After visiting Angkor Wat I have thouroughly studied the history of Angkor Wat. And I've come up with some new theorys that might interest you. Anyone feel free to react and I would like to know all evidence you have to hold against my theory. And please, keep it scientifically and not nationalistically or whatever..
My theory: The last varman kings were theravada buddhists.
Little is known about the history of the last varman kings. The last inscription was in 1327 when Jayavarman IX became the first king. No statues, temples, inscriptions were made from that time. And the first new king of Cambodia that was documented was in 1370 by the Chinese.
My theory begins with Indravarman III (1296 - 1308). Indravarman III, according to the inscriptions made about him, was a Samré (caste slave) soldier that became a general. He married the king's (jayavarman VIII) daughter and with the help of a Brahman priest, he became the next new king under the name Indravarman III.
The link that he was a Samré is very interesting. This can mean that he was of a slave caste, but could also mean he was a negrito (also called Samré). The negritos are still called Samré and this can be inheritaded from the Angkorean period. Which one it is, I am not sure, but one thing that is certain is that he had no royal blood, but still became the next king with the help of a Brahman priest. This Brahman priest holified him and was abviously the brain behind this coupe. According to Zou Daguan the daughter stole the sword and the general became the new king and had the crown prince locked up and cut off his toes and fingers (a rite that enables someone to become a successor). Indravarman III later on married the daughter of this priest, and it was the same priest that made Indrajayavarman the new king. According to another inscription, Indravarman III abdicated in 1308 and went up the hills. Many historians believe him to become a monk then. The first thing that looks strange to me is the fact that Indravarman III married the Brahmans wife (while he allready had a wife, and he was a theravada buddhist). Was his wife against the coup and was she murdered after? Or did she die, or did Indravarman III had more than one wife? He say he abdicated and went to the forest. Many say to become a buddhist monk. But I believe he went to unify the people to gather a strong and powerful army!
All we know from the inscriptions is that the country was happy with the new king as the old king was too old and stubborn to keep the country safe (an inscription state that a powerful new king has risen). I believe that the priest had organised the coup in his country to unify all the people with the thread from surrounding nations like Ah Siem and Vietnam. So in order to safe the country he gave the power to a king that was beloved and a fierce warrior and general. It is also not sure whether Jayavarman VIII was in favour of his son in law or not, but I assume not, because he was a devoted Shivaïst.
What is known about the successors of Indravarman III (Indrajayavarman and Jayavarman IX) from inscriptions is that they were relatives of Indravarman III. And this strikes me odd. Because if it were relatives with royal bloodline, it must have been family through his wife, and are these considered relatives? And if they were relatives of his wife, would they have allowed him to be the next king? I don't think so. I believe the next Varman kings to be relatives of Indravarman III and also theravada buddhists. This explains why no inscriptions in Sanskrit were made (except the one in 1327 by a Hindu priest that worked for the royal family, and also stated that the new king had torn out the city of his enemy), and also no temples/statues etc. Also, there is evidence that the Siamese try to propagate Cambodia in favour of Theravada Buddhism and against Hinduism. The Brahman priest knew that by crowning a new buddhist king, the people would not rise up against the Shivaist controllers in favour of the Siamese. The last inscription can indicate that it was a time of war, and probably there were invasions all of the time, but the Cambodian army fought fierceful and the people had unified themselves under the new kings so they had big armies. As Hinduism and buddhism lived hand in hand in the country for many years, it was not surprising that that the hindu religion declined more and more and that buddhism became the state religion (and the kings new religion). The hinduist probably became more of a sect with the brahman priests as advisors, counselors, etc. So Jayavarman VIII was the last hindu/solar and lunar descended king and what follows were Indravarman III and his two relatives (buddhists). Allthough they were known by their varman name it is far more likely that they were known by another Khmer name, and that the varman suffix became only relevant for the hinduists. Jayavarman VII was also a buddhist and his son a theravada buddhist, so it is appearant that they could live hand in hand together.
Around 1350 the Siamese conquered Angkor but left it because they had not had enough manpower to occupy the country. They had killed the Varman king and relatives but left the country to a Siamese to rule as a vassal. This explains why there were no documented kings of Cambodia by China till 1370. The Siamese wanted to rule as a Theravada "brother" but the Cambodians rose up against the Thai and conquered back their city around 1370. The new kings then send a lot of embassies to China, probably to ask for protection against the Siamese.
What is also interesting is that according to the chronicles of Laos Fa Ngum spent ten years (1341 - 1351) at angkor and brought back to him an army of 10,000 Khmer soldiers and the Cambodian kings daughter as a wife. According to the chronicles the country was still powerful, and the kings daughter was a theravada buddhist! Also, the army he brought back to conquer his country indicates that the Cambodians were assembling their armies and maybe tried to regain control by letting Fa Ngum take over his country. The Cambodians, however, did not manage to hold the Siamese army back and lost. Thtas why Fa Ngum had nothing more to do with Angkor and pursued his own agenda. His Khmer wife died of plague (maybe killed by the Siamese?), and his new wife was Siamese!
