Hwaomsa Temple's name is taken from that of one of the most influential
texts in the history of Korean Buddhism: the Avatamsaka Sutra, whose underlying
theme is the universal oneness of all things.
The temple was built on the slopes of striking Mt. Chirisan. While legends
say that it was built in 544 CE by Master Yon-gi, old records indicate
that it was actually established in the 8th century.
In Hwaomsa, two pagodas were built in front of one Main Hall in the
courtyard. The eastern pagoda is an unadorned five-story pagoda and the
western is a richly adorned double-pedestaled pagoda.
The Main Hall was built in 1630. To the east of the Main Hall is the
Judgment Hall in which graphic paintings of the hells can be seen. To the
west is the Hall dedicated to Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
the Main Hall, there is a path which, after about 150 meters, leads to
Sambulam, Hermitage of the Three Buddhas. There, in the Thousand Buddhas
Hall, are statues of Sakyamuni, Amitabha and the Medicine Buddha. There
are shrines of the Big Dipper and the Mountain God as well.
To the left of the Main Hall is the Hall of the Enlightened Emperor.
(Emperor is a name for the Buddha, the Awakened One who is lord over himself.)
Built in 1703, the 160-meter-high, double-roofed building is one of the
most magnificent in Korea. The large, high roof is a tribute to the high
rank of the Buddha, who came from a royal caste. Originally the building
was called Changyukjon. Legend tells that 100 monks prayed for 100 days
to build the hall. One night, an old monk dreamt that Manjusri told him
how to collect enough money.
Each monk must wet his palm and then touch flour. The one to whom the
flour didn't stick was the right
person; this was Master Kep'a. Manjusri instructed him to ask help from
the first person he met the next day. The person was a beggar woman who,
after vowing to be reborn in a rich family, committed suicide. A few years
later, Master Kep'a met a princess. One of her hands had never opened and,
when the master opened it, on the palm was written Changyukjon. On seeing
this, King Sukchong (r. 1674-1720) decided to pay for the temple. Originally
the entire Avatamsaka Sutra was carved on granite plates on the walls,
but most of it was destroyed by the 16th century invaders. Remaining fragments
have been deposited below the statues.
In front of this hall there are two important monuments. One is the
six-meter-high stone lantern, the biggest lantern in Korea. The other is
a lion pagoda. Four sitting lions support a pagoda and each lion's face
seems to express a different emotion. Both of these stone objects date
Behind the hall, up a steep path, there is another lion pagoda, also
dating from the 7th century. Four crouching lions on a relief-adorned pagoda
carry an elegant granite reliquary. Between the lions is the figure of
a nun standing facing a stone lantern. She is the mother of the temple
founder Yon-gi, who himself is said to be crouching under the stone lantern
opposite offering a cup of tea.
Hwaomsa Temple TEL : (0664)782-7600~1
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