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Xuan Zhang's Mission to the West with Monkey King

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Item Code: NAM510
Author: Rama B. Bhat
Publisher: Aditya Prakashan
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788177421330
Pages: 783
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.5 inch X 8.5 inch
Weight 2 kg
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Book Description
About the Book

A monkey was conceived inside a huge stone egg. He found a teacher who taught the Monkey King the "72 transformations" with which he could change his shape and size at will. Monkey acquired the powers of cloud travelling, on a special somersault cloud using which he could travel on earth and Heaven with incredible speed. The teacher gave him the name Sun Wukong, which meant monkey who is aware of his emptiness.

Sun Wukong became arrogant and defied Heaven and Hell. The Jade Emperor appealed to the Buddha who kept Sun Wukong imprisoned under the Five Elements Mountain and Sun Wukon remained there for five hundred years.

Five hundred years thereafter, baby Xuan Zhang was born in captivity, and his mother put him in a boat and let it float down the river. The baby was rescued by the Chief Priest of a Buddhist Monastery down the river. Xuan Zhang acquired mastery in Buddhist scriptures.

King Taizong had to spend a brief time in Hell where he witnessed the suffering of the souls who were wrongfully sent to Hell. Taizong decided to perform a "Great Mass" to free all those souls upon his return to earth. He recruited Xuan Zhang to perform the Great Mass.

Bodhisattva Guanyin told Emperor Taizong to commission somebody to fetch the true scriptures from the West, i.e. from India. Emperor Taizong recruited Master Xuan Zhang to the task. Xuan Zhang was accompanied by Sun Wukong, the Pig or Zhu Bajie, and the demon of the Flowing Sands River, Sha Wujing, on this epic journey. The encounter countless demons and spirits who impeded their mission. Finally they accomplished their mission and returned safely to China with the scriptures.

The story has many similarities with Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. This inspired the author to rewrite the story pointing out the similarities with Indian epics. The Original story is in Chinese and the English translation by Arthur Waley has been taken as the main reference for this narration, although other references mentioned in the References sections have been of great help.

About the Author

Rama Bhat is a Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He served as the Chair of the department, Associate Dean in the Faculty and Vice Provost in the University. In addition to research on Vibrations and Acoustics, teaching and supervision of graduate student research, he has published 3 text books in engineering, and is a published poet in Kannada, an Indian language.

He wrote a book on "Divine Anjaneya" in order to introduce Anjaneya to the Chinese people. It is the author's intention to introduce the character of Sun Wukong in this story, "Xuan Zhang's Mission to the West with Monkey King", to the Indian people and show the historical ties between the great peoples of China and India.


In April of 2001, I attended a conference in Nanjing in China along with my colleague and good friend, Dr. Mingyuvan Chen. Before going to Nanjing we spent a few days in Beijing, visited the Great Wall of China and went around Beijing. When we reached Nanjing, I expressed my desire to visit a rural farm to Ming. He arranged for us to visit a small island on the Yangtze river. We spent a whole day in that small island which was like a farming village. We visited the farms there and I enjoyed pedaling a water-lifting device in one of the farms. I was born and brought up in a small village in the state of Kerala in India, and could relate to the life of the farming community there. Mingyuan had spent a few years working in a village farm in China in his youth and both of us had a good time in that island.

In the hotel in Nanjing that evening, I asked Ming to suggest a Chinese mythology book to me. He recommended "Journey to the West" I thought the term "west" referred to Europe, since I had learnt in high school history classes about Marco Polo, who was one of the first chroniclers of travel to China. But Ming told me that this title actually alluded to India, which is geographically located to the west of China. "Journey to the West" narrates the Story of a Chinese Buddhist priest, Xuan Zhang, or San Zhang, who came to India to collect Buddhist scriptures. In Nanjing, I bought the three volumes of the English translation of the Journey to the West by W.J.F. Jenner.

