European scholars were skeptical about Notovitch’s book. Claims he made were checked with the people of the monastery that he said was the source of his information, and that monastery denied his claims. In the end Notovitch “confessed to having fabricated the evidence.” (Wikipedia).
In spite of this exposé the Jesus-in-India myth didn’t go away. In 1908 Levi H. Dowling, who started out as a preacher in the Disciples of Christ Church, published a book that rehashed the theory of Jesus’s “lost years” in India. Dowling’s offbeat story ran under the title, “The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ,” and he seems to have captured the interest of enough followers to result in the establishment of “The Aquarian Christine Church Universal, Inc.” Whether or not Dowling personally founded this church, it claims his name and his book and currently operates a website. A book by Dowling titled “The Life and Works of Jesus in India” is still available at Amazon.com.
Jesus’s importance has generated claims even outside of the Christianity-influenced West. As mentioned here in an earlier column of Global Faiths, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the North India Ahmadiyya sect, claimed Jesus survived the crucifixion, came to India, and lived and taught there until a ripe old age. They claim they have his tomb in Kashmir.
Ahmad’s claim is challenged by one out of Japan, where Shingo, a hamlet in northern Japan, lays claim to being the burial place of Jesus.
Every year, says Smithsonian.com, 20,000 people visit the site. According to this Japanese story, Jesus studied in Japan during the “hidden years,” then returned to Palestine, where he escaped crucifixion when someone else died in his place. He returned to Japan, married, and raised a family before his eventual death.