History of Bodhidharma — Mysteries & Secrets (Indian Pallava Prince)

The amazing life of the Chan, Zen & Kung Fu master

  • Bodhidharma was the 28th patriarch of Buddhism, hailing from India.
  • Bodhidharma founded Chan Buddhism and Zen Buddhism.
  • Bodhidharma is the father of Shaolin Kung Fu.

Yet, Indians DO NOT know this Pallava Prince! How unfortunate.

Life of Bodhidharma. All about Bodhidharma Damo Daruma Indian King Prince Kanchipuram Chan Zen Buddhism
All about Bodhidharma
  • Around 470 AD, Bodhidharma was born in Kanchipuram in India, as the third son to a Pallava King, believed to be Skandavarman IV.
  • Bodhidharma renounced his royal life and became a Buddhist monk. Upon instruction from his guru Prajnatara, he travelled to China to spread Mahayana Buddhism.
  • By around 520 AD, he reached south China.
Bodhidharma’s father family Pallava line Buddhism Lineage Indian King Real
Bodhidharma’s Lineage

Let’s look at three MOST INTERESTING EVENTS from his life.

1. Clash with Emperor Wu:

Emperor Wu of Liang dynasty, who was renowned for building Buddhist temples and spreading Buddhism across the country, invited Bodhidharma to his court. The Emperor, treating Bodhidharma with utmost respect and admiration, told him about all that he had done to promote Buddhism.

  • Then he fervently asked Bodhidharma, “what is the meaning of ‘noble truth’?” Bodhidharma replied, “There is no noble truth”.
  • Confused, the Emperor continued with his next question. “How much good karma have I earned by these good deeds in honor of the Buddha?” Bodhidharma replied, “nothing!”

2. Cutting off eye-lids & birth of Tea

After the encounter with the Emperor not going well, Bodhidharma sat down meditating for nine years while gazing at a wall in a cave.

  • As per a legend, one day, Bodhidharma dozed off during his meditation.
  • Angered upon this, he cut off his eyelids to prevent him from dozing off again.
  • It is said that the spot where his eyelids fell at, sprang up the very first tea plant.

Watch the below video for unknown mysteries & secrets about this forgotten Pallava Prince:

3. Spotting Bodhidharma AFTER Death

  • Three years after Bodhidharma’s death, an official in the kingdom spotted Bodhidharma in a mountain. Bodhidharma was walking barefooted, carrying one shoe in his hand. He told him that he was returning home, and also predicted the impending death of the King.
  • Back in the country, Bodhidharma’s tomb was dug open, and all that remained was his other shoe. And the King died soon after, making his prediction come true as well.

Let’s share this forgotten Prince’s history and bring back his glory! 💪

References used for research:

  1. Bodhidharma Anthology — The Earliest Records of Zen Buddhism, Jeffrey Broughton L.
  2. Seeing_through_Zen, John_R._McRae (1936)
  3. “The sound of the one hand.” JAOS 107,1: 125–126, Kamil Zvelebil




Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing.

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Ungal Anban Hemanth

Ungal Anban Hemanth

YouTuber, Tamil / Indian History buff, blogger.

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