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India in Primitive Christianity.

Lillie, Arthur.

London, 1909.


[13] And now what is S'iva ? The first answer would be that he is the God of Destruction, who moves about amongst the tombs in the guise of an old and emaciated Yogi, a mere scaffolding of the human building. Around his neck is twisted a Naja Tripudians, the most deadly of snakes, but he wears also a larger necklace composed of human skulls. His waist-cloth is a tiger's skin. Vipers are his ear-rings. In one of his hands he holds the Pas'a, the terrible noose of the Thugs, his ardent worshippers. In another hand hangs a bleeding head; a third holds the Gada, his terrible mace of war. But more awful than all, in his fourth hand is the Trisul, the three pronged pitchfork, with which he pushes about human enterprises and mars them chiefly. Ashes made of very disagreeable ingredients cover him.

Is that the King of Dread
With ashy rousing face
From whose moon-silvered locks famed Gunga springs ?

The religions invented by man have reached the most abject depths of baseness. The religions invented by man have reached superb heights of human exaltation. It is a strange paradox that at this early date the religion of S'iva-Durga capped both ends of this long line of human speculation. It gave to the world the foul left-handed Tantrika rites; and was also the forerunner of Patanjali, Buddha, Isaiah, Jesus, Fenelon, and Mirza the Suft. For there sat the Indian Yogi, calmly contemplating this great problem:

[14] What is man, and what are his relations to the universe around him?

That the Indian Yogi was in existence when the Aryans reached India is proved from the Zend Avesta: for in the fourth Fargard, the Persian Aryans denounce his solitary dreamings in an Indian forest :

"Verily I say unto thee, O Spitama Zarathustra, the man who has a wife is far above him who begets no sons; he who keeps a house is far above him who has none; he who has children is far above the childless man; he who has riches is far above him who is poor."

And of two men he who fills himself with meat is filled with the good spirit much more than he who does not do so."

It is this man who can strive against the onsets of the death fiend; that can strive against the winter fiend with the thinnest garments on; that can strive against the wicked tyrant and smite him on the head; can strive against the ungodly Ashemaogha (heretic) who does not eat."

S'iva is Darkness - the Lord of Hell, a region that seems to have sprung from him and his cave. But from him has also came the idea of Kailas and its jewelled buildings. That was still the Hindu Paradise at the date of the Ramayana. And S'iva's rude stone denotes life as well as death, - earthly life, heavenly life.

[Megasthenes, Clement of Alexandria]

[102] We now come to a valuable piece of testimony, that of a Greek visiting India. Seleucus Nicator sent an ambassador, named Megasthenes, to King Chandragupta (B.C. 302-298). He visited that monarch at his capital, Palibothra, or Patna. His account of the India of that day is unfortunately lost; but through Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Arrian, and Clement of Alexandria, some valuable fragments have come down to us. Patna, it must be remembered, was in the very heart of the Buddhist Holy Land. Clement of Alexandria cites a passage from Megasthenes, on Indian Affairs. On the same page he thus describes the Indian "philosophers":

"Of these there are two classes, some of them called Sarmanae, and others Brahmins. And those of the Sarmanae who are called Hylobii neither inhabit cities nor have roofs over them, but are clothed in the bark of trees, feed on nuts, and drink water in their hands. Like those called Encratites in the present day, they know not marriage nor begetting of children. Some, too, of the Indians obey the precepts of Buddha, whom, on account of his extraordinary sanctity, they have raised to divine honours."

The importance of this passage is this, that from Strabo we get the description given by Megasthenes of the Indian philosophers, and it is made certain that the earlier part of this passage is from the same source.

[103] Strabo describes the Brahmins and the" Germanes," also called, he says, "Hylobii." He gives the same details as Clement of Alexandria about their feeding on wild fruits and wearing the bark of trees. He, too, draws a distinction between the Germanes and the Brahmins on the subject of continency, the Brahmins being polygamists.

