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Two Hindu Swamis on the Subject

The fellow who blows his horn the loudest is likely in the biggest fog. [American]

In the fog of vagaries and horribly biased claims

Don't forget to distrust. - Greek proverb

"In studying or discussing questions look them fairly in the face." (in Premio-Real 1877). An interesting tale is not made truer or deeper for being strange or old or told.

There are about eighteen years in the life of Jesus that the Bible does not tell of. That leaves room for speculation. It may do good to consider whether the wandering, non-scathing star in the gospel of Matthew is a fabrication.

A folktale suspicion. Geza Vermes holds that the tale of wise men and a wandering star in the first two chapters of "Matthew" (written about 80-90 CE when the apostle was rather likely gone) is a folk tale that is missing in the Gospels of Mark and John, and appearing in a radically different form in Luke, where there is no mention of a star, wise men or Herod, nor of the murder of the innocents and Jesus' escape to Egypt. (Vermes 2010:84)

Further, Matthew's Gospel was written for Christians who were not Jewish.

Stake. A contemporary of Matthew, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37–c.100 CE), reports, and later rabbinic literature confirms, a folk tale which was in circulation in New Testament times. It relates to the birth of Moses and his miraculous escape from the hands of Pharaoh of Egypt. (Vermes 2010:84, 85)

We are led . . . to this conclusion: that the awesomely influential Nativity story in the first book of the New Testament is a speculative, rather than a historical text. Far from being a report of a literal happening, it is an amalgam of flawed Greek-Christian scriptural references, and of 'birth tales' current in Judaism in the first century CE. The story with which we are all so familiar is not fact, but folklore. (Vermes 2010:87)

Said, former lives go into the plot. Yogananda dictated in his Bhagavad Gita commentary that his gurus had been the three wise men. Counter it: "Anyone can say that". Were SRF gurus such as Yukteswar, Lahiri Mahasaya and the mysterious Babaji parts of Bible folklore?

In a book where Lahiri Mahasaya talks of former lives of his, there is no mention of any wise man of the Bible among them. "In Satyayuga Lahiri Mahasay was born as Satyasukrita, in tretayuga he was Munindra; in dwaparayuga Karunamaya; and in kaliyuga he was Kabir [a 15th century mystic and poet]. Later, he became Shyama Charan [1828–95]." [In Satyeswarananda. Babaji Volume Two - Lahiri Mahasay (The Polestar of Kriya. Chap. 13, ◦No. 70.]

"In murky water, get out of it." Shyama Lahiri does not say he had been one of three wise men in a fabricated tale, but maybe he thought that being one of the wise men who unwisely led King Herod to Jesus and extensive baby-slaughter in Rama in an old tale was not worth getting into. Among other theorised reasons: he had not been there.

Yugas are eras, long time periods, as etched out in Manu Samhita 1:68 ff, the Laws of Manu. The four yugas Lahiri Mahasaya speaks of, correspond more or less to the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age of ancient Greece, as told of by Ovid in his Metamorphoses. And Kabir (1440–1518) is known for many poems. (Tagore and Underhill 1915) So far, so good?

To be satisfied with less that fair evidence is a sign of an inferior person. Faith-ridden guys may be too gullible guys.

When in the United States, Yogananda spoke of hidden records that show that Jesus visited a Buddhist monastery in Tibet when he was young, records that were unavailable to the public and to scholars alike. However, there was no Buddhist monastery in Tibet at the time of Jesus. "Buddhism was first actively disseminated in Tibet from the 7th to the 9th century CE." (WP, "History of Tibetan Buddhism")

A historian informs:

It is not clear when Tibetans first encountered the Buddhist religion. Tradition holds that it was in the time of Lha Totori (ca. fourth century CE), a ruler of Yarlung in southeastern Tibet: . . . it is not implausible that elements of Buddhism arrived during this period . . . Tibetan history begins with the Tsenpo, or emperor, Songtsen Gampo (ca. 617–49) . . . Although Songtsen Gampo extended some degree of tolerance to Buddhism, at least in order to accommodate his foreign brides, it is unlikely that the alien faith made much progress in Tibet before another half century or more had passed. (Kapstein 2014, 12-13)

