Sun Wukong

Sun Wukong
Xiyou.PNG
Sun Wukong
Information
Gender Male 
Birthplace Flowers and Fruit Mountain
Source Journey to the West, 16th century
Ability immortality, 72 Di Sha transformation, Jin Dou Cloud, Unbreakable Body, Eye of Truth.
Weapon Ruyi Jingu Bang
Master Xuanzang (Journey to the West)
Sun Wukong
Sun Wukong (Chinese characters).svg
"Sun Wukong" in Traditional (top) and Simplified (bottom) Chinese characters
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 孫悟空
Simplified Chinese 孙悟空
Burmese name
Burmese မျောက်မင်း
IPA [myaʊʔ mí̃] (Miào Mīn)
Dunganese name
Dungan Сүн Вўкун
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Tôn Ngộ Không
Thai name
Thai เห้งเจีย
RTGS Heng Chia [1]
Korean name
Hangul 손오공
Japanese name
Kanji 孫悟空
Hiragana そん ごくう
Katakana ソンゴクウ
Malay name
Malay Sun Gokong
Indonesian name
Indonesian Sun Go Kong

Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King, is a mythological figure who features in a body of legends, which can be traced back to the period of the Song dynasty. [2] He appears as a main character in the 16th century Chinese classical novel Journey to the West (西游记). Sun Wukong is also found in many later stories and adaptations. In the novel, he is a monkey born from a stone who acquires supernatural powers through Taoist practices. After rebelling against heaven and being imprisoned under a mountain by the Buddha, he later accompanies the monk Xuanzang on a journey to retrieve Buddhist sutras from "the West".

Sun Wukong possesses immense strength; he is able to lift his 13,500 jīn (7,960 kilograms (17,550 lb)) staff with ease. He is also extremely fast, able to travel 108,000 li (21,675 kilometres (13,468 mi)) in one somersault. (Note that this is more than halfway around the world). Sun knows 72 transformations, which allow him to transform into various animals and objects; however, he has trouble transforming into other forms, due to the accompanying incomplete transformation of his tail. Sun Wukong is a skilled fighter, capable of defeating the best warriors of heaven. Each of his hairs possess magical properties, capable of being transformed into clones of the Monkey King himself, and/or into various weapons, animals, and other objects. He knows spells to command wind, part water, conjure protective circles against demons, and freeze humans, demons, and gods alike. [3]

One of the most enduring Chinese literary characters, Sun Wukong has a varied background and colorful cultural history. Sun Wukong's origin is from the White Monkey legends from the Chinese Chu kingdom (700–223 BC), who revered gibbons and especially white-colored ones. [4] These legends gave rise to stories and art motifs during the Han dynasty, eventually contributing to the rise of the Sun Wukong figure. [4] Sun Wukong was initially developed as a Taoist immortal before being incorporated into Buddhist myths. [4] He is also considered by some scholars to be influenced by elements of both Chinese folklore and the Hindu deity Hanuman from the Ramayana. [4] [5] [6]

Background

Birth and early life

Depiction of the Forbidden Temple's Sun Wukong as depicted in a scene in a Beijing opera

According to the legend, Sun Wukong is born from a magic stone that sits atop the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. The stone develops a magic womb, which bursts open one day to produce a stone egg about the size of a ball.

When wind blows on the egg, it turns into a stone monkey that can already crawl and walk. He bows to each of the four-quarters. As his eyes move, two beams of golden light shoot toward the Jade palace and startle the Jade Emperor. When he sees the light he orders two of his officers to investigate. They report the stone monkey, and that the light is dying down as the monkey eats and drinks. The Jade Emperor believes him to be nothing special.

On the mountain, the monkey befriends various animals, and joins a group of other monkeys. After playing, the monkeys regularly bathe in a stream.

One day, they decide to seek the stream's source, and climb the mountain to a waterfall. They declare that whoever goes through the waterfall, finds the stream's source, and comes out again will become their king. The stone monkey volunteers and jumps into the waterfall.

He finds a large iron bridge over rushing water, across which is a cave. He persuades the other monkeys to jump in also, and they make it into their home, it wasn't until Sun Wukong reminds them of their declaration that whoever goes through the waterfall, finds the stream's source and come out again will become their king that they declare him their king. He takes the throne and calls himself Handsome Monkey King.

Sun Wukong establishes himself as a powerful and influential demon. In search of a weapon, he travels to the oceans and acquires the Golden-banded staff Ruyi Jingu Bang(如意金箍棒), a treasure of Ao Kuang, the dragon-king of the Eastern Seas. Upon Sun Wukong's approach, the staff glows to signify it has found its true master. It can change its size, multiply, and fight according to its master's whim. It weighs 13,500 jin (8.1 tons). When not wielding the weapon, Sun Wukong shrinks it down to the size of a sewing needle and tucks it behind his ear.

In addition to taking the magical staff, Wukong defeats the dragons of the four seas in battle and forces them to give him a golden chain mail shirt (鎖子黃金甲), a phoenix-feather cap (鳳翅紫金冠 Fèngchìzǐjinguān), and cloud-walking boots (藕絲步雲履 Ǒusībùyúnlǚ).

