A Certain Gentleman: Recollections of a Past Life and Judgment by Yama

Discover the fascinating tale of a gentleman from Shaanxi who recalls his past life as a scholar and the dramatic judgment by Yama in the underworld, where a single act of kindness changes his fate.

In the eighteenth year of Shunzhi reign, there was a gentleman from Shaanxi who had passed the imperial examination. He could recall his past life. He once said that in his previous life, he was a scholar who died in middle age. After his death, he encountered the judgment of Yama, the king of the underworld, which was just as it was described in the legends. In the eastern corner of the great hall, there were several racks on which the skins of animals like pigs, sheep, dogs, and horses were hung. An official in charge of the register called out the names, and some were sentenced to be reborn as horses, while others were sentenced to be reborn as pigs. Each person had to strip naked and put on the skin of the designated animal. Soon, it was this gentleman’s turn, and Yama said, “This person should be a sheep.” Then, a little demon took a white sheepskin and forcefully tried to put it on him. The official in charge of the register said, “This person once saved a life.” Yama checked the register, looked at it, and ordered, “Spare him. Although he has done many bad deeds, this one act of kindness can atone for his sins.” So, the little demon tried to take off the sheepskin again. The skin had already stuck to his body and couldn’t be easily removed. Two little demons grabbed his arms and pressed on his chest, trying hard to peel it off. The gentleman was in indescribable pain. The sheepskin was torn into pieces, but it was still difficult to completely remove it. Later, the sheepskin was peeled off, but there was still a palm-sized piece sticking near his shoulder. After being reborn, this gentleman had wool growing on his back, and even after it was cut off, it would grow back.



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