Who was bodhidharma and what is he famous for?
Bodhidharma was a monk who lived in the 5th/6th century and is thought to be the person responsible for introducing Zen Buddhism to China. He is also sometimes credited with beginning the rigorous training associated with the famed Shoalin monks, but many facts about him are obscure and shrouded in legend.
We have only bits and pieces of information about Bodhidharma, so his life story is tough to piece together. It is widely accepted that he came from India, and was either a part of the priest or warrior class. His older brothers may have become kings at some point. It is also pretty widely accepted that he traveled extensivley, even outside of the realm of Buddhism. One biographical account quotes him as saying he had visited, "every known country" in his travels.
Bohidharma traveled to China to become the first Buddhist patriarch of China, but Emperor Wu refused to recognize him when Bohidharma prophisized that the emperor would die on his throne (which creepily enought actually happened)
One of the most famous meditative techniques Bohidharma was known for was known as "wall-gazing" and although the particulars are not clear, he apparently one stared at the wall of a cave for nineyears without speaking.
It was also pretty difficult to become Bohidharma's student. One poor kid wasn't allowed to study under the master until his meditated for weeks in the deep snow outside Bohidharma's monestary AND cut off his arm as a sign of sincerity.
He may have died on the Luo river in 534, and may have been interrered in a cave by one of his pupils.