Myths and Legends of China, by Edward T.C. Werner, , at sacred-texts.com
In dealing with the gods of China we noticed the monkey among them. Why and in what manner he attained to that exalted rank is set forth in detail in the Hsi yu chi 1—a work the contents of which have become woven into the fabric of Chinese legendary lore and are known and loved by every intelligent native. Its pages are filled with ghosts, demons, and fairies, good and bad, but “it contains no more than the average Chinese really believes to exist, and his belief in such manifestations is so firm that from the cradle to the grave he lives and moves and has his being in reference to them.” Its characters are said to be allegorical, though it may be doubted whether these implications may rightly be read into the Chinese text. Thus:
Hsüan (or Yüan) Chuang, or T’ang Sêng, is the pilgrim of the Hsi yu chi, who symbolizes conscience, to which all actions are brought for trial. The priestly garment of Hsüan Chuang symbolizes the good work of the rectified human nature. It is held to be a great protection to the new heart from the myriads of evil beings which surround it, seeking its destruction.
Sun Hou-tzŭ, the Monkey Fairy, represents human nature, which is prone to all evil. His unreasonable vagaries moved Hsüan Chuang to compel him to wear a Head-splitting Helmet which would contract upon his head in moments of waywardness. The agonizing p. 326 pressure thus caused would bring him to his senses, irrespective of his distance from his master.
The iron wand of Sun Hou-tzŭ is said to represent the use that can be made of doctrine. It was useful for all purposes, great or small. By a word it could be made invisible, and by a word it could become long enough to span the distance between Heaven and earth.
Chu Pa-chieh, the Pig Fairy, with his muck-rake, stands for the coarser passions, which are constantly at war with the conscience in their endeavours to cast off all restraint.
Sha Ho-shang, Priest Sha, is a good representation of Mr Faithful in The Pilgrim’s Progress. In the Hsi yu chi he stands for the human character, which is naturally weak and which needs constant encouragement.
The deeds of this marvellous creature, the hero of the Hsi yu chi, are to be met with continually in Chinese popular literature, and they are very much alive in the popular mind. In certain parts a regular worship is offered to him, and in many temples representations of or legends concerning him are to be seen or heard.
Other names by which Sun Hou-tzŭ is referred to are: Sun Hsing-chê, Sun Wu-k’ung, Mei Hou-wang, Ch’i-t’ien Ta Shêng, and Pi-ma Wên, the last-mentioned being a title which caused him annoyance by recalling the derisive dignity conferred upon him by Yü Huang. 2 Throughout the remainder of this chapter Sun Hou-tzŭ will be shortly referred to as ‘Sun.’
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The Birth of the Monkey
Beyond the seas, in the Eastern continent, in the kingdom of Ao-lai, is the mountain Hua-kuo Shan. p. 327 On the steep sides of this mountain there is a rocky point 36 feet 5 inches high and 24 feet in circumference. At the very top an egg formed, and, fructified by the breath of the wind, gave birth to a stone monkey. The newly-born saluted the four points of the horizon; from his eyes shone golden streaks of lightning, which filled the palace of the North Pole Star with light. This light subsided as soon as he was able to take nourishment.
“To-day,” said Yü Huang to himself, “I am going to complete the wonderful diversity of the beings engendered by Heaven and earth. This monkey will skip and gambol to the highest peaks of mountains, jump about in the waters, and, eating the fruit of the trees, will be the companion of the gibbon and the crane. Like the deer he will pass his nights on the mountain slopes, and during the day will be seen leaping on their summits or in their caverns. That will be the finest ornament of all for the mountains!”
The creature’s exploits soon caused him to be proclaimed king of the monkeys. He then began to try to find some means of becoming immortal. After travelling for eighteen years by land and sea he met the Immortal P’u-t’i Tsu-shih on the mountain Ling-t’ai-fang-ts’un. During his travels the monkey had gradually acquired human attributes; his face remained always as it had been originally, but dressed in human apparel he began to be civilized. His new master gave him the family name of Sun, and personal name of Wu-k’ung, ‘Discoverer of Secrets.’ He taught him how to fly through the air, and to change into seventy-two different forms. With one leap he could cover 108,000 li (about 36,000 miles). p. 328
Sun, after his return to Hua-kuo Shan, slew the demon Hun-shih Mo-wang, who had been molesting the monkeys during his long absence. Then he organized his subjects into a regular army, 47,000 all told. Thus the peace of the simian kingdom was assured. As for himself, he could not find a weapon to suit him, and went to consult Ao Kuang, the Lung Wang, or Dragon-king of the Eastern Sea, about it. It was from him that he obtained the formidable rod of iron, formerly planted in the ocean-bed by the Great Yü (Yü Wang) to regulate the level of the waters. He pulled it out, and modified it to suit his tastes. The two extremities he bound round with gold bands, and on it engraved the words: ‘Gold-bound Wand of my Desires.’ This magic weapon could accommodate itself to all his wishes; being able to assume the most incredible proportions or to reduce itself to the form of the finest of needles, which he kept hidden in his ear. He terrorized the Four Kings of the sea, and dressed himself at their expense. The neighbouring kings allied themselves with him. A splendid banquet with copious libations of wine sealed the alliance of friendship with the seven kings; but alas! Sun had partaken so liberally that when he was seeing his guests off, no sooner had he taken a few steps than he fell into a drunken sleep. The undertakers of Yen Wang, the King of the Hells, to whom Lung Wang had accused him as the disturber of his watery kingdom, seized his soul, put chains round its neck, and led it down to the infernal regions. Sun awoke in front of the gate of the kingdom of the dead, broke his fetters, killed his two custodians, and, armed with his magic staff, penetrated into the realm of Yen Wang, where he p. 329 threatened to carry out general destruction. He called to the ten infernal gods to bring him the Register of the Living and the Dead, tore out with his own hand the page on which were written his name and those of his monkey subjects, and then told the King of the Hells that he was no longer subject to the laws of death. Yen Wang yielded, though with bad grace, and Sun returned triumphant from his expedition beyond the tomb.
Before long Sun’s escapades came to the knowledge of Yü Huang. Ao Kuang and Yen Wang each sent deputies to the Master of Heaven, who took note of the double accusation, and sent T’ai-po Chin-hsing to summon before him this disturber of the heavenly peace.
In order to keep him occupied, Sun was appointed Grand Master of the Heavenly Stables, and was entrusted with the feeding of Yü Huang’s horses; his official celestial title being Pi-ma Wên. Later on, learning the object of the creation of this derisory appointment, he overturned the Master’s throne, seized his staff, broke down the South Gate of Heaven, and descended on a cloud to Hua-kuo Shan.
Yü Huang in great indignation organized a siege of Hua-kuo Shan, but the Kings of Heaven and the generals with their celestial armies were repulsed several times. Sun now arrogated to himself the pompous title of Grand Saint, Governor of Heaven. He had this emblazoned on his banners, and threatened Yü Huang that he would carry destruction into his kingdom if he refused to p. 330 recognize his new dignity. Yü Huang, alarmed at the result of the military operations, agreed to the condition laid down by Sun. The latter was then appointed Grand Superintendent of the Heavenly Peach-garden, the fruit of which conferred immortality, and a new palace was built for him.
