Hoa Cao


Cao Dai (pronounced "Cow Die") began in 1919 as an indigenous Vietnamese religion composed of "spiritism" or "spirit mediums" và a "ouija-board" type device called corbeille a bec (beaked-bag). It sought to size a synthesis of the fundamental doctrines of Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity and a Roman Catholic type church organization. It was formed in an attempt khổng lồ create a universally acceptable religion in an area of the world where there is an intermingling of many religious beliefs often found in the same individual. A corollary goal was the promotion of harmonious human relationships by means of a comtháng spiritual life devoid of any religious discrimination. Some Vietnamese religious leaders, who are not adherents of this faith, điện thoại tư vấn it a "salad-religion" because of the bits of many religions which are blended together in it.

The Cao Dai have sầu 1 or 2 million followers, mostly on in southern và central Vietnam giới. It is the older of the two large indigenous religions of Vietnam. Hoa Hao, a self-styled reformed Buddhist sect is the other. Cao Dai is strongest in the Mekong Delta, Tay Ninc province, the Cambodian border region & Saigon itself. Incorporating elements of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism and Spiritualism, the Cao Dai pantheon includes Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Joan of Arc, Sun Yat Sen, Victor Hugo và Jean Jaurès aao ước others. Their clergy are modelled on the Roman Catholic hierachy, headed by a "pope" (Giao-Tong) và with a "Holy See" in Tay Ninc.

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The appeal which has made the Cao Dai faith so successful in South Vietphái mạnh may be traced lớn several factors: (a) pride in the fact that this is an indigenous religious faith; (b) the appeal of pomp, pageantry và ceremonies of the temple rituals; (c) the content of Cao Daism, which includes features and elements of the several religions of South Vietnam; (d) the clayên of communication with the "world beyond" in a basically animistic culture; (e) the active missionary spirit & the sacrificial attitude which is encouraged; and (f) its organizational structure which provides methods, plans and techniques for a semi-unified working faith with some area in which every adherent may participate or make a contribution. ++

History of Cao Daism

Revathi Murugappan wrote in his blog: Cao Daism was founded by one Ngo Van Chieu, a civil servant who read widely on eastern & western religions, và became active sầu in séances. Apparently, he was contacted by a spirit called Cao Dai (high tower or position) who handed down a symbol — the all-seeing eye. The all-seeing eye is the symbol of Caodaism and is placed on all the windows of the temple. It told Ngo that it had propagated a belief structure appropriate to lớn the varying world cultures, but was disenchanted by the intolerance and hatred between followers of the different creeds. The spirit attempted to fuse all the religions known to Vietnam during that period hence, Cao Daism is an amalgamation of three main religions — Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism — and a dash of Christianity và Vietnamese spiritualism.

The Cao Dao spirit t proposed lớn dispense with living envoys và see itself as the “Third Alliance between God & Man” — through intermediaries such as Chinese revolutionary leader Dr Sun Yat Sen, Vietnamese poet Nguyen Binch Khiem, Joan of Arc, William Shakespeare and French author Victor Hugo. The wroter

Caodaism was officially recognised as a religion by the French in 1926 và by 1930, there were over half a million converts. It selected its first “Pope” in 1926 but since his demise in 1933, the position has been left vacant. Građam mê Greene was briefly a thành viên. See Below.

Today many Western tourists visit the Cao Dai Temple in combination with a trip to lớn the Chu Chu tunnels. Murugappan said his guide joked: “We have more than three million Cao Dai followers and you will notice that they look no different from you and me. If you’re not in the bus by 2pm, I will assume that you have chosen lớn become a follower. I respect your decision and would be more than happy khổng lồ leave sầu you here.”

“At one point, Caodaism was a powerful religion & devotees owned a lot of lvà & property. They even had a private army, which combined forces with the Viet Minch và helped fight the French. Eventually, they refused lớn support the Viet Cong (that fought the United States & South Vietnamese governments) during the American (Vietnam) War. “After the Communists won, the Cao Dai leaders were captured & the structure collapsed. It was revived about trăng tròn years ago,” the guide said.

Cao Dai Beliefs

The Cao Dai believe there have been three major revelations of divinity to mankind. The First Revelation was given lớn several "missionary saints": Nhiem-dang Co-Phat for Buddhism, Thai Thuong Lao Quan for Taoism, the Emperor Phuc-Hy for Ancestor Worship, and Moses for Judeo-Christian religious concepts. The Second Revelation came later during the period of 500 B. C. to lớn after 600 A.D.--through Lao Tse for Taoism, Confucius for Confucianism, Ca Kyamuni for Buddhism, Jesus Christ for Christianity, and the Prophet Mohammed for Islam. The crowning or Third Revelation of God, according to lớn all Cao Daists, was given on Phu Quoc Islvà, South Vietnam giới, in 1919. The official title Cao Dai translated inkhổng lồ English is doctrine of the Third Revelation. This Revelation was given by God lớn Ngo Van Chieu, the first Cao Dai apostle. The Third Revelation is updated from time to lớn time through the spiritual mediums who utilize the corbeille a bec which spells out current revelations by pointing at letters of the alphabet lying on a board, as some in the Western world use the ouija-board. According to the Cao Dai, God first revealed himself in human khung because the human spirit was not yet sufficiently advanced to receive sầu God"s teachings directly. At the present time, however, it is believed possible for divine messages to be given directly through spiritual mediums và the corbeille a bec.

