An Allusion from History: A Buddhist Monk Feng Bo Upholds Righteousness

Shen Pan

PureInsight | February 17, 2003

[] During the Southern Song Dynasty of China there were two famous Buddhist monks. One was known as the "Crazy Monk" Ji Gong, the other, the "Mad Monk" Feng Bo. It is said that these two crazy monks became arhats. Both of them are worshipped and revered by many.

Feng Bo lived during the early years of the Southern Song Dynasty. He had wisdom and courage. He was renowned in China for his courageous act of "sweeping Qin's face with a broom."

Yue Fei was a heroic general, who fought against the Jin army that tried to invade and conquer China. The treacherous Prime Minister Qin Hui framed and imprisoned Yue Fei with fabricated charges. The legend has it that Qin Hui went to the famous Ling Yin Temple to seek divination that might tell him what to do with Yue Fei. There he met Feng Bo. Feng Bo confronted Qin Hui and his entourage, and laughed loudly. Feng Bo asked Qin Hui, "Cao Cao was once a big hero, but where is he today?" Qin Hui asked the purpose of the question. Feng Bo replied, "The principles of heaven are clear. Loyalty and treachery are self-evident. Goodness and evil will be met by reward or retribution. You, as the Prime Minister, hold a lot of power. Why do you want to murder a man who is as important to the country as a pillar to a house? Does the safety of the nation mean nothing to you?" Qin Hui asked, "Who is that pillar of the country?" Feng Bo answered seriously, "General Yue Fei!" The heartless Qin Hui seemed completely unaffected by his words. Feng Bo laughed loudly and said, "What a fool! Repent now before it is too late." Thereupon, Feng Bo abruptly picked up an old broom and brushed it against the face of the Prime Minister. Then he swaggered off and disappeared completely in a flash. Having been brushed on the face with a broom, Qin Hui left the temple, looking defeated and embarrassed. This is the famous story of "the mad monk sweeping Qin out of the temple."

After the story became well known, the populace felt that the mad monk embodied their respect and love for Yue Fei, as well as their desire to punish the wicked Prime Minister. Therefore, the populace promoted the righteous "mad monk" to the rank of arhat. The statues of the crazy and mad monks of the Southern Song Dynasty were often seen in various temples, making an interesting contrast with each other.

At the Da Xiong Temple Hall of Zhan Tan Forest on the Jiu Hua Mountain, there are two statues. One is of the statue of monk Ji Gong in the form of a deity; the other, monk Feng Bo with a broom under his left armpit and a duster in hand, ready to give the wicked Qin another sweep.

[According to the legend,] At any place where people congregated, even if the floor was extremely clean, Feng Bo would brandish the whiskbroom to sweep the floor, declaring that he was "sweeping Qin" in order to constantly remind people of joining forces to eliminate the traitor.

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