فصل 02

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فصل 02

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CHAPTER TWO

The Journey Begins

‘I can tell you that I have killed quite a lot of people. And I am still the great Monkey King!’ answered Monkey.

At a time when the great and very old city of Ch’ang-an was the capital of China, there was an examination to find the cleverest men in the country. These men would do the work of the government.

A man by the name of Ch’en O decided to try his luck at the examination, as it was his mother’s wish. Arriving late, he found that the examination had begun. But to his surprise, he won first place and he received a letter signed by the Emperor.

In those days, the winner of first place in the examination was led through the streets on horseback. And by chance, on that day, the only daughter of a minister sat in her high tower with a ball in her hand. Seeing the handsome Ch’en riding by, and knowing of his success in the examination, she threw the ball cleverly on to his hat. This was how a lady chose her husband.

No time was wasted. Ch’en and the minister’s daughter were married, and hand in hand they went into the bedroom as man and wife. Early next morning, Ch’en was made Governor of Chiang-chou and, as he was told to begin work at once, he started on the journey with his wife.

It was late spring. There was a gentle wind in the trees and a light rain fell. The road to Chiang-chou took Ch’en and his wife close to his home, so they stopped at his mother’s house. Ch’en said to his mother, ‘You wanted me to take the examination, and look at all the good luck that has come from it. I would like to thank you and to ask you to come with us.’

His mother happily agreed and after travelling for some days, the three arrived at the Hotel of Ten Thousand Flowers. But here the mother suddenly became ill and asked to rest.

Next day, a man arrived with a gold-coloured fish for sale and young Ch’en bought it for his mother. Suddenly, he noticed that the fish’s eyes were strange. ‘This is not an ordinary creature,’ he said. He asked where it was caught and then returned it to the river in the same place.

‘You were right to put the fish back in the river,’ said his mother when he told her about the fish’s eyes. Then she said, ‘Leave me here with some of the luggage and I shall follow when the days are cooler.’

When Ch’en, his wife and servants arrived at the same river, they were met by two boatmen who Ch’en had harmed in an earlier life. They stared at his young wife, who was very beautiful. Then they took the boat to a lonely place and killed first the servants and then Ch’en himself. The young woman tried to throw herself into the river, but they stopped her.

One of the murderers, whose name was Liu, put on the Governor’s clothes, took the official papers and left for Chiang-chou with Mrs Ch’en.

Liu left the boat with the other boatman, Li, who threw the bodies into the river. The bodies of the servants could be seen on the river, but Ch’en’s body went straight to the bottom. A servant of the Dragon King saw it there and went to the palace to tell the Dragon King himself. The Dragon King asked to see it.

When Ch’en’s body was brought to him, he recognised this man. In the body of a gold-coloured fish, the Dragon King had been saved by him only a few days before. In return for Ch’en’s kindness, the Dragon King sent his servant to the place where the souls of the newly dead go. The servant returned with Ch’en’s soul and Ch’en woke from the dead.

When he had heard Ch’en’s story, the Dragon King said, ‘You certainly helped me. So I shall now give you back your life. I want you to work in my Water Office.’

While this was happening, Mrs Ch’en was so unhappy with Liu that she could not eat or sleep. But because she was going to have her husband’s child, she thought it was best to follow this terrible man quietly. After a long journey they reached Chiang-chou, where Liu the boatman became the new governor.

Time passed and Mrs Ch’en gave birth to a son. At the same time a mysterious voice whispered in her ear, ‘Listen to what I am telling you. This child will be famous around the world. But you must protect him from Liu, who will certainly try to harm him. Your husband is safe with the Dragon King and one day you will all be together again and your enemies will be punished.’ Then there was silence. Mrs Ch’en held her son in her arms, but she could think of no other way to protect him.

And as the voice had said, when Liu returned he ordered the death of the child. But the unhappy mother wanted more time with her son. ‘I will put him in the river tomorrow,’ she promised Liu. ‘Perhaps,’ she thought, ‘a kind god will save him.’

She bit her finger and, with her blood, wrote a letter giving the names of the child’s parents. Then, so that she would know her child again, she bit off the top of the little toe of his left foot. When morning came, she tied the baby into one of her shirts and went quietly down to the river with him.

As she stood at the water’s edge, a large piece of wood came down the river. Quickly, she tied the shirt with the baby in it to the wood and put the letter she had written in the shirt. Then she pushed the wood to the centre of the river and walked back, crying every step of the way.

