Bodhidharma Gets Two New Families
This chapter examines the two newer versions of the Bodhidharma family in the context of the three preceding Bodhidharma narratives. In these two early genealogical texts—Faru's biography from Shaoli Monastery and Du Fei's Record—there is solid evidence for thinking that the increasing clout of the fictive Bodhidharma family was, in fact, the result of a series of authors reworking prior literary statements in sly and careful ways. In particular, the narrator of Faru's biography, while clearly combining and editing earlier accounts of the various masters, figured out how to stage his new claims so that they would appear to have been already known and endorsed throughout the empire. Likewise, Du Fei masterfully undermined the earlier Bodhidharma narratives regarding: the centrality of transmitting the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra; the teaching of “wall-contemplation” and the Two Entrances; and the claim that Huike lost his arm to bandits.
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