The Chenla Empire
Project: The Chenla Empire
Author: Lem Chuck Moth
Started date: June/01/2003
Last updated: March/31/2017
All right reserved.
Since this paper is still drafted, the readers would be advised to ignore any context errors. The content is not final and subjected to be reviewed.
So far, there is no consensus among scholars about the origin of the Chinese Word "Chenla" that was used consistently as a reference to Cambodia. No known Sanskrit or Khmer word proposed by scholars could be considered as an acceptable transcription or translation of any one of its derivatives found in Chinese texts. Its multiple variances through out Chinese source complicate further its identification (Notes: Tsin-Lab). The fact that Chinese source often refers a country by its ruling dynasty leads us to believe that the Chinese word Chenla and all its derivatives were faulty of the word "Tsin-La" or "Tsin-Lo" that was a reference of the Tsin (Jin) Dynasty. If this is true, Chenla is meant to be an exact Chinese interpretation of the Kumeru (Khmer) Identity. It agrees with the association to the Meru's legacy of Middle Eastern Moon God Tsin from whom both the Khmer and the Cham kings descended. The fact that Chinese scholars knew Kambuja as the official name of the Khmer Empire and still called it Chenla indicates that its identity is more appropriate to the indigenous aspect of its origin. Unlike the Meru 's identity the was brought by Indianization, the Chenla's legacy could be traced back to the Kuchin communities (formed by the indigenous Jin migrants) that predated long before the Indian's arrival in Southeast Asia (The French Indochina: The French Cochinchina: The Cochin's legacy). Known also as the Kamaras, they were actually inducted to the early Meru Culture that they retained as the people of Varadhana (Hiong-Wang Kingdom). First used to refer the native dynasty of Prey-Nokor, Chenla became the Chinese reference to the Khmer Identity itself (Notes: Lin-Yi vs Yi-sin). On the same premises, we shall identify that the Chenla kings were descended from native Kaundinya kings of Southeast Asia with a strong connection to the Jin (Meru) culture and were members of the Sakyan family of Buddha Gautama. In connection to theirs immediate root, they constituted one of the three lineage (from Kaundinya) who were of mix blood with the Naga ancestry and had a temperament or obligation to fight against the Kushan (Nokor Khmer: The Three Dynasties: Viravarman and the Chenla Dynasty). The conflict that started since the formation of the Shang dynasty was caused by the western Sakan legacy to clash with the native Xiang dynasty of the east. Subdued by the Tchous, the Sakan royal houses made their way to intrude in Nagadvipa. Clashes were noticed during the assimilation process of implanting Vishnuism on naga communities by members of the Sakyan clans. In the era that the Sakas forced themselves upon the native naga communities, resistance and uprisings were seen through out the history of Southeast Asia.
The Chenla's Accounts from Chinese Source
The uprising that was found in the records of the Sui Dynaty was at first mistaken by western scholars as the start-up of the Khmer Kingdom to free itself from Funan. As we had argued, the Khmer Empire was already formed by Kaundinya Jayavarman, which in consort with Funan still retained its official name as Kambuja (Nokor Khmer: The Khmerization of Kambuja). There is no recollection in Khmer tradition of a vassal state named Chenla to fight off Kambuja or Funan after it was formed as a Khmer empire. In the contrary, the Khmer tradition confirmed the attack of the Cham aristocracy that fought to free itself from the Khmer court of Prah Thong. To recall back, the Cham aristocracy settlement in Southeast Asia dated back since the arrival of the Sakan king Ajiraja and his court in Java. Through their Middle Eastern ancestry, they formed a strong consortium with the Pandya royal houses of South India and together had important roles to play during the rise of the next Angkorean empire (Xiang-Mai: The Indra Consortium: The Fight with Sanjaya). Started as an antagonist force to the Khmer court, the Javanese royal house became more and more part of the Cholan consortium of South India. Even though they joined late into the Khmer establishment, the Cholan contribution to the rise of Angkor was no less important than the other Khmer courts. Suryavaman II who was well known as the builder of Angkor Wat, in particular, had a deep root from this Chola Dynasty. Nevertheless, unlike their Sri Vijaya who through Buddhism became seamlessly part of the Khmer development, the Chola and the Cham identity was the least recognized as part of the Khmer legacy. Their strong Zoroastrianist tradition prevented them to blend completely with the Buddhist legacy of the Sri Vijaya and the Khmer court. During the Mongol's incursion, the Cholan kings started to secede from the Khmer Court and by doing so, exposed Angkor to the Mongolian attack. Modern scholars mistook these events as due to ethnic clashes between the Cham and the Khmer people. More extensive contacts with the Chenla court was another reason of the Chinese preference for this Khmer identity. We shall use the Chinese word "Chenla" still, in referring to the mixed Khmer and Cham dynasty during the next phase of the Khmer history. The Chinese account of the Chenla uprising against Funan as we shall see, resulted in the complete break down of the Kambujan Empire. The fact that Chinese source still treat Chenla as synonymous to Funan or Kamboja, suggests a new reconstruction of Funan (with a lot less Sakan interference in its core politic) into becoming the true Khmer Empire.
A COSMIC BATTLE
Conforming to theirs secular view, western scholars compiled the modern history of Southeast Asia based on the outcome of the Indianization theory of the farther India. Not only that this limited scope of historical data had led to the misconception of Indian colonization, it also reduced the Buddhist development of Southeast Asia as a mere consequence of the Indian cultural development. A religious view of the Chenla uprising shows instead a cosmic battle that set Buddhism into becoming the next victim of Zoroastrianism. Through the Sakan leadership, Zoroastrianism took the upper hand of Indian societies and in the process, expulsed both Sivaism and Buddhism out of the country. At the mean time, the conflict of devotion became the set point of the next Southeast Asian development to be shaped by the God Asura.
The Impact of Tartarization
The settlement of the Meru court in Middle East induced interbreeding that generated new Simha line of kings among the descendants of king Meru. In western mythology, the Abrahamic School portrayed this event as the conception of Adam by the Moon God Tsin. Satan who was then a high minister in the court of God refused to bow before the new created Adam. The act of rebellion angered the Moon God Tsin who chased him out from his heavenly court. Satan then swore to prove the Moon God Tsin that Adam and his descendants were not worth of his high esteem (Notes: The Book of Job). Created in God's image, Adam was destined to be as powerful as other gods of the Meru's court. Through knowledge acquired from the Nandas, they sprung quickly to achieve fame and power and to show off theirs power through extravaganza monuments and building. It was not before long that the Moon God Tsin found out that human being started to challenge his authority. The dispersion of language apparently created a setback for the offspring of Adam to unite against god, but did not stop them to drive for theirs own supremacy. Through theirs earthly power gained by wealth, Zeus, Hadis and Poseidon contested the will of God and Under the tutelage of the eclipse god Asura, they fought between themselves to rule the west and at the same time intruded themselves to the east. War became theirs mean to achieve gain and glory and all the suffering that were induced by it were blamed to Satan. Under the discipline of Zoroastrianism, there is very little fine line between the notion of God and Evil. While the demonic Sura brought himself up as the ultimate God of the universal, the bull image of the (Sun God) Nanda and the Dragon's image of the Moon God Tsin became both the representations of Satan and Devil. Needless to say, the distortion view created a new reality on the western world and started to make its own journey to the east (The Western Civilization: The Impact of the Kalayuga: The Transition into Buddhism). With God's morale code out of the way, knowledge were exploited to the fullest without concerning of the consequence. From then on, the Old Testament forgot about Cain and set focus on the Israelite who were of close relative to Moses. At the mean time, the Sakan kings continued their drive to control the world that set the offerings of Adam into becoming the AntiMeru or the Anti-Christ against the Moon God Tsin (MArA in eastern cosmology). The Moon God Tsin's effort to save the Israelite had turned out to be fruitless as they were also going to betray god's will. Fascinated by the wealth and extravagant life style, the Israelites lost themselves (without knowing it) to the spell of God Asura. As the whole world was falling into the sway of the Red energy, the Moon God Tsin had no other option than to exit Middle East. With the help of the Coladhara naga king, he settled at Gangetic India just to find out that the Sakas already made theirs intrusion deep inside the Indian continent. It was Buddha Gautama who saved Southeast Asia from the western Yakkhas and through his religion brought salvation to the eastern world. In the next phase of Asian history, we shall see campaigns of the Nandas driving out aggressive Sakan powerhouses, in the effort to safeguard Buddhism. In the development, the Sakya family split themselves into two camps of which king Sukhodhana, the father of Buddha Gautama belonged to the Simha clan of the family. From the lineage derived king Bimbissara and later Ashoka's line of kings. According to Buddhist tradition, these Sakya kings were arrogant and full of prejudice and because they owed their trait to the western satanic root, they were mostly warlike. Despite the effort of Buddha Gautama to unify them with the native Naga kings, they were unwilling to share their bloodline with them. On the other hand, the Kalyani clan of his mother side had been marrying with the Nandas to become the true Sakyan family of Buddha Gautama to be destined in carrying on the next Buddhist tradition. The fall of the Tchou dynasty along with the destruction of the Hiong-Wang kingdom signified a new setback for the spread of Buddhism. Under the high of the Kala Yuga, the Sakan kings found theirs opportunity to carry on theirs worldly ambition. In China, the fall of the Han dynasty allowed the Wu to rise-up and after subduing other factions of rival Yueh-Shih clan set sail for the world expansion. Known as the Kushan, the new leader of the Sakan world used Buddhism to achieve their goal. In Southeast Asia, Funan was formed a member of the Kambujan kings Aswataman and soon exerted its independence from the interference of China. As the Kushan took its turn to rule China, Funan started to resist Chinese intervention. The fight between the grass-root's elements of King Sri Man and the Sakan faction of his family members who was descended from king Fan Chan, was actually an outcome of the new conflict between the grass-root leadership and the Koshan rulers (Kambojadesa: The Sea Route PLan: The Set-back).
