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Part of the List of Dharma Terms from the Buddhist Ayurveda Course (SKT220 ) on Sanskrit Terms of Ayurveda and Dharma


[[Bodhidharma]] ([[Patriarch]]) 

The twenty-eighth Indian Patriarch and founder and First Patriarch in China of the Chan School in a lineage traced back to the Buddha Shakyamuni. He was in China in the late fifth century and early sixth centuries A.D.

The twenty-eighth Indian Patriarch Great Master Bodhidharma

Fragrance, of the Kshatriya class. At first the King made offerings to Prajnatara, because of being tested with a precious Pearl. The Patriarch Bodhidharma

accordingly transmitted the Dharma to him.* Venerable Prajnatara was the twenty-seventh Indian Patriarch. Some accounts say that Prajnatara was Patriarch Bodhidharma's disciple, and others say that he was Bodhidharma's teacher (Guru). And so in Buddhism there are many things that cannot be determined precisely because of the fallibility of historical records. We will consider the Venerable Prajnatara the twenty-seventh Indian Patriarch as many accounts do. But some books list him differently. From this we should realize that not all books are accurate. A verse says;*

The Mind-Ground produces all seeds. because of specifics there further emerges principle. When the fruit is full, Bodhi is perfected. When the Flower blossoms, the worldly arises.

The specifics reveal the principle. But it can go either way, depending on what people do. The fruit can ripen into Bodhi or it can flower into all kinds of worldly problems.

to mind that conditions in China were ripe, and so he sailed* by boat *to


  • Zhou (Canton), a *subordinate envoy of the royal house of Xiao sent

word to* Emperor

come *to see him.*

  • He asked him, 'What is the Sagely Truth in the primary sense,* the primary


Emperor Wu of Liang simply didn't understand what he was talking about, and so he said, '*Then who is before me?* Who is it who is talking to me?' His meaning was, 'You're a Sage, aren't you? You are talking to me, and so who is that?'

understand that Sages have no attributes of a self. He considered himself a Sage and was very self-satisfied, but he basically was the same as any ordinary person. *Because of that, the Patriarch crossed the yangtze* river and *passed through* the part of China that was under Wei reign. The Liang Dynasty reigned in southern China with its capital at Nanjing. The north of China was at the same time governed by the Wei Dynasty with its capital at Luo[[yang. This was during the five Kingdoms period (386-581), and so China was divided into many different countries with different rulers. *He arrived at Shao*lin Monastery on Song mountain. *Afterwards he met Shen Guang and transmitted the Great Dharma to him.* He transmitted the Patriarchs' Proper Dharma Eye Treasury to Shen Guang. *And then accompanied him to Thousand Sages Monastery in Yunnan. He transformed himself while seated.* He sat down and went off to rebirth. That is what this account says. But many books say that Patriarch Bodhidharma did not enter Stillness (i.e., Nirvana) at all. These are inconceivable events and are not subject to ordinary proofs and tests of Truth. *He was buried at Bear's Ear Mountain.* Emperor Tai Zong

'perfectly enlightened Great Master' upon him. his Stupa inscription reads: 'Contemplator Of emptiness'.*

When he first came to China, He did not recognize who was before the Emperor. Overturning nest and bowl, He beat emptiness until it bled. He met a person who cut off his arm. At Bear's Ear Mountain the path came to its end. He divided his marrow and divided his skin, Adding frost on top of snow.

'Overturning nest and bowl' means he broke through the antiquated patterns, and so there wasn't any 'niche' for him. The Second Patriarch cut off his arm for the sake of the Dharma, and so Patriarch Bodhidharma transmitted the Dharma to him. Arriving at Bear's Ear Mountain, where he transmitted the Dharma, he had no further place he needed to go. 'He divided his marrow and divided his skin.' Some obtained the marrow of the Patriarch's teaching, some obtained the skin. The analogy is of frost added to snow. snow is very cold to start with and when frost is added it is even colder still.

