Srinagar, June 12: The hypothesis that Jesus Christ is buried in a central Srinagar locality has aroused a lot of interest among historiographers, researchers, scholars, archaeologists and religious groups both in India and worldwide once again.
A team of German researchers, including two archaeologists, is planning to visit Srinagar later this year to investigate the subject. Within India, the Janata Party has set up a group of experts from among its members which would be coming to Kashmir’s summer capital soon to start research work. The party’s president, Dr Subramanian Swamy, who was in Srinagar last week, said that after reading a booklet by a German he has a "feeling of curiosity" about Jesus Christ and Moses having visited Kashmir and in the belief that both had died and are buried in the Valley.
Muslims in Kashmir and elsewhere revere both Jesus and Moses as "noble prophets" of "Bani Israel" (Children of Israel), as the Quran makes a number of references to them. Dr Swamy also pointed to the belief of many Kashmiris that they were one of the "Lost Tribes" of Israel. "It is a matter of great interest that Prophet Moses is buried in Kashmir and that Jesus too had visited the Vale, went to Ladakh to visit the Hemis monastery where he took Buddhism as his faith, returned home but left it again for Kashmir to escape persecution, and died here in Srinagar," he said. The Janata Party leader said that the team he has set up would do methodical research on the subject and come out with its findings "which everybody in the country would be interested in."
In the past teams of researchers from Israel, Germany and other parts of the world conducted studies on the subject but could not find any scientific verification of the hypothesis. The premise that Jesus is buried at Rozabal in the Khanyar area of Srinagar and that Moses is buried outside Bandipore town in north Kashmir thus requires a proper scientific study to ascertain the truth. Kashmiri scholar and historian Fida Muhammad Hussein, a former director of the department of archaeology of the state, asserted that in history there is no such thing as the last word on any subject, "because research... and more research" could lead to fresh discoveries. He believes that the hypothesis that the people of Kashmir are one of the Lost Tribes cannot be baseless as there are many similarities between Israel and Kashmir in terms of language and traditions, and he would like to see a thorough study initiated into the subject. "I think these similarities only strengthen the belief that we are one of the Lost Tribes. Yet the research into the subject must go on," he told this newspaper.
Suzanna Olsson, the author of a recently published book, Jesus, Last King of Kashmir: Life after the Crucifixion, reveals the findings of her seven-year journey through the Himalayan state. She was in the Valley and also visited other parts of India, went to Afghanistan and other places to spearhead an investigative study into the post-crucifixion life of Jesus Christ. She says that she drew her inspiration from sources that range from the traditional sacred writings of many of the world’s main religions, to the legendary tales of Europe and Asia and the annals of contemporary research. The author leads readers to what she believes are the tombs of Jesus and his mother Mary, located within India, and expounds on the evidence she has uncovered.
Ms Olsson is personally convinced of the tombs’ authenticity but frustrated in her efforts to obtain scientific verification, which is vital for acceptance by the rest of the world. According to her, the basis of the beliefs is through tracing the lineage of Jesus Christ, correlating traditional Biblical figures and places with those historically recognised throughout the Kashmir region, and interpreting religious texts in an unconventional light, concentrating on their commonalties.
Many others who support the interesting tradition passed down among Kashmiris regarding their ancestry from the Lost Tribes of Israel point out that various places in the region have Israeli names, such as Har Nevo, Beit Peor, Pisga, Heshubon. These are all the names in the land of the Ten Tribes of Israel. The same thing is true in the names of people — both male and female names, as well as the names of villages. People in Kashmir perform a feast called Pasca in spring, when they adjust the difference of days between the lunar calendar and solar calendar, and the method of this adjustment is the same as the Jewish one. Several books have been published on this. Urdu, the official language of the state for over two centuries, includes many words of Hebrew. There are about a hundred names of places in Kashmir which are in fact Hebrew names that ancient Israelites were extremely familiar with. Hoon in Kashmiri means a dog, and wife is called Aashen — the same as in Hebrew. The word "Joo" added as a honorific by local Muslims to the names of elderly persons to show respect — for instance Muhammad Joo or Ahmed Joo — is believed to be derived from the word Jew. One of the tribes of Kashmir is called Asheriya, which is Asher; the tribe of Dand is Dan; Gadha is Gad; Lavi is Levi.
Aziz Kashmiri, in his book Jesus in Kashmir, also refers to common eating habits. "Half roasted fish called phar in Kashmir is the favourite dish of both the Israelis and the people of Kashmir," he said. He insisted that many inhabitants of Kashmir are descendants of the Lost Tribes who were exiled in 722 B.C. They wandered along the Silk Road into the countries of the East, to Persia and Afghanistan, until they reached the Vale of Kashmir and settled there. He refers to the travelling 12th century Arab historian El Bironi, who had written: "In the past, permission to enter Kashmir was given only to the Jews."