by Acharya S
excerpted from Suns of "God -
Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled"
Many of the numerous lives of Buddha were spent as divine beings;
yet, like so many religions that do not subscribe to the typical
theology of other cultures, it is claimed of Buddhism that it is
"atheistic." This contention was also laid upon early Christianity
because that faith likewise did not acknowledge the reigning
As Church father Justin Martyr writes in his First Apology:
CHAPTER VI - CHARGE OF ATHEISM REFUTED.
Hence are we called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists,
so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to
the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and
the other virtues, who is free from all impurity.
The Buddhist situation is quite similar to that of Christianity.
reality, every religion, sect and cult believes it has the "right
god," and each could be deemed "atheistic" by another's standard. In
the case of Buddhism, the Brahmans deemed Buddha an "atheist,"
because he supposedly did not believe in the Hindu devas; yet, as we
have seen, Buddha was himself considered a deva.
debate, the Catholic Encyclopedia states:
In the Buddhist conception of Nirvana no account was taken of the
all-god Brahma. And as prayers and offerings to the traditional gods
were held to be of no avail for the attainment of this negative
state of bliss, Buddha, with greater consistency than was shown in
pantheistic Brahminism, rejected both the Vedas and the Vedic rites.
It was this attitude which stamped Buddhism as a heresy. For this
reason, too, Buddha has been set down by some as an atheist. Buddha,
however, was not an atheist in the sense that he denied the
existence of the gods. To him the gods were living realities. In his
alleged sayings, as in the Buddhist scriptures generally, the gods
are often mentioned, and always with respect.
As concerns CE's remark about Buddha's "alleged sayings," the
skepticism is not misplaced, except that one could as easily say the
same in reference to Jesus.
Indeed, it is clear that the aphorisms
attributed to Jesus, like those of Buddha, are wisdom sayings or
platitudes that had been floating around the world for centuries and
millennia before being attributed to these mythical, spiritual
Regarding Buddhism's purported "atheism," Dr. Inman comments:
It is asserted that Siddartha did not believe in a god, and that his
Nirvana was nothing more than absolute annihilation.
To my own mind, the assertion that Sakya did not believe in
wholly unsupported. Nay, his whole scheme is built upon the belief
that there are powers above us which are capable of punishing
mankind for their sins. It is true that these "gods" were not called
Elohim, nor Jah, nor Jahveh, or Jehovah, nor Adonai, or Ehieh (I
am), nor Baalim, nor Ashtoreth - yet, for "the son of Suddhodana"
(another name for Sakya Muni, for he has almost as many, if not more
than the western god), there was a supreme being called Brahma, or
some other name representing the same idea as we entertain of the
In reality, in its highest understanding Buddhism portrays the
entire cosmos as divine. Concerning Buddhism's concept of the
divine, Simpson states:
The Faith began with the belief in a celestial, self-existent Being
termed Adi Buddha or Iswara. Rest was the habitual statement of his
existence. "Formless as a cypher or a mathematical point and
separate from all things, he is infinite in form, pervading all and
one with all."
This last sentence concerning "Adi Buddha" being separate yet
pervasive sounds paradoxical, which is the case with Buddhism, as
well as all religious systems that conceive of God as "omnipresent"
yet wholly other.
While Buddhism in general does not preach the
notion of a giant, anthropomorphic male deity somewhere "out there,"
separate and apart from creation, the concepts of deity and divinity
abound. In reality, in addition to the idea of Adi Buddha, Buddhism
is full of wild, fabulous tales with divine beings of all sorts,
especially Tibetan Buddhism, for example.
Yet, like so many ancient
religions, Buddhism was a polytheistic, pantheistic monotheism or
This polytheistic monotheism of Buddhism was described by
the Abb Huc, a Catholic priest who traveled to the East and was
startled to discover the many important correspondences between
Buddhism and Christianity:
With the respect to polytheism, Missionary Huc says, "that although
their religion embraces many inferior deities, who fill the same
offices that angels do under the Christian system, yet," - adds M. Huc
- "monotheism is the real character of Budhism;" and he confirms
the statement by the testimony of a Thibetan.
