D.M. Murdock, also known as "Acharya S," is an independent scholar of comparative religion and mythology, specializing in the ancient, astrotheological origins of religious ideology. She is the author of The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold; Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled; Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ; Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection; The Gospel According to Acharya Sand The Astrotheology Calendar Series. Acharya's work is also published in numerous articles on her websites and as well as other websites and in magazines. In addition, there are online several videos both by her and about her work, including interviews. Her writings can also be found at Examiner.com, where she is the Freethought Examiner.
METAFYSIKO.ORG: Dear Acharya, you are an author who has devoted her work exclusively to the figure of Jesus. Why have you decided to deal with the founder of Christianity, and what is the objective/goal you are trying to achieve with the publication of your books?
MURDOCK: I was born into a Christian—Protestant—family, and I have been interested in religion and mythology since I was a small child. I studied the religion of ancient Greece—which we now call “mythology”—beginning in childhood, as well as in college, where I majored in Classics, Greek Civilization. I also did postgraduate work at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. After my formal schooling, I continued studying various of the world’s major religions, including, of course, Christianity. During these studies, I came upon the information found in my books concerning Christ being a mythical figure and his alleged life representing a series of parallels from the myths of pre-Christian gods, goddesses, godmen and heroes. I discovered this school of thought a couple of decades ago, at which time I decided to start writing about it. I felt qualified to bring this information to light because of my background in Greek mythology and language, which allowed me to examine ancient texts in Greek, including the Bible. My classical education also allowed me to produce scholarly works, but the fact that I did not become locked into an academic curriculum gave me freedom to pursue non-mainstream concepts.
After I discovered this information—which made so much sense—I felt it was vitally important for mankind’s spiritual, psychological and emotional health to understand these facts. I hope that my work will assist the world in transitioning to a wiser and more evolved manner of being.
METAFYSIKO: We have read that much of the information that is presented in the first Zeitgeist documentary and particularly in the part about religions has been taken from your books. I would like your comment for the well-known Zeitgeist Movement.
ACHARYA: Certain information only in the religion part of the original "Zeitgeist" movie came from my books. I have followed up some of these claims with my ebook "The Companion Guide to ZEITGEIST, Part 1" and my large book Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection. I would like to see more education concerning religion within the Zeitgeist Movement as a whole, as I believe it is a crucial issue that remains largely overlooked.
METAFYSIKO: I would like to focus mostly on two of your books: Suns of God and Christ in Egypt. Could you briefly describe their content?
ACHARYA: My book Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ makes the case that all three of these divine figures are largely sun gods or solar heroes/deities. I trace the comparisons between all three, as well as demonstrating that their alleged lives contain such fabulous events that it is next to impossible to consider them historical figures. I also follow a fascinating tale of the scholarship surrounding this subject of comparative religion and mythology, including some intriguing shenanigans that reveal the oppressive environment in which scholars must work. In Christ in Egypt, I dig deeply into the voluminous ancient primary-source material from Egypt that reveals clear and precise parallels between the Egyptian and Christian religions. I have drawn from over 900 sources, including the works of respected Egyptologists and other noteworthy scholars in relevant fields to show that the comparisons between Egyptian religion and Christianity—many of which can be seen in the movie "Zeitgeist"—are sound and important.
METAFYSIKO: We will start our "journey" from the East and the religion of Buddhism, whose creator is Siddharta Gautama, commonly known as "The Buddha." What are the basic philosophical doctrines of this religion? Also, when does Buddhism come in contact with Western civilization?
ACHARYA: As concerns Buddhism, in the Buddhist traditions there have been many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas—thousands upon thousands of them. Buddhism did not start with “the Buddha” who allegedly lived during the sixth century BCE but began much earlier, according to these traditions. Buddha himself had already taken on many incarnations, including one as a carpenter, an occupation said to be shared by Jesus as well. The most basic Buddhist doctrine is that anyone can become an enlightened being or “buddha” through various techniques designed to purify one’s “karma” and expand one’s consciousness. While this simple notion sounds good in theory, the various sects of Buddhism present different manners in which this attainment may be achieved. Some Buddhist sects, in fact, maintain that women are inferior and must incarnate as men before they can become enlightened. While some sects believe nirvana can be achieved through celibacy, others utilize sex ("tantra"), and so on.
