The Lost Years of Jesus
The Lost Years of Jesus
Documentary Evidence of Jesus' 17-Year Journey to
By Elizabeth Clare Prophet
2nd ed. 1988
The Lost Years of Jesus
By Richard Bock, 1976
The Unknown Life of Christ
By Nicolas Notovitch, 1894
The Lost Years of Jesus
"I am the servant of the light in all students of the ascended masters and
in all people."
Elizabeth Clare Prophet
Edited by Andy Ross
"Lord Jesus was in India during what are known as the lost years of Jesus."
The old man speaks with a high voice, like a child. He has a dark face and a
saffron robe. The Bible records Jesus aged 12 in the temple, then aged 30 at
the river Jordan. That leaves a gap of 18 years.
"Near Srinigar in
the Happy Valley of Kashmir we find the legend of an extraordinary saint
known to the Buddhists as St. Issa," says the monk. "Events in the life of
Issa closely resemble that of Jesus Christ, revealing what are thought to be
the lost years of our Lord."
Richard Bock's 1976 documentary starring
the little Buddhist Christian changed my image of Jesus. As I read Dick's
dog-eared copy of The Unknown Life of Christ (published 1894), I realized
that its author, Nicolas Notovitch, had followed nothing more than a
childhood hunch that there was something "majestically colossal" about
India. His book tells of the startling discovery of the Issa legend. It's a
Notovitch wandered through the picturesque passes of
Bolan, over the Punjab, down into the arid rocks of Ladakh, and beyond the
Vale of Kashmir into the Himalayas. He learned that the library at Lhasa
preserved ancient records of the life of Jesus.
The legend recorded
by Dr. Notovitch appears to be a collection of tales told by merchants
arriving from Palestine where they were on business during the execution of
a man known as the "king of the Jews." Notovitch never doubted the
authenticity of these chronicles, diligently recorded in the Pali tongue by
the Brahmanic and Buddhistic historians of India and Nepal. He determined to
publish a translation of the Issa legend.
Notovitch: "One of the lamas told me about a certain prophet, or, as you
would say, a Buddha of the name of Issa. Can you tell me anything relative
to his existence?"
Lama: "The name of Issa is held in great respect
by the Buddhists. But little is known about him save by the chief lamas who
have read the scrolls relative to his life."
A fall from his horse
gave Notovitch an excuse to return to the monastery. The lama kept Notovitch
entertained with endless stories. At last he brought out two large yellowed
volumes and read to him the biography of St. Issa.
According to the legend, at age 13, Issa left his parents' home in secret
and set off with a merchant caravan for India. He arrived in India aged 14.
He traveled south to Gujarat, through the country of the five streams and
Rajputana, then on to the holy cities of Jagannath and Benares where Brahman
priests taught him Vedic scripture. Issa continued north into the Himalayas
and for six years he applied himself to the study of the sacred sutras. He
left India aged 26, traveling to Persepolis, Athens, and Alexandria. He was
29 when he returned to Israel.
Saint Thomas evangelized India and the
territory between the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. It is possible that
he wrote or edited the historical narratives we now know as "The Life of St.
A punditic disciple of Ramakrishna named Swami Abhedananda
lived in North America for a quarter of a century, traveled extensively, and
was acquainted with Thomas Edison and William James. He journeyed into the
Himalayas, determined to find a copy of the Himis manuscript or to expose
the fraud. He became convinced of the authenticity of the Issa legend.
In 1925, another Russian named Nicholas Roerich arrived at Himis.
Roerich was a philosopher and a scientist. He traveled from Sikkim through
the Punjab and into Kashmir, Ladakh, Karakorum, Khotan, and Irtysh, then
over the Altai Mountains and through the Oyrot region into Mongolia, Central
Gobi, Kansu, and Tibet. Roerich was familiar with "The Life of St. Issa"
recorded by Nicolas Notovitch 35 years earlier.
The legend of St. Issa persists to this day among street people and scholars
in holy cities and remote villages throughout India and Tibet. Richard Bock
describes a visit to a monastery in Calcutta where a man named Prajnananda
testifies that the manuscripts did exist at Himis in 1922. A few years later
they were gone.
ECP: "Where is the Jesus they know in the East?"
RB: "Jesus lives in the hearts of the Hindus and the Buddhists."
The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ
Nicolas Notovitch, 1894
Edited by Andy Ross
A Journey in Tibet
During my sojourn in India, I often talked with Buddhists, and the accounts
they gave me of Tibet excited my curiosity. I set out upon a route across
On October 14, 1887, I went by rail from Lahore to
Rawalpindi and arrived the next day. There I equipped myself for the journey
with horses. Assisted by my servant, a native of Pondicherry, I packed my
baggage, hired a tonga (a two-wheeled vehicle drawn by two horses), and set
out upon the road to Kashmir. Soon we entered the steep passes of the
Himalayas. As the sun set, our tonga halted at the little city of Muré,
where the families of the English functionaries came to seek shade and
At the approach of the winter season, Europeans desert
Kashmir and the tonga service is suspended. I hired saddle horses, and
evening had arrived when we started to descend from Muré. When night had
completely set in, a tempestuous rain surprised us in the open country, and
we were plunged in profound darkness. For two hours we waded in the mud and
the icy rain, until we perceived in the distance a little fire. At last our
horses stopped before it.
The Englishmen built by the roadsides
little bungalows for the shelter of travelers. The bungalow was locked, so
we had to force an entrance. I threw myself upon a bed and fell asleep. At
daybreak, we took up our march again. We descended eventually to the river
Toward noon we arrived at the hamlet called Tongue. The place
swarms with Hindus. Here, too, you see the beautiful people of Kashmir,
dressed in their long white shirts and snowy turbans. I hired here, at a
good price, a Hindu cabriolet, from a Kashmiri.