Tri Songdetsen [also: Trisong Detsen, the 37th King of Tibet, 742–ca. 802] . . . His conversion took place in 762, when he was twenty. Tri Songdetsen founded Tibet's first Buddhist monastery, Samyé. (Ib. 14-15)

It appears that Yogananda was well satisfied with using a hoax book by a Notovich when he told his tales. What is fit is not to trust tale-bringers when good evidence speaks contrary to their tales.

Childlike trust - that sort of faith - needs to be dealt with. Those who think that recent claims that Jesus was in India, is proof that he was there, may be likened to people that have got worms in their head. "Modern mainstream Christian scholarship has generally rejected any travels by Jesus to India, Tibet or surrounding areas as without historical basis". [WP, "Unknown years of Jesus"]

Uncertainty breeds faith, and by a barren faith many are ridiculed. With a fruitful faith it is different. Look for a fruitful faith, then -

Handle tales with care and see what you can find out

Go for or ask for evidence where it is fit. Adjust to Bible experts first, and others later, if at all. Disregarding such a policy, some authors have claimed "found manuscripts" to sustain a kind of lay belief that Christ was in India. Also, there are preposterous hearsay makers around, and others cite them. However, without solid and publicly available proofs, stories of Jesus in India get no substantial backing among scholars. All who believe vagaries and claims without sound proof may not be fooled completely by it, but many will probably be made fools that way.

To escape falling victim to blunt assertions, try to get facts first, ask for needed evidence, and remain tentative for the lack of evidence, so as to preserve mental clarity at least. To study the evidence fairly could be productive. And let us not forget to compare with New Testament findings of textual Bible scholars, as for example Geza Vermes and Bart D. Ehrman. have to say. For it is good to have scholarship on your side. It is also good to bear in mind that it is fit for good living and science alike that the burden of proof lies with the asserting claimers.

Claims without decent proof breed faith and become burdens to all too many.

If faced with no good evidence, refuse to believe as told, and conclude well. If claimants do not supply good evidence, it is good to dismiss their claims as unworhty for you, at least for now, in the light of the current state of affairs, and so on. "Unworthy" covers a whole range of expressions, such as failed support, failed evidence, or lack of good substantiation. "Insufficient evidence (so far)" is a gentle expression, whereas "tendentious verbiage" is another.

It is wise to conclude as justly as can be on top of carefully had evidence, and not before. If the material does not allow for any firm acceptance or dismissal, be tentative and keep the conclusions in suspense (at bey) so far.

Alluring claims 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 assertions or opinions. Looking for facts to build on, albeit tentatively, see what Wikipedia writes on the subject. Also, Buddha shows how to deal with teachings and teachers: [Kalama Sutta]

Also consider that stories may have a loose foundation, but there could be truth in them, somewhere, somehow. However, many claims do not make one solid proof, and I for one am weary of the gross cavalcade of claims and what this and that fellow have thought up - for different versions do not all agree - far from it.

Tendentious evidence is no good sign.

Food for thought is here:

One of the foremost Bible scholars, the late Dr Geza Vermes, sums up some things thus:

Stake. During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 10:5-8; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5-8). On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The mission of the 11 apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is a "post-Resurrection" idea. It appears to be of Pauline inspiration and is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], which is missing from all the older manuscripts). Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews. (Vermes 2012)

The missionary command at the end of the gospel of Matthew - where Jesus allegedly reaches out to the gentiles - is a later-added forgery that was added to serve the growing church and its thinking, tells Joseph Wheless, and presents a convincing case for it.