According to legend, Buddhism was promulgated during the great expansion under King Asoka (304-232 bce), which sent out missionaries to “all corners of the earth,” so to speak. This contention is disputed by the Catholic Encyclopedia, for one, because it would mean that there could be possible Buddhist influence on Judaism and its offshoot, Christianity. In reality, even before then it is likely that Buddhist monks made their way west along the Silk Road, while others, such as the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, were rumored to have gone to India to study with the gurus there. Alexander the Great also further opened up communication between these two worlds, and it is said that there were Buddhist monks in Egypt as well before the common era. There is also some fascinating research showing Buddhistic influence or cultural commonality as far west as Ireland centuries prior to the common era. In the first century ad/ce, the Jewish historian Josephus discussed the Jews as “descendants of Indian philosophers” (Contra Apionem 1.178ff), passing along the alleged claims of the Greek philosopher Aristotle made during the fourth century bce. There is much more to the Indian-Levant-Egypt connection, with the very “patriarch” of the Hebrew ethnicity, Abraham, said to be a remake of the Indian god Brahma.
METAFYSIKO: In your book Suns of God, you find many similarities between Buddha and Jesus. Could you mention the most important?
ACHARYA: In the ancient texts, Buddha is deemed a divine being with supernatural powers, much like those of Jesus, including the ability to heal the sick and cure the blind. Both Buddha and Jesus are said to have a “royal origin,” with Buddha being of a noble family and called “prince,” while Christ is purported to be a descendant of King David. Both have lengthy genealogies recited in their sacred texts. In addition, both are conceived in a dream or visionary state, with the father informed during an annunciation by angelic beings. Both births are attended by assorted miracles and supernatural events, such as the appearance of angels. As Buddha’s birth is accompanied by a bright light, so too is Christ’s by a bright star. The narratives of both births focus on the wrapping of the babes in swaddling clothes, while much is also made of both saviors’ names.
In the fourth century of the common era, Church father St. Jerome discussed Buddha specifically as having been born through the side of a virgin, while Jesus was likewise said to have been born of a virgin. Jerome’s raising of the issue is against his interest and that of the Catholic Church, reflecting that he would not have made up such a tradition, and lending credence to the scholarship showing that this Buddhist virgin birth motif predated Christ’s alleged advent. The idea of Buddha being born from the side of his mother existed long before Jerome—and this notion was undoubtedly an attempt to demonstrate that his mother was virginal. Indeed, we know for a fact from other myths, such as the birth of the Egyptian god Horus to the goddess Isis, the "Great Virgin," that the idea of a virgin mother predates the Christian era and is therefore derivative with Christ’s birth. Adding to this contention, both Buddha and Jesus’s mothers were supposedly taken into heaven with their virginity intact.
Furthermore, just as Jesus is tempted by Satan, so too is Buddha tempted by the demon Mara. As I relate in my book Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ:
The tale of Christ’s temptation becomes doubly peculiar when it is understood that, in a famous myth, Lord Buddha too was subjected to, and overcame, the temptation by the evil being Mara. This tradition dates to at least the 2nd century AD/cE, as evidenced by Indian sculptures depicting the scene, and as found in the Padhana Sutta, parts of which may date to the time of Ashoka (3rd cent. BCE). According to this scripture, Buddha is tempted nearby the "river Neranjara," which bears a resemblance to the "River Jordan." (WWJ, 150)
In both Buddhist and Christian tradition there is a "harrowing of hell" whereby the savior enters into the abyss to free souls. Both saviors claimed to be bringing “universal salvation” to mankind. As there is a Second Coming in Christianity, so too does Buddhism teach about the coming Maitreya or "Friend" of humanity, who is essentially yet another Buddha.
If you factor in the apocryphal or "hidden" narratives of Christ's infancy there are even more parallels, some of them very specific. For further reading, see my books as well as Dr. Zacharias P. Thundy's Buddha and Christ, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1993.
