Attack on the Buddhist Temples - History

Attack on the Buddhist Temples - History

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August 21, 1963

Attack on the Buddhist Temples

Buddhist Temple in Hue

Troops loyal to Diem dress up as regular troops and attack Buddhist temples and sanctuaries throughout the country. President Kennedy denounces the attacks.

After the demonstrations by the Buddhists South Vietnam’s President Ngi Dinh Diems, brother Ngo Dinh Nhu decided to attack Buddhist temples. Diem who supported his brothers actions was planning to pin the attacks on parts of the army.

On August 21, 1963 Nhu’s men surround the Xa Lot temple the main Buddhist temple in Saigon. They attacked the temple, ransacked it and arrested 400 people including the 80 year old patriarch. In Hue the Buddhist together with supporters fought off the Nhu’s forces for eight hours. Dozens were injured.

In response thousands took to the streets to protest the regime. Any confidence that existed in the regime in Washington were extinguished by these events.

Buddhism in Pakistan

Buddhism in Pakistan took root some 2,300 years ago under the Mauryan king Ashoka. [1] Buddhism has played a major role in the history of Pakistan—the land of which over time has been part of predominantly Buddhist empires such as the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the Kushan Empire, and the Maurya Empire of Ashoka.

In 2012, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) indicated that the contemporary Buddhist population of Pakistan was minuscule, with 1,492 adult holders of national identity cards (CNICs). The total population of Buddhists is therefore unlikely to be more than a few thousand. [2] In 2017, the number of Buddhist voters was stated to be 1,884, and they were mostly concentrated in Sindh and Punjab. [3]

The only functional Buddhist temple in Pakistan is in the Diplomatic Enclave at Islamabad, used by Buddhist diplomats from countries like Sri Lanka. [4]

Indonesia detains seven after attacks on Buddhist temples

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian authorities detained seven people in northern Sumatra island on Saturday on suspicion of attacking several Buddhist temples the previous night, officials said.

A spokeswoman for North Sumatra provincial police said the seven were part of a mob that damaged at least three temples and other property in the town of Tanjung Balai, near Indonesia’s fourth-biggest city Medan. No one was injured.

Indonesia is a Muslim-majority nation but has a sizable ethnic Chinese minority, many of whom are Buddhist. The country has a history of anti-Chinese violence, most recently in the late 1990s amid the political and economic crisis that brought down authoritarian ruler Suharto.

But police officials denied Friday’s attack was aimed at the Chinese community.

“This was just a (dispute between) individuals,” said North Sumatra Police Spokeswoman Rina Sari Ginting, adding the situation was now under control.

Indonesia, where the majority of the population practices a moderate form of Islam, sees sporadic attacks on religious minorities by Muslim hardliners but authorities are quick to crack down on any violent incidents.

Hundreds of security personnel were deployed late last year when a Muslim mob burned down a number of churches in conservative Aceh province, saying they didn’t have the right building permits.

(Corrects second paragraph to read those detained were part of a mob, not leading it.)

Reporting by Agustinus Beo da Costa Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor Editing by Kim Coghill


The Enryakuji is a Buddhist monastic complex on the sacred Mt. Hiei, near Kyoto, Japan. The site was selected by the monk Saicho to become the headquarters of the Tendai sect, which he founded in Japan in the early 9th century CE. Enryakuji became one of the great seats of learning and had 20-25,000 residents at its peak. Systematically destroyed in the 16th century CE after it had become a troublesome military stronghold, many of its buildings have since been restored and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Saicho & Foundation of Enryakuji

Saicho (767-822 CE) was a monk who became disillusioned with the increasing worldliness in Buddhism, and so, in 785 CE, he decided to live as an ascetic hermit on the slopes of Mount Hiei (Hieizan) near Kyoto. There, in 788 CE, he built the first shrine of what would later become the huge temple complex. He began to study all he could on every variation of Buddhism and to attract followers, and in 798 CE Saicho began what became a major series of annual lectures on Mount Hiei. The monk then visited Tang China in 804 CE, studied different branches of Buddhism there and returned with a mass of manuscripts and ritual objects to begin spreading the word in Japan.


Saicho sought to simplify the teachings of Buddhism and so he founded the eclectic Tendai Sect (Tendaishu), which was based on the Chinese Tiantai Sect and the Lotus Sutra (the last teachings of Buddha, aka the Hokekyo). Saicho believed that the best and quickest way to reach enlightenment was through esoteric ritual, that is rites which only the priesthood and initiated had access to. At the same time, the teachings of the Lotus Sutra allowed for many different ways to reach enlightenment.

Tendai Buddhism was eventually given royal approval and Mt. Hiei considered the protector of the north-eastern side of the then capital Heiankyo (Kyoto), the side of the city with the Devil's Gate which was thought especially vulnerable to attack from evil spirits. On his death in 822 CE, Saicho was given the honorary title Dengyo Daishi and considered a bodhisattva, that is, one who has reached nirvana but remains on earth to guide others. In 823 CE the Tendai sect was officially recognised as an independent sect by the emperor.


