Posted on May 3rd, 2019

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

Kashmir has been referred to as Paradise on Earth” owing to its stunning natural beauty. The great Buddhist Emperor Asoka (273-236 BCE) was instrumental in introducing Buddhism to Kashmir. The introduction of Buddhism to Kashmir is of great historic importance because it was from Kashmir that Buddhism spread to the Himalayan region and beyond including Tibet. Kashmir played an important role in spread of Buddhism to Central Asia and eventually China. For more than 1300 years, from the 3rd century BCE to about the 12 century CE, Kashmir was inhabited by Buddhists. Kashmir flourished under illustrious Buddhist kings such as Jalouk, Hushka, Jushka followed by the great King Kanishka. This illustrious Buddhist Kingdom was marked by magnificent Buddhist shrines, monasteries, stupes, Buddha and Bodhisattva statues and other Buddhist monuments. It was a place adorned with exquisite Buddhist art, sculpture and architecture of high aesthetic and spiritual appeal.

Besides, it was a renowned place of Buddhist learning and practice. It was inhabited by many celebrated Buddhist scholar monks of high repute, including Asvaghosha the reputed Buddhist writer, Nagarjuna the philosopher, Vasumitra the Buddhist scholar, Charaka the physician, Samgharaksha the chaplain, Mathara  the politician and Agisala the engineer.  Learning and literature greatly expanded due to the patronage of king Kanishka. The Sanskrit language and literature flourished during this period and Sanskrit religious and secular literature were greatly enriched under the royal patronage. Several eminent Buddhist scholars wrote outstanding books in Sanskrit during this period time, including highly learned scholars such as Aswaghosha, Nagarjuna, Vasumitra, and Charaka.  Being an ardent and devoted Buddhist, king Kanishka was instrumental in organizing and holding a Buddhist Council or Conference in Kashmir, under the leadership of famous Buddhist scholar monks Vasumitra and Asvaghosha, with the participation of several leading scholars and monks including Parsva and Nagaijuna. In order to safeguard the original thinking in Buddhism which the Mahayana school refers to as Sarvastivada” or Vaibhashika” reputed Buddhist scholars at the time came to Kashmir and compiled a detailed and authentic commentary of this philosophy. This monumental work was completed in Kashmir and was known as ‘Abhidharma Mahavtbhashashastra ‘ which was translated to Chinese in year 383 CE.

Scholars and pilgrims came to Kashmir from many distant places in order to study the teachings of the Buddha, at the feet of these renowned scholars. It is reported that there were more than five hundred Buddhist scholars in Kashmir during the reign of King Kanishka in the 1st century CE. Much like Emperor Asoka, King Kanishka resorted to missionary activities for the spread of Buddhism outside India, to distant countries including Tibet, China, Myanmar. Mongolia and Japan.


Muslim Mughal invasion of Kashmir started during the early 11th century at a time when Kashmir was faced with political turmoil with internal rivalries within its royalty. These conditions led to disruption of Buddhist activities and the Buddhist community was in disarray, paving the way for Muslim invasion of Kashmir. A ruthless Mughal chief named Zulju led a savage raid of Kashmir causing severe destruction, including the massacre of Buddhists and Hindus. The Kashmir king fled Kashmir and the Mughal chief brought Kashmir under Muslim rule.

The Mughal occupation of Kashmir was marked by widespread bloodshed and destruction and forced conversion of Buddhists and Hindus to Islam. Most of the magnificent Buddhist shrines, monasteries, places of learning and monuments were destroyed. In the early part of the 13th century, there was another Mughal invasion of Kashmir which led to Kashmir becoming a Mughal dependency and the stationing of a Mughal Governor referred to as, Darughachi to administer Kashmir. A brutal and cruel period followed with people facing immense hardships. Their rule was the cruellest that the Kashmir people ever faced.  Buddhists of Kashmir were ruthlessly forced to convert to Islam. In the mid-13th century, the Buddhists and Hindus of Kashmir revolted unsuccessfully against the Muslims and this led to further subjugation of Kashmiris and forced conversions becoming the order of the day.   By the 14th century, Islam became the dominant religion in Kashmir. The former glory of the Buddhist culture of Kashmir was lost forever and Kashmir has continued for many centuries to be a place of turmoil and insecurity.


