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Oknha Suttantaprija Ind, a scholar who preserved Khmer literature.

by Surya Narayan
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Lok Oknha Suttantaprija Ind () (1859–1924) was a renowned Cambodian monk who was an outstanding poet and writer. In comparison to his scholarly contemporaries, his poems and writings, which typically highlighted Khmer life at the time they were written, were superior.

The Khmer King had given him the royal title of Oknha, or Lord in English, in recognition of his contributions to Khmer literature, Buddhist teachings, and his poetry skills.

Oknha Suttantaprija Ind, the son of Mr. Bongchong Keo, was born in 1859. He was born in Rokar Korng Village, Tonle Thom commune, Muk Kampoul district, Kandal Province on Monday, July 22, 1859.


When he was ten years old, Oknha Suttantaprija Ind started studying Khmer literature. When he was 15 years old, he translated the Buddhist text Prash Barkiest before spending a year as a monk at Wat Pri Po.

Then he traveled to Preah Tropang to learn with Lok Archa Peach. He was 18 years old when he began studying literature and Buddhism at Wat Unnalom in Phnom Penh, the headquarters of the Cambodian Buddhist Patriarch. His professor was a Buddhist named Prak.

Furthermore, when he was 19 years old, he studied religious texts with Buddhist scholar Achar Sok at Wat Keo in Battambang (Achar is the Khmer word for “learned man”). When he was 20 years old, he returned to being a monk at Wat Keo for a year. Then he traveled to study in Thailand.

After spending seven years studying in Thailand, he came back to Cambodia and spent ten years living at Wat Kandal in Battambang under the reign of Lok Preah Yeakathachon Nhonh (also known as “Nhonh the lord protector of the people”  before the Thai returned Battambang to Cambodia in 1907)

In the following years, he lived in Chvia Thom Village in the province of Battambang after getting married to Lok Yeay Tuet from Chomka Somrong Village in Battambang.

He received the honorific titles Khon Vichit Voha (in Thai, it means “he who is a fine orator”) and Hlung Vichit Voha (in Thai, it means “a fine royal orator”) from Lok Nhonh.

His Literary Works

He wrote and translated Pali texts into Khmer for 44 different titles. 

When Thailand gave Battambang province back to Cambodia in 1907, Lok Preah Yeakathachon Nhonh left Battambang for Thailand and spent the next ten years working in Phnom Penh (1914 to 1924).

He was promoted to the rank of Lok Oknha Suttantaprija at the age of 55.

At the Pali school, he took part in the creation of the Khmer Buddhist Dictionary. 

His writings include the Nirasnatavat, Hombang Back, Bakthom Sompoth, Loknitbakor, Sopearseth Chbap Srey, and many poems. He is also the author of the Katilok series. 

Katilok and Chombang Takoa, were intended to capture the Khmer way of life and culture at the time Lok Prash Yakatha Choun Gnogn lived in.

In the province of Battambang, Lok Oknha Suttantaprija Ind was well-known. Everyone appreciated him for his contributions to society, called him Lok Archa Ind, and loved his work.

People in Battambang borrowed and hand copied his works before they were published. The hand-copied books were passed around from person to person for reading and studying. Some people knew the entire collection of his poetry by heart.


He returned and lived the rest of his life in Battambang with his family between the age of 55 and 65.  He passed away at 8:00 am on November 8, 1924. 

Oknha Suttantaprija Ind was intended to be a writer and scholar from birth. He left behind a substantial number of intellectual and literary works that matched up to the best writers in the world.

However, his works, which were masterpieces, are frequently forgotten, and writers today hardly ever give him credit for the quotations they use from his works. If preserved, his legacy will be a significant source of inspiration for writers of our modern time.


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