Từ Đàm Pagoda

Từ Đàm Temple (Chùa Từ Đàm) is a Buddhist temple located on a street of the same name in the Trường An District of Huế.[1]

Tu Dam Pagoda
Từ Đàm pagoda

History

The temple was built and opened under the direction of Zen master Thích Minh Hoằng, who was the 34th in the lineage of the Lâm Tế Zen lineage. The temple was built in the late 17th century under the rule of Emperor Lê Hy Tông, on Long Sơn hill. However, the area was then under the rule of the Nguyễn lords, who nominally declared their allegiance to the Lê Dynasty but in reality ran their own independent state, under Nguyễn Phúc Chu.[1] At the time, the temple was also known as the Ấn Tôn Temple.[2] In 1703, the ruling Nguyễn Lord, Nguyễn Phúc Chu gave the title "Sắc Tứ Ấn Tôn Tự". In 1841, Vietnam had been unified in its modern state by the Nguyễn Dynasty and Emperor Thiệu Trị ordered that the temple be renamed so that it did not conflict with his name.[1] The temple was one of the three national pagodas in Huế during the Nguyễn Dynasty era.[2]

Over the last 150 years, the temple has been one of the main spiritual facilities of Huế and the surrounding central region of Vietnam. Over the years, the temple has been renovated and expanded many times, under the direction of Thích Thiệt Vinh, Thích Minh Hoằng and Thích Đạo Trung. Under Thích Từ Vân, two major bells were cast and installed. In 1932, a nun, Thích Diệu Không, created a monastery for nuns. For a period the Association of Buddhist Studies of central Vietnam was based at the temple, during which time the main ceremonial hall was rebuilt.[2] In 1939, Suzanne Karpelès, Secretary General of the Buddhist Studies Association of Phnom Penh in Cambodia, arranged for a bodhi tree offshoot to be taken from the original bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya under which Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment, to be brought to the Từ Đàm pagoda. It was planted in the front yard of the temple, where it was grown up and become a permanent fixture.[1]

Tu Dam Pagoda 1
Gates of Từ Đàm pagoda

In 1951, the temple was the venue for a meeting of 51 notable Buddhist monks from across Vietnam,[1] representing six different groups,[3] to create a unified nationwide Buddhist organisation for all of Vietnam. At this meeting Thích Tịnh Khiết was chosen to be the head of Buddhism in Vietnam. It was during this meeting that the internationally designed Buddhist flag was first flown on the grounds of the pagoda.[1] As Decree No. 10 by Bảo Đại prohibited the use of the name "church" by any other religion aside from the Catholic Church, the body called itself the General Association of Buddhists.[3] In 1961, the administration of the temple along with the Association for Buddhist Studies organised for the construction of the a variety of buildings to increase the amount of activities that were able to be hosted by the temple.[1]

Buddhist crisis and pagoda raids

South Vietnam's Buddhist majority had long been discontented with the rule of President Ngô Đình Diệm since his rise to power in 1955. Diệm had shown strong favouritism towards Catholics and discrimination against Buddhists in the army, public service and distribution of government aid. In the countryside, Catholics were de facto exempt from performing corvée labour and in some rural areas, Catholic priests led private armies against Buddhist villages. Discontent with Diệm exploded into mass protest in Huế during the summer of 1963 when nine Buddhists died at the hand of Diệm's army and police on Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha.

In May 1963, a law against the flying of religious flags was selectively invoked; the Buddhist flag was banned from display on Vesak while the Vatican flag was displayed to celebrate the anniversary of the consecration of Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục, Diệm's elder brother.

Buddhists defied the ban and a protest that began with a march starting from Từ Đàm to the government broadcasting station was ended when government forces opened fire. As a result, Buddhist protests were held across the country and steadily grew in size, asking for the signing of a Joint Communique to end religious inequality. Từ Đàm pagoda was a major organising point for the Buddhist movement and was often the location of hunger strikes, barricades and protests.[4][5] This was because Thích Trí Quang, the abbot of Từ Đàm, was the main figure in the Buddhist movement,[6] and at the time he was the head of the GAB in central Vietnam.[7]

Self-immolations were used as a form of protest, an on 16 August, one such occurrence occurred at Từ Đàm when an elderly nun set herself alight.[8] As the tension increased and opposition to Diệm increased, the key turning point came shortly after midnight on 21 August, when Ngô Đình Nhu's Special Forces raided and vandalised Buddhist pagodas and temples across the country, rounding up thousands of monks and leaving hundreds dead.[9]

Across the town of Huế, the approach of government forces were met by the beating of Buddhist drums and cymbals to alert the populace. The townsfolk left their homes in the middle of the night in an attempt to defend the city's pagodas. At Từ Đàm, monks attempted to burn the coffin of a monk who had self-immolated during previous protests. Government soldiers, firing M1 rifles, overran the pagoda and confiscated the coffin. They also demolished a statue of Gautama Buddha and looted and vandalized the pagoda.[10] An explosion was set off by the troops, which leveled much of the pagoda. Many Buddhists were shot or clubbed to death.[9]

Later years

During 1968, the pagoda was heavily damaged during the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War, some of which still remains unrepaired. In 1966, a bronze statue of the Gautama Buddha was cast to replace the one destroyed during the pagoda attacks of Diệm's regime.[1][2] The pagoda is still inhabited by monks, and is the provincial headquarters of the Buddhist Association.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Võ Văn Tường. "Các chùa miền Trung". Buddhism Today (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 2008-02-06.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ray, Nick (2005). Vietnam. Lonely Planet. p. 207. ISBN 1-74059-677-3.
  3. ^ a b Dommen, p. 192.
  4. ^ Jones, pp. 142-43.
  5. ^ Jacobs, pp. 247-50.
  6. ^ Dommen, p. 508.
  7. ^ Dommen, p. 511.
  8. ^ Winters, p. 52.
  9. ^ a b Jacobs, pp. 152-53
  10. ^ "The Crackdown". Time. 30 August 1963. Retrieved 2007-08-18.

Sources

  • Jacobs, Seth (2006). Cold War Mandarin: Ngo Dinh Diem and the Origins of America's War in Vietnam, 1950-63. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-4447-8.
  • Jones, Howard (2003). Death of a Generation. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505286-2.
  • Từ Đàm Pagoda infosite
Battle of Huế

The Battle of Huế – also called the Siege of Huế – was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. Between 30 January and 3 March 1968, in the South Vietnamese city of Huế, 11 battalions of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), four U.S. Army battalions, and three U.S. Marine Corps battalions – totaling 18 battalions – defeated 10 battalions of the People's Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong (VC).

By the beginning of the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive on January 30, 1968 – coinciding with the Vietnamese lunar New Year (Vietnamese: Tết Nguyên Đán) – large, conventional, U.S. forces had been committed to combat operations on Vietnamese soil for almost three years.

Highway 1, passing through the city of Huế, was an important supply line for ARVN, US, and Allied Forces from the coastal city of Da Nang to the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). It also provided access to the Perfume River (Vietnamese: Sông Hương or Hương Giang) at the point where the river ran through Huế, dividing the city into northern and southern parts. Huế was also a base for United States Navy supply boats.

Considering its logistical value and its proximity to the DMZ (only 50 kilometres (31 mi)), Huế should have been well-defended, fortified, and prepared for any communist attack. However, the city had few fortifications and was poorly defended.

While the ARVN 1st Division had cancelled all Tet leave and was attempting to recall its troops, the South Vietnamese and U.S. forces in the city were unprepared when the Viet Cong and the PAVN launched the Tet Offensive, attacking hundreds of military targets and population centers across the country, including Huế.The PAVN/Vietcong forces rapidly occupied most of the city. Over the next month, they were gradually driven out during intense house-to-house fighting led by the Marines and ARVN. In the end, although the Allies declared a military victory, the city of Huế was virtually destroyed, and more than 5,000 civilians were killed (2,800 of them executed by the PAVN and Viet Cong, according to the South Vietnamese government). The communist forces lost an estimated 2,400 to 8,000 killed, while Allied forces lost 668 dead and 3,707 wounded. The losses negatively affected the American public's perception of the war, and political support for the war began to wane.

Buddhist temples in Huế

Buddhist temples in Huế have long been an important part of the city's consciousness. The city was founded during the Nam tiến southward expansion of Vietnam in the 16th century and Buddhism was introduced to the lands of the former territory of Champa, which was Hindu. The ruling Nguyễn lords were noted for their patronization of Buddhist temples in the city, something that continued during the Nguyễn Dynasty that unified modern Vietnam. Huế was long regarded as a centre of Buddhist scholarship and consciousness in Vietnam, and in 1963, the temples of the city were at the centre of international attention when they were at the heart of the beginning of the Buddhist crisis, a series of protests against President Ngô Đình Diệm's religious discrimination. The temples were the base of Buddhist protests and government attacks, the result of which was a political crisis that precipitated a military coup that saw the deposal of Diem.

