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Chapter 87

When Heaven Is Offended in Fengxian It Stops the Rain

The Great Sage Urges Goodness and Brings a Downpour

Deep and mysterious is the Great Way;

What news is there of it?

When revealed it will alarm ghosts and divine beings.

It controls the universe,

Divides darkness and light;

In the world of true happiness there is no competition.

Before the Vulture Peak

Pearls and jewels emerge,

Shining with every color.

It illuminates all beings that live between heaven and earth;

Those who understand it live as long as mountains and seas.

The story tells how Sanzang and his three disciples took their leave of the woodcutter on the Hidden Clouds Mountain and hurried along the main road. After they had been going for several days they suddenly saw a walled and moated city not far before them.

Wukong, said Sanzang, is that city ahead of us India, do you think?

No, no, said Monkey shaking his head. Although the Tathagata lives in a paradise there are no cities there. It's a great mountain, Vulture Peak, on which are the high buildings and halls of Thunder Monastery. Even if we've now reached the land of India this isn't where the Buddha lives. I don't know how far India is from Vulture Peak. Presumably this city is one of the frontier prefectures of India. We'll know when we get there.

Soon they were outside the city, where Sanzang dismounted to go in through the triple gates. Here they found the people destitute and the streets deserted. When they reached the market there were many black-clad government servants lined up on either side of a number of officials wearing their hats and sashes of office and standing under the eaves of a building. As the four travelers came along the road these men did not give way at all, so Pig in his rough way raised his snout and shouted, Out of the way! Out of the way!

When the men looked up with a start and saw what he looked like their bones went soft, their sinews turned numb and they fell over, shouting, Evil spirits! Evil spirits!

This gave the officials standing under the eaves such a fright that they were shivering as they bowed and asked, Where are you from?

Sanzang, who was worried that his disciples would cause trouble, pushed himself forward and said to the men, I am a monk sent by His Majesty the Great Tang emperor to worship the Lord Buddha and fetch the scriptures in the Great Thunder Monastery in the land of India. Our journey brings us to this distinguished place, but as we do not know its name and have not yet found a place to stay we hope that you gentlemen will forgive us if we have caused any offence to your customs on entering your city.

Only then did the officials return his courtesy and say, This is the prefecture of Fengxian, one of the frontier prefectures of India. Because we have been suffering from drought for years on end the marquis has sent us to put up a notice here calling for masters of the Dharma to pray for rain and save the people.

Where's the notice? asked Monkey when he heard this.

Here, the officials said. The arcade has only just been swept clean: we haven't posted it yet.

Bring it here and show me, said Brother Monkey. The officials then opened the notice out and hung it up under the eaves. Monkey and the others went up to read it, and this was what was written on it:

Shangguan, Marquis of Fengxian Prefecture in Great India, issues this notice to invite enlightened teachers and great masters of the Dharma. This country with its prosperous soldiers and people has been afflicted with drought for years. Military and civil land alike has been devastated; the rivers have dried up and the ditches are empty. There is no water in the wells, and the springs have stopped flowing. While the rich are barely managing to stay alive, the poor cannot survive. A bushel of wheat costs a hundred pieces of silver; a bundle of firewood costs five ounces. Girls of ten are being sold for three pints of rice; boys of five are being given to whoever will take them. Because the city dwellers fear the law they pawn their clothes to buy the necessities for survival; but in the countryside thugs rob and eat people in order to live. I have therefore issued this notice in the hope that wise and worthy men from all around will pray for rain to save the people. The will be richly rewarded for their kindness with a thousand pieces of silver. This is no empty promise. Let those who would take it up come to this notice.

When he had read it Monkey asked the officials, What's Shangguan?

Shangguan is our marquis' surname, they replied.

It's a very rare surname, said Monkey with a laugh.

You've never been to school, brother, said Pig. There's a bit at the end of the book The Hundred Surnames that goes 'Ouyang and Shangguan.'

Stop this idle chatter, disciples, said Sanzang. If any of you know how to pray for rain, bring them a fall of timely rain and save the people from this affliction: that would be a very good thing indeed to do. If you cannot, we must be on our way and waste no more time.