Major Doctrines of the Cao Dai: The major doctrines of beliefs of the Cao Dai are: 1) That Cao Daism is the Third Revelation of Divinity lớn allow general redemption to lớn all men &, as such, supercedes or corrects misunderstandings of previous teachings. 2) Cao Daism worships the Absolute Supreme God who is eternal without beginning or end, and who is the Creator of all, Supreme Father of all, & chất lượng Master who created and creates all angels, buddhas và saints. ++

3) Cao Daists believe in the existence of three distinct categories of invisible beings. These are: A) the highest deities composed of buddhas, saints, và angels; B) the medium beings which include sanctified spirits & the great benefactors of mankind; C) the lower beings which include both phantoms và devils. This belief includes the concept that all three orders must pass through human existence in order lớn help humanity, và normally move sầu from the lowest toward the highest forms. Of all living creatures, only man can become a devil or an angel because he has a special soul; and his position is determined by the effects of his works. ++

4) Cao Dai believe that the human soul may "go up" or "go down" the ladder of existence, and that man by his will và action determines the direction. 5) The ultimate goal of Cao Daism is the total deliverance of man from the endless cycle of existence in order to lớn realize a life of supreme perfection. To them, man is created through the natural cycle of life & death, và possesses an immortal soul which is sacred. This soul must eventually obtain release from the cycle for complete victory. 6) The worship of ancestors is a means of communication between the visible và invisible worlds; between the living & the dead; & forms a means of expressing love, gratitude & affection for the ancestors. ++

7) Cao Daism also teaches, in its ethical concepts, eunique and brotherhood of all races, the love sầu of justice, the Buddhist Law of Karma, Buddha"s Five sầu Commandments, as well as the Buddhist Eightfold Path to Perfection & the Confucian doctrine of the Golden Mean. 8) Within Cao Daism is a pantheon of saints and deities. On the front of the Tay-Ninh temple, there are paintings representing Joan of Arc, Sun Yat Sen (the founder of the Chinese Nationamenu Party), Victor Hugo (the 19th century poet và writer), and Trang-Trinh (famed Vietnamese prophet of the 18th century), etc. ++

9) Last, but no means least, is the doctrine that Divinity speaks to mankind through spiritual mediums utilizing the corbeille a bec, which is a bag which has a beak-like projection. When this beaked-bag is held by two members of the Law Protective sầu Body of the Cao Dai over a board which holds the alphabet, divinity causes his spirit to move sầu the bag so that the divine communication is spelled out by the beaked-bag tapping appropriate letters which sometimes take the khung of verse. Only one beaked-bag exists. For such messages to be accepted as valid and official, the revelation must take place at the Tay Ninch Temple. Other revelations may occur at the main temple of each sect. ++

Organization và Clergy of the Cao Dai

The administrative tasks of the Church are conducted by three major bodies: the legislative sầu, the law protective sầu & the executive. The Legislative sầu Body (Bat quai-Dai) is considered to lớn be under the rule of the Supreme GOD who is regarded as the true và quality founder of Caodaism. The Law Protective sầu Body (Hiep-Thien-Dai) has the Ho-phap as Chief. The Executive Body, or Cuu Trung-Dai, runs the temporal affairs of the Church, and has a titular head called Giao-Tong or Pope. The Pope is reputed lớn be the Spirit of the poet Li Tai Pe (Vietnamese, Ly-thai-Bach), who lived during the Tong Dynasty. Le-van-Trung was until 1934 the interim Pope (the living head of the Church), but following his death, differences of personality và opinion have precluded any others having this title or honor.

The Executive Body is composed of a Pope, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Monks, Nuns and some laity. The Law Protective Body is composed of a 15-man college of spiritual mediums that regulates the use of the beaked-bag. They therefore act as the interpreters and receivers of divine messages to lớn mankind spelled out by the alphabet board và the beaked-bag.The Executive sầu Body is the third major body of the Cao Dai administration. This toàn thân has three agencies-the Administrative Agency, the Agency for the Propagation of the Faith và the Charity Agency. Each Agency has three institutes, each carrying on a specific task. The Charity Agency has the duty of caring for the siông xã by operating hospitals, aiding the needy, including orphans, the physically or mentally handicapped, and the aged. ++

Within the hierarchy of Caodaism are three major branches: the members of the Buddhist group (Phai Thai) who wear yellow robes as the symbol of the virtue of love; the Taoist group (Pnhị Chuong) who wear xanh robes as the color of peace và the Confucian group (Pnhì Ngoc) who wear red robes as the symbol of authority. These vivid colors are normally worn only for special occasions và religious rites. Otherwise, the Cao Dai priestly ordered wear Trắng robes, but the wearing of blaông chồng robes has occasionally been observed. ++

In the 1960s Caodaism had the positions of Interyên Pope, 3 Censor Cardinals, 3 Cardinals, 36 Archbishops, 72 Bishops, 3,000 Priests, an unlimited order of ritual priests, the order of ritual servers or temple servants, & the laity. Ordinary members of the Cao Dai clergy may marry and raise families, as vị some of the members of the Eastern Orthodox and some of the Oriental Rites of the Catholic Church. Those above the rank of priest are not allowed to lớn marry and must remain celibate in order to commit their total energies lớn the religious life. Nuns may occupy all positions up to Cardinal. Vegetarianism is required of all orders of the priesthood, but not for the laity. Currently there are several major sects or denominations of the Cao Dai whose existence dated from the time of the French occupation in Vietphái nam. But these have considerable interaction as all recognize the corbeille a bec which is kept at Tay Ninh Temple as the channel whereby dogma for the faithful adherents is pronounced for the first time. ++

Cao Dai Denominations và Area Where It Is Strong

The Cao Dai denominations and the locations of their headquarters are: 1) Chieu-Minch at Can-Tho; 2) Minh-Chon-Ly at My-Tho; 3) Tien-Thien at Cai-Lay và at Soc Sai Ben-tre; 4) Chinh-Dao at Ben-tre; 5) Minh-Chon-Dao at Bac-Lieu; 6) Hoi-Tkhô giòn Truyen-Giao Cao Dai Cao Daist Missionary Church) at Danang; & 7) the basic Cao Dai Church at Tay Ninh. In 1936 an association called the Lien-Hoa Tong-hoi was formed lớn unify all the Cao Dai denominations, và it does have some influence. In addition to the formal denominations, there are several other lesser divisions called Minc Ly, Minc Su, Minc Thien, Minch Tan, & Minch Duong.

