Bodhidharma/Birthplace sources

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Bodhidharma, painted by Hakuin


Various possible birthplaces for Bodhidharma are mentioned in a variety of sources. They come down to either South India or Central Asia.

South Indian possibilities are:

  1. A "persistent tradition"[1] sees Bodhidharma as "the third son of a Pallavine king from Kanchipuram",[1] in Kanchipuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, South-South East India.
  2. Another Indian traditions describes him as being born in the city Muziris, municipality Kodungallur, state of Kerala, South-South West India.
  3. A third Indian possibility is Kochi. Kochi is part of the Ernakulam district in the state of Kerala, South-South West India.
  4. A fourth Indian Possibility is Nagarjunakonda.
  5. Sri Lanka is also mentioned as a possible birthplace.

"Western regions" (Sassanid Empire) possibilities are:

  1. Persia
  2. Iraq
  3. Afghanistan

Central Asian possibilities are:

  1. The Tarim Basin
  2. Kingdom of Khotan
  3. Tocharians

These possibilities, except for Persia, are not explicitly mentioned in the principal sources for Bodhidharma's biography, but are more or less frequently mentioned on the web and in written documents.

Contents

Principal sources for Bodhidharma's biography[edit]

There are three principal sources for Bodhidharma's biography:[2]

  1. Yáng Xuànzhī's (Yang Hsüan-chih) The Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (547)
  2. Tánlín's preface to the Two Entrances and Four Acts (6th century CE), which is also preserved in Ching-chüeh's Chronicle of the Lankavatar Masters (713-716)[3]
  3. Dàoxuān's (Tao-hsuan) Further Biographies of Eminent Monks (7th century CE).

Yáng Xuànzhī's (Yang Hsüan-chih) The Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (547)[edit]

The earliest text mentioning Bodhidharma is The Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (洛陽伽藍記 Luòyáng Qiélánjì) which is compiled in 547 by Yáng Xuànzhī (Yang-Hsuan-chih 楊衒之), a writer and translator of Mahāyāna Buddhist texts into the Chinese language.

Dumoulin translates:

the Sramana Bodhidharma from the western regions, originally a man from Persia"[2]

According to McRae's translation, Bodhidharma is from Persia[4]

T'an-lín's preface to the Two Entrances and Four Acts (6th century CE)[edit]

Broughton translates:

The Dharma Master was a South Indian of the Western Region. He was the third son of a great Indian king.[5]

Dumoulin translates:

The teacher of the Dharma, who came from South India in the Western Regions, the third son of a great Brahman king"[6]

Ching-chüeh - Chronicle of the Lankavatara Masters[edit]

Tanlin's preface has also been preserved in Ching-chüeh's (683-750) Leng-ch'ieh shih-tzu chi (Chronicle of the Lankavatara Masters), which dates from 713-716.[3]/ca. 715[4]

Dumoulin translates:

The teacher of the Dharma, who came from South India in the Western Regions, the third son of a great Brahman king.[6]

McRae translates:

[T]he third son of a Brahman king of South India" [4]

Dàoxuān's (Tao-hsuan) Further Biographies of Eminent Monks (7th century CE)[edit]

In the 7th-century historical work Further Biographies of Eminent Monks (續高僧傳 Xù gāosēng zhuàn), Dàoxuān (道宣; 596-667) possibly drew on Tanlin's preface as a basic source, but made several significant additions.

Dumoulin translates:

Bodhidharma, of South Indian Brahman stock[7]

McRae translates:

[A] Brahman monk from South India"[4]

The same account appears in the Ch'üan fa pao chi, an 8th century text which narrates the traditional Chán-lineage.[8]

Modern scholarship[edit]

Bodhidharma has been the subject of critical scientific research, which has shed new light on the traditional stories about Bodhidharma.

