Volume I[867 pages]
VOLUME I - BOOK IV - CHAPTER I
PROPER MODE OF VIEWING THE RELIGION—LIFE OF CRISTNA—SUBJECT CONTINUED. MATUREA—SIR W. JONES’S EXPLANATION OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES, AND MR. MAURICE’S ADMISSIONS—REFLECTIONS ON THE ABOVE—SOLEMN CONSIDERATIONS OF MR. MAURICE’S IN EXPLANATION—DIGRESSION ON THE BLACK COLOUR OF ANCIENT GODS : OF THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE NILE AND OSIRIS—SUBJECT CONTINUED—CHRIST BLACK, AN ANSWER TO A SOLEMN CONSIDERATION—OTHER SOLEMN CONSIDERATIONS—OBSERVATIONS ON MR. MAURICE'S SOLEMN CONSIDERATIONS—MR. MAURICE’S PAMPHLETS—BACK RECKONINGS. MATUREA—BRYANT AND DR. A. CLARKE ON THIS MYTHOS
Having shewn that the Hindoos and Persians had certain of the leading articles of what is usually called the Christian religion, some thousand of years, probably, before the time assigned to Jesus,—the actual history of the birth and life of the Second Person of the Trinity, or of the Saviour of the Romish or modern Christian religion, will now be given; from which it will be evident to the reader whence most of the corruptions in the histories of the gospel of Jesus have been derived.
It will now be shewn, in the first place, that from the history of the second person of the Indian Trinity, many of the particulars of the gospel histories of the Christians have been compiled.
The book called the Bhagavat Geeta, which contains the Life of Cristna, is allowed to be one of the most distinguished of the puranas, for its sublimity and beauty. It lays claim to nearly the highest antiquity that any Indian composition can boast : and the Rev. Mr. Maurice, a very competent judge, allows, that there is ample evidence to prove that it actually existed nearly four thousand years ago. Sir W. Jones says, "That the name of Chrishna, and the general outline of his story, were long anterior to the birth of our Saviour, and probably to the time of Homer, we know very certainly." … The authority of the unwilling witness, Sir W. Jones, without attempting any other proof of this fact, is enough. But in the course of this work many other corroborating circumstances will be produced, which, independently of his authority, will put the matter beyond question.
… we will now consider some of the leading facts which are stated from it relating to the God Cristna, Crisna, or Chrishna.*
* Sir W. Jones always spells the name of this celebrated person Chrishna.
In the first place, the Cristna of India is always represented as a Saviour or Preserver of mankind, precisely the same as Jesus Christ. While he is thus described as a Saviour, he is also represented to be really the Supreme Being, taking upon himself the state of man : that is, to have become incarnate in the flesh, to save the human race, precisely as Jesus is said to have done, by the professors of the orthodox Christian faith. …
As soon as Cristna was born, he was saluted with a chorus of Deutas or Devatas or Angels, with divine hymns, just as it is related of Jesus in the orthodox Gospel of Luke, ch. ii. 13, 14. He was cradled among shepherds, to whom were first known the stupendous feats which stamped his character with marks of divinity. The circumstances here detailed, though not literally the same as those related to Jesus, are so nearly the same, that it is evident the one account has been taken from the other. …
Soon after Cristna’s birth, he was carried away by night and concealed in a region remote from his natal place, for fear of a tyrant whose destroyer it was foretold he would become; and who had, for that reason, ordered all the male children born at that period to be slain. … Cristna was, by the male line, of royal descent, though he was actually born in a state the most abject and humiliating—in a dungeon—as Jesus descended from King David and was born in a cave, used as a stable. The moment Cristna was born, the whole room was splendidly illuminated, and the countenances of his father and mother emitted rays of glory. Cristna could speak as soon as he was born, and comforted his mother, as did the infant Jesus, according to the same gospel history. As Jesus was preceded and assisted by his kinsman, John, so Cristna was preceded by his elder brother, Ram, who was born a little time before him, and assisted him in purifying the world, polluted with demons and monsters. Ram was nourished and brought up by the same foster parents as Cristna. … Cristna descended into Hades or Hell, and returned to Vaicontha, his proper paradise. One of his epithets was that of a good shepherd, which we know was that of Jesus. After his death, like Jesus Christ, he ascended into heaven. …
