Khorasan Hadith: The dubious prophecy that inspires Muslim terrorists – Michael Crowley

Khorasan Hadith

Michael Crowley“The prophecy—attributed to the Prophet Muhammad but which many experts call of dubious origin—imagines a Muslim army emerging from the Khorasan region and conquering the Middle East, including Jerusalem, under their black flags. This great victory, Soufan writes, amounts to ‘the Islamic version of Armageddon.'” – Michael Crowley 

Abu Jandal  (Nasser al-Bahri)It was six days after the Sept. 11 attacks, and with dark smoke still rising from lower Manhattan, Ali Soufan was face-to-face with the most senior al-Qaeda leader in American custody.

Soufan, an FBI counterterrorism agent, was inside a Yemen prison, interrogating a captured al-Qaeda operative named Abu Jandal, a former bodyguard and confidante to Osama bin Laden.

He continued with a grin: “The hadith says … ‘If you see the black banners coming from Khurasan, join that army, even if you have to crawl over ice; no power will be able to stop them.’”

Soufan recognized this Islamic saying immediately, and interrupted Abu Jandal to complete it: “And they will finally reach Baitul Maqdis [Jerusalem], where they will erect their flags,” he said.

The grin was gone. “‘You know the hadith?” Abu Jandal asked with surprise. “Do you really work for the FBI?’”

Abu Jandal had failed to appreciate that knowing the Khorasan hadith was part of the job of an Islamic terrorism expert like Soufan. As the former FBI agent explains in his 2013 book The Black Banners, the hadith of Khorasan — sometimes also spelled Khurasan — is fundamental to radical Islamist ideology. A prophecy describing a Muslim army from Central Asia storming across the Middle East and into Jerusalem has long inspired violent jihadists.

Muhsin al-FadhliThe hadith of Khorasan is newly relevant thanks to the disclosure by U.S. officials of a terrorist group by that name operating in Syria. The Khorasan Group was a surprise target of American air strikes in Syria on Monday night mostly aimed at the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

While America obsessed over ISIS in recent weeks, Khorasan remained unknown to the public until this month. President Obama had never publicly mentioned its name before Tuesday morning. But U.S. officials say they have tracked the group for two years.

Khorasan, they explain, consists of about two dozen members of al-Qaeda’s core leadership. Previously based in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, the men recently relocated to Syria. Unlike al-Qaeda operatives who fight the Syrian regime under the name of al-Nusra Front, the members of Khorasan reportedly took advantage of the country’s lawlessness exclusively to plot terrorist attacks against the West. (Officials are trying to confirm whether the group’s leader, Muhsin al-Fadhli, was killed in Monday night’s strikes.)

Even as Americans try to understand this new threat, many terrorism analysts are skeptical of the moniker. They question whether Khorasan truly constitutes an independent group, or simply a clique within al-Qaeda.

“I’d certainly never heard of this group while working at the agency,” says Aki Peritz, a CIA counterterrorism analyst until 2009 and co-author of Find, Fix, Finish. Peritz wonders if the group is meaningfully different from bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. “If senior members from a company’s headquarters go work in a branch office, are they still part of the main office or a superempowered part of the branch?” Peritz says. “It’s not like al-Qaeda operatives carry business cards.”

Peritz isn’t alone in his skepticism. “We used the term [Khorasan] inside the government, we don’t know where it came from,” Robert Ford, who served until this spring as Obama’s ambassador to Syria, told al-Jazeera on Wednesday. “All I know is that they don’t call themselves that.” Two U.S. intelligence officials did not respond to requests for comment on the name’s origins.

Amid that confusion, however, it’s clear that the word Khorasan sheds important light on the grandiose, even apocalyptic vision that drives many Sunni radicals to terrorism.

Khorasan (later called Parthia)The word itself refers to a historic region centered around modern Afghanistan and which spills into Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was once an important part of the pre-Ottoman Islamic caliphate.

The prophecy cited by Abu Jandal — attributed to the Prophet Muhammad but which many experts call of dubious origin — imagines a Muslim army emerging from the region and conquering the Middle East, including Jerusalem, under their black flags. This great victory, Soufan writes, amounts to “the Islamic version of Armageddon.”

Soufan says many of the al-Qaeda operatives he has interviewed believed they were helping to fulfill the Khorasan prophecy.

Bin Laden was well aware of Khorasan. As former State Department counterterrorrism official Daniel Benjamin notes in the new issue of TIME, the founder of al-Qaeda announced from Afghanistan in 1996 that he had found “a safe base … in the high Hindu Kush mountains in Khorasan.” Bin Laden may have chosen al-Qaeda’s black flag as an homage to mythical black banner. The ISIS flag is also mostly black.

Several videos are available online telling the story the black-flag Islamic army. One of them, titled The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags of Khorasan, was part of a YouTube playlist created by the slain 2013 Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

The 13-minute video, which depicts the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a sign of the prophecy’s fruition, summons Muslims to join the battle.

It is still available online. – Time, 25 September 2014

Black banners of ISIS

Arab money funding terrorism since the 1980s – Taki

Royal Palace, Riyadh

Taki Theodoracopulos“In cahoots with the Saudis and the Kuwaitis, the Qatari ruling family allowed various so-called private businessmen to raise money for jihad. Saudi money funnelled through Islamic charities has been funding terrorism since the 1980s. Ditto the Kuwaitis. These private fund-raisers are an obvious charade. It’s the Kuwaiti, Saudi and Qatari ruling family’s money that ends up in terrorist hands. It’s called protection money. ” – Taki

Emir of Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-SabahNext time you read about an auctioneer’s gavel coming down on a $150 million painting bought by some flunkey representing the ruling family of Qatar, don’t ooh or aah, but think of those monsters in Iraq and Syria who have their children pose on video while holding up the severed heads of innocents. And no, it’s not a stretch — without Qatar’s gold Islamic State would not exist, not even in the movies.

Let me put it another way: had Calvin Coolidge or Herbert Hoover given White House dinners for Al Capone, the outcry would have been heard all the way down to Patagonia. Yet, as reported in these here pages by Charles Moore, not only did the head of the family lunch with the Queen at Windsor, a cousin and his mother also lunched the next day at Windsor and caused a stir because they were not included in the Queen’s carriage. They sponsored Ascot this year, and Elizabeth Anson was their PR person. She burst into tears after failing to include them in the lead carriage. All I can say is shame on Ascot, more shame on Anson, and eternal shame on the stuffed shirts who forced the Queen to break bread with these characters.

Saudi King Abdullah with Dick Cheney & George H.W. BushThey say Brits will do anything for money, but the rest of the Western world is just as bad. Just look at how a tiny Gulf nation of 250,000 goatherds managed to land the World Cup in 2022. To call the bribes Qatar must have paid to Fifa delegates colossal would be an understatement. But forget the 50-degree-Celsius heat and that football is unplayable in that hellhole, the scandal of modern-day slavery as practised by the Qataris is a far bigger depravity, overlooked by the West. In fact, calling foreign workers indentured servants is a euphemism; they are modern-day slaves. Foreign workers do not enjoy a minimum wage in Qatar, nor do they have any rights. They are not allowed to change jobs, however feudal the conditions, get a driving licence, rent a room or open a checking account unless they have their employer’s permission. Thousands have died while working in appalling conditions (hundreds of Nepalese alone), which provoked an investigation by the Norway-based Global Network for Rights and Development, which sent a researcher and a photographer. Last week the Qatari government confirmed that the two have been arrested and are in prison. So much for European influence in that sweaty hellhole.

Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al ThaniIn their craven search for money, Europeans have sold everything to these ghastly goatherds but their mother, because the Qatari gang is obviously not interested in the latter. Nothing is sacred, everything’s for sale. Qatar owns a share in Sainsbury’s, owns Harrods outright, owns a large share of Heathrow airport, large stretches of real estate in Knightsbridge and in the City it wanted to buy Claridge’s, has bought the French football team PSG and owns a share in Germany’s Volkswagen. Last but not least is the Al Jazeera TV network, one that poses as an unaligned network but in reality works for the gang called Thani.

