Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery

The Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (also the Bright Hill Pujue Chan 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 a Buddhist temple and monastery in Bishan, Singapore.[1] Built by Zhuan Dao in the early 20th century to propagate Buddhism and to provide lodging for monks, this monastery is the largest Buddhist temple in Singapore.[2] It is the parent organization of the Buddhist College of Singapore founded in 2006.

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 nameKong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
Founder(s)Zhuan Dao
AbbotKwang Sheng
Important associated figuresHong Choon, Long Gen, Yan Pei, Sui Kim
LocationBishan, Singapore
Coordinates1°21′41.04″N 103°50′9.6″E / 1.3614000°N 103.836000°E / 1.3614000; 103.836000Coordinates: 1°21′41.04″N 103°50′9.6″E / 1.3614000°N 103.836000°E / 1.3614000; 103.836000
Public accessyes


Between 1920 and 1921, the Phor Kark See Monastery was built on the a plot of land in Thomson Road donated by Tay Woo Seng, a Chinese businessmen. It was the first traditional Chinese forest monastery to be built in Singapore. 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 original temple consisted of a two-storey building, a shrine room, a visitors' room and living quarters. The Monastery expanded steadily over time as philanthropists like Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par donated funds to the monastery for its expansion.

In 1947, Hong Choon became the monastery's abbot. 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.[citation needed] He also progressively developed and expanded the monastery with his followers into the largest and most majestic place of practice in Singapore.[citation needed]

In 1980, the temple began to build Evergreen Bright Hill Home, which opened in 1983,[3] with the donation of S$5.3 million from Hong Choon's followers, He Hui Zhong's family's company.[citation needed]

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.

On 5 June 2004, Kwang Sheng became the monastery's present abbot.[2] Under Kwang Sheng's leadership,[4] 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.[5]

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 were held on temple grounds until a new $35 million five-storey building is completed.

In May 2007, Kwang Sheng released a musical album titled Buddha Smiles.[6] In the same year in October 2007, the temple was one of seven religious groups ordered by the Commissioner of Charities (COC) to open their books to auditors.[7] 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. Between November 2007 till June 2008, the monastery also reportedly gave free meals to about 200 daily,[8] clarifying their prayer and meditation practices instead of relying on probable means of incomes such as exorcism.[9]

On 21 June 2008, the temple raised over $1 million for the reconstruction of schools devastated in the 12 May 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.[2][10][11]

Present dayEdit


Celebrations Lukas at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See

The modern day monastery premises consist of stupas,[12] prayer halls,[13] crematorium and columbarium[14] which houses over 200,000 niches,[15] bell and drum towers, and an outdoor statue of Avalokitesvara[16] stands between the Dharma Hall and the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas.[17] The Hong Choon Memorial Hall of the temple was built in 2004. Another notable feature of the monastery is a Bodhi Tree[18] 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.

The large bronze Buddha statue located in the temple's Hall of No Form is one of Asia's largest Buddha statue, with a height of 13.8 metres and weighing 55 tons.[19] Apart from a $12 million four-storey carpark with about 200 spaces that was added in 2014, a six-storey $35 million Buddhist college for monks is also nearing completion in 2015.[20]

Practices, charities and eventsEdit

The monastery celebrates Vesak Day annually[21] with a variety of ceremonies such as "Bathing the Buddha", and "Three-Steps-One-Bow".[22] Other major events include the Qingming Festival.[23] As the East Asian traditional practice of burning incense and joss materials remain despite repeated pleas and discouragement, costlier alternatives appeared which include the installation of a new four-storey, $1 million eco-friendly burner in 2014.[20]

In 2014, the Buddhist College of Singapore operated by the monastery announced intentions of accepting female monastics, with the new nunnery campus housed at Poh Ern Shih Temple, taking in 45 students every two years.[24] The same year in December, KMSPKS Youth led their first overseas humanitarian mission into Chiang Mai, Thailand.

When Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died in 2015,[25] the monastery also conducted the primary Buddhist prayer service on 26 March 2015 in conjunction with the Singapore Buddhist Federation,[26][27] 3000 turned up.[28]


Recent media productions by the monastery include Popiah[29] and Nian Gao.[30]

Notable cremations that also took place recently at the monastery crematorium include political prisoner Lim Hock Siew, veteran actor Huang Wenyong[31] and business mogul Ng Bok Eng.[32]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "About Page of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery on Google+". Archived from the original on 10 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery". Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  3. ^ "BRIGHT HILL EVERGREEN HOME". OCTANE AW. Archived from the original on 12 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Countdown to 2012 at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery". Clumsy Compass: An Arts and Travel Blog. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Kmspks Youth". DHARMA PROPAGATION DIVISION. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  6. ^ "An album with a difference: Pop goes Zen". Today. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  7. ^ Arshad, Arlina. "5 religious groups got $130m last year". Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Singapore's poor turn to temples to fill bellies". Reuters. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Different religions take various approaches to exorcism". AsiaOne. 1 November 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  10. ^ "No regrets for Royston Tan". The New Paper. 19 September 2009. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (KMSPKS)". Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  12. ^ Cheah, Seng Kee. "Bright Hill Temple stupa in the 1960s : general view [1]". National Library Board. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  13. ^ "NGHỆ THUẬT KIẾN TRÚC PHẬT GIÁO SINGAPORE". 17 June 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ Heng, Linette. "Columbarium gives women's ashes to wrong family". Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  15. ^ "EACH URN HAS UNIQUE NUMBER". The New Paper. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Five Beautiful Buddhist Temples in Singapore". NileGuide.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  17. ^ Cancela, Jorge. "Singapore Life (V). Religions of Singapore". Retrieved 22 December 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ "Ficus religiosa: The Sacred Fig". photoplusbyritasim. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  19. ^ "Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery". Retrieved 22 December 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ a b Zaccheus, Melody (14 April 2014). "Eco-friendly burner friendly to temple's neighbours, too". The Straits Times. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  21. ^ Tham, Colin (7 May 2014). "Kong Meng San Phor Kark See lights up for Vesak Day". The New Paper. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  22. ^ Chen, Johnny. "A Bright Hill lit by lanterns". Ghetto Singapore. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  23. ^ Zaccheus, Melody (1 April 2013). "Clearer skies, roads for temple's neighbours". The Straits Times. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Buddhist college to admit nuns for the first time". Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  25. ^ "Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Mourning period". 24 March 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  26. ^ "Memorial Service: Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew". Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  27. ^ "Memorial Prayer Service – Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew". Ramblings of a Monk. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  28. ^ Neo, Isaac. "Over 3,000 turn up at memorial service by Buddhist group". Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  29. ^ "Royston Tan – Popiah". Retrieved 8 January 2015 – via YouTube.
  30. ^ "年糕". Retrieved 22 December 2014 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ Tay, Mervin (26 April 2013). "More tributes expected for Huang Wenyong". The New Paper. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  32. ^ Tan, Judith (13 December 2008). "'King of cloves' Ng Bok Eng dies at 92". The Straits Times. Retrieved 8 January 2015.

External linksEdit