The differences between the sects or denominations of the Cao Dai maybe much less than the differences which divide the "liberal" và "conservative" churches in America, & are certainly not nearly so large as those factors which separate the Cao Dai from the other religions in Vietnam giới. While Cao Daism has a number of essentially Buddhist elements, the Buddhists of Vietphái mạnh disclalặng any relationship to them. This attitude may be modified from time to lớn time due to the religio-political struggles, but does not infer an acceptance of the Cao Dai as a valid expression of Buddhism. The Cao Dai, however, with a multi-source religious concept and the conviction that all religions proceed from the same God, might view the matter quite differently. ++

Cai Dai Population in Vietnamese Provinces according lớn 1965-66 Cao Dai Figures (province, population, Cao Dai population, Cao Dai percentage of the population: A) Tay Ninh: 232,357, 91,000, 39; B) Long An: 373,512, 68,252, 18; C) Ding Tuong: 531,258, 54,353, 10; D) Kien Hoa: 537,323, 43,247, 8; E) Phong Dinh: 360,547, 40,370, 11; F) Vinc Binh: 541,834, 31,506, 6: G) Vinc Long: 547,556, 28,391, 5; H) Kien Phong: 291,116, 27,887, 10; I) Hau Nghai: 228,377, 23,739, 10; J) Chau Doc: 425,055, 18,337, 4; K) Bien Hoa: 251,039, 15,837, 6; L) Chuong Thien: 248,437, 14,554, 6; M) An Giang: 422,849, 13,919, 3; N) Ba Xuyen: 359,446, 6,897, 2; O) An Xuyen: 224,000, 4,958, 2; P) Kien Giang: 360,000, 4,451, 1; Q) Kien Tuong: 51,399, 3,647, 7; R) Binc Duong: 243,105, 3,350, 1; S) Go Cong: 171,051, 3,130, 2; T) Quang Nam: 474,950, 60,000, 2 ½. ++

Cao Dai Temple

The main Cao Dai Temple is in Tay Ninc, 100 kilometers northwest of Saigon and 25 kilometers from the Cambodian border) is the Holy See of Caodaism. The temple"s interior, which Gramê man Greene described as "Christ & Buddha looking down from the roof of a cathedral on a Walternative text Disney fantasia of the East," is garishly decorated with pink dragons and yellow và purple mythical beasts. Graham mê Greene was briefly a thành viên of the sect. The Lonely Planet described it as “a rococo extravaganza combining the conflicting architectural idiosyncracies of a French church, a Chinese pagodomain authority, Hong Kong’s Tiger Balm Gardens và Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.”

Built between 1933 & 1955, the Cao Dai Great Temple is 140 meters long and 40 meters wide. It has four towers each with a different name: Tam Dai, Hiep Thien Dai, Cuu Trung Dai, và Bat Quai Dai. The interior of the temple consists of a colonnaded hall và a sanctuary. The 2 rows of columns are decorated with dragons và are coated in White, red, và xanh paint. The domed ceiling is divided into lớn nine parts similar lớn a night sky full of stars & symbolizing heaven. Under the dome is a giant star-speckled blue globe on which is painted the Divine Eye, the official symbol of Caodaism. Cao Dai followers worship Jesus Christ, Confucius, Taoism, và Buddha.

The Temple is built on the same pattern as other Cao Dai temples, but in a more grandiose style. Here in a large and an extremely well-ordered compound are found the Temple, a school, a hospital, an orphanage, a trang chủ for the aged, a residence for nuns, etc. The very order và neatness of this site, lượt thích that of other Cao Dai temple areas, is in stark contrast to lớn the disorder & disarray of the Orient as seen by the "western eye".

The Chinese-type ornamented temple at Tay Ninh, with its unusual architectural designs và features, has nine floor levels. These broad steps which start at the front door of the temple và rise toward the altar, represent the nine levels of spiritual ascension possible to the Cao Dai adherent; and also represent the nine orders or divisions of the hierarchy of Cao Daism. This is still true even though the position of the Pope within Cao Daism has been vacant since the death of Le Van Trung in 1934, who succeeded Ngo Van Chieu as the Interim Pope. The Cao Dai founder, Ngo Van Chieu, was the head of the church from 1919 until his death seven years later following an intensive practice of mysticism. Then Le Van Trung became its leader until his death. It was during Le Van Trung’s period that the Cao Dai developed a firm organization & had their greachạy thử growth. ++

The main altar of the Cao Dai Temple is a huge globe of the world symbolizing the universe, and has a painted human eye on it, which symbolizes the all-seeing eye of Divinity và the source of universal life. Inside the globe is a spherical burning lamp which represents the universal monad (something which is absolutely indivisible). Lights on both sides of the globe represent the male & female elements of the world. The Supreme Eye is normally formed within a triangle, and serves to remind the Cao Dai worshipper that the Supreme Being witnesses everything, everywhere, all the time. Cao Daist believe sầu the "sacred eye" on their altar observes, supports, helps, judges and impels them to the right course of action at all times. (Americans may be startled lớn discover the same triangle và eye on the baông chồng of the American dollar bill.) ++

Cao Dai Worship

The laity of the Cao Dai are khổng lồ pray at least once each day, và may choose one of four mix times each day at home or at the temple, at 0600, 1200, 1800, or 2400. Additionally, there are special occasions for services, such as the 9th of January, the anniversary of the First Cao Dai Revelation; & 15 August, which honors Tay Voung Mau, the "Holy Mother" of Ngo Van Chieu. A Cao Dai altar can be recognized by the picture of the all-seeing eye, which is often surrounded by painted cosmic beams which symbolize the Supreme Being"s lightened glory.