What's so difficult about praying for rain? Monkey asked. I can turn rivers upside down, stir up the sea, move the stars and constellations about, kick the sky, churn up water in wells, breathe out mist and clouds, carry mountains, drive the moon along and summon wind and rain. They're all child's play. Nothing to them!

When the officials heard this they sent two of their number straight to the prefectural offices to report, Your Excellency, something very splendid indeed has happened.

The marquis, who was burning incense and praying silently at the time, asked what it was when he heard that something splendid had happened. We were taking the notice to post at the entrance to the market, the officials replied, when four monks came along who said that they have been sent by the Great Tang in the East to the Great Thunder Monastery in India to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. As soon as they read the notice they said they could bring timely rain, which is why we have come here to report.

Refusing to take a sedan-chair, horse or large retinue, the marquis went on foot in his robes of office straight to the entrance to the market in order to invite the strangers with the utmost courtesy to pray for rain.

His Excellency the marquis is here, it was suddenly announced, and everybody moved out of the way.

As soon as he saw the Tang Priest the marquis, who showed no fear of his hideous disciples, prostrated himself in the middle of the street and said, I am Marquis Shangguan of Fengxian Prefecture, and I have bathed and perfumed myself in order to beg you teachers to pray for the rain that will save the people. I implore you in your great mercy to give play to your divine powers and bring us deliverance.

Returning his courtesies, Sanzang said, This is no place to talk. We will be able to act when we have gone to a monastery.

Please come with me to my humble palace, the marquis replied. We have a pure place there.

Master and disciples then led the horse and carried the luggage straight to the palace, where they all exchanged greetings and the marquis ordered tea and a vegetarian meal. When the food arrived a little later Pig ate for all he was worth like a hungry tiger, terrifying the waiters, who trembled as they kept coming and going with more and more soup and rice. They looked like the figures on one of those revolving lanterns, and they could just keep him supplied until he had eaten his fill. Only then did he stop.

When the meal was over the Tang Priest expressed his thanks then asked, How long has the drought lasted here, Your Excellency? To this the marquis replied,

This is a part of the great land of India,

Fengxian Prefecture of which I am governor.

For three years on end we have suffered from drought:

Grass does not grow, and the grain has all died.

Business is hard for rich and for poor;

Nearly all of the families are weeping with grief.

Two thirds of the people have now died of starvation;

The rest barely survive, like a candle flame in the wind.

I have issued a notice for worthies

And am lucky you monks have come to our land.

If you bring the people a whole inch of rain

A thousand in silver will be your reward.

When Monkey heard this his face showed his pleasure as he chuckled, Don't say that, don't say that. If you promise us a reward of a thousand pieces of silver you won't get a single drop of rain. But if you put it in terms of accumulating merit I'll provide you with plenty of rain.

The marquis, a thoroughly upright and good man who cared deeply for his people, invited Monkey to take the seat of honour, then bowed to him and said, Teacher, if you really can show us this great compassion this humble official will do nothing to offend against morality.

Please get up, said Monkey, only look after my master well while I do the job.

How are you going to do it, brother? asked Friar Sand.

You and Pig are to must come here and be my assistants outside while I summon a dragon to make rain, Monkey replied. Pig and Friar Sand did as he bade them, and while the three of them went outside the marquis burned incense and prayed. Sanzang sat there reciting sutras.

While Monkey recited the spell and said the magic words a dark cloud appeared to the East and slowly moved till it was in front of the hall: it was Ao Guang, the ancient dragon of the Eastern Sea. Ao Guang then put away his cloud feet and turned himself into human form to go up to Monkey, bow low to him with full courtesy and ask, What have you sent for this humble dragon to do, Great Sage?

Please rise, Monkey replied. The only reason why I have troubled you to make this long journey is because there has been a drought in this prefecture of Fengxian for years on end. I'd like to ask you if you couldn't send some rain.

I must inform you, Great Sage, the dragon replied, that although I can make rain I can only act on the orders of Heaven. I would never dare come here to make rain on my own authority without Heaven's instructions.

As our journey brought us this way I asked you specially to come here to make rain and save the people, said Monkey, so why are you trying to get out of it?

I'd never dare, the dragon king replied. I came because you summoned me with the magic words, Great Sage, and I'd never dare try to get out of it. In the first place I haven't had an edict from Heaven, and secondly I haven't brought the magic rain-making generals with me. How could I, Great Sage? If you wish to be a savior, you must let me go back to the sea to muster my forces while you go to the heavenly palace to obtain an imperial edict for a fall of rain and ask the officials in charge of water to release us dragons, so that I can make rain in the quantities ordered.

