Beopjusa - South Korea
Monday 22 February 2010, by
Beopjusa one of Korea’s oldest and greatest Buddhist temples, founded in 553 C.E., has been active for more than 1400 years. The name of the temple means "Buddha stays here." Situated on the slopes of Songnisan (’renouncing the world’) mountain (within Songnisan National Park), at times during its history Beopjusa has been home to more than 3,000 monks. Since the eighth century, the temple has been designated as central temple for worship and teaching of the Maitreya Buddha, the Buddha of the future who will return to save the world. In recent times, Beopjusa has become known for its 33-meter-tall gold statue of the Maitreya Buddha.
Beopjusa founded in 553 C.E., in the Shilla Kingdom during the fourteenth year of King Jinheung’s reign, just 24 years after Buddhism was first introduced to the Silla Kingdom, temple construction began under the leadership of the monk Uisinchosa. In 776, monks Jinpyo and Youngshim gained the patronage of King Hyegong, and the temple flourished. In the Goryeo dynasty, as many as 3,000 monks practiced and lived in Beopjusa. Some of the original structures from 653 still stand on the temple grounds, including a cistern and iron pot for serving food and water to thousands of monks. Beopjusa thrived as a center for the Jogye Order until the Joseon Dynasty. By the middle of the Joseon Dynasty, the complex contained more than 60 buldings and 70 hermitages, or individual meditation cottages.
However, almost of them burned to the ground during the Japanese invasion of 1592, but, as the Confucian Joseon court refused to support the Buddhist temples, more than 30 years passed before reconstruction began in 1624, under abbot Byeokam. In its history, Beopjusa has undergone reconstruction eight times, including a major nationwide reconstruction in 1851. None of the original buildings remain.
A Temple worshiping the Maitreya
From its early days, Beopjusa has been associated with Beopsang thought and the worship of the Maitreya Buddha—the Buddha who is to come. It is predicted that thousands, even millions of years after Sakyumini’s death the Maitreya will come to earth from the spiritual realm where he currently resides. Living with mankind on the earth, he will deliver three important messages, the Three Yonghwa Sermons. Mankind will unite in worship of the Maitreya, live according to the teachings in the Three Yonghwa Sermons and commit acts of goodness, thus securing their salvation.
In the eighth century the Monk Jinpyo founded Geumsan Temple as a Seminary for teaching the Three Yonghwa Sermons, followed by followed by Beopjusa Temple as a second Seminary and Balyeonsa Temple on Mt. Geumgang as a 3rd Seminary, thus these three temples are known as the central teaching temples for the Three Yonghwa Sermons.
Beopjusa Temple in Naesongni-myeon, Boeun County, in the province of Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea is is one of 25 district headquarter temples for the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, Korean’s largest Buddhist sect, with 27 temples under its supervision. Currently, the Beopjusa Temple complex has about thirty buildings, and hosts a Songnichukjeon Festival every year in April of the Lunar calendar. The temple is home to four national treasures (one now has been moved to the National Museum of Korea, Seoul) and a number of local treasures.
Address: 209, Sanae-ri, Naesongni-myeon Boeun-gun Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea