Moving To Viet Nam Soon, Looking For A Theravada Temple


Buddhism came to Vietnam giới in the first century CE <1>.

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By the end of the second century, Vietphái mạnh developed a major Buddhist centre in the region, commonly known as the Luy-Lau centre, now in the Bac-Ninc province, north of the present day Hanoi city. Luy-Lau was the capital of Giao-Chi, (the former name of Vietnam), and was a popular place visited by many Indian Buddhist missionary monks on their way to lớn Đài Loan Trung Quốc, who were following the sea route from the Indian sub-continent used by Indian traders. A number of Mahayana sutras & the Agamas were translated into lớn Chinese script at that centre, including the sutra of Forty Two Chapters, the Anapanasati, the Vessantara-jataka, the Milinda-panha, etc.

In the next 18 centuries, due lớn geographical proximity with Đài Loan Trung Quốc and to lớn being twice annexed by the Chinese, the two countries shared many common features of cultural, philosophical & religious heritage. Vietnamese Buddhism has been greatly influenced by the development of Mahayamãng cầu Buddhism in Đài Loan Trung Quốc, with the dominant traditions of Ch"an/Zen, Pure L&, & Tantra.

The southern part of present day Vietphái nam was originally occupied by the Champa (Cham) và the Cambodian (Khmer) people who followed both a syncretic Saiva-Mahayana Buddhism và Theravada Buddhism <2>, although the Champa probably had a Theravada presence from as early as the 3rd century CE, whilst Cambodia received the Theravada as late as the 12th century. The Vietnamese started to conquer & absorbed the l& in the 15th century, and the current shape of the country existed in the 18th century. From that time onward, the dominant Viet followed the Mahayamãng cầu tradition whilst the ethnic Cambodian practiced the Theravada tradition, & both traditions peacefully co-existed.

In the 1920s và 1930s, there were a number of movements in Vietnam giới for the revival & modernisation of Buddhist activities. Together with the re-organisation of Mahayamãng cầu establishments, there developed a growing interest in Theravadin meditation và also in Buddhist materials based on the Pali Canon. These were then available in French. Among mỏi the pioneers who brought Theravadomain authority Buddhism to the ethnic Viet was a young veterinary doctor named Le Van Giang. He was born in the South, received higher education in Hanoi, và after graduation, was sent to lớn Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to lớn work for the French government <3>.

During that time, he developed a growing interest in Buddhism. He started to lớn study và practice the Pure Land & Tantric ways but was not satisfied. By chance, he met the Vice Sangharaja of the Cambodian Sangha and was recommended a book on the Noble Eightfold Path written in French. He was struông xã by the clear message in the book, và decided to lớn try out the Theravada way. He learnt meditation on the breath (Anapanasati) from a Cambodian monk at the Unalom Temple in Phnom Penh and achieved deep samadhi states. He continued the practice & after a few years, he decided to lớn ordain and took the Dhamma name of Ho-Tong (Vansarakkhita).

In 1940, upon an invitation by a group of lay Buddhists led by Mr Nguyen Van Hieu, a cthất bại frikết thúc, he went baông chồng lớn Vietphái mạnh and helped to lớn establish the first Theravada temple for Vietnamese Buddhists, at Go Dua, Thu Duc (now a district of Saigon). The temple was named Buu-Quang (Ratana Ramsyarama). Later, the Cambodian Sangharaja, Venerable Chuon Nath, together with 30 Cambodian bhikkhus established the Sima boundary at this temple <4>. The temple was destroyed by French troops in 1947, và was rebuilt in 1951.

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Here at Buu-Quang temple, together with a group of Vietnamese bhikkhus, who had received training in Cambodia, such as Venerables Thien-Luat, Buu-Chon, Kim-Quang, Gioi-Nghiem, Tinh-Su, Toi-Thang, Giac-Quang, An-Lam, Venerable Ho-Tong started teaching the Buddha Dhamma in Vietnamese language. He also translated many Buddhist materials from the Pali Canon, & Theravadomain authority became part of Vietnamese Buddhist activity in the country.

