Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Trade between East and West is of great antiquity. Cuneiform tablets as early as 2400 BCE describe shipments of cotton cloth, spices, oil, and grains, from the Indus Valley region to the Near East. The above map shows Palestine [purple circle] at one end of the ancient Silk Road and Gandhara [red circle] in the middle. Besides movement of trade goods, there must obviously have been transfers of ideas. Map Source.
[See also Dr. Christian Lindtner: Jesus was Buddha]
A link between Buddhism and Christianity had been noted as far back as St. Jerome (circa 347–420 CE). But scholarly speculation really took off as a result of the translation of Buddhist texts into European languages during the British colonization of India.

Similarity in the stories of the births and lives of Jesus and Buddha were immediately apparent to scholars. It was also noted that many of their teachings had close parallels.

Buddhism was unquestionably centuries older than Christianity. Was it possible the authors of Christianity copied their ideas from Buddhism? Early European Buddhologists tended to dismiss this connection because they couldn't see how the connection was possible. Modern scholars now realize that the Greco-Roman world was intimately linked to Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and even India by trade and commerce.

"We talked a lot about magic in the late, syncretic world. That means 200 BCE to 200 CE; so roughly that four-hundred year swing and it refers to that cosmopolitan period in Greco-Roman society where Rome had hardly begun to expand, annex Egypt, open up trade routes and commerce. There were people flooding in from all over the world. We had people from Persia, people from Babylonia, we had Egyptians, we had people even coming in from India. And so this was a very eclectic world and what is important about that is that this Greco-Roman culture, this syncretic magic...think of it as a cauldron where three thousand years of magical recipes, formulas, polytheistic gods, inscriptions on walls, potions derived from sacred plants--all of this magic--three thousand years of it, is thrown into this cultural cauldron because this society was very, very big on magic; they're very individualistic the way we are, they all had their own variation of what their personal belief was, and so they became a repository for stuff that overwise would have been lost. And one of the important sources we're going to talk about today that comes out of this smorgasbord of antique magic are the Corpus Hermeticum, which is basically the syncretic knowledge drawn from all of these mysterious traditions of Egypt and Babylon and Persia, mixed with the intellectual and mystical traditions of Pythagorus and Plato and the people we've talked about who tried to find a more orderly mysticism, combined into a philosophy that will be rediscovered a thousand years later and form the very foundation of Western occult society..." [Professor Courtenay Raia of UCLA lectures on science and religion as historical phenomena that have evolved over time.] See here.
Worlds Collide--The 3rd century BC empire of Ashoka included a vast area of the Greeks' eastern empire established a century earlier. Map Source.

In fact, The Book of Barlaam and Iôasaph, a Christianized version of a very ancient “spiritual romance,” which was composed in India and first written down in an Indian language by Buddhist propagandists in one of the centuries that immediately preceded or followed the beginning of the Common Era, became very popular in Europe and was responsible for turning the Buddha into a Catholic Saint. It is written in Greek and has been commonly thought to be the work of St. John Damascene (c.676-4 December 740), though some scholars think it is a work of the 10th century CE. Like the Fables of Bidpai, with which it appears to be contemporaneous, the Book of Barlaam and Iôasaph has for at least fifteen hundred years been a popular work in the West as well as in the East. This is incontrovertible evidence that early Christians knew about Buddhism, probably through Buddhist missionaries who were learned in Sanskrit and Greek and were intent on spreading their faith by all means at their disposal. See Jesus was Buddha.

Christian Lindtner, Danish scholar and renowned specialist in Sanskrit, Pali and Buddhist documentary studies, in his book The Secret of Christ, claims that Jesus was not historical and, here's the startling part, that all of the New Testament is a plagiarization from Buddhist texts. This is his theory in a nutshell:

"The 27 books of the New Testament, as known, constitute the fundamental holy scripture of Christianity.

Without the four Gospels according to Matthew, to Mark, to Luke and to John, Christianity is virtually null and void.

Recent epoch-making discoveries of old Sanskrit manuscripts in Central Asia and Kashmir provide decisive proof that the four Greek Gospels have been translated directly from the Sanskrit.

A careful comparison, word by word, sentence by sentence shows that the Christian Gospels are pirate-copies of the Buddhist gospels. God's word, therefore, is originally Buddha's word.

Comparison reveals that there is no person, no event, no locality mentioned in the four Christian Gospels not already present in the Buddhist Gospels that, for sure, are far earlier in time than their Christian copies."

To understand this claim, read this address by Lars Adelskogh at the International Seminar "The Sanskrit and Buddhist Sources of the New Testament", Klavreström, Sweden, September 11, 2003 (emphases mine). Or go here to read at the source. Or go here to read Lindtner himself. If his theory is ever accepted, it could mean the end of Christianity as we know it.
Dr. Christian Lindtner.
Jesus in Comparative Light and the book The Secret of Christ by Christian Lindtner.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
When Mr Haegglund asked me, last autumn, to translate Christian Lindtner's book into Swedish, it was a great honor for me, and it is an even greater honor and a joy for me to address you, honored guests, on this occasion, where the same book is presented to the world.

Jesus Christ is the central figure of the Western civilization, just as Muhammad is the central figure of the Arab civilization, and Confucius, of the Chinese civilization. These are trite observations. However, whereas we are quite positive that Muhammad and Confucius were historical figures [are we?], we are not in a position to say with certainty that Jesus Christ, as portrayed in the Gospels, ever existed. [Skeptics don't believe Muhammad was historical, but that's another story.]

Indeed, quite a number of scholars have come to the conclusion that Jesus is a mythical figure, no more real in any historical sense than Hercules or Dionysus, Sherlock Holmes or Donald Duck. This view - fascinating and exciting to some people, shocking and offensive to others - has been gaining ground in the last few decades, with British scholar George A. Wells as its most renowned protagonist. His theses, laid down in his books, The Jesus of the Early Christians (1971), The Historical Evidence for Jesus (1982), and Did Jesus Exist? (1988), have proved very hard to refute, even for accomplished Bible scholars. This revisionist school of Jesus research, if I may so call it, takes its stand on three basic facts:

(1) The complete absence of historical evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament. Contemporary authors, who ought to have heard and then written about him, if he was such a remarkable figure as the Gospels intimate, are silent.

(2) The complete, or almost complete, lack of originality of the teachings of Jesus as given in the Gospels. Essentially everything taught is found in the Old Testament, contemporary rabbinic literature, or so-called paganism, Hellenistic wisdom literature, pagan cults, etc.

(3) The many features that Jesus of the Gospels shares with several so-called pagan savior gods, or godlike men, such as Asclepius, Hercules, Dionysus, Mithras, Krishna, and, of course, Gautama the Buddha.