China's conditions were ripe, and so* Bodhidharma came.* He did not recognize who was before the Emperor, the potentials were not ready yet. Shen Guang at Bear's Ear Mountain knelt for nine years.

Using the mind Seal to Seal the mind, there was transmission of Great Dharma. From the First Patriarch to the Second Patriarch, the life-pulse continued. six times was he attacked, yet not a hair of his was injured. With one shoe he returned west, to be remembered forever after.

Patriarch Bodhidharma had been in India and all of a sudden it had occurred to him that Buddhism ought to flourish in China where conditions were ripe. 'The Dharma came' means Patriarch Bodhidharma came to China, bringing the Dharma with him.

“When Emperor Wu of Liang saw Bodhidharma, he asked him, 'What's meant by Sagely Truth?' He was not just referring to the four Sagely Truths, he was referring to the Foremost Truth-Truth in the primary sense. It is defined as being 'prior to the arising of a thought.'

_The path of words and language is cut off. _The place of the mind's workings is extinguished.

Emperor Wu of Liang had heard a lot, had built a lot of Temples, had sanctioned many people's wishes to leave home, and so he thought he had already obtained the Sagely Truth. He thought that his Merit and virtue were plentiful. And so his aim in asking his questions was to get Patriarch Bodhidharma to praise him. He expected him to say things like, 'Great King, you are really good. You have a Great Destiny in advocating the Buddha Dharma. You already have clearly seen the Sagely Truth.'

“But Patriarch Bodhidharma was the twenty-eighth Indian Patriarch. How could he be vulgar and obsequious and play up to an Emperor? He could not. He didn't say a single word of praise. He said, 'There simply isn't any Sage. There isn't anything at all.'

“When Emperor Wu of Liang didn't get his praise, he tried giving Patriarch Bodhidharma a high hat to wear and said, in effect, 'You've come from India and are a member of the Sagely Sangha, someone who understands Sagely Truth, and so how can you say there simply isn't any Sage?' And so still trying to get some praise from Bodhidharma, he said, 'Then who is before me? Who is talking to me?' His meaning was, 'You are a Sage, and I too am a Sage. Both of us have the skill that comes from realizing Truth in the primary sense.'

“Little did he expect that, far from agreeing with that, Bodhidharma would say, 'There simply isn't any Sage,' thus sweeping away all Dharmas and leaving all marks. 'There isn't anything at all. If there is anything at all, there is attachment to marks. There is attachment to the mark of self, the mark of others, the mark of living beings, and the mark of lifespans. But he was indicating that there is nothing whatsoever. And so Emperor Wu further asked him, 'Then who is before me?'

Patriarch Bodhidharma's answer was even simpler than before. He said, 'I don't recognize who it is. I don't recognize who is before you, Emperor.' On the one hand, that showed he wasn't self-satisfied, unlike we who feel that it is sweet as eating honey if someone praises us, and that getting that honey is the best thing there is. He 'didn't recognize who it was.' But the Emperor didn't make the connection because his 'potentials were not ready yet.'

”'Shen Guang at Bear's Ear Mountain knelt for nine years.' After Patriarch Bodhidharma finished his conversation with the Emperor, he left. He could see that the Emperor wasn't getting what he was saying-that he had only understood half a sentence of it at best. At Nanjing he encountered a Dharma Master who was lecturing on Sutras. When Dharma Master Shen Guang lectured, Heavenly Flowers showered down in profusion, and golden Lotuses welled up from the earth. At the time, people who had opened the Five Eyes (see entry) could see this state occur when he was lecturing. That was a big response! But when Patriarch Bodhidharma arrived on the scene to take a look, he asked Dharma Master Shen Guang, 'Dharma Master, what are you doing here?'

Shen Guang replied, 'What am I doing! I'm lecturing on the Sutras and speaking Dharma to teach and transform living beings!'

