With peace message, Dr Gilsu calls himself ‘modern Hyecho’

  • Lok Virsa, Korean Embassy organise a seminar on a Buddhist monk

ISLAMABAD: The Research Department of the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) in collaboration with the Korean Embassy has organised a seminar on the modern Hyecho in Pakistan.

Professor Dr So Gilsu, a South Korean scholar who heads the Pure Land Buddhist Institute (PLBI), was the guest speaker on the occasion. Currently, Dr So Gilsu is in Pakistan to visit ancient archaeological sites in a bid to trace the footsteps of Hyecho, the Korean monk who had visited areas in modern-day Pakistan and India during the Gandhara civilization.

Later, Hyecho wrote about his visit in his ‘Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five Kingdoms of Tentouk (Sindhu)’. Tracing the ancient link between Gandhara and Korea, Dr Gilsu said that the first Buddhist missionary from Gandhara who traveled to Korea was Malananda in the fourth century.

In his presentation, Dr Gilsu highlighted the historical and cultural linkages between the Pakistani and Korean people spanning over several centuries. “It took me a month to travel by road from China to Islamabad. But 1,300 years ago, it had taken Hyecho an entire year to travel from Gandhara to China where he lived and died,” Dr Gilsu said.

“You can call me the modern Hyecho and I come with the message of peace and harmony in the whole of Indu,” he said. Hyecho visited West Tentouk, which is the Sindh province today. There is also a mention of Kashmir, Skardu, Gilgit, Swat, Chitral and Gandhara in Hyecho’s book.

Dr Gilsu elaborated that there were five kingdoms of Tentouk: north, west, central, south, and east. He said that North and West Tentouk were mainly the areas which comprise Pakistan today, while central and south Tentouk lie in modern-day India and East Tentouk is Bangladesh.

He said that ‘Indus’ and ‘India’ were the names given by Europeans while the root for both these names was Indu or the Indu River. The event was attended by students, researchers and scholars of various educational institutions. He discussed the Korean perspective on the Gandhara civilization.