From: Transactions, Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch Vol IV Part II (1915)

[page 1]
The Pagoda of Seoul.
By J. S. Gale.

In calling your attention to the Pagoda that stands in the Public Gardens of Seoul, I will quote first from Dr. Sekino, Assistant Professor of Architecture in Tokyo University. He says, “The pagoda stood originally within the enclosure of Wun-gak Temple.  It is precisely the same in shape as the pagoda that stood on Poo-so Mountain in front of Kyung-ch’un Temple, Poo’ng-tuk County, which dates from the close of the Koryu Dynasty. Its design may be said to be the most perfect attainment of the beautiful. Not a defect is there to be found in it. As we examine the details more carefully, we find that the originality displayed is very great, and that the execution of the work has been done with the highest degree of skill. It is a monument of the past well worth the seeing. This pagoda may be said to be by far the most wonderful monument in Korea. Scarcely anything in China itself can be said to compare with it. The date of its erection and its age make no difference to the value and excellence of it.”
    Coming as this statement does from an authority, it gives a fair idea of the place the Pagoda holds among the monumental remains of East Asia. It has very often been examined and commented upon in the past by travellers, but its origin and date have remained a question of doubt till the present.
    While it stands now in the midst of the beautiful gardens that surround it, it has passed through many vicissitudes in the way of site since the days of the Wun-gak Temple. In the winter of 1883 and 1884 Mr. Percival Lowell, the American astronomer, visited Seoul as the guest of His Majesty the King, and made many notes of things he saw in the Capital. What he says concerning the pagoda is of interest: [page 2]
    “Throughout the Far East wood is the common article employed in building temples. Though occasionally stone or some other more durable substance is used, temples or pagodas so constructed, in whole or in part, are rare.”
    “It is to one of these rare exceptional occasions — in this instance to the stone of which it is made — that is due the preservation of the only pagoda still extant in Seoul. This structure is not a true pagoda. It is a pagoda only in form; and now it is but a neglected ornament on a certain man’s backyard. But it deserves to be mentioned for its beauty as well as for its lonely survivorship. It hardly rises above its present lowly position, for it is not above twenty-five feet high. So little does it overtop the roofs of even the low Korean houses that surround it, that is baffles by a singular delusiveness one who attempts to reach it. It lies almost in the heart of the city, not far from one of the main thoroughfares; and it is while walking down this thoroughfare that one catches a glimpse of it. The distant glimpse never becomes a nearer view. From afar it is a conspicuous object, and on a closer approach it vanishes. It reappears only when it has been once more left a long distance behind; while from any other point of view than this street, it is hardly visible at all. Piqued into curiosity, I determined to ferret it out and see what it was, even at the risk of dispelling the charm.
    “The approach, as I expected it would be, led me up several narrow cross streets, and eventually landed me before an ill-kept little garden in the midst of which rose the deserted solitary pagoda. As I could get no good view of it, such as I wanted, from the alley-way where I stood, I was obliged to ask permission to break one of the most sacred Korean rites — no less heinous an offence than the climbing to a neighbouring ridge pole. The act was not reprehensible on the score of trespass, — my asking permission precluded that, — but the climbing to any, even one’s own roof, is, in Korean eyes, a grave affair, for it is a question of statute. It is forbidden by law to go upon one’s own housetop without giving one’s neighbours formal [page 3] notification of one’s intention to do so. The object of the law is to prevent any women’s being accidentally seen by one of the other sex. The women’s suite of houses are in the rear of the compound, and their occupants might be easily overlooked when in the enjoyment of their gardens from such a vantage ground.”
    “The pagoda is well worthy the toil involved in getting a view of it. Although it is eight stories in height, it is composed, the whole of it, of two pieces of stone. Not, properly speaking, a real pagoda, it is an ornamental structure in the form of one. The stories are carved to represent an actual building, while what should have been their sides is exquisitely chiselled in bas-reliefs of celebrated personages. The white granite has become slightly discoloured with age, but enough of its former purity remains to bring it into effective contrast with the sombre gray of the houses.”
    “The idea of the pagoda is Indian; and the Chinese, when they adopted, together with the Buddhist religion, this which had come to be one of its expressions, took the idea without directly copying the form. When the Koreans, in their turn, come to borrow, they took both idea and form from the Chinese, their predecessors in the line of possession.”
