, Binh Son pagoda comes into sight on the path, which is 15 kilometer from Phan Thiet city to the West. Binh Son pagoda, also known as Sac Tu Binh Son pagoda, is situated in Phu Phong hamlet, Ham My commune, Ham Thuan Nam district. Long time ago, all the local households planted betel, including the backyard of the pagoda, therefore people called this hamlet ‘Vuon Trau’ (Betel Garden).
Formerly, the pagoda was initially made of thatch and plank by the villagers. After that, Gia Long emperor bestowed royal decree to the pagoda. Legend has it that, once upon a time, on Gia Long emperor’s way to flee from the country, he called at the pagoda. Until he found the country, he expressed his thankful to the pagoda by granting the royal decree, a 0.8-meter high Buddha statue and a 0.6-meter-high-bronze-colossal statue (Dharmapala).
By the year of Rooster (Tan Dau), the pagoda was totally restored. Particularly, the sanctum and ancestor house were roofed with yin-yang tiles. Previously, the sanctum used to worship three statues of Tam Than and the left and right halls used to worship Bodhidharma, Quan Thanh, Dharmapala. Later, all the Buddha statues were hierarchically placed at the renewed sanctum. In the middle of the shrine, there exists a horizontal lacquered board inscribed the words “Sac Tu Binh Son Tu” was offered by the followers coincided with the pagoda restoration. In front of the sanctum, there are two parallel sentences engraved on the pillar.
Venerable Khong Khoa Minh Phu became abbot of the pagoda in 1942 and he died in 1980. Currently, the pagoda is under the management of venerable Khong Canh, alias Minh Ngo. He carefully introduced everything about the Buddhist temple in detail to us, but one most impressed us is the great number of Buddha statues in different shapes and sizes at the pagoda. “Previously, there were many precious antiquities; especially the bronze statues but someone stole 12 ones. Currently, there are only 5 statues including 2 bronze and 3 valuable wooden statues”, he said regretfully.
As known, Phu Phong hamlet as well as Binh Son pagoda had spent over the fierce resistance war against the America. At that time, all villagers were round up to the new hamlet and left the old one fallow. Later, venerable Khong Khoa Minh Phu was determined not to abandon the pagoda, so he tried his best to keep it and furnish the revolutionary forces with food. Since then, Binh Son pagoda became a Party office and infirmary for wounded soldiers led by Dang Van Hai, former chairman of Binh Thuan provincial People’s Committee as well as secretary of the provincial Party committee at the same time. All the revolutionary activities had been operated and carried out undercover activities in the secret trench under the sanctum of the pagoda that was enemy-occupied zones.
From an abandoned pagoda, crowded followers had contributed their efforts and properties to the construction and decoration of the surrounding landscapes, but they left the sanctum and ancestor house intact. The pagoda is not only a cozy home for hundreds of homeless people, but also a destination for followers and tourists to visit. Additionally, the Management Board of the pagoda has launched various charitable activities to help outlying and disadvantaged people with the average amount of VND 2 billion a year.
On the records of this peaceful pagoda, hopefully, the local authorities should take care of preserving its cultural and historical beauties, especially preventing the rest precious Buddha statues from theft.
My Thien (Source: Binh Thuan Newspaper)