Previous studies concerning the fifteenth-century vernacular translations of Buddhist texts have focused on those by the Directorate of Sūtra Publication (Kan'gyŏng togam) and its related purposes and significances. Scholars have pointed out that King Sejo (r. 1455–1468) aimed at fortifying his authority by means of such vernacular translations. Others have maintained that Sejo intended to revitalize and popularize Buddhism. However, in considering the genres of the Buddhist texts deliberately chosen for translation, the format and style of the translations, as well as the ruling ideology of the Chosŏn dynasty, namely, "elevating Confucianism and suppressing Buddhism," this paper will present findings that challenge the discourse on the Chosŏn state's relationship to Buddhism. Unlike previously accepted narratives, I argue that the vernacular translations of Buddhist texts were not intended so much to revive or popularize Buddhism as to edify the laity and strengthen the scholastic training of the Buddhist clergy, while at the same time conforming to Confucian social norms and values. In conclusion, the fifteenth-century vernacular translations, including those by the Directorate of Sūtra Publication, were more characteristic of cultural control of Buddhism with the aim of stabilization and integration of society, which is inherently different from the popularization or revival interpretations.


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pp. 75-101
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