An Analytical Study of the Views on Meritorious and Demeritorious Deeds of Theraväda Buddhism in Kampongcham Province, Cambodia

Ven. Phlech Meas (Dhammarakkhito)


        This research, “An Analytical Study of the Views on Meritorious and Demeritorious Deeds of Theraväda Buddhism in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia” consisted of the following three objectives: (1) to study the views of meritorious and demeritorious deeds in Theraväda Buddhism, (2) to study the views of meritorious and demeritorious deeds of the Buddhist community in Kampong Cham province, (3) to analyze these views in the context of the Buddhist community at Kampong Cham province and as manifested through different ceremonies. This work was based on two phases: a documentary research and fieldwork. The documentary research aimed to study the views of Theraväda Buddhist aspects pertaining to merits and demerits. The fieldwork phase aimed to study the concepts of Khmer people in Kampong Cham province by interviewing the target group and the findings presented with descriptive analysis.

        The result of the study clearly indicated that the Buddhist views on merits (puñña) and demerits (päpa) were generally understood by most people in the world of Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. The Buddhist views were deemed as the great map to point out the right path for human-beings living with morality and well-being because all people in the world could not live together in the society without humanity or morality. Thus it was very important to know and understand Buddhist philosophy on puñña (merits) and päpa (demerits) or kamma and its result. Moreover, it is proved that only Buddhism was perfect in theory (pariyatti), practice (paèipatti) and noble truth realization (paèivedha). When we comprehended well the Buddhist concepts about merits and demerits, we could straighten our life, be perfect in good conduct from the lowest level up to the highest level, and we could also make the society more progressive. In addition, the Buddha’s teaching was aimed at developing the right perception and it could enlighten all living beings in the universe without distinction or discrimination of any race and nation. As a consequence, the researcher really saw that one who ardently took the Buddha’s Dhamma or practised Buddhist ethics; one surely attained the supreme happiness of life and lived in harmony and peace with oneself and others in the society. However, without study and practice, one could not get anything from Buddhism. The sacred key to attain the Dhammic truth realization or what the Buddha discovered was to study and practise by following the Buddhist ethics in three levels of basic (The Five Precepts), medium (Ten Bases of Wholesome Actions), and high (The Noble Eightfold Path). A study of these level-views was to know critically the views of what was right and wrong, what should be done and what should not be done, and especially they could make us to perceive the right path leading to the end of all sufferings which is the supreme goal of life in Buddhism.

        With regard to applying Buddhist views of merits and demerits in the Buddhist community in Kampong Cham province, the researcher found that Theraväda Buddhism was essential for the people because they really believe in Buddhism faithfully. They supported and upheld Therävada Buddhism with their good heart because Buddhism played a very important role for them, particularly solving the daily life problems, assisting the spiritual power, alleviating the mental problem, granting various knowledge, and moral codes of life and self-refuge of liberation. That is the reason why the people of Kampong Cham, Cambodia acknowledged Theraväda Buddhism in formal as their own spiritual concept and avowed Buddhism as the religion of the state, standing in the second order of their national motto as: Nation-Religion (Buddhism)-King. Moreover, with respect to Buddhist ceremonies in Kampong Cham province, there were mainly three ceremonies which Kampong Cham people had believed and adhered to practice. Firstly, Boon-Paccay-Buon (the Four Offering Requisites Ceremony) was meant for their prosperous life with good health and abundant property in all existences. Secondly, Boon-Chamreoun-Preah-Jun (the Life Promoting Ceremony) was meant for living with a long life without destruction from any accident or danger, and finally, Boon Dakkhinänupadäna (the Dead Dedication Ceremony) was meant for dedication of the merits to the departed ones for protection of their consciousness in destination of woeful abodes or any misery planes after death and so on. All these Buddhist momentous ceremonies were the most significant rituals for Kampong Cham people to perform meritorious deeds. The Buddhist monks and lay people of this province liked to celebrate these Buddhist Ceremonies very remarkably in their life because they had understood well the Buddha’s teaching of kamma and its result, especially meritorious (puñña) and demeritorious deeds (päpa).

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