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master Baoda

Zen Master Baoda, who lived in the age roughly from 610 to 907, settled in Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou after he became a Buddhist monk. No records were found about his entire life. Therefore, the source of knowledge about Zen Master Baoda was limited to the age and place he lived in after he practiced Buddhism.

In Biographies of Eminent Monks in the Song Dynasty included in Dazheng Buddhist Scriptures, there was Biography of Baoda which began with such words “The life of Zen Master Baoda in Lingyin Temple, Hangzhou, in the Tang Dynasty”. In New Categorized Biographies of Six Monks included in Dazheng Buddhist Scriptures, another record was found in Gantong Category, which recorded him as Baoda in the Tang Dynasty. From these two records, it can be known that Baoda was a monk in Lingyin Temple in the Tang Dynasty.

 

Based on incomplete historical records, Zen Master Baoda was a hermit living in seclusion in Hangzhou, in what was then called Mountain Wulin, which are present Mountain Lingyin and the mountain range of Tianzhu. According to Records of Buddhist Mountains, Mountain Feilai marked the dividing line between Mountain Lingyin and the mountain range of Tianzhu. To its south was Mountain Lingyin and to its north was the mountain range of Tianzhu. Thus it can be certain that Zen Master Baoda resided mainly in Mountain Lingyin and travelled to the mountain range of Tianzhu from time to time. As much as Zen Master Baoda usually lived in mountain, he cultivated a grand ability and enjoyed a high reputation among Buddhist monks. That is why he was addressed as “Master Chali”, which was named after his residence to show their respect.

New Categorized Biographies of Six Monks includes the biography of Zen Master Baoda in Gantong Category, which recorded quite a few supernatural incidents of Zeb Master Baoda. From the record, it can also be seen that the eminence and significance of Zen Master Baoda in his practice of Buddhism. What is worth mentioning is the following story recorded in the biography.

In the age of Zen Master Baoda, the Qiantang River Tide of Zhejiang had risen to fame and in every flood season the river banks would be broken by the frightening waves, which imposed disasters on the local people nearby. Zen Master Baoda was deeply concerned and he began chanting secret mantras, hoping to curb the danger brought by the waves. One night before long, a man wearing a court dress came out from the waves, followed by a group of servants. The man said to Zen Master Baoda, “I used to be a general of Wu in Three Kingdom’s time, and the waves were for my revenge. Your merciful Master, you reclaimed and forgave us by chanting mantras, so I know my life is coming to an end.” Upon finishing the sentence, the man disappeared. Since then Qiantang River Tide had never brought about a similar disaster. Moreover, the mud and sand left by the tides on the west bank of the river accumulated, providing soil for local agriculture. Everyone credited all these to Zen Master Baoda’s mantras.

The biography recorded the year when Zen Master Baoda passed away with such an account that “The time for a peace rest has come, since which Master Baoda is nowhere to be found.” Therefore, it remains unknown that how many years Zen Master Baoda had lived.

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