Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery

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Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple 45.JPG
The Venerable Hong Choon Memorial Hall of the temple
Monastery information
Full name Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
Order Mahayana
Established 1920
Founder(s) Venerable Zhuan Dao
Abbot Venerable Kwang Sheng
Important associated figures Venerable Hong Choon, Venerable Long Gen, Venerable Yan Pei, Venerable Sui Kim
Location Bishan, Singapore
Public access yes
Other information www.kmspks.org

The Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (also the Bright Hill Pujue Ch'an Monastery) (simplified Chinese: 光明山普觉禅寺; traditional Chinese: 光明山普覺禪寺; pinyin: Guāngmíng Shān Pǔjué Chán Sì; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kong-bîng-san-phóo-kak-sī), is located at 88 Bright Hill Road at Bishan.[1] It is the largest Buddhist temple in Singapore, built by Venerable Zhuan Dao in the early 20th century as a place of practice to propagate the Dharma and to provide lodging for monks, as there were many Buddhist monks who came to Singapore without lodging back then.[2]

Origins in the 20th century[edit]

Between 1920 and 1921, the building of Phor Kark See Monastery built was the first traditional Chinese forest monastery in Singapore, on the a plot of land in Thomson Road donated by a Chinese businessmen Tay Woo Seng in 1921. Since Phor Kark See Monastery is situated at Kong Meng San ("Bright Hill", formerly "Hai Nan Mountain"), it has come to be known as Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. The temple originally comprised a two-storey building, a shrine room, visitors’ room and living quarters. Philanthropists like Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par later contributed to the building of a separate Dharma Hall, which had a height of over fifty feet. The Monastery grew steadily and Dharma propagation began in Singapore. In 1943, Venerable Zhuan Dao died at Putuo Monastery[citation needed] at the age of 72.

In 1947, Venerable Hong Choon became the monastery's abbot. He was responsible for the temple’s administration and served as its representative at social and Buddhist functions. Under his leadership, the monastery’s complex expanded from two shrine halls to include the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas and prayer halls that are as large as ten football fields. He also progressively developed and expanded the monastery with his followers into the largest and most majestic place of practice in Singapore. Venerable Hong Choon also initiated the monthly Great Compassion Prayer and taught the Dharma to benefit many.

In 1980, the temple began to build Evergreen Bright Hill Home, which opened in 1983, with the donation of S$5.3 million from Venerable Hong Choon's followers, He Hui Zhong's family's company.[citation needed] In 1994, the then President of Singapore, Ong Teng Cheong visited the Home and praised its cleanliness, good service and well-equipped facilities.[citation needed]

Venerable Hong Choon passed away on 25 December 1990, and Venerable Yan Pei took up abbotship in 1991, followed by Venerable Long Gen in 1994. The fifth Abbot of the Monastery was Venerable Sui Kim, the abbot of Xing Yuan Temple and Hwa Zhang Temple in the Philippines.[citation needed] On 5 June 2004, Venerable Kwang Sheng became the monastery's present abbot.[2]

Present day[edit]

Celebrations at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See
Traditional ancestral worship at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery

Under Venerable Kwang Sheng's leadership,[3] the Dharma Propagation Division was set up for Singaporeans to learn Buddhism and practice the Dharma in relevant ways. The Youth Ministry KMSPKS Youth, was set up to serve as a platform for Singaporean youths who want to know about Buddhism, learn Buddhism and serve the society via Buddhist teachings.[4]

The modern day monastery premised comprises prayer halls,[5] crematoriums and columbariums, bell and drum towers, and an outdoor statue of Avalokitesvara[6] stands between the Dharma Hall and the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas.[7] The Venerable Hong Choon Memorial Hall of the temple was built in 2004. Another notable feature of the monastery is a Bodhi Tree[8] which had its sapling brought from the sacred Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, which was itself brought as a sapling from the sacred Bodhi Tree of Bodh Gaya, India where Shakyamuni Buddha was said to have attained enlightenment.

There is a large bronze Buddha statue in the Hall of No Form on the top floor which is one of Asia's largest rising to a height of 13.8 metres and weighing 55 tons.[9]

The monastery celebrates Vesak Day annually with a variety of ceremonies such as "Bathing the Buddha", and "Three-Steps-One-Bow".[10]

On 15 January 2002, the temple announced a Compassion Fund to provide financial assistance to retrenched workers with a last drawn pay of up to $2,500, and who do not qualify for other aid schemes.

Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery opened the Buddhist College of Singapore on 13 September 2006. As the country’s first Buddhist college, it offers a four-year bachelor’s degree in Buddhism. Lessons are held on temple grounds until a new $35 million five-storey building is completed.

In October 2007, the temple was one of seven religious groups ordered by the Commissioner of Charities (COC) to open their books to auditors. With an annual income of $14.95 million, it had one of the largest incomes among the charities under the COC’s direct purview. Its main income sources were crematorium and columbarium services, prayer services and donations. The temple was found to have proper systems and procedures in place, which complied with COC regulations[citation needed].

On June 21, 2008, the temple raised over $1 million for the reconstruction of schools devastated in the May 12 Sichuan earthquake, by organising the Great Compassion; Great Aspiration Charity Show[citation needed].

In April 2009, the temple launched ‘Gum’, an English-language magazine, to bridge the gap between their older Hokkien-speaking devotees and English-speaking youth. The magazine title is a transliteration of a Hokkien term which means “to get along”, and symbolises unity within the congregation. The temple partnered Chuan Pictures, a new production house set up in March 2009 by local filmmaker Royston Tan, for a 15-minute Mandarin short film, “Little Note”. It premiered in September 2009 and focuses on a single mother who gives her son inspirational notes. Other productions by the monastery include Popiah and Nian Gao.[2][11][12]

In December 2014, KMSPKS Youth led their first overseas humanitarian mission into Chiang Mai, Thailand.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Page of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery on Google+". Retrieved 2 Dec 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery". Retrieved 2 Dec 2013. 
  3. ^ "Countdown to 2012 at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery". Clumsy Compass: An Arts and Travel Blog. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Kmspks Youth". DHARMA PROPAGATION DIVISION. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "NGHỆ THUẬT KIẾN TRÚC PHẬT GIÁO SINGAPORE". 17 June 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Five Beautiful Buddhist Temples in Singapore". NileGuide.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Cancela, Jorge. "Singapore Life (V). Religions of Singapore". Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Ficus religiosa: The Sacred Fig". photoplusbyritasim. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  9. ^ "Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery". Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Chen, Johnny. "A Bright Hill lit by lanterns". Ghetto Singapore. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8wmAZcNQAA |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (KMSPKS)". Retrieved 2 Dec 2013. 

Coordinates: 1°21′41″N 103°50′10″E / 1.3614°N 103.8360°E / 1.3614; 103.8360