So far so bad, but it gets much worse. In cahoots with the Saudis and the Kuwaitis, the Qatari ruling family allowed various so-called private businessmen to raise money for jihad. Saudi money funnelled through Islamic charities has been funding terrorism since the 1980s. Ditto the Kuwaitis. These private fund-raisers are an obvious charade. It’s the Kuwaiti, Saudi and Qatari ruling family’s money that ends up in terrorist hands. It’s called protection money. All three ruling ‘monarchies’ are basically illegitimate, and their power derives not from the people but from their oil and gas wealth and their ability to bribe Uncle Sam and other Western powers to keep them as heads.

Taliban office in QatarThe three desert satrapies had a falling out after the military overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Saudis stuck with Sisi, the Qataris and Kuwaitis stuck with the Brotherhood. Qatar allowed the Taleban to open an office, and openly finances the bloodthirsty Islamic State. No matter how bloodthirsty and extreme the IS murderers became, Qatar chose to keep on paying and will do so unless the US Marines land and force the head towel to Guantanamo, where he belongs.

Saddam HusseinHow have we come to this? Big oil had a lot to do with the First Gulf War. Saddam was our friend and ally yet we chased him out of Kuwait, which was sort of a province of Iraq when it was still Mesopotamia. The Israeli lobby ‘ordered’ the Second Gulf War — no ifs or buts about it — and Israel is enjoying the slaughter going on in Syria and Iraq almost as much as it enjoyed crushing Gaza. (Only 6 per cent of Israelis were against the invasion and subsequent killing of innocent people.)

What is to be done? That’s an easy one, but it will never happen until money goes out of style. Reading the riot act to Qatar, the Saudis and the Kuwaitis is an exercise in futility. If I were Obama — and he’s been a very good president in resisting the Israeli lobby that has been at him to carpet-bomb Iran — I’d overthrow the Qataris ‘pour encourager les autres’. But don’t hold your breath. See you at Ascot next year. – The Spectator, 20 September 2014

» Taki Theodoracopulos is a Greek-born journalist and writer who lives variously in New York City, London and Switzerland. He is a social columnist and publishes his own magazine here.

Emir's Palace, Doha, Qatar

See also

  1. Hundreds of migrant workers dying in Qatar
  2. Qatar confirms arrest of UK rights workers
  3. Shockingly awful living conditions of construction workers in Qatar

When will India get a strong foreign policy? – Gautam Sen

Dr. Gautam Sen“The Anglo-Americans, leave aside China, which is fully committed to the Pakistani goal of harming India, have little to gain from switching their support to India and effectively abandoning Pakistan. In turn, the West will have no value to Pakistan if it repudiates all support for its claim to Kashmir and suspends help to sustain its quest for some sort of military parity with India, which the acquisition of a nuclear arsenal has indeed substantially allowed. The West would then lose an ally that has shown little hesitation in doing its bidding, even though there has been a public display of various discords in the recent past.” – Dr Gautam Sen

Sushma SwarajIndians and their policy makers share a belief that they are ineffably decent people, who embody worthy moral values. This was clearly the basis for Nehru’s much-reviled, pompous self-righteousness. It was in fact a distorted legacy of the Gandhian syndrome of self-harm that assured partition of the worst kind imaginable. By and large, the good Indian took this unprecedented calamity in his stride even while its victims languished indefinitely in the paradise Nehru sought to inflict on a hapless nation. But Indians and their deluded rulers earnestly expected the world at large to note the solemn conviction pertaining to their essential goodness and behave with appropriate diligence towards their interests.

The real world predictably intruded very promptly and Indian expectations had to adjust to the harsh realities of a world indifferent to righteousness and thoroughly unpredictable. Hard experience forced India to accord greater priority to realistic behaviour that required self-defence in the shape of expensive weaponry, counter-intelligence, etc. But somewhere in the recesses of their psyche Indians never quite overcame the delusion that they would wake up one day to find the world had understood them and begun to engage with due regard.

The paradox is that in reality India only invites ridicule, contempt and even hatred abroad rather than the respect and affection it craves. Every single Indian neighbour espouses an admixture of these sentiments and the one to which is supposedly closest culturally harbours the greatest animus. Unfortunately, the upright Indian, preoccupied with reaping a harvest of crass material gratification, having lots of fun and generally self-absorbed, has not bothered to introspect. Every now and then Indians experience a rude shock, whether in the shape of the Kandahar hijack, aided by their very own estranged neighbouring cousins or 26/11, administered by their sworn enemy. But self-indulgence presides and everything is quickly forgotten.

An evaluation of some specific critical issues in the backdrop of Indian self-delusion and cupidity might provide insights into the Indian political predicament. It may be inferred that India has espoused the goal of economic and social development as paramount. In addition, dealing with its two adversarial neighbours has been a constant preoccupation, which, in fact, militates against the first goal. Both China and Pakistan seek to cut India down to size. It is an aspiration that has not diverged unduly from the entrenched British impulse to punish an India ruled by what they have always regarded as wily Hindus that dared expel them. The US soon subscribed to this view since India refused to kowtow with the great white imperial ruler of the earth, which also found its alleged proximity to the communist USSR insufferable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US-Pakistan_relationsThe Anglo-Americans immediately embraced Pakistan, which abandoned with alacrity the supposed political and religious rationale that had prompted partition. Instead, it eagerly seized the opportunity of becoming foot soldiers in the millennial struggle against ungodly communism. The outcome was the complete and enduring militarization of Pakistan and its transformation into an aggressive ghazi state, committed to warfare. The consequences of that fateful decision have since led to its veritable unfolding implosion. The pinnacle of Pakistan’s wholehearted commitment to the Anglo-American imperial cause, in the name of Islam of course, came in the 1980s and the US war to corner the USSR in Afghanistan. As a reward for its cooperation, investigations reveal the US discreetly helped Pakistan’s quest to best India by acquiring a nuclear arsenal. It was of course facilitated directly by unstinting help from its all-weather friend, China. The three cynical agents of godly moral purpose engaged in a crusade to undermine the ungodly USSR and its supposed friend, India.

The question that might be posed is what would be the rationale for the Anglo-Americans to now abandon Pakistan in favour of India. India has of course been arguing strenuously that Kashmir is a legitimate part of the Indian Union, while also tenaciously upholding legal provisions that simultaneously undermine that very claim! Its response to Pakistani terrorism has been wayward, at the very best, but it has also been warning plaintively that Pakistani terrorism against India will spill over and impact the West itself. It duly did so on 9/11 and elsewhere, from London to Madrid. There is now an earnest Indian hope that the West, namely the US, will use its enormous financial and military clout over Pakistan, as its principal supplier of weapons, to somehow restrain it. There is, as yet, no sign of such a gratifying finale for India.

However, the reason for this Indian disappointment is not far to seek. The Anglo-Americans, leave aside China, which is fully committed to the Pakistani goal of harming India, have little to gain from switching their support to India and effectively abandoning Pakistan. In turn, the West will have no value to Pakistan if it repudiates all support for its claim to Kashmir and suspends help to sustain its quest for some sort of military parity with India, which the acquisition of a nuclear arsenal has indeed substantially allowed. The West would then lose an ally that has shown little hesitation in doing its bidding, even though there has been a public display of various discords in the recent past. One suspects these were manufactured to shield Pakistan’s military dictators from domestic hostility for their supine conduct in allowing the US carte blanche in the region.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif is overshadowed by the army.Yet, Pakistan remains the only Muslim country with a serious army, which earlier protected US allies like King Hussein of Jordan. A military contingent, led by none other than the late President Zia ul-Haq, crushed a Palestinian revolt in what came to be known as Black September during 1970. It was Pakistani commandos who also rescued the reviled US-backed Saudi monarchy when the Grand Mosque was seized by religious zealots in 1979. Most significantly of all, Pakistan contributed hugely to the Afghan campaign, effectively instigating the retreat of the USSR from Afghanistan. The Afghan victory culminated in the historic triumph of the West in the Cold War. However, unpalatable it may be for self-important Indian bureaucrats and deluded Indian politicians, Pakistan’s usefulness to the West can hardly be doubted.

