From Chapter Four:
Jesus in the East
(excerpted; footnotes omitted)

Flight of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ told his disciples that he would not tell them about his destination because he wished to keep it as secret.
 
He rose and hastily went away through the gathering mist. It was rumored that he had been taken up by the clouds. This was simply a mythological tale.
 
Jesus though officially crucified in about 30 A.D. escaped alive towards the East, and in about 35 A.D. was seen on the road to Damascus by Paul, who had been sent by the Romans to bring him back for a second crucifixion.
 
The Conversion of Paul
Paul had been deputed by the Romans to intercept Jesus Christ. He had journeyed to Damascus, when he heard a voice; "Saul, why persecutest thou me? " He asked who he was. He heard:
 
I am Jesus whom thou persecutest;
It is hard for thee to kick
against the pricks.
Arise and go into the city,
And it shall be told thee
What thou must do.
 
Jesus had a disciple at Damascus named Ananias, who was directed by him to go to Paul, and inform him that he was the chosen vessel, and that he must preach in the name of Jesus Christ in Israel.
 
Accordingly, Paul contacted the other disciples of Jesus Jesus Christ and spent a few days with them at Damascus. After that he preached Christ in the synagogues and made many converts. He also went to Jerusalem and then to Tarsus, and continued mission-ary activities in collaboration with Barnabas and John. The above account has been called a vision by the compilers of "Acts." Visions are real and do exist, but they do not arise in dull brains. After all, Paul was only a tent maker.
 
The Apostles still feared that the Romans might pursue Christ, and thus invented the theory of visions, and intermingled fact with imagination. Another confus-ion arises about Paul because he was also known as Saul in the beginning. If a vision could be termed unreal, then the basis of all mythology in the world would be removed and we would be left blank. Most of the stories given in mythology have now stood the scientific test. Was the great flood during the day of Noah a vision? Was the space craft of Ezekiel a vision? If all these facts are visions, then the virgin birth of Jesus, his crucifixion, and even his existence on this earth could be termed as a vision and there would arise no need to believe in Jesus Christ or his mission. It is a historical fact that Paul conducted a series of long missionary tours to far-off countries including Greece and Asia Minor.
 
Jesus Christ lived in the house of Ananias at that time. But when the Jews sent a commission to Damascus, he left the place and reached Babylon. As he had visited the east in his childhood, he knew the routes and topography of these countries. He had already been saved and now on this strange odyssey, God guided him, so that he could be saved from further persecution. Jesus and his mother had to migrate from Palestine and they departed for a far-off country. Both of them traversed from country to country. Some of his devotees followed him from place to place. During his journey toward the east, Jesus was accompanied by Mary the Mother, Peter the Apostle, and another Mary who can be no other person than Mary Magdalene. It can not be denied that Mary Magdalene had taken a personal interest in the affairs of Jesus Christ. She had been possessed by demons which were cast out by the Lord.She had stood by the cross during the time of the crucifixion. She watched the burial of Jesus Christ and came early to the sepulchre. ...
 
According to the Gospel of Philip, Mary Magdalene was the consort of Jesus Christ. As such, it is obvious that of the two who accompanied Jesus Christ on his migration towards the east, one was Mary, the mother of the Lord, while the other one must have been Mary Magdalene, the consort of Jesus Christ.
 
It is a strange coincidence that the successor of Buddha has been called Rahula. When he is separated from his mother, a lady devotee named Magdaliyana acts as a messenger between him and the mother. The word, Rahula may mean, Ruh-Allah, or the Spirit of God and Magdaliyana. The lady messenger may refer to Mary Magdalene, who was so much attached to Jesus Christ. It is also strange that the Tomb of Mary has been located about 6 miles from Kashgar in Central Asia.
 
It is probable that the tomb in question is that of Mary Magdalene.
 
Jesus Christ in Parthia
We are informed by the Gospel of Philip that after having been saved from crucifixion, Jesus Christ was nursed by his friends and disciples and remained in hiding for some time. During this period, he imparted special spiritual knowledge to Peter and James. After having remained with them for a period of about one year and a half, he made up his mind to leave them. He appointed James as his successor and migrated. It has already been mentioned that Thomas had already been deputed to Parthia and India by Jesus. As such, it is but natural that Jesus Christ felt safe to travel in these lands. At that period, the Parthian empire extended right from Antioch and Palmyria to Kabul on one side and from the Caspian sea to the Arabian sea. He wanted to avoid the limits of the Romans, and as such, took the first opportunity to reach Damascus. From that place he went to the city of Nisibis, which had a colony of exiled Jews. The city being the meeting ground of many caravan routes was full of men of all nations busy in trade and commerce. Jesus Christ tried his best to conceal his identity, and it was at this place that he came to be known as Yuz Asaph. He wore clothes and a turban of white fleece and carried a rod in his hand. He set a seal of silence on his lips, and began his journey further. Nisibis lay on the silk route from Syria to Mosul and beyond, towards the east. Jesus had travelled incognito to this place.
 
Nisibis
It is related by Josephus that the king of Adiabene sent his son Ezad to stay with Abennerigos, the king of Spasinou Charax at the head of the Persian Gulf. The small principality of Adiabene existed between Tabriz and Mossul, on the banks of the river Tigris. Ezad returned home to ascend the throne of Adiabene on the death of his father. It was Ananias who had converted Ezad and his queens. After some years the king of Parthia accorded him to rule over Nisibis with the result that his kingdom extended right up to the banks of the Mediterranean. We know already that it was Ananias who had reached Jerusalem with a letter from Abgar Ukkama for Jesus. It was too late and Jesus had been crucified. It was Thomas who gave the shroud to him for Abgar. Both Ezad and Abgar were contemporaries of Jesus Christ. If seems that from Damascus Jesus and his party reached Nisibis, which was a safe place for them. Maybe Ananias wished to carry Jesus to Edessa but the proximity of the Roman capitol prevented Jesus from proceeding westward. As such, Jesus moved towards the east and reached Mossul, and from that place to Babylon, which was on the banks of Euphrates.
 