Having made minute observations on the secret properties of the peaches, Sun ate of them and was thus assured against death. The time was ripe for him to indulge in his tricks without restraint, and an opportunity soon presented itself. Deeply hurt at not having been invited to the feast of the Peach Festival, P’an-t’ao Hui, given periodically to the Immortals by Wang-mu Niang-niang, the Goddess of the Immortals, he resolved upon revenge. When the preparations for the feast were complete he cast a spell over the servants, causing them to fall into a deep sleep, and then ate up all the most juicy meats and drank the fine wines provided for the heavenly guests. Sun had, however, indulged himself too liberally; with heavy head and bleary eye he missed the road back to his heavenly abode, and came unaware to the gate of Lao Chün, who was, however, absent from his palace. It was only a matter of a few minutes for Sun to enter and swallow the pills of immortality which Lao Chün kept in five gourds. Thus Sun, doubly immortal, riding on the mist, again descended to Hua-kuo Shan.
These numerous misdeeds aroused the indignation of all the gods and goddesses. Accusations poured in upon p. 331 Yü Huang, and he ordered the Four Gods of the Heavens and their chief generals to bring Sun to him. The armies laid siege to Hua-kuo Shan, a net was spread in the heavens, fantastic battles took place, but the resistance of the enemy was as strenuous and obstinate as before.
Lao Chün and Êrh-lang, nephew of Yü Huang, then appeared on the scene. Sun’s warriors resisted gallantly, but the forces of Heaven were too much for them, and at length they were overcome. At this juncture Sun changed his form, and in spite of the net in the sky managed to find a way out. In vain search was made everywhere, until Li T’ien-wang, by the help of his devil-finding mirror, detected the quarry and informed Êrh-lang, who rushed off in pursuit. Lao Chün hurled his magic ring on to the head of the fugitive, who stumbled and fell. Quick as lightning, the celestial dog, T’ien Kou, who was in Êrh-lang’s service, threw himself on him, bit him in the calf, and caused him to stumble afresh. This was the end of the fight. Sun, surrounded on all sides, was seized and chained. The battle was won.
The celestial armies now raised the siege, and returned to their quarters. But a new and unexpected difficulty arose. Yü Huang condemned the criminal to death, but when they went to carry out the sentence the executioners learned that he was invulnerable; swords, iron, fire, even lightning, could make no impression on his skin. Yü Huang, alarmed, asked Lao Chün the reason of this. The latter replied that there was nothing surprising about it, seeing that the knave had eaten the peaches of life in the garden of Heaven and the pills of immortality p. 332 which he had composed. “Hand him over to me,” he added. “I will distil him in my furnace of the Eight Trigrams, and extract from his composition the elements which render him immortal.”
Yü Huang ordered that the prisoner be handed over, and in the sight of all he was shut up in Lao Chün’s alchemical furnace, which for forty-nine days was heated white-hot. But at an unguarded moment Sun lifted the lid, emerged in a rage, seized his magic staff, and threatened to destroy Heaven and exterminate its inhabitants. Yü Huang, at the end of his resources, summoned Buddha, who came and addressed Sun as follows: “Why do you wish to possess yourself of the Kingdom of the Heavens?”
“Have I not power enough to be the God of Heaven?” was the arrogant reply.
“What qualifications have you?” asked Buddha. “Enumerate them.”
“My qualifications are innumerable,” replied Sun. “I am invulnerable, I am immortal, I can change myself into seventy-two different forms, I can ride on the clouds of Heaven and pass through the air at will, with one leap I can traverse a hundred and eight thousand li.”
“Well,” replied Buddha, “have a match with me; I wager that in one leap you cannot even jump out of the palm of my hand. If you succeed I will bestow upon you the sovereignty of Heaven.”
Sun rose into space, flew like lightning in the great vastness, and reached the confines of Heaven, opposite the five great red pillars which are the boundaries of p. 333 the created universe. On one of them he wrote his name, as irrefutable evidence that he could reach this extreme limit; this done, he returned triumphant to demand of Buddha the coveted inheritance.
“But, wretch,” said Buddha, “you never went out of my hand!”
“How is that?” rejoined Sun. “I went as far as the pillars of Heaven, and even took the precaution of writing my name on one of them as proof in case of need.”
“Look then at the words you have written,” said Buddha, lifting a finger on which Sun read with stupefaction his name as he had inscribed it.
Buddha then seized Sun, transported him out of Heaven, and changed his five fingers into the five elements, metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, which instantly formed five high mountains contiguous to each other. The mountains were called Wu Hsing Shan, and Buddha shut Sun up in them.
Thus subdued, Sun would not have been able to get out of his stone prison but for the intercession of Kuan Yin P’u-sa, who obtained his release on his solemn promise that he would serve as guide, philosopher, and friend to Hsüan Chuang, the priest who was to undertake the difficult journey of 108,000 li to the Western Heaven. This promise, on the whole, he fulfilled in the service of Hsüan Chuang during the fourteen years of the long journey. Now faithful, now restive and undisciplined, he was always the one to triumph in the end over the eighty-one fantastical tribulations which beset them as they journeyed. p. 334
One of the principal of Sun’s fellow-servants of the Master was Sha Ho-shang.
He is depicted wearing a necklace of skulls, the heads of the nine Chinese deputies sent in former centuries to find the Buddhist canon, but whom Sha Ho-shang had devoured on the banks of Liu-sha River when they had attempted to cross it.
He is also known by the name of Sha Wu-ching, and was originally Grand Superintendent of the Manufactory of Stores for Yü Huang’s palace. During a great banquet given on the Peach Festival to all the gods and Immortals of the Chinese Olympus he let fall a crystal bowl, which was smashed to atoms. Yü Huang caused him to be beaten with eight hundred blows, drove him out of Heaven, and exiled him to earth. He lived on the banks of the Liu-sha Ho, where every seventh day a mysterious sword appeared and wounded him in the neck. Having no other means of subsistence, he used to devour the passers-by.
When Kuan Yin passed through that region on her way to China to find the priest who was predestined to devote himself to the laborious undertaking of the quest of the sacred Buddhist books, Sha Ho-shang threw himself on his knees before her and begged her to put an end to all his woes.
The goddess promised that he should be delivered by the priest, her envoy, provided he would engage himself in the service of the pilgrim. On his promising to do this, and to lead a better life, she herself ordained him priest. In the end it came about that Hsüan Chuang, when passing the Sha Ho, took him into his suite as coolie to carry p. 335 his baggage. Yü Huang pardoned him in consideration of the service he was rendering to the Buddhist cause.
Chu Pa-chieh is a grotesque, even gross, personage, with all the instincts of animalism. One day, while he was occupying the high office of Overseer-general of the Navigation of the Milky Way, he, during a fit of drunkenness, vilely assaulted the daughter of Yü Huang. The latter had him beaten with two thousand blows from an iron hammer, and exiled to earth to be reincarnated.
During his transition a mistake was made, and entering the womb of a sow he was born half-man, half-pig, with the head and ears of a pig and a human body. He began by killing and eating his mother, and then devoured his little porcine brothers. Then he went to live on the wild mountain Fu-ling Shan, where, armed with an iron rake, he first robbed and then ate the travellers who passed through that region.
Mao Êrh-chieh, who lived in the cave Yün-chan Tung, engaged him as carrier of her personal effects, which she afterward bequeathed to him.
