The Lost Years of Jesus in Tibet

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 Kapilavatsubirthplace 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.

Above: The Lost Years of Jesus? – A short 10 minute Youtube video briefly describing the possibility of Jesus’s travels to Tibet and India during his “Lost Years”.


Sources:

  1. Jesus the Teenage Years
  2. Jesus in Tibet: A Modern Myth – Robert M. Price (Director of the Center for Inquiry and Professor of Biblical Criticism for the Center of Inquiry Institute) response to Notovitch’s claims
  3. Nicolas Notovitch – Wikipedia
  4. The Jesus of the New Age Movement – By Ron Rhodes
  5. Lost Years of Jesus – Wikipedia
  6. The Lost Years of Jesus – Narrative history of events

Links:

  1. The Jesus Thangka – By Terry Anthony; A very interesting site with picture of Tibetan Thangka’s which depict Jesus (St. Issa) throughout his life.

33 thoughts on “The Lost Years of Jesus in Tibet

  1. dab

    PS:

    According to Christina Stoltz, Opposition to Evangelism in India, China, and Tibet, masters thesis, Florida State University (2007), p. 66, the Moravians produced a thang ka (tanka) that is described by Ralph R. Covell in his book The Liberating Gospel in China: The Christian Faith Among China’s Minority Peoples, pp. 60-61: “Tibetans were always attracted to a Tanka, a cloth banner or scroll on which were painted in the center the head of Christ and around it in a circular fashion eight scenes from the life of Christ, with a parable in each of the four corners.” This doesn’t match the contents of the other Jesus thang kas I have seen.

    The thesis by Christina Stoltz has been put up for free download on the internet.

    -Dab

  2. dab

    Dear Tibet Talk,

    The last time I was in Nepal I came across an interesting article about a “Jesus Thangka” quite different from the one you talk about. This tangka was made in Darjeeling area not long ago.

    The bi-monthly periodical has the title “Himalayan Drumbeat,” (Hi-mâ-la-ya’i rnga-sgra).

    It’s in vol. 1, no. 6 (Feb-March 1996), pp. 34-36.

    The title of the article is “Ye-shu Lugs-kyi Thang-ga?” which I translate as: Tangka Painting in the Jesus Tradition?

    The author’s name is given as ‘Gyed-phug Spen-pa tshe-ring.

    This nicely done painting (in a very Tibetan style) shows Jesus, with long flowing hair parted in the middle, as the main central figure, seated in double-lotus posture, apparently holding a “long-life” vase (with myrobalan?) in both hands at the center of the chest.

    There is something, in general, quite Milarepa-like about Jesus’ appearance.

    I have it in form of Jpeg images if you’re interested.

    Are you keeping an opened mind about the possibility that Jesus visited Lhasa? I hope not! These are all missionary-related productions, no earlier than mid 19th century. The scene of Jesus with a “monastery” in the background is just their wishful thinking about the *future* conversion of Tibetans.

    Still, these paintings of Christian subjects in Tibetan style are quite fascinating, and deserve closer study for all kinds of reasons. I remember seeing handpainted Mary&Child Jesus Christmas cards made at Drepung in South India (however, these were clearly done by Tibetan Buddhist monks, not missionaries!).

    Yours,
    Dab

  3. Jigme32

    I know that the notion of Jesus traveling to Tibet or even possibly Lhasa was heavily influenced by missionaries but it is still possible that he traveled to what was considered Tibet during that time in the Kashmir area. Possible but not probable.

  4. Dab

    Dear Tibet Talk,

    You say, “depicting Jesus with Tibetan monks in front of a gompa.” But if you look closely I think you will have to agree that there are no monks in this scene. Only Tibetan laymen wearing chubas (chubas with long sleeves such as you never seen in traditional monastic wardrobe). Jesus is wearing ‘biblical sandals,’ but everybody else is wearing felt boots.

