Heros of History: JiGong 濟公活佛 China's Buddhist Monk of the People

 Here is some history on JiGong:
JI GONG 'Mad Monk"
JiGong had many names.  He was born under the name Li Xiuyuan.  He was also called DaiJi 道濟禪師 because people in the Taoist Religion also revered him.  His Buddhist name was JiGong 濟 公活佛 - or full name "Living Buddha JiGong."  That was quite a title to give someone who was kicked out of the temple because he refused to follow the rules. 
In today's modern world, he is also known as "The Mad Monk" and also the "Robin Hood" of China. 
He was born to a former military advisor, Li Maochun.  His parents were not allowed to have children, therefore they sent him to live in a temple.   Upon reaching the Hall of the Five Hundred Arhats, the statue of Mahakasyapa was knocked off its lotus throne.  This was considered a sign that the arhat had descended to earth - in the form of little Li Maochun.
After his parents' death, he went to Hangzhou and became a monk at the famous Ling Yin Temple near Hangzhou. Li Gong's eccentric behavior broke the rules of the vinaya (traditional code for monks).  However, he always had a smile and a kind heart and never failed to help ordinary people.
Unlike a traditional Buddhist monk, he ate meat and drank wine. He believed that what is in your heart and soul is more important than following strict rules. Therefore he marched to his own drummer, regardless of the scoldings and punishments he received. The leaders of the monastery finally tired of his behavior and kicked him out. From then on, JiGong roamed the streets and helped people whenever he could. 
While meditating and studying the Buddha's teaching, JiGong acquired magical powers. Because of his compassionate nature, many people started thinking of him as an incarnate of a bodhisattva, or as a reincarnate of an arhat. He was soon recognized as the incarnate of the Taming Dragon Arhat  降龍羅漢.
When JiGong died at the Jing Ci monastery on the 14th day of 5th Lunar month (17 June 1207), Syncretic Taoism began to revere Daoji as a god from heaven and later adopted him as a deity. Not long after that, even Buddhism began to respect him, and added him into the list of arhats.
His statues and pictures often depic JiGong with a mischievous smile, a bottle of wine in one hand, and a magic fan in the other hand.