Jesus in Ahmadiyya Islam
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Like the mainstream Islamic views on Jesus, the Ahmadiyya Movement also considers that Jesus was only a human being and a true prophet of God, born to the virgin Mary, but unlike the majority contemporary Islamic view which holds that Jesus was not crucified but raised up alive to Heaven and remains alive, Ahmadis believe that Jesus carried out his mission to the Israelites, survived crucifixion and died a natural death in Kashmir where he had migrated to escape persecution and to preach to the Lost Tribes of Israel. In connection with this they also believe that the Turin Shroud is of Jesus Christ. Moreover, in contrast to mainstream Muslims, a literal understanding of some of Jesus' miracles in the Quran (such as creating birds and bringing the dead back to life) is seen as inconsistent with numerous verses of the Quran itself and as attributing semi-divine status to Jesus; and is therefore rejected for a more hermeneutic approach to understanding the Quranic account of these actions
Another important difference with mainstream Islam is regarding the notion of the second coming of Jesus which is also in keeping with Ahmadi prophetology. Since Jesus is believed to have died a natural death like other prophets, and since there is a total absence of the use of terms such as return or second coming in the Quran and Hadith with reference to Jesus' advent in the end times, the notion of his physical return is deemed erroneous. Rather, Prophecies concerning his future advent are taken metaphorically to express the coming of a person in the likeness of Jesus from within Islam itself. These prophecies are taken together with those of the coming of the Mahdi and both the terms Jesus Son of Mary and Mahdi (as used in Islamic apocalyptic literature) understood synonymously as two titles for one and the same person. Ahmadis believe these prophecies to have been fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the movement.
Moreover, in accordance with the Ahmadi understanding of the term Seal of Prophets with reference to Muhammad, no prophet can come after Muhammad from outside the Islamic dispensation or whose prophethood is independent of Muhammad. Since, Jesus' ministry, according to the Quran, was limited to the Israelites and since he received his prophecy independently of Muhammad, his physical return after the advent of Muhammad is seen as violating the Seal of Prophethood.
Although the view of Jesus having journeyed to India before crucifixion had also been researched in the literature of authors independent of and predating the foundation of the movement, most notably by Nicolas Notovitch, Ghulam Ahmad in his treatise Jesus in India (Urdu: Masih Hindustan Mein) was the first to propose a post-crucifixion journey arguing that Jesus survived crucifixion and travelled to India only after his apparent death in Jerusalem and expressly rejected the theory of a pre-crucifixion visit (Notovitch). The teaching was developed by Ahmadi missionaries. Kamal ud-Din and Khwaja Nazir Ahmad (1952) added Notovitch's theory of a first earlier visit. The first response in English to Ahmad's teaching came in a book by an Urdu-speaking American pastor in Lahore; The Ahmadiyya Movement (1918) by Howard Walter. Walter, like later scholars, identified the Islamic version of the Barlaam and Josaphat story as the primary source of Ahmad's evidence despite the fact that the four chapters of his book are arranged around evidence from the Gospels, the Quran and hadith, medical literature and historical records – (three sections ) – respectively. According to Ahmadiyya teaching the Roza Bal tomb in Srinagar, which contains the grave of a holy man known as Yuz Asaf is actually the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. The claims remain compelling yet highly controversial ones. While the material of Notovitch and Ahmad has been examined and dismissed by historians such as the Indologist Günter Grönbold (1985) and Norbert Klatt (1988)., it has been supported by others such as the archaeologist, Fida Hassnain and Holger Kersten. Anthropological research tends to corroborate the connection between the lost tribes and the peoples of south/central Asia specifically the Pashtuns of Afghanistan, albeit lacking in sufficient genetic evidence.