    This is the only scene of the six that has no clear and evident basis in the text of the New Testament (I had thought it might be the division of loaves and fishes, but really, the Tibetan layman simply seems to be bringing Jesus tea for ‘hospitality’ (inviting Jesus as a guest, which seems to be the point here).

    But in general, the idea that Jesus visited Kashmir or Tibet is very strongly *opposed* by all the evangelical Christians known to me. I read “The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed” years ago, and found it very interesting.

    Notovitch claimed to have been shown a “Life of Issa” at Hemis Monastery in Ladakh. It was supposed to have two volumes. It could never be found again. I don’t think he had his facts straight, and he gives me no reason to trust his word. He couldn’t have told you if it was Urdu or Tibetan, so how could he be so sure it was a life of Jesus or not?

    However, you have to be aware that the Hebrew name of Jesus, the one used during his time, would have been pronounced “Yehoshuah.” There were many people with this name during his time. And after the spread of Islam several centuries later, there were many people with the Arabic form of the same name: Issa.

    In the list of prophets of darkness in the Kalachakra (copied from, or prophesying, lists of prophets used by Ishmaelis etc.), Sanskrit Isha was translated into Tibetan as Wangpo (dbang-po). So yes, “Jesus” was somehow “known” (and therefore unknown at the same time) to some Tibetans of the rather distant past (in the 11th century, via India, with an Islamic source … if you ask me).

    In the 13th century there was a Nestorian doctor of Syrian origins named Isa (in some places even called Jesü, in Chinese Aixie/Ai-hsieh) who introduced Muslim (Greek) medicine to Mongol China, and may have even worked in close proximity to Pagpa Lama. He began serving the Mongols in the 1240’s and continued for most of the rest of his life. He went on a mission to Iran in 1283, but returned to China in 1286, where I think he died. There is an old dissertation on his life: Tu-chien Weng, Ai-hsieh: A Study of His Life, doctoral dissertation, Harvard University (Cambridge 1938), and I’ve heard that Igor de Rachewiltz is going to write a whole book about him.

    But there was also a famous 11th century Muslim eye doctor named Ali ibn Issa, and still countless other Muslims with Issa in their names. An Abbasid prince named Issa, just to give another example. So finding a tomb in Kashmir with the name Issa on it is about as surprising as finding a tomb with the name Jesus on it in Mexico.

    But the tomb they point to in Srinagar as the tomb of Jesus is in fact inscribed with the name of “Yuz Asaf,” which corresponds to Jehosofat (which means Jesus had to change his name from Yehoshua to Jehosofat on his way to his death in Kashmir). Check “Yuz Asaf” on Wikipedia for more entertainment (but don’t be taken in by its many mistakes… like the statement that it’s Jesus & not the Buddha on the back of that Kanishka coin). But what about Jehosofat being an equivalent of bodhisattva? This would seem to be well documented and therefore worthy of serious thinking.

    So, anyway, I’m rambling. And the questions of whether Jesus spent his 18 “lost” years traveling the world or not, and whether he died in Kashmir after the [non]crucifixion are two arguments that have to be carefully separated. I think the link you give to Jesus in Tibet: A Modern Myth – Robert M. Price is the only one that is even remotely believable, but even he messes around a bit.

    You also have to read “The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus” by Levi (a minister in a church in Indianapolis Indiana), channeled a hundred years ago, if you want to know more about what’s feeding these fantasies.

    -dab

  5. Jigme32

    Yea your right it does look like laymen wearing chubas, good eye. I just captioned it as the thangka owner did on his site as well so he’s probably unaware of it as well.

    Thanks for the info too.

  6. noryang

    This post is especially very interesting. I makes me inspired to continue keeping my blogs.
    I am just wondering if know about any historical connection between the native Americans and the Tibetans since they are lots of similarities between the two. I see that one of the upcoming topics include Tibetan Buddhism and Native American Spiritual Practices. looking forward to reading your next posts..
    Nice blog, Great job Jigme.

