Monkey King Defeats the Demon - From Journey to the West
The story of the White Bone Demon, which comes from Chapter 27 of Journey to the West, is a classic within a classic. It is the inspiration for Shen Yun’s dance The Monkey King Triumphs, and demonstrates his mighty powers. This is how the story goes.
The Buddhist monk Xuan Zang (also known as Tang Monk and Tripitaka) and his three disciples are traveling from China, to what would now be called India, in search of the sacred Buddhist scriptures. One day, Tang Monk and his disciples—Pigsy, Sand Monk, and the Monkey King (a.k.a. Sun Wukong)—enter the mysterious White Tiger mountain range. There, lurking, is the White Bone Demon.
Trying to deceive the travelers, the demon takes on human form and transforms into a young girl. The magical Monkey King sees right through this and kills the false image. The Monkey King’s sudden violence toward a seemingly innocent girl horrifies the Buddhist monk. The demon’s spirit abandons the body, leaving behind only a corpse. It then transforms into the likeness of the girl’s mother, which the monkey again kills. The peaceful monk is at his wits end. Not learning a lesson, the demon then transforms into the father, which the Monkey King also slays, this time destroying the demon.
But the poor monk, who could not see the demon spirit, is appalled and thinks his disciple has gone mad, murdering three innocent people. Disgusted, he expels the Monkey King from the pilgrimage and pledges never to see him again.
Bidding farewell, the Monkey King prostrates himself in respect at his master’s feet, but Tang Monk turns away: “I’m a decent monk, I won’t accept bows from wicked people like you!” Not one to take no for an answer, Monkey reaches behind his furry head, plucks three hairs and blows on them. They immediately transform into three more monkeys just like him. Surrounding the monk on all four sides, they kowtow simultaneously, and the exasperated Tang Monk has no choice but to accept the gesture.
The Monkey King now gone, the monk and his remaining disciples carry on and find themselves in a forest. The Black Pine Forest is infested with demons that prove too strong for Pigsy and Sand Monk. So the monk is captured and turned into a tiger. Finally, Pigsy entreats the Monkey King to return. He accepts the offer and defeats the demons, rescuing his master once again.
The four continue on their journey to the West, and many more trials await them.
July 19, 2011