left biblioblography: YATAG – THE TIBETAN CONNECTION, PART THE SECOND

Sunday, June 18, 2006

YATAG – THE TIBETAN CONNECTION, PART THE SECOND

It’s Hoax-us pokes-us time again.

This is approximately along the same timeline as the last, so let’s not worry about the chronology, shall we?

This was yet another piece of esoterica I stumbled upon during that fateful struggle with faith and reality (luckily, reality won, as we all know). This is known in some circles as the ’12 missing years of Christ’, or ‘The Unknown Life of Jesus’ as the title of the book.

Nicolas Notovitch (1858-?) was a Russian Aristocrat and journalist made famous for his revelation that during the years of Jesus Christ's life missing from the Bible, he followed traveling merchants abroad into India and Nepal, where he studied and taught Buddhism. Notovitch's writings were immediately controversial and his claims where widely rejected. However, the modern scholar Fida Hassnain claims the visit to be real and there are others who claim to have seen the same manuscripts.”

The story here is an interesting one, replete with foreign lands, strange circumstances, and even stranger politics.

I’ll quote mix-‘n-match here, as some websites provide rather…stilted versions.

Dec 03, USA (SUN) — In his book entitled "The Unknown Life of Christ", published in 1894, Nicholas Notovitch published the findings of his life study and experiences concerning Jesus Christ's travels to India. Born in 1858 into a wealthy Russian family in the Crimea, Notovitch converted from Judaism to Eastern Orthodox when he was quite young. He later became a journalist and political writer who did a great deal of traveling. In 1877, Notovitch undertook a journey to India, “to study the customs and habits of the inhabitants of India amid their own surroundings, as well as the grand, mysterious archæology and the colossal, majestic nature of the country”. “Wandering” about the land, traveled through Afghanistan, what is now Pakistan, Northern India, Kashmir and finally arrived in Ladakh, India. While in Ladakh, which is sandwiched between Kashmir and Tibet, Notovitch fell from his horse and was injured. The Buddhist monks from the Hemis monastery who cared for him, and it was through this relationship that he learned of the proof that Christ had, in fact, spent time in India. One of the Lamas at Hemis that Notovitch became friendly with produced a number of ancient scrolls written in Tibetan by Buddhist historians. An interpreter translated the scrolls, and Notovitch managed to make copies of a significant portion of them. The scrolls narrate the story of Jesus (identified as "Issa") from birth to death. But most significantly, the scrolls tell of Christ’s travels between the ages of 13-30. According to the Hemis scrolls, Christ came specifically to study the teachings of the Buddhists. His travels took him through Sindh, the Punjab and eventually to Juggernaut, where he studied the Vedas. The scrolls also indicate that Jesus was driven out of the temples when he taught the Holy Scripture to those whom the local Brahmins thought unworthy, and when Jesus spoke out against caste distinction. The Hemis Lamas noted: "We also respect the one whom you recognize as Son of the one God. The spirit of Buddha was indeed incarnate in the sacred person of Issa [Jesus], who without aid of fire or sword; spread knowledge of our great and true religion throughout the world. Issa is a great prophet, one of the first after twenty-two Buddhas. His name and acts are recorded in our writings."

I spy with my little eye – something that begins with the letter ‘S’. Yepper, syncretism it is.

It does leave out the more…combative portions.

