Week 1 Blog Post

The burning monk, 1963 (1)

On June 10th of 1963, a Buddhist monk named Thích Quảng Đức set himself on fire during a march protesting the prosecution of Buddhists in South Vietnam. The pictures that were taken that day by journalists made international news, and became a worldwide known image, creating controversy. Thích Quảng Đức’s death, which painted him as a matryr, put pressure on the prime minister of South Vietnam to add reform acts to appease Buddhists. The reform acts were not enacted, and the army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces, who were loyal to the prime minister and his anti-Buddhist beliefs, launched raids in Buddhist pagodas, which led to deaths of other individuals who identified as Buddhists. As a result, other Buddhist monks set themselves on fire. Eventually, the prime minister was assassinated, and the persecution of Buddhists ceased.

The American president at the time, John F. Kennedy, said, “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one.” Overall, many Americans viewed the picture as a tragic, yet honorable event that promoted using extreme actions to make a statement. However, that is not the undisputed consensus. South Vietnamese individuals, some Buddhist monks, debated on whether or not Thích Quảng Đức’s death was beneficial. As a result of his death, many other Buddhists were murdered by army of the Republic of Vietname Special Forces, or became inspired to immolate themselves. His immolation sparked many other immolations in South Vietname, and in the rest of the world.

Overall, history from every country learned is focused on different aspects of any event, including this event. While some may praise Thích Quảng Đức’s action and see him as a matryr, some view his action as mostly negative due to the reprecusions such as the raids of Buddhist pagodas and the multiple deaths of Buddhists.

Nakhoda, Z. (2010, April 19). South Vietnamese Buddhists initiate fall of dictator Diem, 1963. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/south-vietnamese- buddhists-initiate-fall-dictator-diem-1963

R. (2015, June 23). The burning monk, 1963. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/the-burning-monk-1963/


2 thoughts on “Week 1 Blog Post

  1. Controversy exists because the world is not black and white; sometimes there is no right or wrong. Every individual on this earth has a different perceptual lens, unique to them and created through all their own personal experiences. Because of this, people are going to agree to disagree. Some would read this story, and think that monk that took his own life in such a horrific manner is truly a hero. They would have their own reasoning and logic that led them to that stance, and of course it makes perfect sense to them. However, this doesn’t make them right- but merely opinionated. Then you have someone else come along with a completely different perceptual lens, and thinks that the monk was just a mentally unstable person who cost many people their lives, maybe even see him as a murderer instead of a martyr. Perception and intention are literally everything.

  2. In response to your post I found an article on Buddhism Today called The Self-Immolation of Thich Quang Duc, which goes into the various factors surrounding his personal sacrifice in order to protest the persecution of the Buddhists. The Buddhist religion accepted the act as ethical based on the teachings “to demonstrate great acts of selflessness.” (Buddhism Today 2000) Therefore opposition within the religion is not seen, and the deaths ensuing because of the reforms not being enacted were viewed by the Buddhist as the continuation of evil not as retaliation for Thich Quang Duc. This can be observed as the Buddhists continued using his method of protest, public sacrifice, until they got the freedom from persecution. Thich Quang Duc’s death sparked hope in all persecuted communites, religions, peoples and stood as a firm reminder, to leaders, that listening to the persecuted and conforming to their needs is an option that can be far more favorable than not.
    Article link: http://www.buddhismtoday.com/english/vietnam/figure/003-htQuangduc.htm
    Buddhism Today. (2000, January 7). The Self-Immolation of Thich Quang Duc. Retrieved July 10, 2016, from http://www.buddhismtoday.com/english/vietnam/figure/003-htQuangduc.htm

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