A Typical Chinese Monastery  


the Ta-Hung-Pau-Tien that devout Buddhists offer their prayers
and offerings of flowers, fruits and other gifts which are placed
on the table in front of the main altar. Very often, behind the
central images of this hall and facing northwards, is placed the
images of Kuan Yin P'usa.
e third, or Back Hal , at the back is usual y divided into several
smal er hal s (Tien) or rooms. e central hall is general y the al-
tar of a Buddha or a Bodhisat va, the right housing the funerary
tablet of the temple founder, while the left may be the Teaching
or Meditation Hal . On the side or behind these main buildings
are the living quarters, the dining area and the kitchen.

CHAPTER I
ypical hinese onastery
e Chinese Buddhist monastery or temple is fashioned after
the palaces and bears very lit le resemblance to that of temples in
India or any other Buddhist countries. General y there are three
groups of buildings separated by courtyards. e monastery, like
other Chinese structures, normal y faces south.
Entering the front hal , one is confronted by four huge images,
usual y made of wood, two on each side. ese are the Four
Heavenly Kings or Devas, the Guardians of the four Directions,
and the hall is named after them as the `SI TIEN WANG TIEN'.
In this hall too, one is greeted at the entrance, by the lovable and
kindly Buddha-to-be, Maitreya Buddha, known to the Chinese
as the `Laughing Buddha' or `Ta-pao Mi-Lei-Fwo', who has a fat
paunch, looking joyously towards the entrance. Directly behind
Mi-Lei-Fwo, often separated by a wal , is the great Deva Wei-
to, the Protector of Buddhist temples and Faith. He is depicted
clad in full armour and holding either a gnarled staff or a sceptre-
shaped weapon of assault resting on the ground. Wei-To, who is
a general under the Four Heavenly Kings, is also accorded the
title of `Protector of Buddhist Books'. He is always facing the
Great Hall known as the `TA-HUNG-PAU-TIEN' which is sepa-
rated from the front hall by a wall or a courtyard.
In the Great Hall the main altar is found along with the images
of Sakyamuni Buddha and his two foremost disciples Maha-


kasyapa and Ananda, or other Buddhas of the past eras. e
arrangement and choice of personages in this altar varies from
temple to temple. Most of the time Sakyamuni Buddha is de-
picted in the at itude of contemplation with his disciples flank-
ing him. Temples dedicated to Amitabha Buddha have his image
at the centre, Sakyamuni Buddha and Bahaisajyaguru, bet er
known to the Chinese as `Yao-Shih-Fwo', each accompanied by
two disciples. To the right and left of the main altar one usual y
finds the two Great Bodhisat vas, Manjusri (Wen-Shu-Shih-
Li) and Samantabhadra (Pu-Hsien). e placements of person-
ages are not real y fixed so that one may often find Sakyamuni
Buddha being flanked by Amitabha (O-Mi Two-Fwo) and Yao-
Shin-Fwo (Medicine Buddha), the two great Buddhas of past
eras. At other times a single Buddha is seen seated between his
two Bodhisat vas, Sakyamuni (Shih Jia-Mo-Ni-Fwo) between
Manjusri and Samantabhadra or Amitabha Buddha with Avalo-
kitesvara (Kuan Yin) and Mahasthamaprata (Ta-Shih-Chih).
Temples dedicated to Kuan Shih Yin P'usa will have her flanked
by Wen-shu-Shih-Li and P'u-Hsien.
On the east and west sides of the wal s of this Great Hall are
often arranged the figures of the Eighteen Arhats (Lohans)
who are represented as possessing various kinds of supernatural
power. Along the north wall are often found the images of Jan-
teng Fwo or Dipankara, the ancient Buddha who predicted
Sakyamuni's Buddhahood, and the popular Bodhisat vas such
as Kuan Yin, Wen-shu, Pu-Hsien and Ti-tsang (Ksi-tigarbha),
or other Bodhisat vas. Very often, images of Kuan Ti, the Pro-
tector of Buddhism, can also be found in this hal . It is here at

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