It should also be noted that the West does not actually hold the Pakistani government and establishment responsible for 9/11. In private, there is acknowledgment the catastrophe was partially due to forces unleashed by the historic Afghan campaign to dislodge the USSR from the country. In addition, Pakistan is cooperating exhaustively with the West to interdict further attacks on Western targets, if not others. In recent months, the usefulness of Jihadis from Pakistan has been rediscovered by the US, with a contingent, perhaps led by the Pakistani army itself, making its way to Syria to help overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Pakistan, along with Turkey, has been the key third world allies of the West during the Cold War. Pakistan’s usefulness to Anglo-Americans political machination, especially in the Middle West, can hardly be denied. As a result, Pakistan has powerful allies in the US, whether it is the State Department, the CIA or the Pentagon, ready to argue its case. To quote the pithy raison d’être offered by one US President in another context: ‘they may be bastards, but they are our bastards’!

By contrast, if the US somehow compelled Pakistani authorities to cease terrorist activities against India the result can well be surmised. From the point of the view of the US, it would entail the loss of a substantial source of leverage over India if such an unlikely goal was attained. At present, fear of conflagration on its western border is a key facet in India’s calculus of feasible policy options. In the aftermath of the end of the Cold War, India views with trepidation open hostilities with Pakistan since Chinese intervention may be in prospect, without the likelihood of a Russian response to deter the latter. Should this constraint on policy options disappear, India would have less need of US goodwill, for example, even in the climactic situation of a nuclear standoff with Pakistan, when US intervention would be invaluable.

Map of secret terrorist training camps in PakistanThe end of Indo-Pak hostility, which the cessation of terror against India would effectively imply, would transform Indian defence options. It would free anything up to 600,000 troops as well as other critical defence assets, for use on its northern border. It would, in other words, be a transformative moment for India. India would gain a degree of policy autonomy it has not possessed since independence. Its dependence on others, who may have helped achieved this highly advantageous outcome, would, paradoxically, also be far less. It should be noted that the legion of ignorant amateurs in India, pronouncing endlessly on peace with Pakistan and settlement with China, have understood little. These two conflicts are inseparably interlinked for India. Neither adversary is likely to jeopardise the core interests of their declared ‘all-weather’ ally by negotiating a separate settlement with India that would leave the other completely exposed!

India has two urgent goals with respect to China and their achievement through the intercession of the West, namely the US, is also problematic. The first is to maintain the northern LAC status quo and second, to curb China outsourcing nuclear deterrence to Pakistan. However, it should be noted that China regards India as one of the two countries with which it will need to settle accounts to emerge as the major player in Asia and attempt equalling the US in the global arena eventually. It is unclear what India’s now obdurate conviction that the US needs it, because of changing geopolitical conditions, means for its modest goals of security on the Indo-Chinese LAC and a restraining influence over Pakistan’s rapidly growing nuclear arsenal.

The US calculus of how India might be useful, in the event of tensions with China and as a source of Chinese restraint, is not necessarily co-terminus with the two Indian goals identified above. In fact, there is little evidence that Chinese incursions into the Indian side of the LAC have been influenced by US grand strategy in Asia. However, it might be contended there would be major diplomatic fallout over serious Chinese adventurism along the border with India. Of course the US is seeking a measure of economic and military collaboration to reinforce India’s defence capability and its value should be acknowledged. But they do not decisively assist India’s immediate twin concerns, with Sino-Pak nuclear collaboration only continuing to deepen.

Perhaps India needs to consider the unsentimental reality of the Asian predicament that has emerged with the rise of a China determined to achieve its goals, by force if necessary. Countries in South East, like Vietnam, as well as the Philippines and indeed Japan, are not in a position to help India in the immediate future in the event of a dramatic denouement. Japan’s interests have converged with India’s and it has a strong incentive to become a stakeholder in India’s economic advance. However, that will require a decade or more and a serious Indian economic policy framework that its political class has hitherto proved incapable of implementing. Much more alarming is the highly plausible self-interested outcome of a Sino-US condominium in Asia than direct military encounter in Asia, which will suit neither. In negotiating such an overall settlement, the US will likely accede to two non-negotiable Chinese goals, the first pertaining to Taiwan and the second, securing unassailable control over Tibet, which may require border adjustments disfavouring India.

Obama, Clinton & KerryThe sheer cynicism of US foreign policy cannot escape cursory observation of its shocking activities in the contemporary Middle East. It is prepared to destroy entire countries, indeed civilisations, to achieve shifting targets. Knowledge of the full history of the 1962 Indo-China border war and the international context continues to elude. Nehru’s dislike of the armed forces and inept interference, despite zero knowledge of military affairs and frequent threats by Defence Minister, Krishna Menon to court martial officers who dissented from him, may have instigated disloyalty within it.

It may be hazarded that some of India’s most senior army officers and the IB chief were also suspicious of Nehru’s perceived attachment to communist hyperbole and were secretly in touch with Anglo-American governments. These Indian officers had achieved career successes during the British era, serving the colonial power faithfully and had not defected to the INA! They also evidently espoused sympathy for the Cold War Western response against the Soviet Union. The US had been meeting Chinese representatives in Warsaw since the mid-50s and was aware of Sino-Soviet differences and could have also known in advance of China’s intention to attack India. It may have been anticipated by parties to the possible conspiracy, including disloyal senior Indian military officers, that a military encounter with China would bounce India out of the Soviet camp and into the arms of the West. The US had already concluded that Indian behaviour indicated fealty to the despised Soviet camp.

On the issue of India’s unfulfilled aspirations of economic advance and social transformation, the idea that these goals will be actively aided by the outside world is another chimera of the ideological detritus of empire. Nothing could be further from the truth, Ricardo, Hecksher-Ohlin, Samuelson, et. al. notwithstanding. The real-world agents of the international economy, mostly operating from New York and London, are pitiless marauders. Their rapacious, scorched earth misconduct worldwide has apparently been missed by India’s comprador class. Admittedly, these insatiable agents, wallowing in Pharaonic wealth, do not today dispatch armed levies to seize, in an older tradition, though that too happens more often than understood. They will do nothing for India that does not entail gargantuan returns for themselves. They will also subvert India, much as the international retail giants, being welcomed by their paid local Indian agents, are poised to do.

India will surely need foreign capital, but only a strong and ruthless Indian state can bend them to India’s national purposes. The competence to do so has been singularly lacking in an India in the thrall of a third-rate media, a second rate bureaucracy and an essentially self-seeking political class. Rascals abound in every Indian Elephant in the Living Roomnook and cranny, especially in the benighted city that is its capital. They are the overweening presence in the shape of the elephant in the living room, which needs to have its tusks, embedded in Indian body politic, extracted unceremoniously. The performance of the exceptional recent political dispensation, which came to power in May this year and assured the nation of its determination defend India’s people, is still to unfold. – India Facts, 2July 2014

» Dr. Gautam Sen taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science

Alexander vs Porus: Beyond the fog of war – Rakesh Krishnan Simha

Rakesh Krishnan Simha“At the Battle of Hydaspes, the Macedonians realised they were dealing with an enemy of uncommon valour. Sensing defeat they called for a truce, which Porus accepted. The Indian king struck a bargain – in return for Ambhi’s territories, which would secure his frontiers, Porus would assist the Macedonians in leaving India safely.” – Rakesh Krishnan Simha

Alexander the GreatMarshal Gregory Zhukov, the legendary Russian commander, said the Macedonians had suffered a catastrophic defeat in India. In the final part of this analysis, fact and fiction are separated.

After defeating Persia in the year 334 BCE, Alexander of Macedon was irresistibly drawn towards the great Indian landmass. However, the Persians warned him the country was no easy target; that several famous conquerors had fallen at the gates of India.

The Persians told him how their greatest king, Cyrus, who had conquered much of the civilised world, had been killed in a battle with Indian soldiers exactly two centuries before Alexander.

And in an earlier antiquity, the Assyrian queen Semiramis, who had crossed the Indus with 400,000 highly trained troops, escaped with just 20 troops, the rest being slaughtered by the Indians.

In his book, Foreign Influence on Ancient India, Krishna Chandra Sagar says 150 years before Alexander, Indian archers and cavalry formed a significant component of the Persian army and played a key role in subduing Thebes in central Greece.

