Volume 2 No.4

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The Legend of Phnom Prasethi
Khmer tales, Volume 6, Buddhism Intitute, Ministry of Cults and Religions. Retold by : Moul Vongs ( April, 2002 Volume 2 No.4 )

Many hundreds of years ago, a man called Dambang Kra-nhounh (Rosewood Stick) staged a coup in an ancient kingdom and proclaimed himself the new king. But this region was very unstable and filled with men who lusted after power themselves. Seven years and seven months after he became king, he was himself deposed by a man called Ponhea Krek, and he and his whole family murdered except for one wife, who was pregnant.

The wife fled to the villages and tried to disguise herself as an ordinary peasant, but Ponhea Krek ordered his soldiers to hunt her down and kill the unborn potential heir to the throne. Eventually, a soldier found her and cut her belly open, but the child was already powerful and hid up under his dead mother's ribcage so the soldier could not find him. The soldier decided the woman had already lost the child during her rugged journey and reported to the king that he was dead. The child waited until the soldier had gone, then crawled out and sat, defenseless, on the ground next to his mother. He would surely have been killed by dogs or perished in the hot sun, but a huge bird swooped from nowhere perhaps at the behest of a god who took pity on the baby and stood over him to protect him with wings outstretched. An old hunter called Kohe was walking home after a rest and saw the bird. "What is it doing here, just standing all by itself like a sentry?" he asked himself. When he approached, he saw the child and his dead mother, and decided to take the boy home and raise him as his own. He called the child Baksei Chamkrong, which means 'bird that waited and protected'. Seven years later, Ponhea Krek visited his royal astrologer to find out the current situation of his kingdom and determine his future. "The boy is still alive," the astrologer said. "He is a threat and will become king one day if he lives, but you will be able to tell him by the strange fingerprints he has. They are like perfect circles on each of his ten fingers." The king immediately ordered that every seven-year-old boy in the kingdom be brought to him and fingerprinted.
Kohe brought his young charge, too, and the soldiers realized immediately that he was the one they sought, but Kohe took inspiration from the giant bird who had led him to the boy in the first place, and with the strength and power of the baksei, he whisked the boy away through the crowds and the soldiers lost them. They fled the city, crossing a big river at Roka Korng to Lovea Te and then to Vihear Suor, near present-day Psar Prek Pneuv on National Route 5. Eventually they reached Samrong Torng. Thick jungle meant few people made it to this mountain except some hermits and meditating monks and Kohe decided they were safe. He, too, became a hermit. Eventually, Ponhea Krek died of disease without leaving a successor. In a panic, his mandarins remembered the boy and searched him out to take the throne.When he was safely made king, Baksei Chamkrong ordered a pagoda and a statue of the Buddha built at he and Ta Kohe’s former haven.
He renamed the place Phnom Eisei Sethi, which translates as "the temple of the hermit succeeding in everything" as Ta (Grandfather) Kohe had prayed for as long as the young man could remember that he should be king. Prosethi means success, so the mountain was renamed Phnom Prosethi the mountain of success. And it is still known by that name even today, located just east of Psar Prek Pneav in Kandal province off National Route 5.