Retracing the footsteps of Bodhidharma in China

Author Arvind Johar with Acharya Babu T Raghu at a press meet in Bengaluru on Friday. DH Photo/S K Dinesh

A Bengaluru-based engineer-turned-martial arts teacher and author went on a 4,000-km trail in China, retracing the footsteps of Bodhidharma. 

Acharya Babu T Raghu went on the unique pilgrimage from June to August. 

After practising martial arts for several years, Raghu wanted to learn the connection between spirituality and self-defence and began researching about the fifth-century philosopher Bodhidharma.

The research took an unexpected turn when Raghu objected to the Tamil movie ‘7th Sense’ about
Bodhidharma. Journalists questioned his expertise in the subject, triggering a few more years of research into the philosopher’s life that resulted in the book, ‘Bodhidharma Retold’, a journey from Sailam to Shaolin. 

He travelled in China right from the southern region to the north for two months to trace Bodhidharma’s work and philosophies, visiting more than 20 monasteries including the famous Hualin Temple—also known as ‘West meets East Temple’—and also ‘Empty appearance temple’ in the Henan province.

Chinese language scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Reji P, accompanied Raghu in the journey. 

“The Indian history does not give much credit to Bodhidharma, though his early life is traced in southern India,” said Raghu. The Chinese government has offered to provide up to Rs 150-crore joint project with India to set up an Indian monastery, he said. 

His book, Bodhidharma Retold, provides an insight into the relationship between Shaolin Temple in China and the Sri Sailam mount in India. The second and third volumes of the book are expected for release shortly. 

Arvind Jauhar, an investment banker and author of the book ‘Yoga Diet for a peaceful Mind’, is also closely associated with Raghu and his work. 

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