Is Jesus An Avatar?

Has the true identity of Jesus been revealed? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s not uncommon to hear that someone else thinks they know the true identity of Jesus. Naturally, it’s an identity that has nothing to do with Second Temple Judaism and is instead in line with what they believe. So it is with Jeffrey Charles Archer, who was a Southern Baptist minister who embraced a more Hindu position and has said Jesus is an avatar. His work can be found here.

So let’s go through and see how the case is.

It has been well enough noted and touted that there are many uncanny similarities between the Persons of Krishna and Christ.  A Quaker named Kersey Graves (1813-1883) compiled a list of some 346 elements in common between Krishna’s story and Christ’s story.  Indeed, none can reasonably deny that some of the analogies are quite convincing, not the least of which is the phonetic similarity of the names.  Nonetheless, something never quite seemed quite right with that attempt to tie those two purported God-men.  Though I believed that these connections were not without merit, I somehow had a sense they were NOT the same Dude.  Only fairly recently in my own spiritual pilgrimage did I come across accounts of the God named Ayyappa/Shasta, Son of Krishna/Vishnu (when He was manifest as a She) and Shiva, Son of God the Maintainer and God the Destroyer.  Almost immediately something in my intuition else rational faculties told me that Ayyappa was a very likely candidate for the more ancient and abiding identity of the person/Person called Jesus Christ.  Consider as you continue, especially if reading this from a Christian persective, that Jesus is touted to have said to his/His disciples, “I have sheep in other pastures . . .”

So let’s see. Kersey Graves right at the start, which tells us enough. Kersey Graves is someone no one should take seriously today, but of course in the great big world of the internet, the only resurrections that are believed in are of dead ideas that are brought back to life to a new people who have never heard them and don’t understand why they weren’t seriously acknowledged to begin with. (Strange you never see them sharing theories of phlogiston or aether being in the sky.)

But hey, maybe it’s just because I’m a Christian that I’m saying this. Or maybe, maybe it’s just that it’s true. Let’s suppose I went to the other side. Let’s go to the Secular Web and see what they say.

The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors: Or Christianity Before Christ is unreliable, but no comprehensive critique exists. Most scholars immediately recognize many of his findings as unsupported and dismiss Graves as useless. After all, a scholar who rarely cites a source isn’t useful to have as a reference even if he is right. For examples of specific problems, however, see Hare Jesus: Christianity’s Hindu Heritage,and some generally poor but not always incorrect Christian rebuttals. A very helpful discussion of related methodological problems by renowned scholar Bruce Metzger is also well worth reading (“Methodology in the Study of the Mystery Religions and Early Christianity” 2002). In general, even when the evidence is real, it often only appears many years after Christianity began, and thus might be evidence of diffusion in the other direction. Another typical problem is that Graves draws far too much from what often amounts to rather vague evidence.

Keep in mind that this is Richard Carrier saying this and if Richard Carrier says a fellow skeptic is a crank type, well that’s a serious charge. Still, I actually agree with him this time. Graves is someone to not take seriously.

What about the phonetic similarity between Christ and Krishna. This sounds convincing to a lot of people, such as the ones who make a big deal about the “Son” of God in comparison to the “Sun.” Which, you know, totally works if you assume that the New Testament was written in modern English. Other than that, it’s a useless comparison.

If Archer wants to say there is a case, we would need to compare the words for Christ and Krishna in their original languages and show that there was borrowing, such as Greeks borrowing ideas from the Indians. Archer needs more than just a hunch.

And what about sheep in another pasture? Of course, this is going to be the one statement in the Gospel of John He did say. All those other strong claims He made about Himself absolutely do not even have any remotely historical backing. The comment as it is has an easy enough explanation. It refers to the Gentiles.

During my undergraduate years I was for a time a Southern Baptist preacher.  Though this might not seem a good starting place for a seeker of truth, it was in fact somewhat due to clues proffered by the mostly Southern Baptist professors at Oklahoma Baptist University that I began to question the dogmas of that faith.  Years later after I was introduced to the teachings of  sanAtana dharma I still felt that somehow Jesus was a legitimate expression of God and one who well enough presented and the teachings of eternity (quite literally, “sanAtana dharma”).  Ayyappa was the Person I was eventually drawn to that seemed to present a legitimate connection between my first religious impulses and the abiding truth of sanAtana dharma.

You gotta love how personal testimony never seems to go out of style for these guys. It’s a card they just can’t ever seem to stop playing. Still, there isn’t anything along the lines of evidence to respond to here so we move on.