We are informed that Jesus preached his doctrines in Nisibis and many accepted him. At the same time the orthodox became his enemies and tried to kill him. Early evidence of Christianity at Nisibis is provided by an inscription on a grave which reads as follows:
 
I saw the Syrian plain, and all the cities - even Nisibis, having crossed the Euphrates.
Everywhere I found people with whom to speak.
 
Jesus in Persia
From Babylon, Jesus proceeded to Ur and from that place to Kharax, which was the capital of the kingdom of Mesene. It was the main port to which ships brought the products of India and the far east. From that place, the goods were transported up the river Euphrates to Babylon, then to Arbel in Adiabene and thence to Nisibis and Edessa in the west. It was possible for Jesus to take a sea route to India but he avoided it and instead crossed into the Persian empire.
 
In Persian works, we hear about Yuz-Asaph, which means Yuzu, who is the leader of those lepers who have been cured by him. Here is the report given in the Persian dictionary:
 
In the days of Hazrat Isa, when lepers were cured by him, they, on being admitted among the healthy people, were known as Asaph. Thus Haz-rat Isa, who cured lepers. also came to be known as Yuz-Asaph, for he not only cured them but gathered them under his merciful protection.
 
Jesus Christ was known in Persia as Yuz-Asaph. His sayings and teachings in the region, as recorded in the Iranian traditions, are the same as those of Jesus Christ. This shows that his preachings were popular among the Persians. It is clear that after the advent of Islam, the Christians, the Jews and the Zoroastrians lost importance, and were reduced in numbers. But the sayings, and parables of Jesus Christ continued in their traditions and lived afterwards as those of Yuz-Asaph. From Nisibis two routes led toward the east; one passed through Nishapur and Herat to Kabul, and the other through Susa, and Hermuz to Sind. Jesus Christ took the former route. ...
 
It may be mentioned that trade routes, both by sea and land, between India and other countries in the west have existed since ancient times. It was in about 3100 B.C. that the seafaring Sumerians established their colonies in the Indus Valley region. right from Mohenjo-daro to Kashmir. They exploited the economic and commercial resources of the region. The Sumerian seals excavated at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa have revealed that the Indus Valley region was an abode of Amorites or the seafaring people, who were fire and sun worshippers.
 
From Kabul, the trade route went to Peshawar, and then to Taxila. Jesus Christ and his companions had to bear many hardships during their travel from Herat to Kabul, and then to Taxila. They had lived on wild fruits and vegetables. Jesus had walked on foot, but some of his companions brought a horse for him. But Jesus refused to have the horse, and journeyed on foot. During his travels, he had to face many hardships. It is reported that he was arrested, but as he had healed the sick, the governor of the city became his devotee. Many among the people and the soldiers became his disciples. He, preached among them and they became happy to hear his words.
Apostolate
We do not have much information as to what happened to the followers, friends and devotees of Jesus Christ after his departure towards the east. One thing is clear: that the hostility of the Jews to the fol-lowers of the Christianity became increasingly implac-able. We know that James, the brother of Jesus Christ, was chosen as their leader by the early Christian community at Jerusalem. But Herod Agrippa took savage measures against him and got him executed. It is also recorded that Peter was also imprisoned by him. Thus, the early Apostolate was shifted to Antioch in Syria. It was here that Paul met Peter and got himself enlisted as the disciple of the Lord.39 It is to his credit that he carried the message of Jesus Christ to far-off lands. His Apostles carried his mission through the ancient trade routes to various cities of Arabia, Syria, Rome, Alexandria, Italy, Egypt, Persia and Armenia.
 
Through the efforts of the Apostles, Christianity became very popular among the masses. Seeing this, the enmity of the followers of Judaism toward the new faith became acute. The Apostles had preached among the poor with the result that a good number of the Pagans became Christians. The Jews could not tolerate the popularity of Christianity and thought of doing something to attract the masses. Out of frustration, they raised up the banner of revolt against the Romans, who had subjugated the Holy Land. The Pharisees saw that it was absolutely necessary for them to establish their own theocratic kingdom. But they failed against the might of the Romans, who ravaged and destroyed nearly all Jewish settlements. The Roman soldiers stormed Jerusalem and burnt down the Temple in 70 A.D. Thousands perished in the revolt but many more thousands were carried off as slaves by the Romans. According to one estimate, nearly eleven thousand prisoners died of starvation.
Jesus in Persia
Jesus delivered many sermons in Persia, and he was welcomed by the people, who listened to him devoutly. The high priest got him arrested, and he was asked about which new God he was speaking to the people [about] when Zoroaster only had the privilege of communion with the Supreme Being. He was also told that the laws were given to Zoroaster by God, and he should not sow doubts in the heart of believers. On hearing this, Jesus said unto them:
 
It is not of a new God that I speak:
But of our Heavenly Father,
Who has existed since all time;
And who will still be after,
The end of all things.
It is of Him,
That I have discoursed to the people,
Who,
Like unto innocent children,
Are not yet capable,
Of comprehending God,
By the simple strength of their intelligence;
Or of Penetrating,
Into His divine,
And spiritual sublimity.
 
In the Name of the Heavenly Father
Jesus told them that he spoke in the name of our Heavenly Father. He explained that just as a baby discovers in the darkness its mother's breast; in the same way, people who have been led into error by erroneous doctrine,do recognise by instinct their Heavenly Father.
 
Jesus paused a while in many a hamlet, town and cities in Persia. He preached and healed among the common people, who followed him in throngs. He also attended a feast in Persepolis. ...
 
During his short sojourn in Persia, Jesus sat in silence in the prayer hall of the Magi priests, for seven days. Then he spoke on the origin of evil and good.
He told them not to worship the sun, for it was but a part of the cosmos which God has created for humanity. It is to God and to God alone, that we owe all that we possess in this world. On hearing him, the priests asked how could a people live according to the rules of justice if it had no preceptor? Jesus replied that so long as the people had no priests, the natural law governed them, and they preserved the candour of their souls. He further explained that when their souls were with God, they could commune with the Father, without the medium of any idol or animal or the Sun or the fire. ...
 
