is very common among the Pathans of Afghanistan. They also light a candle for the Sabbath, have side-locks, beards, and an emblem or design of the Shield of David.

Within Northwest Afghanistan, centered in the city of Herat, anthropologist O.M Burke came across a sect of some 1000 people who are devotees of Yuz Asaf, whom they also knew as Issa, son of Maryam. They have clear accounts of Issa, the prophet from Israel, having escaped the cross, traveled to India and settled in Kashmir. He was regarded as possessing the power to perform miracles.

There are a number of geographical areas in modern day Kashmir which correspond with Hebrew names of sacred sites in the Promised Land. There is a place called Samaryah which corresponds with Samaria. Pishgah with Pisgah, Nabudaal with Mt. Nevo, Bushan with Bashan, Gilgit with Gilgal, Heshba with Heshbon, Amunah with Amon, Gochan with Goshen, Median-pura with Midian. Guzana corresponds with Gozan which was a place in Assyria where the Ten Tribes of Israel were deported.

Clearly the Jesus legend continues unabated, albeit with new dimensions being added to fill out the story. It makes the myth all the more fascinating and compelling and is a testimony to the contention that world religions have common sources lost in antiquity.

Vikram Zutshi is a documentary filmmaker, writer, photojournalist, scuba diver and yogi based out of Los Angeles. When he is not submerged underwater, circling a sunken galleon, or at twenty thousand feet above sea level, filming the Himalayan snow leopard, he can be found contemplating the infinite while unsuccessfully trying to unwrap himself from the perfect Garbhapindasana. He can be reached at [email protected]



Prepared by Soumyajeet Chattaraj/Edited by Tanya L. Markul

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14 Responses to “Jesus Lived in India: the Lost Years ~ Vikram Zutshi”

  1. Katherine says:

    Thanks for posting! Where Jesus spent his adolescent years is a mystery, one that captures the imagination.

    What we do know is that the idea that Jesus survived his crucifixion is not realistic. Romans had notoriously cruel imaginations when it came to the torture and death of insurgents, and they were quite thorough. Generally, Historical Jesus scholars do not completely agree on much, but they are unanimous that Jesus did not survive. John Dominic Crossan is the leading scholar in the field, and has some wonderful insights, particularly in "The Birth of Christianity: Discovering what happened in the years immediately after the death of Jesus." The Jesus Seminar is a great resource on the Historical Jesus.

  2. John says:

    This can make fun speculation, but none of these story lines are any more likely than the Mormon claim that Jesus was the model for the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, or William Blake's claim that Jesus went to Britain, or the claims of the small Japanese religious group that believes Jesus is buried in Shingo Village. That so many countries have made up a "Jesus slept here" story should give us pause.

    It's not too strong to say that there is no reputable scholar of the ancient world that believes Notovitch was anything other than a complete fraud. No one has ever seen the original work, and the abbot of the monastery said it didn't exist and that Notovitch had never been there. Crossan is important, as Katherine notes above, but Bart Ehrman has addressed these kinds of questions more directly in recent books.

  3. Vikram Zutshi says:

    For every theory on this there exists a counter-theory. For every Crossan and Ehrman there are ten others who would disagree vociferously. The fact that five documentary films and ten books have been written about the 'Jesus in India' phenomenon is also pretty remarkable. Of course one can't possibly expect mainstream Christians to allow their cozy world to be rocked by a radical departure from what they are conditioned into believing as gospel truth.

  4. Katherine says:

    I wrote my dissertation on this very topic, Vikram. It is important to look fairly at each theory and counter theory, while being realistic. No one can say for sure what really happened, and the importance of the conversation is not so much about what actually happened, it's more about what it says about the people conversing. PS. I'm a Buddhist.

  5. Vikram Zutshi says:

    Hi Katherine, do have a look at this , there's loads of fascinating information pertaining to the subject –
    As a scholar I'm sure you'll find much to ruminate on.

  6. John says:

    Why is it remarkable? If 10 books on Jesus in America is somehow better than one by a scholar, would 100 books on Jesus in North America mean the Mormons must be right? It's how they substantiate their arguments that matters, so what good are 5 films and 10 books based on the claims of a proven fraud? And if you think Crossan and Ehrman are just cozy mainstream Christians defending the status quo, that tells me you're unfamiliar with Crossan and Ehrman.

  7. Vikram Zutshi says:

    Notovich was just one out of many to claim what he did. And by the way, the so called 'fraud' was alleged by keepers of the status quo, namely the Catholic church. Apart from Notovich , there is a plethora of research supporting the hypothesis, conducted by eminent and qualified scholars. Obviously you haven't read the article in it's entirety. Try to go through it again and try to come up with a more erudite response to the other facts contained in it. Your response is to be expected though. I wouldn't expect mainstream Christians to lap up anything that deviates from what they have been spoon-fed all their lives as gospel truth.

  8. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  9. John says:

    You keep repeating the slam against "mainstream Christians." First, I'm not a Christian, mainstream or otherwise, but more importantly, it's an ad hominem attack. I could say something like "Your claim is to be expected, since New Agey fruitcakes are willing to believe any crazy theory," but that doesn't really help much, and it assumes something about you I don't really know. I read the article in full, and replied on Notovich, because that's the only actual argument you make (and you seem to acknowledge he's a questionable source, or at least, you've made no attempt to defend him) – the rest is just assertion, often in the passive voice ("has been claimed…" by who? with what evidence?) and claims that are at best circumstantial evidence. Just one example: "Recently the Dalai Lama himself acknowledged the existence of the alternate Jesus narrative," with a link to an article on the Dalai Lama that has nothing to do with the subject. What does that "fact" prove? I acknowledge the existence of the alternative narrative too, I just don't think there's enough evidence to believe it.

    I'd be curious to know what you make of this:
    They say they had Hebrew documents proving their claims (which of course no one can find now, but your theory has the same problem), and customs that seem out of place in Japan. Do you think it's true? If not, why not?

  10. Vikram Zutshi says:

    The evidence is laid out in voluminous tomes including the seminal work by Holger Kersten. Dr.Fida Hassnain is also worth checking out. And the documentaries by BBC, Channel 4, Discovery among others. I have presented some of the historically authenticated records within the scope of this brief article. For further deliberation I would recommend you order Kersten's book and go through it if your interest levels are high enough. Fact is a whole lot of research has been done on the subject and actual passages in ancient manuscripts across cultures corroborate the hypothesis. That is how one assembles a world view on any subject whose origins are murky. If you noticed, I specifically used the subheading : 'Intriguing Possibilities' …

  11. […] case scenario—move to the USA so they can do it all in the promised land. Three decades earlier, I had come to India to find my soul. Now young Indians want to come to America to find material success. […]

  12. […] of Mary Magdalene has grown and there have been books written that make the case that she and Jesus were even husband and wife. Several, including Holy Blood Holy Grail, lay out evidence that after […]

  13. gABREAL jONES says:

    About ( the work ) of Notovich. The lama that he talked to may have presented him texts in relation to Issa -Jesus
    but these actual texts must be from a time prior to Bhuddism in Tibet. Buddhism came oinly in the 8th century to Tibet.

    Good to hear from you that the present Dalai Lama recognises this Jesus lived in India etc. narrative.

    CIA O