T WENTY years after a collection of historic Buddhist books were given to the Australian government for safekeeping, they have been returned to the government.
The 51 books are said to be one of the few remaining sets of old religious texts in the country.
Printed between 1929 and 1969, with 84,000 articles or Tripitakas of Buddha's teachings. According to Buddhist beliefs, the Tripitakas were compiled by Buddha after he attained Nirvana 2500 years ago.
"They're like the constitutional laws of the country," said Yen Dun, head of the Ministry of Cults and Religions.
The texts were printed in the ancient language of Pali, used by Cambodians in the age of Angkor, with their translations in Khmer on the opposite pages.
They were given to the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh in 1974, as the country faced civil turmoil, by a Kandal monk who feared they would be damaged. They were sent to a Canberra library.
Australian ambassador Tony Kevin handed over the books to Chea Sim, acting Cambodian Head of State, in a Dec 12 ceremony.