The Monk Bodhidharma, The First Patriarch of Zen


This is an unusual and interesting film about Ven Bodhidharma, the great Buddhist missionary to China, from Doordharshan, which was first released in the early 90s. The title would be more accurately be The First Patriarch of Zen in China, as he was considered to be the 28th in India.

The film is an odd compiliation of stage sets, actors, voice-over, narration, travelogue and even downright propaganda, based around, and many times deviating from, the life story of the central character.

Still we learn something of the legendary early life story in India, from where no records remain; and even more legendary missionary activities in China which were recorded in later histories and chronicles.

The first half of the film is situated in India, and the second in China, and we see some of the places that are now associated with the great monk and his times.


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