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Chapter 62

Cleansed and with a Washed Heart He Sweeps the Pagoda

The Devils Are Captured and Converted; the Body Is Cultivated

Through all the hours it must never be forgotten:

When success is won all time will be put away.

For five years and sixty thousand miles

Do not let the holy water dry up,

Do not allow the fire to flag.

When water and fire are in balance no harm will arise;

The Five Elements are joined as if with hooks.

Ying and Yang in harmony climb the cloud tower,

Riding the phoenix to the purple palace,

And flying on the crane to magical Yingzhou.

This lyric is set to the tune Lin jiang xian. It tells how Tang Sanzang and his disciples with the help of water and fire cooled their natures and borrowed the fan that was pure Yin to blow out the flames on the distant mountains. It took them many days to cover the 250 miles as they made their way West feeling relaxed and free of care. It was now the time when late autumn was becoming early winter, and this is what they saw:

The petals of wild chrysanthemums wilting,

The tender new blossom of the plum.

In all the villages crops are gathered in;

Delicious broth is everywhere enjoyed.

As the trees are stripped of leaves distant forests can be seen;

Ravines are thickly frosted and the quiet valleys pure.

In response to the cold season

The silkworms are put away to hibernate.

In pure Yin and Yang

The moon rules over the primal ocean;

Where water is at the full

Shun's sun shines with merciful brightness.

Earth vapors sink,

Sky vapors rise.

The rainbow is no more to be seen,

While slowly ice forms over the pond.

Flowers fall from the creepers on the cliff,

While bamboo and pine show still greener in the cold.

When the four of them had traveled a lot further they approached a walled and moated city. Reining in the horse the Tang Priest spoke to his disciples: Wukong, what sort of place is that with all those tall and magnificent buildings? Monkey looked and saw that the city was like this:

A wall of bronze, shaped like a dragon,

And in the form of a crouching tiger,

From all directions fine carriages approach

And many a wheel has smoothed the roads to it.

Amazing beasts are carved on the balustrades of marble;

Statues of great men stand on pedestals of gold.

This is indeed a blessed capital,

A true metropolis.

Its vast domains are firmly held;

The dynasty has flourished for a thousand years.

To the monarch's goodness the barbarians submit;

Here is the holy gathering from islands and from sea.

Before the palace steps is purity;

Peace reigns on the highways.

The bars are full of noise and song;

Bliss is found in the houses of pleasure.

Outside the palace grow trees of eternal spring

Where phoenixes sing their greetings to the dawn.

Master, said Monkey, that city is a royal capital.

The world is full of prefectural cities and county seats, laughed Pig. What makes you so sure that this is a royal capital?

You don't seem to realize that royal capitals are different from prefectural cities and county towns, Monkey replied. Just look. It's got over ten gates and the wall must measure twenty or thirty miles around. Those towers are so high they disappear into the clouds. How could anything except a royal capital be as grand as that?

You're right, brother, said Friar Sand, it is a royal city. But what's it called?

How can I tell? Monkey replied. There aren't any signs or banners. We'll have to go into it and ask.

The venerable elder whipped on his horse and was soon at a gate, where he dismounted to cross the bridge and go in to look. They saw the six main streets and the three markets, where commerce was flourishing, as well as the imposing clothes of the noble and great. Then as they were walking along they saw a dozen or so Buddhist monks in chains and cangues, heavy boards locked round their necks, begging from door to door. They were dressed in rags.

The fox mourns for the death of the hare, sighed Sanzang. All things are sorry for their own kind. Go and ask them, Wukong, why they are being punished like that.

Doing as he had been told, Monkey asked, What monastery are you from, monks? Why are you in cangues and chains?

My lord, said the monks, all falling to their knees, we are from the Golden Light Monastery and we have been wronged.

Where is the Golden Light Monastery? Monkey asked.

Just round the corner, they replied.

Monkey led them to the Tang Priest and asked them, How have you been wronged? Tell me.

We don't know where you're from, but you look a little familiar to us, my lords, the monks replied. We don't dare talk here. Please come to our poor monastery where we can tell you our woes.

