Did Jesus Christ Survive the Cross and die in Kashmir?
The Popular Tale
Christians believe that Jesus was strung up on the cross and he died on it. The tale further relates that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. This is a belief sacrosanct in Christian thought and devout Christians will not hear anything against this belief. I agree that there is no discussion as far as belief is concerned, but for students of logic and truth, a discussion on a popular belief can educate the mind.
The Koran clearly states that Jesus did not die on the cross. This information cannot be dismissed out of hand as the fact that Jesus was circumcised. There is a line of thought that the Romans were never keen to kill Jesus. Normally those persons who were crucified had their thighs broken to hasten death. This was not done in the case of Jesus and is not denied, though Judas who was also crucified had his thighs broken.
There is thus an element of doubt about the death of Jesus on the cross. There is also other evidence that shows that Jesus never died on the cross and lived to a ripe old age.
Books that relate a different tale
Apart from the Koran, there are other books that speculate that Jesus did not die on the cross. I shall refer to two books on this subject. The first one is written by Aziz Kashmiri and the second by Holger Kersten. There are also many other books on the subject, but the thread of thought is the same.
Both the writers give voluminous evidence that Jesus survived the crucifixion and then made his way to Kashmir where he died at the age of 80. He is supposed to be buried at Srinagar. I traveled to the shrine that is in the old Srinagar. The locals claim that it is the tomb of Yousaf Asaf a Muslim saint. It is called the Rozabal shrine.
The writers opine that Jesus after he was saved from the crucifixion, traveled to Persia. He spent some time there before reaching Kashmir. At that time the dominant faith in Kashmir was Buddhism. He was regarded as a holy man in Kashmir and called Isa-Masih.
The writers also touch on another aspect of the life of Jesus and mention that Mary Magdalene was, in reality, the wife of Jesus. After he left for Persia, she traveled to Spain with her children. Later on, the Church to perpetuate the myth of the crucifixion and theory of son of god allowed the fact of Mary as a wife to be buried forever.
Another factor that needs consideration is Buddhist literature that mentions that Jesus as Isa attended the World Buddhist Conference at Haran in 80 AD. Such information can only be gleaned and conjectures drawn as direct evidence is not available.
The Shrine in Kashmir
Jesus is supposed to have died in Kashmir. He was regarded as a holy man and venerated by the locals. There is a small shrine in downtown Srinagar which is supposed to be the tomb of Jesus. The shrine is not ostentatious and could pass off as an ordinary monument. Inside the shrine are two graves. One of them as per the locals is of Jesus and is much older and the second is of a Muslim saint. It is more recent.
The caretaker claims that both the graves are of Muslim saints. One of them is of Sayed Naseeruddin and the second grave is the saint Yousaf. As per legend, Yousaf came to Kashmir in 30 AD. As per Dr. Fida Hussain, Jesus took the name of Yousaf Asaf when he came to Kashmir. This is a conjecture and may be true but cannot be accepted as gospel truth.
A distinct feature of the tomb is that it is built in the Jewish style of sepulcher with an underground room having a side door. The shrine does not have the trappings of a Muslim tomb.
All this is in the realm of conjecture and it is difficult to prove that this is, in reality, the tomb of Jesus. Many scholars have unearthed evidence in Buddhist monasteries proving that Jesus was in Kashmir. But till proper DNA tests are carried out this fact will remain unproven.
The evidence that Jesus came to Kashmir does appear to be strong, but there are some unanswered questions. The first question that comes to mind is to why Jesus never went back to his native place even after the passage of a few decades. This point is not satisfactorily answered. However, it is possible that Jesus became so immersed in spiritualism and interaction with the locals that he decided not to go back. Secondly, he may have realized that his going back was fraught with great risk and there was every chance that he would be executed forthwith. Whatever the reason Jesus never went back and stayed on in Kashmir. There is a possibility that earlier also he had come to Kashmir during the period of his younger days of which the Bible has no account.
One fact that is now coming to light is that Jesus did not die on the cross. Secondly, he was no doubt a prophet, but many myths have been generated by the Church and now these have become iconoclast beliefs, which brook no discussion or research.
Christians do not accept the tomb of Rozabal as of Jesus and the fact that the entire area is the hotbed of Islamic militancy has made further research impossible.
Residents around the shrine remain wary of visitors and do not take seriously the claim that Jesus could be buried here. The story actually dates back to the late 19th century when theories began to circulate that Jesus might have lived in India during his lost years from12 to 30, which are not documented in the gospels.
The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was the first to claim in 1899 that Rozabal was actually the tomb of Jesus. The shrine was relatively unknown until then. Visitors would sometimes visit the shrine to pay obeisance at the grave of Syed Naseer-ud-Din, a Shia Muslim saint.
The shrine finds its earliest mention in the Waqi’at-i-Kashmir (Story of Kashmir, published 1747), by Khwaja Muhammad Azam Didamari, a local Srinagar Sufi writer. He mentions that the tomb holds the remains of a foreign prophet. This "foreign prophet" is thought by researchers to be Jesus.
In all probability, Jesus could have come to Kashmir as it was a calm and peaceful place. It also had a salubrious climate and he could recover from the trauma and shock of being crucified and before that being betrayed by his disciple. He was however not killed on the cross and there is enough evidence that there was no plan to kill him. His coming to Kashmir needs further research and DNA testing. This may give the desired result, but obviously such facts even if true cannot be accepted by the Christians as the death on the cross and resurrection is part of Christian lore and any tinkering with it can have disastrous consequences.