Did Jesus of Nazareth Travel to the Far East?

The Desert Caravan by Edmund Berninger

It is a mistake to think there wasn’t international travel during Jesus’ time.  As this map of ancient merchant routes shows, the known world was linked by land and sea. Perhaps with some helpful knowledge and influence from Joseph of Arimathea, it would have been easy for Jesus to join a caravan or board a ship headed to the Far East.  Indeed, there is evidence that he did.

Map of ancient merchant routes. Report photo

Map of ancient merchant routes. Report photo

Two very unlikely women discovered evidence that Jesus was once in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet:  Dr. Elisabeth Caspari, who was the driving force in establishing Montessori schools in the United States; and Gloria Gasque who became president of the International Vegetarian Union.

Dr. Elisabeth Caspari and Gloria Gasque

Dr. Elisabeth Caspari and Gloria Gasque

The two women became friends when Gasque was the head of the World Fellowship of Faith.  In that capacity, Gasque invited Caspari and her husband to join her group tour to Tibet to study Buddhism.  It was no simple trip, especially in the 1930s.  In fact, they spent nearly a year in Kashmir collecting everything they would need for their trek into one of the most foreboding regions in the world.

Some of the caravan’s well-ladened ponies  - The Hemis Monastery

Some of the caravan’s well-ladened ponies  – The Hemis Monastery

Then in the spring of 1939, the group headed up the steep mountains with 12 servants, a translator and 112 ponies and their drivers.  The plan was to stop at several monasteries along the way to their major goal – the grand Hemis Monastery.

When they arrived at Hemis, they were surprised to be greeted by the abbot and two chief assistants and shown to a beautiful guesthouse.  The rest of the group stayed in tents near a stream.

The biggest surprise during their four days at the Hemis Monastery was brought to them when the two women were sitting on a rooftop watching a thangka painter while a monk sat cross-legged at a low table writing letters with a brush.

That was when the chief librarian and two other monks brought them three parchment books protected between pieces of wood and wrapped in green, red, blue and gold brocade material.  With great reverence, the chief librarian unwrapped one of the books and presented it to the two women.  His simple sentence startled them:

“These books say your Jesus was here.”

A photo of the Hemis Monastery librarian taken during the Gasque/Caspari visit

A photo of the Hemis Monastery librarian taken during the Gasque/Caspari visit

Two carefully wrapped ancient Tibetan books – A Tibetan monastery library

Two carefully wrapped ancient Tibetan books – A Tibetan monastery library

There were other intrepid adventurers who made it to the Hemis Monastery and were told Jesus had once been there.   Their testimonies are increasingly valuable since China took over Tibet in 1949 and began efforts to annihilate the Buddhist religion.

William O. Douglas (1898 – 1980) who served on the U.S. Supreme Court for 36 years traveled to Tibet and visited the Hemis Monastery in 1951.  In his book “Beyond the High Himalayas,” he made this statement about Jesus being in Tibet:

“Hemis, the first monastery in all of Ladakh, is still an ideal physical setting for a retreat; and over the centuries it has become rich not only in lands and other wealth, but in legends as well.  One of these apocryphal tales concerns Jesus.  There are those who to this day believe that Jesus visited the place, that he came here when he was fourteen and left when he was twenty-eight, heading west, to be heard of no more.  The legend fills in the details, saying that Jesus traveled to Hemis under the name of Issa.”

William O. Douglas (1898 – 1980)

William O. Douglas (1898 – 1980)

Nicholas Roerich (1874 – 1947) was a Russian archaeologist, writer, professor and prolific painter who extensively explored the Himalayan Mountains – painting all the way.  Below are two excerpts about Jesus (Issa) from an unnamed book Roerich claimed was 1500 years old when he studied it:

“Issa secretly left his parents and together with the merchants of Jerusalem turned towards Ind (India) to become perfected in the Divine Word.  And for the study of the laws of the Great Buddha.”

“Afterwards, when he had learned the scrolls, Issa went into Nepal and into the Himalaya mountains.”

Nicholas Roerich (1874 – 1947)

Nicholas Roerich (1874 – 1947)

Swami Abhedananda (1866 – 1939) went to the Hemis Monastery in search of the ancient book Nicholas Roerich had studied.  He claimed he found it and that it confirmed the information Roerich had recorded.   The Swami added the following footnote:

“Jesus halted at a wayside pond near Kabul to wash his hands and feet, and rested there for a while.  That pond still exists.  It is known as ‘Issa-pond.’  To mark the event, every year a fair is held at this place.  This is mentioned in an Arabic book, “Tarig-A-Ajhan.’”

Swami Abhedananda (1866 – 1939)

Swami Abhedananda (1866 – 1939)

This article is an extract from the book ‘Tangible Evidence of Jesus Left Behind for Us to Find’ by Mary A. Joyce, available from Amazon.com.

Top image: The Desert Caravan by Edmund Berninger

All images provided courtesy of Mary Joyce

Related:  The Little-Known Legend of Jesus in Japan

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