Upon my return to Montreal, I read all three volumes of "Journey to the West". The story is about the celebrated monkey character, Sun Wukong who accompanied the Buddhist priest, San Zhang in his journey to India. He protected San Zhang when monsters and evil spirits tried to kill r lure San Zhang against making the arduous journey to India. Sun Wukong's origins are bizarre. He was born from a huge rock and was quite hyperactive and mischievous right from his childhood. He learns all there is to learn and could transform himself into forms of any size, could each the heights of heaven and the depths of rivers with ease, and could fight any evil demon and spirit. Sun Wukong helped San Zhang on his journey to the west.

Sun Wukong is a figure very similar to Anjaneya in Indian mythology. Anjaneya is the loyal monkey friend of Lord Rama, a god incarnation in Indian mythology. Just like Sun Wukong, Anjaneya was very mischievous as a child and learnt everything from the Sun God. Later, he meets Rama and helps Rama find his consort, who was abducted by the evil Ravana.

After reading Journey to the West, I wanted to introduce Anjaneya to China and at the same time introduce Sun Wukong to India. I wrote the story of Anjaneya in English to have it translated into Chinese eventually. After that project, I started writing the Story of Sun Wukong. I adapted the W.J.F. Jenner translation mainly although I had referred to Collinson Fair adaptation of Jenner's book also.

Another good friend and colleague, Dr. Chun-Yi Su, and I traveled together to India to attend a symposium in Aligarh Muslim University in 2003. I took him around Agra and New Delhi. Chun Yi enjoyed the Taj Mahal in Agra very much. I thank Chun Yi for his help in having the book on Anjaneya translated into Chinese language.

I thank my sister, Parvathi G. Aithal, who read the whole manuscript and gave many suggestions which has improved the manuscript considerably.


Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda in southern Xi'an, in the Shaanxi province of China. The original pagoda was built during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of Tang (649-683 AD), then standing at a height of 54 m. It was built of rammed earth with a stone exterior facade which eventually collapsed five decades later. The ruling Empress at that time, Wu Zetian, had the pagoda rebuilt adding five new stories by the year 704 AD, making it ten stories high. However, a massive earthquake in 1556 heavily damaged the pagoda and reduced it to its current height of seven stories. The entire structure leans by several degrees to the West. Its related structure, the 8th century Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an, only suffered minor damage in the 1556 earthquake and it is still unrepaired to this day. The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was extensively repaired during the Ming Dynasty 0368-1644) and renovated again in 1964. The pagoda currently stands at a height of 64 m tall and from the top it offers views over the current city of Xi'an. The pagoda houses sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist missionary, Xuan Zang.

Close by the pagoda is the Temple of Great Maternal Grace, Da Ci'en. This temple was originally built in AD 589 and then rebuilt AD 647 in memory of his mother Empress Wende by Li Zhi who later became the Tang Emperor Gaozong. The statue of Xuan Zang, a well- known monk in the Tang Dynasty, stands at the South Square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian.

Xuan Zhang was a great contributor to the Buddhist cultural exchanges between India and China. The Tang Emperor commissioned hundreds of renowned scholars and Buddhist monks to help Xuan Zang to translate the Buddhist scriptures that he had brought back from India. Xuan Zang stayed in the temple for 12 years and translated 1,335 volumes of Buddhist scriptures. Emperor Tai Zong of the Great Tang Dynasty himself wrote an Introduction to the Sacred Teachings of Monk Tripitaka, as Xuan Zhang was called. It was followed by Crown Prince Li Zhi's notes on 'An Introduction to the Sacred Teachings of Monk Tripitaka'.

In 652 AD Xuanzang proposed to the court for a pagoda to be built inside the temple, in order to store the scriptures and statues that he had brought back from India. The Emperor readily agreed, and raised funds. Xuan Zang designed the pagoda and also took part in the manual labour.

