One of the sixteen Mahājanapadas which, with Gandhāra, belonged, not to the Majjhimadesa but, evidently, to the Uttarāpatha (A.i.213; iv.252, 256, 260). It is often mentioned as the famous birthplace of horses (assānam āyatanam) (E.g., DA.i.124; AA.i.399; Vsm.332; also J.iv.464). In the Kunāla Jātaka (J.v.445) we are told that the Kambojas caught their horses by means of moss (jalajāta), and the scholiast (J.v.446) explains at length how this was done. They sprinkled the moss with honey and left it in the horses' drinking place; from there, by means of honey sprinkled on the grass, the horses were led to an enclosure.
In the Assalāyana Sutta (M.ii.149) it is stated that in Yona and in Kamboja, and also in the neighbouring countries, there were, in the Buddha's time, only two classes of people, masters and slaves, and that a master could become a slave or vice versa. The Commentary (MA.ii.784) explains that a brahmin would go there with his wife for purposes of trade and would die there. His wife would then be compelled to work for her living and her children would become slaves.
The Jātakas (E.g., J.vi.208, 210; see also Manu.x.44) would lead us to believe that the people of Kamboja had lost their original customs and had become barbarous. Elsewhere' Kamboja is mentioned as a place not visited by women of other countries. A.ii.82; on the reading of this passage, however, see GS.ii.92, n.2. The Commentary (AA.ii.523) distinctly supports the reading Kamboja.
The country was evidently on one of the great caravan routes, and there was a road direct from Dvāraka to Kamboja (Pv.p.23).
According to Asoka's Rock Edict, No. XIII. (Shābhāzgarhi Text), Kamboja was among the countries visited by Asoka's missionaries. The country referred to is probably on the banks of the Kabul river (Mookerji: Asoka, 168, n.1).
In later literature (E.g., Cv.lxxvi.21, 55) Kamboja is the name given to Western Siam.