The Rise and Fall of the Kushan
Conforming to Sivaite cosmogony, situation already set against Buddhism by the arrival of more Sakan leaderships in Southeast Asia. During theirs infiltration, the Sakan front line already split themselves into two antagonist camps. Fighting for their own supremacy, the Kushan and the Chams dragged along the native nagas to fight on their behalf. Through family connection, the Nanda house was seen split itself to take part in the new conflict. In Funan, the last fight between members of king Fan Man's direct descendant with the Kushan branch of the family continued on after the visit of Kang Thai and You Chin (some time between 245-250). Since then, no Chinese records were found about Funan until the advent of king Tian-Tchou Chanda (Chandragupta II) sending tamed elephants to the Chinese court in 357 AD (Prey Nokor: The Indian Connection: The Tchou's Connection). It implicates that Funan already fell into the sway of the Kushan control and a political consortium was underway between India and China that brought the Kushan into becoming the next Asian powerhouse. Along with the rise of the Sui in China, the Gupta royal house rose to take over the Vakataka Samvat and the Funan Empire as a whole. Started with Chandragupta I, repetitive intrusion allowed the broken Mauryan court to take the Vakataka Samvat. Samudragupta took the opportunity to form the Gupta Empire by booting out the nine naga houses of Padmavati from the consortium (AInd: From the end of the First to the beginning of the Second Magadha Empire: BharaSivas:pp.128-129). One of them was the BharaSivas whose strong Sivaist conviction became the last stronghold of the Meru Culture in India (Notes: The BharaSiva Naga House). Evidences also confirm that his son Chandragupta II included Funan as part of the Gupta Empire. We know from the Indian source that Vishnuism started to spread its wing over both the Gangetic India and Southeast Asia. It is said that Rudrasena II who married the daughter of Chandragupta II became devotee of Vishnu like his father-in-law (AInd: History of the Deccan: Rudrasena: P 271). That shift of devotion obviously drifted him apart from other family members who still retained strong devotion to Sivaism. By the formation of the Khmer Empire, Kaundinya was well supported by the native people. However, his connection with the Gupta court ended up alienating to local naga houses that were not part of the coalition. The problem was not the naga house BharaSiva that was particularly affected by the next formation of the Gupta Empire. It was actually the new comer Cham royal house who through the power of Po-Nokor already took hold of Southeast Asia. After the fall of the Han, evidences show that they were taking refuge among the Cham Banis and other Cham communities of Southeast Asia. When the Khmer King Viravarman of Prey-Nokor lost his crown by a member of the Kushan affiliated house, the crises went viral. Unable to get help from the Sui's court of China, Jayavarman Kaundinya decided to resolve the conflict on his own term. Apparently, he dethroned the usurper and anointed his son and heir Gunnavareman, to take on the Prey-Nokor's throne. This resolution did not resolve the conflict, and to make the matter worst created serious implication on his own court. Another son of his (with a concubine), Rudravarman, usurped the throne from Gunavarman and declared himself the sole ruler of the Khmer Empire. In their own fight, two brothers from the court of Virapura took the lead to take back the Prey-Nokor throne. They soon realized that fighting aginst an affiliated family member of the Kushan powerhouse was not that simple as they have thought. With the support from the Sui Dynasty, Rudravarman presented himself as a serious adversary for the Chenla clan to tackle. To achieve their goal, the two brothers had to consort their powers with all political factions that fought against the Kushan powerhouse. They found supports from the Cham communities that were scattered through out Southeast Asia to theirs side. By this time, evidences show that the Chams also started their own rising in India. Included in its core a new membership of the fallen Han dynasty, the Hiong-nu infiltrated itself into the Indian politic. Facing with a new influx of Zoroastrianism, Buddhist western expansion by the Kushan was set into a stall. At the contray, the rising of the hard-line Vishnuite consortium of India that helped the Chenla consortium to win theirs own battle (Dvaravati: The Impact of the Chenla's Attack: The Rise of the Chalukyas). In a parallel situation, Bhavavarman's strong devotion to Vishnuism was the reason why he took a hard stance against Buddhism during the early phase of his career (Dvaravati: The Exploit of Water Chenla: The Mon's Account of King Bhavavarman). The impact on Buddhism by the Chenla's campaign was so severe that according to Buddhist Observers, drove its destruction to a near completion.
The New Order
The rise of the Chenla consortium and its immediate subsequent to the fall of Funan was the least understood of all history of Southeast Asia. The dilemma started when the Chinese source gives out the wrong impression that Chenla was actually the forefront of the Khmer Kingdom. When compiling the modern history of Southeast Asia, secular view induced scholars to portrays Cambodia as a nation to form itself after the Chenla uprising in a constrained environment of today (Notes: The Khmer Nationality). From a religious point of view, our own study would reveal a different outlook of the uprising that after all set and done, gave rise to the next foundation of the Angkorean Empire. Our own finding is that the birth and fall of Angkor was not due to the Darwinism's rule of natural selection, but instead was a divine planning by Meru as prophecized (in the book of Ezykiel). After exiting Middle East, Meru already hinted to some of his faithful that a New Jerusalem would be founded as his dwelling place. Deitfied as Lord Siva, Meru was known as the God of Creation and Destruction and was proved to be well disposed to accomplish his Godly mission. True to his cosmogony, revolution (a form of evolution) is also an important part of his creation. It means that to keep humanity on the right track, correction must to be done if mistakes had been committed. By now, the Khmer Empire was already formed and was on its way to launch itself as a cakravatin empire. Nevertheless, constraints from both India and China drove the new empire to fall under the Gupta and to the most extend the Kushan's control. Following the Mauryan legacy, the Gupta and later the Kushans used Buddhism for theirs own gain and glory. At the same time, the repetitive attack of the Sasanian Empire already limited theirs success and to make the matter worst, they themselves fell deeper and deeper under Zoroastrianism. In that situation, a correction is necessary for the Khmer Empire to progress into the next stage. We shall argue that the Chenla uprising was in fact a mean to give Buddhism a new outlook and the Khmer empire a new strength to guard against the future Sakan intrusion. In its drive to become the next Cakravatin Empire, Angkor needed to depend on its own strength to launch a New World order. By now, damages had already been done as Tartarization regained its strength and made its journey to take control of the world. Bringing along confusion and chaos a long the way, they passed through India and China and it was not before long that Southeast Asia became theirs next target. By the early Saka incursion, we see already a serious distortion of identity. Chou-Ta-Kuan quoted in his record at the beginning of the fourteenth century.
The Tchen-La is also called Tchan-La; it indigenous name is Kan-Pu-Tche.