The piece of wood with the baby on it was carried at last to the Temple of the Golden Mountain. The Holy Master, hearing the sound of a baby crying, went to the river and found the strange boat. He read the letter about the child’s father, and immediately gave the child the name of River Wood. Then he asked some farmers to look after him.

Seventeen years later, the young man had been given the new name of Hsuan Tsang and had been made a priest in the Holy Master’s temple. One day an old and stupid priest cried out, ‘Who do you think you are? No one even knows your real name!’ He was jealous of the young man’s wisdom.

The unhappy boy ran to the Holy Master. ‘Can there be,’ he asked, ‘a man without a father or mother?’

From a hiding-place in his room, the Holy Master took down a small box containing the blood-letter and the shirt. Soon Hsuan Tsang knew the whole story and the terrible wrong done to his parents. He wanted to kill his father’s murderer.

‘If you must go,’ said the Holy Master, ‘take these things with you. Travel as a poor priest, go to Chiang-chou and demand to see your mother.’

That same night, his mother dreamed of a moon behind the clouds. When the clouds moved, she saw a full moon, and then she thought of her son. ‘He must be seventeen by now. Perhaps Heaven will bring us together again.’

Suddenly, she heard a priest asking for money at the gate and went out to him. When she heard his place of birth, the Golden Mountain, she looked at him closely and said, ‘Little priest, you are very like my husband. Who were your parents?’

‘A wrong was done to my parents,’ was the answer. ‘My Holy Master told me to come here and find my mother. My father’s name is Ch’en, but my holy name is Hsuan Tsang.’ Then he took from the box the blood-letter and the shirt. She recognised them at once and she put her arms around him.

‘Leave me, leave me!’ she cried. ‘If Liu finds you, he will kill you. Go now, as fast as lightning! But tomorrow I will say that I have promised a hundred pairs of shoes to the poor and I must journey to the temple to offer this present to the Gods. There we can talk.’

True to her promise, within five days a hundred pairs of shoes were put on a boat and, with some servants, she made the journey to the Golden Mountain. All the priests came out to welcome the visitor, but when she had prayed she asked them to leave.

Then, on her knees in front of Hsuan Tsang, she took off the shoe and sock from his left foot. As she expected, the top of his left toe was missing.

Again the mother and son put their arms around each other, and she thanked the Holy Master for his great kindness. Then she gave Hsuan Tsang a ring to take to the Hotel of Ten Thousand Flowers, where his grandmother had been left behind.

‘Here, also, is a letter to my father in the capital,’ she said. ‘Tell him to ask the Emperor to send horses and men to kill Liu and save me. Now I dare not stay any longer, but must return home.’

Hsuan Tsang went to the Hotel of Ten Thousand Flowers and asked about his grandmother. The owner of the hotel told him, ‘The lady was here for several years. But she went blind and now, asking people in the streets for money, she lives in a box.’

Hsuan Tsang finally found his poor grandmother, who cried, ‘Oh! I thought my son had forgotten me! And now Heaven has sent a grandson to find me.’

After paying her bills and leaving her in a comfortable room at the hotel, Hsuan Tsang rushed back to the capital and to the house of Minister Yin. But they refused to let him in. ‘No one in our family is a priest,’ he was told.

‘Last night I dreamed about my daughter,’ said the wife. ‘Perhaps he has a message from her.’

Hsuan Tsang bowed to them and took out the letter that his mother had written. The minister cried, ‘Wife! This is our grandchild. Ch’en has been killed and our daughter has been forced to live with the murderer. I will ask the Emperor for soldiers to kill that man.’

The Emperor was wild with anger and sent an army of sixty thousand men to Chiang-chou. They easily found Liu and took him away to cut his head off.

Now Yin sent for his daughter. She did not wish to see her father because she was ashamed. Had she not lived as the wife of her husband’s murderer? But Yin told her that it was not her fault. He put his arms around her and around his grandson and kept them in his arms for a long, long time.

By now, the soldiers had found the other boatman, Li, and had cut his head off too. And where he had killed Ch’en, Li’s body was cut open. His heart was offered to the soul of the man he had killed.

The Dragon King heard of this and he sent a message to Ch’en. ‘Congratulations! Your wife and her father and your child are all by the river, offering the heart of the man who killed you. I will now return your soul to you and let you go.’

Mrs Ch’en wanted to throw herself into the river where her husband had died, but suddenly a body came up from the bottom of the river. Mrs Ch’en recognised it as her husband’s body and cried and screamed.

The hands moved, and then the legs, and then the whole body, until Ch’en himself climbed out of the water. He looked at them in great surprise and said, ‘What are you all doing here?’

