Samuth Koeuth

Title: 'Public Administration in Ancient Cambodia during the Reign of Jayavarman VII: Towards Principles of Buddhist Public Administration'

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Drechsler

Opponent: Prof. Dr. Rainer Kattel

Defense: 10 June 2016


Abstract: This paper is not a historical criticism of the ancient Khmer epigraphs but an attempt to accumulate the various references regarding to the principles of Buddhist public administration (PA) that were adopted into the government of king Jayavarman VII. The method of this thesis is constructed based on the conventional literature of Buddhist cannon and on the existing literatures of the government of Jayavarman VII to identify the major principles of Buddhist PA and analyze whether, and if so, how these principles shaped the PA system and policy of his government. Through critical investigation, the results revealed that the Buddhist cannon indicate major administrative principles, including Seven Conditions of Welfare, Ten Virtues for ruler, The Practice of Four Sublime States for Harmonious Society, and The Avoidance of Four Wrong Courses of Action, for the rulers and public servants to righteously perform their public duty. The thesis also found out that these principles were fully adopted to righteously guide the administrative reform in the government of king Jayavarman VII, and through the total application of Dhamma in administration, the huge success of his reign, from the public policy point of view, comes from the following factors: 1) the righteous administrative policies, guided by the Buddha’s Dhamma, are gentle and motivational; 2) these righteous policies were implemented by perfect persons, viz. the king himself, the Buddhist ministers, and the Buddhist queen, who knew more about the Buddhist virtue; and 3) the king’s leadership, under the influence of Buddha’s Dhamma, had transformed to be more compassionated and strongly committed for the ‘selfless public service’ to bring the wellbeing to the citizens. This accomplishment, therefore, characterized Jayavarman VII as the great Buddhist ruler who by example effectively applied the Buddhist administrative principles into his government.

Keywords: Buddhist Public Administration, Non-Western Public Administration, Kingship, Dhamma, Compassion, and Selfless Public Service.