Abubakr Salahuddin –
(I have been asked by the Editor of The Tomb of Jesus Website to explain, in my own words, what the Jesus in India theory means to me. This explanation should not be viewed, necessarily, as a condemnation of Christian doctrine. It’s a statement about my perspective).
“…There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed.” (Matthew 10, vs. 26)
“I was not trying to step on any toes or find any hot potatoes. I was not trying to find anything controversial. I just wanted to answer the question in my own mind. Where was Jesus during the missing years? What was he doing? I just wanted to know?” (Ed Martin, from the film-documentary, Jesus in India.)
For me, the belief that Jesus lived and died in India is very positive and satisfying, as it deals with four ideas that are important to me: fulfillment, security, justice, and the unity of religions. These four ideas come from the teachings that are found in various religions.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, according to the Bible, Jesus had prayed to be spared from the ordeal that he knew lie ahead: death by crucifixion. To know that God saved Jesus from death on the cross strengthens my faith in God, because it represents the continued fulfillment of God’s promise to support His Prophets and Holy Ones. God answered Jesus’ Garden of Gethsemane prayers.
Since God had protected Daniel from the lion, David from Goliath, Jonah from the whale’s belly, Moses from Pharoah, Noah from the deluge, Lot from God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, then certainly God would save his own son (or prophet) from death.
This continued fulfillment of God’s promise of support gives me a sense of security, in that I can feel confident that, in my deepest trials, God is with me. He does not abandon me. He did not abandon Daniel. He did not abandon Jonah. He did not abandon Moses. He did not Abandon Noah. He did not abandon Lot. And he did not abandon Jesus to die a miserable death on the cross. He saved Jesus, just as He had saved the Prophets of the Old Testament. God was consistent.
On the issue of justice, it is clear. I feel that it would be unjust for God to force his “son,” or anyone else, to die for my sins. This idea that Jesus died for my sins is repulsive to me. It seems unfair. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” It could be that this idea is religious and spiritual truth. And I truly respect anyone who believes it. But, for me, it represents injustice. So, when I learned that Jesus may have survived the crucifixion, and not died on the cross for my sins, I felt very comforted. I can trust that God is a just God, and would never force someone to die for my sins. I must pay the price for my errors and my sinning, not someone else.
As regards the unity of religions, what this means to me is that all religions carry the same basic message, and this is a basis for the global unity of the human family. When I learned that Jesus travelled to India, in part to learn Hinduism and Buddhism (though he also condemned the entrenched priesthoods), and that he had respect for these religions, this felt liberating and unifying.
No longer is Jesus the property of born-again fundamentalist Christians of the United States, nor is he the head of an exclusive religion that condemns to hell all those of “other” religions (or no religion) who don’t follow him, or who don’t follow any form of what is now called Christianity. The Jesus who walked in Jerusalem, and then across Asia and eventually in India, clearly believed in the unity of religions and the brotherhood and sisterhood of the human family. He paved the way for the idea of global unity at a time when such a thought could not be imagined. This Jesus was a Jesus not only of his time, but of the future. This is the Jesus that has been hidden from us, but now has come into the light.
An appreciation of this Jesus opens the doors of learning and light. No longer do I have to feel restrained from reading the scriptures and religious and spiritual writings of the various traditions. I am free, as Jesus was, to read, and benefit and learn from, those spiritual writings and traditions–such as the spiritual writings and traditions of Hinduism. This makes me a true follower of Jesus.
The Slave Trade
There is yet another important meaning that the Jesus in India theory has for me. And it has to do with how either a corruption of, ignorance of, or willful disregard of the true teachings of Jesus led to the Slave Trade.