Alexander, however, knew no fear. More than anything else, he wanted to invade India. It would prove to be a strategic blunder.

Marshal Georgy ZhukovZhukov’s take

“Following Alexander’s failure to gain a position in India and the defeat of his successor Seleucus Nikator, relationships between the Indians and the Greeks and the Romans later, was mainly through trade and diplomacy. Also the Greeks and other ancient peoples did not see themselves as in any way superior, only different.”

This statement by Russia’s Marshal Gregory Zhukov on the Macedonian invasion of India in 326 BCE is significant because unlike the prejudiced colonial and Western historians, the Greeks and later Romans viewed Indians differently. For instance, Arrian writes in Alexander Anabasis that the Indians were the noblest among all Asians.

In fact, Arrian and other Greeks say the Indians were relentless in their attacks on the invaders. They say if the people of Punjab and Sindh were fierce, then in the eastern part of India “the men were superior in stature and courage”.

All this is glossed over by Western historians, in whose view the one victory over king Porus amounted to the “conquest of India”. But the Greeks made no such claim.

Battle of Hydaspes – Hardest ever

Greek contemporary writers describe the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum) as the hardest fought of all Alexander’s battles. Frank Lee Holt, a professor of ancient history at the University of Houston, writes in his book, Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions: “The only reference in Arrian’s history to a victory celebration by Alexander’s army was after the battle with Porus.”

Alexander’s army did not indulge in celebrations after the Battle of Gaugamela where they defeated 200,000 Persians. No wild festivities were announced after the Battle of Issus where they defeated a mixed force of Persian cavalry and Greek mercenaries.

The fact they celebrated after the Battle of Hydaspes suggests they considered themselves extremely lucky to survive after the clash with the Hindu army, with its elephant corps.

King Porus (Puru) & Alexander at the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum)If Porus lost, why reward him?

According to the Greeks, Alexander was apparently so impressed by Porus he gave back his kingdom plus the territories of king Ambhi of Taxila who had fought alongside the Macedonians.

This is counter-intuitive  Ambhi had become Alexander’s ally on the condition he would be given Porus’ kingdom. So why reward the enemy, whose army had just mauled the Macedonians?

The only possible answer is at the Battle of Hydaspes, the Macedonians realised they were dealing with an enemy of uncommon valour. Sensing defeat they called for a truce, which Porus accepted. The Indian king struck a bargain – in return for Ambhi’s territories, which would secure his frontiers, Porus would assist the Macedonians in leaving India safely.

Alexander’s post-Hydaspes charitable behaviour, as per Greek accounts, is uncharacteristic and unlikely. For, in battles before and after, he massacred everyone in the cities he subdued.

Why pay off a vassal?

Before the battle, Alexander gave king Ambhi 1000 talents (25,000 kilos) of gold for fighting alongside the Macedonians. The only explanation is Ambhi was driving a hard bargain. He knew the rattled Macedonian army was seeking to quickly exit India. He thought he could use the Macedonians to remove his rival Porus. However, Porus’ decision to offer Alexander combat checkmated those plans.

Porus's elephant cavalry.Tired of fighting: Lame excuse

Greek sources say Alexander retreated from India because his soldiers were weary, homesick and close to mutiny. Imagine if German soldiers had told Hitler they were tired of fighting? They would have been summarily shot. In Alexander’s time, the punishment was crucifixion.

The Macedonian army had a system of rotation where large batches of veteran soldiers were released to return home (with sufficient gold and slaves). In their place, fresh troops eagerly poured in from Europe.

If they were weary of constant warring, it is inexplicable why these soldiers chose to fight their way through obstinately hostile Indian territories. The homesick soldiers would have preferred the garrisoned northwestern route they took while coming in. Why would a brilliant commander subject himself and his troops to further violence when all they wanted was a peaceful passage home?

Clearly, the Macedonians were in a mess and not thinking straight. Not the sign of a victorious army.

Alexander's route into India and out again.Need for glory

David J. Lonsdale, a lecturer in Strategic Studies at the University of Hull, writes: “Alexander’s invasion of India and Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 both appear reckless and unnecessary from a strategic perspective. Therefore, perhaps they can both be explained by the sheer naked ambition of the two commanders.”

Alexander’s tragedy was he was in a Catch-22 situation. The Macedonians and Greeks welcomed the wealth from the conquered lands, but the man who ensured this flow was persona non grata.

In Greek eyes a Macedonian was hardly an equal. The Greeks hated Alexander for sacking their cities and enslaving their people. In his own country, he was an outsider for being half-Albanian, from his mother’s side. The common people suspected him of murdering his father.

So in order to retain the loyalty of his troops, Alexander had to wage constant war while also taking great personal risks in battle. For, he could not be seen as weak, let alone beaten.

A few years before the Indian campaign, a large part of the Macedonian army was massacred by the [Indo-]Scythians (Hindu StraboShakas, the Buddha’s clansmen) at Polytimetus, present day Tajikistan. Alexander warned his surviving troops not to discuss the massacre with other soldiers.

Strabo, the Greek historian wrote: “Generally speaking, the men who have written on the affairs of India were a set of liars…. Of this we became the more convinced whilst writing the history of Alexander.” – Russia & India Report, 3 June 2013

» Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based writer. According to him the only inspiration he needs is outrage – when he sees propaganda masquerading as journalism. He, therefore, writes on stuff the media distorts, misses or ignores. He can be contacted on rakeshmail@gmail.com

Indian war elephant against Alexander’s troops (1685).

See also

Time to back the anti-Wahhabi tide – M.D. Nalapat

M.D. Nalapat“The backing away by the ordinary Muslim from the tide of Wahhabism is very much in the global interest. It is unfortunate that the West is peddling nonsensical nostrums to its friends in Muslim-majority countries, advising them to empower extremists in the name of inclusive governance. Groups that misuse religion for political motives and favour restrictive codes of human behaviour so as to promote a monochrome ideal, are the enemies of democracy and ought never to be encouraged.” – Prof. M. D. Nalapat

Hitler & GoeringIn 1933, German President Paul von Hindenburg was advised by Franz von Papen and others that the best way to deal with the unrest in Germany caused by economic catastrophe was to bring the NSDAP (commonly known as the Nazi Party) into the government, with Adolf Hitler as Chancellor. That the ideology of the NSDAP was unalterably opposed to democracy, and that the Nazis were only using the perquisites of elected office to strengthen themselves sufficiently was hardly a secret. The strategy had been revealed not only in the speeches of Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goering and Hitler himself but repeated several times in commentaries in the party media. None of this was allowed to stand in the way of inducting Hitler and his party into the portals of power. The consequences of that decision need no retelling.

If U.S. President Barack Obama were to follow the advice given by his administration to Hamid Karzai, General El-Sissi and other presumed allies of the U.S., Obama himself would work towards ensuring that his own team – upto the level of the Vice-President – would include members of the Tea Party, and even a sprinkling of those whose ideological home is the Ku Klux Klan. In the years immediately preceding independence from the British in 1947, India’s Congress Party was advised by Lord Wavell, then Viceroy, to include Muslim League notables in the cabinet headed by Jawaharlal Nehru. Once these individuals entered the government, they began to work zealously in sabotaging its coherence and its efficacy.

Mullah OmarIn like fashion, to involve the Taliban in the formal process of running the government of Afghanistan would be to doom the Afghan government and state into chaos and incoherence. The ideology of the Taliban is explicit on the aims of that formation, and those subscribing to such a viewpoint would be unwilling – and indeed unfit – to work alongside representatives from the overwhelming majority of moderate Afghans who, especially after the events of 1996-2003, detest and fear the Taliban. However, this has not prevented the Obama administration from seeking to do a Hindenburg in that country by asking for the entry, into governance, of a group explicitly committed to the overthrow of the very system that Washington believes will be strengthened by its induction. In the case of Egypt as well, the Obama administration has joined forces with the EU, those other supporters of the doctrine of ‘taming’ extremes by giving them access to power.

