The Story of Hsuan Tsang and the Origin of the Mission to India
Summary and Analysis
In Chapter 8, having successfully defeated Monkey, Buddha now seeks to bring his teachings and scriptures to the people of the Southern Continent, who he characterizes as "greedy, lustful, murderous, and quarrelsome." He sends his apprentice Kuan-yin to find someone in the east who would be suitable to deliver the scriptures, as well as five talismans to help the newcomer in their journey: three fillets, a priest's staff, and a cassock. Kuan-yin brings along her disciple, Moksha/Hui-yen. The two Bodhisattvas encounter a monster at the River of Sands, who is really a marshal of the Jade Emperor, banished and continually punished for breaking a crystal dish. Kuan-yin offers the marshal salvation and a way to return to the Emperor's side if he joins their sect and journeys with the scripture-seeker they expect to find in China. The marshal agrees to help in the future and escorts the Bodhisattvas across the river before devoting himself to a life of penance and taking on the name Sandy Priest. The Bodhisattvas run into a second marshal under similar circumstances and convert him as well. Similarly, they help the son of the Dragon King of the Western Ocean escape execution, and he agrees to help their future pilgrim by chaining into a white horse and carrying him to India when the time comes. Finally, Kuan-yin helps Monkey, who has been imprisoned under the Mountain of Five Elements for 500 years, on the condition that he become the disciple of their pilgrim after they find him in the land of T'ang
Chapter 9 begins with a government-led examination in the city of Ch'ang-an in the land of T'ang, which Ch'en O takes and receives first place. As he is led in the three-day victory procession, a minister's daughter hits him with her embroidered ball, a sign that he was to be her husband. Ch'en O was then married and made the Governor of Chiang-chou; but when crossing the river to his new home, a ferryman named Liu, who wanted Ch’en’s wife for himself, slaughtered Ch’en and his servants. He impersonates Ch'en and leaves his body in the river where it if discovered and his soul brought to the dragon king. The latter helps Ch'en by offering him a position as a Water Bureau officer once he realizes that it was Ch'en who released him back into the wild, after buying him in the fish market in carp form. The wife gives birth to Ch'en's son while Liu is away and a message comes to the wife Wen-ch'iao from Kuan-yin that this child is destined for great things but must be hidden from Liu, who will want to kill it. Wen-ch'iao ties her son to a wooden plank, attaches a letter and removes part of his toe so she can recognize him in the future. She sends him down the river where an abbot picks him up and names him River Float. The boy grows up to be a priest by the name of Hsuan Tsang, and at 17, goes to meet his mother and grandparents. Both Li and Liu are captured and killed, and the dragon king resurrects Ch'en, who is reunited with his family.
Chapter 10 follows a dragon king who hears of a soothsayer how has never been wrong in the town of Ch'ang-an. He disguises himself as a scholar and asks the soothsayer what the weather will be like. The dragon king goes home, confident that the soothsayer will be wrong until he receives a mandate from the Jade Emperor requesting the exact rainfall and time that the soothsayer predicted. The dragon king decides to alter the times and amounts a bit, and faces possible execution for defying the Emperor. Following the soothsayer's advice, the dragon appears to the Emperor of T'ang and asks to be saved. The Emperor agrees and searches for the minister in charge, Wei Cheng, who just received his instructions from the Jade Emperor. The Emperor fails in his mission, as Wei Cheng kills the dragon in his sleep. The dragon's ghost haunts the Emperor of T'ang and his fear brings him to the brink of death, which Wei Cheng says he can be saved from by a letter to a Judge of the Dead, Ts'ui Chio. The emperor dies with this letter of introduction in his hand.
In Chapter 11, Ts'ui Chio and the Emperor of T'ang meet and are taken to see the King of Death and appear before the Ten Judges to answer for the crime of not saving the dragon as he promised. The judges acquit the Emperor easily and tell him he has 20 years more to live. In the City of the Slain, on their way back, the Emperor meets many lost souls and Ts'ui Chio tells him he can help them by getting money from Hsiang Liang in the world above. Ts'ui then hands over the Emperor to Captain Chu who escorts him and pushes him into the Wei River, reviving him at his own funeral. The Emperor asks for a volunteer to bring promised melons to the underworld, and unwittingly causes the suicides of a couple. Yama, King of Death, discovers they were supposed to live to a ripe old age and sends them back to the land of the living.
Chapter 12 centers on the unfortunate couple, Liu and his wife, Blue Lotus, whose soul is placed in the recently deceased Princess Jade Bud's body. The Emperor reunites them as he promised Yama, and repays the money he was lent from Hsiang Liang by building a national temple, and holds a General Mass for the Dead led by Hsuan Tsang. Kuan-yin hears of this mass, gives a cassock to the Emperor, and speaks to Hsuan of the Great Vehicle teachings, or the Tripitaka (Three Baskets) there, that an save souls and those that are in trouble, as well as lengthen life. She speaks to and reveals her true nature as a Bodhisattva to the Emperor, who bows and calls for someone to go retrieve these teachings from their home in India. Hsuan Tsang volunteers and takes on the pseudonym or by-name of Tripitaka as he sets out in his journey.