Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Welcome to Cambodia: Samdech Sang Chuon Nath, The Scholar of Both Buddhism and Humanism, The Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia

Welcome to Cambodia: Samdech Sang Chuon Nath, The Scholar of Both Buddhism and Humanism, The Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia

Samdech Sang Chuon Nath (Samdech Sangha Raja Jhota├▒ano Chuon Nath)-(March 11, 1883 – September 25, 1969) is the late Supreme Patriarch Kana Mahanikaya of Cambodia. Amongst his achievements is his effort in conservation of the Khmer language in the form of the Khmer dictionary. His protection of Khmer identity and history in the form of the national anthem, Nokor Reach and Savada Khmer are also amongst his contribution to the country.

Conserving the Khmer Language

Nath was the head of a reformist movement in the Khmer Buddhist Sangha which developed a rationalist-scholastic model of Buddhism, rooted in linguistic studies of the Pali Canon. This new movement, known as Dhammayuttika Nikaya, influenced young Khmer monks in the early 20th century. The new movmenet also cultivated Khmer-language identity and culture, giving rise to the notion of Cambodian nationalism.

Nath pushed for a series of innovations in the Khmer Sangha beginning in the early twentieth century: the use of print for sacred texts (rather than traditional methods of hand-inscribing palm-leaf manuscripts); a higher degree of expertise in Pali and Sanskrit studies among monks; a vision of orthodoxy based on teaching of Vinaya texts for both monks and lay-people; and modernization of teaching methods for Buddhist studies.

He also oversaw the translation of the entire Buddhist Pali cannon into Khmer language; and the creation of the Khmer language dictionary.

The French set up its protectorate over Cambodia and intended to replace the Khmer language with its own through the so-called "pseudo-French intellectuals." This intention rallied many Cambodian scholars to the course of conserving the Khmer language; one such scholar was Nath. A son of farmers who later became a monk, Nath dedicated his life to upholding Buddhism and the conservation of Khmer language in the country that was highly influenced by French colonialism. He had an extensive knowledge of the Khmer language. He was probably the most famous and most knowledgeable monk Cambodia had ever had. A master in Buddha’s teaching, he was very well known around the Buddhism circle as well as very adept at languages. Throughout his life he encouraged the use of "Khmerization" in both public education and religions. What Nath meant by "Khmerization" was he wanted to derive new Khmer words from its ancestral roots, the Pali and Sanskrit languages. For example, when the train arrived first in Cambodia, there was no Khmer word for the train. Nath thus derived the word for train from Sanskrit and Pali word of Ayomoyo which means something that is made of metal. Together with the word Yana which means vehicle, came the Khmer word for train which we know today as Ayaksmeyana, pronounced Ayak-smey-yean.

However, Nath’s Khmerization was not overall accepted by all Khmers. ther scholars such as Keng Vannsak who were pro-French did not find the kind of Khmer words derived from Pali and Sanskrit to be convenient. They revolutionized another kind of derivation which they want to adopt normalized French word into Khmer vocabulary. The only major change was to use Khmer alphabet to write the word rather than using the Roman alphabets used by the French. But despite opposition, Nath’s Khmerization succeeded. He was a member of the original committee granted royal order to compile a Khmer dictionary in 1915 and was credited as the founder of the dictionary as he pushed for and finally succeeded in printing the first edition of the current Khmer dictionary in 1967.

Nath’s other contribution to Cambodia include the current national anthem, Nokoreach. Nokoreach was written to correspond to the motto of the nation, "Nation, Religion, King" as well as demonstrate the grandeur and the mighty past of the Khmer nation.

Verification of the national khmer song:

Pong Savada Khmer

A ballad Savada Khmer to call for all Khmer to unite, to remember and to uphold the great history of the Khmer people was written by Mr Nuon Kan on 12/09/1958. It was not written by Samdach Chuon Nath though our Samdach Chuon Nath was giving a lot of support and encouragement to publicize khmer nationalistic nature of this song.

English Translation

All Khmers, please remember the root and history of our great country
Our boundary was wide and well known
Others always thought highly of our race
And always placed our race as the elders.

We have great heritage and culture
Which has spread far and wide in the Far East.
Religion, arts and education,
Music, philosophy and strategies are all that we have spread.

