Both Jesus and Krishna were Gods borne by mortal woman, but this just a beginning of the story about their similarities. Their lives and teachings have much more in common.
The Christmas story about the birth of Jesus Christ is famous all over the world. The gospels are telling us how Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem shortly before the birth of Christ. They were poor and suffered many hardships, culminating in having to stay and give birth in a stable. After the birth, the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt as the newborn’s life was threatened by the cruel king Herod. Afraid of the prophecy that he will lose his throne to new King of Jews, Herod was desperately trying to kill all newborn male children in the village of Bethlehem.
In the case of Krishna, the King in question was not Herod but Kamsa. As legend says, Krishna’s parents, Devaki and Vasudeva, had already been in the dungeon of the tyrannical king Kamsa for several years when Krishna was born. Kamsa was holding them captive because of a prophecy that warned him that thee child of his cousin Devaki would destroy him. Just like Herod, Kamsa, too, committed the crime of infanticide, killing all of Devaki’s children as soon as they were born. But all his plans failed because the Lord Vishnu appeared to Devaki and her husband Vasudeva, announcing that he himself would soon be born as Devaki’s eighth child. Vishnu helped Vasudeva in miracoulosly escaping from jail and bringing newborn Lord Krishna to safety.
Similarly, the infant Jesus also had to be saved from the wrath of the cruel emperor Herod, with the only difference that God warned Mary and Joseph by means of an angel, urging them to flee with the child to Egypt.
The resemblance of the lives of Christ and Krishna doesn’t end here. Both grew up among simple people and continued to have special bonds to simple folks throughout their lives. Christ recruited his disciples from fishermen while Krishna grew up among cowherds. During all of Krishna’s life Radha, a shepherd girl, was to be the woman closest to his heart. Both Christ and Krishna were seen as embodimentof love, peace and understanding; both performed miracles of various kinds.
The father of the Krishna Consciousness Movement AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Parbhupada once remarked: “When an Indian person calls on Krishna, he often says, Krsta. Krsta is a Sanskrit word meaning attraction. So when we address God as Christ, Krsta, or Krishna we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead”.
Hindus believe that Jesus, like Lord Krishna, is just another avatar of the Divine, who came down to show humanity in the righteous way of life. This is another point where Krishna resembles Christ, a figure who is both “fully human and fully divine.”
Krishna and Jesus were both saviors of mankind and avatars of God who have returned to earth at an especially critical time in the lives of their people. They were the incarnates of the Divine Being Himself in human form to teach human beings divine love, divine power, divine wisdom.
These two most admired of religious icons also claim to hold the completeness of their religions by themselves.
At many places in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna said about His oneness with God: “I am the way, come to Me. Neither the multitude of gods, nor great sages know my origin, for I am the source of all the gods and great sages.” In the Holy Bible, Jesus also utters the same in the Gospels: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well…”
According to New Testament John the Baptist baptized Jesus in Jordan River and it marked a beginning in Jesus Christ’s public ministry. John the Baptist preached a baptism for the forgiveness of sins and in so doing he was preparing the way for the Lord.
Baptizing that John the Baptist was performing might have its roots in old Hindu ceremony Khumba Mela. According to Hindu beliefs, submerging one’s body in the water of the Ghanges River have purifying effects on body and spirit. Each year tens of millions of Hindus gather on the banks of Ganges to take part in that holly ceremony.
Both Christianity and Hinduism attribute miraculous powers to the consecrated water. Beside being used in Christianity in the sacrament of baptizing, the water sanctified by priest, known as Holly Water is used for blessing people, places, objects, as well as for repelling evil and protection from it. Hindus believe that water have spiritually cleansing powers. Small bottles with Ganges water taken during pilgrimage is kept near the pictures or statues of Gods in home altars or in the temples. Ganges water is used in ceremonies and if possible a sip of Ganges water is given to the dying person.
Christians are holding their palms together in prayer in the same manner how Hindu perform their traditional gesture Namste (Sanskrit for “I bow to you”), used both as a greeting and in prayer.
The fact that some elements of Christianity might be derived from certain Hindu ceremonies, customs and legends does not necessarily undermine the value of Christianity and the hope of salvation it offered to many. The Rigveda says “The truth is One, but sages call it by different Names”.
In reality, the parallels in the lives of these two great masters probably stem from the fact that both of them were embodiments of great spiritual, universal truths contained in Veda.
THE ROUTES OF KNOWLEDGE
Watching the world from our 21st century perspective with intercontinental flights and bullet speed trains, we sometimes forget that people were traveling thousands of years before those inventions. Horse is strong and enduring animal and on its back it is possible to travel many miles a day.
We all know of Marco Polo and his travels to India and China in 13th century. But Marco Polo was not the only one traveling so far. There were many other merchants from Europe doing the same – traveling far and wide to bring silk and spices from India and Far East. We know about Marco Polo because he was writer and he was writing books about his travels, and not because he was the only one traveling in those times.
Through the same routes that silk and spices were traveling, knowledge, myths and legends traveled as well. And it went both ways. It were not only Europeans who were traveling, there were people who were traveling from the Orient to Europe.
In 14th century Ibn Batuta, a Moroccan Berber Islamic scholar and traveler wrote about his journeys to different parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. Ibn Batuta also wrote about his travels and excursions and published his accounts of faraway countries he saw. Again, the same as in the case of Marco Polo, we know today about Ibn Batuta not because he was the only one, but because he was a writer so he left a written record of his journeys. Between Europe and Asia the exchange of knowledge and customs was greater than one might expect. Today cultures influence one another and so they did for thousands of years.
Being aware that ancient people were traveling to far places makes the link between Christianity and Hinduism more clear. Keeping this in mind, it does not look so impossible that baptizing people by submerging them in the river Jordan and the Hindus Khumba Mela ceremony performed at the banks of Ganges might have the same origin, or that the Rosary prayer beads used by some Christian denominations were inspired by the Hindu prayer beads called Japa Mala.