Jesus Predicted in the Vedic Literature?
By Stephen Knapp
Every once in a while someone writes in to ask me what I know about Jesus being mentioned in the Vedic literature, specifically the Bhavishya Purana. So I’ve decided to make the information that I know available to everyone.
Dr. Vedavyas, a research scholar with a doctorate in Sanskrit, discusses some important prophecies from the Bhavishya Purana, which he says dates back to 3000 B.C. He states that one prophecy describes the future appearance of Isha putra, the son (putra) of God (Isha)(Jesus Christ), born of an unmarried woman named Kumari (Mary) Garbha Sambhava. He would visit India at the age of thirteen and go to the Himalayan Mountains and do tapas or penance to acquire spiritual maturity under the guidance of rishis and siddha-yogis before going back to Palestine to preach to his people. So, if Jesus was trained by the sages of India, this would explain why he was able to perform various miracles (siddhas). It also explains why there are so many philosophical similarities between early Christianity and Hinduism.
Dr. Vedavyas goes on to say that the Bhavishya Purana describes how Jesus would visit Varanasi and other Hindu and Buddhist holy places. This is also corroborated by the manuscript on the life of Isha (or Issa), discovered by Mr. Notovich in 1886 at the Hemis monastery in Ladakh, India as well as by the Hebrew inscriptions found in Srinagar, Kashmir at the Roza bal, the tomb of Yuz Asaf [Isha or Issa]. The Bhavishya Purana also predicted how Jesus would meet Emperor Shalivahana who established the Shalivahana or “Saka” era. Dr. Vedavyas describes this in his Telegu book, Veerabrahmendra Yogipai Parishodhana.
However, I should also point out that this prophecy of Jesus in the Bhavishya Purana is found in no other Puranas. Furthermore, not everyone gives the Bhavishya Purana pure confidence. It is known that as many as 200 pages from this text had become lost or misplaced, and various interpolations are likely to have occurred in this text while India was under the British administration. So, we should be somewhat cautious about accepting this on face value.
The description that is taken to be of Jesus is found in verses 17-32 in the 19th chapter of the Chaturyuga Khanda Dvitiyadhyayah of the Bhavishya Purana. Nonetheless, to get a clearer understanding, here is what the verses say:
Texts 17 – 21
tesam kosan-grhitva ca
sthapita tena maryada
sindhusthanam iti jneyam
mlecchasthanam param sindhoh
krtam tena mahatmana
ekada tu sakadiso
“Ruling over the Aryans was a king called Shalivahana, the grandson of Vikramaditya, who occupied the throne of his father. He defeated the Shakas who were very difficult to subdue, the Cinas [Chinese], and the people from Tittiri and Bahikaus who could assume any form at will. He also defeated the people from Rome and the descendants of Khuru, who were deceitful and wicked. He punished them severely and took their wealth. Shalivahana thus established the boundaries dividing the separate countries of the mlecchas [low classes] and the Aryans. In this way Sindusthan came to be known as the greatest country. That personality appointed the abode of the mlecchas beyond the Sindhu River and to the west.”
ekadaa tu shakadhisho
hunadeshasya madhye vai
giristhan purusam shubhano
dadarsha balaram raajaa
Once upon a time the subduer of the Sakas went towards Himatunga and in the middle of the Huna country (Hunadesh – the area near Manasa Sarovara or Kailash mountain in Western Tibet), the powerful king saw an auspicious man who was living on a mountain. The man’s complexion was golden and his clothes were white.
ko bharam iti tam praaha
su hovacha mudanvitah
iishaa purtagm maam viddhi
“The king asked, ‘Who are you sir?’ ‘You should know that I am Isha Putra, the Son of God’, he replied blissfully, and ‘am born of a virgin.’”
mleccha dharmasya vaktaram
iti srutva nrpa praaha
dharmah ko bhavato matah
“‘I am the expounder of the religion of the mlecchas and I strictly adhere to the Absolute Truth.’ Hearing this the king enquired, ‘What are the religious principles according to your opinion?’
