Did Jesus Study in India Under the Gurus?
Question: The gospels are silent about the approximately 18 years between the last time we hear of Jesus in the temple as a boy of 12 (Luke:2:41–52) and the beginning of His ministry at about 30 years of age (Luke:3:23). I have come across the report a number of times, not only in The Aquarian Gospel, but in newspapers as well, that during these missing years Jesus was in India studying under the gurus. The wisdom He acquired there supposedly became the basis for His ministry. Why not?
Response: The most widely circulated report involved an alleged Nicholas Notovitch, who claimed that while traveling in Tibet in the late 1800s he was told by Tibetan lamas that a record reporting the visit of Jesus existed in a Himalayan monastery. In the early 1900s another visitor to Tibet was allegedly told the same thing. However, no one capable of reading and translating such “records” ever saw them, no copy was brought to the West for examination, and now the story is that the “records” have been destroyed.1
If the Bible were based upon no better evidence than that, the critics would have justifiably dismissed it long ago. Yet such speculative claims are instantly given credence by those who demand proof for anything the Bible says. That double standard betrays an intense bias on the part of skeptics who claim to be interested only in the truth.
All of the Evidence Is to the Contrary
First of all, there is not a particle of historical or archaeological evidence that Jesus ever visited India, much less studied there. Moreover, this theory is refuted by everything that Jesus said and did during His ministry. The teachings that Jesus brought to the Jews were in agreement with all of their Scriptures (which He frequently quoted as authoritative) and without the slightest taint of either Hinduism or Buddhism. Had He studied under the Masters of India or Tibet, He would have been obligated to uphold their teaching and to honor His guru. In fact, His teachings were the very antithesis of Eastern mysticism of any kind.
Furthermore, the New Testament account, which holds together consistently, is not compatible with Jesus ever having made such extensive travels. The people in his hometown of Nazareth knew him as “the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses and of Juda and Simon” (Mark:6:3). The implication certainly is that He was a familiar hometown personality who had grown up and continued in the local community, not that He was a Jewish Marco Polo who had traveled to exotic and distant places.
Friends and acquaintances were astonished when Jesus suddenly began to travel about Galilee and preach to great crowds. To family and neighbors it was a scandal for Jesus to present Himself as a religious teacher. They treated him with a contempt born of familiarity, not with the awe they surely would have given one who had traveled widely and studied in such far-off lands as India and Tibet.
Every guru who comes to the West lauds and honors his Master, because every Hindu, including the gurus themselves, must have a guru whom he follows. Yet the alleged “Guru Jesus” never referred to His guru or quoted any religious writings except the Jewish Scriptures. He claimed to have been sent not by some Master in the East but by His Father in heaven (John:5:23, 30, 36; etc.), a term unknown to the gurus and hated by the rabbis.
The gurus claim to be men who, through yoga and ascetic practices, have attained to the mystical “realization” that “Atman [individual soul] is identical with Brahman [universal soul]” and have thereby become “Self-realized” gods. Had Jesus studied under them, He would have taught the same delusion. Yet in complete contradiction to that impossible dream and far from claiming to be a man struggling upward to godhood, Jesus presented Himself as the very I AM (Yahweh) of the Old Testament, the God of Israel who had stooped down to become a man:
If ye believe not that I AM, ye shall die in your sins. . . . Before Abraham was, I AM. . . . Now I tell you [this] before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I AM. . . . A little while, and ye shall not see me . . . because I go to the Father. . . . I came forth from the Father and am come into the world; again, I leave the world and go to the Father. . . . I and my Father are one. [Emphasis added] (John:8:24, 58; 13:19; 16:16, 28; 10:30)
Irreconcilable Differences Between Christ and the Gurus
The gurus deny the existence of sin or of any absolute moral standards. Each person’s dharma is different and an individual matter to be discovered on the mystical journey to union with Brahman. In complete contrast, Christ claimed to be the “light of the world” (John:8:12), whose very life exposed the evil in mankind. Moreover, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to convince the world of “sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John:16:8). Jesus announced that He had come to call sinners to repentance (Mark:2:17) and to save them from eternal judgment by His sacrifice of Himself for the sins of the whole world.
Christ’s life and teachings stand in the fullest contradiction to the Hinduism He would have learned in India had He studied there and which He surely would have practiced and taught to the Jews when He returned to Israel. This theory finds absolutely no support in the New Testament record given to us by eyewitnesses:
This fraudulent theory demonstrates once again how impossible it would be to invent a fictitious history of Jesus and to make it fit into actual events on this earth. The erroneous theory that Jesus studied in India under the gurus simply won’t fit into the New Testament record at all—and if it did, the New Testament would be incompatible with the Old instead of being its fulfillment, as it had to be. Nor would either the Old or New Testament records fit into the history of the world unless both were true. The perfect harmony of Scripture with established history is revealed by any careful and honest study of both.
1. Larry Whitham, “Book backs theory Jesus visited India before public life,” in Washington Times, November 27, 1987, p. E6.
—An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 123-27) by Dave Hunt