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October 29, 2011

யார் இந்த போதிதர்மன்? Who is Bodhidharma?


Who is this Bodhidharma?’ If you ask this question to anyone in India then the answer from most of them would be "Never heard of this name" or "First time, I am hearing this name", so is the state of people in India. I am not an exception because I myself learnt about Bodhidharma only a few months back. The reason is because I started to explore more about Tamil, Tamil Literature and History; otherwise, it's the same story.

(போதிதர்மன்) Bodhidharma (Da Mo in Chinese, Daruma in Japanese) who visited china as a Buddhist monk during 520 A.D is traditionally credited as the leading patriarch and transmitter of Zen (Chinese: Chán, Sanskrit: Dhyāna) to China. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolinquan. (From wiki).

But who was Bodhidharma and where did he come from? Bodhidharma was a Tamilan from South India, born as a 3rd prince of the Pallava dynasty in their capital of Kanchipuram of Tamil Nadu, India. After becoming a Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma travelled to China by means of land. After three years he reached there and upon bringing Chan to China, he became the first Chinese patriarch and all subsequent Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen masters trace their master-disciple lineages back to him. Bodhidharma then left for the north, reportedly crossing the Yangtze River on a boat and arrived at the Shao-lin Temple. Finding the residents physically weak and prone to the attack of local bandits, he taught them self-defence, from which evolved the famous Shao-lin style of martial arts. {Source: Buddhism Dictionary. A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, 2003, 2004}. Throughout Buddhist art, Bodhidharma is depicted as a rather ill-tempered, profusely bearded and wide-eyed barbarian. He is described as ‘The Blue-Eyed Barbarian’ in Chinese texts.

The two accounts reveal about Blue-Eyes Barbarian... (From wiki)

Yang Xuànzhī


The Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (洛陽伽藍記 Luòyáng Qiélánjì), was compiled in 547 by Yáng Xuànzhī 楊衒之, a writer and translator of Mahāyāna Buddhist texts into the Chinese language.

At that time there was a monk of the Western Region named Bodhidharma, a Persian Central Asian. He travelled from the wild borderlands to China. Seeing the golden disks [on the pole on top of Yǒngníng's stupa] reflecting in the sun, the rays of light illuminating the surface of the clouds, the jewel-bells on the stupa blowing in the wind, the echoes reverberating beyond the heavens, he sang its praises. He exclaimed: ‘Truly this is the work of spirits.’ He said: ‘I am 150 years old and I have passed through numerous countries. There is virtually no country I have not visited. Even the distant Buddha-realms lack this.’ He chanted homage and placed his palms together in salutation for days on end

Broughton (1999:55) dates Bodhidharma's presence in Luoyang to between 516 and 526, when the temple referred to—Yǒngníngsì (永寧寺)—was at the height of its glory. Starting in 526, Yǒngníngsì suffered damage from a series of events, ultimately leading to its destruction in 534.

Tánlín

The second account was written by Tánlín (曇林; 506–574). Tánlín's brief biography of the ‘Dharma Master’ is found in his preface to the Two Entrances and Four Acts, a text traditionally attributed to Bodhidharma and the first text to identify Bodhidharma as South Indian:

The Dharma Master was a South Indian of the Western Region. He was the third son of a great Indian king of the Pallava Dynasty. His ambition lay in the Mahayana path, and so he put aside his white layman's robe for the black robe of a monk [...] Lamenting the decline of the true teaching in the outlands, he subsequently crossed distant mountains and seas, travelling about propagating the teaching in Han and Wei.

Tánlín's account was the first to mention that Bodhidharma attracted disciples, specifically mentioning Dàoyù (道育) and Huìkě (慧可), the latter of who would later figure very prominently in the Bodhidharma literature.

Tánlín has traditionally been considered a disciple of Bodhidharma, but it is more likely that he was a student of Huìkě, who in turn was a student of Bodhidharma.

Also, the book ‘Trust in Mind’ provides an interesting insight into the arrival of Bodhidharma to China and the events that transpired. It confirms that he meditated in the temple of Shaolin for 9 years and the evolution of Chan or Zen (Dhyan or Dhyanam). There is also a reference in(The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy -Junjiro Takakusu) that he was from Kanchipuram, and is the third son of the king. He is known as Da Mo in Chinese or Daruma Daishi in Japanese. {Sources: Google Books}.

The sources also confirm that the famous Shaolin style of martial arts evolved from his teachings that are actually a combination of Varmakalai and Kalaripayattu.

What has Bodhidharma to do with tea and Daruma dolls? The story is very beautiful. He was meditating for nine years facing a wall. Nine years, facing the wall, he seems that he was infuriated at his difficulty in keeping awake while silently meditating, and legend has it that he ripped off his eyelids and threw them down to the ground, where they sprouted as tea plants (Oh My God!). Bodhidharma). That is why when you drink tea, Bodhidharma enters you and protects you from falling asleep, such divine is our tea, and so have a sip whenever you wish to. In addition, his legs seemingly withered away because of his constant sitting pose. This is the stated origin of the Daruma doll, a Japanese egg shaped doll that tilts back upright when knocked over. Its wide-open eyes and lack of legs come from the legends of Bodhidharma

The death of Bodhidharma is still a puzzle because according to few sources, ‘He was given the poisoned food by villagers which he detected it and when he asked them why. The villagers told him that if they bury his body in their land then their village would be disease-free so according to their will he ate the poisoned food and was buried in the Chinese mountains.