I shall dwell at some length on this last point.

These common features, or similarities, embrace so many essential aspects of the Jesus figure, his birth, his life, his actions, and his death, and often do so in such a striking manner, that you easily get the impression that Jesus of the Gospels, the new savior god, is little more than a rehash of the older pagan savior gods.

We know that early Christian apologists were quite embarrassed by these similarities. Justin the Martyr, for instance, writing in the middle of the second century, tried to save the new religion from accusations of plagiarism by asserting that the Devil was the one responsible for making pagan replicas of the one true savior. However, since all those pagan saviors lived long before Jesus, the Devil must have anticipated God's plans and made his replicas even before the original was born!

Let us study these pagan saviors somewhat. I presume you all know the Gospels in detail, so as to immediately recognize the various similarities as I account for them. In making this account, I am very much indebted to my friend and compatriot Roger Viklund, who diligently brought very much of the extant material together and summarized it admirably in his short essay, The Jesus Parallels.

Asclepius was, according to Greek mythology, the father of medicine. His mother, Princess Koronis, was a virgin who gave birth to a son by the god Apollo. Pausanias, writing in the first century, says that Koronis gave birth to Asclepius when traveling to Epidaurus. Dazzling light encompassed the child and warned a shepherd, who was the first to arrive on the spot, not to touch him.

The cult of Asclepius existed in Greece as early as in the sixth century BCE. He was regarded as a god that healed and saved people. He wrought numerous healing miracles by touching the sick. Sometimes he did this by reaching out his hand, sometimes by putting his hand on the sick person, or pressing his finger into the diseased body-part. In most cases, it was required that the sick person believed in order to be healed.

According to inscriptions from Epidaurus and other testimonials, Asclepius healed all sorts of sick people, paralytics, the dumb and the blind. He could heal people at distance as well. After being healed, sick people went away carrying their beds.

Moreover, Asclepius raised people from the dead. In the tales told about the six people he called back to life we learn that many witnesses were present, that non-believers assumed that the ones raised to life were only apparently dead, that the ones raised to life were given something to eat.

Asclepius also wrought miracles involving the elements of nature, stilling storms, for instance.

The cult of Hercules was flourishing as early as in the sixth century BCE. From the very beginning, Hercules was looked upon as the son of god and the redeemer of mankind. As time went by, the tales told of his life were expanded and even more idealised by the Stoics, and others. At the beginning of the Christian era, the faith of Hercules was spread in large parts of the Mediterranean area, Greece, Syria, and Rome.

A young virgin, Alcmene, is married to an earthly man, Amphitryon. He does not touch his wife, however, until the great god Zeus has impregnated her, so that she can give birth to a son, half-man, half-god, while still remaining a virgin. This son is Hercules. He is born, not in Amphitryon's town Mycenae, but in Thebae, while his earthly parents are traveling. Nevertheless, he will be called Hercules of Mycenae, just as Jesus was called Jesus of Nazareth, though he was not born there. The two consonants of Thebae, th-b, are the same as the first two consonants in Bethlehem, b-th.

The divine consort of Zeus, Hera, learns about the birth of a son to her philandering husband, is enraged with jealousy, and attempts to kill Hercules. In order to avoid persecution, Alcmene hides her infant son in a remote place, to fetch him later to his home.

Before Hercules begins his public activity, he dwells a long time alone. During this time he is being tried with temptations, which he overcomes, however. The god Hermes takes him up on a high mountain where he shows him the realms of kings and tyrants.

Hercules must fulfill a mission his father has given him, a mission of suffering, and he proves eventually to be an obedient son. The mission is confirmed by way of prophecy, in the case of Hercules a prophecy by the oracle, in the case of Jesus a prophecy from the book of Isaiah (Luke 4:16ff.). Hercules is called the Savior.

Hercules is able to walk on water, but his true feat is to overcome death, a death leading to life eternal. His wife Deianeira causes his death by accident, is overcome by horror and remorse, and hangs herself. The dead body of Hercules is burnt on the mountain Oeta.

When Hercules is dying, both his mother and his most beloved disciple, Hylas, are present. Compare John 19:25f. Before dying, Hercules calls to his heavenly father: "I pray unto thee, take my spirit up to the stars… Behold, my father is calling me and is opening the heavens. I am coming, father." As he gives up his spirit, he says, "It is consummated". His death is accompanied by an earthquake and an eclipse of the sun. After his death, Hercules is resurrected and cries, "Do not sorrow, mother… after this I go up into heaven", which he does later. Even the Gospel story that the most beloved disciple took care of the savior's mother (John 19:26f) is found in the Hercules legend.

Jesus revisionists say that materials borrowed from the Hercules cult are found especially in the Gospel of John. The idea of the Logos ("the Word"), so important in John's christology, is borrowed from the Stoics and existed in the Hercules cult. When John writes (3:17): "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved", this should be seen in the light of what Cornutus wrote in the first century: "For the Logos is not there to harm or to punish, but to save."

Dionysus was the god of wine. He was seen as a bringer of peace but also as a god that suffered, died and was resurrected from the dead. The cult of Dionysus had a significant influence in Greece as early as in the seventh century BCE. In the centuries that followed, the cult spread over great portions of the Mediterranean area. For instance, in Rome in 186 BCE there were seven thousand followers.

Dionysus was one more instance of a savior that had a divine father and a human mother. His father was the great god Zeus, his mother the earthly woman Semele. We are familiar with the picture of the Jesus child lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. As divine children, Zeus as well as Hermes, are portrayed in swaddling clothes. And at the great festivals in the honor of Dionysus, his idol was carried about in a manger. Dionysus was regarded as a physician that healed the sick, and as the son of God in human form, and he possessed the ability to foresee the future.

Dionysus was known as "the Lord, the Child of God, the Son of God in human shape, and the True God ". The followers of the cult of Dionysus knew of purification and the transformation of sorrow into joy. Like Jesus Dionysus was portrayed riding upon an ass and journeying aboard a ship, and he was also connected with dried figs.

The tree of Dionysus is not the fig tree, however, but the vine, since he was the god of wine. He was even called "The Vine". Why does the author of the Gospel of John call Jesus the "true vine" (John 15:1)? Is it not as a piece of intentional polemics against Dionysus and his cult? In The Bacchantes (142), Euripides testifies that when Dionysus appears the landscape abound with wine. According to several sources that all are somewhat older than or contemporary with the Gospels, Dionysus turns water and other things into wine.

