Showing posts from April, 2007

On Some of the Chinese Gods: Part I

It is well known that the traditional religion of the Chinese is polytheistic. And two of our most popular deities are Guan Yu (关羽) and Avalokitesvara (阿婆卢吉低舍婆罗).

According to Chen Shou (陈寿), Guan was born in between 147 to 167 AD in Shanxi (山西). Near the end of Eastern Han Dynasty (东汉, 200 – 220 AD), he was recruited by the warlord Liu Bei (刘备) at Hebei (河北) and became his bodyguard. When Liu was defeated by Cao Cao (曹操), Guan was captured and given a post in Cao’s administration.

However, because of his loyalty to Liu, he did not stay long with Cao and later returned to Liu. He was subsequently killed and decapitated in Hubei (湖北). Guan's death is intricately related to Zhuge Liang's (诸葛亮) decision for not dispatching military forces to assist Guan when he was surrounded by Sun Quan's (孙权) men.

Deitification of Guan and mass constructions of temple worshiping Guan actually started about 900 years ago. During this period, Guan was given many honorific titles by many imperia…