The lost years of Jesus (or dark years) refer to the undocumented period between the infancy of Jesus and the beginning of his ministry according to the New Testament.
The Gospels relate the birth of Jesus, and the subsequent trip to Egypt to escape the fury of Herod (Matthew 2: 13-23).
There is a general reference to Mary and the young Jesus living in Nazareth (2:23 Matthew, Luke 2: 39-40).
There is also an isolated account of the visit of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover when Jesus was twelve years old (Luke 2: 41-50).
However, after this, there is a gap in history that covers eighteen years in the life of Christ (from 12 to 30 years).
Apart from the generic allusion that Jesus was advancing in wisdom, stature, and in the favor of God and man (Luke 2:52), the Bible says nothing more about the life of Jesus during this period of time.
A common assumption among Christians is that Jesus simply lived in Nazareth during that period.
Interestingly, authors Gruber and Kersten (1995) also claim that Buddhism had a substantial influence on the life and teachings of Jesus. The authors claim that Jesus was influenced by the teachings and practices of the “Therapists” described by the authors as teachers of the Theravada Buddhist School which was established in Judea.
Gruber and Kersten assert that Jesus lived the life of an ideal Buddhist and taught Buddhism to his disciples. Their work follows in the footsteps of Oxford New Testament scholar Barnett Hillman Streeter, who established in the 1930s that the moral teaching of Buddha has four striking resemblances to the Sermon on the Mount— a collection of sayings and teachings credited to Jesus, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew (chapters 5, 6, and 7).
The Sermon is the longest continuous section of Jesus speaking found in the New Testament and has been one of the most widely quoted elements of the Canonical Gospels.
Many scholars believe that Jesus may have been inspired by the Buddhist religion and that the Gospel of Thomas and many manuscript texts found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, reflect this possibility.
Books like The Agnostic and Beyond Beliefs: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels and The Original Jesus by Gruber and Kersten discuss these theories.
Interestingly, in 1887 Russian author Nicholas Notovitch visited India and Tibet.
He stated that in the monastery of Hemis Ladakh he heard of a manuscript on the “Life of Saint Issa, the Best of the Sons of Men.”
Issa is the Arabic name of Jesus.
Its history, together with a text translated from the “Life of Saint Issa”, was published in French in 1894 under the name “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ”, and subsequently translated into English, German, Spanish, and Italian.
Check out the documentary and let us know what you think.
Mostly based on the gaping holes in Jesus’ life—between the ages of 13 and 29—research suggests that the reason why there is no Biblical record of the whereabouts of Jesus is that he was greatly influenced by Buddhism.
A documentary aired by the BBC indicates that Jesus Christ was NOT crucified and that he was a Buddhist monk.
The intriguing documentary asks countless questions that many have refused to answer.
As noted in the documentary, the story of Christianity features the most famous name in history, as well as the most famous event in history, the crucifixion.
For some or even many true believers, the fact that Jesus was crucified, died, rose again and ascended into heaven can be considered as a definitive truth. However, throughout history, many have questioned these events. Would a man—Jesus—die after only six hours on the cross? Was he drugged? And what really occurred in the Sepulcher, and if Jesus did not ascend into heaven, then where did the central figure of Christianity go?
Many authors these questions risk undermining the entire idea behind Christianity and are extremely controversial.
The most crucial part of the story behind Jesus Christ—which all Christians faithfully believe—is the ‘idea’ that Jesus Christ rose from the dead—the resurrection, the primary story of the heart of Christianity.
Long story short, the documentary questions the life of Jesus and asks numerous controversial questions life, was Jesus excommunicated, and did he flee to the Himalayas?
According to the documentary, Jesus spent years teaching in various, distant holy cities like Jagannath, Rajagriha and Benares, and that He eventually fled to the Himalayas, where He continued his studies in Buddhism.
Many authors, including a German scholar by the name of Holger Kersten wrote about Jesus and his life suggesting that He had settled in Sindh, among the Aryans.
The documentary aired by the BBC suggests that Jesus fled and escaped death to Afghanistan with several Jewish settlers.
Local stories seem to confirm the theory suggesting that Jesus spent years in the Kashmir Valley and remained there until He died at the age of 80.
The Life of Saint Issa
Oil painting by J. Michael Spooner
The Best of the Sons of Men
- Ancient scrolls reveal that Jesus spent seventeen years in India and Tibet
- From age thirteen to age twenty-nine, he was both a student and teacher of Buddhist and Hindu holy men
- The story of his journey from Jerusalem to Benares was recorded by Brahman historians
- Today they still know him and love him as St. Issa. Their ‘buddha’
In 1894 Nicolas Notovitch published a book called The Unknown Life of Christ. He was a Russian doctor who journeyed extensively throughout Afghanistan, India, and Tibet. Notovitch journeyed through the lovely passes of Bolan, over the Punjab, down into the arid rocky land of Ladak, and into the majestic Vale of Kashmir of the Himalayas. During one of his journeys he was visiting Leh, the capital of Ladak, near where the buddhist convent Himis is. He had an accident that resulted in his leg being broken. This gave him the unscheduled opportunity to stay awhile at the Himis convent.
