Jesus in India:
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The fellow who blows his horn the loudest is likely in the biggest fog. [American]
Problems of offensively claiming gurus in their fog
A Yogananda (1893-1952), with a following in the West, says that Jesus spent many formative years in India, made visits there to the wise men who had followed a "wandering star", and speaks of hidden records that are unavailable to the public and to scholars too. Good proof of such claims seems to be missing. What then?
There are those who think that recent claims that Jesus was in India, is proof that he was there. Not so. Gilded claims from the soap opera do not make one proof. Study the evidence first, if you find any worth inspecting, and sort and weigh that also. Such procedures should lead to less ill-founded and even more professional-like opinions. Looking for facts to build on, albeit tentatively, see what Wikipedia writes on the subject. The gist of it: "Several authors have claimed to have found proof of the existence of manuscripts in India and Tibet that support the belief that Christ was in India during this time in his life." Many claims do not make one solid proof, however, and I for one weary of the gross cavalcade of claims and what this and that fellow believes. [s.v. "Lost years of Jesus"].
Where facts are not found, it helps long-range soundness to refrain from believing, for the duped may become sheep-like. An antidote to tough falls and blind submission to airy and faulty beliefs "up there in the clouds" should be watchful, even-handed and rational inquiry, which includes sound skills in handling information. There is much to gain from it, and much to lose for the lack of it. Rational inquiry is fit in Buddhism and proper research and is considered good for sound mind-development.
There are some basics of such mental skills interspersed below, adapted to the topic "Jesus visited India because we say so".
❖ Better a bitter truth than a sweet lie. [Finnish]
A delicate war about where Jesus got his teachings from and where he had possibly been
There are about eighteen years in the life of Jesus that the Bible does not tell of. That leaves room for fantasy and speculation. Claims are many. Legend-mongers have sent the young man Jesus to Egypt, to Britain, and to India, Persia and Tibet. Such modern Jesus legends have gained quite a readership. But the Bible does not say that Jesus had been in India. And the Jewish leaders never accused him of teaching anything he had assimilated in the East either.
When good evidence is missing, we should agree it is possible that Jesus was in India during parts of those eighteen unreckoned for years, but is it likely? There were trade routes. This fact lies at the bottom of furtive claims that Jesus visited India and Tibet in his day. For example, Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) and Swami Satyananda both tell that Jesus spent fifteen years in India and Tibet. But what evidence did they show for their case? First, Yogananda:
It is said that when he [Jesus] reached the age of fifteen, his family sought to arrange a marriage for him, as was the custom; but he chose to leave home, and went to India and Tibet, where he passed fifteen years with the masters. I have told you this before. You will recall that there were three Wise Men from the East who came to visit Jesus at his birth. He returned their visit during those years for which the Bible gives no record of his activities. Then he returned to Jerusalem. [Yogananda, in Dr 258-59]
"It is said" by whom? Either the teller (Yogananda) furnishes the evidence, or you have to seek other sources if the issue matters greatly to you. Yogananda does not. His publishers have later sought to prop him up by selective and biased information but see whether their information counts, really counts, and is fair enough. In science and among able scholars it is the one who makes claims who is to furnish the fit evidence.
Try not to get burdened in such matters, but handle things well: You are not obliged to look for evidence. Where no good evidence is given, try to keep the claims or issues in suspense (at bay) at the very least. That is, do not settle on conclusions or gulp up opinions of others based on "presentation farting" or worse, for such a nasty road leads into folly faith, sheepish adjustments and worse in some cases. The Bible does not say there were three wise men or where they came from. Moreover, there is no mention in the Bible of such a return visit that Yogananda speaks of. Also, the teachings of Jesus do not give any particular evidence of influence from outside the Jewish faith from such a mental universe. The New Testament was written much closer in time to the events, so it is part of the "game" to check it, too. Neither Jesus nor Acts nor letter-writing apostles said anything at all about going further abroad than to Egypt with his parents, although the gospels do not agree fully with each other on that one.
As "a drowning man will clutch at a straw", there are some who clutch a hoax book to gain by duping others at least not furnish ample or fit evidence. To say Jesus visited Buddhist Tibet may seem more credible than a tale like this one:
"Jesus walked on foot to Scandinavia where he was taught to walk on water by first walking on ice, then thin ice, thinner and thinner. Finally he could walk on water, and then he walking off, chasing the midnight sun, till he came to Svalbard. There he stayed for almost for seventeen years in a Negro settlement and was taught hibernation among ice bears. He could therefore manage to hibernate-survive for three days in the tomb."