In particular, across the Middle East, the Wahhabi ideology which is at the core of the various offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, has ensured that such groups begin to alarm the rest of society by their pursuit of a sectarian and exclusivist agenda. The only difference between Egypt and Turkey is that Mohamed Morsi sought to speed up what Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan implemented in slow motion. The direction in both has been the same: a consistent push towards a societal order in conformity with the theology that is the bedrock of the movement, where its practitioners have special access to the Almighty, and which is suffused with dogma and with methods incompatible with democratic functioning. The trajectories followed in Turkey, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia show the consequences of empowering groups that have a vision which can only lead to the slow – or rapid – stifling of genuine democracy. With Egypt, the attempted transition was rapid, as the Brotherhood saw itself as immune from the military because of the support it received not only from regional financial powerhouses such as Qatar but from the U.S. and the EU as well.

Muhammad ibn Abd al-WahhabSince 1992, I have argued that the alliance between the West and Wahhabism posed a severe security risk to not just the West but to the Muslim world – in that it enabled Wahhabism to replace more tolerant strains of the Sunni branch of Islam. Across the globe, the awesome money power of what may be called ‘Wahhabi International’ has resulted in the capture or building of innumerable houses of worship across the secular world. More ominously, it has resulted in a hardening of sermons in such places of worship and other institutions, and to Wahhabism replacing the tolerant strains of the faith as the primary motif in religious literature and teaching.

The Shia branch of the faith has suffered its own Wahhabization, thanks to the doctrine propounded by Iran’s Imam Khomeini, who sought to replace orthodox Shia schools of theology with his own rigid interpretation of the texts the way Abdul Wahab did three centuries ago in the case of the Sunni version of the faith. This twin radicalisation of what is essentially a syncretic and tolerant faith has had devastating social and geopolitical consequences, which is why it is incomprehensible why the West continues to believe that Wahabbism can be moderated and rendered a geopolitical asset.

The reality is that the core teachings of the faith make it almost impossible for convinced Wahhabis to carry out the adjustments needed to find common ground with others. Their compromises reflect a tactical measure designed to gain time in order to secure the undiluted Wahabbi version at a later date. Such a mindset is why the entry of Wahhabis into the structures of governance is fraught with risk. To those who argue that the Qatari and Saudi royal families prove that Wahhabis can be trusted with the management of a state, it needs to be pointed out that neither the Qatari nor the Saudi royals – or at least the ruling groups within them – subscribe to Wahhabi ideology in practice. Their lifestyles and practices are incompatible with Wahhabism. However, fearful of the recurrence of a 1979 situation, both the Qatari as well as the Saudi royals have empowered Wahhabi Mohammed Badie is the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhoodgroups in a manner that threatens their existence.

That the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood is incompatible with the preservation of royal rule within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is obvious. Should Brotherhood elements within the GCC ever gain the traction needed to do an (2011) Egypt or Tunisia in the GCC, they would do so with despatch. This is why the Qatari royals backing for the Brotherhood has within it the seeds of the self-destruction of their dynasty.

A GCC leader who has understood the danger that the Muslim Brotherhood represents is King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who has sought to change the ethos of his country in a way not attempted since 1979. Very silently, he has diluted the Wahabbist orientation of administrative structures and relaxed restrictions previously enforced by religious police. Hopefully, this reversal of the post-1979 Al-Saud policy of buying off Wahhabi groups is being rolled back by the present monarch.

However, whatever fall in funding to Wahhabi International taking place as a consequence of King Abdullah, is being more than compensated by the rulers of Qatar – which believes that it can win over Wahhabis through cheque book diplomacy. Across the Middle East and recently in other locations as well, Muslim Brotherhood offshoots are being diplomatically and financially Egyptians protest against the Muslim Brotherhood.backed by Qatar, thereby strengthening such groups. The overwhelming majority of Muslims across the globe are no different in their wants and worldview from Christians, Jews, Buddhists or Hindus, and thus an attempted Wahhabization of society – camouflaged or overt – is being resisted. In Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, there have been mass protests against the Wahhabis and their political and NGO offshoots. Such a movement against the extremism which Wahhabism represents is a return to the true spirit of Islam.

The backing away by the ordinary Muslim from the tide of Wahhabism is very much in the global interest. It is unfortunate that the West is peddling nonsensical nostrums to its friends in Muslim-majority countries, advising them to empower extremists in the name of inclusive governance. Groups that misuse religion for political motives and favour restrictive codes of human behaviour so as to promote a monochrome ideal, are the enemies of democracy and ought never to be encouraged.

If Afghanistan is to be stable, the Taliban must have no place in it, and this is a future that is possible, given the fact that the Pashtuns are at the core as moderate as Tajiks or Uzbeks. Rather than repeat in locations such as Syria the Brzezinski-Casey strategy of arming and training extremists, the West needs to adopt a hands-off approach to what is going to be a decade of Obama and his delinquent friends Karzai and Sharif.societal churning, first within the Middle East and later in Muslim societies across the globe.

Asking the Egyptian authorities to bring back the Muslim Brotherhood into the structures of governance is to take away any chance of stability or the winning back of the traditions of a great faith from first the Wahabbis and later the Khomeinists. The mistake made by Hindenburg in 1933 should not be repeated. – Gateway House, 8 August 2013

» M. D. Nalapat is vice-chair of Manipal Advanced Research Group and UNESCO peace chair, and professor of geopolitics at Manipal University, India. This article was written exclusively for Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations.

What Reza Aslan actually says about Jesus – Stephen Prothero

Prof. Reza Aslan

Lauren GreenDr. Reza Aslan is an Iranian-American writer and scholar of religions. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, a Research Associate at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, and a contributing editor for The Daily Beast. His books include the international bestseller No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which has been translated into 13 languages, and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which offers an interpretation of the life and mission of the historical Jesus.

On 26 July 2013, Aslan was interviewed on … a Fox News webcast by anchor Lauren Green about his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Green was “unsatisfied with Aslan’s credentials,” and she pressed Aslan with a “but-why-would-a-Muslim-write-about-Jesus line of questioning.” The interview lasted about ten minutes and focused “on Aslan’s background more than the actual contents of the book.”

In the end, Green claimed that “Aslan had somehow misled readers by not disclosing his religion”, whereupon he pointed out that his personal religious faith “is discussed on page two of his book.”

The video clip of the interview went viral within days and the book, which was up to that point selling “steadily”, appeared at the 4th place on the New York Times print hardcover best-seller list. By late July 2013, it was topping the U.S. best-seller list of Amazon. – Wikipedia, 6 August 2013


Stephen ProtheroWhat Reza Aslan actually says about Jesus – Stephen Prothero

As you might have heard, Lauren Green at Fox didn’t do a very good job interviewing Reza Aslan on his new book about the historical Jesus.

Instead of asking him about “Zealot,” she asked him why, as a Muslim, he would presume to write a book about Jesus. He responded by citing (and re-citing) his academic credentials.

The interview went viral, and Aslan went to No. 1 on Amazon.com (ahead of J. K. Rowling).

But what does the book actually say? Here are seven of Aslan’s key arguments in “Zealot”:

1. Jesus was a violent revolutionary

Many scholars have argued that Jesus was a political figure. After all, he was crucified by Rome, and crucifixion was at the time a punishment for political offenses. But these scholars often claim, as John Dominic Crossan did in “Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography,” that Jesus was a nonviolent revolutionary.

Aslan portrays Jesus as a man of war who worshiped the “blood-spattered God of Abraham, and Moses, and Jacob, and Joshua” and who knew full well that “God’s sovereignty could not be established except through force.”

2. Jesus’ kingdom was worldly

In the Gospel of John, Jesus famously says, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Aslan begs to differ. Jesus’ kingdom was neither purely nor predominantly spiritual. He preached “a physical and present kingdom: a real kingdom, with an actual king that was about to be established on earth.”

3. Jesus revolted against Roman and Jewish authorities

Jesus didn’t just take on Rome. He took on Jewish authorities, in particular those who ran the Jerusalem Temple.

“There can be no doubt,” writes Aslan, “that Jesus’s main antagonist in the gospels is neither the distant emperor in Rome nor his heathen officials in Judea. It is the high priest Caiaphas, who will become the main instigator of the plot to execute Jesus precisely because of the threat he posed to the Temple’s authority.”