Biography as a hagiographic process[edit]

According to John McRae, Bodhidharma has been the subject of a hagiographic process which served the needs of the Chinese Ch'an movement. According to him it is not possible to write an accurate biography of Bodhidharma:

It is ultimately impossible to reconstruct any original or accurate biography of the man whose life serves as the original trace of his hagiography - where "trace" is a term from Jacques Derrida meaning the beginningless beginning of a phenomenon, the imagined but always intellectually unattainable origin. Hence any such attempt by modern biographers to reconstruct a definitive account of Bodhidharma's life is both doomed to failure and potentially no different in intent from the hagiographical efforts of premodern writers"[9]

McRae's standpoint accords with Yanagida's standpoint:

Yanagida ascribes great historical value to the witness of the disciple T'an-lin, but at the same time acknowledges the presence of "many puzzles in the biography of Bodhidharma". Given the present state of the sources, he considers it impossible to compile a reliable account of Bodhidharma's life.[6]

Origins and place of birth[edit]

Dumoulin comments on the three principal sources. The Persian heritage is doubtfull, according to Dumoulin:

In the description of the Lo-yang temple, bodhidharma is called a Persian. Given the ambiguityof geographical references in writings of this period, such a statement should not be taken too seriously".[10]

Dumoulin considers Tan-lin's account of Bodhidharma being "the third son of a great Brahman king" to be a later addition:

T'an-lin's account of the third son of a great Brahman king is certainly to be understood as a later addition[11]

Dumoulin finds the exact meaning of "South Indian Brahman stock" unclear:

And when Tao-hsuan speaks of origins from South Indian Brahman stock, it is not clear whether he is referring to roots in nobility or to India in general as the land of the Brahmans[11]

Maritime or overland transmission[edit]

Since the Book of Later Han present two accounts of how Buddhism entered Han China, generations of scholars have debated whether monks first arrived via the maritime or overland routes of the Silk Road.

The maritime route hypothesis, favored by Liang Qichao and Paul Pelliot, proposed that Buddhism was originally introduced in southern China, the Yangtze River and Huai River region, where King Ying of Chu was worshipping Laozi and Buddha c. 65 CE. The overland route hypothesis, favored by Tang Yongtong, proposed that Buddhism disseminated eastward through Yuezhi and was originally practiced in western China, at the Han capital Luoyang where Emperor Ming established the White Horse Temple c. 68 CE.

The historian Rong Xinjiang reexamined the overland and maritime hypotheses through a multi-disciplinary review of recent discoveries and research, including the Gandhāran Buddhist Texts, and concluded:

The view that Buddhism was transmitted to China by the sea route comparatively lacks convincing and supporting materials, and some arguments are not sufficiently rigorous [...] the most plausible theory is that Buddhism started from the Greater Yuezhi of northwest India (present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan) and took the land roads to reach Han China. After entering into China, Buddhism blended with early Daoism and Chinese traditional esoteric arts and its iconography received blind worship.[web 1]

South India[edit]

Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, South East India[edit]

Location of Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram is a city and a municipality in Kanchipuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, South-South East India.

Kanchipuram was a major seat of Tamil, Sanskrit, and Telugu learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. Buddhist scholars such as Dignaga, Buddhaghosa, and Dhammapala lived here.

Kanchipuram was the capital of the Pallavas rulers from the 7th to 9th centuries. From the 4rd[clarification needed] to the 9th century CE the Pallavas ruled over south-east India. They had maritime contacts with far-off destinations such as China, Siam and Fiji, through their chief Port Mamallapuram.

Web sources[edit]

Several webpages have been given as reference for Kanchipuram and the Pallavine dynasty, or were found by a Google-search. None of them gives references to original source-material which would date this tradition to a historical source. [Kanchipuram 1] [Kanchipuram 2] [Kanchipuram 3] [Kanchipuram 4] [Kanchipuram 5]

Tstuomu Kambe[edit]

Tstuomu Kambe does give a further elaboration on Kanchipuram and the Pallavine dynasty:

According to Chinese records, Bodhidharma was born in a kingdom of South India. Documents published just after Tang dynasty (ending in 907) describe that the name of the Kingdom is expressed with two Chinese characters ‟香至‟. There are four states which are called as South India. No historical record is found in which state the 香至 is located. At this time when interest in Zen Buddhism is increasing throughout the world, the birthplace of this pivotal master would be a great concern. Not only scholars but also those interested in Buddhism would welcome this missing piece of information where in India is the Kingdom 香至.

