Korean Temple


     Buddhist monks, those shaven-headed figures in gray robes, choose to leave this
earthly world (that is, mundane society) in favor of an ascetic existence based
on prayer and self-denial. But now their unworldly lifestyle is becoming a
tourist product... with the monastics' approval! Monastic life as a tourist
attraction? It's part of a global craze for monasticism. From the Himalayas to
the Hudson River, monks are in. Japanese salarymen are chucking their jobs and
fleeing to monasteries. In Taiwan last year, monasticism become big news.

Hundreds of families were shocked when their promising sons and daughters opted
for Buddhist monastic life instead of comfy careers in business. Meanwhile, in
the United States, at least one monastery finds it necessary to turn away
would-be novices. we are not soliciting vocations, the monastery says gently The
worldwide renewal of interest in monasticism has reached out to Korean Buddhists
too. People are interested in Buddhist monks and how they live. Many people,
whether seeking enlightenment or just fed up with the noise and glitz of
consumer society, would like to try the monastic way of living. So why not give
them a taste of it? That is precisely what monasteries in Korea are doing. They
offer tourists a brief but revealing look inside Buddhist Monasticism. Western
usually think of Buddhism as a religion of vegetarians who expect to be
reincarnated after leaving this world at death. Buddhists aim to correct this
oversimplified image. Buddhism has a long and complex history. It originated in

India some 2,600 years ago and was introduced to Korea in about the fourth
century A.D. Since then, Buddhism has exercised a tremendous influence on Korean
culture and produced many widely admired works of art. Pulguksa Temple are

Sokkuram Grotto, built in the eight century, are two of the most famous examples
of Buddhist art and architecture. Those two attractions, along with the

Tripitaka Koreana ( a collection of woodblock texts of Buddhist scripture, made
in the 13th century), were added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in

1995. Today Korean Buddhism involves more than 10,000 temples and 20,000 monks,
and is the belief system of 15 million Koreans (about one-third of the
population). More than 900 of those 10,000 temples are greater than 50 years
old. Buddhism accounts for more than 80 percent of Korean cultural resources
designated as national treasures. Now that foreign visitors are taking an
interest in Buddhist monasticism, Korean Buddhists are starting to market
traditional Buddhist ceremonies and ascetic practices as cultural products.

Already, some temples admit tourists for a close look at what goes on inside a
monastery. The Buddhists think they can encourage tourists to look beyond the
tangible side of Buddhism, namely its temples and pagodas, and experience

Buddhist culture on a more intimate level. Unique Korean Buddhist ceremonies for
tourists are planed, such as traditional dining rituals of Buddhist monks. Plans
also call for the tea ceremony to become a tourist attraction. Many temples are
opening tea houses to draw tourists. Most of these temples sell traditional teas
made by monks themselves.Actually, this opening of Buddhist monasteries to
outsiders is not a new phenomenon. For some time, major temples have admitted

Koreans and foreign visitors to a summer training course that lets guests
withdraw from the chaotic earthly world for a while. Though physically
strenuous, and very brief (only four nights and five days), this experience is
seen as an opportunity for participants to recharge themselves by sampling the
monastic lifestyle. Worship before the image of Buddha, sitting in meditation,
lecture and tea ceremony Sokkuram Grotto is 3 km away from Pulguksa Temple by a
short cut along the mountain ridge and 9 km away by a paved road. Based on a
balance between squares and circles, straight lines and curves, and planes and
globular shapes, the grotto is structured in a perfect harmony. The 38 figures
carved on the wall of the chamber are all masterpieces. The Sokkuram was modeled
after the stone cave temples of china, but in china these were cut into the face
of natural rock cliffs, whereas the Sokkuram is a man-made stone grotto designed
as a setting for the worship of a principal statue of Buddha. The Sokkuram has a
rectangular ante chamber and a circular interior chamber with a domed ceiling
formed from carefully cut blocks of stone. this domed ceiling shows not only
great technical skill but also a solidity reflecting sophisticated knowledge of
the mechanics of stress. Yet it is its sculpture that makes the Sukkuram unique.

Most prominently the large stone statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha in the center of
the interior chamber, the eleven-headed Goddess of Mercy and the various

Bodhisattvas and Arhat (disciple of Buddha) carved in relief in a semicircle on
the surrounding wall, the two Inwang ("benevolent kings") on the walls
of the antechamber, and the Four Deva Kings standing guard along the
passageway-each of these adds its own distinctive note to the symphony of beauty
presented by the Sokkuram as an integral whole. to be sure, in their roundness
of face and ampleness of body there is evidence of influence from T'ang Buddhist
sculpture, but the Sukkuram examples suggest a deeper sense of spiritual beauty.