A Centre of Scholarship

The headquarters of Tendai Buddhism at Enryakuji, as it became known from 824 CE (named after the name of Emperor Kammu's reign period: Enryaku), became even more popular after its founder's death and, as Tendai encouraged the study of all Buddhist texts, the complex became a major seat of learning in Japan, boasting up to 3,000 buildings and 25,000 residents in its heyday. Many great names in Buddhism studied at Enryakuji including, Eisai (1141-1215 CE), who established Rinzai Zen Buddhism in Japan Dogen (1200-1253 CE), who further spread Zen Buddhism Nichiren (1222-1282 CE), who founded the sect named after him Ippen (1239-1289 CE), founder of the Ji sect Honen (1133-1212 CE), the founder of the Pure Land sect and Shinran (1173-1262 CE), the most influential disciple of Honen.

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Medieval History

Enryakuji did not enjoy the peaceful existence one would suppose of a monastery, and the site was attacked several times by rival temples and warlords, famously warding off an army of 20,000 men from the Nara temple of Kofukuji in 1113 CE. This was because the monks frequently meddled in politics and many times warrior monks (sohei) descended from their retreat on Mt. Hiei to demonstrate in, or even attack, the capital. The Emperor Go-Shirakawa (r. 1155-1158 CE), according to the Heike monogatari, famously said, “Three things refuse to obey my will: the waters of the Kamo River, the fall of backgammon dice, and the monks of Enryakuji Temple” (Whitney Hall, 683).

Nevertheless, Enryakuji prospered for the next few centuries and, like many other monasteries around the world, it did rather well on sales of alcohol (sake in this case) and the monks had a nice sideline going in moneylending, issuing business licenses, accepting bribes for tax exemptions on their land, and even a protection racket. The temple site had its religious rivals, too, notably the Miidera temple (aka Onjoji) near Lake Biwa. The rivalry gave rise to a myth involving the legendary and giant warrior monk Benkei who was said to have sauntered over to Miidera in his famous black-lacquered armour and pinched their large bronze bell. When he returned to Enryakuji with his prize the abbot admonished him for his impropriety, and so Benkei sent it all the way back to Miidera with a single nonchalant kick. In another version of the myth, the bell was only kicked back to its rightful owners because it refused to ring in its new home and would only toll "I want to return to Miidera." As a reward for his deed, Benkei was allowed to eat a great meal, and the cauldron he ate from is still to be seen at the complex today, teeth marks and all.


The monastery met its greatest disaster in 1571 CE when it was systematically destroyed by Oda Nobunaga, the feudal warlord or daimyo. Nobunaga was concerned at the power of the monastery of Enryakuji and its large army of warrior monks who still descended from the mountain whenever they felt they were not receiving their share of state handouts. Nobunaga solved the problem by having his troops surround the slopes of Mt. Hiei and setting fire to the forest. Thousands were killed, including women and children, as they tried to escape the blaze and the sacred site was burnt to the ground. Fortunately for future generations, Enryakuji was restored to its former glory from 1595 CE onwards.

The Temple Complex

Enryakuji has three distinct precincts spread over several kilometres across the mountain's wooded slopes: Yokawa, To-to (Eastern Pagoda), the area first settled by Saicho, and Sai-to (Western Pagoda). The most important building at the site is the Konponchudo which was built on the site of Saicho's first hut on the mountain, now the Eastern Precinct. The present version is a reconstruction dating to 1642 CE. Inside is an altar and ever-burning flame, said to have been lit since the site's foundation. The Daikodo or Great Lecture Hall has many portraits of Enryakuji's famous alumni. Next to the Great Lecture Hall stands the Bell of Good Fortune suspended in its own roofed structure. Other buildings in the To-to precinct include the reconstructed Kaidan-in or Ordination Hall, which was built to replace an older building commemorating the recognition of the Tendai sect by the emperor in the 9th century CE, the Amida Hall which was rebuilt in 1937 CE and has a two-storey pagoda, and the Monju-ro Gate.


The Chu-do or Central Hall of the Yokawa precinct was built in the 9th century CE by the renowned monk and abbot of Enryakuji, Ennin, but later destroyed by a lightning strike. It was rebuilt in 1971 CE. The most important structure in the Western Precinct is the Shakado, which was moved from its original location at the Miidera temple in 1595 CE and originally built by Saicho's disciple Encho. Between the Sai-to and To-to precincts, nestling in the forest is the tomb of Saicho and the Jodo-in or Worship Hall. As Tendai Buddhism recognises the existence of Shinto kami or spirits, there are several small Shinto shrines dotted around the complex, many dedicated to Oyamakui, the Shinto spirit of Mt. Hiei, and several torii or sacred gates.

This content was made possible with generous support from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

Attack on the Buddhist Temples - History


In the last hundred years China has undergone massive cultural upheavals. In politics, the old imperial system gave way to Nationalism, then to strict Communism, and recently to a more moderated Communism that is trying to find a balance between state-controlled and free-market economies.

The cry, “destroy temples to build schools,” was first heard in 1898 as various forms of traditional Chinese religion were opposed by new agendas of modernization. For the next hundred years China witnessed what many historians believe to be the severest attack on religion in history. Ian Johnson writes: “Even before the Communist takeover in 1949, half of the country’s one million temples had been converted to other uses or destroyed. Over the next thirty years virtually all of the rest were wiped out by 1982, when religious life was permitted to resume after the ouster of radical Maoists, China had just a few score temples, churches, and mosques still in usable condition—in a country that now had one billion people.” (Johnson).