The Cao Dai use Tea, Flowers and Alcohol as offerings, representing the three constitutive elements of human beings-intelligence, spirit and energy. Five joss sticks are used in worship và represent the five sầu levels of initiation, which are purity, meditation, wisdom, superior knowledge, và freedom from Karma (the cycle of existence). Also seen in Cao Dai temples is their religious flag, a three section horizontal flag with the top one third yellow, the middle third xanh, và the lower one third red. These colors represent the major elements of Cao Daism & also the virtues or qualities admired by the Cao Dai. The red is for Confucianism or courage và authority, the xanh is for Taoism or freedom, & the yellow is for Buddhism or the virtues of peace và love sầu. ++

The Cao Dai recognize education and cultural and social action as methods whereby good can come lớn Vietnam and khổng lồ the Cao Dai. In Quang Tin City within I Corps, the Cao Dai operate a grammar school, a high school & an orphanage. Present plans in Danang include the erection of an orphanage, a socio-cultural center, và the first college in the Danang area. ++

Cao Dai Temple Ceremony

Every day at noon, members of the sect hold a ceremony, with processions of chanting followers in colorful costume, which visitors are encouraged khổng lồ attkết thúc. Describing his visit to the Cao Dai Great Temple, Revathi Murugappan wrote in his blog: “Like Buddhist worshippers, we had lớn remove our shoes before trooping khổng lồ the balcony upstairs to lớn watch the service. The place is painted in a sea of bright colours, and reflects a very happy ambience. The temple is built over nine levels representing nine steps to lớn heaven, & each màn chơi is marked by a pair of columns entwined with dragons. At the top is a dome representing heaven and below it is the “all-seeing eye”, which is also depicted on the walls & windows.

“Devotees were dressed in Trắng robes while the coloured robes worn by senior devotees denote ranking & function, and indicate the different branches of Cao Daism. Robes come in a mix of yellow (Buddhism), red (Confucianism) và blue (Taoism) but everyone wears trắng pants. The top clergy also wear hats with a picture of the all-seeing eye in front while the rest wear various types of head gear.

“A bell rang and the children’s choir started singing in Vietnamese as the hundreds of devotees walked in with military precision, according to robe colour và gender. Men entered from the right & women, from the left. They took their positions silently, knelt & waited until another bell rang. “Don’t you feel that someone is watching you all the time?” a tourist whispered to me. “It’s creepy yet reassuring.” Once the choir stopped singing, the acolytes rang the bells again. No one gave sầu sermons and there was no chanting but amazingly, the devotees were guided by the sounds of the bell although I couldn’t sense a rhythm. Seated, they would bow four times in intervals while touching the floor with their hands.

Our guide Sam told us later, “There’s no time limit for their prayers. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes khổng lồ hours. The ultimate goal of the Cao Dai follower is khổng lồ escape reincarnation and like all religions, you need to lớn bởi good things in this life.” Hundreds attkết thúc prayer services every day, sitting in neat rows according khổng lồ rank. Prayers are conducted at 6am, noon, 6pm & midnight. At every session, there are a few hundred priests và during festivals, thousands congregate here. Photography is permitted, but it’s polite not to lớn subject the worshippers to lớn a barrage of flashlights. And if you’re taking a picture of a highly ranked Cao Dai clergy (you can tell from their robe colours), it’s best to show them the picture once you’ve snapped it, for approval. They’ll smile và give you blessings.

Cao Dai Militancy

The Cao Dai have sầu a short history which includes involvement in religious, political, & military activities. The Cao Dai largely control certain provinces where they constitute the major population; while in others they often size a svào part of the governmental force. The continuing struggle in Vietphái mạnh has witnessed a number of violent actions by the Viet Minc and the Viet Cong, that in general have sầu turned the Cao Dai away from the communist way of life. Particularly offensive sầu was the massacre of 2,791 Cao Dai priests and followers by the communist Viet-Minc in Quant-Ngai in August 1945.

During World War II the Japanese supported the Cao Dai sect, with more than one million members, including a military force of several battalions. In the 1950s Ngo Dinch Diem quickly consolidated power & outmaneuvered his rivals, defeating the Binh Xuyen crime syndicate và the private armies of the Hoa Hao and Cao Dai religious sects. The National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) was founded, with representatives on its Central Committee from all social classes, political parties, women"s organizations, và religious groups, including Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, the Buddhists, và the Catholics.

In mid-1946, Tran Quang Vinh offered khổng lồ side with the French and an agreement was reached in January 1947 by which they controlled Tay Ninh province (thus releasing CFEO troops for other purposes) while Pmê say Cong Tac returned from exile. In 1947-48, with French material support, the Cao Dai militia was raised khổng lồ 3,300 troops organized in 55 "flying brigades", 1,500 men in "self-defense groups" plus another 2,500 "military partisans" in other areas of Cochinchimãng cầu. These proved quite efficient & between January 1947 and December 1948, the Cao Dai militias had lost 400 killed và 500 wounded while inflicting serious losses on the Viet Minc and capturing 350 weapons. While the "flying brigades" had initially been recruited for use in Tay Ninch province, their effectiveness in pacifiying Viet Minh areas led the French High Comm& to lớn send half of them throughout Cochinchimãng cầu. The Cao Dai leadership encouraged this trkết thúc which allowed them khổng lồ spread their influence for, of course, the population was presented with a simple condition : the protection of Cao Dai militias was only afforded to lớn Cao Dai converts. ==

This spreading territorial base allowed the Cao Dai to entertain hopes of becoming the dominant political movement throughout Vietphái mạnh, if not Indochina, & their political các buổi tiệc nhỏ, the Viet Nam Phu Quoc Hoi, soon became the most active sầu in Cochinchina. Their reliability, however, remained doubtful until the end and they constantly undermined efforts khổng lồ strengthen the Vietnamese government"s hold over its provinces. In June 1951, Cao Daist Colonel Trin Minc Te rebelled with 2,000 of his troops when General Minch, chief-of-staff of the Vietnamese army, proposed sending 15,000 Cao Dai troopslớn Tonkin. The following month, one of Psay mê Cong Tac"s lieutenants had General Chanson, commander-in-chief of French forces in southern Indochina, & a Vietnamese governor assassinated. As a French staff officer commented : "its dialectics, as specious as those of communism, will always allow lớn perkhung the most audacious reversals without damage. The Cao Dai have sầu no enemies & no permanent friends, but they have sầu permanent interests which are those of the sect." ==

Gramê say Greene and Caodaism

Građê mê Greene was briefly a thành viên of the Vietnamese homegrown Cao Dai religion. Some tourists have said he described the main Cao Dai temple as "Walt Disney on acid" but actually what he said was that Caodaism was a "prophecy of planchette" at the temple one sees: "Christ and Buddha looking down from the roof of a Cathedral on a Walternative text Disney fantasia of the East, dragons & snakes in technicolor."