In John 6:53 we read: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." This is an obvious borrowing from the myth and cult of Dionysus. According to the myth, as recounted by Diodorus Siculus, the Titans dismembered the little Dionysus child and boiled his body-parts. However, Demeter collected the body-parts and restored Dionysus to life, so that "he experienced a new birth as though it were his first one". (Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 3:62) In the Dionysus cult, the devoted made it a sacramental act to tear apart a piece of meat and eat it raw.

Dionysus was a crucified god, and he was worshipped as such before the Christian era. The wine on the cross is a well-known motive, and Dionysus was the wine. There is a picture of him on a vase (about 400 BCE) where he is hanging on a cross (a tree) above an altar table with vessels of wine. Dionysus was not merely a crucified god, but also a crucifying one. He crucified his competitor Lycurgus from Thrace.

Mitra, Mithra, Mithras.
In ancient India there was a cult of a god Mitra, as we know from the Vedas. In ancient Persia there was a similar cult of a god Mithra, documented in the Avesta. In both these cases the god is a personification of the sun, and in all likelihood it is the same god. This cult can be traced back several thousand years before the Christian era.

In the Roman Empire there arose, in the second century BCE at the latest, a mystery cult of the savior Mithras. Roman sources allege that the Mithras cult came from Persia. Many present-day scholars doubt that despite the god's name and many other similarities, this cult was not in any direct way connected with the Indo-Aryan cult of Mitra/Mithra.

Let's concentrate on the Roman cult of Mithras. Since this was a mystery religion, the teaching was kept secret to the profane, and that is the reason why our knowledge of the cult is so scant. The little we do know about it is based on archeological remains and to some extent on the surviving writings of critics. By all accounts, the Roman cult of Mithras was a very extensive movement and, as such, a rival to the early Christian Church. When Christianity was made a State religion, at the end of the fourth century, the Mithras cult was suppressed, its followers were persecuted, the temples were destroyed, and Christian churches were erected upon the ruins. If the Mithraic Church ever possessed any writings, they have not survived to our time. According to a myth antedating Christianity, Mithras was born on the darkest day of the year, the 25th of December, the same day as the Christian Church, in the fourth century, appointed the birthday of Jesus. Mithras was believed to have been born in or from a rock, and so he was called "the Rock-Born". Consequently, he was worshipped in caves or in temples built to resemble caves. According to early Christian beliefs, Jesus was born in a cave. This belief is attested by Justin the Martyr, Origen, and the apocryphal Gospel according to James. Rock is a very important Christian symbol. Jesus renames his foremost disciple, Simon, calling him Petros, Greek for "rock". In his First Epistle to the Corinthians (10:4), Paul calls Christ "Rock".

When Mithras is born, he, or possibly the rock, radiates a divine light. This light leads shepherds to the place of birth, where they give Mithras fruit and their flocks. Old monuments are preserved that show how the newborn infant is worshipped by shepherds.

Mithras was a god that suffered, a god of truth, and the light of the world. He wrought miracles such as producing water from a rock. Mithras killed a bull, and at a last supper he and Helius ate the bull's meat and drank his blood. Thereupon, Mithras went up into heaven.

Christian critics often say that there is no evidence for assuming that Mithras was a god that died and was resurrected. In almost all mystery religions, however, the initiates underwent a symbolic death and rebirth. That this was the case with the Mithras cult as well can be inferred from the Chronicles of Emperor Commodus (reigned 180-192), where it says that "he [Commodus] sullied the Mithras mysteries with a real manslaughter, when something of that kind is done or pronounced there in order to create terror". That is: he really killed instead of participating in an enactment. Also, Tertullian states that "a picture of a resurrection" was used in the ceremonies surrounding the Roman Mithras. If both a ritual death and a ritual resurrection were enacted in the cult of Mithras, it is hard to draw any other conclusion than that they believed that Mithras died and was resurrected.

We have stayed for a while in the ancient Mediterranean world. Now let's move to ancient India. The two foremost religious cult figures there are Krishna and the Buddha.

Krishna is considered to be the eighth avatara or incarnation of the god Vishnu. Vishnu is the middle person in the Hindu trinity of supreme gods, just as Christ is the middle person in the Christian trinity of gods. The idea of avatara is the incarnation of the supreme godhead in human form for the uplift and saving of mankind. Even Krishna's name is strongly reminiscent of Christos, although meaning "black" in Sanskrit. However, it is an exclusively modern idea that a translation should convey the meaning only, and not the sounds or number of syllables of the original. The ancients thought otherwise.

Krishna's mother Devaki was of royal birth and was later worshipped as a virgin. Krishna's birth is miraculous, and he is praised by a choir of devas, or angels. Krishna is not merely the eighth avatara but also the eighth son of Devaki, eight apparently being an important number. Kamsa is an important personage in the tales about Krishna. He was Krishna's uncle, a king and a very cruel tyrant. The wise man Narada warns Kamsa that the new-born son of Devaki will dethrone him. He therefore decides to kill all her sons as soon as they are born. He succeeds with the first seven ones. When Krishna is born, however, his father manages to smuggle the boy away from his home and hand him over to a cowherd and so make him escape the wrath of Kamsa. When Kamsa discovers that the boy has disappeared, he orders the killing of a multitude of new-born boys in the hope of killing Krishna as well. Patanjali, writing in the last century before the Christian era, considered this legend very old.

Krishna grows up among cowherds. He possesses great powers and works miracles. He destroys demons, and heals cripples, paralytics, and blind people. He raises the daughter of King Angashuna, Kalavati, from the dead. Krishna says to the king: "Why do you cry? Don't you see that she is asleep.. Kalavati, rise and walk", whereupon Kalavati rises and walks. Krishna washes the feet of the Brahmins. Krishna's character is love (prema). Krishna is accidentally shot with an arrow from a hunter's bow. The arrow nails him to a tree, where he dies, that is, he is crucified in the sense of "being nailed at a tree". Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians 3:13 refers to "hanging on a tree", . Overcome with deep remorse, the hunter begs the dying god to forgive him, whereupon Krishna says: "Go, hunter, through my grace, to heaven, the abode of the gods…". Then Krishna descends to hell, liberates the dead, and goes subsequently up into heaven (svarga).