My thesis will focus on the history of Tanzhe, one of Beijing’s oldest temples, during this tumultuous era. First, I will create the background for talking about this particular temple by carefully surveying Chinese political history in the 20 th and 21 st century. Second, I will closely recount and analyze the history of this particular temple against that larger background. My hope is show and clearly explain why the history of Tanzhe temple is in some ways typical and in some ways exceptional in relation to the recent fate of religion in China.

The 1966 Buddhist Crisis in South Vietnam

The end of French colonial rule in Indochina marked the beginning of the American effort to create a separate and strong state in Vietnam. The purpose of this nation building was to thwart Communist expansion. The United States would measure success by the Vietnamese government’s ability to incorporate all elements of society into the new state. The Saigon regime repeatedly experienced great difficulty in commanding the allegiance of South Vietnam’s Buddhists, and in 1966 a serious clash erupted between Buddhists in central Vietnam and the Saigon government.

In 1954, with U.S. support, Ngo Dinh Diem became head of the new nation of South Vietnam. Under Diem, Catholics were appointed to positions of power at all levels of government and generally enjoyed advantages throughout South Vietnamese society. The Buddhists, who constituted a majority of Vietnamese, resented the preferential treatment given to the small Catholic minority. The late 1950s and early 1960s witnessed a growth in Buddhist institutions in the South, both secular and religious. The desire to gain influence in proportion to their numbers led to the emergence of a Buddhist community with a high level of political and social consciousness. Although they did not take part directly, Buddhist opposition to the Saigon regime was partly responsible for the November 2, 1963, coup that overthrew and killed Diem.

After Diem, South Vietnamese elites were unable to formulate a government that could muster any sort of traction. It was not for lack of trying coup followed coup until mid-1965, when VNAF General Nguyen Cao Ky and ARVN General Nguyen Van Thieu took charge as premier and president, respectively. Ky’s support centered on the generals who were in charge of South Vietnam’s four military regions, or corps. Due to the special circumstances of the war emergency, these men had political as well as military authority. Corps commanders ruled as virtual warlords and were well positioned to exert influence on the central government in Saigon. The corps commanders supported Ky in his political aspirations. They knew Ky was acceptable to their American patrons, and that he would work to continue to ensure the flow of military assistance from the United States with (they hoped) minimal interference in their regional authority. I Corps, in the northernmost portion of South Vietnam, was farthest from Saigon, and possessed two of the three largest and most important cities in South Vietnam.

Premier Ky was convinced that the Buddhist leaders were traitors who wanted to overthrow his government. (In his memoirs he threatened to kill every Buddhist leader before leaving office if they tried to overthrow him.) He welcomed a showdown with them. According to Ky, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chanh Thi, commander of the I Corps, was a ‘born intriguer’ who had ‘left-wing inclinations.’ For siding with the Buddhists, Ky relieved Thi of command on March 10, 1966, precipitating a major political crisis.

General Thi, a devout Buddhist and an effective combat officer, had been popular in I Corps. Thi governed with even more independence than the other corps commanders. He had the support of Buddhists in the area and did nothing to oppose their political goals, which included an end to the fighting and a negotiated settlement with the Communist National Liberation Front. Ky and Thieu regarded him as a threat. U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, U.S. Army General William Westmoreland and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara all supported the Ky-Thieu regime and opposed Thi, whom they considered too soft on communism. The Americans hoped to facilitate Thi’s departure from the South Vietnamese political scene by offering him a good living in the United States and an education for his children. Given this formidable opposition, Thi’s future in South Vietnam looked bleak. He did, however, have one important ally: Marine Lt. Gen. Lewis Walt, who commanded U.S. forces in I Corps and was senior adviser to South Vietnamese military forces in the region.

The ARVN was much more provincial than the U.S. Army, especially the ARVN’s regional forces. Walt considered Thi an exceptional military leader who commanded the ‘deep-rooted’ loyalty of his soldiers. This potent combination — political support from the Buddhists and military support from the ARVN — allowed Thi to resist American pressure to just fade away. According to the official history of U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam operations in 1966, ‘The removal of General Thi caused an immediate shock wave throughout I Corps.’

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Da Nang and other northern cities. They formed an organization called the Military-Civilian Struggle Committee to support Thi and express opposition to the Saigon government. That organization, known as the ‘Struggle Movement,’ quickly spread. Some of its supporters took over a radio station in Da Nang and made antigovernment broadcasts. University students in Hue joined the movement. A general strike was called that lasted for a few days. The stakes were raised when the Struggle Movement claimed authority over the armed forces of Quang Nam province, which included Da Nang and its important military facilities. Buddhists in Hue took over the local radio station and joined the Struggle Movement in opposition to the Saigon government. By the end of March the situation had worsened. General Thi slipped back into I Corps where he was met by enthusiastic crowds in both Da Nang and Hue. The movement became anti-American as well as anti-Saigon government, and it increased in influence until most of I Corps was operating independently of central Vietnamese government control.Washington became alarmed. Saigon decided to act. On April 3, Ky held a news conference in which he proclaimed Da Nang to be in the hands of Communists and vowed to launch an operation to regain control. The following night, Ky dispatched three battalions of South Vietnamese marines (VNMC) to Da Nang on U.S. military aircraft. The Vietnamese marines stayed at the Da Nang airbase and made no attempt to retake control of the city from rebel forces. General Walt was in a difficult position, caught between Vietnamese marines loyal to the Saigon government and Vietnamese army forces that supported the anti-Ky Struggle Movement.

