Buddhism Penetration History
(In accordance with V. I. Kornev “Buddhism in Cambodia” // Buddhism. Dictionary. M., 1992)
The first Hindu state of Southeast Asia in the 1st century AD e. was the Khmer kingdom of Bapn ( Kampuchea ). His power extended to Kampuchea, South Vietnam , Thailand , and the Malay Peninsula . By the end of the 4th century , Mahayana , Hinduism , and also, to some extent, Theravada , were widespread in this region. This was followed by a period of decline, But Buddhism, mainly of the Mahayan type, remained popular among the people who equally recognized the cults of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Indian deities.
After the fall of Bapnom, the state of Chenla, whose capital was located on the territory of modern Laos, dominated. Chenla maintained harmony between Hindu religions and Buddhism until the end of the 7th century , then there arose the cult of the armies, the deities of Harihara (the unity of Vishnu and Shiva ), developed already in the Angkor Empire ( IX - XIV centuries ) to the extremely complex cult of deva raja ("god the king "). The deva-raja cult was a combination of the cult of the ancestors and the cult of the spirits of the earth with tantric representations of the divine power and power of the emperor, combined with the main features of Shaivism and partially Vishnuism . The personification of this cult was the temple of Shiva, built in the center of the royal residence, but since the king was considered one of the great bodhisattvas , the Mahayana received a proper place in the cult of the deva raja, which included the deification of the royal ancestors.
From the 10th century , monumental temple construction began, designed to reflect the greatness of the “God King”, whole temple cities, such as Angkor Wat , were created on the outskirts of Yashodharapura, the capital of the Angkor Empire. Since Buddhism performed certain functions in the cult of the “god-king,” the highest Buddhist clergy had a role in this political system, but the well-being of the sangha depended largely on the religion of the king. If the king was a Buddhist, then the sangha flourished, if the Shaivite - was persecuted; under the king-visnuite, the policy of peaceful coexistence of religions was most often pursued.
As feudal clans intensified and rivalry intensified between them, the cult of the “god king” began to lose its centralizing significance; at the same time, the ideological role of Buddhism increased. This was manifested in the reorientation of the cult of the Deva Raja to the Buddhist cult of the “Bodhisattva King,” with all the ensuing social and cultural consequences. Under Tsar Jayavarman VII (reigned in 1181 - 1220 ), the Theravada positions began to strengthen, not Lings became the symbol of the monarch’s power, but the Lokeshwar temple, Bayon , built in the center of the capital. From the end of the 13th century, Theravada became the dominant religion: many monasteries appeared, education fell into the hands of monks, the intensity of cultural and religious contacts of the Khmers with Lankan, Thai, Lao states increased, Sanskrit literature was partially supplanted by Pali .
From the middle of the XIV century , long wars began with Ayutthaya ( Siam ) and in the XVIII century the weakened Khmer state was in vassal dependence on Siam . In the second half of the 19th century, Cambodia became the object of the colonial claims of France, and under the treaty of 1867, Siam officially recognized the protectorate of France over Cambodia. Since the French administration retained the royal house, the Theravada position as the dominant religion remained.
After the restoration of the state. Cambodia’s sovereignty ( 1953 ), the People’s Socialist Community was created (Sangkum, which in Khmer means “Hope”), which led the country's political and public life. The political program of Sangkum was based on the principles of “Khmer Buddhist socialism” proposed by Prince Norodom Sihanouk and developed by his associates.
The Modern State of Buddhism
Before the "Cultural Revolution" of Pol Pot , there were about 3 thousand monasteries and temples in the country, 55 thousand members of the sangha.
The Polpot clique ranked the monks in the third, lower category of the population, which, more than others, was subjected to repression and physically destroyed. Most of the monks were exterminated, few managed to escape from the country. In January 1979 , the Association of Monks for the National Salvation of Cambodia was created. Following the creation of the People's Republic of Kampuchea, the government took vigorous measures to restore the Khmer sangha and revive Buddhism.
In 1989, Buddhism was declared the state religion of Cambodia.
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