By killing the elitist the varman title was not relevant anymore and disappeared, just like the Sanskrit language. By taking many prisoners also, the Siamese wanted to gain the knowledge of the Khmers and also they saw them as strong people to have in their kingdom (according to Thai documents). In 1431 the Thai took revenge on the coup of 1370 and captured 100,000 Khmers and ravaged and looted the city. Andt this invasion was the last strike to kill off the Angkorean culture. What remained were Khmers without tutors and leaders, that were oppressed by Siamese and Vietnamese. The Siamese oppressed the theravada buddhism and the vietnamese mahayana bhuddism. As theravada bhuddism was already strong, the remaining people with another religion must have changed religions. Bhuddist monecaries also became the center points for learning and ciommunity. The modern Khmer language is also a simplified version of old Khmer with influence of a lot of Thai, Vietnamese, Lao words. There is no sign of an extra "jungle"language derrived from the Khmer people instead of "Khom"people, lol..
I think the current day Cambodians are a mix of the descendants of Angkor (with paternal Indian ancestry/Mon-Khmer), mixed with the uneducated hilltribe/jungle/farmer people (Mon-Khmer people). This is also shown in their DNA (haplo P* on paternal side). It is not strange that in 600 years a language and culture completely changes and that the current day Cambodians dont know about Angkor anymore without documentation. And now consider the same thing, but with oppresion of three different nations and a civil war that took out ten procent of the people! It is foolish to say that there were Khom and Khamen (Khmer). The Cham had a very similar history and noone calls them the "Chom"and the Cham. The Cham were also Indianised Hinduists that lost their culture and (sacred) language. Now they are all muslim, but I do not hear anyone saying that the current day Cham are not descended of kingdom of Champa. They also had a native language and holy language: Sanskrit. Their written language began around the same time. The Cham were sufficient in using their own language instead of Sanskrit in sacred texts at one point, but the Khmers kept Sanskrit as holy language. The sankrit inscriptions from the Khmer are also very textual, like they were taught from a book. This also means that their native language was most appearantly Old Khmer. And also the animistic influence of Mon-Khmer tribes is obvious in the temples and ruins of Angkor.
The word Khamen was introduced when a Thai king received lessons from the French about ettiquette that the Thai king didnt feel the relevance to call the Cambodians Khom (high regarded word). He saw them as filthy jungle people and introduced the word Khamen, not understanding that his people had made the uneducated the way they were. Also, there is no documentation of any proof that the rulers were of another ethnicity. Not by Zou Daguan (though he describes the different people) nor by the Chinese (the Chinese damn sure knew who the Indians were, why not referring to them (kings) as Indians?). Because they were the same race of their people. All the people with their own language and culture stayed together (as you had Mon territory, Mon-Khmer territory and Cham territorie, etc.). The Mon-Khmer people lived in the kingdom, because the kingdom was Mon-Khmer territory! The inscription of Jayavarman II also describes the king to go back to the land of his ancestors from Java. If he saw himself as an Indian, why not go to India?
Many Thai people also refer to the Chronicles of Cambodia. With the melon farmer killing the king. This story is complete bull$hit! If this was really the case, China would have had documentation about this (they diddnt have documentation about a new king till 1370). And if it was a slave revolt, it would mean that the whole kingdom collapsed, but there is no sign of this anywhere. On the contrary, there is many evidence that thecountry was still flourishing through the fourteenth century and still had powerful armies (which means good leadership)! If this story really happened it must have been about Indravarman III. Took the kings wife, was a commoner and usurped the throne. This could also mean that the brother from the story was actually Indrajayavarman! This story was also told before and can therefore not hold any importance of truth.
What is also interesting is that many historians believe that the Thais still have documentation about this period, but refuse to make them public and keep them secret. This could mean: 1) They did something so shameful they dont want anyone to know, 2) It gives the Khmer so much credit, that it would harm their postion regarding border/temple dispute.
The last thing to say is that the caste system in Angkor was not the same as from India. It may have existed through the earliest period of Indian colonization, but there is many evidence the caste system was not built on ethnics or was oviously there. The Angkoreans who descended from the highest caste probably remained high castes, but there were many other ways to climb the ladder. 1) to become a tmple builder (there are inscriptions praising the labourers for building the temples etcetera and holding them in high regard, it is also very likely that the building of evreything was a matter of corvee instead of slavery), 2) to become a good soldier/general (just like Indravarman III), 3) to become a buddhist monk (according to Zou Daguan some monks were very high regarded and had many gold, 4) to become a Apsara dancer (beautiful women were brought to the royal court according to Zou Daguan), so this indicates that the caste system was not so relevant in Angkor, and no sign of differnt Ethnic ruling another ethnicity. Also the pictures of the Varman kings do not look Indian but Khmer!