Jesus in India?
The Myth of the Lost Years
by Acharya S/D.M. Murdock
Over the centuries, the claim has repeatedly been made that Jesus Christ not
only walked the earth but also spent his early and post-crucifixion years in a variety of places, including
Egypt, India, Great Britain, Japan and America. Indeed, traditions maintain that Jesus, the great godman of
the West, lived, learned, loved and died in such places. Popular modern literature also purports that Jesus
sired children, who then became the ancestors of various royal families of Europe, including France and/or
elsewhere, depending on the author.
The allegation of Christ being a kingly progenitor is extremely convenient and useful
for European royal families, obviously. Unfortunately for the European claimants, however, India also has a
tradition that Jesus went there and likewise fathered children. So too does Shingo, Japan, allege that Jesus ended
up there after the crucifixion, having children with a Japanese wife. Other tales depict Jesus "walking the
Americas" or bopping about Glastonbury, England, with his "uncle," Joseph of Arimathea. Not all of these tales can
be true, obviously, unless Jesus is polymorphous and phantasmagoric, a perspective that in reality represents that
of the mythologist or mythicist. To wit, regardless of these fables, or, rather, because of them, the most
reasonable conclusion regarding Jesus and where he may or may not have been is that he is a mythical character, not
a historical personage who trotted the globe.
The Groovy Guru
According to legend, Jesus, the great Jewish sage, spent his "lost years," from
between the ages of around 12 to 28 or 30, in India, where, per another tradition, he also escaped after
surviving the crucifixion. The Jesus-was-a-guru tale was popularized over a century ago by the Russian
traveler Nicholas Notovitch. Notovitch asserted that in 1887, while at the secluded Hemis or Himis monastery
in Ladakh/Tibet, he was shown a manuscript which discussed the "unknown life" of Jesus, or "Issa," as he was
supposedly called in the East. This "Issa" text, translated for Notovitch from Tibetan by a monk/lama, alleged
that during his "lost years" Jesus was educated by yogis in India, Nepal and "the Himalaya Mountains."
Stating that he felt the manuscript to be "true and genuine," Notovich maintained its contents were written
"immediately after the Resurrection," while the manuscript itself purportedly dated from the third century of the
Common Era. Notovitch related that the "two manuscripts" he was shown at Himis were "compiled from diverse copies
written in the Thibetan tongue, translated from rolls belonging to the Lassa library and brought from India, Nepal,
and Maghada 200 years after Christ." (Notovitch, 44)
Notovitch's story was challenged by a number of people, which served to popularize it further. Noted Sanskrit
scholar Max Müller came down hard on Notovitch, concluding that either the Russian had never gone to Tibet in the
first place, and had concocted the Jesus story, or that waggish Buddhist monks had played a trick on Notovitch, as
Indian priests had done in a notorious instance concerning the Asiatic Research Society's Colonel Wilford. Others
subsequently journeyed to Himis/Hemis and witnessed repeated denial by the lamas that Notovitch had ever been there
or that any such manuscript existed. In 1922, Indian scholar and swami Abhenanda eventually determined for himself
by visiting Himis, gaining the confidence of the lamas and having the manuscript revealed to him. Other visitors to
Himis, such as mystic Nicholas Roerich, verified the same story. Aspects of Notovitch's story checked out, and he
apparently did indeed stay at Himis and was shown a manuscript relating to "Issa."
Notovitch claimed that Indian merchants brought the account of "Jesus" to
Himis, and that they had actually witnessed the crucifixion. Indeed, the text begins with "This is what is
related on this subject by the merchants who come from Israel," reflecting not that "Jesus" lived in India but
that the Jesus tradition was brought to India and Tibet. (Notovitch, 32) Notovitch's text also did not state
that Jesus was specifically at Himis: In fact, the lama stated that the Issa scrolls "were brought from India
to Nepal, and from Nepal to Thibet." Yet, upon returning to Himis through later visitors, the story eventually
became morphed into "Your Jesus was here," meaning at Himis itself. The "one book" or "two manuscripts" became
"three books," which were displayed for the later visitors, with the implication that there was more to the
Although subsequent visitors were presented such texts, none but Nicholas Roerich's son, George, could read them.