On April 9 the situation became more ominous. Pro-Struggle Movement ARVN Colonel Dam Quang Yeu dispatched a convoy of infantry, armor and artillery from Hoi An toward Da Nang. The commander of the 3rd Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Wood Kyle, ordered the 9th Marine Regiment to block Route 1 in order to stop the convoy. A Marine platoon from Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines (2/9th), supported by two Ontos antitank vehicles, stalled a 2 1/2-ton truck on the bridge and took up positions on the northern side. A flight of VNAF attack planes buzzed the U.S. Marine position. His progress blocked, Colonel Yeu aimed his 155mm howitzers at the airfield. Walt dispatched Marine Colonel John R. Chaisson to the bridge site. Chaisson warned Yeu not to proceed any farther. To reinforce this point, a flight of Marine Vought F-8E attack aircraft, loaded with rockets and bombs, circled overhead. Walt further ordered the Marines to aim 155mm and 8-inch guns at the ARVN position.

Yeu told Chaisson that he was a friend of the U.S. Marines but that (according to U.S. Marines in Vietnam: An Expanding War, 1966, by Jack Shulimson): ‘he had come to fight the Saigon government troops who threatened the local people. He had come to lay down his own life if necessary….’ The Vietnamese uncased and fused shells for their big guns. Chaisson warned Yeu that his unit faced annihilation if they fired on his Marines, then returned to his waiting helicopter and left. Gradually tension eased. Over the next few days the Da Nang and Hue radio stations returned to government control. The VNMC force returned to Saigon while ARVN forces in I Corps resumed operations against the Viet Cong. General Thi publicly disassociated himself from the Struggle Movement.

It was only a lull in the storm, however. Premier Ky feared the Buddhists would take control of the entire central region and declare the territory autonomous. Without telling either President Thieu or the Americans, Ky ordered his chief of staff, General Cao Van Vien, to lead a force back to Da Nang. On May 15, loyal Vietnamese marines and airborne forces flew from Saigon to Da Nang. Landing at dawn, they immediately moved into the city and seized the local ARVN headquarters. American leaders in Washington called General Walt to find out what was happening. According to Ky, Walt was ‘furious at an assault without warning on what he regarded as his territory.’ Ky ordered an airplane to fly over the positions of the pro-Buddhist army forces and drop a message threatening them with destruction if they fired on his forces. Walt, in his memoirs, makes no mention of being furious. Rather, he describes having been frantic to find out what was going on, glad that the Viet Cong were quiet, and grateful that American troops had not yet become involved. Again, Walt was caught in the middle. The new I Corps commander, Maj. Gen. Ton That Dinh, had the support of most ARVN forces in the region. Like Walt, Dinh was caught by surprise when Ky’s forces arrived. Dinh sought asylum at U.S. Marine headquarters in order to avoid arrest.

Later that morning two VNAF aircraft strafed ARVN units near U.S. Marine positions north of Da Nang. Fearing bloodshed, Walt asked the South Vietnamese government to withdraw its forces from Da Nang. On May 16, Ky rejected that request and replaced Dinh with another general, Huynh Van Cao, a Catholic, as I Corps commander. On May 17, General Cao flew to Hue to visit an ARVN division headquarters. A hostile crowd broke into the division compound as Cao prepared to depart for Da Nang. As the helicopter lifted off the ground, an ARVN lieutenant hit it with two pistol rounds. In response, the U.S. Army door gunner fired a burst that killed the ARVN lieutenant and wounded two ARVN soldiers. Struggle Movement supporters condemned the Americans for this interference in Vietnamese internal affairs.

Not only was Ky unwilling to withdraw his troops, he seemed to welcome this confrontation with the Americans. According to his memoirs, Ky told his local commanders in Da Nang to aim their biggest guns at the Marine base. If the Americans took action against the threatening Vietnamese aircraft, the commanders were to ‘destroy the Marine base. That is an order.’ Ky then describes in considerable detail how he flew to Da Nang and reprimanded General Walt for interfering in affairs that were none of his concern. Better at displaying flamboyance and arrogance than at conducting diplomacy, Ky was fond of sporting silk scarves and a pearl-handled revolver. His alleged dressing down of Walt, however, is not mentioned in the latter’s memoirs or in the Marine Corps history of events in Vietnam.

On May 18, Vietnamese marines moved to cross a bridge over the Da Nang River that connected the city with the Tiensha Peninsula. They were fired on by ARVN troops associated with the Struggle Movement positioned on the other side. The dissidents sent a message to General Cao, stating that they had wired the bridge with demolition charges. If the Vietnamese marines crossed, they said, the bridge would be destroyed. Cao relayed this message to Walt. Since this bridge was essential to U.S. Marine Corps operations, Walt again dispatched Colonel Chaisson to prevent hostilities between the Vietnamese military factions.

