Jesus and Krishna1((http://www.zrarts.com/Krishna-and-Jesus/))
The Pan-Indian lore concerning Jesus is as rich as the best Indian buffet. What we might call “The Lamb Saag-a” (Lamb Saag is an amazing Indian dish made with lamb and creamy spinach and served at different levels of spiciness.2((Or, make it yourself. This is a great recipe: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/user/92665/recipe/lamb-saag)) If you haven’t already, you need to try it!), is a spicy dish of many extraordinary claims about Jesus that are taken very seriously in Indian/Eastern culture and by Buddhists and Hindus around the world. Omitting a few myths (Jesus and Krishna were the same person or Jesus and Buddha were the same person, or Jesus was buried in Srinagar, Kashmir, etc.), we will focus on five of the most interesting:
Myth #1 — Jesus Traveled to India and Learned Buddhism during His “Lost Years”
This claim, which was made by many, was most effectively made by Nicolas Notovitch, a Russian war-correspondent who traveled to India in 1887.3((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unknown_years_of_Jesus)) Upon returning, Notovitch told the story that he saw a manuscript in the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh titled “Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men.”4((ibid.)) Though neither he nor anyone else ever produced the original manuscript, he did publish a French translation of the manuscript in 1894 which described Jesus leaving Jerusalem for the Himalayas at age 13, learning Buddhism in the monasteries He visited, and returning to Jerusalem to teach at age 29.5((ibid.)) It turns out, though, that this story was fabricated by Notovitch. The Hemis Monastery where he claimed to have seen the original manuscript denied ever having seen him.6((ibid.)) Bart Ehrman summarizes the situation this way, "Today there is not a single recognized scholar on the planet who has any doubts about the matter. The entire story was invented by Notovitch, who earned a good deal of money and a substantial amount of notoriety for his hoax”.7((Ehrman, Bart D. (February 2011). "8. Forgeries, Lies, Deceptions, and the Writings of the New Testament. Modern Forgeries, Lies, and Deceptions". Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. (EPUB) (First Edition. EPub Edition. ed.). New York: HarperCollins e-books. pp. 282–283. ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6.)) Interestingly, though, the idea that Jesus traveled to India and learned Buddhism which He later repackaged as Christianity persists.8((The most notable recent work on this subject was written by Holger Kersten. To learn more, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Lived-India-Before-Crucifixion/dp/0143028294))
Myth #2 — Jesus and Buddha Basically Taught the Same Thing
Much has been made over some superficial similarities between the teaching of Buddha and the teaching of Jesus in the area of ethics. For example, Buddha said, “Consider others as yourself,” and Jesus said, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”9((https://buddha-christ.info/similarities.html)) Or, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me,” and Buddha said, “If you do not tend to one another then who is there to tend to you? Whoever would tend me, he should tend the sick.”10((ibid.)) One more, Buddha said, “If anyone should give you a blow with his hand, with a stick, or with a knife, you should abandon any desires and utter no evil words,” and Jesus said, “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.”11((http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/2000/02/jesus-and-buddha-the-parallel-sayings.aspx)) Clearly, the teachings of Buddha and Jesus share a superficial similarity in these points. But, this is really the extent to which there is any similarity between them. Beyond these basic ethical teachings, there are many fundamental differences. Dr. Douglas Groothuis notes six critical differences between the Dharma of Buddha and the Doctrine of Christ:12(( http://www.equip.org/article/jesus-and-buddha/)), 13((
- Buddha sought enlightenment and Jesus was The Light.
- Buddha did not believe in any Creator and Jesus was the Creator.
- Buddha sought to escape suffering and Jesus came to be the Suffering Servant.
- Buddha sought to show the way but Jesus claimed to be the Way.
- Buddha denied the existence of the soul or self (anatta)14((https://www.britannica.com/topic/anatta)) but Jesus affirmed the soul or self and promised the continuance of the self through eternity (Mt. 25:46; Jn. 5:28-29; Lk. 23:43).
- Buddha led people to Nirvana15((https://www.britannica.com/topic/nirvana-religion)) which resulted in Parinirvana16((https://www.britannica.com/topic/parinirvana)) after death, a final ceasing to be of the aggregates of the self, and Jesus led people to Heaven, an eternal home of the personal soul.
In light of these central doctrines, who could seriously claim that Buddhism and Christianity are the same or that Jesus plagiarized Buddha?!