“The time was nearly due for Jesus to be born, and Mary longed to see Elizabeth, and she and Joseph turned their faces toward the Judean hills. And when upon their way they came to Bethlehem the day was done, and they must tarry for the night. But Bethlehem was thronged with people going to Jerusalem; the inns and homes were filled with guests, and Joseph and his wife could find no place to rest but in a cave where animals were kept; and there they slept.
“At midnight came a cry, a child is born in yonder cave among the beasts. And lo, the promised son of man was born. And strangers took the little one and wrapped him in the dainty robes that Mary had prepared and laid him in a trough from which the beasts of burden fed” (Aquarian Gospel 3:1-6).
It is good to read the so-called “apocryphal” accounts of the birth of Jesus, because they contain much more material than the Gospels. All of those books were accepted by the original Christians, and still are by the Eastern Christian Churches. They were not included in the Bible only because they were not written by one of the twelve apostles. Some claim to be written by Saint James and Saint Thomas, but it was decided that the church could not be sure of that authorship. Not including a book in the Bible did not mean that it was of no authority, and many of these apocryphal books were studied and read in churches for the first few centuries of Christianity.
There is not enough space for me to give all the information found in these “other” gospels, but they do agree that “strangers” from Bethlehem came at Saint Joseph’s request and helped with the newborn Jesus.
The masters come and bless
“Three persons clad in snow-white robes came in and stood before the child and said, All strength, all wisdom and all love be yours, Immanuel” (Aquarian Gospel 3:7).
These are not the “wise men from the East” spoken of in Saint Matthew’s gospel. Those were Zoroastrian astrologers from Persia. The “persons” in this verse came from India and were actually of great importance in Jesus’ life. There was much more to their visit than Levi records here. They established permanent contact with the Holy Family and in time Jesus went to India and became their disciple.
According to Paramhansa Yogananda, two of these great souls were reborn in the nineteenth century as Yogiraj Sri Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasaya and Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. The third was the immortal master whom Yogananda simply called “Babaji,” though he is known by several names–all given to him by others, since he has not revealed his “real” name. At the time of Jesus he was known to some as Chetan Nath, and was Jesus’ main teacher.
What the names of the other two were at that time I do not know, but the destiny of Jesus was bound up with all three, and still is. In the nineteenth century Jesus materialized in the Himalayas and asked Babaji to help those who bore his name as Christians, and yet most of whom wandered in darkness and confusion. Babaji agreed to send someone to the West to teach the true understanding of Jesus and His mission. He later commissioned Sri Yukteswar to delve into the real history and teachings of Jesus as known in India. He did so, and in time became the guru of Yogananda, the one chosen to come into the West with the real Christ-message. His two-volume commentary on the gospels, The Second Coming of Christ, is invaluable to those who wish to learn the true teachings of Jesus.
“Now, on the hills of Bethlehem were many flocks of sheep with shepherds guarding them. The shepherds were devout, were men of prayer, and they were waiting for a strong deliverer to come.
“And when the child of promise came, a man in snow-white robe appeared to them, and they fell back in fear. The man stood forth and said, Fear not! behold I bring you joyful news. At midnight in a cave in Bethlehem was born the prophet and the king that you have long been waiting for.
“And then the shepherds all were glad; they felt that all the hills were filled with messengers of light, who said, All glory be to God on high; peace, peace on earth, good will to men.
“And then the shepherds came with haste to Bethlehem and to the cave, that they might see and honor him whom men had called Immanuel” (Aquarian Gospel 3:8-16).
As we will see later on, in India Jesus was continually in trouble with the Hindu priests because of his rejection of caste distinctions and prejudice. But the Buddhists, who also rejected such attitudes, welcomed him. Here we see a living example: Jesus was visited by the greatest masters of India and by humble shepherds, for in his spiritual kingdom they were one. This teaching is perhaps the one most ignored in Christianity.
The stay in Bethlehem
“Now, when the morning came, a shepherdess whose home was near, prepared a room for Mary, Joseph and the child; and here they tarried many days.
“And Joseph sent a messenger in haste to Zacharias and Elizabeth to say, The child is born in Bethlehem.
“And Zacharias and Elizabeth took John and came to Bethlehem with words of cheer. And Mary and Elizabeth recounted all the wondrous things that had transpired. The people joined with them in praising God
“According to the custom of the Jews, the child was circumcised; and when they asked, What will you call the child? the mother said, His name is Jesus, as the man of God declared” (Aquarian Gospel 3:15-19).
Conforming to the archangel’s message, Mary and Joseph named the miraculous child Jesus: God Shall Save. All of Israel soon came to know of this wondrous thing that had occurred in their midst. We who live in America think of a country being so huge, as ours is, that amazing things can remain unknown to just about everybody, but it was not so in Israel. Just look at an atlas. When Jesus appeared at the Jordan to be baptized there surely was not an adult in Israel that had not heard of him. And after his astonishing three-year ministry there may not have been many that had not seen him at least once.