The Legend of Peng Bird


Yellow Belt
Nov 13, 2022
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大鹏压嗉 (dà péng yā sù) or Dapeng pressures crops. Dapeng is a legendary giant bird. It was translated as "Roc presses crops" in days gone by.

In Chinese literature, the Daoist classic Zhuangzi has the oldest record of the Kun Peng myth. The first chapter ("Free and Easy Wandering" 逍遙遊 pinyin xiāoyáoyóu) begins with three versions of this parable; the lead paragraph, a quote from the Qixie (齊諧 "Universal Harmony", probably invented by Zhuangzi), and a quote from the Tang zhi wen Ji (湯之問棘 "Questions of Tang to Ji", cf. Liezi chapter 5, Tang wen 湯問). The first account contrasts the giant Peng bird with a small tiao (蜩 "cicada") and jiu (鳩 "pigeon; turtledove") and the third with a yan (鴳 or 鷃 "quail"). The Peng fish-bird transformation is not only the beginning myth in Zhuangzi, but Robert Allinson claims, "the central myth". We also find the same mentioned in the questions of T'ang to Ch'i. Zhuangzi's Peng bird became a famous literary metaphor. Two early examples were the Shen yi jing (神異經 "Classic of Divine Marvels") by Dongfang Shuo (154 BCE – 93 CE) and the Commentary on the Water Classic (水經注). Many Zhuangzi scholars have debated the Peng story. Lian Xinda calls it "arguably the most controversial image in the text, which has been inviting conflicting interpretations for the past seventeen centuries." In traditional Chinese scholarship, the standard Peng interpretation was the "equality theory" of Guo Xiang (d. 312 CE), who redacted and annotated the received Zhuangzi text. Some Chinese scholars gave alternate interpretations. The Buddhist monk Zhi Dun (314-366 CE) associated the Peng's flight with the highest satisfaction achieved by the zhiren (至人 "perfect person; sage; saint", cf. zhenren). The Chan Buddhist master Hanshan Deqing (憨山德清, 1546–1623) also declares the Peng is the image of the Daoist sage, and suggests the bird's flight does not result from the piling up of wind but from the deep piling up of de "virtue; power".

Dapeng Jinchi Mingwang (Chinese: 大鵬金翅明王; lit. 'Golden-Winged King of Illumination'), AKA as the Golden-Winged Great Peng (Chinese: 金翅大鵬雕), is a guardian deity in Mahayana Buddhism. He is the spiritual uncle of the Buddha, who gave him a high position in heaven to guard the Pure land. Legend holds that in primordial times the original Phoenix (Fenghuang), the leader of flying beings, gave birth to the peacock Mahamayuri and to the eagle named the Golden Winged Great Peng. The peacock once consumed the Buddha who managed to escape by cutting through her stomach. The Buddha intended to kill the peacock but the deities told him to stop. The Buddha then promoted the peacock to be his godmother, which made the eagle his uncle, and gave the eagle a high position in heaven. Peng sits at the head of the Buddha's throne in the Western Paradise. His fiery temper was aroused when the bat-spirit Nü Tofu listened to the Buddha's sermon on the Lotus Sutra at Leiyin Temple with other stars. Nü Tofu was fascinated and accidentally broke wind which stained the Buddhists' pure land. As a result, Peng swooped down from the throne and snatched Nü Tofu up in his beak, killing her. The Buddha admonished Peng for transgressing Buddhist law and exiled him to earth. Later, Peng reincarnates as Yue Fei and the bat-spirit reincarnates as Lady Wang (王氏) marrying Qin Hui, during the Song Dynasty. Under Qin Hui's poisonous plot, Lady Wang killed Yue Fei in revenge. In Journey to the West, Peng is an antagonist in the 16th-century Chinese classic novel Journey to the West. He is a demonic eagle born from the primordial Phoenix. The Buddha gave the Eagle a high position in Heaven which only served to fuel his ego. For an unknown reason, the Eagle transformed himself into a humanoid form, the Golden Winged Great Peng, ate all residents of the Lion Camel Kingdom, ruled it for 500 years, and befriended the Azure Lion Demon and the Yellow-Toothed Elephant Demon to eat Tang Sanzang. Great Peng's powers and position of being the Buddha's uncle fuel his ego as he regarded himself above everyone else. He is armed with a ji and can fly over great distances. Peng has a Flask of Yin and Yang Essence (陰陽二氣瓶) which can suck in unsuspecting victims. After eventually tasting defeat at the Buddha's hand, Peng admits that he enjoys his demonic life eating humans, but after listening to the Buddha, Peng has no choice but to abandon his evil ways, redeeming himself in the process. After some struggle, the eagle Peng agrees to become a protector of Buddhist law.

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