How Did Cambodia Get Its Name?

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Cambodia

Cambodia or Kambodia is a country bordering Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam in the southeastern part of Asia. The ancient inscriptions of Cambodia (Kamboj Desh) always refer to this name as Kambuja or Kamvuja rather than the standard Kamboja.

Kamboja was the name of the Indo-Iranian tribe and their country originally located in Pamirs and Badakshan in Central Asia but later some clans of these people had moved south and transplanted colonies in eastern and Central Afghanistan also. The Kambojas had always been a Kshatriya or Rajput/Rajanya tribe, and the Kambojas people are one of the 16 Mahajanapadas of ancient India.

During the early second century BCE, some clans of these people in alliance with the Sakas, Pahlavas, and Yavanas had entered India and spread into Sindhu, Sauvira, Punjab, Rajasthan and Saurashtra/Gujarat from where they spread further into Central, Eastern, and Southern India. It is believed that a group from amongst these south-western Kambojas (i.e. Gujarat/Saurashtra) had sailed to Southeast Asia and founded the Kambuja colony in the Mekong valley of the Indo-China Archipelago. These Kamboja Aryan people, the famous frontier highlanders of the by-gone era, had contributed greatly to the spread of Aryan culture in Ceylon, Cambodia and in ancient India & Iran.

In the rock inscriptions in Sanskrit, Pali and Khmer language in Cambodia, we find word Kambu/Kambuj/Kampuchih/Kamboja, /Kambodscha/Kambodja, Camboja etc refering to Kambodge, Cambodge, Kambuj or Kamboj Desh.

It is stated in Hobson-Jobson Dictionary “the name Camboja, like so many others of Indo-China since the days of Ptolemy is of Sanskrit origin, being apparently a transfer of the name of a Tribe and country on the N. W. Frontier of India, Kamboja, supposed to have been about the locality of Chitral or Kafiristan. Ignoring this, fantastic Chinese and other etymologies have been invented for the name”.

A mixed version of Aryo-Mongol Kamboja people are the Khmers of the modern Cambodia or Kampuchea or Kambujia (the name Kampuchea is derived from Kambuja or Kamboja.)

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