Buddhas and deities: Interrelations between

Buddhist monks and local cults in 6-7 C. Silla.


(Kyŏnghee University, South Korea)

1. Foreword: the world of deities and the power of The Sovereign.

In order to understand the basic underlying principles of interactions between 6-7 C. Silla Buddhist community and indigenous nature-worshipping cults, we should observe upon, first, the socio-political conditions of Silla at that period, and, second, the main types of the worldview maintained by the Silla ruling circles at that time. Concerning the first question, it has been long maintained by most historians that in 6-7 C. Silla belatedly went through the common for all ancient Korean nations process of fashioning centralized autocratic monarchy, and aristocratic society of the previous period was slowly evolving into the monolithic bureaucratic structures, still stratified by the hereditary ranks, aristocratical in nature (C.J.Eckert, Ki-baik Lee, Young Ick Lew, M.Robinson, E.Wagner 1995: 32-36). Among all complex and intertwined social processes eventually leading to the building of a consummate bureaucratical autocracy of the late 7 C. (after the Unification of Three Kingdoms in 660th), the most important was doubtlessly that of continuous strengthening of monarchic power firmly backed by growing and increasingly diversified bureaucratical structure. Throughout the 6 C., manifold central ministries were being newly established, and first of them was Military Ministry (P'ŏngbu; 516) charged with the ambitious task of territorial expansion - the primary task of any traditional autocratic state on the rise. Other important agent of the Silla's grandiose conquests of 6-7 C. was the centralized and militarized system of local administration (first launched in 505), which made centrally-dispatched local governor (kunju) also a military commander of a local army unit (chŏng).

Reorganization and consolidation of both central and local authority made possible the unprecedented enlargement of Silla territory, beginning from the 532 annexation of Kŭmgwan-Kaya (today's Kimhae in Southern Kyŏngsan Province) Kingdom. For the period of reign of kings Pŏphŭng (514-540) and Chinghŭng (540-576) only, Silla, initially a puny state occupying only little more than the territory of today's Northern Kyŏngsang Province, gradually emerged as a powerful and aggressive kingdom, vast domain of which included, among others, strategically important lands in the Han River basin (where today's Seoul is located). Enlarging tax-paying population and bringing the climate of total mobilization into the society, the conquests consequently strengthened even more the king's authority, eventually enabling Silla kings to launch on task almost unimaginable before - the unification of three ancient Korean kingdoms (Sin Hyŏng-sik 1993: 125-132, 146-157). It is also important to notice that driving force behind the process of consolidating and bureaucratization of king's authority was the tight-knit aristocratic group, members of which mostly belonged to the two strongest consanguine communities (pu; in Silla, 6 such communities existed), Kŭmnyang-pu and Saryang-pu. This group, not without support from the rising monarchy, eventually evolved into two ruling hereditary rank groups, chin'gol ("true bone") and sŏng'gol ("sacred bone"), which formally monopolized not only the right to the throne, but also all highest positions in the growing bureaucratical structure. Thus, unlike many other ancient and medieval states undergoing the similar process of autocratic centralization, Silla - at least, before the Unification of the Three Kingdoms and subsequent consummation of kings' autocratic power - did not witness the aristocratic opposition to monarchic dominance. Instead, the struggle of various aristocratic groups for right to the throne and access to the cardinal bureaucratical positions constituted the main conflict in Silla society, providing the rigidly organized social structure with the dynamics necessary for further development (Sin Hyŏng-sik 1993: 170-176).

Concerning the second question of the main types of religious weltanschauung of 6-7 C. Silla elite, we should notice that, under the decisive influence of the rising monarchy, the indigenous patterns of nature-worship and ancestor cult were systematized and institutionalized even before the official recognition of Buddhism (527), but afterwards were profoundly changed by the new religion. It is assumed by many scholars that, as many Siberian or Manchurian peoples of Altaic origin, ancient Silla populace worshipped the Heaven as the chief diety (Han'guk sa ron 1986: 178-185). It is evident from 30th chapter ("Dong-i chuan" - "Account of Eastern Barbarians") of "San-quo ji" (Chinese dynastic history written by Chen Shou in 3 C.) that in 2-3 C. Samhan tribes of the southern part of Korea - supposed antecedents of Silla, Paekche and Kaya peoples - already regarded the Heaven as the head of their pantheon. Special priest called ch'ŏn'gun ("heavenly king") presided over the various rituals of Heaven-worshipping1. It is also presumed by some researchers that it was Heaven deity who was regularly worshipped by successive kings in the "Palace of Deities" (Sin'gung; according to Samguk sagi's "Chronicles of Silla", erected in 487) of Silla (Ch'oe Gwang-sik 1995: 195-219; Sin Chong-wɯn 1992: 75-84). With the gradual introduction of Confucianism throughout 5-6 C., native concept of Heaven deity has begun to be denoted by Chinese character "t'ian", meaning the omnipotent Heavenly God of Ch'ou China. The passage from The Analects of Confucius (Chapter 3, "B'a-yi" - "[Sacred dance] of eight rows"; 13), "those who are guilty before the Heaven [have nothing to prey to]"2, cited in the text of the "Silla monument erected in village of Pongp'yɯng, Uljin County" ("Uljin Pongp'yɯng Silla bi"; 524), is likely to be the earliest authentic example of Confucianized worship of Heaven in the official ideology of Silla (Ch'oe Gwang-sik 1995: 248, 266). It seems to be possible to assume that already in late 5 - early 6 C. the monarchy, striving to strengthen its rule over the society to which the very conception of a unified kingdom was not still well known, attempted to employ the ancient belief in heaven deity as a universalist cult homogeneating its subjects religiously.

Then, in middle and late 6 C., the state-level worship of Heaven played the role of the central religious ideology of the bureaucratic monarchy-in-the-making, equating the sovereign with the all-mighty God of the Universe.. The basic text informing us about the monarchs' claims to congeniality to the Heavenly Deity is the article named "The Heaven bestows a jade belt" ("Ch'ŏn sa ok tae") which can be found at the 1st chapter of Samguk yusa. According to this text, knee-bent King Chinp'yŏng (r. 579-632) received the jade belt - afterwards usually worn for the occasions of sacrifices to Heaven, Earth and Royal Ancestors - from an envoy of the Heavenly Emperor on first year of his reign. The belt became one of the "Three Treasures" of Silla, symbolizing the sacredness of the monarchy (Iryŏn, 1987:89-90). However literarily adorned by subsequent transmission, the text shows how traditional cult of Heaven had transmutated into the monarchic ideology, bearing also visible traits of Chinese influences. Other significant foreign component in royal worship of Heaven was Indo-Buddhistic, with Buddhism succeeding in mid-6 C. in securing the position of official state ideology. King Chinp'ŏng's palace Buddhist shrine was named Naejesŏk-kung ("Inner palace of Chesŏk"), Chesok being the abridged Sino-Korean transliteration of Šakrodeva-Indra, the name of Buddhist god of Trǡyastriɣʁa Heaven (Sino-Kor.: Torich'ŏn) at the summit of cosmic ʆumeru Mountain (Iryɯn, 1987: 89). Interestingly enough, the next ruler of Silla, Queen Sŏndŏk (r. 632-647), expressed the wish to be buried "at the Trǡyastrimśa Heaven" by which she meant Silla's sacred mountain of Nangsan equated by the state's official ideology of that time to Ŝumeru (Iryŏn 1987: 91).