Chaisson convinced the Vietnamese marines to pull back, allowing a company of U.S. Marines to occupy its former position on the west side of the bridge. Chaisson then tried to get permission from the Struggle Movement commander to position U.S. Marines on the east side, but permission was denied. Chaisson ordered the Marines into the ARVN positions anyway. The Americans sat down in the middle of the rebels and made no attempt to dislodge them. Walt arrived at the scene. He and Colonel Chaisson walked together across the bridge to the east side. A Vietnamese warrant officer told them to stop, threatening to blow up the bridge. Not only had the Vietnamese engineers rigged the bridge for demolition they also had similarly rigged a nearby ammunition dump containing 6,000 tons of munitions.

The Vietnamese had two heavy machine guns pointed at the U.S. Marines. They fired at the Americans, who dived for cover. The situation was very tense. According to Chaisson, while Walt spoke to the Vietnamese warrant officer and ‘really gave him hell,’ the Americans were secretly cutting the demolition lead wires. The Vietnamese officer was not intimidated rather, he told Walt, ‘General, we will die together,’ and brought his raised hand down to his side. At that signal, another Vietnamese engineering officer pushed down the plunger on the detonator. According to Walt: ‘There was no doubt he expected the bridge to blow on his signal. I shall never forget the expression on his face when his signal did not blow up the bridge and us with it.’ By then, U.S. Marines had secured the ends of the bridge. Demolition charges were removed from both the bridge and ammunition dump by the Vietnamese engineers who had placed them there. The second bridge incident was over, but the crisis continued.

By late May, Struggle Movement forces still held several strongpoints in Da Nang. These antigovernment forces were well armed and willing to use their machine guns and other automatic weapons against government troops from time to time. On May 21, General Walt learned the Saigon regime had decided to use its air force to destroy the resistance forces. Walt was alarmed, fearful that aircraft bombing and strafing in Da Nang would cause civilian casualties, including Americans (there were more than 1,000 U.S. civilians in Da Nang at the time). Walt told the Vietnamese corps commander (the fourth since the crisis had begun) of his concerns. He got no help there the commander, afraid of being killed by his own men, moved into Walt’s headquarters to ensure his personal safety, claiming he had no control over the air forces. Walt talked with the VNAF commander at Da Nang with no greater effect. Walt next received information that VNAF attack planes were taking off from Da Nang with full loads of rockets and bombs. Since discussion was yielding no results, Walt ordered the commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing to arm four jet fighters with air-to-air ordnance.

Struggle Movement machine gun teams operating near U.S. Marine positions opened fire on ARVN troops. In response, two VNAF planes attacked with rockets. Three rockets fell short of the Struggle Movement positions and landed in the Marine area, wounding eight U.S. Marines. The Marines launched two jets with instructions to orbit over the Vietnamese aircraft and shoot them down when Walt gave the order. Walt then told the VNAF commander he would destroy his planes if one rocket, one bomb or one round landed in Da Nang.

Next, Walt got a telephone call from Washington, relaying a complaint from Saigon that the U.S. Marines were interfering in Vietnamese internal affairs. After Walt explained the situation, he was told to use his best judgment. The Vietnamese then launched four more aircraft to orbit above the Marine jets. The VNAF commander told Walt that if his planes fired on the Vietnamese planes, they would be shot down. Walt launched two more jets with instructions to take positions over the second tier of Vietnamese airplanes sandwiched over Da Nang. This standoff continued for two hours, and then the Vietnamese planes returned to base.

The Struggle Movement was not making any more progress on the ground than the VNAF was making in the air. About 150 Vietnamese on both sides were killed in the fighting another 700 were wounded. Twenty-three Americans, including 18 Marines, were wounded. General Thi, whose dismissal had initiated the crisis, met with General Westmoreland on May 24. On May 27, Thi met with Ky at Chu Lai, and they agreed that the most helpful thing would be for Thi to leave I Corps for good. Before leaving, Thi tried to convince General Cao to return to I Corps headquarters. Cao feared for the safety of his family, and asked Westmoreland for asylum in the United States, where he said he would like ‘to become an American citizen, to join the Marines or Army, to fight against the Communists….’ Later in the year, Thi went into exile in the United States. The Saigon government then appointed a new I Corps commander — Maj. Gen. Hoang Xuan Lam — who turned his attention to fighting the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong instead of the U.S. Marines and antigovernment forces.

The Struggle Movement in Da Nang collapsed, although it continued in Hue. On May 26, a large crowd attended the funeral of the Vietnamese officer who was killed after firing at General Cao’s helicopter. Afterward, the crowd burned down the U.S. Information Services Library. Over the next few days, three Buddhists doused their robes with gasoline and set themselves on fire. Tri Quang, the Buddhist leader, went on a hunger strike to protest American support for the Saigon regime and interference in Vietnamese affairs.

After threats were received, the ARVN 1st Division dispatched guards to protect the U.S. Consulate in Hue. The guards fled when a mob stormed the mission, which was set on fire with barrels of gasoline. In response, and with the assistance of the Americans, Ky sent Vietnamese airborne and marine battalions to the military base at Phu Bai. By June 19, all of Hue was under government control. U.S. Ambassa-dor Lodge publicly praised the Ky regime for putting down the Struggle Movement, calling it ‘a solid political victory.’

