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On the words

Đại đạo Tam kỳ Phổ độ


1. The meaning of a name

Đại đạo Tam kỳ Phổ độ” is a name consisting of six Sino-Vietnamese words. Neglecting the Sino-Vietnamese word order, many Caodaists frequently explain that “Đại đạo Tam kỳ Phổ độ” means the Great Way of the Third Era for Salvation of All Living Creatures.

Like English, a Sino-Vietnamese compound word generally comprises two components in this order: Modifier ® Head Word (The arrow ® shows the modifying direction.) For example: tân ® thư = new ® book.

On the contrary, in case of a pure Vietnamese compound word, the order is as follows: Head Word ¬ Modifier. (The arrow ¬ shows the modifying direction.) For example: sách ¬ mới (i.e. new book).

Thus, the Sino-Vietnamese phrase “Đại đạo Tam kỳ Phổ độ” follows the word order like this: Đại đạo ® Tam kỳ ® Phổ độ (Modifier 2 ® Modifier 1 ® Head Word).

The name means: The Third Universalism (i.e. Universal Salvation) of Daidao (i.e. the Great Way).

Tam kỳ Phổ độ is sometimes translated as the Third Amnesty. However, amnesty means a general pardon. Although “amnesty of the Third Era” is a specific trait of Caodaism, it is impossible to translate Tam kỳ Phổ độ as the Third Amnesty.

2. The Third Universalism of Daidao and Caodaism

Spiritual Pope Lư Thái Bạch says that Caodaism is short for the Third Universalism of Daidao. (The Organ for Universalizing Caodai Teachings, 15-01 Tân Hợi, 10 February 1971.) Caodaists also shorten the Third Universalism of Daidao to Daidao.

By saying the Third Universalism of Daidao, the Caodaist refers to Caodai historical outlook, which divides the history of the world’s religions and philosophies into three eras: Moses is among the messengers of God in the First Era; Jesus is among those in the Second; and God in the borrowed name of Caodai comes in the Third.

By saying Caodaism, the Caodaist refers to the Founder, namely Caodai the Immortal Mahabodhisattva Mahasattva.



Caodai the Immortal Mahabodhisattva Mahasattva: Cao Đài Tiên ông Đại bồ tát Ma ha tát

Caodaism: đạo Cao Đài, Cao Đài giáo (short for the Third Universalism of Daidao)

borrowed name: tá danh

Daidao (i.e. the Great Way): Đại đạo

Organ for Universalizing Caodai teachings (the): Cơ quan Phổ thông Giáo lư Cao Đài

Spiritual Pope: Giáo tông Vô vi

Third amnesty (the): đại ân xá kỳ Ba

Third Universalism of Daidao (the): Đại đạo Tam kỳ Phổ độ

(The writer appreciates all constructive comments on this article.)


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