Vietnamese Theravada?

Recently, I was cleaning up the list of Theravada Buddhist monks on Wikipedia. Sometimes names get accidentally sorted by their honorific. For example, Ṭhanissaro Bhikkhu should be sorted by ‘T’, and not ‘B’, since bhikkhu is a title, not a last name. I was making sure each name was sorted right. It’s fun because you have to visit each page, and then you get to learn about monks you’ve never heard of before.

One such monk was Bhante Kassapa.

He’s described as the “first non-Vietnamese Monk in the Vietnamese Theravada Sangha in America”. I didn’t read on because I was still hung on the first question that popped into my mind. There’s a Vietnamese Theravada Sangha in America?

See, I regularly attend a Vietnamese temple, but my practice is more in line with what I’ve learned from my Theravada teachers. For me this means that I could actually merge my temple and my personal practice! Anyway, I did a search, and found an article by Binh Anson all about the history of the Theravada Sangha in Vietnam (also here). I’d previously thought that all Theravada Buddhists in Vietnam were Khmer Krom, but Vietnamese in fact have their own recently conceived Theravada sangha. How cool.

Now all I have to do is find a Vietnamese Theravada temple in Southern California.

Ordination of a new Vietnamese monk
Photo of Vietnamese Theravada ordination from Bhante Kassapa’s site.

6 Replies to “Vietnamese Theravada?”

  1. Dear Arunlikhati,

    At the outset, please allow me to say thank you for your visit. I was surprised and pleased to see that you had decided to write a comment on your site. I enjoyed your site, many blessings for sharing what you have experienced. Your site is a good read.

    If anytime I may help with anything please allow me the opportunity. I look forward to talking with you. I do have some information on Thervada Temples in Southern Cali.

    I wish you Peace,

    Rev. K
    Bhante n. Kassapa Bhikkhu

  2. There’s a Vietnamese Theravada temple in Riverside that I like going to. I’m going on July 11 and through the rest of the weekend if you’d like to join me and some of the BSA members =D

  3. Thank you for your links to those wonderful articles. I find it fascinating that there is some interest in Theravada Buddhism among some Vietnamese. For me, this seems natural. I have always been taught that Buddhism entered Vietnam from China, but that ignores the growing realization that today’s Vietnam developed much later than thought, and that the South Sea peoples who became Vietnamese may have previously received Theravada Buddhism just as some received Hinduism. The Lam Dong Provincial museum in Dalat has an excellent display of items taken from a 7th Century CE Hindu temple unearthed at Bao Loc. One can only wonder if any such future discoveries in areas such as the Seven Mountains will unearth evidence of early Theravada temples.

  4. Hello. Do you know any Theravadan Buddhist monk from Vietnam who came to Malaysia recently? As i know that this monk is from Vietnam and he is from a royal family. Anybody knows about him? If yes,please give me his name and his background.

    1. I’m sorry, but as I am not in Malaysia I have no idea. Most of the Vietnamese temples where I live are not Theravadan. As the Khmer Krom community in St. Petersburg is growing, I expect that there are some small ones there.

      The Theravadan community in Lowell, Massachusetts, are in the process of building a large temple to serve Lowell’s Cambodian community. So far, they have just purchased a large plot of land. Since my recent visit there was short, I did not have time to ask further questions.

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