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Suryuk Daejae Ceremony: Intangible Cultural Heritage No.125

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Intangible Cultural Heritage No.125

The Suryuk Daejae Ceremony of Samhwasa and Jikwansa Temples






Korean Buddhist rites can be broadly defined into two groups, for the living and for the deceased. Moreover, Buddhist prayers generally carry two meanings; one is to take refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha (the Three Jewels), and the other is to devote oneself to precepts, and to transfer all merit to other sentient beings for the happiness and spiritual prosperity of all.
There are a variety of Buddhist ceremonies among the second group, including the Su-ryuk-jae, a lesser known Buddhist ceremonies in the West. Su-ryuk-jae is the Guiding ceremony for Earth and Water and it is a special offering for the hungry ghosts in the Earth and Water. It originates from China in the Yang Dynasty, when King Mu dreamt how a monk called on him to hold a ceremony for the hungry ghosts in the Earth and Water. The monk in the dream told the King that this would be his most worthy contribution, thus the King adhered to the monk’s request. Thus originating in China, Su-ryuk-jae is currently practiced in temples such as Samhwasa and Jikwansa temple in Korea.
 



 
The Suryuk Daejae Ceremony of Samhwasa (Intangible Cultural Heritage No.125)
The first Gukhaeng Suryuk Daejae of the Joseon Dynasty was held in Samhwasa on Mt. Duta-san in the Fourth Year of the reign of King Taejo. As the founding emperor of Joseon, King Taejo Lee Seong-gye established the Gukhaeng Suryuk Daejae Ceremony as his gesture of caring for the sacrificed souls from the nation’s foundation and to appease pro-Goryeo sentiments by showing the populace the communication and consolidation of the governing body. The Gukhaeng Suryuk Daejae Ceremony was jointly performed at Samhwasa near the Donghae (Eastern Sea), Gwaneum-gul Grotto on Ganghwa-do Island and Gyeoam-sa on Geoje-do Island.
The Ceremony seeks for communication between Heaven and Earth, the Dead and the Living, and the Four Saints and the Six Common Realms (the Four Saints: the Sound-hearers, the Solitary-awakened ones, the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. The Six Common Realms: hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, Asuras (jealous gods), humans, and celestial beings). Samhwasa was taken as a ceremonial ground from the fact that King Gongyang (the last King of Goryeo) and his two princes were put to death in Samcheok. The ceremony was carried out for the appeasement of the souls of the late Goryeo royal family and for public sentiment, as the Joseon Royal Ceremony of communication and unity.
 
Samhwasa holds the Ceremonial Records of the Gukhaeng Suryuk Daejae Ceremony (天地冥陽水陸齋儀簒要), which tells of the ceremony’s historical background. The archival importance of the record has lent it to being designated a Tangible Cultural Treasure of Gangwon-do Province. The ceremony is held in outdoor locations over three days, in the presence of the Buddha and Bodhisattva scroll paintings. It is typically attended by the residents of the Donghae Sea regions and by others from around the country. The Ceremony gives the ritual space of formal and cultural performances, in creating a joyous event participated in and shared by the Korean people.
Samhwasa Temple is a branch monastery of the main district temple Woljeongsa (District IV in the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism). The temple was founded by the Venerable Jajang Sunim in 642 A.D. (the 11th year of the reign of Queen Seondeok, during the Silla Dynasty) as Heukryeon-dae (“Black Lotus Temple”). In 864 A.D., the National Preceptor Beomil named it Samgong-am Hermitage (“Three Gentlemen’s Hermitage”). Samgong-am was the ancestral shrine of Wang Geon, the founding emperor of the Goryeo Dynasty. The emperor is said to have prayed for the unification of the Late Three Kingdoms of Korea at the temple, the dream of which was realized during his twenty year reign in the Goryeo Dynasty. With the Three Kingdoms having come together, the temple took on the name Samhwasa (“Three Harmonies Temple”). Having maintained its royal decree and relationships, the temple has upheld the observance of the Gukhaeng Suryuk Daejae Ceremony [국행수륙대재(國行水陸大齋)] from the time of the Joseon Dynasty.



 
The Suryuk Daejae Ceremony of Jinkwansa
 
Jinkwansa temple, a 12th-century temple near to both the hustle and bustle of huge Seoul city and the solemn atmosphere of Bukhansan National Park, is a famous temple in the outskirts of Seoul. It was established in 1011 CE to repay the great Buddhist master Jingwan for saving the life of King Hyeon-jong at his youth. This is the only temple in Seoul which serves ’Suryukdaeje’ and provides training facilities for Bhikkhuni (female Buddhist monks). Surukje of Jinkwansa began when King Taejo established a Royalin early Joseon Dynasty. King Taejo personally paid respect in Jinkwansa temple and established the Suryuksa temple to appease the public sentiment, performing Suryukje ceremonies. Jinkwansa National Suryukdaeje discontinued during the Korean War, but been restored steadily since 1977.
 
The Gukhaeng Suryuk Daejae Ceremony of Samhwasa (Donghae City) and Jinkwansa (Seoul City) Temples were designated Intangible National Cultural Treasure No.125 on Dec 31, 2014.
 
If you like to make a visit to Samhwasa Suryukjae, occurring every October and to  Jinkwansa Temple between August and October, please contact respective temples as shown below.
 
Samhwasa Temple
584 Samhwa-ro Rd. Donghae-si City, Gangwon-do Province
http://samhwasa.or.kr
033-534-7661~2
 
Jinkwansa Temple
345 Jinkwandong Eunpyeonggu, Seoul
http://www.jinkwansa.org/
02-359-8410

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