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November 11, 2009 Leave a comment
Christ and Krishna
The Borrowing Theory
The era of the “Borrowing Theory,” as it was known, first began when Antonio Giorgi published his book Alphabetum Tibetanum [Roma 1762]. The materials for Giorgi’s writings were gathered from manuscripts of Capucine missionaries  led by Horacio de la Penna [a particularly zealous missionary] who traveled in India and Tibet for several years. Giorgi undertook the task to prove by comparative philology the opinion entertained by the missionaries, that Vaishnavism and Buddhism were a corrupted form of Christianity.
Giorgi wrote that “Krishna is only a corruption of the name of the Saviour [Christ]; the deeds correspond wonderfully with the name, though they have been impiously and cunningly polluted by most wicked imposters.”
Indeed, the parallels between Christ and Krishna are many. Just to name a few: The births of Christ and Krishna were heralded by divine beings [angels]. King Harod of Judea planned to kill the Christ child and King Kamsa of Mathura planned to kill the child Krishna. Christ and Krishna both dispelled demons, cured the sick, performed miracles, taught the truth, and both Christ and Krishna were destined to be Kings.
In his monograph Uber die Krishnajanmasthami, Albrecht Weber [1825-1901] pointed out the many and striking similarities between the birth stories of Krishna and Jesus. The following quote from his work notes many of these similarities:
“Take, for example the statement of the Vishnu Purana that Nanda, the foster-father of Krishna, at the time of the latter’s birth, went with his pregnant wife Yasoda to Mathura to pay taxes (cf. Luke II, 4, 5) or the pictorial representation of the birth of Krishna in the cow stall or shepherds hut, that corresponds to the manger, and of the shepherds, shepherdesses, the ox and the ass that stand round the woman as she sleeps peacefully on her couch without fear of danger. Then the stories of the persecutions of Kamsa, of the massacre of the innocents, of the passage across the river (Christophorus), of the wonderful deeds of the child, of the healing-virtue of the water in which he was washed, etc., etc. Whether the accounts given in the Jaimini Bharata of the raising to life by Krishna of the dead son of Duhsala, of the cure of Kubja, of her pouring a vessel of ointment over him, of the power of his look to take away sin, and other subjects of the kind came to India in the same connection with the birth-day festival may remain an open question.”
Weber even contended that the whole Vedic system of avatars, or incarnations of God, was “borrowed” from the “Incarnation of Jesus Christ.”
Dr. F. Lorinser  translated the Bhagavad-gitaand compared it scrupulously to the New Testament. He concluded, that the author of the Bhagavad-gitaknew and used the Gospels and Christian Fathers.According to Lorinser the similarities were not single and obscure, but numerous and clear. There was no doubt in Lorinser’s mind that the Bhagavat-gita had been largely “borrowed” from the New Testament.
Other Western scholars gradually came in contact with the borrowing theory but disputed its validity. One such scholar, Sir William Jones, [philologer] found Vishnu to be one of the more ancient Gods of India, who Vaishnavas asserted was distinct from all the other Avatars [incarnations], who had only a portion of Krishna’s divinity. In his fascinating and provocative work, “On the Gods Of Greece, Italy and India” Sir William Jones writes  that “In the principal Sanskrit dictionary, compiled about two thousand years ago, Krishna, Vasudeva, Govinda, and other names of the Shepherd God, are intermixed with epithets of Narayana, or the Divine Spirit.”
Sir William Jones’s is best known today for making and propagating the observation that Sanskrit [the ancient language of India] bore a certain resemblance to classical Greek and Latin. In “The Sanskrit Language” (1786) he suggested that all three languages had a common root.
Following in the direction of Sir Jones’s research, the English philosopher Edward Moore [1873-1958] later went so far as to say that the popular Greek myths had some basis in real life and could be traced ultimately to India.
However, conclusive proof of a borrowing theory for either side of the argument did not surface for some time, thus the debate continued. And in more than one instance it was the religious Christian fervor that won the day in favor of all theological thought in India being borrowed from Christianity. Any literary evidence provided from the ancient Sanskrit literatures which proved that Vaishnavism predated Christianity was never considered as verifiable evidence and was simply brushed aside. The only creditable literary evidence would have to be, in the biased minds of the Christian dominated debate, of Western origin – the “Holy Bible” of course being wholly admissible as evidence – otherwise to question its validity was an act of heresy.
