Stories from Buddhism: Bukong

Mu Mu

PureInsight | May 31, 2007

[] Shi Bukong's
name in Sanskrit is Amoghavajra, meaning Vajra, or diamond. He was born
into a Brahman family in Northern India. His parents died when he was
young, so he traveled with his uncle to many places. Bukong became
Varjabodhi's disciple when he was fifteen and began to study the
Buddhist sutras in the Sanskrit language. When he had mastered them, he
and his fellow practitioners, Sheguang, Huibian and others, a total of
21 people, traveled on a merchants' ship to go to China through the
South China Sea.

When the ship got to the boarder of Helin (today known as Java Island, an island belonging to Indonesia - Translator),
they encountered a heavy storm. The merchants got very scared and all
began to recite incantations from their home countries. But none of
them had any effect. They all knelt down and worshiped Heaven, and
asked for blessings. Huibian and other monks also begin to cry. Bukong
said: "I have the sutras. You all don't need to worry." He then stood
in the front of the ship, with five-tasselled Bodhi vajra (at one time a type of weapon in India; later a Buddhist instrument - Translator)
in his right hand, the Heart Sutra in his left hand, and recited the
Mahapratisara for a while. Soon the storm stopped. After some time,
some extremely big whales floated to the surface of the water and blew
out water as high as the mountains. That situation was even more
dangerous than the storm. The merchants begged Bukong to use his
powers. Bukong told Huibian to recite the Shajie Dragen King Sutra and
soon the whales disappeared.

When the ship reached the Country of Lions (or Simhalauipa in Sanskirt - Translator),
near today's Sri Lanka, the king sent people to welcome Bukong and did
all he could to provide Bukong with food and everything needed. One
day, the king held an exhibition of elephants fighting each other.
Suddenly, the elephants went crazy and started dashing around madly on
the street. Everyone stood far away and was afraid of coming closer.
Bukong stood on the street and, while doing hand signs, muttered
incantations. The elephants began to act as if they were drunk and fell
on the ground on top of one another. The people in the whole country
were shocked, and called Bukong a god-like human.

Bukong and the group then went to India. Signs of fortune appeared many
times. In the fifth year of Tianbao (746 A.D.) Bukong got to Chang'an (today's Xi'an City - Translator),
which was the capital of China back then. It was in the middle of a
great drought and there was absolutely no rain. The Tang Emperor
Xuanzong sent out an imperial decree that ordered Bukong to pray for
rain. He also demanded that it had to be very soon and, also, the
amount had to be exactly right. Bukong built a prayer altar. He went
over to it and rotated the "divine wooden beads" as he recited
incantations. Within three days, the rains came, right on time. Tang
Emperor Xuanzong was very happy and awarded him a purple cassock. But
the next day very strong wind started to blow. The Emperor again sent
out an imperial decree, asking Bukong to stop the wind. Bukong put a
silver bottle on top of the altar and then used special ways to
strength the power. The wind stopped blowing very soon. Suddenly a
goose ran in and knocked the bottle down. The wind started blowing
again. Bukong held the bottle up and the wind stopped again. Emperor
Xuanzong thus granted Bukong the name of "Zhi-Zang" (Zhi means "wisdom" and Zang is a general term for Buddhism scriptures - Translator).

In the eighth year of Tianbao (749 A.D.), Emperor Xuanzong gave Bukong
permission to return to his home country. But when Bukong was about to
get on a ship in Nanhai Province (Nanhai - South Sea. Nanhai Province is near today's Guangzhou City - Translator),
there was an imperial decree asking him to stay. During the first year
of Zhide (756 A.D.), Emperor Xuanzhong was taking refuge at Lingwu (today's Lingwu City, Ningxia Province - Translator) and Fengxiang (today near Dali autonomous district, Ningxia Province - Translator),
Bukong followed and protected him. Emperor Suzong also sent messengers
to ask Bukong about matters that were of concern to him.

After the Incident of An and Shi, Emperor Suzong ascended the throne
and Emperor Daizong after him. Both emperors treated Bukong very
politely. During the period of Emperor Daizong, there was another long
drought and Bukong was again asked to pray for rain. The Emperor also
said: "If it rains within three days, it is the monk's supernatural
power; if it rains only after three days, then it is just due to
nature's spontaneous reasons." Bukong accepted the imperial decree and
built an altar. It rained heavily the next day.

Another year passed and there was a great drought again. A government
official from the capital Xiao Xin came to visit Bukong and asked him
whether he could set up an altar to pray for rain. Bukong led his
disciple to get a piece of birch bark. It was about a foot long. Bukong
drew a little dragon on it, and put the bark in front of an incense
burner and a water container. Bukong recited incantations toward the
dragon. After about the time of a meal, Bukong gave the bark to Xiao
Xi, telling him to throw it into the Qu River and then immediately come
back. Xiao Xin did it according to the instructions. Soon after he
threw the bark into the river, a one-foot long white dragon flew out of
the water and soon enlarged to over ten meters. Xiao Xi was riding his
horse back and after his horse took only a few dozen steps, the sky
became very dark and it started to rain very heavily.

There was an enormous snake on Beimang Mountain. Woodchoppers often saw
it. The snake's head was as large as a small hill and it often came
outside at night to breathe the air evaporated from the drew. One time,
it turned into human form and came to see Bukong. It said: "I received
negative retribution. Could you please save me? Otherwise I will flood
the Luoyang City to pacify my hatred." Bukong initiated monkhood for
him and taught him the principle of cause and effect. Bukong told him:
"You received this retribution because your hatred is too strong,. If
you still don't reduce your hatred now, I can't help you at all. You
must give up this body." Several days later, some woodchopper found the
enormous snake dead in a cave. People smelled it from miles away.

During the years of Yongqin (765-766 A.D.), one day. after showering,
Bukong laid down with his head pointing east, and passed away in a
Buddhist posture. After his body was burned, his disciple got several
hundred relics (or sarīra in Sanskrit). His skull would not burn and there was big relic inside, which would only show up from time to time.

From the Legends of Holy Monks, volume 8

Translated from:

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