Shaolin History

The Shaolin Temple in Henan Province is located on a small forest area a top Song Mountain. This is also how it got its name Shao meaning small or young, and Lin meaning forest. The temple was constructed in 477 AD. by Emperor XiaoWen of the Wei dynasty as a gift for the Buddhist Indian monk BaTuo. The story goes that the Emperor was so intrigued by the monk’s teachings that he wanted him to stay at his palace. BaTuo wanting to oblige the emperor but was uncomfortable staying in the palace with so many people going about declined. So in order to keep the monk, Emperor XiaoWen had a temple built on the mountain beside the capital. Once taken to the temple BaTuo saw its location and was delighted deciding to call it Shaolin. Over centuries the Shaolin Temple becomes famous for its place of seclusion for Buddhist meditation practice. In 540 AD, almost 100 years later a Buddhist monk by the name of Bodhidharma (DaMo) arrives in China and goes to the Shaolin Temple. It is said that DaMo spent 9 years meditating in a cave a top Mount Song. After he came down he would lead the monks of the temple in meditation. Noticing that the monks were falling asleep or restless unable to perform sitting meditation for long periods of time, DaMo started to teach them different breathing and moving exercises in order to strengthen their bodies to complete their daily meditation rituals.  Later many others came to the Shaolin Temple and taught the monks various exercises and different styles of martial arts. Starting a Buddhist and martial culture at the Shaolin Temple.