was Jesus? One of the most influential human beings of all times?
The founder of Christianity? A messiah or savior sent by God to
redeem humanity of its sins? What were His teachings? Is our knowledge
of Jesus limited to what is recorded in the Bible? What has modern
historical research to say about what Jesus did and taught? Have
there been other spiritual masters in India whose teachings are
similar to those of Jesus? If so, what light can they shed on
the teachings of Jesus?
the discovery of many new source documents in the Sinai Desert
and near the Dead Sea, and with the advent of modern methods of
textual analysis by scholars who are independent of institutional
bias, today most Biblical scholars will agree that the books of
the Bible’s New Testament are written at several levels
What were likely the actual words of Jesus, quoted in the gospels
of Matthew, Mark and Luke, but recorded several decades afterwards.
• What were likely interpolations - words attributed to
Jesus by unknown sources.
• What was said about Jesus or about his teachings by others,
for example, Paul in his “letters,” which make up
most of the rest of the New Testament, and which served as the
basis for early Church dogma.
Christianity and in the popular understanding of Jesus and his teaching,
how much have these interpolations and early Church dogma distorted
or obscured the actual words and teachings of Jesus? What do the
actual words of Jesus say about who Jesus was and what his teachings
were? What do the actual words of Jesus not say? Answers to these
questions are a prerequisite to making comparisons between the teachings
of Jesus and the teachings of the Gnostics and other mystics, such
as those of the Yoga Siddhas. Previous attempts by some, including
Swami Prabhavananda’s The Sermon on the Mount According to
Vedanta, and Paramahansa Yogananda’s The Second Coming of
Christ made comparisons with Christianity’s dogma reflected
in the King James version of the Bible. They did not consider the
work of biblical historians who have suggested numerous inaccuracies
in this English version of the Bible, in comparison with the original
Greek. They do not take into consideration the many findings that
modern critical historical research has brought to light. Yogananda
interpreted who Jesus was, by distinguishing “Jesus”
the person from “Christ” the state of “consciousness,”
which he had attained. Most of his interpretation was based upon
statements allegedly made by Jesus, for example, the “I am”
statements, in the Gospel of John, which most critical scholars
now consider to be interpolations and words not spoken by Jesus.
This present work presents a comparison between the teachings of
the Yoga Siddhas, with those of the teachings that are considered
now to be the most authentic teachings of Jesus, based upon the
results of modern, critical, historical research.
have attempted to compare what Jesus did with what other saints,
prophets and sages have done. Some have speculated that Jesus went
to India or Tibet, where he was initiated into their sacred traditions.
Holger Kersten, for example, in his Jesus Lived in India, assembled
many arguments, based upon very little evidence that Jesus not only
went to India prior to his crucifixion, but returned there and died
in Kashmir. He concluded however, that we really do not know what
we will see, modern historical scholars have been able to form a
broad consensus about what Jesus taught, but history provides little
evidence of what Jesus actually did. Nothing is recorded about the
so called “missing years” of Jesus between the recorded
incidents in the temple in Jerusalem, when, at the age of twelve,
he spoke authoritatively to the scribes and Pharisees, and his appearance
at the age of 30, when he begins his mission, by the Sea of Galilee.
Therefore, we must look elsewhere to understand the influences that
transformed Jesus, the carpenter’s son from Nazareth, into
the Messiah, or savior of the Jewish people, and the Christ, revered
by millions ever since.
But there are other sources, which by comparison with what Jesus
said and taught and how he lived, clearly indicate what those influences
were. Examples include the writings of the Gnostics, discovered
at Nag Hammadi, in the Sinai, in 1945, the Jewish Essenes, discovered
at Qumram in 1948 and thousands of ancient documents which trace
the development of early Christianity, and which portray its competing
scholars have studied the Yoga Siddhas of India: Eliade, Briggs,
Zvelebil, Ganapathy, White, Govindan, Feuerstein, in particular.
