Ancient Indian – Chinese Connection Revealed at Mahabalipuram!

Hey guys, many of you have messaged me about why the Indian Prime Minister Modi has chosen Mahabalipuram to  meet the Chinese President Xi Jinping. This meeting is happening today.  Mahabalipuram is a very ancient site, and these 2 big powers meeting in this area has sparked a great interest. Why are they meeting here? Because of the history between India and China which spans for more than 2000 years. This area around Mahabalipuram was ruled by a dynasty called the Pallava, and let us take a look at this ancient temple built by Pallavas called Tiruparameswara Vinnagaram.

And here, the walls are adorned with thousands of Hindu Gods and human beings, but here you can find something very strange. A chinese figure. He must be a very important figure, because this is a big size carving and it is flanked by plenty of helpers. He is in a seated position and his moustache is pointing down along with a slim, narrow beard – these are classic features showing  that he is chinese. Who is he? And why is he carved in this ancient temple? This is a Chinese traveler by the name of Faxian also known as Fa-Hien in India. He visited India around 400 A.D, yes that is 1600 years ago. And we are looking at this historical carving in this same area –  Mahabalipuram, and this temple belongs to same Pallava dynasty . The place where the Indian leader and Chinese leader are meeting now is less than 40 miles from this temple. And Faxian did not come  alone, because we can see more carvings of Chinese people carved in the same temple. Here is a thinner chinese figure. You can see that he has a long beard and a pointy moustache. You can see his sharp nose, and he carries a typical chinese umbrella. This is a clear trademark of Chinese travelers. He is shown pointing his finger to a Giant Hindu God. Of course that is a mystery which needs to be solved.

But, there must be a reason why both leaders are specifically meeting in Mahabalipuram. The reason is this. Mahabalipuram area is considered the birthplace of Bodhidharma, which even has a carving of him.  Bodhidharma was Pallava prince who renounced his Royal life, and went to China, also around 400 or 500 A.D, about the same time as Faxian. He is considered the founder of Shaolin Kung Fu, and respected as a great philosopher who is widely worshiped in China.

So, who traveled first? Did Indians go to China first? Or did Chinese come to India before them? It appears that Indians went to China first, specifically for spreading Buddhism. Remember, Buddhism was born in India and then gradually spread to a lot of a Asian countries. In fact Buddhism is now much more popular in China than India. Buddhist missionaries from India went to China even 2000 years ago, to spread the teachings of Lord Buddha.

The very first recorded Chinese travelers like Faxian and Xuanzang came to India to learn about the origin of Buddhism, which means Buddhism had already spread far and wide in China before them. But in the last 1500 years, there must have been plenty of trade and commerce going back and forth between China and India. Ancient Hindu temples show a lot of Chinese figures in their carvings. The Indian word ‘Cheeni’ meaning white sugar, clearly shows that it originally came from China. Not only do temples like Brihadeeswara temples show Chinese figures,  plenty of Chinese artifacts were found even in palaces of Indian kings from 10th century. And most of these historical and archeological evidences are found in the southernmost state of Tamil Nadu, around the Mahabalipuram area.

So now you know why Mahabalipuram was selected for the meeting between the Indian and Chinese leaders. History just repeats itself and we can expect more trade and commerce to flow between the 2 countries, just like the last 2000 years.  China is currently India’s largest trading partner and this will probably continue in the future, just like the past.

Praveen Mohan

Oldest Carving of Bodhidharma discovered – Proves his Origin

Hey guys, I am at Mahabalipuram cave temples in India and here we can see the oldest depiction of Bodhidharma, carved at least 1300 years ago. Bodhidharma is a very mysterious figure and has statues all over China and Japan and is considered the founder of martial arts at the Shaolin temple. He is an iconic figure among Buddhist monks. All ancient Chinese texts agree that he came from a foreign country, but experts are not sure if he was from Iran or from India. This confusion exists because Bodhidharma came from a kingdom called the Pallava Kingdom. There are 2 kingdoms which existed under the same name, one in Iran and another in India. But this 1300 year old carving puts this confusion to rest, because it is the oldest carving of Bodhidharma that has ever been found and is found at the heart of the Pallava Kingdom in India which proves that he is in fact from India.

We can see that he is wearing a long head dress that extends to his legs and is shown with a beard and mustache, typical of Bodhidharma’s depiction in China and Japan. However, the most important feature is his extremely large eyes which are shown almost popping out. The reason for this is because Bodhidharma did not have any eyelids. This was his distinct feature. And we can see that Bodhidharma is shown holding a long stick, which was the only thing that he ever carried around.

If we look around in this temple, this figure is sharply in contrast with all other figures in this monument. All other saints are clean shaven and are shown with their palms together. However, Bodhidharma is shown with a beard and mustache. This is definitely not a carving of a layman, because he is shown standing on top of a temple tower, such a depiction is only given to people who are saints or kings.  And the beauty of this carving is that it shows Bodhidharma when he was young, because he left India in his early twenties.

So, who was this Bodhidharma, and why did he travel to China? A Chinese disciple of Bodhidharma, by the name of Tanlin, clearly describes his origin in a book written around 550 A.D. He has written that Bodhidharma was a South Indian of the western region, and was the third son of a great Indian king. Also, the author Tsutomu Kambe mentions that Bodhidharma came from a city called (香至) Kang-zhi, which is actually pronounced as Kanchi in India. The city of Kanchi was the capital of Pallava Kingdom, which is located less than 50 miles from this carving. Bodhidharma’s real name was Jayavarman, a prince of the Pallava dynasty, who renounced his luxuries to become a monk. He then traveled to China where he taught various specialties including meditation, martial arts and medicine. I am Praveen Mohan, thanks a lot for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe and I will talk to you soon. Bye.