The Quiet American narrator, an English journacác mục named Fowler, has seized the opportunity lớn get out of Saigon for a day, và drives khổng lồ a religious festival in the countryside. The visit serves as an interlude to the novel’s romantic và political intrigues, & also as an opportunity for Greene to brief the reader on a colorful aspect of Vietnamese culture: a new religion, which purported to lớn unite all faiths in the service of universal peace, but which, at the same time, possessed its own army, and turned its province, which Greene calls Tanyin (its actual name is Tay Ninh) inkhổng lồ a Caodaist state within a state. ?

As Fowler listens to lớn this strange Pope’s deputy pontificate, he reflects, "I was certain he knew that all of us were there khổng lồ laugh at his movement; our air of respect was as corrupt as his phoney hierarchy, but we were less cunning. Our hypocrisy gained us nothing—not even a reliable ally, while theirs had procured arms, supplies, even cash down."

Hoa Hao Sect

Hoa Hao (pronounced "Wah How") is a neo-Buddhist sect which emphasizes trang chủ worship, and amalgamates Buddhism, animism, Confucian doctrine & other indigenous practices. Founded in 1939 by the "Mad Monk"Huyen Phu So, it is a Vietnamese development of Theravadomain authority Buddhism which emphasizes reforming và simplifying Buddhist doctrine and practice, & has a history of religious, political, and military organization & activity. Theravadomain authority Buddhism is that form of Buddhism prevalent in Cambodia, Laos, Vương Quốc Nụ Cười, Burma, and Sri Lanka, in contrast lớn the Mahayana Buddhism of Japan, Korea, Đài Loan Trung Quốc, and the major Buddhist group of South Vietnam. The fanatical Huynh Phu So eschewed temples & hierarchy và appealed to the poor and oppressed. The sect was persecuted by French colonial rulers before entering an uneasy alliance with Viet Minc guerrillas in 1945. Two years later the Viet Minch executed Hoa Hao founder, Prophet Huynh Phu So, on charges of treason.

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Hoa Hao (also known by the longer name Phat Giao Hoa Hao) has been described as a "puritanical, poor, peasant-based sect committed khổng lồ a simplified & austere Buddhist doctrine." It t was founded in 1939 by Huyuh Phu So, the "Crazy Monk," after he had a shaman-lượt thích experience in 1939. He preached simplicity as a means of attaining nirvamãng cầu. Huyynh Phu So was imprisoned & sent khổng lồ a mental institution by the French and eventually assassinated by the Viet Minch.

Hoa Hao has major concentrations of followers in the provinces of Chau Doc, Kien Phong, An Giang, Kien Giang, Vinch Long, Phong Dinh, Chuong Thien, Bac Lieu, Ba Xugan, và Kien Tuong. They form a belt across the delta from Cambodia to the South Đài Loan Trung Quốc Sea, and include the southern portion of South Vietnam giới with the exception of the extreme southern province of An Xuyen and the isl& province of Phu Quoc. While there are Hoa Hao to be found scattered throughout other provinces of South Vietnam, their numbers give them neither political nor military significance on a par with the ten listed provinces.

The adherents of Hoa Hao are largely ethnic Vietnamese, even though the religion itself springs from Theravada Buddhism. Thus the customs và patterns of life are similar khổng lồ the Vietnamese except where the tenets of faith cause differences. Normally, only the alert và informed observer can quickly distinguish between the Hoa Hao and other faiths in the delta. In this respect, it is well khổng lồ know that the Hoa Hao are members of the sixteen thành viên Unified Buddhist Association of Vietnam giới, in contrast to lớn the Cao Dai who are not normally accepted by the Buddhists as belonging even faintly to Buddhism. ++

Hoa Hao population in Certain Vietnamese Provinces (percent according lớn figures from the 1960s): A) An Giang: 75 percent; B) Chau Doc: 53 percent; C) Kien Phong: 28 percent; D) Kien Tuong: 26 percent; E) Vinc Long: trăng tròn percent; F) Chuong Thien: 2 to 3 percent; G) Phong Dinh: 10 percent; Bac Lieu:1 to lớn 1.5 percent; H) Kien Giang: less than 1 percent; I) Ba Xuyen: less than 1 percent.

History of Hao Hoa

In 1939, a 20-year-old Buddhist wandering-priest- monk named Huynh Phu So began preaching against the "decadent" Buddhism then prevalent in Vietphái mạnh. Born in 1919 at Hoa Hao Village, in Chau Doc Province, he So had apparently suffered from a major illness for most of his teenage and early adult years. Following the "miraculous" healing in 1939, So began lớn proclayên ổn his doctrines of Buddhist rekhung while claiming himself khổng lồ be the apostle of Phat Tay. From the village of Hoa Hao his crusade grew rapidly. He formed a militant sect of Buddhists.