We have no information about the route taken by Jesus and his companions in their onward march towards the east. Maybe they visited Hamadan and Nishapur, from which city there are two roads, one leading to Afghanistan via Herat and thence to Kandhar and the other leading to Bukhara and Samarkand. The tomb of Mary Magdalene has been located near Kashgar in Central Asia. It is probable that Jesus took her to Bukhara, then to Samarkand and thence to Kashgar. After her demise, Jesus came back to Balkh and thence took the route along the bank of the river Indus and reached Sind. We will deal with this odyssey in subsequent pages.
 
Jesus in Sind
It is of value, at this point in the narrative, to examine the various sources we have that give us evidence concerning the "missing years of Jesus" - from the age of thirteen through twenty-nine, when he returned to Israel. In a previous chapter, we made a brief reference to his stay in India (See pages 95-97) during that time. It is our belief that it was as a result of the profound learnings made by Jesus during this earlier stay in the east that he now knew that his life, having been completed in the west, concerned his mission there.
 
Let us examine these sources. Piecing together many documents including The Life of St. Issa, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ and The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ (among others) tells us that at the age of thirteen, Jesus left his parental house in secret and departed with the merchants toward Sind.46 His main object in leaving his country was to perfect himself in the Divine Word and to study the law of great Buddhas.
In the course of his fourteenth year he reached Sind and established himself among the Aryans. After crossing the five rivers of the Punjab, he reached Rajputana and from that region. he proceeded towards Gujarat. Here he came into contact with the followers of Jainism. His fame had spread throughout and the Jains requested him to dwell among them. But he proceeded further and reached Orissa and was welcomed by the priests. They taught him the occult sciences.
 
He then went to the holy cities of Rajagiri and Benaras and everyone loved him. He had spent six years in his travels. As he freely mixed with the low caste Vaishyas and Shudras, the upper caste Brahman-as and Khistriyas disliked his attitude.
 
But he did not listen to their discourses and disliked their attitude. After that event he started preaching against the Brahmanas and the Khistriyas. ...
 
Sermons
Jesus inveighed against the act of a man arrogating to himself the power to deprive his fellow beings of their rights of humanity. He had spent nearly six years in India and could speak in the local language. He lived with the poor masses, to whom he gave many sermons. He preached:
 
God, the father,
Makes no difference between His children,
All to Him are equally dear.
Fear thy God,
Bend the knee before Him alone,
Bring thy offerings to Him alone.
 
He denied the gods invented by the people and told them that God has willed and created the universe. He alone has existed since all eternity, and His existence will have no end. He has no equal either in the heavens or on earth and has not shared His power with any living being. He alone is omnipotent!...
 
Jesus taught equality of human beings and made a prophesy that the Brahmanas and the Khistriyas shall become the Shudras; and with the Shudras, God shall dwell everlastingly. ...
 
His words and works caused unrest through all the land. The poor followed him in throngs but the priests resolved to drive him out of India. All the Brahmana priests met in a council, and employed a murderer with the mission to kill Jesus.53
 
In Communion with Buddha
Having been informed about the plot, and ad-vised by friends to depart, Jesus left the place by night. With haste, he journeyed to the north, and reached Kapilavastu, the birthplace of Sakyamuni Buddha. The Buddhists opened wide the doors of a monastery for him, and he started living among the monks. He witnessed their religious rites, and participated in their prayers. A time came when he fully understood the words of the Master and began to teach on the same lines. The head lama declared in a congregation:
 
We stand today upon a crest of time,
Six times ago a master soul was born,
Who gave a glory light to man,
And now a master sage stands here.
This Hebrew prophet is the rising star of wisdom,
He brings to us a knowledge of God;
And all the world will hear his words,
Will heed his words,
And glorify his name.
 
Departure
He lived among the Buddhists for six years. He learnt and taught in the monastery where he abode.
Whom the Buddha had elected
to spread his holy word,
had become a perfect expositor
of the sacred writings.
 
Then he left Nepal and the Himalayan mountains, and went towards the west, preaching to the diverse peoples the supreme perfection of man, in these words:
 
He who shall have regained his original purity;
Will die having obtained,
Remission for his sins;
And he will have the right,
To contemplate the majesty of God.
The Eternal Law-giver is one;
There is no other God but Him;
He has not shared the world with anyone,
Neither has He informed anyone of
His intentions. ...
 
The Tibetan Gospel
The above narrative, translated by Nicolas Notovitch from several scrolls found in the Hemis monastery in Ladakh, provides invaluable information about the missing years of Jesus.
 
Hippolytus, the Bishop of Rome in about 220 A.D., mentions a Judaeo-Christian scripture of the land of the Seres in Parthia. According to an old tradition, this holy book of revelations had fallen from heaven, and dealt with the 'Hidden power.' Eli the Prophet, who was the incarnation of God, received it. During the period of Hippolytus, the name Seres denoted a nation which produced silk and lived above India. Thus, the holy book of revelation was the Tibetan Gospel. It is interesting to note that Nicolas Notovitch translated the scrolls about the life of Jesus Christ from the Hemis monastery in Ladakh. It is also important that the western Christians of the 3rd century knew of the eastern books on Christianity. The Hemis scrolls, therefore are not as unusual as these seemed to be at first sight.
 
This would reveal that Jesus was very much respected by the common people, who adored him and wished that he could stay with them. The above scrolls also establish the fact that Jesus Iearnt many occult sciences in India.
 
According to the Hemis scrolls, Jesus had been elected to remind a deprived humanity of the true God. Since his departure from Jerusalem, the pagans had inflicted still more atrocious sufferings on the Israelites. Many among them had already begun to abandon the laws of their God and those of Moses, in the hope of appeasing their savage conquerors.
 
