Haeinsa – “Reflections On A Smooth Sea”

Haeinsa is one of the major Buddhist temple located in South Korea. Haeinsa means “Reflections on a Smooth Sea”. It is situated in the South Korea’s Gaya Mountain. The temple was earlier constructed in 9th century and was later reconstructed in the 19th century. The Buddhish Scriptures namely the Tripitaka Korean that are copied in the temple made the temple very much popular.


It is said that earlier in 802 AD the monks Ijeong as well as monks Suneung were the first inhabitants of Haeinsa. The monks were earlier living in China.The name of the temple stands for the Buddha’s wisdom which is considered as a calm sea. The temple is supposed to be the place where the mind which is full of wordly follies as well as desires achieves the calmness.

An appreciative King Aejang king ordered the construction of the temple as his way to thank the monks who had restored his wife to health. The king’s wife was suffering from tumor. An age-old tale says that the monk had tied one end of the thread to a tree and another to the queen’s tumor and started the chanting of the Buddhist cantos. Astoundingly, the tumor was gone astray as the tree emaciated and died.

During the 13th century which was nearly after many years Korea was having a battle with the Mongols. The Korean government was held in expel on the island of Ganghwa. They ordered a copy of the temple to be made as to have the intervention of Buddha during the battle time. As a result Tripitaka Koreana was been constructed, as of now it is considered as one of the best copy of the temple in Asia. The wooden blocks used in the construction of the temple are traditionally made. They are made up of a white colored birch later then are soaked in sea water and later boiled in the sea water for nearly three years also they are kept in shade for drying for the next three years.

Tripitaka Koreana

A huge fire took place in Haeinsa in the year 1817. In this fire mostly all the wooden temples as well as buildings were destroyed. The Tripitaka library which is located in the back of the temple was successful in escaping the fire. The library was been created in the year 1488. During the dynasty of Joseon dynasty that was in the year 1818, the main hall of worship was been reconstructed. The original foundation which was laid by the two monks was used for the later constructions.

The library halls as well as the woodblocks of the building were declared as the Korean national treasure in the year 1962. Also in year 1995 the building was declared as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The monks of Haeinsa were introduced to the computer era in the early 20th century. All the information of the Tripitaka Koreana was transformed to an electronic form which was started from the year 1992 and was completed by 1994. The old days text is now saved in CD-ROM also the monks have a plan of translating the text into other languages.

What to See

Haeinsa’s splendid Tripitaka comprises of around 52,382,960 traditional Chinese typescripts which are being carved on around 81,258 two-sided wooden blocks whose volume is around 6,802.

The Janggyeong Panjeon construction is outstanding in itself. It is used as the storeroom for the various artifacts as well as numerous exhibits. UNESCO describes the structure as “remarkably effective solutions developed in the 15th century to the problems posed by the need to preserve woodblocks against deterioration”.

Daejeokkwangjeon is the main worshipping hall. Commonly it is known as the Hall of Great Silence and Light. This hall was constructed again in the year 1818 on its old base. Strangely, it acts as a home for the Vairocana Buddha statue. The statue was been carved in the year 1769. The statue of the Vairocana Buddha is one of the 5 Celestial Buddhas. It is said that Vairocana stands for the heart of the universe. Various wall paintings that represent the Buddha’s life are painted on a wall that is located just behind the Buddha’s statue.

Getting there

Busan is the closest important city to Haeinsa. It has an airport named Busan Gimhae International Airport. From here you can reach Haeinsa by using the inter-city bus.

When to visit

The best time of the year to visit Haeinsa is from September to November.

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