Rozabal Shrine: The Tomb of Jesus

Oct 23, 2023 0 comments

In the Khanyar area of Kashmir, India, in downtown Srinagar, there is an old shrine—a modest stone building with a traditional Kashmiri multi-tiered sloping roof and a green hexagonal dome.

Known as Roza Bal—roza means tomb, the word bal mean place—the shrine is the burial site of Yuz Asaf, a medieval Muslim preacher and another Muslim holy man named Mir Sayyid Naseeruddin. But a growing number of people believe that it is in fact the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.

Photo credit: Indrajit Das/Wikimedia Commons

The idea that Jesus survived the crucifixion and migrated to India to live out the rest of his life in the verdant valley of Kashmir in the north of the country was first put forward by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement.

Ahmad found rock carvings in the shrine which shows the feet of Yuz Asaf with wounds from crucifixion or some similar injuries. Ahmad believed that Yuz Asaf was none other than Jesus himself. He interpreted the name Yuz as Jesus and Asaf as the Hebrew for “gather”. Thus Yuz Asaf became “Jesus the gatherer.” Ahmad even found validation in the Quran itself. Referring to the Verse 23:50, which reads: “We...prepared an abode for them in an elevated part of the earth, being a place of quiet and security, and watered with running springs,” Ahmad said that the description very fittingly applied to the valley of Kashmir.

In 1899, Ahmad wrote a treatise in Urdu titled Masīh Hindustān Meiń (Jesus in India), where he put forward his theory. This treatise posits that Jesus, having survived crucifixion, quietly departed from Roman jurisdiction, commencing his journey from Jerusalem and traversing through Nisibis and Persia. Eventually, he arrived in Afghanistan, where he encountered Israelite tribes who had settled there centuries earlier after escaping Nebuchadnezzar's grasp. Subsequently, he journeyed to Kashmir, where certain Israelite tribes had also established a community. Jesus resided there until his passing at the age of 120.

More outrageous claims:
The Tomb of Jesus Christ in Japan
Tomb of Eve, Jeddah

Contrary to other authors who suggest similarities between Buddhist and Christian teachings, as well as between the lives of Jesus and Buddha as recorded in their respective scriptures, Ghulam Ahmad maintains that Jesus arrived in India after the crucifixion. According to his assertion, Buddhists later incorporated elements of the Gospels into their scriptures. He argues that Jesus also conveyed his teachings to Buddhist monks, some of whom were originally Jewish, and they accepted him as a manifestation of the Buddha, the 'promised teacher,' blending his teachings with those of Buddha.

The grave of Yuz Asaph. Photo credit: Indrajit Das/Wikimedia Commons

Ahmad’s theory is largely ignored by serious historians, but many local Muslims in Srinagar sincerely believe that Jesus is indeed buried in Roza Bal. Yuz Asaf is not an Arabic name or Muslim name, but is Hebrew, they say. They also point out that the tomb is directed east-west, a traditionally Jewish direction, rather than towards the Qibla, as would be the case with a Muslim’s tomb.

To many others, however, it is blasphemy to maintain that Jesus is buried anywhere on the face of the Earth.

“This is the grave of a Muslim saint. It is clearly written in our holy book, the Qur’an, that Jesus was ascended up to heaven, to God. However, Qadianis and Mirzais (derogatory terms for members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect) who claim that this is the tomb of Jesus are false. No Muslim in the world believes Jesus is buried here or anyplace else on the planet,” a local inhabitant told The Citizen.

According to some, the myth is encouraged by the shopkeepers in the area who keep spreading it because it brought tourists. In 2007, popular Indian author Ashwin Sanghi wrote a thriller titled The Rozabal Line in the same style as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, inspiring a lot of readers to visit the Rozabal shrine. The influx was so large that the tomb had to be temporarily closed to visitors.

In an effort to dispel the myth, locals have now installed a notice board that quotes verses from the Quran and Bible to disprove that Christ is buried at the site.

Photo credit: Indrajit Das/Wikimedia Commons

# Jesus in Kashmir, The Citizen
# ‘Tomb of Jesus’ In Kashmir–Roza Bal Shrine, India Heritage Walks


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