Life Story

Baosheng Emperor’s surname is Wu; given name is Ben (979-1036). His other honorifics: Wu Chen-jen (immortal), Wu Chen-chun, Hua-chiao Gung, etc. His courtesy name is Hua-chi; his style name is Yun-chung. A native of Pai-chiao Village of Tung-an County in Chuan-chou Prefecture, Fu-jian Province, he was born on the 15th day of the third moon in year 4 of the Taiping Hsing-kuo period (979) of Northern Sung Dynasty’s Tai-tzung reign. Born as a smart child with good memory, he studied extensively and memorized numerous books; his specialty was traditional Chinese medicine. At the age of 17, he was taken by some extraordinary person to have an audience with Goddess of the West, who taught him how to exorcise evil spirits. At the age of 24, he passed the provincial examination, and then served as a controlling inspector. He later on resigned to retirement and cultivated himself at Mt. Ta-yen in Pai-chiao. A lifelong vegetarian, he was never married. As a medicine man, he had saved countless people’s lives. On the 2nd day of the 5th moon in year 3 of Ching-you period (1036) of Sung Jen-tzung reign, as he had attained the perfect Way, fairy cranes came to pick him up. His country folks kneeled down and witnessed his ascension in the middle of the day. He was 58 years of age.

During his lifetime, Baosheng Emperor (Dadi) was known to have done medical miracles. For instance, he had applied eye drops to a dragon’s eye and removed foreign object from a tiger’s throat. After his ascension, Dadi repeatedly displayed his divine powers, which assisted the nation as well as the people. When Sung Kao-tzung was the crown prince and sent to be a hostage at the Jin Court, it was Dadi’s divine presence that saved Kao-tzung and escorted him back to China. After Kao-tzung had ascended the throne, he ordered the founding of a temple (the ancestral temple for Baosheng Emperor) and bestowed the title of Great Tao Immortal on Dadi.

Ming Cheng-tzu’s Empress Wen suffered from breast ailment and her imperial doctors had no cure. Dadi appeared as a Taoist priest and came to the rescue. He felt the empress’s pulse through a silk string and then cured her. Cheng-tzu wanted to compensate Dadi with gold, but Dadi declined and rode away on a crane. Cheng-tzu then expressed the appreciation by conferring the title of “Imperial Inspector at Heavenly Gate, Miracle Doctor of Compassion Relief, Great Taoist Immortal, and the Long-lived, Unbounded, Life-guarding Emperor.” Imperial robe and palace were also conferred upon Dadi. Dadi cured serious diseases and relieved many people; he was revered as the god of medicine.
Legend of Beliefs

After Baosheng Emperor Wu Ben’s passing (1036), country folks began to revere him as a god. Based on Yang Chi’s Inscriptions about Tzu-chi Temple, people worshipped Wu Ben at a place called Lung-chiu Temple; worshippers named him the “Miracle Immortal Doctor.” For the temple of Wu Ben, ”Law and Order in Sung China” called it “The Medical Miracle Shrine.”

According to Inscriptions about Tzu-chi Temple –which was authored by Chuang Hsia at the end of Southern Sung’s Chia-ting period– at its completion in year 21 of the Shao-hsing period, the temple of Wu Ben was named Tzu Chi. As Law and Order in Sung China had stated: The Medical Miracle Shrine at Tung-an County of Chuan-chou Prefecture was bestowed a tablet that reads “Tzu Chi.” This article confirms that in the 10th moon of year 2 (1166) of Hsiao-tzung’s Chien-tao period, it was the Wu Ben Temple in Pai-chiao that was bestowed by the imperial court.

Chuang Hsia’s Inscriptions about Tzu-chi Temple states that in year Yi-mou of the Ching-yuan period (1195, the first year of this period) of Southern Sung’s Ning-tzung reign Wu Ben was bestowed the title of Chung-hsien Hou (marquess). In year 3 of the Kai-his period (1207), because of the success of rain-praying and the resistance of enemy, he was added the title of Ying-hui Hou. In Hai-cheng County Gazetteer of Chien-lung period that quoted the local account of Southern Sung’s Chun-yu reign (1241-1253), Wu Ben was bestowed the title of Tzu-chi for his temple in year 2 of the Chien-tao period. In year 2 of Ching-yuan (1196) he was named Chung-hsien Hou; and then bestowed as Chung-hsien Ying-hui Hou in the Chia-ting period, and as Kang-you Hou . In year 2 of Tuan-ping (1235) he received the title of Ling-hu Hou, and in year 3 of Chia-his (1239) the title of Cheng-you Kung (duke). Then, in year 4 of Chia-his (1240), per Imperial Inspector Chao Ya-chih’s suggestion, the emperor changed Wu Ben’s nobility titles to chen-jen (immortal), with the honorary name of Chung-ying. In year 1 of Chun-you (1241), the emperor ordered all Wu Ben temples to change names –from miao (Buddhist temple) to kung (Taoist temple).
Sphere of Beliefs

Fuchien and Taiwan are closely linked geographically and culturally; most religious beliefs in Taiwan had their origins in Fuchien. When immigrants moved to Taiwan back in the 17th century, folk religions followed their steps and routes. Baosheng Emperor’s belief was one of them. Other than Tainan Hsueh-chia’s Tzu-chi Temple –which was founded the earliest– Taiwan’s Baosheng believers had to ask “ancestral temples” for spiritual blessings. Most Baosheng temples got their shares from Pai-chiao, others from Ching-chiao.

Although the Tzu-chi Temple in Hsueh-chia was widely considered Taiwan’s very first temple for Baosheng Emperor, some documents had indicated that there was such temple even before the Ming-Cheng era. “At the Kuang-chu east neighborhood, the temple of great Tao was built in the Red-hair era.” That neighborhood is today’s Hsin-hua Twonship of Tainan County; red-hair means the Dutch people. Thus, as early as the Dutch era Taiwan had seen the construction of Baosheng temple. From their distribution map, we can see that Baosheng temples first appeared in Tainan/Kaohsiung; they then went up to Chiayi/Yunlin and other south-central regions of Taiwan. This was when northern Taiwan’s Taipei and Yilan had yet to see one Baosheng temple. Such pattern pretty much mirrors the route of Southern-Fuchien immigrants’ proclamation of Taiwan.