As an upright and firm mandarin, Ngu Su Dai Phu (Imperial Counselor) Truong Do resigned from office and returned to his hometown to work as a teacher after three failures to dissuade the king.
Phu Tai shrine was recognized as a national relic in 2004
Three failing attempts to advise king
According to historical documents, Truong Do was a native of Phu Tai commune in Vinh Lai district, now Phu Tai 2 hamlet in Thanh Giang commune, Thanh Mien district, Hai Duong province.
Both a scholar and a warrior, he passed the doctoral examination in the reign of Tran Nghe Tong (1321 – 1394). He was often called Ngu Su Dai Phu Truong Do.
In 1377, Che Bong Nga, the king of Chiem Thanh, frequently led troops to Vietnam for harassment. Newly-crowned Tran Due Tong decided to personally fight Chiem Thanh and was dissuaded three times by Truong Do.
“Chiem Thanh’s offense of opposition to orders is not worth destroying. Meanwhile, it is in the far west with abrupt terrains. Your Majesty, you have just acceded to the throne, and our benevolent rules and enlightenment have not permeated afar, so we should renew our culture and morality so that it will come to acknowledge allegiance by itself. Otherwise, ordering generals to fight it will not be too late,” he said.
An ancient stele kept at Phu Tai shrine
However, the king did not agree. On January 23, 1377, King Tran Due Tong personally led his troops to fight Chiem Thanh but failed and died in battle.
After three times of unsuccessful dissuasion of the king, Truong Do resigned from office and returned to his hometown to work as a teacher.
Afterwards, Truong Do died in his hometown and was honored as the tutelary god of the village. Throughout feudal dynasties, he was always deified, including royal honor-conferring edicts granted by kings Tu Duc, Duy Tan, and Khai Dinh. Respecting him, ancient Phu Tai villagers called all kinds of do (bean) dau.
He was worshipped at the village’s Vo communal house. In 1947, when Vo communal house was dismantled and rebuilt, villagers and a number of large families in the village, especially Truong one, took the statues of him and trang nguyen (first doctoral laureate) Pham Hien, the two tutelary gods of the village, to Phu Tai shrine, where they have been worshipped ever since.
Later, Hung Dao Great Lord Tran Quoc Tuan has also been worshipped at Phu Tai shrine.
Phu Tai shrine is located on a high and airy land covering an area of about 500 m2 in Phu Tai 2 hamlet with a charming landscape.
A lotus well in front of Co Chi relic
The relic has a san (三) shape with a three-compartment front chamber, a five-compartment middle chamber, and a five-compartment back chamber connected to each other and imbrued with traditional architecture in the Nguyen dynasty.
Doctor Truong Do is worshipped to the left of the back chamber in the central compartment. His red-lacquered and gold-trimmed altar was built in the 19th century with fairly beautiful carvings of tu linh (four supernatural creatures) and tu quy (four seasons).
Dinh Van Dinh, a cultural public servant of Thanh Giang commune, said about five years ago, people around Phu Tai shrine donated land, money, and effort to enlarge the relic, tile the yard, build a stele house, and create a spacious landscape.
“This is our heart to protect and preserve the relic and pay homage to Saint Tran, Pham Hien, and Truong Do, the loyal sons of this land,” said Dinh.
Concerning doctor Truong Do, there remains a relic called Co Chi in Phu Tai 1 hamlet, on which first doctoral laureate Pham Hien and doctor Truong Do built a school after having resigned from office.
Later, there have been many erudite and successful people who are descendants of doctor Truong Do.
The life and career of doctor Truong Do, an elite native of Thanh Giang, have been recorded in history and orally transmitted with eternal good fame.