The Three Mao Perfect Sovereign Brothers

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The Three Mao Perfect Sovereign Brothers
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Origin of the Three Mao Perfect Sovereign Brothers

The Three Mao Perfect Sovereign Brothers ( 三茅真君 Sanmao Zhenjun ) referred to the Three Perfect Sovereigns of whom Mao Yeng was the elder, Mao Gu was the middle and Ma Zhong the younger. They came from Nanguan, Xianyang city, and were from the same family.

Mao Ying, also known as the Elder Sovereign Mao, styled himself Shengshu. At age of eighteen, he left his family for Mt. Heng, the Northern Sacred Mountain and, there, studied books written by Laozi as well as The Book of Changes ( 易經 Yijing ). After six years Refinement of both External and Inner Alchemy, he was summoned by the Queen Mother of the West ( 西王母 Xi Wangmu ) and given the Dao of Jade Ornament and Gold Adornment ( 玉佩金鐺之道 Yupei Jindang Zhidao ) as well as the Book of Mysterious Perfection of the Supreme Ultimate ( 太極玄真之經 Taiji Xuanzhen Zhijing ). At the age of 49, he successfully finished cultivating Dao and returned home.

Mao Gu, the Middle Sovereign Mao, styled himself Jiwei. During the reign of the Han dynasty Emperor Jin, as a man of good virtue, he was recommended to hold governmental position. After several promotions, he became head of Wuwei.

Mao Zhong, also known as Younger Sovereign Mao, styled himself Sihe. During the reign of the Han dynasty emperor Xuan, he was promoted as head of Luoyang. Then he held the post of Elderly Official ( 五更大夫 Wugeng Dafu ) and head of Xihe.

After Mao Ying' death, both his two younger brothers gave up the positions they were holding and went to East Mountain to wait for their brother's ascension. Afterwards, Mao Ying descended and taught them the way of longevity. After that, they cultivated Dao for three years there. After taking the divine elixirs ( 九轉還丹 Jiuzhuan Huandan ), they both ascended to heaven. After their attainment of Dao, the three brothers came to Mt. Juqu, Jurong (which later became known as Mt. Jurong of Jiangsu province), and became masters. That was the reason why Mt. Juqu was also known as Mt. Mao. In the Qi and Lian dynasties, Daoist scholar Tao Hongjing's book Chart of the Ranks of the Perfect Souls, gave Elder Sovereign Mao the title 'Perfect Sovereign Mao of the Supreme Origin and Controller of Destinies of the Sacred Mountain of the East' ( 司命東獄上真卿太元真人茅君 Siming Dongyue Shangzhen Qingtai Yuan Zhenren Maojun ), and placed him in the left line of the Highest Clarity. The Middle Sovereign Mao was called 'Perfect Sovereign Mao, High Official of the Imperial Court, Ruler of Wealth and Perfect Man on Mt. Juqu' ( 句曲山真人定祿右禁師茅君 Juqu Shanzhen Rending Luyou Jinshi Maojun ), and 'Perfect Middle Sovereign Mao, High Official of the Imperial Court and Ruler of Wealth" ( 右禁郎定祿鑋君中茅君 Youjin Langding Luzhen Junzhong Maojun ), who was listed in the left line of Supreme Clarity and sixth in the middle line. The Younger Sovereign Mao was called 'Younger Sovereign Mao, One of the Three Officials and Protector of Life" ( 三官保名命小茅君 Sanguan Baoming Xiaomao Jun ), and was placed sixth in the left line. Afterwards, they were granted more titles by the Song dynasty emperors including the first emperor Tai, emperor Zhen, emperor Hui, emperor Li, etc. Mao Ying was called 'Perfect Elder Sovereign Mao of the Perfect Correspondence, Saintly Protector of the Supreme Origin, Sublime Dao and Empty Void, and Controller of Destinies and Highest Official of the Nine Heavens" ( 上茅九天上卿司命太元妙道沖虛聖佑真應真君 Shangmao Jiutian Shangqing Siming Taiyuan Miaodao Chongxu Shengyou Zhenying Zhenjun ), Mao Gu was called 'Perfect Middle Sovereign Mao of Sublime Correspondence and Protector of the Virtue of Empty Tranquility of the Higher Dao, Highest Official of the Imperial Guards, Ruler of Wealth, and Earthly Immortal of Highest Perfection" ( 中地仙上真定祿右禁至道沖靜德佑妙應真君 Zhongmao Dixian Shangzhen Dinglu Youjin Zhidao Chongjing Deyou Miaoying Zhenjun ) and Mao Zhong was called 'Perfect Younger Sovereign Mao of Divine Correspondence, Divine Protector of Subtle Sublimity and Wisdom of Emptiness, Protector of Life among the Three Officials, Earthly Immortal of Higher Perfection' ( 下茅地仙至真三官保命微妙沖慧神佑神應真君 Xiamao Dixian Zhizhen Sanguan Baoming Weimiao Chonghui Shenyou Shenying Zhenjun ). They were known as the Three Mao Brothers and Perfect Sovereigns.

Controllers of Destiny and Wealth

The Three Mao Brothers and Perfect Sovereigns were considered to control a man's destiny as well as wealth. So they became the Controllers of Destiny and Wealth. According to the Biography of the Perfect Sovereign, Controller of Destinies and Highest Official of Sacred Mountain of the East, and Perfect Man of the Supreme Origin ( 太元真人東獄上卿司命真君傳 Taiyuan Zhenren Dongyue Shangqing Siming Zhenjun Zhuan ), the Elder Sovereign Mao's palace was located in the Jade Grotto of the Red City where there were forty virgins of both sexs. They walked to and fro in Supreme Subtlety and acted as assistants of the Supreme Ultimate, controlling life and wealth on Eastern Sacred Mountain. In contrast, the Middle Sovereign Mao and Younger Mao were only Earth Immortals. The Middle Sovereign Mao's jurisdiction was on Mt. Mao. He also acted as head of low-rank Perfect Men on earth. The Younger Sovereign Mao ruled Mt. Liangchang and Mt. Tai, controlling and recording a man's birth and life span. He acted as the head of nine palaces where the Earth Immortals lived. His obligations included teaching the kids, supervising female officials, communicating with spirits, ruling demons and guarding the doorway to hell.


It is said that the Elder Sovereign Mao was born on the third day of the tenth Lunar month, in the Han emperor Jin's fifth Zhongyuan year (145 BC) and that he ascended to heaven on the 18th day of the third Lunar month in the fourth Tianhan year (97 B.C). Nowadays, Mt. Mao in Jiangsu province is famous for its worship for the Three Mao Brothers and Perfect Sovereigns, which normally lasts from the first Lunar month to the third. The worship witnesses its climax on the day of the Elder Sovereign Mao's ascension.