Another interesting feature of Silla royal cult of Heaven is its intrinsic connection with the worship of royal ancestors. That the belief in ancestors' "descending from Heaven" is very archaic and native to Silla world view is evident from the fact that all six consanguineous groups (pu) constituting Silla Proper claimed "Heavenly descent" (Iryŏn 1987: 66-67). Such pretensions were possible only before the monopolization of Silla throne by Kim's clan, i. e. in "chiefdom" period of 1 - mid-4 C. It is also seems likely that, although the basic patterns of the mythoi about the "Celestial origins" of the progenitors of the royal clans of Pak and Kim, Hyŏkkŏse and Alji respectively, might date back to very archaic times, literary form of the articles on Hyŏkkŏse and Alji found in Samguk yusa and Samguk sagi could have been heavily influenced by the trends of late Unified Silla and early Koryŏ period. Still, even taking into consideration the possibility of later literary and ideological embellishment, one can discern the archetypical myth of "Heavenly descent" in stories about the two royal progenitors in both sources. For instance, in Samguk yusa (chapter 1, article on Kim Alji in the times of King T'arhae), the birth of Alji is preceded by "purple clouds descending from Heaven to Earth" (Iryŏn 1987: 74). In Samguk sagi this detail is omitted but King T'arhae (r. 57-80) is said to greet the advent of Alji with the phrase: "Is not it the Heaven sending me a son?" (Kim Bu-sik 1994: Vol. 1, 28). Still, the earliest and thus most authentic written reference to the theory of the "Heavenly descent" of the royal progenitor can be found in the inscription on King Munmu's (r. 661-681) tomb monument (presumably erected in 681;at present is in the collection of Kyŏngju Museum). The text says that "15th generation ancestor [of King Munmu], King Sŏnghan, descended from the circular Heaven, was born by the peaks of divine hermits" (Hŏ Hŭngsik, 1984: 100). It is still not clear with whom of the descendants of Alji mentioned in Samguk yusa and Samguk sagi Sŏnghan is to be identified but on the whole the above-cited phrase again shows the general pattern of the ancestral myth known from the former sources.. So, Silla kings - the worshippers of Heaven and self-claimed earthly "deputies" of the Heavenly Deity - were considered to be "descendants of Heaven" as well.

In Silla people's worldview, the universe was densely populated by mountain and sea deities (often thought to be the spirits of deceased ancestors) regarded - not without Confucian influence - as being subordinate to the Heavenly God. For instance, in one Silla folk-tale, - dated by the reign of King Wŏnsŏng (785-798), but very archaic in content - included in 5th chapter of Samguk yusa, a young man named Kim Hyŏn had a romance with a maiden who turned out to be a tigress (tigress spirit of Mt. Sŏsan, as suggested by context). Three of her "elder brothers" (also tiger spirits) incurred Heavenly punishment by their ferocity, but were saved by the vicarious sacrifice of their "younger sister" (Iryŏn 1987: 373-376). It is evident from this story that the Heaven was thought to be capable of punishing a malicious spirit as well as ordinary mortals. In fact, Silla world of deities was anthropomorphized to very high extent. In many tales preserved in Samguk yusa spirits not only often take the shape of humans but sometimes are even prone to death - as, for example, the deity of Mt. Samgisan, the divine protector of priest Wŏn'gwang (Iryŏn, 1987: 293-299). It is very characteristic that, according to Samguk yusa (chapter 2, article on Southern Puyŏ, former Paekche and Northern Puyŏ), in neighbouring Paekche deities of three sacred mountains (Ilsan, Osan and Pusan) were known as "divine humans", or "sinin", their main difference from ordinary humans being merely their ability to fly (Iryŏn 1987: 155). The term "sinin" shows very well how porous the boundary between "this" and "other" worlds was in ancient Korea.

Other important group of Silla deities consisted of the spirits of royal ancestors. As it is evident from Samguk yusa stories, spirits of the deceased kings and their closest male relatives were thought to continue to be responsible for the field of their lifetime activity - namely, national defence. According to the tale "King Mich'u (r. 262-284) and the Bamboo Leaves Army" (1st chapter of Samguk Yusa), the spirits of the deceased King Mich'u and his retainers came to their descendants' succour when a neighbouring polity invaded Silla. Mich'u was the first ever member of Kim's clan to succeed in ascending to the throne, and that must have been the reason he was also thought to be the senior over other state-defending spirits, including that of famed General Kim Yusin (595-673), a brother-in-law of King T'aejong-Muryŏl (r. 654-661). According to the same tale, Yusin's spirit, infuriated at the executing of one of his descendants, asked Mich'u's spirit to discharge him from Silla service, but was refused (Iryŏn, 1987: 77). At the same time, at least some of the deceased queens were thought to have become mountain spirits - the reason for that being the association between earth/mountain and female/mother in the most archaic layers of Korean mythology (M.I.Nikitina, 1982: 91-177) - responsible for the weather. One of them was, for example, Queen Unje (spouse of King Namhae, r. 4-24) who has become the rain-giving "Mother" of Mt. Unje in Yŏngil County (Iryŏn 1987: 69). As we know from 32nd chapter of Samguk sagi that during Namhae's reign the responsibility for ancestral sacrifices was taken by Namhae's sister Aro (Kim Bu-sik 1994: Vol. 2, 159), it can be assumed that other female member of the royalty, Unje, also exercised ritual/shamanic functions during her lifetime and continued to do so in the afterlife. As it can be seen from above-mentioned examples, the deceased royals continued to enjoy the militaristic/shamanic charisma acquired during their lifetime and ruled over their and their descendants' deceased retainers, the only difference with the living sovereigns being the incomparably greater might of the spirits. Needless to say, sacrifices to royal ancestors were carried out by living monarchs thus considered to be both the mediators between people and almighty "state-defending" spirits and potential "state-defending spirits" themselves. As a whole, cult of royal ancestors was one of the greatest sources of royal charisma and as such was actively utilized by King Chinp'ŏng in his efforts to build a centralized autocracy. For example, magic talents of Pihyŏng-rang - one of the King's liegemen (see below) - were officially explained by the "fact" Pihyŏn was conceived by the woman who allegedly had had the intercourse with the spirit of King Chinji (r. 576-579). Such explanation elevated both the deceased King (who could bestow his shamanic abilities on his miraculously conceived "son") and the ruling King (who could thus employ a potent shaman).

