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The Tay Ninh Holy See

The Tay Ninh Holy See is a religious structure of Caodaism, It is 4km east of Tay Ninh. The Tay Ninh Holy See is also known as The Holy Temple or The Cao Dai Great Temle. It is located in Hoa Thanh Town, Hoa Thanh District, Tay Ninh Province.

The construction of this temple was based on neither a prior architectural design nor the participation of any engineer and any means of machinery.

Why do Caodaism worship The Divine Eye?

At the end of the nineteenth century, the Movement of Universalism became widespread among intellectuals in Europe. Spirituality says that after death, people are still living in another world and can communicate with the living through an object called "ouija," which means "Cau co” in Vietnamese. It is the compound word for "oui" in French and “ja” in German.

In 1890, a company named Parker Brothers quickly produced a series of ouija for sale. The trader Elijah Bond put those Parker Brothers branded products on the market the and quickly captures a market share. At that time, people believed that ouija is a noble game of the elite.

In 1914, Dr. William Crockes (England) reported his research on the ouija phenomenon in the book entitled "Communicate with The Invisible World" at the World Theological Congress held in London.

Since then, the ouija broke out in France and spread to Vietnam.

Although psychologists have done several studies to show that ouija is only a result of the "ideomotor effect", the faithful still believe that it is the only means to contact the dead.

The report of a French investigator named Lalaurette sent to the Governor of Cochinchine in 1924 states: "The Congregation of Cochinchina has emerged a communion movement for searching and practicing the fellowship with the metaphysical world through French books. A wave of spiritualism spreading across Indochina."

In the year 1902, County Chief Ngo Minh Chieu was introduced by an acquaintance to attend an ouija in Thanh An, Thu Dau Mot.

The history of Caodaism recorded that on a night of the 1920s, suddenly an "invisible god" called "Cao Dai Tien Ong" received Ngo Minh Chieu as a disciple and started teaching him.

In October 1920, Ngo Minh Chieu was sent to Phu Quoc Island. During the time staying there Ngo Minh Chieu prayed Cao Dai Tien Ong for the a symbol of the new religion.

On the morning of April 20, 1921, Ngo Minh Chieu suddenly saw a halo above the sea. Between the halo is a huge eye. Since then, the Divine Eye has been taken as a symbol of Caodaism. And Ngo Minh Chieu became the prefect of Caodaism.

November 18, 1926 was recognized as the date of “Cao Dai Tay Ninh” . The ceremony was organized at Go Ken Pagoda that Thich Nhac Lam (Abbot Thich Giac Hai) is the abbot.

Architectural design

The start date is March 16, 1927. However, for many reasons, until 1931, it was officially groundbreaking.

Commanders of the construction is the group leaders. Surprisingly, the members of the group neither experience basic construction knowledge before nor use the architectural drawing, they built it with the introduction of Fuji (spirit writing).

Thanks to Fuji, Tay Ninh Holy Spirit was sketched in three parts by the holy: Bat Quai, Cuu Trung, Hiep Thien. All three buildings are connected together to form the church, 27 meters wide and 135 meters long.

After three unsuccessful contructional efforts, on 14 February 1936, Pham Cong Tac, the Caodaism prefect, came to direct the project himself. On the fourth day, Pham Cong Tac mobilized 500 men and women to take part in the construction. These believers must swear not to get married.

During the construction, all steps are done manually. Pham Cong Tac would directly show the believers how to build. Surprisingly, despite not having known of art or contructional techniques, they had successfully crafted thousands of sculptural motifs, dozens of statues with high artistic levels.

The story of the mine burried under the temple

On June 28, 1941, when The Holy See had just formed the basic part, the French government took the army there to build the barracks. Pham Cong Tac was deported to Madagascar, construction workers were dispelled by the French.

It was not until 1946 that Pham Cong Tac was allowed to get back and continue building the church.

It can be said that Cao Dai Tay Ninh's magnificent architecture is magnificent as a palace. In 1947, thousands of believers from many places came to Tay Ninh and attended the inauguration.

Nobody knew that during the temple was occupied, a French army unit had to bury a block of 100 kilograms of explosives (or 1,000 kilograms in some different documents) under the ground.

It was not until 1956 that the truth was discovered through the Courriers des lectuers section of Paris Match. The author of the article is Mr. Roubaud - former Major Battalion Commander of a unit of the French Infantry. The article said that in 1944, the battalion received a takeover order from a former battalion that had occupied the temple before.

Mr. Roubaud writes, "I read an article of Caodaism and that reminds me of the Holy See in Tay Ninh, where we received the order of occupation. The former unit had to carry out a secret mission: burying a 100kg explosive block underground so that when the Japanese army enters, they would make it off. But this unit left the temple before fulfilling the mission. After that, my unit was sent to replace.

When I came with my battalion to take over the temple, it is unclear, for any reason, that in the handover record, the leader did not mention the task of activating the explosive block after the Japanese occupation. I did not receive the order directly from the supervisor. My unit is also the last unit stationed there before withdrawing completely from Vietnam. Therefore, I believe the explosive is still there. Therefore, through the newspaper (Paris Match), I announce to the Tay Ninh Holy See know this news. I am ready to point to the exact location if the prefect of the temple contact me."

Caodaism is a religion derived from the philosophy of Confucianism as the foundation. Believers make a commitment to lead a good life, follow the laws. During the two resistance wars, believers of Caodaism had actively participated in contributing human strength to the struggle for national liberation and unification. Taking advantage of beliefs of believers, some hostile parties have used the indiscriminate tactics to divide internal religions, creating infamous information for Caodaism.

The government had repeatedly broke the cruel plots. During the long and fierce struggle for justice, many of our soldiers have sacrificed their lives so that Caodaism becomes a pure religion today.

More than three-quarters of last century, the Holy See has become a pilgrimage site for about five million followers across the planet or an attractive spiritual tourist destination for many visitors. Many foreign architectural magazines have written articles introducing and praising the Caodaism Temple in Tay Ninh.

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