Ayyappa/Shasta is indeed a unique Son of God, as the Christian title, “the only begotten Son of God,” does tout.  Vishnu (God the Maintainer, known as Krishna in His most popular form), this one time, did come to earth as a Woman in order to deal with a particular menace, a dangerous demon named Bhasmasura.  After Vishnu had defeated Bhasmasura, Shiva asked Him to show Himself again as Mohini, His female form.  Well, as Shiva is the essence of masculine virility, He ends up desiring the lovely and seductive Mohini.  They end up hooking up and Shiva empregnates Mohini/Vishnu with Ayyappa, also known as Shasta.  This certainly seems to fulfill the “only ‘begotten’ Son” scenario proffered by the Christian religion, and in fact does fit rather well with the “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” trinity of Christianity.

Of course, we could go to Judaism and find a parallel for the only begotten Son in Isaac’s relation to Abraham. If you think this is anything like the Trinity in Christianity, you might as well think that Trinity in The Matrix is a good parallel of the Trinity. The relation in a Hindu pantheon is not at all like the case of divine identity in Judaism and Christianity, which would have no concept of hooking up in the Godhead.

I mean, if your Divine Mom is generally a Dude, what might you refer to Her/Him as?  Also of note in this guise, as Vishnu is the Paramatma, the aspect of God that dwells in everyone as Atman, God indwelling, then how would Jesus/Ayyappa refer to this Being if not as a “Holy Spirit?”  The first little clue, by the way, seems very likely to explain the rather confused masoginistic tendencies of Christians, even despite the New Testament statement that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, neither man nor woman, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

On the other hand, if your Father is seen as a male figure, maybe you might refer to Him as, I don’t know, Father. As for the Holy Spirit, perhaps the term comes from, and yeah, this might be a stretch, the Old Testament? As for misogynistic ideas, this must explain why Jesus had female disciples, Phoebe and Prisca and others were leaders in the early church, etc.

Thus, assuming my identification of said Persons as the same Being is legitimate, Jesus’s real Mom (again, Mary was a surrogate mom) is generally a Dad, and is to whom Jesus was refering when He refered to “the Holy Spirit.”
You kind of have to wonder what’s going on to make someone think this and think that this is a serious theory.
Another Christian understanding of Jesus is that He was “the Word,” as their scripture says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Ayyappa is very much associated with AUM, the Primal sound (which is almost certainly the origin of the Judeo-Christian “Amen”) another quite obvious correlation between Ayyappa and Jesus.  Yet another obvious similarity is that one of the most prominent stories about Ayyappa is that as Manikantan He healed a deaf and blind boy, as Jesus would later be said to have done.
It’s a mystery why the reference to Jesus as the Word is mentioned. It bears no relation to nothing else here. As for AUM, to say it’s almost certainly the origin of “Amen” requires a lot more than just a claim. Again, one needs to see the words in their original languages, then compare them, and then have actual evidence of borrowing. Finally, with regard to healing, for any deity, miracles of any sort would be part of the repertoire, so this is hardly a parallel.
“Upon completing his princely training and studies when he offered ‘gurudakshina’ or fee to his guru, the master aware of his divine power asked him for a blessing of sight and speech for his blind and dumb son. Manikantan placed his hand on the boy and the miracle happened.”  (http://srinagaroo.blogspot.com/2013/04/lord-ayyappa.html?m=1)
Raising the dead is another miracle attributed to Ayyappa, as His name Lakshmanapranadata, which means Reviver of Lakshmana’s Life, clearly indicates.  Indeed these many indications incline me to believe that the two mythological figures are the same Person, as they have such attributes in common.
The similarities between Krishna and Christ might well be explained by the aforementioned theory, as well, as “the Son” was endeavoring to fill the roles of Krishna/Mohini (the Divine Mother of Ayyappa/Jesus) in His/Her absence.  Again, Shiva is “the Father” in this scenario.
Or they might be just the products of a very fervent imagination. This is the same kind of stuff that produced Graves’s material. Again, there’s a reason these theories are not taken seriously anymore. There are others who have made these claims in the past and made them better and they still fell drastically short.
One last thought along this line of reason is that during the “missing years of Jesus” was when He went away to the east to learn from His Guru before returning to Palestine to teach.  Many other connecting factors wait to be unravelled with this identification of Jesus as Ayyappa in mind, factors which give clue to the history and dance and pilgrimage of peoples and the play of the gods and of God and Goddess throughout history and eternity.  Buddhists tout Ayyappa/Shasta as an Avatar of Buddha.  And to reify that Jesus Christ was indeed and in truth an Avatar of Ayyappa, the appearance of a star never before seen is associated with Ayyappa !!
If Archer ever cracked open any other ancient biographies, he would find a whole lot of other missing years. Did all of these go to India? The problem with the India hypothesis is that we have no hard evidence. In fact, in Luke when Jesus speaks at the synagogue, he is said to have grown up there. There is no indication that he went to India.
So I conclude this with shock of all shocks, being thoroughly unimpressed. It looks like Archer likely went from believing one thing blindly to believing something else blindly. Consider this another example of how we are failing to equip our pastorate. I look forward to a future with a more informed pastorate that knows how to explain what they believe, why, and be able to answer critics.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
  • MeMyself