As many other observers, Chou-Ta-Kuan mistook Kambuja as the native name of the Khmer Empire. It was actually a faulty statement since we know that Kamboja was only the official name of the Khmer Kingdom (Nokor Khmer: The Khmerization of Kamboja: The Birth of the Khmer Empire). As we shall see, this confusion of identity led to the wrong impression that the Tai (Kambojan) people were in fact, long time resident (if not indigenous) of Southeast Asia while the Khmers came later from India (Notes: The Thai Nationality). The reality was that the Khmer people were Southeast Asian natives, but the Khmer King Kaundinya Jayavarman and his father-in-law the Kambojan king were among the few who came from India. Before theirs arrivals, the Coladhara naga house of the joint Xiang and the Nanda dynasties were actually theirs native rulers. Of direct descendant of King Samanta, they were the oldest of all dynasties of Southeast Asia and, to the most extend of the whole world. It was them who subdue the Shangs and ruled China as the Tchou dynasty, When the time come, they went out to subdue Assyria and invade Egypt in a campaign to bring Meru's spirit back to its birth place.
The situation complicated itself when the Hans subdued the Tchou and established themselves as ruler of China. At the same time, the Hans made theirs intrusion in Southeast Asian politic through the Cham aristocrat's presence in Southeast Asia. In the long run, they created another confusion of identity about the Cham nationality, Along with the construction of Tonkin as theirs southern military commanding post, they also inflicted the misconception of the Viet nationality. In modern history of Southeast Asia, many western scholars made serious attempts to enforce theirs view of both Cham and Viet nationality as being native of Southeast Asia. In confusion with Champapura, they argued that Prey-Nokor (Lin-Yi in Chinese source) was actually a country of the Cham people. Our findings show that the Chenla uprising was not about the formation of Nokor Khmer (Cambodia), but was about the preparation of a new order for the foundation of the Angkorean Empire that would set the Meru culture back into the world politic. Known as the Khmer Empire (Chenla in Chinese source), Angkor became the first Buddhist Cakravatin Empire to launch the Meru's New Order to the world.
THE CHENLA BROTHERHOOD
During the reign of Kaundinya Jayavarman, Prey Nokor and the Kambuja Kingdom were united under the Khmer Empire. First located at Angkor Borey, the capital city of Funan was moved to the Menam Valley. The move to the new location justified the delegation and the inclusion of the Kambujan territory under the control of the Khmer court of Kaundinya Jayavarman. The alliance with the Sri Vijaya allowed him to consolidate his kingdom into becoming once again a cakravatin empire. Leaving Prey-Nokor into the hand of his son Gunavarman, evidences show that he spent more of his time at Lavo. His effort earn-marked him the title of "General of the Pacified South" from the court of China, nevertheless it left Prey-Nokor vulnerable under his young heir Gunavarman. The usurpation of his stepbrother Rudravarman created a political shake-off of the Buddhist consortium that allowed the Chenla clan to rise up challenging the Khmer establishment of Prey Nokor.
The Chenla Uprising
According to the Khmer source, Prah Thong had to fight off the control of the Cham Kings to establish the Khmer Empire. His exploit was possible in part due to the new consortium with the Sri Vijaya that was strengthening through his marriage with the Nagi Princess. Nevertheless, his leaning toward the Sri-vijaya had also led to the political spin-off from the Khmer court left under the control of Gunavarman (Nokor Khmer: The three dynasties). As his descendants split into three factions and each one fought for its own account, the Khmer Empire fell into anarchy. The Chenla Kings (as referred in Chinese sources), in particular, were the most invigorated of all the contenders. This was due to the fact that after Kaundinya ousted the Cham king from Prey-Nokor, many of the latter's family's members were still left to rule their own localities as vassals to the Khmer Empire (Champapura: The Indian arrival: The left-over Cham legacies). As tributary to the Kaundinya court, they were quick to amass back theirs fortune and took no time to built-up theirs power. After his departure from Angkorborey, Kaundinya Jayavarman left the Khmer throne of Prey Nokor under the spell of the Cham's retaliation. The usurpation of Rudravarman gave them the opportunity to get back into the political limelight by aligning themselves with the Chenla princes. In an effort to revive back the Cham past legacies, they launched a campaign to subdue the whole of the Kambujan Empire. The history of the Sui was the earliest source, so far available about the attack on Funan and the subsequent formation of the Chenla powerhouse.
The Chenla is at the southwest of Lin-Yi; it was originally a kingdom vassal of Funan. The family name was Cha-Li; his personal name was She-To-Ssu-Na; his ancestors had gradually increased the power of the country. She-To-Ssu-Na seized Funan and subdued it.
It mentions the emergence of the Chenla clan exactly at Ba-Phnom, the place where once the Cham communities flourished during the rise of the Funan Empire. As we had seen, the Cham aristocrats of king Ajiraja lineage were taking part of the Funan court. That might be the reason that the Chinese source took the Cham kingdom as Chenla to be actually a vassal of Funan. Now that Kamboja became the country of the Khmer Empire under Kaundinya, the Cham communities of Ba-Phnom became parts of the Khmer Empire. Formed from the court of Viravarman at Prey Nokor, the Chenla consortium strengthened the Kaundinya's lineage of mix Cham stocks with the support of the surviving Cham aristocrats to rise up challenging the Funan court. About its leader, the Chinese source hints that his ancestors were working on building theirs power-base under the control of the Funan Empire. The family name "Cha-Li" could be a reference to the god Hari or Vishnu of the Hindu Culture as had always been the legacy of the Cham Kings. It could be also a reference to the Cham royal house of Sip-Song-Pana, known as the city of Tchou-Li that stayed until modern days. This connection explains later the close tie of the Chenla family with the northern Siam countries (Lanna: Notes: Lanna Tai). The personal name "She-To-Ssu-Na" of the Chenla King is on the other hand easier to identify to be the exact transcription of Chitrasena. Inscriptions reveal that Chitrasena was a son of king Viravarman who also descended from the Kaundinya family (Nokor Khmer: The Three Dynasties: Viravarman and the Chenla dynasty). Apparently the Hari's connection was established through his Cham mother side and according to matrimonial rule, Chitrasena was a legitimate heir of the Cham court. Being long under the control of the Funan court, the Cham aristocrats took the opportunity of the internal crisis (during the usurpation of Rudravarman) to rally behind the Chenla Kings. Theirs first mission was to oust Rudravarman from the Khmer throne of Ba-Phnom. Under the protection of the Sui Dynasty (581-618), Rudravarman had to move his court to Prey-Nokor at Dong-Duong. We shall see later that Citrasena was not acting alone and that the Chenla attack did not only subdue the court of Prey Nokor but the whole of the Funan Empire. As a consequence, its controlled territory was subjected to the political standing of China, India and lastly the Khmer Empire. It is important to note that during the rise of the latter, there were also the northern Tai communities under the control of Budhusinhanati Nagara located at Xiang-Sean. Subdued by Prah Thong, the Budhusinhanati's court was destroyed and the Tai aristocrats were scattered in disarray along the northern Lao countries.
The Leader of the Chenla's Pact
In the history of the Sui, Citrasena was mentioned to be the sole leader of the Chenla's pact, but many Khmer inscriptions prove otherwise that he was not alone in the fight against Funan. As a matter of fact, it was his elder brother (cousin in some sources) who was the first to ascend the Funan or Kambujan throne under the name of Bhavavarman. The inscription of Ang Chumnik confirms that he was the first Chenla king to reign after Rudravarman was assumably driven out of the Khmer throne of Prey Nokor (JAISC: Inscription of Ang Chumnik). The same inscription also indicates that he was the actual driver of the Chenla attack and after having taken the power by storm, took reward of the exploit for himself.
The king Sri Bhavavarman, having taking the power energetically, received Gambhisvara as the fruit of his desire for the kingdom. (JAISC: Inscription of Ang Chumnik: Line 5)
Nevertheless, the Kambujan or Khmer Empire was so vast that a change of strategy had to be taken by the Chenla pact. After driving out Rudravarman to Prey-Nokor, evidences show that the two Chenla brothers split their campaign to be carried on in two fronts. Leaving the Prey-Nokor court of king Rudravarman to his brother Citrasena to finish off, Bhavavarman turned to the rest of the Kambujan and Khmer courts in the Menam valley. Of different backgrounds, the two brothers were conducting theirs own fights. Of his northern Cham affiliation with the court of Bandhusinhanati, we had seen that Citrasena stayed focus on Prey-Nokor and the Khmer Empire. On the other hand, evidences show that Bhavavarman was conducting a bigger campaign to establish himself as a cakravatin monarch. The Han-Chey inscription indicated that his first campaign was to drive the "King of Mountain" out of Mahidhara.
