Yuz Asaf and Jesus: The Buddhism Connection

Yuz Asaf and Jesus: The Buddhism Connection (Tahir Ijaz) The event of the Cross is thought to have occurred around 33 A.D. Before this, Jesus of Nazareth had foretold that his fate would be similar to that of Prophet Jonah.1 In other words, he would not die on the cross, he would be placed in the tomb alive, stay inside the tomb for three nights alive, and come out alive. This is precisely what happened. When Jesus was laid in the tomb, his companions the Essenes, who wore white clothing,2 looked after his wounds. To Christians, these men in white clothing have always been a mystery, hence they were described as angels in the Gospels. After emerging from the tomb, Jesus was still in his earthly body, the body of flesh and bones.3 He was not a spirit or ghost, the nature of resurrected bodies.4 In the post-crucifixion scenes, Jesus is found hiding and concealing himself to avoid a second crucifixion. If Jesus had died and then resurrected, he should not have felt scared because a body cannot die twice.5 A body of flesh and bones has to remain in this world, and as to how Jesus spent the rest of his days, the answer is not far to seek. Jesus himself explained: “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”6 It is a historical fact that ten of the twelve tribes of Israel suffered army invasions from Assyria in 740 B.C. and 722 B.C. and later from Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia. The result was that the people of these ten tribes became dispersed, and most ended up living within the domains of the Persian Empire. Later, when the Persians under Cyrus and Darius extended their territories further towards the east up to India, these tribes moved with them. The ten tribes domiciled mostly in Afghanistan and Kashmir and as far away as Western China. Because they never came home to the Holy Land, they became known as the Lost Sheep of Israel. It was these people Jesus was referring to. Jesus had to move East. 1. Matthew 12:39-40, Luke 11:29-30. 2. John 20:12, Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopaedia, vol. 9, p. 161 “Essenes’*. 3. Luke 24:36-40. 4. Luke 20:36. 5. Hebrews 9:27. 6. Matthew 15:24. 32 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS In 1899, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote the extraordinary book entitled Jesus in India which gave evidence from the Bible, Quran, old historical works, and ancient Buddhist records that Jesus settled in Kashmir where his tomb still exists. According to Kashmiri historians, and the oral testimony of distinguished people in Kashmir, the tomb is that of a Prophet of God. His name was Yuz Asaf and he came from another land about 2000 years ago. The historian Khwaja Muhammad Azam, who completed his book Tarikh-i-Azami in 1729, writes: “The tomb next to that of Sayyid Nasr-ud-Din is generally known as that of a prophet who was sent to the inhabitants of Kashmir and the place is known as the shrine of a prophet. He was a prince who came to Kashmir from a foreign land. He was perfect in piety, righteousness and devotion; he was made a prophet by God and was engaged in preaching to the Kashmiris. His name was Yuz Asaf.7 Yuz Asaf arrived in Kashmir during the reign of Gopadatta (49—109 A.D.). Mulla Nadiri writing around 1400 A.D. says: The King assumed the name of Gopadatta and started his rule in the valley of Kashmir . . . During this period, Yuz Asaf arrived from the Holy Land and proclaimed his prophethood in the Holy Valley.8 Others that mention the tomb of Yuz Asaf in Kashmir are, Ibn-i-Muhammad Hadi Muhammad Ismail,9 Mufti Ghulam Nabi Khanyari,10 and Mirza Saif-ud-Din Baig.11 The official decree of the tomb, dated 1766 A.D. states: “. . .in the reign of Raja Gopadatta who repaired the building on Mount Solomon and built many temples, a man came here whose name was Yuz Asaf . . . The Prophet Yuz Asaf had been sent as a prophet to preach to the people of Kashmir. He used to proclaim the unity of God till death overtook him and he died.12 An ancient temple in Kashmir called Takhte Sulaiman contained old inscriptions which established that Yuz Asaf came during the time of Gopadatta and furthermore that he was Jesus of the tribes of Israel.13 The testimony of the 2nd century A.D. Hindu book called Bhavishya Maha Purana is the same. But was Yuz Asaf really Jesus? If so, how did the name “Yuz Asaf’ come about? If we take a closer look at the origin of this name, there can, as we shall see, be no doubt that he was Jesus. 