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Linkages between two God-men saviors:

Christ and Krishna

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Views about the linkage between Krishna and Christ:

bulletMany early Christian theologians noted the extreme similarity between Christianity and other religions such as Hinduism. a henotheistic religion, Mithraism an ancient Pagan religion, etc.:
 
bulletEusebius of Caesarea (circa 283-371 CE) wrote: "The religion of Jesus Christ is neither new nor strange." 1
 
bulletSt. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) wrote: "This, in our day, is the Christian religion, not as having been unknown in former times, but as having recently received that name." 2

Some early Christian leaders attributed the similarities between Christianity and earlier religions to a trick of Satan. They felt that Satan had created many crucified saviors, born of virgins, before Jesus in order to discredit Christianity's uniqueness. Others attribute the similarities to coincidence.
 

bulletConservative Christians generally believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, and that the authors of the Bible were inspired by God. Thus, the Gospel of John is absolutely accurate when it presents Jesus Christ as a supernatural being, the Son of God, who was present at the creation of the universe, is the savior of humanity, and who came to earth so that believers "might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10 KJV). Any similarity to legends about Krishna are either forgeries, or coincidences. There was no possibility of the incorporation into the Christian Gospels of legends about the life of Krishna. The points of similarities must have resulted from other influences. There is no Krishna-Christ linkage; the topic is ridiculous; it is not even worth investigating. It is blasphemy to suggest such a connection.
 
bulletSome skeptics have suggested that Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ by most Christians) and Krishna, the second person of the Hindu trinity, are the same person. It is rather obvious that that they are not. Jesus appears to have been born in Palestine during the last decade BCE, whereas Krishna is dated many millennia earlier, in India.
 
bulletSome liberal religious historians have raised the possibility that stories of Jesus' birth, ministry, execution, and resurrection were copied, at least in part, from Krishna's life.
 
bullet Many progressive Christians feel that a Hindu source for many of the events in Jesus' life is a topic is worth studying. Many non-Christian religious belief systems, including Hinduism, permeated the Mediterranean region in the 1st century CE. There were various male heroes within Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Roman and other pantheons of Gods, whose role was to be saviors to humanity -- much like Jesus. In order to compete with those religions, Christianity would have had to describe Jesus in terms that matched or surpassed the legends and myths of other religions. Otherwise, it would not have survived. The authors of the gospels may well have picked up themes from other sources and added them to their writings in order to make Christianity more credible to a religiously diverse world, most of which worshiped multiple Gods and Goddesses. By isolating and removing such foreign material, we might be able to get a clearer picture of what Jesus taught and how he lived.

If a strong Krishna - Christ link exists, what is left of Christianity?

If one were to delete from the Gospels the events in Jesus' life that seem to originate in Krishna's story, one would basically end up with a story of:

bulletA very human, itinerant, Jewish, rabbi-healer.
bulletA teacher who largely followed the teachings of Hillel -- a liberal Jewish rabbi from the 1st century BCE.
bulletAn observant Jew who had a special relationship with God -- a kinship so close that Jesus referred to God by the familiar term "Abba."

This is very close to the image of Jesus uncovered by many liberal theologians, in their quest for the historical Jesus.

If the events in Jesus' life that appear to come from Krishna were eliminated as invalid, then most of the key Christian beliefs about Jesus would have to be abandoned: his virgin birth, incarnation, sinless life, crucifixion, descent into Hell, resurrection, ascension to heaven. Criteria for salvation, belief in the Trinity, the inerrancy of the Bible, the inspiration of the authors of the Bible by God, etc. would also have to be rejected.

Beliefs about Jesus:

A few skeptics claim that Yeshua of Nazareth was a purely mythical character. A few others believe that he was a real individual who lived in perhaps the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. But there is a near consensus that Yeshua of Nazareth was born in Palestine circa 4 to 7 BCE.