Evening was falling
when I approached the village of Hori. There I encountered a caravan of
pilgrims returning from Mecca. They invited me to join them, which I
promised I would at Srinagar.
I spent an ill night, in constant fear
of the stings and bites of the scorpions and centipedes that swarm in the
bungalows. I could not fall asleep, in spite of my fatigue.
horses carried us into a flat valley, encircled by high mountains. I fell
asleep in the saddle, and awoke to see that we had already begun climbing a
mountain path, in the midst of a dense forest. We came out of the forest
toward noon, descended to a little hamlet on the bank of the river, and
continued our journey.
There is no religious belief more muddled by
the numbers of laws and observances than the Brahminic. The Brahmins have so
many tomes and commentaries in folio that the wisest Brahmin has hardly had
the time to peruse one-tenth of them. Leaving aside the four books of the
Vedas; the Puranas, composed of eighteen volumes written in Sanskrit; the
vast Shastras, which deal with mathematics, grammar, etc.; the Upa-Vedas,
Upanishads, and Upo-Puranas, which are explanatory of the Puranas; and a
number of other commentaries in several volumes; there still remain twelve
vast books, containing the laws of Manu, who wrote so much that he
frequently contradicted himself in the course of a single page. The Brahmins
do not take the trouble to notice that, and the poor Hindus remain in
servile obedience to their clergy.
Yet Brahminism is a purely
monotheistic religion, recognizing only one infinite and indivisible God. As
it came to pass in all times and in religions, the clergy took advantage of
the privileged situation which places them above the ignorant multitude, and
early manufactured various exterior forms of cult and certain laws, to
influence and control the masses. The principle of monotheism became
confounded with or supplanted by an absurd and limitless series of gods and
goddesses, half-gods, genii and devils. The people, once as glorious as
their religion was great and pure, now slip by degrees into complete idiocy.
The Hindus only exist to support their principal caste, the Brahmins, who
have taken into their hands the temporal power which once was possessed by
independent sovereigns of the people. While governing India, the Englishman
does not interfere with this phase of the public life.
At a late hour
of the night we ascended a steep elevation leading to the bungalow Ouri,
which at this height seems to enjoy complete isolation. The next day we
traversed a charming region. In a little valley, nestled amid the mountains,
we found a bungalow which seemed to welcome us.
I continued my journey
through a well-peopled valley. A little farther on begins the valley of
Kashmir. A ravishing tableau truly enchanted my sight. This valley causes
the traveler to feel as if he had entered another world, as though he had to
go but a little farther on and there must find Paradise.
into the valley, toward the river Jhelum, its banks lined with houseboats.
From here Srinagar can be reached by boat in a day and a half. We left
the shore at midnight, floating rapidly toward Srinagar. At the approach of
our boat, villagers came running to see us; the men in turbans, the women in
bonnets, both alike in long white gowns, the children naked.
entering the city one sees a range of barks and houseboats. The sun was
setting as we glided between the wooden houses of Srinagar, which closely
line both banks of the river. Life seems to cease here at sunset; men and
women gathered near the river, naked, going through their evening ablutions.
I spent six days at Srinagar, making long excursions into the enchanting
surroundings of the city, examining the numerous ruins and studying the
strange customs of the country.
The happy valley of Kashmir enjoyed
glory and prosperity under the Grand Mogul. Most of the Maharajas of
Hindustan used to spend here the summer months, and to take part in the
magnificent festivals given by the Grand Mogul; but times have greatly
changed since. Aquatic plants and scum have covered the clear waters of the
lake; the palaces and pavilions are dilapidated; earth and grass cover
buildings in ruins. The once spiritual, beautiful and cleanly inhabitants
have grown animalistic and stupid; they have become dirty and lazy; and the
whip now governs them, instead of the sword.
The people of Kashmir
have so often been subject to invasions and pillages and have had so many
masters, that they have now become indifferent to everything. The men and
women of Kashmir are dirty and in rags. The costume of the two sexes
consists, winter and summer alike, of a long shirt, or gown, made of thick
material and with puffed sleeves. They wear this shirt until it is
completely worn out, and never is it washed, so that the white turban of the
men looks like dazzling snow near their dirty shirts.
Srinagar (City of the Sun), is situated on the shore of the Jhelum, along
which it stretches out toward the south to a distance of five kilometers and
is not more than two kilometers in breadth.
Its two-story houses, enough
for 100,000 inhabitants, are built of wood and border both river banks.
Everybody lives on the river, the shores of which are united by ten bridges.
Terraces lead from the houses to the Jhelum, where all day long people
perform their ablutions, bathe and wash their copper pots. Part of the
inhabitants are Muslims; two-thirds are Brahminic; and there are few
It was time to prepare for travel. I packed all my baggage
in boxes; hired six carriers and an interpreter, bought a horse for my own
use, and fixed the date of my departure. I ordered my carriers to leave at
dawn and joined them at the foot of the mountains.
A level and good
road leads from Srinagar to the village of Haïena, going straight northward
over Ganderbal, where I repaired by a direct route that shortened for me
both time and distance.
The defile of the Sind abounds in panthers,
tigers, leopards, black bears, wolves and jackals. The snow had covered the
heights of the chain, compelling those beasts to descend a little lower for
shelter in their dens. We descended in silence, and the calm of the night
was only broken by the crackling sound of our steps. We had left the forest
and entered the plain. I ordered my tent erected under a very leafy plane
tree, and had a great fire made before it, with a pile of wood. I spent a
terrible night, rifle in hand, listening to the concert of diabolical
howling, the echoes of which seemed to shake the defile.
descended, I was in a hurry to cross the defile which separates the villages
Gogangan and Sonamarg. The road is in very bad condition, and the mountains
are infested by beasts of prey. The country is delightful and very fertile,
but few colonists venture to settle here.
