No. 19: Wenshu Yuan, Chengdu, Sichuan

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on May 21, 2012.)

A rakshasa (罗刹) or demon is crushed under the foot of Virudhaka (增长天王) in the Heavenly Kings' Hall
(天王殿) at Wenshu Yuan (文殊院) in Chengdu, Sichuan (四川, 成都市). These figures represent the
"crushing" of unhelpful desires. They also sometimes serve to hold up the unsupported leg of a statue.
May 15, 2010 - In May of 2010, I had a chance to visit Chengdu to meet up with an old friend. This gave me a chance to see the three temples there that were on my list, plus the one at nearby Leshan.

The first temple I visited was Wenshu Yuan, where my wife (who arrived on a later flight than mine) and my friends would meet me for lunch. The temple is located in the heart of the city, now just two subway stops from Tianfu Square (though the subway wasn't open when we were there).

It's named for Manjushri Bodhisattva (in Chinese, "Wenshu Pusa"), who represents great wisdom. Built as Xinxiang Temple during the Sui Dynasty (589-618 CE), it was restored by a great monk, named Cidu Haiyue, in 1681. When he died and was cremated, an image of Manjushri appeared in the flames, leading people to believe Cidu was a manifestation of that bodhisattva, so the temple was renamed.

Not only is this said to be the largest and best-preserved temple in Chengdu, but it is replete with hundreds of cultural relics. Reportedly, a skull bone of the great monk Xuan Zang, who went to India in the Tang Dynasty, is housed here, though I didn't see it.

I did, however, see a long scripture written in blood from a monk's tongue, and an image of Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, embroidered in human hair.

Another interesting feature of the temple is the tallest iron pagoda in China, the so-called "Peace Pagoda of a Thousand Buddhas."

When my wife and friends arrived, we settled down in the dining room for a fine vegetarian feast before moving on to our next destination.

GPS Info:
  • 30.674779, 104.071984



A student volunteer standing in front of the iron pagoda at Wenshu Yuan, Chengdu
The Shakyamuni Hall at the temple
A lion (symbol of the Buddha) in the Tripitaka Pavilion
A jade Buddha brought from Burma to Wenshu Yuan in 1922
The majestic Scripture Pavilion (library) was recently built

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