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Yongjusa Temple

By Devik Balami at
Youngjusa Temple

Yongjusa temple is the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. This temple is located in on the slopes of Hwasan in Taen-eup, Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. Literally, the word, Yongjusa means dragon jewel temple.

The temple was initially established in the mid 9th century CE and was expanded in the 10th century. The temple was again rebuilt in the late 18th century under the direct orders of King Jeongjo. This time the temple was built in honor of his deceased father, Prince Sado. This was one of the cases in which the Joseon royal house supported Buddhism directly. Also during this period, the temple got its current name.

The temple complex also houses two large bells in the temple. These bells were believed to be the date from the Unified Silla period.

Historical accounts of the yongjusa temple

The construction of Yongjusa temple was completed only in the mid 9th century. It was earlier named as Garyangsa but later the temple was burnt down during the Manchu invasion of Korea. The reconstruction of Garyangsa was initiated by Joseon's 22nd King Jeongjo. At that period, there was one monk named Boil Sail, originally from Borimsa Temple who teachings greatly influenced the king Jeongjo. It was his teachings on Parental Benevolence Sutra that inspired the king to rebuilt Garyangsa and renamed it as yongjusa.

Currently, yongjusa is the headquarters of the second religious district of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. This temple also supervises over 80 branch temples.

Features of the Yongjusa temple

Daewoongbojeon: It is the central building that houses Buddha statue which was built in 1790. This building has a Dapogye pattern with 3 sections in front and 3 sections on each side and consists of doubled eaves and beautiful pictures of many colors and designs. The building represents the specific characteristics of royal palace architecture.

The main platform painting: This painting in Dawoongbojeon is a picture of 3 meters in width and 4 meters in length which has the round composition of a painting. The painting was painted by Kim Hongdo, a Korean painter. The painting is made up of two stages- upper and the lower stage.

On the upper stage, the images of Buddha, Buddha Head, etc. were located between Yaksabul and Amitabul.

On the lower stage, statues of ten Buddhist saints, Buddha's disciples and four heavenly guardians of Buddhism are placed.

In this painting, almost everyone is concentrating their view towards the Buddha.

Bronze bell: This bell has an inscription that writes, the bronze bell was cast by Seok Banya with 15,000 kg of bronze. The bell is preserved in good condition till now.

Scroll painting: Kim Hong-do painted the scroll painting in Yongjusa's Main Buddha Hall. This scroll painting is the first to incorporate techniques of perspective and shading adopted from western paintings. Moreover, Kim Hong-do has also designed woodblocks that can be used to print the illustrated Parental Benevolence Sutra. These illustrative Sutras are highly praised for their beauty.

Yongjusa as a religious community center

Yongjusa currently has 80 branch temples and Buddhist hermitages that are distributed in southern Gyeonggi Province. This temple is also one of the 31 head temples of Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. The temple currently holds a lot of Buddhist masses and also train the trainees about asceticism. The monks also are introduced to the wisdom of Buddha through missionary work. Also, in honor of King Jeongjo's filial piety, the temple was also established as the Institute for the study of filial conduct and contributes a community center for encouraging humanity.