METAFYSIKO: The characteristics that Jesus seems to have in common with the "chosen ones" of other religions are countless. In your book, you claim that even Krishna’s tradition of the ancient Hinduism has similarities to Jesus' life! Please, name them for us.
ACHARYA: The parallels between the Indian god Krishna and Jesus are well known and include the miraculous births of both gods. It is debated whether or not Krishna’s mother, Devaki, who was said to be a "chaste maiden," could also be called a "virgin," mainly because she traditionally had given birth to seven children prior to Krishna. However, the evidence points to her—and Krishna—as mythical characters, and myths do not have human body parts and so on, so many goddesses are said to be both mother and virgin. According to the myth, Devaki is an incarnation of the dawn goddess Aditi, who was the "eternal virgin" or "celestial virgin," despite the fact that she too gave birth to eight children. In Christian scripture (Mk 6:3), the Virgin Mary is likewise said to be the mother of at least seven children, but this claim does not negate her supposed perpetual virginity—that’s how it is with myths. If Mary can give birth even one time yet remain a virgin, then she can also give birth seven or more times and remain a virgin. The same can be said of Devaki, as it was of Aditi and many other goddesses.
Moreover, there are other precedents within Hinduism for the virgin birth, including that of the traditional composer of the Indian epic the Mahabharata—a man also by the name of Krishna! Yet another character in that epic—the earliest layers of which are conservatively dated to the 8th century prior to the Christian era—by the name of "Kunti," is likewise claimed to have been a virgin mother,. In addition, Krishna’s mother earlier had given birth as an unmarried and presumably virginal teenager after becoming pregnant from eating half a mango. Obviously, the virgin birth vis-à-vis Krishna's mother represents a real, ancient Indian tradition, even if it is not strictly applicable to his specific nativity. In other words, at one point before Krishna was born, Devaki was a virgin mother, and the assumption that she remains so throughout the myth is thus understandable, particularly if we view the story as a typical anthropomorphization of natural forces, in this case specifically as concerns the sun (Krishna) and the dawn (Devaki). There could also be a parallel here with the story of Eve eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden, after which she suffers the fall from grace.
In any case, Krishna was claimed to be the incarnation of the sun god Vishnu, who "rises" at the winter solstice, the same time when Jesus was traditionally said to have been born. When both Christ and Krishna were born, terrible tyrants threatened their lives but ended up massacring other infants instead. We have another parallel in the Krishna tale when, like the baby Jesus being placed in a manger with farm animals, the Indian divine babe is secreted to the home of a cowherd. Also, when Krishna was born, his foster father was off in the city paying taxes, while when Christ was born, his foster father was likewise in the city paying taxes.
Krishna's brother Balarama acts as a sort of John the Baptist figure, as forerunners to the more powerful sons of God. Krishna was identified with the Greek son of God Hercules/Herakles at least three centuries before the common era—and Jesus has much in common with Herakles as well.
Krishna is, of course, a religious teacher, the same as Jesus, and both gods transfigure in front of their stunned disciples. Both characters are the "living master" who is the "sole revealer of the hidden truth." Like Jesus, who is depicted in the gospels as the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end," in the Bhagavat Gita Krishna says, "I am the beginning, the middle and the every end of beings." (Thundy, 204)
The deaths of the two godmen are also similar: Krishna is pinned to a tree by an arrow, while Jesus is affixed to a cross or stake by nails, or hung on a tree (Acts 5:30). Both ascend into heaven, although Christ resurrects first on Earth for a time.
METAFYSIKO: Both Hinduism and Buddhism are religions that are still alive. Are you aware of any earlier or contemporary sources (books, articles, important quotes) which coming from the East, support the above similarities?
ACHARYA: The very ancient Sumerian and Assyro-Babylonian religions also contain parallels found in the later Christian myths, doctrines, rituals and traditions. For example, the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh tells of a wise godman, a flight into the wilderness, a godly voice from heaven speaking of bread, and a disappearance into the underworld. There is also the tale of the Sumero-Akkadian goddess Inanna/Ishtar, who descends into the underworld for three days, during which time she is placed on a stake, after which she is resurrected. Inanna's consort, Dumuzi/Tammuz, is likewise a “dying and rising god” who is mourned by the Jews in the Bible at Ezekiel 8:14.