Notovitch learned, while he was there, that there existed ancient records of the life of Jesus Christ. In the course of his visit at the great convent, he located a Tibetan translation of the legend and carefully noted in his carnet de voyage over two hundred verses from the curious document known as “The Life of St. Issa.”
He was shown two large yellowed volumes containing the biography of St. Issa. Notovitch enlisted a member of his party to translate the Tibetan volumes while he carefully noted each verse in the back pages of his journal.
When he returned to the western world there was much controversy as to the authenticity of the document. He was accused of creating a hoax and was ridiculed as an imposter. In his defense he encouraged a scientific expedition to prove the original tibetan documents existed.
One of his skeptics was Swami Abhedananda. Abhedananda journeyed into the arctic region of the Himalayas, determined to find a copy of the Himis manuscript or to expose the fraud. His book of travels, entitled Kashmir O Tibetti, tells of a visit to the Himis gonpa and includes a Bengali translation of two hundred twenty-four verses essentially the same as the Notovitch text. Abhedananda was thereby convinced of the authenticity of the Issa legend.
Source: Summit University Press
… He passed his time in several ancient cities of India such as Benares. All loved him because Issa dwelt in peace with Vaishas and Shudras whom he instructed and helped. But the Brahmins and Kshatriyas told him that Brahma forbade those to approach who were created out of his womb and feet. The Vaishas were allowed to listen to the Vedas only on holidays and the Shudras were forbidden not only to be present at the reading of the Vedas, but could not even look at them.Issa said that man had filled the temples with his abominations. In order to pay homage to metals and stones, man sacrificed his fellows in whom dwells a spark of the Supreme Spirit. Man demeans those who labor by the sweat of their brows, in order to gain the good will of the sluggard who sits at the lavishly set board. But they who deprive their brothers of the common blessing shall be themselves stripped of it.
Vaishas and Shudras were struck with astonishment and asked what they could perform. Issa bade them “Worship not the idols. Do not consider yourself first. Do not humiliate your neighbor. Help the poor. Sustain the feeble. Do evil to no one. Do not covet that which you do not possess and which is possessed by others.”
Many, learning of such words, decided to kill Issa. But Issa, forewarned, departed from this place by night.
Afterward, Issa went into Nepal and into the Himalayan mountains ….
“Well, perform for us a miracle,” demanded the servitors of the Temple. Then Issa replied to them: “Miracles made their appearance from the very day when the world was created. He who cannot behold them is deprived of the greatest gift of life. But woe to you, enemies of men, woe unto you, if you await that He should attest his power by miracle.”
Issa taught that men should not strive to behold the Eternal Spirit with one’s own eyes but to feel it with the heart, and to become a pure and worthy soul….
“Not only shall you not make human offerings, but you must not slaughter animals, because all is given for the use of man. Do not steal the goods of others, because that would be usurpation from your near one. Do not cheat, that you may in turn not be cheated ….
“Beware, ye, who divert men from the true path and who fill the people with superstitions and prejudices, who blind the vision of the seeing ones, and who preach subservience to material things. “…
Then Pilate, ruler of Jerusalem, gave orders to lay hands upon the preacher Issa and to deliver him to the judges, without however, arousing the displeasure of the people.
But Issa taught: “Do not seek straight paths in darkness, possessed by fear. But gather force and support each other. He who supports his neighbor strengthens himself
“I tried to revive the laws of Moses in the hearts of the people. And I say unto you that you do not understand their true meaning because they do not teach revenge but forgiveness. But the meaning of these laws is distorted.”
Then the ruler sent to Issa his disguised servants that they should watch his actions and report to him about his words to the people.
“Thou just man, “said the disguised servant of the ruler of Jerusalem approaching Issa, “Teach us, should we fulfill the will of Caesar or await the approaching deliverance?”
But Issa, recognizing the disguised servants, said, “I did not foretell unto you that you would be delivered from Caesar; but I said that the soul which was immersed in sin would be delivered from sin.”
At this time, an old woman approached the crowd, but was pushed back. Then Issa said, “Reverence Woman, mother of the universe,’ in her lies the truth of creation. She is the foundation of all that is good and beautiful. She is the source of life and death. Upon her depends the existence of man, because she is the sustenance of his labors. She gives birth to you in travail, she watches over your growth. Bless her. Honor her. Defend her. Love your wives and honor them, because tomorrow they shall be mothers, and later-progenitors of a whole race. Their love ennobles man, soothes the embittered heart and tames the beast. Wife and mother-they are the adornments of the universe.”
“As light divides itself from darkness, so does woman possess the gift to divide in man good intent from the thought of evil. Your best thoughts must belong to woman. Gather from them your moral strength, which you must possess to sustain your near ones. Do not humiliate her, for therein you will humiliate yourselves. And all which you will do to mother, to wife, to widow or to another woman in sorrow-that shall you also do for the Spirit.”
So taught Issa; but the ruler Pilate ordered one of his servants to make accusation against him.
Said Issa: “Not far hence is the time when by the Highest Will the people will become purified and united into one family.”