Texts 25 – 26
shruto vaaca mahaaraaja
praapte satyasya samkshaye
masiiho ‘ham samagatah
iishaamasii ca dasyuunaa
taamaham mlecchataah praapya
“Hearing this questions of Shalivahana, Isha putra said, ‘O king, when the destruction of the truth occurred, I, Masiha the prophet, came to this country of degraded people where there are no rules and regulations. Finding that fearful irreligious condition of the barbarians spreading from Mleccha-Desha, I have taken to prophethood’.”
Texts 27 – 29
mlecchasa sthaapito dharmo
mayaa tacchrnu bhuupate
maanasam nirmalam krtva
malam dehe subhaasbham
japeta nirmalam param
manasyai kena manavah
acaloyam prabhuh sakshat-
athaa suuryacalah sada
“Please hear, Oh king, which religious principles I have established among the mlecchas. The living entity is subject to good and bad contaminations. The mind should be purified by taking recourse of proper conduct and performance of japa [meditation on the chanting of the holy names of God]. By chanting the holy names one attains the highest purity. Just as the immovable sun attracts, from all directions, the elements of all living beings, the Lord of the Surya Mandala [solar planet], who is fixed and all-attractive, and attracts the hearts of all living creatures. Thus by following rules, speaking truthful words, by mental harmony and by meditation, Oh descendant of Manu, one should worship that immovable Lord’.”
isha muurtirt-dradi praptaa
ishamasihah iti ca
mama nama pratishthitam
“Having placed the eternally pure and auspicious form of the Supreme Lord in my heart, O protector of the earth planet, I preached these principles through the mlecchas’ own faith and thus my name became ‘isha-masiha’ (Jesus the Messiah).”
iti shrutra sa bhuupale
natraa tam mlecchapujaam
sthaapayaamaasa tam tutra
mlecchasthaane hi daarune
“After hearing these words and paying obeisances to that person who is worshiped by the wicked, the king humbly requested him to stay there in the dreadful land of mlecchas.”
svaraajyam praaptavaan raajaa
raajyam kriitvaa sa shashthyabdam
svarga lokamu paayayau
“King Shalivahana, after leaving his kingdom performed an asvamedha yajna and after ruling for sixty years, went to heaven. Now please hear what happened when the king went to (the heavenly region of) svargaloka.”
Thus ends the second chapter entitled, “The Age of Shalivahana” of the story of Kali Yuga of the Chaturyuga Khanda also called Pratisarga-parva of the wonderful Bhavishya Maha Purana.
As we can read here, this relates that the grandson of Bikrama Jit, Shalivahana, was the ruler of the Kushans. Some estimate that he ruled from 39 to 50 A.D. It is also said that he vanquished the attackers from China, Parthia, Scythia, and the Bactrians. After establishing a border between the Aryans and the mlecchas, he ordered all the mlecchas to leave India. Once when Shalivahana went to the Himalayas he reached the land of the Hun, or Ladakh, and saw a man who was fair and dressed in white, looking very saintly. The powerful king asked who he was. The man replied that he was called a son of God, born of a virgin, a teacher of the nonbelievers, and was earnestly searching for the truth.
The king asked his religion. The man replied that he came from a foreign country where there was no truth, only unlimited evil. He had appeared as the Messiah but the terrible demon Ihamasi [illusion] of the barbarians appeared and he had ended up in her realm.
The man explained to the king that his religion was to purify the consciousness and impure body, after which, seeking guidance in the Naigama [a scripture], man could pray to the Supreme. By acting in truth and justice and engaging in meditation and spiritual unity, man will return to Isa, the Supreme Being. God will one day unite with all wandering spiritual beings, and Ihamasi [the evil of illusion] will be destroyed. Then man will be absorbed in the ecstatic image of Isa who exists in the heart and is the source of happiness. The man then told the king, “I am called Isa-Masih [Jesus the Messiah].” After the king heard the man speak, the king sent the teacher of the faithless back to his land of nonbelievers.
