Modern Asian Studies

Political Monks: The Militant Buddhist Movement during the Vietnam War

a1 University of Cambridge

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From November 1963 to July 1965, the militant Buddhist movement was the primary cause of political instability in South Vietnam. While the militant Buddhists maintained that they represented the Buddhist masses and were fighting merely for religious freedom, they actually constituted a small and unrepresentative minority that was attempting to gain political dominance. Relying extensively on Byzantine intrigue and mob violence to manipulate the government, the militant Buddhists practiced a form of political activism that was inconsistent with traditional Vietnamese Buddhism. The evidence also suggests that some of the militant Buddhist leaders were agents of the Vietnamese Communists.