THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS - A Buddhist Story from the performing arts.
In Buddhism, when one died, usually one would wish to be reborn in the higher realms as humans or divas. But a pair of lovers find happiness to be reborn as a pair of butterflies after their death.
One of the most popular Chinese folk stories that had been transformed into various artistic performances such as movies, novels, dramas, songs and a violin concerto is the legendary Butterfly Lovers. This violin concerto, which you are now listening to in midi format, had been made famous on the international scene by renowned performers such as Vanessa Mae (with the London Philharmonic Orchestra), Takako Nischizaki (with the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, Lim Kek-chang with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, etc.).
ACT I The Courtship
The legend goes that a girl name Chu Ying-tai (literally, heroine platform) was a very beautiful young lady who wished to go to school to study like boys did. In ancient China, only boys were allowed to do certain things such as joining the Army or going to school. In order to do so, a girl had to be disguised as a boy and hopefully her identity was not revealed (hence the Disney movie Mulan!!). So, just like Mulan, Chu Ying-tai dressed up herself as a boy and off she went to school in a neighhourhood city.
On the way to the city, Ying-tai met a handsome boy named Leung Shan-po (literally, mountain uncle) who was also going to the same school. Almost immediately, the two became very good friends, both on and off classes.
Three years had passed and Shan-po still did not know that his school friend was actually a girl who had a crush on him. One day, she received a warning letter from her father ordering her to return home. Shan-po escorted her all the way, still not knowing that "he" was a girl even though she had given many hinds that she had fallen in love madly with him. When they departed, Ying-tai told him that she had a younger sister and "he" would ask "his" family to arrange a marriage with Shan-po.
As Shan-po returned to school, his teacher's wife disclosed to him the secret: Ying-tai was a girl who had a crush on him. Suddenly, Shan-po was awakened from his foolishness and immediately went back to meet Ying-tai -- but it was too late.......
Act II Forced Marriage
As Ying-tai returned home to see her parents, she heard a shocking news: her parents had arranged to marry her to the next door neighbour, Mr. Mah Man-choi, who was the son of a very rich merchant. During feudal times in China, all marriages were practically arranged by the parents, and the teaching of Confucius is that children MUST obey their parents with no argument whatsoever. After much conflicts, she had no choice but to accept the arrangement.
Shan-po finally arrived at the village and the two lovers met at a local Pagoda. But, unfortunately, their first date turned out to be their last greeting during their life times. The two lovers, under the doctrines of Confucism, had to be separated.
Shan-po became severely sick afterwards and soon died of heartbreaking and was buried next to the village.
ACT III Their Rebirths as Butterflies
It was the wedding day for Ying-tai, but it was far from happy. As the bride and her procession was passing by Shan-po's tomb, suddenly a loud thunder roared from Heaven. A thunderbolt had hit her lover's tomb and cracked it opened. Immediately, Ying-tai jumped into the tomb and killed herself. Then, Heaven roared again, striking the tomb with another thunderbolt. Miraculously, the tomb closed up again to return to its normal shape.
Soon, a pair of butterflies appeared flying among the flower beds - the two lovers were reborn as butterflies. They could not get married as human beings, but they continued to live happily together in their next lives as a pair of butterflies.