Universal Salvation Pavilion – Boje-ru (보제루)


The Boje-ru Pavilion in the background behind the Cheonwangmun at Donghwasa Temple in Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

The next entry in the series of postings on rarely seen things you might encounter at a Korean temple or hermitage is the Boje-ru Pavilion.

The Universal Salavation Pavilion, or the Boje-ru Pavilion (보제루) is the fifth, and final, gate in the set of gates that potentially can be found at a larger sized temple. It’s positioned after the Bulimun Gate, and it usually hides the main temple courtyard that’s situated behind its rather long length.

So what does a Boje-ru Pavilion look like? Why is it located where it is at a temple? And what is the meaning behind it?


 The massive Boje-ru Pavilion at Geumsansa Temple in Gimje, Jeollabuk-do.

In Korean, the word “Boje” means universal salvation. This refers to the casting of a net across the Samgye, which is desire, the realm of form, and the formless realm. This net is cast to rescue all sentient beings. The final character in the name, “ru,” is a Chinese character that means a raised pavilion or building of two or more stories.


 A fine example of the pavilion at Naesosa Temple in Buan, Jeollabuk-do.


 A look under the pavilion at Naesosa Temple with paper wishes hanging from the ceiling.

First, the Boje-ru is a pavilion, unlike the other four structures that potentially welcome you to the temple grounds. It is made up of two stories. The first story serves as a passageway, and final entrance, to the main temple courtyard. Instead of supportive beams, there can be two storage areas to the right and left of the stairway that leads up to the main temple courtyard. On the second floor, there rests an open pavilion. The exterior walls are typically very colourful with winged-shaped roofs.


 The large-sized Boje-ru that welcomes you to Pagyesa Temple in Daegu.


 The corridor and stairs that lead up to Pagyesa Temple.

Some of the meaning behind this temple building rests on the first floor of its design. In older Boje-ru designs, the ceiling can be quite low. This is deliberately done so that visitors to a temple or hermitage have to stoop. This is done as a gesture of humility, as they pass through the pavilion. On the second floor of this structure is where monastic lectures and non-ceremonial dharma assemblies (beophoe) are conducted simply because they are too large to be done inside the main hall. Also, in some smaller sized temples, Buddhist musical instruments can be housed in the second floor pavilion. And some Boje-ru were used as protection against armed forces like the Japanese after the Imjin War (1592-98). A great example of this can be found at Okcheonsa Temple in Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do. Specifically, it was used for military training and guarding the temple buildings from invaders.

Great examples of the Boje-ru, or the Universal Salvation Pavilion, can be found at Donghwasa Temple, Geumsansa Temple, Dasolsa Temple, Pagyesa Temple, Naesosa Temple, and Buseoksa Temple.


 The militarized Boje-ru at Okcheonsa Temple in Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do.


 And a look inside the second floor open pavilion at Okcheonsa Temple.