    “What I mean by the idea as distinguished from the form, will appear by looking at the structure itself. The most cursory examination will show the pagoda to be unlike other tall and slender structures in one peculiar and fundamental respect. It is not a unit but a conglomerate. Instead of being a perfect whole it suggests a series of buildings, of the ordinary Chinese type, placed one above another skywards. The suggestion is no accident but the result of design. Each of these stories, whose number varies in different specimens, typifies a Buddhist heaven. They represent the successive stages through which the soul, in its advance toward purification, must inevitably pass. This is the idea embodied in the pagoda. This much then the Chinese adopted; but in the expression of the stories they followed their own models, just as they did in the temples which they erected in honour of the same religion. This intent — that of repetition [page 4] — counts undoubtedly for something, in the quaintness with which the pagoda impresses the Western eye.”
    This quotation will give an idea of how forgotten and neglected the Pagoda has remained although one of the most interesting monuments of Asia. It is associated with Buddhism and has had to share the contempt and the neglect that Buddhism has fallen heir to.
    However the questions before us remain none the less interesting: What is its date? Whence came the model? What great motive lay back of it to bring it into being?
    Bearing somewhat upon its date and place of origin, tradition says that it came from China during the time of the great dynasty of Genghis and Kublai Khan, which lasted from 1260 to 1341 A.D. It is said to be a present that accompanied a Princess of the Mongols who was sent to be the bride of the Korean King. That the Mongols had much to do with Koryu, and that on more than one occasion a Mongol Princess came to share the throne and help rule the land, are unquestioned. The statement that the Pagoda came with one of them seems, however, impossible to substantiate from any historical record. No mention of it is made in the Koryu Sa, 高麗史 a history written by Cheung In-ji 鄭麟趾 who lived from 1396 to 1478 A.D. One could easily imagine that he would have mentioned it.
    However I am anticipating; let me go back and give you some of the statements of the tradition.
    Dr. Allen in his book Fact and Fancy says on page 146, “A marble pagoda representing the life and teachings of the Buddha was sent from Nan-king to the present site of Seoul where it still stands.” He adds in brackets “sent by the Chinese father of the Korean Queen.” Here Dr. Allen correctly records the tradition. His mention of Nan-king, however, may be a slip as the Mongols never made the southern Capital the centre of their rule.
    Mr Hulbert has written many times about the pagoda. His impression, too, was that it was sent from China by the Mongols. He gives as his chief authority the writings of [page 5] Keum-neung 金陵 or Nam Kong-ch’ul 南公轍 who lived from 1760 to 1840 A.D., a comparatively recent writer. He is removed by many hundreds of years from the date of the Pagoda as he himself understands it, and so his statement needs to be examined with all the greater care. He does not pretend to be at all sure of his ground in what he says, but would rather seem to be giving a guess at its mystery. He says:
    “On entering Seoul by the South Gate and passing toward the north in less than ten li you come to the site of an old Buddhist Temple which had a Bu-do or Pagoda before it. It is now some four hundred years since the temple fell to ruins but the pagoda still stands.
    “In a history of Koryu it says” (but where I cannot find) “that in the 11th year of Soon-je, 順帝 of the Mongols (1343 A.D.) the daughter of King Choong-soon of Koryu, who was called Princess Keum-dong, married the Emperor of the Mongols. The Emperor delighted himself so greatly in her, that he raised a large subscription on her behalf to be presented to the Buddha. He called workmen and made two pagodas, which he put on board ship and brought by way of Yo-dong. One was placed in P’oong-tuk by the Kyung-ch’un Temple, and one in Han-yang before the Temple of Wun-gak. The Minister of the Mongols T’al-t’al took charge of the work.
    “The pagoda has 24 shrines in which are pictures of the Budhisat, Kwan-se-eum 觀世音. They are taken from the pictures of O To-ja, 吳道者, the famous artist of the Tangs. Tradition says that originally by the Pagoda stood a stone on which was written an account of it, but time has worn away all traces of the record.”  (It is this inscription that I have recovered and wish to present to you to-day.) “We do not know the names of those who had a part in the writing. People are doubtful of the whole story.
    “Buddhism came originally from India and in the days of Han Myung-je, 漢明帝, it first entered China (58-76 A.D.), and continued till the time of the Mongols when it was specially honoured. Great temples and halls were erected, and this religion [page 6] increased and grew. Thus its influence was specially felt in Korea in the times of the Mongols, for she then became a vassal state and offered her tribute every year. Because of this she learned the habits and customs of the Mongol Empire. Thus the days of success for Buddhism began with the days of Koryu.
    “I have been amazed to find mention of pagodas in the History of Koryu, and looked to see if I could find any trace of it in the history of the Mongols, but find nothing. I wonder if they overlooked it. Perhaps Koryu made her own pagoda and did not get it from the Mongols at all. It may have been added by those writers who desired to make a wonderful story of it.