    As a basis for a discussion we need to ask ourselves about belief/opinion:
    Mary got pregnant with Jesus. From where did the soul of the child com?
    1. It incarnated. From where? Who?
    2. No incarnation. Hence there was no Jesus/Christ before?
    3. Is Jesus identical to Christ or his messenger?
    What is your answer?

    • The Son came from the Father. The Son had always existed eternally. The third question makes no sense to me.

      • MeMyself

        So that will mean that He INCARNATED in the womb of Mary. Hence this is a Biblical case of incarnation. In Hinduism, many “gods” incarnate in various forms and appearances, So the real question would be: Is it possible that He has – also! – once incarnated in some Hindu personality? Why not? Why black and white: “black” Hinduism and “white” Christianity? Could they not, somehow, overlap in a kind of grey zone? The vastly different terminology does, however, make comparisons difficult …
        It is, however, quite clear that Ayyapan and Jesus could not be the same entity, since Ayyapan had a Muslim friend Vavar. Therefore the story of Ayyapan could have taken place earlier than in the 8th century CE. But maybe some other incarnation?
        Question 3 concerns contemplating if Christ incarnated himself through Mary, or if he sent a messenger to do that in His name..

        • Christ came Himself.

          If someone wants to claim Christ came a second time, I think the Bible excludes another incarnation here, but present your evidence.

          • MeMyself

            Well, if He could do it once, why not twice?
            But may I suggest to read the discussions here for further thoughts and facts:
            http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/topic/305582-hinduism-and-christ/

          • Needs to be a book.

          • MeMyself

            Yeah, books are less easy to sweep under the carpet…
            How about the texts of the Gnostic Christians found 1945 in Nag Hammadi (and in addition Pistis Sophia) which confirm that they knew about reincarnation. The Gnostic Christianity is original and started from the inner circle around Jesus. the version of Paul (that became the “Christianity” of the Church) a brief and modified version. It was mainly as late as in 553 (Council of Constantinople) that reincarnation was denied.

          • To show that Gnostics believed in reincarnation does not show that the original Christians did. Feel free to try to establish that.

          • MeMyself

            The Gnostic Christians WERE the original ones. See:

            http://www.christian-reincarnation.com/HistChrist.htm
            Saul fought against Christians before he became Paul. Which Christians? The Gnostics, since they were no other before Paul established his modified “Christianity”.

          • Yeah. You got any NT scholars that are backing this stuff? The idea of Paul inventing Christianity has been dead since the work of E.P. Sanders.

          • MeMyself

            The Bible confirms that Saul prosecuted Christians before he converted to Paul, and with it that there indeed were Christians even before he converted. Who were they?

          • They were believers in Jesus as the Messiah, unless you think there was some whole group of Christians that suddenly mysteriously vanished and wasn’t mentioned at all in the Pauline epistles and the Gospels or any other work but somehow made their way into the Nag Hammadi library.

          • MeMyself

            Thus there actually were Christians before Paul’s conversion, some of
            which will probably even have known Jesus. Paul regretted that he was born too
            late to be able to meet Jesus. So he was not an apostle. Did they disappear or
            did their group grow to be a Gnostic movement? If Constantine invited Gnostics
            to the Council in Nicaea 325, but did not allow them to speak: why? It seems
            that he had to take them more seriously than he wanted but wanted to have them
            there to create an excuse for declaring them to be heretics. Paul’s version of
            Christianity became the basis for the Church, for political reasons rejecting
            the most original sources near Jesus himself. They then did not vanish
            mysteriously but gradually through the centuries and Paul had intentionally neglected
            them. Gnostic texts were “tunneled” through time to be rediscovered in Nag
            Hammadi. Was that God’s plan for saving the knowledge through centuries of
            abuse by the Church of a modified “Christianity” for power and control?

