Saturday, May 28, 2011

Discussion on the decline of Khmer Empire

Dear Chanreoun and all CAN members,
subject: Jayavarman VII

Accoding to historical evidence, Cambodia reached its peak of her civilization under Jayavarman VII period, while China fell to Genghis Khan of Ancient Mongolia; India to Persia and Turkish Moslems.

In 1295-96, the Khan emperor in Beijing sent Zhou Da-guan to visit Angkor. He wrote the well known book entitled" A Record on Cambodia ". The Khan invaded and destroyed Bagan in Burman in 1287. Cambodia escaped the Khan invasion thanks to the change of dynasty in China from Mongolian to Ming Dynasty a few years fater Zhou Da-Guan returned from Cambodia to China. Under Ming Dynasty, China regained her power in the country, but did not invade other countries. Good relations continued with Cambodia.

After the fall of India to Persia, cultural relations between Cambodia and India discontinued because Muslim kings ruled that empire. Buddhism and Buddhsit universities were destroyed. Cambodia under Jayavarman VII established relations with Sri Lanka, Mon and Burma instead.
Therefore, it was wrong to assume that Jayavarman VII was responsible for the fall of the Khmer Empire. On the contrary, he was able to liberate Cambodia from Champa and paved the foundation for a strong Cambodia for the next 200 years, while China and India failed to do so during the same period. Cambodian territory during his time was five times larger than the present Cambodia, stretching from East Sea (Pacific Ocean) to West Sea (Indian Ocean).

Cambodia was the richest and most civilized country in Asia under his reign, together with Hindu-Buddhist Java. Singapura was his westernmost town (now in Kanchanaburi province, 200 km west of Bangkok) bordering Mon Kingdom to the West. He ruled Champa in the East as well, after defeating it.

For me, we should honour him as Jayavarman VII the Great. I have visited most of his monuments, roads, bridges and temples in present day Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Corruption and weak military system of the first half of the 15th Century, were the main factors contributing to the fall of Angkor in 1432. The same reasons why Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and to Vietnam in 1979.

Let us learn from the past to rebuild a stronger and cleaner Cambodia. Since Israel can rebuild a strong country after 2000 years of extermination from its homeland, we can too.

Supote Prasertsiri

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