A critical edition of the most important work of the Tamil Yoga
Siddhas, the Tirumandiram, by the Siddha Tirumular (written between
the 2nd century B.C. and the fourth century C.E.) was produced by
the Tamil scholar Suba Annamalai in 2000, from thirteen existing
manuscripts. A new English language translation and commentary of
this critical edition of the Tirumandiram is currently being prepared
by a team of scholars lead by Dr. T.N. Ganapathy. Most recently,
the research of the Yoga Siddha Research Centre in Chennai, India,
lead by Dr. T.N. Ganapathy, has brought out a series of books providing,
for the first time, translation and commentary of the Yoga Siddhas,
or “perfected” yogis of South India, who were contemporaries
of Jesus. Their teachings and miraculous powers were remarkably
similar to those of Jesus. This makes possible an intriguing comparison
between the teachings and miracles of Jesus and those of the Yoga
writings of the South India Yoga Siddhas have been largely ignored
until recently. They were not well preserved by the orthodox institutions
because of the Siddhas’ severe condemnation of the caste system,
excessive emphasis on temple worship and scriptures, and the authority
of the Brahmins, the priestly caste, which monopolized religious
affairs in India. The writings of the Siddhas were in the vernacular
language of the people rather than Sanskrit. Knowledge of Sanskrit
was limited for the most part to the Brahmin caste, whose priests
and scholars dominated the religious and educational systems. The
Siddhas condemned this monopoly of the Brahmins, and taught that
the Lord could only be known by Jnana Yoga, wisdom born of self-knowledge,
meditation and other spiritual practices, particularly through Kundalini
Yoga. Many in the orthodox caste, the Brahmins, reacted by burning
the writings of the Siddhas and sought to prejudice popular opinion
against the Siddhas by ridiculing them. The writings of the Siddhas
were written in what is referred to as a “twilight language,”
which deliberately obscures its deeper meaning to all but Yoga initiates.
This great gap in scholarly understanding of the Siddhas writings,
however, has recently begun to be filled by a series of books, produced
by a team of leading scholars working for the Yoga Siddha Research
Centre in Chennai, India. The Centre has collected, preserved, transcribed
and begun to translate thousands of palm leaf manuscripts written
by the Yoga Siddhas, which had been all but forgotten in several
manuscript libraries of southern India.
a cursory comparison of the teachings of Jesus and those of the
Siddhas by anyone familiar with the two reveals remarkable similarities:
Jesus taught in parables, metaphor, paradox, and parody, conveying
profound teachings in a way that illiterate listeners could easily
understand and remember. He was an iconoclast, who sought to move
His listeners to realize the spirit, not merely the letter of
the Jewish law and worship practices.
Yoga Siddhas taught in the form of poems, in the vernacular language
of the illiterate people, in a way that they could easily understand,
memorize and recall. Several layers of meaning could be attributed
to both the teachings of Jesus and the Siddhas. The deepest layers
could be understood only by the initiate, who had been taught
by a spiritual master how to access the inner reality through
such practices as meditation and silence.
Jesus severely condemned the Pharisees and the merchants in the
temple, physically assaulting their shops. When challenged by
the Pharisees on what authority did he speak, he replied: “I
shall destroy this temple, and within three days, raise it up!”
His resurrection from the cross proved His point, that the real
temple is within oneself.
Yoga Siddhas also condemned emphasis on temple worship and idol
worship. Nowhere in any of their writings do they sing in praise
of any of the popular Hindu deities or images of God. They taught
that the human body is the true temple of God and it is only through
a process of inner purification that one can come to know the
• Neither Jesus nor the Siddhas intended to create a new
religion. They taught that God is present in the world. They taught
how to realize God through self discipline and self awareness,
and through our connection to others.
Jesus taught forgiveness of sins or transgressions. One of his
most important parables, that of the prodigal son, exemplifies
The Siddhas taught how to “detach” from the influence
of samskaras (subconscious tendencies), which collectively are
referred to as karma (the consequences of actions, words and thoughts).
