Temple of Numinous Might (Rugao, Jiangsu)

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The Temple of Numinous Might ( 靈威觀 lingwei guan ) in Rugao is said to have first been built before the Tang dynasty. Originally named the Hall of Patriarchs ( 祖師殿 zushi dian ), it was founded by three Reverend Daoists ( 道長 daozhang ), namely Yugong, Xingong and Jinggong of Mt. Wudang. In the fourth Zhenguan year during the reign of Emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty (630), its name was changed to Renwei (benevolent force) Temple. In the first Zhenghe year of the Northern Song dynasty (1111), as a story went around, the local people saw a golden snake winding out of the hall and manifesting itself. When the court heard about it, Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty then changed the temple's name to the present one. After being repaired in the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, the whole temple consisted of 14 halls and over 200 houses in the 1930's. Its main halls included the entrance, the Yuantian Gate, the Renwei Hall, the Hall of The Thunder Patriarch ( 雷祖 leizu ), and the Temple of The Venerable Sovereign ( 老君 laojun ) in the middle; the Fumu Hall, the Chamber of the High Abbot ( 方丈 fangzhang ), and the Daoists' Shrine in the east; and the Temple of The Spirit of Wealth ( 財神 caishen ) Who Adds Happiness, the Ganyuan Temple, the Reception Hall, the Gate Altar, the Hengchun Room, the Hall of the Emperor of Emptiness, the Shrine of the Smallpox Spirit, the Huawang Temple, the Fallow Place, and the Moral Cultivation Hall in the west.


The temple was originally situated in the north of Xinsheng Middle Street in the county seat of Rugao, and owing to the reconstruction of the old city in 1996, it was moved eastward to the Guandong side of Donghui and covered an area of 10 mu. Now the Renwei Temple, the Hall of the Numinous Official and the Hengchun Courtyard are already completed, but the construction of some principal buildings, such as the scriptorium, The Big Dipper Hall ( 斗姥殿 doumu dian ), the Hall of the Emperor of Emptiness ( 虛皇殿 xuhuang dian ), the Hall of the Spirit of Wealth, the Mars Hall, the entrance, and the pailou (decorated archway), still need funds.


The major spirit enshrined and worshiped in the Temple of Numinous Might is The Great Perfect Warrior Emperor of the Polar Star ( 北極真武大帝 beiji zhenwu dadi ).


In the fifteenth Hongwu year of the Ming dynasty (1382), a Daoist Associations Office ( 道會司 daohuisi ) was established in the Temple of Numinous Might. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the temple was a Temple of the Ten Directions ( 十方叢林 shifang conglin ) of The Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真 quanzhen ). It transmitted commandments many times, and people having received the commandments were found everywhere in the northern areas of Jiangsu Province. In history, the temple helped vast numbers of refugees, victims of calamities and poor people tide over difficulties through charities like giving medical service and medicine free of charge, providing free porridge and coffins, helping with childbirth (i.e., giving poor lying-in women money for delivering children), bearing the remains of unidentified persons, running school with free tuition, an so on. The Moral Cultivation Hall is the special office in the temple to manage these affairs. Nowadays, a xiehouyu (two-part allegorical saying) is still spreading in the area of Rugao that "The Temple of Numinous Might does good turns----free of charge".


In the past dynasties, superior Daoists came forth in large numbers at the Temple of Numinous Might. For example, Le Zichang of the Han dynasty, who was given the medicinal powder "jusheng lingfei san" by Immortal Han Zhong, attained the Dao on Mt. Qian at the age of 180 and was titled Mt. Qian Perfect Sovereign ( 真君 zhenjun ). In the Song dynasty, Elder Immortal Xu enjoyed fleeting fame. In the Yuan dynasty, the two Perfect Men ( 真人 zhenren ) in White invented the prescription "toufeng heishen fang" to benefit society. In the Ming dynasty, Fu Zhongliang invented the medicinal powder "jifeng yizi san" to benefit society. In the Qing dynasty, Wu Lanpo assumed the post Official of the Law at the Hall of Great Brightness ( 大光明殿 da guangming dian ) of Beijing. His praying for rain was efficacious, and the manuscript Accounts of Wu Lanpo, Official of the Law of the Hall of Great Brightness of Beijing, Praying for Rain Efficaciously was handed down. In modern times, Abbot ( 住持 zhuchi ) Shen Gaocheng attained immortality at the venerable age of 102.