Shijia mouni fo (釋迦牟尼佛), is transliterated from the Sanskrit term, Sakyamuni, Buddha, the awakened one. Regarding to the understanding of Chinese Buddhist, Shijia, Sakya is his surname and muni means mercy and patient. Sakyamuni was the founder of Buddhism. He was born 2500 years ago in India. He was the single son of King Suddhodana and the prince of the kindom Kapilavastu. When he was twenty nine years old, he left for forest and devoting himself to practicing all kind of yoga. He was desperated to escape from the endless rebirth, samsara, which is the popular belief in India. After his six years in ascetic life, he abandoned the strict restricting with his diet which almost made him starving. He meditated under a bodhi tree for forty nine days. Finally, he was enlightened. He began to mission his teaching and established his mission group, the Sanga, Buddhist monastic group. After forty nine years, he was into mahaparinirvana, the final deathless state.
Sakyamuni, as the founder of Buddhism was introduced into China accompanied with Buddhism. His imgae has two aspects. One is philosophical and another is like the highest god in Chinese Buddhism. Regarding to the Buddhist scriptures, Buddha is an enlightend teacher who preaches the way to avoid rebirth and suffering. Because his position is too high to approach, people are seldom to pray him for the blessing of daily events. However, Sakyamuni as a stand point in the explaination of Buddhism is still important. Today, he is depicted as a powerful medical doctor and a wise educator in Taiwan.
In the popular culture and Daoism, Sakyamuni is regarding as god or like a Daoist immoral. At first, because of the competition between Buddhism and Daoism, Sakyamuni was depicted as an avatar of Laozi. In the novel, the Journey to the West (西遊記), Sakyamuni is an immortal like figure coming from west to gather the Monkey into his fist. This image later was transformed as a part of Wuxia xiaoshuo (武俠小説), a Chinese genre which is in relation with martical artist.
There are some daily occasions in relation with Sakyamuni in Taiwan. On April, eighth, in Chinese lunar calendar, Sakyamuni’s birthday, people go to the Buddhist temple to bath the statue of baby Sakyamuni for celebrating and blessing. On December, eighth, the day Sakyamuni got enlightened, in the Buddhist temples, the laba porridge (臘八粥) are prepared and served. It is a celebrating for that Sakyamuni accpted a shepherdess’s milk porridge as an offering. The Sakyamuni was nourished and enlightened. There is also a taboo about Sakyamuni. Offering sugar apple to god or Buddha is inappropriate. Because the name of sugar apple is a homonyms term with Shijia, the abbreviated name of Sakyamuni in Taiwan.
Almost of the Buddhist temples in Taiwan is dedicated to Sakyamuni, no matter whom Buddhist school they belongs to.
Keywords: Buddha, Sakyamuni, laba porridge