7. Khwaja Muhammad Azam. Tarikh-i-Azami, 82. 8. Mulla Nadiri, Tarikh-i-Kashmir, 35. 9. Ibn-i-Muhammad Hadi Muhammad Ismail, Ain-uI-Hayat, vol. 2. p. 177. 10. Mufti Ghulam Muhammad Khanyari, Wajeez-ut-Tawarikh. vol. 2 f. 279. 11. Mirza Saif-ud-Din Baig, Khulasa-tut-Tawarikh, f. 7(b). 12. Truth about the Crucifixion. 86. 13. Mohammad Yasin, Mysteries of Kashmir, 13-14. YUZ ASAF AND JESUS: THE BUDDHISM CONNECTION 33 A. Buddhism and Jesus Jesus went in search of the Lost Tribes at a time when India was under Buddhist supremacy. In fact, in the time of Jesus, Buddhism had penetrated well into central Asia. Israelite tribes, resident in Afghanistan and much of Northern India, were lost in more ways than one. They were lost in the sense that they had forgotten the law of Moses. Many of them became Buddhists or idol worshipping Hindus. Hazrat Ahmad writes: “Jesus, on bring informed by God that ten tribes of the Jews had migrated towards India, set out for those regions. And, as parties of Jews had accepted Buddhism, there was no alternative for this true prophet but to turn his attention to the followers of Buddhism.”14 One interesting discovery of Hazrat Ahmad mentioned in his book Jesus in India was a prophecy of Guatama Buddha recorded in Buddhist works such as Laggawati Stutatta, Pitakkayayan and Atha Katha. The prophecy was concerning the appearance of a second Buddha whose name will be Bagwa Metteya.15 He was to come 500 years after Guatama Buddha to re-establish his teachings. “Bagwa Metteya” is a Pali name meaning a “Messiah who is light in complexion.” As Jesus came from the Palestine, he was lighter in complexion than the people of India. Because of Jesus’ presence in India, we find many Buddhist teachings similar to those of Jesus. Hazrat Ahmad writes: “Let it be remembered that this moral teaching and this mode of preaching, i.e., talking in parables, was the method of Jesus. This mode of preaching and this moral teaching, combined with other circumstances, at once suggest that this was an imitation of Jesus. Jesus was here in India; he was preaching everywhere; the followers of the Buddhist faith met him, and finding him a holy person who worked miracles, recorded these things in their books; nay, they declared him to be the Buddha, for it’s human nature to try to acquire a good thing for oneself wherever it may be, so much so, that people try to record and remember any clever remark made by any person before them. It is therefore quite likely that the followers of the Buddhist faith may have reproduced the entire picture of the Gospels in their books; as for example, fasting for 40 days both by Jesus and the Buddha; the temptation of both; the birth of both being without a father.”16 14. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Jesus in India, 84. 15. Ibid., 89. 16. Ibid., 86-87. 34 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS B. Origin of the name Yuz Asaf Any saint who came, after Guatama Buddha was included in the Buddhist Pantheon.17 Such a person is known as a Buddhisattva, that is, any person destined for enlightment. Jesus’ mission was travelling in search of the Lost Sheep of Israel. He therefore performed the function of gathering “sheep.” In the Gospel of John we read: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear my voice.”18 Jesus was therefore known as Asaf, a Hebrew word meaning “gatherer” or “one who rallies people.”19 The Buddhists confused this with Buddhisattva and changed Yehoshua Asaf to Budasaf. In Semitic dialects Budasaf becomes Yudasaf or Yuz Asaf. For the next few centuries, the Buddhists of India and Tibet cherished the memory of Budasaf, and by the medieval period, there were a set of legends concerning Budasaf. In the Encyclopaedia Britannica we read: “Modern research on ancient central Asian Buddhist Sogdian texts and on Old Turkish and Persian fragments discovered at Turfan in Chinese Turkistan has shown that there was current in those parts a set of legends about the Bodhisattva prince, whose name occurs in the form ‘Bodisaf.'”20 A much modified and legendary story of Budasaf (Yuz Asaf) was made into a form of a book. This book found its way into Persia during the Sassanid period of Persian history, and it was translated into Pahlavi.21 The Book of Yuz Asaf was later transmitted to the Arabs, who called it Kitab Bilawhar wa Yudasaf. In the 9th century, a Christian version of the Book was made by the