Accepting the force of his argument, Brother Monkey had to let the old dragon go back to the sea. He then told the Tang Priest what the dragon king had said.

In that case you had better go and do that, the Tang Priest said. But don't be telling lies.

Monkey then told Pig and Friar Sand to look after the master while he went up to the heavenly palace. No sooner had the splendid Great Sage said he was going than he was out of sight.

Where has Lord Sun gone? the marquis asked, trembling with shock.

He's gone up to Heaven on a cloud, replied Pig with a grin. With great reverence the marquis then issued an urgent order that all the people in the big and little streets of the city, whether nobility, high officials, gentry, commoners, soldiers or civilians, were to worship dragon-king tablets and set out water urns with sprigs of willow in them in front of their gates. They were also to burn incense and pray to Heaven.

Once on his somersault cloud Monkey went straight to the Western Gate of Heaven, where the Heavenly King Lokapala soon appeared at the head of his heavenly soldiers and warriors to greet him and say, Great Sage, have you fetched the scriptures yet?

Quite soon now, Monkey replied. We've reached a frontier prefecture called Fengxian on the borders of India now. It hasn't rained for three whole years there, and the people are suffering terribly. I want to pray for rain to save them. I sent for the dragon king, but he told me that he couldn't do it on his own authority without a heavenly order, which is why I've come to see the Jade Emperor to request an edict.

I don't think it's supposed to rain there, the heavenly king said. I heard just now that the marquis of Fengxian had behaved disgracefully and offended both Heaven and Earth. His Majesty took it badly and immediately had a rice mountain, a flour mountain and a huge gold lock set up. It won't rain till all three have been knocked over or snapped. Not understanding what all this was about, Monkey demanded to see the Jade Emperor, and, not daring to stop him, the heavenly king let him in.

Going straight to the Hall of Universal Brightness, Brother Monkey was met by the four heavenly teachers, who asked, What are you here for, Great Sage?

On my journey escorting the Tang Priest I've reached Fengxian Prefecture on the frontiers of India, where there is a drought, Monkey replied. The marquis there has been asking for magicians to pray for rain. I sent for the dragon king to order him to make rain, but he said that he could not do so on his own authority without an edict from the Jade Emperor. I have now come to request an edict in order to relieve the people's suffering.

But it's not supposed to rain there, said the four heavenly teachers.

As to whether it's supposed to rain or not, said Monkey with a smile, could I trouble you to take me in to submit a memorial so that I can find out whether I can still get a favour done?

To this the heavenly teacher Ge Xianweng replied, As the saying goes, 'a fly that needs a net for a veil-what a nerve!'

Don't talk nonsense, said Xu of Jingyang. Just take him in.

Qiu Hongji, Zhang Daoling, Ge and Xu took Monkey to the outside of the Hall of Miraculous Mist, where they reported, Your Majesty, Sun Wukong has reached Fengxian Prefecture in India and wants to obtain rain. He has come to ask for an edict.

Three years ago, the Jade Emperor replied, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, when we were inspecting the myriad heavens and travelling through the three worlds, we arrived at his city. We saw that Shangguan was most wicked; he knocked over the vegetarian offerings to heaven to feed to dogs, spoke foully, and was guilty of lese-majeste. That is why we set up those three things in the Hall of Fragrance. Take Sun Wukong to see them. When those three things have been accomplished we will issue our edict; but if they are not, then do not meddle in what does not concern you.

When the four heavenly teachers led Brother Monkey to the Hall of Fragrance he saw a mountain of rice about a hundred feet high and a mountain of flour about two hundred feet high. Beside the rice mountain was a chicken the size of a fist eating the rice, sometimes with quick pecks, sometimes with slow ones. Beside the flour mountain was a golden-haired Pekinese licking the flour, sometimes with long licks and sometimes with short ones. To the left of it a golden padlock about one foot three or four inches long hung from an iron frame. The crossbar of the lock was about the thickness of a finger, and under it was a lamp, the flame of which was heating the bar.

Not understanding what all this was about, Monkey turned back to ask the heavenly teachers, What does it mean?

