Thursday, June 5, 2014

The prince, a monk

Here is the plaque, as I had promised yesterday. The name 'Bodhidharman' would be familiar to movie fans, through the movie "7ஆம் அறிவு" (Seventh Sense).  The stories about Bodhidharman are many and there is not enough place for them here. Suffice to say that one of the younger sons of a Pallava king, figuring that he wasn't excited by politics or palace intrigues, went away and became a Buddhist monk. His appearance was not that of a conventional bhikshu, for he is described as being bearded, ill-tempered and widely wild-eyed. 

The last, some say, was because Bodhidharman, in a bid to ensure that he did not doze off while meditating, sliced his eyelids away. At the spot where those lids fell grew a bush, and that was the first tea bush, according to legend. Other legends have it that it was this dhyana - that does sound like zen - master who brought the practice of Zen Buddhism, established the Shaolin Temple and in general did so much that practically anything can be traced back to him.

it was quite an unusual choice of a monk that the Theosophical Society has made for its Buddhist temple. Out there, Bodhidharman is around, even if he is not in the main temple itself!

1 comment:

Paul Mathew said...

Yes. Bodhidharma was a maverick! He took dhyana to China where they called it Chan. From there it went to Japan where they called it Zen! He was wild alright ! No pretence, no 'manners'. He just was! Wild and hot tempered, with bulging eyes, he struck fear into the hearts of people who liked the trappings of spirituality without the sincerity, understanding, or commitment! The Zen pictures of him are very interesting.