Monday, April 15, 2013

Melon in exchange for Corpse

"There also came from different lands in other worlds and from the Saha world deities such as those of the seas, of the rivers, of the forests, of the mountains, of the earth, of the streams and lakes, of the crops, of the day, of the night, of space, of the sky, of food and of vegetation; all assembled there." - Ksitigarbha Sutra

Last week there was a Wanbao article regarding how the missing corpse of one of the local victims in a fishing trip mishap in Pulau Layak, Malaysia was found. Apparently the body of Mr Chen Wan Seng was found soon after one of the search boat owners threw a water melon offering with Mr Chen's name and particulars written on it into the sea. The family of the victim was surprised as prior to that, the search and rescue boats had searched the sea in that area for 2 days without finding his body.

How is it that a melon can help to find corpses lost at sea? I think not many people know that this is actually an ancient Chinese ritual with its roots in Taoism and Buddhism. Because the pronunciation of water melon in dialect sounds like "water ghost", thus it is offered as a replacement to the Naga King (which some call the god of the sea) in exchange for the bodies of those who drown at sea. Why is it that such an offering need to be done? Simply due to fact that all creatures dead or alive in the sea comes under the jurisdiction of the Naga Kings. Which is why the boat owner prayed to the "god of the sea" before setting off and made the water melon offering to appease him once they reach those waters. Sure enough, the corpse mysteriously appears floating on the surface less than half an hour after the offering was done. This incident tells us that those deities and Devadas that have dominion over the forces of nature do exist, even though they are invisible to ordinary humans. Whether it is the water, wind, fire, lightning, thunder, earth, mountains, big trees etc, there are always higher beings who control them or live in them. As they are frequently mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures, we should always respect these nature deities who are in many cases, Dharma protectors. Very often they will help humans who are righteous in the Dharma and humble towards them.

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