From this it seems certain that Clement of Alexandria was writing the original work of Megasthenes before him. We may therefore, conclude that this passage about Buddha, sandwiched as it is between two genuine citations, was also in Megasthenes. [Not necessarily; Pantaenus had been to India and met Buddhists there himself. But Lillie didn’t know this] Strabo had handed down to us another statement of Megasthenes about the Hylobii :

"By their means the kings serve and worship the Deity."

There can be no doubt that the Sarmanes (Sramanae) and Brahmins of Megasthenes were the Brahmins and the Buddhists. To the first, according to Megasthenes, were confided sacrifices and ceremonies, for the dead as well as for the living. They were a caste apart, and none outside this caste could perform their duties. The gods would not accept the sacrifice of such an interloper. Their ideas on life and death were very similar to those of Plato and the Greeks. The Brahmins ate flesh and had many wives. Every new year there was a great synod of them.


[161] Was Essenism due to Buddhist missionaries ? - Testimony of Asoka - Apostles of the Bloodless Oblation" - Tertullian on the similarity between the rites of the Christians and the Mithraists - Testimony of Philo - Thirty thousand monks go from Alexandria to Ruanwelli in Ceylon. and are hospitably received on the occasion of the consecration of the great temple there, B.C. 170.

We have now reached the critical chapters of the work. Its main contention is that it was through the Jewish sect of the Essenes that Buddhist influences reached Palestine, and were passed on to Christianity. We have therefore to consider:

(1) Was Essenism due to Buddhism?

(2) Did Christianity emerge from Essenism.

The first question will form the subject of this chapter, and the second will be treated afterwards. In my first edition of this work I attached great importance to the evidence of King Asoka. That monarch, as we have seen in Chapter V., has given to Buddhism a record which no other religion can boast of, simply because in lieu of a reed and leaves of plantain trees or other ephemeral methods he has used a chisel and hard stone. By this means he has baffled the pious improver of sacred records, but the King's system was necessarily a little crude. On one pillar he tells us about his "double system of medical aid," on another of the "villages set apart for the [162] monks," on a third, the accommodation of men and animals, on others we read of "the planting of trees and digging of wells," and then of monks "exercising solitary austerities."

Thus when I read in the inscription of the Girnar Rock in Guzerat the king's statement that he had sent into the domains of King Antiochus his "medicaments," and his "double system of medical aid," I thought that the king's statement about his medicaments was important as proving an early connection between India and Egypt, but I did not see how far reaching and overwhelming that evidence was.

A recent and more careful study of the king's inscriptions has proved to me that his Sangharâmas, the establishments that he set up upon roads and in jungles, were all of a pattern and all complete. They were for utilitarian as well as religious purposes. The problem before the king was to send abroad his laws, his religion, his commerce, his officials wherever he could, and especially to reclaim and pierce the vast jungles of his dominions. These had potent sentries, the tiger and the fever. The Indian epics tell us how these were dreaded. Thus roads, wells, herbs for medicines, grain for food, and trees for shade, would be required everywhere, for each Sangharâma was a rude caravanserai, hospital, college, monastery, church, burying-ground, as well as a collection of little leafy pansils where the ascetic could dream his dreams of God. This gives the Girnar rock-inscription an importance that it is impossible to estimate. If Asoka spread through the dominions of Antiochus his "root drugs and herbs," and his "medical aid for men and animals," the remainder of the Sangharâma, the religion and the fasting monks, must have been present likewise, a pregnant fact.

Let us read the passage carefully. "And moreover within the dominions of Antiochus, the Greek king, [163] of which, the generals of Antiochus are the rulers, everywhere the double system of medical aid of the Beloved of the Angels (Asoka) is established, both medical aid for men and medical aid for animals." {Translation by Prinsep, " Journ. Beng. As. Soc.," Vol. VII., p. 159.} Indeed, these conclusions are completely confirmed by a second passage on the Girnar Rock.

