According to an article in BBC magazine dated 2018, Ayodhya, the birth place of Lord Ram in India has a special significance for South Koreans. They believe that an Indian princess, Suriratna from Ayodhya, travelled to Korea and married King Kim Suro. Also known as Heo Hwang-Ok, she went there in 48AD – some 2000 years ago. They had 10 sons and their dynasty is known as the Karak Dynasty. Descendants of the couple number more than 6 million – almost 10% of the population.
In 2000 an agreement was signed to twin Ayodhya and the city of Gimhae. In 2001 more than 100 historians and government officials unveiled Queen Hwang-Ok’s memorial on the west bank of the river Sayu in Ayodhya. On her visit to Ayodhya in November 2018 the first lady of South Korea, Kim Jung –Sook, attended a ceremony to mark the start of upgrading the monument. In 2019 South Korea and India signed an agreement on releasing a joint stamp commemorating Queen Heo. According to Professor Kim Do-Young, a Delhi-based expert on Korean studies, there is an ‘ancient bond’ between the two nations. Buddhism arrived in the Korean peninsula from China in the 4th Century. It remains a Buddhist country. In North Korea, which is officially atheist, Buddhism influences their customs and traditions.
Buddhism came to Tibet from India in the 7th Century. A Tibetan king, Trisong Detsen, invited two Buddhist masters from India. The first was Shantarakshita followed by Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava was a Tantric ‘Maha Sidha’ (master of miraculous powers). Also known as Guru Rinpoche, he was a legendary Indian monk who established the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet in 749. Between the 11th and 12th century Tibetans travelled to India to acquire and translate Buddhist texts with the assistance of renowned Indian master Atisa, who had arrived in Tibet in 1042. In 1951 communist China annexed Tibet and in 1959 the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama fled to India. The Dalai Lama and around 100,000 Tibetans live in Dharamshala which is in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. They long to go back to Tibet as free people to keep their Buddhist faith and culture alive.
Many people think that the Mongolians were the Mughals who plundered India and committed genocidal atrocities. The
Mughals were mostly ethnically Turks and other tribes though some of them claimed distant Mongol connections. The 13th century emperor Genghis Khan actually practiced Shamanism which is about linking to the spirit world. He was tolerant of all faiths. His son Kubla Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty(1271-1368) became a Buddhist. According to the 2010 census 53% of Mongolian population is Buddhist.
Buddhism was first introduced to Bhutan from Tibet in the 8th Century by Indian Tantric Maha Siddha. The third king of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1952-1972), was a visionary also known as the father of modern Bhutan. According to the magazine of the Khyentse foundation he commissioned the manufacture of 10,000 gilded bronze images of the Buddha, and oversaw the publication of astounding editions of the 108-volume Kanjur (Collection of the Words of the Buddha) and the 225-volume Tenjur (Collection of Commentaries on Buddhism), as well as the construction of numerous chorten (stupas) throughout the country. Over 75% of Bhutan’s population is Buddhist.
Lokapalas is a Sanskrit word meaning the guardians and protectors.
Common to both Hinduism and Buddhism is the idea of 4 protectors of 4 directions.
In Hinduism they are: In Buddhism they are:
Kubera (North) Vaisravana (North)
Yama (South) Virudhaka (South)
Indra (East) Dhratarastra (East)
Varuṇa (West) Virupaksa (West)
12 February 2021
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