Consider whether a plain demagogy approach that says Jesus went to India and Tibet and back, goes along with his own "for Jews only" - his teachings, salvation, Kingdom and healing ministry - for Jews only. Calculate a little - considering that being hopeful with little ground for it is nothing new, and that rabble-rousers are many.

Some are misled to become victims of a faith by verbiage that overlooks or disregards ample and good sources.

Victims of faith are nothing new.

There Are Many Murky Plots in Life

It is fair to consider such as: "How likely is it that Jesus has anything to do with the later-evolved Christianity for gentiles he did not want to have his teachings as long as he lived? What interests or ulterior motives could be served or fostered by deranged doctrine?" There are plots that serve much pampering of those who tell others what to think.

It may be far better to think well about such matters early than to become a herded guy, bewitched or indoctrinated far and wide, to the end of pampering some of the bosses.

The end of many "faith-sellers": being pampered a whole lot.

Sensible Buddhism

Instead of building castles in Spain, some story-tellers build Buddhist monasteries in Tibet long before Buddhism was establised there.

In 1887 the Russian Nicolas Notovitch published The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ in Russian. An American translation followed in 1890. [The book] The book tells of Buddhist monasteries in Tibet from a time when there were none there (Berzin 1996). Should we dismiss the rest of the book or get consumed by errors?

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 and 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

Eighteen years in the life of Jesus go unmentioned in the Bible, and this opens up for many claims. 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, if the four canonical gospels have got these things right.

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 several 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?


FACE 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]

Why so stupefied or hoaxed?

It is a question of whether the emperor wears any clothes (it is a theme of a fairy tale made known by Hans Christian Andersen). Do the Yogananda claims wear any good documentation (clothes) at all? Are they bluffs?

  • The Notovitch book says Jesus spent time in Buddhist settings in Tibet - but there were no such things as Buddhist monasteries there at the time of Jesus. Buddhism came to Tibet centuries later. A quack tale accepted because an authorit figure says it is true, nonetheless is quack tale. In such a case, the faith swallows humbug. In this case we have a titbit that is faultily promoted by several profiteers, as we may call those who find themselves served by swindles too.
  • The "wise" men in the first chapters of Matthew, appear in what may be merely a folk-tale, says the Bible scholar Geza Vermes (2010) further down.
  • Yogananda brings no good evidence, only "It is said" and "They say", which are known to have started many a lie.

He talked against the spreading of rumours in other settings:

FACE To a disciple who was prone to gossip the Master once said: "You don't realize how rumors spread! . . . We once had a man here who started a false rumor about someone else. As soon as it got to me I started a false rumor against him. At last he heard about it, and very indignantly he came to me and I told him, 'Now you know what somebody else felt like when you started a false rumor against him. . . . I started that rumor myself." (Yogananda 1952:32. Cf. Yogananda 1980:77)

Yogananda - once a rumour spreader to teach others not to do as he did - wanted others not to spread rumours, he clarified.

The three points above will be elaborated on in the following, and evidence of many sorts are given.

"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 for the grey matter of the brain. In science and among able scholars it is the one who makes claims who is to furnish the fit evidence. As a matter of fact, the Bible scholar Geza Vermes thinks the first two chapters of Matthew are based on a Hebrew folktale. Bluffs are many in "Bible-land", and cynical exploiters are many, many. It should help to get rid of the bluffs and stand firm.

Stake. The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke . . . are not perfect sources . . . Mark (composed c. 70 CE), Matthew and Luke (between 80 and 100 CE) reflect considerably older traditions though. These Gospels do not depict Jesus as divine; on the contrary. (Vermes 2010:45: 20; 46; 163)

The account of Jesus' birth is missing entirely from the Gospels of Mark and John, and appears in a radically different form in Luke, where there is no mention of a star, wise men or Herod, nor of the murder of the innocents and Jesus' escape to Egypt. (Vermes 2010:84)

Matthew's Gospel was written in about 80-90 CE for Christians who were not of Jewish provenance. Vermes finds that a contemporary of Matthew, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 – c. 100 CE), reports, and later rabbinic literature confirms, a folk tale which was in circulation in New Testament times. It relates to the birth of Moses and his miraculous escape from the hands of Pharaoh of Egypt. (Vermes 2010:84, 85)

Matthew's account of the Nativity – the basis of all Christmas celebrations – appears in a quite different light when it is considered as the product of a particular Jewish linguistic, literary and religious context (Vermes 2010:87).

