Uisang(义湘)

Headword

의상 ( 义湘 , Uisang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer OhDaehyuk(吳大赫)

This legend narrates the story of Uisang, a renowned monk from Silla. The most widely known among the many Uisang narratives is the version included in Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms).

Uisang entered the priesthood at Hwangbok Temple at the age of twenty-nine. Uisang headed to China for further studies, accompanied by his friend Monk Wonhyo, but was imprisoned in Liaotong for ten days on espionage charges and had to return to Silla. On the 4th year of Queen Jindeok’s reign, Uisang encountered a ship from Tang China and travelled to Tang. Arriving in Yangzhou, Uisang was invited by the magistrate Liu Zhiren to board at the official government quarters, and he was finally able to visit the renowned monk Zhiyan at Zhixiang Temple on Mt. Zhongnan. Zhiyan said he was greeting Uisang after seeing in his dream the wish-fulfilling gem cintamani, and Uisang acquired a deep understanding of the philosophy of hwaeom (flower garland; avatamsaka). At the time there were men from Silla held hostage in Tang, including Kim Heum-sun (or Kim In-mun) and Yang Do, and they asked Uisang to alert the court upon his return that the Tang emperor Gao Zong was planning a massive attack on Silla. Upon receiving the warning from Uisang, Silla’s court requested the help of the divine monk Myeongnang, who protected the kingdom by rebuilding the altar and defeating the attaching troops with mystical powers. In 676, Uisang found Buseok Temple, where he delivered sermons on Mahayana Buddhism and left behind many divine achievements. Uisang founded a total of ten temple to spread the avatamsaka discipline, and educated ten disciples, who were all deemed sages, including Ojin, Jitong and Pyohun.

The above account is a summary of the section titled “Uisang’s Propagation” in Samgungnyusa, which also includes the legend of the founding of Buseok Temple, the oldest remaining folk narrative about Uisang. On their way to Tang China, Uisang and Wonhyo spent the night inside a clay pit, where Wonhyo experiences a shocking encounter with a ghost, which leads him to the realization that ilsim (“one mind”) is the only truth, and heads back to Silla. Alone, Uisang arrived at the shore in Dengzhou, where he was offered lodging in the home of a follower. The follower’s beautiful daughter Seonmyo (Shanmiao) fell in love with Uisang, but he remained unaffected while she pledged to herself that she would forever be devoted to Uisang. When it came time for Uisang’s departure, he stopped by the home to bid farewell to the follower and hired a ship to set sail. Seonmyo rushed after him to the pier, carrying the robes and other gifts that she had prepared for him, and threw her box of gifts into the sea and prayed that she be turned into a dragon, so that she would be able to protect Uisang’s ship and to assist his Buddhist discipline. Following the prayer, Seonmyo indeed turned into a dragon and assisted Uisang’s safe return. Upon his return, Uisang travelled around the country spreading the Avatamsaka doctrine, in the course of which he found a temple that suited his wishes, but the temple was occupied by hundreds of followers that belonged a different school of discipline. Then the dragon Seonmyo turned into a huge rock, landing on the temple’s roof, which scared the temple’s monks away. Uisang set his foot inside the temple, where he sermoned on the Avatamsaka Sutra (Hwaeomgyeong) day and night all year long and the temple was soon crowded with followers.

Another legend related to Uisang, about his religious pursuit at Naksan Temple to witness the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, is recorded in Samgungnyusa, in the chapter titled, “Two Saints of Naksan; Avalokitesvara; Ananyagamin; and Josin.” Upon his return from Tang, Uisang performs ablution for seven days to witness the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, and the servants of Yongcheonpalbu (Eight Divine Guardians of Buddhist Discipline) led him to a cave. Uisang offered prayers and repentance and received crystal prayer beads, after which he performed ablution for another seven days and finally he witnessed the Avalokitesvara. Following the instructions of the bodhisattva, Uisang built a temple at the site on the top of the mountain, where a pair of bamboo trees stood.

Folk tales about Uisang show the process of the Hwaeom doctrine engaging with the Avalokitesvara faith, two narrative strands that come together in the legend of Naksan Temple. The development of Avalokitesvara faith appears closely connected with the Seonmyo legend and the founding of Buseok Temple. In other words, their significance lies in the dramatization of Uisang’s Buddhist philosophy, utilizing the narrative structures of folk legends, monk biography and temple origin tales.

