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Book Review - Jesus Lived In India

Rajiv Ramaratnam

Jesus Lived in India
Publisher: Penguin Books
By Holger Kersten
Reviewed by Rajiv Ramaratnam

If you thought that the Da Vinci Code produced startling revelations, you will be blown away by Holger Kersten’s ‘Jesus Lived in India’. Unfortunately for Kersten, his work lacks a glossy book cover like the ‘Code’. Further, unlike the ‘Code’, this book is presented as a work of non-fiction. Had Kersten’s theories been packaged in a plot involving some sort of treasure hunt, or mystery it would probably have sold as many copies as the ‘Code’.

Alas, Kersten is a pure academic, who just presented us with his theories, conjectures and speculations on Biblical legends, occurrences from  Historical facts and fascinating coincidences. This book may shoo away the mundane reader or the immensely religious, but to the curious and objective, it is nothing short of spellbinding.

I could not help but compare the allegations in this book to the theories presented in the   ‘Code’. Like the ‘Code’, this book makes allegations on the suppression of the truth. However, in ‘Jesus Lived in India’, Kersten alleges that it was not just the Church but also the narrators of the two Testaments who withheld the truth.

In the opening chapters of the book, Kersten narrates the experiences of several European travelers and the discoveries they made in Kashmir and the Himalayas. He then postulates his first theory.

According to the Old Testament Moses led the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, which they made their home. Conventional ‘knowledge’ has it, that this land is the site of modern day Israel. However, this Promised Land, according to Kersten is not Israel, but the valley of Kashmir. He bases his theory on several pieces of evidence. The first piece of evidence is that several locales mentioned in the Old Testament bear strong resemblances in name and description to places in and near the Kashmir valley. Secondly the native Kashmiri people bear strong resemblances to Jews in physical features. Thirdly the customs of Kashmiris have striking similarities to those of the Jews.

Then come the startling parts of Kersten’s revelations: Jesus Christ spent much of his younger years in a Monastery in India, studying Buddism. He then went back to the Middle East where he preached all his knowledge and wisdom. Last but not the least, Jesus survived the Crucifixion, not just in Spirit but also in body and then returned to India and continued to spread his message. He finally died in Kashmir at a ripe old age. 

While Kersten acknowledges that many Christians may accuse him of robbing Christianity of its central message that Christ died on the cross to redeem us of our sins, Kersten argues that this was not the true message that came from Christ but one that came from Paul who gave us his own ‘interpretations ‘ of Christ’s life and teachings. Jesus on the other hand, preached love, tolerance and spiritual harmony. His life in itself epitomizes his central message.

How does Kersten come up with his theories? For one, there is no record of Christ’s life between his early teens and his twenties. During this time, it was more than possible that he could have gone to India to study Buddhism. According to Kersten, there was a school of Buddhism in Alexandra in Greece, ever since Alexander invaded North India. This is where Christ may have become familiar with Buddhist thought and philosophy.

Next,  Kersten examines the myths and facts surrounding the Shroud of Turin, the cloth that many believe to be the one used to drape Christ when he was released of the Cross. As one may recall, a recent scientific study of the Shroud revealed that it was a hoax. However, Kersten argues that this Shroud is genuine and questions the validity of this scientific endeavor. Particularly fascinating is his narrative on the History of the Shroud and the possibility that it may have survived for tens of centuries.

Then Kersten presents some medical facts in arguing his case that Jesus could not have died on the Cross, as proposed by the New Testament. He goes on to postulate his theory that Christ survived the cross and escaped to India, making a mark on all the land he traveled. Kersten quotes several tales, legends and even the Koran in trying to prove that Jesus traveled to India, created a following and finally died in Kashmir an old age. His tomb is still in Kashmir, according to Kersten.

All it would take to prove Kersten’s theories is a comparison of DNA between the shroud and the body in the specified tomb. Somehow I cannot believe that would happen any time soon. Blasphemy or not, this book is a page-turner and extremely well written. For the inquisitive and interested, I would recommend this book.

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1.review "Jesus lived in India" September 6, 2009Nazarener 

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