"And the Greek king besides, by whom the four Greek kings (Chapta Yona rajah) Ptolemaios, and Gengakenos and Magas have been induced to permit both here and in foreign countries everywhere (the people) follow the doctrine of the religion of Devanampiya (the friend of the Angels) wherever it reacheth." {Translation by Prinsep, " Journ. Beng. As. Soc.," Vol. VII., p. 261.}

The king's name is never actually mentioned on the inscriptions. He is called the "Friend of the Angels" or Devas. According to Polybius, Antiochus the Great led his army into India and renewed his alliance with Sophagasenes, king of that country. As the Asoka edicts were incised on rocks some six years after Antiochus came to the throne, Prinsep and Wilford believe that this was King Asoka. Meanwhile the building of Alexandria had given a powerful fillip to the intercourse with India by sea. Alexander had designed it to be the capital of his vast empire, and the bridge between India and the West. This project was ably carried out after his death by his lieutenant, the first Ptolemy. Under his wise government and that of his successors, Alexandria soon became the first commercial city in the world. Of more importance was his large tolerance of creeds, whether Egyptian, Grecian, or Jewish. In the year 209 B.C. Ptolemy Evergetes was on the throne. He conquered Abyssinia and the greater part of Asia, including Syria, Phrenicia, Babylonia, Persia, Media. [164] His conquests extended to Bactria, and he had a large fleet on the Red Sea. This placed him in contact with India from two different directions. He married the daughter of the" Magas" of the inscriptions, the king of Cyrene.

We have now to consider whether there is any evidence corroborating the testimony of Asoka. Jumping over some two hundred years we reach Philo (25 B.C. to 45 A.D.), Josephus (born 37 A.D.) and Pliny (23 to 79 A.D.). These witnesses describe an institution pin for pin like the Sangharâma, namely the …, and we get from them a knowledge of two remarkable sects of the Jews, the Essenes and the Therapeuts.

[Philo, Josephus, and Pliny]

When did these sects arise? On that point evidence is scanty. Eusebius declared that they were Christian monks brought there by St. Mark, but Philo, Josephus, and Pliny, if they know nothing very definite, disprove this. Philo declares that their laws, which differ radically from the Jewish laws, date from Moses. "Our law giver trained into fellowship great numbers of pupils whom he calls Essenes." {Fragment of "Apology for the Jews."} He repeats this statement in the same work. He says likewise that they possess commentaries of ancient men who were founders of the school. This throws the Therapeuts back a long way. Josephus also gives to the Essenes Moses as a law giver, and states that anyone who blasphemed him was to be punished with death. He says, too, that the Essenes are as old as the Pharisees and Sadducees. {"Antiquities," Book XVIII., C. I.} And Pliny the elder, who witnessed the Essene gatherings on the shores of the Dead Sea, their central haunt, affirms that they had existed there " through thousands of ages." It is to be observed too, that these Therapeuts were spread widely about, especially in Egypt, to which as we have seen, Asoka sent his Sangharâmas.

[165] Says Philo: "There are many parts of the world in which these folks are found, for both Greece and the Barbarian lands must needs have their share in what is good and perfect. They are, however, in greatest abundance in Egypt, in everyone of the so-called departments, and especially round about Alexandria. The principal persons draw up their colony from all quarters as to a fatherland of Therapeuts, unto a well-regarded spot which lies on Lake Marea, on a somewhat low hill, very well situated both with regard to security and the mildness of the air." {Vita Contemp.} In fact Egypt swarmed with monks, for many centuries after Christ as well as before, and it was difficult to distinguish the sect of Christians from the worshippers of Serapis, whom we shall by-and-by show to have been S'iva a little disguised. From Rufinus and St. Gerome, three centuries after Christ's death, we get pictures of them.

The theatre of the Eremites was chiefly the valley of the Nile. The huge deserts on each side of the river were peopled with Eremites and monasteries, that of Oxyrinque harboured ten thousand monks and two thousand nuns. Another near Nechia, forty miles from Alexandria, had five thousand monks. To get the dates of the rise of these is now impossible.

Philo, as we have seen, announced that in his day the forty-two districts of Egypt were full of them.

