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Kamboja (name)

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Kamboja (name)

Articles related to Kambojas
In Indian literature

"Kamboja" or "Kambuja"[1] is the name of an ancient Indo-Iranian kingdom. They are believed to have been located originally in Pamirs and Badakshan in Central Asia.

The name has a long history of attestation, both in the Iranian and the Indo-Aryan spheres.

The etymology of Kamboja (or Kambuja, Kambujiya) is unclear. There are several suggestions, most scholars favouring Iranian origin (visible in the de-aspiration of the b, from an Indo-Iranian bhuj). Inspired by the proper name Cambyses, Michael Witzel proposes that the name may originate as a title given to the Persian crown prince.[2]


  • Royal title 1
  • Anthroponym "Kambu" 2
  • Exonym 3
  • Toponym "Kamba" 4
  • Sanskrit literature 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8

Royal title

H. W. Bailey analyzes the name Kamboja as Kam-bauja- or Kan-bauja- and focuses on the second part -bauja. This should be the form belonging to the three Iranian roots *Baug-: (1) "to bend", (2) "to free, loose, deliver, save", (3) "to possess, be lord, rule". The same root appears as bhuj "use, possess; rule, govern". The first part of the compound would then be kam, which Bailey interprets as Avestan kan "to long, want", related to Sanskrit kama "desire, lust". The Old Indian lexeme occurs in compounds where it means "at will" i.e. Kama-krta, kama-cara, Kama-vritti. Avestan has vaso-xsathro, "ruling at will". Bailey's interpretation for Kambujiya or Kamboja is "king ruling at will" or ultimately, "king at will".[3]

Another interpretation (Seth 1937) accept's bhuj as the root of the second element, but takes the kam as the name of a particular region, thus "ruler of Kam", Kam being interpreted as referring to the territory of Sogdia.[4]

Anthroponym "Kambu"

Scholars like Casey suppose that Kambuja lineage of the ruling family of ancient Cambodia originated from their legendary patriarch figure called Svayambhuva Kambu. According to Casey, "Kambuja" is etymologically deived from Kambu+ja, where ja in Sanskrit is said to mean "son or descendant". Hence, Kambujas means "descendants of Kambu".[5] On similar lines, some argue that the name of the Indo-Iranian Kambojas may have eponymously originated from some ancient patriarchal figure known as Kambo. The Kambu as a name of an Asura (Iranian) clan is attested in ancient Hindu texts like Markendeya Purana [6] and Devi Mahatam,[7] where the Kambu (Kamboja) clan is portrayed "in clash with" the Indo-Aryans. It is notable that King Ashoka's Rock Edicts (3rd century BCE) located in Peshawar also write Kamboy (i.e. Kambo) for Sanskrit Kamboj. It is also notable that the terms Kambo and Kambu were used in medieval Muslim writings for the Kamboj population of greater Panjab.


J. Harmatta considers Old Persian "Kambaujiya- as an apotropaic name meaning "weak", to Avestan Kambishta-, "the least" a name which, he says, was given to the Kambojas by their enemies. The same scholar adds that the name is a remainder of an archaic name giving habit. This is shown by the alleged disappearance of the name after the death of Cambyses (Kambaujiya) in 522 BC. Unfortunately for Harmatta, the name still occurred in the three Elamite tablets [8] dated 498-497 and 501-500 BCE ".[9] Prof Wojciech Skalmowski rejected Harmatta's etymology on the basis that Herodotus attests that "their (i.e the Persians) names agree with the nature of their persons and their nobility".[10]

Prof Wojciech Skalmowski who rejected Harmatta's etymology of Kambaujiya has suggested that the name Kambaujiya ( and Kamboja) is an adjectival form from a compound like *kamp + auj-ias- (cf. Sanskrit kampate " = he trembles", Avestan *auj, as in aojvah, "stronger than"), meaning "unshaken, stronger than trembling, undaunted, intrepid (intrepidus)".[11] Therefore, this would give the name Kamboja a meaning like powerful, mighty, fearful, undaunted, valiant etc.

Toponym "Kamba"

According to Dr Wilson, part of the name Kamboja (i.e. Kambi) is in the Cambistholi of Arrian: the last two syllables, no doubt, represent the Sanscrit Sthala, 'place,' 'district;' and the word denotes the dwellers in the Kamba or Kambis country: so Kamboja may be explained as those born in Kamba or Kambas.[12] [1]. In the like manner, the name Kambavati or Kambhavati or Khambavati (-vati means residence, pura) has also been connected with the Kambojas. In English, the name Kambavati or Kambhavati appears as Cambay[13]

Sanskrit literature

Yaska (seventh century BCE) etymologizied the name as both Kambal.bhojah and Kamaniya.bhojah. According to Nirukta,[14] the Kambojas enjoy kambalah (blankets) i.e. they are Kambal.bhojah, and also they enjoy beautiful (kamaniya) things, hence they are 'kamaniya.bhojah'. Therefore they are called "Kambojas".[15]

Pāṇini, the 4th century BC Sanskrit grammarian a native to Gandhara in his Aṣṭādhyāyī mentions many terms pertaining to the geography and ethnology of pre-Mauryan India. In his sutras (4.1.168-177) [16] Pāṇini references the a number of Kshatriya janapadas and notes it as one of the fifteen prominent Kshatriya monarchies of the times.

