Previous Incarnations and Present Life: Wei Gao

Tian Xing Ed.

PureInsight | July 21, 2003

[Series note: People encounter and befriend one another because of predestined relationships. With that in mind, one cannot talk about predestined relationships without talking about reincarnation. In this series, we will introduce stories of incarnations from ancient Chinese historical books. Hopefully these stories will inspire us all to treat everyone we meet with kindness.]

[] Wei Gao was a high-ranking government official during the reign of Emperor De Zong (780 to 805 AD). When he was young, he traveled to Jiang Xia and stayed with the prefecture governor, Jiang, and his family. Governor Jiang had a son named Jiang Jingbao, who called Wei Gao elder brother but actually treated Wei Gao with the level of respect and courtesy generally reserved for his father's generation. One of Jingbao's maids was only ten years old when Wei Gao first arrived. Her name is Yu Xiao. Jingbao sent Yu Xiao to wait upon Wei Gao. Yu Xiao happily obliged. After two years, governor Jiang suggested Wei Gao travel to the nation's capital to seek a government position. However, Wei Gao's family could not afford the expense. Soon after that, Wei Gao moved from Governor Jiang's home to the Tou Tuo Temple.

After that, Jingbao often sent Yu Xiao to the Tou Tuo Temple to wait upon Wei Gao. As Yu Xiao entered puberty, the two formed a romantic relationship. During that time, Governor Jiang's fellow government official, Chen Changshi, received a letter from Wei Gao's uncle. The letter said: "My nephew, Wei Gao, has been residing in your prefecture for a long time. We sincerely hope that he will return home and pay a visit to his parents." After Chen Changshi read the letter, he arranged the travel expenses and all necessities for Wei Gao's trip home. Since he believed that Wei Gao might not wish to leave Yu Xiao behind, he shrewdly asked Jingbao to keep Yu Xiao from seeing Wei Gao off. As soon as Wei Gao's boat arrived to pick him up, Chen Chang urged the boatman to take off immediately. It was hard for Wei Gao to leave and he was in tears. While he was writing a letter to bid Jingbao goodbye before the boat took off, Jingbao and Yu Xiao unexpectedly arrived. They had rushed to see Wei Gao off. Wei Gao was overcome with both sorrow and joy. Jingbao asked Yu Xiao to leave with Wei Gao so as to wait upon him during the journey, but Wei Gao was not certain how long he would stay with his parents and he did not want to keep Yu Xiao away from her home for too long, so he decided that he couldn't take her with him. Wei Gao promised that in five to seven years, he would return and marry Yu Xiao. He left Yu Xiao a jade ring and a poem as token of his promise.

When Wei Gao did not return after five years,Yu Xiao prayed anxiously for his return. Wei Gao still did not return after two more years. In the spring of the eighth year, Yu Xiao sighed and said: "Wei Gao has been gone for seven years. I don't believe he will return!" Thereafter, she starved herself to death. In order to memorialize Yu Xiao's devotion to Wei Gao, Jiang's family buried her with the jade ring on her middle finger.

Later, Wei Gao was appointed as a mid-level government official with the rank of a nobleman. The emperor sent Wei Gao to govern a strategic location in Western Shu (today's Sichuan Province). The third day after he arrived at the new post, Wei Gao re-tried all prisoners to rectify any mistrials or injustices. Nearly three hundred prisoners with charges of various degrees of seriousness were tried again. One prisoner who was chained heavily looked at Wei Gao and murmured to himself: "The judge is brother Wei." Then he shouted: "Judge! Judge! Do you still remember Jingbao of the Jiang family?" Wei Gao replied: "The memory is still fresh in my mind." "I am Jingbao!" Wei Gao said: "What felony charge are you in jail for?" Jingbao answered: "After I parted with you, I quickly passed the Ming Jing category of the government official examination, and was appointed as the magistrate of Qing Cheng County. My family accidentally burned the government assigned home and the official seals of a government warehouse. They held me responsible for the loss and jailed me." Wei Gao decided: "You should not be responsible for the accident of your family." Wei Gao immediately released him from imprisonment and reinstated his official seal as the county magistrate. Wei Gao also reported the new verdict of the case to the prefecture governor. The prefecture governor replied to Wei Gao and asked him to retain Jingbao as a guest advisor temporarily before he could be returned to his original position.

