Bodhidharma achieved enlightenment (Japanese = satori さとり), becoming the 28th Indian Patriarch in that lineage (Nijūhasso 二十八祖), and then, in accordance with instructions from Prajñātāra, he traveled to China to transmit the Mahayana teachings.After a perilous three-year sea voyage, he finally reaches Canton (China), whereupon he makes his way to the court of the Liang Dynasty in Nanking (Nanjing) and speaks with Emperor Wu (Liáng Wǔdì 梁武帝; Jp. The pious monarch, one of China’s most fervent patrons of Buddhism, is told that his building of temples, ordaining of monks, carving of Buddha statues, and copying of sutras has no karmic merit (see story here). To reach his destination, he must cross the mighty Yangtze River (artwork of this scene shows him crossing the river while balanced atop a tiny reed).
Beginning sometime in the 16th century, red-colored Daruma images became popular talismans to protect children against smallpox (the smallpox god was said to like the color red, and could therefore be pacified by red offerings).
By the 18th century, red-colored Daruma dolls (with no arms or legs) were also sold to ward off smallpox.
Additionally, Japan’s medieval Tendai sect claims that Bodhidharma did not return to India but journeyed onward to Japan, where he met Prince Shōtoku Taishi (574 - 622 AD), the first great patron of Buddhism in Japan, and from this association, Daruma is also linked (in Japanese myth) to horses and monkeys. The origin of these Japanese legends is hard to pinpoint.
Zen came to prominence in Japan during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), although Zen teachings had entered Japan centuries earlier via China.
During that time, Japanese legend also credits Bodhidharma with plucking out (or cutting off) his eyelids.
Apparently he once fell asleep during meditation, and in anger, he cast them off. The historical Bodhidharma (known as Daruma in Japan) was an Indian sage who lived sometime in the fifth or sixth century AD.Modern scholars and art historians are trying to discern the underlying historical figure by stripping away the ideological, idealizing, & idolizing accretions.Broughton (University of California Press, Aug.1999). The best-known Chinese legends say he was the third son of a Brahman king from southern India [possibly from Tamil Nadu) and studied under the tutelage of Prajñātāra 般若多羅 (Jp..= Hannyatara), the 27th Indian Patriarch in a direct mind-to-mind line of transmission from the Historical Buddha.In traditional Japanese Zen artwork (from the medieval period), Daruma is typically portrayed as a pious, stern-faced, red-robed monk pointing the way to enlightenment.