Saturday, 26 November 2011

The earliest historical OF Bodhidharma

The earliest historical record of Bodhidharma was compiled in 547 by Yang Xuanzhi, the Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang, in which Yang identifies Bodhidharma as a Persian Central Asian (Wade-Giles: po-szu kuo hu-jen) (Broughton, 1999, p. 54, p.138). However, Broughton notes that Yáng may have actually been referring to another monk named Boddhidharma, not related to the historical founder of Chan Buddhism. This book is considered to be unreliable, full of exaggeration and mirabilia. John Jorgensen (Inventing Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch) believes that Yang just confused Pahalva with Pallava. Pahalva means Persian. Bodhidharma's disciple Tanlin identifies his master as South Indian Brahmin(Broughton, 1999, p. 8).

The Biography is part of the Long Scroll of the Treatise on the Two Entrances and Four Practices, which Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki found in 1935 by going through the Dunhuang collection of the Chinese National Library. Bodhidharma's birth name Bodhitara. 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. His landing place was later called Xi Lai Chu Di ('first landfall on journeying from the west'), and is the site of Hualin temple.

About his Kanchipuram origin - Bodhidharma, the founder of the Chan (Zen) school of Buddhism in China, is a prince of the Pallava dynasty, a contemporary of Skandavarman IV and Nandivarman I and the son of Simhavarman II. Other accounts say that he was black in color (this comes from the paintings on shaolin cave walls of a black Dravidian teacher).

And why did he go to China in the first place? In 526, the 28th Buddhist patriarch Ta Mo (Bodhidharma) came to China by sea; the downfall of Buddhism in the country of its origin had forced him and many of his coreligionists to seek a new home in China, ‘cliicllyin Layong’, where 5000 Indians are said to have lived in the 6th century A.D. (India as known to the ancient world - Dr. G Banerjee). Sadly Bodhidharma was killed by poisoning, though the reports are not conclusive. According to Dàoxuān's chronology, Bodhidharma's death must have occurred prior to 534, the date of the Northern Wei Dynasty's fall, because Huike subsequently leaves Luoyang for Ye.

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