Among these "inferior deities" are
himself was said to have been a "deva" many times, it is
paradoxically claimed that no deva can become a Buddha, and that the
latter must incarnate as a man, not as a woman, a sexist notion that
includes avoiding "all sins that would cause him to be born a
The fact that Buddha was depicted as having been a deva, in
several "lives" and before taking birth as Siddhartha, nevertheless
makes him a divine being, or godman.
Indeed, Buddhist inscriptions
address not only the celestial "self-existent Being" but also the
"Supreme Being," as exemplified by the following inscription, found
in Bengal at Budhagaya, and part of Moor's original chapter on
"Reverence be unto thee, in the form of Buddha: reverence be unto
the Lord of the earth: reverence be unto thee, an incarnation of the
Deity, and the Eternal One: reverence be unto thee, O God! in the
form of the God of Mercy: the dispeller of pain and trouble; the
Lord of all things; the Deity who overcomest the sins of the Kali
Yug; the guardian of the universe; the emblem of mercy toward those
who serve thee - O'M! the possessor of all things in vital form. Thou
art Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa; thou are Lord of the universe;
Reverence be unto the bestower of salvation I adore thee, who art
celebrated by a thousand names, and under various forms, in the
shape of Buddha, the God of Mercy. - Be propitious, O Most High
Here, then, is a primary source that demonstrates a few important
One is that Buddha himself is a god - the
God, in fact
Another important point is that he is identified as Brahma and
The third is the similarity between his nature and that
As seen from this inscription, Buddha is:
these divine epithets, Buddha is called,
"God of Gods,"
"the great Physician"
"God among gods"
The following is from a fuller translation of the Budhagaya
inscription, by Charles Wilkins:
In the midst of a wild and dreadful forest, flourishing with trees
of sweet-scented flowers, and abounding in fruits and roots resided
Booddha the Author of Happiness This Deity Haree, who is the Lord
Hareesa, the possessor of all, appeared in this ocean of natural
beings at the close of the Devapara, and beginning of the Kalee Yoog:
he who is omnipresent and everlastingly to be contemplated, the
Supreme Being the Eternal one, the Divinity worthy to be adored by
the most praise-worthy of mankind appeared here with a portion of
his divine nature.
Once upon a time the illustrious Amara, renowned amongst men, coming
here, discovered the place of the Supreme Being, Booddha, in the
great forest. The wise Amara endeavored to render the God Bouddha
propitious by superior service.
The inscription goes on, with Amara having dreams and visions in
which a voice speaks to him.
Referring to "the Supreme Spirit Bouddha," the "Supreme Being, the incarnation of a portion of
Veeshnoo," it continues with the same portion related by Moor,
above, regarding the "Most High God," etc.
This Most High God is
also called the "purifier of the sins of mankind," "Bouddha,
purifier of the sinful"
It is quite clear from this inscription that
not only is Buddhism not atheistic, but the Supreme Being, the
Eternal One, is called Buddha. He is also, like Jesus, the "bestower
Moreover, another Christian scholar, Major Mahony, maintains that
the Singhalese claim that,
"before his appearance as a man," Buddha
was a god and "the supreme of all the gods."
Also, in the second
century, Christian authority Clement of Alexandria related the
worship by Indians of the "God Boutta." (Stromata, I.)
Ceylonese word "Vehar," the writer Relandus stated:
Vehar signifies a temple of their principal
God Buddou, who, as
Clemens Alexandrinus has long ago observed, was worshipped as a God
by the Hindoos.
With all the divine beings, including the umpteen Buddhas
themselves, and the Supreme Being even called Buddha, it is evident
that Buddhism is not "atheistic." In addition, Doane confirms that
"son of God" is likewise an appropriate title for Buddha:
The sectarians of Buddha taught that he (who was the Son of God
(Brahma) and the Holy Virgin Maya) is to be the judge of the dead.
Hence, in reality, deeming Buddha as God, a god, a godman, or son of
God is accurate and appropriate.