  7. Let me ask you this question: When you happened to be famous, and the crowds in your hometown started to wonder each other, “Is this not him the son of so and so, whose parents we know exactly?”, what initial knowledge about you do you think this wonder was based on?

    When Jesus became famous, the crowds wondered, “Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph the carpenter?” On what previous knowledge about Jesus do you think they questioned? On the knowledge that Jesus was around his father all the time, helping his father making your wardrobe!

    Jesus didn’t have the lost years as the world speculated. He’s there, helping his father making furnitures. He’s not lost to India or Tibet or everywhere. Such thing is a mind-wandering of people who don’t read bible with spirit but with mind. Lost in mind-wandering, like you.

    Why I dare to tell you this? Because this is the truth Jesus spoke in my heart when I asked him: “Where were you actually, Lord, during those unwritten years?” So, why don’t you start having conversations with Jesus and confirms with him what you have discovered in your mind-wandering, a habit we inherited from Cain as a punishment to his murdering sin.

  8. I think it is amazing those who still need to defend their beliefs that the lost years abroad did not happen.

    The real problem is that those who disagree already come with inheirited prejudice based upon their own upbringing and experiences. The fact still remains that Jesus teachings are very inherently similar to Buddhist and Taoist beliefs. If you have lost that concept do to your own wild technicalities… Yes people can over simplify things it is a fallacy of thought and you can try to make things concrete that are not and that is another fallacy of thought.

    What I am saying is that I have never heard a good counter to any of the information regarding the lost years. In fact, I have been to the Tibetan temple of the Rainbow method where resides the scrolls regarding the adept named Jesus being very gifted and taught energetic healing methods.

    The only part people have a real problem with is the fact that it attacks their belief system. So it must be wrong right??? I mean if Jesus was taught then what does that mean?

    Let me summarize a scripture Jesus once said: “When I die they will say I am a God. But I am not a God and I need you to tell them that.”

    The only reasonable solution is that the bible has been tampered with. Aggression was never a part of Christian philosopy but look at them today.

  9. Please, those of y0u who are more learned than I, tell me, how did Jesus who apparently did return to his home land after many years of travel and LEARNING, at various centers of knowledge in his time, to place his hands on various points of energy on the body of the persons whom he “CURED” of ailments to the WONDERING eyes of the ignorant ? ? ?

    I believe he learned it in Tibet. The meridian lines of energy were studied for many thousands of years ago in Tibet, and have come to us through acu puncture in China, where, instead of touching which involves only an especially placed hand or finger/s on specific points can create the life energy to bring back life. This system from Tibet, which was the touching system, went to Chica, which satinized it in my opinion, to poking a sharp needle into a energy point and twisting it to utter pain, and came back to America in the form of “Touch for Health” Dr. John Thie fame in Glendale, CA. Dr. George Goodheart in Michigan. and even me, and many others. I have reduced cataracts with this system, right in front of excited friends and witnesses, relived a man of stroke symptoms, and a lot of other so-called miracles, when one does not know what is happening. Jesus did these things and was depicted in words, and some artists, considering that ALL he did was place a HAND on top of the person’s head. Possibly, but more likely he used the various points. Get a book on Touch for Health from John Thie, Jr. in Glendale, CA and read up, and try it yourself. Works. Jesus was a learned man, studied all that there was to study in his time, and realized the existence of God within himself, and evryone else, and tried desperately to tell folks that they, too, were the SONS AND DAUGHTERS of God, but they misunderstood, and considered that there could only be ONE SON OF GOD. God made all the universe, keeps it developing, all the seeds, animals, humans, plants, water, air, everything, our minds, when willing to produce most anything. I love the presence of Jesus surrounding me and am averse to going to a CHURCH because it seems to me they perverse the SPIRIT OF JESUS, which I hold dear to me. My problem is as with a lot of my human beings compatriots, do not follow Jesus’ instructions at all times. I must persevere more. How about you ? ?

