"Cao Đài" and "Gucheon Sangje"

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Abstract

The global influence of colonial imperialism has affected the Confucian tradition of Chinese border countries in modern history. France became involved in the establishment of the Vietnamese Nguyễn dynasty (1802–1945) under the pretext of protecting Catholic missionaries. Japanese Korea (大日本帝國) refers to the period when the late Joseon dynasty struggled with colonial rule from 1910–1945. Such historical difficulty caused the transformation of society, culture, and thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The new religious movement (NRM) was another cultural phenomenon in the region; many indigenous NRMs appeared, from Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, to shamanism. Among them, Cao Đài and Daesoon Jinrihoe of Jeungsanism have been the most successful and progressive groups. How did they emerge in these transitional societies? What were their backgrounds? What were their unique teachings? How were they so prosperous even under politico-social persecution? This article explores both new movements’ geo-religious nature through a comparative perspective that incorporates the subjects of origin, ethnic and political identity, cosmology, key teachings, sacred sites and rituals, and gender-related leadership. The article argues the critical insight that the two monotheistic syncretic religions of Gucheon Sangje and Cao Dài, under the big bang theory, are each unique, but historically they have also been ethnical grassroots organizations that are nationalistic, independent, anti-colonial, and counter-modern in Sino-Asian society.