     “The Mongols were originally barbarians and so one need not be surprised at their worship of the Buddha, but our country which lies here beyond the sea, has, for 500 years and more, worn the cap and belt of the Confucian scholar, and yet it came to be so ardent a follower of the Buddha, just as the Mongols themselves were. It is indeed a distasteful fact.
    “Now Soon-je of the Mongols was born of barbarian stock, and so one naturally thinks of him as a man with no religion, but T’al-t’al was a renowned Minister of State, whom people of the world liken to Che-kal-yang 諸葛亮. One so greatly honoured as he could not surely have been a promoter of so contemptible a thing as Buddhism. I wonder if it was because Koryu loved Buddhism that this pagoda was erected? This too, is a question and a doubt, Koryu was a very wicked state. Between king and courtier, as between father and sons, such acts were committed as the Book of Poetry calls ‘the doings of the lost.’
    “If we look carefully into the origin of this we find if all due to the presence of Buddhism. Since ancient times those who have followed the Buddha have prayed for blessing but have failed to get it. Instead of blessing they have found disaster and destruction; and yet they did not know how to repent. Thus it was.
“I have noted down herewith what has transpired in the past, in order that future generations may read and understand.”
Mr Hulbert who bases his conclusions largely on what [page 7] Nam Kong-ch’ul says, gives his views in The Passing of Korea and the Korea Review of December 1901.
    It had long seemed to me likely that the inscription on the Wun-gak Temple stone, that stands on the turtle’s back, not far from the Pagoda, would answer the question of its origin, but even Nam Kong-ch’ul who was born in 1760 says the inscription was lost to sight in his day. Looking the stone over, many characters are visible, but it is quite impossible to make out the sense. The Yu-ji Seung-nam, or Geographical Encyclopaedia, says that it was written by Kim Soo-on, 金守溫 one of the noted scholars of Korea, who graduated in 1441 and was in his day Chancellor of the College of Literature. He was also a specialist in Buddhism, but his works are nowhere to be found. After many years search my esteemed friend Mr. Kim Wangeum, 金瑗根 found the copy of an inscription said to have been written by Kim Soo-on, for the memorial stone that stood before the Wun-gak Temple. I took it at once and made a careful comparison with the dim characters remaining and found it to be genuine. I give herewith a translation, as it throws much light on the whole question of the Pagoda. It gives the date of its erection, tells who built it, and also the motive that prompted the building.
    The inscription reads; “For the ten years during which His Majesty has reigned, he has won great renown for his righteous rule, has demonstrated the principles of justice, and brought the sweet music of peace and quiet to the state, making the people, and all that pertain to them, happy and glad. During this time His Majesty has given himself up to religion, and meditated on the deep truths of the Faith, desirous that this subjects might be impregnated with a like spirit, and so win the blessing of eternal life.
    “Among the sayings of Yu-rai in the 12th Section of the Three Chang Sutra 三藏經 there is a book called the Tai-Wun Gak 大圓覺 which is a special religious classic. In the midst of his many labours the King wrote a commentary on this book and edited it, using both the Chinese and the [page 8] Un-moon 諺文 to make it plain. He did it in the hope that the people would come to a knowledge of the Mahayana Doctrine, 大乘
    “In the 4th moon of summer and on the day Kyung-sool in this year 1464, Prince Hyo-ryung, 孝寧大君, called Po, 補, set up a stone “bell” to the east of the Hoi-am Temple and placed the sari 舍利 of Suk-ka Yu-rai within it. He then summoned an assembly to celebrate its erection, at which time he himself expounded the teaching of the Wun-gak Sutra. On that night Buddha appeared in mid-heaven, and angel priests were seen circling about the high altar. A bright halo surrounded them with circles of glory. Fresh water gushed forth from the earth. The sari increased and grew to be over 800 in number.
    “In the 5th moon, Prince Hyo-ryung gathered them together and presented them to the King, with an account of the wonders he had seen. Therewith His Majesty and the Queen repaired to the Ham-wun Palace, and worshipped. Again the sari increased and grew to 400 more, on hearing which the Ministers memorialized the King with congratulations for this good omen.
    “On this a general pardon was issued to all prisoners, and His Majesty sent an edict to the Government which read: ‘Among the thousand great, good and righteous ones who have lived Suk-ka Yu-rai is the fourth. His word has gone out in all directions, and his wisdom to the ends of the world. His preaching, which saves the souls of men, has advanced and now occupies the realm of China. There are over 84,000 books that pertain to it and yet the Wun-gak Sutra is the source and end of all. I had already set my heart upon translating it and making it known, so that its teaching might benefit others, when my uncle Hyo-ryung called an assembly, at which time various Buddhas made their appearance before our eyes. It was a wonderful manifestation. We, who live under all the five kinds of darkness that afflict the soul, have seen a sight like this. And now I propose to restore the Hong-bok Temple, 洪福寺 and change its name to Wun-gak, and so build a memorial to the [page 9] highest of the Buddhist Sutras, How do you regard my intention?’