Nicolas Notovitch published his translation of the Hemis scrolls in 1890, calling his work, The Life of Saint Issa. Subsequently in 1894 the book was published in French, entitled, La Vie Inconnue de Jesus and in English as The Unknown Life of Christ. At the time of publication of his work, Notovitch knew that the Church would repudiate his find as a fabrication. He therefore suggested organisation of a scientific expedition to Ladakh for verification of his discovery. From the outset, the book became a source of great controversy. The Church denied the very existence of Nicolas Notovitch and even of the Hemis monastery. But when it came to light that Nicolas Notovitch had visited Kashmir and Ladakh and met many important officials of the Indian and state governments, the Church took another course. At the instance of the Church. the then British government in India directed the famous Orien-talist, Max Muller and a professor of Agra, Archibald Douglas, to conduct on-the-spot inquiries. Both of them published their findings in newspapers and concluded that Nicolas Notovitch was a fraud. In 1894, the Church deputed a neo-convert, Ahmad Shah, to Ladakh in the disguise of a hakim, but with the main aim to find any means "to refute the findings of Nicolas Notovitch." He remained in Ladakh for four years and wrote a book with the title of Four Years in Tibet. It is probable that out of the great fear of the then British Government in India, the Buddhist lama concealed the scrolls or handed over some fragments to Ahmad Shah.
 
In 1922, Swami Abhedananda, the world famous Vedantist, visited Ladakh and learnt from the lamas of the Hemis monastery that the account about the coming of Jesus Christ to India was indeed correct.64 With the help of the lama, he obtained a translation of a few pages from the Tibetan manuscript. We will conclude this issue with the remark that the Buddhists of Ladakh and Tibet have scrolls about the life of Jesus hidden among the innumerable manuscripts housed in dark cells. According to the Buddhists, Jesus had become a perfect expositor of the sacred writings, for he had been elected by Buddha to spread his holy word.
 
Buddhism and Christianity
Buddhism and Christianity have many similarities. ... It may be pointed out that striking similarities between the moral teachings of Buddha and Jesus Christ lead us to think that Mahayana Buddhism borrowed much from Christianity. When we look at the events and the timing of the Fourth Buddhist Council, this possibility becomes even more plausible, since the council took place at a time when sources place him and his followers in that part of the world.
 
The Fourth Buddhist Council
Several legends have depicted the great Kushana king, Kanishka as the patron of Buddhism. He is said to have convened the 4th Buddhist Council in Kashmir in about 78 A.D. Besides a large audience, this Council was attended to by 500 Arhats, 500 Boddhisattvas and 500 Pandittas. This Council paved the way for the acceptance of Mahayana, the progressive school of thought, in Buddhism.67 lt is recorded in the Buddhist canon that after the Buddha, another redeemer or the next Boddhisattva will come, and he will be called Met-teyya. He will be the leader of a band of disciples.68 It is for this reason that the Buddhist Lamas reached Palestine; in search of their Boddhisattva, at the time of the birth of Jesus. It is also recorded in the prophesy concerning Metteyya that he will come at the time when the religion of the Buddha will be forgotten and the new Boddhisattva will show them the way. In this context, it remains to be seen as to what part Jesus played - if he actually did - in the 4th Buddhist Council held in Kashmir.
 
It may be mentioned that the word Metteyya is no other than the word Messiah, because the sound of t changes into s in Arabic or Persian. It is interesting to note that Jesus is mentioned as Mi-shi-ho in the Chinese Buddhist canon of the 8th century A.D.70 Examination of Buddhist iconography shows that all Boddhisattvas stand or sit a lotus throne. Some show their hands and palms with round marks. Those statues of the Mahayana period, with marks on palms and feet, symbolically depict the wounds of crucifixion. This fact is immortal evidence for the identity of Jesus as the teacher of the Mahayana monks.
 
We are struck by the extraordinary similarity between the doctrines and rituals of Buddhism and the Catholic Church, The dress of the monks in both the religions was remarkably the same, as can be verified from early paintings. "The ranks of the various orders in the Monasteries bear a resemblance to the monastic orders in the Roman Church. The Buddhists make suffrages, alms, prayers and sacrifices like the Catholics; and the Buddhists take vows of celibacy, poverty, chastity and obedience like the Catholic monks. The Buddhists use holy water and singing services. The Buddhist liturgy also resembles the East-ern Christian liturgies.
 
It may be pointed out that due to the striking similarity between the two religions, most thinkers believe that Christianity is the Buddhism of the West. Both Jesus as well as Buddha are called Saviours in their respective scriptures and it is a strange coincid-ence that both make the same claim when they say: I am the Light and the the Way. Titles which have been ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels have been similarly ascribed to the Buddha in the Buddhist scriptures. Both have called themselves Light, Master, Blessed, Prince and the Refuge. Both fasted at the time of temp-tation and the fast lasted for forty days. ...
 
There is a striking resemblance between the teachings of both the masters. It seems that Buddhism had prepared the way for Christianity. It is a historical fact that Ashoka collected about eighty thousand Buddhist monks who were sent by him for missionary work to China, Persia, Babylonia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. It was due to the influence of their teachings that many mystical sects like the Therapeutae, Essenes and Zoroastrians became popular among the followers of Judaism. Jesus had received his early education under the guidance of the Essene masters and it is for this reason that we find traces among them of Buddhist virtues like non-violence, brotherhood, kindness, love and piety.
As times passes on, documents are forthcoming which show that Jesus visited Tibet and Ladakh. According to one source Jesus went to Tibet and stayed for some time in the chief monastery. He did not preach there but absorbed himself in meditation. After some time, he reached Ladakh and was received well by the Buddhist monks. There he healed a dying child, and his fame spread far and wide. ...
 
Jesus Christ then passed by the way of Kashmir, where he joined a caravan of merchants. When they heard him speak like a prophet, and when they came to know that he wanted to travel to Persia, they gave him a Bactrian beast. Having reached the Punjab, Jesus performed many miracles and healed many among the sick.
 