I was raised a Christian, specifically a Roman Catholic, for twelve years of my life. I attended Holy Mass every single day for eight years in grammar school (Corpus Christi Grammar School on Chicago’s south side). I was dedicated to my religion. I loved the rituals, the sacraments, the ambiance of the church. At some point in life’s journey, I learned that a Pope, specifically, Pope Nicholas V, had given his official approval of the Slave Trade in two papal bulls called Dum Diversas (June 18, 1452) and Romanus Pontifex (January 5, 1455). He gave his permission “…to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever…and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery…”
“On the other side of the reckoning there is, however, the fact that the advent of the Portuguese was a calamity for Africa. It was Prince Henry’s men who first brought back slaves from Africa to Europe, in the first instance from Morocco and later from West Coast. The first Negroes brought to Europe were presented to the Pope, who set his seal of approval on the traffic in human souls as being a means of saving souls. Thus the foundations were laid of the trade that brought untold sufferings to hundreds of thousands of men and women, deprived them of their birthright, depopulated West Africa and perpetrated a crime amongst humanity…” (Lady Southerland, The Gambia, page 50)
This revelation was devastating to me. It represented a total betrayal by my church, originating, in official decree, from its highest authority: The Vicar of Christ; The Servant of the Servants of God; God’s Representative on Earth; The Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church; The Vicar of the Apostolic See; The Successor of the Prince of the Apostles; His Holiness, the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
The question for me was this: If my religion had any spiritual efficacy; if what they had taught me for twelve years was true, then how could a Pope of the Church of Rome have given his official “blessings” to the Slave Trade—a trade that not only captured and sold multi-millions of African people into perpetual bondage, but also killed 20,000,000 men, women, and children in the process (over three times the number of Jews murdered in Nazi German), although some place the figure at much, much higher. One writer, Haki Madhubuthi, places the number of black people killed as a result of the slave trade at 250,000,000, although historians would disagree with his estimate.
What was missing in Christianity that caused it to lack the spiritual power that would have prevented the Pope from approving this holocaust? What had erased the Pope’s conscience? Why did he not do the opposite and strongly condemn, and prevent, that trade? The Pope was not simply a religious figure head—he had worldly power. He could raise armies and wage crusades. Why did he not use that power to prevent and stop the Slave Trade?
What added to my pain was the knowledge that the effects of the slave trade, in the daily lives of African-Americans, had far-ranging impact all the way up until this very day. But then, insult to injury was added when I learned of some of the names of the slave ships: The Good Ship Jesus; Mother of God, etc. John Hawkins, a slaver, was said to have been a “religious” gentleman who insisted that his crew “serve God daily” and “love one another”.
I received yet another devastating blow when I discovered that no other religious authority had placed his stamp of approval on the Slave Trade. The only religious authority that had approved the Slave Trade was none other than the Pope. But that was not all. I was to receive yet another painful blow. Not only had no other religious authority approved the Slave Trade, but one religious authority, the Sharif of Mecca, a Muslim leader, had officially condemned the trade, in writing, by sending correspondence to the Muslim and other tribes of West Africa, as well as ordering that no Muslim tribe should involve itself with the trade. This is recorded in the Sierre Leone Studies:
“The Mohammadan religion also had participated in the suppression of slave trade. About six years before, the Sharif of Mecca had sent a letter to the King of Fulas for circulation through all these ‘Mandingo’ tribes, strictly prohibiting the selling of slaves — and which latter was also promulgated among the Yorubas, Fulanis and other neighboring tribes. The slave traffic was declared to be contrary to the teachings of Muhammad (On whom Be Peace) which pronounce the most fearful denunciations of Allah’s wrath in the world hereafter against those who persist in the traffic with the European nations.” (Sierra Leone Studies, pgs. 18-19, Vol. No. XXI, 939)
So, yet another painful question emerged in my mind: If an Islamic authority had the conscience, humanity, and spiritual insight to condemn the Slave Trade, why not the Pope—the leader of my religion, and the Representative of God on earth?
My Catholic teachers had taught me just the opposite. They had taught me what has now become the dominant belief regarding primary culpability with regard to the Slave Trade: that, “the Muslims started the Slave Trade.” The lie was compounded when I discovered that not only had the Sharif of Mecca condemned the trade, but that when slaves on the coasts of West Africa were being hunted, they would often run into the interior, to the Muslim tribes, for protection.
“The Europeans had been looking for allies against the Muslims, and they found them in the coastal tribes of West Africa. These coastal tribes strongly participated in the slave trade along with the European slavers. But it was the African Muslims who lived further within the interior of Africa — inland around the Niger and Chad rivers in the regions of Timbuktu, Jenne and Gao — who fought against this trade and who actually provided sanctuary for those Africans of the coast who would run inland to the African Muslims for protection against the European slavers and some of their own brothers who had, unfortunately, become slavers.” (Islam and the African People, by Abubakr Ben Ishmael Salahuddin, Review of Religions, May/June 1997)
This is not to deny that Muslims finally became involved in the Slave Trade. But, in my mind, the fact that the Pope had approved the Slave Trade, while the Sharif of Mecca condemned it, spoke volumes.
