The Lost Years of Jesus around the Web
The controversy rages on today. Did Jesus visit Persia, India, Nepal and Tibet during the ages of 13 to 29? These pages are posted commentaries of interest...
Date Posted: 02:33:37 10/28/03 Tue
P. Yogananda in his writings refers to a document found in a Tibetan monastery which proves Jesus spent much of his life in India. This is probably a reference to the claims of Nicolas Notovitch, a Russian war correspondent, which enjoyed some popularity in the early part of the twentieth century.
Intrigued Notovitch visited the convent where he was informed that they did indeed have such a document, a Tibetan translation from the Pali language. The original was said to be kept in a library in Lhasa.
Notovitch persuaded someone to translate the scroll for him, and decided that Issa was in fact Jesus and the scroll told the story of Jesuss early years. According to Notovitch Issa/Jesus had secretly left his parents house at the age of 13 and wandered to India. There he had studied with the Brahmins at Juggernaut, Rajagriha, Benares, and other Indian holy cities. They had "taught him to read and understand the Vedas, to cure by aid of prayer, to teach, to explain the holy scriptures to the people, and to drive out evil spirits from the bodies of men, restoring unto them their sanity."
Issa had then wandered around India, Nepal and Persia before returning to Palestine at the age of 29. An account of his execution was also given in the scroll, closely resembling the Gospel account.
Notovitch wrote a book, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ now in print again which detailed his theories.
Notovitchs claims were enthusiastically seized upon by The Theosophical Society whose founder Madame Helena Blatvasky liked to present the Himalayas as the abode of a secret brotherhood of enlightened masters guiding the world. Blatvasky herself had been exposed as a fraud by the English Society for Psychical Research who caught her writing letters which she claimed came from Himalayan Mahatmas. The Theosophical Society may have helped to get Notovitchs claims widely accepted in some circles.
Unfortunately however, there is little evidence in support of Notovitch. The documents he refers to have never been found by any credible researcher, and may never have existed.
F. Max Muller a distinguished Orientalist at Oxford University published a refutation of Notovitchs claims saying in short that they were rubbish. He backed up his argument with a letter from a woman who had visited the convent and made enquiries about Notovitch: there is not a single word of truth in the whole story! There has been no Russian here. There is no life of Christ there at all!"
J. Archibald Douglas, Professor at Government College in Agra, India, took the trouble to retrace Notovitchs steps and published his findings. This included an interview with the Chief Lama of Himis monastery. The Lama stated that no European with a broken leg (part of Notovitchs account) had visited the monastery and that he knew nothing of the alleged document. "I have never heard of [a manuscript] which mentions the name of Issa, and it is my firm and honest belief that none such exists. I have inquired of our principal Lamas in other monasteries of Tibet, and they are not acquainted with any books or manuscripts which mention the name of Issa." When portions of Notovitch's book were read to the lama, he responded, "Lies, lies, lies, nothing but lies!"
One supporter of Notovitchs claims was the famous traveler Nicholas Roerich who traveled across central Asia between 1924 and 1928 and claimed to have heard many stories concerning Issa. Roerich claimed to have seen writings about Issa, but again these documents have not been discovered by subsequent researchers.
So what shall we make of P Yoganandas apparent belief in the existence of the Notovitch document. Was this something added by later editors of his work, perhaps influenced by the Theosophists? Did Yogananda have some insight that Notovitchs claims were true? Was Yogananda simply unaware of the fact that Notovitchs claims had been refuted quite conclusively, or was Yogananda perhaps referring to another document?
Date Posted: 02:35:39 10/28/03 Tue
Ketch- I don't see that Notovitch's claims have been 'refuted quite conclusively' by you. Your strongest evidence is that nobody could find any evidence. Max Mueller was not the most ardent admirer of India, I understand, even though he was purported to be an 'orientalist', whatever that means.
I personally trust Yogananda. He intuitively understood that Christ travelled in India. He didn't need any evidence, but he did provide some for non-believers.
Here is some evidence that I found believable:
Well before Notovitch went to Hemis, a Mrs. Harvey wrote of the existence of the scripts on Issa in The Adventures of a Lady in Tartary, China and Kashmir. Then, after Notovitch, came a number of other confirmations.
Swami Abhedananda, a leading figure in the Ramakrishna Society, was known and respected throughout the world. He read Notovich's book while in America, and some years later (in 1922) finally had the opportunity to travel to Hemis to find out for himself whether Notovitch's story was true. He explained Notovitch's claims to the lamas, who confirmed they were true. Then he was shown a manuscript, which he was told was a translation into Tibetan of an original which was in a monastery at Marbour near Lhasa. With the aid of one of the lamas, Abhedananda made his own translations, which closely agree with those of Notovitch. Abhedananda published his translations of the Issa Scriptures in Kashmir O Tibbate (In Kashmir and Tibet).
The famous and widely respected expatriate Russian artist and intellectual, Nicholas Roerich, visited the Hemis monastery (in 1925), and published his account of the Issa manuscripts in his books Heart of Asia and Altai-Himalaya. Again they confirm Notovitch's story and add some extra details. Like Notovitch and Swami Abhedananda before him, Roerich made his own translation of parts of the Issa manuscripts. Where these three translations overlap, they agree quite well.
