[Mahaghosananda completing the Dhammayietra in 2003. Photo by Nirav Shah]
Ven. Mahaghosananda, a Cambodian monk of long tenure in the robes (remaining in robes through the DK period since he was in Thailand), has been given many silly names: “the Gandhi of Cambodia” is one of them. I have the utmost respect for both Gandhi and Mahaghosananda, and I think both might agree that phrases like this one do more to obscure the complex realities of individuals than they do to explain anything.
What phrases like that do get right, however, is an indication of the high esteem, tireless dedication, and deep involvement that both men shared, and the fact that for both of them, these qualities were inseparable from their religious convictions.
Mahaghosananda died a few days. My internet connection has been down, and I’ve been unable to post anything about it, which is just as well. I couldn’t do justice. And it allowed others to offer their succinct and heartfelt thoughts. My favorite so far is from Jinja, and I’m just going to quote it here:
Down the Road
Cambodia gets a bad rap on numerous scorecards – in the case of activism, I’ve heard Khmers and foreigners alike complain that Cambodians are reluctant to ‘take a stand’ for their rights. They are, however, willing to walk for them.
In 1994, he led the march to Pailin, still Khmer Rouge territory at the time. Further marches walked through post-Khmer Rouge strongholds. and called for peace during times of civil unrest. Some day, a book about the travels and tales of the Dhamma Yatra needs to be written. Alas, its leader has passed away.
Those who knew him and knew of him may react with sadness. I think those who knew him well might suggest that he is simply traveling further on his path.
Student Site: www.ghosananda.org
Washington Post http://tinyurl.com/2y7824
The Star http://tinyurl.com/2679bl
I’ll continue adding links to the above, as I find them. Here’s some to begin with:
Monk who rebuilt Buddhism in post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia, dies [Boston.com – Registration; free if you search for the headline on Google News]
Maha Ghosananda, Buddhist leader and peace prize nominee, dies [Boston.com – Registration; free if you search for the headline on Google News]
Father of Cambodian Buddhism dies [Andy Brouwer’s Cambodian Web Page]
MahaGhosananda Obituary at Danny Fisher’s Buddhist Chaplaincy Web Page
MahaGhosananda Obituary at New York Times (with several strange factual errors)
The Economist‘s Obituary of MahaGhosananda.