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Early Esoteric Buddhism In Korea: Three Kingdoms And Unified Silla (Ca. 600–918)

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Chapter Summary

Before entering a discussion of the history and practices of Esoteric Buddhism on the Korean Peninsula, this chapter gives a brief description of the traditional myths concerning Esoteric Buddhist practice during the Three Kingdoms period and the early Unified Silla, the period roughly covering a century and a half from ca. 600-750 C.E. The Haedong kosŭng chŏn (HKC) frequently touches upon miraculous and supernatural events, it does not contain much in the way of Esoteric Buddhism. On the other hand, the Samguk yusa (SGYS) contains several references to it, including some of the earliest dated information, in which it is said that during the reign of Queen Sŏndŏk a monk by the name of Milbon appeared. The Chinese sources contain references to a Silla monk by the name of Myŏnghyo and his link with the rise of Esoteric Buddhism in Korea.

Keywords: esoteric Buddhism; Haedong kosŭng chŏn (HKC); Korean Peninsula; Milbon; Myŏnghyo; Samguk yusa (SGYS); Unified Silla

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