The night had set in when I
erected my tent near Tchokodar, which I left at sunrise to gain Baltal, by
following the course of the Sind river. At this place the ravishing
landscape terminates abruptly with a village. The abrupt acclivity of
Zodgi-La, which we next surmounted, attains an elevation of 11,500 feet, on
the other side of which the whole country assumes a severe and inhospitable
From Baltal the distances are determined by means of daks,
i.e., postal stations for mail service. They are low huts, about seven
kilometers distant from each other. A man is established in each of these
huts. The latter runs seven kilometers, carrying on his back a basket which
holds bags of letters, which he delivers to another carrier, who does the
same in his turn. In this way the mail service is carried on between Kashmir
and Tibet, and vice versa once a week.
In the village of Montaiyan, I
found again the Yarkandien caravan of pilgrims, whom I had promised to
accompany on their journey. They recognized me from a distance. These people
journeyed by small stages only; I left them and arrived in the evening at
Drass, situated at the bottom of a valley. At Drass, my domicile was the
post-house. From that time on, I stopped in the caravanserais; places which,
though dirty, are kept warm by the enormous piles of wood burned in their
From Drass to Karghil the landscape is monotonous and the
road abounds with dangers. Karghil is the principal place of the district,
where the governor of the country resides. Two water courses join in forming
here the river Souron, upon the banks of which stands Karghil. I continued
my journey at break of day, entering now the province of Ladakh. I climbed
slowly up on a little plateau, to descend into the narrow valley of Wakkha.
Here there are several villages.
Here my feet trod Buddhist ground.
The inhabitants are simple and seemingly ignorant of strife. Women are very
rare among them. Those of them whom I encountered were distinguished by
their air of gaiety and prosperity. Each woman in this country has, on
average, three to five husbands. If a family does not contain already more
than two husbands, a bachelor may share the woman. The men seem feeble.
Twenty miles from Karghil, at the end of the defile formed by the rapid
current of the Wakkha, is a little village called Chargol, in which stand
three chapels. Below, near the river, are rocks, upon which are thrown flat
stones engraved with all sorts of prayers, in Urdu, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and
After sunrise, with fresh horses, I resumed my journey
and stopped near the monastery of Moulbek, which seems glued on the flank of
an isolated rock. Below is the hamlet of Wakkha, and not far from there is
another rock, in one side of which is cut a Buddha several meters in height.
Upon it are several cylinders, the turning of which serves for prayers. They
are wooden barrels, draped with fabrics, and are attached to vertically
planted stakes. It requires only the least wind to make them turn. I left my
horses in the hamlet of Wakkha, and walked toward the monastery, which is
reached by a narrow stairway cut in the rock. At the top, I was received by
a very fat lama. His wore a yellow robe and a big cap. We traversed a suite
of low chambers, upon the walls of which were images of Buddha, all alike
covered by a thick layer of dust. Finally we reached an open terrace, with a
view over an inhospitable country.
They spoke here the Tibetan
language. A king of Tibet, a contemporary of Mohammed, created the language
for all the disciples of Buddha. He simplified the Sanskrit grammar and
composed an alphabet containing an infinite number of signs. All the modern
literature of Tibet is written in this language. The pure Tibetan is only
spoken in Ladakh and Oriental Tibet. In all other parts of the country they
speak dialects. In the ordinary life of the Tibetan, there are two
languages, one incomprehensible to women, the other spoken by the entire
nation; but only in the monasteries can be found the pure Tibetan language.
The lamas much prefer the visits of Europeans to those of Muslims. I
asked my host why this was so.
Lama: "Muslims have no point of
contact with our religion. Only comparatively recently, they forcibly
converted part of the Buddhists to Islam. It requires of us great efforts to
bring them back into the path of the true God. The Europeans are different.
Not only do they profess the essential principles of monotheism, but they
adore Buddha, with almost the same rites as the lamas who inhabit Tibet. The
only fault of the Christians is that after adopting the doctrines of Buddha,
they have separated themselves from him, and have created for themselves a
different Dalai Lama. Our Dalai Lama is the only one who is empowered to
serve as an intermediary between earth and heaven."
NN: "Which Dalai
Lama of the Christians? We have one, the Son of God, to whom we pray, and he
alone intercedes with our One and Indivisible God."
Lama: "Not him.
We, too, respect him, whom we revere as son of the One and Indivisible God,
but we do not see in him the Only Son, but the excellent being who was
chosen among all. Buddha has incarnated himself in the person of the sacred
Issa, who, without employing fire or iron, has gone forth to propagate our
true and great religion among all the world. He was your terrestrial Dalai
NN: "You have told me that a son of Buddha, Issa, the elect
among all, had spread your religion on the Earth. Who is he?"
"Issa is a great prophet, one of the first after the twenty-two Buddhas. He
is greater than any one of all the Dalai Lamas, for he constitutes part of
the spirituality of our Lord. It is he who has instructed you; he who
brought back into the bosom of God the frivolous and wicked souls; he who
made you worthy of the beneficence of the Creator, who has ordained that
each being should know good and evil. His name and his acts have been
chronicled in our sacred writings, and when reading how his great life
passed away in the midst of an erring people, we weep for the horrible sin
of the heathen who murdered him, after subjecting him to torture."
NN: "Where can those writings be found, and who compiled them?"
"The principal scrolls are in Lhasa; several thousands in number. In some
great monasteries are to be found copies, which the lamas have made, and
have then given to their cloisters."
NN: "But do you possess copies
of the scrolls bearing upon the prophet Issa?"
Lama: "We have not.
Our monastery is insignificant, and since its foundation our successive
lamas have had only a few hundred manuscripts in their library. The great
cloisters have several thousands of them; but they are sacred things which
will not be shown to you."