When that wretch offended Heaven the Jade Emperor had these three things set up, the heavenly teachers replied. That place will only be due for rain when the chicken has eaten all the rice, the dog has licked up all the flour, and the lamp has melted the bar of the lock.

When Monkey heard this he went pale with shock, and he dared make no more memorials to the throne. He left the palace hall overcome with embarrassment. Don't take it so badly, Great Sage, said the four heavenly teachers with smiles. This is something that can be resolved through goodness. Once a single kind thought moves Heaven the rice and flour mountains will collapse and the bar of the padlock will be broken. If you can persuade the marquis to return to goodness then blessings will come of themselves.

Monkey accepted their advice, and instead of going back to the Hall of Miraculous Mist to take his leave of the Jade Emperor he headed straight down to the lower world and its ordinary mortals. Within an instant he was at the Western Gate of Heaven, where he saw Heavenly King Lokapala again, who asked, Did you get the decree you wanted? Monkey told him about the rice and flour mountains and the metal lock.

What you said to me was quire right, he continued. The Jade Emperor refuses to issue a decree. Just now the heavenly teachers told me as they saw me off that the secret of blessings lay in persuading that so-and-so to return to goodness. With that Monkey took his leave and went down to the lower world on his cloud.

When the marquis, Sanzang, Pig, Friar Sand and the officials high and low all welcomed him back they crowded round him asking questions. Monkey then shouted at the marquis, It's all because on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month three years ago you offended Heaven and Earth that the people are suffering, you wretch. That's why rain won't be sent now.

At this the marquis was so alarmed that he fell to his knees, prostrated himself on the ground and asked, How do you know about what happened three years ago, teacher?

Why did you knock the vegetarian offerings to Heaven over to feed to dogs? said Monkey, You'd better tell me the truth.

Not daring to conceal anything, the marquis said, On the twenty-fifth of the twelfth month three years ago I was making offerings to Heaven within the palace. As my wife was wicked we quarreled and said bad things to each other. In an unthinking outburst of fury I knocked over the table with the offerings and scattered the vegetarian food. It's true that I called the dogs to eat it up. I never realized that Heaven would take offence at this and harm the common people. For the last couple of years it has been preying on my mind. My thoughts have been disturbed, and I haven't been able to understand why. I never realized that it was because Heaven had taken offence that it was inflicting this disaster on the common people. Now that you have come down to visit us, teacher, I beg you to enlighten me on what the upper world intends to do.

That happened to be a day on which the Jade Emperor was visiting the lower world, Monkey replied. When he saw you feed the vegetarian food to the dogs and heard your foul language the Jade Emperor set three things up to remember you by.

What three things, brother? Pig asked.

In the Hall of Fragrance he had set up a rice mountain about a hundred feet high and a flour mountain about two hundred feet high. Beside the rice mountain is a chicken the size of a fist who's eating it with quick pecks and slow pecks. Beside the flour mountain is a golden-haired Pekinese licking the flour up with long licks and short licks. And to the left is an iron frame from which hangs a golden padlock with a crossbar the thickness of a finger under which a lamp is burning and warming the bar. You will only be due for rain here when-the chicken's eaten all the rice, the dog's licked up all the flour and the lamp has melted the bar of the lock.

No problem, said Pig, no problem. If you take me with you, brother, I can do a transformation, eat all the rice and flour up in one sitting and snap the bar of the lock. I can guarantee rain.

Don't talk nonsense, you idiot, said Monkey. This is a plan that's been made by Heaven. You'll never be able to get there.

From what you say I don't know what to do, said Sanzang.

It's easy, said Monkey, easy. As I was leaving the four heavenly teachers said to me that this could only be solved through goodness.

The marquis then prostrated himself on the ground again and said imploringly, I will do just as you tell me, teacher.

If your heart can turn back to goodness, Monkey replied, I hope that you'll at once start invoking the Buddha and reciting scriptures. Then I'll be able to help you. If you persist in refusing to reform there'll be nothing I can do to get you off. It won't be long before Heaven executes you, and your life will be beyond saving.