So had learned of Phat Tay, or Nguyen Van Quyen, while a student of a Buddhist monk named Tgiỏi Xom of Nu Cam. Phat Tay had been a famous monk who preached and wrote in the Mekong Delta about a hundred years earlier, during the Minh Mang reign (1820-1841). Moreover, So"s teacher Tgiỏi Xom had taught hyên ổn acupuncture, hypnotism, Buddhist philosophy và some sorcery. With convincing zeal và eloquence, So proclaimed his doctrines, & later wrote them in his book "San Gian" GIAN (Translated: "Oracles and Prayers"). To help identify his teachings, he gave sầu them the name of his village Hoa Hao, by which his religion is still known. His first converts were those who witnessed his "healing" and heard hlặng preach. His apparent "gift of prophecy" which foretold the defeat of the French in World War II, the coming of the Japanese occupation, and the later arrival of Americans, added impetus to his appeal. His additional skills of healing by herbs và acupuncture made hlặng appear almost supernatural to lớn his audiences. His hypnotic stare caused them khổng lồ hotline hyên Dao Khung or "Mad Monk". ++

In time, the Boa Had adherents began khổng lồ think of So as Phat Song, or the Living Buddha. Because the French considered his preaching to be anti-French và strongly political, he was exiled to My Tho và Cai Be, where he gained many converts. The French then placed hlặng in a mental institution in Cholon, only lớn have sầu the director; a psychiatrist, become a convert. Declared sane và released, So was exiled to Vinh Loi in Bac Lieu Province, where he again converted many. In desperation the French administration exiled hyên lớn Laos, only to lớn have sầu the Japanese insist upon his return lớn Saigon as their protege in October, 1942. ++

Upon the surrender of the Japanese, So led the Hoa Hao inkhổng lồ the National United Front, a Viet Minch organization. It was soon evident, however, that neither the Cao Dai nor the Hoa Had would accept the leadership of the Viet Minh, so the latter caused the United Front to lớn be dissolved. So then entered politics as the anti- French, anti-communist leader of his adherents. Even so, the Viet Minc, hoping to use him, appointed him a Special Commissioner to the nine-thành viên Executive Committee for South Vietphái nam, six of whom were communists. However, the differing opinions và ideological clashes between the Viet Minh và the Hoa Hao caused So lớn flee for his life to Duc Boa in December, 1946. ++

In April, 1947, while traveling to a conciliatory meeting sponsored by the Viet Minh, he was captured, tried & executed by the communists in Long Xuyen. While the Hoa Hao leaders tried to lớn keep the murder "quiet", it turned their full wrath against the Viet Minch, although they informed the faithful that So had only temporarily withdrawn, but would return. After twenty years, the Hoa Hao still do not care lớn discuss the subject. Yet this is the basic reason that Hoa Hao are noted for their opposition lớn everything the Vietnamese Communists want or fight for, & the Hoa Hao vì chưng not hesitate to lớn destroy communists who enter their strongholds. ++

Since the end of the Vietnam giới War in April 1975, communist authorities have confiscated thousands of Hoa Hao properties, abolished its management structure & banned its major celebrations, including the annual Founder"s Day festival. International organizations & some foreign governments say Vietphái mạnh continues lớn limit religious freedom and imprisons people for the peaceful expression of religious or political beliefs -- charges rejected by Hanoi. An official with the OHHBA told Reuters his organization estimated at least seven Hoa Hao Buddhist clergy were in jail for crimes related to illegal religious activities. Mass public outpourings of faith are rare in Vietnam giới.

Hoa Hao Beliefs

Religious Doctrines of the Hoa Hao: Four major precepts of this faith are: (a) honor parents; (b) love country; (c) respect Buddhism và its teachings; và (d) love sầu fellow man. The Eight Points of Honesty khung parts of the Hoa Hao ethical teaching as vì chưng the virtues which Huyen Phu So stressed. These virtues insist that marriage partners be faithful to lớn each other, và that officials be just, honest, và faithful in behalf of their people even as parents care for their children.

The Hoa Hao are forbidden to lớn drink alcohol, to smoke opium, or khổng lồ kill either oxen or buffalo for food. In order to lớn make such restrictions more acceptable khổng lồ the adherents, the ban on killing oxen or buffalo does not preclude eating beef when it is offered by one"s host. But even in this matter, the faithful Hoa Hao must not eat either meat or greasy food on the 1st, 14th, 15th, or 30th days of the lunar month, as these are days of abstinence. ++

The basic religion which gave sầu rise to lớn the Hoa Hao is Theravada Buddhism. The older khung of Buddhism has encouraged repeated reforms, aimed at conserving the purity of the teachings of the elders, with this teaching being more correct or closer to Buddha"s doctrines than Mahayamãng cầu Buddhism. But ức chế is given lớn austerity và salvation by personal example. As in all forms of Buddhism, salvation is a result of personal achievement. ++

So taught the absence of statues, temples, monks, etc., provides a means whereby an individual worshipper may have sầu a richer spiritual experience. So wrote, "The cult must stem more from internal faith than from a pompous appearance. It is better khổng lồ pray with a pure heart before the family altar than to lớn perkhung gaudy ceremonies in a pagodomain authority, clad in the robes of a unworthy monk." Confucianism and Animism were included in So"s "reform" Buddhism, but on a more restricted scale than found in other Vietnamese religions. Prayers and offerings might be offered to lớn Buddha, to lớn Vietnamese national heroes or lớn personal ancestors, but not other deities và spirits, except some small offerings of the various incenses used to frighten away the evil spirits who might be lurking nearby. ++

The natural consequence of such concepts taught by So was a de-emphasis of pagodas and other elaborate structures as well as increased value given khổng lồ rituals, symbols, & the Songha, which is the Buddhist order of monks. So violently attacked the Vietnamese custom of elaborate & often expensive sầu funerals also. This funeral custom has been brought from Tibet và China by the Chinese và absorbed inkhổng lồ Vietnamese Buddhism và Confucianism so that it became a national custom. In So"s words, "The toàn thân should be interred simply & without great ceremony so that its decomposition should not incommode the living. Why spover lots of money under the pretext of materializing feelings of filial piety, fidelity và friendship toward the dead, when it should have sầu been greatly preferable to lớn show them such feelings when they are alive sầu...?" In accord with these views, the Hoa Hao have sầu no Scriptures peculiar to lớn themselves, và have sầu little need of an extensive sầu clergy or of large offerings. ++

While having doctrines based upon Theravada Buddhism which has a long history of semi-passiveness, the Hoa Hao are aggressive sầu, và quite acceptable fighters when well-led. While giving allegiance lớn no religious figure as such, the fighting adherents of Hoa Hao seem to lớn have an almost fanatical willingness khổng lồ follow and obey their Hoa Hao immediate superiors without regard for personal loss. At the same time, neither does the Hoa had shrink from acquiring possessions or seeking lớn improve himself instead of resigning khổng lồ fate. Non-adherents of Hoa Hao in areas of that faith often point out that Hoa Hao don"t seem to lớn follow the Eight Points of Honesty in their relations with non-members of the faith. ++

Hoa Hao Worship

Hoa Hao Village is undoubtedly the major stronghold of the religious faith which bears its name. The major pagodomain authority of the BOA HAO is located here, and while elaborate in comparison with other Hoa Hao religious structures, it is quite simple when compared khổng lồ the major churches of other religious organizations. The picture of Huyen Phu So has the position of honor within the pagoda, with pictures of other Hoa Hao personalities also about the structure.