By his translation, Roerich was evidently shown the same text as Notovitch. Thus, it appears that there was only
one text at Himis, and that it did not state that Issa himself was ever at the monastery. Furthermore, that one
text is based on hearsay provided by passing merchants and does not at all represent an "eyewitness" account of
"Jesus" in India and Tibet, although the impression is given that this and other texts do constitute such
Also, Notovitch asked if "Issa" was reputed to be a saint, and was informed that "the people ignore his very
existence" and that the lamas who have studied the scrolls "alone know of him." These remarks are a far cry from
Roerich's claim that the tale of "Christ" in India and other parts of Asia was to be found widespread. They also
contradict the Tibetan text's own assertion that Issa's "fame spread everywhere" and that Persia and
surrounding countries "resounded with prophecies" of Issa, thus causing the Persian priesthood to be terrified of
him. This latter element sounds like typical mythmaking, especially since there were similar prophecies of godmen
for centuries, if not millennia, prior to Christ's purported advent, particularly in India.
Moreover, the "originals" of the scrolls housed at the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, were composed in Pali, while the
Himis library contained one copy in Tibetan. Yet, the Tibetan alphabet was developed by the king who "reigned in
the days of Mohammed"; hence, nothing could have been written in Tibetan prior to the 7th century. Although older
texts were composed in Sanskrit or Pali, it is clear that the actual physical manuscript revealed to Notovitch
could not have existed before the 7th century. In fact, it would appear that very few Tibetan texts date to before
the 9th century. In any event, the manuscript itself certainly did not date from the third century, although it
could represent tradition transmitted over the centuries.
While Notovitch claimed the Issa story dated to shortly after "the Resurrection," in it there is no mention of the
resurrection, and the tale ends with Issa's death. In this regard, the text depicts the "Jews," whom it calls
"Israelites," in a favorable light, and is "the only [manuscript] ever to charge the Romans ["pagans"] solely for
Jesus' execution." Unlike others, this account does not have Jesus being resuscitated and then returning to India,
to father children and live a long life.
Notovitch's modern editor, Frank Muccie, relates that the manuscript states, "Pilate is responsible for removing
Jesus' body from the tomb," noting that this development somehow does not "mean the resurrection hope is invalid."
He then says:
"By the third century A.D., there were no fewer than 25 different versions of Jesus' death and resurrection! Some
have him not being put to death at all, some have him revived back to life, and some have Jesus living on to old
age and dying in Egypt!" (Notovitch, 6)
Obviously, not all of these 25 or more accounts can be "true and genuine," and such a development casts doubt on
the historicity of one and all.
The Rozabal Tomb
Moreover, it is interesting that Notovitch spent six days in the "Vale of Kashmir," in its
capital, Srinagar, "city of the sun," where the purported tomb of "Jesus," the wandering prophet Yuz Asaf, is shown
to tourists. Yet, the Russian traveler apparently never heard of the tomb, known as the "Roza Bal" or "Rauzabal"
shrine, as he does not mention it in his writings concerning the Tibetan text, where its inclusion certainly would
have been judicious in demonstrating that Jesus lived in India! Perhaps, however, as a believing Christian
Notovitch ignored this tale, much as the devout do today and much as skeptics may do with other fables concerning
Possessing the priestly touch of sculpted footprints "with nail marks" over
the grave, the Roza Bal shrine may seem convincing to the uninitiated, who are unaware of the world's
well-developed priestcraft. This "artifact" is another in a long line of so-called relics, like the 20+
shrouds or the multiple foreskins of Christ. In reality, there were many "footprints of the gods" in ancient
times--and a number of Indian gods are depicted with nail holes in their feet.
Also, "Yuz Asaf" is not equivalent to "Jesus" but to "Joseph," which was often a title of a priest and not a name.
In fact, Eastern scholars such as Dr. S. Radhakrishnan state that the name "Joseph" or "Joasaph" is "derived from
Bodhisattva, the technical name for one destined to obtain the dignity of a Buddha." (Prajnanananda, 107) Thus,
this tomb of a Bodhisattva could belong to any of thousands of such holy men. In like regard, the purported graves
of "Jesus" and "his brother" in Japan are in reality those of a 16th-century Christian missionary and his
The legends regarding Jesus's tomb in Srinagar, and that of the Virgin Mary in Kashgar, are apparently of Islamic
origin, emanating largely from the "heretical" Ahmadiyya sect. Such a creation would serve a couple of
purposes: 1. That, as asserted in the Koran, Jesus was not the "son of God" but a mortal prophet, whose body was
buried in Kashmir; and 2. that some presumably Moslem people are his descendants.
