Jesus in India: The Lost Years, Part 3


Excerpts from 'The Lost Years of Jesus', by E.C. Prophet.

According to the legend, Issa left his father's house secretly at age thirteen. He joined a merchant caravan and arrived in India "this side of the Sind" sometime during his fourteenth year. Young Issa, the Blessed One, traveled south to Gujarat, through the country of the five streams and Rajputana, then on to the holy cities of Jagannath and Benares, where Brahman priests taught him Vedic scripture.

Issa continued north into the Himalayas and settled in the country of the Gautamides, followers of the Buddha Gautama, where for six years he applied himself to the study of the sacred sutras. He left India in his twenty-sixth year, traveling to Persepolis, to Athens, to Alexandria. Issa was twenty-nine when he returned to Israel--and reentered the familiar gospel of St. Luke, chapter three. His baptism by John in the river Jordan.

Criticism of "The Life of St. Issa" recorded by Nicolas Notovitch began soon after its original publication. A trenchant note from the author "To the Publishers" in the later English translation counters allegations that he never entered Tibet, "that I am an impostor," and that the Himis manuscript never existed at all.

Notovitch argued that the Vatican library contains sixty-three manuscripts in various Oriental languages which refer to the Issa legend-documents brought to Rome by Christian missionaries from India, China, Egypt, and Arabia. He even suggests that one of the missioners may have been the apostle Thomas -- yes, "doubting Thomas," the empiricist.

That is possible. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Thomas evangelized India and the territory between the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. The apocryphal Acts of Thomas describe him as a carpenter who preached the gospel and performed miracles. He could not have preached in his native Greek to men who spoke only Pali or Sanskrit. So it is possible, even probable that he wrote or edited the historical narratives we now know as "The Life of St. Issa."

Notovitch said that he believed in the authenticity of the Buddhist narrative "because I see nothing that can contradict or invalidate it from a historical or theological point of view."

"Before criticizing my communication," he suggests, "any learned society can equip a scientific expedition having for its mission the investigation of these manuscripts on the spot." In 1922, a punditic disciple of Ramakrishna named Swami Abhedananda took Notovitch up on his offer.

Swami Abhedananda

Abhedananda lived in North America for a quarter of a century, traveled extensively, and was acquainted with Thomas Edison, William James, and Dr. Max Muller. He was fascinated by Jesus and skeptical of Notovitch.

Abhedananda journeyed into the arctic region of the Himalayas, determined to find a copy of the Himis manuscript or to expose the fraud. His book of travels, entitled Kashmir 0 Tibetti, tells of a visit to the Hemis gonpa and includes a Bengali translation of two hundred twenty-four verses, essentially the same as the Notovitch text. Abhedananda was thereby convinced of the authenticity of the Issa legend.

In 1925, another Russian named Nicholas Roerich arrived at Himis. Roerich, the towering artist, was also a profound philosopher and a distinguished scientist. He apparently saw the same documents as Notovitch and Abhedananda. And he recorded in his own travel diary the same legend of St. Issa.

Nicholas Roerich (Self-portrait)

Nicholas Roerich was a man of strong and definite personality. His writing is characteristically intimate and eloquent. Speaking of Issa, Roerich quotes legends which have the estimated antiquity of many centuries.

He passed his time in several ancient cities of India such as Benares. All loved him because Issa dwelt in peace with Vaishas and Shudras whom he instructed and helped. But the Brahmins and Kshatriyas told him that Brahma forbade those to approach who were created out of his womb and feet. The Vaishas were allowed to listen to the Vedas only on holidays and the Shudras were forbidden not only to be present at the reading of the Vedas, but could not even look at them.

Issa said that man had filled the temples with his abominations. In order to pay homage to metals and stones, man sacrificed his fellows in whom dwells a spark of the Supreme Spirit. Man demeans those who labor by the sweat of their brows, in order to gain the good will of the sluggard who sits at the lavishly set board. But they who deprive their brothers of the common blessing shall be themselves stripped of it.

Vaishas and Shudras were struck with astonishment and asked what they could perform. Issa bade them "Worship not the idols. Do not consider yourself first. Do not humiliate your neighbor. Help the poor. Sustain the feeble. Do evil to no one. Do not covet that which you do not possess and which is possessed by others."

Learning of his words, there were some who wished to kill Issa. But forewarned, Issa departed by night, traveling then into Nepal and the Himalayas.


Excerpts from 'The Lost Years of Jesus' by E.C. Prophet, text republished in the Wolf Lodge Journal (1995).