Recently, I visited Manbulsa, a large Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Daegu. I had read about it in the Korea Times and had been meaning to visit it. Finally, I decided to go. Manbulsa is a comparitively recent temple. Planning for its construction began in 1981 and was lead by the Ven. Hak-Sung, the current master of the temple and temple founder. Their goal seems to have been to have as many images of the Buddha as possible. In this respect, it is perhaps not too different from Hong Kong’s 10,000 Buddhas Temple.
As you take the Gyeongbu Expressway south from Daegu towards Busan, you see this giant Buddha statue looming over the horizon.
There are some unusual architectural features to the temple complex. First are these strange looking towers which don’t look Korean at all. They look more like Thai or Cambodian towers, maybe. However, they are a great deal smaller than how they appear on the temple website. They look absolutely huge there.
As one might expect for a temple with the name of 10,000 Buddhas Temple, there are an awful lot of Buddha statues.
In fact, the temple buildings themselves are adorned with tiny images of the Buddha.
The temple also has plots available for the burial of ashes. These stupa-like stone structures bear cremated remains. In Buddhism, cremation is the preferred method for internment. It is felt that it helps end attachment to one’s body. Any sort of attachment is definitely not a good thing, as far as Buddhism is concerned.
Amid the various graves is this large statue of the reclining Buddha. While it is not unusual to see the Buddha’s death depicted in paintings on temple halls, it is not common to see statues of it in Korea.
One of the sets of memorials are the child monks. These are for children who were aborted. They wear knitted caps and hold little offerings of candy. According to the temple website, parents who have had their child aborted can offset the negative karma by purchasing one of these small statues. If you don’t believe me, you can check out the temple website.
There is a large and impressive bell tower nearby. The bell is, unsurprisingly, adorned with tiny images of the Buddha as well.
I am very much an outsider as Buddhism is concerned. I am not sure where or when the practice of bathing statues of the baby Buddha began, but this is especially seen on the national holiday of Buddha’s Birthday.
There is also something which I’ve associated with Tibetan temples only. At the Lama Temple in Beijing, there are large prayer wheels adorned with Tibetan letters which are spun by the devotees.
Manbulsa also has a series of these, but they are adorned with Chinese characters. I believe that these are spun while chanting the mantra “Om mani padme hum”.
As you leave the temple, there is a statue of Buddha in the pond.
For those who like to see an unusual Buddhist temple, Manbulsa is worth a visit. Probably the easiest way to get there is to take a train out of Dong Daegu Station to Yeongcheon and then take a taxi. Alternately, you can take a bus from Daegu to Yeongcheon, but you have to go to the East Bus Terminal which is not the same as the East Express Bus Terminal. Fortunately, it is a very short bus ride away from the express bus terminal. At Yeongcheon Bus Terminal, you can take a bus, but there are only a few of them each day. If you take a taxi, you are advised to get the taxi driver’s cell number or at least the number for the taxi company. Taxis don’t come out there unless you specifically request them to. It costs about 13,000 won each way.