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Posted by: | Posted on: April 2, 2013

Brief History of Buddhism in the Kingdom of Cambodia


ashoka_lion_capitalIn the year of 238 B.C (before Christ), Emperor Asoka King sent two learned Bhikkhu monks named Sona Thera and Utara Thera to propagate Buddhism in Suwanaphumi or Southeast Asia of present time. From that time Buddhism has flourished through out the land of Suwanaphumi or golden land. We are able to trace back through various ancient kingdoms such as Funan Kingdom (first state of present Cambodia) had been claimed about the advantage of Buddhism in this capital city. Among the kings of Funan dynasty, Kaundinya Jayavarman (478-514 AD) sent a missionary to China under the leadership of a Buddhist monk named Nagasena from India. During the reign of the same Chinese emperor, two learned Khmer monks named Sanghapala Thera and Mantra Thera of Funan went to China. At this early years of the sixth century AD, the two learned Cambodian Bhikkhu monks taught Buddhism and meditation to the emperor of China. Bhikkhu Sanghapala had translated an important Buddhist scripture Vimutti Magga(the Way of Freedom) which it is believed older than Visutthi Magga (the Way of Purity) written by Buddhagosacara. Now this Chinese manuscript has been translated into different language by many Buddhist countries.

King Rudravarman (514-539 AD) is said to have claimed that in his country there was a long Hair Relic of Lord Buddha for his people to worship. The Tharavada with Sanskrit language flourished in Funan in the fifth and earlier part of the sixth centuries AD. Around seventh century AD, the popular usage of Pali language in southern region manifested the strong appearance of Theravada Buddhism in Cambodia.
The great emperor, Yasovarman (889-900 AD) established a Saugatasrama and elaborated regulations for the guidance of this asrama or hermitage, at the time, Buddhism, Brahmanism (both Visnuism and Vaisnavism) flourished in Cambodia. During the reign of Jayavarman V (968-1001 AD), the successor of Rajendravarman II, Mahayana Buddhism importantly advanced. The king supported Buddhist practices and invoked the three forms of existence of the Buddha. In this way, up to the tenth century AD, Mahayana Buddhism became substantially prominent.

Pramakramabahu I, the king of Sri Lanka, is said to have sent a princess as a bride probably for Jayavarman VII, son of Dharnindravarman II (1150-1160 jaya1AD), who was the crown prince. King Jayavarman VII (1181-1220 AD) was a devout Buddhist and received posthumous title of Mahaparamasaugata. The king patronized Mahayana Buddhism, his records expressed beautifully the typical Buddhist view of life, particularly the conduct of charity and compassion towards the whole universe. Taprohm Inscription of his reign informed that there were 798 temples and 102 hospitals in the whole kingdom, and all of them were patronized by the king. One of the monks who returned to Burma with Capata Bhikkhu was Tamalinda Mahathera, who is believed the son of the Cambodian Emperor Jayavarman VII. Under the influx of Sihala School Buddhism; his administrative prestige retreated, his temporal power crumbled away, and the god-king cult was weakened. Theravada Buddhism had become the predominant school of the people of Angkor at the end of Jayavarman VII ‘s reign.

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Posted by: | Posted on: November 9, 2011

Impressive Summary of Lecture Series by Can Cambodia on 5 November 2011

Courtesy of www.luonsovath.blogspot.com

Courtesy of www.luonsovath.blogspot.com

Op-Ed: Can Cambodia
==>Saturday, 5 November 2011 on Engaged Buddhism: The Roles of Buddhism in Human Resource Development in Cambodia: Past, Present and Future by Ven. Luon Sovath, www.luonsovath.blogspot.com

In short, Buddhism is the religion of Sekha or education. Three Sekha has been exponentially repeated by the Buddha: Sila Sekha or the education of morals, Samadhi Sekha or the education of meditation, and the Panna Sekha or the education of wisdom. These 3 Sekhas is illustrated quite interesting in the Eightfold Path such as Sila Sekha is inclusive in right speech, right action and right livelihood; Samadhi Sekha is inclusive in right effort, right concentration and right meditation; Panna Sekha is inclusive in right thought and right view.

Dhamma delivery approaches of Lord Buddha stresses on three levels: Athi Kalyani or preliminary discourse (Sila), Machhe Kalyani or secondary discourse (Samadhi), and Pariyosana Kalyani or highest discourse (Panna). These three levels of discourse is comprehensive in the Viniya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka. Or at the Sutta level, these 3 approaches are Morals/Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom.

For Cambodia, human resource development is one of the factors among natural capital, financial capital and social capital.

