Jubo and Xiqing Arhats

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on November 21, 2016.)

Jubo Arhat at Huayan Temple, Datong, Shanxi Province

The next two Arhats in our survey of the famous eighteen are Jubo and Xiqing, the "Bowl Raising" and "Festive" Arhats.

Jubo Luohan is known for "Raising the Bowl," the alms bowl that monks use to receive donations. The monk's bowl--used both for begging and for eating--was one of the very few possessions allowed a monk in ancient times. There was no system of temples and donors, so the monk would take his bowl out and beg for food.

Today in China, the bowl is largely symbolic; even in the early days it could be a symbol, as the bowl which Bodhidharma washed at Guangxiao Temple in Guangzhou (said to be the same bowl the Buddha used) was later passed along to Huineng as a sign of his authority.

Jubo's Sanskrit name is Kanakabharavaja (or Kanaka the Bharavaja, giving him his other Chinese name, Jianuojia Baliduoshe) which connects him by coincidence to Xiqing, called Kanakavatsa (Kanaka the Vatsa, or Jianuojia Facuo). He is portrayed with various expressions of joy, such as dancing, or clanging cymbals. This joy, he used to teach, came from the inside, not dependent on the five senses.

A word about these two names, such as Jubo and Jianuojia Baliduoshe. The first is based on the popular attributes of the Arhat, so ju is "to lift or to hold," and bo may be simply a plate or bowl, or specifically a monk's alms bowl.

The more complicated name is a transliteration, an imitation of the sound of the Sanskrit name rendered into Chinese characters. So Jianuojia is Kanaka, and so on. The attribute name was given later, and is by far the more popular.

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