Supplementary Entries and Texts for the
ENCYCLOPEDIA  OF  KOREAN  BUDDHISM
by the Venerable Hyewon and Professor David A. Mason
Deleted entire Entry:
Palgong-san  팔공산  八公山           would have been on page 431
  Eight Worthies Mountain

One of Korea's most sacred mountain-clusters since ancient times, and a heavily-
visited attraction located on the border between Daegu Metropolitan City (大邱廣域市)
and Gyeongsangbuk-do Province (慶尙北道), including parts of Chilgok-gun County,
Gunwi-gun County, Yeongcheon City and Gyeongsan City. Most of it is now the
Palgong-san Provincial Park of Gyeongsangbuk-do; designated in 1980, it is the nation’
s largest provincial park, bigger than many of the national parks. Its waters feed the
Nakdong-gang and Geumho-gang rivers.

Palgong-san has long served as both the military and spiritual "guardian" mountain of
this central region, with several sites of former military fortresses on its slopes. It was
the central holy peak (Jung-ak) of the O-ak (五嶽, 5 guardian mountains) system of the
ancient Silla Kingdom (新羅) and Unified Silla Dynasty (統一新羅), and remained
prominent in the Goryeo Dynasty (高麗). Their kings sponsored ritual ceremonies
venerating its powerful Sansin (山神, Mountain-spirit) for national prosperity and
protection every 3rd and 9th Moon, at shrines on its summit and at its southern foot;
one of these has now been revived in the traditional royal-Confucian style by the local
governments. It holds an important position in what we might call the "sacred
geography of Korea", and has always been a key center of Korean Buddhism, hosting
about two dozen temples.

The summit, 1192 meters above sea level, is the central Biro-bong (飛蘆峰, Vairocana
Peak) named after Birojana-bul (毘盧遮那佛, Vairocana the Buddha of Cosmic Light),
previously named Jewang-bong (帝王峰) after the Jeseok-cheon (帝釋天, Heaven-King
deity, Indra). Its 993-m eastern peak (popularly called dong-bong) is named Mita-bong
(彌陀峰) after Amita-bul (阿彌陀佛, Amitabha the Buddha of Western Paradise), while
its 902-m western massif (seo-bong) is named Samseong-bong (三聖峰, Three Saints
Peak) or Ga-san. These three main peaks have long been thought to be representing a
set of Three Buddhas (past, present and future), or a Samjonbul (三尊佛) triad. Korean
pungsu-jiri (風水地理, feng-shui, geomancy) experts have long said that Biro-bong
looks like “a phoenix roosting on her eggs”, a highly auspicious form.

Palgong-san is a great national treasure, holding a vast natural, cultural and spiritual
wealth, featuring magnificent granite formations atop its ridges offering spectacular
views, beautiful valleys and thick forests. Its five greatest ancient Buddhist temples are
Eunhae-sa (銀海寺, Silver Sea Temple) on the east, Donghwa-sa (桐華寺, Bright
Paulownia–Tree Temple), Buin-sa and Pagye-sa on the south, and Songlim-sa to the
southwest. It also hosts Seonbon-sa Temple (禪本寺) on Gwan-bong Peak (冠峯, south
of Mita-bong), which features the famous Gat-bawi (갓바위, Hat Boulder) Buddha
Statue. The Gunwi County Triad Buddha Grotto (National Treasure #109), commonly
called the Je-i-seokgul-am (Second Seokgul-am 石窟庵 grotto-shrine), is on the remote
northern slopes. In addition, there is a large stone Mireuk-bul (彌勒佛, Maitreya the
Future Buddha) triad at Yeombul-bong (念佛峰, Buddhist Chanting Peak) near the
summit, and the 20-km-long walls of Gasan-sanseong Fortress in the west where a
great battle was fought between Hubaekje and Goryeo forces in 927. Quite a few other
traditional and modern temples and hermitages also encircle these slopes. It is said that
Palgong-san temples enshrine an unusually high number of Yaksa-yeorae-bul (藥師如
來佛, Bhaisajyaguru the Medicinal or Healing Buddha) statues.