Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Like Zhu Bajie, Wujing was originally a general in Heaven. Once, he became very furious and destroyed a valuable vase. Other sources mention that he did this unintentionally. Nevertheless, he was punished by the Jade Emperor, who had him stroked 800 times with a rod and exiled to earth, where he was to be reincarnated as a terrible man-eating Sand Demon. There he lived in a river with sandy waters. Every seven days a sword would be sent from heaven to stab him 100 times in the chest before flying off.
Sha Wujing's appearance was rather grisly; he had a red beard and his head was partially bald; a necklace consisting of skulls made him even more terrible. Still, he used the weapon he had in heaven, namely a staff with blades (one crescent-shaped, the other like that of a shovel) on either end. There is an interesting story about the necklace of skulls. An earlier group of nine monks on a pilgrimage West to fetch the scriptures met their end at the hands of Wujing. Despite their pleas for mercy, he devoured them, sucked the marrow from their bones, and threw their skulls into the river. However, unlike his other victims who found their way to the river bottom, the skulls of the monks floated. This fascinated and delighted Wujing, who strung them on a rope and played with them whenever he was bored.
Later, Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion, and her disciple Prince Moksa came searching for powerful bodyguards in preparation of Sanzang's journey west. She recruited Wujing in exchange for some relief from his suffering. She then converted him and gave him his current name, Sha Wujing. His surname "Sha" means "Sand", while his Buddhist name Wujing means "Awakened to Purity" or "Aware of Purity". Finally, he was instructed to wait for a monk who would call for him. When Wujing does meet Sanzang, the demon is mistaken for an enemy and attacked by Sun Wukong and Zhu Bajie. Guanyin was forced to intervene for the sake of the journey.
After everything was cleared up, Sha Wujing became the third disciple of Sanzang. Now, he was clad in a Buddhist pilgrim's robe and his skull-necklace was turned into a monk's one. His appearance also changed; from now on he looked more like a human, yet still ugly. During the Journey to the West, his swimming ability was quite useful. Sha Wujing was actually a kind-hearted and obedient person and was very loyal to his master, among the three he was likely the most polite and the most logical. At the journey's end, Lord Buddha transformed him into an arhat or luohan .
As the third disciple, even though his fighting skills are not as great as that of Wukong or Bajie, he is still a great warrior protecting Sanzang and can incorporate a little brain to beat the enemy rather than by pure brute strength. He knows 18 transformations.
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