Thomas the Apostle of India
Thomas, who was also called Didymus, holds the seventh position among the chief disciples of Jesus Christ. He considered Jesus as his God.80 His real name was Judas and as such his Gospel is known as the Acts of Judas Thomas. He is considered to be the twin brother of Jesus. When the disciples of the Lord divided the whole world for missionary work, India fell to his lot. He is known as the apostle of Parthia and India.81 In the beginning, he was reluctant to go on a long journey, for he wanted to die for Jesus Christ.
 
At that time, an Indian merchant named Habban arrived in the south of Palestine. In obedience to the commands of the Master, Thomas sailed with Habban towards the east .
At the time of nominating his disciples, Jesus had asked him to work within the Parthian empire, which included the northwestern areas of India also. The Parthian empire extended from the Euphrates to the Indus and from the Arabian sea to the Caspian sea. Thomas was known as the evangelist of Parthia and India.84 He preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Bactrians, Indians and Hyrecaneans. ...

It was during the rule of Gondaphares that Thomas crossed the borders of India. Then he reached Attock, where he was introduced to the ruler, Gondaphares, by Abdagases. Gondaphares, after combining the territories held by the Parthians and the Sakes, had established his kingdom in the northwest of India, and reigned from 21 A.D. to 50 A.D.87 It was in about 48 A.D. that Thomas supervised the building of the palace for the king.

 
In the meanwhile, Jesus, along with his mother and a few disciples, reached Taxila. He was invited by the king to attend the marriage ceremony of Abdagases. Circumstances leading to the meeting of Jesus with Thomas will be dealt with subsequently.
 
Taxila
The valley of Taxila, near Rawalpindi in Pakistan, occupies an important place on the trade routes which used to connect India with central and western Asia. In the beginning of the 5th century B.C. It formed an important region, included in the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. It was in 326 B.C. that Alexander the Great halted here for some weeks, as a guest of Ambhi, the king of Taxila. The Bactrians occupied the region in about 231 B.C. with the result that many Buddhists migrated from this place to Khotan.88 Taxila was swept away by the Scythians and the Parthians in about the first century B.C. After the death of Azes II, the kingdoms of Taxila and Arachosia were united under the rule of Gondaphares, who figures in early Christian writings of the same period as the king to whose court Thomas the Apostle was sent.
 
In the Kingdom of Gondaphares
Our task in locating the places visited by Jesus becomes very difficult for the reason that during this period northwestern India witnessed many political upheavals. Information obtained from various sources reveal that the region came under the control of many kings, fighting each other for supremacy. We find the Scythian overlords trying to oust the Parthian, with the result that Gondaphares seems to have controlled the northern regions, with his capital at Taxila. We have some references to him and his brother Gad, and it is now established that Gondaphares ruled in Taxila during 25-60 A.D. Coins of the period and some inscriptions found at Takht Bhai, are conclusive proof of the fact that Gondaphares established a kingdom during the period. Coins of Gondaphares have been found in Kashmir also. Antiquities relating to him, his brother Gad, and Abdagases have been excavated at Char Sadah. Among the antiquities found there, the statues of Thomas and Peter have been identified. Archaeological findings at Char Sadah also include a large number of slabs exhibiting crucifixion. All this establishes the fact that Char Sadah had become an important centre of Christianity in the mid first century A.D. ...
 
Statue of Thomas
While describing the statues found in cell 29, Marshall who excavated these antiquities at Taxila, says that the dress and bearded head of a peculiarly distinctive style proves him to be a foreigner. All the figures in the group are shown barefooted except the central figure, which appears to have sandals. This particular bearded figure has the peaked cap of a Syrian traveller, tunic to the knees, as was worn in Syria, and strangely enough, boots without laces or latchets. This figure has definite and distinctive Jewish features.97
It is due to their dress and physical features that these statues have been called the statues of foreigners.98 These were found at Julian, Taxila, where an Assyrian type of monastery was built by Julian, who accompanied Thomas during his travels to India. Near this monastery, there existed the palace of the king Gondaphares. From the palace, an Aramaic inscription has been excavated giving some little information about the pious carpenter, a disciple of the Son of God who constructed it from cedar and ivory.
 
All these hints lead us to the conclusion that the figure with a peaked cap is none other than Thomas, the Apostle of the Son of God. Just as some of the statues excavated at Taxila have been designated as those of foreigners, on the same consideration the figures on the stone slabs, found at Khurhom, in the Lolab valley of Kashmir, have been described as those of foreigners.
 
Mary the Mother
... After the resurrection, she accompanied Jesus Christ on a long journey towards the East. According to the Gospel of Philip, both she and Mary Magdalene accompanied him. In about 49 A.D. they seem to have reached Taxila. Due to a political upheaval, when the Kushans attacked the region for establishment of their supremacy, Jesus had to flee towards the adjoining hills. Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, died on the way, and was buried at a place called Mari then, and now called Murree.104 Researches conducted about the resting place of Mary the mother indicate that she is buried on the hill of Murree. The place was known as Mari till 1875, when the spellings were changed to Murree. The tomb is described as Mai-Mari-de-Asthan, or, the resting place of Mother Mary.106 Mumtaz Ahmad Farouqi, who has conducted exhaustive researches on the Tomb of Mary, has propounded that:
 
Mary belonged to the priestly class of the Israelites, and it was befitting that she should be buried on the top of a hill. According to the local tradition, the Tomb is the resting place of Mother Mary.
 
The shrine has been worshipped by the Hindus in the past, and the Muslims make their offerings and light up earthen lamps filled up with oil, on Thursdays. In 1898, Richardson, the Garrison Engineer, wished to demolish the tomb at the time of the construction of the defence tower. Shortly afterwards he died in an accident, and the locals connect the incident with his evil intentions towards the tomb. The grave, which is still facing east, has now been repaired . In 1931 A.D. the Commandant made a complaint to the Municipal Committee that a red flag with a white circle in the centre had been planted by someone at the site. Further investigations conducted by the revenue authorities established that the site was an ancient historical monument, to which the local populace, both Hindus and Muslims, have offered homage since ancient times.
 