Proponents of the Jesus-in-India theory hold up a number of other texts and artifacts they maintain "prove" not
only Jesus's existence on Earth but also his presence in India. When such texts and artifacts are closely examined,
they serve as no evidence at all, except of priestcraft. With one or two possible exceptions originating to a few
centuries earlier, the Eastern texts regarding "Issa" seem to be late writings, some dating to the 15th and 18th
centuries, based on traditions, not eyewitness accounts. Some of the "documents" are obviously fictitious, and
others are downright ridiculous, such as the Bhavishya Mahapurana. A number of these texts merely relate the basic
gospel story with embellishments depending on what the storyteller is attempting to accomplish.
Buddhist Propaganda or Christian Proselytizing?
Although some of the writings appear to be of Hindu origin, the attack by
"Issa" on the Vedas and Brahmans, as in the Notovitch text, represents Buddhist propaganda. It appears that
Buddhists were trying to demonstrate that Jesus, the great wise man of the West, was influenced by Buddhism,
even having been taught by "Buddha," an eternal disincarnate entity. In this regard, the Notovitch text
states, "Six years later, Issa, whom the Buddha had chosen to spread his holy word, could perfectly explain
the sacred rolls." (Notovitch, 35) In this way, Buddha usurps Jesus, becoming the Jewish teacher's guru.
That the text has been used as propaganda to raise Buddha and Buddhism over Christ and Christianity is further
validated by Notovitch's foreword, in which he related that the lama told him, "The only error of the Christians is
that after adopting the great doctrine of Buddha, they, at the very outset, completed separated themselves from him
and created another Dalai-Lama…" This "Dalai-Lama," the monk subsequently informed the Russian, is the Pope.
Concerning Christ, the lama continued, "Buddha did, indeed, incarnate himself with his intelligence in the sacred
person of Issa, who, without the aid of fire and sword, went forth to propagate our great and true religion through
the entire world." (Notovitch, 20) Hence, Eastern traditions regarding Jesus are designed to show that Jesus is
Buddha and that Christianity is an offshoot of ancient Eastern wisdom.
Nevertheless, the Notovitch text itself may have been composed originally by proselytizing
Christians who attempted to use the natives' belief in Buddha in order to increase Christ's stature. These
missionaries may have been appealing to women to follow "Issa," as the text puts great emphasis on women, whose
status in India and elsewhere has been abysmally low. The text would also appeal to the Sudras or Pariahs, since it
has Issa preaching on their behalf. These groups are targeted to this day by Christian missionaries in India.
Considering that many missionaries, travelers and scholars have been keenly aware of the numerous and profound
similarities between the Tibetan and Catholic religions, it would not be surprising if this Issa fable were created
in order to show that the Tibetan religion is merely a foreign derivative of the "true universal religion," i.e.,
Catholicism. The resemblances between various Indian sects and Christianity likewise led to tales about the
Christian missionaries Thomas, Bartholomew and Pantaenus also proselytizing in India. Like the Jesus-in-India myth,
there are other explanations for the resemblances, which are addressed in detail in my book Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. In short, the major explanation is
that the "Christian" religion and savior were already in India long before the alleged advent of Jesus.
Is "Issa" Jesus - or Shiva?
By calling Issa "Jesus" or "Christ," modern writers have cemented in the readers' minds that the
correlation is absolute, an erroneous conclusion. In reality, the name "Issa," "Isa" or "Isha" is a title and
simply means "lord," "god" or "master," often referring to the Indian god Lord Shiva: "'Isha' or 'the Lord' is
another name of Siva…" (Prajnanananda, 19) Furthermore, Prof. Nunos de Santos says, "…a god variously named Issa,
Isha, Ichtos, Iesus, Ieshuah, Joshuah, Jesus, etc., is indisputably originally from India." He also states,
"Ishvara (Ishwar) is widely worshipped in the Far East, being also called Isha (or Ishana) in India, Issara in
Pali, Isuan in Thai, Jizu (or Jizai) in Japanese, and so on."
