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Tuesday, 19 March 2019 06:41

Bodhidharma The Shaolin Master

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Let us see a comparison between the sculpture (a) in Vaikuntha Perumal Temple and the painting (b) in a Chinese Zen Temple (Tian-Tong Temple of Soto Zen school).

This Bodhidharma relief panel forms a part of larger panel consisting of five different scenes. Four of them relate to royal life and the representation of Bodhidharma stands in sharp contrast to the royal scene, seen in Sanjari-Sramana style.

Photo of the painting in a Chinese Zen Temple (Tian-Tong Temple of Soto Zen school), taken by Kambe (2009)

 Earliest description of Bodhidharma was given by a Chinese monk Tan-lin (a disciple of Bodhidharma) in about 550 CE, who described his teacher as follows: “The Dharma Master Bodhidharma was from South India. He was the third son of a great Indian king. His ambition lay in the Mahayana path.”  This description in the Chinese literature is consistent with the set of relief images at the Temple in Kanchipuram.


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