The Kambojas peoples are referenced in numerous Sanskrit and Pali|Pali literature including Sama Veda, Atharvaveda, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, Kautiliya's Arthashastra, Yasaka's Nirukata, Buddhist Jatakas, Jaina Canons, ancient grammar books and plays etc.
A few illustrative examples are presented as follows:
Kambojas of Panini's Ashtadhyai
Panini (Ashtadhyayi 4.1.168-175) notes Kamboja as one of the fifteen prominent Kshatriya Janapadas in north-west. He also gives a rule for the derivative to denote the king of Kambojas. He attests that the word Kamboja denotes not only the Kamboja Kshatriya clan or the Kamboja country but also the ruler of the Kambojas as well as a descendant of the Kamboja Kshatriyas.
The Mayuravyamsakadi--Ganapatha on Panini's rule II.1.72 attests that the Kambojas and the Yavanas observed a social custom of supporting short head-hair (Kamboja.mundah Yavana.mundah...i.e shaved-headed like Kambojas, shaved-headed like Yavanas).
This same characteristics of the Kambojas are attested by Mahabharata (mundanetan ....Kambojan.eva... MBH 7/119/23) as well as numerous Puranic literature (Yavananam shirah sarvam Kambojanam tathaiva cha: Harivamsa 14/16)Main Article: Kambojas of Panini
Kambojas of Yasaka's Nirukuta
In Nirukuta(II/2), besides commenting on the Kamboja language, Yasaka also attempts to etymology|etymologize the term Kamboja, defining it as kambal.bhoja and Kamaniya.bhoja:
The Kambojas enjoy kambala (blankets) i.e they are Kambal.bhojas. Also the Kambojas enjoy beautiful (kamaniya) things i.e they are 'kamaniya.bhojah'. Hence they are called Kamboja. (Nirukuta 2/2).
Numerous ancient commentators like Durga Acharya, Brahmuni Privrajika, Sikanda Swami etc have commented on Yasaka's Nirukuta including Yasakian terms Kamaniya.bhoja and Kambal.bhoja in reference to the Kambojas. From their commentaries, we get very useful information not only on the climate & geographical location of Kamboja country but also on the food habits, dress-mode and industry/craft of ancient Kambojas. These commentaries provide powerful evidence on Kambojas' riches and the luxurious lives they lived.
Main Article: Kambojas of Yaska
Shantiparva of Mahabharata refers to a Kamboja warrior/king who had wrested the prized sword from Dhundhumara aka Kuvalashava, the celebrated king of Ayodhya (MBH 12/166/77). It was probably from this Epic Kamboja|Kamboja that his country/tribe came to be called Kamboja (Puranic Encyclopaedia, Vettam Mani).
Adiparva refers to a powerful king of Kambojas called Chandravarma and describes him as an incarnation of Asura Chandra, foremost among the sons of Diti and handsome as the lord of the stars himself (MBH 1/67/31-32) .
Sabhaparva refers to another king of Kambojas called Kamatha Kamboja who has been counted among principal Kshatriyas invited by king Yudhishtra on the inauguration ceremony of the imperial palace at Indraprastha (MBH 2/4/22)
Sabhaparva informs us that a king of the Kambojas had taken part in the Rajasuya sacrifice of king Yudhishtra (MBH 2/532/3).
Sudakshina, the illustrious monarch of Kambojas had participated in the Swayamvara of princess Draupadi of Panchala,, country (MBH 1/185/13).
Epic War and the Kambojas
Main Article: Kurukshetra War and the Kambojas
Among the Kshatriya tribes in the Mahabharata, the Kambojas occupy a very prominent place. They were allies of Duryodhana and by their bravery, and especially the prowess of their king Sudakshina, they had rendered great service to The Kurus|Kuru side in the long drawn battle at Kurukshetra (Dr Law).
Sudakshina had joined Mahabharata war leading a grand army of wrathful warriors of Kambojas, Sakas and the Yavanas. The mass of his one Akshauhini (division) army is stated to look like a swarm of locusts (MBH 5/19/21-22).
Sudakshina was one of the few Maharathas or great heroes on the field (Dr Law). Mahbharata numerously refers to Sudakshina as a great Maharathi (Sudakshinan tu rajendra Kambojanam maharatham), lionlike (Purushavyaghrah), a volcano giving out flames (Kamboja.vadava.mukham), a lion among the chariot-warriors (ratha.simhasya) and a Mahabali/Mahabahu undefeatable even by the gods in the battle (MBH 7/158/64-66) etc.
Image:Kurukshetrawar.jpg|thumb|350px|right|Fought for 18 days, the Battle of Kurukshetra was one of the great battles fought in ancient India. Shown here are the two warring armies pitched against each other on first day of the war.
Sudakshina had fought very ferociously until slain by Arjuna on 15th day of the war. He roared like a lion (sinha.nadamathanadat) as he fought and had given Arjuna indeed a tough fight. In the final and deadly duel brave Sudakshina had seriously wounded Arjuna and sent him into a terrible swoon, but finally was overcome and fell a magnificent martyr to Kuru cause (MBH 7/92/61-76).
Younger brother of Sudakshina, known as Prapaksha Kamboja|Kamboj had also participated in the Bharata war and had fought ferocious duels on Kurus' side. This tall and extremely handsome prince was also finally slain while fighting valiantly with Arjuna on 17th day of the war (MBH 8/56/111-114).
The Mahabharata repeatedly applauds the mighty and immense army of the Kambojas, calling it a flooded river, invincible in the battle. There are numerous references to countless Maharathas or great heroes of the Kambojas (MBH 7/113/61). The Kamboja warriors have been described as 'strikers of fierce force' (tigmavega.praharinam).
In hot war-field, the Kambojas have been described as elephants gone berserk (durvarana nama Kamboja); war-intoxicated warriors, biting the lips in rage as they fought (damshitah krurakarmanah Kamboja yuddhadurmadah); Death-personified (samana.mrityavo); deadly like cobras (tikshnai.rashivishopamah), and terrible like Yama (Hinduism)|Yama the god of death and rich like Kouber the god of wealth (Yama vaishravan.opamah) etc.
Dronaparva of Mahabharata terms the entire Kamboj soldiery as fiercely brave, scholars of Vedas (kritavidyashcha), firmly devoted to the science of weapons, highly united, self-sacrificing and well-wishers of each other (7/112/43-44).
Puranic literature groups the Kambojas with the Yavanas, Sakas, Pahlavas and Paradas and refers to a social custom prevalent among them which was against that of the Hindus.
The Hindus by religion were ordained to support a sikha or knot on head and therefore, looked askance towards those who had their hair cropped short (mundah).
Puranas say that with the help of ayudhajivi sanghas of above-said tribes known as five hordes (pa