According to influential Cornell University scholar George Kahin, the lesson South Vietnamese critics of the Saigon government learned was that the dominance of Generals Ky and Thieu could not be contested as long as they had the support of the United States. After June 1966, the only challenge Ky and Thieu had to face was from Hanoi and the Viet Cong.

The article was written by Peter Brush and originally published in the April 2005 issue of Vietnam Magazine.

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Buddhist Temples Vandalized in California

A woman caught by a surveillance camera while desecrating statues at the Huong Tich Temple. Source: Santa Ana Police Department.

During the last month, six Buddhist temples have been attacked and vandalized in Orange County, California—three in Garden Grove, two in Santa Ana, and one in Westminster. The Vietnamese Huong Tich Temple, in Santa Ana, suffered the most damage. 15 statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were defaced with black spray paint. One had the word “Jesus” painted on the back. The temple evaluates the damages at least at $ 6,000.

Surveillance cameras proved that two women teamed up in the attack. Source: Santa Ana Police Department.

There had been similar attacks in the area in 2018, and in Montreal, Quebec, in February and March this year. California police in fact first suspected a woman involved in the 2018 attacks, but she was kept under surveillance and was not responsible for the most recent incidents.

Religion News Service reported on December 10 that there have been 17 such attacks against Buddhist temples in the United States in 2020. In April, three statues were beheaded at Wat Lao Santitham temple in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

There has been speculation that the attacks are due to a climate where some regard Asians as responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, but this seems unlikely, considered that the pattern is similar to other series of incidents that occurred in North America before November 2019.

It seems that a racist motivation should also be excluded, at least in the most recent cases: the two women the Santa Ana Police Department is trying to identify, based on the video surveillance of Huong Tich Temple, may well be Asian themselves, as was the woman involved in the 2018 incidents.

Two women are wanted for the attacks. Source: Santa Ana Police Department.

The most likely explanation is that these are religiously motivated hate crimes, perhaps perpetrated by ultra-fundamentalist Christians excited by a literature depicting Buddhism as demonic.

The word “Jesus” was spray-painted on the back of a statue. Source: Office of Santa Ana City Councilor Thai Viet Phan, via Facebook.

We read in social networks (where the CCP employs an army of trolls) that these incidents prove that, while the U.S. protest against problems with Buddhist statues in China, the same incidents happen within their own borders. Hate crime knows no borders, but there is a substantial difference ignored by this propaganda. In China, Buddhist statues and temples not aligned with the government are desecrated by the authorities, and the police arrests those who try to protest and resist the vandalism. In the United States, these crimes are the work of private citizens, and the police is mobilized to arrest them and protect the temples and the statues.

Another statue vandalized with black paint. Source: Office of Santa Ana City Councilor Thai Viet Phan, via Facebook.

A source in the Santa Ana Police Department told Bitter Winter that, despite the COVID-19 crisis, no efforts are being spared to arrest the perpetrators, and the city has a policy of “zero tolerance” to hate crimes.

On November 28, Thai Viet Phan, the first Vietnamese American who was elected a member of the City Council in Santa Ana, attended a press conference at Dieu Ngu Buddhist Temple, where religious authorities, elected officials, and police officers vowed to protect the temples and put a halt to these despicable hate crimes.

The press conference at the Dieu Ngu Temple. Source: Office of Santa Ana City Councilor Thai Viet Phan, via Facebook.

Mahabodhi Temple

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Mahabodhi Temple, one of the holiest sites of Buddhism, marking the spot of the Buddha’s Enlightenment (Bodhi). It is located in Bodh Gaya (in central Bihar state, northeastern India) on the banks of the Niranjana River.

The Mahabodhi Temple is one of the oldest brick temples in India. The original structure, later replaced, was built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (died c. 238 bce ), one of Buddhism’s most important proselytes, to commemorate the Buddha’s Enlightenment. The temple is 55 metres (180 feet) in height. Its pyramidal shikhara (tower) comprises several layers of niches, arch motifs, and fine engravings. Four towers, each identical to its central counterpart but smaller in size and topped with an umbrella-like dome, adorn the corners of the two-story structure. A shrine inside the temple holds a yellow sandstone statue of the Buddha encased in glass.

A descendant of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha is said to have sat until he attained enlightenment stands adjacent to the temple. Ashoka’s stone slab purporting to mark the exact position where the Buddha sat is traditionally called the Buddha’s vajrasana (literally “diamond throne” or “thunder seat”). Stone railings surround the temple as well as the Bodhi tree. One of the most famous of Ashoka’s many pillars (on which he had engraved his edicts and his understanding of religious doctrine) stands at the southeast corner of the temple.

The 4.8-hectare (11.9-acre) complex also includes ancient shrines and modern structures built by Buddhist devotees. It was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002.

20 of the world’s most beautiful Buddhist temples

These architectural marvels were designed to inspire peaceful reflection.

