Out of the three disciples of the monk Sanzang, it is Sha Wujing who is sadly the weakest out of the three and does the least in contribution when travelling with Sanzang. Wujing knows eighteen transformations and his weapon, gotten in Heaven, is the yueyachan. This weapon of Wujing’s itself is a double headed staff with a crescent moon blade at one end while a spade on the other.
In English translations of Journey to the West, Sha Wujing is known be called Sand, Sandy and Friar Sand.
Sha Wujing was originally the Curtain-Lifting General of Heaven and in Journey to the West it is said he accidentally broke a vase of the Jade Emperor although it is also said by some that the vase was broken in a fit of rage. By rage or by accident, Wujing was punished with eight hundred strikes of a rod and sent down to earth.
Wujing when he went down to earth was reincarnated as a sand demon that ate men. On earth, Sha Wujing lived in a place known as “Flowing Sand River” or “Quicksand River” (with the river currently known as Kaldu River). Wujing sadly had a punishment of getting seven flying swords sent from Heaven stabbing him in the chest on a daily basis, Wujing retreated into the river to avoid this punishment and living within the river.
While living at the river, a group of nine monks actually was on a pilgrimage to fetch scriptures who were passing the river Wujing lived in. Wujing ate these monks, throwing their bones into the river, the heads of the monks however floated to the delight of Wujing. It was these skulls that Wujing strung on a rope and played with when bored.
Eventually, the bodhisattva Guanyin was searching for people to guide the monk Sanzang west to find scriptures and found Wujing. Guanyin converted Wujing to Buddhism and gave him the name Sha Wujing, meaning “Sand Awakened to Purity”. Told to wait for a monk, Wujing did so and when Sanzang did come along Wujing was mistaken for an enemy by Sun Wukong and Zhu Bajie. Guanyin intervened, clearing up everything and Wujing became the third disciple of Sanzang.
In the becoming a disciple of Sanzang, Wujing was put in the robe of a Buddhist pilgrim’s and his skull necklace turned into a necklace of a monk. During his travels with Sanzang and his fellow disciples his ability to fight in water was useful despite being the weakest of the three.
At the end of the journey Wujing became an arhat known as the Golden Bodied Arhat.