There is something wrong with a tale that purports to be true when the facts do not follow suit: Consider, for example, that Tibetans at the time of Jesus were no Buddhists. Buddhism arrived in Tibet only hundreds of years later, and the story which Yogananda draws on, tells of documents about Jesus visiting Buddhist monasteries in Tibet when there were none. Are we facing a tragic soup?
❖ Duping for gains is not much to boast of, and not classy.
Points from a Satyananda Satsanga discussed
When other Hindu swamis tell about the same tale as Yogananda in the matter, do many similar claims without fit evidence make one proof? I think not. It does not matter who claim it, so long as they do not furnish promising evidence. And it is foolish to make drivel a matter of faith. Believe as little as you can, and you will be taken in less in the long run. That could be good for mankind. And you should be allowed to inspect and think your own thoughts. Everybody should be allowed that.
In the work Early Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, there are recordings from a satsanga (gathering, class) [Ets 100-110] he held with prospective teachers of his line of yoga. Satyananda renders among other things that "in India some people say that the story of Christ is actually the story of Krishna which must have emigrated from India to the Middle East." Note that "some people" is too loose to count as any valid reference if nothing more is added.
Satyananda (1923-2009) also observes,
"Christ was crucified on the cross, but he did not die ... The soldiers came and put a spear into his body. In the Bible it is written, ". . . and the water flowed out." ... It means to say Christ was not dead, because water or blood does not flow from a dead body.
It may be a good point against what the four gospels agree on. Jesus probably had plenty of time to give up his ghost as described [Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46]. In the gospel of John, it is also said that Jesus first died, and that blood and water flowed from his body when it was pierced with a spear 19:33-35]. Also, "Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross," is maintained in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA. Here is more:
It remains unsettled whether Jesus died of cardiac rupture or of cardiorespiratory failure ... Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death ... Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge." 
Satyananda goes on: "Christ's disciples knew very well that he was still alive. So they came to the cave at night to dress his wounds and nurse him. By the third day he was alright and he left the cave."
I wonder where he got that from. It is not exactly what the four gospels say. See for yourself. What claims from far away in time and space! "Is that so, says who, and what is the evidence?" are fit questions to apply to many a claim, to avoid being made a dummy. Just observe that the swami claims "they say that Christ rose from the dead, but what it actually means is that he regained his senses." May this modification of Harold Laswell's formula assist you: Who says what to whom along which channel and with what intent?"
The now dead swami rallies opinions, but furnishes no firm evidence of anything at all so far. And the swami goes on to tell that after a few days in the grave, Jesus found he was wasting his time on his disciples (sic). And
"Then he left Jerusalem, the place of his birth, and came to Kashmir ... After reaching Kashmir, he died ... So, Christ preached the Gospel not only to the people of Jerusalem, he preached it also to his kinsmen in Kashmir [and] Christianity was first preached in India and then it went outside. [Ets 103]
Since traditional Christianity is due to those disciples and the Holy Spirit working through them, it seems a bit off the mark to say Jesus wasted his time on them. But who knows? And if he travelled away from there only to die from his wounds and strenuous travels another place, his purported travel to Kashmir was worse than a waste of time, for that matter.
But the Kashmir claim can also be considered in the light of a Japanese claim to the tomb of Jesus: in 1935, Kiyomaro Takeuchi discovered a 1900 year old document stored in the Ibaraki Prefecture. We are told it contained evidence that Jesus (Joshua), born in Bethlehem to virgin Mary is buried in Herai Village in the Aomori district of Japan ... The document also contained the will of Jesus. He wanted his brother's tomb next to his. We are further told he "left his parents at 14 to travel with his 12 years old brother Ouriki to Burma, India and China. Eventually he arrived in Japan at the age of 50. He got married there, and had 3 daughters." 
So far, apart from unfounded claims and stands at odds with the New Testament's message in such matters, the stories of Satyananda and many others suffer from lack of fit documentation. The Japanese story has there was authentic documentation until the last World War, and that what is left now, after the bombing of Tokyo, are the copied documents.