  10. First, you have to understand that there never was a person named Jesus Christ, so in a sense Jesus goes wherever the Church says he goes. It is probable that, Yeshu,the person after whom the character Jesus Christ was created did actually visit India. The reason Jesus spends so much time in Capernaum is because it led to the Silk Road. If you travel n few miles to the north you could pick up a route that took you to Baghdad and from there pick up what later would be known as the Silk Road and travel to India.

    You have to realize that what you are reading in your scriptures was written as antisemitic Roman propagana and only contains some interpreted teachings of the true Master. There exists much evidence to this fraud which the Romans committed to stop the insurrection of the Messianic Jewish movement of into which Yeshu was born. If you do not believe this then I suggest that you read Joseph Atwill’s ‘Caesar’s Messiah’ which clearly parallels the so-called ministry of Jesus with the military campaign of the Roman Emperor Titus. To learn more about how the Romans usurped the teachings and scriptures of Yeshu and the Nazoreans and proclaimed them the revelations of their godman Jesus Christ visit: http://www.nazoreans.com. The life of this individual is absolutely fascinating and not boring like the phony scriptures.

  11. yakpa

    This is a spurious piece designed to mislead, definitely to attract buddhists to christianity. The piece supposed to be written by tibetan monks is blatantly false because the way it is expressed. It is typical of how christians would preach their faith, full of abstract nouns that does not actually provide any intellectual depth. Besides a tibetan buddhist may respect jesus but would never put jesus above Dalai Lama or any head of the four sects of Tibetan Buddhism. Amazing, the length to which christians would go proslytize buddhists, by any means!

  12. The Christian Thangka with the head of Jesus in the center was produced in Khalatse by a young Buddhist painter in 1937/38, after a “model” by the Irish painter John Carey. He had been asked by the Moravian missionary Asboe to design a “Thangka” in the Buddhist form of a wheel with 8 sections showing scenes from the life of Jesus, according to the Bible. Carey did not visit Ladakh but was instructed by the missionaries.They then asked the young local painter, who had a Christian mother, to make 6 copies of Carey’s painting, giving the people portrayed Tibetan looks (dress, features). Some of these Thangkas have been preserved. The original – Carey`s ptainting – is framed and put up in the Moravian Church in Khalatse (Khalsi).

  13. in the rule book king james issa was touch by a woman and say he had lost hjs power so god does not lose his power.now the fact he spent 40 days in the desert why? the crossing from one side to the other buddist do this and it is true,but many buddist always say it is in the light but never do what they preach a book called the third eye (not the one lobsang tueday rampa wrote) for he denied he wrote it , when it is given to you and you do this you will understand where wisdom comes from and why i have known thousands of liars in my time i always ask the what god looks like i write on three card thier answers (1) no one knows (2) he looks like you and me.(3) he is all around us. they say i am a mind reader because i know i do not have belief or concept or faith or any other label they choose to put on others. yes rampa wrote stories and put the true in them but because the tors and cohorts could not understand them he was ridiculed now i am going to write a verse from the rule book
    john chapter 15:4 abide in me and i in you. john chapter 3:6 that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit chapter ye that believe in me as though you dead yet you shall live. he said in me not on him or outside him jesus carried the christ he is the holy grail chapter 20:17 jesus said unto her touch me not why? i could go on but to take you back to the buddists they are a candle under the bed. jesus knew this and that is why they say its a concept. in other words they don’t know. the same belief as the anglicains who robbed the land off the indians, and other churches who the tors help then took over the role of master. now i would like you to pull this comment apart and if it stands it is true lol god bless. any one knows what ishra means? sus.

  14. if thier is no manuscript or parchment or letter do we not give the benifit of doubt. have you read any of his books notovictch claims i haven’t but will do do you believe he is a traveler and writer. could anyone translated to him the writings. what was tebet called before it was called tebet? why was it changed?