After the birth of Cristna, the Indian prophet Nared,SoFoj, having heard of his fame, visited his father and mother at Gokul, examined the stars, &c., and declared him to be of celestial descent. As Mr. Maurice observes, here is a close imitation of the Magi guided by his star and visiting the Infant in Bethlehem. Cristna was said to have been born at Mathura, (pronounced Mattra,) on the river Jumna, where many of his miracles were performed, and in which at this day he is held in higher veneration than in any other place in Hindostan. Mr. Maurice says, "The Arabic edition of the Evangelium Infantiæ records Mattares, near Hermopolis, in Egypt, to have been the place where the Infant Saviour resided during his absence from the land of Judea, and until Herod died. At this place Jesus is reported to have wrought many miracles : and, among others, to have produced in that arid region a fountain of fresh water, the only one in Egypt. …"
M. Savary says, that at a little distance from Heliopolis is the small village of Matarea, so called because it has a fresh-water spring, the only one in Egypt. This spring has been rendered famous by tradition, which relates that the holy family fleeing from Herod came hither; that the Virgin bathed the holy child Jesus in this fountain; and that much balsam was formerly produced in the neighbourhood.*
* Savary's Travels in Egypt, Vol. I. p.126.
After Cristna came to man's estate, one of his first miracles was the cure of a leper. Matthew (in ch. viii. ver.3) states an early miracle performed by Jesus to have been exactly similar, viz. the cure of a leper. Upon another occasion a woman poured on the head of Cristna a box of ointment, for which he cured her of her ailment. Thus, in like manner, a woman came and anointed the head of Jesus. Matt. xxi. 7.
At a certain time Cristna taking a walk with the other cowherds with whom he was brought up, they chose him for their king, and every one had a place under him assigned to him. Nearly the same story is related of Jesus and his playfellows. At another time, the Infant Jesus declaring himself to be the good shepherd, turned all his young companions into sheep; but afterwards, at the solicitation of their parents, restored them to their proper form. This is the counterpart of a story of the creation, by Cristna, of new sheep and new cow-boys, when Brahma, to try his divinity, had stolen those which belonged to Nanda's, his father's farm.* To shew his humility and meekness, he condescended to wash the feet of the Brahmins, as Jesus did those of his disciples. John xiii. 5, &c.
* Maurice, Hist. Hind. Vol. II. p.322.
Cristna had a dreadful combat with the serpent Calinaga,* which had poisoned all the cow-herds. In the Apocryphal Gospel above alluded to, the infant Saviour had a remarkable adventure with a serpent, which had poisoned one of his companions.**
* Cali is now the Goddess of a sect in opposition to that of Cristna, and Naga means serpent. It is evidently the same as the old English word for serpent—Hag.
** Hist. Hind. Vol. II. p.322.
Cristna was sent to a tutor to be instructed, and he instantly astonished him by his profound learning. In the Gospel of the Infancy it is related, that Jesus was sent to Zaccheus to be taught, and, in like manner, he astonished him with his great learning. This must also remind the reader of the disputation in the temple with the Jewish doctors. (Luke ii. 46, 47.) Cristna desired his mother to look into his mouth and she saw all the nations of the world painted in it. The Virgin saw the same in the mouth of Jesus.* Mr. Maurice observes that the Gospel of the Infancy is alluded to by Ireneus,** which shews that it was among the earliest of the ancient gospel histories.
* Maur. Bram. Fraud Exposed, p.114.