Geza Vermes (1924–2013) was a renowned Bible scholar, described as the greatest Jesus scholar of his time. Based on study, he questions the basis of some Christian teachings on Jesus. We could make it a point to go to renowned scholars first, to avoid the many frauds or cheats around. (Wikipedia, "Geza Vermes")

Try not to get burdened: 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. Jesus in Buddhist Tibet at a time when Buddhism had not arrived there . . . 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. Are we facing a tragic soup?

"Renowned scholars first" might end well.

Buddhism in Tibet

Here is a quotation from Matthew T. Kapstein's book, Tibetan Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction:

Tri Songdetsen [also: Trisong Detsen, the 37th King of Tibet, 742–ca. 802], . . . became imperial Tibet's greatest ruler and an unparallelled Buddhist benefactor. In his surviving edicts, we are told that early in his reign Tibet faced severe epidemics affecting both humans and livestock. When no viable solution appeared, he rescinded the ban on the practice of Buddhist rites that had been in force since his father's dethronement, and matters rapidly improved. As a result, he adopted Buddhism and undertook to study its teachings in depth. His conversion took place in 762, when he was twenty. Tri Songdetsen founded Tibet's first Buddhist monastery, Samyé with its officially sanctioned Tibetan Buddhist monks.

Translation of Buddhist canonical scriptures was also sponsored by the court on a massive scale. The accomplishments of the Tibetan imperial translation committees, in terms of both quantity and precision, may be counted among the summits of the art of translation at any place or time.

Tibetan translators, in collaboration with Indian and Central Asian Buddhist scholars, created a rigorous Sanskrit-Tibetan lexicon to guide their work, one result being a standardized doctrinal and philosophical vocabulary in Tibetan. The translators also composed manuals introducing the newly coined vocabulary together with elements of Buddhist thought. The creation of a Tibetan canonical literature was continued under Tri Songdetsen's successors until the collapse of the dynasty during the mid-ninth century. By that time, many hundreds of Indian religious and philosophical writings had been translated. The Tibetan Buddhist canon, organized during the fourteenth century into the complementary collections of the Kanjur ("translated scriptures") and Tanjur ("translated commentaries"), and occupying more than three hundred large volumes, preserves numerous Indian as well as some Chinese texts now unavailable elsewhere. (Kapstein 2014:15-16, emphasis added)

An ordained spiritual community, sangha, was established in the first Buddhist monastery; Samyé. It was built with the friendly help of Padmasambhava. The Samye Monastery was probably first constructed between 775-9 CE. (Kapstein 2014:16, emphasis added)

In 792, King Trisong Detsen officially declared Indian Buddhism and not Chinese Buddhism to be the religion of Tibet.

After 842, Buddhism almost disappeared from Tibet after King Lang Dharma persecuted it.

In 978, several Indian Pandits and Tibetan monks who studied in India, started a revival of Tibetan Buddhism with the help of king Yeshe O.

In 1042, Atisha-di-Pankhara (Lama Atisha, ca. 982-1052) presented the Buddhist philosophy to Tibetans again, clearly and poignantly. His expositions influenced later teachings in most Tibetan traditions.

From this sourced survey we learn: There was not even one Buddhist monastery in Tibet at the time of Jesus. There should be no doubt about that. Facts before hearsay -

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 good evidence make one proof? No. It does not matter who claim it, so long as they do not furnish evidence that matters. Believe as little as you can, that could be good for mankind. You should be allowed to inspect and think your own thoughts. Human Rights support much of it.

