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BOOK REVIEW: "The Christ of India" by Abbot George Burke

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BOOK REVIEW: The Christ of India: The Story of Saint Thomas Christianity by Abbot George Burke aka Swami Nirmalananda Giri (Light of the Spirit Press) 2016

Convinced that Jesus Christ spent much of his life in India, Abbot George Burke, who is also known as Swami Nirmalananda Giri (May a Christian Believe in Reincarnation?, Om Yoga Meditation: Its Theory and Practice, etc.), and who heads the Light of the Spirit Monastery in Cedar Crest, New Mexico, is a promoter of a strain or sect of Christianity called "Saint Thomas Christianity" which, according to Burke/Giri, "consists of worship and blessing and spiritual empowerment" and includes a philosophy of the "classical Sanatana Dharma found in the Indian Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita."

While this may come as a surprise and/or shock to many readers, talking to people from India, it is clear that there is a strong possibility that this prophet from Nazareth did indeed spend many years studying spirituality and philosophy in India, only to return to the Roman province of Judea (present-day Israel and Palestine) to spread his message of love and compassion. 

Burke/Giri's writings mirror - somewhat - that of Nicolas Notovitch, the controversial Russian aristocrat and writer of The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ.

History shows us that Notovich, who reflected an esoteric and Theosophical outlook which was popular more than a century ago, was a rather shady adventurer who claimed that he visited a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the late 19th century and viewed documents claiming that Jesus was in this area of the Himalayas studying with Buddhists and Hindus after his crucifixion and that his “resurrection” actually involved Christ finding his way to Kashmir and living out his days in that deeply spiritual and mountainous region of the world. Some swamis, including Paramhansa Yogananda

Many other writers have researched, speculated and flat-out fantasized about those "missing years" of Jesus. Where was he? Why didn't the Gospels go more in depth as to where he was? Was he quietly working as a carpenter in his dusty hometown until God told him to begin his ministry? Perhaps?

Or, he was in India, as this writer believes. 

Burke/Giri also states that Jesus Christ spent those years from the age of approximately 13 to age 29 in India learning from yogis and spiritual masters about the "highest spiritual philosoph(ies)" and giving him the name "Isha," which is a word that means "master" or "ruler." 

For instance, quoting John (9:1-3), Burke/Giri suggests that Jeuss believed in reincarnation, that a person's life is determined by his or her actions. And in that New Testament passage, John is saying that Jesus saw a man who was blind from birth and the disciples asked if it was the man or his parents who sinned, leading to blindness. Jesus reportedly replied, "Neither hath man sinned, nor his parents but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

Continuing on the theme of reincarnation,in this context, Burke/Giri writes that the purpose of reincarnation is "for us to grow and evolve spiritually until we return to Godhead from whence we came."

Karma (justice) is also noted by the author when referencing Jesus's references to "sowing and reaping" as being evidence of his embrace of the karmic qualities of the universe, laws which we all must abide by. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." from the Book of Galatians. Wise words for the ages.

As Burke/Giri explains in the preface: "Saint Thomas Christianity is that unique form of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth that was established exclusively in India by Saint Thomas the Apostle. The material in this book will reveal that this statement is simple fact without exaggeration."

Jesus was an Essene, writes the author, which was a third sect of Judaism, behind the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus famously criticized during his ministry, highlighting their hypocrisy. 

Writes the author: "Jesus Christ was God in the sense that as atmas we are all divine, but he was not the Creator God, nor was he a blood sacrifice to satisfy an angry God and draw his wrath away from humanity. Rather, he was a great Siddha, a liberated being who for all practical purposes can be called an avatara, an incarnation of God, as have been many others thoughout history - especially in India."

Many Christians will likely balk at what the American-based swami and writer has to say in The Christ of India. But because Matthew, Mark, Luke and John failed to do more digging into Jesus Christ's background and get to the bottom of this mystery about his "missing years," well, it should come as no surprise that books of this sort will appear from time to time and stoke that fire of speculation and intrigue. What if???

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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