Georgians, and later, the Greek recension was made, which is a highly embroidered rendering of the Georgian. Still more Christian versions followed. In the Christian versions Budasaf (Yuz Asaf) became Josaphat, the Greek form of the name. The Book was entitled The Story of Barlaam and Josaphat. Thus the story of Jesus’ life in India became modified into nothing more than a Buddhist legend. However, we find certain characteristics of Yuz Asaf which show he was Jesus. Yuz Asaf spoke in parables. We find the parable of the sower mentioned in the Arabic versions of the Book of Yuz Asaf as well as the Christianized versions. The Gospel version of the parable of the sower can be compared to this one from The Story of Barlaam and Josaphat: “When a sower sows his seed, some falls on the highway where the passengers tread it under foot. Others are blown away by the wind. 17. Truth about the Crucifixion, 142. IS. John 10:16. 19. Bagster’s Polyglot Bible, 33, appendix. 20. Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 3, p. 168,1972 ed., “Barlaam and Josaphat”. 21. Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 9, p. 850, “Iran: History of”. YUZ ASAF AND JESUS: THE BUDDHISM CONNECTION 35 Others picked up by the birds. Some seeds fall on rocky grounds and grow only till the roots reach the rock. Others fall among the thistles. Only a small handful falls in rich earth, where it grows and brings forth fruit. The sower is the sage; the seed is his wisdom. The seeds that fall by the way side etc., are pieces of wisdom that come into one ear, only to go out the other. Those falling on rocky ground are not taken to heart. Those among thorns meet with opposition from the senses. Only that which takes root in the heart brings forth fruit in the character.”22 In the Book, we also read of an ancient Indian tradition which describes that Yuz Asaf was a Prophet who came to India from somewhere outside. He then settled in Kashmir and died there. A disciple by the name of Ababid (Babid) was at his side at the time of his death. Thomas in Arabic is Babid or Babad. It was of course Jesus who had a disciple named Thomas. Thomas accompanied his master on his long journey to India, and it is no coincidence that the tomb of Thomas is found in southern India.23 The full quotation from Kitab Bilawhar wa Yudasaf regarding the death of Yuz Asaf reads: “And he (Yuz Asaf) reached Kashmir, and this was the most remote place in which he ministered, and there the end of his life overtook him. And he left the world, bequeathing his heritage to a certain disciple, Ababid by name, who served him and accompanied him; he was a perfect man in all his doings. And he exhorted him and said to him: I have discovered and cherished and adorned a shrine and set therein lamps for the departed; I have gathered together the flock of the true faith which was scattered and to which I was sent. And now draws nigh my ascension from the world, and the separation of my soul from the body. Observe therefore the commandments given to you and do not diverge from the truth, but hold fast to it with gratitude. And let Ababid be the leader. Afterwards he commanded Ababid to smooth out a place for him, then he stretched out his legs and lay down; and he turned his head towards the north and his face to the east, and then he died.”24 C. Was Yuz Asaf Gautama Buddha? Some scholars, basing their conclusions on just the Story and not Kashmiri historical records, say that Yuz Asaf is a corruption of Buddhisattva, meaning thereby he was Gautama Buddha who lived hundreds of years before Jesus. But when Yuz Asaf is taken as simply a form of Buddhisattva, the name Asaf in Yuz Asaf is ignored. Asaf in Hebrew means “gatherer.” We have quoted this statement of Yuz Asaf in Kitab Bilawhar wa Yudasaf: “I have gathered together the flock of the true faith which was scattered and to which I was 22. The Story ofBarlaam andJosaphat, edited by K. S. Macdonald, p. 111. 23. J. D. Shams, Where Did Jesus Die?, 119-124. 24. D. M. Lang, The Wisdom of Balahar: A Christian Legend of the Buddha, 129. 