There is an interesting story about the name of the pagoda. It was said that Xuan Zhang stayed in the Mahayana Temple in India during his travels there. There are two major ects of Buddhism in India, the Mahayana and the Hinayana. The Mahayana believers are vegetarians while the followers of the Hinayana are non-vegetarians. Ear the temple where Xuan Zhang was staying, there was a Hinayana Temple. One day a monk was worried about the shortage of meat in his temple. It just so happened that that day happened to be the General Alms Day of the Buddha. The monk looked up at the sky and sighed: "He the Great and Merciful Buddha will never let us go without meat today!" At these words, a flock of wild geese flew over the temple. The head goose dropped dead to the ground. The monks were all puzzled by this, and they concluded that this must be Buddha's work, to provide them with the wild goose. Ever since then the monks of that temple converted into vegetarians and began to believe in Mahayana. They also set up a pagoda at the place where the wild goose dropped dead, and called it the Wild Goose Pagoda. The pagoda was modeled after the one in India. It was given the same name in memory of Xuan Zhang in praise of Buddhism.


  Prologue - From the beginning  
1 The Mysterious Birth of Sun Wukong 1
2 Monkey King Returns to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit 6
3 Jade Emperor Invites Monkey King to Heaven 14
4 The Great Sage Equaling Heaven - A new Title 23
5 Monkey Steals Peaches and the Pills of Refined Elixir 30
6 The Great Sage Monkey is Subdued by the Little Sage 37
7 Imprisonment Under the Five Elements Mountain 45
8 Search for the Person to Fetch the Scriptures 50
9 The Monk of the River Current 56
10 Tang Emperor Taizong Goes to Hell 65
11 Taizong Returns from the Underworld with Prolonged Life 72
12 The Bodhisattva Guanyin Appears to the Reincarnated Golden Cicada 77
13 Sanzang is Saved by the Planet Venus 85
14 Sun Wukong is Released from under the Double Boundary Mountain 92
15 The Dragon-Horse Joins Sanzang in the Eagle's Sorrow Gorge 101
16 Monster of Black Wind Mountain Steals Sanzang's Cassock 109
17 Monkey Fights Monster of Black Wind Mountain 116
18 The Great Sage Removes a Monster from Gao Village 123
19 Monkey Wins over Pig In the Cloud Pathway Cave 129
20 Sanzang Meets Trouble on the Yellow Wind Ridge 135
21 The Bodhisattva Lingji Subdues the Wind Devil 141
22 Friar Sand of the Flowing Sands River Joins Sanzang 148
23 The Piety of the Pilgrims Tested 154
24 Monkey Steals Manfruit in Wuzhuang Temple 161
25 Monkey Creates Havoc in Wuzhuang Temple 167
26 Guanyin Revives Manfruit Tree 174
27 Sanzang Dismisses Monkey 180
28 Sanzang Encounters a Monster in Black Pine Forest 186
29 The Third Princess of the Land of Elephantia 192
30 Monkey Refuses to Rescue Sanzang 198
31 Monkey Subdues the Ogre and Saves Jade Maiden in the Hall of Incense 206
32 Pig Runs into Trouble In Lotus Flower Cave 216
33 True Martial God Lends his Black Vulture Banner to Subdue Demons of Lotus Flower Cave 223
34 Monkey Tricks the Demons Kings with Imitation Gourds 232
35 Monkey Returns Lord Lao Zi's Treasures After Subduing the Demon Kings 241
36 Pilgrims at the Precious Wood Monastery 247
37 The Quanzen Wizard Tricks the King of Wuji 254
38 The Body of King of Wuji Was Recovered from the Palace Garden Well 262
39 The Monarch Is Revived After Three Years 269
40 The Demon King of Fire Cloud Cave 278
41 Red Boy Demon Gives a Banquet at Fire cloud Cave with Sanzang as a Dish 287
42 The Bodhisattva Guanyin Subdues the Red Boy 295
