Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thích Quảng Đức

Looks familiar? Yes. Rock band Rage Against The Machine used the picture as the cover for their self-titled debut album in 1992. However, there's absolutely more than what meets the eye.

On June 11, 1963, Thích Quảng Đức arrived at a Vietnamese intersection of Phan Dinh Phung Boulevard and Le Van Duyet Street along with the other two monks in an Austin Westminster sedan. A group of 350 monks and nuns followed in procession, denouncing President Diệm's oppression of the Buddhist's religion.

Thích Quảng Đức then seated himself in a cushion placed in the middle of the busy road while the marchers circled around him. One monk began dripping him with gasoline. Rotating a set of prayer beads, Thích Quảng Đức spitted out his final words "Nam Mô A Di Đà Phật" ("homage to Amitabha Buddha") before igniting a match and burning himself to death. People who witnessed the event were startled by the fact that the monk did not manage to make a sound while painfully burning. The legendary monk's self-immolation was immortalized by Malcolm Browne who captured what they called as the pivotal point for the Buddhist's crisis and the fall of Diệm's regime.

Its sad how one person would have to sacrifice his own life to shake the apathy of other persons...

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