The internet has given new life to some old hoaxes. The idea that Jesus visited India and left otherwise unknown gospels there was advanced by a certain Notovitch in the 19th century. I have just seen it appear again, all innocent and oblivious of criticism, in a crank discussion forum here. Long ago I scanned some articles from Nineteenth Century magazine, in which the efficient British administrators of India went and interviewed the Tibetan lamas, with whom he supposedly communicated.
Rereading that article, I found references to other hoaxes in Max Muller’s comments.
Be that as it may, M. Notovitch is not the first traveller in the East to whom Brâhmans or Buddhists have supplied, for a consideration, the information and even the manuscripts which they were in search of. Wilford’s case ought to have served as a warning, but we know it did not serve as a warning to M. Jacolliot when he published his Bible dans l’Inde from Sanskrit originals, supplied to him by learned Pandits at Chandranagor.
Thanks to Google books, Mr Jacolliot’s book is available to read here, in the 1875 English translation. The table of contents alone raises suspicions: long chapters on subjects like “Christian morality”, of no evident relevance, pad out the volume. For as we know, most of these hoaxes are published for money, and a long book can be sold for more. Sadly, after reading some 50 pages, I was unable to induce myself to read more. The animosity of the author against the Christians was only equal to the vagueness of his rhetoric. We must congratulate Dr Muller, that he managed to find something of substance in all this.