Patriarch Bodhidharma replied, 'You say you are lecturing, but what is black are the words and what is white is the paper. How can that be used to teach and transform living beings?'

“When Dharma Master Shen Guang heard that, he said, 'Now you are slandering the Buddha and the Dharma. You are a despicable barbarian! You are a Great demon.' After scolding him like that, Dharma Master Shen Guang took his recitation beads (Mala), which were made of iron, and struck Bodhidharma with them. He aimed at Bodhidharma's head, but the Patriarch threw his head back, and so he was struck on the mouth. The blow knocked two of his teeth loose. Bodhidharma thought, 'If I spit these two teeth out on the ground, this place will undergo a terrible drought for Three years.' That is what happens if a Sage's teeth are knocked to the ground - a Great disaster will occur there. If it didn't rain for Three years, a lot of people would starve to death. He didn't want that to happen, and so he swallowed his two teeth instead of spitting them out. That is how compassionate he was. Then he left.

“After Bodhidharma left, the Ghost of Impermanence arrived with a summons for Dharma Master Shen Guang. The ghost said, 'Dharma Master, today your life should end. We have come to invite you to King Yama (Yama Raja)'s for tea.'

Dharma Master Shen Guang said, 'I lecture on the Sutras so well; I still have to die?'

“The ghost said, 'You lecture on the Sutras just fine, but you haven't end birth and death.'

“The Dharma Master asked, 'Is there anyone in this world that King Yama (Yama Raja) does not govern? Is there anyone who has end birth and death?'

“The Ghost of Impermanence said, 'Yes, there is someone.'


”'The Dharma Master whose two teeth you just knocked out, that ugly monk, is someone whom King Yama (Yama Raja) has no control over. Not only does King Yama (Yama Raja) not govern him, when King Yama (Yama Raja) sees him, he bows before him.'

”'Oh! Then I must follow him and find him. I want to learn the method for becoming someone whom King Yama (Yama Raja) does not govern.'

”'Fine, I'll give you some time,' and with that, the Ghost of Impermanence let him go.

Dharma Master Shen Guang was in a terrible hurry. He didn't even take time to put on his shoes; he just grabbed them and ran barefoot.

“Meanwhile, Bodhidharma had met a parrot on the road. The parrot could talk. It said:

[Mind]] Come from the west, Mind Come from the west, Please teach me the way To escape from this cage.

Bodhidharma thought, 'I came here to save people and it's not working out; at least I can save this parrot.' And so he taught him:

To escape from the cage, To escape from the cage, Stick both legs straight out. Close both eyes tight. That's the way to escape your cage.

“The parrot heard and understood. It pretended to be dead. It lay on the bottom of its cage with its legs stuck out still and its eyes closed tight, not moving, not even breathing. The owner found the parrot this way and took it out to have a look. He held the bird in his hand, peering at it from the left and right until he was convinced it was indeed dead. The only thing about it was, it was still warm. But it wasn't breathing. And so the owner opened his hand and in that instant the parrot was fully revived. Phrtttt! It flew away and escaped its cage.

Dharma Master Shen Guang pursued Bodhidharma all the way to Bear's Ear Mountain (Xiong Er Shan), which was in the Song range, the Middle range of the Five Great Mountain ranges of China. Bodhidharma was sitting there facing a wall, not speaking to anyone. Shen Guang tried to talk to Bodhidharma, but the Patriarch completely ignored him. And so Shen Guang knelt there. He knelt for nine years while Bodhidharma sat. After nine years of kneeling his skill was fairly well developed, but it had not yet been brought to realization. 'As ”Able Wisdom”'-Huike-the name Bodhidharma gave Shen Guang, 'he collected snow with one arm cut off.' How did his wisdom come to be 'able'? In the winter of the ninth year of kneeling, there was a Great snowfall. The snow covered him as he knelt there. It reached clear up to his waist. Probably he was shaKing with cold and decided to try to speak to the Patriarch again. 'Patriarch, please be compassionate and transmit the Dharma to me. It was a terrible mistake I made when I knocked your two teeth out. I realize now that you have way virtue, that you are One Who Has Obtained the Way.'