Similar to the Cao Dai, the Hoa Hao adherent is lớn pray four times a day. Normally the first prayer is for devotion to lớn Buddha; the second is for the Reign of the Enlightened King; the third prayer is for all ancestors, both living & deceased; & the fourth prayer, according to lớn So, is for "the mass of small people to whom I wish to lớn have the will lớn improve themselves from the shackles of ignorance". ++

The small & simple altars, normally covered with a single red cloth, in either trang chủ or temple, may have one lớn three bowls of fruit or flowers as well as three bowls of water on them. The red cloth is a symbol of universal understandings, as Vietnamese think red khổng lồ be the all-embracing color. Just as the ability of the Hoa Hao adherent to communicate directly with the supernatural removes the need of a large clergy, so the offering of water and flowers in place of wine và food reduces demands on the peasant worshipper. Undoubtedly, such factors tover khổng lồ make this faith more acceptable và more solidly established amuốn the Vietnamese delta peasantry where it had its origin & now has most of its current membership. Within the home page of the Boa Hao, the picture of So is normally found hanging above sầu the altar or table reserved for the practice & worship of the religion. ++

The Hoa Hao Flag: Like the other religious bodies in Vietnam, the Hoa Hao have sầu a distinctive sầu religious flag, rectangular in shape & solid maroon in color inasmuch as the Hoa Hao believe sầu that maroon is the combination of all colors & thus signifies unity of all people, regardless of race, color, or language. ++

Founding Day Commemoration: Each year on the 18th day of the 5th lunar month, the Hoa Hao have ceremonies which celebrate the anniversary date of the Hoa Hao founding. To the fullest extent possible, the adherents gather to listen khổng lồ sermons và speeches. ++

The Mother of Huyen Phu So, Mrs. Huyen Cong Bo, was still living in Hoa Hao Village in Chau Doc Province in the 1960s. The Hoa Hao celebrate her birthday each year, và she was reputed khổng lồ have great influence in Hoa Hao ceremonial matters. Moreover, she was the recognized head of the To Dinc which is supposedly the non-political group of Boa Hao & which claims at least 60 percent of all the Boa Hao followers. ++

Hoa Hao Celebration

In July, 1998, Reuters reported: "About a million believers from a long-frowned upon Buddhist sect in Vietnam have sầu flocked lớn a remote Mekong Delta township for their first permitted major festival in 24 years. Local officials said on Friday that Hoa Hao Buddhists had massed at Phu My town in An Giang province over the past five sầu days for the 60th anniversary of the founding of their indigenous sect on July 1. "It was very crowded on (June 30 và July 1), there were 300,000 khổng lồ 400,000 people each day,"" an official from the local district people"s committee told Reuters. "This was the biggest ceremony here since before liberation day (April 30, 1975)."" Mass public outpourings of faith are rare in Vietnam.

Permission for the gathering came after Hoa Hao was finally given official status in May & authorities appointed the 11-person so-called Hoa Hao Buddhism Representative Committee, which includes a number of communist tiệc nhỏ members but excluded Le Quang Liem, the sect"s chosen leader. Information distributed by the U.S.-based Overseas Hoa Hao Buddhist Association (OHHBA) said the influx of Hoa Hao faithful lớn Phu My had reached a critical mass, & authorities were concerned about security & crowd control."To hinder the flow of devotees coming lớn the Hoa Hao Holy L&, the local authorities required all Hoa Hao followers khổng lồ go through a long sign-in procedure,"" said the document, which was obtained by Reuters. |=|

The document added that many people had ignored the demand, và had flooded lớn To Dinch — the founder"s birthplace — with truck- and boat-loads of food khổng lồ help feed devotees.An official from the local Fatherlvà Front, the Communist Party"s mass movement umbrella organization, said the festival had been peaceful & showed Vietnam"s respect for religious freedom. "There was a lachồng of accommodation for the Hoa Hao, many of them were just hanging around on streets all night,"" he said. "There were many more people than we expected, we had anticipated around 100,000 people.""

Hoa Hao Organization

In 1964 an election among muốn the Hoa Hao created a sixteen member Central Executive Committee; the members hold a two-year term. The elected chairman is Mr. Loung Trong Tuong; others are elected vice-chairman, advisors, secretary, assistant secretaries, etc. Moreover, this type of structure is duplicated in each level of organization down khổng lồ the hamlet. While basically designed khổng lồ function only in the area of religion, the influence và interest of this organization undoubtedly affects both political and military concepts inasmuch as the Hoa Hao have sầu a history of religio-political-military involvement. But when it is recalled that this religion has never experienced a time of peace, its involvement in the religio-military scene may not be too strange.