From here:

F. Max Muller. In October 1894, preeminent Orientalist Max Muller of Oxford University (who himself was an advocate of Eastern philosophy and therefore could not be accused of having a Christian bias) published a refutation of Notovitch in The Nineteenth Century, a scholarly review. Four of his arguments are noteworthy: (1) Muller asserted that an old document like the one Notovitch allegedly found would have been included in the Kandjur and Tandjur (catalogues in which all Tibetan literature is supposed to be listed). (2) He rejected Notovitch's account of the origin of the book. He asked how Jewish merchants happened, among the millions of India, to meet the very people who had known Issa as a student, and still more "how those who had known Issa as a simple student in India saw at once that he was the same person who had been put to death under Pontius Pilate." (3) Muller cites a woman who had visited the monastery of Himis and made inquiries about Notovitch. According to a letter she wrote (dated June 29, 1894), "There is not a single word of truth in the whole story! There has been no Russian here. There is no life of Christ there at all!” And (4) Muller questioned the great liberty Notovitch took in editing and arranging the alleged verses. Muller said this is something no reputable scholar would have done.Notovitch promptly responded to Muller's arguments in the preface to the London edition of The Life of Saint Issa, which was published the following year (1895). But his response did little to satisfy his critics. He said: (1) The verses which were found would not be in any catalogues because "they are to be found scattered through more than one book without any title." (But in his first preface he said the Convent of Himis contained "a few copies of the manuscript in question." (2) Regarding the unlikeliness of Jewish merchants encountering those who knew Issa as a child in India, Notovitch said "they were not Jewish but Indian merchants who happened to witness the crucifixion prior to returning home from Palestine." (Even so, it would still be unlikely that - among the millions in India - the merchants would come upon the precise people who knew Issa as a child.) (3) As for editing and arranging the verses in The Life of Saint Issa, Notovitch said that the same kind of editing was done with the Iliad and no one ever questioned that. (But how does this legitimize Notovitch's modus operandi?) (4) As to the refusal by the lama of Himis to affirmatively answer questions about the manuscript (as he apparently did with the lady who wrote Muller), Notovitch says this was because "Orientals are in the habit of looking upon Europeans as robbers who introduce themselves in their midst to despoil them in the name of civilization." Notovitch succeeded only "because I made use of the Eastern diplomacy which I had learnt in my travels." (This was a convenient rationalization, for Notovitch could always point to a lack of "Eastern diplomacy" on the part of a European challenger whenever a monk refused to corroborate the Issa legend.)Assuming (wrongly) that his response to Muller laid criticism of his work to rest, Notovitch suggested that in the future his critics restrict themselves solely to the question: "Did those passages exist in the monastery of Himis, and have I faithfully reproduced their substance?" J. Archibald Douglas. J. Archibald Douglas, Professor at Government College in Agra, India, took a three-month vacation from the college and retraced Notovitch's steps at the Himis monastery. He published an account of his journey in The Nineteenth Century (June 1895), the bulk of which reproduced an interview with the chief lama of the monastery. The lama said he had been chief lama for 15 years, which means he would have been the chief lama during Notovitch's alleged visit. The lama asserted that during these 15 years, no European with a broken leg had ever sought refuge at the monastery.When asked if he was aware of any book in any Buddhist monastery in Tibet pertaining to the life of Issa, he said: "I have never heard of [a manuscript] which mentions the name of Issa, and it is my firm and honest belief that none such exists. I have inquired of our principal Lamas in other monasteries of Tibet, and they are not acquainted with any books or manuscripts which mention the name of Issa." When portions of Notovitch's book were read to the lama, he responded, "Lies, lies, lies, nothing but lies!" The interview was written down and witnessed by the lama, Douglas, and the interpreter, and on June 3, 1895, was stamped with the official seal of the lama. The credibility of The Life of Saint Issa was unquestionably damaged by Douglas's investigation.Nicholas Roerich. In The Lost Years of Jesus, Elizabeth Clare Prophet documents other supporters of Notovitch work, the most prominent of which was Nicholas Roerich. Roerich - a Theosophist - claimed that from 1924 to 1928 he traveled throughout Central Asia and discovered that legends about Issa were widespread. In his book, Himalaya, he makes reference to "writings" and "manuscripts" about Issa - some of which he claims to have seen and others about which people told him. Roerich allegedly recorded independently in his own travel diary the same legend of Issa that Notovitch had seen earlier.”