See also


  1. ^ Grhya Sutra verse 2.1.23.
  2. ^ 'Kamboja may have been the title of the Persian crown prince, whence he perhaps got the name Cambyses (Old Pers. Kambaujiya).' This speculation had already been proposed by Charpantier and criticized by La Vallée Poussin. ... The Manava Dharma Shastra mentions the Yavanas and the Kambojas ... -- along with the Dravidas, the Shakas, the Chinese and others -- as being Kshatriyas who gradually went down to reach the level of Shudras because they did not observe Brahmanical law." Johannes Bronkhorst, Greater Magadha: studies in the culture of early India, BRILL, 2007, ISBN 978-90-04-15719-4 p. 358.
  3. ^ Ancient Kamboja, Iran and Islam, 1971, p 67-71, H. W. Bailey; Iranica in the Achaemenid Period (ca. 550-330 B.C.): Lexicon of Old Iranian, 2007, p 19, J. Tavernier.
  4. ^ HC Seth in Central Asiatic Provinces of the Maurya Empire in Indian Historical Quarterly, XIII (1937), No. 3, p. 403. "The etymology of the word Kamboja (Kam + bhuj) suggests that it refers to a people who were the masters (enjoyers) of the country known as Kum or Kam (Rai & Dev). This line of thought suggests a possible identification of the country of Kambojas with mountainous regions between the Oxus and the Jaxartes (i.e. the old Sogdian strapy). [...] The mountainous highlands where Jaxartes and many other rivers which meet this great river arise, are called by Ptolemy as "the Highlands of Komdei". Ammianus Marcellinus also call these Sogdian mountains as Komedas. The word Komedai and Komedas suggest Kom-desa or land of Kome. We learn from Ptolemy that a tribe variously called by him as Komaroi, Komedai, Khomaroi, Komoi and Tambyzoi was wide spread in the Highlands of Bactriana, Sogdiana and Sakai. It is difficult to say, at present, how far the vast tracts of land on either side of Oxus called as Kyzyl Kum or Kizil Kum, Kok-kum and Kara Kum may yet bear the traces of the name of this once a great and powerful people"
  5. ^ Casey, Robert. Four Faces of Siva. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1934, p 88-100.
  6. ^ verse 8.1-6
  7. ^ verse 5.28.1-12
  8. ^ Achaemenid History, 13 110-111; PF 302 and PFNN 2350.
  9. ^ Iranica in the Achaemenid Period (ca. 550-330 B.C.): Lexicon of Old Iranian Proper Names and Loanwords, Attested in Non-Iranian Texts, 2007, p 18, Jan Tavernier - History.
  10. ^ History, I, 139, Herodotus; Iranica in the Achaemenid Period (ca. 550-330 B.C.): Lexicon of Old Iranian Proper Names and Loanwords, Attested in Non-Iranian Texts, 2007, p 18, Jan Tavernier - History.
  11. ^ Refs: Two old Persian names, 1993, OLP 24, pp 74-75, W Skalmowski; Studies in Iranian Linguistics and Philology, 2004, p 268, Wojciech Skalmowski - Iranian languages; Birth of the Persian Empire: The Idea of Iran, Volume I, 2005, p 21, Pierre Briant, John Curtis, Albert de Jong, Frantz Grenet, Daniel Potts, Shapur Shabazi, Vesta Sarkhoush Curtis, and Sarah Stewart; Iranica in the Achaemenid Period (ca. 550-330 B.C.): Lexicon of Old Iranian, 2007, p 19, J. Tavernier; Pakistan Archaeology, 1991, p 122, Pakistan Dept. of Archaeology, Pakistan Dept. of Archaeology & Museums - Pakistan; Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 1951, p 7, Magyar Tudományos Akadémia - Classical philology.
  12. ^ Ref: Vishnu Purana, p 194, fn 146, Dr H. H Wilson.
  13. ^ Name "Kambaya" of Arab Geographers' stands for Cambay; Kambaet; Khambat; Khambayat; Khambavati (located in Gujerat) (See: Die Reise des Arabers Ibn Batūta durch Indien und China (14. Jahrhundert), 1911, p 471, Ibn Batuta); cf: Ancient name of Cambay (Khambat) was Kamboj (i.e Kamboja) (Asiatick Researches: Or, Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal, for Inquiring Into the... 1801, p 129, Asiatic Society (Calcutta, India); cf: A trtace of their (i.e Kambojas') settlement in Saurashtra/Gujarat still survives in the name of Cambay (See: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, p 232, Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland; cf: "The ancient name of Camaby in Gujarat was Kambhoj (See: Sharad Keskar's notes on Kim, Chapter XI, Macmillan Uniform Edition, 1901, Rudyard Kipling). There are numerous other scholars who have also connected Cambay/Kambay or Kambhavati with the Kambojas of north-west (See: Glossary of tribes, pp 443-444, H. A. Rose; The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 416, S Kirpal Singh; Vanger Jatya Itihaas, (Bangla), Rajyakanda, Nagendra Nath; Epigraphia Indica, XXIV, pp 45-46; Punjabi Mahankosh, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 332, Dr J. L. Kamboj); Asiatick Researches: Or, Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal, for Inquiring Into the...1801, p 129, Asiatic Society (Calcutta, India)
  14. ^
    Shavtirgatikarma Kambojesveva bhasyate........
    Kambojah kambal.bhojah kamaniya.bhoja va
    kambalaha kamaniyo bhavati
    vikaramasy. Aryesu bhasyante shava iti
    (Nirukta II.2.
  15. ^ Some Ksatriya Tribes of Ancient India, 1975, p 233, Dr B. C. Law.
  16. ^
    [4.01.168] Janapada.shabdat.kshatriyad aÑ
    [4.01.169] Salveya. Gandhari.bhyan cha
    [4.01.170] dvinaC.Magadha. Kalinga. Surama.sadn
    [4.01.171] vrddhait. Kosala. Ajada.Ñyan
    [4.01.172] Kuru.nadi.bhyo.rayah
    [4.01.173] Salvaavayava. Pratyagratha. Kalakuta. Asmakad iÑ
    [4.01.174] te tadrajah
    [4.01.175] Kambojal.luK
    [4.01.176] striyam Avanti. Kunti.kurubhyas.cha
    [4.01.177] aTascha
    (Pāṇini's Ashtadhyayi, 4.1.168-177) .


  • History and Archaeology of India's Contacts with Other Countries, from Earliest Times to 300 B.C., 1976, Shashi Asthana
  • Ancient Persian Lexicon and the Texts of the Achaemenidan *Inscriptions Transliterated and... 1908, Herbert Cushing Tolman
  • Iranica in the Achaemenid Period (ca. 550-330 B.C.): Lexicon of Old Iranian, 2007, J. Tavernier
  • Ancient Kamboja, Iran and Islam, 1971, p 68-71, Dr H. W. Bailey;
  • Some Ksatriya Tribes of Ancient India, 1975, Dr B. C. Law
  • The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, S Kirpal Singh
  • Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, Dr J. L. Kamboj
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