          • MeMyself: Thus there actually were Christians before Paul’s conversion, some of
            which will probably even have known Jesus.

            Reply: Yes. This isn’t contested. Of course there were Christians. Who were meeting in the Upper Room in Acts? Hindus?

            MeMyself: Paul regretted that he was born too
            late to be able to meet Jesus. So he was not an apostle.

            Reply: Good grief. Peter hadn’t asked for a replacement apostle but a replacement for one of the twelve. An apostle means one who is sent and there were other apostles outside of the Twelve.

            MeMyself: Did they disappear or
            did their group grow to be a Gnostic movement?

            Reply: No. They were the same kinds of Christians as talked about in the New Testament.

            MeMyself: If Constantine invited Gnostics
            to the Council in Nicaea 325, but did not allow them to speak: why? It seems
            that he had to take them more seriously than he wanted but wanted to have them
            there to create an excuse for declaring them to be heretics.

            Reply: Yeah. There’s a whole lot of conspiracy theories about Constantine. This is one of them. The council was about Arianism. It was not about Gnosticism.

            MeMyself: Paul’s version of
            Christianity became the basis for the Church, for political reasons rejecting
            the most original sources near Jesus himself.

            Reply: It would be nice to see some New Testament scholars that say this, or do you just want me to take it on faith?

            MeMyself: hey then did not vanish
            mysteriously but gradually through the centuries and Paul had intentionally neglected
            them. Gnostic texts were “tunneled” through time to be rediscovered in Nag
            Hammadi. Was that God’s plan for saving the knowledge through centuries of
            abuse by the Church of a modified “Christianity” for power and control?

            Reply: Well you certainly have a vivid imagination. Now if you can produce some evidence, that would be nice.

          • MeMyself

            You: Peter hadn’t asked for a replacement apostle but a replacement for one of the twelve.
            Me: OK, but this does show that Christians before him knew more than he since he never met Jesus, but some of them did.

            ABOUT: Gnostic movement?
            You: They were the same kinds of Christians as talked about in the New Testament.
            Me: But they may have had more knowledge from the source.

            ABOUT: Nicaea 325
            You: It was not about Gnosticism.
            Me: True, but why did Constantine invite the Gnostics and not let them speak?

            ABOUT: Paul’s version of Christianity became the basis for the Church
            You: It would be nice to see some New Testament scholars that say this, or do you just want me to take it on faith?
            Me: Many have expressed doubts about Paul’s role but the dogma must be defended…

            ABOUT: Nag Hammadi Library
            You: Well you certainly have a vivid imagination. Now if you can produce some evidence, that would be nice.
            Me: What does your imagination say about why these texts survived destruction?

          • Let’s suppose Christians did know more than Paul and he had never met Jesus. Both of those could be contested, but let’s grant them.

            So what?

            That doesn’t demonstrate the claims.

            For more knowledge, again, the idea that Paul hijacked or invented Christianity as we have it has been dead ever since E.P. Sanders.

            For Constantine, evidence that he invited the Gnostics and didn’t let them speak? I don’t want a web site. I want a real scholar in the field.

            For the Nag Hammadi, why they survived doesn’t matter. What needs to be shown is that they were the original teachings of the apostles. These were in Egypt and Egypt was a very heterodox area. Interestingly, even there, orthodox writings of Christianity outnumbered those ten to one.

          • MeMyself

            Christians before Paul would know more since some of them had met Jesus.leads to a conclusion that Paul could not write about things that Christians before knew and he not. Things that Jesus will have taught in the inner circle, such
            as hinted on in John 16:12.
            Paul did not invent Christianity, but modified it.

            “For Constantine, evidence that he invited the Gnostics and didn’t let them speak? I don’t want a web site. I want a real scholar in the field.”
            Having no access to a University Library and living as retired since several years in a “corner” of Europe, I cannot research as I used to do earlier in major theological libraries and can only refer to “Histoire des Conciles”, Vol. 1, by Hefele and Leclercq, Paris, 1907, pp. 325-632… Maybe the most scholar text available. But do not expect me to spend a week going through these 300 small-print pages now (even though I do have them)…

            Christians of various breads were invited to the council 325 and with them some Gnostics also came and some who shared some Gnostic ideas even though not presenting themselves as Gnostics.
            “The Council of Nicaea: Constantine’s Sword or Shield?” Thesis by Pamela T. Gaskill, p. 54, confirms that Constantine tossed documents given to him in the fire, unread.