As destiny would have it there finally surfaced a Western literary account of ancient India that was in fact much older than the Bible. This record of ancient India was found in the book, Indica, written by Megasthenes [3rd century BCE, Greek] and authoritatively referred to by his commentators in their writings.
Sometime in the third century BCE, Meghasthenes journeyed to India. The King of Taxila had appointed Meghasthenes ambassador to the royal court of the great Vaishnava monarch, Chandragupta. Evidently while there, Megasthenes wrote extensively on what he heard and saw. Unfortunately, none of Megasthenes original writings survived the ages. However, through early Greek historians like Arrian, Diodorus, and Strabo, fragments of Megasthenes’s writings were available and remain so today.
|Heracles||Krishna & Agasura|
German orientalist Christian Lassen [1800-1876] was the first scholar to bring Megasthenes into the debate on the borrowing theory. He noted that Megasthenes wrote of Krishna under the pseudonym of Heracles and that Heracles, or Krishna, was worshipped as God in the area through which the Yamuna River flows.
A respected German Indologist, Richard Garbe [journeyed to India 1885-1886], agreed with Lassens analysis and called the testimony of Megasthenes indisputable. Soon, other scholars who had formerly supported the borrowing theory changed their minds and admitted, that the evidence of Megasthenes had exploded the borrowing theory once and for all.
The life of Krishna and the religion of Vaishnavism had not been influenced by Christianity, but had appeared autonomously on Indian soil and was already well-established by at least the third century BCE. Indeed, according to numerous accounts in the ancient Sanskrit literature [that began to appear more creditable to Western scholars] Krishna and the worship of Krishna as God appeared in India close to 3,000 BCE.
Following close behind the evidence of Magasthenes were several archaeological discoveries that also verified the Vaishnava faith as independently existing in India several centuries before the advent of Jesus and the doctrine of Christianity.
By far, the most important archaeological discovery made was by the indefatigable General Sir Alexander Cunningham in 1877. During an archeological survey of Beshnagar in central India [near present day Bhopal], he noted a curious ornamental column. The shape of the column caused Cunningham to attribute it erroneously to the period of the Gupta Dynasty (CE 300-550). Thirty-two years later, however, two gentleman, Mr. Lake and Dr. J. H. Marshall saw some lettering on the lower part of the column in an area where pilgrims customarily smeared it with red paint. When the thick red paint was removed an inscription dating the curious pillar to 113 BCE was revealed.
In the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1909, Dr. J. H. Marshall described his conclusions. Cunningham had dated the column far too late and could little have dreamt of the value of the record which he just missed discovering. A glance at the few letters exposed was all that was needed to show that the column was many centuries earlier than the Gupta era. This was, indeed, a surprise to Dr. Marshall, but a far greater surprise was in store when the opening lines of the inscription were read.
The following translation of this ancient Brahmi inscription was published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society [London: JRAS, Pub, 1909, pp 1053-54].
“This Garuda-column of Vasudeva (Visnu), the God of Gods, was erected here by Heliodorus, a worshipper of Visnu, the son of Dion, and an inhabitant of Taxila, who came as Greek ambassador from the Great King Antialkidas to King Kasiputra Bhagabhadra, the Savior, then reigning prosperously in the fourteenth year of his kingship.”
The column had been erected in BCE 113 by Heliodorus, a Greek ambassador to India. He, like Megasthenes, hailed from Taxila in the Bactrian region of northwest India, which had been conquered by Alexander the Great in BCE 325. By the time of Heliodorus, Taxila then covered much of present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Punjab.
After the publishing of the findings on the Heliodorus pillar in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Societyin 1909 little more was said amongst scholars about the borrowing theory.