Three years after Bodhidharma’s death, Ambassador Song Yun of northern Wei is said to have seen him walking while holding a shoe at the Pamir Heights. Song Yun asked Bodhidharma where he was going, to which Bodhidharma replied, ‘I am going home’. When asked why he was holding his shoe, Bodhidharma answered, ‘You will know when you reach Shaolin monastery. Don't mention that you saw me or you will meet with disaster’. After arriving at the palace, Song Yun told the emperor that he met Bodhidharma on the way. The emperor said Bodhidharma was already dead and buried and had Song Yun arrested for lying. At the Shaolin Temple, the monks informed them that Bodhidharma was dead and had been buried in a hill behind the temple. The grave was exhumed and was found to contain a single shoe. The monks then said ‘Master has gone back home’ and prostrated three times. For nine years, he had remained and nobody knew him; carrying a shoe in hand, he went home quietly and few sources reveal that he lives in Himalayas. (not sure of this info).

So, if you like this post then read a similar post here. Tamil history is very vast and if you start exploring it then you will be amazed. I am actually exploring few for the past six months because of the inspiration from one of my close friends. If you wish I could share those info's too. Here is a sample that will make you go mad...


click here.. I am sure you will be amazed

Credits:
Images - Source,
Wiki - Source as per above,
Google Books - Information.

26 comments:

  1. quite interesting n informative....
    must have done lot of homework for writing this.....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Really amazing post with full of amazement.Thank you so much for sharing such valuable post! :)

    I'm also going to explore about Tamil history and these days I'm trying to learn Telugu :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well,sis I was too amazed after seeing the film and also like you researched about him.Recently I blogged about the Tamil film(http://perpetualthinkings.blogspot.com/2011/10/aezhaam-arivu-tamil-film-review.html) and you did a great job telling more about the Monk .I esp liked the numbers and I like to do more research on that :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good post..I've written one on him myself..still awaiting ur comment on it:P

    ReplyDelete
  5. wow great news... first time i m reading about tamil numbers n bodhidharma... we people learn to save our old tradition n tel others about its original theme n value... so that v can spread it to al others...

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ IRFANUDDIN

    quite interesting n informative....
    must have done lot of homework for writing this.....


    Thank you so much Irfan.. I won't say homework but my point of interest..

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  7. @ Simran

    Wow! Really amazing post with full of amazement.Thank you so much for sharing such valuable post! :)

    I'm also going to explore about Tamil history and these days I'm trying to learn Telugu :D


    learning telugu?? Wow, superb Simran.. Ela Unnavu?

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  8. @ Umamaheswari

    Uma, I am exploring about Tamil and not just about Bodhidharma, I thought I should post it so I did it.. Hmm.. Love to post many of this kind..

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  9. @ Cloud Nine

    Good post..I've written one on him myself..still awaiting ur comment on it:P


    CN, You wrote it beautifully well.. Happy to have you sister..

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  10. @ nirmal indrajith

    wow great news... first time i m reading about tamil numbers n bodhidharma... we people learn to save our old tradition n tel others about its original theme n value... so that v can spread it to al others...


    Agreed to you nirmal, I have many many more info about Tamil.. Love to post it too...

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  11. really nice friend. i am also doing this research about our siddharkal. They are more advanced than over current scientist. They used their body as an instrument.


    thanks for your information.

    ReplyDelete
  12. @ amir

    really nice friend. i am also doing this research about our siddharkal. They are more advanced than over current scientist. They used their body as an instrument.


    thanks for your information.


    Aamir, love to speak with you on this regard.. Can you please contact me via mail..

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  13. @ Agaran

    Nandri,
    miga sirapaga iruku.


    மிக்க நன்றி.....

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  14. oru tamilana poranhtthuku nan santhosam paduran... tamilanoda varalaru tamilanuke theriyalaye..ethu yar mela ulla thapu.. government than..school life la nama varalara namaluku soli thanthuruntha namalukum evlo self confidence, tamilanu santhosam erumapu irunthurukum... epad tamilanu solla vekka patruka matan..
    murugadoss ku kodana kodi nanri

    ReplyDelete
  15. really superb........ v feel proud to b an indian meanwhile ashamed tooooooooo.........

    ReplyDelete
  16. im raealy proud of ur service friend

    ReplyDelete
  17. @ Anonymous

    oru tamilana poranhtthuku nan santhosam paduran... tamilanoda varalaru tamilanuke theriyalaye..ethu yar mela ulla thapu.. government than..school life la nama varalara namaluku soli thanthuruntha namalukum evlo self confidence, tamilanu santhosam erumapu irunthurukum... epad tamilanu solla vekka patruka matan..
    murugadoss ku kodana kodi nanri


    nandri...

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  18. @ nithya

    really superb........ v feel proud to b an indian meanwhile ashamed tooooooooo.........

    rightly said... :-)

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  19. @ Anonymous

    im raealy proud of ur service friend

    Nandri...

    Someone is Special

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am reali proud to be an indian

    ReplyDelete

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