(Five most famous temples storing Buddha¡¯s sarira)
What is ¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡±?
Having finished his studying abroad in China, Buddhist precepts master Jajang returned to Korea
(Silla dynasty) in 643 with Buddha¡¯s sariras (pearl-like relics of Buddha after cremation),
the robe reputedly Buddha wore, and sutras written on leaves.
He founded five temples, i.e.
Tongdo-sa, Sangweon-sa, Jeongam-sa, Beopheung-sa,
and Bongjeong-am, and enshrined Buddha¡¯s sariras he had brought to the five temples.
Koreans call these five temples "Jeokmyeol-bogung".
"Jeokmyeol" means nirvana or annihilation of suffering, and ¡°bogung¡± means a treasure palace.
Since Buddhists considered Buddha¡¯s sariras as the relics of his perfect nirvana,
Koreans called the five temples storing Buddha¡¯s sariras "Jeokmyeol-bogung".
Tongdo-sa at Mt. Yeongchuk
Tongdo-sa in Yangsan, Gyeongsang nam-do, is
one of ¡°Sambo-sachal¡± or three temples representing
three Buddhist in addition,
stored Korean Tripitaka,treasures and,
at the same time, one of
¡°Odae Jeokmyeol-bogung¡± or five most famous temples
storing Buddha¡¯s sarira.
Having finished his studying abroad in China,
Buddhist precepts master Jajang returned with
Buddha¡¯s sariras (pearl-like relics of Buddha after cremation),
the robe reputedly Buddha wore, and
sutras written on leaves. And he enshrined the
Buddha¡¯s sariras first to Tongdo-sa.
So Koreans have thought Tongdo-sa to be the head temple of all Korean temples just like
Buddha is the head monk of all monks.
It was in 643, just the year the Ven. Jajang returned from China,
when Tongdo-sa was founded. Queen Seondeok ordered to construct Tongdo-sa to enshrine together
the Buddha¡¯s sariras which Jajang had brought and those which was presented
in 549 by Liang dynasty in China.
Tongdosa was named after the Buddhist saying,
¡°realize penetratively whole Buddha¡¯s teaching and save widely all the sentient beings.¡±
The Ven. Jajang also established ¡°Geumgang-gyedan¡±, a platform for the ceremony prevailing
Buddh ist precepts, and handed down Bu ddhist precepts widely to monks and lay people.
It is said that it is from then on that Korea became a Buddhist country,
where not only true Buddhist teaching but also tr ue Buddhist precepts are prevailed.
And it is the reason why the Ven.
Jajang is called Buddhist precepts master and
why Tongdo-sa is called the head temple of
all Korean temples.
Tongdo-sa possesses ten cultural assets
designated by Korean government and 30 ones
designated by the government of Gyeongsangnam-do.
It has a museum for Buddhist holy relics storing
these cultural assets. As Tongdo-sa has been rega
rded the head temple even among ¡°Sambo-sachal¡±
or three temples representing
three Buddhist treasures,
it possesses most cultural assets among the three temples.
Address: 583 Jisan-ri, Habuk-myeon, Yangsan-si, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea.
Sangweon-sa at Mt. Odae
|| .."Jeokmyeol" means nirvana or annihi.lation of suffering,
and "bogung" meansa treasure palace.
Since Buddhists considered Buddha¡¯s sariras
(pearl-like relics of Buddha after cremation) as the relics of
his perfect nirvana,
Koreans called the five temples storing Buddha¡¯s sariras
¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡±.According to Samguk-yusa, a history book
on ancient Korea written in Goryeo dynasty,
the reason why the Ven.
Jajang decided to enter China was to meet bodhisattva Ma ju ri at
Mt. Odae in China. So, returning from China and enshrining
theBuddha¡¯s sariras he had brought to the five
¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡±s or the temple storing Buddha¡¯s sariras, the Ven. Jajang ens
hrined sariras formed from Buddha¡¯s pate, which was considered most precious,
to Sangweonsa at Mt. Odae in Korea.