Indians did not take much interest in the debate of this theory, as they did not realize its relevancy in their times. The early Christian missionaries and scholars had indeed found a significant number of very interesting similarities between Vaishnavism and Christianity which in their own words were, “Not single and obscure, but numerous and clear.” So it was only logical to any trained mind that this idea should arise. However, since it was concluded long ago that the worship of Krishna existed long before Christianity – could it then be reasonable to assume or at least to question that possibly it was Christianity that borrowed from Vaishnavism?
Fascinating Similarities Regarding their Birth, Life and Death © Martin Bohn
The Christmas story of the birth of Jesus Christ is famous all over the world. In slightly differing and complementary versions, the gospels of Matthew and Luke tell us how Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem shortly before the birth of Christ. They were poor and suffered many hardships, culminating in having to stay and give birth in a stable. After the birth, the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt as the newborn’s life was threatened by the cruel king Herod.
What is less known is that the story of Jesus Christ has a lot in common with the story of another world famous religious figure, even bearing a similar name. It’s Krishna, the playful divine child, charming cowherd boy and immortal teacher of the Bhagavad Gita. He is regarded as a divine incarnation (‘avatara’) by most Hindus.
As legend says, Krishna’s parents, Devaki and Vasudeva, had already been in the dungeon of the tyrannical king Kamsa for several years when Krishna was born. Kamsa was holding them captive because of a prophecy that warned him that the eighth child of his cousin Devaki would destroy him. Just like Herod, who was desperately trying to kill Jesus because he had been told that Jesus was to be the king of the Jews, Kamsa, too, committed the crime of infanticide, killing all of Devaki’s children as soon as they were born. But all his plans were thwarted because the Divine in the form of the Lord Vishnu appeared to Devaki and her husband Vasudeva, announcing that he himself would soon be born as Devaki’s eighth child. He continued by giving instructions as to how the baby was to be taken out of the dungeon immediately after the birth, a venture that Vasudeva managed to carry out with miraculous divine help. Similarly, the infant Jesus also had to be saved from the wrath of the cruel emperor Herod, with the only difference that God warned Mary and Joseph by means of an angel, urging them to flee with the child to Egypt.
And the resemblance of the lives of Christ and Krishna doesn’t end here. Both grew up among simple people and continued to have special bonds to simple folks throughout their lives (Christ recruited his disciples from fishermen while Krishna grew up among shepherds – gopis and gopas – and all his life, the gopi Radha was to be the woman closest to his heart); both were seen as epitomes of love, peace and compassion; both performed miracles of various kinds; and both eventually died an unnatural, violent death.
Are Christ and Krishna the Same?
In view of these analogies, it is indeed little surprising that there have been speculations that either the Jesus-stories were (at least partially) inspired by the Krishna legends or that Christ and Krishna were actually one and the same person.
In reality, the parallels in the lives of these two great masters probably stem from the fact that both of them were embodiments of great spiritual, universal truths. The importance of Jesus Christ’s birth doesn’t lie in being a unique event in which the one and only savior of mankind (or Christianity) was born, but in the confirmation and implementation of the deepest spiritual truths.
Some of these truths are explored in the article called the inner meaning of Christmas.
Similarities in Christ and Krishna Stories
1700’s and 1800’s there were many intense debates among the western scholars of Theology and History and Christians priests, when they learnt about Krishna and his stories in India, and were amazed at many coincidences in the stories and the names of the two saviors.
They had thought that the Hindus had copied from the Christians but also found the mention of “Krishna” on pillars of Ashoka and of a Greek Ambassador in Afganistan, and on some Greek Pillars in MP, India, which was contrary to their beliefs, as these artifacts could not have been suddenly fabricated.
Their accusation was that the Brahmins had conveyed together and forged a big mass of scriptural collections to fabricate this so called history of Krishna but this went against the fact that India was a such a large country, and the Brahmin community was viciously divisive and far flung in all the nooks and corner, that it would have been impossible to co-ordinate and convey a secret convention for such a grandiose agenda so efficiently and secretly to throw wool at the eyes of their colonist conquerors.
It is said that the word Krishna was very common in Egypt, and during the First World War, the Indian Soldiers who had returned from Egypt, claimed that they saw a lot of ruins of temples with Krishna like damaged statues. (Source Asiatic Researches and Geoffery Higgins). They may be the statues of Isis, which sounds like the Sanskrit word for God, “Ishah” or “Ishish”.