    “The officers of state bowed reverently and answered: ‘Shall we not faithfully carry out the beneficent commands of His Majesty the King?’
    “The site of the temple was in Kyung-haing Ward of the Capital, and the circumference thereof was over 2000 paces. When King (Kang-hun) 康憲, T’ai-jo 太祖, first set up his capital in Han-yang, this temple was the head of the Cho-ge sect of Buddhists, which sect at that time had disappeared, and their temple had been left deserted. It had become a public meeting place, and had been so used for forty years or more.
    “In the 6th moon of the year in question, His Majesty paid a visit to the place and looked it over. Paik-ak Mountain appeared as a protective influence to the north, and Mok-myuk bowed reverently toward the temple from the south; while the site itself looked toward the sun-lit quarter. The ground was clean and neat, and just such a place as would suit a special temple, so His Majesty commanded the followers of Prince Hyo-ryung (the King’s uncle) to appoint a committee to take charge of the work.
    “They put up sheds at Tol-mo-ro (Suk-oo) 石隅, and there began work on the image of the Buddha, when suddenly a cloud of glory came down and settled on the house, and many flowers fell from mid-air, flowers of all the five colours. Prince Hyo-ryung’s Committee at once sent word to His Majesty announcing what they had seen, and then he himself came forth to the Keun-jung Palace and received the congratulations of his ministers. There he issued a general pardon, and promoted all the officials one degree each in rank.
    “In the 9th moon, on the day of kap-ja, clouds of light appeared over the main temple, that shot up their streamers into the blue sky and in front of the Ham-wun Palace. Again the officials wrote out their congratulations, and pressed them upon His Majesty. He again announced a general pardon and good will to the people. A great company of skilled workers had [page 10] assembled, and though the King ordered them to take their time, they worked with extra diligence. The four divisions of society, officials, farmers, manufacturers and merchants, all made contributions. Each, fearing that he might be last, worked so hard that on the eul-myo day of the 10th moon the work was finished.
    “Reckoning up the number of pillars supporting the building they were found to exceed 300. The Hall of the Buddha stood up high in the centre, and the inscription board above was written Tai kwang, myung jun, 大光明殿, Great-light Glorious-palace. To the left was the Sun-tang 禪堂 or Study Hall, while to the right was the Oon-chip, or Assembly Hall. The gate was marked Chuk-kwang Moon 寂光門, Hidden Light, and the outer gate was called Pan-ya 般苦, or Likeness Gate. Beyond this again was the Hai-tal Moon 解脫門. There was a bell pavilion also which was called the Pup-noi kak 法雷閣, Kiosk of Buddhas’s Thunder. The kitchen was named Hyang-juk 香寂寮, Kitchen House. There was a pond on the east side where lotus flowers were planted; and on the west was a garden park where flowers and trees grew. Behind the Cheung-jun 正殿 Palace the sacred books were in keeping, and this house was called Hai-jang Chun 海藏殿 or Sea Covering Hall. Also a Pagoda was built of 13 stories called Sul-to-pa 窣堵婆 (Buddhist Pagoda). Within it were placed the accumulated sa-ri and the newly translated Wun-gak Sutra. The palaces, halls, studies, guest-rooms, stores, kitchen, outhouses, had each their particular place. The whole was magnificent and well constructed, and the ornaments were lavish, imposing, beautiful, all in keeping and fair to see. Its equal was nowhere to be found. Also the drums, gongs etc., necessary for the service, and other useful implements were abundantly provided for.
    “On the 8th day of the 4th Moon of the year following, 1465, all the noted priests from the national monasteries assembled to celebrate the completion of the printing of the Wun-gak Sutra and the building of the house. At this time His Majesty the King came forth and took part, his Ministers [page 11] being present as well as envoys who came with presents and tribute from afar. During the time of assembly rainbow clouds appeared above them, and flowers from heaven fell like rain. A white dragon ascended up to the height and a pair of herons danced among the clouds. Thus many favourable and propitious signs accompanied it. The assembled company saw these things with their own eyes, and out of gladness gave presents of cloth and rice to the officiating priests.
    “On the 8th day of the 4th moon of the year following the Pagoda was finished (1466), and a general assembly was again convened. The King himself was present, when flowers again fell from heaven and the glory of the sari once more appeared. White streamers that shot up into the sky, were at first divided as into two or three pillars. Then they circled about till they became a wheel and multiplied into numberless circles. The sun’s light became soft in its rays, and yellow in colour. Buddhist priests and nuns, onlookers and laymen, gazed upward and did obeisance. It was an innumerable company that saw and had a part.
