According to one of the oldest books Deng Feng County Recording (Deng Feng Xian Zhi), a Buddhist monk name Batuo, came to China for Buddhist preaching in 464 A.D. Deng Feng was the county where the Shaolin Temple was eventually located. Thirty-one years later, the Shaolin Temple was built in 495 A.D., by the order of Wei Xiao Wen emperor (471-500 A.D.) for Batuo's preaching. Therefore, Batuo can be considered the first chief monk of the Shaolin Temple . However, there is no record regarding how and what Batuo passed down by way of religious Qigong practice. There is also no record of how or when Batuo died.

However, the most influential person in this area was the Indian monk Da Mo . Da Mo , whose last name was Sardili and who was also known as Bodhidarma, was once the prince of a small tribe in southern India . He was of the Mahayana school of Buddhism , and was considered by many to have been a bodhisattva, or an enlightened being who had renounced nirvana in order to save others. From the fragments of historical records, it is believed that he was born about 483 A.D.

Da Mo was invited to China to preach by the Liang Wu emperor. He arrived in Canton , China in 527 A.D. during the reign of the Wei Xiao Ming emperor (516-528 A.D.) or the Liang Wu emperor (502-550 A.D.). When the emperor decided he did not like Da Mo 's Buddhist theory, the monk withdrew to the Shaolin Temple . When Da Mo arrived, he saw that the priests were weak and sickly, so he shut himself away to ponder the problem. When he emerged after nine years of seclusion, he wrote two classics: Yi Jin Jing (Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic) and Xi Sui Jin (Marrow/Brain Washing Classic.

From: http://www.easternmartialarts.com/kungfu_history.htm

Even though Martial Arts and Buddhism was in China before Da Mo, Shaolin Buddhism did not exist, ‘there is no record regarding how and what Batuo passed down by way of religious Qigong practice’.

Buddhism prior to Da Mo, used practices to ignore the body, or starve the body; in order to eliminate physical distractions and concentrate on the spiritual.  That is why ‘When Da Mo arrived, he saw that the priests were weak and sickly’.

Shaolin Buddhism was unique in its formation on the concept that by keeping the body in good health and condition, you could be free of daily bodily concerns; allowing full concentration on the spiritual. 
  

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