Following the completion of decades-renovation project named as the world’s largest puzzle, the 11th century Baphuon temple was re-opened to the public on Jul 3, 2011 under a ceremony highly attended by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon. We are as Cambodians would like to express our profound gratitude to France for completing the renovation project of Baphuon temple which had spent 10-million-euro funded by France.
Located at 400 meters northwest of Bayon temple, inside Angkor Thom, Baphuon temple was built in 1060 AD as the state temple of King Udayadityavarman II. Baphuon temple faces east in a direct line with the Elephant terraces at the north side, laying within a long enclosure of 425 m x 125 m, and borders the Royal Palace to the north. From the East entrance, Baphuon temple shapes like a big round mountain, while it’s a 37 meters mountain-temple (Prasat Phnom) with five levels. The fifth level height is 24 meters above the ground level. Each level had Gopuras at the cardinal points and has a corner tower at each sub-direction. Since it’s mountain shape, Baphuon was first built to symbolize mount Meru and house a Shivalinga for Hindu religious rituals of the King.
Zhou Da Guan, the Chinese diplomat who visited Angkor at the end of 13th century, has also described about Baphuon temple in his words that: ” North of the Golden Tower (Bayon Temple) at a distance of about two hundred yards, rises a Tower of Bronze, and even higher than the Golden Tower, a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base.”
According to the stone inscription found around the temple said that, King Udayadityavarman II had constructed a golden mountain in the middle of his capital, and built a gold temple on it to house Shiva linga.
As long as we step in the temple from the east entrance, we would feel this temple is extremely unique from others. Visitors would walk on a raised causeway toward the temple. The raised causeway is supported by round pillars arranged in three rows, each row has 125 pillars and each pillars was made from a piece of big stone, without any joint. The whole causeway measures 172 meter, and about one meter raised from the ground. Walking on the raised causeway, though it’s just one meter high, I have got the feeling of great pleasure, in which I’m in a high position or a special person who have been admired or respected. The feeling of congratulating from people around who were walking on the ground.
Lord Vishnu helps Gajendra Moksha – the elephant king
Kajendra Moksha is also one of Hindu mythology story which related to Lord Vishnu helps the elephant king, Gajendra Moksha. This story also has been depicted as decoration carvings of Khmer ancient temples in Siem Reap. The story goes that…
Trikuta was a beautiful mountain with thick forest, which was home of a group of elephants led by elephant king named Gajendra Moksha. One day in the hot season, a group of elephants with Gajendra Moksha to bath in a lake in order to release hot. Suddenly, a crocodile who lived in the lake bit Gajendra’s leg, caused him get stuck in the lake. He tried hard to rescue himself until he became weak, even with help from other’s elephant, he still couldn’t detach from the crocodile. Gajendra was hopeless and thought that he would die soon. Suddenly, he remembered Lord Vishnu and called out to him for help.
Immediately, Lord Vishnu appeared on his mount Garuda and sent his Chakra to kill the crocodile for releasing Gajendra Moksha. As Chakra was touching the crocodile, it transformed into a Gandharva. Gajendra Moksha was saved. He sent a lotus flower to Lord Vishnu as paying gratitude to him. Then Gajendra Moksha became a human.
In fact, the elephant king Gajendra Moksha was a great king named Indradyumna. He was cursed by hermit Agastya to born as an elephant because the king did not respect him while he was visiting the king. And the curse will be ended only when he meet Lord Vishnu.
In the previous life, the crocrodile was a Gandharva named Huhu. One day, while he was taking shower in a lake, a hermit came to the lake for taking water. And Huhu was kidding with him by pulling his leg. However, the hermit was not ready to be joking with him, so he cursed Huhu to become a crocodile to live in that lake. Huhu asked him for forgiveness, but the hermit refused and told him that the curse will be released as long as the Chakra of Lord Vishnu touches his body.
So in the same time of saving the elephant king Gajendra, Lord Vishnu also helped end the curse of Huhu to finish his life as a crocodile.
Birth of Krishna
After his father, Yatu, passed away, Vasudeva succeed from his father. He married Rohorna’s daughter, Rohini. And later he married a second wife named Devaki. Devaki’s brother, Kansa was very unhappy with his sister’s marriage. Because he heard someone’s sound from the sky said that he will be killed by his sister’s eighth son. So he killed all his nephews from the first to the sixth. Because of this, Ananta Dragon decided to born as the seventh son of Devaki. But this time to avoid being killed by Kansa, Vishnu transferred Devaki’s womb to Vasudeva’s first wife, and let them tell Kansa that her seventh child have been miscarried. After the child was born, the child was given to Nanda and Yasota (another couple). And the child was named Balarama.