Jetu parvatabhubal a Mahidharamastakat setu pravrshi yasyasid dhastineshv api varishu. (JAISC: Inscription of Han-Chey: Section B: line 5: p, 223)
The King of Mountain of the passage could be identified to be as no other than the Naga King of the Sri Vijaya, father-in-law of Kaundinya. According to Chinese source, the attack drove the Funan court from To-Mou to Na-fu-na. Scholars agreed that To-Mou was a Chinese reference to the Funan capital, but differed in identifying the exact location that it was at the time. We had seen that Vyadhapura, identified as Angkorpuri, was the late capital of the Naga King before it was handed over to kaundinya. We had also argued that Angkorpuri was no longer of importance to the Khmer Court since Kaundinya had moved his capital to Lavo (Nokor Khmer: Mahidhara as the seat of Sri Dharmaraja: The formation of Lavo). As the inscription stated it, it was Mahidhara of the Malay Archipelago that Bhavavarman had subdued during the first stage of the Chenla uprising. Of his special commemoration of the inscription, he referred himself as the king of Malayu (Notes: The Commemoration of Bhavavarman). The Chinese reference of "To-Mou" moreover appears to be the same as To-Mou-Chang which is in high probability a reference to the Khedah Mountain where seated the Sri Vijayan court. The reference of "To-Mou" might be a Chinese transcription of "To Meru" or "To Raja", meaning the Lion King as has always been representing the Simha identity of the Sri Vijaya. Exerting full control of the southern Sea route, the Sri Vijaya became naturally the first target of the Chenla take-over. On the other hand, we could identify Na-fu-na, the place that the Kambujan kings taking refuge as no other than the small island Na-Tu-Na at the northern shore of Borneo. It was actually no more than a quick stop as evidences show that the family members of the Naga King were pushed further or moved themselves into south India where they formed the Pallava court. They were seen later moved all the way to Ceylon where they formed next the Buddhist community of Sri Langka (Dvaravati: The Impact of the Chenla's Attack: The Rise of the Pallava). By this time, we know that the Kambujan court already established their along the Malakka straight line to take control of the southern sea trade (Nokor Khmer: The Impact on Krakatoa: The Sea Trade Route). As we shall see later, evidences show that the Pallava was also formed as the extension of sea-trade development from Ganthara. This finding leads us to believe that the Kedah Mountain was already ruled by a faction of the Kaundinya court, as part of the Khmer Empire. Prior to the Chenla uprising, we know that this strategic location of the south sea-trade was ruled under the "king of the mountain", a title that scholars attributed later to the Khmer kings of the Sailendra dynasty. It was due to this past connection that many aspects of the Pallava's culture resemble that of the Khmer court. Vestiges left behind at Kanchipura show strong legacies of the bull Nanda, a traditional representation of Kaundinya.
Funan before the Fall
In the Sin Tang Chou record, we found a paragraph that could provide us good information about the state of Funan prior to the Chenla uprising.
From Mi-Tchen, we arrive at Kouen-Lang where lived the tribes of small Kun-Lun; the king was named Mang-si-yue; the customs are the same as Mi-Tchen. From Kouen-lang we arrive at Lou-yu that was the kingdom of the king of grand Kun-Lun. The king was named Seu-li-po-po-na-ta-chan-na. The plain is bigger than Mi-Tchen. From the place where lived the small king of Kun-Lun we arrive in a half-day at Tcha of Moti-pa. (BEFEO IV: Deux Itinaraires de Chine en Inde: pp.222-225, Paul Pelliot)
Of the Kingdoms of Kun-Lun, the passage clearly indicates that there was a distinction between the small and the grand Kun-Lun. Sri Ksetra (Lo-yue in Chinese source) was mentioned as the capital of the grand Kun-Lun kingdom where the king was titled as maharaja and could be identified without doubt to Mahidhara. There is mentioning of many vassals of Sri Ksetra; among them were Mi-Tchen and Tchouan-Lo-Po-Ti. The association of the grand Kun-Lun to Mahidhara leaves the small Kun-Lun to be associated with Coladhara where at the time was located at Prey-Nokor. It is interesting to note that the passage mentions Mang-sui-yue as the king of the small Kun-Lun. AS we recalled back, Mang-si-yue (in some other source Mang-Sui-Ti) was a son of Piao-Sui-Ti (the third son of Ashoka) and was known to extend his father Empire on both the Tian Shan range and the Mainland Indochina (The Sakadvipa: The Saka of Dayadesa: King Ashoka of Magadha). It gives us a good glimpse to the political setting of the Khmer Kingdom during the early phase of the Chenla uprising. The King of the small Kun-Lun, Mang-sui-yue, mentioned here, must be Rudravarman who usurped the throne of Prey-Nokor from his stepbrother, Gunanvarman. Through the Chinese source, we know that he descended from the long lineage of Ashoka's grandson and that through inheritance he was still retaining the latter's title, Mang-sui-yue. His reign characterized the comeback of Mahayana Buddhism along side the Theravada canon that was practiced at the time at Prey Nokor. As to the capital of the grand Kun-Lun, we shall identify as no other than Lavo where, in close connection with Mahidhara, the last of the Kaundinya king Jayavarman Kaundinya was residing. Like "Mang-si-yue" was referring to Rudravarman, the Chinese name given to the king of the Grand Kun-Lun "Seu-li-po-po-na-ta-chan-na" was perhaps a reference to next successor of Kaundinya Jayavarman (Notes: Seu-li-po-po-na-ta-chan-na). According to the account, Rudravarman was still reigning at Ba-Phnom (the small Kun-Lun) under the tutelage of the Tsui dynasty, but Bhavavarman I already took hold of the capital To-Mu of the Grand Kun-Lun Kingdom. As we shall see Sri Ksettra was then Sri Dharmaraja that was actually the capital of the Kambujadesa (Notes: Sri Ksettra vs Pyuksettra). By the conquest of Bhavavarman, it became the preceptor of the Mon country to receive its name as Ramandesa, of which Burma was a part of it (The Ramana Desa: Introduction). In collaboration to our assumption, the Burmese tradition claimed that the founder of Sri Ksetra was Dattabaung, which in Pyu language meant "the great king" or Maharaja in Sanskrit. The Pyu word "Dattabaung" was actually a derivative of the Sanskrit word "Datta-vamsa" that was a royal title of the Kambu naga king. It is consistent with the Ayudhya's past legacy of Guchanaga's reference to theirs king as "Bhagadatta". On the other hand, the Mon chronicle referred the Mon's ruler as Dattabaung Rama or Maharaja Rama in Sanskrit. The two vassals of Sri Ksetra, Mi-Tchen and Tchouan-lo-po-ti were mentioned to be at the west of the Kun-Lun Kingdoms. Another hint of Mi-Tchen is found in the Man-chou to be located at the end of the river Irravadi (Li-Chooei in Chinese Text) (DICI: p. 170). From the descriptions, we are confident enough to identify Mi-Tchen as a Chinese reference to Hamsavati of the Irravadi's Basin. Hamsavati was an offshoot of Malayu and was mentioned to have the same culture as the small Kun-Lun or the Khmer Kingdom. On the other hand, Tchouan-lo-po-ti could be a Chinese transcription of Chonpuri or the city of the Chuang (Tchouan in Chinese) Dynasty. While Sri Dharmaraja fell under the control of Bhavavarman I, the Sui had made a move to protect Rudravarman at Champapura. After invading Lin-Yi in 605, the Sui court reorganized the three command posts of the southern part of Jinnan (BEFEO IV: Deux Itinarraires De Chine en Inde I: pp. 187-188, By Paul Pelliot). Pi-Ying became the command post of Jinnan, Hai-Yin became the command post of Nong and Lin-Yi became the command post of Tchong. This organization saved Lin-Yi from the Chenla conquest and allowed the khmer king Rudravarman to rule Prey-Nokor under the protection of the Sui. However, the protection lasted only for ten years. After the Tang subdued the Sui in 618 AD, evidences show that the Chenla got back theirs control over Prey-Nokor. By subduing Funan, the Chenla clan exerted its suzerainty virtually over all past territory of the Naga's territory.
