Violets and Other Tales/Unknown Life of Jesus Christ
A new gem has been added to sacred literature, and this is the accidental discovery by Nicolas Notovich of a Buddhist history of a phase of Christ's life left blank in the Scriptures.
Notovich, an adventurer, searching amid the ruins of India, delving deep in all the ancient Buddhistic lore, accidentally stumbles upon the name of Saint Issa, a renowned preacher, ante-dating some 2,000 years. The name becomes a wondrous attraction to Notovich, particularly as he learns through many Buddhist priests, Issa's name in juxtaposition with the Christian faith, and later, has reason to believe that the Jesus Christ of our religion and the Saint Issa of their tradition are identical.
Through a seemingly unfortunate accident, Notovich sustains an injury to his leg, and is cared for most tenderly by the monks of the convent of Himis. Despite his severe agonies, he retains consciousness and curiosity enough to plead for a glimpse of the wonderful documents contained in the archives of the convent, treating of the life of Saint Issa and the genealogy of the House of David. This he has translated and gives to the public.
Just whether to take the history seriously or not is a subject that requires much thought; but whether it be truth or fiction, whether the result of patient investigation and careful study of an interested scholar, or the wild imaginings of a feeble brain, it opens a wild field of speculation to the thoughtful mind.
The first three chapters of this history, contain a brief epitome of the Pentatouch of Moses. Though contrary to the teachings of tradition, Moses is said not to have written these books himself, but that they were transcribed generations after his time. According to this theory, then, the seeming imperfections and inconsistencies and tautological errors of the Old Testament as compared with the brief, clear, concise, logical statement of the Buddhists may readily be explained by the frailty of human memory, and the vividness of Oriental imagination.
Prince Mossa of the Buddhists, otherwise Moses of the Jews, was not, as is popularly supposed, a foundling of the Jews, or a protege of the Egyptian princess, but a full fledged prince, son of Pharaoh the mighty. This abrupt over-throw of the tradition of ages is like all disillusions, distasteful, but even the most superficial study of Egyptian customs and laws of that time will serve to impress us with the verity of this opinion. The law of caste was most rigidly and cruelly adhered to, and though all the pleadings and threatenings and weepings of the starry-eyed favorite of the harem may have been brought to bear upon this descendant of Rameses, yet is it probable that a descendant of an outcast race should receive the care and learning and advantages of a legally born prince? Hardly.
The condition of the ancient Israelites in the Christian Scriptures and in the Buddhist parchment are the same, yet there is reason to believe that the former was transcribed many centuries after the hieroglyphics of the latter became faded with age, hence, perhaps, the difference in the parentage of Moses.
"And Mossa was beloved throughout the land of Egypt for the goodness and compassion he displayed for them that suffered, pleaded with his father to soften the lot of these unhappy people, but Pharaoh became angry with him, and only imposed more hardships upon his slaves."
At this period in our Scriptures, the Lord communicates with Moses, and inflicts the plagues upon the nation, while in the manuscript of the Himis monks, the annual plague brought on by natural causes falls upon Egypt, and decimates the community. Here is a strange reversal of the order of things. In India, for ages the home of superstition and idol worship, that which has always been regarded by the Christians, the sworn enemies of the supernatural, as an inexplicable mystery, is accounted for by perfectly natural causes.
From that time, the fourth chapter of the chronicle of St. Issa corresponds exactly in its condensed form to the most prominent chronology of the Old Testament. With the beginning of the next chapter, the Divine Infant, through whom the salvation of the world was to come, appears upon the scene, as the first born of a poor but highly connected family, referring, presumably, to the ancestry of Joseph and Mary.
The remarkable wisdom of the child in earlier years is chronicled in our ancient parchment with as much care as in the vellum-bound volume of our church scriptures. At the age of twelve, the last glimpse we have of Jesus in the New Testament, is as a precocious boy, seated in the Temple, expounding the Scriptures to the learned members of the Sanhedrin. After that, we have no further sight of him, until sixteen years later, he re-appears at the marriage in Cana, a grown and serious man, already with well-formulated plans for the furtherance of his father's kingdom. This broad lapse in the Scriptures is filled by one simple sentence in the gospel of St. Luke. "And he was in the desert till the day of his showing into Israel." Where he was, why he had gone, and what he was doing are left to the imagination of the scholar and commentator.
Many theories have been advanced, and the one most accepted, was that he had followed the trade of his terrestrial father, Joseph, and was near Jerusalem among the tools of carpentry, helping his parents to feed the hungry mouths of his brothers and sisters.