The Persian religion of Mithraism possessed many similarities to Christianity, including the following:
- Mithra's miraculous birth occurred on December 25th and was attended by shepherds.
- Mithra was surrounded by 12 companions.
- His religion included the sacredness of the cross and a mark on the forehead.
- He performed miracles and promised his followers immortality.
- Mithra was resurrected from death or “born again” each winter, and his principal festival occurred on what has come to be called "Easter."
- The Mithraic sacred day was Sunday.
With remains found from Persia to Great Britain, Mithraism was very widespread by the time Christianity began to take hold, and there is no solid, scientific evidence that Mithraism copied Christianity. I aver that the fact this massive religious movement was the target of a prolonged and brutally destructive attack by Christians serves as evidence that the latter were attempting to cover up the alien roots of their faith.
METAFYSIKO: Let's travel westwards and specifically to the eastern Mediterranean basin, the place where the Egyptian civilization and its ancient Pantheon thrived, amongst various others civilizations. However, it is believed that monotheism has appeared for the first time in Egypt. Is there any evidence which can support this claim?
ACHARYA: One currently accepted theory concerning the origin of monotheistic thought is that it began with the rogue pharaoh Amenhotep IV (died circa 1336 bce), later called Akhenaton, who attempted to roll all the gods into one, Aton, and to oust the old religious order. Supposedly this monotheism was then passed along to the Hebrew prophet Moses, and the rest, as they say, is "history." In reality, it seems that the concept of monotheism is much older than this theory suggests and that Akhenaton was simply externalizing one of the mysteries, a sort of "monotheistic polytheism" or "monistic polytheism." There are many indications of this early monotheism and monism, and this issue has been debated since at least the time of the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone by the French linguist Champollion (1790-1832), who posited that the Egyptians were monotheists in a certain sense. Since then several Egyptologists have examined this debate in microscopic detail, most notably Dr. Erik Hornung and Dr. Jan Assman. As I relate in my book Christ in Egypt, which contains a significant discussion of whether or not the Egyptians were polytheistic or monotheistic, Egyptologist Dr. James P. Allen remarked:
Although the Egyptians recognized most natural and social phenomena as separate divine forces, they also realized that many of these were interrelated and could also be understood as different aspects of a single divine force. That realization is expressed in the practice known as "syncretism," the combining of several gods into one.
The evidence is clear that the Egyptians happily confounded numerous of their gods, often blending them into one.
METAFYSIKO: In your book Christ in Egypt you make a very interesting analysis of the "battle" between the gods Horus and Seth, comparing it with one of the first battles of good and evil. Tell us a few words about this.
ACHARYA: As concerns the battle between good and evil that many people know because of Christian teachings, we also find this struggle in pre-Christian mythologies such as the Zoroastrian and Egyptian. In the Egyptian mythology, there is a good god of light, Horus, and an evil god of darkness, Set or Seth. These two are locked in a perpetual battle, with Horus ruling as the sun during the day, while Set is the "serpent of the underworld." It is interesting that the word "Set" is also transliterated at times as "Sut," "Sat" or "Sata," the latter particularly resembling Satan. In Christ in Egypt, I show many reasons why it is likely that this archetype contributed significantly to the Christian mythos.
METAFYSIKO: Even the accounts of Horus’ life have many things in common with Jesus’ life. The miracles which he supposedly made and also the figure of his mother Isis bring strongly in our mind Christianity. Please, elaborate a bit more on this.
ACHARYA: As you may have seen in "Zeitgeist," there are many similarities between Horus and Jesus, not the least of which that they both represent the “light of God,” being solar in nature. In CIE, I demonstrate that the parallels between Horus and Jesus are soundly based on pre-Christian texts, monuments and other artifacts. These parallels include:
- Horus was born on December 25th (the winter solstice) in a manger.
