Wednesday, November 20th 2019

Would you pray to Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, and Victor Hugo?

Not many people have heard about Caodaism. It is one of the youngest religions on the planet. You will be surprised to know that its pantheon of saints includes such diverse figures as Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Pericles, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, and Sun Yat-sen.

Caodaism is a syncretist Vietnamese religious movement with a strongly nationalist political character. Caodaism draws upon ethical precepts from Confucianism, occult practices from Taoism, theories of karma and rebirth from Buddhism, and a hierarchical organization (including a pope) from Roman Catholicism.

This religions was officially established in the city of Tây Ninh, southern Vietnam in 1926.

The holy city of Caodaism

Ninety kilometres north-west of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Tây Ninh Province is the Caodaist Holy See. This Great City of God is an incredible demonstration of Universal Love. At the centre of this city stands the Great Divine Temple. This Temple, like the Religion, is a fusion of world influences. As well as being a major centre of pilgrimage, the Caodaist Holy See is also one of Vietnam’s major tourist attractions.

There are also many splendid local temples throughout Vietnam and around the world.

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The term Cao Đài literally means “High Tower or Palace”, that is, the place where God reigns over the Universe. “Cao Đài” refers to God the Father (The Supreme Being, the Creator, the Ultimate Reality of the Universe).

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  pictures in the article are by Vi Da

The Fundamental Principles of Caodaism

From a moral point of view Caodaism reminds people of their duties towards themselves, their family, their society (our broader family), and humanity (the universal family).

From an ethical point of view Caodaism encourages us to renounce our attachment to the material world, while still maintaining a balance between our duties to humanity and the planet, and the following of the Way.

From a spiritual point of view, Caodaism confirms, in harmony with all religions, the existence of our souls and the spirit world. Furthermore Caodaism offers a step-by-step path that leads to full spiritual completeness.


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 pictures in the article are by Vi Da

Some history

In 1919 Ngo Van Chieu, an administrator for the French in Indochina, received a communication from the supreme deity during a table-moving séance. Chieu became the prophet of the new religion, which was formally established in 1926. Caodaists believe this ushered in Tam Ky Pho Do or the Third Period of Salvation, a period marked by direct revelation between heaven and earth. Caodaism is the Dai Dao or great religion of this period.

A Cao Dai army was established in 1943 during the Japanese occupation of Indochina. After the war the Cao Dai was an effective force in national politics; it first supported, then opposed, Premier Ngo Dinh Diem. In 1955–56 Diem disbanded the Cao Dai army and forced the sect’s pope, Pham Cong Tac, into exile.

After the communist takeover in 1975, Cao Dai was reportedly repressed by the government. Centers of worship were established in Vietnamese refugee communities abroad, however, and by the early 1990s Cao Dai was reported to have some two million adherents in Vietnam, Cambodia, France, and the United States. 

Today, Cao Dai adherents may number as high as 6 million, at least according to Cao Dai sources.


If you visit Southern Vietnam, you could pay a visit to Caodaist Holy See and the Great Divine Temple and learn more about this young and unusual religion.

View Caodaist Holy City – Tây Ninh in a larger map

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