Now we come to the so-called pagan god or godlike man that is the most important to our debate here these days, namely

The Buddha.
Buddhism was known in Rome as early as in the second century before the Christian era. It is, therefore, not far-fetched to assume that elements of the Buddha legend were known in the Western world at that time or somewhat later. Buddhism was a religion of quite another caliber than all the aforementioned "pagan cults". It was a scripture religion with a strong appeal to emotional devotees and rational intellectuals alike, a religion driven by powerful expansionist forces in human shape: zealous missionaries, talented scholars surrounded by devoted pupils, and ingenious translators. Such a movement was bound to reach the West and influence it with its ideas, in some way or another.
I shall now summarize some of the salient points of resemblance between Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha and Christ.
Siddhartha Gautama was born about 560 BCE. Just as Jesus he dwelled as a spiritual being in heaven before his birth. He incarnated voluntarily in order to save the world. His mother was Queen Maya, a name that is reminiscent of Mary (Maryam, Miryam). Maya was later regarded as a virgin. She was believed to have been impregnated by a divine being in the shape of a white elephant that penetrated her through her right side. The birth of Siddhartha is therefore to be regarded as a virgin birth and Queen Maya's consort King Suddhodana as Siddhartha's stepfather only, just as Joseph was Jesus' stepfather. The Father of the Church Jerome (Contra Jovinianum, 1:42) says that the Buddha was born through the side of a virgin. The Buddha was therefore regarded as the Son of God (devaputra). Siddhartha is not born in the royal palace at Kapilavastu but while his mother is on a travel. An angel (deva) announces that the child is holy and a future redeemer. The child radiates a dazzling light and receives homage from heaven. Wise men recognize in him the signs of a god or superman (mahapurisa). He is sought after in wide areas and receives veneration. As a little boy he is revered by an old wise man, Asita, like Jesus was revered by Symeon. In the Gospel according to Luke (2:25-34) we read:

"…there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout… and it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, …, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel… this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel…"

Now compare this with what is said in the Suttanipata (689f) of the encounter of Siddhartha and Asita:
"The long-haired wise man looked upon the child, and with a great joy he took him up… a man who now, filled with pleasure, raised his voice and said: This one is unique, the most prominent human being! In the same moment the hermit remembered that he would soon die - and this made him so sad that he began to cry … This boy will attain the perfect awakening, he who sees what is the most pure will set the wheel of the law in motion out of compassion for the salvation of the many; and his teaching will be spread afar."

Even as a young boy Siddhartha is very wise, he is revered in the temple, and at school he proves to master all spoken and written languages. When traveling in company with adults, they lose him, and when they finally find him again, he is in deep meditation (Lalitavistara 8, 10, 11). Even the baptism of Jesus in Jordan and his temptation in the desert have their direct parallels. Siddhartha bathes in the river Nairanjana, then sits down under a tree and experiences an inner awakening that causes a great joy in heaven. "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went straightway out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:16f)
After a long fast Siddhartha is tempted by Mara, the Evil One, who promises to make him a world emperor, if he renounces becoming a world savior. Just as Jesus, the Buddha resists the temptation, and he is praised as a conqueror by gods and animals, just as angels came and ministered to Jesus.

When Siddhartha begins his mission he is about 30 years old. His first disciples are cowherds, and like Jesus he has twelve chief disciples of whom Ananda is the most beloved one. His two first disciples are brothers, and he finds them sitting under a fig tree. According to John 1:48, Jesus finds his disciple Nathanael under a fig tree.
[Nathanael saith unto him, When knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee,when thou wast under the fig tree. I saw thee.] John 1:48, King James Bible.
Just as John the Baptist sends out two of his disciples to ask whether Jesus is the awaited one, Pokkharasati sends out Ambattha to learn whether samana Gotama really is the Buddha. The Buddha is transfigured in the sight of his disciples, so that his body radiates a dazzling light. And he sends out his disciples into the world to preach his message.

Also the message of the Buddha has some strong resemblances to the message of Jesus, such as "Look upon yourself rather than blame others". The Buddha accepts an invitation to eat in the house of a prostitute, for which he is criticized by the prominent people of the town. The Buddha preaches using parables. He uses a language of rich imagery such as light and darkness, sun and rain, fertility and infertility.

Here are some samples of his ethical teachings taken from Dhammapada, Majjhimanikaya, Udanavarga, and Saddharmapundarika: "Think of others as of yourself. Conquer hatred with love, evil with good. If anyone would strike you with his hand, with a stick or cut you with a knife, you should restrain yourself and say no evil. It is easier to see the faults of another than those of oneself. The big cloud rains upon all, on high and low. The sun and the moon light up the whole world, both him that does good and him that does evil, both the high and the low." The Buddha possesses great powers and works miracles. He knows the thoughts and deeds of others in beforehand. He heals the sick, makes the blind see again, makes the deaf hear, the lame and the paralytic well again, and restores reason to the deranged, and casts out demons. Together with his disciple Mogallana the Buddha feeds five hundred monks with bread baked from dough for one bread only. The Buddha walks on water, appears and disappears at will, walks through walls, and stills storms.

In Nidanakatha, a noble virgin says, when seeing The Buddha: "Verily, that mother is blessed who has given birth to a man like this one" Luke (11:27) tells about a woman who praises the mother of Jesus, saying: "Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast suckled." Neither the Buddha nor Jesus acknowledges the praise, however.

In his teaching, the Buddha opposes traditional rigid laws, rebukes intolerance, dogmatism, ritualism, and priestly hypocrisy. He censors the unquestioning adherence to the Vedas and excoriates the bloody sacrifices of the Brahmins. Voluntarily he leads a life of utmost simplicity as a beggar - a life of renunciation - and mixes mostly with the lowly in society. The people call him prophet, master, lord. There is also a traitor, Devadatta, who tries to kill him but fails and meets a deplorable end. The Buddha turns a robber from his evil ways and makes him his devotee. The Buddha eats a last meal, dies, and attains nirvana. His death is presaged by a great earthquake and a thunderstorm. After his death, the Buddha appears to his disciples.

There is also an episode strongly and strangely reminiscent of Peter's threefold denial of his Master. Three months before the Buddha will enter into nirvana, he tells his most beloved disciple, Ananda, when they are alone, that whoever has developed and practiced the four great powers (iddhi) could remain in the same birth, should he so desire it, for that portion of the eon which has yet to run, and, since he, the Buddha, has developed these same powers, he could stay on in his present existence to continue his work of salvation. The Buddha repeats two more times this implicit appeal to Ananda to beseech him to stay on, but the venerable Ananda does not grasp the underlying intention. "So far was his heart possessed by Mara, the Evil One", says the Mahaparinibbanasutta (III.5). At last, Ananda grasps what he should have said, but then it is too late.