Taking into consideration the human-like nature of Silla's nature deities and their subordination to the Heaven, it seems only very natural that, with the strengthening of bureaucratical monarchy in late 6 C., the king - now the sacred "plenipotentiary" of Heaven in the Earth - was ascribed to even the capability to rule over the deities as if they constituted nothing more than some special class of royal subject. In this case, very archaic concept of "shaman-king" was deliberately revived and revitalized with the obvious intent to secure monarchic predominance over all other social forces. Establishing of the comprehensive system of state-level sacrifices to the mountains, seas and rivers of various parts of the country in late 6 C. essentially meant the strengthening of central control over the provinces through the delegating of local religious authority to the sacred monarch (Sin Chong-wŏn 1992: 94-100). Moreover, the king was regarded as capable of exercising his power over the spirits even without the medium of ritualized sacrifices. For example, according to Silla folk-tale explaining the origin of popular amulets for fencing off evil spirits (included in 1st chapter of Samguk yusa), Pihyŏng-rang, a courtier of King Chinp'yŏng - mentioned above as the receiver of the Heavenly jade belt, - was miraculously fathered by deceased King Chinji and thus had divine power over deities and spirits. Following the royal order, he forced spirits to build a bridge in the capital and then recommended one spirit (named Kildal; the name can be translated as "bringing good luck") for the state service. The spirit, the story tells, distinguished himself by building a tower gate, but afterwards was executed for disobedience (Iryŏn, 1987: 88-89). As we can conclude from the tale, the King could - probably by the virtue of his intimacy with the Heavenly Deity - employ or execute spiritual beings as if they were plain subjects.

Summarizing the social and ideological background of the interrelations between Buddhism and native cults in 6-7 C. Silla, it can be stated that in this period the state was in transition to the autocratic bureaucratical forms typical of the traditional "prebendal" statehood of Far East. In institutional sphere, main content of that epochal transition was the increasing sophistication of the highly militarized administrative apparatus, primarily used in this period for endless expansionist wars. Constant state of military mobilization provided the rising autocracy with the cohesion necessary for uniting diverse provinces into unitary centralized monarchy. Ideologically, the court, traditional custodian of the time-honoured cult of royal ancestors, also resorted to the ancient proto-Korean cult of Heaven which - in Sinicised and partly Buddhified forms befitting the "civilized" monarchy willing to become a "dignified" part of China-centered East Asian world order - deified the King as the earthly protector of Heavenly order. In the aura of his Celestial greatness, the sacred King systematized the sacrifices to his own ancestors ("state-defending deities") and various local deities, thus incorporating divine forces into the charisma of the statehood and simultaneously unifying the heterogeneous populace of the constantly expanding Kingdom. Moreover, the "lesser" deities and spirits - traditionally regarded as zoo- and anthropomorphic beings often representing the deceased ancestors (sometimes connected with royal ancestors) and always inferior to the Heavenly Deity - began to be thought of as some special category of royal subjects, with specifical duties of their own. In short, The Heaven and the King were placed at the top of the universal and hierarchic socio-cosmic order in which both people and the deities of the land were obliged to discharge some service to their Sovereign, according to their prescribed positions on the ladder. When even today the Presidents of South Korea address the spirits of the fallen soldiers buried in the National Cemetery in Seoul they routinely make sacrifice to as "spirits-protectors of the State" (hoguk yŏngnyŏng) they only follow the ancient patterns of the universal divine Kingship.

As we could see, local religion, systematized under strong Confucian influence, itself provided solid spiritual foundations for the raising autocracy. Consequently, the question can be raised: what motivated the royal household of Silla in 6-7 C. to promote Buddhism so ardently against all odds? It is well known that at the first stage of the introduction of Buddhism into Silla (c. 5 C.) priests of the local cults politically backed by powerful aristocratic clans and occasionally even supported by kings (notably, by King Soji, r. 479-500) spearheaded the anti-Buddhist campaigns which sometimes led to the persecutions against Buddhist missionaries from Koguryŏ (Iryŏn, 1987: 84, 197). It is also widely known that aristocratic opposition against Buddhism eventually caused the martyrdom of Ich'adon (527), King Pŏphŭng (r. 514-540)'s loyalist and devoted Buddhist (Iryŏn, 1987: 203-204). Still, beginning from Pŏphŭng, Silla kings of 6-7 C. acted as determined patrons of the new religion thus enabling Buddhist community of their country to grow much faster than the saɣgha of Koguryŏ of Paekche (Volkov, 1985: 77-78). What urged the kings, their divine authority being based on the cult of Heaven and royal ancestors' worship, to expend enormous resources for the sake of making Silla a truly Buddhistic kingdom? Another important question is how was the new religion adjusted to the existing monarchic ideology, namely the dominant cult of Heaven and royal ancestors and state-sponsored cults of local deities (sea dragons and mountain deities)? Bearing in mind the fierce opposition to the "strange faith" initially voiced by the local priests, such adjustment does not seem to be very simple.

