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Moving Seon

About Golgulsa

Sunmudo Headquarters, Golgulsa

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Golgulsa History

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Sunmudo demonstration in front of the main Buddha hall, Daejeokgwangjeon

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Sunmudo practice around the Pagoda of Dharma Five Elements

According to Kirimsa’s history, Golgulsa temple and Kirimsa temple were established by a Buddhist monk named Gwangyu from India and his followers 1,500 years ago, after having settled in Mt. Hamwol.

Kirimsa temple, which had been named Limjeongsa temple before, was rebuilt bigger during the Silla Dynasty by a Buddhist monk named Wonhyo.

There are five wells in Kirimsa temple and a folk tale about them is still told to this day.

And it is said that Kirimsa temple was built 200 years earlier than Bulguksa temple, located in Gyeongju city as well.

Golgulsa temple is a typical stone cave temple following the pattern of an Indian stone cave temple.

Around the Buddha statue carved on a tuff cliff, they made twelve stone caves with small wooden houses at the front and used them as Buddha halls and dormitories.

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Lotus lanterns at night during Buddha’s birthday in Golgulsa

There are many historical stone cave places such as Elora and Ajanta in India, and Mogao, Yungang, Longmen in China. Golgulsa temple, however, is the only stone cave temple with several of stone caves in Korea.

Golgulsa is a historic temple in the Mt. Hamwol in Gyeongju city, cultivating the spirit of national protection along with the philosophy of the Pure Land when Buddhism was first introduced to the Silla Dynasty.

In his picture book “Gyonam-Myeongseungcheop”, Jeongseon, a painter of the mid-Joseon Dynasty, shows that the former caves of the temple had small houses with a tiled roof in front of them.

Jeong Sihan, a Neo-Confucian scholar who wrote the journal of Mt. Toham, also details the appearance of Golguram at the time, saying: “There are corridors connecting several stone caves’ wooden houses decorated with dancheong (traditional colorful Buddhist paintings). It looks beautiful as if you are looking at a folding screen.”

Buddhist scholars estimate that the temple was destroyed in a fire during the mid-to-late Joseon Dynasty.

The temple had been empty for a while until the Park family started to reside in the temple in the late Joseon Dynasty. Since then it has been used as a private hermitage.

The stone carved Buddha statue (Amita Buddha) on the tuff cliff is the NO.581 national treasure and faces the tomb of King Munmu in the East sea.

Nowadays, the ancient stone caves are still used as prayer halls, dedicated to the Bodhisattva of Compassion, the Medicine Buddha, the Arahat, the divine guardians of the Dharma, the Seven Stars, The Mountain Spirit.

In particular the folk tale of people wishing to have a son at the natural shrine of Sansindang, by the harmony between Yang (Bright, Male) of the Phallus-shaped rock and Yin (Dark, Female) of the vagina-shaped rock. This folk tale has been handed down for thousands of years and is very famous.

Golgulsa temple holds a seminar every year to restore the original form of the twelve stone cave halls/temples.