  15. chima

    Brethren with ID So past a Christian please i note confusion all over you and wish to correct immediately because i do not want you astray, My Lord Christ Jesus did not in anyway said that He is not God but read John 20:17 and correct yourself immediately.

  16. chima

    18 yeas absent of My Lord Christ Jesus is all about spiritual inspirations and His disappearance is total holiness and in totality have nothing to do with devilish kingdom but fighting to redeem mankind, but remember life is free “WILL” and in addition, heaven and hellfire is real choose where to suite you for eternity, I you happy New Year 2013 in Jesus Name……………………..

  17. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_Buddhism#Early_history
    http://buddhism.about.com/od/vajrayanabuddhism/a/tiberthist1.htm
    Buddhism was not in Tibet until centuries AFTER Jesus lived. How could he have trained under Buddhist monks? This attack on Christianity got fire in the 19th century from all fronts, such as evolution, mormonism, the occult theological society, etc. Satan is busy. It’s all retarded. Jesus is the only way you are going to heaven, if you don’t accept him now, you will have to go to hell and be punished until you finally accept him.

    Luke 2:51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.

    52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

    he stayed home and learned from scripture. no account for those years b/c he did quiet study and had no ministry or disciples at that age who could write about it. I mean we don’t worry about “missing years of Socrates!” and yet his teachings live on in what his students wrote!

  18. moka sree

    to @Grace Sabarus— better u read the dark belief of mother theressa….. u get an idea what may really happened with u

  19. Tiffany

    I see no reason why Jesus could not or would not seek to travel outside of his country. His point in coming to the world was to save it.

    All people are HIS people.

  20. Ragel

    Have any of you heard of indigo children? Humans that can be in front of you but hear and understand things beyond this reality? Maybe Jesus was one of the first of this kind?
    He may have been with his father making whatever but his mind was somewhere else. Hearing monks pray. feeling babies hurting bodies. understanding others struggles. Idk if any of you educated scholars understand what I am writing. But have an out of the box thought with me for a moment (like way out of the box)….is my theory a possibility???

  21. Engine Dungdung

    As the authorities of Christianity have made the Bible a controversial , that a person can not peep inside the depth of religion. They made it a skept of myth, absolutely a person like me who sees possibilities as said above could be misled.

  22. Its crazy to think that in the Bible that they leave missing 18 years of Jesus’s life. Thats ridiculus to belive that he lived a boring uneventful life and then became the “Son of God” Miraculously at the age of 30. To me its way more logical to belive that he went to the East. All of his teachings are Yoga Hindu and Buddhist. Its all the same. We as stupid humans have created these divisions out of ignorance and stupidity. All are the same “sub ek”

  23. Pingback: Revival: Press Release – Creflo Dollar 2015 Sermon: God Lives Within You | Free Music57 + politics » Free Music57 + politics

  24. Bob

    I think that Issa was an essene living in either Nazareth or Qumran and travelled throughout the area including Egypt and possibly other countries as the Essenes were doing I think his lifestyle was hijacked by well intentioned scribes and blown out of proportion to justify their own cause and considering he is described as the son of God, no one during his life saw fit to write about him. He himself was obviously well informed with supposedly very wise sayings , yet he didn’t write them down. I think Issa was an essene End of story!

  25. Raphael

    Notovitch’s writings were immediately controversial and Max Müller stated that either the monks at the monastery had deceived Notovitch (or played a joke on him), or he had fabricated the evidence. Muller then wrote to the monastery at Hemis and the head lama replied that there had been no Western visitor at the monastery in the past fifteen years and there were no documents related to Notovitch’s story. J. Archibald Douglas then visited Hemis monastery and interviewed the head lama who stated that Notovitch had never been there. Indologist Leopold von Schroeder called Notovitch’s story a “big fat lie”. Wilhelm Schneemelcher states that Notovich’s accounts were soon exposed as fabrications, and that to date no one has even had a glimpse at the manuscripts Notovitch claims to have had.

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