But there appears another plausible theory advanced by the Buddhist historians, and sustained by the Buddhist traditions, that as Moses had fled into the wilderness to spend forty years in fasting and preparation for his life work, so Jesus had fled, not to the wilderness, but to the ancient culture and learning and the wisdom of centuries to prepare himself, by a knowledge of all religions for the day of the redemption.
Among the Jews of that day, and even among the more conservative descendants of Abraham yet, there existed, and exists a law which accustoms the marrying of the sons, especially the oldest son, at the age of thirteen. It is supposed that Issa, resisting the thraldom and carnal temptation of the marital state, fled from the importunities of the wise men, who would fain unite their offspring with such a wise and serious youth.
"It was then that Issa clandestinely left his father's house, went out of Jerusalem, and in company with some merchants, travelled toward Sinai."
"That he might perfect himself in the] divine word and study the laws of the Great Buddha."
For six years he kept all India stirred to its utmost depths as he afterward kept all Palestine stirred by the purity of his doctrines, and the direct simplicity of his teachings. The white priests of Bramah gave him all their law, teaching him the language and religion of the dwellers of the five rivers. In Juggernaut, Rajegrilia, Benares, and other holy cities he was beloved by all. For true, here, as elsewhere, to his theory of the universal brotherhood of man, not only did he move among the upper classes, but also with the wretched Vaisyas and Soudras, the lowest of low castes who even were forbidden to hear the Vedas read, save only on feast days. Just as among the Jews, he was tolerant, merciful and kindly disposed towards the Samaritans, the Magdalens, the Lazaruses as to the haughty rabbis.
His impress upon the home of Buddha and Brahma was manifested by the hitherto unknown theory of monotheism, established by him, but gradually permitted to fall into desuetude, and become confounded with the polytheistic hierarchy of the confusing religion. Just as the grand oneness and simplicity of the Christian religion has been permitted to deteriorate into many petty sects, each with its absurd limitations, and its particular little method of worshipping the Great Father.
The teachings of Issa in India bear close relation in the general trend of thought to the teachings of Jesus among the multitudes about Jerusalem. There is the same universal simplicity of man's brotherhood; the complete self-abnegation of the flesh to the mind; the charitable impulses of a kind heart, and the utter disregard of caste, whether of birth, or breeding, or riches.
Of miracles in India, Issa says, "The miracles of our God began when the universe was created, they occur each day, each instant; whosoever does not see them, is deprived of one of the most beautiful gifts of life."
At last, according to the chronicles of the Buddhists, Issa was recalled from his labors in India to the land of Israel, where the people oppressed as of old by the Pharaohs, and now by the mighty men from the country of the Ramones, otherwise the Romans.
Here Pilate appears in a new light. Heretofore he has always been a passive figure in the story of the crucifixion. Indeed he is entirely exonerated from all blame by some of our religious bibliographers and made to appear in a philanthropic light, but the priests of Egypt, undeceived by the treacherous memories and careless chronicling on the disciples of old, place Pilate before us as a thorough Roman, greedy, crafty, cruel, unscrupulous. According to them he places a spy upon the actions of Jesus in the beginning of his three years teachings, who follows him in all his journeys, and in the end betrays him to the Romans. This person can be no other than Judas, the betrayer. And here we are permitted to view his seemingly inexplicable actions in a new light, and from being Judas, a sorrowing misanthrope, the erstwhile friend of Christ, he becomes merely a common enemy, the tool of the Romans.
Then we have the trial and death of Issa, strongly similar to our accepted version, and the chronicle briefly ends with the statement of the subsequent work of the disciples. The story of the Buddhist was written very shortly after the Passion of the Cross; the New Testament was transcribed years after the chief actors were dust.
We are so steeped in tradition, and so conservative on any subject that touches our religious beliefs that it is somewhat difficult to reconcile ourselves to another addition to our Scriptures. But if we should look at the matter earnestly, and give deep thought to the relative positions, lives, and endings of these two noble men, Issa and Christ, we could scarcely doubt that they are one. Without trying, as does the author, to break down with one fell swoop, the entire structure of the Bible, we cannot but admit the probability of the new theory.
It may be claimed that the remarkable personality of Christ would have left more of an impress upon India than it did, and that Christianity there and in India would have been synchronous, but we must remember, that there among the idols of Bramah and Vishnu, the way was not prepared, the people unexpectant of a new prophet, unwarned of him and unheeded. There he seems to have had no close personal followers to take up the work just where he left it, and continue. The dwellers of India were more happy in their entirety and more comfortable than the Jews, hence there was no Deliverer to impress them forever with the gigantic sacrifice of human frame and Divine soul.
St. Issa, one of the most revered prophets of the Buddhists, Jesus Christ, the Man and God of all other men, the divine incarnation of the ideal, are they the same? Why not?