Sokkuram Grotto is one of UNESCO's World Heritages. From Kyongju bus terminal,
take the city bus to Pulguksa. It runs every 10 minutes and takes 45 minutes.

And 20 minutes by bus from Kyongju Station. Sokkuram was built by Prime Minister

Kim Tae-song in 751 along with the Pulguksa Monastery. It was repaired by Priest

Chongyol in 1703 and the stone staircase was added at this time, and again in

1758 by Priest Taegyom. The entire grotto was dismantled for repair during the

Japanese occupation period (1913 - 15) and again in 1962-64 to prevent the
erosion of stone by dew condensation. This grotto was built with white granite
in the form of a niche and enshrines a seated Buddha at the center surrounded on
the wall by 39 Bodhisattvas, ten disciples, and Devas and guardian kings. It
represents the Pure Land in which Buddha resides. This stone cave temple is the
crystallization of Shilla's religion, science and art, a monumental achievement
of Buddhist culture of the Unified Shilla period. The principal statue in

Gupta-style enshrined in the grotto is seated cross-legged on an octagonal base.

Two slits for eyes, gentle eyebrows, the wisdom hidden between the eyes, the
mouth as if to be opened for preaching, and the hanging long ears all combine to
represent the sublime state of enlightenment. This magnificent work is perhaps
the finest thing in all Korean sculpture. Map Live PictureDescription : Pulguksa

Temple and nearby Sokkuram Grotto are located on the mid-slope of Mt. T'ohamsan
(745 m) which literally means "mountain that holds and lets out
clouds." The artistic creations of Unified Shilla were the products of
fully matured techniques. Having outgrown the rusticity of the Three Kingdoms
preriod, art now revealed a highly developed esthetic sense. Although the art of

Unified Shilla employed the technique of realistic representation, the purpose
was not to portray objects just as they appear in real life but rather to seek
to give expression to a concept of idealized beauty. Moreover, in the works
produced at this time, an effort to create a world of unflawed harmony is
evident. The special characteristic of the art of the Unified Shilla period,
then, is its attempt to create a beauty of idealized harmony through the
application of refined artistic craftsmanship. The art of the Unified Shilla
period may be said to be represented at its finest by the Pulguksa temple in

Kyongju and the nearby Sokkuram grotto. Pulguksa Temple and Sokkuram Grotto, the
cradle of Buddhist culture during the Shilla Kingdom, were first constructed in

535 A.D., the 22nd year of King Pophung's reign. The king followed his mother's
wish for the kingdom's stability and peace by constructing the temple. Two
hundred years later, during the reign of King Kyongdok (742-764), the temple was
redesigned and rebuilt by the chief minister (Chungsi) Kim Tae-song. A large
temple with original floor space exceeding 2,000 kan(unit for the space enclosed
by four pillars) in the combined area of its buildings, its wooden structures
dating from Shilla were destroyed by fire during the late sixteenth century

Japanese invasions and what we see today is a modern restoration. The beautiful
"cloud bridge stairway" leading up to the entrance gate (called the

Mauve Mist Gate), consisting of a lower flight known as the Bridge of White

Clouds and an upper flight named the Bridge of Azure Clouds; the novel shape of
the stone supports for the two front pillars of the Floating Shadow Pavilion to
the right, or west, of the Mauve Mist Gate; the balanced proportions of the two
pagodas, the Pagoda of Many Treasures and the Pagoda That Casts No Shadow, which
form a complementary pair to the left and right of the Taeungjon (Hall of

Sakyamuni, the temple proper)--all these display this same mature beauty of
harmony. The stone pagoda, in particular, is widely admired as a unique
expression of Shilla artistry --in contrast, the emphasis in China was on brick
pagodas and in Japan on those of wooden construction. Of all the many remaining
stone pagodas, the Pagoda That Casts No Shadow and the Pagoda of Many Treasures,
together with the Lion Pagoda at the Hwaomsa temple, are regarded as the
crowning glories among such monuments built in the Unified Shilla period.