Now to the Book by Christian Lindtner.
This book is probably the most consistent - some people would say extreme - Jesus revisionist book ever written. Its title, The Secret of Christ - The New Testament is the Buddha's Testament, is provocative, and intentionally so, I presume. Dr Lindtner is not content merely to assert that the "Gospels give no reason for talking about any 'historical Jesus'. The same is true of the other persons and places mentioned in the Gospels. They are all fictitious." Neither is he comfortable with some moderately revisionist standpoint, such as "the Gospels evince some Buddhist influence". No, his approach is much more radical. He says: "Christianity is, in all essentials, an imitation of Buddhism. It is the matter of a very skilful imitation but also a very remarkable, free, and distorted imitation. A pirated edition or a piece of plagiarism, so to speak, for the New Testament, on which Christianity is based, was created by Buddhist missionaries."

What of the objection, say, that this cannot be the case, since there is in the New Testament no trace of any central Buddhist tenet such as The Four Aryan Truths, The Aryan Eightfold Path, The Twelve Nidanas, or the Greater and Lesser Precepts? Superficially, this objection makes sense, and if we were superficialists, we would use such reasoning to defeat Dr Lindtner's disturbing and outrageous thesis. Dr Lindtner was proved wrong, the debate is concluded, and our calm is restored, thank goodness!

However, Dr Lindtner never said that the New Testament was an imitation of Theravada Buddhism, the older, intellectual Buddhism, which indeed stresses the correct understanding of the content of the doctrine as a necessary condition of individual salvation. Says Dr Lindtner: "The New Testament is propaganda written, not for the old, but for the new Buddhism, also known as Mahayana, the new and populistic vessel. The New Testament is a popular Mahayana that primarily addressed itself to the Jews."

"Popular" and "populism" are the key-words here. Any student of the history of religion knows that no faith can become a mass movement if it confines itself to teaching an intellectual message the understanding of which requires the exertion of your reason. No, a mass religion must have a strong emotional appeal, must promise a quick salvation by means that do not require intellectual exertion, the belief in a savior, for instance. Says Dr Lindtner:

"A sharp distinction is made between understanding the Tathagata and believing in the Tathagata.

We live in the end-time. If people can be made to believe in the Tathagata, they will be saved from all misery and be healed from all disease.

Tathagata is like a loving father, his disciples are his children.

Now, in order to save all his little boys, Tathagata makes use of all manner of tactical stratagems and tricks. Mahayana wants to trick people into believing something they do not grasp by their intellect and their reason. The Tathagata lies and tells stories, he works miracles and appears in all sorts of disguise. He plays on words, he threatens the proud with hell and entices the humble with promises of heaven. He uses parables and metaphors, tells riddles and utters magical words that will have a protective effect."

This is a fair description of how the Tathagata, the Buddha, actually appears in a Mahayana sutra of central significance, namely the Lotus Sutra, the Saddharmapundarika.

Dr Lindtner says that "The Gospels, headed by Matthew, must have issued from that person or those persons who are described in the tenth chapter of the Lotus sutra, or Law-Flower Sutra, as it is variously called. That chapter is entitled 'The Dharma Preacher'." According to his thesis, this is the very key to our understanding how the New Testament is propaganda for populistic Mahyana. Listen, for instance, to these excerpts from a widely spread and much revered Chinese translation of the Saddharmapundarika, tenth chapter:

"King of Healing! If there be any people who ask you what sort of living beings will become Buddhas in future worlds, you should tell them that these are the people who will certainly become Buddhas in those worlds. Wherefore? If my good sons and good daughters receive and keep, read and recite, or expound, and copy even a single word in the Law-Flower Sutra, … , these people should be looked up to by all the worlds; and just as you pay homage to Tathagatas, so should you pay homage to them… How much more those who are perfectly able to receive, keep, and in every way pay homage to it! … If these good sons and daughters, after my extinction, should be able, even by stealth, to preach to one person but one word of the Law-Flower Sutra, know, these people are Tathagata-mesengers sent by the Tathagatas, to perform Tathagata-deeds. How much more so those who in great assemblies widely preach it to others!"

The key words in these excerpts are, I think, even a single word in the Law-Flower Sutra and even by stealth. This is the reason why we do not find any trace of the Four Aryan Truths, or The Twelve Nidanas in the New Testament. The Buddha is present nevertheless, by single words, and by stealth. And it is not a matter of some isolated word here and there, but, as Dr Lindtner says a propos the Gospel of Matthew:
"In principle, it is possible to trace almost every word and sentence back to Sanskrit. Rather early it became clear to me that almost every word and sentence in Matthew was supported by the original Sanskrit texts. Matthew rendered now the sense, now the external shape of the words, now the number of syllables of the words or sentences. If the two texts, the Sanskrit and the Greek, were read aloud at the same time at the same pace, it often appeared that the rhythms coincided. Some times either the one or the other, seldom all parts at the same time. He cut the originals in small pieces, glued them together again, often the one part on the other, combined boundlessly; he reversed the original order of sequence. Viewed as a whole, his gospel is a mosaic. Therefore, it must be our task to "restore" his text, so that the original reappears in the light of day. To understand Matthew means, first and foremost, to understand how he worked using a pair of scissors, glue, and an abacus."

This is a daring thesis, to say the least. It is daring also because its author knows that it cannot count on being able to claim, in the beginning at least, a wide hearing. Because the thesis requires rather unique skills in the people to be won for it beyond a shallow fascination. To understand and follow Dr Lindtners reasoning on a deeper level than that of his popular book, you have to be familiar not only with the Greek New Testament but also with the Sanskrit Mahayana sutras. New Testament scholars and Grecians seldom know any Sanskrit, and Sanskritists and Buddhologists are seldom proficient in the Greek New Testament. Therefore, a serious obstacle, if not the serious obstacle, to a wider recognition of Dr Lindtner's thesis lies in the compartmentalization of scholarship. However, this is an obstacle that will probably be overcome with time, as more and more scholars with interdisciplinary skills set about exploring this new and fascinating area of research - The New Testament as Mahayana Buddhism in disguise - and so doing beat up the lonely path trodden by one man into a wide highway for comfortable traffic. Dr Lindtner has promised to publish a comparative reader for self-study and university use that will contain 108 examples of direct translation from Sanskrit into Greek. Work of that kind is, I think, the one and only way to victory. If his thesis is true, as I am very much inclined to believe, then it will prove itself, not by some few examples of fascinating but - the critics will say - inconclusive analogies and similarities, but by examples of Sanskrit-Greek translations that are so striking and so many as to defy the laws of chance.
Thank you very much.
Lars Adelskogh