The Ahmadis have published extensively on the topic of Jesus' natural death and have expanded on Ghulam Ahmad's work in light of more fresh research. In 1978, Mirza Nasir Ahmad the third Khalifa, travelled to London where the international conference of Jesus’ Deliverance from the cross was held at the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington. This was attended by a number of scholars and academics who read their papers discussing the circumstances surrounding the Crucifixion of Jesus, after which the Ahmadiyya viewpoint regarding the death of Jesus was presented. On this occasion Nasir Ahmad also delivered a lecture on this issue dealing with the subject of Jesus’ survival from death upon the cross, his travel to the east, the Unity of God and the status of Muhammad. In more recent times, The view has been publicized in a BBC documentary by Richard Denton and an independent documentary by Paul David; Jesus in India The Movie. Denton (2010) represented the Roza Bal tomb as being supported by ancient manuscripts and Kashmiri tradition, but did not interview academics who have written critically on the use of claimed ancient texts, and who generally consider the texts relate to the Barlaam and Josaphat traditions about Buddha in Kashmir, and not to Jesus.
The Encyclopedia of Islam states that the post-crucifixion journey of Jesus towards the East and his natural death as an aspect of Ahmadi belief is one of three primary tenets that distinguish Ahmadi teachings from general Islamic ones, and that it has provoked a fatwa against the movement.
Jesus on the Cross, survival, journey to Kashmir and death
Death of Jesus
- Jesus had prophesied that his fate would be like that of Jonah (the story of Jonah is one of survival).[Matt 12:40]
- Jesus was placed on the cross for only a few hours. Death by crucifixion usually takes several days. While he was on the cross his legs were left intact, and not broken as was the normal procedure. This would have prevented death by respiratory distress. As blood and water were reported to have 'gushed' from the spear wound, this was sign of a beating heart.
- Jesus prayed to be rescued from death on the cross. [Matt 21:22]
- Pilate, having sympathy for Jesus, secretly devised to save him by setting his Crucifixion shortly before Sabbath day.
- The Gospel of John records that Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes [John 19:39]. These healing plants, particularly aloe plants, are considered medicinal and applied to wounds. It would make little sense applying them to a dead body.
- After he had awoken from his swoon ("resurrection"), Jesus bared his wounds to Thomas [John 20:25-27], showing he did not have a supernatural, resurrected body, but a wounded human body. He was also seen in the flesh by a large number of his followers, baring the same wounds that he had suffered from his ordeal on the Cross. [Luke 24:38-39]
- After his wounds had sufficiently healed Jesus left the tomb and met some of his disciples and had his food with them and walked from Jerusalem to Galilee. [Luke 24:50]
- Jesus had prophesied that he would go to seek out the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel [John 10:16]. The Jews of Jesus's time believed that the Lost Tribes of Israel had become dispersed in different lands. [John 7:34-35]
- Being a divine prophet, Jesus could not have died on a cross because according to the Bible “He that is hanged is accursed of God.” [Deut 21:23]
- When Joseph requested Jesus' body from the cross [Mark 15:43], Pilate asked a centurion if Jesus was already dead [Mark 15:44]. The centurion confirmed that Jesus was already dead [Mark 15:45]. This centurion was a believer that Jesus was the son of God [Mark 15:39].
- There are no accounts in the gospel of Jesus ascending into the heavens, aside from accounts that were absent from the earliest written gospels.
After surviving crucifixion, Jesus fled to Galilee. Jesus (along with several disciples) later left Palestine to further preach the Gospel to the Lost Tribes of Israel [John 10:16] – that had scattered as far as Afghanistan and northern India. He eventually settled in Kashmir where he was given the name Yuz Asaf (meaning “Leader of the Healed”/"Son of Joseph"). See also The Natural Death of Jesus
Furthermore, the Ahmadiyya claim that there are about 30 verses of the Qur'an that suggest that Jesus did not ascend to Heaven but instead died a natural death on Earth. The verses in Chapter Al-Nisa (4:158-159) state that Jesus did not die on the Cross but that God had “raised” Jesus unto Himself (not into heaven).
[4:158] And their saying, ‘We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;’ whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no definite knowledge thereof, but only follow a conjecture; and they did not convert this conjecture into a certainty;
[4:159] On the contrary, Allah raised him to Himself. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.
