172ISSA, The Greatest Story Never Told

Thousands of miles from Bethlehem, two powerful and enigmatic forces are about to converge.

The Kushans: a lost Central Asian civilization with a secret order bearing the Signet and possessing the power of the “Ancient Ones.”

Jesus: the teenager who leaves family and home for India. . .and would become the Savior of the world.

Could the convergence of the lost kingdom of the Kushans and the “lost years” of Jesus give us insights today?

Woven across multiple tableaus, threads of this dramatic tapestry include:
The boy Jesus, known in the East as Saint Issa,
Maitreya—the Coming Buddha,
The royal family of the Kushans,
One of the three wise men,
And many others…

The author, Lois Drake, on Issa:

“If a teenaged Jesus had traveled east as postulated in several works citing the Buddhist documents and regional folklore, he would have encountered the influence and possibly even the key players of the Kushan kingdom. The Kushans established a large empire throughout ancient Bactria and portions of modern China, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and India. Their kingdom flourished well into the third century.

Who were the Kushans and where did they come from?

The mystery begins in the northwestern desert of China, in the sands of the Tarim Basin along an ancient silk route. There, in the early 1900s, explorers and archeologists began to unearth mummified bodies, many of them perfectly preserved, with their clothing intact, as a result of the dry desert conditions. The oldest mummies are about 4,000 years old. Western scholars have long known of their existence, but the mummies became more widely researched and discussed beginning in the 1980s and ’90s. Scholars sometimes refer to them collectively as the mummies of Ürümchi, named for the town in China’s Uyghur Autonomous Region in which they are housed. The mummified bodies raise interesting questions. These people had neither Chinese nor Mongolian characteristics. The hair of the mummies is light colored—blonde to light brown or shades of red. Their stature is tall. Their noses are high bridged. The patterns of their woven wool fabrics are similar to ancient Celtic or European patterns.* From ancient Chinese accounts, we know that a nomadic people called the Yueh-chih settled in the Tarim Basin and coexisted peacefully with the Chinese prior to the time of Jesus’ birth.

“Eventually one of their kings, Kajula Kadphises, succeeded in rising to power and uniting them. They became known as the Kushan people. Although the Yueh-chih/Kushans coexisted peacefully with the Chinese, they were at war with the ancestors of the central Asian Huns. The first attacks of the Huns drove them from the Tarim Basin and its surrounding mountains, and they subsequently migrated into the area of Afghanistan and northern India. We find evidence of their empire in the art, coins, gold decorations, statues, and stone tablet work of the region. The Kushan influence extended east to Iran and then further south into Pakistan and India.

“In the second century, a Kushan ruler, Kanishka, assembled a Buddhist council that was instrumental in the spread of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. Yet he and previous Kushan kings fostered religious tolerance, which enabled Hinduism and a panoply of religions to flourish in the area side by side. Investigators theorize that some of the people traveled back to the Tarim Basin, where scholars have found Buddhist texts written in the now-extinct Tokharian language. A number of authorities believe Tokharian, unknown until the beginning of the twentieth century, may have been the language of the Yueh-chi/Kushans.

“As I contemplated these facts, the historical setting of my story evolved. I chose to juxtapose the challenges of the worldly kingdom of the Kushan royalty with the wisdom of the East and the trials of the young Jesus in an unfamiliar land. The ancient people provided material to portray the preparation of two future kings—one to inherit an earthly realm and one who would become known as the Savior.”

*See Elizabeth Wayland Barber, The Mummies of Ürümchi (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999).