How is Xuanzang, Monkey, Zhu Bajie, and Sha Wujing changed by the journey to the West?

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juneamy007 | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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In this classic 16th century Chinese novel, Journey to the West, there are four primary characters:  Xuanzang, Sun Wukong, Sha Wujing and Zhu Bajie.

Xuanzang, the main character, is a monk who is sent on a pilgrimage.  At the end of his journey, he achieves Buddhahood, which would be described as the perfection of knowledge and wisdom.

Sun Wukong, is a disciple in the form of a monkey.  His reward for his part in the journey is an arhat, which is an acknowledgement of worthiness.  It is one step below Buddhahood.

Sha Wujing is a river ogre who must gain atonement for his transgression. His final outcome is to become a deity known as naga.  Commonly, naga is represented as a great snake or cobra.

Finally, there is Zhu Bajie, a creature of great lusts and appetites.  He is represented as a pig.  Fittingly, his reward is to become an altar cleanser.  He is responsible for cleaning up excess offerings left at Buddha’s altar.

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