THE FALL OF FUNAN
Superstitious as it may be, the cosmic battle between Buddhism and Vishnuism became the set point for the fall of the Kushan. Funan that was formed by king Hun-Tien to incorporate Sakan leadership became the casualty of the cosmic battle. As it was becoming more and more subject to the Sakan political abuse, Funan must fall to allow the left-out grass-root naga houses to rise up one more time against the Sakan intrusion. In India, the consolidation of Vishnuism induced strong impact on Sivaism. We shall see the final displacement of the last Sivaite influential schools to Java. In Funan, the same fate was set for Buddhism. To escape the Chenla 's attack, the last Funan king Jayavarman I had to move his court to Java and joined the Kambu naga king in Ganthari.
The Last Funan king Jayavarman I (657-681)
In concordant with the Khmer legend of Prah Thong, we know that the Funan court did not succumb immediately to the Cham 's attack. Instead, the Deva Dynasty was forced to take refuge in the Khorat Plateau.
The Cham kings then conducted an attack to chase out Prah bat Devavamsa. Taking by surprise, Prah bat Devavamsa escaped north to Nokor Rajasima, in the territory of the great Kambuja.
As a Khmer reference to the "Frontier Kingdom", Nokor Rajasima extended from the Khorat Plateau to Yunnan. An undated inscription found at Vat Phu attests the presence of the court of a king named Jayavarman at Lingaparvata .
The master of masters of the land, Sri Jayavarman, issues his command (as followed): At this Srimate Lingaparvata, all the living of this place would not be harmed by nobody, even if they had committed sins. What offering to God here, or others would stay as his. (BEFEO II: Stele de Vat Phu, M. A. Barth)
This is the first inscription that refers Wat Phu as Lingaparvata, which according to Chinese sources, was the sacred place that the Chenla King performed the annual human sacrifice. This Vishnuite tradition could be the driving force behind the Cham's faith of human scarifying, observed through out the Chenla era by Chinese observers (Notes: The Human Sacrifice). The inscription implicates that the sacrifice was still carried on, but this time by the Khmer court of Jayavarman. It is important to note that besides being Buddhist, Jayavarman Kaundinya was also Vishnuite due to his association to the Gupta Court. Following his ancestor, it was more likely that Jayavarman practiced the same faith. The sacrifice was perhaps carried down in conforming to the regional practice in the effort to protect his people from any local spirit in retaliation of their wrongdoing. The inscription was not dated but according to its Buddhist style and presentation, scholars readily dated it at the same period that other inscriptions were found erected farther south at Ba-Phnom by a king whom scholars referred as Jayavarman I (657-681). Due to the misconception that Chenla was the forefront of the Khmer Court, scholars's first impression was to identify him as a Chenla king. It was in agreement of contemporary view of scholars who, through special circumstances of his early reign, wrongly identified him as a possible son of King Bhavarvarman I (ISSA: The Dismemberment of Funan: Pre-Angkorean Cambodia: p.72). Nevertheless, new findings show that he could not be possibly a Chenla king, but was instead the last Funan kings who, according to the Khmer legend, survived the Cham attack by escaping to Nokorrajasima (the KHorat Plateau). Many of his inscriptions confirm that he was a Buddhist and that fact alone refutes any attempt to relate him as a member of the Chenla clan who was known at the time to fight against Buddhism. On the other hand, his crown title "Jayavarman" could be traced to the late Khmer king Jayavarman Kaundiny and as we shall see later, became a de-facto Angkorean title of the Devavamsa dynasty. From the finding, we shall review everything that had been known about him. In conforming to the legend of Prah Thong, we believe that Jayavarman 's settlement at Wat Phu was actually to escape the Chenla early's attack and to make peace with the Tang's court, he sent diplomatic embassies to the Chinese court.
In the periods of Won-to (618-626) and (627-649), says the history of the Tang, the Funan resent their embassy to China court bringing as tribute two men of white heads.
The passage confirms that the embassy was sent from the Funan's court. We have no idea what the two men of white head were, but we know that the diplomacy did not work as the Tangs were already making pact with the Chenla Clan. According to the Khmer legend, he started the campaign against Isanavarman I and drove him out from Isanapura.
Staying at Nokorsima for a year, he (Prah Thong) then strikes back to chase out the Cham kings, some escaped to Bayangkau some to the mount Isvara. (RPNK: Devavamsa)
As indicated by the passage, the Chams were going to suffer a surprise attack and had to reposition themselves to the South. The retreat is checked-out by score of vestiges left behind by the Chenla court at the realm of the southern territory that includes a stone temple built on mount Bayangkau. As the reign of Isanavarman I was known to end at 635 AD, the event must to take place around the same time suggesting that the reign of Jayavarman I started earlier than in 637 AD. The inscription of Ang-Chumnik (JAISC: Inscription of Ang-Chumnik: pp. 195-208) confirms the reign of Jayavarman I to start at Ba-Phnum, crown by the same court after Isanavarman I was assumably driven out.
The Water Chenla and the Dismantling of Funan
While the Chenla exploit was well-documented in Chinese records in general, Bhavavarman's own exploit and lineage were not much recorded by the Chinese source. Strangely enough, his exploit was not much recorded in Khmer tradition either, but was found in Mon and Burmese tradition instead. Evidences from these unexpected sources show that Bhavavarman I had concentrated his effort westward. His conquest did not only result in the formation of Ramanadesa, but also to the rise of the Chola empire of South India as well (Dvaravati: The EXploit of King Bhavavarman: The Mon's Account of King Bhavavarman). At the same time, few inscriptions erected during his early exploit and of his son gave us enough information to link his reign to that of Pya Kalavannatissa of the Mon accounts. The inscription of Han-Chey confirms Bhavavarman 's lining from the Soma side of the Naga dynasty from a king having a posthumous name was Kalakantisapada.
somanvayananabbasomo yamKalakantatissapada (JAISC: Inscription of Han-Chey: Section B: Line 10: p. 223)
It was actually the same title as one of the legendary kings Tisa mentioned as a son (descendant) of the Cham King Ajiraja of both Mon and Khmer tradition. The inscription (of Bhavavarman II) erected by his son Bhavavarman II dates his reign in 639 AD (BEFEO IV: Inscription de Bhavavarman II, by George Coesdes). Commenting furthermore on the Chenla's exploit, the inscription of Ang Chumnik informs us that two ministers Dharmadeva and Simhadeva, served under both king Bhavavarman and Mahendravarman. It indicates that the reign of Bhavavarman was cut short in favor for his brother and the Khmer court of Ba-Phnom was left to serve the latter who reigned under the crown name of Mahendravarman. On the other hand, the Han-Chey inscription already hints that Bhavavarman's great ambition was shifted to the southwest as he took power with energy and expanded his control toward the ocean as limit that was far beyond the mainland Indochina.
It was not only the whole continent that he wants to conquer but, the unification of all possible resources never been unified before. (JAISC: Inscription of Han-Chey: Section B: Line 10: p. 230)
We know then that his campaign was for the sake of consolidating resources as have not been done before. After the conquest, Lavo became his new residence and received its name as Bhavapura. The south country of the Naga King Guchanaga that included Mahidhara became later Sri Dharmaraja with its capital at Ayudhya or Ramavati, of which the Mon tradition was referring as Rama Nagara. As we see next, he proclaimed himself as a cakravatin monarch (the king of kings) and that he actually had a son and successor.
That king of Kings had a son who, like a new moon at its full splendor and by all his merits, was the focus of admiration by the people.
Scholars concluded that the king who appeared briefly in a few Khmer inscription after the fall of Chenla, was actually Bhavavarman I's son and named him Bhavavarman II. Unlike the Land Chenla's court that documented its subsistence and exploits through inscriptions, the water Chenla left virtually no traces of its military campaign beyond Sri Dharmaraja. The absence of information leads us to believe that beside the conquest of Sri Dharmaraja (that was the capital of the Funan Empire) there was actually no further attack beyond its southern frontier to Ganthari. The presence of Bhavavarman II at southern Cambodia reflects a new critical situation that the Land Chenla had to occur during the attack of the last Khmer court (of Jayavarman I). For its own defense, evidences show that the Water Chenla already formed a strong consortium of dependent courts at the west. Through Chinese source, we came across of the Chinese word "Tchan-la" in referencing to Chenla that implicates the Chenla's traditional tie to the Chandra (Soma) lineage of Meru that was originated at Middle East. At the same time, we know that this Soma line had deep connection with the Vakataka court of Deccan. Nevertheless, it was Vishnuism that bounded them together against Buddhism. As we shall see, Indian tradition witnessed the exit of the naga court of BharaSiva of northern India to the south where Vikramaaditya emerged as a new leader to reclaim the Naga supremacy back from the Gupta court. By then, evidences show that Bhavavarman already made his pact with the Vishnuite clan to form an alliance against the Buddhist consortium of Southeast Asia. He was known in Khmer tradition as Pya Krek, but his own exploit was more connected to the west, so much so that he was excluded completely from the modern history of Cambodia. His line of descendants, Anuruddha was instead remembered in Burma than in Cambodia proper. If they did not leave fairly amount of inscriptions behind, we would have nothing to verify the Mon accounts of the water Chenla's involvement in the development of the next Ankorean Empire. Its subsistence and exploit was checked out through Angkor's dependency of the Mon and Xiang-mai states' own tradition or chronicle (Xiang-Mai: The Chenla's Connection: The Work of Anurudha).