But was it possible that this official Papal saction had some other meaning? Was there something that happened in history that historians missed? The answer to that question was painfully revealed to me by none other than a modern Pope: Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II officially apologized to the African people for the Slave Trade. This meant that the highest authority of the Catholic Church had officially acknowledge that a Pope was responsible for the Save Trade.
He made this apology, as he said, “for the sins of Christian Europe against Africa” during a 1991 visit to Senegal’s Gorée Island, one of the main transit centers for the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Something was definitely wrong. But what?
Certainly, according to the Bible, Jesus appears to have touched, somewhat, upon issues of equality, for instance:
Jesus summoned them, and said to them, ‘You know that they who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you, but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant'” (Matt 10:42-43).
But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. [Luke 14:13 &14.]
So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you. [Matthew 7:12.]
So, again, what could have been missing? Perhaps the answer lie in the following verse:
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
That’s all the bible says about Jesus from ages 12 to 30. Where was Jesus during those years? Could the answer lie there? Were there more teachings that Jesus may have offered during those missing years? And could those teachings have included more directguidance on the issue of human equality, as well as stronger examples of the practice, by Jesus, of human equality?Could Jesus’ teachings on human equality, during those missing years, have been more explicit than the teachings in the above verses?
In time, I learned about Jesus in India. I learned that, in India, Jesus spent time with the dregs of society. He defended the rights of the lower-castes—the Dalits, the Sudras. He defended the prostitutes and other people who had become weak and helpless in society. In India, his teachings about human equality were explicit, uncompromising, and extensive. Somehow, Pope Nicholas V did not know this Jesus.
Could that have been because the rest of Jesus’ life, in India, was unknown, or, more likely, purposely hidden by Church authorities? Had that Pope known about the teachings and life of Jesus in India, and absorbed himself in contemplation and meditation over the life and teachings of Jesus in India, would he have been so powerfully inspired by Jesus’ teachings and example in India that his conscience would have been strongly molded in such a manner as to make it utterly impossible for him to have approved the Slave Trade?
Here are some quotes from the “Jesus Scrolls,” as the scrolls that Nicholas Notovitch claimed to have found at the Hemis Monastery are popularly called, that reveal some of the explicit teachings and life of Jesus in India as regards human equality:
“That the Soudras [lower castes] were not only forbidden to attend the reading of the Vedas, but to gaze upon them even, for their condition was to perpetually serve and act as slaves to the Brahman, the Kshatriyas, and even to the Vaisyas. ‘Death alone can free them from servitude,’ said Para-Brahma. ‘Leave them, therefore, and worship with us the gods who will show their anger against you if you disobey them.
“But Jesus would not heed them; and going to the Soudras, preached against the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas. He strongly denounced the men who robbed their fellow-beings of their rights as men, saying, ‘God the Father establishes no difference between his children, who are equally dear to him…
“’For he humiliates them that labor by the sweat of their brow to gain the favor of an idler who is seated at a sumptuously spread table. They that deprive their brothers of divine happiness shall themselves be deprived of it, and the Brahmans and the Kshatriyas shall become the Soudras with whom the Eternal shall dwell eternally.
“For on the day of the Last Judgment, the Soudras and the Vaisyas shall be forgiven because of their ignorance, while God shall visit his wrath on them that have arrogated his rights.’” (Nicholas Notovitch, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, (Joshua Tree: Tree of Life Publications, 1980; Originally published in 1894 in France. Translated from the French by Alexina Loranger), p. 10
It is very interesting that The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, which the 19th century American psychic, Levi Dowling, claimed to have received from the Akashic Records, claims that Jesus said the following, in India, regarding human equality:
“My Father-God, who was, and is, and evermore shall be; who holds within thy hands the scales of justice and of right; Who in the boundlessness of love has made all men to equal be. The white, the black, the yellow, and the red can look up in thy face and say, Our Father-God. Thou Father of the human race, I praise thy name.” (The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, 24: 16-18)
I can cherish the name and works of the man I believe to be the true Jesus—a man who travelled the world, far away from his homeland. Who encountered Persians, Indians, and other peoples across Asia, thus exposing him to the truth of humanity as one family. A Jesus who, no, was not “ahead” of his time. He is a Jesus who was on time, whether or not those he encountered had the wisdom to understand and adopt his teachings.
I can cherish the name and works of a man who not only taught religion and spirituality, but who also learned religion and spirituality from the Buddhists and Hindus of India. Thus, this Jesus realized both the universality of the human family, as well as the universality of the teachings of the various religions. This is the true Jesus.