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Bodhidharma’s story: The Indian monk who introduced martial arts to Shaolin temple

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Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th/6th century CE. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch’an (Sanskrit: Dhyāna, Japanese: Zen) to China, and regarded as the first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolinquan.

Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend.[1] There are three principal sources for Bodhidharma’s biography[2]: Yáng Xuànzhī’s (Yang Hsüan-chih) The Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (547), Tánlín’s preface to the Two Entrances and Four Acts (6th century CE), and Dàoxuān’s (Tao-hsuan) Further Biographies of Eminent Monks (7th century CE).

These sources vary on their account of Bodhidharma being either “from Persia” (547 CE), “a Brahman monk from South India” (645 CE), “the third son of a Brahman king of South India” (ca. 715 CE).[1] Some traditions specifically describe Bodhidharma to be the third son of a Pallava king from Kanchipuram.[3][4]

The accounts also differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liú Sòng Dynasty (420–479) and later accounts dating his arrival to the Liáng Dynasty (502–557). Bodhidharma was primarily active in the lands of the Northern Wèi Dynasty (386–534). Modern scholarship dates him to about the early 5th century.[5]

Several stories about Bodhidharma have become popular legends, which are still being used in the Ch’an and Zen-tradition.

Bodhidharma’s teachings and practice centered on meditation and the Lankavatara Sutra.

The Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (952) identifies Bodhidharma as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in an uninterrupted line that extends all the way back to the Buddha himself.

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.[6]

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Posted by on April 24, 2012. Filed under Asia,Buddhism,China,Education,Hinduism,India,Interfaith tolerance,Peace,Universal Brotherhood. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

46 Responses to Bodhidharma’s story: The Indian monk who introduced martial arts to Shaolin temple

  1. mohan

    May 6, 2013 at 2:40 am

    i like this but i want full bowdidarma detils

  2. Madhuri shanmuga sundaram

    October 2, 2013 at 8:17 pm


  3. Shubham Kr Jha

    April 23, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Iwana know full biography of Budhidherma.

  4. Viksh Kr Jha

    April 23, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I want to know about every thing which are related on Budhidharma and also full biography of him.

  5. ka patel alwila

    April 28, 2014 at 1:26 am

    I want to know everything about bodhidharma and his full biography

  6. tasneem

    April 29, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Recently a film “Chennai Vs China” tells about Bodhidharma’s story.

  7. Mithun Das

    May 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    I respect Bodhidharma & want to know about him.

  8. Ajay Kumar Sharma

    June 10, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    The movie CHENNAI VS CHINA tells about BodhiDharma and REALLY!!! He was an amazing monk and we proud on our INDIA that it is a birthplace of the Buddha…

  9. rahul halder

    June 14, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Chennai vs chaina amazing movie of malayam. But this movie don’t tell bodhidharma all details. I want to bodhidharma all details.

  10. rohan medhe

    June 16, 2014 at 9:16 am

    i have seen the movie chennai vs china bt they havent tell more imformation about bodhidherma i want whole imformation about him an biography also.

  11. naresh

    June 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    sir I have more interesting about learn martial arts so can you have any books written by Bodhidharma

  12. sikandar nain

    June 26, 2014 at 5:28 am

    I want more detail about bodhidharma

  13. Samir mandal

    June 27, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Mai v Bodhidharman k bareme janna chahata hu . Kese janu mujhe batayenge ?

  14. kiran

    June 27, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I read that. I want more detail about bodhidharma.

  15. suraj

    June 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Bodhidharman he is a great martial artist but y in south india martial art is rare there are no cochings y

  16. rupesh lama mongolian vhotey

    June 27, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    **** buddha was born in nepal

  17. Jiti lee

    June 30, 2014 at 7:38 am

    I love my co grandfather

  18. sunidhi

    July 2, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    I went to full.information about bodhidhafman..

  19. anupal

    July 4, 2014 at 7:40 am

    i read abot it……and i respect bodhi dharma

  20. niharika chouhan

    July 13, 2014 at 8:28 am

    i read so much about bodhi dharman want to know about him too more …iz he discover any kind of medcnes which help people to fyt wid deases…?? where he born?? iz dere any of hiis relative still alive want to know more about him.plz gce more info about.him….

  21. Dr.A.Anburaj

    July 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Why should you give publicity to a Man who is considered Barbarian by some elements of China ? I think it is the complex of followers of Arabian culture. They cannot accept/recognise men and women of great calibre in other culture.That is why you are giving emphasis to the word “Barbarian”. Bodhidharma is a saintly personality.He is a renowed Multidiscipline Scholar . His eminence in Medicine is noteworthy. He is vowed to Non-violence and altruism is the foundation of his character.Please provide light on him in a dignified way.

  22. Rahul Kumar Gupta

    July 15, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Bhodi Dharman hamare desh ke mahaan purush jinhone china me jakar unki maddad ki . ye hamare liaye gaurav ki baat hai ki hamare desh ke purush ne china ki us samaya maddad ki jab china ki halat bahut gamvir thi. hame garv hai ki aise purush hamare desh se sambandh rakhte hai

  23. Sohail sheikh

    July 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    M really interesting to learn martial art….nd m so proud to be an Indian…bcoz of bodhi dharma was an indian monk..