You may image a gorgeous figure of the ¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡± at Sangweon-sa,
since ¡°bogung¡± means a treasure palace. After somewhat hard ascending Mt. Odae,
however, you will meet a trim building unlike what you might expect from its name.
And unlike, again, main halls of usual temples, you cannot find any statue of Buddha in it.
There is just a red cushion on an empty Buddhist altar, which represents that Buddha himself is sitting on it.
Then where is Buddha, I mean Buddha¡¯s sariras?
In the Back of the ¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡± is there only a pagoda inscribed on an one-meter
However, even the pagoda is just a symbol and nobody knows where the sariras really enshrined.
So, why not may you think that it is Mt. Odae itself which is the Buddha¡¯s pagoda and Buddha¡¯s real sariras.
Woljeong-sa and Sangweon-sa at Mt. Odae have many valuable cultural assets.
The most famous among them are National Treasure No. 48 ¡°Woljeong-sa Palgak-gucheung-seoktap¡±
(The Nine Layered Octagonal Pagoda at Woljeong-sa),
Treasure No. 139 ¡°Seokjo-bosal-jwasang¡± (The Stone-built Sedentary Statue of a Bodhisattva),
Treasure No. 140 ¡°Sangweon-sa Jungchang Gweonseon-mun¡±
(The Composition Soliciting Contribution for the Restoration of Sangweon-sa),
National Treasure No. 36 ¡°Sangweon-sa Dongjong¡±
(The Bronze Temple Bell at Sangweon-sa),
National Treasure No. 221 ¡°Sangweon-sa Mokjo Munsu Dongja Jwasang¡±
(The Wooden Statue of Little Ma ju ri at Sangweon-sa),
and Treasure No. 793 ¡°Munsu Dongja Bokjang Yumul¡± (The Relics Excavated from the Inside of the
Thorax of the Statue of Little Ma ju ri). Hermitages around Mt. Odae and many "budo"s or
pagodas storing relics of eminent monks behoove to sightsee.
Address:63 Dongsan-ri, Jinbu-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangweon-do, South Korea.
Jeongam-sa at Mt. Taebak
Being located at Mt. Jogye, Seungju, Jeollanam-do, Songgwang-sa is called ¡°Seungbo-sachal¡±,
which means the temple representing the community of Buddhist monks.
At the close of Silla dynasty, Seon (Ch. Chan, Jap. Zen) master Hyerin, founded
The original name of Jeongam-sa was Gallae-sa.
Eulogy written on the boards hung on the pillars around
"Jeokmyel-.bogung" tells the uniqueness of this temple as follows:
How many thousand years has passed
since Buddha entered nirvana under the Sala Forest?
Only because there are Buddha¡¯s sariras, every sentient beings
far and wide never stop worshiping this place.
In ¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡± is there no statue of Buddha.
There is just a red cushion on an empty Buddhist altar,
which represents that Buddha himself is sitting on it.
|The reason why there is no statue of Buddha at
¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡± is that it stores Buddha's sariras,
which are remaind parts of Buddha's real body.
They are stored inside ¡°Sumano Tap¡±, which means the pagoda of pleasure.
The Pagoda storing the sariras is erected out of the rectangular
window over the empty cushion in
¡°Sumano Pagoda¡± is a cultural asset,
Treasure No. 410 designated by Korean government.
Address:San 213, Gohan-15-ri, Gohan-eup, Jeongseon-gun, Gangweon-do,South Korea.
Beopheung-sa at Mt. Saja
Beopheung-sa at Mt. Saja is the holy place where Buddhist precepts master Jajang
enshrined Buddha¡¯s sariras for the last time.
