Krishna – An Avatar of Vishnu

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 Defeated serpent Kaliya – A lintel of Phnom Chiso temple

Krishna Lifts Up Mount Govardhana

Krishna lifting 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.

Krishna kills Kamsa, carving of Baphuon Temple, Siem Reap Cambodia

Krishna kills Kamsa, carving of Baphuon Temple, south gopura third level

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.

The Churning of The Ocean of Milk

A carving of the churning of the ocean of milk on main sanctuary wall of Ta Pruhm temple, Tonle Bati, Takeo province

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.
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The Biggest Vishnu Statue in Cambodia, Harikambujendra

Vishnu Statue in Cambodia

Harikambujendra was a named of Vishnu statue displaying in National Museum of Cambodia which is a biggest Vishnu statue in Cambodia built in 6th century, Pre-Angkorian style. Harikambujendra name was taken from a stone inscription built in 12th century  in a cave at Phnom Da mountain, Angkor Borei district, Takeo province, Cambodia. The stone inscription described that Harikambujendra means the biggest Hari in Cambodia.  Hari means Vishnu, Kambu means Cambodia, and Jendra or Endra means the king of divinities.

Harikambujendra built in 3.4m high and made by sandstone with eight hands holding eight different attributes. The statue we can see in the National Museum today was some parts damaged, and only five hands left, which we can not identify clearly all the attributes he is holding.  Some still distinguishable and some rather unusual as a flame, an antelope skin, a flask and a mace. These attributes are not usually associated with Vishnu and may related to the eight divinities guarding the cardinal and sub-cardinal directions over which Vishnu is assuming power. However, according to the document, the eight attributes of this Vishnu are Disc, Conch, Mace, Globe, Antelope skin, Bundle of rods, Lightning, and Vase.


Another marvelous statue of Vishnu also displaying in the National Museum of Cambodia. This statue named Narayana Thom (Preah Noreay Thom), built by metal and some parts are made by valuable metal as on his eyes, eyebrows and mouth beard. The statue was built in parts and then was assembled to be a big Vishnu with four hands in sleeping gesture. Now we can only see the two right hands, one is supporting his head, and another is putting in the same way but not supporting the head.

Related to the founding of this statue saying that, in 1936 there was a farmer lived near West Mebon temple, in Siem Reap province. He dreamed that Buddha God came telling him to take out a Buddha statue which was buried under the ground near the entrance to the temple. In the next morning, he told his dream to a French guardian named Maurice Glaize, who looked after Mebon temple and accompanied him to the entrance of the temple. After digged they didn’t find any Buddha statue, but they have found a big Narayana sculpture. Researches concluded that, this sculpture was the biggest Vishnu statue in South-East Asia in the time that this statue was built in around 12th century.

Narayana Thom

According to Zhou Daguan, Chinese researcher who was visited Angkor Wat in 1296-1297 described about this statue that this sculpture may had the water flowing from its navel and he also called this statue as Buddha sculpture. As this fragment and a few smaller pieces were found at the Mebon island temple in the middle of the Western-Baray, it is possible that the sculpture is related to hydraulic mechanisms with sacred and practical applications.

Vishnu-Hindu Trinities member

Vishnu appeared in four hands

Vishnu is a member of Hindu trinities god. Vishnu also well known as Hari, Narayana. In Khmer ancient, many kings built the temple to dedicate to Vishnu and many Vishnu’s statues had found in Cambodia. In Khmer art, Vishnu always appeared with 4 hands or 8 hands. Garuda and Dragon named Anantasayin, also appear with Vishnu as his vehicles. Vishnu has two wives known as Leaksmey (born from churning of the ocean of milk) and Phumi.Vishnu has always appeared in legend stories as a hero who helped or protected human and the world from destruction. In Khmer temples, there were many scenes of legend stories of Vishnu. The popular and most shown in temples were Ramayana and Moha Parata.
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Hindu Trinity Member – Shiva

Shiva with the Moon on his brow

Shiva is a member of Hindu Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva). Brahma is the Goddess of knowledge. Vishnu is the Goddess of love, beauty, and delight. Shiva is the Goddess of destruction, and transformation.
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This is a statue of Hari-Hara which located along the entrance of the Royal Palace into the Throne Hall. Hari-hara is a harmony of the two deity Vishnu and Shiva. The right side is Shiva with the vertical third eye and his piled matted hair. And the left side is Vishnu with his tall miter. Harihara was symbolic of worldly power, symbolized by the warrior king (Vishnu), and spiritual power, as symbolized by the ascetic hermit (Shiva), in one figure.

Hari-Hara Statue placed along the way to the Throne Hall

Cambodia was once a famous Hindu-Buddhist kingdom in Indo China, known as the Khmer Empire. From many temples of the Angkor area in Siem Reap province, we can find numerous sculptures and carvings of Vishnu and Shiva. Angkor Wat was built to dedicate to the God of Hindu, Vishnu, in the reign of Suryavarman II in 1113.

There was once in the Khmer kingdom, occurred the religion war between the people who believed in Vishnu and another group who believed in Shiva. In order to end this war, the King has built Hari-Hara as a supreme God for the two groups of people to worship.

There is a temple located in Kampong Thom province called Prasat Andet, built in 7th-8th century. This temple is built to delicate to Hari-Hara. We can see the Hari-Hara statue in this temple.