Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
Page: 78Lao-kiun, sometimes celled Lao-tsze, who is said to have been born in the third year of the emperor Ting-wang, of the Chow dynasty (604 B. C.), was another miraculously-born man. He acquired great reputation for sanctity, and marvelous stories were told of his birth. It was said that he had existed from all eternity; that he had descended on earth and was born of a virgin, black in complexion, described "marvelous and beautiful as jasper." Splendid temples were erected to him, and he was worshiped as a god. His disciples were called "Heavenly Teachers." They inculcated great tenderness toward animals, and considered strict celibacy necessary for the attainment of perfect holiness. Lao-kiun believed in One God whom he called Tao, and the sect which he formed is called Tao-tse, or "Sect of Reason." Sir Thomas Thornton, speaking of him, says:
"The mythological history of this 'prince of the doctrine of the Taou,' which is current amongst his followers, represents him as a divine emanation incarnate in a human form. They term him the 'most high and venerable prince of the portals of gold of the palace of the genii,' and say that he condescended to a contact with humanity when he became incorporated with the 'miraculous and excellent Virgin of jasper.' Like Buddha, he came out of his mother's side, and was born under a tree.
"The legends of the Taou-tse declare their founder to have existed antecedent to the birth of the elements, in the Great Absolute; that he is the 'pure essence of the tëen;' that he is the 'original ancestor of the prime breath of life;' and that he gave form to the heavens and the earth."[120:2]
M. Le Compte says:
"Those who have made this (the religion of Taou-tsze) their professed business, are called Tien-se, that is, 'Heavenly Doctors;' they have houses (Monasteries) given them to live together in society; they erect, in divers parts, temples to their master, and king and people honor him with divine worship."
Yu was another virgin-born Chinese sage, who is said to have lived upon earth many ages ago. Confucius—as though he had been questioned about him—says: "I see no defect in the character of Yu. He was sober in eating and drinking, and eminently pious toward spirits and ancestors."[120:3]
Hâu-ki, the Chinese hero, was of supernatural origin.
The following is the history of his birth, according to the "Shih-King:"
"His mother, who was childless, had presented a pure offering and sacrificed, that her childlessness might be taken away. She then trod on a toe-print made by God, and was moved,[121:1] in the large place where she rested. She became pregnant; she dwelt retired; she gave birth to and nourished a son, who was Hâu-ki. When she had fulfilled her months, her first-born son came forth like a lamb. There was no bursting, no rending, no injury, no hurt; showing how wonderful he would be. Did not God give her comfort? Had he not accepted her pure offering and sacrifice, so that thus easily she brought forth her son?"[121:2]
Even the sober Confucius (born B. C. 501) was of supernatural origin. The most important event in Chinese literary and ethical history is the birth of Kung-foo-tsze (Confucius), both in its effects on the moral organization of this great empire, and the study of Chinese philosophy in Europe.
Kung-foo-tsze (meaning "the sage Kung" or "the wise excellence") was of royal descent; and his family the most ancient in the empire, as his genealogy was traceable directly up to Hwang-te, the reputed organizer of the state, the first emperor of the semi-historical period (beginning 2696 B. C.).
At his birth a prodigious quadruped, called the Ke-lin, appeared and prophesied that the new-born infant "would be a king without throne or territory." Two dragons hovered about the couch of Yen-she (his mother), and five celestial sages, or angels, entered at the moment of the birth of the wondrous child; heavenly strains were heard in the air, and harmonious chords followed each other, fast and full. Thus was Confucius ushered into the world.
His disciples, who were to expound his precepts, were seventy-two in number, twelve of whom were his ordinary companions, the depositories of his thoughts, and the witnesses of all his actions. To them he minutely explained his doctrines, and charged them with their propagation after his death. Yan-hwuy was his favorite disciple, who, in his opinion, had attained the highest degree of moral perfection. Confucius addressed him in terms of great affection, which denoted that he relied mainly upon him for the accomplishment of his work.[121:3]
Even as late as the seventeenth century of our era, do we find the myth of the virgin-born God in China.[121:4]
All these god-begotten and virgin-born men were called Tien-tse, i. e., "Sons of Heaven."
If from China we should turn to Egypt we would find that, for ages before the time of Jesus of Nazareth, the mediating deity, born of a virgin, and without a worldly father, was a portion of the Egyptian belief.[122:1]
Horus, who had the epithet of "Saviour," was born of the virgin Isis. "His birth was one of the greatest Mysteries of the Egyptian religion. Pictures representing it appear on the walls of temples."[122:2] He is "the second emanation of Amon, the son whom he begot."[122:3] Egyptian monuments represent the infant Saviour in the arms of his virgin mother, or sitting on her knee.[122:4] An inscription on a monument, translated by Champollion, reads thus:
"O thou avenger, God, son of a God; O thou avenger, Horus, manifested by Osiris, engendered of the goddess Isis."[122:5]
The Egyptian god Ra was born from the side of his mother, but was not engendered.[122:6]
The ancient Egyptians also deified kings and heroes, in the same manner as the ancient Greeks and Romans. An Egyptian king became, in a sense, "the vicar of God on earth, the infallible, and the personated deity."[122:7]
P. Le Page Renouf, in his Hibbert Lectures on the Religion of Ancient Egypt, says:
"I must not quit this part of my subject without a reference to the belief that the ruling sovereign of Egypt was the living image and vicegerent of the Sun-god (Ra).