In the work Early Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, there are recordings from a satsanga (gathering, class) 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." [Satyananda 1988:100-110] - Note that "some people" is too loose to count as any valid reference if nothing more is added. Compare a piece of folk wisdom: "They say is often a great liar."

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.

So, Christ was not dead when they took him off the cross.

However, "Interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge." [1]

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."

Satyananda should have furnished at least a shred of evidence of it. We do ourselves a good turn if we learn to ask routinely: "Is that so, says who, on what grounds - and what is the evidence?" This helps against being turned into a dummy by unverified faith over and over.

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?" "Who benefits, qui bono?" might be added.

The now dead swami rallies opinions further:

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. [Satyananda 1988:103]

So far, apart from unverified 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. Further, if Jesus 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 unless he rose again one more time, and so on. "Practice makes perfect" - or worn out.

Alternatively: He went to Japan, had three daughters and died there

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 perhaps abandoned by scholars and scientists as well.

There is 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." [2]

"They say" the Japanese story had authentic documentation until the last World War, but now there are only copied documents.

Satyananda seemingly gets nearer to evidence, but . . . does he?

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.

In the registers of the Nalanda University Gazette there is a reference to a man from Palestine who is described as the son of Mary, son of a carpenter, not liked by his people, a tall figure with a beard. In the book it also said that, 'Out of the thousand students, he was a most remarkable figure.' This is one reference. Another reference was found in the ancient records of Nepal which states clearly that a student of Nalanda by this name, belonging to this race or community, visited Nepal and met many pandits there. There is also a reference to Christ living in Benares for three years. Altogether he lived in India for thirteen years ... India has the answer. [Satyananda 1988:106]

He says "we have evidence", but there is none publicly available. A fit reference makes it possible for others to look up in the referred-to sources and look for themselves.

Satyananda and Yogananda 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 [Yogananda 1980:76]."

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." [Satyananda 1988:106-7]

Satyananda goes on to tell that Jesus went back to Jerusalem and preached what he had learnt in India, but that the people there did not understand him and crucified him [Satyananda 1988:108].

However, scholars tell that there is no place in the Bible where Jesus teaches outside of the Jewish faith. He got crucified for other reasons than being misunderstood. The stand of most scholars in the matter: There is no generally accepted evidence around that Jesus spent eighteen years in India and Tibet.


Nalanda – Ancient texts tell that on his travels Buddha often halted at this place. Nalanda in time became an international Buddhist centre of education and learning equivalent to modern universities, and with a very rich library. Located in in Bihar, India, it flourished between 427 and 1197 CE, long after the birth of Jesus. So how Jesus came across Buddhist ethics in Nalanda, must remain one more undisclosed "fluffy claim" for now.

Nalanda, at any rate, was one of the world's first centres of learning that had dormitories for students. And its library, known as Dharma Gunj (Mountain of Truth) or Dharmaganja (Treasury of Truth), was renowned. A vast amount of what came to comprise Tibetan Buddhism, both its Mahayana sutras traditions and its Vajrayana traditions, stems from the late (800s-1100s) Nalanda teachers and traditions.

Ruins remain, and the place is a World Heritage site.

Singapore, China, India, Japan, and other nations have announced a proposed plan to restore and revive the ancient site as Nalanda International University.

[Main source: Wikipedia, s.v. "Nalanda".]

Yogananda again

In another talk, Yogananda says this:

The guru Yogananda The Wise Men recognized and honored the infant Christ for the great soul and divine incarnation that he was. During the unknown period of his life Jesus repaid their visit. [Yogananda 1982:284-86]

Better refrain from blind belief than submit to "claim authority" and blunderbuss sayings.

From The Yoga of Jesus by Yogananda

In Yogananda's book The Yoga of Jesus (2007) 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." [Ib., 11]

Ask for evidence for Yogananda's claims. He props up his tale-telling by "authoritatively known", "high metaphysicians", "great sages", and such means. Unless substantiated, they form part of demagogy. One of Yogananda's durable errors in America was going for impressing audiences on a loose foundation. What about this one?:

"Hidden away in a Tibetan monastery priceless records lie (Yogananda 2007:12)."