The marquis kowtowed in worship, swearing to return to the faith. At once he summoned all the Buddhist and Taoist clergy in the city and ordered that a site be prepared for religious ceremonies. They were all to write out documents and memorials for three days. The marquis led his followers in burning incense and worshipping, thanking Heaven and Earth and repenting of his sins. Sanzang recited surras on his behalf. At the same time urgent notices were sent out ordering all the men and women, young and old, in all the households inside and outside the city to burn incense sticks and invoke the Buddha. From that moment on all ears were filled with virtuous sounds. Only then did Brother Monkey feel happy.

You two look after the master, he said to Pig and Friar Sand, while I go off for him again.

Where are you going this time, brother? Pig asked.

The marquis really believed what I told him and is being reverent, good and kind, Monkey replied, and he's sincerely invoking the Buddha's name. So I'm going back to submit another request for rain to the Jade Emperor.

If you're going, don't lose any time, brother, said Friar Sand. This is holding us up on our journey. But do get a fall of rain: it'll be another true achievement for us.

The splendid Great Sage set his cloud off once more and went straight to the gate of Heaven, where he met Heavenly King Lokapala again.

What have you come for now? Lokapala asked.

The marquis has mended his ways, Monkey replied, which pleased the Heavenly King. As they were talking the Straight Spell Messenger arrived at the gate of Heaven to deliver letters and documents written by Taoist and Buddhist clergy.

When he saw Monkey the messenger bowed and said, This is all the result of your successful conversion, Great Sage.

Where are you taking those letters? Monkey asked.

Straight to the Hall of Universal Brightness, the messenger replied, to give to the heavenly teachers to pass on to the Great Heavenly Honoured One, the Jade Emperor.

In that case you'd better go first and I'll follow, Monkey said. The messenger then went in through the heavenly gate. Great Sage, said Heavenly King Lokapala, there's no need for you to go to see the Jade Emperor. You should go to borrow some thunder gods from the Office of Response to the Primary in the Ninth Heaven, then set off thunder and lightning. After that there'll certainly be rain.

Monkey accepted this suggestion and went in through the gate of Heaven. Instead of going to the Hall of Miraculous Mist to ask for an edict he at once turned his cloud-treading steps towards the Office of Response to the Primary in the Ninth Heaven, where the Envoy of the Thunder Gate, the Corrector of Records and the Inspector of Probity appeared to bow and say, Why are you here, Great Sage?

There's something I'd like to see the Heavenly Honoured One about, Monkey replied, and the three envoys passed this on in a memorial to the Heavenly Honoured One, who then came down from behind his screen of red clouds and nine phoenixes in full court dress.

When they had exchanged greetings Monkey said, There is something I would like to request of you.

What might that be? the Heavenly Honoured One asked.

While escorting the Tang Monk I have reached the prefecture of Fengxian, said Brother Monkey, and as they have long been suffering from drought there I promised to make it rain for them. The reason I have come here is to ask for the loan of some of your subordinate officials and generals in order to ask for rain.

I am aware that three things have been set up because the marquis there offended Heaven, the Heavenly Honoured One replied, but I have not yet heard that rain is due to fall there.

When I went to ask the Jade Emperor for an edict yesterday, Monkey replied with a smile, he told the heavenly teachers to take me to see the three things in the Hall of Fragrance: the mountain of rice, the mountain of flour and the golden lock. Rain isn't due to fall till these three things have been knocked down or broken. When I was feeling very upset because it was so difficult the heavenly teachers advised me to persuade the marquis and his people to do good deeds because Heaven is bound to help anyone who has a good thought. So there's a good chance of persuading Heaven to change its mind and delivering them from this disaster. Now good thoughts are happening everywhere, and all ears are filled with good sounds. Not long ago the Straight Spell Messenger took letters showing that they had mended their ways and turned towards goodness to the Jade Emperor, which is why I've come to your illustrious palace to ask for the help of your thunder officials and thunder generals.

In that case, the Heavenly Honoured One replied, I'll send Deng, Xin, Zhang and Tao to take Mother Lightning and go with you to Fengxian Prefecture to make thunder, Great Sage.

Before long the four generals and the Great Sage had reached the boundaries of Fengxian and started performing their magic in mid air. A great ramble of thunder could be heard, and there were sizzling flashes of lightning. Indeed:

The lightning was like snakes of purple gold;

The thunder was like the noise of sleeping insects awakened.