** Adv. Heres. Lib. i. Cap. xvii. P.104, ed. fol. 1596.
Finally, Cristna was put to death by being crucified; he descended into hell, and afterward ascended into heaven. For further particulars, see Maurice's Ind. Ant. Vol. II pp. 149, &c. …
But how is the figure in the cave at Elephanta to be accounted for; that prominent and ferocious figure, as Mr. Maurice calls it, surrounded by slaughtered infants, and holding a drawn sword ? If it were only a representation of the evil principle, how came he only to destroy infants; and, as I learn from Mr. Forbes's Oriental Memoirs,* those infants, boys ? He is surrounded by a crowd of figures or men and women, evidently supplicating for the children. This group of figures has been called the Judgment of Solomon; as Mr. Forbes justly says, very absurdly. But, at the same time he admits, that there are many things in these caves which bear a resemblance to prominent features in the Old Testament. Over the head of the principal figure in this group, are to be seen the mitre, the crosier, and the cross—true Christian emblems.
* Vol. III. Ch. xxxv. p.447.
On the first view, it seems rather an extraordinary circumstance statues of the gods of the ancients should be represented of a black colour; or that they should have been made of a stone as nearly black as it could be obtained. Where the stone cannot be obtained quite black, a stone was often used similar to our blue slate, of a very dark blue colour; … it is evident that the intention was to represent a black complexion; of this there can be no doubt. ...
Eusebius informs us, on the authority of Porphyry, "That the Egyptians acknowledged intellectual author or creator of the world, under the name of Cneph; and that they worshiped him in a statue of human form and dark blue complexion. " …
In the Evangelical Preparation of Eusebius,* is a passage which pretty well proves that the worship of Vishnu or Cristna or was held in Egypt, under the name of Kneph : … "The Egyptians, it is said, represented the Demiurgos Knep, as of a blue colour, bordering on black, with a girdle and a sceptre."**
* Lib. iii. p.115.
** Class. Journ. No. XXIX. p.122.
Mr. Maurice says, "That Osiris, too, the black divinity of Egypt, and Chreeshna, the sable shepherd-God of Mathura, have the striking similitude of character, intimidated by Mr. Wilford, cannot be disputed, any more than that Chreeshna, from his rites continuing so universally to flourish in India, from such remote periods down to the present day, was the prototype, and Osiris the mythological copy. Both are renowned legislators and conquerors, contending equally with physical and spiritual foes : both are denominated the Sun; both descend to the shades and raise the dead."*
* Hist. Hind. Vol.II. p.477.
Again he says, "Now it is not a little remarkable that a dark blue tint, approaching to black, as his name signifies, was of the complexion of Chreeshna, who is considered by the Hindoos not so much an avatar, as the person of the great Veeshnu himself, the human form."* That is, he was incarnate, or in the flesh, as Jesus was said to be.
For reasons which the reader will soon see, I am inclined to think that Osiris was not the copy of Cristna, but of the earlier God, Buddha.
That by Osiris was meant to Sun, it is now allowed by every writer who has treated on the antiquities of Egypt. Mr. Maurice, as the reader sees, states him to have been black and that the Mnevis, or sacred bull, of Heliopolis, the symbol of Osiris, was also black. Osiris is allowed, also, to be the Seeva of India,* one of the three persons of the Indian God—Bramha, Vishnu or Cristna, and Seeva, of whom the bull of the zodiac was the symbol.
* Maurice, Ant. Ind.
It is curious to observe the number of trifling circumstances which constantly occur to prove the identity of the Hindoos and Egyptians, or rather the Ethiopians. The word Nile, in the Indian language, means black. … But the name of Nile was a modern one, (comparatively speaking,) a translation of the ancient name of this river, which last Siri. …
The ancient name, as we have said, was Sir, or Siri, the same as O-sir, or Osiris, who was always black; after whom it was called, and by whom was meant the sun. Thus it was called the river of the sun, or the river sun, or the river of Osiris—as we say, the river of the Amazons, or the river Amazon. …
I have some suspicion that O-siris is a Greek corruption; that the name ought, as already mentioned, to be what is called by Hellanicus, Ysiris or Isiris, and that it is derived from, or rather I should say is the same as, Iswara of India. Iswara and Isi are the same as Osiris and Isis—the male and female procreative powers of nature.
