was introduced into what is now called Vietnam by missionary monks from India in about the 1st or 2nd century
AD. For several centuries the main Buddhist
tradition there was the Savakayana but gradually Mahayana
came to be predominant. In 580 AD the Ch'an school was introduced
from China by the Indian monk Vinitaruchi and this has remained
the most popular type of Buddhism up until the present.
From the 18th century onwards Buddhism was severely disadvantaged
by the French colonial government and Catholic missionaries
made large numbers of converts. From the 1950's the communists
in the north and the Catholic Diem government in the south
both bitterly persecuted Buddhism, a situation which has
become worse since the communists gained control over the
whole country in 1975. Today many Vietnamese monks
and nuns live in exile and some
of them, notably Thich Nhat Hanh, have become major interpreters
of the Vietnamese Ch'an school of Buddhism to the West.
Thick, Buddhism and Zen in Vietnam. Tokyo, 1975.