In Japan he is known as Daruma, in China: Damo, both derivations of dharma, the last part of his name which is of course —Bodhidharma. His name is synonymous with Zen.
According to Zen scholars, Bodhidharma (c. 440-528) traveled from southern India to teach in China but found only two worthy disciples there, Hui-k'o and Tao-yu. In an effort to return the religion to the true spirit of Gautama's teachings, Bodhidharma taught that the Buddha was not to be found in books or images but in the heart of man and that the way to achieve enlightenment was through meditation.
He spent nine years in intense meditation in a cave in northern China and was described as having a fierce disposition, penetrating eyes, and an abrupt and direct manner. According to Buddhist lore, in a fit of anger at having fallen asleep during meditation Bodhidharma cut off his eyelids. Another legend says that he spent so many years in meditation that his legs fell off. His intensity of purpose was characteristic of Ch'an devotees, who would undergo any austerity in order to attain the highest enlightenment.
The story goes that Bodhidharma had transmitted the patriarchship of his lineage to the best of all his followers, his chief disciple and exponent of the Law. The next day he was poisoned by another disciple who was jealous of that appointment. Think of such a karma [for the slaying of the Guru,] which comes from the poison of ignorance--[the ignorance that does not see that if one upholds the Teacher today,] one may be on the morrow, the chosen one.
Following his passing c. 530 A.D., rumors began to spread among the peasants that a strange monk had been seen walking toward India, carrying one shoe. According to legend, the emperor of China had Bodhidharma's tomb opened, and to the amazement of all, the grave was empty except for one shoe.
Picture #2: Bodhidharma's Shaolin meditation cave
Picture #3: Daruma crossing the Yangzi River on a Reed with one shoe returning to India. Painter unknown. Japanese, (1336–1392),