... Eusebius says the Egyptians called Osiris, Surius, and that, in Persia, was the old name of the sun.
Osiris and his Bull were black; all the Gods and Goddesses of Greece were black: at least this was the case with Jupiter, Bacchus, Hercules, Apollo, Ammon.
The Goddesses Venus, Isis, Hecati, Diana, Juno, Metis, Ceres, Cybile, are black. The Multi-mammia is black in the Campidoglio at Rome, and in Montfaucon, Antiquity explained.
On the colour of the Gods of the ancients, and of the identity of them all with the God Sol, and with the Cristna of India, nothing more need be said. The reader has already seen the striking marks of similarity in the history of Cristna and the stories related of Jesus in the Romish and heretical books. He probably will not think that their effect is destroyed, as Mr. Maurice flatters himself, by the word Cristna in the Indian language signifying black, and the God being of that colour, when he is informed, of what Mr. Maurice was probably ignorant, that in all the Romish countries of Europe, in France, Italy, Germany, &c., the God Christ, as well as his mother, are described in their old pictures and statues to be black. The infant God in the arms of his black mother, his eyes and drapery white, is himself perfectly black. ...
There is scarcely an old church in Italy were some remains of the worship of the BLACK VIRGIN and BLACK CHILD are not to be met with. Very often the black figures have given way to white ones, and in these cases the black ones, as being held sacred, were put into retired places in the churches, but were not destroyed, but are yet to be found there. ... They are generally esteemed by the rabble with the most profound veneration.
If the author had wished to invent a circumstance to corroborate the assertion, that the Romish Christ of Europe is the Cristna of India, how could he have desired anything more striking than the fact of the black Virgin and Child being so common in the Romish countries of Europe ? A black virgin and child among the white Germans, Swiss, French, and Italians ! ! !
The Romish Cristna is black in India, black in Europe, and black he must remain—like the ancient gods of Greece, as we have just seen. But, after all, what was he but the Jupiter, the second person of their Trimurti or Trinity, the Logos of Parmenides and Plato, an incarnation or emanation of the solar power ?
The Hindoos, far from labouring to make proselytes to their religion, cannot admit into it those who have been born in and professed any other faith. They say that, provided men perform their moral duties in abstaining from ill, and in doing good to the utmost of their ability, it is but of little importance under what forms they worship God; that things suitable to one people may be unfit for another; and that to suppose that God prefers any one particular religion to the exclusion of others, and yet leaves numbers of this creatures ignorant of his will, is to accuse him of injustice, or to question his omnipotence.* I wish our priests would attend to the sound wisdom and benevolence of these people, called by our missionaries ignorant and benighted.
* Craufurd's Researches, Ch. ii. p.158.
Then the following passage from the Edinburgh Review, of the article Asiatic Researches, Vol. XV. p. 185, will prove most clearly, and beyond all doubt, that the history of Cristna, his residence at Matarea, &c., cannot have been copied from the histories in the spurious Gospels; but must have been older than the time of Alexander the great.
"Arrian (Ch. viii.) proceeds to relate that Hercules was fifteen centuries later than Bacchus. We have already seen that Bacchus was Siva; and Megasthenes distinctly points out what Indian divinity is meant by Hercules. 'He was chiefly adored by (says Arrian) by the Suraseni, who possess two large cities, Methora and Clissobora. The Jobares, a navigable river, flows through their territories.' Now Herichrisna, the chief of the Suraseni, was born in the metropolis of their country, Mathura : and the river Jamuna flows through the territory of the Suraseni, Mathura being situated on its banks, and called by Ptolemy, Matura Deorum; which can only be accounted for by its being the birth-place of Christna;" in fact, of the triplicate God Brahma, Cristna, and Seeva, three in one and one in three—the Creator, the Preserver or Saviour, and the Destroyer or Regenerator. The great city of Mathura or Methora, and the river Jobares or Jumna, could not be called after the city or river in Egypt in accommodation to the Christian story.
