본고에서는 한국불교사에 나타난 호국의 사례와 호국불교 인식을 신 라, 고려와 조선전기, 조선후기로 나누어 살펴보고, 각각의 특성을 시대 성의 발현이라는 관점에서 고찰해 보았다. 먼저 신라의 호국사례는 고대 적 호국신앙의 발양이라는 측면에서 불국토와 호국사찰, 호국법회와 의 례, 호국신앙으로 유형화하여 해당 사료를 검토하였다. 다음 고려는 불교 국가로서의 특성을 전제로 승려의 전쟁 참여, 불교의례의 국가적 설행, 호국신앙과 불교의 습합, 국난 극복을 위한 기원과 대장경 조성에 대해 살펴보았다. 조선전기의 경우에는 불교를 비롯한 전통적 호국신앙 및 관 념의 지속과 변화를 사례를 들어 설명하였다. 조선후기는 임진왜란의 승 군 활동을 중점적으로 다루었는데, 유교사회의 시대성에 부합하는 충의 의 실천을 통해 불교가 존립할 수 있었음을 살펴보았다. 호국불교라는 개념은 식민지 전시체제, 해방 후 국가민족주의의 고양이라는 근현대의 상황 속에서 대두한 것이지만, 한국불교사의 전개과정에서 호국불교의 전통은 오랜 기간 지속되어 왔다. 다만 각각의 시대적 함의와 특징이 다르므로 시대성에 입각한 차별화된 이해가 필요하다.
Examined in this article, are cases in which Buddhist people or values played a pivotal role in the security of the country, or in which Buddhism was deemed crucial in protecting or saving it. Also examined are the people's views of the “Buddhist role” in the issue of defending the country, which slightly differed from time period to time period, as from Shilla to Goryeo, or from the early half of the Joseon period to the latter. All their unique characteristics seem to have been reflecting the aspects of all the respective time periods. First, regarding the Shilla dynasty period, in which an ancient form of a religious philosophy (with Buddhist colors and tone) to 'save-the-country' emerged for the first time, relevant sources are examined to reveal three important aspects: A) The "Buddhist Land" concept and all the Buddhist temples which were designated as crucial monasteries for their roles in saving the country, B) Buddhist Ceremonial gatherings and ritual codes related to the Saving-the-Country philosophy, and no other than C) the Saving-the-Country religion. Next, regarding the period of Goryeo, which was a Buddhist country, many aspects including the Buddhist monks' participation in the war efforts, the dynastic Buddhist rituals and events that were overseen by the state and the government, the merging of Buddhism and the Save-the-Country religion, and the people's hope for overcoming dynastic crises through the creation of Grand Collections of Buddhist Sutras, are all examined. Then regarding the early half of the Joseon dynasty, examined are both the continuation as well as changes that happened to not only Buddhist traditions but also ‘Saving-the-country’ sentiments, while the Buddhist army members' fight against the Japanese troops during the war in the 1590s is examined for the Joseon's latter half. It seems that Buddhism was able to survive the Joseon period by prioritizing the values of the era, which were loyalty and justice. The concept of “Guarding-the-Country Buddhism” was created during the modern period, in the wartime mobilization phase of the Japanese occupation period, and also during the promotion of state-generated Nationalism throughout the country after the liberation in 1945. Yet the Buddhist tradition of contributing to the safety and welfare of the society had always been an important part of the Korean Buddhist history. Surely, the actual meaning and characteristics they had changed by the passage of time, so an appropriate understanding of Buddhism and the part it played in service of the country, would only be possible by taking that point into account.