Stone altar at Saja-am Jeokmyeol-bogung Hermitage, Mt. Odae-san
Odae-san (the Five Platforms Mountains) is a large sacred area and National Park near the east coast of Gangwon Province on the Baekdu-daegan, the spinal mountain range of Korea. It is believed by Korean Buddhists to be a primary residence of and practice-site for Munsu-bosal, also known as Manjushri, Wenshu or Monju, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom.
The Odae-san area received its name from the Buddhist master-monk Jajang in 643 CE after he returned from studying at the sacred Wutai-shan mountains of China, designated as sacred to Munsu-bosal since about 200 CE. "Odae-san" is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters "Wutai-shan", and was so named because its topography is similar to that of Wutai-shan, where Jajang had a vision of the Bodhisattva directing him to find a similar "residence" in his own nation. Jajang brought with him from China relics of the Buddha, which he placed at a shrine now called Jeokmyeol-bogung, just above Jungdae Saja-am (Central Platform Lion Hermitage) located halfway up the eastern slope of Odae-san's Biro-bong (Vairocana Buddha Peak, also called Jungdae-bong or the Central Platform Peak). There are four other "Platform" peaks in the 4 cardinal directions, each having an associated hermitage. Lower down in the river-valley in between these peaks Jajang also founded the great Woljeong-sa (Moon-Vitality Temple), and a generation later two princes who were his disciples founded Sangwon-sa (Upper Courtyard Temple); both of these are dedicated to Munsu-bosal (Manjushri the Bodhisattva of Wisdom).
Stone statue of Bodhidharma, Sangwon-sa Monastery, Mt. Odae-san
Sanshin Mountain Spirit painting, Sangwon-sa Monastery, Mt. Odae-san
For additional information by Professor David Mason, visit san-shin.net. and san-shin.org.
For information about traveling to Korean sacred sites, contact Roger Shepherd.