Note: There are numerous versions of the history of Bodhidharma, depending on the martial art style practiced by the author of the history. The following is a compilation of some of these histories.
Bodhidharma was a disciple of the priest Prajinatara, who later became the 28th descendent of Skaka (the founder of Buddhism). Bodhidharma was a colorful character; Chinese writers refer to him as the "blue-eyed barbarian." He is often depicted as a balding man with a beard, potbelly, and blue eyes. He was most probably born in Kanchipuran (near Madras), India. He was probably the son of a lesser member of the warrior caste, but there are some indications he may have been of the mixed priest-warrior caste "Brahaman-Kshyatriya"; the clue being his Caucasoid features. Although he was heir to a throne,Bodhidharma chose the life of a religious devotee.
After the death of Prajinatara, Bodhidharma became dissatisfied with the way Buddhism was being taught outside India and the loss of the true faith in China. In 520 AD, he traveled from India to China to teach them the true path; a very rugged journey that required excellent physical fitness and stamina. Bodhidharma traveled to the court of King Liang Wu Ti, king of one of the kingdoms established during the Six Dynasties Period, who was reputedly a great patron of Buddhism. However, since the King's Buddhism was based on salvation and form, he did not understand Bodhidharma's Buddhism that stressed meditation, intuitive insight, and attainment of perfect enlightenment on earth. This led to Bodhidharma's expulsion from the King's court and the entire kingdom of Liang.