|More Features & History of Ssanggye-sa
the venerable Twin-Streams Monastery
|The Budo Garden by the front gate, with ancient funerary-stupas
Above: a strongman Vajra guardian threatens next to Munsu-bosal,
Bodhisattva of Wisdom, on his Haetae mount.
Right: the Guardian King of the West holds a yellow dragon.
Their new nine-story Pagoda, inspired by the Goryeo-
Dynasty one (a national treasure) at Odae-san Woljeong-sa.
|The Main Hall fronted by broad stairways, twin Stone Lanterns and the famous monument.
|a nice little carving of Buddha from
the late Joseon Dynasty, called the
Ssanggyesa Ma-ae-bul, on a boulder
just to the east in front of the Main Hall.
|in the Nahan-jeon [Hall for the Disciples of Sakyamuni Buddha] we find old
wooden statues of the basic 16 Nahan in front of paintings of the full set of 500.
This monastery was founded as Okcheon-sa [Jade-Heaven Temple] in 722, just over 50 years after the
Shilla Kingdom conquered Baekje and Goguryeo, by monks Sambeop and Daebi, disciples of the great
Hwaeom Master Uisang-daesa. It is said that they were guided to the location by a Jiri-sanshin in the
form of a tiger, after being instructed by him in dreams to look for a site where arrowroot flowers
blossomed through the snow. They had travelled China for study, and returned with the skull of and a
portrait of "Yukcho" (Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch of Seon [Zen] Buddhism) which they respectively buried
under the Main Hall and enshrined here (the skull was later dug up and enshrined in a stone pagoda, still there).
In the early 800s it was expanded and renamed "Ssanggye-sa" by Meditaition-Master Jin-gam-seonsa
(774-850). He is also credited with creation of Beompae [Korean-style Buddhist music & dance], after having studied
Chinese Buddhist music in Tang China. He composed "Eosan" [Fish Mountain] with paleumryul [eight tones and rhythms]
while watching fish swim in the Seomjin-gang River, and therefore the spacious lecture-pavillion still dedicated to Beompae
performance and education at the front of Ssanggye-sa is named Palyeong-ru. He also first cultivated the green tea here.
Ssanggye-sa was burned to the ground by Japanese invaders in 1592 during the Imjin War, and then
rebuilt and renovated several times from the 1600s until now. It serves as one of the Jogye Order's
"District Headquarters" temples, remaining a major site of pilgrimage and tourism.
|the Bell Pavilion with "Four Instruments"
There are two prominent boulders across
from the entranceway-bridge in front of the
ticket office, both with Chinese characters
carved on them in the same style: "ssanggye”
[twin streams] on one and “seokmun” [stone
gate] on the other. It is said that Choi Chi-won
(see next page) himself carved these with the
tip of his hiking-staff -- but the truth is unknown.
Jiri-san is listed as one of Korea's most sacred places on
Martin Gray's excellent Sacred Sites of the World website,
on this page about Korea.
For plenty of information and beautiful photos of the world's
holy pilgrimage destinations, get his excellent new 275-page
book: Sacred Earth: Places of Peace and Power.