Myths and Legends of China

Page: 105

Miao Chuang desires an Heir

In the twenty-first year of the reign of Ta Hao, the Great Great One, of the Golden Heavenly Dynasty, a man named P’o Chia, whose first name was Lo Yü, an enterprising kinglet of Hsi Yii, seized the throne for twenty years, after carrying on a war for a space of three years. His kingdom was known as Hsing Lin, and the title of his reign as Miao Chuang.

The kingdom of Hsing Lin was, so says the Chinese writer, situated between India on the west, the kingdom of T’ien Cheng on the south, and the kingdom of Siam on the north, and was 3000 li in length. The boundaries differ according to different authors. Of this kingdom the two pillars of State were the Grand Minister Chao Chen and the General Ch’u Chieh. The Queen Pao Tê, whose maiden name was Po Ya, and the King Miao Chuang had lived nearly half a century without having any male issue to succeed to the throne. This was a source of great grief to them. Po Ya suggested to the King that the God of Hua Shan, the sacred mountain in the west, had the reputation of being always willing Page 254to help; and that if he prayed to him and asked his pardon for having shed so much blood during the wars which preceded his accession to the throne he might obtain an heir.

Welcoming this suggestion, the King sent for Chao Chên and ordered him to dispatch to the temple of Hua Shan the two Chief Ministers of Ceremonies, Hsi Hêng-nan and Chih Tu, with instructions to request fifty Buddhist and Taoist priests to pray for seven days and seven nights in order that the King might obtain a son. When that period was over, the King and Queen would go in person to offer sacrifices in the temple.

Prayers to the Gods

The envoys took with them many rare and valuable presents, and for seven days and seven nights the temple resounded with the sound of drums, bells, and all kinds of instruments, intermingled with the voices of the praying priests. On their arrival the King and Queen offered sacrifices to the god of the sacred mountain.

But the God of Hua Shan knew that the King had been deprived of a male heir as a punishment for the bloody hecatombs during his three years’ war. The priests, however, interceded for him, urging that the King had come in person to offer the sacrifices, wherefore the God could not altogether reject his prayer. So he ordered Ch’ien-li Yen, ‘Thousand-li Eye,’ and Shun-fêng Erh, ‘Favourable-wind Ear,’1 to go quickly and ascertain if there were not some worthy person who was on the point of being reincarnated into this world.

The two messengers shortly returned, and stated that Page 255in India, in the Chiu Ling Mountains, in the village of Chih-shu Yüan, there lived a good man named Shih Ch’in-ch’ang, whose ancestors for three generations had observed all the ascetic rules of the Buddhists. This man was the father of three children, the eldest Shih Wên, the second Shih Chin, and the third Shih Shan, all worthy followers of the great Buddha.

The Murder of the Tais

Wang Chê, a brigand chief, and thirty of his followers, finding themselves pursued and harassed by the Indian soldiers, without provisions or shelter, dying of hunger, went to Shih Wên and begged for something to eat. Knowing that they were evildoers, Shih Wên and his two brothers refused to give them anything; if they starved, they said, the peasants would no longer suffer from their depredations. Thereupon the brigands decided that it was a case of life for life, and broke into the house of a rich family of the name of Tai, burning their home, killing a hundred men, women, and children, and carrying off everything they possessed.