"Isa" is likewise another name for Chandra, the Indian moon god, as well as
for Shiva's Egyptian counterpart, the soli-lunar god Osiris, also called Iswara in India:
"Iswara, or Isa, and Isani, or Isisi, are…unquestionably the Osiris and Isis of Egypt. Iswara, Siva, or Hara (for
these are his names among nearly a thousand more) united with Isi, represent the secondary causes, whatever they
may be, of natural phenomena; and principally those of temporary destruction and regeneration." (Moor, 151)
Numerous ancient legends, recorded for example in the writings of Diodorus Siculus during the first century BCE,
depict Osiris as traveling all over the East, as well as the rest of the world, during the millennia when he
reigned as Egypt's favorite deity. Osiris, or Isa, it should be noted, was put to death and resurrected, among many
other correspondences to the Christ myth. Osiris/Isa too had a number of tombs in various places, especially in
Egypt but likely also in India. However, Osiris was not a "real person" but a fertility and sun god. What
mythologists recognize is that it was not a "historical Osiris" but his myth that made it to India and diverse
places. As in the case of Osiris, the same phenomenon occurred regarding "Jesus," who is, in the end, a remake of
Osiris, among others.
The title "Isa" or "Issa" could apply to others, and is a common name even today. Indeed, some part of these
Jesus-in-India tales may revolve around the famed Greek sage Apollonius of Tyana. Not a few persons over the
centuries have noted the similarities between the lives of Apollonius and Christ, and even in ancient times Christians
were accused of plagiarizing the Apollonius legend.
The Issa myth apparently represents a Christianization of legends
regarding Osiris, Shiva, Apollonius and other gods and "Bodhisattvas," by the Nestorians, an early Christian
sect who lived in India and elsewhere, and may well have spread the syncretistic fable to other Asian ports of
call. Indeed, Nicholas Roerich himself surmised that the ancient Nestorian sect spread the tales in the
"We heard several versions of this legend which has spread widely through Ladak, Sinkiang and Mongolia, but all
versions agree on one point, that during His absence, Christ was in India and Asia…. Perhaps [this legend] is of
Nestorian origin." (Prophet, 261)
Roerich also stated, "Whoever doubts too completely that such legends about the Christ life exist in Asia, probably
does not realize what an immense influence the Nestorians have had in all parts of Asia and how many so-called
Apocryphal legends they spread in the most ancient times." (Roerich, 89) In addition, George Roerich even proposed
that there was a "floating colony" of Nestorians in Ladakh itself "during the eighth to tenth centuries," which
could well be when the Notovitch text was composed. Roerich, one of the main writers whose works have led to the
Jesus-in-India theory, almost invariably and misleadingly substitutes "Jesus" or "Christ" for "Issa," when Issa
could be a number of individuals, mythical and historical.
In his account of Jesus in India, Roerich declared, "The teachings of India were famed far
and wide; let us even recall the description of the life of Appolonius [sic] of Tyana and his visits to Hindu
sages." (Roerich, 119) Again, one likely scenario regarding "Issa" ("Lord" or "Master") is that, whatever part of
his tale is "historical," it possibly refers to Apollonius.
Pre-Christian Indo-European Interaction
As is well known, Apollonius was not alone in his journeys to the East. Decades and centuries
prior to the Christian era, there was much intercourse between India and the West, including the famous journey by
Pythagoras and the Alexandrian incursion. As another pertinent example, one of the seats of Mandeanism, a Christian
baptist sect, was Maisan, a Mesopotamian city colonized by Indians. As Dr. Rudolph Otto relates:
"…Indian caravans passed through Maisan and likewise Nabatea. Indian merchants, wherever they went, were importers
and missionaries of Indian ideas. There need be no surprise therefore if direct Indian imports are found in the
syncretistic medley of Mandean Gnosis". (Prajnanananda, 41)
Space does not permit us to recount the numerous authorities who are in agreement as to the westward spread of
Indian and Buddhist concepts centuries before and into the Christian era. A number of them may be found in
Prajnanananda's book, including a "Mr. Cust," who evinced that trade between India and Yemen "was established not
later than 1000 B.C." Yemen is very close to Israel, and by the first century CE there were plenty of Indians
in the Roman Empire.