Another thing Dr. Vedavyas says is that there is evidence that it was not Jesus Christ whom they crucified on the cross but his double. The last words, “Oh Lord, why have you forsaken me?” refers to Jesus having left him on the cross after Jesus went to the “promised land” of Kashmir. Of course, there are other theories on this. Among other scholars, some say Jesus did not die on the cross but was crucified, suffered and was later revived. Others also say his ascent into heaven was actually his journey up to the heavenly land of Kashmir, where he eventually died and was buried in Srinagar at the Roza bal, the presently known grave of Yuz Asaf, a name known to be that of Jesus.
Dr. Vedavyas goes on to say that the coming of Lord Kalki, as described in the Bhavishya as well as many other Puranas, is the avatara equivalent to the second coming of Christ as described in the Bible. Lord Kalki will be the next great world leader many years from now and will establish a world government and bring back the Vedic culture in a new Satya-yuga, a new kingdom of God. However, before this will happen, Dr. Vedavyas says the Bhavishya Purana describes a great tribulation and global disaster. It has been suggested that when this may happen, or when the events that will begin to trigger the event, could be sometime after the year 2000 A.D. Some people also say that there will be a planetary effect of great magnitude striking the earth at that time which may cause widespread earthquakes or tidal waves, or even what may become a shifting of the north and south poles. The fact is, there has been an increase in earthquakes, and on December 26, 2004 the planet felt the impact of a mighty tsunami that greatly affected the people of the region of Indonesia and East India. This could only be a sign of what more may come. Such things have also been described in Nostradamus’s predictions. However, we know these things have happened before many years ago. So what may or may not continue to happen remains to be seen.
The Bhavishya Purana also relates the likelihood of a great war of wars which could change the entire map of the world, at least politically, and possibly even geographically if nuclear weapons are used. This has been further corroborated by other psychics and astrologers.
Aside from all of this, the Bhavishya Purana also contains quotes relating to various personalities, such as Adam, Noah, Allah, Shankaracarya, Jayadev, Kabir, Nanak, Aurangzeb, Shivaji, and on up to the rule of Queen Victavati, meaning Queen Victoria. It even describes how the British will build factories in Calcutta. Most of these quotations are rather short with little elaboration, thus leaving the reader with few details to further the confirmation of what is described. An example of one such quote is that which describes the appearance of Mohammed, which is merely two lines with few details.
One point we must clearly understand, is that if we do accept that Jesus was predicted in the Bhavishya Purana and traveled to India, and if Jesus did study under the Vedic brahmanas and priests before returning to his homeland to preach, which some evidence indicates, then I’m sure it would come as a shock to most Christians that Jesus was an initiate of the Vedic wisdom of India. Thus, he naturally based much of his own teachings on Vedic knowledge, as anyone who is familiar with Eastern philosophy can see. This would also explain why there are so many similarities between early Christianity and the Dharmic wisdom, much of which seems to have been lost from the Christian fold through the ages.
It is obvious that Christianity is but a modified form of Sanatana-dharma. Yet, since Jesus spoke in parables on many occasions, the connection with Vedic knowledge and the deeper meaning of his teachings are not always made clear. In fact, there have been numerous diversions and misunderstandings made because of this, as shown by the hundreds of sects that have developed within the Christian community. So, essentially, this would also mean that you cannot comprehend the deepest aspects of Jesus’ teachings without understanding Vedic scripture or the philosophy of Sanatana-dharma, since those are really the roots of Christianity and the basis of the teachings of Jesus. Therefore, it makes sense that we all look into, study and learn this Vedic knowledge and follow its principles for a higher degree and more complete form of spirituality that we can add to our lives, for this is the foundation of most of the spiritual knowledge that has spread throughout the world into its many forms that we find today.
WAS JESUS REALLY PREDICTED IN THE BHAVISHYA PURANA?
Though some people have become convinced that Jesus went to India, or is predicted in the Vedic literature, there is also another view to this. With the help of the research done by B. V. Giri Swami, based near Mysore, India, he relates that a closer look at the prediction of Jesus found in the Bhavishya Purana strongly suggests foul play or interpolation on the part of Christian missionaries in India during the late 18th century.