In the summer of 1939 Madame Caspairi, a Swiss musician, went on a pilgrimage to India organized by a renowned religious leader Mrs Clarence Gasque. Mrs Gasque was known internationally as the head of the World Fellowship of Faith, and she and her party were most cordially received everywhere they went throughout the pilgrimage. In one case, an Indian maharajah literally rolled out a red carpet to greet them. At Hemis, although they arrived just after the annual performance of a mystery play was over, the lamas performed it a second time in their honour. What happened next was extraordinary:
A few days after the performance, when seated alone on the
While we have no reason not to take the monks at their
In 1951, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas traveled to Hemis. In his Beyond the High Himalayas, he observed that there were many legends in the area concerning the monastery at Hemis, and that one of them related to Jesus. Some people believed Jesus visited Hemis, coming at the age of 14 and leaving at the age of 28, traveling under the name Issa. The legend described Issa's stay there in some detail.
There are two other people who have stumbled upon this legend, even though they had never previously heard of Jesus being in India. Dr Robert S. Ravicz, professor of anthropology at California State University, visited Hemis (in 1975), and while there was told by a friend, an eminent Ladakhi physician, that it was said there were documents at the monastery which stated that Jesus had been to Hemis. In the late 1970's Edward F. Noack was staying at Hemis when a lama at the monastery told him that a manuscript relating the story of Jesus' pilgrimage to Ladakh was locked in the storeroom."
Finally, there is a confirmation of the accuracy of the Hemis Scriptures about Issa from another part of India al-together, and from a Hindu rather than a Buddhist source. It will be recalled that these scriptures said Issa spent six years in Jagannath (now Puri) and other holy cities of the Hindus, before going to live for a further six years in the Himalayas. Sri Daya Mata, president of Self-Realization Fellowship, went to India in 1959, and in an interview with one of India's great spiritual leaders, His Holiness Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha, the Shankaracharya of Puri, she mentioned that she had been told that Jesus "spent some of his life in India, in association with her illumined sages. His Holiness replied, 'That is true. I have studied ancient records in the Puri Jagannath Temple archives confirming those facts. He was known as "Isha," and during part of his time in India he stayed in the Jagannath Temple. When he returned to his part of the world, he expounded the teachings that are known today as Christianity'". . .
Ketch- I don't see that Notovitch's claims have been 'refuted quite conclusively' by you.
I did not say they were refuted by me. Believe it or not, I was not actually alive in the late ninteenth century when Notovitch made his claims. They were however refuted by experts at the time, including Max Mueller.
Notovitch seems to have been something akin to an Erich Von Daniken of his era, not placing too much emphasis on the accuracy of his research. Of course there is always a market for such things.
Neither are the various travellers tales relevant. There may have been rumours of someone called Issa in the region, and it may be that Notovitch based his claims on these rumours. What is disputed is the existence of the manuscripts.
It is worth noting that according to Notovitch the manuscripts showed that Issa/Jesus mastered Buddhist teachings whilst in Tibet, however Buddhism did not arrive in Tibet until much later.
If the documents ever existed then where are they, and why did the
Tibetans know nothing about them?
Date Posted: 02:37:01 10/28/03 Tue
Author: yogi - 3 Sep 2003
Subject: Re: Yogananda, Notovitch and nonsense
In reply to: ketch = 3 Sep 2003 's message, "Re: Yogananda, Notovitch and nonsense" on 02:36:27 10/28/03 Tue
The testimony of Yogananda, Swami Adhedenanda, Nicholas Roerich, Madame Caspairi, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Dr. Robert S. Ravicz professor of anthropology at California State University, Edward F. Noack, Sri Daya Mata, and His Holiness Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha are enough for me, and surely not irrelevant. Most ancient history has been oral, and not written, so the lack of documents is not an issue, IMHO.
Even if Notovitch fabricated documents based on an extensive oral history, that doesn't make testimony of the above mentioned travellers false.
Throw out Notovitch AND his documents and you still have Yogananda, Swami Adhedenanda, Nicholas Roerich, Madame Caspairi, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Dr. Robert S. Ravicz professor of anthropology at California State University, Edward F. Noack, Sri Daya Mata, and His Holiness Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha.
Date Posted: 02:42:31 10/28/03 Tue
This is no evidence at all. To put things in perspective, compare the few reports of this non-existent tradition with the hundreds, perhaps thousands of equally credible reports of sightings of Bigfoot, the Yeti, the Loch Ness monster, alien abductions etc. A handful of uncorroborated accounts means nothing.
Of the people you mention what are they witnesses to? Sri Daya Mata did not hear or see anything firsthand, neither did Dr Robert S. Ravicz or Edward F. Noack , they are simply repeating hearsay.
Madame Caspari saw nothing but some closed scrolls which she could not read and which were not translated to her.
William O. Douglas repeated a few rumours he claimed to have heard, which may simply have been repeating Notovitch's claims.
Adhedenanda was a highly political Indian nationalist who may have had ulterior motives for his claims.
His Holiness Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha might have a contribution to make if he actually produced the document he claims to have seen at Puri, but so far none have turned up.
Nicholas Roerich was himself a controversial character whose travel claims, and descriptions have been disputed.
Against this put the statement of the Abbot of Himis that the visit
from Notovitch never happened and "I have never heard of [a manuscript]
which mentions the name of Issa, and it is my firm
Clearly the Tibetans themselves were completely unaware of their supposed tradition.
The plain fact is that sometimes people do lie. It is easy to get away with such things especially when somewhere obscure and inaccessible like Tibet (at that time) is concerned. As recently as the 1970's the late Cyril Henry Hoskins, a plumber from the town of Plimpton in Devon (South West England) was able to convince many that he was the Tibetan Master Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, and wrote a series of dreadful books about his experiences and wisdom. Despite the fact that Hoskins nonsense was exposed by Tibetan refugees there are still people today who buy his books and believe in him.
Date Posted: 02:43:47 10/28/03 Tue
You really don't want to believe this, Ketch, do you?
Since there are no documents or incontrovertible proof pointing in
either direction, I'll stick with Yogananda, and his God-given intuition,
on this one.