Despite the popularity of the Jesus-in-India tale, the claim is not accepted by mainstream authorities, either
Christian or secular. The tale's proponents assert that scholars reject Jesus in India because of Western
imperialism and the inability to accept that Christ could have been influenced by Buddhism. In the case of
mythicists, however, the reason Jesus is denied as having gone to India is because he is a
pagan sun god remade into a Jewish "human" messiah. Thus, it is not a question of a "historical Jesus" being in
India and the East but of a variety of solar cults that worshipped a similar deity with similar rituals,
doctrines and myths.
The "Lost Years" Are Astrotheological
Over the centuries Jesus's so-called "lost years" and post-crucifixion life
have provided much fodder for the fertile human imagination, leading to speculation, legends, traditions and
myths that the great godman and sage lived and studied in a variety of places. Once the fable of Christ became
popular, numerous towns, villages, cities and nations wished to establish some sort of connection. Instead of
recognizing that such a significant omission as Jesus's "lost years" is an indication of the mythical nature
of the tale, individuals using typical priestcraft have come up with countless extraordinary adventures of the
"historical Jesus." Unfortunately for the believers, however, not only is the gospel story itself but so too
are these Jesus-the-Globetrotter tales mere deluding smoke and mirrors, and the reason for the gap in Jesus's
biography is because he was not a "real person" but a pagan sun god turned into a Jewish messiah. In the
mythos revolving around the sun god, there need be no accounting for "lost years," as the "age" of 12
represents the sun at high noon, while the 28 or 30 represents the days of the lunar or solar months,
When religions are investigated with a profound knowledge of mythology, the correspondences are clearly revealed,
and it becomes evident that it is not the case that this miracleworker or that godman traveled to this place or
that, as has been rumored to have occurred with just about every god or goddess. In actuality, it is the legends,
traditions and myths concerning these gods, godmen or gurus that have been spread far and wide by their proponents,
priests and propagandists. As was the case with the missionary and his brother in Japan, who were taken for the
object of worship they were proselytizing, so has it developed in other parts of the world over the millennia
concerning not only Jesus but also many other deities, such as the virgin-born, crucified Mexican god Quetzalcoatl,
whose similar "life" and religion led to claims that "Jesus" was in America. The reason for the similarities,
however, is because both Jesus and Quetzalcoatl are sun gods with the same attendant holidays and practices.
In the final analysis, it is not possible that Jesus could have lived years after the crucifixion, fathered
children and died in several different places, as legends represent. The past explanation for such discrepancies
has been metaphysical, deeming Jesus to be multidimensional and capable of simultaneous incarnations in various
locations. Such an explanation, of course, will not satisfy the skeptic and scientist. Or the mythologist, who
simply knows better, because she or he has studied in depth the products of the human mind. Because the basic story
of Christ revolves around the sun, which was highly esteemed the world over beginning many millennia ago, the myth
is likewise found around the globe. To the basic mythos and ritual were added various embellishments according to
the place and era, and for a variety of reasons. In the end, Jesus the Globetrotter is a not a historical personage
who magically appeared all over the world, bi-locating and flying on the backs of birds. "Jesus Christ" is mythical
creature, to be found globally only between the pages of a book.
Capt, E. Raymond, The Traditions of Glastonbury, Artisan, 1983
Ellis, Peter B., "Our Druid Cousins," www.hinduism-today.com/2000/2/2000-2-16.html
Huc, M. L'Abbé, Christianity in China, Tartary, and Thibet, I, London, Longman & Co., 1857
Moor, Edward, Simpson, ed., The Hindu Pantheon, Indological Book House, India, 1968
Notovitch, Nicholas, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, Tree of Life Publications, CA, 1980
Nunos de Santos, Arysio, "The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ--Comments,"
Prajnanananda, Swami, Christ the Saviour and the Christ Myth, Calcutta, 1984
Prophet, Elizabeth Clare, The Lost Years of Jesus, Summit University Press, 1984
Roerich, Nicholas, Altai-Himalaya, Adventures Unlimited, 2001