The Chinese name 香至 means “fragrance extreme”. At the time of Tang dynasty, it is likely that 香至 is pronounced as Kang-zhi. In 2007 by examining various documents, the author happened to come across the identification of 香至 to be Kanchipuram, an old capital town in the state Tamil-Nadu. Further investigation revealed that Kanchi means „a radiant jewel‟ or „a luxury belt with jewels‟, and puram means a town or a state in the sense of earlier times. Thus, it is understood that the ‟香至-Kingdom‟ corresponds to the old capital „Kanchipuram‟, located at a distance about eighty kilometers from the city Chennai in South India. It was a capital of Pallava Dynasty at the time when Bodhidharma was living. Currently, it is a sacred town of Hinduism. Historical remains related to Buddhism found in that region are very limited in number. In the Chennai Museum, however, one can see an image of standing Buddha (more than 2m height) excavated in a Hindu temple of Kanchipuram in the early times of 20th century. This image of dignity is reminiscent of the glorious times when Buddhism had flourished in this region where it was discovered.[12]

Unfortunately, Tstuomu Kambe is thrifty in further information on his sources. The "various documents" in which "the author happened to come across the identification of 香至 to be Kanchipuram" are not being identified.

Only one true reference is being made by Tsutome Kambe regarding the biography of Bodhidharma. In part I Tsutome Kambe condences the information about Bodhidharma:

Bodhidharma was born as the third son of a South Indian King according to Chinese historical documents. It is speculated that the kingdom was Pallava, it‟s capital city being Kanchipuram near Chennai. He was named Bodhitara and his surname was Kshatriya (the class of kings and warriors). [1][12]

So, according to Tstuomu Kambe the Pallava kingdom is a speculation on "South Indian king".

Written sources[edit]

The Pallava dynasty and Kancipuram are also often mentioned in modern written sources.

Zvelebil[edit]

Zvelebil states:

Persistent tradition tells us that the 'first Zen patriarch' Bodhidharma (ca. 470-532) was an Indian monk, the son of South Indian ruler, a king of Kanchipuram, and that he appeared one day at the southern Chinese port city of Canton around 520 A.D. whence he traveled to see Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty. This tradition point thus to Bodhidharma as a member of the ruling clan of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas, the contemporary of Skandavarman IV or Nandivarman I.

It is well known that Kanchipuram, the Pallava capital, was one of the most important strongholds of Indian Buddhism. An ancient Prakrit charter (the British Museum plates of Queen Carudevi) mentions among very early Pallavas two kings called Buddhavarman and Buddhayankura, obviously Buddhists, belonging probably to the 4th century A.D. Another Buddhavarman belongs to ca. 540-560 A.D. The well-known commentator Buddhaghosa lived in Kanchipuram probably in late 5th century A.D. The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Hsian Tsang who visited South India in the 7th century A.D. tells us that there were about a hundred Buddhist monasteries in the city with more than 10,000 monks, and he also refers to Kanchih-pu-lo as the birth-place of Dharmapala, the reputed author of treatises on etymology, logic and Buddhist metaphysics. Undoubtedly, the Zen tradition of a South Indian Buddhist monk coming possibly from Kanchipuram to China in the early 6th century may be regarded as trustworthy. If Bodhidharma was a Tamil-speaking South Indian (whether Brahmin (sic), as one version has it, or a prince), the popular saying of one hand producing no sound might have belonged to his linguistic competence.[13]

Zvelebil mentions "persistent tradition", but does not give a reference to the source for Kanchipuram. Zvelebil calls the Kanchipuram-origin "possibly", not certain. Zvelebil makes clear that Kanchipuram was an important Buddhist centre in the 4th to 7th century. This does not prove that Bodhidharma came from Kanchipuram. The reverse is also possible: since Kanchipuram was an important Buddhist centre, it seemed likely to Chinese authors that Bodhidharma came from this place. According to Yanagida and McRae, the traditions about Bodhidharma are doubtful.[6][9]

Muziris in Kodungallur, Kerala, South West India[edit]

Muziris is a city in the municipality Kodungallur, state of Kerala, South-South West India.

