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Budai Statue amongst Hindu gods at Wat Plai Laem, Thailand
Biography and Philosophies Edit
According to Chinese history, Budai was an eccentric Chán monk who lived in China during the Later Liang Dynasty (907–923 CE). He was a native of Fenghua, and his Buddhist name was Qieci. He was considered a man of good and loving character. The term Buddha means "one who is awake", connoting one who has awakened into enlightenment. Over the history of Buddhism, there have been several notable figures who would come to be remembered as, and referred to as, Buddhas. Later followers of the Chan school would come to teach that all beings possess Buddha nature within them, and are already enlightened, but have yet to realize it.
Death and Relation to Buddhism Edit
Some Buddhist traditions consider him a Buddha or a bodhisattva, often identifying him with Maitreya (the future Buddha). His identification with the Maitreya is attributed to a Buddhist hymn (Chinese: 偈语; pinyin: jìyǔ) he uttered before his death: 彌勒真彌勒，化身千百億，時時示時人，時人自不識 Maitreya, the true Maitreya has billions of incarnations. Often he is shown to people at the time; other times they do not recognize him.
Confusion with Buddha and Phra Sangkajai Edit
Many Westerners confuse Budai with Gautama Buddha. In Thailand, Budai is sometimes confused with another similar monk widely respected in Thailand, Phra Sangkajai or Sangkachai (Thai: พระสังกัจจายน์). Phra Sangkajai, a Thai spelling of Mahakaccayanathera (Thai: มหากัจจายนเถระ), was a Buddhist Arhat (in Sanskrit) or Arahant (in Pali) during the time of the Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha praised Phra Sangkadchai for his excellence in explaining sophisticated dharma (or dhamma) in an easily and correctly understandable manner. Phra Sangkajai also composed the Madhupinadika Sutra. One tale of the Thai folklore relates that he was so handsome that once even a man wanted him for a wife. To avoid a similar situation, Phra Sangkadchai decided to transform himself into a fat monk. Another tale says he was so attractive that angels and men often compared him with the Buddha. He considered this inappropriate, so disguised himself in an unpleasantly fat body. Although both Budai and Phra Sangkajai may be found in both Thai and Chinese temples, Phra Sangkajai is found more often in Thai temples, and Budai in Chinese temples. Two points to distinguish them from one another are: Phra Sangkajai has a trace of hair on his head (looking similar to the Buddha's) while Budai is clearly bald. Phra Sangkajai wears the robes in Theravadin Buddhist fashion with the robes folded across one shoulder, leaving the other uncovered. Budai wears the robes in Chinese style, covering both arms but leaving the front part of the upper body uncovered.