Very well, said the venerable elder, we shall go to their monastery and ask them all the details. They went with them to the monastery gate, over which was a board on which was written in letters of gold



When master and disciples went inside to look around this is what they saw:

Cold were the lamps in the ancient hall;

Wind blew the leaves along deserted cloisters.

A thousand-foot pagoda touched the clouds;

Pine trees grew to nourish the nature.

Fallen blooms carpeted the unvisited grounds;

Spiders span cobwebs all over the eaves.

The drum-stand was empty,

The bell hung in vain,

And the frescoes could barely be seen through the dust.

Still was the pulpit where no priest could be seen,

Silent the dhyana hall except for the birds.

The desolation made one long to sigh;

Its dreariness caused great pain.

Although an incense burner stood before the Buddha

All was cold ash, withered flowers and desolation.

All this made Sanzang miserable, and he could not help his tears flowing. The monks in their cangues and chains pushed open the doors of the main Buddha-hall and invited him to step inside and worship the Buddha. Sanzang entered, offered the incense of his heart and said the recitation three times. Then he turned round again to see six or seven young monks locked to the pillars outside the abbot's lodgings. It was more than he could bear.

When he entered the abbot's lodgings and all the monks came to kowtow to him they asked, You reverend gentlemen look rather different. Are you from Great Tang in the East?

You must have second sight, Monkey said with a laugh. We are indeed, but how could you tell?

We don't have second sight, my lords, the monks replied. It's just that because we're so distressed at the injustice we've suffered and because there's nowhere else we can turn, we have been calling on heaven and earth for days on end. Some heavenly deity must have been moved by us because last night we all had the same dream. We were told that a holy monk was coming from Great Tang in the East who would save our lives and right our wrongs. We knew who you were today because you looked rather unusual.

This pleased Sanzang greatly. What country is this, and what injustice have you suffered? he asked.

My lord, said the monks on their knees, this country is called Jisai, and it's one of the biggest in the West. In the old days the foreign states all around used to send tribute: Yuetuo in the South, Gaochang to the North, Western Liang in the East, and Benbo to the West. Every year they used to offer fine jade, bright pearls, beautiful women and magnificent horses. We never had to resort to arms or send expeditions against them: they naturally acknowledged us as their suzerain.

If they did that your king must understand the Way and your civil and military officials be wise and good, Sanzang said.

My lord, the monks replied to Sanzang's question, our country's civil officials are not wise, our generals are not good, and our monarch does not understand the Way. Auspicious clouds used to gather round the pagoda of our monastery and mists of good omen rose high above it. The glow above it at night could once be seen from thousands of miles away; the coloured vapors were admired by the countries all around. That was why this was a divinely-appointed capital to which all the foreigners sent tribute. But three years ago at midnight on the first day of the first month of autumn it rained blood. The next morning everyone was terrified and miserable. All the ministers submitted a memorial to the throne: they didn't understand why heaven was so angry with us. Taoists were asked to perform purifications and Buddhist monks to recite sutras as an offering to heaven and earth. Goodness only knows why, but our golden pagoda has been contaminated, and for the last two years no foreign countries have sent tribute. Our king wanted to send armies to punish them, but the officials said that the reason why foreign countries weren't sending tribute was that the auspicious clouds and mists of good omen had disappeared, and this was because we monks had stolen the treasure from the pagoda in our monastery. The stupid king did not investigate, and those corrupt officials had all us monks arrested. We have been beaten and tortured in every possible way. There used to be three generations of us monks in this monastery, but the two older generations both died off because they couldn't take the beating and torture. Now we've been arrested and made to wear these cangues and chains. Your Honour, we could never be so wicked as to steal the treasure from the pagoda. We implore you to take pity on your fellows and in your great mercy and compassion make wide use of your dharma powers and save our lives.

At this Sanzang nodded and said with a sigh, This is an obscure business that will be hard to sort out. The court is ruling badly, and you are suffering a calamity. If it was the rain of blood that contaminated your pagoda why did you not report the fact to your king at the time? Instead you let yourselves in for this calamity.