Buddhism and Christianity
In actuality, like Krishna, Buddha is not a "real person" but a
composite of gods and people. His exploits are fabulous, while his
sayings, of course, are from humans.
Moreover, as is also the case
with Krishna, some of the information regarding "the Buddha,"
including important correspondences to the Christian myth, is not
found in mainstream books and likely constituted mysteries. Indeed,
although the story has changed over the centuries and millennia, it
has not escaped the notice of a number of researchers and scholars
that numerous elements of Buddhism closely resemble the Christian
myth and ideology.
In the Buddha story, in fact, one can see many
aspects strikingly similar to the Jesus tale, although, like that of
Krishna, the Buddha myth is more elegant and miraculous.
To begin with, Buddha's mother, Mahamaya, was fecundated by the
"Holy Spirit," while a "heavenly messenger" informed Maya that she
would bear "a son of the highest kings." This Buddha would leave
behind his royal life to become an ascetic, Maya was told, and serve
as a "sacrifice" for humanity, to whom he would provide joy and
Buddha's birth occurred when the "Flower-star" appeared
in the east, and was attended by a "host of angelic messengers," who
announced the "good news" that a glorious savior of all nations had
been born. The holy babe was attended by "princes and wise
Brahmans," or "rishis," one of whom prophesied that Buddha's mission
would be to "save and enlighten the world."
According to the Abhinish-Kramana Sutra, the king of Maghada desired
to know whether or not there were any inhabitants of his kingdom who
would threaten his reign. In this quest, two agents embarked, one of
whom discovered Buddha and reported him to the king, also advising
the monarch to annihilate Buddha's tribe.
Obviously, Buddha escapes this fate, and, at one point eluding his
parent for a day, goes on to wow his wise elders with his sagacious
discourses and marvelous understanding. As an adult setting out on
his mission, Buddha encounters "the Brahman Rudraka, a mighty
preacher," who becomes the sage's disciple.
A number of Rudraka's
own disciples decide to follow Buddha, but become disenchanted when
they see he does not observe the fasts.
Concerning Buddha's first
followers, Titcomb relates:
These disciples were previously followers of Rudraka. Before Buddha
appoints a larger number of apostles, he selects five favorite
disciples, one of whom is afterward styled the Pillar of the Faith;
another, the Bosom Friend of Buddha. Among the followers of Buddha
there is a Judas, Devadatta, who tries to destroy his master, and
meets with a disgraceful death.
Hence, as Buddha was said to have had five favorite disciples who
left their former teacher to follow him, so was Jesus, whose initial
five left John the Baptist.
Buddha is also depicted as speaking with
"two buddhas who had preceded him," a motif reminiscent of Jesus
conversing with Moses and Elijah.
In addition, while Buddha fasts and prays in solitude in the desert,
he is tempted by the Prince of Darkness, Mara, whose overtures of
wealth and glory the sage resists. This story, of course, parallels
that of Jesus being tempted by Satan.
Concerning the temptation
motif, Christian apologist Weigall acknowledges that,
"there is a
pagan legend which relates how the young Jupiter was led by Pan to
the top of a mountain, from which he could see the countries of the
Subsequent to the temptation, Buddha takes a purifying bath in the
river Neranjara, upon which "the devas open the gates of Heaven, and
cover him with a shower of fragrant flowers," to Jesus's baptism in
the Jordan, with the appearance of a heavenly dove and voice
announcing him to be son of God.
In order to be convinced of Buddha's true nature, the crowd
"required a sign," another motif found within Christianity.
Jesus, Buddha is portrayed as walking on water, in his case the
Ganges, while one of his disciples also is able to walk on water at
"At his appearance the sick were healed, the deaf
cured, and the blind had their sight restored."
The miracle of the
fishes and loaves, paralleling that of Jesus, is apparently
recounted in the Mayana-Sutra. While riding a horse, Buddha's path
is covered with flowers tossed by the devas or angels, like Jesus
with the donkey and palms.