Forgiveness and dispassion are synonymous at a deep level of understanding,
and central to both the teachings of Jesus and such Siddhas as
• Jesus repeatedly referred to himself modestly as the “son
of man,” but later, the writers of the Gospels, as well
as Paul referred to him as “son of God.”
Siddhas distinguished, the “lower self,” the body-mind-personality,
held together by egoism (asmita), from the higher self, pure consciousness,
incarnated as an individual soul, but bound by many imperfections.
• In what scholars consider to be the most authentic parts
of the New Testament, the three synoptic Gospels, Mark, Matthew
and Luke, Jesus says little about himself and when He does, it
is always modestly.
Siddhas also have little to say about themselves in their writings.
They spoke of freeing themselves from ignorance, egoism and delusion.
Consequently, they enjoyed an expanded consciousness and became
instruments of the Divine, working “miracles.”
Jesus taught that the Lord, whom he referred to as the Father,
not only existed, but that He loves you. He also taught that to
know Him, one must overcome egoism and attachment to the things
of this world.
The Siddhas also taught that by a progressive process of self
study, discipline and purification, one can realize the Lord.
did not fear the Lord. They loved Him. To them, God was Love and
Love was God. Surrender to the Lord was the means of their progressive
transformation. They realized the Lord as Absolute Being, Consciousness
and Bliss within themselves.
Jesus repeatedly emphasized that “the Kingdom of Heaven
is within you.” The theme of Jesus’ teachings in the
synoptic gospels as well as the Gospel of St Thomas is “the
Kingdom of Heaven.” But in the Epistles of Paul, as well
as the Gospel of John, which are considered by the vast majority
of reputable scholars to contain only interpolations (statements
put into the mouth of Jesus by unknown sources) the theme is Jesus
himself, his mission and his person.
Siddhas repeatedly taught that the Lord was to be found within
oneself, as Absolute Being, Consciousness and Bliss, and that
this state could only be realized through the cultivation of samadhi
(God consciousness). This is not a creation of the mind. It is
the realization of the Divine Witness within, and the cultivation
of a divine life, from the perspective of this God consciousness.
They taught that the Lord is, unlike our soul, unaffected by desires
and karma. Being one with everything, the Siddhas retained no
more inclination to be of special personage. The Siddhas rarely
spoke of their person, and they never encouraged the worship of
their person, but rather of that omnipresent Reality within them.
Jesus used the metaphor of Light to represent consciousness of
his true identity; “when thine eye is single, thy whole
body shall be full of light.” (Luke 11.34).
Siddhas referred to the Supreme Being as all pervasive light or
as the supreme grace light. They referred to the Supreme Being
as Shiva Shakti (Conscious Energy), and taught that it could be
realized within oneself as the sublime, divine kundalini light
energy within the subtle body.
Jesus was reported to have ascended bodily into heaven 40 days
after he rose from the dead. During these 40 days he appeared
to his disciples. Doubting Thomas verified his corporeal nature
by touching his hands. The body of Jesus was not buried.
Siddhas sing repeatedly of their total surrender to the Lord,
a surrender, which includes the very cells of their physical body,
which creates a transformation begetting immortality.
Jesus was reportedly opposed and crucified by those who ruled
the temple founded by David in Jerusalem - the priests and Pharisees.
They saw him as a threat to their privileged position. Jesus sought
to liberate the Jews not from the Romans, but from their spiritual
ignorance, fear, and domination by the priests. He taught them
through his parables, and initiated chosen disciples into how
to know God by turning within, in esoteric practices.
Siddhas have been opposed to this day by the vested interests
of Hinduism, the Brahmins, who control the temples and serve as
intermediaries between the common person and the “gods”
of the Hindu pantheon. The Siddhas are condemned and ridiculed
as “miracle workers,” fakirs and worse, by the Brahmins,
who fear their popular appeal among the masses. The Siddhas and
other yogic adepts initiate the most qualified students into the
esoteric practices of Kundalini Yoga and meditation.
