Sunday, 9 August 2009

The Legend Of Miao Shan

Today is Kuan Yin's birthday. Three days in a year devout Kuan Yin devotees celebrate the three festivals which are attributed to the life of Princess Miao Shan, the Chinese emanation of Kuan Yin. The three auspicious day in the Lunar year calendar are:

2nd Lunar Month 19th day - which marks the Day She was born
6th Lunar Month 19th day - marks the Day She entered the Nunnery

9th Lunar Month 19th day - which marks the Day She attained Enlightenment.

The legend of Kuan Yin's emanation as the sweet and virtuous Miao Shan has caught the hearts of many Chinese people that she outshines all other deities in the land, be they of Buddhist, Taoist or any other origins. To them it is common knowledge that Kuan Yin is the enlightened form of their beloved princess and therefore Kuan Yin, the Godness of Mercy, is always manifested in a female form reaching out to them.

The legend of Miao Shan goes like this:

Towards the end of the Chow Dynasty (around 3rd BC), in the Kingdom of Hsing Lin, there lived a king called Miao Chung. He had 3 daughters and they were Miao Ching, Miao Yin and Miao Shan is the youngest daughter. Before the birth of Miao Shan, Queen Po Ta had a strange dream in which she saw a heavenly pearl transforming into a fiery sun which then tumbled down and settled at her feet. When told of it, the king, in his wisdom, considered that as a celestial sign to be an excellent omen and he looked forward to having a male heir to his throne. However, to his great disappointment, a girl was born to to him. This was on the 19th day of the 2nd moon and she was named Miao Shan.

Miao Shan grew up to be a religious and virtuous girl unaffected by the attractions of worldly matters. What she yearned for was to have a quite retreat in the mountains where she could practice the perfection of her virtues. She longed to be able to bring relief to all the miserable beings on earth.

When his daughters were of marriageable age, the King found suitable husbands for them. While her sister accepted their marriages, Miao Shan steadfastly refused to marry and infuriated the father by choosing to retire to a nunnery called the White Sparrow.

Her father made several attempts to make temple-life unbearable to his fragile daughter so as to pursuade her to return to her palace.However, all his attempts failed for the little suffering was not going to deter one whose mind was set on cultivating the Buddha's path. In his anger, the King ordered that the nunnery be set on fire for such an infilial daughter deserved to be put to death. However, the fire was instandlty put out by an inundating shower which saved the lives of the princess and the few hundred nuns. The enraged King then decreed that Miao Shan be executed but the executor's sword, upon contacting the princess's neck, broke into smithereens! This so angered the King that he next order that his infilial daughter be strangled to death with a silken cord. As she was being strangled, the tutelery god appeared in the form of a great tiger, dispersed the crowd, and carried the inaniminate body into the forest.

Miao Shan's spirit descended into hell, but her sweetness and her purity of her prayers soon converted it from a place of great suffering to paradise. This alarmed the Registrar of the Living and the Dead who then hastily petitioned Yen Lo, the King of the Underworld, to order her removal declaring, "since it has been decreed that, in justice, there must be a heaven and hell, if Princess Miao Shan's soul is not sent back to the upper world, there will be no hell left, but only a heaven."

Her soul was then quickly transported back to her body which was lying under a pine tree. Upon returning to life, Buddha Amitabha appeared, and directed the princess to continue her practice of the perfection in a cave called Hsuan Ai, in the island of Pu-to.

For nine years she devoted herself to performing acts of merits and meditational practices and attained Buddhahood. It was in Pu-to Island that she acquired her two acolytes better known as Golden Youth and Jade Maiden.

In the meantime, King Miao Chung, who had displeasured the Jade Emperor, Supreme Ruler of Heaven, by his heinous crimes of burning a nunnery which nearly caused the loss of so many lives and the killing of so virtuous a maiden as Miao Shan, that the received the punishment of incurable disease, the only cure being an ointment made from the hands and eyes of a "Pu Tien Jen" or "One Who Is Never Angry". Aware of her father's plight due to her acquired spirited powers and out of compassion, Miao Shan freely despatched the healing parts of her body, which effected the recovery. In gratitude the King then sent a delegation whith his miniter to thant the kind donor only to find, to his great shock, that those precious gifts came from none other than the daughter that he killed. He was so overcome with remorce that he renounced his throne and accepted the Buddhist faith. Thus ended the legend of the "infilial" daughter who became the savour to her father, and to all mankind.


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