Victor Pope & I left Delhi on Thursday morning, upon what our travel agent called the ‘Best train India.’ It wasn’t amazing, be we did get western seats, complimentary newspapers, tea & a breakfast snack. We spent a pleasant enough two hours heading north through the uninspiring Gangeatic plane, before disembarking at the town of Kurukshetra. Our reason was the Bhagavad Gita – the Song of God – a text interpolated into the great Indian epic poem, the Mahabharata. The singer of the Bhagavad Gita is the Hindoo blue-skinned diety known as Krishna, as he stands in a chariot with Arjuna before the massive battle of Kurukshetra. There are a number of reasons why we should connect Krishna with Jesus;
1 – Christos is the Greek translation of Krishna
2 – The tenth century text the Bhagavata Purana tells is that Krishna was born by divine “mental transmission” from the mind of Vasudeva into the womb of Devaki, a direct tally with the virgin birth of Jesus.
3 – Y Masih writes, ‘The phenomenon of ‘Krsnajanmastame’ in which the child Krishna is represented as a suckling at the mother’s breast. Nanda, the foster-father of Krishna had gone to Mathura to pay his taxes (just as Joseph had gone to Bethlehem for census). Krishna was born in a cow-shed (Gokula exactly as Jesus was born in a manger); massacre of infants of Mathura by Kamsa (just as was the massacre of infants by Herod)
4 – The Bhagavad Gita has many parrallels with the sayings of Jesus, as in;
Krishna – I am Beginning, Middle, End, Eternal Time, the Birth and the Death of all. I am the symbol A among the characters. I have created all things out of one portion of myself
Jesus – I am the Alpha & the Omega, the Beginning & the End, the First & the Last.
Krishna - By love & loyalty he comes to know me as I really am, Iove you well. Bear me in mind, love me & worship me so you will come to me, I promise you truly for you are dear to me
Jesus – Anyone who loves me will be loved by my father & I shall love him & show myself to him
These points of contact are both too numerous & to palpable to ignore & we must consider the BG as abstract evidence for Jesus having been in India. Robert Frederick Hall spoke of the, ‘Exact synchronism with the mystery-religion taught by Jesus Christ,’ & that, ‘No longer will this ancient epic be treated as some obscure or ‘heathen’ philosophy, peculiar to an Eastern Race, a relic of past human superstition, but as setting forth the fundamental Doctrine of all Masters, & especially of Jesus Christ & the Apostles.’
Thus, Kurukshetra was a great place to start my quest for the Indian Jesus. After arriving at the town, we called into a jewellers, where I enquired about the battlefield. He was friendly guy, eager to help, whose mother named him Parikshit, after the grandson of Arjuna. After telling me that I was actually standing on the battlefield, which spread & sprawled about us for 48 square miles, he sorted us out a rickshaw for a couple of hours in order to see the sights. Most of these were temples marking events which occurred during the battle, but it was in the archeologcial museum at the historical town of Thanesar (formerly Sthaneswar), on the edges of Kurukshetra, that I found my clue. Just as Troy consisted of several different cities spread out over millennia, so Thanesar has been shown to have been built six times, the earliest of which has been dated to the Kushan era, which began in the first century AD.
Roll on two millenia & Thanesar & the surrounding area has been placed firmly in the Indian mindset as being the location of the battle of Kurukshetra. Inbetween, & before their destruction by the Mughal conquest of North India, the Thanesar district was awash was with holy buildings. In 634 AD, the Chinese explorer, Xuanzang described several Buddhist monasteries & a few hundred brahman temples. A line of thought one could take, then, would be that not long after the singing of the Bhagavad Gita, let us say about the time of Jesus, the first temples began to spring up at Kurukshetra, which by the time of Xuanzang had become a veritable city.
