The Most Venerable Dr Thích Huyền Vi was born on the 8th April, 1926 at Ninh Thuan, South of Vietnam.
At fourteen years of age, Venerable Huyen Vi received his novice education. Even as a young novice at the age of 18, he took up a position as a teacher at a Buddhist primary school. Later when he was 20, he received the higher Bhiksu ordination. After a few years, he left his home province and joined An-Quang Buddhist Institute in Saigon to deepen his understanding in Buddhism. At the same time he continues to teach at a secondary school run by the Sangha. In addition to his academic pursuits and teaching activities, he never forgot to help other suffering beings, especially those victims of the the war. From a young age he was training himself to be a scholar in Chinese Buddhism by specialising in the Chinese versions of the Abhidharma Kosabhasya in Yogacara literature, as well as Vietnamese literature.
He was appointed a lectureship at An-Quang Buddhist Insitute for monks and at Tu Nghiem Buddhist institute for nuns, as well as well as an orator for the Vietnamese Sangha Congregation. Later he was elected vice president of the General Commission for Propagation of the Dharma in South and Central Vietnam and later became the director of An-Quang Buddhist institute.
Most Venerable Huyen Vi left Vietnam and went to India to learn more about both traditional Indian and Western methods of scientific work. In the summer of 1961, he enrolled at the Nalanda institute of the post Graduate Studies and Research in Pali and Buddhist learning. He took on the difficult task learning English and Hindi in order to progress in his university studies, and amazinglu succeeded by obtaining B.A. in English in 1965. As he was proficient in the Buddhist doctrine as preserved in the Chinese Tripitaka, it easy for him to command the Pali Language quickly.
In 1963, he passed the Pali-Acarya examination conducted by the Mithila Institute of Post Graduate Studies and Research in Sanskrit learning at Darbhanga. In 1967, he did his MA in Pali entitled, ‘The Four Abhidhamma Reals’ at Magadh University, Bodh Gaya. In 1971, he obtained his Ph.D, the dissertation being, ‘A Critical Study of Life and Work Sariputta Thera’, under the supervision and guidance of Prof. U Dhammarantana of Sri-Lanka, whom he was very high regard for.
Sariputta, one the chief disciples of Buddha, was very wise and believed to be ordinator of the Abhidhamma philosophy. Ven. Huyen Vi had read literature about Sariputta since in Vietnam, and thus he embarked upon ‘A Critical Study of the life and Works of Sariputta Thera’, a full-scale study in which all relevant source materials were gathered from the Pali, Sanskrit and Chinese canons. These sources, in addition to post canonical and commential literature, were systematically arranged and evaluated. The product of his study showed that Sariputta had a personality of a great sage, in contrast to the stereotypical description of a Asian, Indian ascetic.
Ven. Huyen Vi lecturered at Nalanda Institute, teaching modern Chinese and encouraging students to take up Chinese diploma courses. As for himself, he took up in a diploma course in Tibet under the guidance of Lama Rigzin Lhundup. In 1973, after living in India for more than 10 years, he returned to Vietnam to be the Professor at Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon. He lectured on Chan Buddhism according to Chinese source. One year later, the Saigon State Univeristy appointed him to teach Buddhism and ancient Vietnamese Literature. Unfortunately in 1975, due to political unrest in the country due to the Vietnam War, he was not able to continue with his teaching career. Ven. Huyen Vi was one of the Buddhist leaders of South Vietnam during this time. He never lost contact with his motherland no matter where he went, and in 1964, he was elected President of the overseas Vietnamese Buddhist Association. In 1969, he becomes the Hon. President of the Association, with the headquarters in France. In 1972, he was elected General Commissioner of the United Buddhist Congregation in Saigon. In 1975, he was invited to Paris by Linh Son Association to be the advisor and later the President of Linh Son. Ven. Huyen Vi set up Linh Son headquarters at Joinvelle-le-Pont, France, together with all other branches all over the world.
In 1977, Linh Son, France was chosen to be the World Fellowship of Buddhist Regional Centre in France, and Ven. Huyen Vi was the director. In 1979 he joined the World Buddhist Sangha Council, and he contributed much as its Vice-President since.
Buddhist education has always been important to Ven. Huyen Vi. He later converted the Buddhist Linh Son Monastery into a centre for monks and nuns to be trained and later take charge of other branches. As Linh Son Headquarters became too small for all the activities, in 1987 Ven. Huyen Vi acquired a larger property – 30 hectares to the North of Limoges, which is known as Linh Son Tung Lam/Linh Son Mahavihara or Dharma ville. Annually every summer, this centre is the venue for intensive monastic training.
In 1979, Institute Research Buddhist Linh Son at joinville-le-point was formed to give monks and nuns higher training. In the same year, Ven Huyen Vi and other graduate Sangha members began to teach meditation, as well as Buddhist doctrines in Vietnamese, French and Pali. Printing facilities were also installed at the headquarters to produce brochures, booklets and a voluminous book of Ven. Huyen Vi’s superior writings in French and English. The Ven. also saw the importance of reprinting rare Buddhist books in Vietnamese, especially the Chinese Tripitaka. Thus publishing become one of the main objectives of the institute, in addition to Buddhological research. From 1977 to 1982, Ven Huyen Vi produced twenty copies Linh Son Publication Union Buddhalogy research. The following year, the institute, in cooperation with the Pali Buddhist Union in London, began producing a bi-annual journal called The Buddhist Studies Review, with advice of Ven. Huyen Vi and edited by Russel Webb. The Chinese version of the Ekottargama, which was hitherto not known West, was translated in part into French and English. Venerable Huyen Vi’s pieces of of Sino-Vietnamese calligraphy were also contributed to this journal. Recently, The Buddhist Studies Review has won recognition as the organ of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies.
Last Updated on Sunday, 18 October 2009 17:05