Cao Dai

History of Cao Dai

Fast Facts: History of Cao Dai
Overview Founded in 1926, Vietnam by Ngo Van Chieu and others based on a séance.
Date Founded 1926
Place Founded Vietnam
Founder(s) Ngo Van Chieu
Current Adherents 4-6 million

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 of Cao Dai, 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.{1}

Today, Cao Dai adherents may number as high as 6 million, at least according to Cao Dai sources.{2} The headquarters of Cao Dai are at Tay Ninh, near Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).


Article Info

Title History of Cao Dai
Last UpdatedFebruary 13, 2021
MLA Citation “History of Cao Dai.” 13 Feb. 2021. Web. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022. <>