Chuon Nath

Portrait of Chuon   Nath

Samdech Sangha Rāja Jhotañāno Chuon Nath សម្តេចព្រះសង្ឃរាជ ជួន ណាត ជោតញ្ញាណោ (13 March 1883, Kong Pisei, Kampong Speu, French Cambodia — 25 Sep 1969, Phnom Penh, Cambodia) was a Cambodian monk. the late Gana Mahanikaya Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia, an educator and a linguist who vastly contributed to the politics of Khmerization after Cambodia gained its independence from France.

A son of farmers, Nath was ordained monk in 1904, later pursuing his studies in Pali and Sanskrit languages. Close to the independentist circles, he started to devise new words in Khmer language from Pali and Sanskrit languages, instead of adapting them from French. This work culminated in the publication of the Chuon Nath Dictionary in 1967, two years before his passing away. It was also the result of a long process towards a modern Khmer dictionary initiated by a 1915 Royal decree.

His contribution in the development of a reformist movement in the Khmer Buddhist Sangha (community) also made him a great figure of 20th century Cambodia.

Chuon Nath (left) in the 1930s.