The sceptre of Brahma

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A Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Brahma in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Author: Dennis Jarvis, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Cambodian Criminal Code is called “ក្រមព្រហ្មទណ្ឌ” (क्रम ब्रह्म दण्ड, /kram prum toan/), meaning ‘the Code of Punishment by Brahma‘. The term “ទណ្ឌ” (दण्ड, /toan/) which means ‘punishment’ in this context, is also a reference to the sceptre (ដំបង) of Brahma, through which he renders the ultimate punishment. In Hindu mythology, Brahma is the creator of the Universe.

In the Mahabharata (មហាភារតៈ), the Brahma Danda was a defensive weapon used (most famously) by Dronacharya. It had the power to neutralise the Brahmastra (ព្រហ្មាស្ត្រ) and other celestial weapons wielded by the Pandava warriors, and inflict great damage on the enemies. Therefore, in the context of Cambodian law, the Code could be viewed as a tool for retributive justice.

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