Sketch of Somdet Phra Maha Ghosananda "The
Gandhi of Cambodia"
• 1929 Born
Takeo Province, south central Cambodia.
• 1943 Initiated into Cambodian Buddhist
• 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
• 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."
• 1978- 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
• 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
1989 Granted honorary doctorate of humanitarian
service at Providence College, Providence, RI,
• 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
"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
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
- 1995 Nominated
for a second time by Sen. Pell and an anonymous
Nobel laureate for 1995 Nobel Peace Prize.
- January: Dedicated Disabled Persons' Center,
- February: INEB conference, ashram, Nakhon, Nayok,
- March: International Women's Day, Phnom Penh/Battambang.
- March: Buddhist Teachers' Meeting (Asian-Western)
- April: International Consultancy on Religion,
Education and Culture, Atami, Japan.
International Consultancy on Religion, Education
and Culture, Windsor Castle, UK.
- 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
- 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
- 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 mines.
- April: Attended UN Review Conference on Conventional
Weapons, Geneva, to plea for a total ban on land
- 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, USA.
- 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
- 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.
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
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
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 elements.
By Somdet Phra
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
eds. Queen, Keown & Prebish, has chapter on
Reference of this bio information