|Was the story of Jesus stolen from Beddru of Japan?|
It may be a case of no Beddru, one bath.
I figured that when I looked into one alleged source for Christ called "Beddru of Japan" I might find some Samurai Jack sorta guy who saved the day at one time back in feudal Japan. As it happens, I didn't find even that much. In fact, in spite of looking through a dozen books on Japanese history and mythology, in spite of an Internet search, and in spite of consulting the Online Catalog of the Library of Congress, I found -- nothing.
No Beddru -- not in Japan or anywhere. The only place this figure IS mentioned is in the same list which is also repeated uncritically by dozens of Skeptics around the Internet. Where did they get it from? That's the real story here so far -- it was originally from Kersey Graves' World's 16 Crucified Saviors. And where did Graves get to know Beddru? Who knows?
(An alert reader informs me of a consultation with an expert in Oriental languages who says, "Beddru looks like it could be a Japanese transliteration of a European name, except that 'dru' isn't an allowed syllable in standard Japanese." Another reader familiar with Japanese vocabulary says that the double D combo is not known in modern Japanese. Comments are welcome from any readers in Japan.)
At this point, I consider it likely that "Beddru of Japan" is a complete ringer -- Graves either made this name up out of whole cloth, or so badly mangled some source that whatever lies behind his cite will be difficult, if not impossible, to recover. If any critic can prove otherwise, I want to hear about it.
Update: Acharya S has claimed that "Beddru" is to be identified with "Buddha". As one of our resource masters noted in reply, this would mean Graves had Buddha listed three times on his list of 16. It also makes little sense, for as our source noted: "Wasn't Buddha born in India? It would be like saying that the Anglican Church believed in 'Jesus of England'." We reprint his further commentary below as it appeaered on a forum, edited for brevity.
Acharya S writes:
"There can be no question that in referring to "Beddou" Graves - and The New York Correspondent, which he quotes - is talking about plain old Gautama Buddha aka Siddhartha aka Sakyamuni, et al. So this mystery, which has perplexed so many, is quite simply resolved: "Beddru" is a typo for "Beddou," which is a variation of "Buddha."
In his first chapter, Kersey Graves lists a number of gods. Two of the gods from that list are:
2. Budha Sakia of India.
21. Beddru of Japan.
Clearly, whoever "Beddru of Japan" is, Graves believes that he is different to Buddha. Not only are the names different, but also the country of origin.
What else does Graves tell us about Buddha?
"The ninth avatar of India (Sakia) furnishes to some extent a similar parallel. According to the account of an exploration made in India, and published in the New York Correspondent of 1828, "There is on a silver plate in a cave in India an inscription stating that about the time of the advent of Buddha Sakia (600 B.C.)"
So, Graves uses "The New York Correspondent" journal of 1828 to tell us that Buddha was born around 600 BCE.
Here is what Graves has to say about "Beddou"....
"The New York Correspondent," published in 1828, furnishes us the following brief history of an ancient Chinese God, known as Beddou: --
"All the Eastern writers agree in placing the birth of Beddou 1027 B.C. The doctrines of this Deity prevailed over Japan, China, and Ceylon. According to the sacred tenets of his religion, 'God is incessantly rendering himself incarnate,' but his greatest and most solemn incarnation was three thousand years ago, in the province of Cashmere [Kashmir], under the name of Fot, or Beddou. He was believed to have sprung from the right intercostal of a virgin of the royal blood, who, when she became a mother, did not the less continue to be a virgin; that the king of the country, uneasy at his birth, was desirous to put him to death, and hence caused all the males that were born at the same period to be put to death, and also that, being saved by shepherds, he lived in the desert to the age of thirty years, at which time he opened his commission, preaching the doctrines of truth, and casting out devils; that he performed a multitude of the most astonishing miracles, spent his life fasting, and in the severest mortifications, and at his death bequeathed to his disciples the volume in which the principles of his religion are contained."
If you read the synopsis above (again, coming from "The New York Correspondent", 1828) you will see that "Beddou" is plainly not "Buddha". Different birth years, different birth places, and different life narratives (though some similarities there).
Acharya writes on her webpage:
"Graves goes on to list these 20 or so beings, including "Beddru of Japan." In reality, the reason detractors have been unable to find the term "Beddru" is because they've been looking for the wrong word. With the help of a friend who made a simple but brilliant observation, I determined that "Beddru" is a TYPO of the kind not uncommon in the 19th century, when manuscripts were handwritten, such that the typesetters could easily make such a mistake. I have noticed many such typos in numerous books from that era. Even in the computer era, typos make their way into the best proofread texts, and there is an unfortunate amount in those I have written as well."
Could Graves have meant "Beddou of Cashmere" when he wrote "Beddru of Japan"? It's possible. According to his source, "The New York Correspondent", Beddou was known in Japan. But the problem here is that Graves calls him "Beddru of JAPAN". In the list of gods in Chapter 1, Graves appears to give the birth country as their origin, which is what you would normally expect. (Anglicans don't talk about "Jesus of England", for example).
Now, if Graves had written "Beddru of Cashmere" (or even "ancient Chinese God Beddru"), then it would obviously be a typo. It is easy to use the wrong letter. But it is much more difficult to mispell "Cashmere" as "Japan". The only two choices are that Graves was either very sloppy, or he was discussing a different god altogether.
"In actuality, Buddha's "name" is a title that does not represent a single individual, and there were, according to Buddhist tradition, countless Buddhas prior to the purported advent of Gautama, he himself having myriad previous incarnations. Because of this fact of plurality, it is impossible and virtually pointless to attempt to create a "biography" of a "real person" named Buddha."
at's fine, as it goes. There may have been a Buddha specific to Japan, another to China, etc. But when an author starts assigning birth years to someone, then it is apparent that the author has in mind a particular individual rather than a title.
Graves is the first person to refer to "Beddru of Japan". Did he mean "Beddou of Kashmir"? Perhaps. Does it matter whether he made it up, or mispelt the name from an earlier source? No, not at all.