Be that as it may, some people get problems from being told a lot to accept by blind believing, and what if Satyananda and Yogananda work to make Jesus "their own" somehow by putting the Bible's Jesus into some Hindu frames of reference? An counter-demagogy tale such as a Jesus-visited-Svalbard tale, could come in handy here, and why not a Japanese twist to things too, for balance? It surely is not wise to get many to believe a tell-tale without evidence, you have a following, and so much the worse for them and probably for yourself in the long, long run, in a karmic perspective.
Opinions are many and may differ a lot; facts may be few and far between; and what is presented as "facts of yesterday" often gets disputed and gradually abandoned among scholars and scientists as well. It should naturally be reckoned with.
Satyananda seemingly gets nearer to evidence:
We have two references to Christ in Indian books. One is in the ancient records of Nalanda University ... The university had an enormous library containing hundreds of thousands of texts which was destroyed once ... and again by the Hindus. Twice it was burned to the ground and thousands of ancient texts were lost.
He says "we have evidence", but there is none publicly available at all. The fact may be, rather, "We have sayings that we have evidence."
In the quotation above, Satyananda gets towards being specific, but he is not quite there. A fit reference makes it possible for others to look up in the referred-to sources and look for herself.
I have searched for the Nalanda sources that Satyananda speaks of, but have not found them. This does not have to mean the information is not there, but it shows that Satyananda does not deliver according to set norms of scholarship and fit presentation for grown-ups: His task, and Yogananda's, was to furnish such references that any scholar may get to them and inspect them. As it is, they are bordering on or into something Yogananda talked against by "Refrain from gossip and the spreading of rumors ... Give a lie a twenty-four-hour start and sometimes it seems to become immortal [Spa 76]."
Satyananda thinks the four wise men from the east were Indian astrologers who followed the star of the horoscope of Jesus and that the philosophy of Christ was a happy blending of Hindu faith and Buddhist ethics, which he came across in Nalanda, in Varanasi [Banaras], and in Nepal, when he went to study at these three places. "He went to India because this was the land of spiritual culture." [Ets 106-7]
Satyananda goes on to tell that Jesus went back to Jerusalem and preached what he had learnt in India, but that that the people there did not understand him and crucified him. [Ets 108] Now scholars tell that Jesus did not teach anything that lies outside the Jewish culture. And maybe he got crucified because the Jewish leaders did understand him, and dealt with him according to a Law of Moses for Jews, and not because they did not understand him. The possibility is there, and other possibilities too. What about this one: They killed him because he told of white bears. There is not much fit evidence of that either...
In another talk, the famous Yogananda "waffles along" thus:
The parallelisms of Christ's teachings with Yoga-Vedanta doctrines strongly support the records known to exist in India, which state that Jesus lived and studied there during fifteen of the unaccounted-for years of his life no mention is made of him in the New Testament from his twelfth to thirtieth year. Jesus journeyed to India to return the visit of the three "wise men from the east" who came to pay homage to him at his birth...
Again, there is no place in the Bible where Jesus teaches outside of the Jewish faith, so look on the "strong support" that Yogananda speaks about, with much calm. Do the records of belief that Yogananda speaks of exist? The stand of most scholars in the matter seems to be this: There is no generally accepted evidence around that Jesus spent eighteen years in India and Tibet.
❖ It is recognised to be widely better to refrain from blind belief than to submit to "claim authority" and blunderbuss sayings.
From The Yoga of Jesus by Yogananda
In Yogananda's book The Yoga of Jesus [Yj] we find "a very strong tradition in India, authoritatively known among high metaphysicians in tales well told and written in ancient manuscripts, that the wise men of the East ... were, in fact, great sages of India ... he reciprocated their visit." [Yj 11]
Now ask for evidence for Yogananda's claims. Note how he props up his tale-telling by "authoritatively known", "high metaphysicians", "great sages", and such means. If unsubstantiated, they form part of demagogy. One of Yogananda's durable errors in America was going for impressing audiences without sticking to tenable evidence, and here is an example.
"Hidden away in a Tibetan monastery priceless records lie [Yj 12]."
Did they and do they? And where is the evidence? There is more about that crucial issue further down. Unsubstantiated claims does not solve the matter well. Besides, it is all right to ask for facts and go for facts without getting swollen, and warm talk of India can be in its place too. But there are limits to many things.
❖ Stick to rational handling instead of getting caught by credibility play at any rate.