  24. Abhisek Rozario

    July 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Realy a great human. Bodhidharma. The indian monk. We can call him as the rebirth of Lord Goutam Buddha.

  25. Abhisek Rozario

    July 17, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    We are proud and glad to know that the great marshel art (kungfu),and hepnotisiom was invented by a great man from india Bodhidharma. Not only this, he also said about the DNA formation of human body in 6th century, a long time back when there was no scince.

  26. kishor giri

    July 21, 2014 at 2:32 am

    i think he is from china

  27. kanhaiya kuldeep

    July 22, 2014 at 12:56 am

    I was trying to search d founder of martial arts. I never thought that founder would be an indian. This us great proud for indian nd also same for it. coz even 1% of indian doesn’t knw martial arts.

  28. setvan singh

    July 26, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    my dear friends i want to known about that book which bodhidharma was written.
    and why he gone to chaina .my dear friends i so intersted to bodhidharma.plz take series bodhidharma story.
    jha tak mere ko pata hai bodhi dharm ki wajah se hi aaj chaina india se aage hai .hmare desh me bodhidhrma ko bahut kam log jante hai aur chain haland etc log hamse jyada jante hai .mera jha tak manna hai jo zyan bodhidharm ne diya wah india me bhi pala kia jay .wo book jo unhone lokha tha hindi me unki shayta se .plz thoda prsyas kariyega agar koi kr sakta hai mai jo ho satka hai vo k

  29. Rahul Sati

    July 29, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    good one.

    Thank you for introducing us to a great personality of Indian History.

  30. sohil

    July 31, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I am interested in kung fu so my favourite hero is Bodidharma and Bruce Lee

  31. Mahendrakumar Walde

    August 11, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Please provide full biography of Bodhidharma.

  32. meet movaliya

    August 29, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    i want to more details than this detalis in hindi

  33. vignesh

    August 31, 2014 at 7:55 am

    proud to be a tamilian we have more achievements with us but everything is engraved by the fucking damid countries

  34. shahad saz

    September 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I salute to bodhidharma …..she is real hero
    I want to full information about bodidharma….
    and I respect him..

  35. Nagaraja thamilan

    September 5, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Guys am always used to surf abt Bodidharma..,there r many myths,also rumors abt him too..
    but i strongly belive that he’s the only 1st soul who invented MARTIAL ARTS” which was plenty.. this is filled in nature.. he revealed resisting forms from nature.. which r now basic 5 types of shaloin kungfu… if u watch sharply kungfu moves, u got some mudras,sculptures similar to Hindusm temples.. they r very effective when u become self-desireless man in environment.. I CAN Share this boldly tht BODHIDHARMA WAS from SOUTH INDIA & He is only founder/god of martial skills.. around that centuaric.. people knw to protect themselves.. yeah am sure.. MARTIAL ARTS BIRTH PLACE WAS INDIAsouth# no queries in this fact•

  36. neon wizkhalifa giri

    September 6, 2014 at 1:35 am

    I m also proud to say that boudhidharman was from India…and this is the fact no one can change it

  37. Murthuja Pattan

    September 7, 2014 at 6:13 pm


  38. jiten

    September 11, 2014 at 7:45 am

    dear sir ,
    I want to know more study of bodhidharman like
    hepnotise and how can I found these

  39. Ghulam Sarwar

    September 11, 2014 at 11:57 am

    With due respect to Rupesh Lama (27 June) and Nagaraja Thamilan (Sept 5) posts, I have to tell you that hazrat Budha, The Great was born in North India, i.e. North west side of Punjab. He was a prince.
    There are many sites in Punjab about budhism, their houses (which are fully collapsed now). Foundations only can be seen even today. There are their temples too. These can be seen near Hasan Abdal, Pakistan and may be seen on the google maps too (I hope). I have seen those places and temples with my own eyes when I visited the area 20 years ago.

    Also, know that the good influence of Hazrat (Lord) Budha was extensive in whole area, even much into Afghanistan. There were some very good Budhist faces engraved in high mountains in Afghanistan, visible from great distance. The Mullas (Taliban) leaders bombarded those statues of Budha with guns and destroyed them. How bad of the Taliban!
    I will not write more about that great person, Lord Budha. He was great. That is why his influence reached far and wide from North west India into south India, Siri Lanka, China and Japan and other south Asian countries.

  40. vinod sinha

    September 18, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    bodhi dharma ji ki biography Hindi m chahiye…

  41. Ishwar Ranjan

    September 21, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    I “m also an martial artist so I know this very well …but I wanna know about where we can learn this kung fu…

  42. Jinen

    September 23, 2014 at 5:15 am

    What was Bodhidharma’s life BEFORE he went to China? Was he married? Did he have children? What was his shadow side like?

  43. Bryan Norbert Iyer

    September 23, 2014 at 10:15 am

    i would be glad and thankful to you for the presented information about bodhidharma…..
    i would like to know more about him…..
    thank you

  44. manchal

    October 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    i wantto aboit bodhidharman and about his power
    and where he learn this art

  45. laxmi narayan

    October 3, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Pls provide true fact encedence and knowledge about bodhidarman life in hindi .on google search. tks

  46. Pankaj Budakoti

    October 5, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Frnzzz i have also seen chenai vs chaina… i also want to know more about bodhi dharma.. thnxxx