    “When His Majesty returned to the palace, students of the classics, old men and musicians, united in a song of congratulation. The people of Seoul, men and women, filled the streets, singing and dancing with joy, and their expression of gladness was like the rolling thunder. The King again issued a general pardon and all officers of state were advanced one degree in rank. The various officials united in saying ‘We have seen how Your Majesty has built this great temple, set up this Hall of the Buddha, and convened so great an assembly. We have seen the signs and wonders that have accompanied it, such a thing as was never known before. It is not sufficient that we recognize it as due to the influence of the Buddha and the Bodhisat alone, but also to the virtue of His Majesty the King, whose sincerity in religion has attained to the highest place of union with the gods. We humbly request that this be carved in stone, so as to be an eternal record for the future.’ Then the King called me, (Kim Soo-on), and ordered me to [page 12] write. Thus I received the command and in fear and trembling did not dare to refuse. I therefore make my humble statement:
    “Your Royal Majesty, born of Heaven, holy and wise beyond a hundred kings, while still but a prince was far-seeing enough to quiet the troubled state and to receive divine authority to rule, and thus You ascended the throne. So diligently did You think out plans for the benefit of Your people, that You scarcely had time to eat. Your exalted virtue and good deeds resulted in harmony and good-will, so that rains came in their appointed season, prosperity abounded and the people were happy with abundant harvests. Thus Your Majesty ascended to the highest seat of honour; Your fame was known throughout the world, and distant states came without ceasing to make obeisance, came across dangerous defiles, and over the stormy sea. Your Majesty’s excellence and exalted virtue were such that even the Sam Whang and the O-je could not surpass. You thought also of how the people in their long night of darkness were blind and ignorant of the teachings of true religion, with no chance to ever know the same. By means of the Holy Books, which You Yourself read and studied, and then explained, You provided a way by which the people might easily learn and know, not only for themselves but also for others. And now, in the center of the capital, You have built a great temple whither all mankind may gather, to learn the love and knowledge of the Buddha. Your object is, that all the world, putting away evil and returning to the right way, may finally reach the great sea of Yu-rai’s blessedness.
    “Thus have officials, people, and those sharing in the work been made extremely glad. Like children at a father’s bidding they came forth and did in a month or two what could not have been done otherwise in years. Great and wonderful it was! The King’s high aid and matchless planning was in response to the great Buddha on high, and the wishes of the people from below. All the spirits too yielded approval with joy, and heaven and earth gave their witness, From the time [page 13] of its first plan and beginning, many propitious proofs accompanied its advancement with the odours of fragrant incense. Beautiful and wonderful is the all-ruling Buddha whose salvation extends for and wide. How shall I, a humble servant, who sees but through the narrow opening of the bamboo, make mention of the beauty of Buddha’s spiritual influence, or the King’s imperial rule? Still, I was present at the Great Assembly, and saw these wonderful things, Shall I not make them known, praise them, and let them be heralded gloriously to the ages to come? Thus, I clasp my hands, bow, and write this poem:
“Great and beautiful our King,
Blessed by Heaven with courage wide and wisdom;
Who saw the future, and made the rough place smooth;
Who made the stunted grow, and the prone to rise.
God gave the throne, the people gathered round;
Great was his command and glorious,
Once You became the King of Chosen,
You gave your heart and mind to kingship,
Following the footmarks of Yo and Soon, Moon and Moo,
Making Your reign the equal of the Ancients,
With every fear and reverence added,
No hour was passed in idleness,
With righteous judgment and a righteous rule,
Ten years have rolled away,
Prosperity and abundance have been ours,
Like to the days of Heui-ho 熙皥.
Pityingly, you thought of the ignorant people,
Who, born of the same flesh and blood,
Are fallen in the darkened way,
Not knowing how to safely cross,
Then it was that the Wun-gak Sutra
Which is the mother of all religion,
Was explained by You and written out in full,
With characters and clauses, clear and plain,
[page 14]
So that all might easily understand,
Just as though the Buddha’s lips had spoken,
A bell was hung and a great assembly called,
Your kith and kin came forth to lead the way,
The rumor and the sound thereof
Was like the roaring of the lion.
Spiritual responses came forth a hundred fold,
And reached the gracious hearing of my Lord the King,
Said He, ‘It is well,
Come to me all ministers and people,
Behold the blessings of the Yu-rai
Are beyond the mind to know or ken;
Abundant store has he,
How shall we speak the wonders of his working
An old site of a temple stood,
Within the ancient capital.