Sokkuram Grotto is readily accessible by paved road (9 km) or hiking paths (3

km). Within the domed rotunda is a large sculptured stone Buddha image of
magnificent artistry. Representing the culmination of East Asian Buddhist art,
the seated Buddha gazes toward the East Sea. Pulguksa Temple is one of UNESCO's

World Heritages. Sokkuram Grotto is 3 km away from Pulguksa Temple by a short
cut along the mountain ridge and 9 km away by a paved road. Based on a balance
between squares and circles, straight lines and curves, and planes and globular
shapes, the grotto is structured in a perfect harmony. The 38 figures carved on
the wall of the chamber are all masterpieces. The Sokkuram was modeled after the
stone cave temples of china, but in china these were cut into the face of
natural rock cliffs, whereas the Sokkuram is a man-made stone grotto designed as
a setting for the worship of a principal statue of Buddha. The Sokkuram has a
rectangular ante chamber and a circular interior chamber with a domed ceiling
formed from carefully cut blocks of stone. this domed ceiling shows not only
great technical skill but also a solidity reflecting sophisticated knowledge of
the mechanics of stress. Yet it is its sculpture that makes the Sukkuram unique.

Most prominently the large stone statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha in the center of
the interior chamber, the eleven-headed Goddess of Mercy and the various

Bodhisattvas and Arhat (disciple of Buddha) carved in relief in a semicircle on
the surrounding wall, the two Inwang ("benevolent kings") on the walls
of the antechamber, and the Four Deva Kings standing guard along the
passageway-each of these adds its own distinctive note to the symphony of beauty
presented by the Sokkuram as an integral whole. to be sure, in their roundness
of face and ampleness of body there is evidence of influence from T'ang Buddhist
sculpture, but the Sukkuram examples suggest a deeper sense of spiritual beauty.

Sokkuram Grotto is one of UNESCO's World Heritages.____________ Prime Minister

Kim Tae-song is said to have built this cave temple in the 10th year of the
reign of Kyongdok-wang of Unified Shilla (751). The numerous stone Buddhist
figures in the grotto represent the best sculpture of the Unified Shilla dynasty
and of all Korea. The main hall beyond the small antechamber is round and the
ceiling is domed. Within the rotunda sits a majestic Buddha, 3.48m high. carved
in granite and facing east. Surrounding the Buddha are many figures in relief.

First, two Devas, one on each side, stand guard. Next are two Bodhisattvas (the
saint next in importance to Buddha), also one on each side. Further guarding the

Buddha are his ten disciples. The eleven-headed Avalokitesvara a Bodhisattva
(the Bodhisattva of Boundless mercy) is sculptured on the wall behind the main
figure. There are ten niches around the dome. They contain seven seated

Bodhisattvas and one Vimalakirti (the name of a famous lay disciple of the

Buddha). Two are empty. The Eight Guardian Demons, the Two Vajradharas (the
guardian gods of the temple), and the Four Guardian Kings are sculptured in
relief on granite salbs lining the wall of the antechamber and the passageway to
protect the Buddha and the Buddhist world. To only list this grotto as National

Treasure No. 24 does not give due emphasis to its importance in Oriental
culture. It is without exaggeration the most remarkable and unequaled art
treasure accomplished by Far Eastern civilization. Besides, it is commonly
referred to as one of the three Buddhist mysteries in the Far East Asia. The

Sokkuram was constructed during the mid-eighth century by the famed Minister Kim

Daesung who is also credited with building Pulguksa in 751. Report of the 19th

Session of the Committee Following is part of the "Report of the 19th

Session of the Committee" regarding Sokkuram Grotto and Pulguksa Templ.

Established on the slopes of Mount T'oham in the 8th century, the Sokkuram cave
contains a monumental statue of Buddha looking at the sea in the bhumisparsha
mudra position. With the surrounding portrayals of gods, Bodhisattvas and
disciples, realistically and delicately sculpted in haut relief and bas relief,
it makes up a masterpiece of Buddhist art in the Far East. The Temple of

Pulguksa, built in 752, and the cave form a body of religious architecture of
exceptional significance. Established on the slopes of Mount T'oham in the 8th
century, the Sokkuram cave contains a monumental statue of Buddha looking at the
sea in the bhumisparsha mudra position. With the surrounding portrayals of gods,

Bodhisattvas and disciples, realistically and delicately sculpted in haut relief
and bas relief, it makes up a masterpiece of Buddhist art in the Far East. The

Temple of Pulguksa, built in 752, and the cave form a body of religious
architecture of exceptional significance.