The day our Original Christianity and Original Yoga website was launched we received an irate communication from one of those Western “Hindus” that believe they are more truly Hindu if they hate other religions–especially Christianity–and deny that Jesus ever existed. Here is our answer:
If Jesus did not exist, how is it that great spiritual masters of India have seen him in visions, researched and proved not only his existence but his having lived in India, and expounded his teachings as being the same as (not just consistent with) Sanatana Dharma?
Sri Ramakrishna, his great disciple Swami Brahmananda, Swami Rama Tirtha, Swami (Papa) Ramdas, and Paramhansa Yogananda all saw Jesus in visions–some more than once, and some actually spoke with him. Sri Ramakrishna kept a picture of Jesus in his room at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. He also told several of his disciples that he had seen in visions that they had been disciples of Jesus.
Both Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Ramdas had visions of Jesus while staying at Vashishtha Guha north of Rishikesh in the cave where Jesus had lived for awhile (though they did not know that fact at the time of their visions, but learned it later).
Swami Abhedananda and Swami Trigunatitananda, disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, at separate times journeyed to Ladakh and verified the existence of ancient Buddhist texts recording the life of Jesus. Swami Trigunatitananda was also shown two painting of Jesus by the Buddhist monks, and had a copy of one made from his memory when he was living in America as a Vedanta missionary.
Swami Abhedananda, also for a while a Vedanta Missionary to America, printed a translation of the part of the Buddhist text on Jesus and defied the British government’s ban on Notovitch’s Unknown Life of Jesus Christ which contained the complete text. He not only brought copies of the book from America, he had an edition printed in India. He also wrote the pamphlet: Why a Hindu Accepts Christ and Rejects Churchianity.
A friend of mine gave me a copy of a letter Sri Ramakrishna’s disciple Swami Saradananda wrote to her aunt, Edith Grey, who had gone to India and become a disciple of Sri Ma Sarada Devi, the consort of Sri Ramakrishna. Miss Grey had written to the Swami about how she felt equal devotion to Sri Ramakrishna and Jesus. The Swami wrote back: “Our Master assured us that they were just the same.”
Later in the twentieth century the Shankaracharya of Puri, Jagadguru Bharata Krishna Tirtha, found what he called “proof positive” of Jesus actually having lived in the Govardhan Math, the present math of the Order of Shankara in Puri. He even wrote a book on the subject, which he found had been “lost” when he returned from his world tour, and which he did not live long enough to rewrite.
Before that, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, the guru of Yogananda, wrote a study in which he proved that Jesus had lived in India and that his teachings were identical with the Sanatana Dharma which he adopted and preached in the West. That was “borrowed” by a Christian missionary who refused in Sri Yukteswar’s lifetime and even after his death to return it.
Paramhansa Yogananda wrote and lectured extensively on the teachings of Jesus. In fact, at his first speech given in this country he announced that he would be holding classes in Boston which would consist of three half-hour periods apiece: one on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, one on the teachings of the Gospels, and one demonstrating that their teachings were the same. His two-volume commentary on the Gospels, The Second Coming of Christ, is perhaps the only complete and reliable presentation of Jesus’ real teachings–which are mostly unknown to Churchianity.
Swami Prabhavananda of the Hollywood Vedanta Society wrote The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta and often referred to Jesus in his lectures. Swami Akhilananda of the Boston Vedanta Society wrote a valuable study called Hindu View of Christ and also cited Jesus as a spiritual authority. (Both Vedanta Societies celebrated Christmas, too, as does Belur Math, the world headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission.)
As a final example which I witnessed myself, my beloved Swami Sivananda, founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh and perfect example of Sanatana Dharma, not only wrote and published a life of Jesus for popular circulation and celebrated Christmas each year, in the daily evening satsang kirtan he led us all in singing: “O my Jesus, O my Jesus, Lord Jesus: Come, come to me! O my Mary, Mother Mary, Virgin Mary: Come, come to me!” And often at the end, along with other exclamations in praise of Dharma, would call out: “Jesus Bhagavan: ki jai!”
All these great yogis of India did not just believe Jesus existed, they honored him as a liberated son of God and considered him a Sanatana Dharmi just like themselves.
Our irate correspondent concluded with the statement: “Hinduism/Yoga is not Christianity.”
We agree. But like so many Westerners he has it all backwards. Sanatana Dharma and Yoga are not Christianity, but authentic Christianity is indeed Sanatana Dharma and Yoga and not Churchianity at all.
- The Christ of India — A valuable article about the mounting evidence of Jesus’ time in India.
- The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ — by Nicholas Notovitch. A translation of the ancient text he found in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery recounting the sojourn of Jesus in India and Tibet.
- The Cave Where Jesus Stayed — Includes a photo of the cave from our visit there.