From Yogananda's The Second Coming of Christ
Yogananda's book The Yoga of Jesus contains extracted parts of his massive two-volumed The Second Coming of Christ. In it we are told in a note that "India's spiritual influence extended not only west, but east." Strictly speaking, it was not exactly India's influence who extended far and wide, but that of Buddhism. There are some other key religions of India too. Hinduism, for one, expanded eastward as far as Java.
The publishers also cite a professor Singhal who claims that ancient American cultures were of Asian origin, and that this is seen from the monuments, hieroglyphs, and institutions of America. "The traces of Hindu-Buddhist influence in Mexico ... correspond in kind precisely to those cultural elements which were introduced by Buddhist monks and Hindu priests in Southeast Asia," Dr Singhal thinks. And much depends on the seeing eye (read: mind).
COMMENT. Buddhism spread throughout central Asia and East Asia. The said connection to ancient American culture is embraced by Dr. Gauri Mahulikar in his Effects of Ramayana on Various Cultures and Civilizations, but I find substantial evidence to be meagre if it is there at all. All will probably not be well with mankind if we refrain from speculation, massive speculation, and unfounded dogmatism, but some things may get better, actually. [◦Link].
There have also been efforts to support a thesis that the Chinese discovered and explored the western United States hundreds of years before Norsemen came to its eastern parts around 1000 AD at a time when Buddhism influence was growing in China.
The publishers of Yogananda books also count in the Dead Sea Scrolls, citing the Reverend Dr. Charles F. Potter who says Gnosticism had come to the Jews from the East, from India and Persia and Babylon, that Gnosticism was Egyptian Christianity, and that the first parts of the Gospel of John are Gnostic. [Sy 83n-84n]
COMMENT. Speaking of Gnosticism, "it now seems clear that traces of Gnostic systems can be discerned some centuries before the Christian Era. [Wikipedia]" Predating Jesus Christ, Gnosticism existed in the Mediterranean and Middle East in the Second and Third Centuries. There was a Syrian-Egyptian school of Gnosticism and a Persian Gnostic school. The Hebrew Cabbalists took many core Gnostic ideas and used them to reinterpret earlier Jewish sources according to this new foreign influence.
I have not found any claims of Indian influences on Gnosticism in other academic sources than Dr Potter's claims. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, for example, informs that Gnosticism drew from and influenced in turn many traditional religions. It was diverse as to theology, ethics, and ritual, and thus defies strict classification. "The origins of the Gnostic world view have been sought by scholars in the dualism of Iranian religion, the allegorical Idealism of the Middle Platonic philosophers, and the apocalypticism of certain Jewish mystics. There are analogies also with Egyptian and Mesopotamian thought." Thus, the alleged Indian influences on Gnosticism that SRF cherishes, is not part of current, main thinking about it.
In conclusion so far, it appears that the SRF editors have chosen to quote persons with a definitive bias for the sake of propping up Yogananda's sayings on this and that, citing a lot when convenient, but without being well in line with mainstream scholarship in the fields in question, and far from furnishing ample and good evidence. It may mount up to a prop-up kind of biased plot, I feel. I think we get a truer presentation of Gnosticism in the two encyclopaedias Wikipedia and Britannica, for one thing.
❖ A fit informational presentation is not greatly biased, and does not have the bottom attitude of defending any cherished leader's views without considering evidence and materials that go against his or her dictums.
The Unknown Life of Christ
Now, what do you prefer, have someone pinch your nose or be misguided? In any case you should know how to defend yourself for your own thriving. Against being misguided by imposing figures that become authority figures in cults and the like, we must learn to "believe not, but make sure". Asking for top-notch evidence is a fine way towards making sure. For the lack of these few mental self-defence stands, many succumb to tall tales and demagogy.
We will look into the evidence that Jesus was in India from his puberty till about three years before the crucifixion. What proper and fit evidence do we have?
The source of much novel rumour that Jesus went to India is a book by the Russian Nicolas Notovitch, who in his time was exposed as a fraud. He published ◦The Unknown Life of Christ, which is said to be a travelogue of a trip through India, into Kashmir, eventually reaching Ladakh in Tibet. At Ladakh a lama allegedly informs him that Jesus, under the name Issa, is known to some Tibetan Buddhists. Notovitch goes on to tell that an ancient manuscript was read to him about Issa-Jesus going to India to study the Vedas and Buddhism. Jesus stirred up a caste war and had to leave India. he left and preached against Zoroastrianism in Persia all according to Notovich.