But a question arises: Were the Essenes and the Therapeuts the same, or closely like each other? Some Christian apologists deny this, and they cite Josephus to show that the Essenes dwelt in cities and "employed themselves solely to the labour of agriculture."{"Antiq.," XVIII., I, par. 5.}

[167] Prophets dreaming in solitude and prophets who had failed in life were both part of the same mechanism; for the prophet when he had obtained the inner light was turned into an itinerant missionary. In a work recently recovered, the "Teaching of the Apostles," the Christian missionaries are called "Prophets," and they were only allowed to remain three nights in one place. The Parivrajikas, or wandering missionaries of Buddhism, could only sleep one night in the same place, and that not in a house. These wandering missionaries, although their work is finished, still exist in Tibet. In that cold climate they say their home is " the starry tent of Buddha," and as often as not sleep in the open on the snow.

It is evident that in countries like Palestine where any doctrines that in the least swerved from Mosaism were promptly punished, the city monks would be a necessary complement to the missionaries.

The analogies between the Essenes and Therapeuts are close enough. Both believed in the immortality of the soul. Both explained the sacred scriptures allegorically. Both lived in monasteries and had goods in common, despised wealth, and before entering the community they parted with all their property. Both considered marriage and se+ual intercourse inimical to the higher life. Both abstained from flesh meat and wine, and refused to take part in the animal sacrifices in the Temple. For each was an active cohort in the Great Army which, led as it were by Buddha, assailed sacrificial religion everywhere, and sought to substitute the religion of conscience for religion by body-corporate.


In point of fact, Buddha's missionaries were preaching in Persia long before the days of King Asoka. The Mithraists, the Neo Pythagoreans, the Hermitists [168] were similar secret societies, grouped together as the "Apostles of the Bloodless Altar."

There are two Zoroasters. One of these Zoroasters lived 6,000 years B.C. according to Darmesteter, and the other about 500 years B.C. The earlier Zoroaster swathed Persia in a network of silly rites and regulations.

[] But the second Zoroaster proclaimed a bloodless altar, and sought to tear the network of the first Zoroaster to shreds. What was the meaning of this? Simply that the Buddhist Wanderers had by this time invaded Persia, and had fastened their doctrines upon the chief local prophet. This was their habit. A study of this second religion, the religion of Mithras, will help us to some of the secrets of Buddhist propagandism.

Mr. Felix Oswald cites Wassiljew as announcing that the Buddhist missionaries had reached Western Persia B.C. 450. This date would, of course, depend on the date of Buddha's life and Buddha's death. The latter is now definitely fixed by Buhler's translation of Asoka Rupnath rock-inscription, B.C. 470. Wassiljew, citing Daranatha. announces that Madeantica, a convert of Ananda, Buddha's leading disciple, reached Ouchira in Kashmir. From Kashmir Buddhism [169] passed promptly to Kandahar and Kabul. Thence it penetrated quickly to Bactria, and soon invaded "all the country embraced by the word Turkistan, where it flourished until disturbed by Mahomet."

[Philo on Essenes]

[171] On the subject of the Essenes Philo wrote a most interesting letter to a man named Hephrestion, of which the following is a portion:

"I am sorry to find you saying that you are not likely to visit Alexandria again. This restless, wicked city can present but few attractions, I grant, to a lover of philosophic quiet. But I cannot commend the extreme to which I see so many hastening. A passion for ascetic seclusion is becoming daily more prevalent among the devout and the thoughtful, whether Jew or Gentile. Yet surely the attempt to combine contemplation and action should not be so soon abandoned. A man ought at least to have evinced some competency for the discharge of the social duties before he abandons them for the divine. First the less, then the greater.

"I have tried the life of the recluse. Solitude brings no escape from spiritual danger. If it closes some avenues of temptation, there are few in whose case it does not open more. Yet the Terapeutae, a [172] sect similar to the Essenes, with whom you are acquainted, number many among them whose lives are truly exemplary. Their cells are scattered about the region bordering on the farther shore of the Lake Mareotis. The members of either se+ live a single and ascetic life, spending their time in fasting and contemplation, in prayer or reading. They believe themselves favoured with divine illumination - an inner light. They assemble on the Sabbath for worship, and listen to mystical discourses on the traditionary lore which they say has been handed down in secret among themselves. They also celebrate solemn dances and processions of a mystic significance by moonlight on the shore of the great mere. Sometimes, on an occasion of public rejoicing, the margin of the lake on our side will be lit with a fiery chain of illuminations, and galleys, hung with lights, row to and fro with strains of music sounding over the broad water. Then the Therapeutae are all hidden in their little hermitages, and these sights and sounds of the world they have abandoned make them withdraw into themselves and pray.

