Brahmin Power in South East Asian Countries- (Post No 5095)

Written by London swaminathan

 

Date: 10 JUNE 2018

 

Time uploaded in London –  9-46 am  (British Summer Time)

 

Post No. 5095

 

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.

 

Brahmin Power in Cambodia ,Thailand Burma and Vietnam

(Campa)- Post No 5095

 

n Cambodia, Brahmins maintained powerful hierarchy for many centuries. They were well organised. They came there around fifth century and increased in number due to a constant flow of immigrants from India. During the reign of Yasovarman 889 CE, Saivism was predominant. We learn from the following inscription that they enjoyed a position similar to that which was theirs in India.

 

The king,well versed in kingly duties, performed Koti Homa and Yajnas, for which he gave the priest s magnificent presents of jewels, gold etc.

 

The cult of the Royal God, though founded by Jayavarman II, 802 CE, did not reach the heights of its development until two centuries after wards, and was especially associated with Vaishnavism and the temple of Angkor Wat. This cult led Brahmins enjoying even more exalted position . The priest hood became hereditary in the family of Sivakaivalya, who enjoyed immense power. This sacerdotal dynasty almost threw the royal dynasty into the shade. Brahmins were depicted on the reliefs of Angkor Wat and Coedes has identified Drona and Visvamitra amongst them. In one of the relief s which illustrates a royal procession, it is interesting that the Brahmins were the only onlookers who do not prostrate before the king, as was also the case in India. In the reliefs aristocracy wear the chignon and the lower castes short hair.

One remarkable sign of the power of the Brahmins was that they had even marriage alliances with the princesses. Bakus, the descendants of ancient Brahmins, chose one from them to succeed if the royal family failed.

 

As early as the reign of Jayavarman V, Buddhism and Hinduism got mixed and the Brahmin purohitas were expected to be well versed in Buddhist prayers and rites. But the Brahmin s of Cambodia never sank so low as did those of Campa (modern Vietnam). In the Po Nagar inscription of Campa, we read that the feet of the king were worshiped,even by Brahmins and priests.

 

 

In Thailand

 

Though the religion of Thailand was Buddhism the royalty recruited Brahmin s from Cambodia. For centuries Brahmin s enjoyed quite an important position.

The famous inscription dated about 1361 CE of King Dharma Raja mentioned the kings knowledge of the Vedas and of astronomy. The inscription on the Siva statue found at Kamben bejra recorded the desire of King Dharmasokaraja,(1510 CE), to exalt both Hinduism and Buddhism.

 

Brahmins had access to sacred books and law books and so they served the royal s in various capacities. The epigraph ic records demonstrate the powerful influence of purohitas in Burma and Cambodia, where they often served under successive rulers and provided continuity to the government in troubled times. In ninth century Angkor, for instance, Indravarman I had the service of Sivasoma, who studied VedantA under Shankara.

 

Indian Brahmins are occasionally mentioned in the south East Asian inscription s and one wondered how Brahmins travelled abroad when Manu and other lawmakers ban foreign travel for Brahmins. These prohibitions may have had little practical effect, and would n of have deterred ambitious men lured by the hope of honour and fortune in a distant land. In fact they were invited by some rulers.

 

Not only in the Hindu courts in Cambodia but also in the courts of Pagan in Burma and Sukothai in Thailand, the Brahmins conducted great ceremonies,such as the Royal Consecration and-functioned as ministers and counsellors . The grand ceremony in Pagan required the services of numerous Brahmins.

 

In Cambodia Jayavarman VIII built a temple for the scholar priest Jayamangalaartha and likewise for the Brahmin Vidyesavid. Who became Royal sacrificial Priest. The Chinese visitor Chou Ta kuan refers to the presence of Brahmins wearing sacred thread.

 

We have evidence of use of Sanskrit even in Sri Lanka. Thirteenth century work Kundamala was composed in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, according to some scholars.

 

Source: Source books- From Turfan to Ajanta, Edited by Eli Franco and Monika Zin, Lumbini International Research Institute, Nepal;2010

 

–Subham–

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