Tu Hieu Pagoda is the name of a pagoda in Duong Xuan Thuong III Village, Thuy Xuan Ward, Hue City, Thua Thien-Hue Province. The pagoda is one of the great ancient pagodas and is a famous cultural and historical place of Hue Ancient Capital.
In 1843, Monk Nhat Dinh came here to build a small pagoda to train himself and nurture his old mother. Monk Nhat Dinh is famous for having a good heart for his mother, and it is said that once his mother was very sick, he took care of her with medicine every day, but she still could not recover. Some people advised him to buy fish meat to feed his mother; if he could do that, not hoping that she would recover. After listening to these words, despite the humiliation, the monk still walked through the forest down the market more than 5 km away to buy fish to cook soup rice for his mother to eat. The story came to the ears of King Tu Duc, a king loved his mother a lot. The king was very impressed by the good heart of Nhat Dinh, so he named the pagoda as “Tu Hieu Tu” (Tu Hieu Means loving, respecting, and caring parents.).
In 1848, Monk Cuong Ky began to build a larger pagoda. The pagoda has experienced many abbots, especially including Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, a high virtuous monk and a great merit person for the whole world. In the work of the Buddhist World, Prof. Dr. John Powers, an Australian Buddhist scholar, chose 13 monks contributing to the formation and development of world Buddhism for last 2,500 years, and Zen Master Nhat Hanh was in the 10th position. The Zen Master was born in 1926 in Thua Thien Hue. He left home for Tu Hieu pagoda when he was 16 years old. He has been the eighth abbot of Tu Hieu Pagoda. (See more about Zen Master Nhat Hanh also in Scooter Saigon Tour website).
Every time Vu Lan Festival comes, Buddhists come to the pagoda to celebrate and put on pink or white flowers to show the filial heart of them. Few people know that Tu Hieu Pagoda was the place where Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh founded custom “Bong Hong Cai Ao” (Putting Rose On Dress), which has now become a unique culture of Vietnamese people.
The pagoda gate is built in an arched style, with two covered floors. And in front of the paved road to enter the main hall is a semicircle lake having of lotus and ornamental fish. The two sides of the yards have 2 steles to write the history of the pagoda.
The structure of the pagoda is built according to the style of “Ba Gian Hai Chai” (Three large spaces and two small spaces). The front is the Main Hall worshiping Buddha, the behind is the place worshiping Buddhist Ancestors. The house behind is named “Quang Hieu Duong”. In the middle, worshiping Le Van Duyet (An great officer under Nguyen Dynasty), the wooden horse and his big sword, on the left, worshiping died Buddhists, and on the right, worshiping eunuchs …, on the left, being the Monk House, on the right, being the Guest House. Around Tu Hieu Pagoda, there are also many tombs of the wives of the Nguyen Lords.
Tu Hieu Pagoda is a pagoda having an ancient architectural style, locating at a beautiful terrain. Moreover, the pagoda has an interesting and meaningful history. Therefore, almost everyone in the country and abroad heard the name of this pagoda.
The main hall of Tu Hieu Pagoda – Photo by Scooter Saigon Tour
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