Muziris was an ancient sea-port in Southwestern India on the Periyar River 3.2 km from its mouth. In a flood of the Periyar in 1341 CE, Muziris was destroyed and the centre of commerce was shifted to other areas.

Web sources[edit]

Several webpages have been given as reference for Muzirisor Kodungallur, or were found by a Google-search. None of them gives references to original source-material which would date this tradition to a historical source. [Muziris 1] [Muziris 2] [Muziris 3]

The main reasoning for Kodungallar goes as follows:

The Bodhidharma anthology by Broughton starts with the para that he was the 3rd son of a prominent South Indian King from the Western region. With that one could assume that he originated from Kodungallur (Muziris) and probably not Kanchipuram. Could he have been a Perumal who became a Buddhist and went on a pilgrimage? Much of the problem may have been due to Bodhidharma being confused with Boshisena since it appears that Bodhisena was a Brahmin (sic) from Kanchipuarm. The confusion over Tamil was due to the Pallava fact and of course the reason for Bodhidharma sailing out of Muziris or Quilon is because Buddhism was widespread in Kerala at that time (except for the Kanchipuram pocket).[Muziris 1]

Written sources[edit]

No written sources are known which mention Muziris, Kodungallar to be the birthplace of Bodhidharma.

Kochi, Kerala, South West India[edit]

location of Kochi

Kochi is part of the Ernakulam district in the state of Kerala, South-South West India. Kochi is often called by the name Ernakulam, which refers to the western part of the mainland Kochi.

In 1102 CE, after the fall of the Kulasekhara Empire, Kochi became the seat of the Kingdom of Cochin, which traced its lineage to the Kulasekhara Empire. The King of Kochi had authority over the region encompassing the present city of Kochi and adjoining areas. Kochi rose to significance as a trading centre after the port at Kodungallur (Cranganore) was destroyed by massive flooding of the river Periyar in 1341.

Web sources[edit]

One webpage has been given as reference for Kanchipuram and the Pallavine dynasty, or was found by a Google-search. It does not give references to original source-material which would date this tradition to a historical source.

But then Kanchi is not Westerly in India. Is it perhaps Kochi? Calicut was ‘Kuli’ to the Chinese. Cochin was Ko-Chih. Nevertheless, almost all indicators point towards Kanchipuram rather than Kodungaloor or Muziris. From many accounts Bodhidharma was a studious child who studied under his Guru Pragnattara. Hence it is very unlikely that Bodhidharma had serious martial arts training in Kanchipuram to have transferred it to the pupils in Shaolin, since they already had a fair exposure to martial arts for many decades. It could of course be that he taught them valuable breathing exercises, silambam stick fighting and forms of Yoga.[Kochi 1]

Written sources[edit]

No written sources are known which mention Kochi to be the birthplace of Bodhidharma.

Nagarjunakonda, Andhra Pradesh, South East India[edit]

Nagarjunakonda is "a historical Buddhist town" in Andhra Pradesh, South-East India.

Websources[edit]

Two web sources are being mentioned for Nagarjunakonda.

Mention is being made of Bodhidharma practicing martial arts at Nagarjunakonda:

“The young Bodhidharma was shown as practicing martial arts in Kanchi town, whereas my research shows that he practiced at the ‘Sri Parvata' (Nagarjunakonda) area in Andhra Pradesh. Bodhidharma, who attained the ‘vajra kaya' status, which means that he was immune to diseases and poisons, had to be away from the bustling metropolis like Kanchi town to attain this state,” the researcher maintained.[Nagarjunakonda 1]

I.K. Sarma mentions South east India, without specifically mentioning Nagarjunakonda:

