Humanity's Messiah - The Secret Life of Jesus Christ - The Lost Years (September 2009)
On this book project she has the following on her website:
"In "Humanity's Messiah" the author has exhaustively examined the traditions and history of all the world's major religions and has personally travelled in the supposed footsteps of the Messiah through North Inid and in to Kashmir at great personal peril because the area is plagued by terrorism and kidnappings. In Kashmir Devji was protected as a guest of local scholars and visited holy sistes that have been maintained for thousands of years, including the ancient grave of a holy man from the West who is buried in Kashmir, and upon whose hands and feet were the scars of Crucifixion. It is proof of the shocking legends of the missing years and the surprising unity of these vastly varied traditions that Devji wishes to share with her readers. This makes her newest project so timely and exciting in a world more divided than ever before, and in its greated need for undertanding"
More information on the author is available here
Book Review by Website Editor - Arif Khan
I first heard about this book in January 2009. Dr Fida Hassnain, the leading current scholar and expert on the area of Jesus in India, sent me an email introducing the book and telling me of it’s author, Mantoshe Devji. Dr Hassnain said he wished for the book to be placed at the Tomb of Jesus website. As editor of the website I try to always find out as soon as possible about new books and films touching this area and get them included on the website. To have an email from Dr Hassnain telling me about an upcoming book was a rare treat.
7 Years in the Making
I had to wait until the 9th of September before I received an email from the author, Mantoshe, triumphantly announcing that ‘after 7 long years’ her book was ready and that she would be sending me a copy shortly. In this email she also included some tantalising information;
- The book looked at Jesus’ possible travels to Great Britain as well as India
- It contained a chapter on the Rozabal tomb,
- It included an alleged painting of Jesus’ spouse in Kashmir,
- It also contained genealogical information about Yus Asaph’s descendents namely Dr Imtiaz Shaheen.
I was also told that the edition I would be receiving would be a limited edition in colour and signed by the author. Mantoshe requested that I include her details on the list of current researchers and authors at the Tomb of Jesus website. I explained that I would be happy to do so and upon reading her book I’d include more information about my opinion on the book and her work.
A Unique Book
The text was different to all other books I had on this subject. The book was vibrant with its colour, large photos and short chapters. Every chapter had large blue subtitles that made it very easy to get a feel for the content and to find particular sections when looking for something you read previously. It was very easy to get hooked on this book.
The early chapters talked about the possible ‘pre-existance’ of Jesus. There was a fascinating chapter on Edgar Cayce, known as America’s ‘Sleeping Prophet’, in which Cacye was quoted as having listed a number of Biblical characters who were previous advents of Jesus. This may sound like an eastern style concept, yet it is explained more as these being enlightened beings who were deeply linked to the person of Jesus. Amongs these people listed were the Prophets Enoch and Adam. In conclusion on this section Mantoshe refelected on the idea of their being past advents of Jesus, or Jesus having past lives with the comment:
“The rare human beings discussed above, expressed in each life time unique qualities under unique circumstances; remaining in the grace of their Maker they overcame adversity; they embodied peaceful tranquillity while walking over hot coals and they kept the name of their Creator on their tongues with sweetness. They were the anointed ones of the ‘Christ’ for their time.” Page 33
Love and Respect
Mantoshe goes on to look at the events of the early life of Jesus as described in the Bible. Throughout her discussion on Biblical material there is a genuine love and respect for the material that is rare to find in books on the historical Jesus. Scholars tend to pick holes in so many elements of the story that the reader is often left wondering what worth the narrative serves at all. Mantoshe’s approach is to paint a rich and coherent portrait of Jesus’ life growing up. She brings in many sources, but rather than spend pages explaining each source and going through the debate on authenticity, she presents the words and writings of the texts and leaves the rest to the reader. This makes the story and the book overall far more accessible and enjoyable to read. Sources are always referenced and the reader has all the tools they need to delve further in to the specific texts themselves.
Jesus In India
Following the early life of Jesus we get in to the ‘Jesus in India’ material in chapter ten. With every chapter of the book the chapter’s title page has a beautiful colour photograph along with key quotes, writings and notes about the material to follow. This approach gives a wonderful introduction to the material of each chapter and helps draw the reader in. For chapter ten Mantoshe writes:
“The bulk of the important formative years of the youth of Jesus, prior to his three year ministry in Judea and Galilee, are reported to have been spent in the East. It is said that Jesus left Palestine on a pilgrimate to become perfected in the wisdom of the Hunud os India, the Tibetan Buddhist, and the Zoroastrians of Persia. The scope of His travels is evident by His brief but meaningful interludes in Athens and Egypt as well, where He was exposed to Anscience Wisdom of the Greeks and the Mystery Schools of the Egyptians.
Everywhere He went men recognised His divinity, and some called Him ‘My Little Hebrew Master’. However, wherever He saw social injustice and the worship of forces other than God the Father, He spoke up and rebuked men severely, putting His own life in danger. – Mantoshe Devji” Page 115
The Missing Years
There is still much debate about the ‘Missing Years’ of Jesus Christ. The most famous and talked about document that talks about this period, The Life of St Issa, the best of the sons of man, remains elusive to us today, despite being seen by many scholars and researchers over the past 120 years. If Jesus did travel to the East during this time in his life why did he not talk about these experiences during his ministry? Mantoshe brings in another key source on this period of Jesus’ life, the Aquarian Gospel. This text has been the source of controversy for many decades. There is an upcoming film on the topic of Jesus in India that draws a lot of its material and inspiration from the Aquarian Gospel. Chapter ten is a look at the idea of Jesus travelling to the East as discussed in a variety of sources. The chapter looks at the views of at least 5 different figures, and at least 3 different texts, covering an 18 year period, and yet the chapter is no longer than 16 pages in total. It is this approach and style of writing that makes Mantoshe’s book so accessible and interesting to read. The reader is not bogged down at any stage, the story keeps moving, and yet never does the reader feel there is not enough depth in the writing.