It is a fact that popular local tradition provides valuable assistance in researches, and can be accepted as supplementing the historical records. In the present case, when ancient documents are not available, we have no option but to accept the local tradition, which emphasises that the site is known as the resting place of Mother Mary. In the interest of research, it is demanded that the grave be opened and the remains put to scientific tests, so that the issue may be resolved. Till then, we will have no option but to believe that Mary Magdalene is buried at Kashgar and Mary the Mother is buried at Murree.
 
The Valley of Kashmir
The valley of Kashmir has been described as paradise on earth by many famous writers. ... The people call themselves as Kushur. It is also claimed that many tribes settled in the valley during prehistoric times and prominent among these was the Kassites or Kush tribe, who founded habitations with the name of Kush, such as Kashan in Iran, Kashgar in Central Asia and Hindo-Kush in Afghanistan. This tribe belonged to the sons of Cush, who were ordered to migrate to the land of fat pastures.108 The Kushans founded their empire in the first century A D. and held the fourth Buddhist Council in Kashmir. Prior to the advent of Christianity, the Buddhists had established their viharas, right up from Kashmir to Iran, Syria and the Dead Sea.
 
The Silk Route
In the ancient world, the countries in southwest Asia formed one compact unit. During the 6th century B.C Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some regions of northern India formed part of the Achaemenian dominion of Cyrus and Darius. The people living in this vast tract of land had close links by way of trade, commerce and culture. ...
 
From ancient times, the valley of Kashmir had established commercial relations with Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian countries. Its capital lay on the Silk Route. which connected east with west. Many centuries before the advent of Jesus Christ, the armies of the Greeks penetrated into north India and the Indus basin through land routes of the past. So it is no wonder that any traveller could reach Kashmir from Palestine. These tracks and routes were in existence through all time, and were used by emigrants, traders and pilgrims. ...
 
Dispersion of Jews
Dispersion of the Jews started with the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C. After that they went on migrating towards the east and settled in far off lands. They settled in Bamyian, Bukhara, Samarkand, Khorasan, Kashmir and Kashgar. Some of their remnants even reached Western China.
It is a historical fact that the Aryans and the Semites intermingled during their dispersion in about 2000 B.C. Some of the Semitic tribes reached the western borders of the Indus valley. But it was during the period of the Assyrian Empire that intimate commercial contacts were established with lran and Gandhara, which included Kashmir also. ...
 
The Kashmiri Jews
Most of the Afghan tribes are the descendants of the Jewish tribes. They lived as Jews till they were con-verted by the Muslims during the days of Khalid.115 Ethnologically, the overwhelming numbers of inhabi-tants of Afghanistan are the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.
 
As the centuries passed, these ancient tribes of Israel were succeeded in power by Islam and the rule of ten leaders was broken. Directly and indirectly, the broad mass of population was coerced to Islamic faith. Despite these changes a segment of population between Iran and Kashmir is still called Bani Israel, meaning the sons of Israel. Even today in the eastern areas from Afghanistan to Kashmir, in more then 350 instances, places and castes bear names which originate in, or derive from the Old Testament of the Hebrews. ...
 
According to Jesuit Catrou, the author of The History of the Mughal Empire, published in 1708, the Kashmiris are the descendents of the Jewish tribes which came out of Israel. They built an edifice on a high mountain near Srinagar, which is still known as the Throne of Solomon.120 Another author also writes that the people of Kashmir are the children of Israel.121 Bernier wrote in 1644 as follows:
 
There are many marks of Judaism to be found in this country. On entering the kingdom, the inhabitants in the frontier villages struck me as resembling Jews.
 
The Kashmiris are of a tall, robust frame of body, with manly features; the women, full formed and handsome with aquiline noses and features resembling the Jews. Their physical and ethnic character has always struck observant visitors to the valley and they have universally connected them with the Jews. Kash or Cush, the overlord of one Jewish tribe, seems to be the main tribe which migrated to Kashmir. During their travel when they reached Nishapur in Iran, they founded the village of Kashmar when in Bokhara, they founded a village named Kash; in Samarkand, they founded the villages Kashband. Kashania, and after having founded Kashgar, they came to Kashmir, and named it Kashir, or the country of the Kash tribe.
 
Jesus Christ had spoken of the Jews as the children of God that had scattered abroad, and he wanted to seek and save the lost sheep of Israel. Therefore there is no wonder that he proceeded towards the east, and reached Kashmir. ...
 
Jesus Christ and the Kashmiri King
The most important information about the arrival of Jesus Christ in the valley of Kashmir and his meeting with the king of Kashmir has been recorded for posterity by Sutta in his famous Sanskrit work entitled, Bhavisya-maha-purana, written in 3191 Laukik era, corresponding to 115 A.D. Shali-Vahana ruled over the valley of Kashmir and other mountainous region of the Himalayas during 39-50 A.D. At the time of his succession, the valley and the other parts of his kingdom witnessed attacks by the neighbouring tribes from China, Parthia, Bactria, and Sinkiang. These hordes were defeated by him but they left after looting his kingdom. Thus, he succeeded in demarcating the boundaries between the Aryans and the non-Aryans. Sutta further records that the king during his travels in the Himalayas met a saintly person near Wien who was fair in colour and wore white robes. When the king enquired about his name, the saint replied:
 
"I am known as the Son of God and born of a virgin." The saint also told him that he had suffered at the hands of the wicked, for he preached human beings to serve the Lord. He further informed the king that his name has been established as Isa-Masiha.
 
The above information clearly reveals the meeting of Jesus with Shali-Vahana, the king of Kashmir. None except Jesus Christ is known as the Son of God and none except him is known to have been born of a virgin. Secondly, Jesus Christ is known as Isa-Masih in the east, even at present. He is also remembered as Yusu-Masih. ...
 