As the Quran speaks of God being Omnipresent in the Earth and in the hearts of mankind, God's existence should not be misconstrued as being confined to the Heavens alone, making any bodily movement towards God impossible.
Thus Ahmadis interpret the Arabic word for raised in these verses to mean “exalted”. In other words, Jesus' spiritual rank and status was raised to come closer to God as opposed to dying the accursed death which his adversaries had wished for.
To further support the view of Jesus having died a mortal death, Ahmadis interpret the verse in the Quran 5:75:
[5:76] The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger; surely Messengers the like unto him had passed away before him. And his mother was a truthful woman. They both used to eat food. See how We explain the Signs for their good, and see how they are turned away.
In this verse Jesus is compared to the previous Messengers, all of which had died a natural death and none of whom had ascended bodily to Heaven.
If Jesus and Moses had been alive, they would have had no choice but to follow me.[Kathir vol II, p 245 and al yawaqit wal Jawahir, part 2, page 24]
[Kanz al Ummal, part 6, p.120— Jesus son of Mary lived for 120 years, and I see myself as only entering upon the beginning of the sixties.
As Muhammad has lived and died after some 60 years, it means that Jesus is also dead. As Muhammad is dead, this states that there likewise was a death of Jesus. During the Mi'raj, Muhammad had seen Jesus in the second heaven along with John the Baptist. Thus, it means Jesus is dead because the dead do not dwell amongst the living.
Second Coming of Jesus
The Hadith and the Bible indicate that Jesus will return during the latter days. Islamic Hadith commonly depicts that Jesus, upon his second coming, would be an "Ummati" (Muslim) and a follower of Muhammad and that he would revive the truth of Islam rather than fostering a new religion.
The movement interprets the prophecised Second Coming of Jesus as being of a person "similar to Jesus" (mathīl-i ʿIsā), and not Jesus himself. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad professed that the prophecy in traditional religious texts were misunderstood to say that Jesus of Nazareth himself would return. Ahmadis consider that the founder of the movement, in both his situation and character as well as teachings, was representative of Jesus. In consequence, he attained the same spiritual status of Prophethood as Jesus.
The expected arrival of a Latter Day Messiah is historically represented across all major faiths. Ahmadi's believe the original prophecy regarding a latter day messiah had diverged into separate theories and distincnt interpretations and this filtered through different religious movements, although it was originally meant to refer to only a single Messiah. As such, Ahmadis declared that the Messiah concerning all major world faiths has been unified by the advent of a single Promised Messiah (Mirza Ghulam Ahmad).
Finally, Ahmadis believe that eventually all world faiths will gradually move towards Ahmadiyyat; and that such a process will follow a correlative pattern of circumstances and take a similar amount of time to what it took for Christianity to rise to dominance (roughly 300 years).
Contention with Mainstream beliefs
According to mainstream Islamic mainstream beliefs the Ahmadiyya belief is in contradiction with a verse in the Quran, Chapter 33 (The Combined Forces), verse 40:
"Muhammad is not the father of [any] one of your men, but [he is] the Messenger of Allah and Seal of the prophets. And ever is Allah , of all things, Knowing."
Further, in the farewell sermon of the Prophet Muhammad, delivered just prior to his death, he warned his followers and all of mankind with the following message:
""O People! No Prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore O People! and understand words that I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur'an and the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray."
The claim that Mirza Ghulam was a prophet forms a point of contention with mainstream Islam, in that it contradicts both the Quran and teachings of Muhammad directly.
Ahmadis believe however, that the "Last" of the Prophets is meant to signify the "Very Best" and "Most Exalted Law Giver Prophet" among all the Prophets in accordance with the Hadith traditions. Ahmadis believe the interpretation of finality that is contended, contradicts the Hadith regarding the second advent of Jesus altogether. If Jesus is expected to return for instance, how would he be accepted as being Jesus when at the same time it is considered impossible for any Prophet to come after Prophet Muhammed.
