POTATO PEDDLER PAGODA KEEPING MONK:
The word 'vãi' in the title 'Sư Vãi Bán Khoai' connotates a female Buddhist who helped out in taking care of the property of a pagoda such as cleaning or other maintenance tasks. If it is a man, the word 'Sãi' is used. In this case, as the old Potato Peddler looks slim, the former word is preferred. In a broader social context, 'vãi' has appeared in colloquialisms. It normally means something is not seriously done or spoken. Thus, 'sư vãi' could be translated to 'Pagoda Keeping Monk'.
He was named My, but his surname, date and place of birth, have not been clear to anyone; one only saw him frequenting the Vinh Te area (Chau Doc). The reason for this naming “Sư Vãi” is that he has a slim body which makes him look like a mature age nun from afar, and also that he often treated the ailing people with his shirt and scarve fabric. On the other hand, he usually sculled and announced peddling potatoes along the Vinh Te River, so they specially called him "Potato Peddler Monk".
Even though he was slim, he had a great martial art skill. When he lived at Vinh Gia, one day he held in his hand a scimitar going chopping lepironia articulata in the field. Suddenly, he heard a human noise and a tiger roar nearby, then he ran there with a scimatar, when he saw Mr Manh, his neighbor, using his martiat art skill to hold tight the tiger's limbs, and carried it straight up by his head. But because the animal was too strong, Manh could not throw it down nor dared release it. The monk jumped in, leaped up very high and, with a shout, chopped down a very vigorous hit, cutting the tiger into two halves, but Manh remained safe and sane. A strange thing that happened is each time he chanted sutra, he used a piece of wood to knock on it, making it sound as if it came from a bamboo tocsin.
In about the Metal Ox (1901) and the Water Tiger (1902), he appreared in the Vinh Te canal, disguised as a commoner sculling a boat peddling potatoes. He travelled all the Seven Mountain area, calling on the worldlings to wake up and practice.
He passed down a piece of work titled "Oracle for the worldling" (consisting of 11 episodes) whose contents are to urge the worldling to do good and avoid doing evil, while predicting a lot of terrible happenings at the Lower Age's Latter Days. He only appeared within the Vinh Te area between 1901 and 1902, then he disappeared since; people recited his verses:
"When the Potato Peddler Monk appeared, in Vinh Te Canal everyone didn't recognize him: I did not know how to hold a scale, as an ignorant rustic old man".
In 1939, Lord the Prophet of Hoa Hao Buddhism descended and once related to the Yellow Monk who brought the Oracle of 11 episodes to the Hoa Hao Foundation Temple, intending to test the former. Lord the Prophet immediately recited this Book by heart for the Yellow Monk to check word by word. Thus, the latter was bewilded, knelt down and said before the Lord, asking where he was from.
Lord the Prophet then said "The Oracle for the Worldling" was by Potato Peddler Monk, the Buddha Master of the Western Peace's avatar (nirmāṇakāya). About 37 years ago, for his love of the sentient beings in predicament, he had reincarnated as a potato peddler, to urge people to practice, to escape from the apocalypse by the Closing Dharma's latter days.
Today in the Vol I of the Oracles, Lord Master invoked The Potato Peddler Monk to imply that, for His compassion and great vow that He must transmigrate and salvage the world. For example, the former Potato Peddler Monk is one of His previous avatars who serve the masses depending on their peculiar circumnstances. In the Oracle of 11 Episodes, there is a pair of verses:
"I'm moved by the Pagoda Keeping Monk toiling,
How many avatars has He offered to the earthling?"
In Prof. Nguyen Van Hau's summary: Around the Metal Ox (1901) and Water Tiger (1902), there was a man with a small, slim, stature, which looks exacly like a mature age woman, wearing on the chest a bodice.
He has once gone through Ong Chuong Islet (Cho Moi, An Giang), then went back to Mt Forbidden (Núi Cấm). He meandered to exhort the world between 1901 to 1902, then disappeared without a trace.
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