Moreover, Buddha takes a vow of poverty and wanders homeless, with
no rest for his weary head. His disciples too are advised to "travel
without money, trusting to the aid of Providence," as well as to
renounce the world and its riches. They too are able to perform
miracles, including exorcising evil spirits and speaking in tongues.
The resemblances do not stop there, as one of the disciples'
miracles is also found in the Old Testament:
Arresting the course of the sun, as Joshua was said to have done,
was a common thing among the disciples of Buddha.
At one point, some of Buddha's disciples are imprisoned by "an
unjust emperor," but are miraculously released by "an angel, or
The story of the offensive eye being plucked out and thrown
away by a disciple is also related in Buddhist lore.
Like Jesus, Buddha exhorts his disciples to,
"hide their good deeds,
and confess their sins before the world."
Furthermore, Buddha is
portrayed as administering baptism for the remission of "sin."
In a Chinese life of Buddha we read that "living at Vaisali, Buddha
delivered the baptism which rescues from life and death, and confers
Buddha's teachings embraced the brotherhood of men, the giving of
charity to all, including adversaries, and "pity or love for one's
The biblical story of the Samaritan woman is likewise found in
Buddhism: One of Buddha's chief disciples, Ananda, encounters a
low-caste woman near a well and requests some water from her. The
woman informs Ananda of her offensive low caste, such that she
should not approach him. Nevertheless, Ananda responds that he is
not interested in her caste, only in the water, after which the
woman becomes a follower of Buddha.
As Evans says:
This gentle reply [of Ananda] completely won the maiden's heart, and
Buddha coming by, converted her dawning affection into zeal for the
general good through the practice of his system of unselfish
In addition, in The Fountainhead of Religion, first published in
1927, Indian writer Ganga Prasad states,
"The parables of the New
Testament also bear a marked resemblance to those of Buddha."
only the anecdotes, miracles, sayings and parables but also many of
Buddha's epithets correlate to those of Christ.
For example, some of
Buddha's numerous titles include the following:
He was called the Lion of the Tribe of Sakya, the King of
Righteousness, the Great Physician, the God among Gods, the Only
Begotten, the Word, the All-wise, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the
Intercessor, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the Light of
the World, the Anointed, the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the
World, the Way of Life and Immortality.
Furthermore, when he was about to pass on, Buddha informed his
disciples that even if the world were to "be swallowed up" and the
heavens "fall to earth," etc., "the words of Buddha are true."
also instructed his followers to disperse upon his death and spread
his doctrines, establishing schools, monasteries and temples, and
performing charity, so that they may attain to "Nigban," or
Concerning Buddha's death, Titcomb states:
It is said that towards the end of his life Buddha was transfigured
on Mount Pandava, in Ceylon. Suddenly a flame of light descended
upon him, and encircled the crown of his head with a circle of
light. His body became "glorious as a bright, golden image," and
shone as the brightness of the Sun and moon
At the death of Buddha, the earth trembled, the rocks were split and
phantoms and spirits appeared. He descended into hell and preached
to the spirits of the damned.
When Buddha was buried, the coverings of his body unrolled
themselves, the lid of his coffin was opened by supernatural powers,
and he ascended bodily to the celestial regions.
The resemblances to the Christ myth include the transfiguration, the
earthquake upon death, the descent into hell and the ascension.
the most part, the preceding synopsis of Buddha's life and death
reflects the mainstream, orthodox tale. One notable exception is the
assertion that Buddha is portrayed as "ascending bodily" after his
death, a claim that is not without merit, as will be seen.
case, those who know the gospel story and the canonical Acts of the
Apostles in depth, as well as the apocryphal Christian texts and
legends recounted over the centuries, will recognize numerous
elements in the Buddha tale that correspond to the Christ myth. In
Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions, Doane goes into
even greater detail as to these many resemblances.
correspondences between Buddhism and Christianity, Prasad remarks:
It is not a little strange that the remarkable resemblance, which we
have noticed between Buddhism and Christianity extends even to the
lives of their founders. Gautama Buddha, as well as Jesus Christ, is
said to have been miraculously born. The birth of each was attended
with marvellous omens, and was presided over by a star.