36 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS sent.” Here the Gatherer refers to the completion of his mission. So Yuz Asaf is not quite another form of Buddhisattva, but rather a form of Budisaf. Because of the Hebrew word Asaf, Yuz Asaf must be a Jewish prophet who gathered, and it was only Jesus who made this claim. It is written in the Book that Yuz Asaf died in Kashmir, and because Gautama Buddha died in Nepal, in the city of Kusinagara,25 it shows Yuz Asaf and Buddha were entirely different persons. David Marshal Lang in his book, The Wisdom ofBalahar— a Christian Legend of the Buddha,26 argues that Kashmir was meant to be Kusinagara. In other words, he is saying that Yuz Asaf has no connections with Kashmir whatsoever! He certainly overlooks the fact that there is a tomb of Yuz Asaf in the city of Srinagar. Kashmiri historians with one voice say a man by the name of Yuz Asaf came and settled in Kashmir, where he was buried. Enumerated below are reasons that Yuz Asaf is none other than Jesus on the basis of just the tomb: 1. The tomb of Yuz Asaf is of a Jewish style.27 2. The body itself lies in an East-West position, the Jewish custom.28 3. The tomb is in possession of Muslims, not Hindus or Buddhists.29 4. Yuz Asaf cannot be a Buddhist or Hindu as the people of these faiths cremate their dead and do not bury them. The list is by no means complete, but that is all that is necessary to establish the point under discussion. In conclusion, we quote the words of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad: “We learn from the united testimony of Christians as well as Muslims that Yuz Asaf was the name of a prophet whose time is exactly the same as that of Jesus and who came to Kashmir after a long journey. He was known not only as aNabi (prophet) but also as ashahzada (prince).30 It is moreoever stated that he came from Syria, the country in which Jesus lived. His teachings also have a striking resemblance with the teachings of Jesus, so much so that some of the parables and phrases of his book are the same as those which are met within the Gospels. These facts and similarities are so striking that even the Christians have been obliged to admit that the person who went under the name of Yuz Asaf and Prince Prophet was one of the followers of Jesus. It is for this reason that he is held in such great honour,31 and a church has been erected in honour of 25. Oldenburg, Buddha, 203. 26. D. M. Lang, The Wisdom, 128, 129. 27. Truth about the Crucifixion, 86. 28. Andreas Faber-Kaiser, Jesus Died In Kashmir, 100. 29. J. D. Shams, Where Did Jesus Die?. 149. 30. It should be remembered that Jesus was called the son of King David (Matt 1:1). 31. It is interesting that Josaphat or Yuz Asaf is venerated by the Roman Catholic Church on November 27 of every year. YUZ ASAF AND JESUS: THE BUDDHISM CONNECTION 37 his name in Sicily. It was also on account of the close resemblance of Yuz Asaf with Jesus that the story of Yuz Asaf was translated into almost all the languages of Europe and read so vastly. The zeal with which Christians in Europe worked and the interest which it took in spreading the story of Yuz Asaf, is in itself a strong evidence that if the Christians never recognized the actual identity of these two personages, they at least admitted a strong and close connection between them and took Yuz Asaf for a disciple of Jesus if not for Jesus himself. Taking all these facts into consideration, viz, that Yuz Asaf has (as admitted by the Christians themselves) a very close connection with Christianity, that his time is the same as the time of Jesus, that his life and teaching were translated with an ardent zeal into the different languages of Europe, that a church was erected in his memory, that the moral teaching of Yuz Asaf are admitted to have much in common with those of Jesus and that Yuz Asaf called his book Bushra or Gospel like Jesus, every unprejudiced mind will be of opinion that Yuz Asaf was no other than Jesus himself.32 Pure Conduct There should be no impure amusement or joking in your social gatherings. You should be pure in heart, pure in nature and pure in thought, and should develop the habit of forgiving and forgetting, and of patience and forbearance. Do not have recourse to any unfair criticism orfault-finding. Always keep your passions under control. In debates and religious discourse, speak gently and behave nobly. If any person behaves meanly with you, bid him good-bye, and leave that assembly at once. If you are persecuted, abused and vilified by anybody, take care not to pay him back in his own coin, or else you will be classified in the same category. God wants you to set an example of goodness and righteousness. (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad —the Promised Messiah) 32. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, A Review of Christianmity, 30-2.