Bodhidharma asked him, 'What is falling outside?'


”'What color is the snow?'

“'snow is white.'

”'When the snow turns red, I will transmit the Dharma to you.' This was a test. But by that time Shen Guang could figure out what to do.

“'Fine,' he thought, 'You want red snow?' And so he took his precept-knife, which was carried by the ancients. It was to use if a situation ever arose in which one would have to break a precept. Rather than break a precept, one would prefer to use the knife to cut off one's own head. But now Shen Guang grabbed the knife and sliced off one of his arms. The blood spurted out all over the place and colored the snow red. He took up a bunch of the red snow and went before Bodhidharma, Holding it aloft to offer to him. 'See, the snow is red,' he said.

Bodhidharma said, 'You have a bit of sincerity. My journey to China has not been in vain. Fine. I will transmit the Dharma to you.' Bodhidharma transmitted the Proper Dharma Eye Treasury, the wonderful mind of Nirvana, to Great Master Able Wisdom [Huike]. And so the First Patriarch and the Second Patriarch continued the life-pulse of the Buddha's teaching.

“'Six times he was attacked; not a hair of his was injured.' While Patriarch Bodhidharma was in China, people of various externalist cults and sects were jealous of him. They tried six times to poison him. The first five times he was not poisoned to death. The sixth time he was given poison he spit it out on a rock, and it split the rock in two. And so he thought, 'people are so jealous, I'd best enter Stillness (i.e., Nirvana).' And so he pretended to enter Stillness. Then people buried him. But just at that time, in Northern Wei there was a government official named Song. At Zongling, at Zhongnan mountain, he encountered Bodhidharma. The Patriarch was carrying one shoe in his hand. He said to Officer Song, 'There is a lot of turmoil in your country. You should return there immediately.'

Song didn't think there was any problem in his country, but he returned just the same and found that indeed the Wei Dynasty was being overthrown. 'Ah,' he thought, 'Bodhidharma's words are really accurate.' When he related the Patriarch's advice to others, they asked him, 'Where did you see Bodhidharma?'

“'I saw him just two days ago at Zonglin. He was carrying one shoe, and when I asked him where he was going, he said, “Back to India.” He told me that our Dynasty was in trouble, and he was right.'

”'You saw a ghost!' they told him. 'Bodhidharma has already been dead a long time.'

“'Where is he buried?' asked the official. 'Let's go see.' They opened the grave and there was nothing inside except for one shoe. 'With one shoe he returned west, to be remembered forever after.' He went back to India with one shoe. But the memory of him was left in Jung Gwo for people to hold ever after. They will never forget Patriarch Bodhidharma. His state was inconceivable.” (VBS, June, 1984, pp. 1-3, 12)

1) Chinese: Pu ti Da mo

Sanskrit: Bodhidharma.

See Also: Chan School, lineage, Hui Neng (Patriarch)*.

BTTS References: VBS

  1. 169, June, 1984, pp. 1-3, 12; PS 8-16; SS VII]] 54-55.

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Fair Use: Vaidya Vasant Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Press, 2002; Vasant Lad, BAMS, MAsc, Ayurvedic Institute Gurukula Notes, Ayurvedic Institute, 1994-2006; and Ron Epstein, Buddhism A to Z, Burlingame, California, Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2003, p. and many other sources (see Bibliography). Adapted from Fair Use Source: Upasaka Ron Epstein, Buddhism A to Z, 1999: p. Primary Original Source: The Tripitaka of Sutra, Shastra and Vinaya Dharma teachings (as found in the scripture storehouse of the Indian Sanskrit- Siddham, Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese traditions of the Nalanda Tradition of ancient Nalanda University) of Shakyamuni Buddha, and his Arya Sagely Bodhisattva Bhikshu Monk and Upasaka disciples.

