Friday, June 20, 2014

Sun Wu Kung: The Lord of the Heavens

The antics of the monkey-king now come to the attention of the celestials in heaven, and of the Jade Emperor — the Lord of Heaven — in particular. You can read more about the Jade Emperor at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the The Monkey King unit. Story source: "The Ape Sun Wu Kung" in The Chinese Fairy Book, ed. by R. Wilhelm and translated by Frederick H. Martens (1921).




The  Lord of the Heavens

But the Lord of the Heavens sat in his castle and had all his servants assembled about him. And a saint stepped forward and presented the complaint of the Dragon-King of the Eastern Sea. And another stepped forward and presented the complaint of the ten Princes of the Dead.

The Lord of the Heavens glanced through the two memorials. Both told of the wild, unmannerly conduct of Sun Wu Kung. So the Lord of the Heavens ordered a god to descend to earth and take him prisoner.

The Evening Star came forward, however, and said: “This ape was born of the purest powers of heaven and earth and sun and moon. He has gained the hidden knowledge and has become an immortal. Recall, O Lord, your great love for all that which has life, and forgive him his sin! Issue an order that he be called up to the heavens and be given a charge here, so that he may come to his senses. Then, if he again oversteps your commands, let him be punished without mercy.”

The Lord of the Heavens was agreeable, had the order issued, and told the Evening Star to take it to Sun Wu Kung. The Evening Star mounted a colored cloud and descended on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits.

He greeted Sun Wu Kung and said to him: “The Lord had heard of your actions and meant to punish you. I am the Evening Star of the Western Skies, and I spoke for you. Therefore he has commissioned me to take you to the skies so that you may be given a charge there.”

Sun Wu Kung was overjoyed and answered: “I had just been thinking I ought to pay Heaven a visit some time, and sure enough, Old Star, here you have come to fetch me!”

Then he had his four baboons come and said to them impressively: “See that you take good care of our Mountain! I am going up to the heavens to look around there a little!”

Then he mounted a cloud together with the Evening Star and floated up. But he kept turning his somersaults and advanced so quickly that the Evening Star on his cloud was left behind. Before he knew it, he had reached the Southern Gate of Heaven and was about to step carelessly through.

The gate-keeper did not wish to let him enter, but he did not let this stop him. In the midst of their dispute, the Evening Star came up and explained matters, and then he was allowed to enter the heavenly gate.

When he came to the castle of the Lord of the Heavens, he stood upright before it, without bowing his head.

The Lord of the Heavens asked: “Then this hairy face with the pointed lips is Sun Wu Kung?”

He replied: “Yes, I am the Venerable Sun!”

All the servants of the Lord of the Heavens were shocked and said: “This wild ape does not even bow and goes so far as to call himself the Venerable Sun. His crime deserves a thousand deaths!”

But the Lord said: “He has come up from the earth below and is not as yet used to our rules. We will forgive him.”

Then he gave orders that a charge be found for him. The marshal of the heavenly court reported: “There is no charge vacant anywhere, but an official is needed in the heavenly stables.” Thereupon the Lord made him stablemaster of the heavenly steeds. Then the servants of the Lord of the Heavens told him he should give thanks for the grace bestowed on him.

Sun Wu Kung called out aloud — “Thanks to command!” — took possession of his certificate of appointment, and went to the stables in order to enter upon his new office.

Sun Wu Kung attended to his duties with great zeal. The heavenly steeds grew sleek and fat, and the stables were filled with young foals. Before he knew it half a month had gone by. Then his heavenly friends prepared a banquet for him.


(700 words)






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