4. Palm Sunday is the key moment in the Jesus story

Every Jesus biographer has a key moment in the life of Jesus when his essence is revealed. For Aslan, that moment comes when Jesus mounts a donkey and rides into Jerusalem.

In this celebration, commemorated in the Christian world every year on Palm Sunday, Jesus is not demonstrating his humility. Instead, he is announcing his kingship.

The “unmistakeable” message of this scene, according to Aslan, is that “the long-awaited messiah — the true King of the Jews — has come to free Israel from its bondage.”

5. The early church turned Jesus into a pacifist preaching a spiritual kingdom

In 66-73 CE, a bloody Jewish revolt against Rome left Jerusalem in ruins and chastened the early Christians, who reinvented Jesus as an apolitical figure in order to make nice with Rome.

Those who wrote of Jesus in this way (Paul included) never met the man, and, in Aslan’s view, they badly mischaracterized him, turning “their messiah from a fierce Jewish nationalist into a pacifistic preacher of good works whose kingdom was not of this world.”

6. The idea that Jesus was God also originated with the early church

As a Jew, Aslan observes, Jesus would have rebelled against any notion that God is incarnated in human flesh.

Therefore, the elevation of Jesus to divinity must have come after his crucifixion, at the hands of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians who “transformed Jesus from a revolutionary zealot to a Romanized demigod.” *

* [Jesus was raised from the position of mortal prophet to that of immortal God by an ecclesiastical vote of 218 for, 2 against diefication at the Council of Nicea called by Emperor Constantine in 325 CE. The bishops who said nay were from Libya and were soon assassinated. Constantine then sanctioned the confiscation and destruction of all works that challenged "orthodox" Christian teaching. Five years later he commissioned and financed new editions of the Bible, and as there were no longer any original documents to work from---Emperor Diocletian had destroyed most Christian writings in 303 CE---the bishops, intent on promoting the Pauline salvation cult in their own interest, were free to revise, edit, and rewrite the Bible in accordance with their own tenets. -- IS]

7.  The Bible isn’t to be believed (as history)

In “Zealot,” Aslan repeatedly refers to passages in the New Testament as “preposterous,” “fanciful,” “obviously contrived,” “riddled with the most basic errors,” “simply ridiculous,” and “absurd to the point of comedy.”

Here the Bible is a source for data about Jesus’s life, but that data must be carefully sifted through a scholarly lens, and in particular through the socioeconomic realities of life in the ancient Mediterranean at the time of Jesus.

At least as Aslan sees it, Jesus probably didn’t tell his followers to turn the other cheek. He probably did say, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but the sword” (Matthew 10:34). – CNN Belief Blog, 31 July 2013

Angry Jesus drives the vendors out of the temple. According to Dr. Aslan, this is a key moment in the life of zealot Jesus.

Jesus driving the merchants and money changers from the Temple in Jerusalem: According to Dr. Aslan, this event in the life of Jesus the Zealot reveals his true nature as a violent revolutionary.

Jesus in India: The myth of the lost years – D.M. Murdock

D. M. Murdock“Proponents of the Jesus-in-India theory hold up a number of other texts and artifacts they maintain “prove” not only Jesus’s existence on Earth but also his presence in India. When such texts and artifacts are closely examined, they serve as no evidence at all, except of priestcraft. With one or two possible exceptions originating to a few centuries earlier, the Eastern texts regarding “Issa” seem to be late writings, some dating to the 15th and 18th centuries, based on traditions, not eyewitness accounts. Some of the “documents” are obviously fictitious, and others are downright ridiculous, such as the Bhavishya Mahapurana. A number of these texts merely relate the basic gospel story with embellishments depending on what the storyteller is attempting to accomplish.” – D.M. Murdock

Jesus as a yogi in IndiaOver the centuries, the claim has repeatedly been made that Jesus Christ not only walked the earth but also spent his early and post-crucifixion years in a variety of places, including Egypt, India, Great Britain, Japan and America. Indeed, traditions maintain that Jesus, the great godman of the West, lived, learned, loved and died in such places. Popular modern literature also purports that Jesus sired children, who then became the ancestors of various royal families of Europe, including France and/or elsewhere, depending on the author.

The allegation of Christ being a kingly progenitor is extremely convenient and useful for European royal families, obviously. Unfortunately for the European claimants, however, India also has a tradition that Jesus went there and likewise fathered children. So too does Shingo, Japan, allege that Jesus ended up there after the crucifixion, having children with a Japanese wife. Other tales depict Jesus “walking the Americas” or bopping about Glastonbury, England, with his “uncle,” Joseph of Arimathea. Not all of these tales can be true, obviously, unless Jesus is polymorphous and phantasmagoric, a perspective that in reality represents that of the mythologist or mythicist. To wit, regardless of these fables, or, rather, because of them, the most reasonable conclusion regarding Jesus and where he may or may not have been is that he is a mythical character, not a historical personage who trotted the globe.

Nicolas NotovichThe Groovy Guru

According to legend, Jesus, the great Jewish sage, spent his “lost years,” from between the ages of around 12 to 28 or 30, in India, where, per another tradition, he also escaped after surviving the crucifixion. The Jesus-was-a-guru tale was popularized over a century ago by the Russian traveller Nicholas Notovitch. Notovitch asserted that in 1887, while at the secluded Hemis or Himis monastery in Ladakh/Tibet, he was shown a manuscript which discussed the “unknown life” of Jesus, or “Issa,” as he was supposedly called in the East. This “Issa” text, translated for Notovitch from Tibetan by a monk/lama, alleged that during his “lost years” Jesus was educated by yogis in India, Nepal and “the Himalaya Mountains.”

Stating that he felt the manuscript to be “true and genuine,” Notovich maintained its contents were written “immediately after the Resurrection,” while the manuscript itself purportedly dated from the third century of the Common Era. Notovitch related that the “two manuscripts” he was shown at Himis were “compiled from diverse copies written in the Thibetan tongue, translated from rolls belonging to the Lassa library and brought from India, Nepal, and Maghada 200 years after Christ.” (Notovitch, 44)

Notovitch’s story was challenged by a number of people, which served to popularize it further. Noted Sanskrit scholar Max Müller came down hard on Notovitch, concluding that either the Russian had never gone to Tibet in the first place, and had concocted the Jesus story, or that waggish Buddhist monks had played a trick on Notovitch, as Indian priests had done in a notorious instance concerning the Asiatic Research Society’s Colonel Wilford. Others subsequently journeyed to Himis/Hemis and witnessed repeated denial by the lamas that Notovitch had ever been there or that any such manuscript existed. In 1922, Indian scholar and swami Abhedananda eventually determined for himself by visiting Himis, gaining the confidence of the lamas and having the manuscript revealed to him. Other visitors to Himis, such as mystic Nicholas Roerich, verified the same story. Aspects of Notovitch’s story checked out, and he apparently did indeed stay at Himis and was shown a manuscript relating to “Issa.”

Notovitch claimed that Indian merchants brought the account of “Jesus” to Himis, and that they had actually witnessed the crucifixion. Indeed, the text begins with “This is what is related on this subject by the merchants who come from Israel,” reflecting not that “Jesus” lived in India but that the Jesus tradition was brought to India and Tibet. (Notovitch, 32) Notovitch’s text also did not state that Jesus was specifically at Himis: In fact, the lama stated that the Issa scrolls “were brought from India to Nepal, and from Nepal to Thibet.” Yet, upon returning to Himis through later visitors, the story eventually became morphed into “Your Jesus was here,” meaning at Himis itself. The “one book” or “two manuscripts” became “three books,” which were displayed for the later visitors, with the implication that there was more to the tale.

Hemis Gompa in LadakhAlthough subsequent visitors were presented such texts, none but Nicholas Roerich’s son, George, could read them. By his translation, Roerich was evidently shown the same text as Notovitch. Thus, it appears that there was only one text at Himis, and that it did not state that Issa himself was ever at the monastery. Furthermore, that one text is based on hearsay provided by passing merchants and does not at all represent an “eyewitness” account of “Jesus” in India and Tibet, although the impression is given that this and other texts do constitute such records.

