Śrīla Prabhupāda and the Aquarian Gospel

Srila-Sridhara-MaharajaŚrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja - A Biographical Sketch
Sriya-SukaŚrīyā Śuka

by Swami B.G. Narasingha

Did Jesus come to Jagannātha Purī? In ‘Śrīla Prabhupāda and the Aquarian Gospel’ by Swami B.G. Narasingha (under the pseudonym ‘Pradeep Sharma') written on January 21st 2006 for the Sampradaya Sun, he explores the origins of this story, and what Śrīla Prabhupāda said.

In some conversations, Śrīla Prabhupāda has mentioned the Aquarian Gospel which states that Jesus was in Jagannātha Purī. However, we cannot accept the Aquarian Gospel as admissible evidence. The Aquarian Gospel is not a Gospel recognized by religious scholars. This pretense of a Gospel is the work of a 20th century American named Levi H. Dowling that he supposedly channeled from the Akashic records in 1908. Of course receiving knowledge via revelation (the Akashic records) is certainly possible, but the Aquarian Gospel fails to pass the test of spirituality. Unfortunately, many people confuse the Aquarian Gospel for a gospel from antiquity when truthfully it is not.

Our research has revealed that Prabhupāda sometimes discussed the Aquarian Gospel, but we have not found that he actually recommended it to his disciples. In fact, we have found evidence showing that Prabhupāda ultimately rejected the Aquarian Gospel. Prabhupāda writes:

“Regarding Aquarian Gospel of Lord Jesus The Christ, I have taken some stray extracts just to support our views, but we don’t give any importance to that book. (Letter to Tamāla-Kṛṣṇa, 14 Sept. 1969)

Also Prabhupāda has written:

“Regarding your question about Lord Jesus Christ, we accept him as śaktyāveśa-avatāra. Lord Buddha is in the same category also. Lord Buddha is mentioned specifically in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam as incarnation of Godhead, and yet Vaiṣṇavas do not accept his philosophy, which is classified as atheism. Similarly, even if we accept Lord Jesus Christ as śaktyāveśa-avatāra, it doesn’t mean that we have to accept his philosophy. But we have all respects for him without fail. Regarding books like Aquarian Gospel or even the Testaments, we cannot accept them as authorities because sometimes it is learnt that the words are not actually spoken by Christ, but they are so set up by the devotees.” (Letter to Haṁsadūta, Nov.2, 1969)

Additionally, it should be mentioned that in the Aquarian Gospel where it is mentioned that Jesus went to Purī it also says that he (Jesus) criticized Lord Jagannātha. We have noted that the style of the Aquarian Gospel takes the same platform against Jagannātha and Vedic Culture as did the bulk of missionaries in India during the 18th and 19th centuries. Possibly Dowling’s intent was to gain acceptability for his literary creation among the Christian critics of Jagannātha. In any case the Aquarian Gospel casts Jesus in the role of an offender to Śrī Jagannātha.

Chapter 24 of the Aquarian Gospel states –

“In Purī, Jesus asks the brāhmaṇas about caste. The brāhmaṇas explain that according to the śāstra, the brāhmaṇas came from the mouth of Parabrahma, the kṣatriyas from the arms, the vaiśyas from the thighs and the śūdras from His feet.

“Jesus exclaims that Parabrahma is not a God of justice and of right; for with his own strong hand he has exulted one and brought another low. The brāhmaṇas become angry at his blasphemy and with threats of violence, drove him from Purī.”

Chapter 26 of the Aquarian Gospel states –

“During the Ratha Yātrā festival, Jesus witnesses the cart of Jagannātha being pulled and says, “Behold, a form without a spirit passes by; a body with no soul; a temple with no altar fires. This car of Kṛṣṇa is an empty thing, for Kṛṣṇa is not there. This car is but an idol of a people drunk on wine of carnal things. God lives not in the noise of tongues; there is no way to him from any idol shrine. God’s meeting place with man is in the heart, and in a still small voice he speaks; and he who hears is still.”

“The people ask Jesus, ‘To whom shall we bring gifts? Where shall we offer sacrifice?’ Jesus replies -’“Our Father-God asks not for needless waste of plant, of grain, of dove, of lamb. That which you burn on any shrine you throw away. No blessings can attend the one who takes the food from hungry mouths to be destroyed by fire. When you would offer sacrifice unto our God, just take your gift of grain, or meat and lay it on the table of the poor. From it an incense will arise to heaven, which will return to you with blessedness.’

(Note: If we are to take the above as the actual teachings of Jesus to serve the poor – even non-veg – rather than the Deity, then we must also accept Vivekānanda as an incarnation of God or at least on an equal status to Jesus since he also taught ‘manava sevā – mādhava sevā’ – service to man is service to God).

“Tear down your idols; they can hear you not; turn all your sacrificial altars into fuel for the flames. Make human hearts your altars, and burn your sacrifices with the fire of love.”

Sweet words of atheism – but no spiritual substance!

This reference above certainly contains a mixture of both pleasing and disturbing words. Such is the work of rascals. Throw in a few words at the end like “human hearts”, “love” and “sacrifice” to make it sound like something acceptable, but the gist of the above quote, if indeed true, certainly makes Jesus out to be offensive to Śrī Jagannātha.

Some devotees wrote to me saying that Jesus was a pure devotee but according to the Aquarian Gospel, Jesus came to India not to receive anything but only to give – to give ‘pagan idolaters’ something they knew nothing about, God. This idea is unacceptable that a pure devotee comes to India, but only finds fault and learns nothing.

In conclusion, Śrīla Prabhupāda says that he does not accept the Aquarian Gospel as bona fide nor does it appear that he accepted the Bible and other non-Vedic scriptures. Prabhupāda says,

“The śāstras of the Yavanas, or meat-eaters, are not eternal scriptures. They have been fashioned recently, and sometimes they contradict one another. The scriptures of the Yavanas are three: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran. Their compilation has a history; they are not eternal like the Vedic knowledge. Therefore, although they have their arguments and reasoning, they are not very sound and transcendental. As such, modern people advanced in science and philosophy, deem these scriptures unacceptable.” (Cc. Ādi. 17,169 purport)

However, if we choose to accept the Yavana scriptures as a bona fide truth, in this case the Aquarian Gospel, then Jesus is made out to be an offender. So either the Aquarian Gospel is a fraud or Jesus is a fraud or both are frauds. In any case we do not find these books useful for attaining transcendental knowledge.

Srila-Sridhara-MaharajaŚrīla B.R. Śrīdhara Mahārāja - A Biographical Sketch
Sriya-SukaŚrīyā Śuka

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