Gandhara Civilization: South Korean monks visit Pakistan’s holy places

Published: May 1, 2012
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A delegation of South Korean monks is offering prayers at Takht Bhai monestry complex on Tuesday. PHOTO: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

A delegation of South Korean monks is offering prayers at Takht Bhai monestry complex on Tuesday. PHOTO: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

PESHAWAR: For Seo Moo Seon, Pakistan is a holy place. He has travelled to the country from South Korea to visit Buddhism’s sacred sites from the Gandhara civilization.

Seo is among a delegation of Buddhist monks who are on a tour to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The team is being led by Park Hee Doo, a former chief in the South Korean army.

Standing by a stupa in Takht Bhai, Mardan district, Seo said his journey was full of discoveries. “Scholars at these monasteries wrote Buddhist canons,” he said.

While Seo said the complex was well structured and clean, he said he wished to see a Buddha statue here.  The monk suggested that a statue should be built in South Korea and sent to Pakistan. “It is our duty to preserve these sites.”

On Tuesday, the monks visited the Peshawar Museum, which has the largest collection of Buddhist religious artifacts from the Gandhara civilization after which they visited Takht Bhai.

The museum visit started with a prayer in front of a statue depicting Maitreya Buddha (second coming of Buddha). Director Museums and Archeology, Dr Shah Nazar briefed the monks on sites and relics from the civilization.

Speaking to journalists, senior monk Hang Jeong Sup said the Government of Pakistan has preserved Buddhist monuments, stupas and other holy artifacts very well.

Park Hee Doo also applauded the government for the preservation of Buddhist sites and praised the hospitality shown by the Pakistani people.

Provincial Minister for Culture and Tourism, Syed Aqil Shah welcomed the visitors and said the province is now safe for visitors. “Their (the monks) arrival is a good omen for the province,” he said.
Shah said Pakistan has a lot of potential for religious tourism and the nearly 350 million Buddhists around the world should visit the country.

Later, the delegation left for Swat to visit more holy sites.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • m.b.f.h
    May 1, 2012 - 11:52PM

    Thanks for the "Islamic values of respect & sanctity for other religions" or these Monasteries & Stupas(from the time of the birth of Buddha) would have vanished long time ago. Specially to the Koreans, Japanese & Chinese Buddhist Pakistan has the likeness of what Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem has for Muslims. It's the place that is mentioned over & over in the Buddhist religious books as paradise on earth__ the land of peace & tranquility where major religious Incarnations and Nirvana took place for Buddhists.

    Hopefully we consider the virtues of morality and respect for other religions to let them pay homage to their site with placing a symbolic memory in the statue of Buddha. I believe as long as their religious artifacts are not put in a mosque it should not alarm the radicals as we are a picture loving society ourself. I Suggest the sacred area should be encircled in at-least a thousand acres for any future plans they have and for the protection from any mis-adventurists or land grabbers, as soon as possible. Now if the Koreans want to invest in a Korean Style Centre or institution around it it will assure a certain safety & long life for the monument. I believe with the sanctity of the place in the eyes of Buddhists there must be enough monks out there who would regularly spend some time here for meditation and study on a rotation basis.

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  • Dua Qureshi
    May 5, 2012 - 2:54PM

    I thought most South Koreans were Christians?

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  • Giri
    May 9, 2012 - 1:45AM

    Dua,
    May these are the only few buddhists left in the country and presently on a tour to Pak. The koreans that you here usually travel with a Bible in one hand and a map in the other.

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