There’s just so much wrong with so many of the final analyses that slander Notovitch, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Well, first and foremost, it was a rare moment of lucidity, engaging Mueller to discredit Notovitch’s work, in an effort to appear open-minded, by the Catholic See. But the holes begin appearing in BOTH sides of the debate fairly quickly. The actual story was that NN fell, broke his leg, and was laid up at the Himis monastery. The tale goes that, having learned of the ‘scrolls’, he pestered (and finally prevailed) on the Head Lama to translate/read the story to him. Some versions have a French translator (who is unnamed, and should’ve been the FIRST target of the detractors: instead, this little tidbit gets overlooked).

Here’s an overlooked gem:

Muller cites a woman who had visited the monastery of Himis and made inquiries about Notovitch. According to a letter she wrote (dated June 29, 1894), "There is not a single word of truth in the whole story! There has been no Russian here. There is no life of Christ there at all!"

Who is this woman? I have found no version, which gives her name.

Here’s another:

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.”

Back when I was researching this, I found absolutely no outside references to this fellow. None, zip, zero, zilch. The only place (on the internet) that I’ve found is in reference to this event. I even shot off an email to Agra U, asking about him. Received no reply.
Strange. A university professor with no monograms, scholarly works, anything a normal academic instructor would be expected to output.

[As an aside, I found this portion especially amusing, for some reason:
Notovitch says this was because "Orientals are in the habit of looking upon Europeans as robbers who introduce themselves in their midst to despoil them in the name of civilization."]

And here is some research, for those interested in looking at both sides of this coin. I have commented elsewhere on James W. Deardorff, and so shall forbear.

Final Analysis – mistaken identity.

I still say that all this hubbub was about Apollonius of Tyana – since baby Jebus never existed, and old A of T was known to have traveled in those parts, in accordance with Philostratus and Damius.

What a tangled web we weave…etc.

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11 comments:

Mesoforte said...

since baby Jebus never existed

Methinks Paul (earliest writer, 50 CE) made it all up. Mark (first Gospel) doesn't appear until 70 CE, and the Gnostics in between don't mention Christ.

say no to christ said...

Ra

Interesting, that is the first time I have ever heard of Apollonius of Tyana, but not the first time I have heard the tales of jesus traveling to India and studying Buddhism.

About 6 years ago I was on one of those spiritial quests and took meditaion amung other female spiritial centered classes and the woman who offered the classes told a story about Jesus studying buddhism and that the laying on of hands to heal originated from Jesus studying reki with the buddhist.

I personally think that Jesus was credited with many different spiriatial gurus teachings cuz he didnt have a story of his own to tell. ITs kind of hard to have a story when you didnt exist. :)

Krystalline Apostate said...

MF:
Methinks Paul (earliest writer, 50 CE) made it all up. Mark (first Gospel) doesn't appear until 70 CE, and the Gnostics in between don't mention Christ.
Which Gnostics would those be, I wonder? Didn't Iraneus & Hippolytus wipe out most of the writings?
The Nag Hammadi actually do mention JC.

SNTC:
ITs kind of hard to have a story when you didnt exist. :)
Which helps validate the composites theory.

say no to christ said...

Ra said:"The Nag Hammadi actually do mention JC."

They do mention him, but not in a literal sense. The way the Nag Hammadi gnostic gospels speak of Jesus is in a spiriatual sense. Jesus was the higher self. And there is some indication that Jesus may have lived hundreds of years before the first centry A.D. All of the events from the NT especially Revelations, had already happened hundreds of years before the C.E. The early church fathers mixed ancient history with the more recent historical names and Osman believes the same, but that the early church farthers also confused the historical events of John the baptist as the historical events of Jesus. That makes a lot of sense to me cuz there is a lot of early christian art that portray John and Jesus together and Jesus bowing to John. There seems to be a sense of equality between the two and sometimes John seems to be the more important figure. We all know the early church fathers were fighting amongst thenselves over what should be included teachings in the bible. So, at this point we can definately say that Jesus did NOT live when the NT says he did and that the early church fathers were lying their asses off while trying to destroy all the evidence.

