Bodhi Seal of the Patriarchs
THE VENERABLE JNANABHAISAJYA,
BODHISATTVA IN THE FLESH
Written by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Yin
THE MASTER WAS FROM INDIA. IN THE FIRST YEAR OF THE TíIEN CHIEN REIGN OF THE LIANG DYNASTY (A.D. 502), HAVING TRAVELED BY SEA, HE ARRIVED IN CANTON, BRINGING WITH HIM A BODHI TREE BRANCH. HE PLANTED IT BESIDE THE PRECEPT PLATFORM AT FA HSING MONASTERY, WHICH HAD BEEN ERECTED BY GUNABHADRA IN THE FORMER SUNG DYNASTY.
Venerable One's name was JNANABHAISAJYA, in Chinese
GUNABHRDRA, -kung te hsien, "worthy one of merit
I have been to Kuang Hsiao Monastery and seen the BODHX TREE. It is quite big. Unfortunately no one looks after it: it has grown every which way and is not very attractive.
HE ERECTED AN INSCRIPTION, WHICH READ, "AFTER 170 YEARS A BODHISATTVA IN THE FLESH WILL PROCLAIM THE SUPERIOR VEHICLE BENEATH THIS TREE, TRANSMITTING THE MIND SEAL OF THE BUDDHAS. WHEN GUNABHADRA RUILT THE PLATFORM, HE ALSO ERECTED A TABLET WHICH SAID, A BODHISATTVA IN THE FLESH WILL RECEIVE THE PRECEPTS HERE. FROM THE FIRST YEAR OF THE TIEN CHIEN REIGN OF THE LIANG DYNASTY, CYCLICAL YEAR JEN WU (A.D. 502) TO THE FIRST YEAR OF THE I FENG REIGN OF THE TANG DYNASTY, CYCLICAL YEAR PING TSU (A.D. 676), IS 174 YEARS. AT THAT TIME THE SIXTH PATRIARCH ARRIVED THERE TO RECEIVE THE PRECEPTS AND TO PROPAGATE THE DHARMA.
Master Jnanabhaisajya's INSCRIPTION was a prophecy. It said, "After 170 years a BODHISATTVA IN THE FLESH" that is a Bodhisattva while he is alive, not one who is called a Bodhisattva only after his Nirvana "will proclaim the SUPERIOR VEHICLE BENEATH THIS TREE." The most Superior Vehicle is the One Vehicle, the Mahayana Dharma. The inscription foretold of one who would truly transmit the MIND to mind SEAL OF THE BUDDHAS.
Earlier, Gunabhadra had also set up a tablet which said, "A BODHISATTVA IN THE FLESH WILL RECEIVE THE PRECEPTS HERE."
From the time Master Jnanabhaisajya made his prediction until the year the Sixth Patriarch arrived to receive the precepts was 174 years, 175 as the Chinese count.
FURTHER, WHEN MASTER JNANABHAISAJYA, ON HIS JOURNEY FROM NAN HAI, PASSED THROUGH TS'AO HSI, HE CUPPED UP THE WATER IN HIS HANDS AND DRANK IT, FINDING IT FRAGRANT AND SWEET. HE SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES, THIS WATER IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF INDIA. AT ITS SOURCE THERE IS PURELY AN EXCELLENT SITE UPON WHICH TO BUILD AN ARANYA."
HE FOLLOWED THE WATER TO ITS SOURCE, TOOK NOTE OF THE MOUNTAINS AND WATER AND SAIR, THIS IS JUST LIKE JEWELER WOOD MOUNTAIN IN INDIA. TO THE VILLAGERS HE SAID, A PURE DWELLING MAY BE. BUILT HERE, CALL IT JEWELED WOOD. AFTER ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY YEARS A BODHISATTVA WILL COME HERE TO PREACH AND TRANSFORM. THOSE WHO ATTAIN THE WAY WILL BE AS NUMEROUS AS THE TRESS IN THIS WOOD. ALL OF THIS CAME TO PASS JUST AS HE HAD PREDICTED.
THE MASTER ALSO BUILT OTHER MONASTERIES, INCLUDING YUEH HUA IN LO FU WHERE HIS FLESH BODY IS PRESENTLY KEPT.