According to Ahmadi beliefs regarding Hadith text, just as Jesus of Nazareth himself was rejected by the Jewish mainstream, so too would the second messiah be rejected by the Islamic Mainstream. Thus Ahmadi's believe they would face the same hurdles as the early Christians had faced. For example, Jesus of Nazareth according to the Jewish beliefs had not fulfilled all terms and conditions to be considered as a Messiah and thus was rejected by the Jewish mainstream.
Breaking of the Cross
The Islamic Hadith describe that Jesus would, upon his second coming, "Break the Cross". Ahmadis interpret this to mean that he will make plain the "error of the creed of the cross" and that the teachings of Jesus, being a mortal man who survived crucifixion and died a natural death upon earth, is a testimony of this prophecy being fulfilled, as it would render the central Christian doctrines of the divinity of Jesus, Atonement and Resurrection false and the traditional Christian reverence for the cross and doctrine of the immortality of Jesus meaningless.
Consensus of Companions of Muhammad on Jesus' death
Ahmadi scholars also present this event. When Muhammad died, the Sahaba were grieved and sad. Umar, angered and upset, took out a sword, and said that he would kill anyone who said Muhammad is dead. At this instance Abu Bakar quoted:
And Muhammad is but a messenger; the messengers have come before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful." (3.144)
However,the Quran says, in Chapter 4 "The Women" in Verse 157, "And [for] their saying, "Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah ." And they did not kill him, nor could they crucify (to die on crucifix) him; but it was made to appear so to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain."
Journey from Palestine to India
According to Ghulam Ahmed, and developed by the next generation of Ahmadi writers such as Khwaja Nazir Ahmad (1952), Jesus taught his disciples of message of Jewish messianism to the people living in Palestine. He was declared a criminal and therefore, he decided to leave Palestine with his mother Mary, his wife Mary Magdalene and his apostle Thomas the Apostle. Jesus lived in Palestine for a short time to leave from there. Thereafter, Jesus traveled to Asia.
From Palestine to Iraq
With these three companions, he went first to Iraq. Here he met his disciple, Ananias. He met his rival Paul who later became a Christian. In Nusaybin, he got another tension at the hands of a cruel king. He was arrested again. Prophet Jesus along with his mother performed some miracles and impressed the king. The king gave him permission to go to Parthia kingdom.There was a strong Jewish community living there.
Iraq to Iran and Afghanistan
From Iraq, he went to Iran where he was honourably received by the Persian Jews. Five centuries before Cyrus the Great had conquered Babylon and the Jews were freed. Many of the Jews went to live in Iran and were known as Persian Jews. Jesus preached here and went on to Bactria (Afghanistan). At that time, Persia was a great center of Judaism. He professed the advent of the coming of a great prophet named Muhammad to his fellowmen in these areas specially in the area of Afghanistan. He met with the first king of Parthia who honored him. The Pashtun people have a tradition in their royal and non-royal functions and consider themselves to be the sons of Children of Israel. Many of these Persian Jews who had been receiving the teachings from Jesus proselytized to Muslims at the time of Muhammad and accepted his call. Qais Abdur Rashid, his name is this and the original was Kish.
Final places-Kashmir, Tibet and India
Reasons for coming to India
According to Ahmadiyya sources (Islam International Publications Ltd.) the Tribes of Israel who have come to these eastern countries seeing attraction in Hinduism and Buddhism have become Hindus and Buddhists. They have become unaware of their religion. The two persons Jesus and Thomas the Apostle has said to be arrived in India.
Jesus Meets King Shalewhin
According to a late section of the Hindu Bhavishya Purana (written after 1739), it is written that Jesus Christ met a Hindu monarch, King Shalivahan. The king along with his companions went to the peak of Himalayas to meet a man who was a dignified person of fair complexion in white clothes sitting in the mountain. When the king asked who he was, the man replied "I am the Messiah, born of a virgin." He told the king he had come from a far off place where he has suffered at the hands of his people. When the king asked what religion he adhered to, he said that his religion was of peace, love and purity of heart. The king was impressed, so he paid homage to him.
