Did Jesus study in India for the "missing" 18 years of His life and then bring back a message reflecting eastern religious thought?
1. There is no historical information what-so-ever that places Jesus in India.
Most "documentation" comes from psychic messages (e.g. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ and the readings of Edgar Cayce) and they conflict with each other. The only evidence that even claims to be historical was supposedly viewed by Nicolas Notovich in 1887 in a monastery in Tibet. The alleged scrolls about the prophet Issa have never been produced and the monks who were supposed to have them denied any knowledge of either the scrolls or Notovich.
2. The Gospels teach Jesus stayed in Israel.
- Our best historical accounts strongly imply that Jesus stayed with his family the entire time He grew up, as would be expected of a young Jewish lad.
Matt 2:23 "...and He came and resided in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, 'He shall be called a Nazarene.'"
Lk 2:51-52 "And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth; and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."
- Both of these accounts are immediately followed by the account of John the Baptist, implying Jesus' baptism was the next significant event in Jesus' life. If Jesus had traveled to the East it would have been a critical theological event and would not have been left out of the historical record. Jesus' earlier trip to Egypt as an infant (Matt 2:13-15) was included.
- Other references tell us that the townspeople of Nazareth were taken aback at Jesus' wisdom as He preached. The implication is that He grew up in their midst as a normal Jewish boy. They were amazed at the Messianic emphasis of His ministry. This was an entirely new element.
Lk 4:22 ""And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, 'Is this not Joseph's son?'"
Matt 13:54-56 (cf. Mk 6:3) "And coming to His home town [i.e. the place where He grew up] He began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they became astonished, and said, 'Where did ths man get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? Where then did this man get all these things?'"
3. The expense and distance make such a trip unlikely.
This kind of travel would have been extremely difficult for a youngster. The distances that had to be covered were incredible for anyone in that time, adult or child, given the methods of transportation. In addition, Jesus came from an extremely poor family who could not afford the incredible expenses a trip like that would incur.
4. Gentile culture was repugnant to Jews.
At that time in history Jewish involvement with gentiles was strictly limited. Non-Jewish culture was repugnant to a Hebraic (as opposed to Hellenistic) Jew. Jesus would have little cultural tolerance for living in the midst of idol worshiping gentiles in India.
5. Jesus taught Judaism, not Hinduism.
Theologically, Jesus' teaching was completely antithetical to the world view of eastern religions. His theology was thoroughly grounded on a Hebraic concept of God and reality. Jesus continued to refer to the Old Testament, indicating His respect for the Law and the prophets and the God of Israel. In fact, He kept the Law impeccably. He never quoted or even alluded to the Vedas.
Every shred of hard evidence we have places Jesus in the land of Israel for His entire life except the brief sojourn in Egypt (which the historical accounts are careful to note).