TS'AO HSI is the present day Ha Pa. The Master drank the water and said, "At the source of the stream there must be an EXCELLENT SITE WON WHICH TO BUILD AN ARANYA, a monastery." Aranya, a Sanskrit word, means "a still and silent place."
HE FOLLOWED THE WATER TO ITS SOURCE, about three miles from Ha Pa, and looked at the MOUNTAINS AND THE WATER. Behind Nan Hua Monastery there is a very high mountain. In front of it, about a mile distant, is the Ts'ao Hsi Stream which, although not deep, is very wide, about forty feet across. It is surrounded by mountains and is an especially good site for a Bodhimandala.
"This looks just like JEWELED WOOD MOUNTAIN in India," said the Master. He said to the villagers, "A PURE DWELLING MAY BE BUILT HERE; CALL IT 'JEWELED WOOD.' AFTER ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY YEARS a genuine BODHISATTVA in the flesh will come here TO PREACH AND TRANSFORM." His words were true for all of this CAME TO PASS, JUST AS HE HAD PREDICTED.
At LO FU MOUNTAIN, he also built a monastery called YUEH HUA. Yueh Hua Monastery is about seven miles from Nan Hua Monastery, and it's a difficult journey. If you wish to go pay your respects to the flesh body of Master Jnanabhasajya you must take your own lunch because there is only one left-home person there and he doesn't feed visitors, since there are so many of them. I made the journey with ten other left-home people. They all brought their lunches, but I was too lazy to pack one. When we arrived there was nothing for me to eat. I was hungry on the way up and hungry on the way back. The Master's flesh body is PRESENTLY KEPT at Yueh Hua Monastery for veneration.
A VERSE IN HIS PRAISE RUNS:
FROM INDIA HE CAME
TO PLANT THE TREE IN SHEEP-CITY;
HE DRANK THE WATER, ERECTED THE BUILDING,
AND MADE A PREDICTION OF A BODHISATTVAS COMING;
ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY YEARS LATER IT WAS VERIFIED,
AND BEINGS WERE TAKEN ACROSS.
HIS FLESH BODY REMAINS ATYIJEH HUA,
ETERNALLY SPRINKLING SWEET DEW.
SHEEP-CITY refers to Canton. It is said that formerly people saw five immortals ride into the area on the backs of sheep. The TREE is the Bodhi Tree. The Master predicted the coming of the great Bodhisattva; the Great Master the Sixth Patriarch. Although it was one hundred and seventy years later, ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY fits in better with the rhyme scheme here. Master Jnanabhasajya's Flesh body is kept at Yueh Hua Monastery where it continually SPRINKLES SHEET DEW to ferry living beings across the sea of suffering.
ANOTHER VERSE IN HIS PRAISE RUNS:
THE HOLY SAGE FROM INDIA
CAME TO VISIT CHINA,
DEEPLY PLANTING THE BODHI TREE
AT THE DHARMA NATURE ALTAR.
HE SAID THAT IN A HUNDRED AND SEVENTY YEARS,
THE GREAT BODHISATTVA WOULD ARRIVE,
AND SINCERE ONES WHO WOULD OBTAIN THE WAY
WOULD BE AS MANY AS THE TREES IN THE WOOD.
AT YUEH HUA HIS TRUE BODY
AT LO FU THE EXCELLENT MONUMENTS
TAKE THOSE WITH AFFINITIES ACROSS.
I MYSELF PAID REVERENCE
TO THE FORMERLY ENLIGHTENED ONE;
ROUND TRIP, THE JOURNEY IS
A GOOD FOURTEEN MILES.
THE HOLY SAGE FROM INDIA is Master Jnanabhaisajya. When this lofty Bodhisattva paid a visit to China, the Buddhadharma had not yet begun to flourish there. He planted a slip of a BODHI TREE beside the Precept Platform at Fa Hsing, "DHARMA NATURE" Monastery. He told everyone in advance, "After one hundred and seventy years a great BODHISATTVA will arrive to receive the precepts. Those who obtain the Way here will be as MANY AS THE TREES in the wood."
At YUEH HUA Monastery the Masterís awesome TRUE flesh BODY remains. At LO FU Mountain the EXCELLENT MONUMENTS, the monasteries he built, TAKE THOSE WITH AFFINITIES ACROSS.
I MYSELF made the trip to bow in reverence to Master Jnanabhaisajya at Yueh Hua Monastery. Coming and going, itís a good FOURTEEN MILES.