The spiritual bond between humans and animals is very real and has been recognized across cultures and throughout history. Birds, as living beings with a soul, can play a part in human affairs and have even been known to seek justice for their benefactors as can be seen in the following two stories from ancient China.
A chicken avenges its master
In a certain year during the reign of the Shunzhi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty in China, sometime in the mid-1600s, a wandering monk passed through the market street of Nan Guan in a county located in Shanxi province. As he passed one of the shops, a chicken suddenly emerged. It flew up and started pecking him in the face.
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When bystanders saw the monk’s face being pecked and torn open by the chicken, they helped drive the chicken away. However, to their surprise, the chicken continued to ferociously peck at the monk as if it had a grudge against him. The monk quickly left, but the chicken chased after him, pursuing him for more than ten steps before stopping. Everyone who witnessed this incident at the time thought it was strange and unusual.
On another day, the monk passed by the same shop again and was once again attacked by the chicken. His face was pecked and bleeding, staining his clothes red. People in the marketplace who knew about the incident were even more amazed. At this time, two constables also witnessed the scene and stopped the monk to question him. When confronted by the constables, the monk became frightened. He started trembling and was unable to utter a word, so the constables sent the monk to be questioned by the officials.
Under questioning, the monk confessed that half a month ago, he had been given a place to stay for the night by a bakery owner in a remote village. When he saw that the owner had quite a bit of money stashed in his pocket, the monk became greedy. He killed the owner and snatched the money while no one was around to see. After the owner was killed, the family ended up taking one of their chickens to the market to sell, and a person with a shop on the market street of Nan Guan bought it from them.
Although the murder case had been reported to the local authorities, since it had happened in a remote village and there had been no word of anyone investigating it for a long time, the monk was sure he had gotten away with it. Then, unexpectedly, he met the “violent chicken” and knew that the chicken came to avenge his master.
The chicken witnessed the murder and firmly remembered the face of the murderer. One day when he saw this face, he rushed out to avenge his master, showing his great spirit of loyalty.
Birds repay their benefactor
In Zhejiang Province, there was a family named Lu who planted and nurtured bamboo groves around their home, creating a dense forest where all kinds of birds loved to gather. This became a beautiful sight, forming a lively environment due to all the bustling activity of the birds. The owner, Mr. Lu, loved these birds and would not allow hunters to shoot them. When it rained or snowed, or the weather turned cold, he would scatter grains in the forest to feed the birds that gathered there.
In a certain year during the reign of the Shunzhi Emperor (mid-1600s), Lu was falsely accused by his enemy of being a rebel. He was arrested and taken away in shackles and handcuffs to be interrogated. At the time, there were many other prisoners in the same situation, and there were piles of petitions and responses related to their cases. Suddenly, hundreds of birds flew into the area and made a deafening noise. Just as Lu was about to be accused, a bird flew to the desk and quickly took away the false petition that had been used to frame him. All the birds then flew away.
The officials in charge of the case were greatly surprised by the situation and realized that something was amiss, suspecting that there was more to the case than met the eye. They then summoned the enemy who had accused Lu, and after a thorough interrogation, it was revealed that the accusation against Lu had been false. The truth was finally brought to light.
To honor the birds for their assistance, Lu built a bird sanctuary just northeast of the city of Nanjing during the Qing Dynasty. He named it the “Righteous Bird Pavilion” because justice prevailed all thanks to the noble action of the loyal birds.
Translated by Eva