The Bhavishya Purana is considered to be one of the major 18 Puranas of the Vedic canon. As the name suggests, it mainly deals with future events (bhaviysati). The Bhavishya Purana is also mentioned in the ancient text of the Apastambha-dharma-sutras, so it is to be taken as an original Puranic literature dating from the time of Srila Vyasadeva, who is said to be its original author.
However, there are presently four known editions of the Bhavishya Purana, each having different predictions from the other, but suspiciously having one consistent prediction – that of Jesus. One edition contains five chapters, one contains four, another contains three and yet another contains only two. Additionally, the contents in all four editions differ in various degrees – some having extra verses and some having less. Due to these circumstances, it is difficult to ascertain which of the four is the original text of the Bhavishya Purana, if indeed an original text still exists, but suspiciously, as mentioned, all four editions do mention Jesus.
The Venkateswar Steam Press edition of the Bhavishya Purana printed in Bombay in 1829 (and reprinted by Nag Publishers in 2003) is probably the most complete version available, containing all the main features of the four manuscripts. Since none of the four editions of the Bhavishya Purana predate British Rule in India, this further suggests a discrepancy. The fact is that the British tried to monopolize the publishing of all Sanskrit literature during the British Raj. They bought or confiscated any Sanskrit literature they could locate. And that is why you practically cannot find any Vedic literature that is published before 200 years ago. It is further known that they liked to publish their own translations, as if India could not produce its own Sanskrit scholars to translate the Sanskrit themselves. Plus, they would also try to interpolate various verses here and there to have the reader draw a different conclusion of the personality or traits of the characters described in the texts. Most were quite noble, but by slipping in verses that said certain persons had less than admirable qualities, or that questionable practices were used, it would change the reader’s disposition and attitude toward the Vedic culture, even if they were Indian born followers of it.
Therefore, the consistent prophecy of Jesus in all four editions of the Bhavishya Purana, in spite of the differences in the editions found, seems to indicate an interpolation regarding the so-called meeting of Maharaja Shalivahana and Jesus. This is found in the 19th chapter of the Pratisarga-parva. However, as B. V. Giri Swami relates, in examining this section, certain flaws can be found which betray its dubious origins.
For example, at the very outset of this description of Jesus meeting Shalivahana, this section is fraught with historical inaccuracies. Shalivahana was the king of Ujjain (in modern day Madhya Pradesh), and while it is not surprising that Shalivahana traveled to the Himalayas, the enemies that he supposedly vanquished in battle before he went should be looked into more thoroughly. Historical research tells us that the only invading force that Shalivahana actually subdued were the Sakas, who entered India from the north-west regions. But as for his defeating the Cinas (Chinese), Bahlikas (Bactrians), Kamarupas (Assamese), Romas (Romans) and the Khurus (Khorasans, or Persians), there is no historical evidence that validates Shalivahana doing this, nor is their any historical proof of the Romans and the Chinese ever invading India at that time. The Bactrians (Greeks) came earlier during the Gupta Period and the Persians (Moguls) came later. The people of Assam were simply a small hill-tribe during this period of Indian history [conquering which would not have warranted a mention in Vedic verse].
Later, the king asks Jesus “Who are you?” and Jesus answers that he was born of a virgin. However, the Christian idea that Jesus was born of a virgin is based on the following verse found in the Christian version of the Old Testament in the Book of Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin has conceived and bears a son and she will call his name Immanuel.” But the original Hebrew text of the Book of Isaiah does not mention anything about a virgin. The original text being: hinneh ha-almah harah ve-yeldeth ben ve-karath shem-o immanuel, “Behold, the young woman has conceived – and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7.14)
The Hebrew word for virgin is betulah yet it appears nowhere in this verse of Isaiah. The word used is almah which simply means “a young woman”. Isaiah only uses almah once. However, the word betulah is used five times throughout the Book of Isaiah, so Isaiah obviously made a distinction between these two words.
