The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Master An Shigao & a big python
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An Shigao (Chinese: 安世高) was a prince of Parthia, nicknamed the "Parthian Marquis", who renounced his prospect as a contender for the royal throne of Parthia in order to serve as a Buddhist missionary monk. An_Shih_Kao
After he finished the affairs of promoting the sutras, it was just the end of the reign of Emperor Ling, and the area within the [Hangu] Pass and Luoyang was in chaos. Thus he went to the south of the Yangzi River, saying, “I should pass by Mount Lu to save my previous classmate.”
Gao arrived at Guangzhou again to look for the teenager who had killed him in a previous life. At that time the teenager was still alive. Gao went directly to his home, talked about the matter about repaying the debt, and chatted about the predestined lot in the previous life. He was happy toward him, saying, “I still have a debt left. Now I should go to Kuaiji to finish repaying the debt.” The man of Guangzhou realized that Gao was not a common man, and suddenly he understood all. He regretted the previous grudge, provided handsome support, and accompanied Gao to travel eastward. Finally they reached Kuaiji.
He reached Qiuting Lake Monastery, which previously had numinous power. ... Gao, with the people from more than thirty boats that journeyed together with him, offered sacrifices to request good fortune. The god then passed down its words through the temple attendant, saying, “If there is a monk on the boats, you may summon him up.” The guests were all shocked, and they asked Gao to enter the monastery... The god popped its head from behind the bed. It turned out that it was a big python, and none knew the length of its tail. The python reached the side of Gao’s knee. Gao spoke toward it in Sanskrit language several times, and chanted the sutras several rounds. The python shed sad tears like rain, and disappeared in a short while. Gao then fetched the silk, bid farewell, and left.... In the evening there was a young man who boarded a boat and knelt down in front of Gao, received his incantation, and then disappeared suddenly. Gao told the people on the boats, “The young man [you saw] a moment ago was the god of the Qiuting Monastery, and he is able to get rid of his ugly form.” From then on the temple god disappeared, and no prayer had been effective. Later someone saw a dead python in the river west of the mountain, which measured several miles from head to tail.