Diệu Đế Pagoda

Diệu Đế Pagoda (Vietnamese: Chùa Diệu Đế) is a Buddhist temple in the central city of Huế in Vietnam. It is named for the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, which are called Tứ Diệu Đế in Vietnamese. During the 19th century Nguyễn dynasty, Emperor Thiệu Trị declared it to be one of the national pagodas of Vietnam. Outside of Vietnam, the temple is best known as a site of activism during the 1960s, as well as against the Vietnam War. On the night of 21 August 1963, it was the site of a bloody battle between the government forces of President Ngô Đình Diệm and rioting pro-Buddhist civilians who were attempting to stop the troops from raiding the pagoda to arrest dissident monks who were calling for religious equality during the Buddhist crisis.

Huế Phật Đản shootings

The Huế Phật Đản shootings were the deaths of nine unarmed Buddhist civilians on 8 May 1963 in the city of Huế, South Vietnam at the hands of the army and security forces of the Roman Catholic government of Ngô Đình Diệm. The army and police fired guns and launched grenades into a crowd of Buddhists who had been protesting against a government ban on flying the Buddhist flag on the day of Phật Đản, which commemorates the birth of Gautama Buddha. Diệm denied governmental responsibility for the incident and blamed the Việt Cộng, which added to discontent among the Buddhist majority.

The incident spurred a protest movement by Buddhists against the religious discrimination which they felt was perpetrated by the Diệm regime, known as the Buddhist crisis, and this led to widespread civil disobedience among the South Vietnamese. Generals from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam conducted a coup on 1 November 1963, after six months of tension and growing opposition to the regime; this led to the arrest and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm on 2 November 1963.

Huế chemical attacks

The Huế chemical attacks occurred on 3 June 1963, when soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) poured liquid chemicals from tear gas grenades onto the heads of praying Buddhists in Huế, South Vietnam. The Buddhists were protesting against religious discrimination by the regime of the Roman Catholic President Ngô Đình Diệm. The attacks caused 67 people to be hospitalised for blistering of the skin and respiratory ailments.

The protests were part of the Buddhist crisis, during which the Buddhist majority in South Vietnam campaigned for religious equality after nine people were killed by government forces while defying a ban that prevented them from flying the Buddhist flag on Vesak. The incident prompted the United States to privately threaten to withdraw support for Diệm's government and when the Americans finally reduced aid a few months later, the army took it as a green light for a coup. An inquiry determined that the chemical used in the attack was a liquid component from old French tear gas grenades that had never functioned properly. The findings exonerated the ARVN soldiers from charges that they had used poison or mustard gas. The outcry over the attack had already forced Diệm to appoint a panel of three cabinet ministers to meet with Buddhist leaders for negotiations regarding religious equality. The talks led to the signing of the Joint Communique, but the policy changes it provided were not implemented and widespread protests continued, leading to the assassination of Diệm in a military coup.

Joint Communiqué

The Joint Communiqué was an agreement signed on 16 June 1963 between the South Vietnamese government of Ngô Đình Diệm and the Buddhist leadership during the "Buddhist crisis".

List of Buddhist temples

This is a list of Buddhist temples, monasteries, stupas, and pagodas for which there are Wikipedia articles, sorted by location.

List of political self-immolations

This is a list of notable self-immolations done for political reasons. Non-political self-immolations are not included in the list. Self-immolation has become an increasingly used protest tactic among Tibetans protesting rule of Tibet by China,Arabs against various Arab governments, and the indigenous Tatars of Crimea.

Madame Nhu

Trần Lệ Xuân (22 August 1924 – 24 April 2011), more popularly known in English as Madame Nhu, was the de facto First Lady of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1963. She was the wife of Ngô Đình Nhu, who was the brother and chief-advisor to President Ngô Đình Diệm. As Diệm was a lifelong bachelor and because she and her family lived in Independence Palace together with him, she was considered to be the first lady.

Known for her harsh and incendiary comments that denounced anti-government protests by some Buddhist sects and the strong U.S. influence and presence in the country, she had to live in exile in France after her husband and her brother-in-law, Diệm, had been assassinated in 1963.

Ngo Dinh Diem

Ngô Đình Diệm (; Vietnamese: [ŋō ɗìn jîəmˀ] (listen); 3 January 1901 – 2 November 1963) was a Vietnamese politician. He was the final prime minister of the State of Vietnam (1954–55), and then served as President of South Vietnam from 1955 until he was deposed and killed during the 1963 military coup.