I went home deep in thought. Issa, a
prophet of the Buddhists! But, how could this be? He was Jewish and lived in
Palestine. The Gospels contain no allusion to Buddhism in the education of
Jesus. I made up my mind to try to find out more about Issa.
traversed the Namykala Pass and gained Karbou. The next day I traversed the
Fotu-La Pass and descended to the hamlet of Lamayure. A cloister dominates
the village. Under its windows is a little inn, the rooms of which are
uninviting. Hardly had I stretched myself on the carpet in one of them, when
the monks filled the apartment, bothered me with questions and finally
invited me to come and see them.
In spite of my fatigue I set out
with them, to climb up the excavated passages in the rock. I sat down on a
bench in the gloomy hall. The walls were garnished with little statues of
Buddha, books and prayer-wheels. The lamas began explaining to me the
significance of each object.
NN: "And those books? I guess they are
Lama: "Yes, these are a few religious volumes which
deal with the primary and principal rites of the life common to all. We
possess several parts of the words of Buddha consecrated to the Great and
Indivisible Divine Being, and to all that issue from his hands."
"Is there not, among those books, some account of the prophet Issa?"
Lama: "No, we only have a few treatises on the observance of the religious
rites. The biographies of our saints are collected in Lhasa. Before coming
to this monastery, I was for several years in a great monastery on the other
side of Ladakh, and have seen there thousands of books, and scrolls copied
out of various books by the lamas there."
I learned that the
monastery in question was near Leh, but my inquiries excited the suspicions
of the lamas. They showed me the way out. Regaining my room, I fell asleep.
From Lamayure our route sloped down toward India. I started on a route
between the brown clay hills. Then the road came out on the flank of the
mountain, above a terrible abyss. After about eight miles, our little
caravan reached a small valley, where granite rocks loomed over the Indus
We crossed the Indus on a bridge that led to the door of the
fortress. Rapidly we traversed the valley. The two following days I
travelled along the shore of the Indus to Leh, the capital of Ladakh.
passed the night at Saspoula and visited the monastery, seeing there for the
tenth time the omnipresent dust-covered images of Buddha; the flags and
banners heaped in a corner; ugly masks on the floor; books and papyrus rolls
heaped together without order or care, and the inevitable abundance of
prayer-wheels. The lamas were pleased to show off these things.
Respecting the prophet Issa, I learned that the books I sought were at
Lhasa, and that only the great monasteries possessed some copies. I thought
now only of finding the history of the prophet Issa.
protects the entrance to Tibet. There the road turns north. Immense granite
mountains tower above Leh. The city rises upon terraces dominated by an old
fort and ancient palaces. Toward evening I entered Leh, and stopped at a
bungalow for Europeans.
Ladakh formerly was part of Great Tibet.
Invaders from the north reduced it to misery and made it the prey of one
conqueror after another. The Muslims forcibly converted the inhabitants of
old Tibet. The political existence of Ladakh ended with its annexation to
Kashmir. Then the Ladakhians returned to their ancient beliefs. Ladakh is a
dependency of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and the residence of the Dalai
Lama. The Supreme Lamas and the administrators live in Lhasa.
inhabitants of Ladakh are divided into Ladakhians and Tchampas. The former
lead a sedentary existence, building villages of two-story houses along the
narrow valleys, are cleanly in their habits, and cultivators of the soil.
They are thin, with stooping figures and small close-shaven heads.
The women seem to be of much more robust constitution. A healthy red tinges
their cheeks and sympathetic smiles linger upon their lips. They have good
dispositions and are fond of laughing.
The Ladakhians do not display
much latitude in their costume. They wear gray gowns and coarse clothing.
The Tibetan men do not take off their shirt until it falls to pieces. Their
overcoats are always unclean. They wash themselves once a year and emit a
The Tibetan women, on the contrary, wash themselves
daily. Short and clean chemises hide their dazzling white necks. The Tibetan
woman wears a red jacket, tight pantaloons, and half boots lined with fur. A
petticoat with numerous folds completes her outfit. Her hair is arranged in
thin braids. Every woman spends money for jewelry. The Ladakh woman is free
The settled population of Ladakh is engaged in
agriculture, but they own so little land that the revenue drawn from it is
insufficient to pay taxes. Artisans and musicians form the lowest class of
society. They are called Bem. The hours of leisure left by rural work are
spent in hunting wild sheep. The poorest hire themselves as coolies. The
women are healthier than their husbands. Polyandry causes the formation of
very large families, who cultivate their shared lands.
are made of sun-dried bricks or stones and mortar. The houses are two
stories high, their fronts whitewashed, and their window-sashes painted with
lively colors. The flat roof forms a terrace where, during good weather, the
inhabitants spend much of their time.
Life here is very regular.
Their diet is simple. Their breakfast consists of a piece of rye bread. At
dinner, they serve on the table a bowl with meal stirred to make a thick
paste, eaten with milk. In the evening, bread and tea are served. Meat is a
rare luxury. During the day, they drink pale, unfermented beer.
Tchampas are rougher and poorer than the settled population. They are
hunters. Although they profess the Buddhist religion, they never frequent
the cloisters unless in want of meal, which they obtain in exchange for
their venison. They mostly camp in tents on the mountains.
existed long before Buddhism. It was widespread in India, alongside the
abominable custom of killing newborn female children. The efforts made
against the practice by the English have proved futile. Manu established
polyandry as a law, and Buddhist preachers spread the custom far and wide.
In Tibet, polyandry can be explained by economic motives. To support the
1,500,000 inhabitants upon a surface of 1,200,000 square kilometers, the
Buddhists were forced to adopt the practice. Without it, the population
would increase and misery would fall upon them all.
