An Early Korean Version of the Buddha's Biography.

Sem Vermeersch


The Sŏkka Yŏrae haengjŏk song (Ode on the acts of the Tathāgata Śākyamuni)was written by the Korean Ch’ŏnt’ae (Ch. Tiantai) monk Mugi in 1328. It is a biography of the Buddha in verse form, which in character somewhat resembles a seventh-century biography by the Chinese official Wang Bo. Both are based on Chinese renditions of the Buddha’s life story, but while Wang’s work is a terse adaptation tailored to the tastes of a literati audience, in Mugi’s work the terse verse format functions as a frameworkto contain extensive commentaries.  The commentaries discuss Tiantai doctrinal points as well as issues that confronted both lay and monastic practitioners of the time. Mugi’s foremost concern seems to have been to use the life of the Buddha as an inspiration to counter lax interpretations of the precepts among his fellow monks and inspire them to have more respect for lay donors.

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