The Eastern Crane, one of Korea's 108 Greatest Temples
Donghak-sa is an important Korean Buddhist temple, now a Seon [Zen] training center for nuns, situated deep
in a long lovely valley (with a great waterfall just 1km further-up), within the eastern slopes of Mt. Gyeryong-san.
It is nearly in the middle of the Gyeryong-san National Park, and at the southern border of Gongju City with
Gyeryong City, both of Chungcheongnam-do Province, just west of Daejeon Metropolitain City.
It is believed that this temple was first founded in 724 during the Unified Shilla Dynasty (668-935) by little-known
Master Sangwon (上願祖師, 상원조사), and was reconstructed in 920 by order of Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392)
Founding-King Taejo Wang Geon, for the purpose of protecting the kingdom (as part of the Hoguk Bulgyo tradition).
This was done in accordance with the geomantic instructions left behind by National Master Doseon, a highly-
enlightened scholastic and meditation master while also a renowned prophet and geomancer, and who designated
this site as one of the important gido-doryang (祈禱道場, prayer-practice-sites) for national defense and prosperity.
It was enlarged in 936 by Yuchadal (柳車達), a surviving retainer of the Shilla Kingdom, to establish his loyalty to
the new regime and provide a remote training center for monks at this highly sacred mountain, to "balance" the
great Gap-sa and Shinwon-sa monasteries on its west side. It persisted as a key temple through the Joseon era.
Donghak-sa became freshly famous at the opening of Korea's modern period as the teaching temple for Master
Gyeongheo (鏡虛, 1849–1912), who was the most important Seon-master at the end of the Joseon Dynasty. It
was thoroughly destroyed by fire during the 1950-53 Korean War, however, and was gradually reconstructed to
its present form from 1960 to 1975. The Samseong-gak (三聖閣, Three Saints Shrine) is registered as Local
Cultural Property #57. The beautiful Donghak-sa Valley is a very popular tourism site and trailhead for the park.
|Sanshin Painting of Donghak-sa, unfortunately behind reflective glass --
it is similar to that of Geumjeong-san Beomeo-sa...
When Master Sangwon founded this temple in 724, he granted it the name Cheongryang-sa (淸凉寺, 청량사,
Clear-Cold Temple), honoring the refreshing character of the alpine stream that runs in front of it. At the time
of the second enlargement in 936 by Yuchadal, the name was changed to Donghak-sa (東鶴寺, 동학사,
Eastern Crane Temple), purportedly because a rock that looks like a crane was seen sanding at its east side;
the name can also be interpreted as "the Crane on the East", due to the white crane being a sacred bird
symbolizing the virtues of scholarship and communication with Heaven, and this monastery is located on the
east side of the dragonish main-ridge of Gyeryong-san.