Friday, July 4, 2014

The Deity Of Old Dynasties: Guan Gong (亦把关公比天公)

There was such a story told by a local cult religion (一贯道) that the Jade Emperor (玉皇大帝) will resign and his position will be taken over by Guan Gong (关公). For Chinese, Guan Gong is the most worshiped and respected Taoist deity today. We see this deity pretty often in Hong Kong detective and ghost movies: it is always a scene in a police station that Guan Gong is worshiped in an altar.


The main reason Guan Gong is so popular because he was said to be extremely generous (豪气如云) and the beholder of brotherhood (义薄云天). There are many stories told about the heroic behavior of Guan Gong such as: defeating of six generals (过五关斩六将), in search of brother and sister-in-law (寻兄送嫂), the brother hood in palm orchid (桃园三结义), the rider of a thousand miles (千里走单骑) and etc.


Well, that was what described by epics such as ‘The Romance Of The Three Kingdoms” (三国演义) now let us see what the actual history has to say about Guan Gong:


Why is Guan Gong being honored as 'the saint of warfare' (武圣)? Why the three brothers (刘备,关公,张飞) failed to defeat Lubu (吕布) and yet worthy of being bestowed as the saint? It should be other way round.


The history has it that Guan Gong was a hardheaded self centered (刚愎自用), braved but not so tactful militant (有勇无谋的武夫). During the Three Kingdoms (三国), Caocao (曹操) of Kingdom Wei (魏国) was the strongest and it was possible for Kingdom Shu (蜀国) and Kingdom Wu (吴国) to defend against Wei, but due to Guan Gong's ruthlessness in offending the King Shunquan (孙权) from Wu; the cooperation was ruined.


According to the story, Guan Gong has a pretty daughter while King Shunquan has a not so handsome son. Shunquan's prince wanted to marry Guan Gong's daughter but the proposal was refused by Guan Gong. That was no big deal if Guan Gong had not agreed with the marriage, but the disagreement should be declined politely as Shunquan was still the king of Wu. Guan Gong was so rude in hurting Shunquan by saying:


“The daughter of a tiger cannot marry the son of a dog.”



Needless to say, the plan for Shu and Wu to join force failed.


Prior to Qing Dynasty, the title “saint of warfare” referred to Yuefei (岳飞) as he has practically won all wars he has participated and the reason was also Yuefei also very loyal and ready to serve his emperor.


When the Manchurian took control of China, they used authoritative yet soft approach to control the Chinese of that time and made use of the slogan:


“The world (China) is one family.”



In order to emphasize the approach, the Manchurian made use of the story of ‘brother hood in palm orchid’ (桃园三结义) and bestow Guan Gong as the ‘Saint of Warfare” to unite the Chinese folks and that worked pretty well and proven in history too until today…


There is probably one or two temple worshipping Yuefei, but there are countless of temples worshipping Guan Gong. I would attribute this to the wit of the Manchurian emperor of that time.


Wonders why that a reckless militant that has no special contribution to history in particular can be worshipped as a saint and that person who has really contributed a lot to his race and country is being neglected so?


That, my friend; is history.


That is also something we need to think about…

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