The statue of Cristna in the temple of Mathura is black, and the temple is built in the form of a cross,* and stands due East and West. "It is evident the Hindoos must have known the use of the Gnomon at a very remote period. Their religion commands that the four sides of their temples should correspond with the four cardinal points of the Heavens, and they are all so constructed."**
* Maur. Ind. Ant. Vol. II p.355.
** Craufurd's Res. Vol. II p.18.
Strabo* says, that close to Heliopolis was a city called Cercesura. This name and the Cercasorum of Herodotus, are, I do not doubt, corruptions of Clissobora.
* Lib. xvii.
Dr. Clarke says, "I have proved and so might any man, that no serpent, in the common sense of the term, can be intended in the third chapter of Genesis; that all the circumstances of the case, as detailed by the inspired penman, are in total hostility to the common mode of interpretation, and that some other method should be found out."*
* Class. Jour., No. VI. June, 1811, p.440.
The observation which Dr. Clarke has made is extremely valuable, that in the drawings of Sonnerat the serpent is not biting the heel of Cristna, but the side of the foot. This clearly shews that they are not servile copies of one another; but records of a mythos substantially the same. Had the Hindus copied from the Bible, they would have made the serpent bite the heel, whether it were of the mother or of the son. The story of Cristna and the serpent biting his foot, is of itself alone sufficient to prove, that the mythos of Cristna is not taken from the Romish or Greek religion of Jesus Christ, because in it, the mother, not the son, bruises the serpent : Ipsa contaret caput tuum, &c.*
VOLUME I - BOOK IV - CHAPTER II
CRUCIFIXION OF CRISTNA, AND WITTOBA OR BALJII—MOORE'S OBSERVATIONS REFUTED—MORE PARTICULARS RESPECTING THE TEMPLE OF WITTOBA—CRISTNA, BACCHUS, HERCULES, &c., TYPES OF THE REAL SAVIOUR—TAURUS AND ARIES, AND ÆRA OF CRISTNA—IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, FROM THE HISTORY OF PYTHAGORAS
…—I now present my reader with two very extraordinary histories relating to the crucifixion. I say, fiat veritas ruat cælum. Nothing can injure the cause of religious truth, except, indeed, it be the falsities, suppressions, pious frauds, and want of candour of the priests, and of its weak and ill-judging friends. The pious frauds of the priests of all religions, imperiously demand of the philosophizing critic the most severe and suspicious examination. And whether the priests of the modern British church are to form an exception, will be a subject of inquiry in the second part of this work. In the work of Mons. Guigniaut* is the following passage :
* Vol. I p.208.
"On raconte fort diversement la mort de Crichna. Une tradition remarquable et avérée le fait de périr sur un bois fatal (un arbre), ou il fut cloué d'un coup de flèche, et du haut duquel il prédit les maux qui allaient fondre sur la terre, dans le Cali-youga. En effet, trente ou trente-six ans après, commença cet âge de crimes, et de misères. Une autre tradition ajoute que le corps de l'homme-dieu fut changé en un tronc de tchandana ou sandal; et qu'ayant été jeté dans l'Yamouna, près de Mathoura, il passa de là dans les eaux saintes du Gange, qui le portèrent sur la côte d'Orissa : il y est encore adoré à Djagannatha ou Jegrenat, lieu fameux par les pélerinages, comme le symbole de reproduction et de la vie.* Il est certainement fort remarquable, quelques variantes que l'on puisse découvrir dans les différents récits, de voir Siva et Crichna réunis à Djagannatha, nom qui signifie le pays du maître du monde, en sous-entendant Kchetra; car, par lui-même, ce nom est une epithète de Crichna. La Mythologie Égyptienne nous offrira une tradition sur le corps d'Osiris, tout-à-fait analogue à la dernière que nous venons de rapporter."**
* Voy. Langlès. Monum., I., p.186, conf. pp.127, et. sq.