Scholars of an earlier time had also compiled a list of perceived similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. But they weren't quite willing to go all the way, either because of personal subjectivity, or because they hadn't enough evidence. The following is derived from The Life of Buddha as Legend and History by Edward J. Thomas, first published in 1927.
Van den Bergh finds fifteen instances of parallels to incidents in the Gospels that are important enough for discussion.
1. Simeon in the Temple (Luke 2, 25 ff.). This is generally admitted to be the most important of the parallels. The resemblances as well as the differences may be compared in the story as given above, but a final decision will rest on the actual historical relations between Buddhist and Christian communities in the first century CE. One comparison made by van den Bergh was that Simeon "came by the Spirit into the Temple." This should actually be "through the air." This was in fact the way in which Asita came to visit the infant Gotama.
2. The visit to Jerusalem (Luke, 2, 41 ff.). Seydel compares this with the Lalita-vistara version of the story of Buddha meditating under a rose-apple tree and being missed by the father. Van den Bergh admits that there was no feast, and that the gods who came to visit Buddha can scarcely be compared with the Jewish doctors, but considers it important enough to presuppose the possibility of Indian influence.
3. The Baptism. When the infant Buddha was being taken to the temple, he pointed out that it was unnecessary, as he was superior to the gods, yet he went conforming to the custom of the world. The Gospel parallel to this is Matthew 3, 13. "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness."
4. The Temptation. Comparison here is complicated, as Buddha was tempted by Mara on several occasions throughout his life. Van den Bergh finds the correspondence less in the promises of Satan than in the framework. The Buddhist framework is said to be: a preceding glorification, temptation in the wilderness, fasting, Mara departs defeated, waits for a more favorable time, the victor is praised by the gods.
5. Praise by Kisa Gotami. Kisa Gotami was the wife of a wealthy man of Savatthi. After losing her only child, Kisa Gotami became desperate and asked for help from everyone. Someone told her to meet Buddha, who told her that before he could bring the child back to life, she should find white mustard seeds from a family where no one had died. She desperately searched everywhere but could not find a house that had not suffered a death. Finally the realization struck her that there is no house free from mortality. She returned to the Buddha, who comforted her and preached to her the truth. She was awakened and entered the first stage of arhatship. Eventually, she became an arhat.

This incident has naturally been compared with Luke 11, 27: "And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said to him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee and the paps which thou has sucked."
6. The widow's mite. (Mark 12, 41-44, Luke 21, 1-4). The parallel here is with a story in a work of Asvaghosha certainly later than the Gospels. A poor maiden, who had heard the monks preaching, "recollected that some time before she had found in a dungheap two copper mites, so taking these forthwith she offered them as a gift to the priesthood in charity. At this time the president (sthavira), who... could read the heart of men, disregarding the rich gifts of others and beholding the deep principle of faith dwelling in the heart of this poor woman... burst forth with an utterance in verse." Soon after the king passes by and sees her, and finally makes her his chief queen. Neither religion needed to borrow this truth, but it is the fact that two coins are mentioned which gives force to the idea of borrowing. Chronology is against the probability that it was on the part of the Evangelists.
7. Peter walking on the sea (Matthew 14, 28). The introduction to Jataka No. 190 tells how a lay disciple was once going to the Jetavana to see Buddha:
He arrived at the bank of the river Aciravati in the evening. As the ferryman had drawn the boat up on the beach, and had gone to listen to the Doctrine, the disciple saw no boat at the ferry, so finding joy in making Buddha the object of his meditation he walked across the river. His feet did not sink in the water. He went as though on the surface of the earth, but when he reached the middle he saw waves. Then his joy in meditating on the Buddha grew small, and his feet began to sink. But making firm his joy in meditating on the Buddha, he went on the surface of the water, entered the Jetavana, saluted the Teacher, and sat on one side.

The story cannot be proved to be pre-Christian, but the idea certainly is, as the power of going over water as if on dry land is one of magic powers attained by concentration. The story is not one of the Jataka tales, but belongs to the introductory part explaining how the following tale came to be told. There is no likelihood of its being old, as these introductions appear to be often the invention of the commentator. Van den Bergh only ventures to say that it appears to him not impossible that the incident of St. Peter is borrowed from an Indian circle of thought.
8. The Samaritan Woman. "How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." John 4, 9. In the Divyavadana, p. 611 ff., occurs a sutta which appears to come from the Canon of the Sarvastivadins:
Thus have I heard: at that time the Lord dwelt at Sravasti in the Jetavana, in the park of Anathapindada. Now the elder Ananda dressed early, and taking his bowl and robe entered the great city of Sravasti for alms. After his round, and having finished his meal he approached a certain well. At that time a Matanga (outcast) girl named Prakrti was at the well drawing water. So the elder Ananda said to the Matanga girl, "give me water, sister, I wish to drink." At this point she replied, "I am a Matanga girl, reverend Ananda." "I do not ask you, sister, about your family or caste, but if you have any water left over, give it me, I wish to drink." Then she gave Ananda the water. Ananda having drunk it went away, and she finding in Ananda's body, mouth, and voice a good and excellent sign fell into meditation, and awaking passion thought, may the noble Ananda be my husband. My mother is a great magician, she will be able to bring him.
9. The end of the world. The comparison is here not with the Gospels but with 2 Peter 3, 10-12: "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness."
The parallel is again with the Introduction to the Jataka, in which the mode of announcement of a new cycle is explained:
The gods named Lokabyuha of the Kama-region, bareheaded, with dishevelled hair and sweeping faces, wiping away the tears with their hands, wearing red robes, and having their dress in disorder come to the region of men and thus announce: sirs, (marisa), at the end of 100,000 years a new cycle will arise, this world will be destroyed, and the great ocean will dry up, this great earth and Sineru the king of mountains will burn and be destroyed. Sirs, practice friendliness, practice compassion, sympathy, and equanimity. Support your mother, support your father, honor the eldest in the family.
The points of comparison are (1) that in the Epistle 3, 8 the people are addressed as "beloved," and in the Pali as marisa. Rhys Davids quite fairly translated the word as 'friends,' but it is merely a respectful form of address, and nothing of the force of the 'beloved.' (2) In both a new order of things is to be introduced by a world conflagration. In the Epistle the new dispensation is the day of God and the final triumph of righteousness, but the new cycle of the Buddhist is a mere repitition of the unending cycles of the same worldly existence. (3) In both the need of a virtuous life is taught.
It can be said with certainty in this case that the Pali passage is later than the Epistle. It is based on a canonical passage in Anguttara iv 100, and any comparison should really be made with this.
These are all the parallels that van den Bergh considers of any value, but he adds six more, which Seydel and others find important.

