Te Cong Ong Pho Sat – Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha

Te Cong Ong Pho Sat – Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha

[我不入地獄,誰入地獄] “If not me going to Hell, who will go there?” this sentence is frequently used to depict the spirit & will. If not me who else, is the only, namely ourselves confronting with bravery, an extraordinary difficult condition, in which others, one by one will stay away from that matter. Actually, if we understand how frightened & suffered existing in Hell, who could pronounce & able to implement simultaneously, probably only Te Cong Ong Pho Sat.

地藏王菩薩 Di Zang Wang Pu Sa {Hok Kian = Te Cong Ong Pho Sat} or also called Di Zang Pu Sa {Te Cong Pho Sat}. In Sanskrit it is called Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, is a Buddhist Deity who is adored very much by people besides Guan Yin Pu Sa.

Di means a gigantic earth. Zang means to keep. It indicates that Te Cong Ong Pho Sat’s heart is like a gigantic earth that is able to keep everything, including uncountable number of human beings, particularly those who have roots of good deed.

Te Cong Ong Pho Sat was one of 4 Bodhisattvas that was respected very much by Mahayana Buddhists. All four Bodhisattvas respectively have their own 4 basic qualities:

  1. Guan Yin Pu Sa as a symbol of Compassion (Welas Asih).
  2. Wen Su Pu Sa as a symbol of Wisdom.
  3. Pu Xian Pu Sa as a symbol of Love & Implementation.
  4. Di Zang Pu Sa as a symbol Majesty in a vow to help miserable spirits.

His Majesty Vow that is full of the sense of welas asih reads: “If not me who will go to Hell to help the miserable spirits there, who will go? …… If Hell is not free from miserable spirits, I will not become a Buddha.”

In Chinese people’s heart, Te Cong Ong Pho Sat is a Guardian Angle for departed spirits suffering from torture in Hell, in order that they can be free & re-born (reincarnation). He was often connected to 10 Kings of the Hereafter (Shi Tian Yan Wang). All ten Kings of the hereafter were direct subordinates of him, so that he had the title You Ming Jiao Zhu (Religious Figure in the Hereafter). He become the protector of departed spirits, guiding them to be conscious of their bad conducts in the past & would no longer repeat it, in order to be free from bad karma on the next reincarnation.

Te Cong Ong Pho Sat’s history is recorded in the following Buddhist Holy Book: When Sakyamuni Buddha has accomplished his duty & entered to Nirvana, 1,500 year later he reincarnated to the world & born in Korea, under the name of Jin Qiao Jue {Kim Kiauw Kak}, a prince of King Family in Sin Lo country. After many people knew that he was the reincarnation of Buddha, they called him Jin Di Zang. He had humble character, compassion & kind hearted, not greedy of wealth & throne. He liked delving into Confucian & Buddhist teachings

In A.D. 653, the year of 4th Yong Wei, namely Emperor Tang Gao Zong government era, Jin Qiao Jue, at that time was 24 years old, by bringing a dog named Shan Ting (literal meaning: “Clever to Listen”) sailed crossing the ocean, then arrived at Jiu Hua Shan mountain, An Hui Province.

Jiu Hua Shan Mountain was actually owned by Min Gong {Bin Kong}. Min Gong was a very kind hearted person, like helping people who were suffering from distress. He promised to provide vegetarian food for 100 (Buddhist) monks. However every time he was successful to gather 99 people, never succeeded to complete the number of 100 people.

Therefore, this time he went by himself to the mountain to look for the 100th Buddhist monk. When he saw Jin Qiao Jue meditating in a hut, he immediately approached him & invited him coming to his house to have meal together. Jin Qiao Jue who saw Min Gong who was seemingly well-matched with him, then fulfilled his invitation, but by filing 1 request. His request was simple: he only wished a parcel of land in Jiu Hua Shan an area of his Gauze dress (Buddhist Monk’s Holy Robe) being spread. Considering such unimportant request, Min Gong directly approved it. But something strange happened. When Jin Qiao Jue spread his gauze dress into air, in fact such heirloom dress changed into extremely large so that it could cover the whole mountain.

Such was Min Gong then delivered land Jiu Hua Shan to Jin Qiao Jue that was used to establish place of worship & taught Dharma. Min Gong even asked his son to accompany Jin Qiao Jue to become a Buddhist Monk. This Min Gong’s son then was called Dao Ming He Sang {To Bing Hwe Sio}. Hereinafter Min Gong left his full of luxury life to become the follower of Jin Qiao Jue & appointed Dao Ming He Sang, his son, becoming his teacher & sanctified himself at Jiu Hua Shan Mountain.