Beliefs about his nature and role differ:

bulletMost Christians believe that he is the Son of God, the second personality in the Trinity. He spent a relatively short period preaching and healing (one year mainly in the Galilee according to the synoptic gospels; three years mainly in Judah according to the Gospel of John). He was executed, resurrected and ascended into heaven. Conservative Christians believe that the normal destination for human beings is eternal punishment in Hell; only a relatively small percentage of people who have repented of their sin and have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior will escape this fate.
 
bulletMuslims believe that Jesus was, after Muhammad, the greatest of prophets. Jesus was neither crucified nor resurrected; he ascended bodily into heaven without having first died. They believe that God would not have allowed his prophet to die an ignoble death by crucifixion. Various traditions within Islam hold different beliefs. Two are: that Jesus substituted Judas Iscariot for himself on the cross, or that God intervened and removed Jesus from Roman captivity before the crucifixion took place. They regard God as being single and indivisible. The Christian Trinity of three persons is rejected as the ultimate blasphemy against God.
 
bulletMany of the followers of Jesus founded the Jerusalem Church circa 30 CE under the leadership of James the Just -- a brother of Jesus. They are often referred to as Jewish Christians. They appear to have believed that he was a Jewish reformer, teacher, prophet, and native healer, but not a deity
.
bulletIn the early Christian movement, Gnostic Christians believed that Jesus was a spirit being, who only appeared to be a person in the flesh.
 
bulletOver centuries, the Jewish Christians were largely exterminated during the attack by the Roman Army on Jerusalem; the rest were scattered. The Gnostics were almost entirely tracked down and eliminated. The legacy of Paul coalesced into the Catholic Church who determined by majority vote at the council of Nicea that Jesus was God.

About Krishna (a.k.a. Chrishna):

Krishna was born, lived and died at least 14 centuries before Yeshua. Estimates of his birth date vary. Some are 1477, 3112, 3600, 5150, and 5771 BCE. 3,4  As a minimum, he is believed to have been on Earth at least 14 centuries before Jesus. Thus, if there has been any migration of beliefs between Hinduism and Christianity, the source is Hinduism.

Hindus believe that whenever profound evil spreads widely throughout the earth, the Supreme Being comes to earth in the form of a human person "in order to uproot vice and to establish virtue so that the earth may get rid of sinners." 5  Lord Krishna was just such an incarnation:

"Krishna is the ninth 12 and the complete incarnate of Vishnu, the Godhead of the Hindu Trinity of deities. Of all the Vishnu avatars he is the most popular, and perhaps of all Hindu gods the one closest to the heart of the masses...Krishna was dark and extremely handsome. The word Krishna literally means 'black', and black also connotes mysteriousness...Whether he was a human being or a God-incarnate, there is no gainsaying the fact that he has been ruling the hearts of millions for over three millennia. In the words of Swami Harshananda, 'If a person can affect such a profound impact on the Hindu race affecting its psyche and ethos and all aspects of its life for centuries, he is no less than God' ." 6

He is believed to have died at the advanced age of 125. "In his final days on earth, he taught spiritual wisdom to Uddhava, his friend and disciple, and ascended to his abode after casting off his body, which was shot at by a hunter named Jara." 7

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Are Jesus and Krishna the same individual?

For reasons noted above in the Overview, that is impossible. But many individuals raise the possibility that the Gospels' description of Jesus' life was derived, at least in part, from Krishna's life story, and from the myths of other god-men. 8,9

Stephen Van Eck writes:

"Then there is the Hindu epic, the Bhagavad-Gita, a story of the second person of the Hindu Trinity, who took human form as Krishna. Some have considered him a model for the Christ, and it's hard to argue against that when he says things like:

bullet'I am the beginning, the middle, and the end' (BG 10:20 vs. Rev. 1:8 ).
 
bulletHis advent was heralded by a pious old man named Asita, who could die happy knowing of his arrival, a story paralleling that of Simeon in Luke 2:25 .
 
bulletKrishna's mission was to give directions to 'the kingdom of God' (BG 2:72), and he warned of 'stumbling blocks' along the way (BG 3:34; 1 Cor. 1:23 ; Rev. 2:14).
 
