Naksan is Korea's Potalaka Mountain, the place where Avalokitesvara
Bodhisattva lives. Since ancient times the subject of much respect, the
Bodhisattva embodies the idea of perfect compassion and is a very central
figure in Mahayana Buddhism.
The Bodhisattva is depicted in many different forms, sometimes with
four, six or more hands. There are many statues and paintings in which
Avalokitesvara has 1,000 hands, each with an eye, so that the Bodhisattva
can see those in trouble and help them. Avalokitesvara represents the ultimate
in compassion within each of us and is usually considered to be neither
male nor female. The Bodhisattva lives on a sea-bound island filled with
protecting dragons to whom all but the pure of heart fall prey.
It is, therefore, no surprise to find Korea's Potalaka on Naksan
Mountain overlooking the East Sea. It was founded by Master Uisang in 671
CE, the 16th year of the reign of King Munmu. The temple is dominated by
a statue of Avalokitesvara which took six years to create.
The founder of the temple, a famous Avatamsaka monk, heard that Avalokitesvara
was staying in a cave on a mountain overlooking the East Sea, so he went
there to meet the Bodhisattva. After seven days of spiritual practice,
he received a magical string of Buddhist beads made of pure crystal. Next,
the dragon of the East Sea gave him a fabulous jewel. The master then practiced
for a further seven days and only then met Avalokitesvara and was told,
¡°On the peak above my cave, you will find a pair of bamboo plants growing.
Build a Main Hall there.¡±After building the hall, the master deposited
the beads and the jewel there.
The recently built Main Hall is a splendid tribute to Avalokitesvara.
Exquisitely decorated, the hall is full on statues of the Bodhisattva in
various poses. There you can see
many forms that Avalokitesvara takes and appreciate the skill of Korean
In spite of its many destructions and reconstructions, a few ancient
things remain. The Arched Gate, built in 1467 during the reign of King
Sejo (r. 1455-68), is believed to have been built from 26 stones, each
of which was contributed by one of the magistrates governing the 26 towns
of the area.
The fine seven-story pagoda is also believed to have been erected during
the reign of King Sejo. It measures 6.2 meters high. The body and roof
of each story is the made of a single stone. It is well preserved, especially
in that it has an intact finial consisting of an inverted bowl, a wheel
and a bijou on a bronze staff, resembling those of Tibetan style pagodas
found in Yuan, China.
The adobe wall surrounding the Main Hall also dates from the reign of
King Sejo and is highly regarded for the designs used in its creation.
Only part of it is original, the rest has been recently restored.
The bronze bell is dated 1469. The Bodhisattvas, the pattern of lotus
petals and waves on the body of the bell and the twin dragons on the top
have all been beautifully cast.
Nearby is a pond full of water lilies at the right time of year.
Naksansa Temple TEL : (0396)672-2448
|Express Bus||Tong-Seoul Terminal
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