With the divine blessings of Bodhidharma, we launch this interactive platform - a humble initiative focused on realizing the Re-emergence of Bodhidharma in his homeland, Kanchipuram. To start with, we have two direct evidences of Kanchipuram associated with Bodhidharma. One is a relief panel depicting him in the style of a Mahayana monk that we recently (December 2018) discovered at the Vaikuntha Perumal Temple - an evidence stating the past presence of Bodhidharma in South India. The second is a record in ancient Chinese literature that describes his homeland in India by three Chinese characters “香至国” - which means nothing but “Kanchipuram”.
In March this year (2019), we initiated the Bodhi-Dharma Dojo Foundation. The Bhoomi Pooja and Ji Chin Sai ceremony were performed at the newly acquired land, invoking the soul of Bodhidharma to emerge again in this modern world, radiating the ancestral high spirit of Maitri and Mahakaruna. “Dojo (道場)” means “Place of Practicing the Path” where the highest paths are practiced - including martial arts. However, it originally meant a place for practicing Zen, a peaceful meditation. We call the land “Bodhi-Dharma Memorial Park”.
There is a story that deserves special mention here. When Bodhidharma set out from Shaolin monastery on his last unreturning journey, he left behind two texts, kept tightly sealed in an iron box. All efforts to open it were in vain. A wise monk then heated it and found two Sanskrit texts inside. One of them is called the “Change muscle/tendon classic（易筋経）” and the other, the “Wash-brain sutra（洗髄経）”. We seek to practice both the paths in harmony at our Dojo, realizing Bodhidharma’s high spirit.
“Bodhi-Dharma Memorial Park” is located at No.34, Kolivakkam Village, Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu. A monument planned and designed by the World Association of Bodhi-Dharma (NPO, Japan) in 2014 has been installed in the Park. A single uniform mass of black granite was quarried out for this purpose from a mountain located in the north-western part of Tamil Nadu and crafted by GEM Granites (India) in 2015. Our unique initiative seeks to bring great benefits to the world. The Bodhi-Dharma Memorial Park shall be a centre of cultural, spiritual, physical and social activity, bringing together humanity from all corners of the world. It would be our greatest pleasure and honor to receive your support in all ways, to keep the divine spirit of Bodhidharma alive and benevolent forever.
"During my research of past ten years on the life history of Bodhidharma according to Chinese literature, I made a startling discovery. His home country in India was described by three Chinese characters “香至国”, meaning "fragrant city", more than a thousand years ago. What attracted my attention was not the meaning, but the pronunciation. On exploring further, I found that the first two words 香至 is pronounced as "Kang-Zhi" in a local language of Min-Nan region, located at south-east coast where there were in the past trading ports with India. It exactly matched with "Kanchi-puram" since the Tamil word "puram" means city (or country) while the third word “国” means Country. Hence surprisingly, the Tamil ancient capital town Kanchipuram was expressed by three characters “香至国”.
This was a great inspiration for my search and ever since, the journey has been turned out a most enjoyable one. In fact, my journey has been rewarded by recent discovery of a relief panel of Bodhidharma at the Vaikuntha Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram. Now one may say that we have two direct evidences of Kanchipuram associated with Bodhidharma.
There is one more story worth mentioning. When Bodhidharma left Shaolin monastery at his last unreturning journey, he left two texts at Shaolin behind, which were kept in an iron box sealed with wax or fat. After hard efforts, a wise monk could open it, and found two texts written in Sanskrit. Now one of them is called “Change muscle/tendon classic（易筋経）” and the other “Wash-brain sutra（洗髄経）”. It is said that the latter text was brought (and lost) by his first disciple Hui-Ku 慧可, but led to development of Zen Buddhism, in which sitting Yoga is practiced together with daily practice of cleaning, tea-break meeting and garden works, while the former text remained in Shaolin. This is a manual of exercises coordinated with breathing. This is used even now as physical exercises in Shaolin training. We plan to recover both of them at our DOJO in Kanchipuram.”
- Dr. Tsutomu Jixin Kambe,
Founder Director: Bodhi-Dharma Dojo Foundation;
Vice-President: World Association of Bodhi Dharma (NPO, Japan)
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.