These Good and Wise Advisors (Kaliyanamitra) Dharma Master teachers include Arya Venerables Om Tare Tuttare Ture Om Ah Hum and Namo to Jivaka, Charaka, Lao Zi - Mahakashapa, Ashwagosha, Shantideva - Hui Neng - Shen Kai Sheng Ren Shr, Bodhidharma, the 16 Nalanda Acharyas 1. Nagarjuna-Manjushri, 2. Arydeva, 3. Buddhapalita, 4. Bhavaviveka, 5. Chandrakirti and Chandragomin, 6. Shantideva, 7. Shantarakshita, 8. Kamalashila, 9. Asanga-Maitreya, 10. Vasubhandu, 11. Dignaga, 12. Dharmakirti, 13. Vimuktisena, 14. Haribhadra, 15. Gunaprabha, 16. Shakyaprabha; Dharmarakshita, Atisha, Tsong Khapa, Thogme Zangpo, Nyingma Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyel, Machig Lapdron, Tilopa, Naropa, Milarepa, Sakya Pandita, Fazang, Yunmen, Nichiren, Honen, Shinran, Kukai, Dogen, Hakuin, Jamgon Kongtrul, Nyingma Penor Rinpoche, Bakula Rinpoche, Dagri Rinpoche, Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche, Geshe Lama Kongchog, Longchen Rapjampa - Gosok Rinpoche, Phabongkha Rinpoche, Patrul Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, Geshe Ngwang Dakpa, Geshe Sopa Rinpoche, Garchen Rinpoche, Karmapa, Sakya Trizin, Tenzin Gyatso the Dalai Lama, Hsu Yun, Hsuan Hua, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Choden Rinpoche, Ajahn Chah, Seung Sahn, Thich Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Sumedho, S. N. Goenka], [[Mama Ayur Punya Jyana Pushtim Kuriye Svaha, bowing at your feet I make requests. Please bestow on me the two attainments of Maha Punya and Maha Prajna Paramita. And thanks to other modern day masters. We consider them to be in accord with Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua’s “Seven Guidelines for Recognizing Genuine Teachers

Nalanda Online University's teachings are based especially on the following Buddhist Scriptures: Lama Tsong Khapa's Lam Rim, the Dharma Flower Lotus Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Shurangama Sutra, the Ksitigarbha Sutra, the Bhaisajya Guru Sutra, the Dharani Sutra, the Vajra Sutra, the Prajna Paramita Hridayam Heart Sutra, the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Sanghata Sutra, the Sutra of Golden Light, the Srimala Devi Sutra, the Sutra in 42 Sections, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Hui Neng Sutra, Vasubandhu's Shastra on the Door to Understanding the Hundred Dharmas, Maitreya's Ornament for Clear Realizations (Abhisamayalamkara), Chandrakirti's Supplement to Nagarjuna’s Treatise on the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara), Vasubandhu's Treasury of Manifest Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha) and the Tantras and Mantras of the Vajrayana the 42 Hands and Eyes, Guhyasamaja, the Kalachakra, the Vajrayogini, the Heruka, the Chakrasamvara, the Chod, the Hayagriva, the Hevajra, the Yamantaka, the Kalarupa, the Manjushri Nama Samgiti, the Vajrakilaya, the Vajrapani, the Vajra Claws Dakini, the Mahakala, the Tara, the White Umbrella Goddess (She Dan Do Bo Da La), Kirti Losang Trinle's Grounds and Paths of Secret Mantra, and Aku Sherab Gyatso's The Two Stages of the Guhyasamaja Tantra and their commentaries (shastras) by the above Arya Tripitakacharya Dharma Masters.

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bodhidharma.txt · Last modified: 2016/02/01 07:47 (external edit)