Both Gautama and Jesus are said to have twelve disciples each.
The assertion that Gautama had 12 disciples is, of course, not found
in mainstream accounts.
Could it be, however, that this Indian
scholar has more knowledge about the subject than the Western
pundits and apologists? We have already noted that the motif of the
five disciples is found in the Buddha myth, and, as we shall see,
the common astro-theological motif of the 12 would likewise be
entirely appropriate and expected, and may have constituted esoteric
knowledge and mysteries based on Buddha's true nature.
The Christ Myth, John Jackson relates other important details of
the Buddha myth, some of which also are "esoteric," i.e., not found
in the orthodox story:
The close parallels between the life-stories of Buddha and Christ
are just as remarkable as those between Krishna and Christ. Buddha
was born of a virgin named Maya, or Mary. His birthday was
celebrated on December 25. He was visited by wise men who
acknowledged his divinity.
The life of Buddha was sought by King Bimbasara, who feared that some day the child would endanger his
throne. At the age of twelve, Buddha excelled the learned men of the
temple in knowledge and wisdom. His ancestry was traced back to Maha
Sammata, the first monarch in the world. (Jesus' ancestry is traced
back to Adam, the first man in the world.)
Buddha was transfigured
on a mountain top. His form was illumined by as aura of bright
light. (Jesus was likewise transfigured on a mountain top.
face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light."
After the completion of his earthly mission, Buddha ascended bodily
to the celestial realms.
The motifs of Jackson's synopsis not emphasized or mentioned in the
orthodox tale are the virginity of Buddha's mother and his December
25th birthdate, both of which have merit, however, as is the case in
the Krishna myth.
Also, like Titcomb, Jackson asserts that Buddha
The profuse correspondences between Buddhism and Christianity were
noticed numerous times over the centuries by Jesuits and other
Catholic missionaries who traveled to the East, including the clergy
of the Portuguese, who invaded India in the 15th century.
Christian lawyer O'Brien relates in The Round Towers of Ireland:
the conformity between the Christian and the Budhist religion was so
great, that the Christians, who rounded the Cape of Good Hope with
Vasco da Gama, performed their devotions in an Indian temple, on the
shores of Hindostan!
Nay, "in many parts of the Peninsula," says
Asiatic Researches, "Christians are called, and considered as
followers of Buddha, and their divine legislator, whom they confound
with the apostle of India, is declared to be a form of Buddha, both
by the followers of Brahma and those of Siva"
Regarding these conformities, Prasad says:
Dr. Fergusson, who is perhaps the highest authority on the subject
of Indian Architecture, makes the following remarks about the
Buddhist cave temple of Karli, the date of which he fixes at 78 b.c.:
"The building resembles, to a great extent, a Christian Church in
its arrangement, consisting of a nave and side aisles, terminating
in an apse or semidome, round which the aisle is carried. "
"But the architectural similarity," says Mr. Dutt, "sinks into
insignificance in comparison with the resemblance in rituals between
the Buddhist and Roman Catholic Church." A Roman Catholic
missionary, Abbe Huc, was much struck by what he saw in Tibet.
The missionary Huc's travels in Tibet yielded acknowledgment of the
following aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, which correlate closely to
Catholic ritual and hierarchy:
"confessions, tonsure, relic worship, the use of flowers, lights and
images before shrines and altars, the signs of the Cross, the
trinity in Unity, the worship of the queen of heaven, the use of
religious books in a tongue unknown to the bulk of the worshippers,
the aureole or nimbus, the crown of saints and Buddhas, wings to
angels, penance, flagellations, the flabellum or fan, popes,
cardinals, bishops, abbots, presbyters, deacons, the various
architectural details of the Christian temple."
In its article on "Buddhism," the Catholic Encyclopedia outlines
some of these correspondences between the Tibetan and Catholic
religions, yet maintains that Catholicism was first and that the
Buddhist correlations are "accretions" likely copied from the
Catholic missionaries to Tibet in the early part of the last century
were struck by the outward resemblances to Catholic liturgy and
discipline that were presented by Lamaism - its infallible head,
grades of clergy corresponding to bishop and priest, the cross, mitre, dalmatic, cope, censer, holy water, etc.