Yielding to the exhortations of the Goddess Kuan Yin, who, at the time of her journey to China, persuaded him to lead a less dissolute life, he was ordained a priest by the goddess herself, who gave him the name of Chu (Pig), and the religious name of Wu-nêng, ‘Seeker after Strength.’ This monster was knocked down by Sun when the latter was passing over the mountain accompanied by Hsüan Chuang, and he declared himself a disciple of the pilgrim priest. He accompanied him throughout the journey, and was also received in the Western Paradise as a reward for his aid to the Buddhist propaganda. p. 336
The origin of this priest was as follows: In the reign of the Emperor T’ai Tsung of the T’ang dynasty, Ch’ên Kuang-jui, a graduate of Hai Chou, in his examination for the doctor’s degree came out as chuang yüan, first on the list. Wên Chiao (also named Man-t’ang Chiao), the daughter of the minister Yin K’ai-shan, meeting the young academician, fell in love with him, and married him. Several days after the wedding the Emperor appointed Ch’ên Kuang-jui Governor of Chiang Chou (modern Chên-chiang Fu), in Kiangsu. After a short visit to his native town he started to take up his post. His old mother and his wife accompanied him. When they reached Hung Chou his mother fell sick and they were forced to stay for a time at the Inn of Ten Thousand Flowers, kept by one Liu Hsiao-êrh. Days passed; the sickness did not leave her, and as the time for her son to take over the seals of office was drawing near, he had to proceed without her.
Before his departure he noticed a fisherman holding in his hand a fine carp; this he bought for a small sum to give to his mother. Suddenly he noticed that the fish had a very extraordinary look, and, changing his mind, he let it go in the waters of the Hung Chiang, afterward telling his mother what he had done. She congratulated him on his action, and assured him that the good deed would not go unrewarded.
Ch’ên Kuang-jui re-entered his boat with his wife and a servant. They were stopped by the chief waterman, p. 337 Liu Hung, and his assistant. Struck with the great beauty of Ch’ên Kuang-jui’s wife, the former planned a crime which he carried out with the help of his assistant. At the dead of night he took the boat to a retired spot, killed Ch’ên and his servant, threw their bodies into the river, seized his official documents of title and the woman he coveted, passed himself off as the real chuang yüan, and took possession of the magistracy of Chiang Chou. The widow, who was with child, had two alternatives—silence or death. Meantime she chose the former. Before she gave birth to her child, T’ai-po Chin-hsing, the Spirit of the South Pole Star, appeared to her, and said he had been sent by Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, to present her with a son whose fame would fill the Empire. “Above all,” he added, “take every precaution lest Liu Hung kill the child, for he will certainly do so if he can.” When the child was born the mother, during the absence of Liu Hung, determined to expose it rather than see it slain. Accordingly she wrapped it up carefully in a shirt, and carried it to the bank of the Blue River. She then bit her finger, and with the blood wrote a short note stating the child’s origin, and hid it in its breast. Moreover, she bit off the infant’s left little toe, as an indelible mark of identity. No sooner had this been done than a gust of wind blew a large plank to the river’s edge. The poor mother tied her infant firmly to this plank and abandoned it to the mercy of the waves. The waif was carried to the shore of the isle of Chin Shan, on which stands the famous monastery of Chin-shan Ssŭ, near Chinkiang. The cries of the infant attracted the attention of an old monk named Chang Lao, who rescued it and gave it the name of Chiang Liu, ‘Waif of the River.’ He reared it with p. 338 much care, and treasured the note its mother had written with her blood. The child grew up, and Chang Lao made him a priest, naming him Hsüan Chuang on the day of his taking the vows. When he was eighteen years of age, having one day quarrelled with another priest, who had cursed him and reproached him with having neither father nor mother, he, much hurt, went to his protector Chang Lao. The latter said to him: “The time has come to reveal to you your origin.” He then told him all, showed him the note, and made him promise to avenge his assassinated father. To this end he was made a roving priest, went to the official Court, and eventually got into touch with his mother, who was still living with the prefect Liu Hung. The letter placed in his bosom, and the shirt in which he had been wrapped, easily proved the truth of his statements. The mother, happy at having found her son, promised to go and see him at Chin Shan. In order to do this, she pretended to be sick, and told Liu Hung that formerly, when still young, she had taken a vow which she had not yet been able to fulfil. Liu Hung himself helped her to do so by sending a large gift of money to the priests, and allowed her to go with her servants to perform her devotions at Chin-shan Ssŭ. On this second visit, during which she could speak more freely with her son, she wished to see for herself the wound she had made on his foot. This removed the last shadow of doubt.
She told Hsüan Chuang that he must first of all go to Hung Chou and find his grandmother, formerly left at the Inn of Ten Thousand Flowers, and then on to Ch’ang-an to take to her father Yin K’ai-shan a letter, p. 339 putting him in possession of the chief facts concerning Liu Hung, and praying him to avenge her.
She gave him a stick of incense to take to her mother-in-law. The old lady lived the life of a beggar in a wretched hovel near the city gate, and had become blind from weeping. The priest told her of the tragic death of her son, then touched her eyes with the stick of incense, and her sight was restored. “And I,” she exclaimed, “have so often accused my son of ingratitude, believing him to be still alive!” He took her back to the Inn of Ten Thousand Flowers and settled the account, then hastened to the palace of Yin K’ai-shan. Having obtained an audience, he showed the minister the letter, and informed him of all that had taken place.
The following day a report was presented to the Emperor, who gave orders for the immediate arrest and execution of the murderer of Ch’ên Kuang-jui.
Yin K’ai-shan went with all haste to Chên-chiang, where he arrived during the night, surrounded the official residence, and seized the culprit, whom he sent to the place where he had committed the murder. His heart and liver were torn out and sacrificed to the victim.
Now it happened that Ch’ên Kuang-jui was not dead after all. The carp released by him was in fact no other than Lung Wang, the God of the River, who had been going through his kingdom in that guise and had been caught in the fisherman’s net. On learning that his rescuer had been cast into the river, Lung Wang had p. 340 saved him, and appointed him an officer of his Court. On that day, when his son, wife, and father-in-law were sacrificing the heart of his assassin to his manes on the river-bank, Lung Wang ordered that he return to earth. His body suddenly appeared on the surface of the water, floated to the bank, revived, and came out full of life and health. The happiness of the family reunited under such unexpected circumstances may well be imagined. Ch’ên Kuang-jui returned with his father-in-law to Chên-chiang, where he took up his official post, eighteen years after his nomination to it.
Hsüan Chuang became the Emperor’s favourite priest. He was held in great respect at the capital, and had innumerable honours bestowed upon him, and in the end was chosen for the journey to the Western Paradise, where Buddha in person handed him the sacred books of Buddhism.
When he left the capital, Hsüan Chuang had been presented by the Emperor with a white horse to carry him on his long pilgrimage. One day, when he reached Shê-p’an Shan, near a torrent, a dragon emerged from the deep river-bed and devoured both the horse and its saddle. Sun tried in vain to find the dragon, and at last had to seek the aid of Kuan Yin.
Now Yü Lung San T’ai-tzŭ, son of Ao Jun, Dragonking of the Western Sea, having burnt a precious pearl on the roof of his father’s palace, was denounced to Yü Huang, who had him beaten with three hundred blows and suspended in the air. He was awaiting death when Kuan Yin passed on her way to China. The unfortunate dragon requested the goddess to have pity on him, whereupon p. 341 she prevailed upon Yü Huang to spare his life on condition that he served as steed for her pilgrim on the expedition to the Western Paradise. The dragon was handed over to Kuan Yin, who showed him the deep pool in which he was to dwell while awaiting the arrival of the priest. It was this dragon who had devoured Hsüan Chuang’s horse, and Kuan Yin now bade him change himself into a horse of the same colour to carry the priest to his destination. He had the honour of bearing on his back the sacred books that Buddha gave to T’ai Tsung’s deputy, and the first Buddhist temple built at the capital bore the name of Pai-ma Miao, ‘Temple of the White Horse.’
