Journey to the South (Nanyouji, 南遊記, c. 1570s-1580s),  is one of four shenmo novels, dubbed the Four Journeys (Siyou ji, 四遊記), (re)published during the Wanli era by Yu Xiangdou (余象斗, c. 1560-c. 1640). This eighteen chapter work follows the adventures of the martial deity Huaguang dadi (華光大帝) (fig. 1), variously translated as “Great Emperor of Flowery/Resplendent/Magnificent/Majestic Light.” He begins the story as a divine disciple of the Buddha who is exiled from paradise for taking a life. But after a series of rebirths in which he causes trouble as a trickster, Huaguang redeems himself by using his powers to subdue evil.
What’s interesting for the purposes of this blog is that the Monkey King appears as a tertiary character in chapters one and seventeen. The latter is notable among fans of Journey to the West as it mentions that our hero has children. One in particular, his monstrous daughter Yuebei xing (月孛星, “Moon Comet Star”), is shown to be a powerful sorceress who can threaten even the lives of immortals with her magic skull weapon.
Here, I would like to archive an English translation of Journey to the South by a translator with the penname “Peter Pan.” A big thank you to Monkey Servant (a.k.a. Monkey-Ruler) for converting the original ebook into a searchable text PDF.
After killing a havoc-wreaking Single-Flame King, Manjusri is banished by Tathagata [Buddha] to reincarnate into Spirit Light as a son of Mount Horse-Ear King, endowed with five accesses to natural elements and a heavenly eye.
[Jim here: One of Manjushri’s old Chinese Buddhist names is Miao Jixiang (妙吉祥). Huaguang’s previous incarnation, a divine flame-turned-Buddhist deity, also shares this name, but the two are not related (Von Glahn, 2004, p. 214). Therefore, translating the name as Manjushri is not accurate.]
During his trip to the Spiritual Void Palace, Spirit Light frees two ghosts by stealing a golden spear, but he is killed by Purple Subtlety Heaven Emperor. He again reincarnates as Three-Eye Spirit Flare in the family of Blazing Darkness Heavenly King. He steals from his master Wonderful Joy Celestial Being a golden broadsword, to make it into a triangular golden brick as his divine weapon.
Later, he wreaks havoc in the Jade Flower Gathering in the heavens and assumes the title of Huaguang, but he is subdued by Black Sky Heaven Emperor. Afraid of being punished by the Jade Emperor, Huaguang reincarnates again into Xiao’s Family Village, where he subdues demons and evil spirits with his divine power. Considering his meritorious deeds, the Jade Emperor grants pardon to him.
Huaguang has no idea that his mother is a man-eating monster named Ganoderma who is later detained by Dragon Auspice King in Fengdu, the demon capital.
Searching around for his mother, Huaguang cheats the Goddess Jade Ring for her pagoda, intending to melt it as his weapon. He meets her daughter Princess Iron Fan and takes her as his wife. He continues to subdue more demons and evil spirits.
Still missing his mother, Huaguang learns she was in the underworld and ventures there without hesitation.
Could Huaguang save his mother? Could he prevent his mother from eating humans again? What stories occur between Huaguang and the legendary Monkey King? What is the fate of Huaguang himself after his undulating reincarnations?
Read on to know more about the making of Heavenly King Resplendent Light, a renowned divine figure in Chinese mythology.
II. Archive Link
This has been posted for educational purposes. No malicious copyright infringement is intended. If you liked the digital version, please support the official release when it once again becomes available on Amazon.
1) Evidence suggests that the book was originally published prior to the 1590s (Cedzich, 1995, as cited in Von Glahn, 2004, p. 311 n. 145). Yu Xiangdou later renamed the book when he combined it with the other novels to create the Four Journeys. Von Glahn (2004) explains:
The full title of the earliest known copy of Journey to the South, the 1631 edition in the British Museum, is Quanxiang Huaguang tianwang nanyou zhizhuan [全像華光天王南游志傳] (A Fully Illustrated Chronicle of the Journey to the South by the Heavenly King Huaguang) (p. 311 n. 145).
Von Glahn, R. (2004). The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture. United Kingdom: University of California Press.