Why should this site not be restored,
So that the teaching may be known?
All the needed plans were drawn,
Just as His Majesty desired.
Then was Prince Po, by Royal command,
Made head and master of the work.
The people helped as children help a father,
And ere the days were passed it finished was,
Palaces, courts and rooms with balustrades―
Peacocks in flight, and birds upon the wing,
Thus was it made and finished.
A Pagoda also stands within the court,
Like to an ancient Ta-bo Tower.
Bells and gongs rang in the air,
Resounding out the law and doctrine,
Twice the great assembly gathered;
Twice the king came forth to see.
Marvels and wonders lent their presence,
Once and again in great abundance.
[page 15]
Men with eyes and ears both saw and heard;
All were made glad and happy.
The people of our state,
And even those beyond the border,
Spake with one mouth and happy heart
Calling aloud and singing praise,
Our good and gracious king
Came as the sage appears.
A soldier he, and scholar too,
Such a reign his, as one among a thousand,
Our King heard with clearest ear,
Received into his heart the truth.
The influence of the All-wise,
And benefits of his gracious presence,
Were known to all the people,
As one awakens from a dream.
Our King hath loved us well
And peacefully provided,
Built a pagoda and a shrine,
So as to let the people know,
The fruits of righteousness were his,
Enlightened was the state.
Those who first saw, told others,
Who, coming after, awakened to the truth.
There is no limit to the greatness of this,
Wide its extended virtue.
How can one tell of all its sweetness?
On this fair stone I write it out.”
    We had been led to understand from tradition that the pagoda was built by Chinese and brought from China but this inscription would seem to make it clear that it was erected here by Korean workers. The kind of stone used is abundant about Seoul.
    I quoted in the opening paragraph a sentence from Dr. Sekino in which he says, “It is precisely the same in shape as the pagoda that stood on Poo-so Mountain in front of Kyung-ch’un [page 16] Temple P’ung-tuk County” and that pagoda is mentioned in the Yu-ji Seung-nam 興地勝覽 as follows; “Kyung-ch’un Temple stands on Poo-so Mountain, where there is pagoda of 13 stories with 12 assemblies of the Buddha pictured. The figures are most lifelike and definite in every detail, and the skill and exactness with which they are made have no equals in the world.
    “Tradition says that Minster T’al-t’al of the Mongols erected it to make the place where he wished prayer to be made for himself. At that time Prince Chil-yung, Kang Yoong, 姜瀜 had workers selected and sent from Peking and they built the pagoda. Up to the present time, too, the pictures of Kang Yoong and T’al-t’al are in the temple. On a hill to the east this special kind of stone is to be found, called chim-hyang 沈香.”
    The writer of the Encyclopaedia was Su Ku-jung 徐居正 a contemporary of Kim Soo-on and he says that already in his time tradition had something to say regarding the pagoda in P’ung-tuk. Now tradition does not speak in much less than a hundred years, and so the Pagoda of Kyung-ch’un Temple was already old and weather-beaten before the one in Seoul was erected in 1466. It is evident therefore that the one in Seoul was made an exact copy of the one in P’ung-tuk, which was recently taken to Tokyo and placed there.
    There are three forms of memorial towers known to the East, the pagoda, the dagoba and the tope. The pagoda and the tope commonly take the form of a tumulus, a mound of earth or masonry. The dagoba is a heap that commemorates the relics of some noted Buddhistic saint, without any temple or hall for the Buddha being connected with it. The pagoda on the other hand, quoting from the Century Dictionary “is a sacred tower usually more or less pyramidal in outline, richly carved, painted or otherwise adorned, and of several stories, connected or not with a temple. Such towers were originally raised over relics of the Buddha, the bones of a saint, etc., but they are now built chiefly as a work of merit on the part of some pious person, or for the purpose of improving the luck of the neighborhood.” [page 17]
    The word pagoda comes from the Hindustani “but-kadah,” but meaning image, and kadah temple. Chinese attempting to give the sound rendered it by the characters peh, white; kuh, bond; and t’a tower, peh-kuh-t’a or pagoda. (白骨塔).
    This style of architecture, “pyramidal, richly carved and ornamented” is Dravidian or Southern Indian. The story of how it found its way across the inaccessible walls of the Himalaya Mountains, through the vast continent of China, to this distant land on the sea, would embrace the whole spiritual romance of the Buddhistic faith. One stands in awe before the Buddha’s mighty relics, of which the Pagoda is one, and tries in vain to measure the depth of its influence on the Oriental soul.