It is natural to expect that numberless exciting adventures should befall such an interesting quartette, and indeed the Hsi yu chi, which contains a hundred chapters, is full of them. The pilgrims encountered eighty difficulties on the journey out and one on the journey home. The following examples are characteristic of the rest.
The travellers were making their way westward through shining waters and over green hills, where they found endless luxuriance of vegetation and flowers of all colours in profusion. But the way was long and lonely, and as darkness came on without any sign of habitation the Priest said: “Where shall we find a resting-place for the night?” The Monkey replied: “My Master, he who has left home and become a priest must dine on the wind and lodge on the water, lie down under the moon p. 342 and sleep in the forest; everywhere is his home; why then ask where shall we rest?” But Pa-chieh, who was the bearer of the pilgrim’s baggage, was not satisfied with this reply, and tried to get his load transferred to the horse, but was silenced when told that the latter’s sole duty was to carry the Master.
However, the Monkey gave Pai Ma a blow with his rod, causing him to start forward at a great pace, and in a few minutes from the brow of a hill Hsüan Chuang espied in the distance a grove of cypress-trees, beneath the shade of which was a large enclosure. This seemed a suitable place to pass the night, so they made toward it, and as they approached observed in the enclosure a spacious and luxurious establishment. There being no indications that the place was then inhabited, the Monkey made his way inside.
He was met by a lady of charming appearance, who came out of an inner room, and said: “Who is this that ventures to intrude upon a widow’s household?” The situation was embarrassing, but the lady proved to be most affable, welcomed them all very heartily, told them how she became a widow and had been left in possession of riches in abundance, and that she had three daughters, Truth, Love, and Pity by name. She then proceeded to make a proposal of marriage, not only on behalf of herself, but of her three daughters as well. They were four men, and here were four women; she had mountain lands for fruit-trees, dry lands for grain, flooded fields for rice—more than five thousand acres of each; horses, oxen, sheep, pigs innumerable; sixty or seventy farmsteads; granaries choked with grain; storehouses full p. 343 of silks and satins; gold and silver enough to last several lifetimes however extravagantly they lived. Why should the four travellers not finish their journey there, and be happy ever afterward? The temptation was great, especially as the three daughters were ladies of surpassing beauty as well as adepts at needlework and embroidery, well read, and able to sing sweetly.
But Hsüan Chuang sat as if listening to frogs after rain, unmoved except by anger that she should attempt to divert him from his heavenly purpose, and in the end the lady retired in a rage, slamming the door behind her.
The covetous Pa-chieh, however, expressed himself in favour of accepting the widow’s terms. Finding it impossible to do so openly, he stole round to the back and secured a private interview. His personal appearance was against him, but the widow was not altogether uncompliant. She not only entertained the travellers, but agreed to Pa-chieh retiring within the household in the character of a son-in-law, the other three remaining as guests in the guest-rooms.
But a new problem now arose. If Pa-chieh were wedded to one of the three daughters, the others would feel aggrieved. So the widow proposed to blindfold him with a handkerchief, and marry him to whichever he succeeded in catching. But, with the bandage tied over his eyes, Pa-chieh only found himself groping in darkness. “The tinkling sound of female trinkets was all around him, the odour of musk was in his nostrils; like fairy forms they fluttered about him, but he could no more grasp one than he could a shadow. One way p. 344 and another he ran till he was too giddy to stand, and could only stumble helplessly about.”
The prospective mother-in-law then unloosed the bandage, and informed Pa-chieh that it was not her daughters’ ‘slipperiness,’ as he had called it, which prevented their capture, but the extreme modesty of each in being generous enough to forgo her claims in favour of one of her sisters. Pa-chieh thereupon became very importunate, urging his suit for any one of the daughters or for the mother herself or for all three or all four. This was beyond all conscience, but the widow was equal to the emergency, and suggested another solution. Each of her daughters wore a waistcoat embroidered in jewels and gold. Pa-chieh was to try these on in turn, and to marry the owner of the one which fitted him. Pa-chieh put one on, but as he was tying the cord round his waist it transformed itself into strong coils of rope which bound him tightly in every limb. He rolled about in excruciating agony, and as he did so the curtain of enchantment fell and the beauties and the palace disappeared.
Next morning the rest of the party on waking up also found that all had changed, and saw that they had been sleeping on the ground in the cypress-grove. On making search they found Pa-chieh bound fast to a tree. They cut him down, to pursue the journey a sadder and wiser Pig, and the butt of many a quip from his fellow-travellers.
When the party left the Elephant Country, seeing a mountain ahead, the Master warned his disciples to be careful. Sun said: “Master, say not so; remember the text of the Sacred Book, ‘So long as the heart is right p. 345 there is nothing to fear.’” After this Sun kept a close watch on Pa-chieh, who, while professing to be on guard, slept most of the time. When they arrived at Ping-ting Shan they were approached by a woodcutter, who warned them that in the mountain, which extended for 600 li (200 miles), there was a Lotus Cave, inhabited by a band of demons under two chiefs, who were lying in wait to devour the travellers. The woodcutter then disappeared. Accordingly, Pa-chieh was ordered to keep watch. But, seeing some hay, he lay down and went to sleep, and the mountain demons carried him away to the Lotus Cave.
On seeing Pa-chieh, the second chief said: “He is no good; you must go in search of the Master and the Monkey.” All this time the Monkey, to protect his Master, was walking ahead of the horse, swinging his club up and down and to right and left. The Demon-king saw him from the top of the mountain and said to himself: “This Monkey is famous for his magic, but I will prove that he is no match for me; I will yet feast on his Master.” So, descending the mountain, he transformed himself into a lame beggar and waited by the roadside. The Master, out of pity, persuaded the Monkey to carry him. While on the Monkey’s back the Demon, by magic skill, threw Mount Mêru on to Sun’s head, but the Monkey warded it off with his left shoulder, and walked on. Then the Demon threw Mount Ô-mei on to Sun’s head, and this he warded off with his right shoulder, and walked on, much to the Demon’s surprise. Lastly the Demon caused T’ai Shan to fall on to his head. This at last stunned the Monkey. Sha Ho-shang now defended the Master with his staff, which was, however, no match for the Demon’s starry sword. The Demon p. 346 seized the Master and carried him under one arm and Sha Ho-shang under the other to the Lotus Cave.
The two Demons then planned to take their two most precious things, a yellow gourd and a jade vase, and try to bottle the Monkey. They arranged to carry them upside down and call out the Monkey’s name. If he replied, then he would be inside, and they could seal him up, using the seal of the great Ancient of Days, the dweller in the mansion of T’ai Sui. 3
When the Monkey found that he was being crushed under the mountain he was greatly distressed about his Master, and cried out: “Oh, Master, you delivered me from under the mountain before, and trained me in religion; how is it that you have brought me to this pass? If you must die, why should Sha Ho-shang and Pa-chieh and the Dragon-horse also suffer?” Then his tears poured down like rain.
The spirits of the mountain were astonished at hearing these words. The guardian angels of the Five Religions asked: “Whose is this mountain, and who is crushed beneath it?” The local gods replied: “The mountain is ours, but who is under it we do not know.” “If you do not know,” the angels replied, “we will tell you. It is the Great Holy One, the Equal of Heaven, who rebelled there five hundred years ago. He is now converted, and is the disciple of the Chinese ambassador. How dare you lend your mountain to the Demon for such a purpose?” The guardian angels and local gods then recited some prayers, and the mountain was removed. The Monkey sprang up, brandishing his spear, and the p. 347 spirits at once apologized, saying that they were under enforced service to the Demons.