We are only common mortals, your lordship, and had no way-of telling what heaven had in mind. Besides, our elders didn't understand. What could we be expected to do about it?

What's the time, Wukong? Sanzang asked.

About four in the afternoon, Monkey replied.

I would like to see the king to present our passport, Sanzang said, but I cannot solve these monks' problem and report on it to His Majesty. When I left Chang'an I made a vow in the Famen Monastery that on my journey West I would burn incense at every temple I passed, worship the Buddha in every monastery I came across, and sweep every pagoda I saw. Today I have met these monks who have been wronged on account of their pagoda. Will you get me a new broom while I take a bath? I shall then go up to sweep it and find out what has contaminated it and why it does not gleam any longer. Once I have found out the truth it will be much easier to report on it in person to the king and rescue them from their misery.

As soon as the monks in cangues and chains heard this they hurried to the kitchen to fetch a big vegetable chopper that they handed to Pig.

Take this chopper, your lordship, they said, and cut through the iron locks holding the young monks to the pillars so that they can prepare you some food and tea and wait on your master while he eats and bathes. Meanwhile we shall go out on the streets again to beg for a new broom for your master to sweep the pagoda with.

There's no problem about opening locks, laughed Pig. We don't need knives or axes. Just ask the hairy-faced gentleman: he's been opening locks for years. Monkey then stepped forward and used lock-opening magic: one touch and the locks all fell open. The young monks all ran into the kitchen to clean up the cooking pots and stove and prepare the meal. When Sanzang and his disciples had eaten and it was gradually getting dark the monks in cangues and chains came in with two brooms to Sanzang's great delight.

As they were talking a young monk came in to light the lamp and invite Sanzang to take his bath. By now the sky was bright with the moon and the stars, and from the look-out towers the watches of the night were being beaten out on the drum. It was indeed the time when

Cold breezes blow around the walls,

And lamps are lit in every house.

Along the streets all the doors are shut;

The gates of the three markets are all closed.

The fishing boat is sheltered under the trees;

The ploughing ox is let off its rope.

The woodman gives his axe a rest,

While the schoolboy can be heard reciting his lessons.

When Sanzang had bathed he put on a narrow-sleeved tunic, tightened the belt around his waist, put on a pair of boots, and took the new brooms. You sleep here while I sweep the pagoda, he said to the monks.

The pagoda was contaminated by the rain of blood, Monkey said, and it hasn't shone for many a long day. There may be evil things living up there. If you go up by yourself on this cold and windy night I'm worried that something might go wrong. Why don't I go with you?

Very good idea, Sanzang replied, and each carrying a broom they first went up into the main Buddha hall, where Sanzang lit the glazed lamp, burned incense, and bowed to the Buddha saying, Your disciple Chen Xuanzang has been sent by the Great Tang in the East to worship out Tathagata Buddha on Vulture Peak and fetch the scriptures. I have now reached the Golden Light Monastery in the kingdom of Jisai, where the monks tell me that their pagoda has been contaminated and that they have been unjustly punished because the king suspects them of having stolen the treasure. Your disciple is now going devoutly to sweep the tower in the hope that my Buddha in his great responsiveness will reveal the cause of the contamination and spare these folk from injustice.

When he had prayed he and Brother Monkey opened the door of the pagoda and began to sweep it from the ground upwards. That pagoda

Towered to the stars,

Thrust up into space.

It was called the glazed tile pagoda,

The golden sarira spire.

The stairway spiraled like the inside of a cave;

The door seemed to be the door of a coop.

The gleam of the vase reached the moon at the horizon;

The sea breeze carried the sound of its bells.

Look at the eaves and corbel brackets,

The finial in the clouds.

The eaves and corbel brackets

Were of masonry through which the scented breezes blew.

The finial in the clouds

Had mist dragons coiling around the pagoda.

The view stretched out for hundreds of miles;

To climb it was to climb to the heavens.

At the doors of every story were set glazed lamps,

But full of dust, not light.