Spirit of God
Jesus Christ was the Spirit of God, who assumed the name of Yuz-Asaph in Kashmir. This tradition has been inherited by the Muslims from the Hindus of ancient times, who also believed that Jesus came to Kashmir and settled here. Here Jesus disclosed his identity to the king of Kashmir in the following words.
 
"I am known as the Son of God and born of a virgin. As I have preached love, truth and purity of heart, I am called Messiah." ...
 
His Ministry in Kashmir
It was during the reign of Gopananda I(79-109 A.D.) that Jesus Christ proclaimed his ministry in Kashmir and spent his later life in the valley. During the period, Sulaiman came for the repairs of a temple dedicated to Solomon. He had the following verses inscribed on the stone pillars of Takht-i-Sulaiman.
 
Yuz-Asaph, the Yusu of the tribes of Israel proclaimed his prophethood, in the year 54.
 
... The new king assumed the name of Gopananda and started his rule in the valley of Kashmir. During his reign, many temples were built and repaired. He invited Sulaiman from Persia for repairs of the cracked dome existing on the top of Mount Solomon. The Hindus raised objections saying that as he was not a Hindu but followed the other religion, he could not repair the sacred temple. During this very period, Yuz-Asaph arrived from Bait-ul Muqaddas (the Holy Land) and proclaimed his prophethood in the Wadi-a-Aqdas (Holy Valley). He absorbed himself in prayers, day and night, and was very pious and saintly. He called upon the people to follow the words of God and many became his disciples. The king requested him to bring the people on the right path. ...
 
During this period, Yuz-Asaph proclaimed his prophethood. He was Yusu, the prophet of the children of Israel. ... Jesus Christ proclaimed his ministry in Kashmir in the year 54, and the event is engraved on the stones of the stairs to the dome of Solomon. It may be mentioned that this ancient edifice was repaired several times after its repairs by Sulaiman. It was also repaired during the reign of Sultan Zain-ul-abidin, in the year 874 A.D. when four pillars were added to its dome. It was under his directions that the earlier inscriptions were translated into Persian and engraved on four pillars.
 
Preaching
Some information though scanty but significant is available about Jesus Christ in Kashmir. It is reported that people came together unto him; the rich and the poor, for blessings and guidance. ...
 
Jesus and the Jews
Jesus had claimed that he was the expected Messiah but the Jews had rejected him. While the Jews considered themselves as the chosen nation and their God as the God of Israel only, Jesus believed and preached universal brotherhood. He was dissident and as such they got him crucified.
 
Moreover, Jesus had developed strong links with the Essenes, who lived as ascetics around the Valley of Khirbet Qumran. Though otherwordly this monastic order was Jewish in character. They were, in reality, a break-away group, who recognised as their head a "Teacher of Righteousness" instead of Moses. To the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah for whom they had looked during all these centuries; rather he was their enemy, who had modified the Law.
 
However, the Messianic movement started by the Messiah or the Christ continued to gain ground, not only at Jerusalem but in the areas dominated by the Romans. Claudius, who was on the Roman throne from 41 A.D. to 54. A.D., had to "drive the Jews out of Rome who were rioting because of Chrestus.161 This means that a Christian community did exist in Rome just after the departure of the Master. The apostles and their followers spread the word beyond the Jewish communities to the Pagans. ...
 
Demise
Like his advent, the demise of Jesus Christ is shrouded in mystery. While the gospels make him leave this world at the age of 30, the oriental writers have assigned to him a long life of from 115 to 120 years. ...
 
Jesus Christ passed away in the year IO9 A.D. It was a great mourning day for the Kashmiris of that period. According to Jewish custom, the body of the dead had to remain on the shelf, and after decomposition, the bones would be stored in a wooden or stone chest. No information is available on the issue, except that the sacred body of Jesus was laid in the sepulchre, according to the Jewish style.185 In order to settle the controversy, once for all, it is necessary to open the ground floor of the present tomb, and find out the sacred relic, which might be in a wooden, stone or earthen casket.
 
A big tomb was raised on his grave and it became a place of pilgrimage for all, whether rich or poor. People came with offerings at the tomb and led prayers there. Thomas, who had, always devoted his life to the services of Jesus Christ, felt very much bereaved and left for Malabar to preach among the lost tribes there.188 Thomas preached among the people of south India and established seven churches there. He suffered martyrdom at Maelapur in Madras and is buried there.
 
His disciples call themselves the Christians of St. Thomas and they solemnize only two rituals of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
 
The Tomb of Yuz-Asaph
The Tomb of Yuz-Asaph is situated in Anzimar, Khanyar, Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir. Srinagar, which means the city of the sun, is an ancient city. It is divided into parts, i.e. the old city and the new city and the tomb is situated in the old city. The people of Kashmir call it Rozabal, meaning the site of the tomb, and declare that it is a tomb of Yuz-Asaph. This prophet came to Kashmir I0OO years ago, and preached the same parables of Christ.189 Popular local to tradition connects it with the tomb of Jesus Christ. Some say it is the tomb of the Prophet of "the people of the Book."
 
Architecture of the Tomb
The present building built from bricks and mortar is raised on the ancient stone sepulchre. The building is rectangular with an attached entrance chamber. Towards the East of the structure lies the common graveyard.
 
The plinth of the present building is in reality a rectangular structure enclosed by walls made of chiselled stone blocks of big size.Very recently, the ancient stone walls have been plastered with cement, but the upper portion of the original door for access to the crypt is still visible. Its decorated stones have been plastered with cement. The cella is an ancient structure decorated internally but access to it is blocked now by the road on the west side which was built some time ago. There is also a small niche to the north of this access door. This cella is the original sepulchre containing the remains of Yuz-Asaph. The structure above it contains the following:
 
1. Outer wooden sarcophagus.
2. Inner wooden sarcophagus.
3. Two artificial gravestones.
4. One stone slab with carved foot prints.
5. One rectangular stone slab or gravestone
6. One wooden cross.
7. One wooden incense stand.
 
