Back to OWR Homepage Back to South-East
Asian Religions timechart

Hoa Hao

Doctrines Hoa Hao is a new reformist millenarian Buddhist movement. It considers itself to derive from the work of a 19th century Buddhist master known as the Healing Buddha of Tay An who created a form of Buddhism known as Buo Son Ky Huong Buddhism.
Both traditions emphasise the importance of home worship; that is, they opposed the use of temples and pagodas as centres of religious devotion. Implicit in this home based form of worship is the rejection of perceived extravagance such as the use of statues, gongs, bells or the burning of offerings and the advocacy of the use of one's financial resources to assist the poor. Hoa Hao does not consider itself to be a new religion but the recovery of the pure Buddhism of Shakyamuni combined with elements of Confucianism and Taoism.

History Hoa Hao was founded in 1939 by Huynh Phu So (1919-46). Its name derives from the village in southern Vietnam where it was founded. Following a religious experience (understood by his followers as the attainment of enlightenment) while visiting the sacred mountains of That-Son and Ta-Lon, Huynh Phu So began his mission to spread a form of Buddhism free of the ritualistic and ceremonial elements that were not part of the Buddha's original teaching.
Because of his popularity, the French authorities viewed him as a political threat and placed him, firstly, under house arrest and then temporarily detained him in a psychiatric hospital. During the post-1945 period Hoa Hao engaged in anti-communist activities. In 1946 Huynh Phu So founded the Vietnamese Democratic Socialist Party as a rival to the Communists. The following year Huynh Phu So was murdered by the Viet Minh.
Since the independence of Viet Nam from France in 1954 the Hao Hao has undergone prolongued periods of repression, firstly, under the government of President Ngo Dinh Diem (1954-1963) and later under the Communist regime (1975-present). Notwithstanding these difficulties, Hoa Hao has millions of followers in Viet Nam today and is considered to be one of the five most important religions in the country.

Symbols Hoa Hao has its own flag which is rectangular and brown but which bears no characters or images. Hoa Hao insignias are round and brown and contain the picture of a white lotus an the initials of the movement.

Adherents Hoa Hao is believed to have some 2 million members.

Main Centre
  Information about Hoa Hao can be acquired from: Hoa Hao Buddhist Church, Overseas Office, P.O. Box 3048, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670, U.S.A.