BRIEF HISTORY OF “LANGKA PREAH KOSSUMARAM MONASTERY”
Langka Monastery, which was founded by the Monarch Preah Barom Reachea Ponhea Yat in the year 1981 of the Buddhist era (B.E.), or A.D. 1437, was originally located to the north east of the Phnom Daun Penh municipal authorities informed the Chau Adhicar (Head of the Monastic Community), Preah Nhean Vavar Vichea Ok, that provisions contained in the plan for urban development would entail the removal of the sanctuary and monastic buildings to their present site.
Shortly after the receipt of this information, the venerable Chau Adhicar died with the result that the task of demolishing the monastic sanctuary devolved upon his successor, the Venerable Preah Nhean Bavar Vichea Khatt, who gave the necessary orders or the demolition of this building, which was constructed of perishable materials, in 2453 B.E. (A.D. 1910), and for the construction of a new sanctuary in brick on the site allocated for this purpose. He was to be greatly assisted in this task by the then Minister of Justice, Okhna Yomaeach Men, his wife, Chumteav Preap, and by another distinguished lay patroness, Chaukun Prayouvong Patt. But both the venerable Chau Adhicar and the Minister of Justice were to pass away before the edifice had been gad been completed.
Following the death of these personages, the Royal Family assumed the task of providing the Langka Monastic Community with the required assistance: a task they are still discharging today:
– In the year 2454 B.E.(A.D. 1912), His Majesty Sisowath Monivong, who was invested at the time with the rank, title and dignity of Master of the Royal Household, invited the Venerable Preah Krou Vimolpanna Louis Em (name in religion vajirappanno) then Chau Adhicr at the Sithor monastery to become Head of the Langka nomadic community, with the title of Preah Nhean Bavar Vichea. It fell to the lot of this religious dignitary, assisted in this task by Chaukhun Payouvong Patt, to complete the construction of the new sanctuary. The contribution made by another lay patroness, madam Nay, who devoted part of her fortune to purchasing the brick tiles with the sanctuary was floored, is likewise deserving of mention.
The ritual consecration ceremony, known as the deposition of the “ Seima” took place in 2459 B.E. (A.D.1916), was performed ure the presence of his Majesty King Sisowath (posthumous name Preah Reacheanukodh).
– Her Majesty preah Moha Ksattriani Kossumak Nearireat Serei Waddhana, Queen of Cambodia, and August daughter of his Majesty King Sisowath Monivong, was in the habit of accompanying her grand-mother,Chaukhun Prayouvong Pat, on the visits she was accustomed to pay on Buddhist Festival Days (“Tngai Sel”). On these occasions, Her Majesty used to carry into the monastery precincts sand, used in building of hillocks (“Phnom Ksach”) which feature in a ritual ceremony performed prior to the advent of the Cambodian New Year, while she never failed to make a financial contribution towards the upkeep of the sanctuary and adjacent buildings. Now and then, Her Majesty passed the night, in company with Her grand-mother, in the Monastery’s ceremonial hall (“Sala Benn”) in order either to witness ceremonies, such as those performed during the two week period of the ear, which the Khmers devote to commemoration their dead, or to listen to the cycle of sermons “Mohacheat” based on the former lives of the Lord Buddha. Her Majesty likewise stayed in the Monastery during the period when the mortal remains of her elder brother, H.R.H. Prince Sisowath Pinnareth, were being housed there prior to the cremation ceremony, which took place in 2461 B.E. (A.d.1919).
– H.R.H. Princess Norodom Kanchanaviman, Consort of His Majesty King Sisowath Monivong, and mother of our August Sovereign, was also a frequent worshipper of Langka Monastery. On her death, her ashes were interred in a stupa, which can still be seen in the grounds, by the Royal Family. In conformity with the example set by Her illustrious forbears, Her Majesty Queen Sisowath Kossumak has proved an unfailing source of invaluable aid and assistance both to the late Venerable Preah Nhcan Bavar Vichea Louis Em, and to his successor in equipping this Monastery, which is today one of the most beautiful, an renowned monasticestablishment in the Capital.
– It was to langka Monastery that H. R. H. Prince Krom preah Sisowath Monireth was sent when he first attended school. Here, he studied under the Benerable Preh Nhean Bavar Vichea Louis Em.
– In 2475 B.E. (A.D. 1932), His Majesty Sisowath Monivong bestowed upon the Venerable Preah Nhean Bavar Vichea Louis Em, who was then Principal of the School of Higher Pali Studies,and Chaiman of the Committee charged with translating the “PaliTripitaka” into Cambodian, the dignity of Preah Serei Sammatevong, which promotes the holder to the third rank in the Cambodian Buddhist hierarchy.
– In 2485 B. E. (A. D. 1942), His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk Varman promoted, in his turn, the Venerable Preah Serei Sammatevong Louis Em to the first rank in this hierarchy by bestowing upon him the dignity of Preah Dhammalikhet. In the course of a religious retreat, Lanka Monastery by retreat, this Monarch likewise distinguished Langka Monastery by delivering a sermon within the precincts. Finally, His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk Varman saw fit to create the Venerable Preah Dhammalikhet Louis Em a Samdech, appointing him at the same time Supreme Counsellor of the Mohanikay Order.
– In 2497 B.E. (A.D.1954), His Eminence Samdech Preah Dhammalikhet Louis Em decided that the sanctuary of Langka Monastery .E. (A.D. 1916), should be demolished, and replaced by a larger building better adapted to the purposes it was intended to serve. The implementation of this project, which was approved of , and actively supported by Their Majesties King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossumak, was facilitated by generous donations from Buddhist laymen throughout the Kingdom.
– The work of re-building the sanctuary had only been half-completed, however, when His Eminence Louis Em was struck down by illness; and, although the most prominent members of the medical profession- acting on the instructions of Their Majesties – were to make every effort to save their distinguished patient during anxious months, His Eminence Louis Em passed away, fortified by his Buddhist Faith, to Eternal Beatitude: a cruel loss deeply mourned by all members of Buddhist monastic communities