The Shaolin Monastery (Chinese: 少林寺; pinyin: Shàolín sì), also known as the Shaolin Temple, is a Chan ("Zen") Buddhist temple in Dengfeng County, Henan Province, China. Believed to have been founded in the 5th century CE, the Shaolin Temple is the main temple of the Shaolin school of Buddhism to this day.
The name refers to the forests of Shaoshi (少室; Shǎo Shì) mountain, one of the seven peaks of the Song mountains. The first Shaolin Monastery abbot was Batuo (also called Fotuo or Buddhabhadra), a dhyāna master who came to ancient China from ancient India or Central Asia in 464 AD to spread Buddhist teachings.
According to the Continued Biographies of Eminent Monks (645 AD) by Daoxuan, Shaolin Monastery was built on the north side of Shaoshi, the central peak of Mount Song, one of the Sacred Mountains of China, by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei dynasty in 477 AD, to accommodate the Indian master beside the capital Luoyang city. Yang Xuanzhi, in the Record of the Buddhist Monasteries of Luoyang (547 AD), and Li Xian, in the Ming Yitongzhi (1461), concur with Daoxuan's location and attribution. The Jiaqing Chongxiu Yitongzhi (1843) specifies that this monastery, located in the province of Henan, was built in the 20th year of the Taihe era of the Northern Wei dynasty, that is, the monastery was built in 495 AD.
As the center of Chan Buddhism, the Shaolin Temple attracted many emperors’ attention in China’s history. During the Tang dynasty 618-907 AD Empress Wu Zetian (AD 625-705) paid several visits to the Shaolin Temple discussing Chan philosophy with high monk Tan Zong. According to legend, Emperor Taizong granted the Shaolin Temple extra land and a special "imperial dispensation" to consume meat and alcohol during the Tang dynasty. The founder of the Yuan dynasty, Kublai Khan (AD 1215-1294) ordered all Buddhist temples in China to be led by the Shaolin Temple; eight Princes during the Ming dynasty turned themselves into Shaolin monks.
From time to time, Master Zhou, may send a student of his to train at the Shaolin Temple to improve a certain form or skill.