All around under the eaves ran marble balustrades,

Covered with filth and insects.

Inside the tower,

By the Buddha statues,

Incense no longer burned.

Outside the windows,

In front of the divine face,

Cobwebs covered all.

The incense-burners were full of mouse-droppings,

The lamps untouched by oil.

Because the treasure had been spirited away

Many a monk had died for nothing.

Sanzang was determined to sweep out the pagoda

And restore to it the beauty that it had before.

When he had swept one story the Tang Priest went on to sweep the next, and so he continued till he reached the seventh story. By now it was the second watch of the night and he was beginning to feel exhausted.

You're tired, Monkey said. Sit here and let me sweep it for you.

How many stories does it have? Sanzang asked.

About thirteen I suppose, Monkey replied. Overcoming his weariness the Tang Priest said, I must sweep it myself to fulfil the vow. By the time he had swept another three stories his back and his legs were aching. At the tenth he collapsed and said, Sweep the last three floors for me, Wukong.

Monkey summoned up his energy, went to the eleventh floor, and a moment later up to the twelfth. As he was sweeping there he heard voices from in the roof. That's odd, he thought, Very odd indeed. It's the third watch. They can't be people talking up there as late as this. I'm sure it's evil spirits. Let's have a look.

The splendid Monkey King put his broom quietly under his arm, tucked up his clothes, slipped out through the door, and stepped on a cloud to take a better look. Sitting in the middle of the thirteenth story were two evil spirits with a dish of food, a bowl, and a jug of wine. They were playing the finger-guessing game and drinking.

Monkey used his magic powers to get rid of the broom and bring out his gold-banded cudgel, with which he barricaded the entrance to the pagoda and shouted, So you're the ones who stole the pagoda's treasure, you monsters. The two of them jumped up in their panic, grabbed the jug and bowl, and flung them at him. Monkey deflected them with his iron cudgel and said, I won't kill you because I need you to give evidence.

He just used his cudgel to force them to talk. The devils were pinned against the wall, unable to struggle or even move. All they could do was to repeat, Spare us, spare us. It was nothing to do with us. The thief isn't here.

Monkey used holding magic to carry them single-handed down to the tenth story, where he said, Master, I've got the thieves.

This news woke up Sanzang, who had been dozing, with a start of pleasure. Where did you catch them? he asked.

Dragging the demons over and forcing them to kneel to his master Monkey replied, They were drinking and playing finger-guessing up in the roof. When I heard the din they were making I shot up by cloud to the roof and blocked their escape. I wasn't rough with them because I was worried that a single blow would kill them and we'd have nobody to give evidence. That's why I brought them here nice and gently. You can take statements from them, Master, and find out where they're from and where the stolen treasure has been hidden.

The demons were still shivering and shaking and saying, Spare us! Then they made this true statement. We were sent by the Infinitely Sage Dragon King of the Green Wave Pool on the Ragged Rock Mountain. His name's Benborba and mine is Baborben. He's catfish spirit and I'm a snakehead fish spirit. Our Infinitely Sage Ancient Dragon has a daughter called the Infinitely Sage Princess. She is as lovely as flowers or the moon and brilliant as well. The Ancient Dragon got a husband for her who would live in the palace. He has tremendous magic powers and he's called Prince Ninehead. He came here the other year with the dragon king to demonstrate his powers by making a blood rain that contaminated the pagoda and stealing the precious sarira relic of the Buddha. The princess then went up to the Daluo Heaven and stole the Queen Mother's nine-lobed magic fungus plant from in front of the Hall of Miraculous Mist. We keep it at the bottom of the pool, and it shines day and night with golden light and a coloured glow. Recently we've heard that Sun Wukong is on his way to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. They say his powers are enormous, and that all along the way he has been looking out for wrongs to right. That's why we keep getting sent here to patrol and stop him when the comes. If that Sun Wukong turns up we're ready for him.

At this Monkey gave a mocking laugh. What an evil beast, he said. He's unspeakable. No wonder he invited the Bull Demon King to his place for a banquet the other day. He's been extending his contacts among all these damned demons because he's up to no good.