"Their principle at least is true. The soul which is occupied with things above, and is initiated into the mysteries of the Lord, cannot but account the body evil, and even hostile. The soul of man is divine, and his highest wisdom is to become as much as possible a stranger to the body with its embarrassing appetites. God has breathed into man from heaven a portion of His own divinity. That which is divine is indivisible. It may be extended, but it is incapable of separation. Consider how vast is the range of our thought over the past and the future, the heavens and the earth. This alliance with an upper world, of which we are conscious, would be impossible were not the soul of man an indivisible portion of that divine and blessed spirit. Contemplation of the [173] divine essence is the noblest exercise of man; it is the only means of attaining to the highest truth and virtue, and therein to behold God is the consummation of our happiness here.”

Here we have the higher Buddhism, which seeks to reach the plane of spirit, an "alliance with the upper world," by the aid of solitary reverie. That Philo knew where this religion had come from is, I think, proved by another passage.

"Among the Persians there is the order of Magi who deeply investigate the works of nature for the discovery of truth, and in leisure's quiet are initiated into, and expound in clearest significance, the divine virtues,

"In India, too, there is the sect of the Gymnosophists, who, in addition to speculative philosophy, diligently cultivate the ethical also, and have made their life an absolute example of virtue.

"Palestine, moreover, and Syria are not without their harvest of virtuous excellence, which region is inhabited by no small portion of the very populous nation of the Jews. There are counted amongst them certain ones, by name Essenes, in number about four thousand, who derive their name in my opinion by an inaccurate trace from the term in the Greek language for holiness (Essen or Essaios - Hosios, holy), inasmuch as they have shown themselves pre-eminent by devotion to the service of God; not in the sacrifice of living animals, but rather in the determination to make their own minds fit for a holy offering." {Philo, "Every virtuous man is free."}

Plainly here the Essenes are pronounced of the same faith as the Gymnosophists of India, who abstain from the bloody sacrifice, that is the Buddhists. I think I have now proved that Essenism was due to a Buddhism influence. Few deny this now, and [174] fewer would support that energetic but rather wild apologist, Dr. Lightfoot, in his assertion that "there is no notice in either heathen or Christian writers, which points to the presence of a Buddhist within the limits of the Roman Empire till long after the Essenes ceased to exist."

[Ceylon (160 to 137 B.C.)]

[174] But supposing this to be true, we have at any rate an historical statement that 30,000 Buddhist monks went back to India if they did not come from it. In the Mahawanso, or ancient Buddhist history of Ceylon, it is announced that on the occasion of the consecration of the famous Buddhist tope at Ruanwelli (160 to 137 B.C.), Buddhist monks came from all parts, including "30,000 from the vicinity of A'lasadda, the capital of the Yona country." (Alexandria, the capital of Greece). {"Mahawanso" (Tumour's translation), p. 171.}


[176] Was Jesus an Essene ?- Nazarites or Nazareens - Baptised by the Nazarite John - A Secret Society -"Inquire who is worthy ! " - Essene Bread Oblation - Miracle of the Loaves - Probably an Essene Passover gathering – The Codex Nazaraeus - The earliest gathering of Christians at Rome - Essene water drinkers and vegetarians - The Gospel according to the Hebrews - Gospel of the Infancy.

Was Jesus an Essene?