At once voices were
raised proclaiming the Lamaistic origin of Catholic rites and
practices. Unfortunately for this shallow theory, the Catholic
Church was shown to have possessed these features in common with the
Christian Oriental churches long before Lamaism was in existence.
The wide propagation of Nestorianism over Central and Eastern Asia
as early as A.D. 635 offers a natural explanation for such
resemblances as are accretions on Indian Buddhism.
The charge that Hinduism, Buddhism and other "Pagan" religions
copied Christianity proves that there are indeed significant
similarities between them, so much so that the most learned
apologists and defenders of the faith were compelled to acknowledge
and find a reason for them.
Naturally, since Christianity is
depicted as "divine revelation" entirely new to the times, the
Catholic hierarchy could not admit that the more ancient religion
could have influenced the new Christian faith. So began the
tradition of claiming Christian influence on Indian and Tibetan
While the argument may be applicable to Tibetan Buddhism,
although it seems unlikely, the fact will remain that most if not
all of the ritualistic correspondences outlined above existed
somewhere in some form prior to the Christian era, which means that
they are not "divine revelation" to Christians.
In response to Christian claims of Buddhism copying Christianity, in
The Ruins of Empires, Volney created a fictional conversation
between a Christian and a Tibetan Buddhist in which the Buddhist
"Prove to us," said the Lama, "that you are not Samaneans
[Buddhists/Hindus] degenerated, and that the man you make the author
of your sect is not Fot [Buddha] himself disguised. Prove to us by
historical facts that he even existed at the epoch you pretend; for,
it being destitute of authentic testimony, we absolutely deny it;
and we maintain that your very gospels are only the books of some
Mithraics of Persia, and the Essenians of Syria, who were a branch
of reformed Samaneans."
At this point, Volney notes:
That is to say, from the pious romances formed out of the sacred
legends of the mysteries of Mithra, Ceres, Isis, etc., from whence
are equally derived the books of the Hindoos and the Bonzes. Our
missionaries have long remarked a striking resemblance between those
books and the gospels.
M. Wilkins expressly mentions it in a note in
the Bhagvat Geeta (Bhagavad
Gita). All agree that Krisna, Fot [Buddha], and Jesus
have the same characteristic features: but religious prejudice has
stood in the way of drawing from this circumstance the proper and
natural inference. To time and reason must it be left to display the
It is indeed time to throw away religious prejudice and display the
In this case, the truth is that Buddhism's traditions are
very old, and there is no evidence of any magical Christian making
his way, in the case of Tibet, to the "top of the world" and,
overthrowing the religious hierarchy of the entire country, being
able to implement the Christian myth and ritual, leaving no direct
trace of either himself or the event.
Moreover, the Catholic Encyclopedia continues its outline of
similarities between Christianity and Buddhism in general, again
attempting to debunk the contention that the latter was influenced
by the former.
The striking similarities between Buddhism and
Christianity include the orders of monks and nuns; various sayings;
and most of all, says CE,
"the legendary life of Buddha, which in
its complete form is the outcome of many centuries of accretion" and
which contains, "many parallelisms, some more, some less striking, to
the Gospel stories of Christ."
Having said that, CE attempts to disparage those who would "take for
granted" that these parallelisms are pre-Christian.
third-rate scholars," says CE,
"have vainly tried to show that
Christian monasticism is of Buddhist origin, and that Buddhist
thought and legend have been freely incorporated into the Gospels."
CE then accuses these various scholars of grossly exaggerating or
fabricating these resemblances, even though a number of those who
have outlined these correspondences have been Jesuits and Catholics
who studied Buddhism firsthand.
