(13th and 14th of August 2015)
The proposed international conference is on Ven. Bodhi-dharma]s teaching, a Buddhist Monk from Tamil Nadu who went to China and established the Chan School of Buddhism and exerted deep impact on the life style of the people of Asia.
It is remarkable that the Medieval Traders and Buddhist Monks of India served as true cultural ambassadors since they carried with them the rich cultural traditions of India to various parts of Asia along with their mercantile commodities and the message of love and compassion of the Buddha. This great message of the Buddha radiated its rays over the benighted world and brought the people of Asia closer than ever and developed spiritual kinship and symbiotic relationship among them.
One such spiritual and cultural ambassador was Ven. Bodhi-Dharma, a prince of Kanchipuram, the capital city of the Pallava dynasty, who went to China in the Fifth Century AD and founded the Chan/Zen school of Buddhism. The teachings of this great monk from the Tamil soil has transformed the life and culture of the people in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and many other countries and he is venerated as the first Zu (patriarch) of Zen Buddhism. The Chinese manuscripts show the birthplace of Ven. Bodhi-Dharma as “Kang-zhi”, which researchers believe to be Kanchipuram of Tamil Nadu, a great spot of learning and cultural diffusion during the times of Bodhi-Dharma.
Mahayana or Zen Buddhism has given birth to a vast literary corpus. The Japanese worship Ven. Bodhi-Dharma as Dharmazan. If Lord Gautama Buddha is the Light of Asia, Ven. Bodhi-Dharma is a great Asian beacon of philosophy. It is a matter of great pride for Tamil Nadu that this great Buddhist teacher hailed from Kanchipuram, one of the spiritual city of ancient India. Ven. Bodhi-Dharma taught Kalari art, the unique martial art form of Southern part of India to the Chinese, and this later evolved into various forms of martial arts in Asia.
The Zen Buddhism brought about revolutionary changes and enlightenment in the culture and lives of not only practitioners but also ordinary people in East Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other countries. In our contemporary world, the influence of Zen Buddhism is not waning, but rather it is vigorously expanding worldwide, and its importance is increasing even more.
To help advance the study of Indian philosophy and Mahayana Buddhism, a Buddhist Study Centre named after Ven. Bodhi-dharma is being established in Kanchipuram, his birth place. It would serve as a centre of study and meditation for Buddhists and scholars from all over the world.
Even though Ven. Bodhi-dharma and his Zen Buddhism are popular worldwide, they are not well known in the birth place of Ven. Bodhi-dharma. A thorough study of Ven. Bodhi-dharma and his teaching in relation to his native country is highly indispensible to have an objective understanding about this great teacher and philosopher. To get a holistic understanding of Bodhi-dharma whose roots are in the spiritual soil of India a two day International Conference on Ven. Bodhi-dharma has been organized at Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India on 13th and 14th of August 2015.
Areas of Deliberation
Scholars from various countries will participate and present papers on various aspects of Ven. Bodhi-dharma and his teachings. The organizers have invited scholars from all over the world to present research papers on various impact of Ven. Bodhi-dharma on Buddhism in China and his teachings.
The seminar is being organized by the Institute of Asian Studies, Chennai, India in association with Institute of Seon (Zen), South Korea and a few other centers of international reputation with the support of the ICCR, Govt. of India.
Published in Issue VI, May 2015