Hoang Phap Pagoda

Amitabha Night


How grand and sublime Hoang Phap pagoda

Is the red curved tiled roof full of homeland love

How melodious the early evening bell sounds

With Sutra words and Dharma speech lead to the cultivated path.

Hoang Phap pagoda not only has beautiful sight but also has dharma dignity from the founder. The pagoda was located on a six-hectare area at Thanh Ong Nam, Tan Hiep ward, Hoc Mon District, Ho Chi Minh city.

Late Most Venerable Ngo Chan Tu founded Hoằng Pháp pagoda in 1957. This place once was a bud forest. After two years exploited the wasteland, He started to build the pagoda in T-faced bricks, having two storeys covered by tile roof and facing north west. Because of his great virtue and generosity, more and more Buddhists from everywhere gathered to take refuge. To get enough area to kowtow and lecture, He extended the 28 meter long Buddha Hall, block brick walls, and the cement tole roof.

Besides cultivation, welcoming monks, protecting people, propagating Buddhist Dharma, and building Triratna monastery, He always cared about misfortune people. In 1965, witnessing homeless people because of the war in Đong Xoai, Thuan Loi, He saved 60 families including about 261 people, accommodated them to the pagoda and offered them food in 8 months. After that, He bought lands for 55 houses to settle them.

In 1968, more and more homeless, poor and illiterate children, who missed or lost parents in the war, He established Dục Anh institute where 365 children at the age of 6 to 10 were gathered to be studied and brought up. In 1974, with the intention to build an orphan village for thousands of unhappy children and a temple of Hung King, the Most Ven. bought 45 hectares of land at Phu Đuc hamlet, Tan Tao ward, Binh Chanh district. While the reclearing and pathing work was in progress, the country was in unification, He offered the land to the managing board of Le Minh Xuan the new economic zone.

After the unification of the country, their relatives received the children, Duc Anh institute was closed, the Most Ven. continued his vow saving the old who were lonely and miserable. In 1988, he indicated the way to Nirvana at Hoang Phap at 1.30pm, October 16th, Dragon year, abode in human existence in 88 years, 65 years of Buddhist age.

Inherited the career at Hoằng Pháp pagoda was his disciple - Senior Ven. Thích Chân Tính. Concerning about the propagation of Dharma here, he established a Protection Department here and ten more Sanghas (group of cultivated Buddhists) at the other places with more than 1000 Buddhists. Every lunar month at repentance night on 14thand 30th, He lectured Buddha’s Dharma to local Buddhists. The Buddhists at ten Sanghas came back to work and cultivated at 8 a.m. every lunar months of January 15th, April 15th and July 15th. He also saved and reared more than 50 lonely and miserable old people. Bhadanta especially cared for children of Buddhist families, more than 1000 children of whom have weekly been cultivating here. He not only conducted them Buddha’s Dharma but he also concerned about their career in the future. He equipped 5 set of computers, 1 organ and 01 electric drum, which are used to teach them computing and organ playing free charge at the pagoda.

Because of the rottened Buddha Hall, and under the permission of local government, the Abbot began to rebuild it at lunar February 21st, Pig year (March 3rd, 1995). In the reconstruction, the Bhadanta widened the Buddha Hall in 18 meter width and 42-meter length totalizing 756 square meters; all in I-shaped architecture. Although being built in a new way, it still kept the antique shape of Northern pagodas with curved corner of the roof and two layers of red tile. All of base, girders, pillars, ceiling, and roof were built from firmly concrete. The exterior wall was paved with enameled tile; the interior walls were water-painted. The floor was paved with the granite rocks imported from Spain. All of doors, balconies, and altar have made from precious wood and were engraved skillfully.