Jesus emphasized love and the inner experience or communion with
God, rather than the law of the Old Testament.
The Siddhas rejected the Vedic scripture’s emphasis on external
fire sacrifice and ritual; they emphasized the inner path to the
Lord through love and Yoga.
Jesus performed many miracles as a result of his powers, or siddhis.
So did the Siddhas. The ordinary person dissipates their energy
through the senses, attracted by desires. When one realizes the
Presence of the Lord within, one gains access to unlimited power
and consciousness. Unmanifest and potential, it is known as kundalini.
When it is awakened, one becomes an instrument of the Divine.
Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness in meditation and prayer,
and as a result acquired great powers.
The Siddhas performed similar tapas (penance) with resulting siddhis
(powers). Even the number 40 is of particular significance with
regard to a period of practice of penance in the yogic tradition.
• Both the Siddhas and Jesus exhibited great social concern.
Jesus left John the Baptist, and returned to the urban areas and
consorted with tax collectors and other disreputable types. He
encouraged counter-cultural movements against established tradition.
Siddhas sought to show the path to the Lord to everyone, by teaching
what one must do, especially through Yoga and hygienic living
standards and medicine, and also what one must avoid.
Jesus accepted Mary Magdalene as a disciple when he allowed her
to wash and to anoint his feet. He initiated his most worthy disciples,
like Thomas, into esoteric teachings, which enabled them to realize
the Supreme Being, beyond the creator God.
Siddhas showed their surrender to their Gurus by washing, anointing
or touching their feet. They initiated their disciples into advanced
techniques of Yoga to expand their consciousness and bring about
Jesus was not merely a teacher or rabbi to his disciples, but
a God-man, who remained an enigma to all of his direct disciples.
They struggled to comprehend his teachings, his parables, and
referred to him variously as a prophet or the Messiah, the anointed
one who would deliver them from the yoke of Roman tyranny. Their
confusion lead to the formation of a multiplicity of sects in
early Christianity, until the fourth century C.E., when the Church,
in alliance with the Roman emperor, seeking to unify Christianity
and the Roman Empire, defined Christian dogma and creeds, and
declared as heretics those who did not adhere to its dogma.
Siddhas were Gurus (dispellers of darkness) who showed the path
to the Lord, and were also revered as ones who embodied divinity.
They extolled the authority of one’s own inner spiritual
experience, rather than the authority of the Vedas (scriptures).
For this reason, the orthodox condemned them. The Siddhas continue
to be an enigma for most Hindus.
this work we will explore and compare these and other areas, which
will shed great light on the questions “Who was Jesus?”
And “How can I best understand His teachings?”
Should Christians Study Yoga?
short answer is that the study and practice of Yoga will make a
Christian a better Christian. Also, because it will provide valuable
spiritual experience, mental peace, energy and good health, all
essential in realizing the goals of both persons of faith and rationalists.
Just as the Buddha was not a Buddhist, Jesus was not a Christian.
The Buddha was certainly a yogi, who undertook to find the cause
of human suffering, and the remedy for it, through philosophical
enquiry. Who am I? Where have I come from and where am I going?
Why is there evil? What is there after this life? In that way Yoga
can be considered to be the practical side of all religions. It
contains no dogma, no limiting beliefs. It is not a religion. It
may be considered to be an “open philosophy” for it
accepts various approaches to Truth.
is widely recognized to be one of the six main systems of philosophy
in India. As such it fits perfectly into Pope John Paul II’s
recommendation that Christians study philosophy, including the Eastern
philosophies, in order to become better Christians. His Papal Encyclical
“Faith and Reason” provides the long answer to the above
question. In it Pope John Paul II argues that:
both East and West, we may trace a journey which has led humanity
down the centuries to meet and engage truth more and more deeply.
