You know what is something I hate? Blatantly wrong information being propagated with absolutely no credible sources or any semblance of fact checking. You know what is something related to that that makes me rage even more? Those dumb “Jesus is really these many pagan gods” memes that became popular after films like Zeitgeist and Bill Mahr’s painfully unfunny Religulous. You know what is the crème de la crème of all this rage? When people say that Jesus Christ is really just a rip off of Krishna. After all, Christ sounds vaguely similar to Krishna!
Take THAT, Christians! Where’s your god now?!?
But in all seriousness, it’s really painful to see these memes still being taken seriously; even after a decade of people debunking these kinds of claims. No credible scholar in their field takes the idea that somehow Jesus is a rip off of Horus or Mithra seriously. Granted, there are actual claims to be made against the divinity of Christ, but a kind of divine copyright infringement ain’t one of them. Now, since I’m no scholar or historian of any kind, I can’t talk about Horus, Mithra, or Dionysus’ “similarities” to Jesus. However, as a practitioner of Hinduism, I can talk about the alleged Christ-Krishna connections and show that, at best, they’re superficial. At worst, down right false. I won’t go over every “similarity”, but I will go over the ones most propagated.
Claim: Krishna was born of a Virgin, just like Jesus
Fact: If one just reads Hindu scriptures, this one is obviously false. Krishna’s birth mother, Devaki, had 7 other children before giving birth to Krishna. His adoptive mother, Yashoda, had at least one other child. So neither of his maternal figures were virgins when he was born or raised. Hell, one can make the claim that Krishna wasn’t even “born”. Vishnu appeared for a minute and then Krishna was there.
Not to mention, there are debates as to what the Greek word παρθένος (parthenos) means in relation to Mary. More traditional scholars say it’s virgin, while others debate that it just means a young, unmarried woman.
Claim: Jesus and Krishna were called both a God/Son of God
Fact: Yes, Krishna is considered God, but he was never once considered to be the “son” of God. In fact, the only time he ever really revealed his true nature (in words) was in the Bhagavad Gita to his friend Arjuna.
“I am the source of all. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this serve Me with all their hearts. With minds absorbed in Me and lives surrendered to Me, they enlighten one another and find deep satisfaction in speaking of Me always, tasting transcendental bliss. To those always absorbed in serving Me with love, I give the understanding that leads to Me. Out of compassion for them, dwelling in their hearts, I destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” – Bhagavad Gita; Chapter 10, verses 8-11
Also, unlike Christ, Krishna is only considered to have a human-like form. He is 100% God, not divine and man at the same time. Furthermore, just to nip this in the bud, there really isn’t a concept of a “trinity” in Hinduism. Yes, some try to say that there is a Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trinity, but only Universalist Hindus seem to follow it. More traditional Hindus generally don’t.
Claim: Krishna’s father was a carpenter.
Fact: No, his “father” was a king. His adoptive father’s occupation is never really revealed, but it can be inferred that he’s a cow herder or farmer.
Claim: Both were visited at birth by wise men/shepherds. There was also a star in the eastern sky.
Not true. When Krishna was born, his earth father took him across a river guided by a multi-headed snake named Adi-shesha. This was to save him from a certain death. There were no wise men or star involved.
Also, he was not born on December 25th.
Claim: Angels issued a warning that the local dictator planned to kill the baby and had issued a decree for his assassination. The parents fled. Mary and Joseph stayed in Muturea; Krishna’s parents stayed in Mathura
Fact: Oh my God.
No angels came to Krishna’s parents. God himself decreed that a child would be born that would overthrow Kamsa (his Earth mother’s brother). Later, Durga came to warn Kamsa, but no angels were involved. Also, Krishna’s parents never escaped. They stayed in prison in Mathura until their son came back. There is no evidence of a place called Muturea (?) that Mary and Joseph escaped to.
Claim: Both performed miracles. Krishna even healed the sick and raised the dead
Fact: This is technically false. Not once did Krishna heal any sick or raise the dead. In fact, he didn’t even really perform “miracles”. His were more like feats of strength by defeating demons. The only real miracle that happened (and this is admittedly reaching) is that his adoptive mother, Yashoda, saw the universe in the baby Krishna’s mouth. That’s it.
Claim: They were both crucified and resurrected on the third day
Fact: Krishna was shot by an arrow and died in a tree. Aside from dying slightly elevated from the ground, his and Jesus’ deaths were not the same in any way.
Like I said, there are a lot more examples that are propagated as being true, but if one just takes the time to actually research the doctrines, scriptures and histories of these two figures, people would see that they really don’t have much in common. Of course, don’t just take my word for it. Take some time to look into it yourselves. There is a plethora of scholarship out there that disproves these memes. Maybe one day, religious literacy will move beyond blurry pics and spelling/grammar errors smashing millennia old religions. Until that day comes, fight the good fight and remember that Zeitgeist sucks.