Leh, the capital
of Ladakh, is a little town of 5,000 inhabitants, who live in white,
two-story houses. In its center is the square of the bazaar. An old
uninhabited palace rises upon a hill that dominates the town. Fronting the
central square is a vast building, the residence of the governor of Ladakh,
the Vizier Souradjbal, an amiable and popular Punjabi with a Doctor of
Philosophy degree from London.
To entertain me, the governor arranged
a game of polo. In the evening, after the game, the people danced and played
games. Large bonfires illuminated the throng, who formed a great circle
around the dancers. The latter jumped and contorted themselves to music made
by two long trumpets and a drum. The infernal racket and shouting of the
crowd wearied me.
The next day, at an early hour, I repaired to the
Hemis monastery, which, a little distance from Leh, is elevated upon the top
of a great rock, commanding the valley of the Indus. It is one of the
principal monasteries of the country. We climbed up to a large door, the
portal of a vast building enclosing a court. To the left was an immense
prayer-cylinder. All the lamas stood about it when we entered the court.
Below the verandah were musicians.
We took up a position near the
verandah. Almost immediately, the musicians blew on their long trumpets. The
doors along the wall opened, giving entrance to about twenty masked persons,
disguised as animals, birds, devils and imaginary monsters. Slowly they
marched about the masts and jostled there.
The door leading to the
temple opened, and from it another band came forth. There new performers
circled several times about the court. At the completion of each turn, they
made a deafening noise with their instruments. Finally, they ran to the
temple door and ranged themselves before it.
A third band of
performers emerged from the temple. Their enormous masks represented six
classes of beings subject to the metamorphoses; the gods, the demigods, men,
animals, spirits and demons. On each side of them marched others, who made
three turns about the masts, to the sound of music, and then seated
themselves on the ground. Young men dressed in warrior costumes came from
the temple and danced about the gods seated on the ground.
group came out of the temple and seated themselves opposite the gods. Then
came more performers. With those who had preceded them, they formed two long
lines of dancers, who to the thrumming and the music performed a dance,
pausing occasionally to bow before the gods.
After a time, the assembled
performers moved toward the temple door, whence issued men disguised as
skeletons, who circled the masts and seized upon an image of evil, which
they broke up and scattered.
The chief lama invited me to join him on
the terrace. I sat facing him.
Lama: "Did you enjoy our little
NN: "Yes, but I never thought Buddhism could take such a
visible and noisy form."
Lama: "There is no religion without
theatrical ceremonies. This ritual does not violate the principles of
Buddhism. It is a practical means for maintaining in the ignorant mass
obedience to and love for the one Creator. The ignorant mass is the child of
NN: "But what is the meaning of this performance?"
Lama: "We have many similar festivals in the year, and we arrange them
to represent mysteries as pantomime. Each actor is free to do what he likes,
so long as it conforms to the main idea. Our pantomimes simply show the
veneration offered to the gods. It is up to the spectators to work out what
it all means. You have similar customs too, but they don’t violate the
principle of monotheism."
NN: "Pardon me, but all these idols are a
flagrant violation of that principle."
Lama: "Man will always be in
childhood. He sees and feels the grandeur of nature and understands
everything presented to his senses, but he neither sees nor divines the
Great Soul which created and animates all things. Man has always sought for
tangible things. It was not possible for him to believe long in that which
escaped his material senses. People began to seek for intermediaries between
themselves and the Creator. They made idols, and attribute to their images a
divine and eternal existence. We can see this in Brahminism, where man has
created an army of gods and demigods. Shakyamuni understood the one and
indivisible Brahma, and forbade his disciples from making images of him. The
success of his teachings among the people brought upon him persecution by
the Brahmins, who, in the creation of new gods, had found a source of
personal revenue, and who treated the people in a despotic manner. Our first
sacred teachers settled in different countries of the globe. The Tibetan and
Chinese Buddhists separated fifteen hundred years ago."
NN: "A lamas
told me of a Buddha called Issa. Can you tell me anything about him?"
Lama: "The name Issa is very much respected among the Buddhists," he
replied, "but he is only known by the chief lamas, who have read the scrolls
relating to his life. There have existed an infinite number of buddhas like
Issa, and the 84,000 scrolls existing are full of details concerning them.
But very few persons have read even a fraction of them. Every disciple or
lama who visits Lhasa makes a gift of one or several copies, from the
scrolls there, to his monastery. Ours already has a lot. I read them in my
leisure hours. Among them are the memoirs of the life and acts of the Buddha
Issa, who preached the same doctrine in India and among the sons of Israel.
The great Buddha almost always remains immobile, containing in himself all
things. Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Great Soul of the World
incarnated in Gautama. Soon afterward, Buddhism began to penetrate China. At
the same time, the doctrines began to spread among the Israelites. About two
thousand years ago, the perfect Being incarnated in the newborn child of a
poor family. When this sacred child attained a certain age, he was brought
to India, where, until he attained to manhood, he studied the laws of the
great Buddha, who dwells eternally in heaven."
NN: "In what language
are written the principal scrolls bearing upon the life of Issa?"
Lama: "The original scrolls brought to Tibet relating the life of Issa are
written in the Pali language and are in Lhasa; but we have a copy in the
NN: "How is Issa looked upon in Tibet? Has he the
reputation of a saint?"
Lama: "The people are not even aware that he
ever existed. Only the lamas who have studied the scrolls relating his life
know his name; but the prophet Issa is not recognized in Tibet as a Buddhist
NN: "Would you commit a sin in reciting your copy of the life
of Issa to a stranger?"
Lama: "I don’t know where the manuscript is. If
you ever visit us again, I shall be happy to show it to you."
lama departed. I went off to bed for the night.
