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Nobel urged for 'Buddha of battlefield'

Nobel urged for 'Buddha of battlefield'

T he Venerable Samdech Preah Maha Ghosananda, supreme patriarch and the country's

most celebrated monk, has been nominated for the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his

efforts promoting peace and reconciliation.

The nomination was made by US

Senator Claiborne Pell, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations

Committee.

Meanwhile Maha Ghosananda announced a march in May to Pailin,

headquarters of the Khmer Rouge. He hopes it will encourage the guerrillas to

begin a re-afforestation drive in the area.

Speaking in Phnom Penh last

week, he said: "Soon, we'll have a Dhamayietra to Pailin to help our friends

reforest the area. This time we will be armed with trees."

The monk has

been given a royal mission by His Majesty the King Norodom Sihanouk to lead

efforts to preserve the country's environment.

Vast swathes of forest

land around Pailin have been devastated after the KR granted Thai companies

logging and gem mining concessions.

In his submission to the Nobel

Institute in Norway, Sen Pell wrote: "Maha Ghosananda has been the voice of

compassion during Cambodian's struggle for peace.

"From Jakarta to Paris,

his presence at the highest level of peace talks has offered faith and

encouragement to the Cambodian people and guaranteed humanitarian goals be

included in negotiations."

As well as playing a leading role in the

talks that led to the Paris peace accords, Maha Ghosananda struck a national

chord by leading a Dhammayietra from the Thai border to Phnom Penh in 1992.

He led a second Dhammayietra on the eve of last year's elections in

which thousands of monks, nuns and lay people marched on the capital from Angkor

Wat, crossing war-ravaged regions of the country.

Maha Ghosananda's

rallying cry, which drew thousands to follow him, was: "Each step is a

meditation, each step is a prayer, each step will build a bridge."

Maha

Ghosananda is widely acknowledged as the spiritual leader of the Khmer. In his

mission to end the civil war he has preached the spread of compassion and taught

how non-violent methods can be used to solve problems.

Quoting Buddha's

teaching, the patriarch said "Hatred can never be appeased by hatred, Hatred can

only be appeased by love."

As well as preaching Maha Ghosananda oversaw

the building of temples in refugee camps along Cambodian-Thai border and in

countries overseas where there are Khmer refugee communities.

Sen Pell

described the monk as a "dream keeper of Cambodia" and "Buddha of the

Battlefield." Internationally he is widely referred to as the "Gandhi of

Cambodia".

Speaking alongside Maha Ghosananda at a panel discussion in

the capital, Ven Kim Teng called on monks and nuns to be "non-partisan

politicians" who should live closely with the lay community.

Ven Kim Teng

said: "Buddhism penetrates into all fields of life, education, health,

agriculture. Khmer society can not live without Buddhism.

"Peace will

come not just by throwing away arms. Peace comes from within the soul first, it

happens when our heart is calm."

Maha Gosananda became, in 1980, a

co-founder of the Inter-religion Mission for Peace in Cambodia and the Whole

World, which has launched ecumenical initiatives for peace world-wide.

He

received the Norwegian Rafto Foundation Prize for Human Rights in Nov 1992 and

an honorary doctorate for humanitarian services from Providence College.

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