The Last of the Khmer Court
While the Kambuj court of Kedah was driven by the Chenla attack down to the island of Na-Tu-Na of Borneo (The Chenla Empire: The Chenla Brotherhood: The Leader of the Chenla's Pact), the Khmer legend of Prah Thong hints that the Khmer court escaped to Nokor Rajasema. As we had seen, the advent of Jayavarman I settling himself at Wat Phu and later moved his court to Ba-Phnom confirms the reality of the Khmer legend (The Chenla Empire: The Fall of Funan: The Last Funan king Jayavarman I). The inscription of Ang Chumnik was perhaps the last of the inscriptions left by him at Ba-Phnom. The inscription was inscribed by members of his court and provided good information about the end of his reign. The inscription indicates that Jayavarman left his court to his uncle of mother side to take care of the family's fortune.
Next the king (Jayavarman), with all marks of honor, left (the court) to brother of his mother, who without having the title, enjoyed the fortune of a king.
That was presumably the fate of the Khmer Court to be reduced to a wealthy society holding no status of kingship, after being subjugated by the Chenla clan. The tradition of sparing family members of the losing court that could become later-on subjects to the victor was seen consistent through out ancient royal houses of Southeast ASia (Prey Nokor: The Preceptor of Nokor Khmer: The Aristocracy and the Court). The inscription mentions next the city Adhyapura under the governance of his uncle.
After the rule of succession of the family, the king by recognizing that he was the righteous man commissioned him with honor to take care the government of the city of Adhyapura. Then only under his ruling with justice that procured the non-stop prosperity, the city of Adhyapura had lived up to its name.
We could identify without much doubt that Adhyapura was at the site of Ba-Phnom. During the final fall of the Khmer Court, it was still known as a city of the Kun-Lun Kingdom, but was going to be back under the Chenla's control. The inscription however does not provide any more information about the fate of Jayavarman. Other inscriptions however give whimsy picture of the rest of the Khmer court at Ba-Phnom. One inscription left by his daughter, queen Jayadevi mentioned donations to a sanctuary of Siva Tripurantaka and complained of the misfortunes that was endured during the bad time. This sanctuary was founded by the princess Sophajaya, also a daughter of Jayavarman who married the Sivaite Brahman Sakravarmin born in India. The unfortunate circumstances mentioned in many of the inscriptions, could be a prelude to the end of their stay at Ba-Phnom.
An alliance was apparently developed with the Sivaite communities of South India to allow them to take refuge in theirs country. After his last inscription in 667 AD, evidences show that Jayavarman I could no longer stood his ground and made the preparation to move his court out of Ba-phnom. Looking for a safer ground, he saw Java as his last chance to escape the assault of the Chenla Kings. An inscription found at Tan Kran of the district of Kampong Cham describes in detail the preparation of his escape to an unspecified place mentioned as Dhruvapuri (Inscriptions du Cambodge: Inscription de Tan Kran: pp. 7-8, by George Coedes). Two court members were assigned to oversee the whole escape's operation. Having served Jayavarman at one time as a chief of Chrestapura, the Brahman Dharmasvamin took care of the groundwork at Java for their next settlement. According to the inscription, he had to build a city named Dhruvapura and pacify it to be ready for the refugee court. It was described as a new city founded among forest savage tribes.
Taking care of the city Dhruvapura, full of horrible forests where lived men of savage tribes, he (Dharmasvamin) governed that territory and got rid of all dangers.
The passage includes a reference to an ineligible word "Ya..pati" of which we are confident enough to identify it as "Yavapati" or Java. It is a confirmation that Dhruvapura was a city founded in Java. The city was at the time not developed and was still inhabited by savage tribesmen. The Brahman Dharmasvamin had done his best to make it safe for the royal escape.
The rest of the inscription concerns about the actual preparation for the final escape to Dhruvapura that was assigned to brother of his named Samantasarala. With a group of bodyguard of which he himself was appointed to be the chief of the escape operation. Next (he was assigned) by the order of the king to be chief of a troop of thousand inhabitants of Dhanavipura, going to war. Interesting enough, the inscription made a reference to Kancipura that was in that particular time-frame ruled by Paramesvara-varman I (670-695 AD). Unfortunately, the next section of the inscription is unreadable, which prevents us to decipher any more additional information.
THE LAND CHENLA ORGANIZATION
Even thought having close connection with the Saka communities, the Land Chenla kings had retained most of theirs Khmer heritage. From the Chinese source, we can see that legacies of both the Khmer court of Prey Nokor and the Sakan communities of the Siam country were intermingled into a new tradition that lasted through the Chenla era. At the time that the records were made, the Chenla King Isanavarman already inherited the Khmer court of Prey-Nokor from his father Mahendravarman and along with the Cham court of Champapura established Isanpura as the capital of the land Chenla Empire. The description was specific to the land Chenla court where the Cham cultural background of the kingdom Bandhusinhanati nagara was still anchored among the Lao tribesmen of northern Siam country.
The Establishment of Champapura
The distribution of vestiges conveys that Mahendravarman managed to take control of the Khorat Plateau and the original Khmer Kingdom at prey Nokor. He left many inscriptions bearing at first his personal name Citrasena which indicate that he was still a prince when he was combating along side his brother Bhavavarman. Together, the two brothers succeeded in overthrowing the Kambuja Empire and restored the legacy of the Saka tradition. The history of the Sui picked-up the story of uprising from here on, giving the wrong impression that it was actually Citrasena who started the campaign. An inscription found at Mi-son (BEFEO t.3: Stele de Sambhuvarman a Mison, M. L. Finot), not far from that of Bhadravarman recounted on one of its face what was next at Champapura. In the saka year, determined only by the legible digit 4 as a year of the fifth century, a fire destroyed the sanctuary of the god Bhadrasvara built by the first Bhadravarman. As we recalled back the sanctuary was built by the Khmer court of Prey-Nokor in dedication to the first Kaundinya king and received its name after him as Bhadrapura. According to the inscription, the next king with the coronation name (Abhisekanama) of Sambhuvarman and with the religious (dindikanama) name of Prasasthadhamma, managed to restore the sanctuary and rededicate to the god Sambhubhadrasvara. The inscription, moreover, is the first inscription to mention about Champadesa in relation with the new court of Sambhupura. It led us to believe that the city changed its name to Champapura only from the reign of Sambhuvarman. In early time, we had seen that Champapura was not formed at Prey-Nokor, but at Koh Thom (Champapura: The Establishment of Cham Communities: The Formation of Champapura). The mentioning about Champadesa reveals that he was related to the previous Cham court of king Ajiraja and was trying to bring back the Cham legacy through the establishment of Champapura. During his reign that ended in 629, he received a delegation from Chenla, minister Simhadeva of king Mahendravarman. His son Kandarpadhamma succeeded him and appeared to have a peaceful reign.
Chinese source (BEFEO IV: Deux Itinarraires De Chine en Inde I:P 195, By Paul Pelliot) also reveals that Kandarpadhamma had very good relationship with the Tang court. He repeatedly sent rich presents to the emperor Tai Tsung and when the latter died he was present at his funeral and was memorized by a stone statue at the site of the tomb.
In 623,in 625 and in the years of tcheng-Koun (627-649), the king Fan Fan-tche sent his ambassadors. In 630, in 631 and in the following years, the king Fan Teou-li paid also tribute; he was represented as stone statue at the tomb of the emperor Tai-tsong (627-649).