It is a journey which has unfolded—as it must—within
the horizon of personal self-consciousness: the more human beings
know reality and the world, the more they know themselves in their
uniqueness, with the question of the meaning of things and of their
very existence becoming ever more pressing. This is why all that
is the object of our knowledge becomes a part of our life. The admonition
“Know yourself” was carved on the temple portal at Delphi,
as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by
those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation
as “human beings,” that is, as those who “know
is a means to “know thyself.” From the grossest to the
most subtle levels, Yoga gives us the means to reach the highest
and most ethereal subtleties of material substance. Yoga can take
us beyond the grasp of our senses, the thoughts of our mind, and
even beyond our most subtle consciousness to the Force-Love beyond
it. Yoga examines the fundamental principles and laws of the cosmos,
their purpose and their demand on divine evolution. It examines
how the principle of grace works in life through the physical instrument,
through the mind, the physical nervous system and vital organs.
can teach us how to embrace the suffering of our life and to overcome
it. The Siddhas were neither pessimistic nor illusionist. They saw
the world as a mixture of division, darkness, limitation, desire,
struggle, pain and splendor, beauty and truth. They recognized the
mind as an instrument of the soul imprisoned in it. The view “I
am” is a force of creative power possessed by the soul to
lift it from this prison. The profound realization of “I am”
is a powerful means to knowing ourselves truly as children of God.
According to the Siddhas, we share consciousness with God. But rare
is the person who understands and imbibes this Truth. God is behind
all that exists as the Eternal Witness. But that Supreme Consciousness
can perfectly express itself in this manifest world only in one
who has integrally harmonized Truth within itself. A Siddha is one
who has done so, drawing body and soul into a new identification
with absolute perfection. This occurs only after having discarded
all identification with the mind’s imperfect state of physical
manifestation and consciousness. A Siddha has surrendered to the
Supreme Consciousness at all levels, from the spiritual to the physical.
Jesus could be identified as one such a being. He stepped out of
the imperfect human form to enter a new Consciousness and Being.
teaches that the imperfect reality of human existence is seen only
by the mind, the limited mind of desire, division, darkness, struggle,
and pain. And to overcome it, the mind itself must reach a psychic
aspiration towards perfection lying beyond itself. The mind of a
man must seek union with an Ideal of perfection and harmonize itself
totally with it. This process requires complete surrender to the
Supreme Being, Consciousness and Bliss.
Objectives of This Book
book is addressed to the following readers:
Christians who are interested in comparing Eastern spiritual teachings
with those of Christianity.
Students of spiritual Yoga, otherwise known as Classical Yoga and
Tantra, as well students and practitioners of meditation and other
Serious Biblical students, including those interested in the question
“What did Jesus really teach, before the formation of Christian
objectives of this book are to
Demonstrate that what Jesus taught, for example through his parables
and sayings, was amazingly similar to what the Yoga masters, the
To explore the implications of these parallel teachings for those
seeking to apply them in their own life, not so much to know about
God, as to how to know God through higher states of consciousness.
To show how the discoveries of ancient manuscripts, and their analysis
by independent critical scholars using scientific methods, provide
much insight into the original teachings of Jesus.
To demonstrate why the “sayings” of Jesus, circulated
orally during the first decades following his crucifixion before
being recorded, are probably the most authentic source of his teachings
that we have available today. These are limited to a few dozen parables,
aphorisms and sharp retorts, which were repeated in the oral tradition
for two or three decades before they were eventually recorded by
the anonymous writers of the Gospels.
To show how the original teachings of Jesus, as recorded in his
“sayings” and parables, became obscured once Christianity
was defined in terms of dogmas and creeds.
To explore the question “Who was Jesus?” based upon
those statements that many modern critical scholars have concluded
are the most authentic.
To explore the questions “Where is the Kingdom of God?”
and “How may I reach it?” based upon those statements
that many modern critical scholars have concluded are the most authentic.
To explore the question “Why are the teachings of Jesus so
contrary to ordinary human nature?”