Nowadays, picture or statue of Te Cong Ong Pho Sat is provided with a young Buddhist monk standing on the left & an old Buddhist monk standing on the right. Thai is Dao Ming He Sang & Min Gong.

Jin Qiao Jue lived as a hermit in Jiu Hua Shan Mountain for 75 years, accompanied by his loyal dog. Te Cong Ong Pho Sat passed away in the age of 99 years, in A.D. 728, during the government era of Emperor Xuan Zong of Tang Dynasty, 7th month, 30th day of Chinese calendar. That’s is way every that date Chinese people burn joss sticks (hio) what we call Di Zang Xiang {Te Cong Hio} or Te Cong Incense.

Body of Jin Qiao Jue was placed on a small rock cave. Until one day when the body was taken out, but it was still in good condition & non decomposed & his face was like a sleeping person.

During Emperor Xiao Zong government era, his followers established a pagoda in Nan Tai (one of peak in Jiu Hua Shan) & placed its ashes there. When such pagoda completely built & ashes have been placed, in was evident from that pagoda emitted so bright and clear light that it caused amazement of people who stayed there. That place was then changed its name into Shen Guang Ling meaning God’s Light of Hill. Ever since, Jiu Hua Shan has become one of sacred mountains of Buddhists.

In China there are 4 Sacred Mountains for Buddhists:

  1. Jiu Hua Shan in An Hui Province.
  2. Wu Tai Shan in Shan Xi Province.
  3. E Mei Shan in Si Chuan Province.
  4. Pu Tuo Shan in Zhe Jiang Province.

Jiu Hua Shan, a Sacred Mountain of Buddhists, actually is one of branch of Huang Shan Mountain range, with + 1,000 meter-heights. Since 9 of its peak like blooming flowers, then people dubbed it Jiu Hua Shan (Mountain of 9 Flowers). Here, there are 108 Buddhist Temples. The oldest one is Hua Cheng Si.

In the past, in every 7th month, 30th day of Chinese calendar, many Buddhists were in crowds to Hua Cheng Si Temple to celebrate Di Zang Wang Birthday. This Temple Building is very beautiful, full of high quality wood & stone carvings so that the visitors can enjoy a very valuable Old Chinese work of art. Besides, it should also be enjoyed historical relics in the form of litograph & inscription written by Emperor in the past who visited this Temple. Prime room of this Temple is called Yue Shen Bao Dian, is a place where Te Cong Ong Pho Sat died. There a stone bearing his sole of foot In this room. The visitors entering this room always pray while burning incense.

In the society, adoration of Te Cong Ong Pho Sat is popular, not only in the circle of Buddhists. In addition to being adored in Buddhist style temple, Te Cong Ong has many family temples, ash-house or crematoriums. The purpose is to make their ancestors’ spirits get protection from Te Cong Ong Pho Sat so that it can free faster from torture in the Hell & re-born. Sometimes ceremony at that place was held on Taoism basis, but for the public it is not so important. The important thing for them is prayer itself, without caring about whether it is Taoism or Buddhism.

According to a Book “Notes from Beijing”, at the night of commemorating Te Cong Ong Pho Sat birthday, were performed prayer & recitation of paritta in Temples in Beijing & its environs. It was also prepared a boat made of paper & bamboo, where inside it was put a statue of Te Cong Ong & 10 Kings of the Hereafter which were also made of paper. At midnight after prayer ceremony, candle in the center of boat was lighted up & the boat was lowered into water & let flow anywhere. The people waiting in the brink of river also released small candle being floated on paper- made plate & flowed following such boat. This ceremony was called Liu Hua Deng (Flowing the Flower Lantern). Other provinces in China such as Jiang Su, Zhe Jiang also had this kind of tradition, even though with different variations.

Te Cong Ong Pho Sat was displayed in the state of sitting on a lotus, wearing 5-leaf Buddhist hat with the face emitting light of affection, bringing a ring-stick. At the time it was brought to walk, the rings existing on the tip of this stick will jingle. This sound is expected to make ants or other small animals step aside in order not to be trampled upon by Buddhist Monk, since one of Basic Principles of Buddhism is not killing living thing.


Te Cong Ong Pho Sat – Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha

One Response to “Te Cong Ong Pho Sat – Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha”

  1. Doug White says:

    Thank you so much for the story of Mingong & Daoming.

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