Lineage Theravada, Cambodian.
Buddhist University, Phnom Penh - graduate.
Buddhist University, Battambang - advanced studies.
Somdet Phra Sangha Raja Chuon Noth.
[who was Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism at the time]
Nalanda University, India - doctorate.
Zen Japanese - Nichiren School Nipponzan, Myohoji Sect founder Nichidatsu
Theravada - Thai forest tradition: Ven. Achaan Dhammadaro.
Sketch of Somdet
Phra Maha Ghosananda
"The Gandhi of Cambodia"
Takeo Province, south central Cambodia.
1943 Initiated into Cambodian Buddhist Order.
1953 Studied at Nalanda University in Bihar State, India.
1956 Attended 6th Sangha Council of Buddhism.
1957 Studied with contemporary masters of Buddhism in Mahayana
and Theravada traditions.
1969 Received doctoral degree from Nalanda University, title
"Maha Ghosanada" bestowed.
Entered hermitage of Thai meditation master Venerable Achaan Dhammadaro.
1978 Met first influx of Cambodian refugees entering Sakeo camp
following expulsion of Khmer Rouge regime from power. Distributed tracts
to the refugees, reminding them of Buddha's words: "Hatred can
never be appeased by hatred, hatred can only be appeased by love."
Established temples in refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodia border.
1980 Represented Khmer nation-in-exile as consultant to the UN
Economic and Social Council.
Co-founded Inter-religious Mission for Peace. Launched ecumenical initiatives,
world days of prayer for "Peace in Cambodia and the Whole World."
1981 Founded Buddhist temples in Cambodia and Cambodian resettlement
communities in North America, Europe and Australia; currently oversees
temples, establishes cultural and educational programs, sponsors meditations
for peace, sponsors training programs for human rights advocacy and
development of nonviolent conflict resolution.
1983 Met with His Holiness Pope John Paul II in Rome to discuss
religious basis for world peace before planned meeting in Assisi.
1986 Invited by Pope to participate in Day of Prayer for Peace
with world religious leaders in Assisi (now an annual event always attended
by Maha Ghosananda).
1988-1991 Led contingents of Buddhist monks to U.N. - sponsored
Cambodian peace negotiations, proposing a compromise and reminding national
leaders that "Peace is our common goal."
1988 Elected a Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism in Cambodia.
1989 Granted honorary doctorate of humanitarian service at Providence
College, Providence, RI, USA.
1992 Received the title Somdet Phra from King Sihanouk in Phnom
Penh. Popularly known as Samdech Song Santipeap (the leaders of Religion
for Peace) in Cambodia.
Led the First Dhammayietra-Walk for Peace and Reconciliation for one
month through northern Cambodia just prior to full implementation of
United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC).
"Step by Step: Meditations on Wisdom and Compassion" by Maha
Ghosananda was published by Parallax Press, USA (since translated and
published in Khmer, Thai, Spanish and Portuguese).
Awarded 1992 Rafto Foundation Prize for Human Rights, Bergen, Norway.
1993 Led Second Dhammayietra through area of civil war before
first Cambodian elections, encouraging citizens to overcome fear of
political violence and intimidation and exerice their right to vote.
Named honorary leader of Ponleu Khmer, citizens' advisory council to
the Cambodian Constitutional Assembly. Ponleu Khmer presents proposals
for the protection of human rights and for nonviolent resolution of
the continuing Cambodian conflict.
Invited to attend the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago.
1994 Asked to bless the opening ceremony of the Interfaith Pilgrimage
for Peace and Life at Auschwitz, Poland.
Led Third Dhammayietra through the most heavily war-torn western province
of Cambodia. The walk was caught in crossfire between government and
rebel forces and two peace walkers were killed. Proclaiming "this
violence is indeed the reason we walk," Maha Ghosanada led the
Dhammayietra to its completion.
Led contingent of highest-ranking monks to peace negotiations held under
the auspices of King Sihanouk in Pyongyang, North Korea and to a second
round of negotiations later in Phnom Penh.
Led interreligious delegation to peace negotiations in Colombo, Sri
Lanka, to help seek an end to that country's long-standing civil war.
Nominated for 1994 Nobel Prize for Peace by US Senator Claiborne Pell,
Chairman of US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
- 1995 Nominated for a second time by Sen. Pell and an anonymous Nobel
laureate for 1995 Nobel Peace Prize.
- January: Dedicated Disabled Persons' Center, Phnom Penh.
- February: INEB conference, ashram, Nakhon, Nayok, Thailand.
- March: International Women's Day, Phnom Penh/Battambang.
- March: Buddhist Teachers' Meeting (Asian-Western) Dharamsala, India.
- April: International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture,
International Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture, Windsor
- May: Cambodian Engaged Buddhist Nuns and Laywomen, conference in Takmau.