Diệm was born into a prominent Catholic family, the son of a high-ranking civil servant, Ngô Đình Khả. He was educated at French-speaking schools and considered following his brother Ngô Đình Thục into the priesthood, but eventually chose to pursue a civil-service career. He progressed rapidly in the court of Emperor Bảo Đại, becoming governor of Bình Thuận Province in 1929 and interior minister in 1933. However, he resigned the latter position after three months and publicly denounced the emperor as a tool of the French. Diệm came to support Vietnamese nationalism, promoting an anti-communist and anti-colonialist "third way" opposed to both Bảo Đại and communist leader Hồ Chí Minh. He established the Can Lao Party to support his political doctrine of Person Dignity Theory.

After several years in exile, Diệm returned home in July 1954 and was appointed prime minister by Bảo Đại, the head of the Western-backed State of Vietnam. The Geneva Accords were signed soon after he took office, formally partitioning Vietnam along the 17th parallel. Diệm soon consolidated power in South Vietnam, aided by his brother Ngô Đình Nhu. After a rigged referendum in 1955, he proclaimed the creation of the Republic of Vietnam, with himself as president. His government was supported by other anti-communist countries, most notably the United States. Diệm pursued a series of nation-building schemes, emphasising industrial and rural development. From 1957, he was faced with a communist insurgency backed by North Vietnam, eventually formally organized under the banner of the Việt Cộng. He was subject to a number of assassination and coup attempts, and in 1962 established the Strategic Hamlet Program as the cornerstone of his counterinsurgency effort.

Diệm's favoritism towards Catholics and persecution of South Vietnam's Buddhist majority led to the "Buddhist crisis" of 1963. The violence damaged relations with the United States and other previously sympathetic countries, and his regime lost favour with the leadership of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. On 1 November 1963, the country's leading generals launched a coup d'état with assistance from the CIA. He and his younger brother Nhu initially escaped, but were recaptured the following day and murdered on the orders of Dương Văn Minh, who succeeded him as president. Diệm has been a controversial historical figure in historiography on the Vietnam War. Some historians have considered him a tool of the United States, while others portrayed him as an avatar of Vietnamese tradition. Some recent studies have portrayed Diệm from a more Vietnamese-centred perspective as a competent leader focused on nation building and the modernisation of South Vietnam.

Ngô Đình Nhu

Ngô Đình Nhu (listen; 7 October 1910 – 2 November 1963) was a Vietnamese archivist and politician. He was the younger brother and chief political advisor of South Vietnam's first president, Ngô Đình Diệm. Although he held no formal executive position, he wielded immense unofficial power, exercising personal command of both the ARVN Special Forces (a paramilitary unit which served as the Ngô family's de facto private army) and the Cần Lao political apparatus (also known as the Personalist Labor Party) which served as the regime's de facto secret police.In his early age, Nhu was a quiet and bookish individual who showed little inclination towards the political path taken by his elder brothers. While training as an archivist in France, Nhu adopted the Roman Catholic ideology of personalism, although critics claimed that he misused that philosophy. Upon returning to Vietnam, he helped his brother in his quest for political power, and Nhu proved an astute and ruthless tactician and strategist, helping Diệm to gain more leverage and outwit rivals. During this time, he formed and handpicked the members of the secret Cần Lao Party, which swore its personal allegiance to the Ngô family, provided their power base and eventually became their secret police force. Nhu remained as its head until his own assassination.In 1955, Nhu's supporters helped intimidate the public and rig the 1955 State of Vietnam referendum that ensconced his elder brother, Diệm, in power. Nhu used the Cần Lao, which he organised into cells, to infiltrate every part of society to root out opposition to the Ngô family. In 1959, he organized a failed assassination attempt via mail bomb on Prince Sihanouk, the prime minister of neighbouring Cambodia, with whom relations had become strained. Nhu publicly extolled his own intellectual abilities. He was known for making such public statements as promising to demolish the Xá Lợi Pagoda and vowing to kill his estranged father-in-law, Trần Văn Chương, who was the regime's ambassador to the United States, after the elder man condemned the Ngô family's behavior and disowned his daughter, Nhu's wife, Madame Nhu.In 1963, the Ngô family's grip on power became unstuck during the Buddhist crisis, during which the nation's Buddhist majority rose up against the pro-Catholic regime. Nhu tried to break the Buddhists' opposition by using the Special Forces in raids on prominent Buddhist temples that left hundreds dead, and framing the regular army for it. However, Nhu's plan was uncovered, which intensified plots by military officers, encouraged by the Americans, who turned against the Ngô family after the pagoda attacks. Nhu was aware of the plots, but remained confident he could outmaneuver them, and began to plot a counter-coup, as well as the assassinations of US Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and other American and opposition figures. Nhu was fooled by the loyalist General Tôn Thất Đính, who had turned against the Ngô family. On 1 November 1963, the coup proceeded, and the Ngô brothers (Nhu and Diệm) were detained and assassinated the next day.