After Jesus has introduced himself to Shalivahana, he explains that he is teaching religion in the distant land of the mlecchas and tells the king what those teachings are, in which he says: “Please hear from me, O King, about the religion that I have established amongst the mlecchas. The mind should be purified by taking recourse of proper conduct, since we are subject to auspicious and inauspicious contaminations – by following the scriptures and concentrating on japa (meditation on the repetition of God’s names) one will attain the highest level of purity; by speaking true words and by mental harmony, and by meditation and worship, O descendant of Manu. Just as the immovable sun attracts from all directions the elements of all living beings, the Lord of the Surya-mandala (sun globe) is fixed and all-attractive, and attracts the hearts of all living creatures.” (19:27-29)
However, nowhere in the Gospels do we find in the ministry of Jesus the above teachings to his followers, unless they had been removed from the Gospels and somehow preserved in the Bhavishya Purana. Furthermore, in this passage, Jesus is advocating the worship of the sun-god (again, something that is absent in his instructions to the apostles). Japa, meditation, the negation of both good and bad karma, are all concepts that are familiar to eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, but not to the Abrahamic religions of the west, unless Jesus had already been trained by Vedic brahmanas and Buddhist priests at that time. In such a case, the Bhavishya Purana may have preserved some of the concepts of the teachings of Jesus that were never included in the Gospels, or were later deleted from them because of manipulating politics.
Considering the above anomalies and the fact that no edition of the Bhavishya Purana can be found prior to the British period in India, we can deduce that the Bhavishya Purana may have been tampered with by the Christian missionaries who added the chapter on Jesus. Their motive would be obvious — to make the personality of Jesus acceptable to the Hindus in order to convert them to Christianity.
In 1784, the famous Indologist Sir William Jones wrote the following letter to Sir Warren Hastings, Governor General of India, confirming our suspicions that this was indeed part of their program:
“As to the general extension [spreading] of our pure faith [Christianity] in Hindoostan [India] there are at present many sad obstacles to it… We may assure ourselves, that Hindoos will never be converted by any mission from the church of Rome, or from any other church; and the only human mode, perhaps, of causing so great a revolution, will be to translate into Sanscrit… such chapters of the Prophets, particularly of ISAIAH, as are indisputably evangelical, together with one of the gospels, and a plain prefatory discourse, containing full evidence of the very distant ages, in which the predictions themselves, and the history of the Divine Person (Jesus) is predicted, were severally made public and then quietly to disperse the work among the well-educated natives.” (Asiatic Researches Vol. 1. Published 1979, pages 234-235. First published 1788).
What better way to translate into Sanskrit whatever they could of predictions of the Christian prophets and then disperse them among the well-educated natives than to slip such translations into some of the Vedic texts themselves? Plus, we often see that Christians, especially in India, tell Hindus that since Jesus is supposed to be predicted in the Vedic texts, then they should accept Jesus as their ultimate savior. But the Vedic texts are much more open and inclusive than that and also describe so many more avataras and incarnations of Lord Vishnu. So why shouldn’t the Christians also accept Lord Vishnu or Krishna as the Supreme Person, or at least aspects of the Supreme Being? After all, it was proclaimed that Jesus was the son of God. And who is the Father? So Vishnu or Krishna must have been the Supreme Father as the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts clearly state. And if Jesus did go to India, then he was familiar with this concept, which he thus expressed in his own teachings in his homeland. This is not going against the Biblical tenants. After all, the Bible does not exactly describe who is the Supreme Person, but only gives Him a name, such as Yahweh, etc. The Vedic texts, however, give God innumerable names and describes much more about Him, such as His character, personality, pastimes, and so on.
Swami B.V. Giri concludes that it may also be noted that throughout the Pratisarga-parva of the Bhavishya Purana we find the stories of Adam and Eve (Adhama and Havyavati), Noah (Nyuha), Moses (Musa), and other Biblical characters. These he also considers to be likely additions by zealous Christians. The Bhavishya Purana may well be a genuine Vedic scripture prophesying future events, but from the above analysis we may want to reconsider how likely it is that the Jesus episode of the Bhavishya Purana is an authentic Vedic revelation.