early history of religion in Cambodia is obscure although,
as in Thailand, a mixture of Mahayana
and Hinduism predominated until the 13th century. After then,
Theravada became the main type of Buddhism. Thailand had
an important role to play in this change, but so did missionary
monks from Sri Lanka and Cambodian's studying in Sri Lanka. For
example, it is known that the son of the country's greatest
king, Jayavarnan (1181-1218) became a monk in Sri Lanka
and studied there for some years.
1975 when the communists took control of Cambodia they
tried to completely destroy Buddhism and very nearly succeeded.
By the time of the Vietnamese invasion in 1979 nearly
every monk and religious intellectual had been either
murdered or driven into exile, and nearly every temple
and Buddhist library had been destroyed. Today Buddhism
is struggling to re-establish itself although the lack
of Buddhist scholars and leaders and the continuing political
instability is making the task difficult.