Now, is Notovich a reliable controversial source in this? Hardly:
I suggest that Notovitch's Unknown Life of Jesus was a hoax.
❖ To study all the most weighty evidence before you conclude in a matter, reveals proficiency, which is needed for handling life too.
A little more
Hefty and repeated claims that Jesus travelled through India in his youth has appeared in many books and websites. The story took off after the Russian scholar and orientalist Nicolai Notovich in 1894 published a book where he claimed to have discovered monastery texts showing that Jesus had travelled through India and Tibet during his teens and early twenties. This view has recently been taken up by the German Holger Kersten in Jesus Lived in India [which I don't consider worth reading on the basis of "Many "if's" don't make proofs"].
In 1887 Notovich came to Kashmir during one of several journeys to the Orient. At the Zoji-la pass Notovich was a guest in a Buddhist monastery, where a monk told him of the bodhisattva saint called "Issa", who died and was buried in a tomb in Kashmir itself.
However, the monastery Jesus allegedly is to have studied at in India, was not built until the 1500s, and there is no independent evidence confirming the story.
Maybe Notovitch's Unknown Life of Jesus was fictional: Intimidated by a refutation by the highly esteemed F. Max Müller, Notovich backed down and changed his story, he began to back-pedal.
Not only Max Muller, but also J. Archibald Douglas, and ◦Edgar J. Goodspeed have all refuted the legend. Below are details.
❖ Tales and legends that are repeated in a culture, may or may not have a historical basis, but the tales alone offer little proof; they need to be substantiated. And this pertains to the said tomb of Jesus in Kashmir too. As long as good documentation or evidence is lacking, duck! (Keep a folly faith away from yourself, that is).
F. Max Müller
In October 1894 the great Orientalist Max Müller, editor of the epoch-making Sacred Books of the East, published a refutation of Notovitch in The Nineteenth Century, a scholarly review. He shared a letter (June 29, 1894) from an English woman who had visited Leh in Ladakh, including the Hemis lamasery, where she checked out Notovitch's story. She reported that, according to the abbot, "There is not a single word of truth in the whole story! There has been no Russian here. No one has been taken into the Seminary for the past fifty years with a broken leg! There is no life of Christ there at all!" [Goodspeed, p. 11].
Among other things Muller also questioned the great liberty Notovitch took in editing and arranging the alleged verses. Muller said this is something no reputable scholar would have done.
J. Archibald Douglas
J. Archibald Douglas, Professor at Government College in Agra, India, took a three-month vacation from the college and retraced Notovitch's steps at the Himis monastery. He published an account of his journey in The Nineteenth Century (June 1895), the bulk of which reproduced an interview with the chief lama of the monastery. The lama said he had been chief lama for 15 years, which means he would have been the chief lama during Notovitch's alleged visit. The lama asserted that during these 15 years, no European with a broken leg had ever sought refuge at the monastery.
When asked if he was aware of any book in any Buddhist monastery in Tibet pertaining to the life of Issa, he said: "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!"
The interview was written down and witnessed by the lama, Douglas, and the interpreter, and on June 3, 1895, was stamped with the official seal of the lama.
However, several people have gone to Hemis, where several monks purportedly have confirmed that the documents alleged by Notovich existed. Such takes are far from official, though, compared to the attested or verified ones.
Edgar J. Goodspeed
The credibility of The Life of Saint Issa by Notovich was damaged by Douglas's investigation. Yet Notovitch's book was printed again in 1926 by an American publisher. And it was discredited once again by ◦Goodspeed's book of 1931, called Strange New Gospels. In it, he describes the rise and fall of Notovich's claims in the decade following the publication of his book. He outlines how it was rejected by the academic community at the time too.
But the stories have surfaced again in New Age circles, and gurus too have taught that he did visit -
Did Jesus visit Tibet? Well, as said above, it is possible, assertions are many, but there is little significant evidence that has come down to us.
"Anything is possible, but what is probable?" F.C. Baur.
In Yogananda's society, members greatly believe in him, so when the Leader and his later management teach that Jesus going to India, is true, or that the book "The Life of Issa" is a true story, they believe it wholesale, and may refuse to think otherwise. That is also to be expected. Now the Life of Issa is hardly a true story at all. By way of example, the book tells there were Buddhist monasteries in Ladak at the time of Jesus, but there were not. Buddhism had not been introduced to Tibet at the time of Jesus. It arrived there many centuries later. Enjoy this sample for the hoax book of Notovich:
At last he reached the pass, and in the Ladak city, Leh, he was received with favour by the monks, the merchants, and the men of low estate.
