For the contemporaries of such an extraordinary figure [as JESUS] to find nothing noteworthy to record from his childhood to his thirtieth year is in and of itself extraordinary.
Remarkable accounts, however, do exist, not in the land of Jesus’ birth but farther east where he spent most of the unaccounted-for years. Hidden away in a Tibetan monastery priceless records lie. They speak of a Saint Issa from Israel “in whom was manifest the soul of the universe”; who from the age of fourteen to twenty-eight was in India and regions of the Himalayas among the saints, monks, and pundits; who preached his message throughout that area and then returned to teach in his native land, where he was treated vilely, condemned, and put to death. Except as chronicled in these ancient manuscripts, no other history of the unknown years of Jesus’ life has ever been published.
Paramahansa Yogananda, Second Coming of Christ
THE UNKNOWN YEARS OF JESUS’ LIFE—Sojourn in India
Jesus’ journey to India, motherland of religion —excerpts from Discourse 5, The Second Coming of Christ
India is the mother of religion. Her civilization has been acknowledged as much older than the legendary civilization of Egypt. If you study these matters, you will see how the hoary scriptures of India, predating all other revelations, have influenced the Book of the Dead of Egypt and the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, as well as other religions. All were in touch with, and drew from, the religion of India, because India specialized in religion from time immemorial. So it was that Jesus himself went to India; Notovitch’s manuscript tells us: “Issa secretly absented himself from his father’s house; left Jerusalem, and, in a train of merchants, journeyed toward the Sindh, with the object of perfecting himself in the knowledge of the Word of God and the study of the laws of the great Buddhas.”…
The ancient history relates that Jesus became learned in all the Vedas and shastras. But he took issue with some precepts of the Brahminic orthodoxy. He openly denounced their practices of caste bigotry; many of the priestly rituals; and the emphasis on worship of many gods in idolic form rather than sole reverence for the one Supreme Spirit, the pure monotheistic essence of Hinduism which had become obscured by outer ritualistic concepts.
Distancing himself from these disputes, Jesus left Puri.* He spent the next six years with the Sakya Buddhist sect in the Himalayan mountainous regions of Nepal and Tibet. This Buddhist sect was monotheistic, having separated itself from the distorted Hinduism that prevailed during the dark age of Kali Yuga.
Though true God-realized masters have arisen in India in every age, preserving from generation to generation the eternal truths of Spirit (Sanatana Dharma), the outward religious practices of the masses have undergone cycles of progress and degradation as have the religions of other lands and cultures. According to my guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, the most recent descending and ascending Dark Ages (Kali Yuga) lasted from about 700 B.C. to A.C. 1700. In India, this period saw the gradual perversion and loss of the sublime spiritual science of the Vedas and Upanishads, resulting in priestly adherence to a number of misunderstood precepts falsely held to be taught by the scriptures. It was during this time of spiritual darkness that the avatar Gautama Buddha took incarnation in India (c. 565 B.C.), to right some of the gross abuses of truth perpetrated by priestly pundits. His message of compassion for all beings and his Noble Eightfold Path taught how to escape misery and free oneself from the karmic wheel of birth and death.
The Tibetan scrolls relate that while among the Buddhists, Jesus applied himself to the study of their sacred books and could perfectly expound from them. Apparently around age twenty-six or twenty-eight, he preached his message abroad as he wended his way back to Israel through Persia and adjacent countries, encountering fame from the populace and animosity from the Zoroastrian and other priestly classes.
* Footnote: Records of Jesus’ years in India were preserved in Puri, according to His Holiness Sri Jagadguru Shankaracharya Bharati Krishna Tirtha … Sri Daya Mata, president and spiritual head of Self-Realization Fellowship, wrote: “In my discussions with His Holiness during my visits with him in India, he told me that there is proof positive, to which he had access, that as Paramahansaji has stated, Jesus Christ was in India as a young lad and received training in the monasteries there. The Shankaracharya further told me that, God willing, it was his hope to translate these documents and write a book about this period in the life of Jesus. Unfortunately this could not be accomplished owing to the advanced age and fragile health of this saintly Shankaracharya.”
The Shankarachaya was, spiritual head of that city’s ancient Gowardhan Math and, until his passing in 1962, seniormost of the reigning Shankaracharyas (ecclesiastical heads of orthodox Hinduism; apostolic successors to Swami Shankara, ancient reorganizer of the venerable Swami Order). His Holiness visited America on a speaking tour of major universities in 1958; his historic tour—the first time any Shankaracharya had traveled to the West—was sponsored by Self-Realization Fellowship. (Publisher’s Note)
[Yogananda Site: For those wanting to know Paramahansaji’s more complete teaching on the Jesus in India and Tibet, it is recommended to read his entire Discourse 5 in The Second Coming of Christ. In it he explains that, though the various ancient accounts written about Jesus are proof of his time spent there, there are nonetheless a number of inaccuracies and contradictions due to the different cultures and levels of understanding such as were collected in the Notovitch book which Yogananda writes about in the Discourse. Writings and films we have today on the subject also often give very different versions from the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda.]