Historical questions are sometimes made more clear by being treated broadly. Let us first deal with this from the impersonal side, leaving out altogether the alleged words and deeds of Christ, Paul, etc. Fifty years before Christ's birth there was a sect dwelling in the stony waste where John prepared a people for the Lord. Fifty years after Christ's death there was a sect in the same part of Palestine. The sect that existed fifty years before Christ was called Essenes or Nazarites, or Nazareens. The sect that existed fifty years after Christ's death were called Nazarines or Nazarites, Therapeuts, Gnostics, Continentes, and according to Epiphanius “Essenes or Jesseans." They were not called Christians in the first century at all. Each had two prominent rites: baptism, and what Tertullian calls the "oblation of bread." Each had for officers, deacons, presbyters, ephemereuts. Each sect had monks, nuns, celibacy, community of goods.

[177] Each interpreted the Old Testament in a mystical way, - so mystical, in fact, that it enabled each to discover that the bloody sacrifice of Mosaism was forbidden, not enjoined. The most minute likenesses have been pointed out between these two sects by all Catholic writers from Eusebius and Origen to the poet Racine, who translated Philo's Contemplative Life for the benefit of pious court ladies. Was there any connection between these two sects? It is difficult to conceive that there can be two answers to such a question.

And if it can be proved, as Bishop Lightfoot affirms, that Christ was an anti-Essene, who announced that His mission was to preserve intact every jot and tittle of Mosaism as interpreted by the recognised interpreters, this would simply show that He had nothing to do with the movement to which His name has been given.


The first prominent fact of His life is His baptism by John. If John was an Essene, the full meaning of this may be learnt from Josephus:

“To one that aims at entering their sect, admission is not immediate: but he remains a whole year outside it, and is subjected to their rule of life, being invested with an axe, the girdle aforesaid, and a white garment. Provided that over this space of time he has given proof of his perseverance, he approaches nearer to this course of life, and partakes of the holier water of cleansing; but he is not admitted to their community of life. Following the proof of his strength of control, his moral conduct is tested for two years more; and when he has made clear his worthiness, he is then adjudged to be one of their number. But before he touches the common meal, he pledges to them in oaths to make one shudder, first, that he will reverence the Divine Being; and secondly, that he will abide in justice unto men, and will injure no one, either of his [178] own accord or by command, but will always detest the iniquitous and strive on the side of the righteous; that he will ever show fidelity to all, and most of all to those who are in power, for to no one comes rule without God; and that, if he becomes a ruler himself, he will never carry insolence into his authority, or outshine those placed under him by dress or any superior adornment; that he will always love truth, and press forward to convict those that tell lies. That he will keep his hands from peculation, and his soul pure from unholy gain; that he will neither conceal anything from the brethren of this order, nor babble to others any of their secrets, even though in the presence of force and at the hazard of his life. In addition to all this, they take oath not to communicate the doctrines to anyone in any other way than as imparted to themselves; to abstain from robbery, and to keep close, with equal care, the books of their sect and the names of the angels. Such are the oaths by which they receive those that join them." {Josephus, De B. J., II., 8, 2, 13.}

As a pendant to this, I will give the early Christian initiation from the Clementine Homilies.

"If anyone having been tested is found worthy, then they hand over to him according to the initiation of Moses, by which he delivered his books to the Seventy who succeeded to his chair."

These books are only to be delivered to "one who is good and religious, and who wishes to teach, and who is circumcised and faithful."

"Wherefore let him be proved not less than six years, and then, according to the initiation of Moses, he (the initiator) should bring him to a river or fountain, which is living water, where the regeneration of the righteous takes place." The novice then calls to witness heaven, earth, water, and air, that 'he will keep secret the teachings of these holy books, and guard them from [179] falling into profane hands, under the penalty of becoming " accursed, living and dying, and being punished with everlasting punishment."

"After this let him partake of bread and salt with him who commits them unto him."

Now, if, as believed by Dr. Lightfoot, the chief object of Christ's mission was to establish for ever the Mosaism of the bloody altar, and combat the main teaching of the "Ascetic" as he was called, which "postulates the false principle of the malignity of matter," why did He go to a Mystic to be baptised?