    The pagodas of Korea are built, without exception, as far as I have been able to find, to cover the relics or sa-ri of saints. These are said to be not the bones, but gems that come forth from the head or brow of a true master of the Buddhist faith.
    That the results of deep study have to do with the physique is something commonly accepted by the Oriental. A deeply versed Taoist we are told, develops a halo that rises from his head or returns to it again as to a place of abode. So these sari are gems that grow in the brain or soul of the Buddhist and when he is cremated they spring forth from the fires.
    The Pagoda, then, was erected over the sa-ri of Suk-ka Yu-rai, as I read from the inscription on the stone. Also the Wun-gak Sutra was placed therein. This was the book that awakened in the King a great desire for the Buddhist faith. Se-jo had murdered his nephew Tan-jong, and his heart was in distress so he went to the Buddha for relief, and the Wun-gak Book became his comfort and solace. This Su-tra gave the name to the Temple and to the Pagoda, and so it is of special interest in this connection. It is made up of twelve questions and answers, the questions being asked by the assembled Bodisats and the answers given by the Buddha.
    Let me give you one of them as a sample.
    “Question First:
    The Moon-soo Sa-ri Bodisat arose among the many disciples [page 18] assembled, bowed before the feet of Buddha, turned three times round to the right, knelt, crossed his hands and said; ‘Great and merciful, Highest of the High, I pray that in behalf of this assembly and those gathered here You will tell us how Yu-rai, at the first, learned to live the pure and holy life, also how we Bodisats may, by means of the Mahayana Doctrine, win that pureness of heart that will drive away evil, and save the races yet unborn from falling into sin.’ When he had said this he fell to the earth, repeating his prayer many times, over and over again.
    “The Buddha made answer:
    “‘Good it is, my son, that you have, in behalf of those assembled, asked how Yu-rai lived the holy life; also how the races yet to come may, by means of the Mahayana Doctrine, win the perfect way, and not fall into sin. Listen while I tell you, and while I speak into your ears.’
    “The Moon-soo Bodisat, delighted to receive the teaching, sat with all the assembled guests in deepest silence.
    “‘Good child’ said he, ‘the High Buddha points to the Gate of Tai-ta-ra-ni, which means Wun-gak, or Complete Enlightenment. From this gate there flows forth purity and holiness, true and unchanging; also the law by which one departs from anxiety and death, and the law by which all defilement is put away. With this I would teach the listening Bodisats.’
    “‘The Law by which the Yu-rai came, finds itself in the perfect Law of purity and enlightenment, the departure from darkness and the entering into faith.’
    “‘As to what I mean by Darkness, good child, it is this! All living beings have come from nothingness into an existence that experiences many falls. Deceived they go blindly on, foolishly thinking that this natural body is their real self, regarding its affinities and shadows as objects on which to rest the mind. It is like the defective eye that sees flowers in mid-air, or two moons in the sky. My dear child, there are no flowers in mid-air, or two moons in the sky. Flowers in mid-air [page 19] are seen by the diseased in mind only. Not alone are such deceived in the shadow, but their nature is also deceived by the real flowers themselves. Because of this defect the Wheel goes on with life and death bound to it. This we call Darkness.
    “‘My dear child, this that we call Lack of Light is not anything that has form or can be seen. It is like things in a dream, which, while the dream lasts, seem real, but when the waking comes, are gone. These are indeed the mid-air flowers that vanish from the sight. We cannot tell where they disappear to, nor how they disappear, but the reason for it is that they are without being. So all mortals who are born into life, know not whence they come, and know not whither they go. Hence comes the Wheel with life and death hanging thereto.
    “‘My dear child, the one who enters the Enlightened Way which is the origin of the Yu-rai, knows that mid-air flowers have no being or existence, no body or soul, no death or life, no origin or reason.
    “‘Thought is an actuality and yet it is an unseen and imperceptible thing, like Nothingness itself, and Nothingness is the koong-wha-sang, 空花相 Flowers in Mid-air. One cannot say however that there is not a mind that thinks. When once this mind that thinks has rid itself of active thought then it can be said to have attained to Cheung-gak Soo-soon, 淨覺隨順 Pure Enlightenment, Simplicity of Action.
“‘Now, as to how this comes to pass, Nothingness pertains to mind and cannot be influenced by change. Thus the hidden heart of Yu-rai never increases, never decreases. Thinking and seeing have no part in it. It is like the sphere of the world of the Buddha, rounded and complete filling all the Ten Regions. This is called the origin of the Pup-haing or the Buddha. Ye Bodisats, by means of this, and through the Mahayana Faith are able to develop the heart of purity. When mortals act according to the In-ji Pup-haing, they will never fall into sin or evil.’