While they were speaking Sun saw a light approaching, and asked what it was. The spirits replied: “This light comes from the Demons’ magic treasures. We fear they are bringing them to catch you.” Sun then said: “Now we shall have some sport. Who is the Demon-chief’s associate?” “He is a Taoist,” they replied, “who is always occupied in preparing chemicals.” The Monkey said: “Leave me, and I will catch them myself.” He then transformed himself into a duplicate of the Taoist.
Sun went to meet the Demons, and in conversation learnt from them that they were on their way to catch the famous Monkey, and that the magic gourd and vase were for that purpose. They showed these treasures to him, and explained that the gourd, though small, could hold a thousand people. “That is nothing,” replied Sun. “I have a gourd which can contain all the heavens.” At this they marvelled greatly, and made a bargain with him, according to which he was to give them his gourd, after it had been tested as to its capacity to contain the heavens, in exchange for their precious gourd and vase. Going up to Heaven, the Monkey obtained permission to extinguish the light of the sun, moon, and stars for one hour. At noon the next day there was complete darkness, and the Demons believed Sun when he stated that he had put the whole heavens into his gourd so that there could be no light. They then handed over to the Monkey their magic gourd and vase, and in exchange he gave them his false gourd. p. 348
On discovering that they had been deceived, the Demons made complaint to their chiefs, who informed them that Sun, by pretending to be one of the Immortals, had outwitted them. They had now lost two out of their five magic treasures. There remained three, the magic sword, the magic palm fan, and the magic rope. “Go,” said they, “and invite our dear grandmother to come and dine on human flesh.” Personating one of the Demons, Sun himself went on this errand. He told the old lady that he wanted her to bring with her the magic rope, with which to catch Sun. She was delighted, and set out in her chair carried by two fairies.
When they had gone some few li, Sun killed the ladies, and then saw that they were foxes. He took the magic rope, and thus had three of the magic treasures. Having changed the dead so that they looked like living creatures, he returned to the Lotus Cave. Many small demons came running up, saying that the old lady had been slain. The Demon-king, alarmed, proposed to release the whole party. But his younger brother said: “No, let me fight Sun. If I win, we can eat them; if I fail, we can let them go.”
After thirty bouts Sun lost the magic rope, and the Demon lassoed him with it and carried him to the cave, and took back the magic gourd and vase. Sun now transformed himself into two false demons. One he placed instead of himself in the lasso bound to a pillar, and then went and reported to the second Demon-chief that Sun was struggling hard, and that he should be bound with a stronger rope lest he make his escape. Thus, by this strategy, Sun obtained possession of the magic rope again. By a similar trick he also got back the magic gourd and vase. p. 349
Sun and the Demons now began to wrangle about the respective merits of their gourds, which, each assured the other, could imprison men and make them obey their wishes. Finally, Sun succeeded in putting one of the Demons into his gourd.
There ensued another fight concerning the magic sword and palm fan, during which the fan was burnt to ashes. After more encounters Sun succeeded in bottling the second Demon in the magic vase, and sealed him up with the seal of the Ancient of Days. Then the magic sword was delivered, and the Demons submitted. Sun returned to the cave, fetched his Master out, swept the cave clean of all evil spirits, and they then started again on their westward journey. On the road they met a blind man, who addressed them saying: “Whither away, Buddhist Priest? I am the Ancient of Days. Give me back my magic treasures. In the gourd I keep the pills of immortality. In the vase I keep the water of life. The sword I use to subdue demons. With the fan I stir up enthusiasm. With the cord I bind bundles. One of these two Demons had charge of the gold crucible. They stole my magic treasures and fled to the mundane sphere of mortals. You, having captured them, are deserving of great reward.” But Sun replied: “You should be severely punished for allowing your servants to do this evil in the world.” The Ancient of Days replied: “No, without these trials your Master and his disciples could never attain to perfection.”
Sun understood and said: “Since you have come in person for the magic treasures, I return them to you.” After receiving them, the Ancient of Days returned to his T’ai Sui mansion in the skies. p. 350
By the autumn the travellers arrived at a great mountain. They saw on the road a red cloud which the Monkey thought must be a demon. It was in fact a demon child who, in order to entrap the Master, had had himself bound and tied to the branch of a tree. The child repeatedly cried out to the passers-by to deliver him. Sun suspected that it was a trick; but the Master could no longer endure the pitiful wails; he ordered his disciples to loose the child, and the Monkey to carry him.
As they proceeded on their way the Demon caused a strong whirlwind to spring up, and during this he carried off the Master. Sun discovered that the Demon was an old friend of his, who, centuries before, had pledged himself to eternal friendship. So he consoled his comrades by saying that he felt sure no harm would come to the Master.
Soon Sun and his companions reached a mountain covered with pine-forests. Here they found the Demon in his cave, intent upon feasting on the Priest. The Demon refused to recognize his ancient friendship with Sun, so the two came to blows. The Demon set fire to everything, so that the Monkey might be blinded by the smoke. Thus he was unable to find his Master. In despair he said: “I must get the help of some one more skilful than myself.” Pa-chieh was sent to fetch Kuan Yin. The Demon then seized a magic bag, transformed himself into the shape of Kuan Yin, and invited Pa-chieh to enter the cave. The simpleton fell into the trap and was seized and placed in the bag. Then the Demon appeared in his true form, and said: “I am p. 351 the beggar child, and mean to cook you for my dinner. A fine man to protect his Master you are!” The Demon then summoned six of his most doughty generals and ordered them to accompany him to fetch his father, King Ox-head, to dine off the pilgrim. When they had gone Sun opened the bag, released Pa-chieh, and both followed the six generals.
Sun thought that as the Demon had played a trick on Pa-chieh, he would play one on his generals. So he hurried on in front of them, and changed himself into the form of King Ox-head. The Demon and his generals were invited into his presence, and Red Child said: “If anyone eats of the pilgrim’s flesh, his life will be prolonged indefinitely. Now he is caught and I invite you to feast on him.” Sun, personifying the father, said: “No, I cannot come. I am fasting to-day. Moreover, Sun has charge of the pilgrim, and if any harm befall him it will be the worse for you, for he has seventy-two magic arts. He can make himself so big that your cave cannot contain him, and he can make himself as small as a fly, a mosquito, a bee, or a butterfly.”
Sun then went to Kuan Yin and appealed for help. She gave him a bottle, but he found he could not move it. “No,” said Kuan Yin, “for all the forces of the ocean are stored in it.”
Kuan Yin lifted it with ease, and said: “This dew water is different from dragon water, and can extinguish the fire of passion. I will send a fairy with you on your boat. You need no sails. The fairy needs only to blow a little, and the boat moves along without any effort.” Finally, the Red Child, having been overcome, repented and p. 352 begged to be received as a disciple. Kuan Yin received him and blessed him, giving him the name of Steward.
One day the Master suddenly exclaimed: “What is that noise?” Sun replied: “You are afraid; you have forgotten the Heart Prayer, according to which we are to be indifferent to all the calls of the six senses—the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind. These are the Six Thieves. If you cannot suppress them, how do you expect to see the Great Lord?” The Master thought a while and then said: “O disciple, when shall we see the Incarnate Model (Ju Lai) face to face?”
Pa-chieh said: “If we are to meet such demons as these, it will take us a thousand years to get to the West.” But Sha Ho-shang rejoined: “Both you and I are stupid; if we persevere and travel on, shoulder to shoulder, we shall reach there at last.” While thus talking, they saw before them a dark river in flood, which the horse could not cross. Seeing a small boat, the Master said: “Let us engage that boat to take us across.” While crossing the river in it, they discovered that it was a boat sent by the Demon of Blackwater River to entrap them in midstream, and the Master would have been slain had not Sun and the Western Dragon come to the rescue.
