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Korean Buddhist Cultural Heritage

Beopjusa Temple (법주사)

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Writer Jogye Date23 Aug 2018 Read5,421 Comment0


4. Beopjusa Temple

Beopjusa Temple is located in Boeun County of Chungcheongbuk-do Province. Beopjusa Temple was established in the 8
th Century by National Preceptor Jinpyo and his student, Youngshim, who were the founders of Beopsang School. Beopsang School is renowned for its faith in Maitreya and practice of repentance. Beopjusa Temple remained in its original form during Goryeo and Joseon Dynasty up until the 16th Century. After being burned down during the Japanese Invasion of 1592~1598, the temple was quickly rebuilt to how it is today. Therefore, Beopjusa Temple has been the center for Maitreya faith of Korean Buddhism. Beopjusa Temple was established on a wide flat area near the upper region of Dalcheon stream at the foot of Songnisan Mountain. The temple gradually expanded to be the size seen today. At the beginning, the temple expanded north following along the stream with Sanhojeon Hall as the center, where Maitreya Buddha was enshrined. By the 17th Century, the building arrangement we see today has been completed. In Beopjusa Temple, there are Palsangjeon, which is Korea’s only wooden pagoda from 17th Century, and the Main Hall which has been build two-story tall.

Beopjusa Temple is the center of Maitreya faith. While Sanhojeon Hall is recognized as the main place of worship, there are a stone tub from where water was offered, a stone standing bodhisattva who is offering incense, Seongnyeonji from where clean water and lotus flowers were offered, and the twin-lion stone lantern. And, all of these stone works are remaining today and are registered as cultural assets. As the only wooden pagoda in Korea, Palsangjeon and the two-story Main Hall was built, Beopjusa had two axes of Maitreya and Shakyamuni faith. Though the Main Hall for Shakyamuni faith appeared, Beopjusa Temple has followed Maitreya faith as the central faith since its founding until today. Even though the gilt-bronze Maitreya statue was built in the 20th Century, it symbolizes Beopjusa Temple’s Maitreya faith which was represented by Sanhojeon Hall that was demolished in the late 19th Century to be used in reconstructing the palace.

Beopjusa Temple was recognized as the royal temple and received much attention from the royalty. Since Beopjusa Temple was registered as the royal temple, it could reduce the burden of tax or service to the government during Joseon Dynasty. Seonhuigung-wondang which was built in 1765 to enshrine the tablet of Royal Noble Consort Yeong of the Yi clan, which shows that the temple maintained amicable ties with the royal family.

The most uniqe ritual of Beopjusa is the all night prayer by monks and lay followersat the Yonghwajeon Hall which is in the basement under the gilt-bronze Maitreya statue on the 16th of each month by the lunar calendar. This is very important religious activity that shows the Matireya belief has continuously inherited as an identity of the mountain monastery over long history. Also, through receiving precepts, the lay Buddhists certify their faith as practitioners during the ritual.


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