** Religions de l'Antiquité, du Dr. Frédéric Creuzer, par J.D. Guigniaut, Paris, Treuttel et Wurtz, Rue de Bourbon, NO.17 1825.
The first part of the above-cited passage respecting the nailing of Cristna to the fatal tree, and his prediction of the future evils of the world, is very remarkable, particularly when coupled with the following recital :
Mr. Moore describes an Avatar called Wittoba, who has his foot pierced. After stating the reason why he cannot account for it, he says, "A man who was in the habit of bringing me Hindoo deities, pictures, &c., once brought me two images exactly alike : one of them engraved in plate 98, and the subject of it will be at once seen by the most transient glance. Affecting indifference, I inquired of my Pundit what Deva it was : he examined attentively, and, after turning it about for some time, returned it to me, professing his ignorance of what Avatar it could immediately relate to, but supposed, by the hole in the foot, that it might be Wittoba; adding, that it was impossible to recollect the almost innumerable Avataras described in the Puranas."
"The subject of plate 98 is evidently the crucifixion; and, by the style of workmanship, is clearly of European origin, as is proved by its being in duplicate."*
* Moore's Ind. Pantheon, pp. 98, 416, 420.
This incarnation of Vishnu or CRISTNA is called Wittoba or Ballaji. He has a spendid temple erected to him at Punderpoor. Little respecting this incarnation is known. A story of him is detailed by Mr. Moore, which he observes reminds him of the doctrine of turning the unsmote cheek to an assailant. This God is represented by Moore with a hole on the top of one foot just above the toes, where the nail of a person crucified might be supposed to be placed. And, in another print, he is represented exactly in the form of a Romish crucifix, but not fixed to a piece of wood, though the legs and feet are put together in the usual way, with a nail-hole in the latter. There appears to be a glory over it coming from above. Generally the glory shines from the figure. It has a pointed Parthian coronet instead of a crown of thorns. …
All the Avatars or incarnations of Vishnu are painted with Ethiopian or Parthian coronets. Now, in Moore's Pantheon, the Avatar of Wittoba is thus painted; but Christ on the cross, though often described with a glory, I believe is never described with the Coronet. This proves that the figure described in Moore's Pantheon is not a Portuguese crucifix.
That nothing more is known respecting this Avatar, I cannot help suspecting may be attributed to the same kind of feeling which induced Mr. Moore's friend to wish him to remove this print from his book. The innumerable pious frauds of which Christian priests stand convicted, and the principle of the expediency of fraud admitted to have existed by Mosheim, are a perfect justification of my suspicions respecting the concealment of the history of this Avatar : especially as I can find no Wittobas in any of the collections. I repeat, I cannot help suspecting, that it is from this Avatar of Cristna that the sect of Christians heretics got their Christ crucified in the clouds.
Long after the above was written, I accidentally looked into Moore's Pantheon, at the British Museum, where it appears that the copy is an earlier impression than the former which I had consulted : and I discovered something which Mr. Moore has apparently not dared to tell us, viz. that in several of the icons of Wittoba, there are marks of holes in both feet, and in others, of holes in the hands. In the first copy which I consulted, the marks are very faint, so as to be scarcely visible. In figures 4 and 5 of plate 11, the figures have nail-holes in both feet. Fig. 3 has a hole in one hand. Fig. 6 has on his side the mark of a foot, and a little lower in the side a round hole; to his collar or shirt hangs the ornament or emblem of a heart, which we generally see in Romish pictures of Christ; on his head he has an Yoni-Linga. In plate 12, and in plate 97, he has a round mark in the palm of the hand. …
Figure 1, plate 91, of Moore's Pantheon, is a Hanuman, but it is remarkable that it has a hole in one foot, a nail through the other, a round nail mark in the palm of one hand and on the knuckle of the other, and is ornamented with doves and a five-headed Cobra snake.
It is unfortunate, perhaps it has been thought prudent, that the originals are not in the Museum to be examined. But it is pretty clear that the Romish and Protestant crucifixion of Jesus must have been taken from the Avatar of Ballaji, or the Avatar of Ballaji from it, or both from a common mythos.
It cannot and will not be denied, that these circumstances make this Avatar and its temples at Terputty, in the Carnatic, and Punderpoor near Poonah, the most interesting to the Christian world of any in India. Pilgrimages are made to the former, particularly from Guzerat. Why have not some of our numerous missionaries examined them ? Will any person believe that they have not ? Why is not the account of the search in the published transactions of the Missionary Society ? There is plenty of nonsense in their works about Juggernaut and his temple. Was it suppressed for the same reason that the father of Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius, admits that the suppressed matters relating to the Christians, and among the rest, I suppose, the murder of Crispus, by his father Constantine, viz. that it was not of good report ? It would be absurd to deny that I must believe this to be the fact. When Mr. Moore wrote, Terputty was in the possession of the English, who made a profit of £15,000 a year of the temple. The silence itself of our literati and missionaries speaks volumes.
I shall presently make some observations on the celebrated Hercules, and I shall shew that he is the same as Cristna, a supposed incarnation of the Sun in Aries. On this God the very celebrated and learned divine Parkhurst makes the following observation :* "But the labours of Hercules seem to have had a still higher view, and to have been originally designed as emblematic memorials of what the real Son of God, and Saviour of the world, was to do and suffer for our sakes, … bringing a cure for all our ills, as the Orphic hymn speaks of Hercules."
Here Mr. Parkhurst proceeds as a Christian priest, who is honest and a believer in his religion, ought to do. This is very different from denying a fact or concealing it. …
For a long time I endeavoured to find some reason or meaning for the story of the crown of thorns, so unlike any thing in history but itself, but in which the prejudices of our education prevent us seeing any absurdity. I have at last come to an opinion, which I know will be scouted by every one who has not very closely attended to the extreme ignorance of the first professors of Christianity, and it is this, that the idea of the thorns has been taken from the pointed Parthian coronet of Wittoba or Balaji. Not understanding it, and too much blinded by their zeal to allow themselves time to think, as in many other instances, they have run away with the first impression which struck them. If I were not well acquainted with the meanness of understanding of these devotees, I should not certainly harbour this opinion, but it is more absurd than many other of their superstitions.
In many of the most ancient temples of India, the Bull, as an object of adoration, makes a most conspicuous figure. A gigantic image of one protrudes from the front of the temple of the Great Creator, called in the language of the country, Jaggernaut, in Orissa. This is the Bull of the Zodiac,—the emblem of the sun when the equinox took place in the first degree of the sign of the Zodiac, Taurus. In consequence of the precession of the equinoxes, the sun at the vernal equinox left Taurus, and took place in Aries, which it has left also for a great number of years, and it now takes place in Aquarius. Thus it keeps receding about one degree in 72 years, and about a whole sign in 2160 years. According to this calculation, it is about 2500 by the true Zodiac, before the time of Christ, since it was in the same degree of Taurus. M. Dupuis has demonstrated that the labours of Hercules are nothing but a history of the passage of the sun through the signs of the Zodiac;* and that Hercules is the sun in Aries or the Ram, Bacchus the sun in Taurus or the Bull. From this it follows that the worship of the Jaggernaut must have been instituted, and his temple probably built, near 6500 years ago, and that the temple and worship of Cristna, or the Indian Hercules, must have taken place at least, by probably about, 2160 years later. This brings the date of Cristna to about 2500 years before Christ. … The adoration of the Bull of the Zodiac is to be met with every where throughout the world, in the most opposite climes. The examples of it are innumerable and incontrovertible; they admit of no dispute.
* In the sphere, Hercules treads in the serpent's head. See Dupuis.
