Coming from the homeland of Hindus, we have been exposed to the claims that Jesus spent the unknown years of His life, from age 12 to 30, to travel to India and gain wisdom from the gurus there. Many have claimed that the noble ideas in the Sermon on the Mount actually have their roots in ancient wisdom literature from India. But nobody took it seriously. Even the Hindus did not take it seriously. Only after coming to America, and especially only after the emergence of the New Age teachings, did I realize how these claims have baffled the Christians in the West. Here, where Christianity was under attack for centuries starting with the Western philosophers followed by Higher Criticism, the influx of these claims found a wide-open market. It sure has shaken the faith of many. But are these claims true?

As a student of the Bible, I have to acknowledge that sometimes I wish God did things differently. Like why didn’t He inspire at least one of the G ospel writers to give us the full biography of Jesus? Why didn’t Luke the historian and writer, who was particular about the details, sit with Mary and ask her questions about her Son, and write it down as a book, even if it did not become part of the canon? The only answer I can guess is that originally these books were written for a generation that knew the biography of Jesus and it was not necessary to tell them the mundane day-to-day details of His life.

Nonetheless, it has left wide open space for guesswork. Albert Schweitzer1 to New Age gurus2 to Muslims3 have speculated on it. Search on the internet, and you will come up with many books that claim that Jesus went to India during those ‘missing years’ and learned Buddhism and Hinduism, and then returned to His people to teach these noble teachings.

At the other end of the spectrum, you will find a number of authors who claim that nothing in Christianity is original. “Nothing in Christianity is original,” claimed Dan Brown in Da Vinci Code. He claimed that everything of importance in Christianity was taken directly from earlier pagan mystery religions.4

We have to address this issue from two different angles. One is the claim that Jesus went to India and learned from gurus during His ‘missing years’ and that is why His teachings are what we see in the gospels. The other is the claim that during His public ministry, Jesus intentionally copied from other mystery religions known in the Mediterranean area and that after His death, his disciples plagiarized their expectations by intentionally showing that all of it was fulfilled in the life of Jesus, and thus, Jesus is the Savior all of them were looking forward to.

This difference of opinion itself is the first clue that both groups are trying to make hay out of air. Truth has only one version. If any of these authors knew beyond doubt that they got the whole truth, then all of them could merge into one camp and speak with one voice. And we will stop seeing book after book with conflicting claims.

When we analyze these claims, we realize that most of these people are not historians or scholars who took years to study these topics in detail and they are presenting undeniable proofs. Dan Brown is a writer of thriller fiction, who all of a sudden became the most authentic critic of Christianity in the public’s eye.

One of the claims is that “every mystery religion taught its own version of the myth of dying and resurrecting Godman, who was known by different names in different places.”5 One of the main names is that of Mithras. Writers have said that the pre-Christian god Mithras was born of a virgin in a cave on December 25, was considered a great traveling teacher, had twelve disciples, promised his followers immortality, sacrificed himself for world peace, was buried in a tomb, and rose again three days later and even instituted a Lord’s Supper.6

But what is the truth you find out when you investigate history? T.N.D. Mettinger, a senior Swedish scholar, who has taken the time to do academic research on dying and rising gods in antiquity, came to the conclusion at the end of his study that as many as five dying and rising gods predated Christianity. He tells us that none of these serve as parallels to Jesus. He says:
“They are far different from the reports of Jesus rising from the dead. They occurred in the unspecified and distant past and were usually related to the seasonal life -and-death cycle of vegetation. In contrast, Jesus’ resurrection isn’t repeated, isn’t related to the changing of seasons, and was sincerely believed to be an actual event by those who lived in the same generation of the historical Jesus.”7

Edwin Yamauchi, who is considered a ‘scholar’s scholar’ on mystery religions and Mithraism in particular, tells us that it was the publication of The Golden Bough, by Sir James Frazer that brought the idea that mystery religions and Christianity are related since all of them have a concept of a god who dies and comes back to life.8 Yamauchi explains about Mithraism:
Mithraism was a late Roman mystery religion that was popular among soldiers and merchants, and which became a chief rival to Christianity in the second century and later. The initiates were all men. The participants met in a cave-like structure called a Mithraeum, which had as its cult statue Mithras stabbing a bull, the so-called tauroctony.9

Anyone who has read the New Testament can right away see the difference between Mithraism and Christianity. Even though Mithras was around as a Persian god since the 14th century BC, all evidence available shows that it became popular in the Roman empire only starting in the second century. Christianity was already established and flourishing.

In reality, the claim that Mithraism and Christianity are parallel is ludicrous. Mithras is said to be born of a rock, not a virgin. He emerged from a rock as a naked fully grown male, holding a dagger and a torch. The Bible does not claim that Jesus was born on December 25th or that he was born in a cave. There is no record of Mithras dying, let alone resurrecting. The Lord’s Supper is based on the Jewish festival of Passover, not on Mithras killing a bull.

The authors who produce these books are riding a wave of merchantability made possible by Higher Criticism that eroded the place of Holy Scriptures in Christian thinking. None of them has been proven historically true.

We will investigate the claim that Jesus went to India in my next blog. Subscribe to my blogs to receive these by email.


1Schweitzer, Albert. The quest of the historical Jesus : a critical study of its progress from Reimarus to Wrede. (2013) Kindle Edition. Translation by William Montgomery.
2Parr, A. J. (2020). Jesus in India: The Lost Years of the Son of God Revealed: The New Age Christian Scrolls, Book 2 (self published by author)
3Ahmad, Mirza Gulam (1994). Jesus in India. Punjab, India: Islam International Publications..
4Brown, Dan (2003). Da Vinci Code, p.232. New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing
5Freke, Timothy and Gandy, Peter (2001). The Jesus Mysteries: Was The Original Jesus A Pagan God? p.55. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
6Strobel, Lee ( 2007 ). The Case For The Real Jesus, p.158. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing
7Mettinger, Tryggve N.D. (2001). The Riddle of Resurrection, p.221. Stockholm: Almqvist &Wicksell