Before he had finished speaking Pig and two or three of the young monks came up the steps from the bottom of the pagoda with lanterns.

Master, Pig said, why don't you go to bed now that you've swept the pagoda instead of staying here talking?

You've come at just the right moment, brother, said Monkey. The pagoda's treasure was stolen by the Infinitely Sage Ancient Dragon. He sent these two little devils I've just captured to patrol the pagoda and keep their ears open for news of us.

What are they called, and what sort of spirits are they? Pig asked.

They've just confessed everything, Monkey replied. This one's called Benborba and he's a catfish spirit, and that one's Baborben and he's a snakehead fish spirit. Pig then lifted his rake to strike them.

If they're evil spirits and they've already confessed, he said, what are we waiting for? Let's kill them.

No, said Monkey, you don't understand. Keep them alive so that they can tell it all to the king and lead us to catch the thieves and get the treasure back. The splendid idiot then put his rake down again. He and Monkey each carried one of them down the stairs.

Spare us, the demons kept pleading.

I'd like to turn you two fish into soup for those monks who've been mistreated so unjustly, muttered Pig.

The two or three young monks, who were thoroughly delighted, led the venerable elder down the pagoda stairs with their lanterns. One of them ran ahead to tell the other monks.

Good news, he shouted, good news! Our troubles are over. The reverend gentlemen have caught the evil spirits who stole the treasure.

Fetch chains, Monkey said, run them through their shoulder-bones, and lock them up here. Watch over them while we get some sleep. We'll decide what to do next tomorrow. The monks then kept a very close watch on the demons while Sanzang and his disciples slept.

Before they knew it it was dawn. Wukong and I will go to court to present the passport, Sanzang said, and he put on his brocade cassock and Vairocana mitre. When he was dressed in his majestic vestments he strode forward, accompanied by Monkey, who had tightened his tigerskin kilt and straightened up his tunic and was carrying the passport.

Why aren't you taking those two demons with you? Pig asked.

We'll submit a memorial to the throne first, Monkey replied, then I expect the king will send men for them. They then went to the palace gates, seeing no end of red birds and golden dragons adorning the deep red gateways of the pure capital.

At the Gate of Eastern Splendor Sanzang bowed to the officer in charge and said, May I trouble Your Honour to report that a monk sent from Great Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven begs an audience with His Majesty to present his passport?

The gate officer did indeed make this report, going to the steps of the throne to say, There are two Buddhist monks with strange faces and strange clothes outside who say they have been sent by the Tang court in the East of the Southern Continent of Jambu to go to the West to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. They request an audience with Your Majesty in order to present their passport. The king then sent for them.

As the Tang Priest took him into the palace all the civilian and military officials were alarmed at the sight of Monkey. Some called him the monkey monk, and others the thunder-god monk; they were all too terrified to look at him for very long. The Tang Priest bowed to the king with a dance and a loud chant of obeisance, while the Great Sage stood leaning to one side with his arms crossed, not moving.

The venerable elder then submitted this memorial: I am a priest who has been sent by the Great Tang in the East of the Southern Continent of Jambu to worship the Buddha and fetch the true scriptures in Thunder Monastery in the land of India in the West. As my route lies across your distinguished country I would not dare cross without authorization, and I beg you to verify the passport I have with me and allow me to proceed.

The king was very pleased to hear all this, so he summoned the holy priest from Tang to the throne hall, where an embroidered stool was set for him to sit on. Sanzang went into the hall by himself and handed over the passport before gratefully accepting the courtesy stool.

When the king read the passport through he was delighted. It appears that when your Great Tang emperor was ill he could choose an eminent monk who would not flinch from a long journey to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. But all the monks in our country want to do is to steal, thus destroying the country and ruining their sovereign.

When Sanzang heard this he put his hands together and replied, How can you be so sure they are destroying the country and ruining their sovereign?