A great banquet was ordered and next day they all left for home. On the way, they called at the Hotel of Ten Thousand Flowers for the grandmother and took her back to the capital.

At last Chen became a government advisor. His son, Hsuan Tsang, went back to his work as a priest at the Temple of the Golden Mountain. But when the Emperor died, priests all over China were asked to choose the holiest priest, and they chose Hsuan Tsang.

At this time, the search was still continuing for a priest holy enough to fetch the Scriptures from India. The Goddess Kuan-yin, realising that the holiest priest was River Wood, said to herself, ‘No one could be a better man than him.’

In the great city of Ch’ang-an, the new Emperor asked Hsuan Tsang to go to India and fetch the Scriptures. When Hsuan Tsang agreed to go, the Emperor said, ‘If you dare to go on a journey as long as this, with all its dangers, I will make you here and now the brother of my soul.’ Then he bowed four times.

‘If I do not reach India and do not bring the Scriptures back to China, I must be sent to Hell,’ the young priest replied.

The Emperor called for wine and said, ‘I suggest that you take the name of the Scriptures in India - Tripitaka. What do you think?’

Hsuan Tsang accepted the name and from that day he was called Tripitaka.

It was three days before the full moon when Tripitaka left the gates of Ch’ang-an. After a day or two of hard riding, he reached the Temple of the Low Cloud. There the Holy Master and almost five hundred priests discussed his journey and its terrible dangers and difficulties. Tripitaka pointed in silence to his heart.

‘It is only the heart that can win against difficulties. I have made my promise and I cannot go back until I have reached India, seen Buddha and got the Scriptures.’

Next morning, Tripitaka got up early. A bright moon was shining on the snow on the ground as he left. Almost immediately, he lost his way, and suddenly the ground moved under his horse. The horse and rider fell into a deep hole.

‘Take him! Take him!’

Looking up, Tripitaka saw a crowd of ugly creatures looking down at him. They pulled him out of the hole. Their leader was an ugly Demon King, who gave orders to eat him.

But two dark ugly creatures arrived as guests, and two other men were brought out as a meal for them. The ugly creatures ate like wild animals, their teeth pulling at the men until they had completely eaten them. Watching this, Tripitaka was almost dead with fear.

But then all the ugly creatures went to sleep. Tripitaka was losing all hope of escape when suddenly an old man appeared. He blew in Tripitaka’s face and asked him if the horse belonged to him. Tripitaka saw to his surprise that his horse was not harmed. He asked what this place was and who the ugly creatures were. He was told it was a mountain full of demons and animal-spirits.

‘They did not eat you because your soul was too good,’ said the old man.

‘It was your soul that saved you. Follow me and I will show you the way out of here.’

The old man led him out of that place; then, as Tripitaka turned to thank him, the old man flew up into the sky on a great white bird. A piece of paper blew down, and on it was written, ‘I was sent by the Gods to protect you on your journey. Remember, the Gods will be watching you.’

Tripitaka could only bow low in thanks before he began his journey again. After half a day he found himself in difficult mountain country, moving forward slowly over sharp rocks. In front of him, two tigers waited. Realising the danger, he looked behind him and there he saw an insect that could kill him. On his right stood a wild animal that he had never seen before. His frightened horse went down on its knees.

As the terrible creatures all started attacking him at once, a man appeared with a sword. He took Tripitaka from his horse.

‘I am a hunter who these animals know and fear. You and I are from the same country and you and your horse can rest at my house until tomorrow.’

On the way to his house the hunter killed a tiger, saying, ‘This is luck! Enough meat to last you for days!’

Arriving at a mountain farm, Tripitaka was presented to the hunter’s mother, who invited him to stay overnight. But when the cooked tiger was put in front of him he had to say that, as a priest, he did not eat meat. He was given rice and salad instead. Then, putting his hands together, he said a prayer.

The hunter was surprised. ‘You priests are certainly strange,’ he said. ‘You cannot even eat without a prayer.’

After dinner the hunter led his guest to a little house full of animal skins. Tripitaka did not like that very much, so his host took him instead to a field of red and gold flowers. There, animals ran to him when he called.

Tripitaka had been asked by the hunter’s mother to say prayers for her dead husband. So scriptures were read and prayers were said all through the next day until evening.

That night everyone in the family dreamed the same dream: the hunter’s father had been allowed to leave the Lower World and was born again as the child of a rich landowner. This, they were sure, was a result of Tripitaka’s prayers and they all thanked him. They wanted to give him presents of silver, but he refused the presents and left on his journey, with the hunter as his guide.

