The Origin of Buddhism in Korea maybe not 100 percent from India
07-24-2018    The Korea Times
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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Pakistani Ambassador to Seoul Masood Khalid, second from left, talks to Man Dang, head monk of Pulgab-sa Temple in Yonggwang, South Cholla Province, on his left, while Kang Jong-man, left, head of Yonggwang County, and the ambassadorí»s wife Sonia look on at the museum of Gandhara relics in Yonggwang, Monday. Korea Times Photo by Yoon Won-sup</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>By Yoon Won-sup (Staff Reporter), The <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Korea</st1:country-region></st1:place> Times, October 1, 2006</SPAN></P>

<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Yonggwang, South Cholla Province, South Korea -- Many Koreans assume that Buddhism came from India mainly because it was India where Buddha achieved great enlightenment, taught his students Buddhist philosophy and died. However, the origin of Buddhism in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Korea</st1:country-region> is not 100 percent from <st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region>, according to the top Pakistani envoy in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Seoul</st1:City></st1:place>.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>"Perhaps what many Koreans do not know is that Buddhism came to <st1:country-region w:st="on">Korea</st1:country-region> in the 4th century from Gandhara, now located in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:place></st1:country-region>," Pakistani Ambassador Masood Khalid told The Korea Times.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>In 384, Maranantha, a Buddhist monk of Gandhara, came to Popsongpo in Yonggwang, South Cholla Province, then occupied by the Paekje Kingdom (18 B.C.-A.D. 660), and introduced Buddhism, he said.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>So the ambassador, his wife, Pakistani diplomats and a scholar went to Popsongpo last Monday to look around the place where the local government of Yonggwang established a museum and other facilities to mark the coming of Buddhism to Paekje last May.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>There is a statue of Maranantha, a <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">museum</st1:PlaceType> of <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Gandhara</st1:PlaceName></st1:place> relics, a park with a lotus pond, and several monuments to Buddha, which cover 43,000 square meters of land. The area was designated as the "Birthplace of Buddhism in Paekje" by the local government.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Actually, Popsongpo literally means a port where a holy person propagated the universal truth.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Min Hee-sik, former French literature professor of <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Hanyang</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">University</st1:PlaceType> in <st1:City w:st="on">Seoul</st1:City>, said that Koreansí» perception that Buddhism came from <st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region> is wrong because over 90 percent of Korean Buddhism is based on Gandhara and the rest is based on Buddha's life in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>He said that French documents support the view that Gandhara is the spot from where today's Buddhism spread to the world -- Buddhist temples were built for the first time in Gandhara, according to him.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>"Three hundred years after Buddha died about 500 B.C., King Ashoka introduced Buddhism to Gandhara, and from there Mahayana Buddhism developed with the establishment of many Buddhist temples," Min said.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>However, the scholar said that it was not easy to argue that Buddhism spread to <st1:country-region w:st="on">Korea</st1:country-region> from <st1:country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:country-region> not <st1:country-region w:st="on">India</st1:country-region> because so many people including Buddhist monks believe Buddhism came from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Meanwhile, Kang Jong-man, head of the <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Yonggwang</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">County</st1:PlaceType>, pledged to develop Yonggwang as the center of Buddhism in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">South Korea</st1:place></st1:country-region>.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Kang plans to visit <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:place></st1:country-region> next February with Min to get more Gandhara relics to put in the museum.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>The ambassador and his entourage also visited <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Pulgab-sa</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Temple</st1:PlaceType> in Yonggwang, the first Buddhist temple in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Korea</st1:place></st1:country-region>, which was established by Maranantha when he visited the peninsula.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>"Pulgab-sa Temple is the first Buddhist temple in South Korea, and it has many special treasures, which include three Buddha statues designated by the government as National Treasure No. 1377, " Man Dang, head monk of the temple, said.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Meanwhile, Man Dang donated three million won ($3,170) to the ambassador on behalf of the temple, asking the money to be used to help victims of the earthquake, which took place about a year ago in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:place></st1:country-region>.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>For more information about the birthplace of Buddhism in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Korea</st1:place></st1:country-region>, visit its website at <A href="http://www.maranantha.org">www.maranantha.org</A>. </SPAN></SPAN></P>
Editor: Wang Xinyu
   
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