From the HuffingtonPost:
More than 300 nuns and monks convened in a Seoul temple on Thursday to participate in a prayer competition hosted by the Jogye Order, Korea’s largest Buddhist organization. While most recited traditional prayers, several brave nuns took to the stage with rap and hip hop performances.
A group of three nuns performed a variation on the classic Heart Sutra, beating on traditional drums and rapping their own lyrics: “Great wisdom, perfect wisdom. Buddha’s teachings that show you the way!”
One nun, Hye-Kang, told AFP that the alternative performance was aimed at attracting a more youthful following to Buddhism. “I wanted more young people to take an interest in Buddhism and the message of its prayers,” she said.
A senior member of the Jogye Order and one of the judges of Thursday’s event, Venerable Yin-Mook, agreed with Hye-Kang’s sentiments. “We wanted to let people, especially young people and children, know Yumbul (Buddhist prayers) can be more interesting and easier to practice than they think,” he told AFP.
A prize of three million won, or roughly $2,900, was at stake for Thursday’s competition.
This follows a small but growing trend of Western musical forms comingling with global Buddhism. Usually, however, it has been laypeople taking on Buddhist ideas (and practice) and incorporating them into their work. See, for instance,
- Buddhist Hip Hop, the latest from Born-I (Jan 2014) and,
- Rod Meade Sperry’s interview with RZA on Right Speech and the Heart Sutra (Jan 2010)
- And here is the latest video from Buddhist Hip Hop artist, A Cultivator (posted in February of this year):