This country of ours is the leading one in the Western Regions. The foreign states all around always used to send tribute because of the golden pagoda in the Golden Light Monastery in this capital. A multicolored glow used to shine from the pagoda right up to the sky. But recently the pagoda's treasure has been stolen by the wicked monks in the monastery, and for three years now there has been no coloured glow and no tribute from the foreigners. It is all extremely upsetting for us.

Your Majesty, said Sanzang, smiling as he put his hands together in front of his chest, a little mistake can lead to a great disaster. Soon after entering the gates of your heavenly capital yesterday I saw a dozen or so monks in cangues. When I asked them why they told me that they were from the Golden Light Monastery and were the victims of injustice. On close investigation in the monastery I found that it was no fault of the monks there. When I swept the pagoda in the middle of the night I captured the thieving devils who had stolen the treasure.

Where are they? asked the delighted king.

My disciples have them locked up in the Golden Light Monastery, Sanzang replied.

The king ordered royal guards to be sent at once to the Golden Light Monastery to fetch the thieving devils so that he could interrogate them himself. Your Majesty, I think it would be best if my disciple went with the guards.

Where is he? the king asked.

Standing by the steps of the throne, Sanzang replied.

The king was shocked by what he saw. How can your disciple be so ugly when you, reverend sir, are so handsome? he asked.

When he heard this the Great Sage Sun shouted at the top of his voice, Your Majesty, you should no more judge people by their faces than you'd measure the sea with a bucket. Good looks would never have captured the thieving devils.

This calmed the king's alarm, and he said, You are right, holy monk. We do not know how to select men of talent here. The ones who catch the thieves and recover the treasure are best. He then ordered his aides to have a carriage prepared and told the royal guards to look after the holy monk as he went to fetch the thieving devils. The aides had a large palanquin with a yellow canopy got ready in which eight guardsmen carried Monkey with eight more as escorts who shouted to clear the way to the Golden Light Monastery. By now the whole city had heard the news; everyone came out to see the holy monk and the thieving devils.

Hearing the shouts Pig and Friar Sand, imagining that the king must have sent some of his officials, hurried out to meet them, only to see Monkey riding in the palanquin. Now you're yourself again, brother, laughed Pig.

What do you mean? Monkey asked, putting his hand on Pig to steady himself as he stepped out of the chair.

There you are, being carried by eight men in a carrying chair under a royal yellow canopy, said Pig. Isn't that the way the Handsome Monkey King should travel? That's why I said you're yourself again.

Stop joking, said Monkey, who then had the two devils brought for him to escort to the king.

Won't you take me along too? Friar Sand asked.

You stay here and look after the luggage and the horse, Monkey replied.

My lords, said the monks in cangues and chains, why don't you all go to see His Majesty? We can look after your things here.

In that case we'll all go to report to the king, said Monkey, and then have you released. With Pig manhandling one devil and Friar Sand the other, Monkey got back into the palanquin, and led the devils to the court.

They were soon at the steps of the throne hall, where the king was told that the devils had arrived. He came down from his dragon throne to examine them with the Tang Priest and his civil and military officials. One of the devils had bulging cheeks, black scales, a pointed mouth and sharp teeth. The other had slimy skin, a fat belly, a big mouth and long whiskers. Although they had legs and could walk it was obvious that they had only assumed a certain appearance of humanity through transformation.

Where are you from, you thieving devils, you evil spirits? the king asked. How long have you been preying on this country? Which year did you steal our treasure? How many of you bandits are there? What are your names? I want it all, and I want the truth. The two devils fell to their knees before him, and although blood was gushing from their necks they did not feel the pain. This was what they had to say:

Three years ago, on the first day of the seventh month, the Infinitely Sage Dragon King brought a crowd of his relations to live in the Southeast corner of this country, in the Green Wave Pool on Ragged Rock Mountain about forty miles from here. He has an extremely attractive daughter for whom he found a husband to live in our palace, Prince Ninehead. His magic powers are unbeatable. He knew that you had a rare treasure in your tower, so he plotted with the dragon king to steal it. First he made it rain blood and then he stole the Buddha relic. Now it lights up the dragon palace, which is as bright as day even in the darkest night. Then the princess used her powers to sneak up and steal the Queen Mother's magic fungus to keep the treasure warm in the pool. We two aren't the bandit chiefs. We're just private soldiers sent here by the dragon king who were captured last night. This is the truth.