Wei Gao was extremely busy with all kinds of reconstruction work after a war that had just ended. Therefore, he did not get a chance to ask about Yu Xiao until several months later. Jingbao told him: "The day you left for home, you promised to marry her within seven years. You did not return seven years later, so Yu Xiao starved herself to death. Before she died, Yu Xiao had written a poem titled, 'The Jade Ring As A Gift'. It says: "The siskin bird has migrated over several springs. You left the jade ring to a beautiful lady. You did not send me any letter via the Yang Zi River. Dreaming of you is the only relief I find for my lovesickness." After Wei Gao heard the poem, he felt sad and grieved deeply.

Since then, Wei Gao transcribed Buddhist scriptures diligently and comprehensively and repaired Buddha statues to repay Yu Xiao's devotion. Wei Gao thought of Yu Xiao continually, and regretted that he could not see Yu Xiao again. At the time, there was a man from Zu Mountain who had the ability to communicate with the dead, and having the deceased appear before their families. He asked Wei Gao to go on a vegetarian diet for seven days. Afterwards, on a night of dim moonlight, Yu Xiao's spirit appeared before Wei Gao. When she met Wei Gao, she greeted him and said: "Thanks to your tireless efforts of transcribing the Buddhist scriptures and repairing the statues of Buddha, I will re-incarnate as a baby girl in ten days. After sixteen years, I will again be your concubine to repay your great kindness." Just before she left, Yu Xiao smiled sadly and said: "Because you forgot about me, we are now in two different worlds!"

As Wei Gao rendered excellent service in Western Gansu Province, he remained there for over twenty years under Emperor De Zong's reign during the Tang Dynasty; Wei Gao continued to govern Western Shu (or today's Sichuan Province). Because of his outstanding work, Wei Gao was promoted several times and thus attained a high-level government post. While he was administering Western Shu, there was not a single region that did not pledge allegiance to him. All ethnic groups in the regions of the southwest pledged their allegiance to him.
One year, at his birthday party, Wei Gao noticed a young singer among the performers. She was about to turn 16, and was also named Yu Xiao. When Wei Gao took a close look at the young singer, he discovered that she looked just like Yu Xiao of the Jiang family. There was even a ring-shaped growth at the base of her middle finger, which resembled the shape of the jade ring he gave to Yu Xiao many years before they parted company.

Wei Gao sighed with deep feeling and said: "I now finally understand that life just means arrival and death means departure. Now I know why Yu Xiao said she could marry me sixteen years later."

[Notes: Wei Gao was also known as Wei Chengwu. He was born in the Jing Zhao period in the Wan Year of the Tang Dynasty. During the early years of the Zhen Yuan (785 AD) period, the conflicts amongst the minority groups in the South West region intensified, and war erupted. Many cities and territories in that region were conquered. Emperor De Zong decreed Wei Gao to be the government official in charge of Jian Nan Xi Chuan Region and responsible to settle the feuds amongst the minority groups. Wei Gao administered the region of Shu successfully.

Monk Hai Tong of Lin Yun Temple originally erected the giant statue of the Great Buddha of Le Shan, during the early years of Kai Yuan (713 AD) and during the reign of Emperor Xuan Zong. During the nineteenth year of Zhen Yuan (803 AD), and during the reign of Emperor Xuan Zong, Wei Gao had the giant Buddha statue completed. It took a total of 90 years to erect the giant statue of the Great Buddha of Le Shan.

Wei Gao's story became the subject in the popular musical titled, "The Lady Yu Xiao's Marriage in Two Lifetimes", during the Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1368 AD). It was also known as "Lady Yu Xiao". During the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911 AD), a female poet, Li Wen, memorialized the story in a poem: "What's on her mind cannot be settled; Yu Xiao could only dream." Another female poet, Qiu Jin, also wrote a poem, memorializing the story: "Yu Xiao is forever gone; Wei Gao becomes extremely melancholic."]

Source: A Collection of Bizarre Stories (or Taiping Guangji in Chinese)

Translated from:

Add new comment