From Yogananda's The Second Coming of Christ

There is no good evidence of Jesus in India and Tibet.

The SRF editors of two Yogananda books, The Yoga of Jesus (2007) and The Second Coming of Christ (in 2 volumes, 2004), point to Gnosticism as a missing link between India's Buddhism. (Yogananda 2004:83n-84n)

Gnosticism was

a variety of ancient religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish Christian milieux in the first and second century AD. (WP, "Gnosticism")

The earliest origins of Gnosticism are obscure and still disputed. . . . according to the modern scholars the theology's origin is closely related to Jewish sectarian milieus and early Christian sects. Scholars debate Gnosticism's origins as having roots in Neoplatonism and Buddhism, due to similarities in beliefs, but ultimately, its origins are currently unknown. (WP, "Gnosticism")

The Unknown Life of Christ

"Lies, lies, lies, nothing but lies!" - A chief lama at the Himis monastery.

A source of much novel rumour that Jesus went to India is a book by the Russian Nicolas Notovitch. 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. Notovitch goes tells 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, tells Notovitch.

However, Notovitch was exposed as a fraud in his time. How?

  • Jesus is placed by Notovitch in circumstances or settings that plainly were not there. For one thing, Tibetans were not converted to Buddhism till hundreds of years later.
  • The orientalist Max Müller sent a letter to the monastery where Notovitch had claimed to have made the discovery, and they disavowed any knowledge of such a manuscript. The head of the Hemis community at Ladakh even signed a document that denounced Notovitch as an outright liar.
  • No authentic Hindu or Buddhist text from that period references Jesus or any of the events described in Notovitch.
  • The name Issa is Islamic for Jesus, and as such was not used before the 700s CE, when Islam rose.
  • There is no independent evidence confirming the Notovich tales.
  • For a manuscript about Jesus in India to be convincing, it would have to have at least the same quality as the New Testament scrolls, and be written close to the events they report on. For the lack of such a document, it is fit to put Notovitch's preposterous claims in the drawer for "unverified and debunked".

To study all the most weighty evidence before you conclude in a matter, could come in handy.

Notovitch refuted

Notovitch example:

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.

And in the monastery he abode, and taught; and then he sought the common people in the marts of trade; and there he taught. (Notovitch, Chapter 36, v. 11 and 12)

However, when his book was refutated by the esteemed F. Max Müller, Notovitch began to back-pedal.

Not only Max Muller, but also J. Archibald Douglas and ◦Edgar J. Goodspeed have refuted the legend. Below are details.

F. Max Müller

In October 1894 the orientalist Max Müller, editor of the 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].

Muller also questioned the great liberty Notovitch took in editing and arranging the alleged verses. No reputable scholar would have done that, wrote Muller.

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). Most of this account 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.

Edgar J. Goodspeed

The credibility of The Life of Saint Issa by Notovitch 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 Notovitch'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.


The stories have surfaced again in New Age circles, and gurus like Satyananda and Yogananda have plainly told that he did visit India and Tibet. Let us keep Japan out of it here . . .

Did Jesus visit Tibet? If resurrecting oneself is possible, much else could be so too. However, there is little significant evidence that has come down to us.

"Anything is possible, but what is probable?" – F.C. Baur.


No Buddhist Monasteries in Tibet at the Time of Jesus

Paramahansa Yogananda face "Hidden away in a Monastery of Tibet, priceless records lie." - Paramahansa Yogananda

The source: Yogananda's lecture "Oriental Christ", delivered at his Mt. Washington Center and published in his East-West [Magazine], ◦March-April, 1930 Vol. 4-4, and later also in the collection Man's Eternal Quest (Yogananda 1982:284-86)

It stands out that Yogananda vouches for a hoax, and draws on it. But we had better not.

