Sunday, October 16, 2005

Thien Mu Pagoda

Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue
Originally uploaded by yellojkt.
The first stop on our river boat tour from Hue was the Thien Mu Pagoda, which is also known as the Linh Mu Pagoda. Boats pull right up to a dock at the river bank and the pagoda is at the top of a set of steps overlooking the river. The pagoda was first built in 1601 and the current version dates back to 1844. The pagoda is seven stories high and each level has an altar to a different Buddha.

The temple is a working Buddhist monastery and school. We passed a school in session in one of the back buildings. Children in the traditional brown robes were studying and chanting the teachings of Buddha. The grounds also have a wonderful collection of small gardens and fruit trees.

Temple Guard statues
Originally uploaded by yellojkt
In addition to the pagoda, the temple includes a large bell that was cast in 1710, the usual collection of Buddha statues and a group of carved and brightly painted statues that guard the temple area.

After the division of the country when the French left, Buddhists were persecuted under the Catholic dominated South Vietnamese government. Buddhism being a very pacifist religion, a form of protest was for monks to douse themselves with gasoline and immolate themselves in a public place as protest.

The first monk to to this, Thich Quang Du, was from this temple. The temple still owns and displays the car that is in the background of a very famous picture showing the protest. The photo can be seen in this article.

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