The essential thrust of Krishna's sayings, uttered to a beloved disciple, sometimes seems to coincide with Jesus or the Bible. Compare:
 
bullet'those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead' (BG 2:11) with the sense of Jesus' advice to 'let the dead bury their own dead' (Matt. 8:22 ).
 
bulletKrishna's saying, 'I envy no man, nor am I partial to anyone; I am equal to all' (BG 9:29) is a lot like the idea that God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11 ).
 
bulletAnd 'one who is equal to friends and enemies... is very dear to me' (BG 12:18) is reminiscent of 'love your enemies' (Matt. 5:44 ).
 
bulletKrishna also said that 'by human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day' (BG 8:17), which is very similar to 2 Peter 3:8." 10

To which might be added:

bulletKrishna's saying, 'I envy no man, nor am I partial to anyone; I am equal to all' (BG 9:29), whic resembles the concept that God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11 ; see also Matt. 6:45 ).

 

Author Kersey Graves wrote a book in 1875 which lists 346 "striking analogies between Christ and Chrishna." 11 A selection of the precise matches between Yeshua's and Krishna's life is listed in a separate essay.

Related essays on this web site:

bulletDo part of the gospels come from Pagan mythology?
bulletSearch for the historical Jesus -- WWJL (What Was Jesus Like?)

References:

  1. Eusebius of Caesarea, "Church History, Book IV.
  2. Exact original citation unknown. Copied from:
    bulletKersey Graves, "The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors," Adventures Unlimited Press, Chapter 32, Page 280. (1875; Reprinted 2001). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
  3. Padmakar Vishnu Vartak, "The Scientific Dating of the Mahabharat War..." posted at: http://www.hindunet.org/
  4. Op Cit., Kersey Graves, Chapter 32, Page 279.
  5. "Childhood -- Miracle in Mathura," The Illustrated Story of Krishna, at:  http://www.angelfire.com/
  6. "Happy Birthday Krishna," at: http://hinduism.about.com/library/
  7. "The Exploits of Krishna," at: http://hinduism.about.com/library/
  8. Jocelyn Rhys, "Shaken Creeds," Part II -- The Virgin Birth Story," (1922) at: http://www.geocities.com/
  9. "Jesus -- a Ray of Vishnu: Are Jesus and Krishna one?" at: http://www.iskcon.net/
  10. Stephen Van Eck, "Hare Jesus: Christianity's Hindu Heritage," at: http://www.infidels.org/
  11. Op Cit, Kersey Graves, Chapter 32, Page 279.
  12. There is disagreement among Hindu sources as to whether Krishna was the eighth or ninth incarnation of Vishnu. Many consider Buddha to have been the next incarnation.

Other essays dealing with the parallels between Jesus and Krishna:

bullet"Examining the Crucifixion of Jesus and parallels to crucified sun-G-ds #3," at: http://paganizingfaithofyeshua.netfirms.com/
bullet"Pagan Christs," at:  http://home.earthlink.net/
bullet"Jesus Christ and Bhagavan Krishna: Original Christianity as taught by Jesus and Original Yoga as taught by Krishna; both are for the upliftment of mankind," at: http://ompage.net/
bulletStephen Eck, "Hare Jesus: Christianity's Hindu Heritage," Skeptical Review, 1994, #3. Online at: http://www.infidels.org/
bullet"Krishna and Jesus: Will The Real Savior Please Stand Up?," at: http://www.atheistalliance.org/
bulletPrithu das Adhikary, "Jesus and Krishna," at: http://www.omjesus.com/
bulletFred Nojd, "Jesus - By No Means Unique," at: http://members.attcanada.ca/

Books related to a mythical Jesus:

bulletEarl Doherty, "The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? : Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus," Canadian Humanist Publications, (1999). Read reviews or order this book.
bulletTimothy Freke & Peter Gandy, "The Jesus Mysteris: Was 'original Jesus' a Pagan God?," Three Rivers Press, (2001). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
bulletKersey Graves, "The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors," Adventures Unlimited Press, Chapter 32, Page 280. (1875; Reprinted 2001). Read reviews or order this book.
bulletTom Harpur, "The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light," Thomas Allen & Son, (2004). This book attempts to link Jesus' name and life events to Osiris. Read reviews or order this book.

Site navigation:

Home page > Christianity > Christian personalities > Jesus > Pagan link > here

or: Home page > Hinduism > here

Copyright © 2001 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-DEC-24
Latest update: 2009-NOV-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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