In the past, French tried to pressure on Khmer Buddhist Sangha to serve the protectorate’s missions. But when there were perpetual struggles from the Buddhist Sangha, French protectorates agreed to open a Buddhist Institute (BI) to provide space for Cambodian Buddhist monks to learn and create an education at a systemic structure. Suzan Karpeles was the first director of the BI. Scholars have noted that BI is the substantial place for developing nationalism and movement in late decades in liberating and protecting Cambodian nation.

Somdech Chuon Nath is the key leader in reforming Cambodian Buddhism and building productive national central nationalism. His work in translating Tipitaka into simple Khmer language is a great move in modernizing Cambodia.

At the moment, the 60,000 Buddhist monks residing in over 4000 monasteries are the important agents for human resource development in Cambodia. But the lack of giving enough aids to those agents in approaching human resource missionary. If those Buddhist monks are not properly equipped with talent and knowledge, Cambodian Buddhism would be just symbol or a tool for politicians to utilize it, and the future of human resource development in Cambodia will be irrelevant.

According to the lecture organized on November 5, 2011 (10am of Cambodia Time Zone), Ven. Luon Sovath outlined important facts of Buddhism in developing human resource in Cambodia following:

– Since the Angkorean era, Buddhism and Hinduism have played important roles in developing human resource in Cambodia. The startling structure of temples and inscriptions are the evidence of building human resource for the development of this nation.

– Buddha is the awaken one. His teaching has been used in modern day such as human rights, democracy, human freedom and equality. People desire for peace, freedom and basic rights which this desiring is fundamentally deriving from Buddha’s teachings.

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Posted by: | Posted on: October 17, 2011

Lecture Series Part I from Can Cambodia


Courtesy of www.hoksavann.org

Lecture Series of CAN CAMBODIA

– Saturday, 15 October 2011 on “Engaged Buddhism in Cambodia: Challenges and Controversy” by Ven. Dr. Hok Savann, www.hoksavann.org

According to the lecture by Ven. Dr. Hok Savann, Cambodian Buddhism and Cambodian Society is inseparable. Thus, Buddhacakra (Buddhist dimension) and Anaacakra (secular dimension) must be lifted up equally. Buddhist laws and the universal human rights law is the same. Buddhist belief and Buddhist thought is considered a tort law or traditional law which is required the enforcement of secular law (national constitution and sub-decrees) to duly serve society.

Cambodian Buddhism is very substantial for legality, unity and social engagement. Without durable legality, unity, and social engagement, Cambodian society is hardly advancing. However, the respect of the rule of law must not happen only among lower citizens, the upper administrators must be duly obeying it as well. For instance, the lower thieves who stole chickens and ducks have immediately been punished but the thieves who are sitting on office chairs are immune of punishment.

Ven. Dr. Hok Savann doesn’t support the participation of Bhikkhu monks to vote or to choose secular leaders in each national election. Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka have become members of parliament but the image of Buddhist monks in the assembly are not appropriate at all among those lay law-makers and the practices of the assembly.

Regarding to Ven. Luon Sovath whose Buddhist top administrative banned from the temple is not due to the Viniya of Buddhist Sangha order. Ven. Luon Sovath’s activities and involvements with those victims of land grabs and forced evictions are not offending any chapter of the Viniya. It is just a social norm that Cambodia has never had monk like Ven. Luon Sovath. If the top administers of Buddhist Sangha accused Ven. Luon Sovath of violation of Viniya, they have to sit down and point out what parts of Viniya has he offended? Banning from the temple is an absolute order which Buddhist temples are owned by the laypeople; and it could not solve the problem. Otherwise, it is showing the not-independence of Buddhist Sangha administrative in Cambodia.

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Posted by: | Posted on: September 13, 2011

Monk evicted from pagoda

Phnom Penh Post  Monday, 12 September 2011 15:02 May Titthara


Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Venerable Luon Sovath speaks to reporters at Ounalom pagoda in Phnom Penh before removing his personal belongings from his room. The activist monk has been banned from pagodas.

A group of residents facing eviction from the Boeung Kak area yesterday turned out to support the monk who has shaken Cambodia’s Buddhist hierarchy by his peaceful advocacy on their behalf.

About 20 residents of the area helped Venerable Loun Sovath remove his personal belongings from Ounalom pagoda yesterday morning, following an order from Supreme Patriarch Non Nget that he do so.

The latest order followed one in April that banned the 32-year-old rural monk from all pagodas in the capital.

Boeung Kak representative Kong Chantha, 44, said it was an injustice that Loun Savath had been banned.
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