Flashes of light like flying fire,

Thunderclaps like landslides in the mountains.

The jagged lines lit up the whole of the sky;

The great noise caused the earth itself to move.

When the red silk flashed like sprouts of plants

Rivers and mountains shook for three thousand miles.

Inside and outside the city of Fengxian nobody, whether an official high or how, a soldier or a civilian had heard thunder or seen lightning for three whole years; and now that the thunder was booming and the lightning flashing they all fell to their knees, put incense burners on their heads, held sprigs of willow in their hands and said, We submit to Amitabha Buddha. We submit to Amitabha Buddha. These good thoughts had indeed moved Heaven, as is proved by an old-style poem:

When thoughts have been born in human minds

Heaven and earth will both be aware.

If evil and good do not get their due

Sides have been taken by powers up there.

We will for the moment leave the Great Sage Monkey directing the thunder generals as they unleashed thunder and lightning over Fengxian Prefecture, where everyone had turned back to goodness, and tell how the Straight Spell Messenger took the Taoist and Buddhist documents straight to the Hall of Universal Brightness, where the four heavenly teachers submitted them to the Jade Emperor in the Hall of Miraculous Mist.

When the Jade Emperor had seen them he said, As that wretch has had some virtuous thoughts, see what has happened to the three things. Just as he was speaking the official in charge of the Hall of Fragrance came in to report, The rice and flour mountains have collapsed: the rice and flour all disappeared in an instant. The bar of the lock has also been broken.

Before he could finish submitting this memorial the heavenly official in attendance led in the local deity, the city god and the gods of the altars from Fengxian, who all bowed and reported, The lord of our prefecture and every member of every household, high and low, of the people have been converted to the true achievement and are worshipping the Buddha and Heaven. We now beg you in your compassion to send a widespread fall of timely rain to deliver the common people.

When the Jade Emperor heard this he was very pleased, so he issued an edict: Let the departments of wind, cloud and rain go to the lower world in accordance with orders. At this hour on this day the clouds are to be spread, the thunder shall roar, and three feet and forty-two drops of rain shall fall. At once the four heavenly teachers transmitted the edict to the weather departments, who were all to go to the lower world, show their powers and act together.

Monkey was enjoying himself up in the sky with Deng, Xin, Zhang and Tao, who were ordering Mother Lightning about, when the arrival of all other gods filled the sky with their assembly. As the wind and the clouds met, the timely rain began to pour down.

Thick, heavy clouds,

Lowering black mists,

The rumbling of the thunder cart,

The searing flash of lightning,

A roaring gale,

A torrential downpour.

Indeed, when one thought goes up to Heaven

Ten thousand hopes are all fulfilled.

Because the Great Sage has used his powers

The landscape is darkened for thousands of miles.

The wonderful rain falls like rivers and seas,

Hiding the country and heavens from sight.

Water comes pouring down the eaves,

Noisily pounding outside the windows.

While every household invokes the Buddha

All of the streets and markets are flooded.

To East and West every channel is filled;

Winding streams meander to North and to South.

Dried-up shoots receive moisture,

Withered trees revive.

The hemp and wheat now flourish in the fields;

Beans and other grains grow in the countryside.

Traders happily travel to sell their wares;

Cheerful peasants get ready to work.

After this the millet will do well,

And the crops are bound to yield a bumper harvest.

When wind and rain are timely the people know content;

When rivers and seas are calm the world is at peace.

That day three feet and forty-two drops of rain fell, after which all the gods began to tidy up and go away. Gods of the four departments, yelled the Great Sage at the top of his voice, stay there for a moment with your cloud followers while I tell the marquis to bow to you all and express his thanks. You may part the clouds and appear in your true forms to let this mortal see you with his own eyes. That's the only way he'll believe and make offerings. When the gods heard this they all stayed where they were up in the clouds.

Monkey then brought his cloud down to land and went straight into the prefectural palace, where Sanzang, Pig and Friar Sand all greeted him. The marquis kowtowed to him in thanks at every pace he took.

Stop thanking me, said Monkey. I've asked the gods of the four departments to stay. Could you tell everyone to come here to kowtow and thank them so that they'll make it rain properly in future? The marquis issued urgent orders summoning everyone to give thanks, and they all kowtowed with incense-sticks in their hands. The gods of the four departments-rain, thunder, cloud and wind-then parted the clouds and revealed themselves in their true form.