The inscription also mentions about the union between his son, Jagadharma and the princess Sarvani, a daughter of Isanavarman. Due to some circumstances, says the inscription, Jagadharma stayed at Bhavapura which we shall identified as Lavo (Dvaravati: The Chenla Connection: Bhavapura as the birthplace of the Santhap-amarindra 's dynasty). From the union they had a son named Prakasadharma who would ascend the throne of Champapura under the name of Vikrantavarman. At the same time, we could compile a glimpse picture about the Chenla Empire under the reign of king Isanavarman from the history of the Sui and in "The ethnographic study of people outside China" by Ma Tuan Lin. The account conveys that Isanavarman ruled over a waste territory and that his capital was I-she-na, a Chinese transcription of Isanapura. As the capital of Chenla, Isanapura was identified with the ruins at Sambor-Prei-Kuk, north of Kampong Thom. Vestiges left behind included many small brick towers and inscriptions, some of which made clear reference to Isanapuri. The structure that was typical of Cham legacy was noticeable different from other towers found in Indochina. The great Chinese pilgrim Hsun-Tsang called Cambodia by the name I-she-na in the middle of the seventh century, implicating that Isanavarman was ruling over all Cambodia.
The prince makes his residence in the city of I-she-na, which contains more than twenty thousand families. In the middle of the city is a great hall where the king gives audience and holds court. The kingdom includes thirty other cities, each populated by several thousands of families, and each ruled by a governor; the titles of state officials are the same as in Lin-Yi.
At this late stage, it appears that Isanavarman was the sole ruler of the Chenla Empire. Of all the cities that numbered thirty of them, Hsun-Tsang mentioned that the administration was the same as Prey-Nokor. Its extension over the Khorat plateau, including the region of Wat Phu, was no doubt the origin of the regional tradition that maintains its name as "Isana" until today.
The Court of Isanapura
The history of the Sui had a specific account about the Chenla Court of Isanapura. It mentions that the titles of the Chenla court's state officials were the same as those of the Khmer court of Prey Nokor.
This prince (Isana) makes his residence in the city of I-she-na, which contains more than twenty thousand families. In the middle of the city is a great hall where the king gives audience and holds court. The kingdom included thirty other cities, each populated by several thousands of families, and each ruled by a governor; the titles of state officials are the same as in Lin-Yi. (ISSA: The Dismemberment of Funan: P, 74)
The inscription of Ang Chumnik witnesses the preservation of the Khmer court of Rudravaraman to serve in the court of both the Chenla king Bhavavarman and Mahendravarman. Nevertheless, the Chinese source conveys a strong taste of luxury as carried on by the Sakan Tradition of northern Siam.
Every three days the king proceeds solemnly to the audience hall and sits on a couch made of five kinds of aromatic wood and decorated with seven precious things. About the couch there rises a pavilion hung with magnificent fabrics; the columns are of veined wood and the walls of ivory strewn with flowers of gold. Together this couch and this pavilion form a sort of little palace, at the back of which is suspended, as in Chih-Tu, a disk with gold rays in the form of flames. A golden incense-burner, held by two men, is placed in front. The king wears a dawn-red sash of Ki-Pei cotton that falls to his feet. He covers his head with a cap laden with gold and precious stones, with pendants of pearls. On his feet are leather, or sometimes "ory, sandals; in his ears, pendants of gold. His robe is always made of a very fine white fabric called pe-ti. When he appears bareheaded, one does not see precious stones in his hair. (ISSA: The Dismemberment of Funan: P, 74)
The legacy of Chih-Tu was also mentioned, revealing interference of the Saka Communities of Chiang-Saen in the formation of the Chenla Empire. The northern Siam country, as we recalled back, had been the stronghold of the Sakan court of Bandhusinhanati since the Buddha era.
The dress of the great officials is very similar to that of the king. These great officials or ministers are five in number. The first has the title ku-lo-yu. The titles of the four others, in order of the rank they occupy, are hsiang-kao-ping, po-ho-to-ling, she-ma-ling and jan-lo-lou. The lesser officials are considerable. Those who appear before the king touch the ground in front of them three times at the footsteps of the throne. If the king calls them and commands them to show their rank, they kneel, holding their crossed hands on their shoulders. Then they go and sit in a circle around the king to deliberate on the affairs of the kingdom. When the session is finished, they kneel again, prostrate themselves, and retire. More than a thousand guards dressed in armor and armed with lances are ranged at the foot of the steps of the throne, in the palace halls, at the doors, and at the peristyle.
According to the passage, the setting of the court resembled once again to the court of Siam (Chih-Tu). It indicates that both Prey Nokor and Siam legacies had played important role in the formation of the Chenla Empire. The next passage obviously conveys a different setting of the country.
The custom of the inhabitants is to go around always armored and armed, so that minor quarrels lead to bloody battles. (ISSA: The Dismemberment of Funan: P, 75)
Obviously it was not a peaceful time and the people needed to arm themselves to the teeth for self-protection. In their everyday life, as an exact portrait of the wild east, small quarrel could lead to a big fight. The passage then continues on mentioning about how the Chenla court of king Isanavarman handle the internal intrigue and resolved the conflict of inheritance.
Only sons of the queen, the legitimate wife of the king, are qualified to inherit the throne. On the day that a new king is proclaimed, all his brothers are mutilated. From one a finger is removed, from other the nose is cut off. Then their maintenance is provided for, each in a separated place, and they are never appointed to office. (ISSA: The Dismemberment of Funan: P, 75)
This kind of arrangement had never been known in the Buddhist Khmer court of Prey-Nokor.
The People and theirs Custom
The Chinese describes the people of Chenla as they had done in general to the indigenous people of the mainland Indochina as a whole. The change of leadership role does not affect much theirs composition and appearance.
The men are of small statue and dark complexion, but many of the women are fair in complexion.
Their life style, according to the next passage, seams to be much more descent and they seams to be conscious about their hygiene. However the passage does not make it clear that the description was about the high class or the general people.
All of them roll up their hair and wear earrings. They are lively and vigorous in temperament. Their houses and the furniture they use resemble those of Chih-Tu. They regard the right hand as pure and the left hand as impure. They washed every morning, clean their teeth with little pieces of poplar wood and do not fail to read or recite their prayers. They wash again before eating, get their poplar toothpicks going immediately afterwards, and recite prayers again.
The last passage indicates that they were very religious and they took time to recite prayers regularly. When talking about food, it is clear that they had enough to eat and the meal included appetizer.
Their food included a lot of butter, milk-curds, powdered sugar, rice and also millet, from which they make a sort of cake which is soaked in meat juices and eaten at the beginning of the meal.
Once again, it is not clear that it was the description of the everyday meal of the general population or of the high class Cham aristocrats. The regular Southeast Asian people would not use of butter and milk-curds as described in the passage and cow-mild was not one of their traditional rations. The Chinese Recorders must to confuse between the coconut milk and the cow-milk product. It is also possible that they describes the ration of the Saka rulers who might still retain their diet of cow-mild as important ingredient in their meals. Family matter had always been an important feature of the Khmer tradition that started with marriage. It was the groom's responsibility to ask the hand of his bride to be, with elaborate presents to her parents. After theirs consents, the preparation for the marriage could be cumbersome.
Whoever wishes to marry first of all sends presents to the girl he seeks; then the girl's family chooses a propitious day to have the bride led, under the protection of a go-between, to the house of the bride groom. The families of the husband and wife do not go out for eight days. Day and night the lamps remain lit.
After the marriage, the couple went out to build their own nest with the help of the parents and lived independently from their relatives.
When the wedding ceremony is over, the husband receives part of the goods of his parents and goes to establish in his own house. At the death of his parents, if the deceased leave young children who are not yet married, these children receive the rest of the goods; but if all the children are already married and endowed, the goods that the parents have retained for themselves go to the public treasury.
As to the funeral, the record indicates that cremation became the only funeral ceremony of choice. Following the Khmer tradition implanted by Kaundinya, the Hindu practice of cremation became now enforced under the Chenla Kings.
Funerals are conducted in this way: the children of the deceased go seven days without eating, shave their heads as a sign of mourning and utter loud cries. The relatives assemble with monks and nuns of Buddha or the Hindu Priests, who attend the deceased by chanting and playing various musical instruments. These corpses are burned on a pyre made of every kind of aromatic wood; the ashes are collected in a gold or silver urn to be thrown into deep water. The poor use earthenware urn, painted in different colors. There are also those who content to abandon the body in the mountains, leaving the job of devouring it to the wild beats.
The funeral ceremonies were described to be of both Hindu and Buddhist tradition. It indicates that the people still hold on to the Buddhist tradition side by side with Hindu. Last and not least, the text also provides geographical information about the country.
