No Vietnamese people do not know Superior Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc who burned himself to death under Ngo Dinh Diem regime. Thich Quang Duc Monk’s death is famous among people in the past and recent days for his unburned heart his undauntedness.

Thich Quang Duc’s real name is Lam Van Tuc. He was born in Khanh Hoa Province, Central Vietnam in 1897 and dead in Saigon (name of Ho Chi Minh city before) on June 11th, 1963. He has become a Buddhist since he was the age of seven. He was in charge of many positions in Vietnamese Buddhist organizations. He built and repaired 31 Pagodas in Central Vietnam and Southern Vietnam. The pagoda where he was finally an administrator is Quan Am Pagoda in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh city. Thich Quang Duc Monk persuaded President Ngo Dinh Diem to change the behavior with Buddhism by burning himself to death.

Thich Quang Duc Burned Himselt To Death

Historians think that Ngo Dinh Diem had limited the freedom of Buddhism so that Buddhists were very dissatisfied. They became increasingly dissatisfied with Diem government since May 7th, 1963 (the lunar fourteenth of the fourth month) when Ngo Dinh Diem government did not allow to hung Buddhism flags. On June 11th, 1963, Superior Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc volunteered to burn himself to death to pray for changing the behavior of Ngo Dinh Diem government.

In the text of his inner wishes before burning himself to death, there is the following section:

“Nhận thấy Phật giáo nước nhà đương lúc ngửa nghiêng, tôi là một tu sĩ mệnh danh là trưởng tử của Như Lai không lẽ cứ ngồi điềm nhiên tọa thị để cho Phật Pháp tiêu vong, nên tôi vui lòng phát nguyện thiêu thân giả tạm này cúng dường chư Phật để hồi hướng công đức bảo tồn Phật giáo.” (“Realizing that Buddhism of the country is in misfortune situation, I am a monk, cannot sit and look. Therefore, I am pleased to burn this affected body to death for offering Buddha in order to offer the merit for preserving Buddhism.”)

In another section, he wrote:

“Trước khi nhắm mắt về cảnh Phật, tôi trân trọng kính gởi lời cho Tổng thống Ngô Đình Diệm nên lấy lòng bác ái từ bi đối với quốc dân và thi hành chánh sách bình đẳng tôn giáo để giữ vững nước nhà muôn thủa. Tôi tha thiết kêu gọi chư Đại Đức Tăng Ni và Phật tử nên đoàn kết nhất trí hy sinh để bảo tồn Phật giáo.” (“Before I pass by, I send words to President Ngo Dinh Diem, you should use humanity to behave with national people and carry out the religious equal policy to keep the country forever.)

I earnestly appeal to Buddhist monks, nuns and Buddhists, we should unite, be unanimous and sacrifice for preserving Buddhism. The burning story happens as follows:

At 08:00 AM, at Tu Nghiem temple, there was a solemn funeral ceremony in which monks and nun stood tightly in the pagoda.

At 09:00 AM, the ceremony finished and monks and nuns started walking to central Saigon.

At 09:17 AM, The grey sedan driven by Thich Quang Duc Monk stopped at the intersection of Phan Dinh Phung and Le Van Duyet (Nguyen Dinh Chieu and Cach Mang Thang Tam today). Monks and nuns formed a circle around the intersection. An enlightened monk that was Superior Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc and two other monks went out of the car. These two monks took the enlightened monk to the center of the circle. A monk cams back to the car and return with a can of petrol. He poured the petrol onto the head of the enlightened monk.

At 9:22 AM, the enlightened monk struck a match. Immediately, the fire burst and covered his body. He still sat until he was engulfed in flame.

At 9:35 AM, Superior Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc fell behind the can of petrol, he was actually dead.

Superior Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc passed away over 50 years ago, a rather long time, but people in Vietnam, even in the world still think of him. No one can explain why his heart still remains. Looking back at the life of Superior Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc, especially the action burning himself to death, nobody can deny that he is a person having love of freedom and equality, responsibility, and a brave heart.

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Thich Quang Duc Memorial

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