Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

4 - Embodying the Perfection of Wisdom: The Making of a Buddhist Mountain in Pre-Modern Korea

Friday, March 23
12:45 PM - 2:45 PM
Location: McKinley, Mezzanine Level

The focus of this paper is on how Chosŏn period (1392-1910) monks and travelers conceptualized Kŭmgangsan, a mountain in central Korea, as a Buddhist ritual space. Research suggests that by the late twelfth century, monks living at the mountain had established the sacrality of their residence by associating Kŭmgangsan with a location mentioned in the Perfection of Wisdom Sūtra: the karstified peaks of a cliff in the northern part of Kŭmgangsan were believed to represent Gandhavatī, the abode of Dharmodgata Bodhisattva. Visitors to the mountain identified as Sadāprarudita, one of the Prajñāpāramitā’s leading figures, who embarks on a truth-quest journey to find the bodhisattva Dharmodgata and listen to his sermons. Pilgrims visited the cliff to spiritually connect with Dharmodgata, and buried Buddhist sculptures in adjacent rocks as an offering to him. Images of Dharmodgata and Sadāprarudita enshrined at temples nearby the cliff expanded the development of Kŭmgangsan as a rare center of Dharmodgata worship.

Maya Stiller

University of Kansas, Massachusetts

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