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The Demons of Blackwater River Carry Away the Master
Having crossed the Blackwater River, they journeyed westward, facing wind and snow. Suddenly they heard a great shout as of ten thousand voices. The Master was alarmed, but Sun laughingly went to investigate. Sitting on a cloud, he rose in the air, and saw a city, outside of p. 353 which there were thousands of priests and carts laden with bricks and all kinds of building materials. This was the city where Taoists were respected, and Buddhists were not wanted. The Monkey, who appeared among the people as a Taoist, was informed that the country was called the Ch’ê Ch’ih, ‘Slow-carts Country,’ and for twenty years had been ruled by three Taoists who could procure rain during times of drought. Their names were Tiger, Deer, and Sheep. They could also command the wind, and change stones into gold. The Monkey said to the two leading Taoists: “I wonder if I shall be so fortunate as to see your Emperor?” They replied: “We will see to that when we have attended to our business.” The Monkey inquired what business the priests could have. “In former times,” they said, “when our King ordered the Buddhists to pray for rain, their prayers were not answered. Then the Taoists prayed, and copious showers fell. Since then all the Buddhist priests have been our slaves, and have to carry the building materials, as you see. We must assign them their work, and then will come to you.” Sun replied: “Never mind; I am in search of an uncle of mine, from whom I have not heard for many years. Perhaps he is here among your slaves.” They said: “You may see if you can find him.”
Sun went to look for his uncle. Hearing this, many Buddhist priests surrounded him, hoping to be recognized as his lost relative. After a while he smiled. They asked him the reason. He said: “Why do you make no progress? Life is not meant for idleness.” They said: “We cannot do anything. We are terribly oppressed.” p. 354 “What power have your masters?” “By using their magic they can call up wind or rain.” “That is a small matter,” said Sun. “What else can they do?” “They can make the pills of immortality, and change stone into gold.”
Sun said: “These are also small matters; many can do the same. How did these Taoists deceive your King?” “The King attends their prayers night and day, expecting thereby to attain to immortality.” “Why do you not leave the place?” “It is impossible, for the King has ordered pictures of us to be hung up everywhere. In all the numerous prefectures, magistracies, and market-places in Slow-carts Country are pictures of the Buddhist priests, and any official who catches a runaway priest is promoted three degrees, while every non-official receives fifty taels. The proclamation is signed by the King. So you see we are helpless.” Sun then said: “You might as well die and end it all.”
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Buddhists As Slaves in Slow-cart Country
They replied: “A great number have died. At one time we numbered more than two thousand. But through deaths and suicides there now remain only about five hundred. And we who remain cannot die. Ropes cannot strangle us, swords cannot cut us; if we plunge into the river we cannot sink; poison does not kill us.” Sun said: “Then you are fortunate, for you are all Immortals.” “Alas!” said they, “we are immortal only for suffering. We get poor food. We have only sand to sleep on. But in the night hours spirits appear to us and tell us not to kill ourselves, for an Arhat will come from the East to deliver us. With him there p. 355 is a disciple, the Great Holy One, the Equal of Heaven, most powerful and tender-hearted. He will put an end to these Taoists and have pity on us Buddhists.”
Inwardly Sun was glad that his fame had gone abroad. Returning to the city, he met the two chief Taoists. They asked him if he had found his relative. “Yes,” he replied, “they are all my relatives!” They smiled and said: “How is it that you have so many relatives?” Sun said: “One hundred are my father’s relatives, one hundred my mother’s relatives, and the remainder my adopted relatives. If you will let all these priests depart with me, then I will enter the city with you; otherwise I will not enter.” “You must be mad to speak to us in this way. The priests were given us by the King. If you had asked for a few only, we might have consented, but your request is altogether unreasonable.” Sun then asked them three times if they would liberate the priests. When they finally refused, he grew very angry, took his magic spear from his ear and brandished it in the air, when all their heads fell off and rolled on the ground.
The Buddhist priests saw from a distance what had taken place, and shouted: “Murder, murder! The Taoist superintendents are being killed.” They surrounded Sun, saying: “These priests are our masters; they go to the temple without visiting the King, and return home without taking leave of the King. The King is the high priest. Why have you killed his disciples? The Taoist chief priest will certainly accuse p. 356 us Buddhist priests of the murders. What are we to do? If we go into the city with you they will make you pay for this with your life.”
Sun laughed. “My friends,” he said, “do not trouble yourselves over this matter. I am not the Master of the Clouds, but the Great Holy One, a disciple of the Holy Master from China, going to the Western Paradise to fetch the sacred books, and have come to save you.”
“No, no,” said they, “this cannot be, for we know him.” Sun replied: “Having never met him, how can you know him?” They replied: “We have seen him in our dreams. The spirit of the planet Venus has described him to us and warned us not to make a mistake.” “What description did he give?” asked Sun. They replied: “He has a hard head, bright eyes, a round, hairy face without cheeks, sharp teeth, prominent mouth, a hot temper, and is uglier than the Thunder-god. He has a rod of iron, caused a disturbance in Heaven itself, but later repented, and is coming with the Buddhist pilgrim in order to save mankind from calamities and misery.” With mixed feelings Sun replied: “My friends, no doubt you are right in saying I am not Sun. I am only his disciple, who has come to learn how to carry out his plans. But,” he added, pointing with his hand, “is not that Sun coming yonder?” They all looked in the direction in which he had pointed.
Sun quickly changed himself from a Taoist priest, and appeared in his natural form. At this they all fell down and worshipped him, asking his forgiveness because their mortal eyes could not recognize him. They then begged p. 357 him to enter the city and compel the demons to repent. Sun told them to follow him. He then went with them to a sandy place, emptied two carts and smashed them into splinters, and threw all the bricks, tiles, and timber into a heap, calling upon all the priests to disperse. “Tomorrow,” he said, “I am going to see the King, and will destroy the Taoists!” Then they said: “Sir, we dare not go any farther, lest they attempt to seize you and cause trouble.” “Have no fear,” he replied; “but if you think so I will give you a charm to protect you.” He pulled out some hairs, and gave one to each to hold firmly on the third finger. “If anyone tries to seize you,” he said, “keep tight hold of it, call out ‘Great Holy One, the Equal of Heaven,’ and I will at once come to your rescue, even though I be ten thousand miles away.” Some of them tried the charm, and, sure enough, there he was before them like the God of Thunder. In his hand he held a rod of iron, and he could keep ten thousand men and horses at bay.
It was now winter. The pilgrims were crossing a high mountain by a narrow pass, and the Master was afraid of wild beasts. The three disciples bade him fear not, as they were united, and were all good men seeking truth. Being cold and hungry they rejoiced to see a fine building ahead of them, but Sun said: “It is another devil’s trap. I will make a ring round you. Inside that you will be safe. Do not wander outside it. I will go and look for food.” Sun returned with his bowl full of rice, but found that his companions had got tired of waiting, and had disappeared. They had gone forward to the fine building, which Pa-chieh entered. Not a p. 358 soul was to be seen, but on going upstairs he was terrified to see a human skeleton of immense size lying on the floor. At this moment the Demon of the house descended on them, bound the Master, and said: “We have been told that if we eat of your flesh our white hair will become black again, and our lost teeth grow anew.” So he ordered the small devils who accompanied him to bind the others. This they did, and thrust the pilgrims into a cave, and then lay in wait for Sun. It was not long before the Monkey came up, when a great fight ensued. In the end, having failed, notwithstanding the exercise of numerous magic arts, to release his companions, Sun betook himself to the Spiritual Mountain and besought Ju Lai’s aid. Eighteen lohan were sent to help him against the Demon. When Sun renewed the attack, the lohan threw diamond dust into the air, which blinded the Demon and also half buried him. But, by skilful use of his magic coil, he gathered up all the diamond dust and carried it back to his cave.