A Tibetan historian informs, however:
Buddhism did not take hold in Tibet until the reign of Srong Tsen Gampo, middle of the seventh century. There was no Buddhist temple in Lhasa when Jesus was alive.
The first Buddhist monastery in Tibet, Leh, was built in 637-647 AD.
Yogananda did not disprove Notovich's story, which was disproved even when Notovich was alive ... The guru is biased, out of key with scholars, and definitely keen on allying Jesus with gurus. He was surrounded by very gullible people.
❖ Note the Ladakh Buddhist temples in the story. They did not exist at the time of Jesus.
Paramahansa Yogananda quotations and extracts
"It has been definitely proven that Jesus was connected with the High Initiates and the Masters of India. In the "Unknown Life of Christ," by Nicholas Notovitch, the Russian author tells how he went to Tibet, hoping to study Tibetan literature ... a strange miracle happened. Just when he was returning fruitlessly to India, he fell from a cliff and broke his leg -" Paramahansa Yogananda
"While the injured man was recovering, the h[e]ad Lama asked him what he wanted. He said: "Read to me the papyrus scrolls!" From these sacred scrolls, he secured conclusive evidence that Jesus ... conferred with the Masters on Yoga and great problems of human upliftment, living with them at the Monastery [that was not there]; but at the age of fifteen, it is said, they tried to get Him married, so he fled. I don't blame him." Paramahansa Yogananda, monk
"The sacred scrolls further revealed that as Jesus Christ was visited by the Wise-Men of the East, so He paid them a return visit to Tibet, and conferred with the Great Masters. Jesus then went to India to commune with the Masters there; and after preaching the Message in India, he went to Asia Minor." Paramahansa Yogananda
"Jesus Christ gave His secret message in India, first of all. If you love Jesus, you must have some consideration for the Orientals ... We should not be proud of being Americans". Paramahansa Yogananda
"Hidden away in a Monastery of Tibet, priceless records lie." Paramahansa Yogananda
⌗ The Yogananda quotations above are from Yogananda's lecture "Oriental Christ", delivered at his Mt. Washington Center and published in East-West March-April, 1930 Vol. 4-4, and later also in the collection Man's Eternal Quest [Ak]
❖ When an authority figure like the guru of Self-Realization Fellowship vouches for a hoax, many followers succumb to authoritarian-based indoctrination with its possible "cult-enhancing dumbening".
Conclusion: Yogananda Draws on a Hoax
1. The issue of "flawless wisdom"
Yogananda recounts made-up stories, presenting them as true. Such doings are not marks of a gentleman, and seldom good enough. How wrong can it be when his fellowship adds to the misery by an attitude that comes to the fore in a recently notarised letter, that they find no fault with his guidelines and that his wisdom flawless? Such a pitiful stand is a hallmark of a cult, and not proper among scientists.
Yogananda definitely vouches for a hoax book of Notovitch, and draws on it. But we should not, for the sake of fairness.
❖ Yogananda monastic leaders of his cult regrettably claim his guidelines are infallible. That makes matters much worse. Groggy ones are easily mislead. And you cannot afford to be made groggy, can you?
2. Learn to weigh the evidence
Weighing evidence is rather easy, once you get to know how and get used to it. Try to deal with each key issue first, and as even-handedly as you are up to.
First, assemble the points that you find worth considering, and try to be fair when you choose them. Include both pros and cons. Formulate each of the points as an assertive statement.
Consider what proof you have gathered. Keep proof-gathering open-ended; you may include more later. Master the common, initial mental scanning of sources. Go for sources where authors have great credentials. They are often found among doctors, Ph.D.s, and professors. Their works are published in reputable books and journals, for example university publishers. There are lots of others. See what critics have said about the books too. The "good guys" seek to be unbiased, gather relevant and valid information, and may also (try to) keep it interesting.
Go toward the key sources if that is possible, and discern among them. That is helpful too, in some circumstances, if you can afford it.
To weigh the points you come up with and select above all the rest, you can mark such statements on a Likert scale (by a set of responses, for example five). It is far better than the emotionally meagre "yes or no" alternatives. You can easily use five alternative ways of responding, and number them. You may help the weighing by looking at the palm of your hand and think "5 for thumb up", "4 for the index finger", "3 for the middle finger", and so on.
