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HTML clipboardWhy was it so easy for the indigenous people to adopt the gods the Indians had brought with them to Southeast Asia? It may well be imagined that the prosperity of the Indians with their methods was ascribed to divine protection, and that the Khmers and the Chams accordingly began to establish them in their temples. Moreover these foreign gods could readily find a place beside the local deities, as they had already done in India, within what was doubtless a very similar cosmology. Thus particular devotion was accorded to the gods Shiva and Vishnu, and also to the Buddha. Shiva, however, is the dominant figure, as he was long considered by the kings as supreme protector of their empire. It is thus to him that most of the temples are dedicated, and he in turn had to ensure the prosperity of the kingdom.
 The proliferation of sects which flourished in India does not feature in the land of the Khmers, however. As in other domains, the Khmers were the assiduous pupils of their first masters, and do not seem to have sought to delve deeper into doctrines which perhaps remained somewhat alien to them, nor indeed to dispute them by proposing new ones. It is for this reason that only one or two sects of each of the Shivaite or Vishnuite 'religions' are known. Similarly it is probable that Buddhism, of which much less is known, was not broken down into numerous sects, although besides Mahayana Buddhism of (the 'great vehicle') which was more widespread, or at least more visible now, there is some early evidence for the existence of simpler followers of 'primitive' Buddhism.
 The temples as seen today give only a sketchy idea of the total number of shrines which bejeweled the land of the Khmers, many of which must have disappeared over the centuries. They are in durable materials, and, as such, they imply considerable wealth on the part of their builders. They were far from being the only Hindu shrines in the Khmer countryside, as others were built by the less wealthy in perishable materials. The inscriptions reveal that sometimes there were years of delay before enough funds were available for a stone or laterite shrine for a divinity, and doubtless, some never saw the light of day because the means were lacking.
Cambodia Religion
Cambodia Religion - P2
The Hindu Pantheon
The Hindu Pantheon - P2
The Hindu Pantheon - P3