43 The Monster of the Black River Capsizes Sanzang's Boat 304
44 The Three Pure Ones in the Deep Wisdom Monastery 313
45 The Three Pure Ones Tangle with Monkey in Tarrycart 322
46 The Three Pure Ones Meet their Fate 332
47 Monkey Rescues a Child in the River of Heaven 342
48 Sanzang Walks on Ice 'and is Captured by the Great King of Western Liang 351
49 Sanzang is Saved by Guanyin's Fish Basket 358
50 Sanzang Captured by Demon of Jindou Cave 365
51 Monkey Tries in Vain to Subdue the Demon of the Jindou Cave 372
52 The Monster of the Jindou Cave Surrenders to Lord Lao Zi 380
53 Sanzang and Pig Conceive Devil Foetuses 388
54 In the Womanland of Western Liang the Queen Desires to Wed Sanzang 396
55 Sanzang Resists Temptation Unharmed 405
56 Monkey Kills the Bandits and is Dismissed Again by Sanzang 414
57 The False Monkey King Gets Monkey into Trouble 424
58 The False Monkey is Exposed by the Tathagata 434
59 Fiery Mountains Block Sanzang's Way 438
60 Monkey Tries to Borrow the Plantain Fan to Put Out the Fire in the Fiery Mountain 446
61 Monkey is Successful in his Third Attempt to Borrow the Fan 453
62 Sanzang Sweeps the Pagoda in the Golden Light Monastery 460
63 With Help from Lord Erlang Monkey Recovers the Treasure from the Nine-Headed Monster 468
64 Sanzang Composes Poetry to the Trees in the Wood Immortals' Hermitage 476
65 The Pilgrims are Duped with a False Thunder Peak 482
66 Maitreya Subdues the Evil Monster 490
67 Pig Cleans the Runny Persimmon Lane with his Snout 498
68 Monkey Becomes a Doctor and Treats the King of Purpuria 506
69 Monkey's Golden Elixir Medicine Cures the King of Purpuria 515
70 Monkey Tricks the Demon to Get the Golden Bells by Deceit 524
71 The Bodhisattva Guanyin Subdues the Demon King 533
72 Sanzang is Trapped at the Filth-Cleansing Spring 542
73 The Bodhisattva Vairambha Subdues the Spider Devils 551
74 The Three Demon Chieftains at the Lion Ridge 561
75 Monkey Bores a Hole in the Male and Female Jar 569
76 The Mother of Wood Brings Monsters to the Truth 578
77 The Tathagata Buddha Subdues the Great Roe 588
78 The Elder of the Nation is an Evil Spirit in the Bhiksuland 599
79 Monkey Saves the Little Boys in Bhiksuland 607
80 At the Sea Guarding Monastery of Meditation 614
81 A Monster in the Monastery and the Search for Sanzang in the Black Pine Forest 622
82 Monkey Gets into the Evil Devil's Stomach and Subdues Her 629
83 The Heavenly King Li Helps to Subdue the Evil Spirit 637
84 The King of Dharmadestructia Converts to Buddhism 646
85 The Demon Chief Plans to Devour Sanzang 654
86 The Mother of Wood and the Metal Lord Help Monkey to Wipe out the Monsters 663
87 The Heaven Stops the Rain in Fenfxian and Monkey Urges Goodness to Bring Rains 672 672
88 The Princes of Yuhua Learn Magic from Sanzang's Disciples 680
89 The Tawny Lion Spirit Organizes a Rake Feast 686
90 At the Ninebend Twisry Cave on Mount Bamboo 693
91 The Moon Festival of Lanterns in Jinping 700
92 Four Stars Seize the Rhinoceros Monsters on Green Dragon Mountain 707
93 At the Court of India the King Receives the Pilgrims 715
94 Sanzangand His Disciples Dine in the Palace Gardens 723
95 The Jade Hare is Captured and the Princess is Rescued 729
96 Squire Kou Entertains Sanzang and His Disciples 736
97 Sanzang and His Disciples Are Vindicated 743
98 The Mission Is Completed 752
99 Nine Nines Are Completed and the Triple Threes Are Fulfilled 758
100 The Return Journey to the East and the Five Immortals Achieve Nirvana 763
Sample Pages

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