The lohan then advised Sun to seek the aid of the Ancient of Days. Accordingly, Sun ascended to the thirty-third Heaven, where was the palace of the god. He there discovered that the Demon was none other than one of the god’s ox-spirits who had stolen the magic coil. It was, in fact, the same coil with which Sun himself had at last been subdued when he had rebelled against Heaven.
The Ancient of Days mounted a cloud and went with Sun to the cave. When the Demon saw who had come he was terrified. The Ancient of Days then recited an incantation, and the Demon surrendered the magic coil p. 359 to him. On the recitation of a second incantation all his strength left him, and he appeared as a bull, and was led away by a ring in his nose. The Master and his disciples were then set at liberty, and proceeded on their journey.
In the autumn the pilgrims found themselves in the Ssŭ Ha Li Country, where everything was red—red walls, red tiles, red varnish on doors and furniture. Sixty li from this place was the Flaming Mountain, which lay on their road westward.
An old man they met told them that it was possible to cross the Flaming Mountain only if they had the Magic Iron Fan, which, waved once, quenched fire, waved a second time produced strong wind, and waved a third time produced rain. This magic fan was kept by the Iron-fan Princess in a cave on Ts’ui-yün Shan, 1500 li distant. On hearing this, Sun mounted a cloud, and in an instant was transported to the cave. The Iron-fan Princess was one of the lochas (wives and daughters of demons), and the mother of the Red Child Demon, who had become a disciple of Kuan Yin. On seeing Sun she was very angry, and determined to be revenged for the outwitting of her husband, King Ox-head, and for the carrying away of her son. The Monkey said: “If you lend me the Iron Fan I will bring your son to see you.” For answer she struck him with a sword. They then fell to fighting, the contest lasting a long while, until at length, feeling her strength failing, the Princess took out the Iron Fan and waved it. The wind it raised blew Sun to a distance of 84,000 li, and whirled him about like a leaf in a whirlwind. But he soon returned, reinforced by further magic power p. 360 lent him by the Buddhist saints. The Princess, however, deceived him by giving him a fan which increased the flames of the mountain instead of quenching them. Sun and his friends had to retreat more than 20 li, or they would have been burned.
The local mountain-gods now appeared, bringing refreshments, and urging the pilgrims to get the Fan so as to enable them to proceed on their journey. Sun pointed to his fan and said: “Is not this the Fan?” They smiled and said: “No, this is a false one which the Princess has given you.” They added: “Originally there was no Flaming Mountain, but when you upset the furnace in Heaven five hundred years ago the fire fell here, and has been burning ever since. For not having taken more care in Heaven, we have been set to guard it. The Demon-king Ox-head, though he married the locha Princess, deserted her some two years ago for the only daughter of a fox-king. They live at Chi-lei Shan, some three thousand li from here. If you can get the true Iron Fan through his help you will be able to extinguish the flames, take your Master to the West, save the lives of many people round here, and enable us to return to Heaven once more.”
Sun at once mounted a cloud and was soon at Chi-lei Shan. There he met the Fox-princess, whom he upbraided and pursued back to her cave. The Ox-demon came out and became very angry with Sun for having frightened her. Sun asked him to return with him to the locha Princess and persuade her to give him the Magic Fan, This he refused to do. They then fought three battles, in all of which Sun was successful. He changed into the Ox-demon’s shape and visited the locha Princess. She, thinking he was the Ox-demon, gladly received him, p. 361 and finally gave him the Magic Fan; he then set out to return to his Master.
The Ox-demon, following after Sun, saw him walking along, joyfully carrying the Magic Fan on his shoulder. Now Sun had forgotten to ask how to make it small, like an apricot leaf, as it was at first. The Ox-demon changed himself into the form of Pa-chieh, and going up to Sun he said: “Brother Sun, I am glad to see you back; I hope you have succeeded.” “Yes,” replied Sun, and described his fights, and how he had tricked the Ox-demon’s wife into giving him the Fan. The seeming Pa-chieh said: “You must be very tired after all your efforts; let me carry the Magic Fan for you.” As soon as he had got possession of it he appeared in his true form, and tried to use it to blow Sun away 84,000 li, for he did not know that the Great Holy One had swallowed a wind-resisting pill, and was therefore immovable. He then put the Magic Fan in his mouth and fought with his two swords. He was a match for Sun in all the magic arts, but through the aid of Pa-chieh and the help of the local gods sent by the Master the Monkey was able to prevail against him. The Ox-demon changed himself many times into a number of birds, but for each of these Sun changed himself into a swifter and stronger one. The Ox-demon then changed himself into many beasts, such as tigers, leopards, bears, elephants, and an ox 10,000 feet long. He then said to Sun, with a laugh: “What can you do to me now?” Sun seized his rod of iron, and cried: “Grow!” He immediately became 100,000 feet high, with eyes like the sun and moon. They fought till the heavens and the earth shook with their onslaughts. p. 362
The Ox-demon being of so fierce and terrible a nature, both Buddha in Heaven and the Taoist Celestial Ruler sent down whole legions of celebrated warriors to help the Master’s servant. The Ox-demon tried to escape in every direction, one after the other, but his efforts were in vain. Finally defeated, he was made to promise for himself and his wife to give up their evil ways and to follow the holy precepts of the Buddhist doctrine.
The Magic Fan was given to Sun, who at once proceeded to test its powers. When he waved it once the fires on Flaming Mountain died out. When he waved it a second time a gentle breeze sprang up. When he waved it a third time refreshing rain fell everywhere, and the pilgrims proceeded on their way in comfort.
Having travelled over many mountains, the travellers came to a village. The Master said: “You, my disciples, are always very kind, taking round the begging-bowl and getting food for me. To-day I will take the begging-bowl myself.” But Sun said: “That is not right; you must let us, your disciples, do this for you.” But the Master insisted.
When he reached the village, there was not a man to be seen, but only some lovely women. He did not think that it was right for him to speak to women. On the other hand, if he did not procure anything for their meal, his disciples would make fun of him. So, after long hesitation, he went forward and begged food of them. They invited him to their cave home, and, having learnt who he was, ordered food for him, but it was all human flesh. p. 363 The Master informed them that he was a vegetarian, and rose to take his departure, but instead of letting him go they surrounded and bound him, thinking that he would be a fine meal for them next day.
Then seven of the women went out to bathe in a pool. There Sun, in search of his Master, found them and would have killed them, only he thought it was not right to kill women. So he changed himself into an eagle and carried away their clothes to his nest. This so frightened the women that they crouched in the pool and did not dare to come out.
But Pa-chieh, also in search of his Master, found the women bathing. He changed himself into a fish, which the women tried to catch, chasing him hither and thither round the pool. After a while Pa-chieh leapt out of the pool and, appearing in his true form, threatened the women for having bound his Master. In their fright the women fled to a pavilion, round which they spun spiders’ threads so thickly that Pa-chieh became entangled and fell. They then escaped to their cave and put on some clothes.
