jeudi, novembre 15, 2007

Errors of Sihanouk (Part 3 of 6)

News From Cambodia N° 0709


Khemara Jati
Montréal, Québec
February 24th, 2007

(From Part 2)

So the story saying of certain Indian namely Kaundinya arrived in the new land and got marriage with an autochthon « Willow's Leaf » is a pure legend. Many peoples always appropriated legendary and sometimes divine history. Did not the first French historians proclaim themselves as descendants of Troyens? (Colette Beaune, in « Birth of the nation France » (Ed. Gallimard, Paris 1985, p. 24-25). In the same book, p. 10: « as soon as it becomes aware of itself, a nation wants to justify its present by its past. Nothing proves to its existence better than its history. In this regard, only the historians who create nations. »

Let us notice that Kaundinya is the name of the first Buddha disciple, known in Cambodia under the name of Annanda. Nowadays this name is still very pervasive in India. In the specific idea of trying to verify the material possibility of this first Indians arrival in Cambodia, B. P. Groslier investigated the commercial ways in our area at the beginning of the Christian era.

On this subject, let us quote the inscriptions (Xth century) of Vat Sithor’s stele :

Stance XXIX: « For having looked in foreign country a multitude of philosophic books and treaties such as of Tattvasangraha's comment, this wise person extend the study. »

According to the above sloka, it is clear that only Cambodians who fetch documents abroad and not in the opposite way.

B. P. Groslier studied intensely the angkorian hydraulic system for the agricultural production. It is important to study for Ayuthia in the same matter. Some ideas are in the article: « Hydraulic Organization and rural life in the delta of Chao Phraya (Thailand) », (Aménagement hydraulique et vie rurale dans le delta de la Chao Phraya (Thailand)), in Les Cahiers d’Outre-Mer, N° 104, 26th year, Oct-December, 1973.

The Siam has moved the capitals down along the Menam river, to end finally in its mouth. Why? Henri Mouhot, tried to give some idea in his book « Travel in the Kingdoms of Siam, Cambodia and Laos », (Voyages dans les royaumes de Siam de Cambodge et de Laos), p. 239:

« The banks of Ménam are covered as far as the eye can see with magnificent harvests; the periodic flood brings a kind of a fertility comparable to that of the Nile, so famous from the antiquity indeed. »

In his book: « The Ancient History of Hindou States of Far East » (Histoire Ancienne des Etats Hindouisés d’Extrême-Orient), Hanoi 1944, page 37-38, G. Coedes also commented of the same kind as B. P. Groslier in their comparison of Angkor Wat with the Indian monuments:

« In the current document, the monuments of outside India are so differentiated and already taken away from their Indian prototypes which we were able to write; « the report between the first ones of these buildings and those of India, the contemporary or the ancients, is far from being remarkable; deprived of their sculptures and their inscriptions, the different texts are disappeared, nobody would at first think of moving closer to them to hindou temples. At the most as it is felt with these a family atmosphere, but no way a direct relationship. »[1]

But Coedes is locked into his beginning postulate on Cambodian people. Indeed in the same book, on page II :

« We can evaluate all the importance of the India civilizing action by this simple fact of observation: to be held in the somatic and physical characters, a Cambodian farmer hardly differs from Pnong, or from Samrè. »

Page III, he persists: « curious matter, even India forgot so quickly that its culture had spread eastward and the southeast on so vast territories. The learned Indians ignored it until these quite last times, and a small group of them, having learnt French and Dutch, has gone in the great school of the Universities of Paris and Leyde to discover, in our works and in those of our colleagues in Holland and in Java, the history of what they call now with a legitimate pride « Greater India» « the biggest India ».

Restrained into his hypothesis-postulate, Coedes denies the importance of the bronze age in Cambodia; page 6: « we can wonder if it is justifiable to speak about a « bronze age » in outside India. »

And Coedes to conclude page 330; « finally, the beneficial influence of a superior civilization freely accepted was felt in a prominent way in the arts' field, because India, written S. Lévi (in « Civilizing India », page 28[2]) « produced its definitive masterpieces only in the foreigner's action or on the foreign earth… In architecture, it is only in distant Cambodia and distant Java where it is necessary to look for both miracles stemming from the Indian genius: Angkor and Boro-boudour » !!!

It is necessary to note, in order to set free of charge, Coedes claims that his researches took place at the beginning of the XXth century. On the other hand Coedes is also imprisoned into the atmosphere of general condescension and arrogance of the colonial power for the Cambodian people. Since then historian's profession evolved a lot. On the Angkorian civilization, B. P. Groslier made enormous new contributions based on new methods of researches.

To translate the concise Angkorian inscriptions, Coedes often went consulting a Cambodian namely Au Chhieng, professor of Sanskrit and Pali at the Ecole of the Hautes Etudes in Social Sciences, the greatest specialist of time on these two languages. Au Chhieng was also specialist in old cambodian language. We are concerned to remind, because we always have a tendency to forget the Cambodian scholars.

This history of Cambodia written by Cambodians is more and more necessary and urgent, as more and more important number of our fellow countrymen is now interested in our history and some of them fight on our history with quotations from foreign historians. It is remarkable to notice that none of these numerous « History of Cambodia » speaks about the period of the Angkor domination over Siam, with a lot of evidences on many monuments left by our ancestors, in particular the tracks of the roads of Jayavarman VII. One of our readers, mentions that there is a couple of young Frenchmen made deliberately a trip to Thailand to visit the maximum of these monuments built by our ancestors.

(To be followed) …

Note : Cet article est aussi disponible en khmer (cambodgien) et en français sur demande.
[1] H. Parmentier « Origine commune des architectures hindoues dans l’Inde et en Extrême-Orient » Ed. Asiat. EFEO, II p. 200.
[2] In « L'inde civilisatrice, aperçu historique », S. Lévi, Paris 1938.