World's Largest Buddhist Encyclopedia Completed in Korea

- through Henry Oudin

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The Kasan Institute of Buddhist Culture in Seoul announced Tuesday the completion of Kasan Encyclopedia of Buddhismthe largest Buddhist encyclopedia in the world. The final volumes, 17 to 20, were published this year, concluding a 42-year project that began with Venerable Jikwan's vision to make the vast history of Buddhism accessible in standard Korean.

In May 1982, Venerable Jikwan, then 50 years old, prayed at Gyeongguk-sa, a Buddhist temple located near Mount Bukhan in Seoul. As dean of Buddhist studies at Korea's largest Buddhist university, the venerable Jikwan made it his mission to compile an encyclopedia that would document the vast history of Buddhism in a manner accessible to the general public.

“After all these years, I am starting to write an encyclopedia,” he prayed. “May the eight guardians be at my side and the wisdom of the Buddha manifest. » (The Korea Herald newspaper)

Venerable Jikwan. From buddhistchannel.tv

This prayer marked the beginning of an ambitious project. In 1991, Venerable Jikwan founded the Kasan Institute of Buddhist Culture. In 2005, he became the head of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the largest Buddhist school in the country. What began as a solitary search grew into a large-scale project involving 15 people over three decades. It took a decade to complete the first two volumes, with subsequent volumes published annually. Venerable Jikwan died in 000, shortly after the publication of the 2012th volume.

“Work closely and finish the job,” he urged, six months before his death. (SayArt)

Le Kasan Encyclopedia of Buddhism The world's most comprehensive Buddhist encyclopedia, with nearly 120 entries and 000 pages, prides itself on being the world's most comprehensive Buddhist encyclopedia. It covers key concepts from scriptures, philosophical texts, historical documents and more, all arranged alphabetically in fluent Korean. The encyclopedia pays particular attention to cultural adaptations of Buddhism in Korea, with 266% of entries devoted to Korean Buddhism.

Since Buddhism was introduced to Korea in the 4th century, the religion has incorporated local folklore, ideas, artistic ideals and more. The encyclopedia includes primary source references in literary Chinese, Tibetan, and Sanskrit, emphasizing a commitment to comparative study.

“It is a task of the utmost importance to compile an encyclopedia of the history of Korean Buddhism, because Buddhism has played a central role in the cultural and spiritual lives of Koreans,” Venerable Jikwan wrote in the preface of the 13th volume. “We hope to awaken the self-esteem of the spiritual history of this nation through this work. » (The Korea Herald newspaper)

Le Kasan Encyclopedia of Buddhism The volumes will be available in public libraries and museums in Korea, as well as some higher education institutions overseas. The institute will send the latest volumes to ensure their availability to researchers.

Buddhism came to Korea during the Three Kingdoms period (57 BC – 668 AD). According to historical records, Buddhism was first introduced to Goguryeo in 372 AD. BC, at Baekje in 384 AD. and at Silla in 527 AD. Initial acceptance of the religion was facilitated by the support of ruling elites, who saw in Buddhism the potential to unify their kingdoms and improve their cultural and spiritual status.

The introduction of Buddhism to Korea had a considerable influence on its cultural and artistic development. Buddhist temples, sculptures and paintings have become an integral part of Korean heritage. Notable examples include Bulguk-sa Temple and Seokguram Cave, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

During the Unified Silla period (668-935), Buddhism flourished and became the state religion. This era saw the construction of many grandiose temples and the production of important Buddhist texts. The Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) continued to support Buddhism, leading to the creation of the Korean tripitakaa complete collection of Buddhist writings engraved on wooden blocks. This work is considered one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Buddhist texts in the world.

However, Buddhism's influence began to decline during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897), which promoted Confucianism as the state ideology. Despite this, Buddhism persisted and continued to evolve, incorporating elements of Korean culture and tradition.

Venerable Jikwan's effort to compile an encyclopedia of Korean Buddhism reflects the enduring importance of Buddhism in Korean society. By documenting the history, practices and cultural adaptations of the religion, the work Kasan Encyclopedia of Buddhism serves as a testament to the profound impact of Buddhism on Korea's spiritual and cultural landscape.

The completion of this encyclopedia marks an important step in the preservation and dissemination of Korean Buddhist heritage. It provides researchers, practitioners, and the general public with an invaluable resource for understanding the rich and complex history of Buddhism in Korea.

See more

42 years of work for a completed monumental Buddhist encyclopedia (The Korea Herald newspaper)
Completion of a monumental Buddhist encyclopedia after 42 years of travel (SayArt)
Venerable Ji-kwan dies at age 79 (Buddhist Channel)

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The article World's Largest Buddhist Encyclopedia Completed in Korea appeared first on Buddhist News Global.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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