Many observers say the Hoa Hao troop commander is the unquestioned leader of his religio-military unit, và that his troops will obey hyên to the extent that one obVPS has remarked: "They would follow hlặng off the side of a cliff." This loyalty is not normally found in units of Hoa Hao where non-Hoa Hao are in commvà. According to lớn some adherents, the Hoa Hao, like the Muslims of the Middle East under the influence of Islam, have sometimes exerted forceful persuasion in effecting conversion. Several Vietnamese have remarked on occasion that while sometimes divided among mỏi themselves, the Hoa had will more often be united together against non-adherents, & seem to lớn prefer lớn have local government officials of their own faith. ++

Because of the political và military conditions under which it was founded in 1939, as well as the attitude of its founder, Huyen Phu So, the Hoa Hao is a religio-political-military organization. The death of So, with his prophetic gift of leadership, disrupted the movement và the Hoa Hao quickly demonstrated the splintering so typical of a people without firm goals, guidelines và leadership. Yet the fact of the survival of the Hoa Hao makes an understanding of the followers a necessity for all who serve in their area or make decisions affecting them. Created in violent găng tay, the Hoa Hao have been involved with and against the communists, with và against the French, also with and against the Japanese as well as with và against various Vietnamese governments. ++

While the Hoa Hao may be politically and militarily divided from time to lớn time, the adherents seem lớn have a consistent loyalty to the religion itself. Since Hoa Hao originated in time of Vietnamese national crisis and găng, it has existed under threat of annihilation by one force or another, and so has been aggressively hostile itself. At least it has been able lớn convey this impression lớn the noninvolved Vietnamese peasant of the delta. ++

Since most of the Hoa Hao adherents are ethnic Vietnamese, the same courtesy and understanding extended lớn other Vietnamese is normally sufficient, particularly if one remains alert to their religious tenets. This includes discretion in comments or questions pertaining to Huyen Phu So"s death or "current location", as some adherents believe sầu that So is still alive sầu & will return at the appropriate time. Such adherents tkết thúc to refer almost unconsciously to lớn So as "My Master". ++

Hoa Hao Militancy

Although lacking the military force of the Cao Dai, the Hoa Hao was also closely connected with the Japanese in World War II. In the 1950s Ngo Dinc Diem quickly consolidated power and outmaneuvered his rivals, defeating the Binc Xuyen crime syndicate and the private armies of the Hoa Hao & Cao Dai religious sects. The National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) was founded, with representatives on its Central Committee from all social classes, political parties, women"s organizations, and religious groups, including Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, the Buddhists, and the Catholics.

In 1945 So was active sầu in the formation of the "National United Front" (a nationadanh mục, anti-French body including Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Binch Xuyen và Viet Minh), but the Hoa Hao soon came khổng lồ blows with the Viet Minch whose encroachment in western Cochinchina was becoming a threat to lớn the sect. However, the sect did not side with the French until Huynh Phu So was ambushed by the Viet Minc at Doc Vang (in the Plain of Reeds) on April 16, 1947, on his way to lớn preach in the western provinces. His followers are still waiting for his return. ==

There were about one million Hoa Hao in 1945, with a militia of some 2,000 men under the military commvà of Ba Cut (who was captured và publicly guillotined in 1956 by the Diem government of South Vietnam). The Hoa Hao militia may have numbered as many as 15,000 men at points but, after Huynh Phu So"s execution the sect rapidly broke down inlớn a myriad of clans headed by local warlords. None of these recognised the authority of the sect"s nominal leader, self-proclaimed "General" Tran Van Soai (pictured right, incidentally he is said to have found his képi in the Saigon Municipal theater). As a result, Tran Van Soai power"s didn"t reach outside of his Caibé fief where his wife led a dẻo doi of 250 amazons tasked with guarding the sect"s coffers. ==

Like the Cao Dai, the sect had its own political buổi tiệc nhỏ, the Dan Xa, although it was never as powerful as the Viet Nam Phu Quoc Hoi & was soon in conflict with Tran Van Soai phong over the political leadership of the sect. Again, lượt thích its rival, the Hoa Hao were very concerned by the fact that the French were turning more & more provinces khổng lồ the vietnamese government và "General" Tran Van Soai warned clearly that if the western provinces were turned over, the sect would have sầu no choice but lớn rebel, either through a massive uprising or through guerrilla warfare. ==

In April and July 2011, two Hoa Hao activists, Nguyen Van Lia & Tran Hoai vệ An, were arrested. Buddhist monk Vo Van Tkhô hanh Liem, who submitted written statements about government abuses committed against his Hoa Hao sect for a US congressional hearing, was given a nine-year prison term in September 2006 on the trumped up charges of "opposing public authorities".

Other Religious Cults

There are a number of small sects built around prophets and charismatic leaders in Vietphái mạnh. Many are regarded as illegal by the Vietnamese government. In November 1999, Reuters reported: "Communist Vietnam giới has 31 illegal religious cults that mainly exist in rural areas, official media reported. The Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Rural Today) newspaper, in a report seen on Tuesday, said the cults operated under a total of 51 different names and were headed by "eccentric people with low education và poor knowledge.""

"It said reports on the country"s cults had recently been sent khổng lồ the cabinet-cấp độ Government Committee on Religion in Hanoi, but it was unclear what action would be taken. Officials were not available khổng lồ comment. Vietphái nam is intolerant of cults & has jailed some practitioners. The strangest cults originated from Taiwan, Japan, China, India và France, the newspaper said. It said 80 percent of cult followers lived in rural areas và had difficult family situations or suffered from poor health or mental illness.

Mother Worship (Tho Mau) is a sect in Vietnam giới with a fairly large following. Researchers have described it as a primitive sầu religion. Mother, Me in the Vietnamese language, is pronounced Mau in Sino-―script. The mother worship cult might be originated from the cult of the Goddess in ancient ages. In the Middle Ages, the Mother was worshipped in temples and palaces. Due lớn the fact that it is a worshipping custom and not a religion, the Mother worshipping cult has not been organized as Buddhism và Catholicism have. As a result, the different affiliations of the cult have yet khổng lồ be consistent and different places still have different customs. The custom of Mother worship originated from the north. In the south, the religion has integrated the local goddesses such as Thien Y A Na (Hue) and Linc Son (Tay Ninh). Mother worship has been influenced by other religions, mainly Taoism.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam giới National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, APhường, AFPhường, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, Đài truyền hình BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books & other publications identified in the text.