Myths and Legends of China

Page: 120

The King and Queen taken Prisoners

Three years later the King and Queen, with the grandees of their Court, set out to visit Hsiang Shan, but on the way the monarchs were captured by the Green Lion, or God of Fire, and the White Elephant, or Spirit of the Water, the two guardians of the Temple of Buddha, who transported them to a dark cavern in the mountains. A terrific battle then took place between the evil spirits on the one side and some hosts of heavenly genii, who had Page 284been summoned to the rescue, on the other. While its issue was still uncertain, reinforcements under the Red Child Devil, who could resist fire, and the Dragon-king of the Eastern Sea, who could subdue water, finally routed the enemy, and the prisoners were released.

The King’s Repentance

The King and Queen now resumed their pilgrimage, and Miao Shan instructed Shan Ts’ai to receive the monarchs when they arrived to offer incense. She herself took up her place on the altar, her eyes torn out, her hands cut off, and her wrists all dripping with blood. The King recognized his daughter, and bitterly reproached himself; the Queen fell swooning at her feet. Miao Shan then spoke and tried to comfort them. She told them of all that she had experienced since the day when she had been executed, and how she had attained to immortal perfection. She then went on: “In order to punish you for having caused the deaths of all those who perished in the wars preceding your accession to the throne, and also to avenge the burning of the Nunnery of the White Bird, Yü Huang afflicted you with those grievous ulcers. It was then that I changed myself into a priest in order to heal you, and gave my eyes and hands, with which I prepared the ointment that cured you. It was I, moreover, who procured your liberty from Buddha when you were imprisoned in the cave by the Green Lion and the White Elephant.”

Sackcloth and Ashes

At these words the King threw himself with his face on the ground, offered incense, worshipped Heaven, earth, the sun, and the moon, saying with a voice broken by Page 285sobs: “I committed a great crime in killing my daughter, who has sacrificed her eyes and hands in order to cure my sickness.”

No sooner were these words uttered than Miao Shan reassumed her normal form, and, descending from the altar, approached her parents and sisters. Her body had again its original completeness; and in the presence of its perfect beauty, and at finding themselves reunited as one family, all wept for joy.

“Well,” said Miao Shan to her father, “will you now force me to marry and prevent my devoting myself to the attainment of perfection?”

“Speak no more of that,” replied the King. “I was in the wrong. If you had not reached perfection, I should not now be alive. I have made up my mind to exchange my sceptre for the pursuit of the perfect life, which I wish to lead henceforth together with you.”

The King renounces the Throne

Then, in the presence of all, he addressed his Grand Minister Chao Chên, saying: “Your devotion to the service of the State has rendered you worthy to wear the crown: I surrender it to you.” The Court proclaimed Chao Chên King of Hsing Lin, bade farewell to Miao Chuang, and set out for their kingdom accompanied by their new sovereign.

Pardon of the Green Lion and the White Elephant

Buddha had summoned the White Elephant and the Green Lion, and was on the point of sentencing them to eternal damnation when the compassionate Miao Shan interceded for them. “Certainly you deserve no forgiveness,” he said, “but I cannot refuse a request made by Page 286Miao Shan, whose clemency is without limit. I give you over to her, to serve and obey her in everything. Follow her.”