            The Nag Hammadi texts contain many gospels that would have been worth including in the NT but were not, younger than many an edited gospel in the Bible. An interesting finding is that the Nag Hammadi library has been dated
            back by means of C14 analysis to have been written around the time of the council in Nicaea:
            http://mountainman.com.au/essenes/C14%20Radiocarbon%20Dating%20the%20Gnostic%20Gospels.htm

            So let us leave this discussion as it is since we cannot agree on more than that Jesus could not be an incarnation of Ayyappan, since the latter was born more than 800 years later… as was the starting point, anyway. If at all,
            et instead some think – if they want – that Ayyappan was a reincarnation of Jesus, which could fit in the Hindu belief systems.

          • MeMyself

            Correction: older (earlier) than many a gospel in the Bible…

          • I looked up Gaskill’s book. I can’t even find it on Amazon and later research like that of Leithart doesn’t hold together with that. The minutes of the Council also do not. As for Paul, again, I don’t know scholars saying that this happened. All Paul needed to do was go and talk to the people and to the apostles and get filled in, something he tells us he did anyway, and Peter’s disciple Clement and John’s of Polycarp had no problem with Plutarch.

            As for these Gospels being older than the Gospels in the BIble, feel free to show it.

          • MeMyself

            Gaskills thesis:
            http://scholarship.rollins.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1035&context=mls
            Did you check the carbon dating of the Gnostic texts? Compare to what scholars say about when the Gospels in the NT are assumed to have been written.
            But I assume that you will not accept anythings that does not fit the official dogma or questions it…

          • You assume wrongly. I regularly read books that disagree with me. Carbon dating on dating the Gospels isn’t really good though. We have no originals of ancient works that I know of and thus all it can tell you is that this work must have been written sometime before the date of the copy that is found. The best clues to be found are the ones that are internal. Richard Bauckham in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses has done a great job with this.

            Now i’m sure you won’t dismiss him since you’ve been going on about not accepting things that don’t fit the dogma.

            Or is that just a one-way street?

          • MeMyself

            The Nag Hammadi Library contains a number of Gospels that also witness having seen Jesus. Buckham’s work is incomplete without them.

          • It’s Bauckham. Anyone can claim to have seen Jesus. Do you have internal and external evidence that dates these Gospels to the second century? Bauckham has it for the canonical ones. Can you provide likewise for the others?

          • MeMyself

            Have no access to Bauckham (only list of contents found in the Internet, live far from academic libraries). But he appears probably biased to the dogma. You seem skeptic to carbon dating, which may also indicate being biased to info you want to believe…
            It seems that the NT wasn’t finally assembled until some 500 (maybe 600) years CE. Gnostic texts fit well into the time frames…
            And when a text is dated, by the way, it may be a copy of a still older text that is lost (or destroyed).
            Hence it can be assumed that valuable texts fell victims to political considerations that want to dictate what we should believe, and what not.

          • No. I’m not a skeptic of carbon dating. I’m saying unless you have the originals, carbon dating can only tell you the date a text had to have been written by. If we carbon dated what we have of Tacitus, we’d assume Tacitus was written around the year 1,000 when he wasn’t.

            For Bauckham, it’s easy to say he’s probably biased to dogma. Bias is an excuse people to make to avoid dealing with the data. Look up the data he presents. If you’re not willing, maybe you’re just biased to info what you want to believe.

            The NT wasn’t assembled until 500 or 600 years later? Then why was Diocletian in the late 3rd and possibly early 4th century wanting the NT destroyed? How was it that Constantine asked that 50 new copies be made? How was it that Athanasius had a list of all the books of the NT that mirrors the Protestant canon today?

            Like I said, give me data for the Nag Hammadi texts like Bauckham has for the Synoptics and John.

          • MeMyself

            I did not write that the NT was not assembled earlier, and it certainly will have been – and that in various redactions – until deciding on one of them. I wrote about when it was FINALIZED to the present redaction. Much will have been going on until then.
            As I wrote, I have no access to Bauckhams book where I now live (retired), and I do not intend to take the effort to buy it from abroad..
            Carbon dating has shown (I gave a reference) that Nag Hammadi texts may well have been written in about the time period in which the Nicaean council took place. And it is quite reasonable to assume that they were not all the first copies that have existed.
            The problem is in my view that these texts, if taken seriously, would shake up the system and view of the dogma and call for a rethinking that is not wanted. Then denying i easier…

          • Except I see no reason to take the texts seriously based on what I said and I presented problems with the idea of the NT being finalized.

            Feel free to respond to what is said.