Early Thai Religion

Ven. Tantra troyoga at YAHOO.COM
Sat May 20 06:28:11 UTC 2000

Thanks to Steven Hodge, who wrote:

1. "Is this the same pace as Suvar.na-dviipa? I have
always understood from Buddhist and other sources that
this is an old name for Sumatra."

It is my understanding that Survar.nabhuumi applied to
the whole of what is also considered Greater Overseas
India, comprising Kambuja-deZa, Sumatra, Malaya and
the other Indonesian island states

2. "There was also a Kaambuja to the north of India --
this is possibly the one included among the 16

You could well be right there. But I am recalling (by
memory) R.C. Majumdar, _Kambuja-deZa, or An Ancient
Hindu Colony in Cambodia_, published as the Sir
William Meyer Lectures 1942-43 (University of Madras,

To examine Early Thai Religion, one needs to study
Early Cambodia where Indianization began no later than
the 1st century CE, coinciding with the prosperous
kingdom of Funan. This early Funanese dominion spread
across what would today be the southern part of
Cambodia and the Mekong Delta. Its wealth came mainly
from maritime trade. It was favorably positioned at
the crossroads of the ancient world�s major sea routes
that linked the Mediterranean with the China Sea.
Commercial exchanges with Rome are certain, and by
implication Egypt too. Roman coins of Antonius the
Pious, dated 152, and others representing Marcus
Aurelius have been found at excavation sites. Eight
centuries later the Angkorian Empire rose, with its
center at the Great Temple City of Angkor Vat.

The complete historical movement of the Khmer kings
extended more than a thousand years until its eventual
decline in the 13th century. Still, in its heyday,
Khmer Civilization spread to eclipse nearly the entire
Indo-Chinese peninsula from the Bay of Bengal to the
China Sea. Its rulers bore Hindu, or Vedic names such
as Har.savarma.n, Jayavarma.n, YaZovarma.n and
Suuryavarma.n. They learned the elements of classical
Sanskrit and introduced many of its forms into their
own High Khmer language. These facts reflect an
intense assimilation of Braahmanical-Vedic culture.
Yet the thoroughness in which this culture was
imported and absorbed into the fields of literature,
science, art and religion cannot be explained by
Cambodia�s intimate connection with Motherland India
alone. Such marked propagation was also due to the
flourishing numbers of cultural institutions,
conservatories, and diverse ascetic hermitages
(aaZrama) that spread across the country. Cambodian
rulers themselves were responsible for maintaining
these citadels of Indian civilization.

Best wishes,
Ven. Tantra

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