Pagoda of the Celestial Lady

The Pagoda of the Celestial Lady (Vietnamese: Chùa Thiên Mụ; also called Linh Mụ Pagoda) is a historic temple in the city of Huế in Vietnam. Its iconic seven-story pagoda is regarded as the unofficial symbol of the city, and the temple has often been the subject of folk rhymes and ca dao about Huế.The pagoda sits on the Hà Khê hill, in the ward of Hương Long in Huế. It is around 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the Citadel of Huế constructed by the Nguyễn Dynasty and sits on the northern bank of the Perfume River.

Xá Lợi Pagoda raids

The Xá Lợi Pagoda raids were a series of synchronized attacks on various Buddhist pagodas in the major cities of South Vietnam shortly after midnight on 21 August 1963. The raids were executed by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces under Colonel Lê Quang Tung, and combat police, both of which took their orders directly from Ngô Đình Nhu, younger brother of the Roman Catholic President Ngô Đình Diệm. Xá Lợi Pagoda, the largest pagoda in the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, was the most prominent of the raided temples. Over 1,400 Buddhists were arrested, and estimates of the death toll and missing ranged up to the hundreds. In response to the Huế Vesak shootings and a ban on the Buddhist flag in early May, South Vietnam's Buddhist majority rose in widespread civil disobedience and protest against the religious bias and discrimination of the Catholic-dominated Diệm government. Buddhist temples in major cities, most prominently the Xá Lợi pagoda, became focal points for protesters and assembly points for Buddhist monks from rural areas.

In August, several Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) generals proposed the imposition of martial law, ostensibly to break up the demonstrations, but in reality to prepare for a military coup. However, Nhu, already looking to arrest Buddhist leaders and crush the protest movement, used the opportunity to preempt the generals and embarrass them. He disguised Tung's Special Forces in army uniforms and used them to attack the Buddhists, thereby causing the general public and South Vietnam's U.S. allies to blame the army, diminishing the generals' reputations and ability to act as future national leaders.

Soon after midnight on 21 August, Nhu's men attacked the pagodas using automatic firearms, grenades, battering rams and explosives, causing widespread damage. Some religious objects were destroyed, including a statue of Gautama Buddha in the Từ Đàm Pagoda in Huế, which was partially leveled by explosives. Temples were looted and vandalized, with the remains of venerated monks confiscated. In Huế, violent street battles erupted between government forces and rioting pro-Buddhist, anti-government civilians.

Initially, the Ngô family claimed that the army had carried out the raids, something their U.S. allies initially believed. However, this was later debunked, and the incident prompted the United States to turn against the regime and begin exploring alternative leadership options, eventually leading to Diệm's overthrow in a coup. In South Vietnam itself, the raids stoked widespread anger. Several high-ranking public servants resigned, and university and high school students boycotted classes and staged riotous demonstrations, resulting in further mass incarcerations. As most of the students were from middle-class public service and military families, the arrests caused further upset among the Ngô family's power base.

Đỗ Cao Trí

Lieutenant General Đỗ Cao Trí (20 November 1929 – 23 February 1971) was a general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) known for his fighting prowess and flamboyant style. Trí started out in the French Army before transferring to the Vietnamese National Army and the ARVN. Under President Ngô Đình Diệm, Trí was the commander of I Corps where he was noted for harsh crackdowns on Buddhist civil rights demonstrations against the Diệm government. Trí later participated in the November 1963 coup which resulted in the assassination of Diệm on 2 November 1963.

Years later, Trí was exiled by Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, the most powerful member of the junta, but when Nguyễn Văn Thiệu came to power, he was called back to command III Corps. He led III Corps during the 1970 Cambodian Campaign, earning the laudatory sobriquet as "the Patton of the Parrot's Beak". In 1971, Trí was ordered north to take command of I Corps in Operation Lam Son 719, an incursion into Laos, which had gone astray. He was killed, aged 41, in a helicopter accident before being able to take control.

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