- May-June: Led Fourth Dhammayietra for Peace and Reconciliation in
Cambodia, walking from the Thai border to the Vietnamese border. Continued
calls for peace negotiations and educating public about the ongoing
dangers from land mines and Unexploded ordinance in Cambodia.
- September: Preparatory meeting for a Peace Council, UK. Led International
Peace Day Ceremonies, during Cambodian Festival of the Dead, for a ban
on land mines.
- October: Attended UN Review Conference on the Convention on Conventional
Weapons to present the suffering of ordinary people due to land mines
and plea for a total ban on them. Toured Italy at invitation of the
Italian Campaign to Ban land mines.
- November: Founding meeting of the Peace Council at Windsor castle,
UK. The Peace Council includes several Nobel laureates and high representatives
of all major world religions.
- 1996 Nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace for third year in a row.
Nominated in 1996 by American friends service Committee (1967 Nobel
- February: Led Ban Mines Week parade in Phnom Penh for a ban on land
- April: Attended UN Review Conference on Conventional Weapons, Geneva,
to plea for a total ban on land mines.
- May-June: Led the Fifth Dhammayietra for Peace and Reconciliation
in Cambodia, focusing on deforestation and the link between the military,
illegal logging and the on going civil war. Drew a link between healthy
forests and the life of the Buddhist order. Members of Peace Council
join the walk.
- July: Invited to represent Theravada Buddhist lineage at Gesthemane
Encounter, a Christian-Buddhist Monastic Dialogue at Gesthemane, Abbey,
- September: Met with opressed Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and Buddhist
Sangha in Burma October Delegates, State of the World Forum in San Francisco,
California, USA November Met with Bishop Ruiz and members of Zapatistas
in Chaipas, Mexico, as a member of the Peace Council.
- December: Met with members of Khmer Rouge to arrange a route for the
1997 Walk for Peace and Reconciliation in Cambodia. Was Patron of conference
on Buddhism and Peace in Battambang, Cambodia, which was organized by
Buddhism for Development group and was attended by representatives of
different militant factions.
- 1997 Nominated by a former Nobel laureate (anonymous) for the Nobel
Prize for Peace for a fourth time.
- March-April: Led the Sixth Dhammayietra through areas of Cambodia
which were, until a few months before, under the total control of the
Khmer Rouge. The people in the areas through which the walk passed witnessed
the first freely organized event in their lives. Walk successfully concluded
at the Angkor period ruins of Bantey Chammar.
- May: Invited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to co-lead an ecumenical
service for Tibet at the national Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
- June: As a Patron of the organization, he attended the International
Network of Engaged Buddhists conference in Kanchanaburi province, Thailand,
which brought together Buddhist social activists from throughout Asia
and around the world. Visited Halockhani refugee camp on the Burma-Thai
border at the invitation of the New Monk Relief Committee.
- August: After the coup d'etat in July he led the first mass event
calling for an end to the use of violence in Cambodian power struggles.
He later traveled to Sri Lanka, where he received an award for peacemaking
from the Sarvodaya organization.
Comment: Currently Supreme
Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism. Since 1978, Maha Ghosananda worked
tirelessly for Buddhism and for human rights. He has established temples,
partaken in UN delegations and attended religious conferences. Also,
participant in peace negotiations, founder of cultural programs and
anti land mine campaigner. Samdech Preah is famous for visiting Cambodian
refugee camps at times of great danger and for leading "Dhammayietra"
peace walks through the war-torn country. A 4x Nobel nominee, he is
recipient of many honours, fluent in 15 languages and strong supporter
of women's Buddhism.
Particular Teachings: Has no official
students: his method of teaching is to interact informally with everyone
who approaches him. Uses no syllabus, speaks from the heart.
Wat Sampeou Meas
is the main temple, but although Samdech has established over 50 temples,
he has no connections with any of them. For famous man, he is notoriously
hard to get hold of. A constant traveller, even his disciples do not
know where he is much of the time. Interested persons may try following:
Ven. Maha Ghosananda
c/o Mr. ONG Vuthy
Coordinator, The Dhammayietra Center, for Peace and Non-violence
Phnom Penn, CAMBODIA
Fax: (855 23) 36-4205
Network of Engaged Buddhist (INEB) Website: www.sulak-sivaraksa.org/network22.php
INEB is under the
patronage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Venerable Somdet Phra Maha
Ghosananda, and Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. Founded in 1987, INEB is
the first international network that links together engaged Buddhists
worldwide. INEB deals with alternative education and spiritual training,
gender issues, human rights, ecology, alternative concepts of development,
and activism. Primarily a Buddhist network, INEB encompasses interfaith
By Somdet Phra Maha Ghosananda:
Step by Step: Meditations
on Wisdom and Compassion
Parallax Press, USA
also in Khmer, Thai, Spanish and Portuguese.
By western students
referring to their experiences at teachers temples:
to Buddhist Ethics, by Peter Harvey.
By students in
Action Dharma, eds.
Queen, Keown & Prebish, has chapter on Maha Ghosananda.