Burning Monk – The Self-Immolation [1963]

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June 11, 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam, burned himself to death at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon to bring attention to the repressive policies of the Catholic Diem regime that controlled the South Vietnamese government at the time. Buddhist monks asked the regime to lift its ban on flying the traditional Buddhist flag, to grant Buddhism the same rights as Catholicism, to stop detaining Buddhists and to give Buddhist monks and nuns the right to practice and spread their religion.

While burning Thich Quang Duc never moved a muscle.

Burning Monk - The Self-Immolation [1963]

Photographer: Malcolm Browne
Source: wikipedia.org

67 thoughts on “Burning Monk – The Self-Immolation [1963]

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  4. ive been studying events on the Vietnam war and looking at another picture of this man doing the same thing in the same place with all the people in the same palce and the car the same, the diffrence is the flames are not as big and the container next to him is lying on its side. the picture may be a fake. dont believe what you see!!

  5. It is ok that you do not understand, The burning Monk loved everyone and it was a most glorious death.

    The heart that would not burn.

    He prayed for everyone, even the weak and fearful who think it was ineffective and meaningless.

  6. Catholicism takes about peace. But through out their history practiced most brutal way to depress other religions in the earth. Same thing happened in Vietnam during catholic regime. Name of religious freedom this innocent monk was compelled to commit suicide.

  7. Enlightening snap…. Brave monk…
    He once again came down to demonstrate we are not body… we are immortal souls….
    Once again he has proved.. “The man who is enjoying peace at his heart even infront of war head is a complete man” – The teaching of the famous doctrine from mother of religion.
    In another dimension, he clearly demonstrated how much one complete man can take control of his senses….
    Hats off to you brave monk with all respects…

  8. For those that complained his self immolation wasn’t effective in ending the war, I have another piece of news for you. It’s not very effective in ending global warming, either!!! Global warming is still here!!!! What a miserable failure!!!

    However, his self immolation was very effective in what he set out to do. To end the suffering of Buddhists under the hands of Catholics. The Catholic lacky regime of Ngô Đình Diệm was vanquished within 6 months and his American Catholic puppet master was deported back to Jesus a few months later. A lot of people was trying to do that for almost 10 years and none was successful, including him, while being alive.

    To Kevin Trinh… that’s not what I heard. I heard, they actually burnt a manequin instead of the real monk. The real monk acutally fled to America and converted to Catholicism. The latest I heard of him was that he’s a Catholic priest somewhere holding the title of being the priest that banged the most kids and still got away!!! And no. He’s not your current priest. He’s another Catholic priest. I’m sorry it was confusing but it was not my fault there are too many Catholic priests that banged too many kids and got away.

    Looking at this picture, it never cease to amaze me to see the huge difference between Buddhism and Catholicism. On one hand, you see an example of supreme master of the body and mind, the ultimate sacrifice for a noble cause. On the other hand, at about the same time, Catholic priests world wide, especialy in America started to discover that instead of self discipline and sacrificing, banging altar boys was much more holy.

    How disgusting!!!!

    PS: To Kevin Trinh and the likes of you. It’s because of people like you, and your parents, and your grandparents, and your ancestors… that our country fell into the hands of Communists. Instead of dedicating your service to the betterment of our country, people like you and the Ngô family dedicated your service to the most evil cult and its diabolical agenda of world domination to further divide the country in its most vulnerable period in history. You ancestors might be sitting with Jesus right now, but to our country and our people, people like you will always be down in the cesspool of our country history.

  9. Jake says:

    ” . . . . . . No Christian would do that for their religion. Except Jesus.”

    Then who were they that were martyred themselves for their faith in Christ thousands of years ago to present day? Is not a martyr one who willingly suffers death rather than denounce their faith; or one who willingly suffers death to make a statement of their belief (whatever that may be)? Jesus was not a martyr but the Son of G-d; G-d born in human form — the Atonement of mankind. He did this not in a statement of faith but in obedience to. Both are willingly done — but one is done to bring attention to himself or a cause; the other was done for mankind.

    I wouldn’t give my life to be where that poor buddhist monk is sitting today…

  10. What an amazing thing to do! to believe in something so much that you are willing to sacrifice your life for it! This monk is one of the bravest and strong willed people i have ever heard of and I respect him greatly. I am only 16 years old and greatly moved by this photo, society today is so corrupt and evil(just look at the war in Iraq for example) innocent people die every day for no reason at all! He definatley opened my eyes about the truth of todays society.

  11. He was saying that he would rather burn himself alive than live under that kind of rule. and it was very effective. we still talk about it today. it got to a lot of people. No Christian would do that for their religion. Except Jesus.

  12. One of the most powerful photographs ever. Fire has the sacred energy of life and transporting human spirit to another dimension, where Thich Quang Duc continues his universal journey. The human heart has a consciousness and poweful memory. HIs presence is felt through his heart forever. There are many lessons for us in this act of supreme precious offering of life. Hopefully we can open our hearts and communicate as a human family, as one world, in peace and harmony with all of nature.

  13. this photo is too extrodinary that its not funny. the monk is using such a disgraceful way to grab attention that it reveals a shame to us asian people. =]

  14. I saw a clip of another monk who did this, you can see the convulsing breaths as his body was charred…horrific. How can Thi Quang Duc do this, that’s some major zen. If that was me I’d test it out on my oven first before going all out. I’m sure the pain would last for about 3-4 minutes before all the nerves get burned off.

  15. I was there. I was thirteen at the time, living six blocks from where it happened. Later that week, a friend and I saw his heart in a jar at the Xa Loi Temple . Although current photos show that his heart is black, when I saw it it was a mottled red color. There were several attempts made to cremate his heart, which may account for the blackening effect. I’m pretty sure I saw it before these attempts were made. Apparently, it would not burn.

