When Edward T.Martin was serving in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan in 1974, he drank a bottle of beer called Murree Beer. The bartender explained that the beer was made in the Pakistan town of Murree, which is named after Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In Murree, Pakistan, they claim that Mother Mary is buried there. The stories about how that town and beer came to be named Murree stoked Ed Martin’s curiosity as to whether Jesus and Mother Mary had ever traveled away from Israel to India and even up to the Himalayan mountains of Kashmir and Tibet, as many people in India have claimed. As a Fundamentalist Christian and member of the Church of Christ in Lampasas, Texas, hearing the claim that Mary was buried in Pakistan was not particularly welcome. In fact he was so upset that he… well, had another beer.
Later, Ed stumbled across a book by Nicholas Notovitch from the 1890’s telling of Notovitch’s discovery of a crucial ancient manuscript at the Buddhist monastery of Hemis, high in the Himalayas at Ladakh, India (part of the current Indian province of Jammu and Kashmir). This had a profound influence on him, for Notovitch claimed that the document he saw and translated (and published as THE SECRET LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST) came from an ancient manuscript called THE LIFE OF ST. ISSA, THE BEST OF THE SONS OF MEN. In India, St. Issa has long been the name for Jesus. And the manuscript, purportedly written soon after the crucifixion, filled in the prominent details of Jesus’ life from the missing years.
The concept that Jesus was in India during those lost years is not new to anyone in India, be they Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or even Christian. After all, it was well known that the Apostle Thomas had brought Christianity to India after the crucifixion and preached there for about twenty years. Jesus had sent him. And it is easy for Indians to believe Jesus was sending Thomas to a country Jesus already knew well.
The stories of Jesus in the temple of Jagannath and of Jesus (after purportedly surviving the crucifixion) living on in Kashmir as the spiritual advisor to King Shalivahan are so well known in India they were commented upon recently by the magazine INDIA TODAY (which is much like TIME magazine in the U.S.). There was definitely an ancient Jewish influence on Kashmir. There was very strong evidence of the influence of a “lost tribe of Israel” living in Kashmir that had an impact upon Kashmir’s language, place names (there’s a temple of Solomon there) and customs. Even Prime Minister Nehru of India confirmed the deep-seated traditional beliefs in Jesus’ travels in India. To Edward T. Martin, it seemed only logical that the Messiah, dedicated to reuniting the Israeli lost tribes, would take on the responsibility of such travels in India, and since the New Testament tells nothing about eighteen long years of Jesus’ life, the quest for evidence seemed well founded.
I had heard about many of these issues and controversies since the late 1990’s, when a close friend of mine, Robert Rotstan, Jr., began telling me about the legends and the apparent evidence for Jesus having traveled to India during the so-called “Missing 18 Years.” Rotstan served as production designer (with Eva Fried) on my “STARRY NIGHT,” and later he was an associate producer of one of my subsequent projects, “THE ARTIST AND THE SHAMAN.”
Bob introduced me to Edward T. Martin and urged me to read his book, KING OF TRAVELERS: JESUS’ LOST YEARS IN INDIA. Ed had been aware of my film work (and my appreciation for controversial topics) for over a decade. He first heard about me when a film about the Roswell incident on which I served as executive producer and co-writer was broadcast on Showtime. He told me he subscribed to Showtime just to see my film. Later, that film was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best TV Motion Picture (“ROSWELL,” starring Kyle MacLachlan, Martin Sheen and Dwight Yoakam, from Viacom in 1994).
After reading Ed’s book, I wanted to undertake a project about this subject with Ed, but the idea just sort of percolated while I embarked on making “THE SCI-FI BOYS,” which eventually (in 2007) won numerous prestigious awards. However, my first two years of work on “THE SCI-FI BOYS” came to a close with the film still unfinished without any interested distributors, even rejected by virtually every film festival. Like most independent projects, it had a long history of rejection. This was before director Peter Jackson discovered the unfinished film and helped me with it while he was promoting “RETURN OF THE KING” and making “KING KONG.”
With "THE SCI-FI BOYS" unfinished and “on the shelf” in 2005, I was understandably frustrated and looking for a change of direction. A strong desire came over me, a feeling that it was time for me to travel to India for the first time and really see the wonders of that country. Fortunately, I have a very understanding wife who had a very responsible position as a senior vice-president at Universal Pictures, and she had a busy summer in 2005, with a “full slate” of premieres to plan. She thus was very tolerant of my need to go to India. She knew that I had always found inspiration in the writings of the Indian philosopher, writer and teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda, who had spent much of his life in Los Angeles, where he established Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). In fact, for most of our married life, we had lived near the SRF Mother Center, a place of great gardens and spiritual inspiration. Yogananda had also claimed that Jesus had visited India during the “Missing Years” of ages 12 to 30.
At about that time I heard from Ed Martin again, in the spring of 2005. Ed, a teacher of English as a second language, had made arrangements for an entire summer of research in India, and he asked me to come to India with him and finally commit to making a film about this quest for knowledge about unanswered questions relating to the life of Jesus. Once I learned of Ed’s plans, I made the decision to put together the resources to make this film literally overnight. That’s the way it’s been my entire professional life. One day I’m sitting around in the doldrums, wondering where life will take me next, and the next morning I’m suddenly making another movie.
And that, more or less, is how this unusual and beautiful motion picture came to be.
The entire story of our filming in India, with transcripts of many of the interviews from JESUS IN INDIA will be published in 2008 in Edward T. Martin’s new book, JESUS IN INDIA: THE MAKING OF THE FILM AND NEW FINDINGS ON JESUS' LOST YEARS. There will also be a new edition of Edward T. Martin’s first book, KING OF TRAVELERS: JESUS’ LOST YEARS IN INDIA. Both books will be released by Yellow Hat Productions Publishing, 5190 Neil Road Suite #430, Reno, NV 89502.
You will be able to order the books at this website as soon as they are available. You may send an email indictating your interest here.
(Learn more about Paul Davids’ previous books and films at www.pauldavids.com and www.starrynightmovie.com )