|▲ Gaya Buddhism Research Center / Monk Domeong|
A rough sketch of ‘Gaya history and culture maintenance project’, one of the Moon administration’s 100 tasks, has been drawn out. In accordance, South Gyeongsang Province has held a briefing session recently while, established in 2017, Gaya Culture Promotion Agency is busy re-illuminating splendid Gaya culture and Buddhism. Meanwhile, Monk Domeong of Gaya Buddhism Research Center has been actively engaged in recovery of Gaya Buddhism and culture in the region.
Gaya prospered at the Nakdong River basin before the Three Kingdoms set their firm boundaries and influential. Despite some traces recorded in Samguk Yusa such as ‘Garakgukki’ by Monk Ilyeon, not much was recorded about this relatively small kingdom except legends and myths. In fact, there are many ruins that back up the legends and myths: elephant statues, holy fish, Pasa Pagoda and temple remains similar to those of India tells us influence of Heo Hwang-ok, a legendary queen from India who came to Gaya and became the wife of King Suro; also, Gaya is said to mean two fishes in Buddhist language in India; interesting still, pasa stone is said to have come from India as it is not native stone in Korea. All this story runs into one conclusion: Gaya Buddhism came directly from India unlike the Three Kingdoms of which it came through China.
“Gaya had a lifespan of 42-532 Common Era. It’s quite a history and it drew a significant line in Korean history as a whole. This is the reason we need to dip up what actually happened in the kingdom and during the era” says Monk Domeong.
Gaya Buddhism Research Center is affiliated to Gaya Culture Promotion Agency and it studies Buddhism, culture, key persons, literature and historic sites. 12 researchers are consisted of monks, civil and provincial council members, archeologist, reporter, public officer, entrepreneur and ordinary citizen. Conference and seminars are held yearly and Friday every third week is the tour day of 20 temples in the region.
“It is important for us to remove pro-Chinese toadyism and Japanese view of history. Our research is part of this effort. We actually have drawn some substantial results and we will make it more to be revealed.”
In his young and vulnerable years, Domeong wandered around the world not knowing what it was that he wanted and needed and what kind of life could make him ease. The answer was Buddhism.
“Going temple and bowing to Buddha does not give you luck. We must remove gluttony, lust and anger to have luck. Buddhism says it will lead us to enlightenment.”
With the impending government project of recovering Gaya Buddhism and culture, Domeong keeps himself busier than ever.
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