Bodhidharma - A Tamil prince born in Kancheepuram the Pallava capital in 440 AD.
Bodhidharma The evolution of Asian martial arts as they are known today is thought to have originated around 500 A.D., when an Indian Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma arrived in China. Legend has it that he taught Indian fighting exercises to the Chinese monks in order to improve their physical condition. All kung-fu is thought to have evolved from this beginning, and from kung-fu came karate.
What is Bodhidharma ?
Bodhidharma brought Zen from India to China and lived in the Shaolin Temple that ironically became famous for Kung Fu hundreds of years later. He was an Indian person so his facial features were quite dramatic, to the Chinese. Accordingly, he is heavily stylized when depicted.
The statue above is a very standard depiction, while the round, red ball thing on the top right is a unique, Japanese version. In Japan temples sell wooden versions in this style without eye pupils. You take it home and paint one pupil in before starting a big task, such as studying for a test. when the task is successfully completed, you paint the seconds pupil in and return him to the temple.
Bodhidharma - What it is?
This is why you are sometimes greeted by hundreds of Daruma Dolls when entering the external shrine of a Japanese temple. You will also see Daruma when Japanese win and election. They usually paint the second pupil in at the press conference when they announce their victory.
The Bodhidharma legend has been examined in detail by Michael Spiesbach (“Bodhidharma: meditating monk, martial arts master or make-believe?” Journal of Asian Martial Arts, 1992, vol. 1, no. 4, p. 10-27). The question of Bodhidharma's actual contribution to the martial arts, and even of his very existence, has been the subject of controversy among martial arts historians for many years. Because he is such an important figure, we will review what is thought to be known about him in some detail:
The earliest historical reference to Bodhidharma is the Luoyang jia lan ji, (“The History of the Monasteries of Luoyang”) written by Yang Xuanzhi in 547 A.D. Yang claims to have personally visited the Yong Ning Temple and to have met there an old Persian “Barbarian” (foreigner) named Sramana Bodhidharma, who stated that he was 150 years old. The Buddhist scholar Guifeng Zongni (780-841) quoted an old Buddhist Koan (riddle) that asks, “Why did Bodhidharma come from the West?” Dao Zuan's Xu gao seng zhuan (“Biographies of Eminent Tang Monks”), written in 645, gives the earliest record of Bodhidharma's life. The second most important biography is Dao Yuan's Jing de zhuan deng lu (“The Records of Transmission of the Lamp”), compiled in 1004. Many writings have traditionally been credited to Bodhidharma himself, but current scholarly opinion maintains that none is authentic.
Mainstream Buddhist tradition holds that Bodhidharma arrived in China in 520, although there are historical indications that he may have arrived in 470, or even as early as 420. There is no agreement as to the route he traveled or where he arrived first. Some say he traveled by sea, “risking his life over the towering waves,” from Madras in southern India to Guangzhou and then by land to Nanjing. Other scholars believe that he walked a well-beaten trail over the Pamir Plateau, across the desert and along the Yellow River to Luoyang, the provincial capital and center of Chinese Buddhist culture. In any case, the journey from India is agreed to have been long and dangerous.
Bodhidharma is thought to have been born in Kanchipuram, near Madras, India, the third son of a local king and therefore a member of the caste of warriors and rulers. At the age of seven he purportedly began making observations of precocious wisdom (e.g. “The mind is a jewel”). His teacher, Prajnatara, changed the boy's name from Bodhitara to Bodhidharma. Following his father's death, Bodhidharma served Prajnatara for many years spreading Buddhism. Upon Prajnatara's death Bodhidharma left his monastery in India to follow his master's last wish that he go to China and spread the teaching.