In particular, this famous Chinese traveller makes mention of a Stupa, hundred feet high, built by Mauryan emperor at Kanchi and tradition assigns another Dharma soka Maha­rajavihara at Kaverippumpattinam (Dt. Thanjavur). A Buddhist temple specially meant for visiting Chinese monks existed during the time of Pallava King Narasimhavarman - II (695 - 722) at Naga­patinam. These were witness of a seaborne cultural exchange between Buddhist China-India and Ceylon. It might be noted that Bodhidharma, the well-known founder of Chan sect who lived at the ‘Sheaolin temple (Mount - Songshan, Province Henan) hailed from this part of India. So also, Dinnaga (5th century), the founder of medieval Nyaya school, hailed from Kanchi, a centre for Pali-­Buddhism. It appears then that South East India with its long coastal line and convenient anchorages has been in contact with China and South East Asian centres during the early centuries of the Christian era.[Nagarjunakonda 2]

Written sources[edit]

One written sources makes a passing mention of Nagarjunakonda to be the birthplace of Bodhidharma.

Gridley[edit]

Gridley writes:

At Nagarjunakonda (not far, it should be mentioned from Bodhidharma' s possible birthplace), two Pratykea Buddhas pull "their shawls up over their ears["].[14]

So, according to Gridley, Nagarjunakonda is not Bodhidharma's birthplace.

Sri Lanka[edit]

South-India and Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an independent state located south-east of the indian sub-continent. Its history has been closely linked to that of the Indian sub-continent. Theravada-buddhism was brought to Sri Lanka from India. Sri Lanka is inhabited by a variety of ethnic and cultural diverse groups.

Web sources[edit]

One webpage has been given as reference for Kanchipuram and the Pallavine dynasty, or was found by a Google-search. It does not give references to original source-material which would date this tradition to a historical source. [SriLanka 1]

Written sources[edit]

No written sources are known which mention Sri Lanka to be the birthplace of Bodhidharma.

"Western regions" (Sassanid Empire)[edit]

Blue-eyed Central Asian monk teaching East-Asian monk. Bezeklik, Eastern Tarim Basin, China, 9th–10th century.

The "western regions" refers to North-west India and the Sassanid Empire, including Persia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

North-west India was controlled by the Seleucid Empire until 305 BCE, the Maurya Empire, the Kushan Empire, and the Sassanid Empire.

Tradition has Bodhidharma depicted as a "blue-eyed Barbarian".[15] Due to Caucasian migrations, blue eyes were not uncommon in Central Asia. This depiction may refer to the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism from north-west India and Central Asia to China. But it may also refer to Central Asia, including the Tarim Basin, the Kingdom of Khotan, and the Tocharians.

Silk Road Transmission[edit]

Silk Road extending from Europe through Egypt, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Java-Indonesia, and Vietnam until it reaches China. The land routes are red, and the water routes are blue.

Via the Silk Road Buddhism was brought over land to China from north-west India, a stronghold of Mahayana-Buddhism. The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism is most commonly thought to have started in the late 2nd or the 1st century CE.

The first documented translation efforts by Buddhist monks in China (all foreigners) were in the 2nd century CE, possibly as a consequence of the expansion of the Kushan Empire into the Chinese territory of the Tarim Basin.

From the 4th century onward, with Faxian's pilgrimage to India (395–414), and later Xuanzang (629–644), Chinese pilgrims too started to travel by themselves to northern India, their source of Buddhism, in order to get improved access to original scriptures. The Silk Road transmission of Buddhism began to decline around the 7th century with the rise of Islam in Central Asia.

Web sources[edit]

Not investigated yet. [SilkRoad 1]

Written sources[edit]

Not investigated yet.

North-west India[edit]

Maurya Empire[edit]

The Maurya Empire under Emperor Aśoka was the world's first major Buddhist state. It established free hospitals and free education and promoted human rights.

The Maurya Empire was an empire in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC. The Empire was founded in 322 BC by Chandragupta Maurya, who had overthrown the Nanda Dynasty and rapidly expanded his power westwards across central and western India taking advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake of the withdrawal westward by Alexander the Great's Greek and Persian armies. By 320 BC the empire had fully occupied Northwestern India, defeating and conquering the satraps left by Alexander.