[John the Baptist]

Whether or not Christ belonged to mystical Israel, there can be no discussion about the Baptist. He was a Nazarite "separated from his mother's womb," who had induced a whole" people" to come out to the desert and adopt the Essene rites and their community of goods. And we see, from a comparison of the Essene and early Christian initiations, what such baptism carried with it. It implied preliminary instruction and vows of implicit obedience to the instructor.

It is plain, too, that the Essene Christ knows at first nothing of any antagonism to His teacher. "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it" (Luke xvi. 16).

This shows that far from believing that He had come to preserve the Mosaism of the bloody altar, He considered that John and the Essenes had power to abrogate it. Listen, too, to Christ's instructions to His twelve disciples: "As ye go, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

This is the simple gospel of John.

"Provide neither gold nor silver nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes."

[180] Here again we have the barefooted Essenes without silver or gold. "He that hath two coats let him impart to him that hath none," said the Baptist.

"And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. Behold I send you forth, as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."

This passage is remarkable. No Christian disciple had yet begun to preach, and yet what do we find?

A vast secret organisation in every city. It is composed of those who are "worthy" (the word used by Josephus for Essene initiates); and they are plainly bound to succour the brethren at the risk of their lives. This shows that Christ's movement was affiliated with an earlier propagandism.


[185] The fact that the disciples of the Baptist are called the Nazareens in the "Codex Nazarreus" is important. The Christians according to the Acts were called Nazarines, and the section of Christ's flock which kept close to the traditions of the Apostles was called the Nazarines for at least three hundred years. Pilate on the cross wrote up … (Jesus the Nazarine). This in our Gospels is translated "Jesus of Nazareth," a place invented some think for the purpose. The "Encyclopaedia" Britannica announces that there is no mention of this "Nazareth” to outside the New Testament until Jerome and Eusebius seek to identify it with an insignificant village near the modern Nasira.

The Gospels announce that Christ was born in Bethlehem, but that he lived for some time in Nazareth, but a Roman Procurator in giving the name and crime of a condemned man would scarcely descend to such small facts in his biography. The prophecy, "He shall be called the Nazarine," wherever it comes from, has been literally fulfilled. Jews, old and modern, early Christians, Mussulmans, all the East, have used this title, and it is still used. "Nazarite" and " Nazarine" are the same word.

[198] In Alexandria, as we have seen, some two hundred years before Christ there were a number of ascetics who believed that they could pass muster as Buddhist monks in a great Buddhist festival. Their experiment was quite successful. They were properly entertained on their arrival in Ceylon as real Buddhists. This fact proves that a life of Buddha of some sort must have reached Alexandria some two hundred years at least before the Saviour's birth. In that case, say about the year 100 A.D., we might expect to find a life of Buddha at Alexandria and a life of Jesus at Jerusalem, both describing the career of a holy Personage with somewhat similar details.

The Gospel of the Infancy is a band that seems to tie these two biographies together. Let us recapitulate a few of these points that do this.

(I) The palm-tree bends down to Mary as the Asoka tree to Yashodara.

(2) The story of Simeon, the accounts of the bright light being almost word for word the same.

(3) The idol bending down to the Infant Jesus.

(4) The miracle of the sparrows restored to life.

(5) Judas Iscariot in early life attacked Jesus just as Devadetta, the Judas of Buddhism, attacked Buddha. A violent blow that Jesus received in the left side made a mark which was destined to be the exact spot that received the mortal spear-thrust at the Crucifixion. [199]

(6) The whole story of the disputation with the Doctors seems copied servilely from the" Lalita Vistara."

(7) Buddhism had invaded Persia, and Maitreya, the coming Buddha, was expected five hundred years after Buddha's death - the Persian Buddhists called him Sosiosh. The Gospel of the Infancy explains the presence of the Magi, which in the Canonical Gospels is quite unintelligible. Why should Persians come with hysterical enthusiasm to greet a Messiah whose chief exploit was to be the slaughter of all Persians and all the other nations except Jews. The "Gospel of the Infancy" announces that Zoroaster had sent them. The Persians mixed up Sakya Muni, Buddha, Mithras and Zoroaster and were expecting Sosiosh at the time.

For comments: Dolf Hartsuiker