Since it is still around the time of the Ghost Festival which we talked about last time, I want to talk more stories about the underworld in Chinese mythology.
In Chinese folklore, it says, after death, we would enter the ghost gate 鬼门关 which we mentioned in our episode 12. The road after we enter the underworld is called HuangQuan Road 黄泉路. Huang means yellow and quan means springs. I assume yellow springs represents underground water. There is a river called WangChuan River 忘川河 at the end of the HuangQuan Road. Wang means forget. There is a bridge over the river called NaiHe Bridge 奈何桥. NaiHe means unable to do anything with. When you walk through the NaiHe Bridge, there is a lady giving soup to everyone passing by. The lady is called MengPo 孟婆. Meng is her last name, po means lady. The soup is called MengPoTang 孟婆汤, soup of forgetfulness. After drinking the soup, we would forget everything happened and everyone we know in our past life and be ready to be reincarnated. On a huge rock called SanShengShi 三生石, the Rock of Three lives along the river, you can find everything about your last life, this life and the next life written on the rock.
These folklore started from the Qing Dynasty 清朝. MengPo was first mentioned in the book YuLiBaoChao 玉历 宝钞. In the book XuanShiZhi 宣室志, it says, the source of NaiHe River is from the underworld. When you look closely, the water in the river is actually blood and smells awful. The NaHe Bridge is slippery to walk where evil spirits would fall into the river. In the book FengDuZongJiaoYiSuDiaoChao 酆都宗教习 俗调查, it says, there are three levels on the bridge. The good spirits can walk safely on the upper level while the evil spirits walk on the lower level and are bother by ghosts and chased by dogs and snakes until they fall into the river. Whoever fall into the river can never be reincarnated.
In the book XieFeng 谐锋, it says there was a man called GeSheng 葛生 who fell in love with a girl named YuRui 玉蕊. Since GeSheng was too poor to marry YuRui, they were separated. GeSheng committed to suicide for love. Death death, he came to the underworld. The King of Hell 阎罗王 though he didn’t deserve to die and assign him to be a human again in the next life. Walking on the road to the reincarnation, GeSheng saw crowds of people trying to get water under a shelter. GeSheng was thirsty and planned to share some to drink. At this moment, a girl came from the shelter who truned out to be his lover YuRui’s sister LanRui 兰蕊, who died of diseases before him. She tol GeSheng that. “Don’t you that this is the place called MengPoZhuang, the village of MengPo. You are lucky that MengPo wasn’t here today that LanRui was in charge of the soup. If you drink the soup like other people, you will never be back again. ” With LanRui’s guidance, GeSheng found the way back home and was back to life.
玉历 宝钞 YuLiBaoChao
酆都宗教习 俗调查 FengDuZongJiaoYiSuDiaoChao
阎罗王 King of Hell