Fengdu Imperial Censor: Exploring the Mysterious Underworld: A Tale of Courage and Enlightenment

Follow the fascinating journey of Hua Gong, the Fengdu Imperial Censor, as he ventures into the enigmatic underworld, guided by Buddhist scriptures and encountering divine beings.

Outside the town of Fengdu County, there is a cave that is unfathomably deep. It is said to be the official residence of Yanluo Wang, the King of the Underworld. All the implements of punishment used there are completed with the help of the mortal realm. Once the shackles and handcuffs are worn out, they are thrown into the cave, and the county magistrate immediately replaces them with new ones, which disappear overnight. All the expenses for supplying goods are reimbursed from the additional taxes.

During the Ming Dynasty, there was an Imperial Censor named Hua Gong who was on an official inspection tour in Fengdu. Upon hearing about the tales of the cave, he refused to believe them and decided to enter the cave to dispel his doubts. Despite warnings from the locals, Hua Gong, holding a torch, entered the cave with two attendants. After walking about a mile inside the cave, the torch suddenly extinguished. Upon closer inspection, they found a spacious and well-lit staircase leading to ten grand halls. Distinguished officials were seated in the halls, dressed in court attire, holding court tablets, with serious and dignified expressions. However, there was an empty seat at the east end.

When the officials saw Hua Gong approaching, they descended from the stairs to welcome him and asked with a smile, “You’ve come? How have things been behind us?” Hua Gong inquired, “Where is this place?” An official replied, “This is the underworld.” Hua Gong was greatly shocked and requested to leave. The official pointed to the empty seat, saying, “This is your seat; you cannot go back.” Hua Gong became even more fearful and pleaded for leniency repeatedly. The official said, “Fate cannot be escaped!” and showed him a scroll with a document that read, “On a certain month and day, a certain person returns to the underworld in the flesh.”

After reading it, Hua Gong trembled all over, as if he had been immersed in icy water. He thought about his elderly mother and young children and couldn’t help but cry. After a while, a divine figure in golden armor approached, holding a yellow silk edict. They all paid their respects, danced, and read the edict aloud. Then, they congratulated Hua Gong, saying, “You have a chance to return to the mortal realm.” Hua Gong joyfully inquired about the reason, and the official said, “We have just received an edict from the Heavenly Emperor announcing a general amnesty in the underworld, so we can politely request an exemption for you.” They then showed Hua Gong the way out.

A few steps away, it was pitch black, and Hua Gong couldn’t discern the way. He was in great distress. Suddenly, a majestic divine general appeared, with a ruddy complexion, long beard, and radiating divine light that illuminated the area several feet around him. Hua Gong approached and respectfully requested assistance.

The divine being said, “Recite Buddhist scriptures, and you will find your way out,” and then departed. Hua Gong thought to himself that he couldn’t remember most of the scriptures, but he was familiar with the “Diamond Sutra.” He joined his palms together and began reciting it. Suddenly, a ray of light appeared before him, illuminating the path ahead. Whenever he forgot a sentence, the surroundings would turn dark, but after a moment of reflection, when he resumed reciting, it would become bright again.

In this way, Hua Gong managed to exit the underworld. As for his two attendants, their whereabouts remained unknown.





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