Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat – A fascinating story and structure. Built in 37 years during the first  half of the 12th C, Angkor Wat was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, the preserver of the world. Evidently, it was not used more than about three times a year by the royal family!

There are five towers (formerly the magic number 9, but four have crumbled) but when viewing, depending on the angle you see only three or four and only sometimes five. Like the Egyptians, Incans and all those brilliant people in our past, the sun rises directly behind the main tower on both equinoxes.

My favorite things in the entire temple are the beautiful dancing women (Apsaras) – thousands of them; and the galleries/colonnades (at least 50 meters long) with beautiful bas relief work depicting various stories. Heavens and hells: hell has 32 levels and heaven has 37.  Combat of Krishna and demons. The army of King Suryavarman II who built Angkor Wat – in this story his army is marching east to battle with the Chams. The churning of the sea to milk. The myth of the Churning was very popular in the Angkor era. It is depicted at temples in Angkor and all over Cambodia.

At the beginning of the world, the gods (devas) and demons (asuras) were engaged in a thousand year battle to secure amrita, an elixir that would render them immortal and incorruptible. After some time, when they became tired and still had not achieved their goal, they asked the help of Vishnu. He appeared and ordered to work together, not against each other. Working together, they then commenced the churning of the Ocean of Milk by using Mount Mandara as the pivot and the five-headed naga Vasuki as the rope.

However, the mountain suddenly began to sink. Vishnu incarnated as the tortoise Kurma to support the pivoting mountain on his back. Many gods also assisted, including Indra, by keeping the pivot in position. The spinning of Mount Mandara created such a violent whirlpool that the that the creatures and fish around it were torn to pieces,

The Ocean of Milk was churned another thousand years before producing the much-desired elixir and other treasures, amongst which are the goddess Lakshmi (Sri Devi) [the spouse of Vishnu] , the elephant Airavata, the horse Ucchaihsravas, a whishing tree (Parijata), and the apsara.

The naga Vasuki vomited floods of black venom due to his mishandling by teh devas and asuras during the churning. This would have been enough to poison everybody had it not been for Shiva, who drank it all; as a result, his mouth remaining stained forever with a black line.


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