Myths and Legends of China

Page: 107

The King named the third daughter Miao Shan. She became noted for her modesty and many other good qualities, and scrupulously observed all the tenets of the Buddhist doctrines. Virtuous living seemed, indeed, to be to her a second nature.

Miao Shan’s Ambition

One day, when the three sisters were playing in the palace garden of Perpetual Spring, Miao Shan, with a serious mien, said to her sisters, “Riches and glory are like the rain in spring or the morning dew; a little while, and all is gone. Kings and emperors think to enjoy to the end the good fortune which places them in a rank apart from other human beings; but sickness lays them low in their coffins, and all is over. Where are now all those powerful dynasties which have laid down the law to the world? As for me, I desire nothing more than a Page 258peaceful retreat on a lone mountain, there to attempt the attainment of perfection. If some day I can reach a high degree of goodness, then, borne on the clouds of Heaven, I will travel throughout the universe, passing in the twinkling of an eye from east to west. I will rescue my father and mother, and bring them to Heaven; I will save the miserable and afflicted on earth; I will convert the spirits which do evil, and cause them to do good. That is my only ambition.”

Her Sisters Marry

No sooner had she finished speaking than a lady of the Court came to announce that the King had found sons-in-law to his liking for his two elder daughters. The wedding-feast was to be the very next day. “Be quick,” she added, “and prepare your presents, your dresses, and so forth, for the King’s order is imperative.” The husband chosen for Miao Ch’ing was a First Academician named Chao K’uei. His personal name was Tê Ta, and he was the son of a celebrated minister of the reigning dynasty. Miao Yin’s husband-elect was a military officer named Ho Fêng, whose personal name was Ch’ao Yang. He had passed first in the examination for the Military Doctorate. The marriage ceremonies were of a magnificent character. Festivity followed festivity; the newly-wed were duly installed in their palaces, and general happiness prevailed.

Miao Shan’s Renunciation

There now remained only Miao Shan. The King and Queen wished to find for her a man famous for knowledge and virtue, capable of ruling the kingdom, and worthy of being the successor to the throne. So the King called Page 259her and explained to her all his plans regarding her, and how all his hopes rested on her.

“It is a crime,” she replied, “for me not to comply with my father’s wishes; but you must pardon me if my ideas differ from yours.”

“Tell me what your ideas are,” said the King.

“I do not wish to marry,” she rejoined. “I wish to attain to perfection and to Buddhahood. Then I promise that I will not be ungrateful to you.”