World Famous Monk San Sochea Retires from Monkhood

Revered monk, San Sochea, who has attracted a strong following worldwide for his online posts has announced he has retired from monkhood, but will remain a devoted Buddhist
San Sochea meets Pope Francis during a trip in Europe in January 2023. Kiripost via his Facebook page
San Sochea meets Pope Francis during a trip in Europe in January 2023. Kiripost via his Facebook page

Influential monk, San Sochea, who has captivated audiences at home and abroad through his popular social media sermons, has announced he has left the monkhood but remains a Buddhist.

On Sunday, San Sochea, who has been recognized as an influential monk in Cambodia for 31 years through spreading sermons on social media platforms including his Facebook page and YouTube channel, made the announcement to the public, especially to the Buddhists who have listened to his audios and watched his videos for many years.

He said it is the last video that he presents as a monk and from now on he will be Buddhist instead.

“I would like to announce that this is the last video in my monkhood. Even though in the future there will be videos of me posted on any social media platforms, please confirm that it is just my previous videos because in a little while now there will be no San Sochea monk anymore,” he said.

“There is only the presence of San Sochea, as a buddhist instead,” he added in his video posted on his official Facebook page on Sunday with the caption, “Goodbye and good luck (leave the monkhood at 5pm in Australia time today)”.

In the video, he said he is thankful to Buddhism that has been with him for 31 years and the kindness of Buddhists who have supported him both materially and emotionally. At the same time, Sochea also apologized if what he has said during some of his sermons have been unintentionally perceived as controversial.

In another live video on his younger sister, San Chanthy’s, Facebook page after he revealed that he was in process of leaving his monkhood, some were seen crying and expressing emotions of sadness while seeing him as the last time of being a monk.

Sochea mentioned that he has been thinking of leaving the monkhood for a long time. However, his mother and other fellow Buddhists kept him motivated and encouraged him to pursue being a monk until now.

However, he did not claim any specific reasons for leaving his monkshood and added he remains unclear about his next steps.

Sochea is an honorable monk at Monyroth pagoda in Pursat province. He was born on May 12, 1978 during the Pol Pot regime. Hailing from Takeo province from a farmer's family, education was a hardship for him in childhood when he needed to help his family shepherd ducks and farm to earn extra money to support the family’s livelihood.

His dream job was to become a teacher but he later decided to be a monk, following his father and grandmother's inspiration.

He first entered monkhood on April 22,1992 at the age of 14 and began to flourish in Buddhism through broadcasting Dhammatalk regarding Mental Development in Daily Life. He gained a lot of support from Cambodian Buddhists through social media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube.

He used his official Facebook page, San Sochea, to post audios and videos for educational purposes, especially in daily life. It was created on September 23, 2013 and garnered 1.2 million followers and 998,000 likes.

His YouTube channel, named San Sochea Official, has 314,000 subscribers and has 8,900 videos, with some attracting one million views.