Buddha was born in Nepal, five centuries earlier than Christ. His teaching was primarily based on Brahmanism however without a deity or ritual. After his demise, Buddhism acquired the trappings of a faith and break up into two schools.
In the south of India, Theravada Buddhism remained near the Buddha’s teaching and aimed toward acquiring ‘Nirvana’ – complete detachment from worldly concerns.
Within the north, Mahayana Buddhism integrated a deity and various ‘intermediaries’ often known as Bodhisattvas, individuals who strive to realize perfection during their lifetime. Nirvana was replaced by Sukhavati, the heaven of sensuous pleasures, and components of Hindu and Taoist superstitions, similar to devotion to statues and relics and using magic to ward off evil spirits had been included.
Buddhism enters Vietnam
Theravada Buddhism spread into southern Vietnam, then a part of the Kh’mer kingdom, in the first century A.D. Mahayana Buddhism arrived in northern Vietnam via China a couple of hundred years later.
Most of Vietnam’s Buddhists now comply with certainly one of two sects of Mahayana Buddhism.
The primary Buddhist sects in Vietnam
The birthplace of the Thien (Zen) meditation sect is the sacred mountain of Yen Tu, not removed from the Hanoi to Ha Lengthy Bay highway at Uoung Bi. It is a giant complex of pagodas, statues steles and other fascinating relicts set in a forested mountain area. The steep climb has now been eased by the current set up of a cable automobile system.
The Dao Trang (Pure Land) sect exists mainly within the south of Vietnam and venerates A Di Da, the Buddha of the past, above all others.
Other Buddhist sects
The few remaining devotees of Theravada Buddhism are principally clustered within the Okay’hmer minority areas of the Mekong Delta.
Another Buddhist sect, a militant breakaway group, was founded by a faith healer in the Mekong village of Hoa throughout the 1930s. Hoa Buddhism was simple, with little ritual and no clergy: playing, alcohol and drugs have been banned, and Confucian piety was promoted strongly. The cult grew swiftly, and constructed a non-public army to combat the French. Later, they sided with the invading Japanese during WWII and became anti-communist, resulting within the Vietminh assassinating its leader. During the US battle, many of the Hoa fought with the Americans.
After the victory, the new communist government arrested most of its leaders and disbanded the priesthood. Nevertheless, Hoa Buddhism continues to flourish in the Mekong. The sect is tolerated by the authorities, however carefully supervised because a few of its followers apparently continue to have interaction in anti-authorities activities.
Vietnamese Mahayana pagodas usually have several common features. A statue of Quan Am, the Goddess of Mercy, is a well-recognized sight in entrance of a pagoda, sometimes in a multi-armed Okay’hmer version. The Vietnamese imagine that a male Hindu Bodhisattva (often portrayed as a multi-armed effigy) gave up his chance to achieve nirvana in favour of returning to Earth as the feminine Quan Am, and that the metamorphosis passed off in the grotto shrine of the Fragrance Pagoda, close to Hanoi.
She acts as the guardian spirit of mom and baby – her supposed power to bestow male offspring on true believers makes her a well-liked deity.