Fazhu gong is also called Zhang Shengzhe(張聖者). His full title is “Dou Tian Dang mo jian lei yu shih jhang sheng fa jhu jhen jyun fa jhu gong”(都天蕩魔監雷御史張聖法主真君法主公). Fazhu gong’s real name was Zhang Zihguan(張自觀), a dynamic exorcist in Fujian. His religious identity was mixed with Taoism and Buddhism. The religious teaching he practiced is called Lushan Jiao(閭山教), a school or teaching from Mount Lu, a mysterious mountain. Lushan school is a teaching related to popular religion. However, it was regarded as a teaching belong to Taoist True One school(正一派).
The precise dates when Fazhu gong was born and died are not sure. Regarding to the article in Ming dynasty, it was said that he was born in 1139, and died in 1183. Some new evidence shows that he was born in 1024 and died undated. One thing can be sure, he was born in Yuezhou village(月州村), Yongtai county(永泰縣), Fujian(福建).
In the light of Fazhu gong’s biography, he was ugly and had a big mouth which a fist could be put into. He was poor and made living by pasturing and collecting firewood. He was also good at making the handle of hoe. So he was nicknamed as Zhang Chubin(張鋤柄, the Zhang good at hoe’s handle). It was said that he had met with Zhong Liquan(鍾離權) when he was ten years old. Zhong gave him a magical peach or bamboo shoot. After he ate it, he became more health and strong, walking swift and not eating any grain for good. He also made prophecy and became literate. After a while, he became a Buddhist monk and practice Tantra Buddhism. Until he was mastering on the teaching, he travelled around Fujian and practice rain surmoning, healing the sickness, exorcist the demon. Finally, he was died in Jiu Long Lake(九龍潭), on Shiniu(石牛) mountain. Jade Emperor decreed him as Jian Lei zhen sheng jun(監雷真聖君, the True Saint Commanding Thunder). In Ming Dynasty, he was titled as Fazhu gong.
After the belief on and practicing of Fazhu gong were spread, Fazhu gong’s teaching is imbedded with the local belief where it was spread. For example, in Fujou(福州), Fazhu gong is combined with the other two Shengzhe(聖者). They are Fazhu gong, Saint Xiao(蕭聖者), and Saint Lian(連聖者). There are also other combinations. In Zhangping (漳平) area, Fazhu gong is even combined with Wu gong(吳公), namely, Bao Sheng Dadi(保生大帝), who is another popular deity in Taiwan.
Among the various Fazhu Gong‘s legend, there is a main plot. Fazhu Gong not only learned the exorcist from Xu xun(許遜, 239-374) in Lu Mountain but also met Nagarjuna(龍樹, Dragon Tree, 150-250), who was a Buddhist figure in India, and learned Tantra Buddhism from him. Apparently, it is impossible. Some scholar thought that the story is just a strategy to make the school of Fazhu Gong standing. That is the reason why there are two main cults of Lu shan jiao. One is Sannai cult(三奶派), which regard Xu xun as the Great Patriarch. Another is Fazhu gong cult(法主公派) which sees Fazhu gong, Zhang Shengzhe, as the Great Patriach.
Fazhu gong is also as a deity in the system, Wuying(五營). Wuying has five camps which they are soldier of the netherworld. Fazhu gong is the commander of the Eastern Camp, that has Green banner. There are many private shrines practicing ritual related to Wuying. They are in relation with the Lushan school.
In Taiwan, the shrines dedicated to Fazhu gong are about 400. The temples dedicated to Fazhu gong are over fifty. The famous are Yuan temple(玉安宮) in Yunlin(雲林), Qingan temple (慶安宮) in Tainan, Yongtai temple(永泰宮) in Chiayi(嘉義), Jinan temple(晉安宮) in Yilan(宜蘭), and the Fazhu temple (法主公廟) in Taipei and Xinchu(新竹).
Fazhu gong, Lushan Jiao, Zhang Shengzhe