Uisang

Uisang
Headword

의상 ( 义湘 , Uisang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Literature > Folk tales > Legends

Writer OhDaehyuk(吳大赫)

This legend narrates the story of Uisang, a renowned monk from Silla. The most widely known among the many Uisang narratives is the version included in Samgungnyusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms).

Uisang entered the priesthood at Hwangbok Temple at the age of twenty-nine. Uisang headed to China for further studies, accompanied by his friend Monk Wonhyo, but was imprisoned in Liaotong for ten days on espionage charges and had to return to Silla. On the 4th year of Queen Jindeok’s reign, Uisang encountered a ship from Tang China and travelled to Tang. Arriving in Yangzhou, Uisang was invited by the magistrate Liu Zhiren to board at the official government quarters, and he was finally able to visit the renowned monk Zhiyan at Zhixiang Temple on Mt. Zhongnan. Zhiyan said he was greeting Uisang after seeing in his dream the wish-fulfilling gem cintamani, and Uisang acquired a deep understanding of the philosophy of hwaeom (flower garland; avatamsaka). At the time there were men from Silla held hostage in Tang, including Kim Heum-sun (or Kim In-mun) and Yang Do, and they asked Uisang to alert the court upon his return that the Tang emperor Gao Zong was planning a massive attack on Silla. Upon receiving the warning from Uisang, Silla’s court requested the help of the divine monk Myeongnang, who protected the kingdom by rebuilding the altar and defeating the attaching troops with mystical powers. In 676, Uisang found Buseok Temple, where he delivered sermons on Mahayana Buddhism and left behind many divine achievements. Uisang founded a total of ten temple to spread the avatamsaka discipline, and educated ten disciples, who were all deemed sages, including Ojin, Jitong and Pyohun.

The above account is a summary of the section titled “Uisang’s Propagation” in Samgungnyusa, which also includes the legend of the founding of Buseok Temple, the oldest remaining folk narrative about Uisang. On their way to Tang China, Uisang and Wonhyo spent the night inside a clay pit, where Wonhyo experiences a shocking encounter with a ghost, which leads him to the realization that ilsim (“one mind”) is the only truth, and heads back to Silla. Alone, Uisang arrived at the shore in Dengzhou, where he was offered lodging in the home of a follower. The follower’s beautiful daughter Seonmyo (Shanmiao) fell in love with Uisang, but he remained unaffected while she pledged to herself that she would forever be devoted to Uisang. When it came time for Uisang’s departure, he stopped by the home to bid farewell to the follower and hired a ship to set sail. Seonmyo rushed after him to the pier, carrying the robes and other gifts that she had prepared for him, and threw her box of gifts into the sea and prayed that she be turned into a dragon, so that she would be able to protect Uisang’s ship and to assist his Buddhist discipline. Following the prayer, Seonmyo indeed turned into a dragon and assisted Uisang’s safe return. Upon his return, Uisang travelled around the country spreading the Avatamsaka doctrine, in the course of which he found a temple that suited his wishes, but the temple was occupied by hundreds of followers that belonged a different school of discipline. Then the dragon Seonmyo turned into a huge rock, landing on the temple’s roof, which scared the temple’s monks away. Uisang set his foot inside the temple, where he sermoned on the Avatamsaka Sutra (Hwaeomgyeong) day and night all year long and the temple was soon crowded with followers.

Another legend related to Uisang, about his religious pursuit at Naksan Temple to witness the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, is recorded in Samgungnyusa, in the chapter titled, “Two Saints of Naksan; Avalokitesvara; Ananyagamin; and Josin.” Upon his return from Tang, Uisang performs ablution for seven days to witness the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, and the servants of Yongcheonpalbu (Eight Divine Guardians of Buddhist Discipline) led him to a cave. Uisang offered prayers and repentance and received crystal prayer beads, after which he performed ablution for another seven days and finally he witnessed the Avalokitesvara. Following the instructions of the bodhisattva, Uisang built a temple at the site on the top of the mountain, where a pair of bamboo trees stood.

Folk tales about Uisang show the process of the Hwaeom doctrine engaging with the Avalokitesvara faith, two narrative strands that come together in the legend of Naksan Temple. The development of Avalokitesvara faith appears closely connected with the Seonmyo legend and the founding of Buseok Temple. In other words, their significance lies in the dramatization of Uisang’s Buddhist philosophy, utilizing the narrative structures of folk legends, monk biography and temple origin tales.