Caodaism is a religion created in the south of Vietnam in the early twentieth century or in 1924. The name of this religion comes from the Vietnamese word Cao Đài which literally means only “A Place in the Top ” where God stays.
The followers of Caodaism or Caodaists believe that: The God of Place in Top created all religions of the world and the Universe. They also believe that Caodaism was created by God to unite all the doctrines of religions existing in this world.
Thus, this is a new religion that gathers all the major doctrines of the major religions, mainly Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity. The Caodaists follow the dogma not to kill, to live with honesty, to help each other, be praying, and worship the ancestors and to practice love through vegetarianism with the aim to bring happiness to human beings and bring them back to the God in Heaven. Here is some information about Caodaism.
The number of followers of Caodaism called Caodaists:
Created when Vietnam was very chaotic, this religion has grown rapidly in size and the number of followers. According to information from the Religion Commission of the Vietnamese government in 2010, there were more than 2.4 million followers with 1,290 places of worship. In addition, there are about more 30,000 believers living in the United States, Europe, and Australia. According to all the information from the Mission of Overseas Caodaism, there are about 5 million followers. Currently, Caodaism is the third largest religion in Vietnam.
History and development of Caodaism in Vietnam:
The documents of the Caodaism religion claim that Mr. Ngo Van Chieu, an official in the French colonial administration, was the first follower of this religion.
During this period, a group of regime officials, influenced by spiritualism, including Cao Quynh Cu, Cao Hoai Pham, Pham Cong Tac…met each other regularly to share spiritualism doctrines.
February 21, 1924, a poem was diffused in the name of God with the names of 13 people who were later regarded as the first disciples of this religion and Ngo Van Chieu is the head. Since this diffusion, the doctrinal bases of this new religion were completed and perfected gradually. Some months later, the number of followers quickly grew to several hundred.
To be recognized by the French colonial administration, October 7, 1926, the believers sent to the governor of Cochin China, the actual south of Vietnam: Mr Le Fol a request signed by 28 disciples of high status and 245 followers. Later, November 19, 1926, the followers of Caodaism organized ceremony to announce the opening of their religion in the current Tay Ninh town in the presence of government officials.
However, because of disagreements among believers about the organization or individual goals, there were the independent branches of Caodaism. However, this fact has not reduced the development and the number of believers grew quickly. This religion has quickly become a major religion in the south, centre, north of Vietnam, even in Cambodia. The leaders of this new religion are well educated with social status therefore, they have the support of the population but in different moments of Vietnamese history, Caodaism was not supported the political powers.
Basic doctrines of Caodaism:
Caodaism believes that God is the founder of the Universe and of all religions in the world. Over time, the history of religion is divided into three different periods:
It was the period of the formation of the first religions in the world, including Buddhism, Jainism in India, Taoism, Confucianism in China, and Judaism in the Middle East. In this period, God left freedom to the first disciples to follow the angelic activities in the name of God.
It was time to reform the religions in the world. Caodaism believes that after the moments of development, doctrines invented by God have been misunderstood by followers which were not like as original teachings. So once again, God asked their followers in the world, to make reforms which gave birth to Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Christianity, and Islamism. This period was characterized by growth beyond the borders of nations.
However, during the second period, there were numerous religious conflicts. So, the Third Period is the creation of Caodaism which is the religion under the governance, evangelization and the direction of God to unify all the doctrines of all the religions of the world following the will of God.
With the doctrine of unification of religions, Caodaism is called “Together Three Religions” (the three religions have the same origin). According to Caodaism, during the Third Period, all religions are unified to form this new religion which is propagated, disseminated and taught in Vietnamese.
According to Caodaism, Celestial Eye is the God who can clearly see all the acts of good or evil in the world to reward or punish in a just manner. In front of the Celestial Eye, nobody can hide the truth.
In addition, the Celestial Eye symbolizes the spirit of the Great Reunion. For any country, any races or religions, the symbol of the eye is the same that has no distinction according to Caodaism.
Roles of Vietnamese traditions in Caodaism:
Unlike as most religions that refuse often each other, the Caodaists accept other religions and other beliefs.
Because the Caodaism is the unique religion founded by God during the Third Period without distinction of religions, peoples … So, one of Caodaism’s characteristics is respect for religious beliefs and customs of the followers who should not refuse or limit their activities related to beliefs or their traditional customs.
Popular beliefs in the south of Vietnam have great influence on this religion. Most activities of this religion concentrate on family rituals associated with the traditional customs of the Vietnamese people, such as weddings, funerals … Or course, it is organized by following the principles and philosophy of Caodaism, but all relatives to the traditional customs of Vietnamese people. In addition, these ceremonies with the participation of many dignitaries, followers…make the celebration more solemn. On the other hand, the ceremonial music of its followers is actually a part of the traditional music of Vietnam.
With tolerance, in less than 100 years of creation and development, but Caodaism becomes one of the three largest religions of Vietnam after Buddhism and Catholicism.