Statuette of Long Nu as a bodhisattva.

Long Nü (Chinese; 龍女; Pinyin: Lóngnǚ), translated as Dragon Daughter (in Sanskrit, Nagaranya), along with Shan Cai are acolytes of the Bodhisattvas Guan Yin, however there are no scriptural sources that connect both Shan Cai and Long Nu to Guan Yin at the same time. She and Shan Cai being depicted with Guan Yin was most likely influenced by the Jade Maiden (Chinese: 玉女; Pinyin: Yùnǚ) and Golden Youth (Chinese: 金僮; Pinyin: Jīntóng) who both appear in the iconography of Yù Huáng. She is described as being the eight-year old daughter of the Dragon King of the East Sea. [1]

Lotus Sutra

Long Nu is depicted in the 12th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra as being full of wisdom and achieving instant enlightenment. After which she offers a pearl to Buddha, while in other sutras she offers the pearl to Avalokitesvara.

Tale of the Southern Seas

A single chapter in the Complete Tale of Guan Yin and the Southern Seas (Chinese: 南海觀音全撰; Pinyin: Nánhǎi Guānyīn Quánzhuàn), a sixteenth century Ming Dynasty novel is the first text that connects Long Nu and Shan Cai together as being acolytes of Guan Yin. The Dragon King's third son was out for a swim in the sea in the form of a carp and was captured by a fisherman. Unable to transform into his dragon form due to being trapped on land, he was going to be sold and butchered at the local market. Once Guan Yin learned of his predicament, she gave Shan Cai all her money and sent him to buy the prince from the market and set him free The carp was still alive hours after it was caught. This drew a large crowd and soon a bidding war started due to people believing that eating this fish would grant them immortality. Shancai was easily outbid and begged the fish seller to spare the life of the fish, but to no avail and earning the scorn of the people at the market. It was then that Guan Yin projected her voice from far away saying "A life should definitely belong to one who tries to save it, not one who tries to take it." The crowd realizing their mistake soon dispersed and Shancai was able to bring the carp back to Guan Yin and return it to the sea.

As a token of gratitude, the Dragon King asked Ao Guang to bring the "Pearl of Light", but his granddaughter volunteered to go in her father's place instead. After offering the pearl to Guan Yin, she decided to stay with her and become her disciple to learn the Buddha Dharma.[2]

The Precious Scrolls

Unlike the Complete Tale of Guan Yin and the Southern Seas which only briefly mentions Long Nu, the Precious Scroll of Shan Cai and Long Nu (Chinese: 善財龍女寶撰; Pinyin: Shàncái Lóngnǚ Bǎozhuàn), an eighteenth-nineteenth century scroll comprising of twenty-nine folios, is completely devoted to the legend of Long Nu and Shan Cai and seems to have a Taoist origin. The text is set during the Qianfu period of the Tang Dynasty. According to the text, one day when Shan Cai was walking down a mountain path to visit his father he heard a voice crying out for help. Upon investigation, it turned out to be the voice of a snake trapped in a bottle for the last eighteen years. The snake begged Shan Cai to release her upon which she returned to her true form, that of a monster and threatened to eat him. When Shan Cai protested at the snake's behavior, it made the argument that than ēn (恩, a kind act) is repaid by a feud and that is the way of the world. However the snake agreed to submit to the decision of three judges.

The first judge the was the human incarnation of the Golden Water Buffalo Star who agreed with the snake given its past experience with humans. The Buffalo Star related how it never wanted to descend to earth but was pushed out of the gates of heaven by Dizhang who took pity on the toiling masses. Dizhang vowed that if the humans did not repay a favor with a favor his eyes would fall out and drop to the ground. Because of the Buffalo Star's fall to earth, which was face first, it lost all of its upper front teeth. It suffered greatly at the hands of humans who after years of toiling for its master was butchered and eaten. Because of this Dizhang's eye did indeed fall out and transformed into the snails that the buffaloes now trample on when it plows the fields.

The second judge they encountered was the Taoist priest Zhuangzi who also agreed with the snake citing an experience he had when he resurrected a skeleton who then immediately took Zhuangzi to court and accused him of stealing his money.

The last judge they met was a young girl. The girl told the snake that it could eat her as well if the snake could tell how her how it was able to fit into the bottle which Shan Cai had released it from. As soon as the snake wormed itself back into the bottle, it was trapped. The girl then revealed herself to be Guan Yin. When the snake begged for mercy, Guan Yin told it that in order to be saved it must engage itself in religious exercises in the Grotto of the Sounds of the Flood (present day Fayu Temple) on Mount Putuo.

Three years later, Shan Cai formally became an acolyte of Guan Yin along with the Filial Parrot. After the snake submitted itself to seven years of austerity, it cleansed itself of its poison and produced a pearl. It then transformed into Long Nu and becomes an acolyte of Guan Yin.[3]


External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Long Nu. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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