10. The Annunciation. This needs no further discussion. The Biblical aspect has been well treated by G. Faber. The Annunciation is, in Christianity, the revelation to Mary, the mother of Jesus, by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God. Maya, Buddha's mother, dreamed that she saw a white elephant that told her she would conceive a son who would become a Buddha.
11. Choosing the disciples (John 1, 35 ff). In the oldest accounts no mention is made of how Buddha came to have five disciples. It is probably this fact which led to the invention of various stories to explain where they came from. Buddha does not really choose them in any case. In the later Pali they were persuaded to follow Buddha at his renunciation by a brahmin who had foretold his future Buddhahood. In the Sanskrit they were five selected from among the attendants sent him by his father and uncle, or they were disciples of Rudraka, who joined Buddha because they thought he was going to become a teacher in the world. In every case they joined him before he became a teacher. Van den Bergh ingnores all this, and makes the choosing consist in Buddha's going to Benares to teach the doctrine first to his old disciples. It is at this point that Seydel finds a really striking parallel.
12. Nathanael (John 1, 48). "When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." However, it was Buddha, not a disciple, who was under the fig tree, or very near one, when "with divine vision, purified and superhuman," he saw the five monks dwelling at Benares.
13. The Prodigal Son (Luke, 14, 11-32). The Lotus chapter 4 has a parable of a prodigal son, which has an interest of its own, in showing the relation of Mahayana Buddhism to other schools. The 'Vehicle of the Disciples,' as Hinayana is called, is not reprobated, but is treated as a lower stage. Disciples who think they have attained enlightenment are like a man who left his father and went into foreign lands for many years. He returned in poverty, but did not know his father, who had grown rich. His father in disguise gave him employment, and after twenty years fell sick and entrusted his son with his wealth. But the son did not want it, as he was content with his pay. The son when his father died was acknowledged by him, and received all his father's wealth. Even so are the disciples (the followers of Hinayana), who for long are content with receiving Nirvana as pay, but who finally receive omniscience, the whole wealth of their father Buddha.
As this parable belongs to a work that in its earliest form is not earlier than the second century CE, there is no question of borrowing by the Evangelist, but as van den Bergh holds, there is the possibility of both parables based on an earlier story.
14. The man that was born blind. "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" John 9, 2. This according to Seydel is one of the most striking proofs of Buddhist influence, and he refers again to Lotus, chapter 5. A man who was born blind did not believe that there were handsome or ugly shapes. There was a physician who knew all diseases, and who saw that the blind man's blindness had originated in his sinful actions in former times. Through him the man recovered his sight and saw his former foolishness.
We have here the general Indian doctrines of karma and preexistence, but the teaching of the Gospel is anti-Buddhist, for the reply to the question is, "neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents." What may be claimed as Buddhist is at most the possibility of such a belief among the persons who asked the question. But the belief in preexistence was neither particularly Buddhist nor Indian. It was also Pythagorean, and was well known to the Greeks. How the Jews actually acquired it may be questioned, but it was scarcely from an Indian work of the second century.

15. The Transfiguration. "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." Matthew 17, 2. A transfiguration is said to take place twice in the life of Buddha. Just before his death his body became so bright that the new golden robes that he was wearing seemed to have lost their luster. It was then that he declared that this takes place on two occasions, at his enlightenment and when he attains final Nirvana. This is the whole of the evidence, as Bigandet's Life of Gaudama quoted by van den Bergh is a mere Burmese reproduction of this passage.
Even this simple incident has given rise to complications. As it stands it is merely one item common to two entirely different lives. Van den Bergh therefore tries to prove that there were originally two cases of transfigurations in the Gospel story, one at the Baptism and one at the Ascension. St. Matthew, he thinks, has omitted the former, and has misplaced the actual Transfiguration story, which ought to come after the Resurrection.
16. The miracle of the loaves and fishes. Another late Buddhist story that has been brought into comparison, (Introduction to Jataka No. 78), is about a gildmaster and his wife, who provided a meal for Buddha and his five hundred disciples with some cakes which they had made.
The wife placed a cake in the bowl of the Tathagatha. The Teacher took as much as was sufficient, and likewise the five hundred monks. The gildmaster went round giving milk, melted butter, honey, and sugar, and the Teacher with the five hundred monks finished his meal. The great gildmaster and his wife also ate as much as they wished, but there was no end of the cakes, and even when the whole monastery of monks and eaters of broken meat had received, there was no sign of finishing. They informed the Lord, "Lord, the cake is not coming to an end." "Then throw it down by the gate of the Jetavana." So they threw it down a place where there is a slope near the gate. And today that place at the end of the slope is known as Ka-palla-puva, (pancake).
The validity of these parallels in furnishing evidence for the incorporation of Buddhist legends in the Gospels has sometimes been judged merely by the amount of resemblance to be found between them, and the different conclusions drawn show how very subjective are the results. But there are two considerations that might lead to firmer ground:
Firstly, whether there is enough reason to think that Buddhist legends can have reached Palestine in the first century CE. Van den Bergh devotes a careful chapter to this inquiry, but some of the facts adduced are not to the point... . We know that Greece had been in contact with Persia for centuries, just as Persia had had political and trade relations with India even before the age of Alexander. Thus the possibility of transmission of legends cannot be denied, but the particular way in which it may have taken place has never been shown. Seydel assumed that an actual Buddhist document was known to the Evangelists, but the legends on which he relied come from no one Buddhist work, and his parallels have to be gleaned from the Pali scriptures, Sanskrit works, and legends scattered about the Pali commentaries and Chinese translations.
The second point raises the question of Biblical criticism. The Gospel stories all belong to the first century CE. They were all written down at a time when a living tradition and memory of the events may have existed. For one school this tradition did exist. The story of the Samaritan woman or the choosing of the disciples was told because there really was a Samaritan woman and disciples who had been fishermen. In this case we are dealing with historical events, so that any resemblances to the legend of Buddha are merely accidental curiosities. [Are we? Jesus and his disciples were as unlikely to be historical figures as was Buddha.] For others the Gospels even in their earliest form are not a collection of actual memories, but only the attempts of the early Christians to imagine a historic setting for thier peculiar beliefs. Even in this case the questions whether Indian legends contributed to the resulting structure is a question of literary history that has never been convincingly decided, and in many cases never seriously considered.
If scholars could come to an agreement on what instances are 'cogent parallels' or cases of actual borrowing, we should then have the data of a problem for the historians to decide. But so far this hope is illusory. Seydel's fifty instances are reduced by van den Bergh to nine. In proportion to the investigator's direct knowledge of the Buddhist sources the number seems to decrease. E. W. Hopkins discusses five 'cogent parallels,' but does not consider any them very probable. Garbe assumes direct borrowing in four cases, Simeon, the Temptation, Peter walking on the sea, and the Miracle of the loaves and fishes. Charpentier considers Simeon the only unobjectionable example. Other scholars reject all connection. In any case the chief events of the life--birth, renunciation, enlightenment, and death, the very items which might give strength to the comparison--disappear from the question.
Van den Bergh van Eysinga also discusses instances of parallels in the Apocryphal Gospels. Some of these works show a knowledge of names connected with Northwest India, and the relationship depends here upon the contact between Indian culture and early Christian missions in the East. This is a quite different question from that of the presence of Indian legends in Palestine, and lends no additional support to a theory concerning the canonical Gospels that breaks down in every one of its supposed proofs.
The following is from Acharya S. "The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ."
See here for the original containing the relevant citations:

