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A STUDY OF INTEGRATION OF BUDDHISM AND VIETNAMESE FOLK BELIEFS (A CASE STUDY OF THANG NGHIEM BUDDHIST TEMPLE)

23/12/2016

A Study of Integration of Buddhism

and Vietnamese Folk Beliefs

(A Case Study of Thang Nghiem Buddhist Temple)

 

Nguyen Thi Hien*

 

Abstract: This paper explores the values of the integration of Vietnamese1 folk beliefs with Buddhism that arrived to Vietnam around the third century BC. This integration is in particularly seen in the Buddhist temples in the Northern part of Vietnam, specifically in the worshipping of spirits and performing of rituals, festivals, and in making of offerings and in the Buddhist teaching. This integration contributes to the characteristics of what became known as Vietnamese popular Buddhism. Drawing on field research conducted at Thang Nghiem tantric Buddhist temple in 2012-2014, this paper examines how esoteric practices of tantric Buddhism in this temple interweave. This paper specifically examines the local worship of the Mother Goddess, the worship of the historical hero of Tran Hung Dao, and the folk belief in ghosts. One of the interesting beliefs in spirits is the story about Da Dai Ladies on the giant banyan tree at Thang Nghiem temple who control ghosts. The paper also demonstrates how the tantric Buddhist practices integrate with the folk beliefs in ghosts and create the novel religious syncretism.

Keywords: integration, Buddhism, folk beliefs, spirits, esoteric practices, tantra.

 


* Assoc. Prof., Ph.D., Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Art Studies, Vietnam Academy Social Sciences.

[1] In this paper, I use the word “Vietnamese” to refer to the Viet people.

 


Nguyen Thi Hien

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