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The Unknown Years of Jesus' Life—Sojourn in India


The Second Coming of Christ (The Resurrection of the Christ within You)
"Jesus knew his divine destiny and set out for India to prepare himself for its fulfillment....because India specialized in religion from time immemorial."

In the New Testament, the curtain of silence comes down again on the life of Jesus after his twelfth year, not to rise once more until eighteen years later, at which time he receives baptism from John and begins preaching to the multitude. We are told only:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.' - Luke 2:52

For the contemporaries of such an extraordinary figure to find nothing noteworthy to record from his childhood to his thirtieth year is in and of itself extraordinary."


"Jesus knew his divine destiny and set out for India to prepare himself for its fulfillment....because India specialized in religion from time immemorial."

In the New Testament, the curtain of silence comes down again on the life of Jesus after his twelfth year, not to rise once more until eighteen years later, at which time he receives baptism from John and begins preaching to the multitude. We are told only:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.' - Luke 2:52

For the contemporaries of such an extraordinary figure to find nothing noteworthy to record from his childhood to his thirtieth year is in and of itself extraordinary.

The Unknown Years of Jesus' Life—Sojourn in India (Part 1)

Remarkable accounts, however, do exist, not in the land of Jesus' birth but farther east where he spent most of the unaccounted-for years. Hidden away in a Tibetan monastery priceless records lie. They speak of a Saint Issa from Israel "In whom was manifest the soul of the universe"; who from the age of fourteen to twenty-eight was in India and regions of the Himalayas among the saints, monks, and pundits; who preached his message throughout that area and then returned to teach in his native land, where he was treated vilely, condemned, and put to death. Except as chronicled in these ancient manuscripts, no other history of the unknown years of Jesus' life has ever been published.

Ancient records from a Tibetan monastery

Providentially, these ancient records were discovered and copied by a Russian traveler, Nicholas Notovitch. During his travels in India in 1887, Notovitch basked in the wonders of the soul-stirring stark contrasts of her ancient civilization. It was midst the natural grandeur of Kashmir that he heard stories about a Saint Issa, the details of which left no doubt in him that Issa and Jesus Christ were one and the same person. He learned that copies of ancient manuscripts preserved in some Tibetan monasteries contained a record of Issa's years of sojourn in India, Nepal, and Tibet. Undeterred by hazards and obstacles, he journeyed northward, finally arriving at the Himis monastery outside of Leh, the capital city of Ladakh, which he was told possessed a copy of the sacred books about Issa. Though he was received graciously, he did not gain access to the manuscripts. A disappointed Notovitch turned back toward India; but in a near-fatal mishap on the treacherous mountain pass, his leg was broken in a fall. Seizing this as an opportunity for a second attempt to see the sacred books, he asked to be carried back to Himis to receive the necessary care. This time, after repeated requests, the books were brought to him. Perhaps the lamas now felt obliged to treat as hospitably as possible their stricken guest—a time-honored tradition in the East. With the help of an interpreter, he meticulously copied the contents of the pages pertinent to Jesus as they were read to him by the head lama.

Returning to Europe, Notovitch found that his enthusiasm for the discovery was not shared by the Western Christian orthodoxy, which was loath to support such a radical revelation. So he published his notes himself in 1894 under the title 'The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ'. In his publication, he urged that a qualified research team be dispatched to view and judge for itself the value of these previously secreted documents. Though Notovitch's claims were challenged by critics in America and Europe, the accuracy of his account was attested to by at least two other reputable persons who journeyed to Tibet to seek out and ascertain the authenticity of these manuscripts.

In 1922, Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa, visited the Himis Monastery, and confirmed all of the salient details about Issa published in Notovitch's book. [1]

Nicholas Roerich, [2] in an expedition to India and Tibet in the mid-1920s, saw and copied verses from ancient manuscripts that were the same, or at least the same in content, as those published by Notovitch. He was also deeply impressed by the oral traditions of that area: "In Srinagar we first encountered the curious legend about Christ's visit to this place. Afterwards we saw how widely spread in India, in Ladak and in Central Asia, was the legend of the visit of Christ to these parts during his long absence, quoted in the Gospel."[3]

Answering the critics who had claimed that Notovitch's story was a fabrication, Roerich writes: "There are always those who love scornfully to deny when something difficult enters their consciousness....[But] in what possible way could a recent forgery penetrate into the consciousness of the whole East?"[4]

Roerich notes: "The local people know nothing of any published book [i.e., Notovitch's] but they know the legend and with deep reverence they speak of Issa."

The Second Coming of Christ (The Resurrection of the Christ within You)
Volume 1, Discourse 5, pg. 79-82
Paramahansa Yogananda
Printed in the United States of America 1434-J881
ISBN-13:978-0-87612-557-1
ISBN-10:0-87612-557-7

Notes: [1] Swami Abhedananda (1866-1939) was vice president of Ramakrishna Math and Mission from 1921 to 1924. He had traveled in America teaching Vedanta from 1897 until 1921. While there, he had read Notovitch's book; and in 1922 he visited the Himis Monastery. With the help of one of the lamas, he made his own translation of some of the Tibetan verses about Issa, which he published in Bengali in 1929. The English translation, 'Journey into Kashmir and Tibet', is published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, Calcutta, 1987. ('Publisher's Note')
[2] Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947), renowned artist, explorer, and archaeologist, born in St. Petersburg, Russia. From 1923 to 1928 he headed the Central Asiatic Expedition through India, Tibet, Sikkim, Chinese Turkestan, and Mongolia Altai. Reports about the expedition, which mentioned Roerich's recountal of the evidence for Jesus' trip to India, appeared in 'The New York Times' May 27, 1926, and other newspapers and magazines.
[3] Roerich, 'Heart of Asia' (New York: Roerich Museum Press, 1929).
[4] Roerich, 'ltai-Himalaya' (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1929).
[5] Roerich, 'ltai-Himalaya'.




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