At the Mountain Between Two Countries, which was steep and rocky, the hunter climbed quickly but Tripitaka was very tired.

‘This country to the East,’ said the hunter, ‘is our land of Tang, and to the West is the country of the Tartars. I cannot go into their country, so you must continue alone.’

Feeling a great fear and hopelessness, Tripitaka held the hunter’s arm. Suddenly, from under the mountain, a voice cried, again and again, ‘The Master has come.’

‘Who is that?’ Tripitaka asked, fearfully.

‘It is the voice of the old monkey calling from his stone box under the mountain. The story is that long ago, when the mountain was called the Mountain of Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth, a magic monkey was put in a stone box by angry gods. He is certainly still alive. You need not be afraid. We will go down and have a look.’

As the hunter had said, there was a stone box with a hole in it, and through the opening they could see the head of a monkey.

‘Master! Master! Free me from here and I will protect you on your journey to the West!’

The hunter said, ‘First, we want to know more about you.’

‘I will not tell you anything,’ said Monkey. ‘I wish to speak to the priest.’

‘What do you want to say to me?’ asked Tripitaka.

‘Were you sent by the Emperor of T’ang to fetch the Scriptures from India?’

‘I was.’

‘I am the Monkey King and five hundred years ago I made trouble, so Buddha put me in this stone box. The Goddess Kuan-yin has visited me. She said that if I protect the pilgrim on his way to India I will be forgiven and freed. So let me be your follower.’

‘But how can I get you out of this stone box?’

‘If you make a wish, Master, I will be out,’ said Monkey. ‘Go to the top of the mountain and there you will see a rock with letters of gold written by Buddha himself. Lift the rock and I will be free.’

‘How can we believe him?’ the hunter whispered to Tripitaka.

‘It is true! It is true!’ screamed Monkey, from inside his box.

Tripitaka and the hunter climbed up again to the top of the mountain, and there they saw golden light pouring from a rock which had gold writing on it.

Tripitaka went down on his knees and said, ‘If this is the wish of the Gods, I will take this Monkey with me to India. Take away this rock and free him.’

A warm and sweet-smelling wind blew across the mountain and lifted the rock and Buddha’s writing up into the air. Tripitaka and the hunter returned to Monkey.

‘You can come out,’ they said. With a great noise of breaking stone, Monkey came out of the stone box and bowed in front of Tripitaka. He cried, ‘Master, I am out,’ and then he began to prepare Tripitaka’s horse for the journey.

Tripitaka thanked the hunter for his kindness and he and Monkey continued their journey.

When Tripitaka and Monkey left the mountain, a tiger appeared in front of them, showing its teeth. Monkey seemed very happy. ‘He has come to give me his coat,’ he said.

He took a needle from behind his ear and the needle was immediately transformed into a cudgel. ‘It is five hundred years since I last used this weapon,’ he cried.

Look at Monkey! He walks forward bravely, down comes the cudgel, and the tiger falls dead.

‘Sit down,’ said Monkey to Tripitaka, ‘while I take his coat.’

Dear Monkey! He took a single hair from his own tail, blew on it, and said some magic words. The hair became a sharp little knife, and with this knife he cut off the tiger’s skin. ‘Now we can leave this place,’ he said. ‘When we reach the next house, I will make a fine coat from the skin.’

Monkey then explained the magic of his cudgel, which was not only for killing tigers and dragons, but also for making rivers go backwards or starting storms on the sea. But then he saw a house in some trees, where they could spend the night.

He got down from his horse and cried, ‘Open the door!’

A very old man, angry at the rude command, began to push open the door. But seeing Monkey carrying a tiger skin and looking like a demon, he became very frightened. Then he saw that Monkey was with a priest and he was told that Monkey was the priest’s follower. Suddenly, he recognised Monkey.

‘You are the Stone Monkey in the stone box,’ said the old man in great surprise. ‘How did you get out?’

Monkey told his story and then was asked his age.

‘First, how old are you?’ asked Monkey.

‘One hundred and thirty.’

‘You are young enough to be my great-great-grandson,’ said Monkey. ‘I was under that mountain for five hundred years.’

‘True,’ said the old man. ‘And when I was a boy, there was grass on your head and dirt on your face.’

‘Yes!’ said Monkey. ‘I do not wish to make trouble, but it is five hundred years since I last washed. Could you let us have a little hot water?’

When they had both washed, Monkey took Tripitaka’s white shirt, made himself a tiger-skin coat and asked, ‘How do I look in these clothes?’

‘Fine!’ said Tripitaka. ‘You really look like a pilgrim!’ And he let Monkey keep the shirt.