Although most people think of Buddha as one person who lived around 500 BCE, like Jesus the character commonly portrayed as Buddha can also be demonstrated to be a compilation of godmen, legends and sayings of various holy men both preceding and succeeding the period attributed to the Buddha. The Buddha character has the following in common with the Christ figure:

• Like Jesus, Buddha was a divine being, pre-existent in "heaven" before taking birth.
• Buddha was born of the virgin Maya, who was considered the "Queen of Heaven."
• He was of royal descent and was a prince.
• At his birth appeared a "marvelous and powerful light."
• After Buddha was born, a "slaughter of the infants was ordered by the tyrant Bimbasara... ."
• When Buddha was a babe, a saint prophesied he would be great, as did Simeon concerning Christ (Luke 2:25-35).
• As a child he taught his teachers.
• Buddha was presented in the temple, where "the idols fell down before him."
• He began his quest for enlightenment at age 29.
• He crushed a serpent's head.
• Buddha was tempted by Mara, the evil one, who offered him "universal dominion."
• Sakyamuni Buddha had 12 disciples and traveled about preaching.
• He reformed and prohibited idolatry, was a "sower of the word," and preached "the establishment of a kingdom of righteousness."
• He performed miracles and wonders, healed the sick, fed 500 men from a "small basket of cakes," and helps a disciple walk on water.
• He preached a "sermon on the mount" and taught chastity, temperance, tolerance, compassion, love, and the equality of all.
• He was transfigured on a mount.
• Buddha was received in his native city with a triumphal welcome.
• He was betrayed by a disciple, who led others to kill him.
• Some of his persecutors became his disciples.
• A tremendous earthquake occurred upon Buddha's death.
• Buddha was crucified, suffered for three days in hell, and was resurrected.
• He ascended to Nirvana or "heaven."
• Buddha was considered the "Good Shepherd," the "Carpenter," the "Infinite and Everlasting" and the "Great Physician."
• He was the "Savior of the World" and the "Light of the World."

Buddha's Birth According to ancient Buddhist legend, the sage's mother was a "chaste wife, into whom miraculously entered in the shape of a white elephant the future Buddha, who subsequently came out of her right side." Sanskrit scholar Dr. Edward W. Hopkins states that this miraculous birth story undoubtedly dates to "as early as the third century BCE and perhaps earlier." Indeed, the miraculous birth of Buddha, as well as his temptation, are carved on monuments that date to 150 BCE or older.
In the fourth century of the common era, Church father St. Jerome (Adversus Jovinianum 1.42) discussed Buddha specifically as having been born through the side of a virgin:
Among the Gymnosophists of India, the belief has been handed down from generation to generation as authentic that a virgin gave birth to Buddha, the founder of their religion, out of her side.
Jerome's words—"handed down from generation to generation" and "opinionis auctoritas traditur"—indicate not that the motif had been recently copied from Christianity by Indian monks or priests but that it was a tradition of some age.
Buddha's Crucifixion
In the above list, we find the curious motif of Buddha having been "crucified." In this regard, concerning the Buddhist influence on the gospel story, scholar of Buddhism and Sanskrit Dr. Christian Lindtner writes:
The Sanskrit manuscripts prove without a shadow of doubt:
Everything that Jesus says or does was already said or done by the Buddha.
Jesus, therefore, is a mere literary fiction.

• The Last Supper was the Last Supper of the Buddha.

• Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was baptism in the name of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Samgha.

• All the miracles performed by Jesus had already been performed by the Buddha.

• The twelve disciples of Jesus were, in fact, the twelve disciples of the Buddha.

• It was king Gautama—not Jesus—who was crucified.

• It was Tathâgata—not Jesus—who was resurrected....

• There is nothing in the Gospels, no person, no event, that cannot be traced back to cognate persons, events or circumstances in the Buddhist gospels.

• Jesus is a Buddha disguised as a new Jewish legislator, teacher, Messiah and king of Israel.

The Gospels, forming the foundation of Christianity, are, therefore, typical Buddhist literature, fiction, designed for missionaries whose language was Greek.
Concerning this purported "crucifixion" of Buddha, related in, among others, a Buddhist text dating to the first century BCE—the Samghabhedavastu / Mahâparinirvâna sutra—Ken Humphreys states:
In this story of "Gautama, a holy man" our hero is wrongfully condemned to die on the cross for murdering the courtesan Bhadra. Gautama is impaled on a cross, and his mentor Krishna Dvapayana visits him and enters into a long dialogue, at the end of which Gautama dies at the place of skulls after engendering two offspring—the progenitors of the Ikshavaku Dynasty.
As is evident from the remarks of Dr. Burkhard Scherer, a "classical Philologist, Indologist and Lecturer in Religious Studies (Buddhist and Hindu Studies)" at Canterbury Christ Church University, the fact that there is "massive" Buddhist influence in the gospels has been well known among the elite scholars for a long time. Says Dr. Scherer: is very important to draw attention on the fact that there is (massive) Buddhist influence in the Gospels....
Since more than hundred years Buddhist influence in the Gospels has been known and acknowledged by scholars from both sides. Just recently, Duncan McDerret published his excellent The Bible and the Buddhist (Sardini, Bornato [Italy] 2001). With McDerret, I am convinced that there are many Buddhist narratives in the Gospels.
For more about the link between Buddhism and Christianity, see here.
For more about the link between Buddhism and Gnosticism, see here.
For more about the link between Buddhism and Christianity, see here.

1 comment:

  1. Well It was nice to read such a thorough study on Buddhism. With due respect it is submitted that the world historians or indologists have failed to notice the Legendry Lord Vardhaman Mahavira 590 BCE and his disciple Goshala. It was the Nirgrantha philosophy of Vardhaman Mahavira that Lord Buddha followed in his early life. and Vardhaman pronunciation resembles Barlaam. Though there is no research has been there on the Niyatiwadi Goshala but he has an important role in the history of that time. Further the Gymnosophistism was and is practised by the followers of Vardhaman Mahavir and Goshala only and not the followers of Buddhism as mentioned above.