The Empire was expanded into India's central and southern regions by the emperors Chandragupta and Bindusara, but it excluded a small portion of unexplored tribal and forested regions near Kalinga (modern Orissa), till it was conquered by Ashoka. Its decline began 60 years after Ashoka's rule ended, and it dissolved in 185 BC with the foundation of the Sunga Dynasty in Magadha.

Ashoka's embrace of Buddhism has been said to have been the foundation of the reign of social and political peace and non-violence across all of India. Ashoka sponsored the spreading of Buddhist ideals into Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, West Asia and Mediterranean Europe.

The Arthashastra and the Edicts of Ashoka are the primary sources of written records of Mauryan times. The Lion Capital of Asoka at Sarnath, has been made the national emblem of India.

Kushan Empire[edit]

Kushan territories (full line) and maximum extent of Kushan dominions under Kanishka (dotted line), according to the Rabatak inscription

In the middle of the 2nd century CE, the Kushan empire under king Kaniṣka expanded into Central Asia and went as far as taking control of Kashgar, Khotan and Yarkand, in the Tarim Basin, modern Xinjiang. As a consequence, cultural exchanges greatly increased, and Central Asian Buddhist missionaries became active shortly after in the Chinese capital cities of Loyang and sometimes Nanjing, where they particularly distinguished themselves by their translation work. They promoted both Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna scriptures. Thirty-seven of these early translators of Buddhist texts are known.

The empire declined from the 3rd century and fell to the Sassanid Empire and Gupta Empire.

Web sources[edit]
Peoples of the Silk Road. Mogao Caves, Dunhuang, China, 9th century

The Kushan Empire was the site of Greco-Buddhism:

Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Græco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between the culture of Classical Greece and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 800 years in Central Asia in the area corresponding to modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, between the 4th century BC and the 5th century AD. Greco-Buddhism influenced the artistic (and, possibly, conceptual) development of Buddhism, and in particular Mahayana Buddhism, before it was adopted by Central and Northeastern Asia from the 1st century AD, ultimately spreading to China, Korea and Japan.[Kushan 1]

Asanga and Vasubandhu, who developed the Yogacara, came from Gandhara, an area of the kushan Empire.[Kushan 1]

Written sources[edit]

Not investigated yet.

Sassanid Empire[edit]

Persia[edit]

Sassanid Empire

Persian, present-day Iran, at the time of Bodhidharma was part of the Sassanid Empire, which succeeded the Kushan Empire in this region. It was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from AD 224 to AD 651. The Sassanid era, during Late Antiquity, is considered to have been one of Persia's/Iran's most important and influential historical periods. The Sassanids' cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Africa, China and India.

Web sources[edit]

Persia is often mentioned on the web, also due to copies of the Wikipedia-article [Persia 1] [Persia 2] on Bodhidharma and the mention of Persia by Yáng Xuànzhī. But there are also web-sources which see a link between Bodhidharma, Persia ,[Persia 3] [Persia 4] [web 2] and Zoroastrism. [Persia 5]

Written sources[edit]

Persia is mentioned by Yáng Xuànzhī's (Yang Hsüan-chih) in his The Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (547):

the Sramana Bodhidharma from the western regions, originally a man from Persia"[2]

Tojo[edit]

Tojo relies on Yáng Xuànzhī. According to Tojo,

Most Japanese scholars and Buddhist monks think he is a Persian. In Japan, even in popular books and internet articles he is introduced as a Persian.[16]

Tojo links Bodhidharma to the origins of Mahayana-buddhism in Central Asia:

Those who want to have a definite lineage of Zen Buddhism tend to stick to Indic origin theory. But this theory is highly dubious. For there is no room for doubt that Mahāyāna Buddhism including Zen was developed in Central Asia and there is no evidence to show its close link to South India.[17]

Tojo sees similarities between the wanderings of Bodhidharma and "Persian sufis (wandering dervishes)",[18] and the martial arts and monk-warriors in the Šaolin temple, and "Believers of Roman Mithraism [who] were mainly military people".[19]

Afghanistan[edit]

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The territory that now forms Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation from as far back as 50,000 BC. Urban civilization may have begun in the area as early as 3,000 to 2,000 BC.

