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Thursday, June 21, 2012

EXTRA: Gu Baijing Tai Temple, Jiuhuashan, Anhui

Gu Baijing Tai (古拜经台) Temple, where the famous reincarnation of Dizang (Kshitigarbha
Bodhisattva=地藏菩萨) named Jin Qiaojue (金乔觉) meditated on Jiuhuashan, Anhui (安徽, 九华山).
After a week on the road, I laid over two nights at home, then headed off for another 10-day trip, this one to Anhui and the Buddhist mountain called Jiuhua Shan.

Each of China's four Buddhist mountains is dedicated to one of the four major Bodhisattvas. This one is sacred to Dizang (Sanskrit Kshitigarbha), who has vowed to save all the beings out of the six levels of hell. Thus, he is commonly associated with the chanting at funerals. [Putuo Shan is dedicated to Guanyin Pusa, or Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva; Wutai Shan is for Wenshu Pusa, or Manjushri Bodhisattva; and Emei Shan, to which I haven't been as of this writing in April 2014, is for Puxian Pusa, or Samanthabhadra Bodhisattva.]

Legend says that Dizang arrived on Jiuhua Shan in the 8th century in the guise of a Korean named Jin Qiaojue, a monk (some say an aristocrat) whose practice was so pure that at his death, "the mountain roared, birds and monkeys cried, and the earth gave out fire and light." This is how the locals knew he was Dizang.

The site of his practice was a place now called Gu Baijing Tai, the "Ancient Sutra-Worshipping Terrace." It's easy enough to get to today; a cable-car arrives only a few hundred level meters away.

One of the most interesting artifacts at Gu Baijing Ta is a piece of stone with slightly-larger-than-life-sized footprints imprinted on it. These are said to have been left by Dizang Bodhisattva, who stood so single-mindedly chanting in one place that his footprints remained in the stone.

Elsewhere around the terrace are weird stones whose shapes have been given names like "Roc (a mythical bird) listening to a sutra" and, of course, a stone pillar that resembles the bodhisattva Guanyin. All in all there are over 100 named sites.

Next week: Toiling on up to Tiantai Peak.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily March 31, 2014.)

GPS Info:
  • 30.46491, 117.82349



Map:


(This may look blank, but it works--I promise!)



GALLERY

Gu Baijing Tai as seen from the cable car
The alleged footprints of Dizang Bodhisattva left in stone
An ancient statue of Dizang Bodhisattva
Looking back on Gu Baijing Tai from a little way up the trail toward Tiantai Temple

There are 12 pictures related to this temple (some of them identical to these, but with different captions) in a FaceBook album starting here (available to all, even without a FaceBook account).

Click here to visit the next article in chronological order || Click here to view the trip details

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