- He was of royal descent, and his mother was a virgin called "Mery."
- Horus’s birth was announced by a star in the East and attended by "wise men."
- At age 12, he was a child teacher in the Temple, and at 30, he was baptized.
- Horus was baptized by "Anup the Baptizer," who was beheaded.
- The Egyptian god had 12 companions, helpers or disciples.
- Horus performed miracles, exorcised demons and raised the dead.
- The god walked on water.
- Horus was "crucified" or placed on a cross between two "thieves."
- He (or Osiris) was buried for three days in a tomb and resurrected.
- Horus/Osiris was called the "Way, Truth and Life," "Messiah," the "Good Shepherd," etc.
As we can see, there are many correspondences here with the gospel story, although these aspects of Egyptian religion could not be found as one consolidated myth that someone could have just copied. As I show in CIE, they were, however, prominent features that would be important to incorporate into the creation of a new religion, if the creators wished to succeed in usurping the followers of the Egyptian faith.
METAFYSIKO: Another interesting point that also has many things in common with Christian beliefs is the Egyptian concept of death, resurrection, and after-life. According to you, when all these elements that came from other traditions were integrated into Christianity?
ACHARYA: The Egyptian notions regarding death, resurrection and afterlife represented the very foundation of their religion, and it is my opinion and that of many other scholars, including various professional Egyptologists over the past couple of centuries, that Christianity heavily borrowed from the Egyptian interpretation of these concepts. This borrowing would have occurred from the very beginning of the Christian era, although Christ’s resurrection appears to have been an afterthought added later than other aspects of the gospel tale. This contention of the later addition of the resurrection motif to the Christ myth can be demonstrated through an analysis of the New Testament and other Christian texts, such as may be found in my book Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ. Moreover, the Christian depiction of heaven and hell closely follows that of the Egyptian, so much so that even early Egyptian Christians assumed these elements were simply a continuation of the same theology.
METAFYSIKO: The last question is closely connected with your answer to the first one. Since you have done some thorough research on the historical Jesus and on the similarities he has to other important religious figures, could you tell us how the image that we nowadays have of him has been constructed? What could possibly mean for humanity to eventually accept that Jesus indeed has many things in common with the figures of the global pre-Christian tradition?
ACHARYA: The image we possess of Jesus in any given era is largely dependent on what attributes in ourselves or in society we value most. Over the centuries, Christ has taken on so many forms it would be difficult to recount them here. During the Crusades, Christ was viewed as a militant, and the macho, warrior aspects of his life were emphasized, such as battling Satan and taking up a whip and overturning the tables in the temple. In other eras, Christ’s softness and forgiving nature were highlighted, such as with his comments regarding being like children (Mt 18:3), or him serving as a great humanitarian who cared for the adulterous woman about to be stoned (Jn 8:7). When a biography of Jesus is composed, the writer often imbues the character with qualities he or she esteems most, and so on.
Also, with the increasing presence of Islam on the scene, we are watching an old process right before our very eyes, as Jesus Christ is being demoted from the Son of God to a mere prophet, albeit an important one. I have heard Muslims state that the idea of Christ as the Son of God is “blasphemous,” and they will not allow it to stand unchallenged. As the population of Muslims rises, and they continue to rub elbows with Christians, there will be very troubling times ahead as these two factions battle over this notion in particular, as well as many others. The incursion of Islam into Western civilization and the demotion of Jesus make one wonder where is the omnipotent Christ, who is supposedly in charge of everything in the cosmos. He appears to be losing ground quite quickly, casting doubt on his very existence.
This development of questioning whether or not Christ was a historical figure and realizing that he is quite likely as mythical as the Greek son of God Hercules can only bring a healthier and more honest mentality to this planet. It may also represent the key to preventing a terrible global conflict on a scale of the biblical Armageddon, based on the warring factions within Judaism, Christianity and Islam. My work clearly demonstrates that none of these faiths can honestly lay claim to possessing the absolute truth above and beyond all the rest—and we must simply awaken to that fact before we destroy the whole world.