The most elaborate and well-founded answers to the above-stated questions were provided by Lee Gi-baek. He argued that, basically, in the pre-Unification period, the newly-introduced Sinicised Buddhism, with its outspokenly "this-worldly" and magic character and loyalist pro-monarchy stance, has taken the socio-political niche previously occupied by state-sponsored Shamanist cults, namely that of the spiritual and magic "pillar" of the centralized monarchy. Monks took over the position native priests and "medicine men" had held in such spheres as divination, healing and, most importantly, praying for the nation's well-being; state-run shamanistic rites were substituted by the "state-protecting" Buddhist ceremonies (P'algwanjae, Paekkochwa and others). That was the reason the women, traditionally "custodians" of shamanistic practices, played so prominent role in early Silla Buddhism. Ancestor worship, this mainstay of autochthonous religion, was drastically changed by Buddhist belief in possibility to better the deceased's carma by building temples, making statues and conducting necessary rituals. The main advantage Buddhism, in the eyes of Silla royalty, had over its native predecessors was its universalist nature - all human beings were considered basically equal as simultaneously "unenlightened" and capable of "enlightenment" - enabling the monarchy to erase tribal differences of the past and unify the country spiritually. At the same time, Buddhist was valued for its connections with advanced Chinese culture, i. e., "solemnity" (changŏm) of its rituals, high literacy of the monks, usually well-versed in classical Chinese canons and capable of writing diplomatic documents as well, artistic power of its painting and sculpture, and so on. In new Buddhist "frame of reference", the king became revered as "Šakyamuni of the country" and "Chakravartin" - ideal deified ruler of Indo-Buddhist tradition, while the aristocrat heading the hwarang "order" was considered to be a reincarnation of Maitreya - Buddha of the future, due to come in the era of Chakravartin's rule. Thus, harmony between the court and aristocracy was achieved (Lee Gi-baek, 1997: 2-46, 80-87, 117-120, 248-255). Similar conceptual frameworks were also proposed in the works of other senior Korean scholars of 1950-70's (Kim Ch'ŏl-jun, 1952; Kim Sang-gi, 1969). In 1970-80's, some junior historians attempted to revise Lee Gi-baek's theory. Noting that rising monarchy succeeded in utilizing traditional shamanistic beliefs (especially cult of Heavenly deity) as its ideology even before Buddhism was officially acknowledged, they presumed that, at least in the pre-Unification period, Buddhism did not substitute for local religion in latter's capacity of the spiritual foundation of the statehood, but rather supplemented it changing the outward appearances of rituals which remained basically shamanistic in their meaning (Kim Chŏng-bae, 1975; Ch'oe Gwang-sik, 1981). It can be agreed that the role of autochthonous ingredient in the Buddho-Shamanistic syncretism of 6-7 C. should not be underestimated, but, still, Lee Gi-baek's basic concept of "Shamanized" Buddhism as ideological "fulcrum" of centralized monarchy does not seem to lose its significance as the "starting point" for further research.

It can only be added that, inasmuch as the incessant wars between the Three Kingdoms were in fact the "smelting furnace" in which early statehood grew up both institutionally and ideologically, competition with neighbouring rivals - and especially Paekche - for the honour of being acknowledged as "exemplary Buddhist"/"exemplary civilized" kingdom must have played important role in promotion of Buddhism by Silla royalty. It is well-known fact that, being "wedged" in the south-eastern "corner" of the Peninsula and practically isolated from contacts with China before early 6 C., Silla was long regarded - and rather justifiably - as lagging behind in domestication of advanced Chinese culture in comparison with its more sophisticated neighbours. Silla's first-ever mission to devoutedly Buddhist kingdom of Liang (502-558) - which thought to have exerted much influence on King Pŏphŭng's decision to officially recognize Buddhism - was dispatched as late as in 521 (Paekche established relationship with Liang in 512) and, moreover, had to follow Paekche envoys. As a result, "Liang shu" (compiled in 629-636) pictured Silla as a "culturally backward" country which had to rely on Paekche interpreters in conversations with the Chinese and "did not have letters thus having to engrave on wood and use it for communicating with others" (chapter 54, "Description of Silla"). The last information seems to be a bit of exaggeration taking into account that Silla monument with lengthy inscription (Yŏngil Naengsuri Silla bi) interpreted as decree by King Chijŭng (r. 500-514) was found in 1989 (Ch'oe Gwang-sik 1995: 219-244). Still, relative backwardness of Silla was acknowledged by Silla elite itself: even in 643, the council of Silla aristocracy (known from Chinese sources as hwabaek) had to invite Paekche architect, named Abiji, to oversee the construction of giant nine-storied pagoda in temple of Hwangnyongsa (Iryŏn 1987: 224). Consequently, visible cultural achievements associated with Buddhism (studies abroad by learned monks, solemnization of rituals, preaching of sutras, building of temples and so on) could play the role of proof of Silla's ability to catch up with its advanced neighbours. Priest Wŏn'gwang (?-630), with his relatively humble yuktup'um3 background, would have never become King Chinp'ŏng's revered adviser, if not for his records of teaching Asaňga's "Mahǡyǡna-samparigraha-šǡstra" in Sui (581-617) and his ability to write a letter to Sui emperor (608) or to preach at the Buddhist ceremony held for Sui envoy (613) which demonstrated the newly-achieved high level of Silla culture to the supreme "arbiter elegantiarum", Sui China (Kim Bu-sik 1994: Vol. 1, 84). Samguk yusa (chapter 4, article on Chajang) admits that it was Vinaya Master Chajang's (7 C.) contribution that Silla envoys became honoured in T'ang as "first among overseas barbarians" (sangbŏn), for Chajang first proposed to the court to adapt Chinese clothes and chronological eras (Iryŏn 1987: 319). Samguk sagi, which is almost silent on great Master Wŏnhyo (617-686), still does not fail to mention that Wŏnhyo's grandson was greeted in Japan by a courtier who praised Wŏnhyo's great treatise, "Kŭmgang-sammae-gyŏng-non" (Kim Bu-sik 1994: Vol. 2, 360). So, for Silla, with its painful socio-cultural complex of perceived "backwardness", promoting Buddhism was also the way to enhance its prestige and project the image of "highly civilized state" overseas, thus finding its niche in the China-centered international order of East Asia.

As it was pointed out above, the official Buddhism of Silla court eventually fitted well into the local concept of socio-cosmic hierarchy, with the Heavenly Deity and the King ruling over both deities and humans. We have already mentioned that autochthonous Heavenly Deity was from late 6 C. worshipped as the Indo-Buddhistic Celestial gods Šakradeva-Indra (Sino-Kor. Chesŏk) or, less frequently, Brahma (Sino-Kor. Pŏmch'ŏn). Article on the giant nine-storied pagoda of Hwangnyongsa Temple included into Samguk yusa (chapter 3) tells us that, according to the words of mystical "divine human" (sinin) visioned by Chajang in T'ang China, the "Dharma-protecting Dragon" (hobŏbyong) was ordered by Brahma to protect Hwangnyongsa, the "state temple" (kukch'al) especially patronized by Silla court (Iryŏn 1987: 224). Other articles from the same source say that Šakradeva-Indra (also known as Ch'ŏnje, or Celestial Emperor) helped King Kyŏngdŏk (r. 742-765)'s spouse, on King's request, to give birth to male offspring (Iryŏn 1987: 128); helped to repair other royal temple, Hŭngnyunsa (Iryŏn 1987: 230-231); and bestowed the "luck-giving" molar of Buddha, which was eventually shipped to Koryŏ later, on Chinese monk Tao-hsȕan (Iryŏn 1987: 244). General Kim Yusin, regarded as paragon of faithfulness while alive and as "state-defending" spirit after his death, was also thought to be a "son" of Trǡyastrimša Heaven, Šakradeva-Indra's abode (Iryŏn 1987: 108). It is evident that Indo-Buddhist celestial gods were "reinterpreted" by Silla monarchic ideology as essentially shamanistic "state-protecting" (hoguk) deities gratifying King's wishes, providing King with faithful vassals and helping to maintain main royal temples. It was even argued that traditional Heavenly Deity - the spiritual source of King's authority - changed only its name remaining the same "divine protector" of the royal house in its character (Ko Ik-chin 1989: 71).