When Pa-chieh at length had disentangled himself from the webs, he saw Sun and Sha Ho-shang approaching. Having learnt what had happened, they feared the women might do some injury to the Master, so they ran to the cave to rescue him. On the way they were beset by the seven dwarf sons of the seven women, who transformed themselves into a swarm of dragon-flies, bees, and other insects. But Sun pulled out some hairs and, changing them into p. 364 seven different swarms of flying insects, destroyed the hostile swarm, and the ground was covered a foot deep with the dead bodies. On reaching the cave, the pilgrims found it had been deserted by the women. They released the Master, and made him promise never to beg for food again. Having given the promise, he mounted his horse, and they proceeded on their journey.
When they had gone a short distance they perceived a great building of fine architecture ahead of them. It proved to be a Taoist temple. Sha Ho-shang said: “Let us enter, for Buddhism and Taoism teach the same things. They differ only in their vestments.” The Taoist abbot received them with civility and ordered five cups of tea. Now he was in league with the seven women, and when the servant had made the tea they put poison in each cup. Sun, however, suspected a conspiracy, and did not drink his tea. Seeing that the rest had been poisoned, he went and attacked the sisters, who transformed themselves into huge spiders. They were able to spin ropes instead of webs with which to bind their enemies. But Sun attacked and killed them all.
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Sun Steals Clothing for His Master
The Taoist abbot then showed himself in his true form, a demon with a thousand eyes. He joined battle with Sun, and a terrible contest ensued, the result being that the Demon succeeded in putting an extinguisher on his enemy. This was a new trick which Sun did not understand. However, after trying in vain to break out through the top and sides, he began to bore downward, and, finding that the extinguisher was not deep in the ground, he succeeded in effecting his escape from below. But he feared that his Master and the others would die of the p. 365 poison. At this juncture, while he was suffering mental tortures on their behalf, a Bodhisattva, Lady Pi Lan, came to his rescue. By the aid of her magic he broke the extinguisher, gave his Master and fellow-disciples pills to counteract the poison, and so rescued them.
The summer had now arrived. On the road the pilgrims met an old lady and a little boy. The old lady said: “You are priests; do not go forward, for you are about to pass into the country known as the Country that exterminates Religion. The inhabitants have vowed to kill ten thousand priests. They have already slain that number all but four noted ones whose arrival they expect; then their number will be complete.”
This old lady was Kuan Yin, with Shên Tsai (Steward), who had come to give them warning. Sun thereupon changed himself into a candle-moth and flew into the city to examine for himself. He entered an inn, and heard the innkeeper warning his guests to look after their own clothes and belongings when they went to sleep. In order to travel safely through the city, Sun decided that they should all put on turbans and clothing resembling that of the citizens. Perceiving from the innkeeper’s warning that thieving was common, Sun stole some clothing and turbans for his Master and comrades. Then they all came to the inn at dusk, Sun representing himself as a horse-dealer.
Fearing that in their sleep their turbans would fall off, and their shaven heads be revealed, Sun arranged that they should sleep in a cupboard, which he asked the landlady to lock.
During the night robbers came and carried the cupboard p. 366 away, thinking to find in it silver to buy horses. A watchman saw many men carrying this cupboard, and became suspicious, and called out the soldiers. The robbers ran away, leaving the cupboard in the open. The Master was very angry with Sun for getting him into this danger. He feared that at daylight they would be discovered and all be executed. But Sun said: “Do not be alarmed; I will save you yet!” He changed himself into an ant, and escaped from the cupboard. Then he plucked out some hairs and changed them into a thousand monkeys like himself. To each he gave a razor and a charm for inducing sleep. When the King and all the officials and their wives had succumbed to this charm, the monkeys were to shave their heads.
On the morrow there was a terrible commotion throughout the city, as all the leaders and their families found themselves shaved like Buddhists.
Thus the Master was saved again.
The pilgrims having overcome the predicted eighty difficulties of their outward journey, there remained only one to be overcome on the homeward way.
They were now returning upon a cloud which had been placed at their disposal, and which had been charged to bear them safely home. But alas! the cloud broke and precipitated them to the earth by the side of a wide river which they must cross. There were no ferry-boats or rafts to be seen, so they were glad to avail themselves of the kind offices of a turtle, who offered to take them across on his back. But in midstream the turtle reminded Hsüan Chuang of a promise he had made him when on his outward journey, namely, that he would intercede for him p. 367 before the Ruler of the West, and ask his Majesty to forgive all past offences and allow him to resume his humanity again. The turtle asked him if he had remembered to keep his word. Hsüan Chuang replied: “I remember our conversation, but I am sorry to say that under great pressure I quite forgot to keep my promise.” “Then,” said the turtle, “you are at liberty to dispense with my services.” He then disappeared beneath the water, leaving the pilgrims floundering in the stream with their precious books. They swam the river, and with great difficulty managed to save a number of volumes, which they dried in the sun.
The pilgrims reached the capital of their country without further difficulty. As soon as they appeared in sight the whole population became greatly excited, and cutting down branches of willow-trees went out to meet them. As a mark of special distinction the Emperor sent his own horse for Hsüan Chuang to ride on, and the pilgrims were escorted with royal honours into the city, where the Emperor and his grateful Court were waiting to receive them. Hsüan Chuang’s queer trio of converts at first caused great amusement among the crowds who thronged to see them, but when they learned of Sun’s superhuman achievements, and his brave defence of the Master, their amusement was changed into wondering admiration.
But the greatest honours were conferred upon the travellers at a meeting of the Immortals presided over by Mi-lo Fo, the Coming Buddha. Addressing Hsüan Chuang, the Buddha said, “In a previous existence you were one of my chief disciples. But for disobedience and for lightly esteeming the great teaching your soul was imprisoned p. 368 in the Eastern Land. Now a memorial has been presented to me stating that you have obtained the True Classics of Salvation, thus, by your faithfulness, completing your meritorious labours. You are appointed to the high office of Controller of Sacrifices to his Supreme Majesty the Pearly Emperor.”
Turning to Sun, the Buddha said, “You, Sun, for creating a disturbance in the palace of Heaven, were imprisoned beneath the Mountain of the Five Elements, until the fullness of Heaven’s calamities had descended upon you, and you had repented and had joined the holy religion of Buddha. From that time you have endeavoured to suppress evil and cherish virtue. And on your journey to the West you have subjugated evil spirits, ghosts, and demons. For your services you are appointed God of Victorious Strife.”
For his repentance, and for his assistance to his Master, Chu Pa-chieh, the Pig Fairy, was appointed Head Altar-washer to the Gods. This was the highest office for which he was eligible, on account of his inherent greed.
Sha Ho-shang was elevated to the rank of Golden Body Perpetual Saint.
Pai Ma, the white horse who had patiently carried Hsüan Chuang and his burden of books, was led by a god down the Spirit Mountain to the banks of the Pool of Dragon-transformation. Pai Ma plunged in, when he changed at once into a four-footed dragon, with horns, scales, claws, and wings complete. From this time he became the chief of the celestial dragon tribe.
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The Return to China
Sun’s first thought upon receiving his promotion was to get rid of the Head-splitting Helmet. Accordingly he said to his Master, “Now that I am, like yourself, a Buddha, I want you to relieve my head of the helmet you p. 369 imposed upon me during the years of my waywardness.” Hsüan Chuang replied, “If you have really become a Buddha, your helmet should have disappeared of itself. Are you sure it is still upon your head?” Sun raised his hand, and lo! the helmet was gone.
After this the great assembly broke up, and each of the Immortals returned in peace to his own celestial abode. p. 370
370:1 A record of a journey to the Western Paradise to procure the Buddhist scriptures for the Emperor of China. The work is a dramatization of the introduction of Buddhism into China.
370:2 See p. 329.
370:3 See p. 195.