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神农的故事 (shen2 nong2 de gu4 shi4) Hail the Divine Farmer

DUE to population growth, people began to face food shortages. They couldn't get enough simply by hunting animals and gathering edible plants.

So from time to time, they suffered from hunger which was almost always followed by sickness or even death.

Again, people needed help. Then, Shennong was born.

Shennong's mother became pregnant after she saw a sun drop from the sky into her lap in a dream. After 10 months, she gave birth to an unusual baby, Shennong.

Shennong was born with a human body but an ox head. He also had a transparent body, so one could see all his abdominal organs. He began to talk when he was only three days old and started to walk by himself when he was five days old.

He soon grew to eight feet seven inches tall (261 centimeters).

Maybe, because he was the reincarnation of the sun, he later became Yandi, or the "Emperor of Fire," one of the ancestors of the Chinese nation.

When he saw people suffering from hunger and illness, Shennong first taught them to grow five different grain crops. They dug holes in the ground and sowed seeds after clearing large stretches of wildness.

But the labor efficiency was very low and the harvests were small.

One day, while observing a boar rooting in the soil with its nose, Shennong had an inspiration and then invented the plow. Later, he also invented many other farming tools such as the hoe, ax and sickle.

With these tools, people began to reclaim large areas of wasteland and grow all kinds of crops.

Again, human beings found a source of ample supply of food. To thank Shennong, they worshiped him as the Divine Farmer.

Although people had enough to eat, they still fell sick from time to time and quite often, epidemics spread across the land plaguing men and women, young and old.

Where to find the remedy that could help cure the diseases that were afflicting them? Shennong began to travel around the land to find solutions.

When he found cattle and sheep eating grass and rarely falling ill, he decided to taste all kinds of plants and herbs to discover their medicinal properties.

He tried hundreds of different kinds of herbs and carefully recorded their effects. He was poisoned several dozen times, but he always found the right remedy in time thanks to the fact that he could see the digestion of the herbs through his transparent body.

He then wrote the "Herbal Classic of Shennong," the earliest Chinese pharmacopoeia. It includes 365 kinds of medicines derived from herbs, plants, minerals and animals.

Shennong's discoveries laid the foundation for traditional Chinese medicine, which is still practiced today around the world and particularly in China and Asia.

But one day, calamity struck Shennong. After he had found a rare plant with tiny yellow flowers, he boiled it and drank the soup.

This time, the poison was so strong that it instantly ate away his intestines before he could reach for a remedy.

Shennong died minutes later. He had sacrificed his life for the felicity and well being of his people.


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