Built by King Ly Thai Thong in 1049 in honor of his dream with Quan Am, Goddess of mercy. The legend has it, that Quan Am came to visit the king in his sleep, handing him a son while seated on a lotus flower. At the time the king was childless and elderly, he was seeking a successor. When he awoke from the dream he took a farm girl as a concubine, who beard him a son. The wooden pagoda rests on a single pillar rising from the dark green waters of grief, and the sacred lotus flower sprouts from these waters of suffering. The symbol of the lotus flower, as the roots grow out of mud, the stem rises up through the murky water and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the surface basking in the sunlight, depicts the pattern of growth which signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the sunshine of enlightenment. A Banyan tree was planted by Prime Minister Nehru of India in 1954. The sacred Banyan tree represents eternal life and immortality as it supports its expanding canopy of growing roots from its branches. These roots hang down and act as an ever widening circle, reflecting the Sanskrit name bahupada, meaning ‘one with many feet’, these roots symbolize the knowledge gained by seekers, as the wisdom is spread around the earth. The magnificent banyan known as the “Tree of Knowledge” and “Tree of Life”, represents strength, stability, growth and renewal.
As Vietnam has experienced many layers of grief and turmoil, the One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi stands tall, demonstrating the elegance and grace of a forgiving and enlightened culture. The people of Vietnam regard the lotus as the symbol of purity, commitment and optimism for the future.
©Chloe Garcia Ponce – All Rights Reserved