Other important state cults - that of the royal ancestors, sacred mountains and dragons - were also seemingly "refurbished" along Buddhist lines still retaining their shamanistic and state-centered character. It became common, especially in the post-Unification period, to erect temples, found temple bells, or make various images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for the sake of securing "better reincarnation" for the deceased. Still, traditional view that royal ancestors, if properly worshipped, would "protect" and "assist" the reigning King remained unchanged, and Buddhistic paraphernalia seems to have been regarded as a mere tool of maintaining ritual contact with the dead. For example, great unifier of the Peninsula, King Munmu (r. 661-681), was honoured by his son, King Sinmun (r. 681-692), who erected Kamŭnsa Temple (its site is located near the seacoast, in Yangbuk township of Wŏlsŏng County, Northern Kyŏngsang Province) in 682 to pray for the deceased father (initially, King Munmu wanted to build this temple to protect the country from the Japanese). At the same time, vicinity of Kamŭnsa was the place were King Sinmun received, as a gift from his father (who reincarnated as a "big dragon"), the magic "flute calming ten thousand waves" (manp'asikchŏk) - a state-level fetish regarded as a "protector" of the court and country, a symbol of divine nature of Silla monarchy (Iryŏn 1987: 119-120). It is evident that belief in magic potency of royal ancestors reinforcing the authority of the ruling sovereign has not basically changed. Dragons of the seas and rivers were often given the honorary title of the "Protectors of Dharma" (Kim Yŏngt'ae 1974) but in the articles of Samguk yusa they, as before, usually emerge as a "special kind of the King's subjects". They are described as being easily influenced by poetic incantations (Iryŏn 1987: 124), asking King for help (Iryŏn 1987: 132), sending their scions to serve the King as officials (Iryŏn 1987: 140) or requesting assistance from King's officials (Iryŏn 1987: 142-143). Often given Buddhism-inspired names and regarded as "local reincarnations" (sujŏk) of Buddhas and Boddhisattvas (Ch'oe Byŏng-hŏn 1990: 328-330), mountain deities also retained their status of "loyal subjects". Stories from Samguk yusa suggest that mountain deities could warn King of a coming crisis (Iryŏn 1987: 140) or receive honorary title from King (Iryŏn 1987: 359).

The role of mediators between the world of Buddhist and indigenous deities (seen as one homogeneous group) and the Sovereign was played by both saɣgha, or monastic community, and local soothsayers (of them, ilgwan/ilja, or "officials of the sun", and haegwan, or "officials of the sea", are best known). Before the official recognition of Buddhism, in 5 C., first Buddhist missionaries endeavoured to show their magic abilities (especially through "magical healing") justifiably regarding it as a shortcut to winning crucial royal support. This inevitable step could not but incur traditional shamans' displeasure, for they felt their positions seriously endangered; bitter animosity against "strange religion" and shamanism-inspired persecutions of missionaries resulted (Sin Chong-wŏn 1989: 225-237). Still, eventually (especially after even cult of Heaven, this quintessence of local religion, was reorganized along Buddhist lines in late 6 C.) monks and nuns succeeded in sharing most magical duties with their erstwhile enemies. For example, interpreting certain astronomical phenomena (comets, eclipses and so on) in ritual and mythological terms remained soothsayers' task (Iryŏn 1987: 104, 370), while rituals aimed at eliminating those "symbols of cosmic chaos" by means of sacred poetry (hyangga) were conducted by Buddhist monks (Iryŏn 1987: 370, 378). Samguk yusa tells us that in one case local soothsayer helped in choosing "auspicious" location for Buddhist temple (Iryŏn 1987: 291) and in other case king erected Buddhist shrine, named Manghaesa, on soothsayers' advice (Iryŏn 1987: 140). Shaman's failure to exorcise an evil spirit from Kim Yangdo's house forced the latter to turn to monk Milbon for magic help (Iryŏn 1987: 350-351). Sources describe Silla monks' extensive "contacts" not only with Buddhist deities but also with sea dragons (Tsan-ning 1929: Vol. 50, 729a-b; Iryŏn 1987: 306-307, 354) and mountain deities (Iryŏn 1987: 300-301, 381) - traditional objects of shamanistic devotions. Saɣgha in Silla was placed under strict administrative control of the all-powerful state (Kamada 1994: 56-58), permeated with the ideology of the "state-protecting Buddhism" (hoguk pulgyo; Ko Ik-chin 1989: 58-68) and usually led by monks of noble descent (Volkov 1985: 97). Thus, it seems only natural that in most cases magical rites performed by monks, addressed both to the local and Buddhist deities, either were directly "ordered" by the state (usually by sovereign himself/herself) or pursued "nation-protecting" aims in one way or another. Of those rituals, "Assembly of one hundred High Seats" (Paekkojwa; based on apocryphal "Renwang banruoboluomi jing"; conducted in 551, 613, 636, 779, 876, 877, 886, 887, 924 and 926) and "Eight Precepts Assembly" (P'algwanjae; based on "Ekottaragama-sutra"; conducted in 551, 572 and 643) performed with the purpose of restoring King's health and preventing natural calamities and foreign invasions were considered to be of utmost importance; but other rituals, mentioned mainly in Samguk yusa and, less frequently, in Samguk sagi, are extremely diverse, including, for example, Kim Yusin's prayers for the success of his army in 661 and 662 (Kim Bu-sik 1994: Vol. 2, 303-304), esoteric ritual aimed at preventing T'ang invasion in 669 and 671 (Iryŏn 1987: 111-112), prayers to Avalokitešvara for the release of Kim Inmun (629-694) detained by T'ang authorities (Iryŏn 1987: 113), and the assembly in 697 on the occasion of completion of Mangdŏksa Temple intended for praying for T'ang's fortune (Iryŏn 1987: 368), to name only few biggest rituals of late 7 C. It is evident that all those rituals were regarded as magic "tools" for achieving monarchy's military and diplomatic purposes. So, we can conclude that, in Silla's rigid bureaucratical hierarchy of power, monks, just as shamans with whom they first competed for the same social niche and then started to coexist and cooperate, were commonly seen as some special sort of officials specializing in realizing sovereign's purposes through magical means. As such, they doubtlessly rendered great service for the rising autocracy impressing people with elaborate and solemn rituals with alleged "magical" effects and thus strengthening monarchic grip on popular consciousness. It seems very likely that sacrosanct status of the bureaucratical monarchy of 6-7 C. was equally based on its administrative and military strength and the perceived magical "might" of its loyal saɣgha, with its "miraculous" pagodas and images and "miracle-making" reputation of most of its members. In a word, state Shamanism of 5 C. evolved into state Buddhism of 6-7 C., with great change in attributes and evident continuity in content and social functions. Here we should also note that high doctrinal level of 6-7 C. Silla Buddhism is undeniable, but elaborate metaphysical doctrines seem to have much less influence over the wider community that rituals and ritualistic magic.