The Seleucid Empire controlled the area until 305 BCE when they gave much of it to the Indian Maurya Empire as part of an alliance treaty. The Mauryans brought Buddhism from India and controlled the area south of the Hindu Kush until about 185 BCE when they were overthrown. Their decline began 60 years after Ashoka's rule ended, leading to the Hellenistic reconquest of the region by the Greco-Bactrians.

Web sources[edit]

No web sources are known which mention Afghanistan to be the birth-country of Bodhidharma.

Written sources[edit]

Some written sources are known which mention Afghanistan to be the birth-country of Bodhidharma.

Pia & Brian Ruhe[edit]

Pia & Brian Ruhe mention Afghanisatn as one of the possible birth-countries of Bodhidharma, but don't give further references for this possibility:

Around 500 A.D. the biggest hero of Zen Buddhism arrived in China - Bodhidharma. Most Zen Buddhists prefer to say that he came from a Brahmin (sic) family in southern India but the historic accounts are hopelessly at odds, one saying that Bodhidharma came from Afghanistan[20]

Richard Burnett Carter[edit]

Richard Burnett Carter too mentions afghanisatn without giving further references:

[...] the monk Bodhidharma came from... (probably Afghanisatn, since he is credited with blue eyes and red hair)[21]

Iraq[edit]

Iraq

Iraq is a country in Western Asia. Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run through the center of Iraq, flowing from northwest to southeast. Historically, Iraq was known in Europe by the Greek toponym 'Mesopotamia' (Land between the rivers). Iraq has been home to continuous successive civilizations since the 6th millennium BC. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is often referred to as the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of writing, law and the wheel.

Web sources[edit]

No web sources are known which mention Iraq to be the birth-country of Bodhidharma.

Written sources[edit]

No written sources are known which mention Iraq to be the birth-country of Bodhidharma.

Central Asia[edit]

Tradition has Bodhidharma depicted as a "blue-eyed Barbarian".[15] Due to Caucasian migrations, blue eyes were not uncommon in Central Asia. This depiction may refer to the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism from north-west India and Central Asia to China. But it may also refer to Central Asia, including the Tarim Basin, the Kingdom of Khotan, and the Tocharians.

Tarim Basin[edit]

The Tarim Basin, 2008

The Tarim Basin is a large endorheic basin occupying an area of about 906,500 km2 (350,000 sq mi). It is located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China's far west. The ancient Buddhist Kingdom of Khotan was located in the Tarim Basin. It played a role in the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to China.

Part of the population of Khotan may have been blue-eyed, due to Caucasion migrations.[citation needed]

Web sources[edit]

Not investigated yet.

Written sources[edit]

Not investigated yet.

Kingdom of Khotan[edit]

The Kingdom of Khotan was an ancient Buddhist kingdom that was located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim basin. The area lies in present day Xinjiang, China.

The first habitants of the area were Indo-Europeans (either Persian or Indian) from the west, and Chinese from the east.

Web sources[edit]

Not investigated yet.

Written sources[edit]

Not investigated yet.

Tocharians[edit]

Tocharian donors., 6th century AD fresco from the Kizil Caves

The Tocharians were speakers of Tocharian languages in the Tarim Basin (modern Xinjiang, China). The Indo-European language of the Tocharians was supplanted by the Turkic languages of the Uyghur tribes about 800 AD.

The Tocharians, living along the Silk Road, had contacts with the Chinese, Persians, Indian and Turkic tribes. They adopted Buddhism, which, like their alphabet, came from northern India in the 1st century of the 1st millennium, through the proselytism of Kushan monks. The Kushans and the Tocharians seem to have played a part in the Silk Road transmission of Buddhism to China. Many apparently also practised some variant of Manichaeanism

The Tarim Basin mummies (1800 BC) have been found in the same general geographical area as the Tocharian texts and frescoes from the Tarim Basin (3rd to 9th centuries AD), and are both connected to an Indo-European origin and point to Caucasoid types with light eyes and hair color. However it is unknown whether the mummies and frescoes are connected.

