The Cambodian Buddhist monk Maha Ghosananda was a founding member of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists and is iconically connected to and associated with engaged Buddhism for leading a series of peace walks beginning at the time of the 1992-3 United Nations' mission in Cambodia. Nevertheless, one would be hard-pressed to find a single incident in which Maha Ghosananda articulated a philosophy of Buddhism and social engagement. Moreover, he never wrote any sort of memoir nor did he give any interviews about his life. There remains considerable vagueness about who he was and what he represented. This paper, based in part on interviews, will discuss Maha Ghosananda's early career in an attempt to put his engaged Buddhism into social and religious context. His family background and early life as a Cambodian monk will be examined as will his years as a student in India, his time in a Thai forest monastery, and his early work in refugee camps.