To summarize our opinion about the general framework of the official worldview of Silla's increasingly autocratic royalty of 6-7 C., we should categorize their basic concept of statehood as that of "divine monarchy", ruled by deified sovereign effectively identified with the omnipotent Heaven. The whole universe, populated by humans and strongly anthropomorphized gods, is viewed as being ruled or, at least, heavily influenced by the sacred authority of the cosmic Monarch. Being essentially an original synthesis of Indo-Buddhist ideal of Chakravartin, time-honoured Chinese idea of "Heavenly Mandate", and autochthonous tradition of "shaman-king" administering the cult of the celestial deity, this concept premised that pontifical King was capable not only of ruling "this world" but also of communicating with deities and spirits which constituted nothing more than a "special class" of monarch's subjects. Though the most important of state-level sacrifices (to the Heaven and state-protecting royal ancestors) were observed by the rulers personally and some potentates had strong shamanistic charisma, highly developed tradition of Silla native religion, with its degree of specialization of various cult professionals, required monarchs to have recourse to acknowledged mediators between the worlds of humans and spirits. Traditional prestige native cult professionals, with their close ties to the court, commanded in Silla society was the underlying rationale behind Buddhist saɡgha's strong determination to fit itself too in the role of "royal magicians". After long and sometimes even bloody competition with local cult practitioners, monks succeeded - much due to the aura of advanced Chinese culture they had about themselves - in securing the coveted position of the King's "aides for spiritual and magic affaires", and eventually came to terms with their erstwhile opponents sharing their domains in the field of "magical services" to the court. Fully integrated into the fast-developing bureaucratic structure, monks were responsible for the broad range of state-level magic tasks including, for example, "protecting the state" through conducting rituals and building temples, securing rains and curing King's illnesses, in addition to their role as King's advisors on diplomatic and cultural relationship with China. The methods monks used in performing those tasks were, at least seemingly, typically Buddhistic (scripture-reading, incense-burning, etc.), but the idea of the cult professionals rendering magic services to the state was deeply embedded in Silla's autochthonous shamanistic tradition. Consequently, we can say that symbiotic relationship between saɡgha and the court "actualized" some Shamanistic traits immanent to Buddhism (as well as to any other religions), or even "Shamanified" Silla Buddhism, at least in respect of its social activities. At the same time, native cults, especially on the state level, were deeply influenced by Buddhistic symbolics, celestial deity being now perceived as Indra and sea dragon - as dharma-protecting nagas. The task of this paper is to see how those patterns of social acculturation worked in the Silla province, in cases of contacts between monks/nuns and native priests. Due to the lack of authentic primary materials, the only method we can use is to take Samguk yusa tales as basic source and try to separate obviously fantastical elements there from priceless grains of historical truth.

2. Main Sources and Literature.

As most papers devoted to the spiritual life of ancient Koreans, the present one too is mostly based on the content of Samguk yusa (circa 1285), life-long work by Buddhist monk Iryŏn (1206-1289), undertaken on his own initiative. Samguk yusa (often translated as "Memorabilia of Three Kingdoms") was not conceived as a comprehensive and systematic history of the ancient Korea or even as a thorough sourcebook on Silla Buddhism; it was rather thought as a sort of supplement or appendix to both Kim Busik's official "History of Three Kingdoms" (Samguk sagi; see below) and Chinese Buddhist hagiography, containing the information the latter either preferred to omit or could not access: miraculous stories about kings and less-known biographic details on Buddhist temples and monks, extracted from "local biographies" (hyangjǒn), "ancient chronicles" (kogi) and other rather esoteric documents (Kim Sang-hyǒn 1994: 98). It has been counted that Iryǒn cited more that 130 primary sources - folklore, literary, epigraphic and other, - demonstratng rare thirst for historical verity: documents are often minutely compared with each other questionable points being meticulously verified and corrected in the manner very much resembling modern methods of textual criticism (Kim Sang-hyǒn 1994: 96). Unlike many other traditional historiographers who used to select for their compilations only those materials of their primary sources which were congenial to their own views and tastes (typically, Kim Busik, an avowed Confucian, excluded most Buddhism-related data from his work), Iryŏn, as a rule, would cite even the opinion which run counter to his own, and state his position in the "detailed", or "narrow" notes (seju, or hyŏpchu) inside the text. It was noted by many South Korean researchers that while being a decidedly Koryŏ personality himself, Iryŏn has done his best to preserve the specific features of ancient Silla culture (important role of the indigenous cults, magic, clan legends, and so on) in the texts he selected for including into "Samguk Yusa" (Ch'oe Byŏng-hŏn, 1997a: 186-187). Being almost unique monumental literary source on the history of ancient Korean saɣgha, "Samguk Yusa" also contains many lively and often folklore-based stories from which important information on ancient Silla politics and society omitted in other later compilations can be extracted: for example, Iryŏn's work is the only Korean source giving us the information on Silla's aristocratic council (known from Chinese sources as hwabaek), system of rotatory forcible sojourn of provincial officials in the capital city (sangsuri), system of assigning monks to hwarang youth organization for teaching and councelling (sŭngnyŏ-nangdo), etc. (Lee Gi-dong, 1997: 119-121). As to "Samguk Yusa"'s shortcomings, it should be noted that Iryŏn, native of Changsan County (today's Kyŏngsan in the Northern Kyŏngsang Province) who spent most of his lifetime staying in temples on the old Silla territory, just could not find much materials on Koguryŏ and Paekche and had to concentrate his efforts almost exclusively on Silla tradition only. He was by no means biassed against non-Silla traditions: his work begins with "northern" Tan'gun myth, and chapters on Koguryŏ and Paekche precede those on Silla. Still, the specific of his methodology - he mostly tried to supplement the existing histories, domestic and Chinese, with the materials collected first-hand during personal on-the-spot surveys, and he did not have the chance to travel extensively in former Paekche and Koguryŏ areas (Ch'ae Sang-sik, 1992: 317-319) - precluded him from elaborating on the past of Silla's former rivals (Ch'oe Byŏng-hŏn, 1997a: 188-189). Other problem in utilizing Iryŏn's work is that, for all his objectivity, "Samguk Yusa"'s compiler tended to emphasize Silla's predecessors of Koryŏ institutions (such as "State-Protective Buddhism". for example) irrespectively of their real role in the ancient society, and stress various Buddhist "miracles", with the obvious intention to incite his contemporaries' religious feelings. Being compiled by later historiographer who, while being remarkably impartial, basically viewed his work in the religious light and hardly could distinguish between the real and fantastic, "Samguk Yusa" requires thorough critical scrutiny before being used as historical source. Stiil, completely renounce "Samguk Yusa"'s authority as the basic primary source on Silla Buddhist history means to deprive the historians of the most materials on the subject: it is no exaggeration to say that "Samguk Yusa" constitute the outline of Silla Buddhist history as we know it, and all other sources play only supplementary role.

If "Samguk Yusa" gives us insights into the world of Silla's shamano-Buddhist "synthetic" folklore and reflects, to certain degree truthfully, Silla peoples' views of their own past, "Samguk Sagi" (compiled by historiographical commission chaired by Kim Busik; 1145), royally ordered official history, was designed to present the "politically correct" scheme of Korean ancient history in terms of Koryŏ Confucianism. Written on the basis of earlier official histories, it strictly adheres to historical facts as recorded in Silla and early Koryŏ sources, so even its parts concerning the most ancient period of the history of Korean Three Kingdoms are considered factually relatively reliable by modern Korean historiography (Sin Hyŏng-sik, 1994: 57). Still, willing to present the "historical mirror", instructive, edifying, and inspiring, for contemporary Koryŏ monarchy bedevilled by successive aristocratic mutinies, Kim Busik had to picture ancient Korean states as centralized autocracies ruled, from the earliest times, by Confucian principles.

Using knowingly anachronical Confucianist jargon for describing semi-primitive clan societies, he intentionally omitted many known facts which either did not fit his scheme or were not directly connceted with the objects of his interest. As a result, stories about miraculous deeds of monks, mentions of traditional shamans and divinators, in-depth introductions into Buddhist doctrines, and, very importantly, texts showing the importance of Buddhism as ah integral part of the state ideology of Silla in late 6th - early 7th C. which abound in "Samguk Yusa" are very hard to find in "Samguk Sagi". Although personally Kim Busik was deeply interested in various aspects of Buddhism, anything that could distract the readers from the rationalist and moralistic Confucian message of the compiler was thoroughly "cleaned" from "Samguk Sagi" (Ch'oe Byŏng-hŏn: 1997b: 82). Therefore, while giving trustworthy factual frame of reference for Silla history, "Samguk Sagi" are not of serious importance for the study of the local cults and their relationship with Buddhism: both indigenous religion and Buddhism were deliberately neglected by the compiler of this monumental work.

Along with "Samguk Yusa", another Buddhist history, "Haedong Kosŭng chŏn" (translated into English by P. Lee under the title "Lifes of Eminent Korean Monks"; Camblidge, 1969), compiled by monk Kakhun in 1215 by royal order, contains detailed information on Silla Buddhism, with emphasis placed on the biographies of the limited number of prominent Buddhist individualities. Original work was an ambitious large-scale state-sponsored Buddhist biographical project modelled mostly along the lines of Chinese traditional "Biographies of eminent monks" (Kao-seng chuan, "Kosŭng chŏn" being the Korean reading of this Chinese term), with its 10 parts (kwa) covering approximately 840 years of Korean Buddhist history, from its very beginnings up to Kakhun's days. Unfortunately, the only extant part of this monumental work is the chapter on the spread of Buddhism dealing mostly with the Buddhist personalities of the pre-Unification period. Unlike Iryŏn, with his punctual specifying of his sources and inclination for textual criticism and thorough comparisons between manifold documents and versions, Kakhun was quite negligent in sorting and verifying his primary sources; due to this, several serious factual mistakes can be found in his work. In addition, Kak'hun's bent for belles-lettres led to excessive literary embelishment in many of his biographical pieces, so sometimes the historical facts are undistinguishable under the layer of poetical adornments and elaborate hagiographical rhetoric. All those faults later gave Iryŏn the reason to strongly criticise Kakhun's work; in many cases Iryŏn's own thorough on-the-spot investigations into various aspects of ancient Buddhist history were motivated by his desire to correct Kakhun's mistakes and inaccuracies (Kim Sang-hyŏn, 1994: 92).

The secondary scholarship on the problem of the symbiosis of Buddhism and Silla traditional local cults I consulted in the process of writing the present paper mostly includes South Korean and Japanese works. Chronologically, the earliest pieces of modern historical scholarship dealing with the theme in question were the works of the Japanese scholars of the colonial period, some of them published after the Liberation. One of the most seminal scholarly treatises of this kind was Mishina Shõei's paper titled "Chõsen ni okeru bukkyõ to minzoku shinkõ: Bukkyõ no juyõ keitai" ("Buddhism and Folk Beliefs in Korea: the Form of Reception of Buddhism"; in <Bukkyõ shigaku>, Vol. 4, 1, 1954, pp. 9-33). Basically, he suggested that Buddhism, foreign religion which needed to take root among Silla populace, noble and mean, had to emphasize its thaumaturgic powers - the quality of religion most revered by the Silla shamanistic consciousness. It also had to present itself as legitimate successor to the popularly respected indigenous religious traditions; for this sake, it had to accept and assimilate, first of all, many of the traditional agrarian rituals of the village communities and "disguise" them as Buddhist ceremonies. Among all, Mishina suggested that P'algwanhwe ("Meeting of the Eight Precepts") ceremonies, ostensibly concerned with the observance of the Buddhist commandments by the lay people, succeeded, in fact, indigenous seasonal rites honouring the deities of Cereals (Kor. kongnyǒng). It is commonly acknowledged in South Korean and Japanese academia that Mishina's work laid the foundation for the further development of academic studies on Buddho-Shamanistic synthesis. Still, we should remember that treating such complex spiritual phenomenon as Buddhism exclusively in the light of its symbiotic relationship with more primitive systems of beliefs involves serious danger of underestimating the degree of development of more sophisticated aspects of Buddhist culture (metaphysical philosophy, symbolic art, etc.) which certainly were also connected with semi-Shamanistic ritual practices but can not be wholly reduced to the popular cults. Much later paper by other prominent Japanese historian of the older generation, Inoue Hideo, "Chōsen ni okeru bukkyō juyō to shin kannen" ("The Reception of Buddhism in Korea and the Conception of Spirits"; first appeared in "Nihon bunka kenkyũsho kenkyũ hōkoku", Vol. 13, 1977; see English translation by R.Buswell in "Introduction of Buddhism to Korea. New Cultural Patterns", Berkeley, 1989), gives detailed and well-founded analysis of the most accounts of interralations between Buddhist clergy and local spirits found in "Samguk Yusa". In conclusion, he suggests that, at the earlier stage of its acceptance in Silla, Buddhism, in its religious and cult aspects, was commonly perceived as just another kind of the native folk religion. Relations between local spirits and Buddhist deities (and between their respective representatives in the world of humans) were based on the principle of the "co-existence of the equals": Buddhist gods could not claim superiority over the native ones, and the latter by no means lose their importance and authority with the advent of the former. On the contrary, in order to obtain a footing in the society within which Shamanism was firmly entrenched, the Buddhists had to a very high degree mimic the native magic practices. In cases of tensions between individual Buddhists and native practitioners, Inoue maintains, it was the thaumaturgic skills of both parts involved that determined the result. Basically, I can agree with Inoue's conclusions, with only few amendments. Most importantly, it is evident that even in Koryŏ times most native cults inherited from Silla (especially that of mountain deities) remained as relevant as before, at least for local agrarian communities. Mentions of Koryŏ shamans and shamanist practices abound in official <Koryŏ Sa> (<History of Koryŏ>, compiled in 1451), writings of Koryŏ literati (such as Lee Gyobo, 1168-1241) and later unofficial histories (such as "Yŏllŏsil kisul" by Lee Gŭngik, 1736-1806). Therefore, it is fully arguable that indigenous religion did co-exist with "foreign-born" Buddhism on almost equal terms in Silla times too. Still, we should also note that Buddhist tradition, with its cultural and artistic sophistication and unparalleled catholicity and receptiveness, did strongly influence simpler native beliefs of Silla and, while depriving the latters of many of their functions, made them, in the process of co-existence and mutual competition, to accept, at least outwardly, many Buddhist features. I will elaborate on this point later, in the course of analysing concrete sources on Shamano-Buddhistic relationship in Silla. The other point of Inoue's work which hardly can withstand scholarly criticism is his contention that introduction of Confucianism into Korea was closely tied to the transmission and adoption of Buddhism, for both teaching were equally based on the same Chinese writing system. I can agree that it is undeniable that wider spread of Chinese logographs which resulted from the adoption of sinicised Buddhism could, in fact, expedite the reception and "naturalization" of Confucianism, particularly since both teachings were patronized by monarchical power. Then, most noble-born members of ancient Korean monastic elite are supposed to have had, at least, rudimentary knowledge of Confucianism which was the compulsory subject for the childrens of the aristocracy. On the other hand, living in society where Buddhism was the "state-protection" religion supposed to defend the nation and throne from all imaginable dangers, the state-employed Confucianists, willingly or not, had to take some interest in the religion. Nonetheless, the Confucianists and the Confucianism-inspired official royal ideology of the Three Kingdoms do not seem to have been receptive of Buddhist ideas in most cases: in most Confucianism-influenced royal epigraphs of Silla, be it epitaphs or Royal tour stelae, Buddhism as ideology never figure (although the fact of the court's protection for Buddhism or names of high-positioned monks could be briefly mentioned). Similarly, Buddhist votive inscriptions never touch on Confucianist ideology. Organizationally, Confucianism was centered around the National Universities (Kukhak, or T'aehak) and had little official contacts with the monastic communities. So, the usage of one common writing system and religious pursuits of some individual Confucianists notwithstanding, the degree of closeness between Confucianism and Buddhism, in the case of ancient Korea, should not be exaggerated.

Among Korean works concerning the subject in question one of the earliest is Kwŏn Sangno's "Han'guk kodae sinang-ŭi illan" ("A Cross-section of Ancient Korean Cults"; first appeared in "Pulgyo Hakpo", Vol. 1, 1963) where the whole spectrum of pre-Buddhist native beliefs (heliolatry, cults of mountain deities, ophidian beliefs, ancestor worship, etc.) is scrutinized. As to the relationship between the local deities and Buddhist "new-comers", the interactions between the cults of dragons and Buddhist priests are treated in detail. According to Kwŏn, three main types of Silla legends concerning contacts of Buddhist monks with dragons can be found in "Samguk Yusa" and monastic chronicles (sach'al sajŏkki). First is the stories of "irreconcilable" rivalry between dragons and Buddhas/monks where any compromise is unthinkable. Second is the legends where dragons surrender to monks, "take refuge" in Buddhism and afterwords assist new religion. Third is the tales where dragons play the role of the monks' assistants from the very beginning. Kwŏn suggests that those three types of legends represent three main stages of interaction between primitive ophidian beliefs and Buddhism: initial conflict, consequent subordination of the old beliefs to the superior new one, and finally, integration of dragon cults into Buddhism. Kwŏn also maintains that especially deep connection existed between the dragon beliefs and popular Maitreya cult. Although the authenticity and historical reliability of many of monastic chronicles Kwŏn uses can be seriously questioned, I can agree with Kwŏn's final conclusion: in local communities, many traditional cult (especially that of dragons) were either assimilated or seriously influenced by Buddhism.



1. The pertinent passage from 30th chapter reads as follows: "[They] believe in spirits and deities. In every capital city one person is charged with presiding over the sacrifices to the Heavenly Deity. He is named ch'ŏn'gun ('heavenly king')" (M.N.Park 1961: 130).

2. The number of paragraph is given according to: A Concordance to the Analects of Confucius. Harward-Yenching Institute Sinological Index Series. Suppl. 16. Taipei, 1966.

3. Hereditary social group of Silla, third by status, for members of which grades six through nine at the state service were reserved. The term yuktup'um literally means "sixth head rank". According to Korean sources, Wŏn'gwang's surname was Sŏl (Iryŏn 1987: 300), and the clan of Sŏl is thought to have belonged to yuktup'um group (Lee Gi-Baek 1997: 96).