Sangha Buddhists mark 25 years
The Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha celebrates its 25th anniversary today. Vietnam News Agency spoke to Most Venerable Thich Thanh Tu, vice chairman of the VBS Central Executive Council, on the occasion.
Following the total libera- tion of South Viet Nam on April 30, 1975, all Buddhist sects, monks and nuns nation-wide wanted to live in a common home. What was the driving force that made this desire a reality?
Through different stages of the nation’s history, Vietnamese Buddhist clerics and believers belonging to different Buddhist sects have thrived on hoang duong chinh phap, loi lac quan sinh (the dissemination of Buddhist teachings, bringing happiness to the people).
Prior to 1975, the Vietnamese Buddhists had organised various campaigns in an attempt to unify the then-sects, but none of them were very successful until the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha came into being. One of the reasons for the late merging of the different Buddhist sects into the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha was the division of the homeland. Another reason was the irreconcilable differences between Buddhist clerics and followers from different sects.
The total liberation of South Viet Nam presented itself as a good opportunity for Buddhist monks, nuns and sects to make their dream a reality, in the form of the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha.
A Congress of the unified Vietnamese Buddhists was organised at the Quan Su pagoda, in Ha Noi, in November 1981, with representatives from nine Buddhist sects across the country. The congress marked the foundation of the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha, representing all Vietnamese monks, nuns and believers inside and outside the country.
What have been the main achievements of the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha over the past 25 years?
Being a member of the great national unity bloc, the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha has carried out its dictum: Dharma-Nation-Socialism.
At present the Sangha has, in all, 53 Buddhist Executive Councils at the provincial and city level.
According to VBS statistics, there are about 40,000 Buddhist monks and nuns nation-wide, and 14,000 pagodas, of which 405 have been classified national historical sites. There are four Buddhist institutes – these are in Ha Noi, Thua Thien-Hue, HCM City and Can Tho.
In addition, the VBS is running six training courses on Buddhism at the college level, 30 courses at the secondary level and hundreds of courses at the primary level. Nearly 200 monks and nuns are studying for doctorates or MA degrees abroad.
Buddhist monks and nuns are running nearly 700 medical stations providing free treatment to poor people, 165 classes and 16 kindergartens for poor children, as well as homes for orphans and handicapped children.
During its 25 years, the VBS has mobilised hundreds of billions of dong and tens of thousands of tonnes of rice, along with clothes and medicines, to help needy people.
What about the future activities of the VBS?
Under the clear-sighted leadership of the VBS and the strong support from Buddhist monks, nuns and believers inside and outside the country, as well as that from government agencies at different levels, I totally believe that the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha will continue to enhance its past successes and safeguard the tenet of Dharma-Nation-Socialism.
Successes gained by the VBS during the past 25 years are good presents to the coming provincial Buddhist Sangha congress and the 6th Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha congress. — VNS
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