The mystical life of Jesus

By S. Sunder Das

The Birth of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel according to St. Matthew thus:   “Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”   Soon after the birth of Jesus his parents had to flee to Egypt because Herod the King had decreed that all children below the age of two had to be killed. He was taking no chances lest the prophecy that Jesus would become the King of Jews be fulfilled. The next thing we hear about Jesus is that when he was twelve years old his parents had taken him on a journey to Jerusalem along with many other pilgrims. There, this young child was found expounding the scriptures and discussing spiritual matters with the learned Pharisees.   After that we hear about him when at the age of 30 he was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. In the present versions of the New Testament there is no record of the intervening years of his life between 12 and 30.

It fell to the lot of one Nicolai Notovitch a Russian scholar to research this matter very thoroughly.   In the autumn months of 1887 he reached Kashmir one of his journeys to the East. From there he arrived at Ladakh in Tibet, determined to learn all he could from the Buddhist monks there. One of the Lamas there spoke of a prophet Issa who appeared to be an incarnation of Buddha. The Lama also expressed his disappointment that the Christians of that time had deviated somewhat from the precepts of Buddha. Notovitch also saw a manuscript which contained an account of the life of Jesus between the ages of 12 and 30. The opening sentence in this document began   “The earth trembled and the heavens wept because of the great crime committed in the land of Israel.     For there was tortured and murdered the great and just Issa, in whom was manifest the soul of the Universe.”   He went on to say that Jesus arrived in the Indus valley before his 14th year and settled among the people there intending to learn the teachings of  Buddha.   He travelled through the Punjab and then went on to Jagannath where the priests received him gladly.   It is significant that here he learned to read and to interpret the Hindu Vedas.   But he went one step further when he championed the cause of the untouchables. The orthodox priests threatened to kill him and he had to flee. He said:   “God our Father makes no distinction between any of his children, all of whom he loves equally.”

Some historians and theologians were skeptical of the research of Notovitch and dismissed his writings as fantasy.   However, it is significant that Edgar Cayce, while in a deep trance, had spoken about the travels of Jesus to India and other parts of the East. It might be mentioned that Cayce was an ardent Baptist and would not make such claims without foundation. What made Issa to leave his home in the first place was that he was averse to the marriage negotiations which were made for him by his relatives. In those days a Hebrew boy of thirteen was ready for marriage. During his stay in India he developed his Siddhis, which included healing powers, the ability to travel vast distances without conventional means, raising the dead and the ability to change his body. Many of these Siddhis he manifested during the three years of his ministry before the crucifixion. A husband and wife team, Dick and Janet Bock, who researched Notovitch’s work in their book The Jesus Mystery tried to authenticate many of these reports by interviewing many Hindu saints in India. There are two types of people who can develop Siddhis, the renunciates who do intense tapas, and the incarnations of God. The former, when they use up the Siddhis, have to start all over again. But the Avatars can never deplete their powers.

Theologians have, over a long period of time tried to explain how Jesus dying on the cross could save the human race from damnation. Vicarious sacrifice is very hard for the layman to understand and even the priests who harangue their congregations Sunday after Sunday are hard put to understand this mystery. When one reads the account of the crucifixion one cannot but shudder at the barbarity of the procedure and the extreme suffering it would have caused. Perhaps Mel Gibson brought it all out in his film The Passion of The Christ.   At about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice saying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  Soon after, he yielded up his spirit. At that moment the veil in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum in the Synagogue was rent from top to bottom and the whole city was covered in darkness.   One of the secret disciples of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea begged Pilate to give him the body so that he could lay it in his own sepulcher.   A great stone was rolled against the entrance and seals put on it because the Jewish clergy were afraid of the prophecy that Jesus would rise from the dead.

It is of interest to note that some women including Mary Magdalene, whom he saved from her great sin, were present early in the morning of the third day. When they reached the tomb they found the stone rolled away and two Angels present who said: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?   He is risen.” The great miracle was that although the linen cloth which was wrapped around the body and the scarf tied over the head were found neatly folded, the body of Jesus was nowhere to be seen.   Indian Yogis know that Avatars have the ability to dematerialize the body and to materialize another body to suit the needs of the occasion. This must have happened in the case of Jesus as the following incident would seem to demonstrate. Mary Magdalene was so overcome with grief that she could not even find the body of her teacher. She stood weeping outside the tomb.   She saw someone standing there and did not know that it was Jesus. Only when Jesus said to her Mary, did she recognize him.   The fact that she could not initially recognize him seems to indicate that the body Jesus had assumed after his resurrection was different from the one he had before. Moreover, Jesus said to her: “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father.”   If  Mary had attempted to touch Jesus she would have had a shock because his body would have been intangible at that moment.

There was the case of two men known to Jesus who were going to another village and on the way they were discussing the death of Jesus. He joined them and explained to them from the scriptures how he had to die for the sake of mankind and to be resurrected the third day. And yet they failed to recognise him. It was only when he took bread, broke it and gave it to them that they knew it was Jesus; then he vanished from their sight.

Later when the disciples were all gathered in a locked room, Jesus appeared to them and reassured them that he was indeed risen from the dead. At that time Thomas was not present and he later refused to accept that Jesus was alive, saying that unless he felt the imprints of the nails on the hands of Jesus he would not believe. Jesus came again and Thomas believed.

The shroud that covered the body of Jesus in the tomb, almost two thousand years later, was discovered in Turin. It is about 4.36 metres long and 1.1. metre wide. From these measurements it has been estimated that Jesus was about 1.8 metres tall and may have weighed 75 kilos. The shroud contains the faint markings of a face and body. Some bloodstains also have been found on it. Today the shroud is one of the holy relics of Christendom.

All this raises the question of what death means.   Jesus himself said: “ I am the resurrection and the life.   He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.     He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”   Most human beings have a fear of death although the separation of the spirit from the corruptible body should be a joyful event. Although he suffered in his mortal body, at the moment when his spirit departed from his body he exclaimed:   “Father into thine hands I commend my spirit.”   One of the most significant things that Jesus said is this: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Scholars have found out that the Bible that we know today is not the original document.     Successive Popes had deleted portions from the original and shaped the teachings of Jesus to conform to the beliefs of their times with the result that those things which were purely Eastern in character were done away with. Examples of these were the theory of reincarnation and the concept of Karma.   One has to say that therefore Christianity is not well understood in the West.

Another important distortion is about the distribution of wealth and of the pursuit of wealth for its own sake. We know now that Jesus and his disciples practised what has come to be known as Apostolic Communism in which a common pool of money was established from which the needs of everyone in the community were met. This only goes to show that communism need not be antagonistic to God and may even be seen as the nearest approach to the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

Mystics often speak of the seamless nature of the Universe. As if to symbolise this concept we read in the Bible that the tunic that Jesus wore during his ministry was woven in such a way that there were no seams in it.   In the final analysis Christianity is a product of the East. The sojourn of Jesus in India and his yogic training there should be a matter of pride to all those born in the East.

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