Ghosananda, “Gandhi of Cambodia,” dies in Massachusetts

From AP, March 16:

NORTHAMPTON – Maha Ghosananda, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated monk who rebuilt Buddhism in Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, has died.

Ghosananda, who lived in Leverett and Providence, R.I., was believed to be in his late 70s. He died Monday in Cooley Dickinson Hospital, said Christina Trinchero, a hospital spokeswoman.

Trinchero did not know the cause of death or his age.

The Cambodian monk lived in exile between 1975 and 1979, when the Khmer Rouge denounced Buddhism and killed nearly two million people through starvation, disease, overwork and execution.

Ghosananda was one of the first monks to return to Cambodia and train new Buddhist leaders after Pol Pot’s regime was toppled by the Vietnamese in 1979.

Ghosananda was elected a Supreme Cambodian Buddhist Patriarch by fellow Buddhist monks in 1988 for restoring Buddhism in the country.

During the 1990s, he led the Dhamma Yatra movement to rebuild religious life in Cambodia.

He moved to western Massachusetts in the late 1980s at the invitation of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order in Leverett, which seeks a complete elimination of weapons, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times in the mid-1990s.

The bio on his website details Ghosananda’s work in the refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border.

Reuters informs us:

In the 1990s, Ghosananda led a movement for national reconciliation in Cambodia after fighting flared up again between Khmer Rouge rebels and the national government. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his efforts.