In the Song Dynasty, there was a wealthy businessman, Yang Fushang, who was engaged in maritime trade. While sailing, and whenever there were strong winds and huge waves, he would seek protection from God and made vows to repay after he reached the shore safely.
He had been shuttling the sea safely and made a lot of money, but he did not fulfill the vows he made to God. Following a dream, the wealthy businessman had a strange encounter and the ending was unusual.
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Yang Fushang’s hometown was in Quanzhou. He had been in the maritime trade for more than 10 years and accumulated a huge fortune. While sailing and when encountering stormy winds and huge waves, he would vow by the sky and sun that after reaching the shore safely, he definitely would contribute funds for the refurbishment of temples and pagodas, as well as conduct prayers for the protection of sacred lands and waters as gratitude to God. However, none of the vows he made had been fulfilled.
One day, while Yang Fushang was sailing, he dreamt of God reprimanding and reminding him of all the vows that he had made.
He promised God that he would fulfil his vows for protecting his life and his good fortune
Yang said to God: “Now I’m on the way to Lin’an; when I get home, I will fulfill all my vows and won’t break my promise.”
God said to Yang: You did not bother at all. Have you ever thought about where your blessings came from? It is because I am protecting you. Now you need to fulfill your vows and use all your wealth to repay.
On hearing this, Yang Fushang was very frightened.
It was in the 7th month of the lunar calendar that coincides with Ghost month. Yang Fushang took a boat on the Qiantang River and went ashore. He was delighted that the boat reached the shore without any mishap along the way.
After getting off the boat, he brought the goods to the owner, surnamed Tang, who lived on Baojian Street. Yang Fushang did not stay in Tang’s residence, instead, stayed at the Chaiduiqiao West Inn.
Tang hosted a banquet. Here, Yang Fushang related to Tang his dream and his encounter with God.
Yang told Tang: “I estimated the goods are worth 400,000 Qian Shiyu [ancient unit of measurement that is, ten strings of copper coins]. I will use one-tenth of it to repay God and the rest will be brought back to Quannan to invest in business, and I will not go out to sea again.”
Yang Fushang then sorted out his goods; he kept the agarwood, dragon brain, jade, and other rare treasures in the store of Tang’s residence. As for his incense cloth and Sumu (medicinal plants) which were worth not less than 100,000 Qian Shiyu, he kept them outside the store.
That night, Yang Fushang was drunk. The next day, he was awakened by noises outside. It turned out there was a fire. He got up quickly and together with his servant, rushed to a hilltop to look. He saw that the fire was still far away from Tang’s house and he did not expect the blazing flames to reach Tang’s house quickly.
Yang Fushang still told his servant: “Whatever is burnt is of low value, so nothing serious.”
In an instant, everything turned to ashes
In a split second, he saw black smoke emerging from the store and the whole house suddenly collapsed. Everything was burned to the ground.
After the fire was extinguished, Yang Fushang found that all his wealth was reduced to ashes. In a fit of anger, he committed suicide at the same spot where the store stood. The servant reported Yang’s death to the constable and after the autopsy, he simply buried the body.
Translated by Chua BC