Three days later I
fell off my horse and broke my right leg. I was carried inside and put to
bed. My condition soon improved. The chief lama brought two big books and
read out to me the biography of Issa, which I transcribed in my notebook, as
translated by the interpreter. My notes consisted of fragmented verses. Now,
after long nights editing the notes and grouping the verses, I present my
The Life of Saint Issa
Beloved of God was Saint Issa, in whom was manifest the grace of God,
incarnate in a mortal man, to save men and banish their sins; to lead them
to peace, love and happiness, back to God.
The people of Israel were carried away into slavery in Egypt. The Pharaoh
had a son called Moses, who had learned from the sages of Israel and was
beloved for his kindness and compassion. Pharaoh commanded Moses to gather
up the Hebrews and lead them away. Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt and
back to Israel. He gave them laws and commanded them to worship God. Their
kingdom prospered and peace reigned in Israel.
The glory of Israel spread far and wide. But the Israelite turned from God.
They set their own laws above the laws of Moses. They neglected the temple
and the observances and they fell into sin. Pagans from Rome conquered them.
The Romans defiled the temples and forced the Israelites to turn from God.
In their distress, they begged God for mercy and forgiveness.
A child was born in the land of Israel. The parents were poor but pious
people. God blessed their firstborn and he was called Issa. When Issa was
thirteen years old, he left the house of his parents. He left Jerusalem and
joined a train of merchants bound for Sindh, to know the word of God and the
laws of the Buddha.
In his fourteenth year, young Issa came this side of the Sindh and settled
among the Aryans. He went to Jagannatha, in Orissa. He spent six years in
the holy cities. The white priests of Brahma taught him. The common people
I: "God has made no difference between his children. One law
has been given to man to guide him in his actions: Fear God. He is the only
and indivisible soul of the universe, and it is this soul alone which
creates, contains and vivifies all. He alone has willed and created. He
alone has existed from eternity, and His existence will be without end. He
alone is omnipotent and all-sufficient. He willed, and the world was. The
anger of God will soon break forth upon man. Those who deprive their
brothers of divine happiness will themselves be deprived of it."
Vaisyas and the Sudras asked how they should pray.
I: "Pray not to
idols, for they cannot hear you; hearken not to the Vedas where the truth is
altered; be humble and humiliate not your fellow man. Help the poor, support
the weak, do evil to none; covet not that which ye have not and which
belongs to others."
Issa left Jagannatha and settled in Nepal. When he had acquired the Pali
language, he studied the Sutras. After six years, he left Nepal, descended
into Rajasthan and directed his steps toward the West.
I: "He who has
recovered his primitive purity shall die with his transgressions forgiven
and have the right to contemplate the majesty of God. The eternal Lawgiver
is One. Even as a father shows kindness toward his children, so will God
judge men after death, in conformity with His merciful laws. Man is naught
before the eternal Judge; as the animal is before man. Your idols have led
you away from God and made you blind to the truth."
The words of Issa spread among the Pagans. The priests demanded of him who
thus glorified the name of the true God.
I: "The miracles of our God
have been wrought from the first day when the universe was created; and are
performed every day and every moment. Man, who is naught before God, must
await in resignation His pleasure for a manifestation of His favor. Woe to
you, if you demand that He attest His power by a miracle! For it is not the
idols which He will destroy in His wrath, but those by whom they were
created. God will take to Himself those who strayed because they knew not
the heavenly part within them."
The Pagans broke their idols to pieces
and caused their priests to flee from among them.
I: "Do not lay on the
altar any creature to which life has been given. Withhold not from your
neighbor his just due. Deceive none. Be not given to debauchery."
When Issa came to Persia, the people listened intently to his words, which,
being seen by the priests, caused them to order that he should be arrested
and brought before their High Priest.
what new God do you speak? Do you not know that Zoroaster is the only Just
One, to whom alone was vouchsafed the honor of receiving revelations from
the Most High? Who art thou, who dares to utter blasphemies against our God
and sow doubt in the hearts of believers?"
I: "I preach no new God, but
our celestial Father, who has existed before the beginning and will exist
until after the end. Ye shall not adore the sun, for it is but a part of the
universe which I have created for man. Ye pretend that man must adore the
sun, and the Genii of Good and Evil. But I say unto you that your doctrine
is pernicious. The sun does not act spontaneously, but by the will of the
invisible Creator. There is no God other than the God of Good. He does only
good to His children. And the Spirit of Evil dwells the hearts of those who
turn the children of God away from the right path. Fear the day of judgment,
for God will inflict a terrible chastisement upon all those who have led His
children astray. Your doctrine is the fruit of your error in seeking to
bring near to you the God of Truth, by creating for yourselves false gods."
Issa was twenty-nine years old when he arrived in Israel.
yield not yourselves to despair, for I have heard your lamentations, and
your cries have reached my ears. Fill my temple with your hope and your
patience, and do not adjure the religion of your forefathers. Lift up those
who are fallen; feed the hungry and help the sick, that ye may be altogether
pure and just in the day of the last judgment which I prepare for you."
The Israelites came in multitudes to listen to Issa.
I: "Enter into your
temple, into your heart; illuminate it with good thoughts, with patience and
the unshakeable faith which you owe to your Father. And your sacred vessels
are your hands and your eyes. Look to do that which is agreeable to God. For
God has created you in His own image, innocent, with pure souls, and hearts
filled with kindness. When ye do works of devotion and love, let them be
with full hearts."
Issa went from one city to another. But the chiefs of the cities were afraid
of him and they informed the principal governor. Then Pilate, the Governor
of Jerusalem, gave orders that they should lay hold of Issa and bring him
before the judges.
I: "The human race perishes, because of the lack of
faith. But the tempests do not rage forever; soon the celestial light will
again overspread the earth, and the strayed flock will reunite around their
shepherd. Wander not in the darkness. For the day is near when you will be
reunited into one family and your enemy will tremble with fear, he who is
ignorant of the favor of the great God."
