Entire Southeast Asia was once a Hindu colony. It was known to ancient Indians as Suvarnabhumi.

There were many Hindu Kingdoms, such as Myanmar (Sri Kshetra), Vietnam (Champa), Malaysia (Sri Vijaya), Thailand (Shyam Desha), Indonesia (Javadwip), and Cambodia (Kambuja Desha). Scholars call this part of the world "Greater India", as Indian religion and culture flourished here in ancient time.

Here I am interested to know the Hindu myth behind the origin of the Khmer Rulers in Cambodia.

  • 2
    Please don't add tag:myths, See New Community Consensus on use of Mythology Tag
    – The Destroyer
    Jun 2, 2021 at 10:07
  • @TheDestroyer I have read the post. Thanks for the link. There is no "legend" tag also available. It is not strictly speaking history. What tag do you suggest? There should be a category either legend, myth, mythology or whatever you want to call it. Removing the category completely is not a logical thing in my opinion. Mythology is very much part of each and every religion and it is not history. Jun 2, 2021 at 11:16

1 Answer 1


According to the ancient Cambodian Hindu legend, a Brahmin named Kaundinya came from India (around 100 BC - 100 AD) and married the local Naga princes. Her name was Soma. This marked the beginning of the Indianization of South East Asia. This process eventually culminated in establishing various Hindu Kingdoms throughout South East Asia (Suvarnabhumi).

Cambodia was ruled by Khmer Kings (Angkor civilization), who were Hindu. Initially, they were Saivaites, then they became Vaishnavites. They constructed the Angkor Wat Vishnu temple.

According to Cambodia's ancient Hindu myth, the country's original name is "Kambuja Desha". The modern name Cambodia is derived from that name. "Kambuja Desha" literally means "the land of the descendants of Kambu".

Kambu Svaymbhuva was a great hermit. He did a penance to please Shiva. Shiva was pleased and handed over a celestial nymph (Apsara) named "Mera" to him. Kambu married Mera. That's why their descendants were known as Khmer (Kambu+Mera). They were destined to rule the land.

The Khmer Kings used to call them Devaraja or the God-Kings. During their coronation ritual, they were given a special sword. This was the lightning (Vajra) of the Hindu God Indra.

This is the legend behind the origin of the Khmer Kings and their land Kambuja Desha.

Reference: Kambuja Desa by R. C. Majumdar

Khmer Empire by Tami Deedrick

The Khmer Empire by Charles River Editors

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