All Khmers, please remember our roots and history
Which speaks of the grandeur of our great race
Make up your mind and body and try hard to rebuild
In order to lift the value of our nation
To once again rise to the greatness that we once had.

Source: Cambodian Buddhism, by Ian Harris

* Watch a video of Samdech Chuon Nath's Achievement by Youth Today-broadcast every Monday at 3.50pm and is supported by UNICEF and produced by Support Children and Young People (SCY)..."Cambodian buddhist scholar and humanist Samdech Chuon Nath is a beloved Cambodian hero. In this documentary the young reporters at Youth Today explore some of his many achievements including the creation of a Khmer dictionary. His protection of Khmer identity and history in the form of the national anthem, "Nokor Reach" and Savada Khmer are also amongst his contribution to the country."

* Samdech Chuon Nath's Achievement[Text]

On the 13th December 2005, at Wat Por Preik, otherwise known as Wat Poliyoum in Kandal Stung,Kandal Province held a ribbon cutting ceremony under the president of H.E.Minister of Ministry Information.

This is the first statue of Samdech Methea Thipadey Monk Choun Nath which is made from Samnang Stone from Kompong Thom province after 2 years preparation. The construction of this statue was driven by the initiation of members of press.

The reason they put this sculpture here was because this was his homeland and also the place where Samdech Sang Choun Nath commenced his life as a monk when he was 14 years old.

37 years ago after Samdech Sang Choun Nath passed away on 25 Semptember 1969 at Uonalom pagoda, Cambodian people recognized him as a Cambodian scholar of Buddhism and Humanism.

Lok Ta Nhaem Pring, Wat Por Preik commission:

I used to live with Samdech Sang Choun Nath and I became a monk. During that time he had tought me to understand about compassion, to pity, and have mercy for poor people.
Samdech Sang always gave advice to people to be aware of national identity, religion and king, especially the idea of nationalism.

Operator Kong Sreymeng:

Having watched the show, we would like to invite you to visit the achievements of Samdech Chuon Nath.

Samdech Choun Nath was born on 11 March 1883 in Kompong Speu province and he became a monk when he was 14 years old. He was also a frequent guest speaker on National Radio for interviews to explain Khmer literature. Samdech composed national anthem called Nokor Raech on the 20th of July 1941 in the Buddhist year of 2500.
And he left many achievements for young Cambodian people to follow.


Khiev Kanharith, H.E.Minister of Ministry Information:

Samdech Choun Nath started to raise awareness with Khmer people to love their literature and language. In 1960's, people who were considered mondern and developed were those who spoke French, but tried to explain to Cambodian people that we also have our own Khmer language.

In the past, we were proud of ourselves because we had Angkor Wat but in terms of language, French is a modern language. Therefore Samdech tried to make Cambodian people understand Khmer language and identity as having a role in the world.

Mr. Khiev Kola, a Press Agent:

Samdech Sang Choun Nath is a Khmer literature scholar, Khmer morality scholar. He advised Cambodian people to be neutral, unified and to follow Buddha's advice, particularly he found that Khmer ancestors had taught about the meaning of poverty.
He stated that poverty came from 5 Khmer concepts: Know (Kor deing), Understand (Kor Youl), Think (Kor Kich), Scheme (Kor Kol) and Creative (Kor Veiy Chhnay Tous).

Not only do old people have a good knowledge of Samdech Choun Nath but also the younger Cambodian generation know a lot about him.

A student from Chak Tou Muk secondary school, Vinorn Dariya:

I know he was the composer of our national anthem, and the Khmer Dictionary and other Buddhist speeches.

A student from Preah Sisowat High School, Chav Piseth:

I know he is the author Khmer Dictionary part 1 and part 2.

A student from Preah Sisowat High School, Tep Morneyroth:

I know him because he wrote the Sarapanh poem and the national anthem and the Khmer Dictionary part 1 and part 2.

Samdech Choun Nath passed away at the age of 87 in 1969 due to a heart blood vessel disease. His remains were put at Uonalom pagoda. Even though he passed away, he still left lots of achievements for Cambodian people for generations to come.

* Listen to Samdech Sang Chuon Nath's voice:

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From blog: Welcome to Cambodia, The Kingdom of Wonder...

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