Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The Story of Jesus in India
With that disclaimer given, I think this is a fascinating story, even uplifting. I say this because, given the parallels between the stories of Krishna, Siddhartha, and Jesus (virgin births, temptation by the Devil, healings and miracles, the feeding of the masses, similar teachings, etc), one can conclude that God really is one God: the Hindus, the Buddhists, and the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Allah are all one and the same--each faith merely follows a different path, but they all lead to the same place.
The story of Jesus in India is apocryphal, of course, and the texts are contained in not only the gnostic teachings but also in ancient manuscripts that are scattered across India and Tibet. They "fill in gaps," so to speak. The story goes something like this: the missing years of Jesus (ages 13-29, when he began his ministry in modern day Israel) are missing because Jesus was traveling, learning from various gurus and religious sects across the East. He left Palestine at age 13 and followed the Silk Road. At one point he got into serious trouble with one sect of Brahmins because he wanted to share his teachings with the common people--which was a huge no-no in a land with a caste system of untouchables. His life was under threat, but he was warned, so he fled to another place. By the time Jesus returned to Israel, he was already used to people in positions of power being threatened by his messages of equality and social justice.
So, preaching to the Jewish people was much the same. He knew at some point his life would be threatened, and of course, it was. The Romans crucified him at the urging of the Jewish elders, who found Jesus a blasphemer.
Here is where the story departs radically from Christianity. Jesus, the story goes, didn't actually die on the cross. For one thing, he wasn't on it long enough to die (anywhere from 3-6 hours; the Gospels contradict themselves on this point). Crucifixions typically took days because a person didn't bleed to death (nails through the hands/wrists and feet are not mortal wounds); death was typically by slow suffocation because eventually the victim couldn't bear his own body weight and take in enough oxygen. Sometimes, if there was some hurry, the Romans would break the legs of the crucified person to hasten death (with the legs broken, they instantaneously can't bear their own weight, so they suffocate quickly). We know from the Gospels in the Bible that the Romans did not break Jesus' legs because they thought he was already dead. The centurion instead jabbed him with his spear to see if Jesus would react, and he didn't. But today we know that passing out from shock can make a person unresponsive. The fact that it's recorded that blood and fluids spurted from the wound in Jesus' side actually suggests he was still alive.
So Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus hastened to Joseph's tomb with Jesus' body, and, oddly, they carried with them a TON of herbs which turn out to be not embalming herbs, but the healing herbs myrrh and aloe. They treated him and who knows? In three days, Jesus wasn't to be found in the tomb. Christians claim he was resurrected from death. Those who believe the Jesus in India story say it was not so much a resurrection as a "resuscitation."
So, you know, the fact that Jesus appears to the apostles in the actual flesh--doubting Thomas touches him, and he is flesh, not spirit--underscores the possibility that he didn't actually die. But, he was certainly a wanted man, so he had to leave Israel, and that he did.
He wouldn't have gone west (into yet more Roman territory), so he logically went back East, along the Silk Road once again by way of Damascus, Persia, Afghanistan and so on, making his way back to India. Eventually he settled in Kashmir. Why this area? There was (and still is) a Jewish sect there. They claim to be descendents of one of the the Lost Tribes of Israel. He lived out the rest of his life there to the ripe old age of 80, preaching and performing healings, and is buried there in a tomb that pilgrims visit to this day. It's definitely First Century and the body is buried according to the Jewish customs.
It's a cool story. Do I believe it? Heck, I don't know. See, to me, it doesn't matter. What matters to me are Jesus' teachings. Here is a website that gives many more details about the story, and the video below is fascinating watching.