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An antique pagoda on Dong Nai River

Update: 01-01-2021 | 10:00:22

In the development of Binh Duong, Tan Uyen land is a place of many cultural and historical values. If you have the opportunity to come by this land, you should definitely visit the 300-year-old Hung Long Pagoda to both pray to the Buddha and have the opportunity to understand the history associated with the oldest pagoda in Binh Duong province.

Huong Long Pagoda looked from Dong Nai River

Story of an old pagoda

Located in a quite poetic location on the peaceful green river of Dong Nai, Hung Long Pagoda is now in Thanh Phuoc ward, Tan Uyen town. Hung Long pagoda is also known as Ba Thao Pagoda.  Regarding the name, as the document recorded, in the 17th century, in 1695 (year of the pig), in the land of Tan Uyen, there was a rich landlord named Phan Thi Khai (customary called Ba Thao) of religious devoutness. Upholding the belief in Buddhism, her family invested money to build a temple to facilitate their worship and bless her family as well as offering villagers a place to come to offer incense to the Buddha and pray for peace. As the pagoda was built by Thao's family, it was called Ba Thao Pagoda.

At first, as a family temple, there were no monks. Until 1806, two monks were on the way to propagate the Dharma to Tan Uyen land. One was Quang Co Minh Ly (holy name of Gia Truong), and the other was Bao Chau Minh Tinh.  Both of these two great masters were very knowledgeable about the sutras. Looking at the solemn and poise appearance of the two, villagers of Du Khanh invited them to become the abbot of Hung Long Pagoda. After a period of propagating Buddhism at Hung Long pagoda, the great master Minh Ly Vien passed away and the Zen master Minh Tinh succeeded the abbot and had great merit in propagating the Buddha-dharma in the land of Tan Uyen. In 1889, Zen master Minh Tinh Vien passed away and his disciples set up a worship tower next to the great monk Quang Co.

Up to now, Hung Long pagoda has undergone the management of 8 abbots. All of the abbots have been superior monks who understand the Dhamma.  In particular, in 1927, monk Thich Tri Tan inherited the careers of his predecessors to abbot of the pagoda to engage Hung Long Pagoda in a flourishing period. Venerable Thich Tri Tan held many important responsibilities in the Buddhism of Vietnam. After the South was completely liberated, the monk was the one who had great merit in building and establishing the Buddhist Provincial Association of Song Be Province, acting as Head of the First Buddhist Board of Song Be Province. Currently, the abbot of Hung Long Pagoda is venerable Thich Thien Duyen, who is also the Deputy Head of the Provincial Buddhist Association of Binh Duong Province.

Special architecture

Hung Long Pagoda has the frontage facing the Dong Nai River. Over the past 300 years, the pagoda still reflects on the peaceful Dong Nai river every day. When visiting the pagoda, watching the calm river, the feeling in each person becomes more peaceful and gentle. The specialty about this pagoda is the ancient architecture. All the blades on the roof of the pagoda are attached to the image of a glazed dragon with sophisticated patterned lines. These dragon statues were all cast in pottery kilns in Binh Duong.

Inside the pagoda, a rich and meaningful system of parallel sentences is still available. In the main hall, a sentence is to bring up the idea of ​​cause and effect and to enter the world, roughly translated as follows: "Many lives to brighten up, to become good generals, to become filial, to become intellectual teachers, to use your feet as a foundation of many good conditions, seriously blessed.  Nowadays, leaving pearls, leaving wives and children, leaving the citadel, leaving the throne, and enlightenment, the students are full of words and full of wonderful magic to stop suffering.”

Over 300 years of existence, Hung Long Pagoda had been also restored and repaired many times.  The current architectural complex of the pagoda includes the main hall, the two sides of the main hall which are the two bell towers, the bowl of the eight disciples, the rear-end god and the lecture hall. The eastern corridor was designed to build parallel floors with the main hall. The campus on the right is the tower of the abbots with the ancient tower architecture which is still intact. In addition, in the temple precinct there are precious old trees shading the pagoda.

In particular, a bronze casted Buddha statue of 1 meter high with sophisticated and balanced artistic lines worshiped by the family of Phan Thi Khai (i.e. Ba Thao, the founder of the pagoda) in 1802 is still preserved. Legend has it that the birth of this ancient statue was attributed to Khai's prayer when her eldest son joined the Tay Son insurgency. She prayed that if her son returned safely, she would cast a bronze Buddha statue to show her gratitude. As the war ended in 1802, her children returned safely. Performing the prayers, she cast the bronze Buddha statue for worship in the pagoda. This is considered a valuable ancient statue of Vietnam in general and Binh Duong province in particular.

Built in 1695, Hung Long Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in comparison to the old-time constructions in Binh Duong province. Up to now, the pagoda has been through more than 300 years looking the peaceful Dong Nai River. Despite many ups and downs in history, the pagoda still exists through time. To protect the relic, on June 2, 2004, Binh Duong provincial People's Committee issued a decision to classify Hung Long Pagoda as a historical relic at the provincial level.

Reported by Cam Ly - Translated by Vi Bao

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