Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Current and former HCM City leaders and more than 2,000 Buddhist believers, monks and nuns on Sunday participated in a commemoration service for Bodhisattva Thích Quảng Đức, who set himself on fire 55 years ago to protest the repression of Buddhists by the US-backed Sài Gòn administration.
The memorial service, organised at the Việt Nam Quốc Tự Pagoda in District 10 by the HCM City chapter of the Việt Nam Buddhist Sangha (VBS), was also attended by representatives from the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation, Government Committee for Religious Affairs, HCM City Party Committee and HCM City’s Việt Nam Fatherland Front Committee.
Addressing the event, the Most Venerable Thích Trí Quảng, vice chairman of the VBS Executive Board, said that Thích Quảng Đức’s self-immolation sparked a sense of national solidarity among Buddhist sects across the country and helped the fight for religious equality and freedom to succeed in 1963.
Quảng, who is also head of the municipal Buddhist Sangha Executive Board, said Thích Quảng Đức’s actions touched the hearts of lovers of peace, freedom and independence around the world.
On this occaion, an exhibition about the life and career of the Bodhisattva Thích Quảng Đức, was opened, displaying many photos, relics, costumes and his heart icon at the pagoda.
The Most Venerable Thích Quảng Đức, whose lay name was Lâm Văn Tức, was born in 1897 in a small village in the central province of Khánh Hòa.
In 1963, after four years of increased oppression by the Diệm administration towards Buddhist priests and the Buddhist community, he decided to sacrifice himself to highlight Buddhist demands for religious equality in southern Việt Nam.
On June 11, 1963, when a procession of over 800 Buddhist monks, nuns and followers arrived at the intersection of Phan Đình Phùng boulevard (now Nguyễn Đình Chiểu Street) and Lê Văn Duyệt Street (now Cách Mạng Tháng Tám Street), Thích Quảng Đức soaked himself in petrol, struck a match and set himself on fire.
His body was consumed, and all that remained was his heart. Later when the Buddhist community tried to cremate his heart it remained intact. It was placed in the Reserve Bank of Việt Nam and became the symbol of a Holy Heart.
The “immortal heart” of the Bodhisattva Thích Quảng Đức will be taken to the Việt Nam Quốc Tự Pagoda.
Millions all over the globe saw his self-sacrifice, making the Bodhisattva Thích Quảng Đức a world-famous figure.
Before that day in 1963, he left a letter to the government. The core of his letter was a plea for all Buddhist believers, monks, nuns and laypeople to unite and strive for the preservation of Buddhism. — VNS