Mughals ruled Kashmir for 167 long years, with the help of 35 governors who looted and plundered Kashmir. Tyranny was the order of the day and any whimper of rebellion was crushed mercilessly. Numerous Kashmiri Buddhists and Hindus laid their life in the process for the sake of independence. Since the 15th century, Kashmir was raided and attacked several times by the Afghans, Sikhs and Dogras and a highly troubled situation, marked by turmoil and insecurity continued to prevail in Kashmir until modern times.   Mughal rule came to an end in 1753 CE with the capture of capture of Kashmir by the Afghans. This proved to be a worst nightmare for Kashmiris. Muslim Afghans crossed all boundaries of civilization, killing, raping, plundering, looting, brutally torturing non-Muslims. It is reported that no woman was safe in her house during this brutal Afghan rule. Mass migration of Buddhists and Hindus out of their native Kashmir took place during this time. In desperation, many Kashmiri people turned to the powerful Sikh ruler of the Punjab – Ranjit Singh, who, accompanied by Gulab Singh, Raja of Jammu, eventually drove out the Moghal Afghans from Kashmir.   In 1819, Afghans were defeated by Sikh forces led by Ranjit Singh, and the Sikhs did not prove any better. Destruction and killing became rampant. The troubled situation continued until the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and the division of Kashmir into Indian administered Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir.


In recent years, European scholars have asserted that Jesus Christ spent a good part of his life in Buddhist Kashmir and was deeply influenced by Buddhist teachings. This was in the 1st century CE, at the time when the kingdom of Kashmir was ruled by the great Buddhist king Kanishka-I. This was the time of great Buddhist cultural and intellectual revival and the time when the historic Taxila and Nalanda Universities were at their peak in terms of Buddhist studies.

There is an undocumented time-span between Jesus’s childhood and the beginning of his ministry as recorded in the gospels or Bibles. The belief among Christians is that Jesus lived in Nazareth during this period, but there are various accounts that present other scenarios, including travels to India. Several authors have claimed to have found proof of the existence of manuscripts in India and Tibet that support the belief that Christ was in India during this time in his life. Among the several authors who have written on this subject are Nicolas Notovitch (1894), Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (founder of Ahmadiyya movement) (1899), Levi H. Dowling (1908), Swami Abhedananda (1922),  Nicholas Roerich (1923–1928),  Mathilde Ludendorff (1930), and Elizabeth Clare Prophet (founder of Ascended Master Teachings New Age group) (1956).

According to the German Holger Kersten’s book published in1894, titled “Jesus Lived in India” which is regarded as a thorough, methodical and authoritative examination of the evidence of Christ’s life beyond the Middle East before crucifixion and in India and elsewhere after it. He asserts that after the crucifixion, Jesus came to Kashmir in India with his Mother Mary and finally his death and entombment happened in Kashmir. He notes that there are many parallels of Christ’s teachings with those in Buddhism.

Nicolai Notovich a Russian scholar was the first to suggest that Christ may have gone to India. In 1887, he visited Kashmir and was a guest in a Buddhist monastery, where a monk told him of a bodhisattva saint called “Issa” who had come to Kashmir from somewhere and who had lived and died in Kashmir. According to Notovich’s extensive research, for about sixteen years, Christ travelled through Turkey, Persia and Western Europe and finally arrived with Mary at a place near Kashmir, where she died. He was a great prophet who was venerated by the people of Kashmir at that time, and after many years in Kashmir as a reformer he died and was buried in a tomb in Kashmir. In this light, not only Buddhists, but Christians, who venerate Jesus Christ also should be concerned about the tragedy that befell Kashmir owing to the savage Muslim hostility, violence, atrocities and misdemeanors, in ancient times.

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane


  1. aloy Says:

    These extremists made a blunder, perhaps to save their drug trade orchestrated from places like Dubai. If they waited another ten years, they could have taken over this country even without a fight. The imbeciles in the parliament would have sold the country to them with help of corrupt media. It is MR who started it. Media have no shame to interview the perpetrators and white wash them. I believe this is also for money.

  2. Christie Says:

    Now Hinduthwa imperialists are taking over Kashmir. Jai Hind

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