Epoch: Hindu traditions fix it at 3100 BC.
Krishna descends of a royal family, but is brought up by shepherds and is called the Shepherd God.
His birth and divine descent are kept secret from Kansha. He is born in a dungeon in the darkness of night. A holy man predicts his birth.
He is an incarnation of Vishnu, the second person of the Trimurti – the Hindu Trinity.
Krishna was worshipped at Mathura, Vrindaavan and Nandgau, on the river Jumuna or Yamuna.
Krishna is persecuted by Kansa, the tyrant King of Mathura, but miraculously escapes.
In the hope of destroying the child, the king has thousands of male innocents slaughtered.
Krishna’s was an immaculate virgin conception (but had given birth to eight sons before Krishna). God appears before her and says he will enter her and take birth as her child. In science this is called “Parthenogenesis” and proven to exist in Mammals and being tried in the labs.
Krishna is endowed with beauty, omniscience, and omnipotence from birth. Produces miracles, cures the lame and blind, and casts out demons. Washes the feet of the Brahmans, and descending to the lowest regions of Hell, liberates the dead, and returns to Vaicuntha–the paradise of Vishnu. Krishna was the God Vishnu himself in human form.
Krishna converts cow-herd boys into calves, and vice versa when protecting them.
He crushes the Serpent’s head.
Krishna is Unitarian. He persecutes the clergy, charges them with ambition and hypocrisy to their faces, and divulges the great secrets of the Sanctuary–the Unity of God and immortality of our spirit.
Tradition says he was a victim to their vengeance. His favorite disciple, Arjuna, never deserts him till the end.
There are credible traditions that he died on the cross (a tree), nailed to it by an arrow.
The best scholars agree that the Irish Cross at Tuam, erected long before the Christian era, is Asiatic. (See Round Towers, p. 296, et seq., by O’Brien; also Reli gions de l’Antiquie; Creuzer’s Symbolik, vol. i., p. 208; and engraving in Dr. Lundy’s Monumental Christianity, p. 160.)
Krishna ascends to Swarga and becomes Nirguna.
Epoch: 2000 years before – 0 AD/BC.
His birth and royal descent are concealed from Herod the tyrant.
Jesus is a descendent of the royal family of David.
He is born in a cave, in the darkness of night. Three Magis from the East follow the stars in prediction of his birth. Roman Empire is warned of the birth of the Real King.
He is worshipped by shepherds at his birth, and is called the “Good Shepherd” (See Gospel according to John).
He is an incarnation of the Holy Ghost, then the second person of the Trinity, now the third. But the Trinity was not invented until 325 years after his birth.
He went to Mathura or Matarea, Egypt, and produced his first miracles there (See Gospel of Infancy).
Jesus is persecuted by Herod, King of Judaea, but escapes into Egypt under conduct of an angel.
To assure his slaughter, Herod orders a massacre of innocents, and 40,000 were slain.
Jesus’ mother was Mary, Mariam, or Miriam; married to her husband, yet an immaculate virgin, but had several children besides Jesus. (See Matthew xiii. 55, 56.)
Jesus is endowed with beauty, omniscience, and omnipotence from birth. (See Gospels and the Apocryphal Testament.)
He passes his life with sinners and publicans and casts out demons likewise.
Jesus is said to have crushed the Serpent’s head, agreeably to original revelation in Genesis.
He also transforms boys into kids, and kids into boys. (Gospel of Infancy.)
Jesus rebels against the old Jewish law; denounces the Scribes, and Pharisees, and the synagogue for hypocrisy and dogmatic intolerance. Breaks the Sabbath, and defies the Law. He is accused by the Jews of divulging the secrets of the Sanctuary.
He is put to death on a cross (a tree). Of the little handful of disciples whom he had converted, one betrays him, one denies him, and the others desert him at the last, except John–the disciple he loved.
This is adapted from Isis Unveiled by H.P. Blavatsky.
Books mentioning similarities between Christ and Christna
Books mentioning similarities between Christ and Krishna
Books mentioning similarities between Christ and Chrishna