Not so long after Balarama was born, Devaki conceived the eighth child. In the same time, Yasota was also pregnant. Kansa was very worry that he put many guards at her sister’s house in order to kill the baby right after the birth.
Many months later, just as soon as he out of his mother’s stomach, the prince was able to stand up and asked his father taking him to exchange with Yasota’s daughter. With magic power of the new born prince, the locked door was able to open and all the guards are sleeping. Vasudeva prepared the prince in a basket and carried him on his head, walked out of the room safety. On the way to Yasota’s home, there was a river that cause a big problem for Vasudeva. He was not sure of how to cross the river, in a hurry, he decided to walk across it. Not so far from the river bank, the water reached his nose which was very difficult for him to walk toward. Seeing so, the prince out of the basket and put his leg into the water. Suddenly the water went down and Vaduteva was able to cross the river easily.
Arrived Yasota’s home, Vasudeva met Nanda and exchange his son with their daughter. Yasota were sleeping because of the tiredness after delivery, she still didn’t know her child was a boy or girl. Vasudeva quickly returned to Mathura city with Nanda and Yasota’s daughter. After arrived inside the room, the door automatically locked and all the guards was waken up as if nothing was happened.
After a while, Kansa arrived the room too. Suddenly someone shouted from the sky saying that: “Your enemy was born and your death will come to you soon…” Kansa pushed the room door and quickly walked in, he saw his sister carrying a daughter, not a son. Thus he decided to release his sister and apologize her that he has killed their six sons.
Krishna Helps Two Angels
When Krishna was a child, he was very naughty that sometimes her mother, Yasota, was angry with him. One day his mother tie him with a mortar which is very heavy at the middle of two Arjuna trees, hoping that he could stay still for a while. But Krishna has been reacted to his mother. He used his power to push the mortar into the trees at both sides until the trees felt down. Suddenly there are two angels appeared out of the trees, they were cursed to live in these trees. They praised Krishna that helping them to end the curse.
Krishna Defeat Kaliya
Once Krishna and man villagers together feed their animals near by a river bank located far from their village, where the serpent Kaliya is living. While Krishna and other kids playing ball near by the river, the ball rolled into the water. Krishna followed the ball into the river, suddenly Kaliya appeared. Other kids on the river bank were afraid and run to the village to tell Krishna’s parents. Nanda and Yasota were worried about their son and quickly ran to the river bank. Balarama was sitting at home without worry about his brother. When his parents and villagers arrived there, they saw Krishna was tightly wrapped by Kaliya in order to kill him. Krishna tried to make his body bigger until the dragon release him. Immediately Krishna jumped onto the serpent’s head and used power to press his body heavily with his dancing gesture. The serpent then become unconscious. Another serpent appeared, approached Krishna and saluted him. The serpent apologize Krishna instead of her husband and begged him to release her husband. At last Krishna jumped off the serpent, Kaliya woke up and saluted to Krishna asking for forgiveness. Krishna told Kaliya to live at Ramanaka where was far away from human living. Before leaving, Kaliya said that he is afraid of Garuda. Krishna smiled and replied that Garuda could not kill them or even come near them because of his foot steps on Kaliya’s head.
Krishna Lifts Up Mount Govardhana
There was a village called Braj which all the villagers respected and worship in Indra, King of Heaven, since their ancestors. But Indra was careless of them, thus the belief in him started to decrease from time to time. One day, while they were worshiping Indra, Krishna tried to persuade them stop believing in Indra since he had never blessed their wishes, he even afraid of giants. Krishna added that the rain that they got after worshiped is depend on the god of sun, Surya. Then Krishna suggested villagers to worship the nature such as forest, river, especially Mount Govardhana, which always give them fruits and food. Because of losing respect and belief from villagers, Indra was very angry and started to make storm with nonstop raining in Braj village. The villagers knew that Indra was very angry with them, so they turned to Krishna for help. Immediately, Krishna lifted up Mount Govardhana by his little finger to show villagers his divine power. All villagers and their animals were stayed under Mount Govardhana during the storm, which was seven days and nights. Then Indra has known that Krishna was the avatar of Vishnu and quickly he stopped the storm, and the weather became normal.