… The life of Pythagoras will shew us where the Christians may have got the particulars which differ from the history of Cristna. The early fathers travelling for information, which was the case with Papias, Hegesippus, Justin, &c., mixed the traditions relating to Pythagoras, which they found spread all the over the East, with those relating to the Indian Cristna, and from the two formed their own system. Pythagoras himself having drawn many of his doctrines, &c., from the Indian school, the commixture could scarcely be avoided. Thus we find the few peculiarities respecting the birth of Jesus, such as the immaculate conception, wherein the history of Jesus differs from that of Cristna, exactly copied from the life of Pythagoras. And the circumstances relating to the immaculate conception by the mother of Pythagoras, I have no doubt were taken from the history of Buddha, as I shall shew in my next chapter, and from the virgin of the celestial sphere—herself of Oriental origin. Thus from a number of loose traditions at last came to be formed, by very ignorant and credulous persons, the complete history of the Jesus Christ of the Romish Church, as we know it. …
The first striking circumstance in which the history of Pythagoras agrees with the history of Jesus is, that they were natives of nearly the same country; the former being born at Sidon, the latter at Bethlehem, both in Syria. The father of Pythagoras, as well as the father of Jesus, was prophetically informed that his wife should bring forth a son, who should be a benefactor to mankind. They were both born when their mothers were from home on journeys : Joseph and his wife having gone to Bethlehem to be taxed, and the father of Pythagoras having travelled from Samos, his residence, to Sidon, about his mercantile concerns. Pythais, the mother of Pythagoras, had a connexion with an Apolloniacal spectre, or ghost, of the God Apollo, or God Sol, (of course this must have been a holy ghost, and here we have THE HOLY GHOST,) which afterward appeared to her husband, and told him that he must have no connexion with his wife during her pregnancy—a story evidently the same as that relating to Joseph and Mary. From these peculiar circumstances, Pythagoras was known by the same identical title of Jesus, namely, the Son of God; and was supposed by the multitude to be under the influence of Divine inspiration.
When young, he was of a very grave deportment, and was celebrated for his philosophical appearance and wisdom. He wore his hair long, after the manner of the Nazarites, whence he was called the long-haired Samian. And I have no doubt that he was a Nazarite for the term of his natural life, and the person called his daughter was only a person figuratively so called.
He spent many years of his youth in Egypt, where he was instructed in the secret learning of the priests, as Jesus, in the Apocryphal Gospels, is said to have been, and was carried thence to Babylon by Cambyses, the iconoclast and restorer of the Jewish religion and temple, where he was initiated into the doctrines of the Persian Magi. Thence he went to India, where he learned the doctrines of the Brahmins. Before he went to Egypt he spent some time at Sidon, Tyre, and Biblos, learning the secret mysteries of all these places. Whilst in this country he chiefly dwelt in a temple on Mount Carmel; probably in the temple of Jove, in which there was no image. After his return from India, he is stated to have travelled about the world, to Egypt, Syria, Greece, Italy, &c., preaching reformation of manners to these different nations, and leaving among them numbers of proselytes. He was generally favoured by the people, but as generally persecuted by the governments; which almost always persecute real philanthropists. Here are certainly some circumstances in this history very like those in the histories of Jesus.
The stories told of the mother of Pythagoras having had connexion with an Apolloniacal spectre, is not the only one of the kind : the same story is told of Plato, who was said to be born of Parectonia, without connexion with his father Ariston, but by a connexion with Apollo. On this ground the really very learned Origen defends the immaculate conception, assigning, also, in confirmation of the fact, the example of Vultures, (Vautours,) who propagate without the male. What a striking proof that a person may possess the greatest learning, and yet be in understanding the weakest of mankind !
It seems to be quite impossible for any person of understanding to believe, that the coincidence of these histories of Plato* and Pythagoras, with that of Jesus, can be the effect of accident. Then how can they be accounted for otherwise than by supposing that in their respective orders of time they were all copies of one another ? How the priests are to explain away these circumstances I cannot imagine, ingenious as they are. They cannot say that Jamblicus, knowing the history of Christ, attributed it to the philosophers, because he quotes for his authorities Epimenides, Xenocrates, and Olimpiodorus, who all lived long previous to the birth of Christ.
* Vide Olimpiodorus's Life of Plato.
Link to Volume I - Book V.