As we have seen, the resemblances
are hardly "grossly exaggerated" or fictitious; yet, CE avers that,
"all these exaggerations, fictions, and anachronisms are
eliminated, the points of resemblance that remain are, with perhaps
one exception, such as may be explained on the ground of independent
"Independent origin," yet copied by Buddhism from
While modern defenders of the faith flatly refuse to acknowledge the
similarities between the story and religion of the Buddha and those
of the Christ, more critical and learned apologists of the past,
their backs against the wall because of the abundance of such
analogies, were thus compelled to argue that Christianity influenced
Buddhism, rather than the other way around.
Concerning this debate,
which was obviously well known among the scholars of the past
centuries, Inman comments:
With the usual pertinacity of Englishmen, there are many devout
individuals who, on finding that Buddhism and Christianity very
closely resemble each other, asseverate [contend], with all the
vehemence of an assumed orthodoxy, that the first has proceeded from
Nor can the absurdity of attempting to prove that the
future must precede the past deter them from declaring that Buddhism
was promulgated originally by Christian missionaries from Judea, and
then became deteriorated by Brahminical and other fancies!
If, for the sake of argument, we accord such cavillers the position
of reasonable beings, and ask them to give us some proof of the
assertion, that early Christian people went to Hindostan and
preached the gospel there; or even to point out, in history, valid
proofs that India was known to a single apostle, we find that they
have nothing to say beyond the vaguest gossip.
Inman then proceeds to name as this gossip the writings of church
fathers who claimed that the disciples Thomas, Bartholomew and
Pantaneus, among others, traveled to India, and single-handedly so
affected the vast and diverse populace there that it adopted and
adapted Christianity, completely eradicating evidence of its
Palestinian and Judean origin.
By these accounts, however, it seems
that these Christian fathers are not speaking of India but of Arabia
and Persia. Furthermore, as we have seen, rather than being a
wandering disciple, "Thomas" is evidently not only Tammuz but also
Tamas, or "darkness," apparently an epithet for an Indian god such
as Krishna who shared much of the same solar mythology found
In other words, the "St. Thomas Christians" of Malabar
are not "Christians" at all but pre-Christian Tamas worshippers.
Regarding this particular area and the Christian justification for
the presence of "Christianity" in India, Inman declares:
There is positively no evidence whatever
- except some apocryphal
Jesuit stories about certain disciples of Jesus, found by Papal
missionaries at Malabar - that any disciple of Mary's son ever
proceeded to Hindostan to preach the gospel during the first
centuries of our era.
Indeed, the evidence of Christian activity in India is apparently
limited to only as early as the 7th century, with the Nestorianism
mentioned by the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Concerning this debate, Bunsen, a Christian, comments:
The remarkable parallels in the most ancient records of the lives of
Gautama Buddha and of Jesus Christ require explanation. They cannot
all be attributed to chance or to importation from the West.
We now possess an uninterrupted chain of Buddhist writings in China,
"from at least 100 BC. to AD. 600," according to Professor Beal.
Dr. Inman also remarks upon the numerous correlations between
Buddhism and Christianity, and concurs that the Buddhist tale came
It will doubtless have occurred to anyone reading the preceding
pages, if he be but familiar with the New Testament, that either the
Christian histories called Gospels have been largely influenced by
Buddhist's legends, or that the story of Siddartha has been molded
upon that of Jesus.
The subject is one which demands and deserves
the greatest attention, for if our religion be traceable to
Buddhism, as the later Jewish faith is to the doctrines of
Babylonians, Medes, and Persians, we must modify materially our
notions of "inspiration" and "revelation." Into this inquiry St. Hilaire goes as far as documentary evidence allows him, and Hardy in
Legends and Theories of the Buddhists also enters upon it in an
almost impartial manner.
From their conclusions there can be no
reasonable doubt that the story of the life of Sakya Municertainly
existed in writing ninety years before the birth of Jesus;
consequently, if the one life seems to be a copy of the other, the
gospel writers must be regarded as the plagiarists.
Of course, non-Christian scholars, such as Indians themselves, also
contend that the Indian religions, with various of their "Christian"
motifs and rituals, long preceded the Christian era.
possess common sense and rationality on their side, since Buddha and
Buddhism antedated Christianity by centuries, if not millennia.