During the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325, the Church selected the four Gospels according to Mark, Matthew, Luke and John as the prime sources of ‘truth’ for the Bible stories about Jesus.
The 55 or so other known Gospels with both supportive as well as conflicting and sometimes astonishingly different stories were either banned or simply ignored.
One of the results is that the Bible contains no account whatsoever of the life of Jesus between the time he was found in the Temple in Jerusalem, preaching to and heckling the merchants – when he was not yet 13 – and the time he reappeared as a teacher and ‘the Son of God’ around the age of 30.
Did he really spend those 18 odd years just working as a carpenter? You can choose to believe that (Church dogma) or you might consider the fascinating information laid out in adequate detail in Alan Jacobs’ thorough, academic yet readable collection of alternative sources that provide a convincing explanation of these ‘lost’ years.
Did Jesus visit Tibet, Nepal, northern India, and Kashmir during these years unaccounted for in the New Testament?
If so, it would have the most far-reaching spiritual implications.
This remarkable book takes an impartial look at the extensive evidence – in Islamic, Indian, and Tibetan sources, as well as the more recent Aquarian Gospel and the controversial writings of the Russian 19th-century explorer Nicolai (Nicolas) Notovitch – to find a definitive answer to this tantalising question.
From an early age, Alan Jacobs (London, 1929) was interested in religion and mysticism.
He commenced a personal search for truth and studied comparative religion.
He entered the Gurdjieff Society in 1957 and remained there until the early 1970s.
He then met Jiddu Krishnamurti, and studied his teachings until 1979.
Next, he discovered Ramana Maharshi and became familiar with his extensive literature and spiritual practice. He is currently President of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation, UK.
The subtitle of Jacobs’ book is The quest for the Aquarian Gospel: the mystery of the missing years.
The full title of Levi H. Dowling’s book is The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ: The Philosophic and Practical Basis of the Religion of the Aquarian Age of the World and of the Church Universal, first published in 1908.
Dowling claims to have transcribed the text of the book from the Akashic records, the compendium of all knowledge supposedly encoded in a non-physical plane of existence.
Later in the 20th century, the Aquarian Gospel was adopted by New Age spiritual groups.
True to his academic approach, Jacobs presents his information and leaves the reader to decide for himself the veracity of this source material. He is nevertheless clear about the surprising, perhaps unexpected, correspondences with other source materials.
Coincidences… or confirmation?
There is the travelogue as published by the Russian ‘journalist for the Orient’, Nicolai Notovitch.
There is the Tibetan Gospel of Issa. There are the Bhavishyat Maha Purana and the Natha Namavali Sutra. There is the Islamic point of view, clearly and respectfully presented in the Koran.
These, and more sources that Jacobs cites in detail, present the broad Gnostic view of Jesus’ life and teachings – outside of Judea – as well as his death and burial in Srinagar (Kashmir), all of which serve to support the realistic possibility that the Church has restricted (even manipulated) the ‘truth’ in the Bible to serve its own purposes.
Take for example this extract from Notovitch’s writings.
In 1887 this explorer-journalist reached Kashmir, then moved on to Ladakh.
There he arrived at a Buddhist monastery where he heard about the prophet Issa who had visited Tibet 2000 years ago. The Lama tells the Russian:
We too respect the one you recognize as Son of the One God, not that we see in him an only Son, rather a Being perfect among all the elect. The spirit of Buddha was indeed incarnate in the sacred person of Issa who, without aid from fire or sword, has spread knowledge of our great and true religion throughout the world.
The Lama goes on to speak rather disparagingly of ‘your earthly Dalai Lama’ (the Pope), the ‘Father of the church’:
This is a great sin; may the flocks be forgiven who have gone astray because of it…
Jacobs describes in some detail the attempt to rediscover the sources Notovitch consulted, but that they appear to have been hidden by the Lamas or have simply disappeared, perhaps during the widespread destruction initiated by the Chinese.
We read further about German-born Holger Kersten (1951) and his investigations into the Jesus story, including his attempts to find the original sources.
Nevertheless, Jacobs quotes extensively from Notovitch’s writings, which were initially published in Paris, in French, due to serious resistance in Russia to what was considered unacceptable to the Russian Orthodox Church.
These texts alone are sufficient to recommend this book to those who are willing to look beyond conventional boundaries.
Jacobs excels in getting to the heart of matters and providing only the essential details of a story that could fill many a thick volume. Orthodox Islam, explains Jacobs:
… sees Issa (the Arabic form of the name) or Jesus as a great prophet of God sent to guide the children of Israel with a new scripture…
… More important for our investigation are the Koran’s verses [which Jacobs later cites in full] to the effect that Jesus was neither killed nor crucified, but raised up alive to heaven.
… He is regarded as a Muslim in the sense that he taught surrender… to the divine will, the very foundation of the Moslem’s (sic) faith.
More supporting evidence is clearly outlined, providing a solid basis for suspecting the shortcomings of the current Bible.
Hindu sources and more
The numerous other sources that are explained, described and cited create a momentum in the book that leads to discussion of how the crucifixion actually took place.
We read how Jesus left the tomb, travelled, learned languages and yogic powers, gained insight into other religions and cultures, preached in other cities, returned to Judea with a non-Jewish story of love and compassion – much more suited to Indian spirituality – and in the end landed up back in Kashmir where he is buried. Osho takes up the story:
In Kashmir he was known as Yousa-Asaf. His tomb is known as The Tomb of Yousa-Asaf who came from a very distant land and lived here.
In another of Osho’s many discourses about Jesus he says:
It is thought that Jesus came to Kashmir because it was a Jewish land in India – a tribe of Jews was living there. There are many stories in Kashmir about Jesus, but one has to go there to discover them. The crucifixion changed Jesus’ mind totally. From then on, he lived in India for seventy years continuously, in complete silence – unknown, hidden. He was not a prophet, he was not a minister, he was not a preacher. That is why not much is known about him.
Christianity lacks much. Even about Jesus it lacks much. His whole life is not known: what he practiced, how he meditated is not known…
Osho, The Great Challenge, Ch 9, Q 2
All in all…
… the inquisitive, open-minded reader will find the tightly-packed 200 or so pages of this highly readable inquiry to be a remarkably compact and relevant approach to one of the most crucial questions surrounding the basis of the Christian faith… and the difference between Church dogma and possible reality.
For more on what Osho tells about Jesus, google on ‘Osho + Jesus’.
The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ by Nicolas Notovitch
Jesus Lived in India: His Unknown Life Before and After the Crucifixion by Holger Kersten
Jesus in Kashmir, an article by Ma Anand Bhagawati
This BBC Documentary (2003): Jesus was a Buddhist Monk