Sunday, 4 May 2014

How Poh Seng Tai Tay (保生大帝) cured the queen

There are some people who have been questioning why I am so immersed into the legends of Chinese gods and deities in my blog nowadays. Well, the direction of my writing does change with time and right now, I feel that it is necessary to share with others whatever little I have learnt about my Chinese cultural past, especially when this cultural past has connections with my clan association. And just so, the legends are documented for posterity.

Anyway, this is the final extract from the bilingual booklet found in the Cheng Leong Keong (Tai Tay Eah) temple in Jelutong, Penang. Like all my earlier posts on the deity, Poh Seng Tai Tay, the resident deity of the Swee Cheok Tong Quah Kongsi, which can be read here, I have attempted to clean up the quaint writing of the original author.

Healing Queen Wen of Ming Chengzu During the reign of Emperor Ming Chengzu in 1409, Queen Wen suffered a serious breast disease which nowadays we know as breast cancer. All the available Court physicians attempted to treat the Queen but in vain. They were at their wit's end. The Queen's son, the heir apparent, made a public announcement to request for any competent physician in the country to come forward to treat the Queen. 
Tai Tay appeared as an avatar in the person of a Taoist priest and went to the Court to offer his service. The Prince ushered Tai Tay into the Queen's inner chamber. Although she was willing to receive treatment, she was nonetheless quite reluctant to be treated by a priest. In view of her embarrassment, Tai Tay said: "Don't worry. What is needed is to tie a silk thread to the affected area. I just have to stand outside the door and shall be able to diagnose the sickness". 
The Queen was quite sceptical and wanted to test his medical skills. She secretly ordered the attendant to tie the silk thread to the leg of a cat and requested Tai Tay to diagnose. After some careful diagnosis, Tai Tay said: "The pulse is not that of a bear. Neither is it that of a leopard. It must be that of a cat!!" Not fully convinced of Tai Tay's medical skills, the Queen then asked for the silk thread to be tied secretly to a door ring and requested Tai Tay to diagnose again. After some careful diagnosis, Tai Tay said: "This has a characteristic of wood or metal. It cannot be a human pulse." 
After these two tests, the Queen was very surprised at the correctness of the diagnoses. Fully convinced of Tai Tay's medical skills and treatment, she then tied the silk thread to the affected area on her body. Tai Tay's careful diagnosis confirmed that it was a breast disease and an acupuncture treatment was needed. 
However, the Queen was put in a quandary as she was not willing to bare the top portion of her body for treatment. Tai Tay then said: "It is alright. I could remain on the outer section of the partition and use a silk thread to administer the acupuncture treatment. The treatment would be as effective". The Queen agreed to the proposal and received the treatment accordingly. True enough, she was finally healed. After witnessing this, the heir apparent was very grateful to Tai Tay for saving the Queen's life. As a token of appreciation, he wanted to bestow Tai Tay with gold and silver, and offered him an important position in the Court. 
Tai Tay gracefully rejected both the gift and offer, and left the Court quietly and disappeared. Some time later, the heir apparent managed to learn that it was Tai Tay who came in the person of the priest to save the life of the Queen. 
Many years later the heir apparent ascended to the throne as Emperor Ming Renzong. In 1425, as an Emperor, he conferred on Tai Tay the tiile of Wan Shou Wu Ji Bao Sheng Da Di, meaning the Great Protector of Life for Limitless Ages and Boundless Places. A large-scale reconstruction and extension was also carried out to convert the old temple of Tai Tay in Tong Aun District into a huge palace. In addition, a Dragon Gown was also bestowed in Tai Tay's honour. This was how Tai Tay got his royal title of Poh Seng Tai Tay. Incidentally, Tai Tay is a title of the highest order that can be conferred on a diety.
Since attaining enlightenment, Tai Tay had, through the ages, appeared many times over to save those in trouble, help those in difficulties, protect the country and bless the people. Tai Tay's meritorious deeds would be indeed fully recorded in history and his name would forever be remembered.

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