Between the mid-sixth and mid-fourth centuries B.C., Buddhism was founded in northeastern India and soon spread throughout the Asian subcontinent, influencing cultural and spiritual practices, art, and architecture. Today, around half a billion people around the world practice Buddhism, which is built upon principles like the Four Noble Truths and pursuit of nirvana. While traditional Buddhist temples often reflect the architectural styles of the region, all are designed to facilitate quiet reflection and meditation. (Here are 38 beautiful holy sites around the world.)

Etiquette at Buddhist temples is fairly universal. Visitors should remove their shoes at the door, wear clothing that covers knees and shoulders, and keep noise to a minimum. Pay attention to posted signage and avoid disruptive photography, especially when monks are praying. From the sprawling stone structures at Angkor Wat to the cliffside temples of Tiger’s Nest, here are 20 Buddhist temples worth a visit.

Buddhism & Architecture

Buddhism is a religion that honours nature. Most Buddhist practitioners seek to transcend worldly, material desires, and try to develop a close kindship with nature. Especially during the time of the Buddha, disciples often lived in very simple and crude thatched houses, and were able to develop and maintain a peaceful and joyful mind. Whether dwelling in a suburban area, a forest, by the waterside, in a freezing cave, or under a tree, they were always comfortable in their living situation. However, as Buddhist disciples grew in number, it was proposed by King Bimbisara and a follower named Sudatta that a monastery be built that would allow practitioners to gather in a common place and practice in a more organised manner. After the Buddha deeply considered and then wholeheartedly agreed with this idea, he gave his assent for devotees to make donations of monasteries. As a result, the Jetavana Monastery, the Bamboo Grove, and the Mrgara-matr-prasada (Sanskrit name of the donor) Lecture Hall were constructed. This was the beginning of Buddhist architecture in India.

In China, in 67 C.E., there was debate between Taoists and two Buddhist monks from India named Ksayapa-matanga and Gobharana. Due to this lively dialogue, the emperor's interest and belief in Buddhism was ignited. Although Taoism was quite popular at this time, the emperor accepted and honoured Buddhism, ordering the construction of a monastery outside the city for Bhiksus (monk: male member of the Sangha), and a monastery inside the city for Bhiksunis (nun: female member of the Sangha). This was the birth of Chinese Buddhist architecture.

b) Types and Styles of Buddhist Architecture

Buddhist temples are often the center of cultural activities. From a modern viewpoint, temples can be compared to museums, for they contain precious and spectacular art forms, and in fact, are beautiful art forms themselves. Like art museums, they are a combination of architecture, sculpture, painting, and calligraphy. Temples offer a harmonised environment and a spiritual atmosphere that allows one to become serene and tranquil. They are valuable places for distressed persons to lay down their burdens, soothe their minds, and achieve a sense of calm.

In the early period of China, stupas were the main architectural structures being built. It was not until the Sui and Tang Dynasties that the hall (or shrine) became the focus. A stupa, sometimes referred to as a pagoda, can be considered the "high rise" of Buddhist architecture due to its tall, narrow shape that reaches toward the sky - sometimes with immense height. The concept and form of the Chinese stupa originated in India. The purpose of a stupa is to provide a place to enshrine the Buddha's relics, where people can then come and make offerings to the Buddha. Beginning with a relatively simple style, the stupa has been transformed in China, with improvements and innovations that demonstrate the country's artistic and architectural abilities. While maintaining a relatively consistent shape, stupas are constructed in a variety of sizes, proportions, colours, and creative designs. Although you can find stupas by waterfronts, in the cities, in the mountains, or in the country, they are all constructed to harmonise with and beautify the environment. The stupa is indeed one of the most popular types of architecture in China.

The Buddhist architecture of every region has its own unique character due to differing cultural and environmental factors. Close in proximity, Ceylon's architecture is similar to India's architecture. Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia also share a similar style, with structures that incorporate the use of wood into their design. Java's stupas resemble those of Tibet, which are made of stone and represent the nine-layered Mandala (symbolic circular figure that represents the universe and the divine cosmology of various religions: used in meditation and rituals). Tibet's large monasteries are typically constructed on hillsides and are similar in style to European architecture in which the buildings are connected to each other, forming a type of street-style arrangement.

Buddhist temples in China are commonly built in the emperor's palace style, categorising them as "palace architecture." This layout is designed with symmetry in mind, with the main gate and main hall in the center, and other facilities - including the celestial and the abbot's quarters - lined up on either side. On one side a ceremonial drum is placed, and on the other, a ceremonial bell. Behind this symmetrical line of structures will be a guesthouse for lay visitors and the Yun Shui Hall for visiting monastics to reside during their stay.

The materials used in constructing the temples associated facilities include wood and tile, with the roof tiles painted a certain colour. Because wood is a difficult material to preserve over long periods of time, China has very few palace-style temples that have survived from the early ages. We are fortunate, however, that Fo Guang Temple, built out of wood during the Tang Dynasty, still stands. The main palace-style hall of Fo Guang Temple is still relatively pristine in appearance and sturdiness, and gives us a sense of the grandeur of this time. The exquisite art of the Tang Dynasty, including sculpture, paintings, and murals, is still displayed today in this surviving temple, and allows us to understand that this era was China's high point of artistic expression. This temple became a national treasure and reminds us of China's golden age of art and architecture.