In 1949-1950, Venerable Ho-Tong together with Mr Nguyen Van Hieu và supporters built a new temple in Saigon, named Ky-Vien Tu (Jetavana Vihara). This temple became the centre of Theravada activities in Vietphái nam, which continued lớn attract increasing interest among muốn the Vietnamese Buddhists. In 1957, the Vietnamese Theravadomain authority Buddhist Sangha Congregation (Giao Hoi Tang Gia Nguyen Thuy Viet Nam) was formally established and recognised by the government, & the Theravada Sangha elected Venerable Ho-Tong as its first President, or Sangharaja.

During that time, Dhamma activities were further strengthened by the presence of Venerable Narada from Sri Lanka. Venerable Narada had first came khổng lồ Vietnam giới in the 1930s và brought with hyên Bodhi tree saplings which he planted in many places throughout the country. During his subsequent visits in the 1950s and 1960s, he attracted a large number of Buddhists lớn the Theravada tradition, one of whom was the popular translator, Mr Pyêu thích Klặng Khanh khô who took the Dhamma name of Sunanda. Mr Kkhô cứng translated many books of Venerable Naradomain authority, including The Buddha và His Teachings, Buddhism in a Nutshell, Satipatthamãng cầu Sutta, The Dhammapadomain authority, A Manual of Abhidhamma, etc <5>. Mr Khanh hao, now in his 80s, lives in the USA và is still active in translating Dhamma books of well-known meditation teachers from Vương Quốc của nụ cười, Burma and Sri Lanka.

From Saigon, the Theravada movement spread to other provinces, and soon, a number of Theravada temples for ethnic Viet Buddhists were established in many areas in the South & Central parts of Vietphái mạnh. As at 1997, there were 64 Theravadomain authority temples throughout the country, of which 19 were located in Saigon & its viccinity <6>. Beside Buu-Quang và Ky-Vien temples, other well known temples are Buu-Long, Giac-Quang, Tam-Bao (Da-Nang), Thien-Lam and Huyen-Khong (Hue), & the large Sakyamuni Buddha Monument (Thich-Ca Phat Dai) in Vung Tau.

In the 1960s và 1970s, a number of Vietnamese bhikkhus were sent overseas for further training, mostly in xứ sở của những nụ cười thân thiện Thái Lan & some in Sri Lanka & India. Recently, this programme has been resumed and about đôi mươi bhikkhus & nuns are receiving training in Burma.

Historically, there has been a cthất bại relationship between the Cambodian and the Vietnamese bhikkhus. In fact, in 1979, after the Khmer Rouge were driven out of Phnom Penh, a group of Vietnamese bhikkhus led by Venerables Buu-Chon and Gioi-Nghiem came khổng lồ that thành phố lớn re-ordain seven Cambodian monks, and thus re-established the Cambodian Sangha which had been destroyed by the Khmer Rouge when they were in control <7>.

Dhamma literature in the Vietnamese language comes from two main sources: the Pali Canon and the Chinese Agamas, together with a large collection of Mahayana texts. Since the 1980s, there has been an ongoing programme lớn publish these materials by scholar monks of both Mahayamãng cầu và Theravadomain authority traditions. So far, 27 volumes of the first 4 Nikayas, translated by Venerable Minh-Chau, and the 4 Agamas, translated by Venerables Tri-Tinch, Thien-Sieu và Thanh-Tu, have been produced. Work is under way lớn translate và publish the 5th Nikaya. In addition, a complete mix of the Abhidhamma, translated by Venerable Tinh-Su, has been printed, together with the Dhammapada, the Milinda-Panha, the Visudhi-Magga, the Abhidhammatthasangaha and many other work.

In summary, although Buddhism in Vietphái mạnh is predominantly of the Mahayana form, the Theravadomain authority tradition is well recognised và is experiencing a growing interest especially in the practice of meditation, in Nikaya-Agama literature and in Abhidhamma studies.

Binc Anson Perth, Western nước Australia 08 June 1999