Jeokmyeol-bogung
Korean Temples with Shrines containing Saria
Relics of Sakyamuni Buddha,
established by Master Jajang-yulsa and others
See my listing of Korea's 40 most sacred places on
Martin Gray's excellent Sacred Sites of the World
website, on
this page about Korea.
For plenty of information on and beautiful photos of the
world's holy pilgrimage destinations, get his excellent
new book:
Sacred Earth: Places of Peace and Power.
Master Jajang (자장, 慈藏, 590–658), most often known as Jajang-yulsa (that suffix means "Vinaya
Teacher") was the second of the series of great Buddhist Masters of the early Silla Kingdom that solidly
established the new religion in that previously-Shamanist realm. Jajang was a venerable Precepts or
Vinaya Master, one of the key founders of the Korean Seungga (승가, 僧, Sangha, saṃgha, Temple
Community), and founder of the five extant Jeokmyeol-bogung (temples with shrines containing saria
relics of Sakyamuni Buddha), and several other important temples such as Seorak-san’s Sinheung-sa
and Baekdam-sa.

Jajang came from an important aristocratic family whose status was just below that of the royal family
itself. He was born in 590 CE, showed promise as a diligent and brilliant young man, and became a
monk at an early age. After the death of his parents, he formed an aversion to the troubles of the world:
he left his wife and children and went to the mountains where he practiced meditation focused on a
skeleton. Because of his origins, however, he was called several times to serve the king as high
official. Queen Seondeok (선덕여왕, 善德) assigned him a government post before he become a monk.
It is said that when he was asked by the Queen to be Prime Minister, he declined the offer saying, "I
would rather die keeping precepts for a day than live to be a hundred years breaking precepts." Thus,
he remained a monk, showing his devotion to precepts in his role as a Yul (Vinaya, 律) rules Master.
Jajang traveled to Tang China 唐 in 636; he must have already been in his mid-forties. He studied the
Consciousness Only (唯識), Vinaya (戒律) and Avatamsaka (華嚴) in Zhongnan. He returned to Silla in
643, founding the Yul (Vinaya) school in Korea.

He is credited with founding the temple of Tongdo-sa in 646 CE, near in what is now Busan, South
Korea, and played a significant role in the adoption of Buddhism as the national religion of Silla. He
built the Geumgang Precepts Altar (金剛戒壇, the Diamond Ordination Platform) at Tongdo-sa Temple
(通度寺) and a 9-story stone pagoda in Hwangryong-sa (皇龍寺) Temple.


By the Tang Dynasty it was established in China that while all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have
their primary residences in India and the mountains believed to be surrounding it, the four principal
Bodhisattvas also have residences or manifestation-sites they call
daochang [doryang] at respective
great Chinese mountains located according to the four cardinal directions; this system complemented
that established in the Han Dynasty of five symbolic Daoist mountains in the five elemental directions,
creating nine most-sacred mountains all together --
for more on the Chinese System see here.  

This was a very important step in the Buddhist sacralization of Chinese territory, placing the Middle
Kingdom on nearly equal religious terms with India itself, necessary for the proud Chinese to accept
this "foreign religion".   The Daoist holy mountains are considered as
daochang for their mountain-
spirits and other important Daoist deities, a tradition that continued in Korea.  There are generally not
daochang for the Buddhas, Arhats and other such deities in China, or at least our knowledge of their
locations and traditions have been lost.


The same process was carried out by early Korean Buddhist leaders, Shilla's Master Jajang-yulsa in
particular, for the same reasons -- to establish Korea as a Buddhist Holy Land ranking a close third
behind India and China -- see the listing of
Jeokmyeol-bogung Temples here; they can be considered
as doryang of Sakyamuni Buddha and therefore of "original Buddhism" in-general.  
There are five extant Jeokmyeol-bogung temples founded by Jajang-yulsa,
and the remaining site of a 6th.  Four of them are along the central region of
the
Baekdu-daegan, Korea's mountain energy-spine and mainstream
national range, a gigantic nation-spanning
doryang for Munsu-bosal the
Bodhisattva of Wisdom in itself.   They are, from north to south:

Seorak-san Daecheong-bong Bong-am

Odae-san Jung-bong Saja-am

Saja-san Beobheung-sa

Hambaek-san Jeong-sa

Gyeongju Nang-san Hwangryong-sa

Yangsan Chuiseo-san Tongdo-sa