History of Shaolin Temple
Shaolin Temple literally means “temple in the thick forests of Shaoshi Mountain”.The Temple was built in 495 AD by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty for an Indian monk Batuo (Buddhabhadra).As the first Shaolin abbot, Batuo (Buddhabhadra) devoted himself to translating Buddhist scriptures and preaching doctrines to hundreds of his followers.
Thirty two years later, another Indian monk Bodhidharma arrived at Shaolin temple. He was the first monk to preach Chan (zen) doctrines, thus was honored as the first patriarch of Chan (Zen Buddhism).
Shaolin Temple is recognized as the origin of Chan Buddhism (Zen Buddhishm). Bodhidharma spent nine years meditating in a cave of the Wuru Peak after which he initiated the Chan (Zen Buddhism) tradition at Shaolin Temple.Bodhidharma also taught the monks martial arts similar to Kalaripayattu which formed the basis of Shaolin Kungfu.
The unique aspect of Shaolin culture is the combination of Zen Buddhism (Chan), Shaolin Kung Fu (Wu - Wushu), Traditional Medicine (Yi-Yiyao).
Shaolin Temple in its heyday, housed more than 3,000 monks. The temple has been through destructions and reconstructions,1928 being the most devastating one by warlord Shi Yousan, when a blaze raged for more than 40 days destroying the temple's classics and records. Upon successive renovation most of the old structure has now been restored.