Songgwang-sa Temple - South Korea
Sunday 14 February 2010, by
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Songgwangsa is one of the most important Zen Buddhist monasteries in Korea, and is considered one of the Three Jewel Temples of Korea. It serves as the head temple for the 21st district of the Jogye Order. Songgwang-sa is located, snugly like a nest, in the lower edge of Mt. Jogye, Songgwang-Myeon Sooncheon Jeollanam-Do.
The name of Songgwang has several legends.
First, it means a temple in which 18 great monks will spread the teaching of Buddha. In other words, ‘Song’ indicating ‘18 great men’ means 18 great monks, and ‘Gwang’ indicating the wide spread of Buddhism means a temple in which 18 outstanding monks will expand the Buddhism extensively.
Second, there is a legend related to Jinul, the national master Bojo. In other words, as the master selected a site for moving Jeonghyegyeolsa, he flied a black kite made of wood in Mt. Mohu, and it landed at the back of the current Guksajun. Hence, the name of the back was called Chirakdae(the place where a black kite landed). Based on this legend, Yookdang Nam Sun Choi expounded Songgwang-sa as the Solgaengee temple by paraphrasing the meaning of Songgwang as Solgaengee(the dialect of a black kite).
Last, it was previously called ‘Pine Hill’ due to many pine trees(Solgaengee), and Mt. Songgwang stemmed from it so that the name of the mountain was changed to the name of the temple.
According to the remaining records, Songgwang-sa was founded by Zen Master Hyerin in the latter part of the Shilla dynasty. The temple some one hundred kan size, firstly called Gilsangsa on Mt. Songgwang, was of relatively small size, housing 30 or 40 monks. Afterwards, Saint Seokjo tried and prepared to expand the temple extensively in the Injong era of the Koryo dynasty but couldn’t achieve it because of his passing away.
From the date when Jeonghyegyeolsa was moved to this place by Jinul, the national master Bulil Bojo, Gilsangsa having been deserted for more than fifty years has been reconstructed and spotlighted as the center of the Korean Buddhism.
Jinul established a new tradition of the Korean Buddhism by having undergoing a complete change of the temple with holding the Buddhist reconstruction service for 9 years(the 27 th year of Myeongjong(1197) the 1 st year of Heejong) and teaching the numerous people participating in Jeonghyegyeolsa movement.
Since then, Songgwang-sa has been spotlighted as the center of the Korean Buddhism. Even though it underwent many disasters such as Jeongyoojaeran and the Korean War, the persistent Buddhist reconstruction service has enabled it to present a magnificent appearance.