Biography of The Most Venerable THÍCH QUẢNG ĐỘ (1928 – 2020) | The Fifth Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam
Most Venerable Thích Quảng Độ was born with the name Đặng Phúc Tuệ in the Thai Binh province of northern Vietnam on 27 November 1928. Both his parents were farmers and devout Buddhists.Together, they had 4 boys and the Most Venerablewas the youngest of the siblings.
Most VenerableThich Quang Dobecame ordained as amonk at the age of 14 with his master The Most Venerable Thích Đức Hải at Linh Quang temple. In the early 1950s, he was nominated by the newly formed General Association of Vietnamese Buddhism to study in Sri Lanka and India to further his Buddhist training along with a number of his fellow Buddhist scholars.
Most VenerableThich Quang Do returned to Vietnam in 1958 and focused on his Buddhist teaching and translation. In addition, he had also become an activist, fighting against the anti-Buddhist policies of the then Diem government. After a military raid of Buddhist monasteries in Hue and Saigon, he was arrested on 20 August 1963. Most VenerableThich Quang Doand thousands of other Buddhists endured torture and persecution while being imprisoned by the Diem government.
After the Diem regime was toppled in a military coup on November 1963, Most VenerableThich Quang Do was released. However, as a result of his savage imprisonment, he struggled with tuberculosis before having a lung operation in Japan in 1966. On his recovery and return to Vietnam in 1967 to continue his Buddhist work of sutra translations and teaching, he also visited Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Burma to observe the conditions of Buddhism in Asia.
From1972, Most VenerableThich Quang Do held several positions within the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, including Secretary-General of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma.
In 1975, Vietnam felt to the Communist government, and Most VenerableThich Quang Dohad again became a target of persecution by the Communist government along with his fellow Buddhist monks and nuns due to their work in fighting for religious freedom in Vietnam. He was arrested in April 1977 and spent 20 months in prison in solitary confinement, before he was tried and released in December 1978 with assistance from European governments and the media. In 1982, he and his mother were expelled from Saigon and forced to live in the Thai Binh province in northern Vietnam.
After 10 years, Most Venerable Thich Quang Do returned to the south of Vietnam against the government’s order to continue his fight for religious freedom. He was re-arrested and sentenced to five years in prison and a further five years of probation on the grounds of ‘undermining the policy of unity and exploiting the rights of freedom to impede the interests of the state’. In 1998, under the pressure of the US government, he was released but remained under close surveillance by the Communist government.
In 2003, Most Venerable Thich Quang Do became the President of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam’s Institute for the Dissemination of the Dharma. Over the years, he had also beenhonoured with a number of awards, including:
1978 – nominated by Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire to receive the Nobel Peace Prize
2003 – received the Homo Homini Award for human rights activism by the Czech group People in Need.
2006 – received the ThorolfRafto Memorial Prize, in recognition of “personal courage and perseverance through three decades of peaceful opposition against the communist regime in Vietnam, and as a symbol for the growing democracy movement”
After 20 years of living at Thanh Minh Monastery in the south of Vietnam, Most Venerable Thich Quang Do was forced to leave and return to his home province of Thai Binh in northern Vietnam. In November 2018, he returned to the south of Vietnam and remained at TừHiếu Temple until his death.
Despite spending years in prison, Most Venerable Thich Quang Do’smajor commitment was to the propagation of theBuddha-Dharma through his teaching and publishing of numerous Buddhist books and translations.
Most Venerable Thích Quảng Độ passed away on 22 February 2020 at age 93 at Từ Hiếu Temple in the south of Vietnam. According to his will, he requested a “simple funeral, not more than three days” and that “there will be no final words, no biographies, no emotional showings… just praying.” After cremation, his ashes would be scattered at sea.
Over the course of his life, The Most Venerable Thích Quảng Độ had never ceased to propagate the Dharma and fought for religious freedom in Vietnam. His life’s work and especially his fearlessqualities of a Boddhisatva,make him a shining example of practicing the Buddha-truth for current and future generations of monks, nuns and Buddhists to follow.
May Most Venerable Thich Quang Do attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.
Namo Shakyamuni Buddha.Namo Amitabha Buddha.
Thanh Kim & Thanh Nguyen
(Translated into English)
References used in support of translation:
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