The priests and the elders
asked him if he sought to raise the people against the authorities.
"I have but forewarned the unhappy. The power of this earth is not of long
duration. It would be of no avail for a man to rise in revolution against
it. But the powerful, and the rich, sow among the children of Israel a
spirit of rebellion against the eternal power of Heaven."
PE: "Who are
you, and what country do you come from?"
I: "I am an
Israelite; and on the day of my birth have seen the walls of Jerusalem. When
a child I left my father's house to go and settle among other people. I have
come back to the land of my fathers, to recall my brethren to the faith of
their ancestors. I have enjoined the people to purify the heart of all
stains, for it is the veritable temple of God. As regards the laws of Moses,
I have endeavored to reestablish them in the hearts of men; and I say unto
you that ye ignore their true meaning, for it is not vengeance but pardon
which they teach."
When the priests and the elders heard Issa, they decided not to judge him
and spoke to Pilate.
PE: "We have seen the man whom you charge and have
heard his discourses. He is a just man, who teaches the people the word of
Pilate sent his spies to keep watch. Issa continued to preach; and
the people followed him.
I: "Put not your faith in miracles performed by
the hands of men. All the things done without God are only gross errors,
illusions and seductions. Put not your faith in oracles. God alone knows the
future. God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. To Him ye must
address yourselves. The secrets of nature are in the hands of God. When ye
pray to him, become again like little children."
The spies of Pilate questioned Issa.
SP: "Must we continue to do the will
of Caesar, or expect our near deliverance?"
I: "I have not told you that
you would be delivered from Caesar; it is the soul sunk in error which will
gain its deliverance. There cannot be a family without a head, and there
cannot be order in a people without a Caesar, whom ye should obey."
"Does Caesar possess a divine right, and is he the best of mortals?"
"Mercy and justice are the prerogatives of Caesar. It is not good for a son
to push away his mother, that he may occupy the place which belongs to her.
Whoso doth not respect his mother is unworthy of the name of son. Respect
woman; for in her we see the mother of the universe, and all the truth of
divine creation is to come through her. Wife and mother are the priceless
treasures which God has given to you. After God, to woman must belong your
best thoughts, for she is the divine temple where you will most easily
obtain perfect happiness. All that you do for your mothers, your wives, for
a widow, or for any other woman in distress, you will do for your God."
Saint Issa taught the people of Israel for three years. But Pilate feared
that Issa would revolt and take the throne. He ordered spies to make charges
against him. Soldiers arrested Issa and cast him into a dungeon. When
the priests and elders learned of this, they asked Pilate that Issa should
be brought before the elders' council. So Pilate assembled the council and
brought Issa before them.
P: "Is it true that you incite the populace
against the authorities, with the purpose of becoming King of Israel?"
I: "I preach only the King of Heaven. For the sons of Israel have lost their
original innocence and unless they return to worship the true God they will
be sacrificed and their temple will fall in ruins. I said to them, live in
conformity with your situation and refrain from disturbing public order. The King of Heaven has punished them, and has destroyed their nationality
and taken from them their national kings. The King of Heaven is greater and
more powerful than the laws of man and His kingdom surpasses the kingdoms of
P: "The Israelite Issa acknowledges the crime. Judge him
and condemn him to death."
Issa was condemned to death.
Issa and the two robbers were nailed upon the crosses. When the sun went
down, Issa died. His body was put in a tomb. On the third day, the tomb was
open, the body gone. The disciples of Saint Issa departed from the land of
Israel and spread the gospel to the heathen, who began to worship God.
At the time of Moses, there existed in the Mediterranean basin no other
writing than the hieroglyphics in Egypt and the cuneiform inscriptions found
in Babylon. But there was written language in China and India long before
The doctrine of the Buddha Gautama, who was born in about 563
BCE, was written in the Pali language upon parchment. Buddhism began to
spread in China about 260 BCE. Later, in the year 1 BCE, the Han emperor
Ping sent to India for the sacred books written by the Buddha. At that epoch
there existed already in India about 84,000 Buddhist manuscripts.
time when the Chinese and the Hindus possessed a rich literature, the Jews
transmitted their histories orally. Facts soon degenerated into legends,
which, in the course of time, were collected as the five books of Moses.
These legends ascribe divine powers to Moses.
The Hindu chroniclers
committed carefully to writing not mere legends but the recitals of recent
facts within their knowledge, or the accounts brought to them by merchants
who came from foreign countries. The public life of the Orient was
concentrated in the bazaars. The news of foreign events was brought by the
merchant caravans and recited in the temples and public places.
between India and the Mediterranean region was carried on by way of
Jerusalem, where, as far back as the time of King Solomon, the Hindu
caravans brought precious metals and other materials.
The chronicles were
compiled before, during and after the time of Jesus Christ. During his
sojourn in India, no special attention was paid to his life. The chroniclers
conceived a lively interest in him only later.
The two manuscripts from
which the lama at Hemis read to me are compilations from copies written in
the Tibetan language of translations of scrolls which were written in Pali
and belonged to the library of Lhasa, dating from about 200 CE.
manuscripts relate rather incoherently the preaching of Jesus among the
Parsees and other heathens. They seem to have been written during the first
years following the death of Jesus. One of these accounts refers to the
origin of Jesus and his family.
At the end of the second volume, the
chronicler says there that Issa was a man blessed by God and the best of
all; that it was he in whom the great Brahma had elected to incarnate when
his spirit was required to separate from the Supreme Being.
arranged all the fragments concerning the life of Issa in chronological
The Buddhist chronicle describes the grandeur and the downfall of
the kingdom of Israel. There was a belief that the coming of Jesus was
imminent. This explains why the Buddhist traditions could maintain that the
eternal Spirit separated from the eternal Being and incarnated in the child
of a pious family.