The north of Chenla is a country of mountains intersected by valleys. The south contains great swamps, with a climate so hot that there is never any snow or hoar-frost; the earth there produces pestilential fumes and teems with poisonous insects. Rice, rye, some millet, and coarse millet are grown in this kingdom.
- ISSA: The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, by G. Coedes
- Camb: The Cambodge, by E. Aymonier
- Funan: BEFEO III: Le Funan, by Paul Pelliot
- DICI: BEFEO IV: Deux Itinaries de Chine en Inde a la fin du VIII siecle, by Paul Pelliot
- HTN: Histoire particuliere du Nan-Tchao, by Yang Chen, Translated by Camille Sainson
- RBR: A Record of the Buddhist Religion as Practiced in India and the Malay Archipelago, by I-Tsing, Translated by J. Takakusu
- JAISC: Journal Asiatic: Aout-Septembre 1882: Inscriptions Sanscrites Du Cambodge, By August Barth
485-514: The reign of King Kaundinya Jayavarman at Lavo; 492-498: The reign of King Gunavarman (at Prey Nokor); 514-550: The reign of King Rudravarman (at Prey Nokor); 566-597: Kirtivarman cosolidated the country of the Chalukyas; 581-618: The Sui Dynasty ruled China; 598: Last record of Bhavavarman; 605: The Sui raid Champapura; 607: Water Chenla took over Xiang-mai; 616: First record of Isanavarman; 618-907: The Tang Dynasty ruled China; 618: The Chams hold back Champapura, Sambhuvarman reigned over Champapura; 640: The first ambassy of Ho-ling to the Tang Court; 644/45: The first ambassy of Malayu to the Tang Court; 649: The reign of Si-nou-lo in Yunnan; 657-681: The reign of Jayavarman I; 671: I-Ching visited Sri Vijaya; 674: The Queen Sima and Sri Vijaya; 689/92 Sri Vijaya took over Malayu; 698-729: Khun Borom in Nan-tchao; 716: first record of Puskarasa in Sambhupura; 732: inscription of Sanjaya in Central Java; 802: Jayavarman II founded Hariharalaya.
The interpretation of a derivative "Tsien Lap" of the word "Chenla" is pure wax, which may be related to the Khmer word "Kramoan Sar" meaning white wax. The history of the Sui (BEFEO III:Le Funan, Paul Pelliot, p. 272), at the sixth century, recorded the emergence of the Chenla court at southwest of Lin-Yi or Prey Nokor. It seams to support the theory that "Kramoan Sar" was the indigenous name of Chenla since a locality nearby Ba-Phnom still retains that name. However, the Khmer tradition has not much to say about Kramoan Sar either as a political or cultural center of ancient Cambodia. There might be on some occasions that Chinese texts made a reference to Tsien Lap as to Kramoan Sar, and along the way got mixed-up with the word Chenla as the name of the Khmer Country.
- Lin-Yi vs Yi-sin
In his commentary, P. Pelliot noticed that the word "Yi-sin", meaning the Forest Sin (Tsin) was found in Chinese texts as a reference to the Khmer Kingdom.
It is tempting to see in "Ko-mao" the name of the Khmers that in the two histories of the Tang is transcribed as "Ki-mao". The commentary of Houei-lin gives as an ancient name of that country "Yi-sin" that is unknown and probably faulty, and that the Japanese authors substituted with "Lin-Yi" that is impossible (DICI: footnote 4: p.220)
On the other hand, he also found out that Yi-sin (the Forest Tsin) was substituted by Lin-Yi (the Forest Country) in Japanese texts. It meant that Prey-Nokor (Lin-Yi) as well as Yi-Sin was at a time, a Chinese reference to Nokor Khmer. Commonly committed by western scholars, Pelliot made the mistake of not associating the Kun-Lun kingdom to the Khmer kingdom of Prey-Nokor.
- The Cham Identity
The history of the Chams started when they invaded the Gangetic India and built their satrap at Champapura of Vanga (where they got their identity as Cham). They later moved into Southeast Asia under the Cham identity. In many of theirs inscriptions, they presented themselves as Sakya and along with the King Bimbissara of Magadha were of close relative to king Ashoka. Evidences also point out that the Gupta King Chandragupta himself whom we had identified as the father-in-law of Kaundinya also belonged to this Indian royal house.
- The Khmer Nationality
The Chenla uprising misled scholars to postulate that Cambodia started itself as a vassal state of Funan and that the fall of Funan gave Chenla the opportunity to rise up as a kingdom. While Chenla became Cambodia of today, the rest of Funan continued to exist as the country of the Tai people. On the other hand, the Mon people were left stateless to fend for themselves sandwiched by Syam and Burma. It misled scholars to think that the Khmers were actually migrants from India. As we shall see, this distorted view was not only wrong but also created a negative impact on the future of Cambodia during the colonial rule.
- The Thai Nationality
The culture brought by the Sakan leadership from Daya desa (Tai Tet in Thai Language) was implanted among the natives who by know were split through theirs geographical separation as Shan (Upper Barma) and Syam (Loa's country). Made believe that they were Thai, these natives mistook that modern migrants from Central Asia and China are actually theirs relatives while the Khmers, the Karens and other mountainous tribesmen were migrants.
- The Commemoration of Bhavavarman
The Commemoration of Bhavavarman in the Han-Chey inscription (JAISC: Inscription du Han-Chey: Face A: p. 208) was so elaborate and informative that we decide to review the stanza all over again. To start, we came up with the following correction in reading the title "malamalum ivamalam raja" from the text that should be " mala malayu iva malayam raja" instead. The mistake was due to the omission of the letter "ya" (in abreviation) in two locations underneath the letter "la" of he words "malum" and "malam". The proper reading of the commemoration should be:
Jitam induvatansena murdhana Gagam babhara yah umabrubhan (ga)chihoormmim malamalayu iva malyamraja cri Bhavavarmmeti patir asin mahipbhrtam
Etymologogically, the Sanskrit word Induvatansena (Indu-vata-anga-sena) appears to make a reference to the Indian court of the Sena Naga dynasty. That explains the connection between the Soma's lineage (Chenla) to the south Indian lineage of the Sena court and the recovery of the Cholan Empire on the South Indian Territory. The word Murudhana was actually a synonymous of the Chinese word Chenla (Tsin-Lo) and the combined word "Murudhana Gangam" is meant to be "Water Chenla". The title "Malamalayu ivamalyam" was a connection to the Malay court (Malayang) and must to receive after the subjection of the Mahidhara court of Khedah. On the other hand, the word "rasin mahibrtam" is a faulty of "tasin mahibrtam", in reference to Ta-Tsin of Mahodhara ream of Malayu. The whole commemoration should then be translated as followed:
Victory to the "Induvatansena", the Water-Chenla king Bering the rank of "umabhubhangujihmormmim", the Mala king of Malayu Sri Bhavavarman became the ruler of Ta Tsin Mahodhara like the sublime "Mahasatva" Meru himself
Pelliot questioned that is it a Chinese transcription of Cribhavanandesena?
- The BharaSiva Naga House
It is also said that the BharaSivas were zealous of Sivaism and their tradition was to carry the image of the Siva-linga on their shoulders. From the Puranas, many scholars believed that it was them who overthrew the Kushan power from India. Some Indian scholars did not support the view mainly due to the lack of evidences that such attacks really occurred in India. As the Hindu scholars were actually authoring the Puranas, it is the norm to implicate that all events described in their records were happening in their Hindu homeland. At the mean time, we shall argue that the overthrowing of the Kushans was instead a Southeast Asian affair and that the BharaSiva 's exploit was actually done alongside Bhavavarman's campaign.
- The Human Sacrifice
Conforming to the cult of ancestors, sacrifice was viewed as an offering to the spiritual world. It was then in concordance with the western belief of the late Abrahamic schools that by scarifying to God, their sins would be tolerated. The human scarifying, in particular was meant to please god by sending him a human's soul to become his subject. The sacrificed person was often misled to believe that he was better off being with god than to live in the disturbed human world. The Siva-Buddhist school later rejected the Vishnuite rite through the finding that the scarifying of any sort is useless. In the immortal world, God does not need anything to survive. At the contrary, souls of lesser merit would need all sacrifice's offerings to maintain their spirituality in the physical world. Judging from the fact that the last of the Chenla aristocrats of Ba-Phnom became Buddhist, the human scarifying was no longer practiced inside of Cambodia.