Dissatisfied at Being Appointed Protector of the Horses,
Not Content with the Title of Equal of Heaven
It is decided that Monkey is to be invited to Heaven to be given office as an Immortal to keep him from further misdeeds. Monkey is made Protector of the Horses, but after finding out it is a bottom grade job, Monkey feels insulted, leaves Heaven and returns to the Mountain of Flower and Fruit. The monkeys ask him what office he held. “It hurts me to tell you,” replies the Monkey King with a wave of his hand. “I feel thoroughly humiliated. That Jade Emperor doesn’t know how to use a good man. A man like me—’Protector of the Horses’. “Your Majesty has such miraculous powers: you should never have been feeding his horses for him. You should have been made a ‘Great Sage Equaling Heaven,’ shouldn’t you?”
The Monkey King is beside himself with delight at this suggestion and keeps saying how splendid it is. “Get me a banner made at once with the words ‘Great Sage Equaling Heaven’ in big letters on it, and put up a pole to hang it from,” he orders. “From now on I am to be called ‘Great Sage Equaling Heaven,’ not ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘King’. Pass this order on to all the other kings of the monsters.” The Jade Emperor is told that Sun Wukong, the new Protector of the Horses, has left Heaven because he thought his office was too humble. On hearing this the Jade Emperor commands, “ we shall send heavenly soldiers to capture this devil.” He appoints the Pagoda-bearing Heavenly King as Demon quelling High Marshal, and Prince Nezha as Great God of the Seas. He tells them to take their forces down to the lower world at once. Heavenly King Li and Nezha kowtows, take their leave, go straight back to their own palace, and assemble their troops, commanders and officers.
They put the Mighty Miracle God in charge of the vanguard, and General Fishbelly in command of the rear, while General Yaksa was made adjutant. Within an instant they are outside the Southern Gate of Heaven, and they go straight to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. They choose a piece of level and open ground on which to construct a fortified camp, and order the Mighty Miracle God to issue the challenge to battle. The Mighty Miracle God is no match for his opponent. He hastens to block the Monkey King’s first blow with his axe, which brakes in two with a crunch. He flees for his life as fast as he can, and the Monkey King says mockingly, “You bag of pus, I’ll spare you this time. Hurry back with my message, and look sharp about it.”
The Mighty Miracle God returns to his camp, goes straight to the Pagoda-bearing Heavenly King Li Jing, kneels before him, and says with an awkward laugh, “The Protector of the Horses has really tremendous magic powers. I was no match for him. He beat me, and now I have come to take my punishment.” “This fool has ruined our morale,” explodes the Heavenly King Li in a fury. “Take him away, and off with his head.” Prince Nezha, who is standing to one side, steps forward, bows, and says, “Do not be angry, Your Majesty. Forgive the Mighty Miracle God, and let me go and do battle; then we’ll see who’s boss.” The heavenly king accepts his advice, and tells Mighty Miracle God to go back and look after the camp while he awaits his punishment.
When he has put on his armour and helmet, Prince Nezha charges straight out of the camp to the Water Curtain Cave. Sun Wukong, who was just going to pull back his troops, sees the ferocity of his onslaught. “Change,” yells Nezha in a passion, and at once he has three heads and six arms, which make him look most ferocious. In his hands he holds six weapons, a demon-beheading sword, a demon-hacking cutlass, a demon-binding rope, a demon-quelling pestle, an embroidered ball, and a fire-wheel—and wielding all these he rushes straight at Sun Wukong. At the sight of him Sun Wukong exclaims with astonishment, “Well, my boy, you certainly know a trick or two. But just behave yourself and watch what I can do.” Our dear Great Sage shouts “Change,” and he too has three heads and six arms.
He shakes his gold-banded cudgel, and it turns into three cudgels, which he grips with his six hands to ward off Nezha’s blows. It is a great fight, and it makes the earth shake and the mountains tremble. Nezha is in the middle of performing a spell when he hears the whistle of the cudgel through the air and twists away as fast as he could. But he is unable to avoid the blow and has to flee wounded. He brings his magic to an end, puts his six weapons away, reverts to his true appearance, and abandons the field of battle in defeat Prince Nezha reports to the Heavenly King Li Jing, “Father, the Protector of the Horses is very powerful. My magic was outclassed and he has wounded me in the shoulder. Outside the gates of the cave, there is a banner on a pole that reads ‘Great Sage Equaling Heaven’. He bragged that if the Jade Emperor gave him this title he would call everything off; otherwise he said he would attack the Hall of Miraculous Mist.” “In that case,” said the Heavenly King, “we’ll disengage now, go back to Heaven, and request that more heavenly troops be sent to capture this wretch. However, it is now decided that Monkey will be invited to Heaven again, in order to keep him from his wicked behavior, and can keep the title `the Great Sage Equaling Heaven`, which he gave himself. This time he will be given a high rank and salary.
Check back next week for Journey to the West Abridged: Chapter 5!
Journey to the West is one of the most famous novels in Chinese history. It was produced in the 16th century during the Ming dynasty. It has influenced countless other stories, works of art even in to the modern day, such as the anime Dragonball and the film The Forbidden Kingdom drawing inspiration from this classic.
The story follows the Tang Monk on his journey to India to obtain sacred Buddhist scriptures. Along the way he is joined by the magical Monkey King, a foolish Pig man, and the mighty Sand Monk. This article is part of a series by Walther Sell, summarizing the Chinese epic.
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