“We pledge to be the next who defend the country and pay gratefulness to the people who have sacrificed for the country’s sovereignty at sea,” said Venerable Thich Giac Nghia, one of the first six Buddhist monks who will go to Truong Sa archipelago to manage temples there.
Venerable Thich Thanh Thanh
Venerable Thich Thanh Thanh, 34, and monk Thich Tam Hien (now living at the Tan Long temple in the central province of Khanh Hoa) will manage a temple on Song Tu Tay island. Venerable Thich Giac Nghia, who now manages the Van Duc and Phuoc Tri temples in Nha Trang city and Venerable Thich Ngo Thanh will manage a temple on Truong Sa Lon island.
The temple on Sinh Ton island will be managed by Venerable Thich Dao Bien, who now manages the Long Tho temple and Venerable Thich Duc Hu, who is the chief monk of the Hung Long in Khanh Hoa province.
Venerable Thich Thanh Thanh says that he was born in a Buddhist family in the ancient capital city of Hue. He became a Buddhist monk when he was 14. He graduated from the English language faculty of the Ho Chi Minh City Language and IT University and earned a master degree of psychology from India. He is among six voluntary Buddhist monks who are selected by Khanh Hoa authorities to send to temples in Truong Sa archipelago.
Venerable Thich Thanh Thanh says that he is always moved by people and soldiers who are living, working on and sacrificed for Truong Sa archipelago. Truong Sa is also a peaceful place that is very suitable for monks.
“That place (Truong Sa archipelago) suffers from a lot of natural calamities and shortage of everything. Going to Truong Sa is a chance to practice Buddhism and to spiritually help people on the islands,” the monk says.
Venerable Thich Giac Nghia says that he has been to Truong Sa archipelago three times to attend requiems for people and soldiers who died while exploring and defending the archipelago. The monk, who has practiced Buddhism for more than 30 years and is managing two pagodas in Nha Trang, is still eager to go to Truong Sa.
The temple on Song Tu Tay island
Venerable Thich Giac Nghia says that Truong Sa archipelago is the place for practicing Buddhism and to devote himself to defend the country’s sovereignty. The trip to Truong Sa archipelago is scheduled to be six months but the senior monk and his student, Venerable Thich Ngo Thanh, want to be there longer.
“We pledge to be the next who defend the country and pay gratefulness to the people who have sacrificed for the country’s sovereignty in the sea. After this trip, my students and I will regularly return to the islands to make contribution to Truong Sa,” Venerable Thich Giac Nghia adds.
Other monks also express their wishes to go to Truong Sa to “pray peace for Viet Nam and the world and for the country’s sovereignty integrity.”
Truong Sa archipelago has three big temples: Truong Sa Lon, Sinh Ton and Song Tu Tay, which are built on islands of the same names. These temples are made of rare wood and direct to Ha Noi.
For people who live in Truong Sa archipelago, Buddhist temples are not only moral support but also the evidence for Viet Nam’s sovereignty.
All temples on Truong Sa archipelago direct to Ha Noi. In photo: the temple on Truong Sa Lon island
Fishermen who are on their long journeys often call at these temples to pray for lucky journeys
Buddha statues are carved from gem stones, weighing several tons
These temples annually organize festivals and requiems for people and soldiers who died in the water of Truong Sa