The Monkey King
The story of The Monkey King is related to a true story in relation to a famous monk, Xuan Zang of the Chinese Tang Dynasty (602-664). After a decade of trials and tribulations, he arrived on foot to what today is known as India, the birthplace of Buddhism. His purpose was to find the true Buddhist holy books. When he returned, Xuan Zang translated the Sutras into Chinese, thus making a great contribution to the development of Buddhism in China.
The Monkey King was born out of a rock which was fertilized by the grace of Heaven and Earth. Being extremely intelligent, he learned magic tricks and gongfu from an immortal Taoist master. Now he can transform himself into seventy-two different images such as a tree, a bird, a beast of prey or an insect that sneaks into an enemy's body to torment them. Using clouds as a vehicle, he can travel 108,000 miles with a single somersault.
He claims to be The King in defiance of the only authority over the heaven, the seas, the earth and the subterranean world - Yù Huáng, or "The Jade Emperor". That act of high treason, coupled with complaints from the masters of the four seas and Hell, incurs the punishment of the relentless scourge of the heavenly army. The monkey even seized the Dragon King's crown treasure from the bottom of the ocean: a huge gold-banded iron rod used as a ballast of the waters. Able to expand or shrink at his command, the iron rod becomes the monkey's favourite weapon in his later feats. The first test of its power came when the monkey stormed into hell and threatened the Hadean king into sparing his and his followers mortal lives so that they all could enjoy eternity.
After many meetings with the fearless Monkey King, the heavenly army suffered numerous humiliating defeats. The celestial monarch had little choice but to try their appeasement strategy; to offer the monkey an official title in heaven with little authority.
When he learned the truth that he was nothing but an object of ridicule, the enraged monkey revolted and fought his way back to earth to resume his original claim as The King.
Eventually, the heavenly army, enlisting the help of all the god warriors with diverse tricks, managed to capture the almost invincible monkey. He is sentenced to capital punishment. However, all methods of execution fail. Having a bronze head and iron shoulders, the monkey dulls many a sword inflicted upon him. As the last resort, the emperor commands that he be incinerated in the furnace so that Lao Tzu could refine his pills of longevity. Instead of killing the monkey, the fire and smoke sharpened his eyes so that he could see through things that others can not and thus fought his way back to earth again.
After running out of ideas, the celestial emperor asks Buddha for help. Buddha imprisons the monkey under a great mountain known as Wu Zhi Shan (The Mount of Five Fingers). The tenacious monkey survives the enormous weight and pressure and five hundred years later, the Tang Monk, Xuan Zang, whom we mentioned at the beginning of the story, comes to his rescue.
To make sure that the monk could make it to the West to get the Sutras, Buddha arranged for the Monkey King to become the monk's escort in the form of his disciple. On their way to the west, two more disciples, also due to Buddha's arrangement, join their company. One is the humorous and courageous pig a former celestial general who was punished after his assault against a fairy; the other a sea monster who also used to be a celestial general now in exile for a misdemeanour.
The party of four was further reinforced by a horse, an incarnation of a dragon's son. Together, they started their stormy journey to the West - an eventful journey packed with adventure that brought into action the puissance of the monk's disciples, especially the Monkey King.