Upon his return to the mountain, he demonstrates the new weapon to his followers and draws the attention of other beastly powers, who seek to ally with him. He forms a fraternity with the Bull Demon King (牛魔王), the Saurian Demon King (蛟魔王), the Single-horned Demon King (单角魔王), the Roc Demon King (鵬魔王), the Lion Spirit King (獅狔王), the Macaque Spirit King (獼猴王) and the Snub-nosed monkey Spirit King (禺狨王). [7] [Note 1]

Sun Wukong then defies Hell's attempt to collect his soul. Instead of reincarnating, he wipes his name out of the Book of Life and Death along with the names of all monkeys known to him. The Dragon Kings and the Kings of Hell report him to the Jade Emperor. [3]

Havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom

Hoping that a promotion and a rank amongst the gods will make him more manageable, the Jade Emperor invites Sun Wukong to Heaven. The monkey believes he will receive an honorable place as one of the gods but is instead made the Protector of the Horses to watch over the stables, the lowest job in heaven. He rebels and proclaims himself the Great Sage, Equal of Heaven and sets the Cloud Horses free in vengeance.

The Heavens are forced to recognize his title; however, they again try to put him off as the guardian of the Heavenly Peach Garden. When he finds that he is excluded from a royal banquet that includes every other important god and goddess, his indignation turns to open defiance. He steals and consumes Xi Wangmu's Peaches of immortality, Laozi's pills of longevity, and the Jade Emperor's royal wine, then escapes back to his kingdom in preparation for his rebellion.

Sun Wukong later single-handedly defeats the Army of Heaven's 10,000 celestial warriors, all 28 constellations, four heavenly kings, and Nezha, and proves himself equal to the best of Heaven's generals, Erlang Shen. Eventually, through the teamwork of Taoist and Buddhist forces, including the efforts from some of the greatest deities, and then finally by the Bodhisattva of mercy, Guanyin, Sun Wukong is captured. After several failed attempts at execution, Sun Wukong is locked into Laozi's eight-way trigram Crucible to be distilled into an elixir (so that Laozi could regain his pills of longevity) by samadhi fires. After 49 days, however, when the cauldron is opened, Sun Wukong jumps out, having survived by hiding in a corner in which there was no fire and is now able to recognize evil with huǒyǎn-jīnjīng (火眼金睛) (lit. "golden-gaze fiery-eyes"), an eye condition that also gives him a weakness to smoke, and proceeds to destroy the crucible, following Heaven's remaining forces.

Imprisonment

The Jade Emperor and the authorities of Heaven appeal to the Buddha, who arrives from his temple in the West. The Buddha bets that Sun Wukong cannot escape from Buddha's palm. Sun Wukong smugly accepts the bet. He leaps and flies to the end of the world. Seeing nothing but five pillars, Wukong believes he has reached the ends of Heaven. To prove his trail, he marks the pillars with a phrase declaring himself the great sage equal to heaven (and in some versions, urinates on the pillar he signed on). He leaps back and lands in the Buddha's palm. He is surprised to find that the five "pillars" he found are in fact the fingers of the Buddha's hand. When Wukong tries to escape, the Buddha turns his hand into a mountain. Before Wukong can lift it off, the Buddha seals him there using a paper talisman bearing the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum in gold letters. Sun Wukong remains imprisoned for five hundred years. [3]

Disciple to Xuanzang

Sun Wukong with Xuanzang
Sun Wukong fighting a wind demon

Five hundred years later, the Bodhisattva Guanyin searches for disciples to protect a pilgrim on a journey to the West to retrieve the Buddhist sutras. In hearing of this, Sun Wukong offers to serve the pilgrim, Xuanzang, a monk of the Tang dynasty, in exchange for his freedom after the pilgrimage is complete. Understanding that the monkey will be difficult to control, Guanyin gives Xuanzang a gift from the Buddha: a magical headband which, once Sun Wukong is tricked into putting it on, can never be removed. With a special spell, the band will tighten and cause an unbearable headache. To be fair, Guanyin gives Sun Wukong three special hairs, to be used in dire emergencies. Under Xuanzang's supervision, Sun Wukong is allowed to journey to the West.

Throughout the epic novel Journey to the West, Sun Wukong faithfully helps Xuanzang on his journey to India. They are joined by "Pigsy" (猪八戒 Zhu Bajie) and "Sandy" (沙悟浄 Sha Wujing), both of whom accompany the priest in order to atone for their previous crimes. Xuanzang's safety is constantly under threat from demons and other supernatural beings, as well as bandits. It is believed that by eating Xuanzang's flesh, one will obtain immortality and great power. Sun Wukong often acts as his bodyguard to combat these threats. The group encounters a series of eighty-one tribulations before accomplishing their mission and returning safely to China. During the journey Sun WuKong learns about virtues and learns the teachings of Buddhism. There, Sun Wukong is granted Buddhahood, becoming the "Victorious Fighting Buddha" (Dòu-zhànshèng-fó (鬥戰勝佛)), for his service and strength. [3]

Other Languages
অসমীয়া: ছুন ৱুকং
Bân-lâm-gú: Sun Ngō͘-khong
Basa Banyumasan: Sun Go Kong
català: Sun Wukong
čeština: Sun Wu-kchung
Deutsch: Sun Wukong
español: Sun Wukong
français: Sun Wukong
galego: Sun Wukong
한국어: 손오공
Bahasa Indonesia: Sun Go Kong
italiano: Sun Wukong
Bahasa Melayu: Sun Wukong
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Gàu-séng-uòng
Nederlands: Sun Wukong
日本語: 孫悟空
norsk: Sun Wukong
polski: Sun Wukong
português: Rei Macaco
русский: Сунь Укун
српски / srpski: Сун Вуконг
suomi: Sun Wukong
svenska: Sun Wukong
Tagalog: Sun Wukong
Türkçe: Sun Wukong
українська: Сунь Укун
Tiếng Việt: Tôn Ngộ Không
文言: 孫悟空
吴语: 孙悟空
粵語: 孫悟空
中文: 孙悟空