Gospel Accounts of Jesus
Next we return to Palestine and have the canonical accounts of the ministry of Jesus followed by the Crucifixion and a close look at Pontius Pilate. The idea of the Jesus surviving the Crucifixion is given a whole chapter, chapter 13, yet once more this large topic of discussion, which has had contributions from many people over the decades, is dealt with in a succinct manner in less than pages. Again, it is worth saying that despite this brief chapter the range of views and material covered is impressive and the reader is not once left feeling unsatisfied.
There is a look at Jesus and Mary Magdalene before we return to looking at the Jesus in India material. Fascinatily there appears to be tradition that Yus Asaph, the name that proponents of the post-Crucifixion ‘Jesus in India’ theory believe Jesus assumed when in Kashmir, married a local lady called Marjan. Is this yet another Mary in Jesus’ life or could there be some possible link with Mary Magdalene?
Chapter 15, entitled Flight to India, marks the beginning of a very different section of the book. Up until this point we’ve been reading the author’s analysis and research of the various events of the life of Jesus Christ and those who have written about him. From Chapter 15 onwards the book becomes a travel journal and the reader becomes part of an expedition and journey to continue the research in to the life of Jesus. We are now not talking about things that took place 2,000 years ago but very much things occurring in the present.
There have been many authors who have written about their research and work in Kashmir (names that come to mind are Suzanne Olsson, Dr Fida Hassnina, Holger Kersten and Edward T. Martin) but the none have succeeding in bringing to life the material quite in the way that Mantoshe has. We do not just get the descriptions of her visits to places and to meet people, we have an in depth look at her feelings at each stage along with what she is planning next. I particular enjoyed her description of her visits to see Dr Imtiaz Shaheen, Dr Fida Hassnain and the visit to the Rozabal Tomb in Kashmir. These are particularly wonderful sections of the book.
Dr Imtiaz Shaheen
I know Dr Imtiaz Shaheen and have had some correspondence with him. I am aware that his family is regarded as direct descendents of Yus Asaph, but just how amazing and fascinating this claim really is did not strike me until I read Mantoshe’s account of her meeting him and his family. Small things, such as Mantoshe’s reflections on how Dr Imtiaz is carrying out modern day healings as a doctor and how this could be seeing as continuing the healings that his alleged great heir once performed, bring the whole written prose to life.
Temple of Solomon
Mantoshe’s description of her visit to Taikait-u-Sulaman or Temple of Solomon in Kashmir is another fascinating part of the story; again other authors have described this temple also and visited it but Mantoshe’s recollection strikes me as the most vivid and complete. Upon completion of the section on her time in Kashmir you get the feeling that the book has reached its climax and what follows will be reflections on the material looked at so far. The section on Notovitich and then Roerich is adding more depth to ideas already looked at previously, but there is another hidden surprise and Mantoshe describes in detail her visit to the Roerich Museum in New York. Once more the historical research material comes to life as we visit Daniel Entin, director of the museum who also appears in Paul Davids’ film “Jesus in India”, and learn more about Nicholas Roerich and his influence on the Jesus in India material.
Mormons and The Virgin of Guadalupe
The book is not done there either. There is still time for a look at both the Mormon belief of Jesus travelling to the Americas and also a look at the legend of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In these chapters we once again are presented with all the relevant material yet are given it in a short and succinct way. This style, mentioned previously, means the book is just over 300 pages in length. Given the range of topics it covers it could easily have grown to be closer to 1,000 pages in length had the author not been so skilled at presenting the crux of the matters and not getting dragged in to long technical discussions about particular sources. This approach is illustrated perfectly just prior to her summarising the legend of the Virgin of Guadalupe and it is this same underlying spirit that has focused her writing in other chapters also:
“There are hundreds of scholarly accounts of the Guadalupe phenomenon, splitting hairs about every aspect of the story. This is not one of them. This is a simple account seen through the eyes of the people who look upon her as their patron saint; it ensues from the domain of faith, not logic.” Page 323
Am I saying that the rest of Mantoshe’s book ‘ensues from the domain of faith, not logic’ as well? In some ways, yes, but overall I would say no. In the traditional ‘domain of faith’ regarding Jesus many of the questions that this book asks would never be asked. Some of the views and theories examined seem to belong more to the ‘domain of logic’, such as the idea that Jesus survived the Crucifixion. The textual sources are often taken at face value and discussions of the authenticity of texts is kept to a minimum; however I believe care is taken by the author in selecting sources, even if the discussion of this selection is not expounded upon in the book. I believe this to be a literary device to make the book more accessible and readable rather than any sort of neglect on the part of the author.
Tolerance and Universality
Finally Mantoshe Devji leaves us with her final message on the topic of Jesus and his life. Her message is one of religious toleranceand understanding, yet at the same time it is a warning that the religions of the world need to spend time working together and not driving themselves further apart and the world closer to destruction.
This felt the most complete book I had read on the historical Jesus. Many books try to present many different views on Jesus and the varying beliefs, but surely none has covered all the topics that this book covers. All the way through the presentation of both the prose and the wonderful photos in the book as well give the reader a rich experience full of wise reflection and comment by the author to supplement the story being told.
This text is an important contribution to this area of scholarship and I hope to see more work from this author building upon the work she has already done in producing this book.
Arif Khan- UK – December 2009