And then turning to the ruler, he said, “Why demean thy dignity and teach thy subordinates to live in deceit when even without this thou couldst also have had the means of accusing an innocent one?”
From another version of the legend, Roerich quotes fragments of thought and evidence of the miraculous.
Near Lhasa was a temple of teaching with a wealth of manuscripts. Jesus was to acquaint himself with them. Meng-ste, a great sage of all the East, was in this temple.
Finally Jesus reached a mountain pass and in the chief city of Ladak, Leh, he was joyously accepted by monks and people of the lower class …. And Jesus taught in the monasteries and in the bazaars (the market places); wherever the simple people gathered–there he taught.
Not far from this place lived a woman whose son had died and she brought him to Jesus. And in the presence of a multitude, Jesus laid his hand on the child, and the child rose healed. And many brought their children and Jesus laid his hands upon them, healing them.
Among the Ladakis, Jesus passed many days, teaching them. And they loved him and when the time of his departure came they sorrowed as children.
The undocumented portion of Jesus’s early life, popularly known as “The Lost Years of Jesus, have aroused many questions about Jesus of Nazareth’s whereabouts and activities during this period. “The Lost Years of Jesus” are generally said to comprise of Jesus’s life after 12 years of age and prior to 30 years of age. These years have been suitably labeled the “Lost Years” since there has been no biblical or middle eastern/western records of Jesus’s activities during this period to date.
However in 1887 Nicolas Notovitch (pictured in right), a Russian aristocrat and journalist, traveled to an ancient Tibetan monastery in Himis, north of Srinagar in Kashmir, and discovered and translated ancient Buddhist scripts which spoke of a Saint Issa (a transliteration of the word Jesus), a man who had traveled from Israel to the lands of India, Persia, Tibet (in the Ladakh area of Kashmir) and many others. Here is an excerpt from Notovitch’s book published in 1894 called The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ in which he writes of a lama who speaks about Saint Issa at the monastery:
“Issa [Jesus] 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 enlightened you, who has brought back within the pale of religion the souls of the frivolous, and who has allowed each human being to distinguish between good and evil. His name and his acts are recorded in our sacred writings. And in reading of his wondrous existence, passed in the midst of an erring and wayward people, we weep at the horrible sin of the pagans who, after having tortured him, put him to death.” …
“Where are these writings now to be found? And by whom were they originally written down?” I asked. “The principal scrolls, whose compilation was effected in India and Nepal at different epochs, proportional to the events, are to be found at Lassa [Lhasa] to the number of several thousands. …” pp. 154-155″
recently, since many scholars and researchers such as J. Archibald Douglas claim his findings to be pure fabrication. Just as there were many skeptics to Notovitch’s findings during his time, there were also those who supported Notovitch’s findings. Nicholas Roerich traveled throughout Central Asia from 1924 to 1928 and “discovered that legends about Issa were widespread”
“It is not certain what route Jesus took on his journey to the East. Here [Above] is one possible itinerary via ancient roads and trade routes, reconstructed from Notovich, Abhedananda, and Roerich texts and legends: Jesus departed Jerusalem (follow the yellow line), took the Silk Road to Bactra, headed south to Kabul, crossed the Punjab and proceeded to a Jain area on the Kathiawar peninsula where Jain temples were later built bear the town of Palitana. He crossed India to Juggernaut (Puri), made trips to Rajariha (Rajgir), Benares, and other holy cities and, fleeing his enemies went to Kapilavatsu—birthplace of Gautama Buddha. Jesus took a trail just west of Mt. Everest to Lhasa (where the palace of the Dalai Lama was built in the 17th century). On the return trip (follow the violet line), he took the caravan route to Leh, went south to the state of Rajputana and the north to Kabul. He proceeded on the southern trade route through Persia where Zoroastrian priests abandoned him to wild beasts. Jesus survived and arrived unharmed in Jerusalem.” (*Map and text from The Lost Years of Jesus).
Scholars have also found similarities between the teachings of Buddha and Jesus which further adds to the possibility that Jesus learned his teachings from Buddhists. Here are some excerpts from Jesus and Buddha, The Parallel Sayings:
1) -“There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” Mark 7:15
-“Stealing, deceiving, adultery; this is defilement. Not the eating of meat.” Sutta Nipata 242
-“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20
-“Let the wise man do righteousness: A treasure that others can not share, which no thief can steal; a treasure which does not pass away.” Khuddakapatha 8:9
-“Jesus spoke unto them saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
-“When a Bodhisattva descends from heaven, there appears in this world an immeasurable, splendid light surpassing the glory of the most powerful glow. And whatever dark spaces lie beyond the world’s end will be illuminated by this light.” Digha Nikaya 14:1:7
*Also an interesting fact to be noted is that the current 14th Dalai Lama himself regards Jesus as a bodhisattva “who dedicated his life to the welfare of human beings”.
Above is a very interesting Tibetan thangka depicting Jesus with Tibetan monks in front of a gompa (fortress monastery). Check below under links for a site with more thangkas like this. Of course this thangka is not a depiction of a real historical event. Had Jesus reached Tibet, Tibetans would not have been Buddhists until some centuries later. I think it is most likely made by or for Christian missionaries work in Tibet.