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Acta Koreana is published semi-annually on June 15 and December 15 by Academia Koreana, Keimyung University.
 
 
Title A COMMENTARY ON A BUDDHIST TALE: SŎNYUL COMES BACK TO LIFE (SŎNYUL HWANSAENG ) IN MEMORABILIA OF THE THREE KINGDOMS (SAMGUK YUSA ߲)
 
Author
NA HEE LA
Volume Vol. 19 No. 2
Pages pp. 165~192 (all 28 pages)
Publication Date DECEMBER, 2016
Keyword Sŏnyul comes back to life (Sŏnyul hwansaeng ), Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms (Samguk yusa ߲), Buddhist hell, Tales of Hell, Buddhist Ceremony
Abstract Buddhism introduced the concept of hell to East Asia, and many tales of hell were circulated. The narrative Sŏnyul comes back to life accompanied the dissemination of the concept of hell in the Unified Silla period. This story describes suffering in hell as retribution for the unwholesome act of stealing monastery possessions. However, the punishment in hell is not eternal in this story, and one can be saved through performing a memorial service for the dead. Memorial services for the dead are done by making offerings to the Three Jewels—the Buddha, Dharma, and Saṃgha—by giving ones possessions to monasteries.
The story Sŏnyul comes back to life seems to have been written by monks and been circulated as a karma tale of a Buddhist ceremony for the production of sutras and for appreciating the teachings of the sutras. Buddhist ceremonies were constructed and performed for the purpose of amassing meritorious virtues and expelling calamities through such things as reading sutras and understanding their content. Among these, dramatic preaching of the dharma was performed to communicate to ordinary people in a more lively and interesting manner than the teaching of the sutras. Animated stories of hell about actual people who could have been the listeners own neighbors were performed, and the story of Sŏnyul comes back to life seems to have been told at such a ceremony. In a story performed in a lifelike manner, sympathetic people willingly contributed their hearts and possessions to the Buddha, monks, and monasteries for the sake of their own futures.
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