Many days later, the two travellers were attacked by six men with swords.

The men demanded their horses and everything they had with them.

‘You are just thieves!’ cried Monkey. ‘If you give me one seventh of everything you have ever stolen, I will let you live.’

Angrily, they all hit Monkey on the head, again and again.

Monkey said, ‘Let me know when you are tired and I will take out my needle.’

Of course the needle from behind Monkey’s ear transformed itself into a cudgel, and soon he had killed all six of them. He returned, crying, ‘Master, we can start now. I have killed them all.’

‘You should never kill,’ said Tripitaka, sadly.

‘But I had to! They were going to kill you!’

‘It is better for a priest to die than to kill others.’

‘Well, I can tell you that I have killed quite a lot of people. And I am still the great Monkey King!’ answered Monkey.

‘Your bad behaviour in Heaven caused you to live in a stone box for five hundred years,’ said Tripitaka. ‘If you hope to come with me to India, you will need to change your ways.’

Monkey was very angry that Tripitaka had spoken to him like that. ‘Master,’ he shouted, ‘I am leaving.’

Tripitaka said nothing, so Monkey leapt up, ran away and was soon out of Tripitaka’s sight.

Tripitaka thought, ‘It is no use trying to teach people who are like that.’ So, putting all the luggage on the horse’s back, he left alone and on foot.

The young priest had not gone far when he met an old woman carrying a cap. She asked him why he was travelling alone without a follower to help him.

‘I had a follower, but he behaved badly. When I told him that, he ran away.’

‘That is unfortunate,’ she said. ‘This cap belonged to my son, who died. I can gladly give it to your follower if he would like it.’

‘He ran away to the East,’ said Tripitaka.

‘Then he will certainly go to my house and I shall send him back. If you want him to return, you will need a spell.’ She told him the words. ‘You must make him wear this cap. When he disobeys, say the words of the spell and he will give you no more trouble.’

The old woman transformed herself into a golden light and disappeared towards the East. Tripitaka knew then that she was really the Goddess Kuan-yin.

Monkey had jumped on to a cloud and was returning to his cave in the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. On the way, he decided to drink tea with the Dragon King. When Monkey had told his story, the Dragon King told him about the value of patience.

‘Monkey King, it is necessary to control yourself if you do not want to spoil all your chances.’

Monkey thought about that and then jumped up. ‘Don’t say another word!’ he said. ‘I will return to my Master at once.’

‘Master,’ said Monkey, when he found Tripitaka sitting sadly by the side of the road, ‘what are you doing, still sitting here?’

‘Waiting for you,’ he answered. ‘I could not continue alone.’

‘I only went to drink tea with the Dragon King,’ said Monkey.

‘If that is true, you should think about my thirst and my hunger too.’

Monkey went to their luggage to look for food and found the gift of the cap.

‘If a person wears that cap,’ said Tripitaka, ‘they can recite the Scriptures without learning them first.’

‘Let me put it on!’ cried Monkey.

‘Yes, put it on.’

As Monkey put it on, Tripitaka pretended to eat some dried fruit, but he was really reciting the magic spell.

‘My head is hurting!’ screamed Monkey.

Monkey fell on the ground, trying to take the cap off, but a metal ring inside the cap was getting tighter and tighter. Tripitaka stopped reciting the spell because he was afraid that Monkey would break the metal ring.

The pain in Monkey’s head disappeared, but the cap was still tightly there.

‘You have put a spell on me,’ cried Monkey.

‘Yes,’ said Tripitaka. ‘It is called the Scripture of the Tight Cap. Will you make trouble again?’

‘Never! I promise,’ answered Monkey, but in his heart he was very angry. He ran at Tripitaka with his cudgel.

Quickly, the priest again recited the words of the spell, and Monkey fell to the ground screaming. The cudgel dropped from his hand.

‘Were you going to hit me?’ Tripitaka asked.

‘Hit you? I dare not!’ cried Monkey.

Tripitaka stopped reciting because he did not like to see Monkey suffering such terrible pain.

‘Who taught you this trick?’ Monkey asked when the pain stopped.

‘An old woman who I met recently.’

‘Then it was the Goddess Kuan-yin. I will go to the Southern Ocean and hit her with my cudgel!’

‘As she taught me this spell, she can surely use it herself,’ said Tripitaka.

Monkey sat up, holding his head, which still hurt him. ‘I am very sorry,’ he said. ‘I will travel to India and never leave you. I will protect you until the end.’

Unable to defend himself, Monkey put the luggage together, and they started off again towards the West.

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