Hung Hsui-Chuan January 1, 1814 – June 1, 1864)
He was the son of a village headman of the Hung clan of the Hakka tribe. As a child he was precocious( he was able to recite the Four Classics after five or six years) but with no means to advance himself. He became a tutor to other children in his village and continued to study privately. He took the local preliminary examinations and came first, but at the age of 22 in 1836, he realized his further progress to enter the government service was blocked. Success in examinations required a bribe to the examiners. Thwarted in his ambition he fell ill. In a delirious state he saw visions that he was taken to the ‘Thirty-Third Heaven and the Venerable-in-Years gave him a mission to destroy the demon worshippers on the earth. When Hung had recovered from his fever he was altogether a new man. A chance encounter in Canton with Christian missionaries from London Missionary Society, gave him new direction. While reading the book of Genesis his earlier vision took on new significance. The Venerable –in Years of his dream had become the Creator of heaven and the earth. His curious theology was a mixture calculated to win over most supporters. (Do we not see similar mix and match of doctrines in many of the cults around us?
As luck would have it the Opium War (1839-1842) broke out around this time and it showed the hated Manchu regime was almost on its last legs. Manchus were Manchurian Tartars, foreigners while south of the Yangtse there were many who yearned for bringing back the defunct Ming rule.
The Taiping Rebellion was spearheaded by a school teacher who saw visions and who knew his time and place. By any standard this episode was as extraordinary as it was disastrous for the land where Hung intended to usher in Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace or ‘Taiping Tien-Kuo’ .
As a consequence of acting on his vision, more people are said to have perished than in the WWI, either by death in action or massacre or by starvation resulting from the foraging armies of one who called himself Tien Wang or Heavenly King. Heavenly visions unfortunately can only be attempted on the earth by wading knee deep in violence as his life amply demonstrates.
Where there is no vision people perish; so would they if they conceal theirs in someone else’s vision. I have a vision myself to live my life reasonably well, neither too rich nor poor. Well my vision is still keeping me. I trust not another to take care of my vision as I would. Another may turn out to be a crook or downright cuckoo.