Also, Notovitch asked if “Issa” was reputed to be a saint, and was informed that “the people ignore his very existence” and that the lamas who have studied the scrolls “alone know of him.” These remarks are a far cry from Roerich’s claim that the tale of “Christ” in India and other parts of Asia was to be found widespread. They also contradict the Tibetan text’s own assertion that Issa’s “fame spread everywhere” and that Persia and surrounding countries “resounded with prophecies” of Issa, thus causing the Persian priesthood to be terrified of him. This latter element sounds like typical mythmaking, especially since there were similar prophecies of godmen for centuries, if not millennia, prior to Christ’s purported advent, particularly in India.

Moreover, the “originals” of the scrolls housed at the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, were composed in Pali, while the Himis library contained one copy in Tibetan. Yet, the Tibetan alphabet was developed by the king who “reigned in the days of Mohammed”; hence, nothing could have been written in Tibetan prior to the 7th century. Although older texts were composed in Sanskrit or Pali, it is clear that the actual physical manuscript revealed to Notovitch could not have existed before the 7th century. In fact, it would appear that very few Tibetan texts date to before the 9th century. In any event, the manuscript itself certainly did not date from the third century, although it could represent tradition transmitted over the centuries.

While Notovitch claimed the Issa story dated to shortly after “the Resurrection,” in it there is no mention of the resurrection, and the tale ends with Issa’s death. In this regard, the text depicts the “Jews,” whom it calls “Israelites,” in a favorable light, and is “the only [manuscript] ever to charge the Romans ["pagans"] solely for Jesus’ execution.” Unlike others, this account does not have Jesus being resuscitated and then returning to India, to father children and live a long life.

Notovitch’s modern editor, Frank Muccie, relates that the manuscript states, “Pilate is responsible for removing Jesus’ body from the tomb,” noting that this development somehow does not “mean the resurrection hope is invalid.” He then says:

“By the third century A.D., there were no fewer than 25 different versions of Jesus’ death and resurrection! Some have him not being put to death at all, some have him revived back to life, and some have Jesus living on to old age and dying in Egypt!” (Notovitch, 6)

Obviously, not all of these 25 or more accounts can be “true and genuine,” and such a development casts doubt on the historicity of one and all.

Rozabal TombThe Rozabal Tomb

Moreover, it is interesting that Notovitch spent six days in the “Vale of Kashmir,” in its capital, Srinagar, “city of the sun,” where the purported tomb of “Jesus,” the wandering prophet Yuz Asaf, is shown to tourists. Yet, the Russian traveller apparently never heard of the tomb, known as the “Roza Bal” or “Rauzabal” shrine, as he does not mention it in his writings concerning the Tibetan text, where its inclusion certainly would have been judicious in demonstrating that Jesus lived in India! Perhaps, however, as a believing Christian Notovitch ignored this tale, much as the devout do today and much as skeptics may do with other fables concerning Christ.

Possessing the priestly touch of sculpted footprints “with nail marks” over the grave, the Roza Bal shrine may seem convincing to the uninitiated, who are unaware of the world’s well-developed priestcraft. This “artifact” is another in a long line of so-called relics, like the 20+ shrouds or the multiple foreskins of Christ. In reality, there were many “footprints of the gods” in ancient times–and a number of Indian gods are depicted with nail holes in their feet.

Also, “Yuz Asaf” is not equivalent to “Jesus” but to “Joseph,” which was often a title of a priest and not a name. In fact, Eastern scholars such as Dr. S. Radhakrishnan state that the name “Joseph” or “Joasaph” is “derived from Bodhisattva, the technical name for one destined to obtain the dignity of a Buddha.” (Prajnanananda, 107) Thus, this tomb of a Bodhisattva could belong to any of thousands of such holy men. In like regard, the purported graves of “Jesus” and “his brother” in Japan are in reality those of a 16th-century Christian missionary and his brother.

The legends regarding Jesus’s tomb in Srinagar, and that of the Virgin Mary in Kashgar, are apparently of Islamic origin, emanating largely from the “heretical” Ahmadiyya sect. Such a creation would serve a couple of purposes: 1. That, as asserted in the Koran, Jesus was not the “son of God” but a mortal prophet, whose body was buried in Kashmir; and 2. that some presumably Moslem people are his descendants.

Proponents of the Jesus-in-India theory hold up a number of other texts and artifacts they maintain “prove” not only Jesus’s existence on Earth but also his presence in India. When such texts and artifacts are closely examined, they serve as no evidence at all, except of priestcraft. With one or two possible exceptions originating to a few centuries earlier, the Eastern texts regarding “Issa” seem to be late writings, some dating to the 15th and 18th centuries, based on traditions, not eyewitness accounts. Some of the “documents” are obviously fictitious, and others are downright ridiculous, such as the Bhavishya Mahapurana. A number of these texts merely relate the basic gospel story with embellishments depending on what the storyteller is attempting to accomplish.

Tibetan lama with scroll.Buddhist Propaganda or Christian Proselytizing?

Although some of the writings appear to be of Hindu origin, the attack by “Issa” on the Vedas and Brahmans, as in the Notovitch text, represents Buddhist propaganda. It appears that Buddhists were trying to demonstrate that Jesus, the great wise man of the West, was influenced by Buddhism, even having been taught by “Buddha,” an eternal disincarnate entity. In this regard, the Notovitch text states, “Six years later, Issa, whom the Buddha had chosen to spread his holy word, could perfectly explain the sacred rolls.” (Notovitch, 35) In this way, Buddha usurps Jesus, becoming the Jewish teacher’s guru.

That the text has been used as propaganda to raise Buddha and Buddhism over Christ and Christianity is further validated by Notovitch’s foreword, in which he related that the lama told him, “The only error of the Christians is that after adopting the great doctrine of Buddha, they, at the very outset, completed separated themselves from him and created another Dalai Lama…” This “Dalai Lama,” the monk subsequently informed the Russian, is the Pope. Concerning Christ, the lama continued, “Buddha did, indeed, incarnate himself with his intelligence in the sacred person of Issa, who, without the aid of fire and sword, went forth to propagate our great and true religion through the entire world.” (Notovitch, 20) Hence, Eastern traditions regarding Jesus are designed to show that Jesus is Buddha and that Christianity is an offshoot of ancient Eastern wisdom.

Nevertheless, the Notovitch text itself may have been composed originally by proselytizing Christians who attempted to use the natives’ belief in Buddha in order to increase Christ’s stature. These missionaries may have been appealing to women to follow “Issa,” as the text puts great emphasis on women, whose status in India and elsewhere has been abysmally low. The text would also appeal to the Sudras or Pariahs, since it has Issa preaching on their behalf. These groups are targeted to this day by Christian missionaries in India.

Considering that many missionaries, travellers and scholars have been keenly aware of the numerous and profound similarities between the Tibetan and Catholic religions, it would not be surprising if this Issa fable were created in order to show that the Tibetan religion is merely a foreign derivative of the “true universal religion,” i.e., Catholicism. The resemblances between various Indian sects and Christianity likewise led to tales about the Christian missionaries Thomas, Bartholomew and Pantaenus also proselytizing in India. Like the Jesus-in-India myth, there are other explanations for the resemblances, which are addressed in detail in my book Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. In short, the major explanation is that the “Christian” religion and savior were already in India long before the alleged advent of Jesus.

Lord ShivaIs “Issa” Jesus—or Shiva?

By calling Issa “Jesus” or “Christ,” modern writers have cemented in the readers’ minds that the correlation is absolute, an erroneous conclusion. In reality, the name “Issa,” “Isa” or “Isha” is a title and simply means “lord,” “god” or “master,” often referring to the Indian god Lord Shiva: “‘Isha’ or ‘the Lord’ is another name of Siva …” (Prajnanananda, 19) Furthermore, Prof. Nunos de Santos says, “… a god variously named Issa, Isha, Ichtos, Iesus, Ieshuah, Joshuah, Jesus, etc., is indisputably originally from India.” He also states, “Ishvara (Ishwar) is widely worshipped in the Far East, being also called Isha (or Ishana) in India, Issara in Pali, Isuan in Thai, Jizu (or Jizai) in Japanese, and so on.”