Tomb of Jesus
During his research into Jesus' death, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad initially suggested that Jesus may have been buried in either Galilee or Syria, until eventually uncovering evidence to conclude that the tomb of Jesus was located at the Roza Bal shrine in Srinagar, Kashmir. Thus, based upon this evidence, Ahmadis today believe the tomb of Jesus is located in the Srinagar region of Kashmir.
Ghulam Ahmad and later Ahmadi writers cite various evidences for identifying the grave as that of Jesus: The Bhavishya Maha Purana Official Decree, The Glass Mirror, Tarikh-i-Kashmir, Qisa-shazada, The Garden of Solomon (Bagh-i-Sulaiman) of Mir Saadullah Shahabadi Kashmiri (1780 A.D.), Wajeesut Tawarikh, Ikmal-ud-Din (962 AD), The Ain-ul-Hayat, The Acta Thomae, Takhat Sulaiman (Throne of Solomon, a hill in Kashmir), Tahrik-i-kabir-Kashmir, Rauzat-us-Safa. Ahmadis believe that these sources testify to the view that Yuz Asaf and Jesus are the same person. Haji Mohi-ud-din Miskin, writing in 1902, three years after Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1899, is the first historian to mention that "some" connect the shrine of Yuzasaf as the grave of Hazrat Isa Rooh-Allah (Jesus the Spirit of God). The importance of the shrine has been preserved in the memory of the descendants of the ancient Israelites to this day. They call the shrine "The tomb of Hazrat Issa Sahib", "The Tomb of Lord Jesus".
The building constructed is named "Roza Bal" or "Rauza Bal". " Rauza " is generally a term used to denote the tomb of a celebrated personality, i.e. noble, wealthy, or saintly. A local scholar and supporter of the theory, Fida Hassnain, has claimed that the tomb is arranged with the feet pointing in the direction of Jerusalem, and claimed that this is in accordance with Jewish tradition.
Ahmadis give the Yuz Asaf enshrined in the tomb the epithet Shahzada Nabi, “Prophet Prince”. However, given the majority of Srinagar's Muslim community reject Ahmadiyya claims that the tomb is that of Jesus.
Tomb of Mary
The Ahmadis also believe that Mary had accompanied her son on the journey to Kashmir.
Numerous Muslim and Persian documents — the Tafir-Ibn-I-Jarir, the Kanz-al-Ummal, and the Rauzat-us-Safa — have references that contribute to the theory of Jesus' escape. Some of these also mention that Jesus was accompanied by Mary, and there is another burial place in Pakistan, along his theoretical route to Kashmir, known as Mai Mari da Ashtan, or "resting place of Mother Mary."
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- Faruqi 1983, p. 98.
- Schäfer & Cohen 1998, p. 306
- Per Beskow in The Blackwell Companion to Jesus Delbert Burkett - 2011 "Only later did Ahmad's disciples invent the compromise that Jesus had been twice in India. Ahmad's primary source is a legend, known in the West as the tale of Barlaam and Josaphat. It was widely read all through the Middle Agesas an edifying ..."
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- The third century from today would not have elapsed when all who wait for ‘Isaas [Jesus] to descend from heaven, whether Muslims or Christians, will give up this doctrine in hopeless despair and disgust. Then there will be only one religion and one leader. I have come to sow the seed and the seed has been sown by my hand. It will now grow and flourish and there is no one who can hinder it. [Tadhkiratush-Shahadatain, pp. 64–65, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, pp. 66–67; Review of Religions, vol. 2, no. 11, 12, November, December, 1903, p. 455, 456]
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- Alf Hiltebeitel Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics 2009 Page 276 "Thus 1739 could mark a terminus a quo for the text's history of the Mughals. If so, the same terminus would apply to its Genesis-Exodus sequence in its first khanda, its Jesus-Muhammad diptych in its third (the Krsnam&acaritd) , and the history ..."
- Arifkhan.co.uk "Historical Sources" New Ahmadi website redirecting from tombofjesus.com in earlier article references
- Mystery of the Martyr's Tomb: Part Two
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- The Natural Death of Jesus
- The Life of Saint Issa (Nicolas Notovitch)
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- A buddhist perspective
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