Saintly Emperor Guan
Guan Yu was deified as early as the Sui dynasty (581–618), and is still worshipped today among the Chinese people. He is variedly worshipped as an indigenous Chinese deity, a Bodhisattva in Buddhist tradition and as a guardian deity in Taoism and many religious bodies. He is also held in high esteem in Confucianism. These roles are not necessarily contradictory or even distinguished within the Chinese religious system.
Temples and shrines dedicated exclusively to Guan Yu can be found in parts of mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and other places with Chinese influence such as Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan.
In Chinese Buddhism, Guan Yu is revered by most practising Buddhists as Sangharama Bodhisattva (伽藍菩薩), a heavenly protector of the Buddhist dharma. Sangharama in Sanskrit means 'community garden' (sangha, community + arama, garden) and thus 'monastery'. The term Sangharama also refer to the dharmapala class of devas and spirits assigned to guard the Buddhist monastery, the dharma, and the faith itself. Over time, Guan Yu was seen as the representative guardian of the temple and the garden in which it stands. His statue traditionally is situated in the far left of the main altar, opposite his counterpart Skanda (韋馱菩薩).
According to Buddhist legends, in 592, Guan Yu manifested himself one night before the Zen master Zhiyi(智者大師), the founder of the Tiantai school of Buddhism(天台宗). Zhiyi was then in deep meditation on Yuquan Hill (玉泉山) when he was distracted by Guan Yu's presence. Guan Yu then requested the master to teach him about the dharma. After receiving Buddhist teachings from the master, Guan Yu took refuge in the triple gems(三寶, which are Buddha, Dharma and Sangha)and also requested the Five Precepts (五戒, which are abstaining from harming living beings, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication). Henceforth, it is said that Guan Yu made a vow to become a guardian of temples and the dharma. Legends also claim that Guan Yu assisted Zhiyi in the construction of the Yuquan Temple (玉泉寺), which still stands today.