Fri. Tep Vong, supreme patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism, dies at 93

- through Henry Oudin

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Venerable Tep Vong, the oldest monk in Cambodia's Buddhist community, has died at the age of 93, according to a statement from the country's Ministry of Cults and Religion. Fri. Tep Vong, hospitalized since January 6, played a major role in the revitalization of Buddhism after the Khmer Rouge sought to wipe out the religion in the late 1970s.

Fri. Tep Vong, whose full title was Supreme Grand Patriarch of Cambodia, Samdech Preah Akka Maha Sangharajadhipati Tep Vong, was granted the title of Supreme Grand Patriarch in 2006. He played an important role in Cambodia's religious landscape, overseeing both the Mahanikay and Dhammayut orders. of Theravada Buddhism. With approximately 97 percent of Cambodia's population adhering to Buddhism, its influence was widespread.

Fri. Tep Vong had close relations with the ruling Cambodian People's Party and its leader, Hun Sen, who served as prime minister for 38 years until he resigned last year. He played a crucial role in the revitalization of Buddhism in Cambodia after the devastating impact of the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, which saw an attempted eradication of organized religion and resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,7 million people, including five out of 10 Buddhist monks out of eight in the country.

Fri. Tep Vong, described as "the most clerically educated monk in post-Pol Pot Cambodia," was the first of seven monks re-ordained under Vietnamese sponsorship after the regime's overthrow in 1979. (Keyes, and 60). He and the others then reestablished Cambodia's monastic sangha by ordaining other former monks, beginning in Phnom Penh and then expanding to other provinces.

Born in 1932 in Siem Reap, Ven. Tep Vong began his journey as a monk in 1952, but was forced to disrobe during the Khmer Rouge era. He became a prominent figure in Cambodia's Buddhist monastic community, serving as senior monk until 1991, when the Mahanikay and Dhammayut orders separated again and Ven. Tep Vong ascends to the position of supreme patriarch of the Mahanikay order.

In 2006, Ven. Tep Vong was further elevated to the esteemed title of Supreme Grand Patriarch, strengthening his position at the head of both orders.


Following his death, Ven. Tep Vong's body will lie in state at the Ounalom Pagoda in Phnom Penh, where he served for a long time, for public viewing before his funeral.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet paid tribute to Tep Vong on Monday evening: “The passing of Ven. Tep Vong is the loss of a rare resource in Buddhism. He left behind many achievements. (UCA News)

Former Prime Minister Hun Sen, also father of Hun Manet, had already visited Ven. Tep Vong in hospital on January 6. Hun Sen released a statement saying: “My wife and I are deeply saddened. " He continued, "Your death is the loss of a great monk, the great son of a peasant who joined the national liberation movement and built pagodas to promote the revival of Buddhism. » (UCA News)

The government declared February 27 an official day of mourning. The flags of public and private institutions will fly at half-mast throughout the country.


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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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