The discovery of the first century strata at Thanesar was a wonderful litological nugget, unearthed in a museum in the field, far from the collections of western libraries & the prying eyes of the google mega-brain. I have only been in India a few days, & this little discovery was a great boost to my confidence; the truth of Jesus’ stay in India lay out there somewhere, & was probably connected in some fashion to Krishna. The names were the same, the teachings were the same, & now the dates, of at least the Kurukshetran version of Krishna, were the same.
We spent that night in an ok-ish hotel, which lacked running water (a problem with the electricity) but had a great dining area & even better food. There were also mosquitoes on the prowl, & I spent a restless night fully clothed trying to avoid the post-bite itchiness that kept me awake; Victor’s hands & arms, by the way, are currently covered in red blotches. The next morning we set off again, intending to catch a train to Amritsar & its Golden Temple. Unfortunately, match-day sharpness hasn’t quite kicked in yet, & we missed the train, or rather let it come in & out again without boarding it. There’s not many English speakers in the highly-agricultural state of Haryana & I got muddled up at the station – it won’t happen again. Not keen to wait another day in Kurukshetra, I swiftly came up with another plan. Before I arrived I had read about the city of Patiala, not too far away, & so after buying a train ticket from Patiala to Amritsar for the Sunday, we set off on a rickety bus. The first part of the journey was pleasant enough, but it was at the transit town of Pehawar that things got decidedly squashed.
As our new bus came in to the roar of its bleeping horn, people literally sprinted across the station & into the rough commencement of a mad free-for-all for all the seats on the bus. We were too slow with our bulky bags, & were forced to stood up for an hour in a highly overcrowded bus, which is OK for a one-off but I wouldn’t like to repeat it again all that soon. Anyhow, en route we crossed the Sarasawathi river were soon enough in the state of Punjab, a predominantly Sikh state, Jackson Pollocked by the men’s bright & often garish turbans. The city had a much warmer feel than Kurukshetra, with cages full of birds, & traders at every turn all placed into sections, such as one which sold guns, a relic of the fighting nature of the Sikhs so successfully utilised by the British empire.
I hadn’t really slept since I arrived, & convinced Victor to have a couple of nights in mosquito-free comfort, which led us to a lovely four-star hotel with room service, laundry & air-conditioning (priceless) for only £15 a night. Its mad really, a decent enough room in India can cost about 3 or 4 quid, & a delux one about a tenner more, whereas in the West the difference in prices can be hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.
So that brings us to today. After crashing early last night I was up at 5AM, writing my book, waving away these little flies that congregated round the lights in a mad ecstasy-fuelled rave. Then, just as the sun was rising, they all fell out of the sky & died in their droves, to be swept away by a little Indian boy cleaning the floor with a brush. Once Victor had woken up, we took a rickshaw to see the decaying palace of a Maharahjah, known as the Sheesh Mahal, which has three statues of Queen Victoria in the grounds – I love wandering through the ruins of empire, whose memory, I find, has eroded a little more with every visit of mine to India.
Then it was back to the hotel, where I shall complete my de-jetlag, watching the English football to a few cool kingfishers, while keeping an eye on the Burnley score through the hotel’s wi-fi. We are top of the Championship at the moment & I find it rather apt that in the year that they got there, Jimmy Anderson – the Burnley Bomber – skittled the Aussies in the Ashes, & a lad from Accy Road is poised to solve the ancient mysteries behind the real Jesus Christ.
Extra Bit – Our new Swiss friend, Manuel, had hurriedly left the hotel & we presumed he’d headed up to Srinagar where we were gonna meet him. Instead he went to Rajahastan, from where he e-mailed us this warning…
I got myself the ticket to srinagar from trek & travel. After i met the guy we met on our first day and we had a lassi with. I told him about my plans and after he heard the price he was like: are you crazy? That must be some kind of rip-off. We went to a official travel agency and i showed them my voucher. The guy there confirmed that there’s probably something wrong with the deal. He told me that it’s quite common that if you stay on a houseboat in srinagar they’ll drug your food and drinks so you get sick and unable to leave. They advised me to change the hotel to stay out of trouble when they realize that i’m not doing the trip.