“Isa” is likewise another name for Chandra, the Indian moon god, as well as for Shiva’s Egyptian counterpart, the soli-lunar god Osiris, also called Iswara in India:

“Iswara, or Isa, and Isani, or Isisi, are…unquestionably the Osiris and Isis of Egypt. Iswara, Siva, or Hara (for these are his names among nearly a thousand more) united with Isi, represent the secondary causes, whatever they may be, of natural phenomena; and principally those of temporary destruction and regeneration.” (Moor, 151)

Numerous ancient legends, recorded for example in the writings of Diodorus Siculus during the first century BCE, depict Osiris as travelling all over the East, as well as the rest of the world, during the millennia when he reigned as Egypt’s favorite deity. Osiris, or Isa, it should be noted, was put to death and resurrected, among many other correspondences to the Christ myth. Osiris/Isa too had a number of tombs in various places, especially in Egypt but likely also in India. However, Osiris was not a “real person” but a fertility and sun god. What mythologists recognize is that it was not a “historical Osiris” but his myth that made it to India and diverse places. As in the case of Osiris, the same phenomenon occurred regarding “Jesus,” who is, in the end, a remake of Osiris, among others.

The title “Isa” or “Issa” could apply to others, and is a common name even today. Indeed, some part of these Jesus-in-India tales may revolve around the famed Greek sage Apollonius of Tyana. Not a few persons over the centuries have noted the similarities between the lives of Apollonius and Christ, and even in ancient times Christians were accused of plagiarizing the Apollonius legend.

Mongolian Nestorian BishopThe Nestorians

The Issa myth apparently represents a Christianization of legends regarding Osiris, Shiva, Apollonius and other gods and “Bodhisattvas,” by the Nestorians, an early Christian sect who lived in India and elsewhere, and may well have spread the syncretistic fable to other Asian ports of call. Indeed, Nicholas Roerich himself surmised that the ancient Nestorian sect spread the tales in the East:

“We heard several versions of this legend which has spread widely through Ladakh, Sinkiang and Mongolia, but all versions agree on one point, that during His absence, Christ was in India and Asia…. Perhaps [this legend] is of Nestorian origin.” (Prophet, 261)

Roerich also stated, “Whoever doubts too completely that such legends about the Christ life exist in Asia, probably does not realize what an immense influence the Nestorians have had in all parts of Asia and how many so-called Apocryphal legends they spread in the most ancient times.” (Roerich, 89) In addition, George Roerich even proposed that there was a “floating colony” of Nestorians in Ladakh itself “during the eighth to tenth centuries,” which could well be when the Notovitch text was composed. Roerich, one of the main writers whose works have led to the Jesus-in-India theory, almost invariably and misleadingly substitutes “Jesus” or “Christ” for “Issa,” when Issa could be a number of individuals, mythical and historical.

In his account of Jesus in India, Roerich declared, “The teachings of India were famed far and wide; let us even recall the description of the life of Appolonius [sic] of Tyana and his visits to Hindu sages.” (Roerich, 119) Again, one likely scenario regarding “Issa” (“Lord” or “Master”) is that, whatever part of his tale is “historical,” it possibly refers to Apollonius.

Apollonius of TyanaPre-Christian Indo-European Interaction

As is well known, Apollonius was not alone in his journeys to the East. Decades and centuries prior to the Christian era, there was much intercourse between India and the West, including the famous journey by Pythagoras and the Alexandrian incursion. As another pertinent example, one of the seats of Mandeanism, a Christian baptist sect, was Maisan, a Mesopotamian city colonized by Indians. As Dr. Rudolph Otto relates:

“… Indian caravans passed through Maisan and likewise Nabatea. Indian merchants, wherever they went, were importers and missionaries of Indian ideas. There need be no surprise therefore if direct Indian imports are found in the syncretistic medley of Mandean Gnosis”. (Prajnanananda, 41)

Space does not permit us to recount the numerous authorities who are in agreement as to the westward spread of Indian and Buddhist concepts centuries before and into the Christian era. A number of them may be found in Prajnanananda’s book, including a “Mr. Cust,” who evinced that trade between India and Yemen “was established not later than 1000 B.C.” Yemen is very close to Israel, and by the first century CE there were plenty of Indians in the Roman Empire.

Despite the popularity of the Jesus-in-India tale, the claim is not accepted by mainstream authorities, either Christian or secular. The tale’s proponents assert that scholars reject Jesus in India because of Western imperialism and the inability to accept that Christ could have been influenced by Buddhism. In the case of mythicists, however, the reason Jesus is denied as having gone to India is because he is a pagan sun god remade into a Jewish “human” messiah. Thus, it is not a question of a “historical Jesus” being in India and the East but of a variety of solar cults that worshipped a similar deity with similar rituals, doctrines and myths.

Jesus & Mary Magdalene: Husband & wife?The “Lost Years” Are Astrotheological

Over the centuries Jesus’s so-called “lost years” and post-crucifixion life have provided much fodder for the fertile human imagination, leading to speculation, legends, traditions and myths that the great godman and sage lived and studied in a variety of places. Once the fable of Christ became popular, numerous towns, villages, cities and nations wished to establish some sort of connection. Instead of recognizing that such a significant omission as Jesus’s “lost years” is an indication of the mythical nature of the tale, individuals using typical priest craft have come up with countless extraordinary adventures of the “historical Jesus.” Unfortunately for the believers, however, not only is the gospel story itself but so too are these Jesus-the-Globetrotter tales mere deluding smoke and mirrors, and the reason for the gap in Jesus’s biography is because he was not a “real person” but a pagan sun god turned into a Jewish messiah. In the mythos revolving around the sun god, there need be no accounting for “lost years,” as the “age” of 12 represents the sun at high noon, while the 28 or 30 represents the days of the lunar or solar months, respectively.

When religions are investigated with a profound knowledge of mythology, the correspondences are clearly revealed, and it becomes evident that it is not the case that this miracle worker or that godman travelled to this place or that, as has been rumored to have occurred with just about every god or goddess. In actuality, it is the legends, traditions and myths concerning these gods, godmen or gurus that have been spread far and wide by their proponents, priests and propagandists. As was the case with the missionary and his brother in Japan, who were taken for the object of worship they were proselytizing, so has it developed in other parts of the world over the millennia concerning not only Jesus but also many other deities, such as the virgin-born, crucified Mexican god Quetzalcoatl, whose similar “life” and religion led to claims that “Jesus” was in America. The reason for the similarities, however, is because both Jesus and Quetzalcoatl are sun gods with the same attendant holidays and practices.

In the final analysis, it is not possible that Jesus could have lived years after the crucifixion, fathered children and died in several different places, as legends represent. The past explanation for such discrepancies has been metaphysical, deeming Jesus to be multidimensional and capable of simultaneous incarnations in various locations. Such an explanation, of course, will not satisfy the skeptic and scientist. Or the mythologist, who simply knows better, because she or he has studied in depth the products of the human mind. Because the basic story of Christ revolves around the sun, which was highly esteemed the world over beginning many millennia ago, the myth is likewise found around the globe. To the basic mythos and ritual were added various embellishments according to the place and era, and for a variety of reasons. In the end, Jesus the Globetrotter is a not a historical personage who magically appeared all over the world, bi-locating and flying on the backs of birds. “Jesus Christ” is mythical creature, to be found globally only between the pages of a book. – Truth Be Known, 1995

Sources

  1. Capt, E. Raymond, The Traditions of Glastonbury, Artisan, 1983
  2. Ellis, Peter B., “Our Druid Cousins,” http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4274
  3. Huc, M. L’Abbé, Christianity in China, Tartary, and Thibet, I, London, Longman & Co., 1857
  4. Moor, Edward, Simpson, ed., The Hindu Pantheon, Indological Book House, India, 1968
  5. Notovitch, Nicholas, The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, Tree of Life Publications, CA, 1980
  6. Nunos de Santos, Arysio, “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ–Comments,” http://www.rickrichards.com/jc/JesusComment2.html
  7. Prajnanananda, Swami, Christ the Saviour and the Christ Myth, Calcutta, 1984
  8. Prophet, Elizabeth Clare, The Lost Years of Jesus, Summit University Press, 1984
  9. Roerich, Nicholas, Altai-Himalaya, Adventures Unlimited, 2001
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,183 other followers