The Hebrews, upon learning of this event, went in
great numbers to see the child. Herod was informed of this occurrence and
feared that this infant, once grown to manhood, might retake the throne of
his ancestors. He sent out his men to seize the child, which the Israelites
endeavored to hide from the wrath of the king, who then ordered the massacre
of the children, hoping that Jesus would perish in the slaughter. But
Joseph's family had warning of the impending danger, and took refuge in
A short time afterward, they returned to their native country.
The Oriental Israelites commenced the instruction of their children at the
age of five or six years. Jesus spent all his time in studying the sacred
Scriptures. He had in his thirteenth year attained an age when, possessed by
the thirst for knowledge, stealthily left his home and joined the caravans
going to India.
Jesus thought of going to India because a very active
commercial exchange with India had made common report in Judea of the
majestic character and unsurpassed richness of the arts and sciences in this
marvelous country, to which even now the aspirations of all civilized
peoples are directed.
Arrived in India, this land of marvels, Jesus
began to frequent the temples of the Jains. Jainism forms a link between
Buddhism and Brahminism. It dates from the seventh century BCE. The Jains
asked him to stay with them; but Jesus left them to settle and study in
Jagannatha, which is one of the chief sacred cities of Brahmins. The ashes of Krishna, who lived in 1580 BCE, are preserved
there. Krishna collected and put in order the Vedas, which he divided into
four books; in commemoration of which great work he received the name of
Vyasa (he who collected and divided the Vedas), and he also compiled the
Vedanta and eighteen Puranas, which contain 400,000 stanzas. Jagannatha
contains a library of Sanskrit books and religious manuscripts.
spent there six years in studying the language of the country and the
Sanskrit, which enabled him to absorb the religious doctrines, philosophy,
medicine and mathematics. He found much to blame in Brahminic laws and
usages, and publicly joined issue with the Brahmins. Jesus began preaching
to the Sudras, the lowest caste of slaves, telling them that God is the
Father of all men; that before Him all men are equal, and that the Brahmins
had obscured the great principle of monotheism by misinterpreting Brahma's
According to the doctrine of the Brahmins, God says: "I have
been from eternity, and shall continue to be eternally. I am the first cause
of everything that exists in the East and in the West, in the North and in
the South, above and below, in heaven and in hell. I am older than all
things. I am the Spirit and the Creation of the universe and also its
Creator. I am all-powerful; I am the God of the Gods, the King of the Kings;
I am Para-Brahma, the great soul of the universe."
God created human
beings in four clastes, by color: white (Brahmins), red (Kshatriyas), yellow
(Vaisyas), and black (Sudras). The Brahmins occupy the offices of priests
and preachers, expound the Vedas, and practice celibacy. The Kshatriyas are
warriors. All the kings, princes, captains, governors and military men
belong to this caste. The Vaisyas are destined to cultivate the ground,
raise cattle, carry on commerce and practice trades. The Sudras are the
humble servants and slaves of the three preceding castes.
In his sermons
Jesus not only censured the system by which man was robbed of his right to
be considered as a human being, while an ape or a piece of marble or metal
was paid divine worship, but he attacked the very life of Brahminism, its
system of gods, its doctrine and its "trimurti" (trinity), composed of
Brahma (creator), Vishnu (conservator), and Siva (destroyer). Jesus denied
the existence of all these gods, which darken the great principle of
When the Brahmins saw that Jesus was their adversary, and
that the people began to embrace his doctrine, they resolved to kill him;
but he took refuge in the mountains of Nepal. Buddhism had taken deep root
in this country. Gautama Buddha was born around 623 BCE, at Kapila, the
capital of his father's kingdom, near Nepal.
According to the Buddhist
doctrine, the Creator reposes normally in a state of perfect inaction, which
is disturbed by nothing and which he only leaves at certain
destiny-determined epochs, in order to create terrestrial buddhas. To this
end the Spirit disengages itself from the sovereign Creator, incarnates in a
buddha and stays for some time on the earth, where he creates Bodhisattvas,
who preach the divine word and found new churches.
Jesus sojourned six
years among the Buddhists, where he found the principle of monotheism still
pure. Then he remembered Israel. On his way homeward, he preached against
idol worship, human sacrifice, and other errors of faith, admonishing the
people to recognize and adore God.
Jesus was about thirty years of age
when he began preaching to the Israelites. The chiefs and elders who heard
him were filled with admiration for his sermons, and were happy to see the
beneficent impression which his words exercised upon the populace.
Pilate was the governor of the country. Agents told him that Jesus announced
the coming of a new kingdom and that he let himself be called the Son of
God. Pilate called together the priests and the elders of the people and
ordered them to stop Jesus. But the Israelites recognized in Jesus the line
of David, and made him the object of their secret hopes.
informed Pilate that his suspicions were without foundation; that Jesus
preached religious, and not political, propaganda.
Pilate caused Jesus
to be followed by spies, and finally ordered his arrest. The elders
petitioned that Jesus be brought to trial before the Sanhedrim. During the
trial, Pilate employed the deposition of a paid informer. But the judges
refused to condemn Jesus and left Pilate to pronounce the verdict. On the
day of the execution, Pilate could not prevent the people mourning the ruin
of their hopes.
According to the Buddhists, the soul of the just Issa was
united with the eternal Being, while the Evangelists insist upon the
ascension of the body. If the miracle had been given a less material
character, their preaching would not have had that avowedly supernatural
character which has clothed Christianity as the only religion capable of
elevating the human race nearer to God.
AR The life of St Issa is rather freely
invented, I think, with vaguely biblical inspiration plus a smattering of
Eastern knowledge that NN picked up. The florid style is reminiscent to me
Zarathustra, which was a free fiction too.