Krishna Kills Kansa
The assassination purpose on Krishna ordered by Kansa has not been succeeded. Kansa decided to persuade Krishna and invited many villagers at Braj and mount Govardhana to Mathura city in order to celebrate the worship to Shiva. In the ceremony, Kansa created many kinds of games and entertainments for villagers. After reach Mathura, Braj’s villagers sent a gift to Kansa and they camped outside the city. Krishna and his brother, Balarama, were happy to see the preparation of the city.
There was a physical power competition by lift up the Shiva bow which is as big as three palm trees and as heavy as mountain. In the competition, no one can lift up or even shaking it. Krishna decided to lift up the bow, and it was lifted up with only one hand, then he broke it into two parts. After knew that Krishna broke the Shiva’s bow, Kansa thought that his dead is coming near. He then ordered many strongmen to kill Krishna and Balarama, but those men were killed by Krishna. The two brothers returned to their camp and told the villagers what have been happened to them. At night, Kansa ordered his devil armies to call the villagers come to the city through their dreams. All villagers were followed the devil dream to enter the city, Krishna and Balarama were also among them. When arrived the city, there was a wild elephant which was very strong. Its power could compare with thousand elephant. When saw Krishna, the elephant ran toward him in order to kill him. Fortunately, Balarama saw the elephant and hit it, the elephant scattered to the city wall. The elephant still able to stand up and run into them the second time. But this time Krishna and Balarama were ready to kill it, so it was killed easily with their hands.
Too many times that Kansa tried to kill Krishna, that until now he has lose his patient and promised to kill his uncle.
Later Kansa created the wrestle competition joined by many strong wrestlers in killing Krishna purpose. In the competition, Krishna killed all the wrestlers and at last he jumped up to Kansa’s throne. He pulled his uncle from the throne to the ground by holding his hair and killed him with his hands.
The death of Kansa was celebrated by many people, hermit, brahman, and even angels. But all his wives were very sad and cried for him. Krishna talked to them that: ” Dear all mothers, please stop crying for Kansa, no one could live forever. Kansa had done many sins that he could not accepted to live since he thought that everything was only for him.”
The cremation ceremony was prepared and Krishna fired his uncle’s death body by himself. Krishna’s parents, Vasudeva and Devaki, was released. His grandfather Ugresena reigned after Kansa.
Churning of the ocean of milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas. This is a popular scene mostly see in carvings of almost ancient temples in Cambodia including Angkor Wat temple, Baphuon temple, and even other smaller temple such as Ta Pruhm temple in Tonle Bati, Takeo province, also carved this story on the temple wall. The biggest one is shown in bas relief panel at the East gallery of Angkor Wat temple, a spectacular 70 meters of intricately sculpted.
Moha Phearata (Mahabharata) Part III
The Game of Dice and Exile of the Pandavas
After the party ended, Duryodhana, who also participated the party, was jealous about the fast development of his cousins. He had one idea with Sakuni who was skillful in gambling, especially playing dice. After he thought, he tried to persuade his father to invite Pandavas to participate a celebration part of new assembly building in his kingdom and invite them to play dice. This game was between Sakuni and Yudhisthira by betting for their kingdoms. Just in a short of time in games, Yudhisthira lost his kingdom and all his possessed. He continued to play without knowing that it was a trick of Duryodhara and Sakuni was cheating in game. Continue reading
Moha Phearata (Mahabharata) Part II
The Pandavas won the hand of Draupati
Soon later with worry about the throne, Duryodhana persuaded his father to banish Pandavas away from Hastinapura to live in Vornaport, where he ordered to built house for them. This was a very difficult decision for Dhritarashtra. After though, Dhritarashtra decided to asked Pandavas to live in Vornaport. Even though they knew about Dhritarashtra’s purpose and couldn’t complain, Kunti and her sons agreed to leave. Vidura, who was Kunti’s brother-in-law and uncle of Pandavas, follow them until they arrived suburb. Vidura whispered to Yudhisthira that the house at Vornaport was built with a mysterious hole which they could escape in danger. Pandavas were welcome warmly from people at Vornaport. Yudhisthira and Bhima rush to prepare a plan to escape by finding five man’s corpse and one female corpse to keep in their house. Continue reading
Moha Phearata (Mahabharata) Part IV
Preparation for War
Time passing by, Pandavas tried to make relationship with other kingdoms while Krishna was trying to persuade Dhritarashtra to help divert the war between Pandavas and Kauravas. But the result was negative, because Duryodhana rejected all the explanations, even from his father.
Another task for Krishna to complete was to tell Karna the truth about his birth. After listened to Krishna, Karna got very angry with his mother, that she abandoned him. He said even if Yudhisthira knew about this and give the kingdom to him, he still join Kauravas.