Both sides of the stairs led to the Buddha Hall laid two cement giant lions. Besides two doors of the hall, get two relievo-statues of Vajra Bodhisattvas (Diamond Arhan) in grave faces and strong and beautiful bodies like athletes. Inside the hall, were the Buddha in the front and Patriarch at the back. The front hall seats the Buddha meditating on a lotus throne, with about 4.5 meter height. On the surrounding walls were 7 relievo statues with craving pictures of Buddha’s life from his left-house period to his Nirvana. Carved above and below the relievo statues which were opposite the Buddha statue were two lines of words “A day of developing the Buddha’s dignity; the wheel of the law setting in regular motion”. In front of the altar laid the wooden balcony carved the picture of “nine dragons attending the moon”. Above the balcony laid three rolls of wooden Chinese works; the middle one named SASTA SEVAMANUSYANAM (Teacher of devas and men), the others named MERCY and INTELLIGENCE.

The backside of the altar worshipped Most Ven. Ngo Chan Tu - the founder of Hoangphap pagoda. On the wall, carved two relievo statues that described his life. On left and right sides were an altar of incense souls.

Facing the Buddha Hall was the Buddha statue meditating on the foot of the Bodhi tree. In front of the Bodhi tree was a three-door temple gate built in June 1999. Looking from the outside, the main gate named the words “Hoang Phap pagoda” from which on the left-side gate was the word MERCY; and INTELLIGENCE on the right one. Two parallel verses were hung on two main pillars of the main gate:

PROPAGATION improves the Buddhism, showing people the truth.

WONDERFUL DHARMA enlights sentient beings with Bodhi mind.

On the pillars of two sub-gates were laid two parallel verses:

MERCY saves four kinds of creatures from suffering

INTELLIGENCE protects three realms for happiness.

From the inside of the three-door temple gate, hanging two parallel verses:

Being grateful to Honored Most Venerable for Meditation World in the North.

Repaying Great Monk’s kind act for cultivating Enlightened Garden in the South.

There were two parallel verses on both subgates:

Come to the pagoda entrance, we must leave our bad habits

Enter the Buddha Hall; we must keep our mind clean.

All the parallel verses were written in Vietnamese.

On the left of the Buddha Hall, looking from outside, there was “Nhị Nghiêm” tower where laid the physical body of Monk Ngo Chan Tu. From a distance was a tower of  late Nuns of the pagoda. Next was the large and airy dining room with a new rock-work paralleled a block of nurse home for the aged women consist of ten rooms full of facilities, each of which contained 4 people. Backward was a kitchen. On the right of the Buddha Hall, looking from outside, there was a garden with a verdant grass. Next to the bamboo grove laid the rock-work with 10 meter height and 20 meter width on a lake. There was a 5-meter statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva made in marble, which is the most beautiful rock-work in Hồ Chí Minh city nowadays. Following was a small rock-work in the round lake. Behind was the Salvaged Stupa laid the bones of the beings. Behind the Buddha Hall was the monk room used as a lecture room with the capacity over 300 people. The front had two verdant grasses with a long-aged tamarind tree.

Hoang Phap pagoda had a large precinct of many big trees shading all year, which was an ideal place for children of Buddhist family to camp and do outdoor activities. Hochiminh Conducting Board held many summer camps of “The six points of reverent harmony” here including over 800 participants.

To help home-being Buddhists forget their desiring condition for body and mind protection, and studious cultivation, the Abbot and the Board of Buddism Presentatives in Hoc Mon District held a seven-day cultivated retreat in March 1999 at Hoang Phap pagoda. Attendants got 70 Buddhists who joined the course practised with repeatedly name called sect of Amitabha Buddha in 7 days and nights. This was the first seven-day cultivated term in Ho Chi Minh city. Up to now, there have been more or less 3000 Buddhists joining this kind of course. Besides, on every first Sunday of month, One-Day Cultivation period of Buddha Recitation gradually contains more and more Buddhists joining the course; sometimes the number is over 15000 Buddhists.

Hoang Phap pagoda belongs to Mahayana passing two abbot stages:

1/1957 – 1988: Late Monk Ngo Chan Tu, perfectly rested to Nirvana in 1988.

2/ From 1988 until now: Senior Venerable Thich Chan Tinh.

Every year, on October 16th of lunar calendar, late Most Venerable Ngo Chan Tu’s anniversary day is held solemnly.


Translated by Nguyen Khanh Hoa