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.
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”.
- Jesus the Teenage Years
- 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
- Nicolas Notovitch – Wikipedia
- The Jesus of the New Age Movement – By Ron Rhodes
- Lost Years of Jesus – Wikipedia
- The Lost Years of Jesus – Narrative history of events
- The Jesus Thangka – By Terry Anthony; A very interesting site with picture of Tibetan Thangka’s which depict Jesus (St. Issa) throughout his life.