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Updated: February 14, 2013 20:51 IST

Of a man and a religion

A. SHRIKUMAR
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BASED ON HISTORY: Baba Bakruddin with his book 'Bodhidharmar'. Photo: Special Arrangement
BASED ON HISTORY: Baba Bakruddin with his book 'Bodhidharmar'. Photo: Special Arrangement

Baba Bakruddin, a budding writer captures the life of Bodhidharma and the significance of Buddhism

If you are a philosophy lover, pick ‘Bodhidharmar’, a compilation and speculation into the life of the Buddhist philosopher and saint Bodhidharma. The Tamil book written by Baba Bakruddin, a physics student of Madura College, was launched recently in the city. “It’s not a biography on Bodhidharma, but a narrative coupled with explanation. It’s in fact impossible to write a biography on Bodhidharma and many authors have failed before, as there are not many reliable evidences about him,” says Baba Bakruddin. “Information about the saint is available only in bits and parts. I have tried to assimilate all the research and have arrived at a cumulative suggestion.”

The book details various aspects and sects of Buddhism and throws light on ‘Zen Buddhism’ introduced by Bodhidharma. Bakruddin’s interest in Bodhidharma came from his visit to Cochin when he found the fishing nets similar to the ones in China. “Later, I found that there were many links between China and South India. And the research led me to Bodhidharma, a saint said to be Tamil King who travelled to China and started ‘Zen’ religion,” says Bakruddin. “When I started writing the book , I felt there was more to him than just being a Tamilian. I have touched upon the various facets of Bodhidharma’s life, the places he visited and stayed and the important events that happened. I have given explanations and references to all these chapters. It took me two years to complete it.” The book has five chapters and 11 sub-heads spanning 114 pages.

Bakruddin has referred to Chinese and Japanese literature and feels that the account on Bodhidharma in the former is much reliable than the latter. “Chinese works portray Bodhidharma as a noble man but Japanses writers have glorified him as a god-like figure with magical and supernatural powers,” says Bakruddin. “Bodhidharma has always been exaggerated. Even the claim of Tamils that he was a Tamilian is debatable as he is said to be a descendant of Pallavas. And Pallavas are not Tamils. There is also a speculation that Bodhidharma could be Kalabhra, another non-Tamil dynasty.”

Watching the film, ‘7aum Arivu’ made Bakruddin write the book. . “This is my first book and it came as a series in Kizhakku Padhipagam’s online paper ‘TamilPaper.net’.”

Bakruddin, who quit engineering to pursue his love for writing is currently working on a narrative travelogue and a bilingual novel that will be released in English and Tamil. ‘I am learning Urdu, Hindi and Arabic and will also be writing books in all these languages in the future,” he says.

‘Bodhidharmar’ is self-published by Bakruddin and is available online for Rs. 134 and Rs.238 (strain-free edition with 157 pages) as print-on-demand at Amazon.com and Podhi.com. The e-book has been released as a CD and can also be downloaded from issuu.com

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