    The self-immolation had the effect of rallying the Buddhists to continue pressing Ngo Dinh Diem for reforms and encouraged, through non-violence, the American government to support the rebel Generals when the time was right.

    I’ve often thought that if the Palestinians really wanted peace, a non-violent act, or acts, would bring most of the world to their side instead of Israel. The suicide-bomber thing isn’t working very well…
    Non=violent protest worked for Gandhi in India and Thich Quang Duc’s immolation was the beginning of the end for Diem.

  16. Beyond bravery to the point of what might be undefinable. It would seem that the grace of humanity can stretch it’s reach from the willingness to be ultimately afraid, to the willingness to cease living altogether, all of which all of which screaming in the name of cause. All of which in faith. All of which in disbelief. This is ultimate gratitude. This is to remember what we stand for and why.

  17. According to Wikipedia, his death wasn’t for nought:

    “Although Diệm’s decline and downfall had already begun, the self-immolation is widely seen as the pivotal point in the Buddhist crisis. The historian Seth Jacobs asserted that Thích Quảng Đức had “reduced America’s Diệm experiment to ashes as well” and that “no amount of pleading could retrieve Diem’s reputation” once Browne’s images were ingrained into the psyche of the world public.”

  18. I don’t know if this is true or not. When I was growing up in Vietnam (born 1966) and saw this picture, my mom said that this story was known as a conspiracy. She said that the monk was carried by his supposely friends out of a car and doused then burned by these guys. He didn’t do this himself. People had said that this monk was drugged and then burned. Since he didn’t move a muscle, maybe he was dead already. Just my two cents…

  19. That monk made his mark in the world, he was a courageous man and I admire him for that!….

    The most disturbing thing is, war and hatred is still prevalent , personally….religion has a lot to do with the worlds troubles!

    I’m proud to say I am not religious in any form.

  20. Just see his face, not an iota of regretness,for why he burnt himself, just at peace , and focused. YOU MIGHT HAVE GONE AWAY O GREAT MAN, BUT I WILL REMEMBER YOU ALWAYS AND MAKE SURE MY FUTURE GENERATION DOES IT TOO. hATS OFF TO YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES…………………NAMASTE

  21. Buddhism doesn’t suggest or support self-immolation in its tenets. As a Buddhist, I believe his amazing guesture was one of true activism, raising awareness, even 40 years later. His protest of Diem’s Catholic and Communist dominance over Vietnam applies to Mao’s oppression of Tibet and of China itself. If the US cared about human rights, like religious freedom, freedom from having your monastery razed to ashes, freedom to wave the flag of your beliefs, all the things we take pride in having and defending, then we should have invaded China and Southeast Asia in the 1950′s when this all began. I’m not pro-war. I actually believe in “Freedom And Justice For All,” not just regurgitate the rhetoric in grade school. I pledge alliegence to one world, one love, and one chance to make your life mean something. Peace.

  22. i dont think it was waste at all… he made more of an impact than he ever could have just living. Otherwise he would’ve jus been powerless.

  23. It makes me so sad to hear that people say this was a waste… It may have taken 10 years to change things but if people were half as dedicated to causes today as that monk was 40 years ago maybe we as a whole might be able to start making some changes in the world!!!

  24. i guess you didn tnotice that he wasent protesting the war, guess you didn tread the caption all the way through. he was protesting the american appointed catholic leader, who was oppressing a mostly buddhist populace with a catholic agenda. its my understanding that after this act reforms were promised, but as usual those promises were not kept, and military groups actually raided buddhist pagodas, causing destruction of artifacts, and the deaths of buddhists. more monks burned themselves in protest, but in the end it took a arny coup to topple the government and make things right. and yes, his death proved many things, one that when the ignorant view something with meaning they dont understand, they are all to ready to dismiss it.

  25. An Austrialian war photographer I met in the l980′s claimed to have taken the photorgraph. I always felt he was lying!! Thanks to the computer age we are now able to verify facts.
    The monk was a brave man who believed he could make a difference. It is sad to think that it took so long for changes to happen. It is such a shocking picture that even now, 2l years later, we are in awe of his bravery..

  26. Rick says:

    It only took another ten years for the war to end. Self-immolation = not an effective tactic…..”

    Exactly! His suicide proved nothing.

  27. I think what he did was senseless. it wasn’t a murder but a suicide. Like people in prison that go on a hunger strike. to get the worlds attention?

    If they want to starve or burn themselves thats their business, but to get organizations to cower to their protests. a lot of good it does them.

    his was a wasted soul.

  28. Buddism isn’t a religion, it’s a way of life correct? What other religion can make you rise above pain like this person?

    I wonder what he was thinking. If it even hurt or if he felt it all and was in complete control.

  29. Out of all photos in this site, i find this one the most hardest to see.
    Great courage by the monk, i’ll never be able to do it…

  30. human plight never fails to arouse atention. wonder why they made the exclamation mark then !
    photography is a few art forms among the modern ones that has soul.

  31. I read alot about this time .With in the time as I was about to listen to stories of life before the days of first able to walk barefoot outside.The snow was deep enough to burn the feet after it washed from the feets and the toes reminded me of this time.Old people tell stories as the young kids didn’t listen. ONLY as spoken and as I read as I cleaned the library.I reminded my head of the who lived as I was born.

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  34. Quite noticable too is that whole Thich Quang Duc’s body did burn, execpt for one part which would’nt burn and is still to be preserved: his heart…

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  36. Notice the car. The hood’s open because the gasoline was hidden under it. (Saigon police were searching cars and trunks.) The car still can be seen at Thich Quang Duc’s monastery near Hue.

  37. Very powerful picture brought to my attention by Rage Against The Machine probably the most band in the last 30 years. Do you know where I might be a print of this picture?

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