Puguang Temple (Puguang Zen Temple), located in the east of Yongding District, behind Tianmen Mountain, and in front of Fude Mountain (present-day Ziwu Terrace), is a prestigious temple with a long history and called “Famous Temple in the Lower Reaches of the Yangtze River”.
It used to be a complex of ancient buildings including Confucian Temple, Temple of Guan Yu, Town God’s Temple, Songliang Academy, and so on, yet only Puguang Temple, Temple of Guan Yu, and Wenchang Memorial Temple remain after wars, fire and the destruction of some foolish people.
The temple was built in 1413, seven years earlier than the time when the Palace Museum in Beijing was built, three years earlier than the Golden Hall in Wudang Mountain in Hubei Province, and over 100 years earlier than Xianfeng Temple and Baoguo Temple in Emei Mountain in Sichuan Province.
It covers an area of 8,618 square meters, enshrines and worships Linji, one of the five major branches of Buddhism, and holds 50 to 100 monks. The abbots, among whom several are famous Buddhist, not only manage the temple, but administer about 100 temples of Dayong (present-day Zhangjiajie). Six Buddha’s Birthday Festival (the eighth day of the fourth lunar month) have been held in Puguang Temple, attracting thousands of followers from Hunan and other provinces to be ordained here. The temple mainly includes Dashanmen Gate, Ershanmen Gate, the Great Buddha’s Hall, the Hall of Arhat, the Hall of Avalokitesvara, the Pavilion of Jade Emperor, and the Taoist Temple with the architectural styles of the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. The temple has been rated as a key unit of cultural relics prevention in Hunan Province for its historical and ornamental value. It is a good choice for people to research the history of ancient buildings and understand Buddhism. Below are some recommended scenic spots.
Main scenic spots:
Dashanmen Gate and Ershanmen Gate
The first scenic spot is Dashanmen Gate and Ershanmen Gate.
The common hall in Buddhist temples was called “shanmen” in the past. Buddhist temples vary in scale and layout due to different conditions in different places. There are temples with one gate and one hall, three gates and one hall, four gates and seven halls, and one hall without additional gate. Puguang Temple has three gates and three halls, namely Kongmen Gate, Tianxiang Gate, Tianzuo Gate, the Great Buddha’s Hall, the Hall of Arhat, and the Hall of Avalokitesvara. “Sanmen” is called “shanmen” as Puguang Temple is located in the secluded Baiyang Mountain. Several gates of the original “sanmen” were destroyed, and the “shanmen” that have been renovated can be recognized easily by professionals. The temple faces south and possesses a square with a broad view. Standing in front of the temple, one can see Tianmen Mountain, Xianshan Stream, and Chongshan Mountain in distance, and Chongwen Tower and Dongzheng Street in Yongding.
There are four golden characters “普(pǔ)光(guānɡ)禅(chán)寺(sì)” on Dashanmen Gate, and the two wooden gates painted red are magnificent and quaint.
The Statues of General Heng and General Ha
There are two large statues of General Heng and General Ha on the two sides of the gate against the Great Buddha’s Hall. With weapons in hands, the robust and half-naked generals look angry and solemn in the appearance of a man with unusual strength and a warrior, and they look scary for timid people.
Here is the history of the two generals. Both of them were vajras in Buddhism. According to The Jewel Heap Sutra, the two generals holding vajra pestle (a solid and sharp weapon in the past) were the guardians who defended their country. In addition, there are more detailed information about them.
General Heng was called Zheng Lun in the past. He used to be a general of King Zhou of Shang Dynasty and a disciple of the immortal Du’e. He won the favor of Du’e for his sincerity and diligence. Thus, the immortal taught him the magic of “two qi from the nose”. He could make huge sound and two white lights after snuffling as long as he met thieves, and the souls of them would be taken away by the lights. That is to say, the general is unbeatable.
General Ha was called Chen Qi in the past. Since there was a stream of yellow qi in his stomach, he could take away the enemies’ souls and beat them as long as he exhaled the yellow qi.
There is another tale of the two generals in Buddhism. In ancient times, there was a queen of a kingdom giving birth to a thousand sons, and all of them became Buddhas. The two youngest sons called Qing Yeji and Lou Zhide offered to serve as the gods of Buddhism in their country to defend their older brothers and protect the Buddha Dharma. With weapons and magic, they stand still on two sides and glare at others to protect their country and the Buddha Dharma.
The Hall of Four Heavenly Kings of Buddhism
The Hall of Four Heavenly Kings of Buddhism is less than ten meters away from the statues of the two generals. The small hall is located on the two sides of a corridor and separated by wooden fences. There are two statues of Buddha on each side. The four statutes are also called “Four Guardians” and “风(fēng)调(tiáo)雨(yǔ)顺(shùn)”, symbolizing a good harvest and a peaceful world.