Why succumb to authoritarian-based indoctrination with its possible, step-by-step "cult-enhancing dumbening"?

Weigh the evidence at hand

Weighing evidence is rather easy. 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. Also see what critics have said about the books too. The "good guys" seek to be unbiased, gather relevant and valid information.

Go toward the key sources if that is possible, and discern among them.

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 gradated responses, for example ranging between 1 and 5). Children too can choose between five numbered ways of responding. 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 for example that "3" (middle finger) may represent NEUTRAL, UNSETTLED, AMBIVALENT TOO PERHAPS and MAYBE, and the forefinger (index finger) means "YES", and the thumb means "OH YES, YES INDEED!" (a strong affirmative or emphatic 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

  1. The Notovitch book contains errors, such as claims of Buddhist temple in Tibet at a time when there were none.
  2. A series of experts and a lama have debunked the Notovitch tales about how he "found" his book.
  3. Notovitch changed his story after some time (- deviant and alarming among scholars and scientists).
  4. There are no all right texts of "Jesus in Tibet" available for inspection.
  5. Hearsay and assertions based on tales and hearsay are not a high rung on the ladder of evidence, at least until more evidence is found.

The following bars illustrate weighed responses (values) on the error side.

Figure 1. Bar chart of five judiciously weighed points.

Weighing stands, not only evidence

Take the Yogananda score you get for each parameter and multiply by 5 (since there are 5 estimates into this, you get a sum. Handle the sum. If the total score – suming up the allotted weights of the five grouped statements – is about 22 points, we may benefit from keeping our judgement (evaluation) to ourselves, keeping it a private matter and prefer to remain open to forthcoming evidence this way or that.

20 points in sum says "affirmative" – it has the signs of a fraud and a hoax, but don't swear it, even though the sum tend stowards debunking Yogananda's claims in this matter.

If the total score is 15 points – five middle fingers in average – one is as yet unsettled.

10 or 5 points signal a foul dislike of rational handling. Let there be hope: taking care and handle things well can be learnt a long way before things get tense and discordant.


Take care as to who you empower and make your boss. Consider, for example, how utterly Yogananda failed in his claimed, intuitive understanding of Omar through his clichá-ridden commentary on Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam!

On this page you are not told to believe for or against, but inspect. If you feel you are not helped much by it, maybe you can seek other things that assist you on and up, since "There are many roads to Rome".


Yogananda and Satyananda etc on Jesus in India from The Secret Life of Christ by Notovitch, Literature  

Berzin, Alexander. The History of the Early Period of Buddhism and Bon in Tibet. The Berzin Archives, 1996. Online.

Kapstein, Matthew T. Tibetan Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 20134.

Premio-Real, Eduardo Miranda y Ramirez. 1877. Popular Sayings from Old Iberia. Quebec: Dawson and Co.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Early Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Paperback ed. Munger, Bihar: Bihar School of Yoga, 1988.

Tagore, Rabindranath, and Evelyn Underhill, trs. One Hundred Poems of Kabir. London: Macmillan, 1915. Online.

Vermes, Geza.The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2005.

Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.

Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity.Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.

WP: Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1980.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. 2 Vols. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2004.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Yoga of Jesus: Understanding the Hidden Teachings of the Gospels. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2007.

Yogananda, Paramhansa. The Master Said. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1952.

Aasen, Ivar. Norske Ordsprog samlede og ordnede af I. Aasen. 2. utg. Christiania (Oslo): Mallings Boghandels Forlag, 1881.

  1. Edwards, William D., MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E. Hosmer, MS, AMI. "Study On The Physical Death of Jesus: Section 7: "Death of Jesus." JAMA 1986;255:1455-1463). Online.
  2. Dr Tom J. Chalko PhD. Tomb of Jesus in Shingo Village (Herai) in Japan: The Song reveals the Truth. 1997-98. Online.

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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