Jesus was executed in Kashmir

The Lidai fabao ji is a Chan Buddhist text from the late 700s, rediscovered as part of the Dunhuang manuscripts in 1900. It’s a large cache of documents that was sealed in a cave for mysterious reasons in the 1000s. It had all sorts of interesting things in it, like the earliest dated printed book. The manuscripts were interesting because in many cases they were inconsistent with the usually accepted legends.

Chan claimed to be a “special transmission outside the scriptures” because of its founding myth, the Flower Sermon. Even though “self-Enlightenment” was recognized to be possible, in general Chan masters were supposed to represent the end of an unbroken chain of Dharma transmissions going back to Buddha himself. The most important Chinese Zen text, The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (pdf), is about a succession controversy. The Lidai fabao ji is the Bao Dang school’s transmission mythology. It’s from around the same time as the Platform Sutra, but shows that other versions of Chan legends were in existence at the time. For example, we learn that Jesus and his followers were killed in Kashmir (!):

When Simha Bhiktu had transmitted [the Dharma] to Sanavasa, he then went from central India to Kashmir. The king there was named Mihirakula. This king did not believe in the Buddha-Dharma–he destroyed stupas, demolished monasteries, slaughtered sentient beings, and honored the two heretics Momanni (Mani) and Mishihe (Messiah, i.e., Jesus).

At that time Simha Bhiktu purposely came to convert this kingdom, and the pathless king with his own hands took up a sharp double-edged sword and swore an oath: “If you are a Holy One, the [other] masters must suffer punishment.” Simha Bhiktu then manifested a form whereby his body bled white milk. Momanni and Mishihe were executed, and like ordinary men their blood spattered the ground. The king was inspired to take refuge in the Buddha, and he ordered the disciple of Simha Bhiktu (the Dharma had already been transmitted to Sanavasa) to enter South India to preach extensively and liberate beings.

The king then sought out and captured the disciples of the heretics Moman and Mishihe. When he had captured them he set up stocks at court and suspended them by their necks, and the people of the entire country shot arrows at them. The king of Kashmir ordered that if there were [followers] of these creeds in any of the kingdoms, they should be driven from the kingdom.

Owing to Simha Bhiktu, the Buddha-Dharma flourished again.

Obviously that’s not what happened, but there really was a King Mihirakula in Kashmir that persecuted Buddhists. He was Hindu.

Another interesting difference from the usual accounts is that Bodhidharma sent two emissaries before coming from the West:

At one point, [Bodhidharmamatra] ascertained that the beings of the land of the Han were possessed of the Great Chan nature. So he dispatched two of his disciples, Buddha and Yasas, to go to the land of the Qin (the Later Qin dynasty, 385-417) and explain the teaching of immediate awakening. When the worthies of the Qin first heard, they were doubtful and none would believe…

The two Brahmins said, “This is not quick. Defilements are none other than awakening. This is quick.” Lord Yuan was deeply impressed, and thereupon realized that awakening and defilements are one and the same.

Bodhidharma gets word that his disciples aren’t being believed, heads to China, and makes the usual appearance before Emperor Wu.