Web sources[edit]

Not investigated yet.

Written sources[edit]

Not investigated yet.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Book references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Zvelebil 1987, p. 125.
  2. ^ a b c Dumoulin 2005, pp. 85–90.
  3. ^ a b Dumoulin 2005, p. 88.
  4. ^ a b c d McRae 2003, p. 26.
  5. ^ Broughton 1999, p. 8.
  6. ^ a b c d Dumoulin 2005, p. 89.
  7. ^ Dumoulin 2005, p. 87.
  8. ^ Yampolski 2013, p. 7.
  9. ^ a b McRae 2003, p. 24.
  10. ^ Dumoulin 2005, pp. 89–90.
  11. ^ a b Dumoulin 2005, p. 90.
  12. ^ a b Kambe Year unknown.
  13. ^ Zvelebil 1987, pp. 125–126.
  14. ^ Gridley 1994, p. 107.
  15. ^ a b Soothill and Hodous 1995.
  16. ^ Tojo 2010, p. 9.
  17. ^ Tojo 2010, p. 10.
  18. ^ Tojo 2010, p. 12.
  19. ^ Tojo 2010, p. 12-13.
  20. ^ Ruhe 2005, p. 76.
  21. ^ Carter 2010, p. 112.

Web references[edit]

Websites[edit]

South India[edit]

Websites mentioning Kanchipuram[edit]

Websites mentioning Muziris[edit]

Websites mentioning Kochi[edit]

Websites mentioning Nagarjunakonda[edit]

Websites mentioning Sri Lanka[edit]

Western Regions and Silk Road Transmission[edit]

Websites mentioning Silk Road Transmission[edit]

Websites mentioning Kushan Empire[edit]

Websites mentioning Persia[edit]

Websites mentioning Afghanistan[edit]

Websites mentioning Iraq[edit]

Websites mentioning Tarim Basin[edit]

Websites mentioning Kingdom of Khotan[edit]

Websites mentioning Tocharians[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Broughton, Jeffrey L. (1999), The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen, Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-21972-4 
  • Carter, Richard Burnett (2010), The Language of Zen: Heart Speaking to Heart, Sterling Ethos, ISBN 978-1-4027-4701-4 
  • Dumoulin, Heinrich (2005), Zen Buddhism: A History. Volume: India and China, Bloomington: World Wisdom, ISBN 0-941532-89-5 
  • Gridley, Marilyn Leidig (1993), Chinese Buddhist sculpture under the Liao: free standing works in situ and selected examples from public collections, International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan 
  • Kambe, Tstuomu (Year unknown), Bodhidharma (around 440? - 528?). A collection of stories from Chinese literature 
  • McRae, John (2003), Seeing through Zen. Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism, Bloomington, IN: The University Press Group Ltd, ISBN 978-0-520-23798-8 
  • Ruhe, Pia & Brian (2005), Freeing the Buddha. Diversity on a sacred Path - Large scale concerns, Buddhist Spectrum Study Group, ISBN 978-0-9683951-1-0 
  • Soothill, William Edward; Hodous, Lewis (1995), A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, London: RoutledgeCurzon 
  • Tojo, Masato (2010), Zen Buddhism and Persian Culture. An Investigation on the Influence Influence of Simorghiansian Culture on Zen Buddhism 
  • Yampolsky, Phillip B. (2013), The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Columbia University Press 
  • Zvelebil, K.V. (1987), "The Sound of the One Hand", Journal of the American Oriental Society 107(1), p. 125-126 

Further reading[edit]

  • Mcrae, John (2003), Seeing through Zen. Encounter, Transformation, and Genealogy in Chinese Chan Buddhism. The University Press Group Ltd . ISBN 978-0-520-23798-8