The Ven. Jajang selected this place as the last
"Jeokmyeol-bogung" praying to bodhisattva Ma ju ri,
after he enshrined Buddha¡¯s sariras to the three
"Jeokmyeol-bogung¡±s in Gangweon-do and one at Tongdo-sa,
It was in the mid-seventh century that Beopheung-sa was
founded. Having returned to Silla after his finishing
studying abroad in China,
the Ven. Jajang used to pray for meeting bodhisattva Ma ju ri,
keeping coming and going among Mt. Odae, Mt. Taebaek,
Mt. Seolak, and Mt. Saja. The Ven.
Jajang enshrined Buddha¡¯s
sariras he had brought from China to five ¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡±s,
one of which is Beopheung-sa at Mt. Saja.
This temple was called "Heungnyeong-sa" when the Ven. Jajang built a thatched hermitage
in which he prayed for meeting bodhisattva Ma ju ri. It became an important place
in the history of Korean Buddhism when at the close of Silla dynasty the Ven. Jinghyo
Jeoljung founded ¡°Sajasanmun¡± or the Seon (Ch. Chan, Jap. Zen) Lineage at
Mt. Saja, one of Nine Seon Lineages at Nine Mountains. However, unfortunately,
it was burnt down in the vortex of war at the downfall of Silla dynasty.
After the extermination of the Seon Lineage at Mt. Saja, this temple was just a small one offering
services to the pagoda storing Buddha¡¯s sariras.
A female monk, Daeweongak, restored the temple and changed its name to Beopheung-sa in 1902.
Beopheung-sa at Mt. Saja regained the attention of Korean Buddhists
because of its storing Buddha¡¯s sariras. While many Buddhists crowded to this
temple for its holy order of Seon Lineage at Mt. Saja, these days many Buddhist crowd again
to Beopheung-sa for another reason, i.e. worshiping Buddha¡¯s sariras.
At the left, back side of ¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡± is there a hermitage, where reputedly the Ven.
Jajang enshrined Buddha¡¯s sariras and practiced asceticism. And there also a stone chest in which
reputedly the Ven. Jajang put Buddha¡¯s sariras when he returned to Silla from China.
And behind ¡°Jeokmyeol-bogung¡± is there ¡°Sari-botap¡± or the Treasure Pagoda Storing Buddha¡¯s Sariras.
Address: 42-1 Beopheung-li, Suju-myeon, Yeongweol-gun, Gangweon-do ,South Korea.
Bongjeong-am at Mt. Seolak
The rugged, steep mountain road along the ravine continued
from Baekdam-sa to the top of Mt. Seolak,
only through which we can get to Bongjeong-am,
raises us the following question;
for what did Buddhist precepts master Jajang build a temple
and enshrine Buddha¡¯s sariras to it in such a high place?
Among five places, where the Ven. Jajang enshrined Buddha¡¯s sariras, Bongjeong-am at Mt. Seolak is the only place which is
located at the height of 1244 meters above the sea.
It is not just because the place is the most propitious one
that the Ven. Jajang built the temple there.
It also tells us that we must have devoted heart to offer to the
To accomplish what Buddha achieved, every sentient being has to have intrepid heart to
run even the risk of one¡¯s life. What the rugged, steep mountain road for Bongjeong-am shows us
is that only those who have devoted piety can meet Buddha.
The name of Bongjeong-am, whose site was selected by the Ven. Jajang in 644 praying to
bodhisattva Ma ju ri with ardent passion, is a compound of ¡°bong¡±,
a Chinese phoenix and ¡°jeong¡±, the pate, since it is said that a Chinese phoenix was swallowed up
into the pate of the statue of Buddha.
It were monk Dohyeong and Jiwu, brothers in Buddhist lineage, who restored Bongjeong-am
with great efforts for more than 10 years since 1985. Since then Bongjeong-am has become
one of the most famous holy places in Korea and many Korean Buddhists believe
that the praying at Bongjeong-am has miraculous efficacy.
It takes 8 hours on foot to reach at Bongjeong-am through Woiseolak route, and 6 hours from Osaek Mineral Spring.
Address: Yongdae-ri, Buk-myeon, Inje-gun, Gangweon-do, South Korea.