    “At this time the All-Highest, desirous of making the [page 20] thought clear, repeated what he had said. He added ‘Oh Moon-soo Bodisat, all the Yu-rai from the beginning of the way, have by means of knowledge awakened to this Lack of Light; they have awakened to know that through Lack of Light men see flowers in mid-air. Thus have they escaped the Wheel of transmigration, and like the man who awakens from a dream to find it nothing, thus have they seen the world. Once enlightened, they know this that fills all the Ten Regions of the Universe. Once they enter the Faith of the Buddha, attain to the Doctrine, and cease from Transmigration, they find at the end Nothingness of Nothingness. The reason for this is that the original nature of Yu-rai is final and complete. Give your minds, oh Bodisats, to this truth and show that if mortal man purifies himself thus he will never fall into sin.’”
    This is only one of the questions and one of the answers, but it will, perhaps, give an idea of the book that moved the King to build the Pagoda.
    On the Pagoda itself are marked twelve Assemblies. These have no relation to the Twelve Assemblies seen in the Wun-gak Sutra or to the questions asked and answered there. The Assemblies carved on the Pagoda are named after famous Sutras or Sacred Books that have to do with the wider explanation of the Faith.

    I ― Neung-am Assembly 榜嚴會. This name comes from that of a famous Sutra that was translated into Chinese in 1312 A.D. When this original assembly was held 28 bodisats gathered and listened to an explanation of the seven stages passed in the journey of the soul.
    II ― Pup-hwa Assembly 法華會. This likens the law of the Buddha to the lotus that comes forth from the miry earth and blooms a beautiful flower. Of three special stages in the heavenly way, this assembly stands for the highest attainment in the spiritual life.
 III ― Ryong-wha Assembly 龍華會. This assembly teaches [page 21] that the Miruk Buddha will have charge of the final kalpa, or age to come.
    IV ― Yak-sa Assembly 藥師會. This assembly praises the virtue of the Yak-sa, and tells how he awakened to the Faith and became a Buddha.
    V ― Ta-bo Assembly 多寶會. In this assembly the Ta-bo Buddha tells by question and answer how he came to a knowledge of the Truth.
    VI ― Mi-ta Assembly 彌陀會. This tells of Amida Buddha, the eternal one, who had no beginning and no end. He was before Sa-ka-mo-ni.
    VII ― So-jai Assembly 消灾會. In this assembly appears the Ta-ran Buddha. He tells how evils shall be done away with and blessing secured.
     VIII ― Wha-eum Assembly 華嚴會. This assembly tells how the sunlight touches first the highest peaks of the hills, and later those lower. It suggests the great ones who first know and understand. All the Bodisats and the angels attend this assembly, and eight armies of dragons accompany them as well.
     IX ― San-se-pool Assembly 三世佛會. At this meeting the Buddhas of the past, present, and the future, all assemble.
    X ― Chun-tan Su-sang Assembly 栴檀殊像. Su-ka-yu-rai ascended to heaven from the land of Oo-jun. After his departure a great desire to see him once more possessed his disciples, so the king of Oo-jin had an image made out of Chin-tai wood. From this time on, images of the Buddha appeared. After a long time Su-ka Yu-rai came back to earth at which time the image became a living Buddha, and the two walked side by side. Crowds came to bow, but they could not tell which was the Buddha and which was the image. This is the assembly that took place at the time.
    XI ― Wun-gak Assembly 圓覺會. This assembly met to ascertain the requirements of Complete Enlightenment. The answer was: First to keep the commandments, and second to keep the heart pure. (This is the assembly told of in the Sutra that was the means of the erection of the Pagoda.) [page 22]
    XII ― Ryong-san Assembly 靈山會. In the Spirit Mountain represented here, Su-ka Yu-rai spent much of his life. He discusses with his disciples the three stages of the Buddha’s career.
    Above these Assembly names on the south side of the Pagoda is seen still another small tablet from which the characters have been effaced, but judging from what still remains it seems to have been the name Wun-gak t’ap, the Wun-gak Pagoda or Tower of Perfect Enlightenment.
    1-The Pagoda was therefore built in 1464-1466 A.D.
    2-The builder was King Se-jo who reigned from 1456 to 1468, and the workmen were all Koreans.
    3-The form of it was modelled after the Pagoda in P’ung-tuk County, which had already been standing nearly a hundred years, and had been built by Chinese workmen. There is no evidence that this pagoda had ever been brought from Peking though it finds its final resting place now in Tokyo.
    4-It was built to commemorate the excellence of the Wun-gak Sutra from which it takes its name.
    5-It is by far the most interesting Buddhist monument in Korea.