Amy

say no to christ said...

Here is a page from Acharya S book 'Suns of God'. She covers the myth of Jesus in Idia. Man I've got to get this book!

http://www.truthbeknown.com/jesus_in_india.htm

Krystalline Apostate said...

SNTC:
The way the Nag Hammadi gnostic gospels speak of Jesus is in a spiriatual sense. Jesus was the higher self.
No, not all of them. There's the Gospel of Mary (Magdalene), for 1. Secret Gospel of (Peter?).
Some of them do speak of JC as an actual physical entity, if memory serves.

Mesoforte said...

Which Gnostics would those be, I wonder? Didn't Iraneus & Hippolytus wipe out most of the writings?
The Nag Hammadi actually do mention JC.


120-180 CE Gospel of Mary
70-160 CE Gospel of Peter

Both of them are way out of bounds.

BTW, this site usually has correct dates-

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

say no to christ said...

Damn, I've missed a lot here and I didnt think I had been gone that long. I have a lot of catching up to do after the weekend.

I'll do my best to figgure out wether Jesus was mentioned in a literal sense in the gnostic gospels over the weekend. I have to get up at the ass crack of dawn to go support my husband and my youngest at their outrigger races a couple hours away from here tomorrow and I plan on re-reading the Origins of Satan by Elain Pagels. She repeats a lot of info about the gospels in all her books. It has been a while sence I read it, so I need to refresh my memory.

Have a good weekend everyone. :)

Amy

Amy

say no to christ said...

OK, it had been a while since I read one of Elain Pagels books. I needed to refresh my memory.

Meso is correct in asking which one. There were many sects of christianity and many sects of gnostics. Some gnostics believed that the serpent/satan in the garden was a good spirit that was trying to help mankind exscape from their evil creater who wanted to keep them from knowing the knowlege of the gods and their true devine selves. Some gnostics believed Jesus lived long before what the NT says(this coincides with the dead sea scrolls and Osman's theories) and that he wasnt the son of god, just the son of man and a great spiritual teacher, much like Buddha. Some of the gnostic gospels do not mention the crucifiction of Jesus and speak of him in a more spiritual sense and not a literal one.

IT appears that not only did the orthodoxs and the gnostics disagree they seemed to disagree amonst themselves as well causing great devides everywhere they went.

Thats religion for ya.

Amy

Anonymous said...

BBC ran a programme about St Issa, but they go further with this story than Notovitch do. The title of the programme is "Did Jesus Die?" and comes to the conclusion he didn't die, returned to the east and lived there until the age of ~80. He is buried in Shrinagar, Kashmir.

The programme interviews several professors in religious matters and makes a very compelling case.

Note that Notovitch never knew this, he only knew the missing years. The story you can read about St Issa from those years, do corroberate the story that Jesus did indeed not spend long enough time on the cross to actually die from the experience. Hence it is well full possible that he didn't and thus returned. That is what the second coming is about - his followers believed he would return but he never did.

Krystalline Apostate said...

anonymous:
The title of the programme is "Did Jesus Die?" and comes to the conclusion he didn't die, returned to the east and lived there until the age of ~80. He is buried in Shrinagar, Kashmir.
I actually covered this topic on this post:
http://biblioblography.blogspot.com/2006/05/non-empty-tomb-major-argument-possibly.html
"The group that first claimed that Jesus and Yura Asaf were the same man was the Ahmadiyya movement, a controversial nineteenth century offshoot of Islam. Numerous Muslim and Persian documents - the Tafir-Ibn-I-Jarir, the Kanz-al-Ummal, and the Rauzat-us-Safa - have references that contribute to the theory of Christ's escape. "
It's mostly a Muslim theory.