The dragon king appeared,

The thunder generals were revealed,

The clouds boys were seen,

The lords of the wind came down.

The dragon king appeared:

With silver whiskers and an azure face he was really peerless.

The thunder generals were revealed

With their countenances of matchless might and crooked mouths.

The cloud boys were seen

Wearing gold crowns over faces like jade.

The lords of the wind came down

With flustered brows and bulging eyes.

All were displayed on the azure clouds

Drawn up in ranks with their holy countenances.

Only then were the people of Fengxian convinced

As they kowtowed, burned incense and rejected evil.

Today they gazed up at the heavenly generals,

Washing their hearts as they all turned to goodness.

The gods stood there for two hours as the people kowtowed to them endlessly. Monkey rose up into the clouds again to bow to all the gods and say, I've put you to great trouble. All you gentlemen may now return. I'll make everyone in this prefecture give pure and lofty offerings to thank you at the due season. From now on you gentlemen must send wind every five days and rain every ten days to help them out. The gods all consented as he told them and returned to their own departments.

Bringing his cloud down to land, Monkey said to Sanzang, Now that the job's been done and the people given peace we can pack our things and be on our way again.

When the marquis heard this he hastened to bow and say, How can you say such a thing, Lord Sun? What has happened today has been an infinitely great act of kindness. I have sent people to prepare a humble banquet to thank you for your great kindness. Then I will buy some land from the people to build a monastery for you, my lords, with a shrine to you with inscribed tablets where offerings can be made in all four seasons. Even if I were to carve my own bones and heart it would be hard to repay a ten thousandth part of what I owe you. You can't possibly leave.

What Your Excellency says is very fine, Sanzang replied, but we are pilgrim monks who can only put up for the night on our journey West. We cannot stay here long. We definitely must leave in a day or two. The marquis refused to let them go, and he ordered many people to prepare a banquet and start building a monastery that very night.

The next day there was a magnificent banquet at which the Tang Priest took the place of honour while the Great Sage Monkey sat beside him with Pig and Friar Sand. The marquis and his officials high and low passed them cups of wine and dishes of food while fine music was played, and so they were entertained all day. It was a most happy occasion, and there is a poem to prove it:

After long drought the fields received sweet rain;

Merchants were travelling along all watercourses.

They were deeply moved by the monks who had come to the city,

And by the Great Sage who had gone up to Heaven.

The three things had now been accomplished;

One thought had brought all back to the good.

From now on all longed for a new golden age

With ideal weather and good harvests for ever.

The banquets went on for days, as did the giving of thanks, until they had been kept there for almost half a month. All that remained to do was complete the monastery and the shrine. One day the marquis invited the four monks to go to inspect them.

How did you complete so enormous a project so quickly? asked the Tang Priest in astonishment.

I pressed the laborers to work night and day without stopping and insisted most urgently that they finish quickly, the marquis replied. Now I would like you gentlemen to come and inspect it.

You certainly are a most good and able marquis, said Monkey with a smile. By now they had all reached the new monastery, where they were full of admiration for the towering halls and the majestic entrance. Monkey asked Sanzang to name the monastery.

Very well, Sanzang said, I name it the Monastery of Salvation by Timely Rain.

Splendid, said the marquis, splendid. He then issued a golden invitation to monks from far and wide to come to burn incense there. To the left of the Buddha hall was a shrine to the four pilgrims at which offerings were to be made in each of the four seasons every year. Temples had also been built for the thunder gods and dragon gods to thank them for their divine efforts. When the visit was over Sanzang ordered an early departure.

When the local people realized that the monks could be persuaded to stay no longer they all prepared parting gifts, none of which the travelers would accept. Then all the officials in the prefecture escorted them on their way for ten miles with a band playing and a great display of flags and canopies. Still loath to let the travelers go, the officials watched with tears in their eyes till they had disappeared from sight. Only then did the officials return to the city. Indeed:

The virtuous and holy monk left behind the Salvation Monastery;

The Great Sage Equaling Heaven dispensed great kindness.

If you don't know how many more days after this departure it was that they finally saw the Tathagata Buddha, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 86 | Journey to the West (vol. 3) | Chapter 88