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Legendary Buddhist Master--Ji Gong

Ji Gong(1130~1207), a legendary Buddhist master in Southern Song Dynasty(1127~1279), born with the name of Li Xiuyuan(李修元), but commonly known as Ji Gong(济公)or Master Daoji (Dao Ji Chan Shi, 道济禅师, Daoji is his name after he becomes a monk ). You may feel strange about his another nickname called “Crazy Ji” or "Mad Ji"(济颠, "颠" means mad and crazy) because he was a rollicking, upstart, intemperate, boisterous, happily irreverent drunk. 

Traditional Chinese painting of Ji GongSculpture of Ji Gong in Ling Yin Temple, Hangzhou, China

Traditional Chinese painting of Ji Gong

Sculpture of Ji Gong in Ling Yin Temple

Ji Gong was born and grew up in Tiantai Mountain. After his parents’ death when his was only 18 years old and keeping vigil beside the coffin for 3 years, he went to Hangzhou and became a monastic at the famous Ling Yin Temple. However, unlike traditional Buddhist monk, he ate meat and drank wine. He rolled about the hillside with monkeys, sang songs with children in the Hangzhou wine-shops and dressed as a beggar wearing worn clothes, hat, shoes, and always holding a fan as well as a gourd containing wine. However, he was warm-hearted and was always ready to lend a helping hand to ordinary people. Of course, his eccentric behavior but compassionate nature makes people think that he must have his own reason to behave as “Crazy Ji”.

Based on legends, while cultivating in the Buddha’s teaching, Ji Gong was said to be a reincarnate of arhat with magic powers. He became a holy fool who had the power of craziness in order to cover his real identity of the incarnate of the Taming Dragon Arhat (Xiang Long Luo Han, 降龙罗汉) and complete the task distributed by the Buddha of finding the escaped Da Peng Bird (大鹏鸟).

Famous sculpture of Dao Ji in Xiyuan(West Garden, 西园寺) Temple of Suzhou

The well in Jing Ci Temple of Hangzhou, related with a famous story: "古井运木".

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