Fo Guang Temple and the other temples that have persevered through the passage of time - although there are not very many - reveal the modifications of structure, decoration, and construction methods that change and evolve through different eras. They also serve as the visual, material memory of a certain age and area, helping us to study the region's architectural and cultural history. However, as mentioned above, despite the fact that China has 5,000 years of history, preserved architecture is very limited. It is not simply due to the use of wood, which is highly susceptible to fire and decay, that prevents us from having more standing temples from the early ages to study today. Other reasons exist for the rarity of remaining temples. For instance, around the 16th century, some dynasties that rose to power ordered the demolition of the previous dynasty's major architecture. Or, temples were harmed or even destroyed in various bouts of war and aggression. Regardless of the materials used in construction - wood, stone, clay, etc. - it was nearly impossible for an abundance of temples to survive due to human rivalry. Fortunately, Buddhist cave temples were relatively immune to weather destruction, and for the most part they also escaped human desecration. They are well preserved and make it possible to witness traditional architecture and ancient art.

Modern Buddhist temples often imitate ancient architecture. For example, the main shrines of Taiwan's Fo Guang Shan, the United State's Hsi Lai Temple, and Australia's Nan Tien Temple are all designed based on Chinese architecture from the early ages. Many Buddhist temples today not only honour and preserve the Chinese culture, they have introduced and spread Chinese culture around the globe.

In the history of Chinese Buddhist art and architecture, the most important link is the rock cave, or cave temple, and all of the art contained within. Cave temples are cavities of various sizes that are chiseled directly out of solid rock, sometimes directly on the face of sheer cliffs. Many are quite enormous. Within the rock caves, there are ornately carved statues, sculptures, and colourful paintings of the Buddha, bodhisattvas, arhats, and sutras. This artistic practice was started in 366 C.E. by a monastic named Le Zun, and continued until the 15th century. In some places, entire mountainsides are decorated with innumerable cave temples and gigantic carved statues. Among these countless cave temples, Dung Huang cave is the most famous for its impressive and grandiose mural. Other well-known caves in China include Longmen Caves in Louyang, Yungang Caves in Datong, and the Thousand Buddhas Cave in Jinang. Yungang Cave is especially well known for its grand size.

The creation of cave temples occurred over thousands of years, spanning several dynasties, and, unlike wooden temples that suffer dilapidation from the elements, are sheltered by massive rock and therefore remain standing as remarkable and majestic testimonials to Buddhism flourishing throughout China. The magnificence and grandeur of Buddhist art within the caves has awed the world and has captured the essence and detail of the teachings for all visitors to behold. In the eyes of artists and archaeologists, this type of Buddhist architecture is especially full of life, beauty, and evidence of the transformation and evolution of Buddhist art throughout time. They are treasures that hold an important place in China's cultural, artistic, and architectural history.

-From the booklet, Building Connections: Buddhism & Architecture published by Buddha's Light International Association, Hacienda Heights, USA.

Significance of architectural elements and layout of Nan Tien Temple

Chinese temple architecture has long been influenced by secular building design, especially that of imperial palaces. Structures and colours used throughout Nan Tien perpetuate this tradition. Grandiose roofs, visible from afar, indicate status: The greater the height and slope, the higher the rank. The Main Shrine thus has the most lofty and impressive roof. In dynastic China the colour yellow was used exclusively by the emperor. Hence, terracotta yellow roof tiles are symbols of importance, as are the yellow temple walls. Small mythical creatures lining the roof hips are traditional guardians against fire, a real danger in the days when the entire structure would have been built of wood. While much of Nan Tien's roof framing is largely made of steel, it mimics timber construction with painted end beams extending under the eaves.

Red is another auspicious colour associated with the emperor. It was used to cover imperial columns, beams, and lintels, as is also the case at Nan Tien. Palace balustrades were typically carved white marble Nan Tien's concrete balustrades are fashioned in a similar manner and painted white.

Another element reminiscent of imperial design is the prominent raised podium used for Buddha or Bodhisattva statuary located at the rear of each shrine it is akin to that upon which the emperor was enthroned in royal audience halls.

As in traditional palace layout, axial geometry reflecting an established hierarchy directs Nan Tien's courtyard plan of lesser buildings leading up to the most significant. The courtyard arrangement furthermore implies a seated Buddha with the Main Shrine as the head, the surrounding buildings as the arms, and the courtyard as the lap.

The path of progression through the complex - ascending stairs to the Front Shrine, more stairs to the courtyard, continuing along a central walk to a final set of stairs before the Main Shrine - is similar to a Buddhist's journey along the Middle Path to enlightenment.

In addition to the shrines dedicated to particular Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, temple compounds usually include a meditation hall, sutra library, and residence for monastics. Nan Tien incorporates these plus other facilities necessary for day-to-day function: A museum, conference room with advanced technology for conferences and simultaneous translation, auditorium which is well equipped for large gatherings, dining hall which provides vegetarian buffet lunches to the public and Pilgrim Lodge which offers accommodation for visitors as well as participants for retreats or celebrations held at Nan Tien.

-From the book, Entry Into the Profound: a first step to understanding Buddhism published by International Buddhist Association of Australia Incorporated.

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