Note that "3" (middle finger) is what is called AHEM, HUM, OF TWO MINDS, NEUTRAL, UNSETTLED, AMBIVALENT TOO PERHAPS, and that the forefinger (index finger) means "YES", and the thumb means "OH YES, INDEED!" (a strong affirmative response).
Here is an example. Form the statements so that the "yes" side is consistently either of pros or cons in any of them; such structuring makes the weighing easier. By studying the information available to you where you are, you may then set up weighing lists too.
The book as a source
The following example shows the same weighing by bars.
Weighing stands, not only evidence
If you get proficient in "using your fingers" to refine your responses to a lot of things from the somewhat crude "yes-no" to a five-partitioned way of responding, the chances are you may handle life better, eventually.
The five points or statements are thus responded to by marking off the most appropriate stands you muster along the vertical lines. It should work far better than just wincing from the delicate problems involved for cult members, for example.
I think my total score suming up the allotted weights of the five grouped statements is about 22 points, but not (5 x 5 = 25) points. Whether I keep my judgement (evaluation) to myself as a private matter or speak of it, is my own business, through freedom of thought and so on. If I have settled on a conclusion, I prefer to remain open to forthcoming evidence that goes against what I have settled on so far.
If I get 20 points, I am affirmative in this case I think it is a fraud and a hoax, but I don't swear it is. I do not have to conclude things in public, but I tend towards debunking Yogananda's claims in this matter.
If my total score is 15 points five middle fingers in average I am unsettled, and do well in refraining from concluding in any way, for such as health reasons. The lesson of keeping issues in suspense, unsettled, is ofter underrated. It is much valuable. It is better than being made a victim of odd beliefs also. And bear in mind: The burden of proof is on the one who claims a thing Yogananda and his publishing fellowship in the example. Satyananda's publishers in the quite similar case further above.
If you get 10 or 5 points, you may dislike rational handling. Try to relax and think twice to improve on your future. Be sincere with yourself and the data, as "Sincerity will save you," said Yogananda. "Honesty may help you further" is another pretty-looking saying, but learn to take care and handle things well also.
I have tried to show how to make up your own mind about a certain book a hoax book, I figure. Add your points and divide by five (in this case), to see your average. If you get more than 20 points, on the whole you affirm that in your judgement the book is not reliable.
Also, take a deeper look into the scores that deviate much from your had average, and see if there is anything you can do in such matters, and try to find out whether such activity is called for. Maybe it is, maybe it is not.
The next step is to compare your sincere, personal evaluation with such as Yogananda's assertions on top of the Notovich book and other poorly substantiated or wholly undocumented claims. Note what his documentation is, and be just. Unlike a lama and various experts, he does not debunk the Notovich book. Nor does he comment on the unhistorical, untrue Buddhist monasteries in the book. Nor is he alarmed that Notovich changed his story. Instead Yogananda makes use of it to support dangerous claims dangerous because they are so very inadequately substantiated, and his publishing fellowship wants others to belive his teachings are gospel truth, if not above it. But the Notovich book and claims based on it are hardly good evidence among scholars.
So there you have it.
What else goes into it when a guru that is claimed to be an avatar (divine incarnation) and the like, states that his good source of information is his intuition? Intuition may be right or wrong it shows up if you check the intuitions. For example, much of Yogananda's claimed, intuitive understanding of the Rubaiyat looks clownish and more than suspect. The evidence that he "swims in dangerous and deep water" about his claims there, is in the little collection just referred to.
Don't find Yogananda's outpoourings reliable; they are foolery propped up by claimed avatar status and hailings in a cult. If your sincere evaluation differs from this or his, remember he says somewhere, "Sincerity will save you". You don't really have to believe every detrimental thing he maintains through fear and what "cloister combattants" would have you believe -
❖ Reclaim your rationality if the guru or his cult has violated it, since much is at stake for your future fare if you renounce it far and wide. Further, if you are not helped by such pinpointing as on this site, you can seek other things that assist you on and up, since "There are many roads to Rome".
Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.
Ets: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Early Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Paperback ed. Munger, Bihar: Bihar School of Yoga, 1988.
Spa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1980.
Sy: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. 2 Vols. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2004.
Yj: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Yoga of Jesus: Understanding the Hidden Teachings of the Gospels. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2007.
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