As you have made this confession, the king said, why don't you tell me your names?

I am Benborba, one of them replied, and he is Baborben. I am a catfish monster and he is a snakehead monster.

The king then told the royal guards to keep them safely behind bars and ordered, Release all the monks of the Golden Light Monastery from their cangues and chains, and have the Office of Foreign Affairs prepare a banquet in the Unicom Hall to congratulate the holy monks on their great achievements in catching the thieves. We shall now invite them to capture the ringleaders.

The Office of Foreign Affairs then laid on a double banquet of both meat and vegetarian food, for which the king invited Sanzang and his disciples to take their places in the Unicorn Hall.

May I ask your title, holy monk? he said to Sanzang, who replied, his hands together, My lay surname is Chen, and my Buddhist name Xuanzang. My emperor granted me the surname Tang and the title Sanzang.

What are your disciple's titles? the king asked.

They do not have titles, Sanzang replied. The senior one is called Sun Wukong, the second one Zhu Wuneng, and the third Sha Wujing. These were the names the Bodhisattva Guanyin of the Southern Sea gave them. When they became my disciples I called Wukong Sun the Novice, Wuneng Bajie and Wujing Friar Sand.

The king then asked Sanzang to take the place of honour while Monkey sat at his left and Pig and Friar Sand at his right. Their banquet was all vegetarian: fruit, vegetables, tea and rice. In front of them was a table of meat dishes at which sat the king, and below him were a hundred or more tables set with meat dishes for all the civil and military officials. The officials all thanked the king for his kindness, and the disciples sat down with the permission of their master. When all were seated the king raised his goblet, and though Sanzang would not drink his three disciples all drank to the success of the banquet. Woodwinds and strings then began to sound as the court musicians performed.

Just watch Pig as he eats for all he is worth, gobbling his food down whole like a tiger or a wolf and emptying the table. Soon more soup and food was brought, only to disappear in the same way. Every time servants brought more wine he drained the cup, never refusing. The feast went on till after midday before it broke up.

When Sanzang expressed his thanks for the sumptuous banquet the king wanted to keep him longer. It was just a gesture to thank you holy monks for catching the demons. He then ordered the Office of Foreign Affairs to move the banquet to the Jianzhang Palace so that he could discuss with the holy monks how the ringleaders were to be captured and the treasure brought back to the pagoda.

If we are to capture the thieves and recover the treasure, Sanzang said, another banquet won't be needed. We shall take our leave of Your Majesty now and set off to catch the demons.

But the king insisted on taking them to the Jianzhang Palace for another banquet. Which of you holy monks will lead the force that is to capture the monsters? he asked, raising his goblet.

Send my senior disciple Sun Wukong, Sanzang replied. The Great Sage raised his clasped hands and bowed in acknowledgement.

If the venerable Sun is going how big a force of cavalry and foot will he need, the king asked, and when will he be setting out?

At this Pig could not restrain himself from shouting, We won't need any soldiers, and we don't care when we go. With a good meal and a few drinks inside us he and I can go and catch them right now, just by laying our hands on them.

Bajie, said Sanzang with delight, you're getting very keen.

Very well then, said Monkey. Friar Sand, you guard the master while we two go.

Even if you two venerable elders don't need troops, the king said, surely you need weapons.

We don't need your weapons, laughed Pig. We carry our own. On hearing this the king fetched two huge goblets and drank a toast to them on their journey.

We won't have any more to drink, said Monkey. But we'd like the royal guards to bring those little demons to us. We need them as guides. The king gave the order and they were brought out at once. Then Monkey and Pig, each firmly grasping a demon, rode the wind and used carrying magic to take them off to the Southeast. Indeed:

Only when king and court saw the magical clouds

Did they realize that the four of them were truly holy monks.

If you don't know how the capture went and what they found, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 61 | Journey to the West (vol. 2) | Chapter 63