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Monastic Robes: Gasa and Jangsam
Ceremonial robes called "Gasa," a transliteration of the Sanskrit word “kāṣāya,” are Dharma garments worn by Buddhist monastic practitioners. They are also called “patchwork robes” because they used to be made by patching together cloth scraps thrown away by others. They are also called “robes made of rubbish-heap rags” as they used to be made from shrouds, or “robes of the field of merit” as they help the donor to cultivate generosity and gain merit. For these reasons, gasa began to symbolize purity and non-possession. In Seon Schools, gasa, along with alms bowls, are used by teachers and disciples to designate a Dharma heir.
The long robes called jangsam have very wide sleeves. Monastics wear jangsam under their gasa (kāṣāya). It is not worn in the semi-tropical regions of India. As Buddhism was introduced to China, due to different dressing habits and the colder climate, wearing jangsam became the norm. In Korea, gasa and jangsam are not worn in daily life but worn only on formal occasions like Dharma ceremonies and Dharma offerings.
- excerpt from Buddhist English (Elementary 2) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism