This article traces the legacy of Buddhist kingship in the early Koryo period. T'aejo (r. 918-943), the founder of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392), was keen to follow in the footsteps of Silla kings and use Buddhist symbols of power. He also set great store on attracting eminent monks, granting them special favors and titles, and overseeing the construction of stelae inscriptions to commemorate them. These inscriptions also feature the king prominently and illuminate his relation to Buddhism. Although the king is not explicitly identified as a Buddhist ruler, the Buddhist dharma features as an integral element of kingship. In this universe, the worldly authority, personified by the king, always coexists with and depends on a spiritual counterpart, personified by the royal or state preceptor. One effect of this was that the authority of a ruler was never complete without a preceptor to validate and correct the royal power. Thus a great deal of ritual power was invested in these preceptors.
Korean Studies – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Dec 3, 2002