Tuesday, June 03, 2014

How the 6th Patriarch's body was saved during the Cultural Revolution

          As we know during the cultural revolution members of the Red Guards tried to destroy the 6th patriarch's body. One of them used a saw to saw his spine from behind, and to everyone's shock fresh blood flowed out from the body! The guards were petrified and did not dare to continue sawing. Later the body was paraded in the streets to denounce superstition, but faithful devotees stole the body at night and had it hidden away in a secret location.
After the revolution, the respected Mr Zhao Puchu learned of the matter and wrote a letter to the then party chief of Guangdong province, Xi Zhongxun, imploring him to get some men to protect the patriarch's body and relocate it to a suitable place. Xi Zhongxun is the father of the current China President, Xi Jinping. As we can see the law of karma never fails to bear fruits.
As the body had been hidden by Ven Master Foyuan, he personally instructed Ven Shengyi of Hong Kong to go to Nanhua monastery to find the location and secretly take photos. Ven Foyuan himself was only vindicated in 1979. He was then invited to the Chinese Buddhism College in Beijing to give a lecture, and during that time he informed Ven Mingzhen, Juzan as well as Mr Zhao Puchu of what happened to the body. Mr Zhao realized how important this matter was and acted upon it immediately by writing a letter to Xi Zhongxun seeking his help.
Xi Zhongxun quickly sent specialized men to Nanhua monastery to do the job. However at that time the party policy towards religion was still unclear, and the monastery was unwilling to restore the body to its rightful place for worship. But Xi sent a clear message to the monastery saying the body WILL BE restored whether they were agreeable to it or not. So they had no choice but to comply. Mr Zhao also sent Ven Foyuan down from Beijing to assist with the restoration. Xi gave strict orders for the body to be well protected at all times.
Ven Foyuan recalled with great emotion that when they dugged out the patriarch's body, the ribs had became moldy due to being buried in damp soil for 10 over years. Due to the humid climate of Southern China, the spine had also become moist and crooked. The body of Master Dantian was in even worse condition. He had to carry both bodies back to his hut and baked them dry over a charcoal fire. After cleaning them Ven Foyuan used pieces of sandalwood to repair the spine and ribs before putting them back into their bodies. As the patriarch's internal organs have decayed (which were intact before being buried), they were also baked and mixed with sandalwood powder, molded back into the original shape and put back into the body. Ven Foyuan broke into tears after the repair works, vowing to protect the patriarch's body in all his future rebirths. He said that if he knew he would survive the ordeal of the revolution, he would never have buried the bodies in the mountain behind and caused them such damage. The Ven felt much regret and swore to carefully protect the bodies from then on, even at the cost of his life.  
According to Ven Foyuan, even after 1200 years the patriarch's body was still golden in color, and felt firm and heavy. On the other hand Master Dantian's body appeared much darker and weighed much less. It was amazing that undecaying bodies had such different standards as gold and bronze.
Ven Foyuan concluded that, "If it was not for the cultural revolution, the 6th patriarch's body would never have been damaged so badly. As one of the patriarch's Dharma descendants I have cried countless times over it through the years. But during that era I could not showed my tears as there were many eyes watching me. Some men only wanted to show off and cared not about who or what they were desecrating. Even Master Hanshan's body was slashed opened by such a worm, but luckily it was only punctured with a cup sized hole in the torso, unlike the other 2 bodies which had their organs dugged out."
Truly that was a painful episode in Chinese Buddhist history which hopefully will never be repeated again.

No comments: