The Shaolin Monastery has long been famous for its monks’ superior martial arts skills. But there’s something else unusual about Shaolin monks—unlike other Buddhist monks, they eat meat. Just how did this come about?
A little legend takes us back fourteen hundred years to the Tang Dynasty. In the secluded Shaolin monastery, the Buddhist monks are sharpening their fighting skills. During a brief respite, one of them is distracted by a rabbit and leads his fellow monks on a chase. Although eating meat is still taboo for them, the plump rabbit proves awfully tempting.
Just then, a stranger suddenly runs on to the scene, with a group of ruffians behind him in hot pursuit. The fighting monks defend him and fend off the assailants. They then learn, much to their surprise, that they have just rescued the soon-to-be emperor, Tang Taizong. He, in turn, is so grateful to the monks for saving his life that he rewards them by giving them special permission to eat meat from then on.
The mischievous monks do get in a bit of trouble with their abbot, though. But no worries, the emperor puts in a good word.
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