Long Before Tech Support Was Out-sourced to India, Christianity's Founder May Have Gone There First
Easter approaches, and readers of the Huffington Post should know about the accumulation of evidence that Jesus spent part of his life in India -- which parts, and how long, or even whether this happened, are much-debated by many scholars and religious leaders. However, after four years of work on the film Jesus in India (Sundance Channel / US - Showtime / Australia) which took me to three continents and to experts from all the major religions, my position is that although a final verdict is not yet in for Jesus in India as a concept and theory and new direction in religious thought, where there is smoke there is often fire -- and I've been wading through the smoke for years. Or, as the New York Times said of my film, I've been "sifting through legends, myths and historical evidence in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of the life of Jesus of Nazareth from ages 12 to 30" and Jesus' possible travels in India.
Everyone is entitled to his or her right to skepticism, but if you fail to accept the challenge of considering this, you will be depriving yourself of knowledge of an extraordinary puzzle. This remarkable puzzle, which involves eighteen lost years or "Hidden Years" in the life of Jesus, may well turn out to be a cornerstone for understanding many enigmas about Christianity -- like the long-ignored missing but somehow obvious clue in a mystery that remains unsolved. Or perhaps somehow it will eventually be proven a dead end by indisputable dating of documents, DNA testing and other scientific tests and tools. Either way, none of us will be the worse for the truly incredible journey to inquire and discover what can be surmised about Jesus' Lost Years by taking the questions right to the ancient temple of the Hindus called Jagannath in Puri, India, where some say Jesus spent several years (the "some" include the present spiritual leader of the Hindu religion, the Shankaracharya) and a Buddhist monastery high in the Himalayas in Ladakh, India, where an ancient scroll has long been held to exist that purportedly answers all the questions about the Missing Years of Jesus (see: www.jesus-in-india-the-movie.com)
What's that? You didn't know Jesus was missing?
The New Testament has a Black Hole from the ages 12 to 30 of Jesus' life. In the world of film we call that sort of omission a "jump cut." In Fundamentalism, they call it a part of Jesus' life that God doesn't think you need to know about, or God would have made sure it was included in the Bible. On one page of the Gospel of Luke Jesus is 12 years old in the Temple in Jerusalem and then... nothing... nothing for 18 years until Jesus shows up at the River Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist.
One critic accuses me of Biblical revisionism for examining the gap. But I'm not revising. How can you revise what isn't there? I'm probing to see if historical records and longstanding traditions of all kinds can help cure the omission.
During the benediction at the Inauguration of Barack Obama, Reverend Rick Warren referred to Jesus at one point by the name Issa. (Check it and confirm it if you don't believe me.)
Never heard Jesus called Saint Issa? It's how they refer to him in the Muslim and Hindu worlds, and even the Buddhists are said to conceal a very ancient manuscript in a monastery high in the Himalayas called "The Life of Saint Issa, the Best of the Sons of Men." The story of the existence of that manuscript, that fills in the missing years of Christ and describes his travels as a young man in India -- and even has Jesus exhorting the Hindus to stop worshiping idols and give up the caste system -- has been resoundingly debunked in much of the Christian world for nearly a century. It's long overdue that the debunking stop. Our journey to India, following the trail of those who saw and translated the manuscript several times, gives a very convincing case that the manuscript does exist, and that it dovetails neatly with a long list of other kinds of evidence that put Jesus in India during that period of his life. If true, that journey of Jesus to the East was conveniently omitted from the New Testament.
You don't think Jesus could have reached India during his years as a young man? If he had remained in Judea, wouldn't he have been married off at age thirteen, the age all Jewish boys attain manhood? The silk road to India and beyond was much-traveled. There were caravans of merchants. And if there were three Wise Men (the Magi) from the East who were present at Jesus' birth, doesn't it imply (as Indian sage Paramahansa Yogananda claimed) that a tug from the Orient was present in Jesus' life from the beginning? Then why would the Lord not return the visit? Especially since the oldest temples in the world, belonging to the oldest religions, were in India.
And why did Jesus send Saint Thomas to India to preach the Gospel there after the crucifixion, if Jesus never knew the importance of India? Doubting Thomas preached in India for twenty years and died there. It's a well-supported fact. Take a look at Jesus in India and you'll begin to see what may have happened in those missing years of Jesus' life, and what may have been omitted (deliberately... or just lost?) from the story you've been told again and again since childhood.
Noted reviewer Pete Hammond describes the documentary Jesus in India as "fascinating and profound, a deeply spiritual journey" and the website of Paramahansa Yogananda calls the film "groundbreaking." But critic Jeff Wilser said before Christmas that it "would make Bill O'Reilly of FOX news choke on his eggnog." And Nancy Dewolf Smith writes in the Wall Street Journal that the film is a "cavalcade of crackpots" and "pseudo-history," ignoring that the film has such luminaries as the Dalai Lama, Princeton Professor Elaine Pagels, two professors at Georgetown University, an apostolic nuncio of Pope John Paul II, and of course the historic interview with the "Pope" of Hinduism (the Shankaracharya) who rather pointedly declares that Christian authorities have been guilty of a "coverup." (This is denied in my film by a Vatican representative, the late Apostolic Nuncio Corrado Balducci.)
If it turns out that this is a "Cavalcade of Crackpots," it fits neatly with my other films, which usually seem to be about the "crackpots" who are gifted philosophers, artists, geniuses and honorable men through the centuries, all of whom were considered outcasts in their time. They include Vaslav Nijinsky (She Dances Alone), Vincent van Gogh (Starry Night), Timothy Leary (Timothy Leary's Dead), the shaman known as Rahelio of Sedona, Arizona who was just covered in an article in Sunset magazine (The Artist & The Shaman), and the recently-deceased Forrest J. Ackerman, one of the "deluded" souls who thought way back in the 1920's that mankind would reach the moon in his lifetime (The Sci-Fi Boys). Major Jesse Marcel, who investigated the 1947 UFO event that became known as the Roswell Incident, was a laughingstock for decades, and he was the main character of my film Roswell starring Martin Sheen, Kyle MacLachlan and Dwight Yoakam, made for Showtime and nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Motion Picture for Television. Jesse Marcel's offense was that he implied that the government is deliberately covering up what it knows about extraterrestrials and UFO's. What do you think about that one. Well, that's a subject for another blog.
However, as for the controversy about Jesus in India, surf over to www.jesus-in-india-the-movie.com and you'll see what's provoking both agony and ecstasy. You may discover why writer Len Kasten, in the March / April 2009 issue of Atlantis Rising, says: "this film, some think, has the potential to revolutionize Christianity..."