... This tomb was built in the Jewish style, with a room underground and having a side door. The shrine is quite distinct from Muslim shrines, which have the Buddhist style of conic domes.
Near the grave is a stone slab engraved with footprints bearing traces of crucifixion marks; one foot impression has a small round hole and the other has a raised scar wound. These footprints were carved by some ancient unknown artist. As they represent cruci-fixion marks, it is possible that whoever carved them might have seen Jesus in person.194
Devotees and Pilgrims
Devotees and pilgrims to the Tomb of Yuz-Asaph visit it daily in the early morning and evening. They are accustomed to tear off a piece of their clothing or thread, and bind these pieces around the wooden sep-ulchre, as a token of homage.
 
Tombs and Relics
Archaeological excavations have revealed the existence of many Christian tombs and relics in the northwest of the Indian sub-continent. Such relics have been found in Ladakh, Afghanistan, and central Asian regions also. In Ladakh, at Tangste there exist many stone boulders with Aramaic inscriptions with Georgian crosses. On some, the word.Yuzu is also written.
 
In northern India, some crosses and tablets have been found during archaeological excavations at many places. Some remains of tombs have also been located, and it is asserted that these tombs were of the Nestorian Christians, who settled in these regions after their drift away from the Roman Catholic Church, some time around 428 A.D.195
 
Early Christian Tombs
It is interesting that early Christian tombs and graves have been located all along the Makran coast from Harmozia to Karachi. These tombs and graves are decorated with slabs bearing Christian symbols. Not only in Baluchistan, such Christian graves and relics have also been located in Kullu, Kangra, Mandi, and other Himalayan tracts. Similar tombs have been noticed in Kalat also. ...
 
Similarly, some graves have been located in Kashmir, laid in an east-west direction, which proves their Jewish origin. When Nadir Shah Durani marched toward India, the chief of the Yousafzai tribe presented him with a copy of the Bible written in Hebrew. He was also presented with several articles used for worship. Some of the soldiers of Nadir Shah Durani who professed Judaism at once recognised the articles of worship as belonging to their faith. ...
 
Stone Footprints
The stone slab bearing impressions of the feet of Yuz-Asaph which is in the corner of the inner tomb at Srinagar was examined by Kurt Berna, and his report is given as follows:
 
In this case, it is very interesting to find the nail-wound reproduction of the left foot near the toe. But the nail-wound reproduction of the right foot is full, at the place where it should be according to the classical view. It could be explained in this way: that the man was crucified with his left foot on top of his right foot, and that only one nail was struck through the both feet.
 
Secondly, the examination of the footprints reveals that these are not the real footprints of the man, but that the stone carver knew the facts of his crucifixion. As such, he wanted to indicate prominently the piercing of the feet by a nail through using distinguishing marks. He knew that the man had been put on the cross and that his feet, which bore nail marks, had been pierced. Accordingly, he carved the soles of the feet with these distinguishing signs.
 
Thirdly, it is a fact that when these impressions of the feet are compared with the Holy Shroud of Jesus Christ at Turin, we find that there also the crucifixion was done with the left foot put over the right foot and then the nail struck. After minute examination of the Shroud, it appears that the left knee was more stiff and bowed like the right leg.
In conclusion, indications suggest that the man in the Holy Shroud at Turin and the man buried in the tomb at Srinagar are the same. ...
 
The Christians of ßt, Thomas
... The Church of Malabar founded by Thomas, though independent in certain respects, was connected with the Church of Edessa, and since 325 A.D. has been within the Patriarchal See of Antioch.210 This Church has long been part of the Church of the east, to which Rome, in contempt, gave the name Nestorian, but which is really the Catholic Church of Assyria. It was once the Church of Persia, and even of China. In the 5th century A.D. this Church put itself under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch at Mosul. The Church has several branches, one being connected with Rome.
 
The Christian community of South India call themselves Christians of St. Thomas who founded their church in the latter half of the first century A.D.212 The tomb of Thomas is situated near Fort St. George in Madras, South India. where his relics are preserved. It may be mentioned that after the departure of Thomas from Kashmir, the valley witnessed many revolutions and political upheavals. The Kushanas, who patronised Buddhism, were replaced by the Huns, who patronised Shaivism. Subsequently, the Buddhists were extermin-ated from the soil, and they ran away towards the hilly regions of Ladakh. ...
 
The Moslems of Jesus
We have definite evidence about the Christian communities in Persia, Afghanistan and northwest India, In the 3rd century. These Chrlstians were called Nasara or the Followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Some of them were also named Kristanis or Christians.216 We know about the followers of Yuz-Asaph in Kashmir since the advent of the 2nd century. But the most interesting information comes from the followers of Issa, Son of Miriam, who call themselves Moslems. ...
 
We already know that Jesus is known as Issa and Mary is known as Miriam in the East. Similarly, Nazareth is termed as Nazara or Nasara among the Oriental sources. But the reference to Issa, the Son of Miriam of Nazara, is very interesting and would mean Jesus, the Son of Mary of Nazareth and Kashmir. Here reference to Kashmir is very significant. Jesus, after his escape from the cross, reached Kashmir, where he was known as Yuz-Asaph. It is from that time that these Muslims of Issa seem to have got their message and they still consider Jesus as belonging to Kashmir.
 
It was by chance that we located a printed publication in the Urdu language which also mentions Issa, the prophet of Allah, whose followers were Muslims. They call him Issa, the Son of Mary, who reached Islam as a religion for his followers. ...
 
These followers of Issa, Son of Miriam. call themselves Muslims. Once a week, they join a rltual meal in which bread and wine are taken as symbolic of the grosser and finer nutritions which are the experiences of attainment of nearness to Allah. They are convinced too, that the day will come when the wortd will discover the truth about Jesus.

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